Church History - Chapter 3
Cost of Land for the First Church - 25 pounds 12 shillings
When the first church was constructed in 1759, there was no law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that permitted religious societies to hold title to real estate. The congregations undoubtedly received permission to use the land from Casper Wister, who owned about 600 acres in this area. This we infer from the language of the rules and regulations of the congregations written June 5, 1788, and recorded in miscellaneous book #4 on page 4, article 2 in the Easton Courthouse, which states "should the 7 or 8 acres of land which we have selected as school and church grounds be purchased at anytime, then both congregations shall buy it and pay for it jointly". When Casper Wister died, he devised all of his land to his daughter, Sarah Wister. It was not until June 10, 1794, four years after the second church was built, that Sarah Wister conveyed six acres and twenty perches (five and one-half yards equals a perch) for the sum of 25 pounds 12 shillings (about $62.00) unto Mathis Gress and Christian Brown as trustees of the German Lutheran Congregation and German Reformed Congregation. The deed is on file in the Lutheran Historical Archives. It is written on a piece of heavy hand made paper 19" wide by 15" long. In case you are wondering why the conveyance of title, which was made after the signing of the Declaration of Independence and 5 years after the election of George Washington as President, was for pounds and shillings and not dollars and cents, Congress did not pass the bill providing that money of account of the United States be expressed in dollars and cents until April 2, 1792. Four months after the bill was passed the Philadelphia Mint was constructed and the first coins, which consisted of 11,178 cents were transferred on March 1, 1793, to the United States Treasury. Not until 1830 was there one United States coin for each person in the country.
The two trustees held title to the property until the death of Christian Brown. The surviving trustee, Mathis Gress, by deed dated June 9, 1837, granted and conveyed the property unto Joseph Unangst in trust for the German Lutheran Congregation and Christian Brown, the younger, in trust for the German Reformed Congregation for the sum of $5.00.
These two trustees held title to the property until the death of Christian Brown, the younger, at which time Joseph Unangst, surviving trustee, by deed dated October 20, 1848 granted and conveyed the property unto John Laubach, trustee for the German Reformed Congregation and Joseph Unangst, trustee for the German Lutheran congregation, for the sum of $5.00. No additional conveyances were necessary after 1848, due to the fact that the Commonwealth passed a law which empowered a church or religious societies to take and hold title to real estate for its own use. However, trustees were still required as the congregations were not incorporated. Acts of incorporation were granted to the German Reformed Congregation of the Drylands on August 8, 1853 and to The Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of the Dryland Church of Hecktown, Pennsylvania on May 18, 1908. Title remained in the names of both congregations until the Reformed Congregation conveyed its interest in the property to Trinity Lutheran Church on April 15, 1965.
In the spring of 1849, the second church was demolished. The wall toward the graveyard was thrown in first by means of long props that reached far into the graveyard. Then the gable walls were thrown down last and out toward the east with such force that some of the stones rolled into the street. The subscriptions taken by the trustees for building the present church amounted to $5,189.38 and the money collected by 10 of the ladies of the congregations is recorded as having been $246.05 and 1/2 cents. The cornerstone was laid on Sunday, May 20, 1849 and the offering on this sacred occasion amounted to $154.28. The trustees at that time were George H. Beck, Joseph Unangst, Jacob Herman, Arthur Ritter, John N. Kemmerer, Joseph Santee, Peter Kern and John Laubach. In erecting the walls a long scaffold reaching almost from the stone schoolhouse to the church was erected, upon which the stones and mortar were hauled up by means of a wheel-barrow. The stones to build the church came from an old farm just south of the present K-Mart shopping center on Route 191. The stones were hauled up Nazareth Pike (Route 191) by wagon each evening so that the stonemasons would have a fresh supply for the next day's work. The church was completed at a total cost of $5,269.26 and dedicated to the Services of God on December 8th and 9th, 1849. On Saturday, December 8th, the choir from Nazareth was present and Reverend Thomas Pomp who was serving in his 53rd year as Pastor of the Reformed Congregation, advanced in front of the altar and read the dedication ceremony. There were three sermons that day all by different pastors.
On Sunday, December 9th, the choir from Bethlehem was present and the church was again filled with attentive listeners. There were two sermons that day and after the close of services, Pastor Wenzel of the Lutheran Congregation handed over to the congregation a splendid new Bible as a present. The offering at the time of dedication was $132.00.
The church was erected without a steeple and had no organ. The pipe organ that was in the second church was disassembled and installed in the school house. It was a small instrument and had only one manual and not more than 10 registers. The church was without an organ from 1849 to 1857. During this time Benjamin Wagner was chorister. He put his own melodeon in the church and played it while leading the singing. In August, 1856, John Laubach, Barnes Fenner, George Hellick, George Schnabel, Peter Kern, Solomon Koehler, Abraham Dewalt and Jonathan Ritter commenced to collect donations for a new organ. The cost of the bare organ was $1,339.50 and was built by George Krause. It was painted for $10.50. Edward Van Steuben, John Heckman, Peter Lawall, Charles Hess and Edwin Breidinger fetched it by wagon from Palm, PA. The organ was dedicated on Whit Sunday, May 31, 1857 and the last payment for its purchase was made on April 19, 1858.
The present steeple which is 59 feet tall, measured from the peek of the roof, and is 19 and one-half feet square at its widest point, was built in the summer of 1899 at a total cost of $2,072.75. The bell which weighs 2,360 pounds was also installed at a cost of $600.00. Both were dedicated on December 3, 1899.
The interior of the church was remodeled in 1872 and had balconies extending along the side walls with the organ centered in the rear balcony.
In 1846, Sunday school resumed in the school house. As the Sunday school grew, classes were moved into the church. In 1915, it was decided to erect a church school building annexed to the church in connection with a complete renovation of the church. The congregations spent $43,693.22 at this time and dedicated the Sunday school building on April 29, 1917. The church was rededicated on October 14, 1917. The congregations retired this debt in the early months of 1925. The two congregations shared the facilities until 1965 when the Reformed Congregation moved into its new church building on Newburg Road. The church is now known as Dryland United Church of Christ.