Church History - Chapter 2
The Cemetery Gets a Visit From a Hot Air Balloon
Our records show that Christian Nauman was caretaker and carpenter of the church as early as 1763. He was born in 1704 and died in 1773. His tombstone has an unusual epitaph around its edge. A stonemason carved various carpenters tools onto the tombstone including a broadax, square, and compass. A picture of his tombstone is among our historical records.
The cemetery, which is directly behind the church and consists of approximately 2.3 acres, is divided into three sections, the oldest starts just South of the Memorial Board listing the names of the people buried there and runs North to the end of the upper parking lot. The second oldest section runs from the Memorial Board South toward Steuben Road to about 200 feet from the band shell. The third section, with the gravestones still standing, runs from the end of the upper parking lot North to the beginning of the baseball field. A total of 2,024 people are buried in the cemetery. In 1975, all of the gravestones in the first two sections were removed because of deterioration and for safety reasons. A new memorial was erected listing all the names, date of birth and of all the burials. The first burial in the cemetery in 1769 and the last in April 1953.
The cemetery was surrounded by a stone wall built in 1840 at a cost of $682.79 and 1/2 cents. Because of deterioration sections of the wall were removed in early 1989. The last section is at the rear of the cemetery and can be seen from the upper parking lot.
The congregation worshiping in the Dryland Church believed in holding funeral services in the Church. After a short service at the deceased's home, the funeral procession moved toward the church. A good neighbor would sometimes transport the coffin in a common vehicle or sleigh. The most common was to hitch four horses to a Conestoga wagon, into whose spacious body the coffin was placed, while the nearest relatives sat around it on chairs. It was not until the middle of the second quarter of the nineteenth century that a hearse was first seen at our church. Jacob Boram was in possession of the first hearse in this vicinity. It was a rectangular box curved at the top and covered with black cloth around the lower part of the wagon. The hearse had springs, but no side glass or ornamentations.
In 1844, the congregations began a movement to purchase their own hearse. Members contributed all the way from 10 cents to one dollar and twenty-five cents. On the title page of the subscription book it states that those members whose names are not marked with a cross refused to contribute toward the project. All the members who contributed toward the purchase of the hearse could use it free of charge in case of a funeral in the family. Those who refused to contribute or people not belonging to the church paid one dollar for its use. It was the duty of the janitor of the church to clean the hearse after the funeral for which he received twenty-five cents.
The most unusual event involving the old graveyard was when a hot air balloon landed on it on July 3, 1931 at 6:30 p.m. It was flown on an overnight flight from the U.S. Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, New Jersey. When the balloon landed, pigeons were released and arrived back at Lakehurst before the two balloonists. When the balloon was inflated for take-off it flew over the church and dropped on a tall cedar tree. Lieutenant Kentworthy asked for someone to climb the tree and release the balloon. A young lad by the name of George Bartron climbed the tree and released the balloon. However, the balloon was not able to continue its flight and Frank F. Heller hauled the balloon to the Nazareth Freight Station for the trip back to the U. S. Naval Station. A few days latter, George Bartron received a thank you letter from the Lieutenant.