History of Swissdale, Pa

Religious Activites

From 1832 to 1842 the religious services of the community were usually conducted in the homes without a minister, held by Mrs. Sutter, who had been trained as a Deaconess in the Lutheran Church of Berne. Mrs. Sutter (Suiter) had intentions of becoming a missionary before her marriage but gave this up when she became Sutter’s wife.

When the co ngregation increased the meetings were held in the barn on the Sutter farm, with Mrs. Sutter as the substitute minister. She was chosen the first classleader when the church was organized and served in this capacity for many years. There were also local Preachers who served in the Religious Community form time to time. These were: Daniel Shoemaker, John Probst, David Suiter and Frederick Glise. These served in the NEW CHURCH built in 1869.

The first preachers in this section were circuit riders who came in once a month or less, following the narrow trail on horseback. The riders were sent out by the Evangelical Association Church which was organized by German speaking people, so these early preachers spoke German. On Monday morning they left and the intervening services were in charge of the laymen.

Early Ministers

The Evangelical Church was first organized by W. S. Seibert in the school house on the farm of B.F. Probst about 1843 or 1844, now the Simcox Farm. In 1858, when a schoolhouse was built at the Cross Roads, the old log hose was “done over” for a church by being weather-boarded on the outside and having new seats and a pulpit added. This served as a Church until 1869, when the white church as the Cross Roads (now razed) was built. This was located across the road from the present church and was sold and torn down in 1927. Services were held in this church from 1869 until 1923. The present church was built in 1895. In 1952 the Swissdale congregation purchased the one room school house, which is located across the road from the present church. It has been renovated and is used as a church hall and a social gathering place. The preachers of the old church were:

REV. S.W. SEIBERT, the circuit rider, who later became a bishop.
REV. ORWIG, later a bishop.
REV. YOUNG, who later served in Lock Haven.
REV. BOWERSOX, who later became a missionary to the Pacific Coast.

Swissdale was part of a circuit, which was formed in 1872, and had the following appointees: Swissdale, Frontonia, McElhattan, Pine, Nippenose, Friedens, Salladaysburg and Jersey Shore. It was called the Jersey Shore Circuit. In 1885, the Lock Haven Circuit was formed with Farrandsville, McElhattan, Pine, Caldwell and Swissdale as appointments. Swissdale, Pine and McElhattan were detached from the Jersy Shore Circuit and Farrandsville and Caldwell were added to make five appointments. In 1928, the appointments on the Lock Haven Mission were: Swissdale, Rote, Clintondale, Nittany and Castenea which were later changed to Swissdale, Dunnstown and Liberty.

With the exception of the local people who have been mentioned no record remains of the preachers who served in Swissdale from 1832 to 1872. From 1872 to 1884 inclusive the following ministers served the Jersey Shore Circuit:

1872 Z. Hornberger - J.A. Hetner
1873 A. Rearick - W.L. Rightmire
1874 A. Rearick - N.B. Sherk
1875 A. Rearick - B.F. Keller
1876 H.A. Dietrick - D.P. Kline
1877 D.P. Kline - G.H. Schleh
1878 Jacob Boaz - G.H. Schleh
1878-80 H.W. Buck - F.S. Vought
1881-82 H.W. Buck - H.T. Searl
1883 D.W. Miller - J.H. Welsh
1884 J.G.M. Swengle - J.R. Sechrist

During this period two preachers served the circuit as the same time. This was for the reason that there were eight appointments, the distance between them was rather great, and the only available conveyance was horse and buggy or horseback. the pastors were usually an older and a younger man. Many of the older members of the time could not understand English very well, so German was the language used every other Sunday by the old minister. Some of the younger ministers could not understand German very well; therefore English was the language used by the younger preacher every other Sunday.

The Ministers who served the Lock Haven Circuit from 1885 to 1894 inclusive were:

1885 J.G.M. Swengle
1886-88 P.C. Weidemeyer
1889-91 J.S. Shambach
1892-94 H.S. Bason

During the years between 1891 and 1895 a controversy arose among the leaders of the Evanelical Association General Church and as would be expected this worked its way down to many of the local churches. In 1895 the general church was divided. This division extended as far west as the Mississippi River. The group which broke away from the original church was called the Untied Evangelical Church. At this time the Swissdale congregation was divided. From 1895 until 1923 there were two churches in Swissdale.

The following pastors served at this time. It has been impossible to get the list of the Evangelical Association ministers in chronological orders. This is a list of those who served:

Evangelical Association

J. Fenstamaker
- Tonkins
- Freed
O. Martin
- Yergy
J. Willauer
W.A.C. Eby
J. Fenstamaker
J.W. Romberger
W.I. Miller
I.F. Heisler
P.Z. Taylor
J.H. Rosenberger

United Evangelical

1895-96 J.D. Stover
1897-98 J.B. Fox
1890-1902 J.R. Sechrist
1903-06 W.N. Wallis
1907-10 H. Minsker
1911-14 C.J. Dick
1915-19 R.S. Daubert
1920-23 J.H. Ricker

In 1923 the members of the two local congregations were united and became once again members of the same church called the Evangelical Church as did the members of the divided churches throughout the nation.

During the period from 1923 to 1946 the following ministers served the Swissdale Congregation:

1924-27 W.E. Yingling
1928-30 T.R. Hustler
1931-1937 M.A. Herman
1938-1943 J.A. Corle
1944-46 L.W. Bartges

In 1976 the Evangelical Church and the United Brethern in Christ united to form a larger and stronger church called the Evangelical United Brethern Church. The ministers who served the local congregation from 1946 to the present (1976) are:

1947-52 L.W. Bartges
1953-57 R.L. Frease
1958-61 J.E. Snook
1962-63 H.E. Glascow
1963-71 A.F. Romberger
1972-76 A. Cox
1976- P. Zelinka

At a congregational meeting held Wednesday evening, March 11, 1964 a majority of the members were present, who were qualified to vote, decided to direct the Trustees to make alterations so as to enlarge the original church and to add a Sunday School unit of eight rooms, with a basement which could be used as a dining area complete with kitchen space. It was the desire of the congregation to make the alterations and additions without marring the desirable appearance of the original building. The work started April 8, 1964 and was completed October 24, 1964. The building was dedicated to the service of God November 8, 1964.

The information listed here was taken from History of Clinton County by Cora Suiter, the History of the Probst Family, Swissdale History by Florence Laubscher. All this can be found in the Ross Library.

*Donated by Dean Laubscher