According to Darrel Dexter, the New Goshenhoppen original log meeting house was built in 1732 in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.  It was the early American meeting place of the German Reformed Church.  It has been restored and still may be visited in 2019. Photo provided.The Lower Stone German Reformed Church is near Rockwell, in Rowan County, North Carolina.  This photo was made by Darrel Dexter on a former visit to the historic church.  The church rolls, as well as the cemetery are a testament to the family names who lived there in the early 1800s, then moved on to Union, Pulaski and Alexander counties in Southern Illinois. Photo provided.Historian Darrel Dexter talked with visitors at PAST Sunday Parlor Talks focusing on historic Union County Churches.  Dexter’s subject was history of the German Reformed Church and the congregations that thrived in early Southern Illinois, but no longer exist today. Present-day family names are the predominant remaining link to the historic past of those churches. Photo provided.

German Reformed Churches featured at PAST Parlor Talk

The Heritage House Museum parlor in Jonesboro was encircled with attentive folks on Sunday afternoon, July 7.

Parlor Talk guests  listened intently for familiar names, perhaps names of their own families.

Historian Darrel Dexter recited lists of early church members from the rolls of German Reformed congregations in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and from Rowan County, North Carolina.  Many early Union County settlers came from those locations and from those congregations.   

It is noteworthy during this July celebration of the birth of this nation, that many of today’s Union Countians are direct descendants of those same pioneer families.  

These predecessors journeyed for generations to find the happiness, peace and freedom they wanted for their descendants.  

Dexter’s focus was on the German Reformed Church.  He took listeners back to the founding of a German Reformed parish first in Switzerland, and then in western Germany in the 1500s.  

From roots in Germany, the  first American German Reformed Church was established in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.  New Goshenhoppen German Reformed Church was organized in 1727.  

Many family names from that congregation are found in Union County (as well as Alexander and Pulaski counties) today.

From Pennsylvania, early pioneers moved on to the Rowan County area of North Carolina. 

It was the custom for early church groups to form “unions” to build and share buildings but have separate worship times. Thus it was for German Reformed and Lutheran congregations.  

In Rowan County, the united congregations met in common buildings but later split for the Lutherans to build Zion or Organ Lutheran Church, and the Reformed built Lower Stone or Grace German Reformed Church.  

When the early records of those congregations are read,  the names are very common names in Union County.

Dexter went on to profile the several early Southern Illinois German Reformed Churches, none of which exists today.  

One such congregation was St. John’s German Reformed Church that met at present day St. John’s Lutheran Church, between Dongola and Jonesboro.  

Others included Casper or Union German Reformed, Mt. Pisgah German Reformed, and Jonesboro German Reformed.   

St. Paul’s German Reformed Church in Anna met in the brick building that later became Trinity Lutheran.  Other Reformed Churches were at Wetaug and Tamms.

Former German Reformed pastors were profiled by Dexter. (Two of them, Rev. Philip Henry Kroh, Sr. and Philip Henry Kroh, Jr. were familiar to the audience.)   From marriage records by the early ministers, guests were able to pick out family ancestors.

Sunday, July 14, Parlor Talk

A Parlor Talk planned at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 14, will be about Mt. Olive Baptist Church in rural Dongola.

The talk is scheduled to be given by Helen Lingle Head.

The Heritage House Museum is scheduled to be open for tours from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Upcoming Parlor Talks

A tentative schedule has been planned for upcoming Parlor Talks. The schedule includes:

July 28, First Baptist  Church in Cobden, presented by Glenda Meyers.

Aug. 4, First Baptist Church in Dongola, presented by Diana and Arianna Moutell.

Aug. 11, Jonesboro Methodist Church, presented by Judy Boyd Neal.

Aug. 25,  First Baptist Church in Jonesboro (Clear Creek), presented by Evelyn Hileman and Linda Sadler.

Sept. 8, First Baptist Church in Anna, presented by Evelyn Gillespie and Shirley Ray.

Sept. 15, Historic St. Anne’s Church in Anna, presented by Elaine Crain and Judy Smith.

There are some open dates during the summer for the parlor talks, focusing on early church histories.

Available dates for presentations include  July 21, Aug. 18, Sept. 1, 22, 29, Oct. 6, 12 and 13.

More information about volunteering to present a church history or helping to host open houses at PAST’s Heritage House Museum is available by contacting Linda at 697-1870 or Barbara at 527-2046.

Open houses are scheduled from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sundays through Oct. 13.

(Note: the accompanying photographs and article were shared by Barbara Bauer on behalf of PAST.)

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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