Lutheran Churches in NJ

by Dr. J.C. Honeyman, New Germantown, NJ

Extracted notes and gleanings taken by Evelyn S. Baer.

New Series: V9, p255, History of the Lutheran Church development & settlers mentioned: [Michael & son Caspar Hendershot].

There is a congregational dispute with Pastor Wolf and parishioners. regarding a call letter signed by Michel Hunerschut and others, sent to Lutheran Church center in Hamburg, Germany in 1731; later a lawsuit - Wolf versus Michael Hendershot and others of the congregation. The members sold in part their property and moved to other regions. Much trouble and problems, children hating religion...finally problem was set to arbitration. Congregation then brought into fellowship with Pennsylvania congregations, but settlement of problem not made. Pastor Wolf - scandal demanded payment by signers of the Call letter and etc. were hunted up by the constable and arrested. Wolff at a hearing where testimony of his laziness, crude, self– centered, vulgar and abuse to wife and two children were given...He said he‘d leave for payment of 50/80/90 pounds, which was made binding on the Rockaway congregation and signers of the Call, but especially hard on those who hadn’t the funds to pay...but they were finally rid of him.

ÌV.10, p 298–9, 306, 397, 407:

Communicants–Zion congregation at New Germantown, by Rev. Weygand.–Muhlenberg last report dated 16 Nov 1748; on 22nd Mr. Weygand arrived among his destined congregations in Raritan. Mentions a Lutheran congregation at Somerset, Bedminster (Hill people) which was supposed to be united with 3 other congregations, but travel was too far and wanted their own pastor. Mr. Weygand was given the Call over the whole area, and several members signed including John Henderschid, 15 shillings pledged. Some of these people lived in Fox Hill, German Valley, Spruce Run, Schooleys Mountain.

Weygand thought the area quite a spiritual wilderness, a spiritual field that was grown up with briars, thorns and thistles...its intellectual his cultivated European eyes, very unpromising. States that young people not a few from 20–30 years, were presented to him to be prepared for the Holy Supper who could neither spell nor read German.

Under date of January 19, 1749 he thus journalizes:-Have today committed to the earth old Mr. Hendersind was this Weygand biased spelling; notes Chambers, Theodore Frelinghuysen, in The Early Germans of New Jersey, The Dover Printing Company, Dover, NJ, 1895, page 70 quotes all this and has “translated the German differently and has the name as Hindershid.

In the case of this man God has given a signal proof of his love for sinners. This person had stained his soul with many sins of injustice, as was reported to me by those who had known him from his youth. To bring him to the recognition of his sins God laid him a year and a half on a sick bed. About a quarter of a year before his death he was visited by Pastor Muhlenberg, who desired to effect a reconciliation between him and his son with whom he had been at variance; but the most impressive appeals were of no avail, and he wanted to cite his son before the Last Judgment, as is customary with many revengeful people. At the end of November last, I also visited him, and inquired whether he was, indeed, quite prepared for eternity. But he simulated so much piety, that I have almost never seen such a white, pious and holy man. I left him to the mercy of God, and gave him the 4th chapter of Romans, 5th verse*, to reflect upon, not believing that it would subdue the hardness of his heart, but fourteen days afterward he reconciled himself to his son.

Afterwards he had expressed a constant desire to see me; on account of my absence, however, I came to him only on the evening before he died. He could scarcely articulate; but I could understand this much that he said, that day and night he had implored God for a happy end, which his wife confirmed. I prayed with him, and sang a few verses from the hymn, Lord, teach me ever to think of my end. Romans 4:5. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, “this faith is counted for righteousness. There is some reason to suppose that this old sinner, Hendersind, was the sick man mentioned by Muhlenberg, who desired to compound for his sins by promising to bequeath several hundred pounds to the church, if he were permitted to partake of the Communion.

p397– Much interaction between Amwell, Hunterdon co and Raritan, Upper Milford, Saucon, etc. [PA]. And complaints arose as to Mr. Weygand. He married, and congregation didn’t want him ordained to them. The new of New Germantown to distinguish it from Germantown, PA; (name changed to Oldwick during World War.)

p407: 1749–CASPAR HENDERSHOT, signed as a church trustee; signed church deed with many others.

pg 380–387: Aug. 1754 CASPARUS HINDERSHEITT listed in the church record book.-.another pastor, Rev. Shrenk put over Zion Church, but was also a perverse character; Two of the elders of Zion Church got into a dispute with Shrenk, [Balthasar Pickle and Joh. MELICK]. Shrenk claimed they had (p386) - interfered with his business, and would dictate to him how and what he should preach, etc. In short, he acted so frantically, as his friends say, that he aroused great bitterness, sorrow, resentment, and ridicule. The other elders and wardens were much frightened. They tried to make a conciliation with the two and Shrenk. They went to the parsonage, but the argument arose again with much abusive epithets. On the next Sunday the attendance was even greater...people from far and near out of curiosity and to gather material for derisive and scoffing remarks. When he had concluded his sermon with fire and flame, he made a vindictive prayer, and then bought up the matter against the two elders with names, arbitrarily removed them office, and publicly excluded them from the congregation as wicked and worthless members! Now, the two elders, [Balthasar Pickel and Joh. MELICK], were thoroughly exasperated, as they...with their own money built their seats in that church; in deed, one of them [Pickle] had given 50 pounds towards the organ and 25 pounds to the church building, had been the building master of the edifice, and had advanced besides, 140 pounds for which he still held the Society’s obligation. Both elders remained away from the church after that Sunday...they had a following, and that party grew larger as time went on. Mr. Shrenk was obliged to exercise all his wit and ingenuity in order to hold the church, the congregation and possessions, without these two men. He immediately put two others in their places. Shrenk sought the friendship of the Reformed Low Dutch who applauded his zeal with the godless Lutherans, and continued to stir his passions. He let his affections rest on the step–daughter of Leonard Streit; caused a formal application to be made for her hand and himself proposed for her, which would have been something of a support to him. None of the Streit family, including the girl, accepted. He assayed in every possible way to paint the 2 expelled elders in the most odious and abominable colors in order to justify his conduct. The other elders were mostly, though poor, well–meaning men, and thought that Schrenk, like Elias, was jealous for the Law of the Lord. Those who were of this persuasion included the following 10 elders, though they had reason afterward to change their minds: Philiip Wise, LAWRENCE RULUFSON, JACOB SHIPMAN, CASPAR HENDERSHOT, DAVID MELICK, Samuel Barnhart, John Stein, Adam Vockerot, Leonard Neighbor, and Jacob Fasbinder. Shrenk left the congregation in turmoil 1756. Other outlying congregations: Bedminster, German Valley or Budd Valley, Long Valley, or just plain valley; were members of Evangelical Lutheran. Cong. are members of Zions Lutheran Church living in the Dutch Valley, Roxbury Twp, Morris co.

1753–big disturbance in this cong. even while Mr. Weygand there. Repairs of church barn called for; donations included: CASPARUS HINDERSHEITTS, 10 shillings. 1760 letter summarizing the whole dispute with Shrenk: At one point, the most influential and wealthy elders who had been ejected by Shrenk coalesced with the local Episcolpalian Church served from New Brunswick. This upset the ruling fathers in PA. [Muhlenberg] offered to come for 6 months if Shrenk would serve his [PA] area for him. This got rid of the Episcopal missionary. Shrenk sold his property and went back to Europe for an inheritance. Shrenk maligned Muhlenberg’s character in PA & NY first causing Muhlenberg. to write this letter to his Superiors in Europe. So when Muhlenberg was in Raritan clearing up the mess, Shrenk was creating one in PA & NY for poor Muhlenberg. In 1760 it ended. The two elders of the Raritan Church which Shrenk had kicked out were Balthasar Pickel and Joh. MELICK.

Finishing business: 1755 MICHAEL (Jr.) HENDERSHOT paid for occupations of the schoolhouse. St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at Pluckemin 1756 [assoc. with Presbytery of Elizabeth], included what is now Presby. church at Pluckemin.

p537– (Found in Muhlenberg’s writing in register of Providence Cong., PA.) 17 June1758: bapt Priscilla, wife of PETER HENDERSHOT & dau of William PHILLIP, 24 yrs old.

17 June1758: Elizabeth, dau of William Phillips, 19 yrs old. This in the New Germantown Church [Oldwick]; also JOHN HENDERSHOT’S wife [Catharine Bodine], in duBoiteins, about 30 yrs old.

p538–JOHN HENDERSCHIDT elected as one of the vestrymen at same time wife was baptized. An election held at this time for Zion’s Church Council Board, those elected: Balthasar Pickle at head, and among others JOHN HINDERSCHIDT. They designated themselves as the German Protestant Evangelical Congregation of Zion Church in the county of Hunterdon.

In 1759, Muhlenberg moved to Raritan for a year. He kept minute diaries held now in the NJ Historical Society. Roads: from Providence, PA to NJ: 19 mi. to Upper Dublin, PA, 6 mi to great York rd. which ran from Philadelphia to New Hope & thence via Ringoes, Reaville, and 3 Bridges in Hunterdon co, to Somerville & Bound Brook & so on to Newark & New York.

V. 15: p257 – Revolutionary War Time it is not known where Mr. Graff conducted services in Bedminster while the church at Pluckemin was in military hands. 1779–80: winter of deep snow; Gen. Washington troops camped below Morristown along the back road to Mendham and not far from great road to Basking Rdige. Nov 1780: Washington listed expenditures of the army’s trip to New Windsor to Morristown, Flemington, New Germantown, Hackettstown, Sussex Court House, etc. to worthless & Rev. Graff not paid for some while people were fearful.

1782: Methodist missionaries caused some unrest. But Wesleyan Chapel not built in N. Germantown for about 40 years. Rev. Graff lost wife 1783. Dr. Rodgers, English Presby. minister from Lamington cong. spoke at funeral. Mr. Graff married 2nd time & 3rd to widow Anna Melick, grand daughter of Balthasar Pickle, widow. of Christian Melick of New Germantown. She died NYC January 1833. Also 1783 death of Godfrey Fine, sexton of Zion Church, wife Maddalena Melick. [Mr. Graff served 33 years in New Germantown vicinity.] 1787–Graff preached for Reformed Church at the Hole (probably Old White House), and the Brookye (prob Pleasant Run). 1788– parsonage barn repairs paid by congregation of New Germantown, Pluckemin, & German Valley.

Ralph Smith sold lot #2 to MICHAEL HENDERSHOT (brother of Caspar). Bryan Leferty, Esq. of Pluckemin recovered in the Superior. Court of this province a judgment against HENDERSHOT for a debt of 50 pounds and costs...which after due advertisement was sold to Rev. Fred. Schultz. [Micahel had to sell Hohen Hause (High House) to pay this debt and thus moved eventually to Sussex county.] Church records meager 1802–1807 - Mr. Graff getting old.

p503: Burial notices by Graff often told much, only a few are quoted; register kept to 1803 (138 in number) very incomplete; marriages reg. in English except 1774/5 (383 couples), baptisms. 1771 onward-good, except 1774–6 missing (885 recorded).

V. 16: –nil–; Volumes skip to V.50–65: –nil–; Series 3: V.1–3,5–10: –nil–