A Brief History
The Early Days
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River sits upon ground that was part of a tract of land that was given to Albert Zabriskie (Zaborowsky) by the Native American Chief Manshier, of Weeronmmensa, in exchange for debts contracted in 1675. The original deed provided to Mr. Zabriskie was signed by four Native Americans. Soon afterward, One Thousand acres was signed over to Thomas Van Buskirk, who was a Lutheran. In 1820, Thomas Van Burskirk’s great grandson gave a parcel of this land along with David I. Ackerman for the current church and cemetery. The ground upon which Zion stands has been owned by Lutherans since it was transferred from Native Americans in 1675.
A number of the area’s earliest families were Lutherans, notably the Van Buskirk family. At first these Lutherans attended church in Hackensack, River Edge and Mahwah, then known as Ramapough. The increased settlements in the Saddle River area of Lutherans lead to organizing a local congregation. In 1818, Reverend Frederick C. Schaeffer began preaching to area Lutherans every fourth Sunday using the building of New North Reformed Low Dutch Church in Upper Saddle River (listed on National Register of Historic Places). This arrangement was short-lived as soon the local Lutherans were refused use of the building. They then held summer services in Thomas Van Buskirk’s barn and winter services in the attic of his house, located at 164 East Saddle River Road, Saddle River (listed on National Register of Historic Places). In December 1819, these Lutherans decided to build their own church. Subscribers to the building fund included Reynard and Thomas Achenbach; Thomas, Lawrence and Stephen Van Buskirk; Andrew Esler; Daniel Berdan; David I. Ackerman; and, Andrew and John Van Buskirk. These men were members of the Saddle River’s earliest families. In 1820, Thomas Van Buskirk and David I. Ackerman each gave half of the land for the church and cemetery. The site chosen was and is located at the areas major cross roads, the point where East Saddle River Road and East Allendale Road cross together. Andrew Esler was chairman of the building committee and he is credited with being the designer of the church building.
Church records reveal that the building was dedicated on October 14, 1821. The Reverend Schaeffer preached the sermon, taking his text from 1 Corthinans 3-11. The building’s cornerstone was laid October 20, 1820, and the original name of the congregation was “The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River and Ramapough”. A bottle of wine, a loaf of bread, a bible and a hymn book were placed within the stone. The first communion was held in the new church on December 23, 1821.
The Church building is one of only ten Federal style churches remaining in Bergen County, NJ, and the second oldest of two that are of frame construction. The church building as it stands today is essentially the same as it was at the one hundredth anniversary in 1921 although there have been some changes with the passing years. The exterior has had no major alterations except for the addition of a chancel and a porch on the east front. For the 175th anniversary, major alterations were completed to restore the interior to the turn of the century design, which included moving the choir to the rear gallery and including earlier style railings (now protected with tempered glass). In 1940, the present Hammond electric organ was installed, replacing the pipe organ which had then served approximately forthy-five years. New stained glass windows and the carillon attached to the organ were also installed. The church building has been continually used by its congregation since 1821 with periodic remodeling efforts to preserve the building’s historical façade while ensuring its functional use for the changing times.
The present parish house was greatly enlarged from the original building. On this site, the original building was known as the “Ladies Hall,” so named as it was the property of the Ladies Social Union, which was the Ladies Aid Society in those days. That building consisted of one room and stage on the main floor, with the basement used for church suppers. Both were much smaller than the present main floor and basement, and here all the Sunday School activities, church suppers, fairs and entertainments were held. In 1930, due to the growth of the Sunday School, and the need in the community of an adquate place for meetings, church suppers, etc., it was decided to remodel and enlarge the building. Since this was done as an activity of the church as a whole, title to the property was transferred to the church and the name adopted for the building was “Parish House”. This was completed at the beginning of the depression, but in spite of the economic upheaval, there was no delay in raising the necessary funds. This was done partly by contributions from individuals and the two church societies of the time and partly by means of loans without interest from individuals. In a relatively few years, all loans were repaid, and the property has since been entirely free of debt. For many years the building was not actively used, but in 2016 after a flood due to freezing pipes, the building was remodeled for rental purposes, and is currently rented to “The Body Image Boutique”, a wellness organization.
The old parsonage was sold March 16, 1922, eighty years after it was built in 1842. The contract was awarded for building the new parsonage June 5, 1922. In 1925, the garage in the rear of the parsonage was built. This building was occupied by pastors through approximately 1999, when the pastor at the time decided not to live in this facility. Consequently, since then, the building has been rented to families, with a major upgrade completed in 2015.
The Fellowship Hall, otherwise known as Korn Hall after one of our dedicated congregational members, was erected in 1960. Rev William Fredericks Behrens lead the effort during the late 1950’s to purchas land to expand the footprint of Zion in order to build Korn Hall. This building contains a stage, a commercial kitchen and offices. The original plan was to extend this building to be a facility for congregational members to live in during their older years, but this plan was never executed. Today, Fellowship Hall is used in a variety of ways: most of Zion’s celebrations and events, many organizations in the area such as Girl Scouts and Girls on the Run, and the field in the back of the building is used by the Crush Soccer group.
In approximately 200 years, Zion has had 32 Pastors. Zion’s first pastor as mentioned above was Rev. H. N. Pohlman, who was quickly followed by Rev. D. Hendricks. Overall, in the early days, the pastors were on a general rotation of 2-4 year assignments as was the custom in those days. Rev. Martin Snyder broke this tradition, and stayed with Zion from 1900 to 1911. During the depression, Rev Emanuel Dreibelbis stayed with Zion for 17 years, and managed to make significant changes to our Parish House and Parsonage home during this time period. The Rev. William Frederick Behrens, who stayed with Zion for 21 years, is known for his active involvement with the New Jersey Synod, expansion of Zion for erecting Fellowship Hall, amending Zion’s constitution to enable women to serve on the church council, and an enlarged benevolence program. Rev. Roy George Almqist may be Zion’s most famous pastor, as after 11 years with Zion, he became a member of the New Jersey Synod Council. In 1984, Pastor Almquist accepted a call to be Pastor at Calvary Lutheran in West Chester, PA. In 1994, he was elected Bishop of the Southeast Pennsylvania Synod, serving two terms, a total of 12 years.
Below is a summary of our long lineage of Pastors, who we honor for their years of service and dedication to Zion:
Count Years Served Pastor
1 1818 – 1821 Rev. Frederick Christian Schaeffer
2 1821 – 1822 Rev. H. N. Pohlman
3 1822 – 1830 Rev. D. Hendricks
4 1830 – 1833 Rev. H. J. Smith
5 1833 – 1835 Rev. W. L. Gibson
6 1835 – 1838 Rev. J. Eisenlord
7 1838 – 1847 Rev. Jacob Christian Duy
8 1847 – 1850 Rev. George Neff
9 1850 – 1853 Rev. Matthew Waldenmeyer
10 1853 – 1856 Rev. N. Wert
11 1858 – 1867 Rev. Ephraim De Yoe
12 1868 – 1870 Rev. Laurent D. Wells
13 1870 – 1873 Rev. William A. Julian
14 1874 – 1881 Rev. John Switzer
15 1881 – 1882 Rev. P. M. Rightmeyer
16 1882 – 1886 Rev. D. A. Shelter
17 1886 – 1889 Rev. J. V. Bodine
18 1889 – 1897 Rev. E. Hughes
19 1897 – 1900 Rev. Charles A. Hutton
20 1900 – 1911 Rev. M. L. Snyder
21 1912 – 1914 Rev. J. K. Efird
22 1914 – 1915 Rev. W. H. Minicke
23 1915 – 1917 Rev. Carl H. Yettru
24 1917 – 1922 Rev G. D. Strail
25 1922 – 1925 Rev. Albert Massey
26 1925 – 1942 Rev. Emanuel Dreibelbis
26 1942 – 1944 Rev. John H. Sardeson
27 1944 – 1951 Rev. George W. De Lawter
28 1951 – 1972 Rev. William Frederick Behrens
29 1973 – 1984 Rev. Roy George Almquist
30 1985 – 1997 Rev. Jack R. Behlendorf
31 1998 – 2001 Rev. Albert H. Heusmann
32 2004 – 2018 Rev. Wesley W. Smith II
Our Ancillary Mission Services
A few highlights of the ancillary mission services at Zion include the following:
Women Organizations 1. The Ladies Social Union was assembled in 1878. This group of ladies promoted sociability in the congregation and assumed part of the financial responsibilities of the church. This group was dissembled after 50 years, and the functions were combined with the Loyal League.
2. The Loyal League was assembled in 1913. This group of ladies purpose was to cultivate a missionary of spirit in its members and the church, and to aid in the local work of the church and community. This group was disbanded in 1958.
3. In 1958, the United Lutheran Church Women group was organized, bringing together the Loyal League and the Evening Guild, a group of younger women. This merger led to enabling the church to buy 150 copies of the newly published Service Book and Hymnal.
4. In 1970, this United Lutheran Church Woman group was disbanded, but women support continued in various forms.
5. Today, there are three main groups of women who support the mission of the church.
a. The WELCA organization supports numerous organizations through their quilting and clothing drive functions. This includes supporting the teenagers in attending the Youth Gatherings, providing their quilts to the needy in foreign counties, and donating funds to the church for necessary improvements.
b. The Altar Guild group ensures that the church services are managed with care necessary to honor the sacraments.
c. Fundraising activities each year are led by numerous women at Zion, leading to financial support for the church while also providing an opportunity for fellowship with Zion members and providing an opportunity for outreach to our local community.
Sunday School The church has always regarded the field of youth activity as part of its ministry. For example, during the pastorate of Rev. Yettru (1915 – 1917), an active athletic program was maintained. The Sunday School grew at such a rate from 1946 – 1955 that in the latter year the congregation began to show interest in expansion of the facilities, which ultimately lead to the erection of the Fellowship Hall. In subsequent years, the enrollment of Sunday School students began to decline, and has been an ongoing concern over the past many years. However, Zion ensures through its dedicated group on teachers that our youth learn a strong Christian education.
Youth Ministry The first Luther League at Zion was organized during Pastor Hughes ministry, in the late 1890’s. Expansion happened significantly in the late 1960’s due to the commitment of Mrs. Hallie Confer. In 1970, fourteen young people served on the Sunday School staff and five served on the Vacation Church School. Zion continues to be dedicated and committed to sending our high school students to the Lutheran Youth Gathering.
Music Program Early knowledge of the history of music at Zion is limited as the early records contain no mention of music. The first entry in the church records was in October 1866 when it was noted that the congregation held a festival for the purpose of collecting money for an organ, which was purchased from Beal and Sherwood in Monsey, New York. The first organist was Mrs. Jennie Ackerman, serving from 1866 to 1894. When the pipe organ was installed in 1894, Mrs. Ackerman’s son (William H. Ackerman) became the organist for approximately 3 years. Mrs. Berdan who became the organist in 1906 became the longest consecutive term organist serving 38 years. The belief is that Mrs. Berdan resigned from her position when the new Hammond Electric Organ was purchased in 1940 as she did not like the concept of an electric organ. In 1969, a new Allen “Classic” organ was installed. Over the years, Zion has been blessed with a strong and active choir, and has introduced new programs such as the Chicago Folk Service.
Over the last 200 years, Zion has witnessed many changes in its membership, its pastors, and its vision of ministry. In the early years, we focused on ministering to those in the immediate need of Saddle River, but as time passed and distances shortened, we also realized our responsibility to others far beyond the limits of our town. Yet, certain things that have never changed at Zion. The Gospel remains constant with the sacraments still administered in their purity and truth. The basic doctrines of our faith remain the same and we continue to welcome all people to our congregation.
A Much, Much, Much Less Brief History
The Rev. Jacobus Fabritius (1669-1671)
The Rev. Bernhardus Arensius (1671-1691)
Troubled Times (1691-1703)
The Rev. Justus Falckner (1703-1723)
The Rev. Wilhelm Christoph Berkenmeyer (1725-1732)
The Rev. Michael Christian Knoll (1732-1750)
Christ Church, New York (1749-1784)
The Rev. Henry Melchior Muhlenberg (1751-1753)
The Rev. Johann Albert Weygand (1753-1770)
The Rev. Bernard Michael Houseal (1770-1783)
The Rev. John Christopher Kunze (1784-1807)
The Rev. Friedrich Wilhelm Geissenhainer (1808-1814)
The Rev. Frederick Christian Schaeffer (1814-1827)
The Geissenhainers, Father (1823-1838) and Son (1827-1840)
St. Matthews Church (1838-1964)
The Rev. Frederick Christian Schaeffer (1818-1821)
The Rev. Henry Newman Pohlman (1821-1822)
The Rev. David Hendricks (1822-May 1830)
The Rev. H.J. Smith (1831-1833)
The Rev. W.L. Gibson (1833-1835)
The Rev. J. Eisenlord (1835-1838)
The Rev. Jacob Christian Duy (1838-1847)
The Rev. George Neff (1847-1850)
The Rev. Matthew Waldenmeyer (1850-1853)
The Rev. N. Wert (1853-1856)
The Rev. Ephraim De Yoe (1858-1867)
The Rev. Laurent D. Wells (1868-1870)
The Rev. William A. Julian (1870-1873)
The Rev. John Switzer (1874-1881)
The Rev. P.M. Rightmeyer (1881-1882)
The Rev. D.A. Shetler (1882-1886)
The Rev. J.V. Bodine (1886-1889)
The Rev. E. Hughes (1889-1897
The Rev. Charles A. Hutton (1897-1900)
The Rev. M.L. Snyder (1900-1911)
The Rev. J.K. Efird (1912-1914)
The Rev. W.H. Mimicke (1914-1915)
The Rev. Carl H. Yettru (1915-1917)
The Rev. G.D. Strail (1917-1922)
The Rev. Albert Massey (1922-1925)
The Rev. Emanuel Dreibelbis (1925-1942)
The Rev. John H. Sardeson (1942-1944)
The Rev. George W. De Lawter (1944-1951)
The Rev. William Frederick Behrens (1951-Present)
Sponsors and Patrons
One does not have to be a mathematician to determine that if Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River, N.J., is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 1971, the church must date from 1821. However, there are many who would claim that the church is much older than that. It would be impossible in the space allotted to this brief historical sketch to cover the many aspects of the early days of the church in any detail. For more details of the beginnings of Lutheranism in colonial America or the history of one of our neighboring churches, the reader is referred to the bibliography (1 through 59) at the end of this presentation.
There appears to be no standardized way of measuring the age of a church. The one extreme is represented by the following excerpt from the introduction to “A Century of Faith,” the 100th anniversary booklet (29) of the Church of the Redeemer, Ramsey. N.J.:
Fig 1 Martin Luther
“It was in October, 1517, that Martin Luther tacked his now famous 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church he served in Wittenberg, Germany. Through this act he was calling and, in a sense, demanding reform within the Holy Christian Church. The impact of his hammer could have never been realized by him then, but 350 years later, in 1867, a small group of families formed an evangelical Lutheran congregation in a place known as Ramsey’s, New Jersey, U.S.A. In the year of our Lord, 1967, we cerebrate the 450th anniversary of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Ramsey, New Jersey.”
‘By this yardstick, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River, and every other Lutheran church throughout the world, will celebrate its 454th anniversary this year. The other extreme is to consider the date of the actual dedication of the first church building as the date from which anniversaries are measured. There appears to be considerable confusion concerning the start of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River. Not the least confused was Zion’s own pastor, the Rev. M.L. Snyder, who made the following entries in the Church Records (59):
“In 1903 celebrated the 153rd Anniversary as a church society—J. Hosey Osborn, the Historian.” “In 1904 celebrated the 154th Anniversary as a church society—Hon. James M. Craig, the speaker.” 5 reward
(In 1904 footnote missing)
These entries place the beginning of the church as 1750. Per- haps the historical basis for these entries was the fact that a small frame church had been built by the Ramapo Lutherans about that time and the Ramapo Lutheran Church Records began in 1750, in German, as the “Kirch Buch Vor Die Rembachische Evangelische Lutherische Gemeinde” (24).
Evidently Pastor Snyder then decided that the year 1750 was incorrect, since in 1909 he proposed to celebrate the 136th anniversary of the church in 1910. This would place the beginning of Zion in the year 1774. No record can be found of the historical basis for this date.
The situation was further complicated by the following letter which Pastor Snyder received from the Rev. George U. Wenner, pastor of Christ Church, on 19th St. in New York City, in 1910. New York, August 9th, 1910
Dear Brother Snyder, I only followed your own report. You say that the church was organized in 1821. See Minutes, 1909, and then you propose to celebrate the 136th anniversary. But if your church is the Hackensack church, it is more than 136 years old, for it was regularly served by Berkemeyer, who died 180 years ago, and it was even served by Falckner who died in 1723, 187 years ago. So you will have an additional job in the matter of verifying your dates. But possibly yours is the Remmersbach church (is that the same as Ramapo?). But that church was served by Muhlenberg 160 years ago, so that you still are all in the woods with your anniversary date. You would render the church a great service if you would follow up this matter and trace the relation of your church to the churches of Remmersbach (Ramapo) and Hackensack. Fraternally yours, G.U. Wenner
The Rev. Dr. Wenner at the time was working on the manuscript for his book, “The Lutherans of New York” (53). The book was published in 1918, fifty years after he had begun his pastorate at Christ Church. Unfortunately, Saddle River and the other New Jersey congregations are not mentioned in the book. The first published attempt to trace the relationships of Zion Lutheran Church of Saddle River to the churches of Ramapo and Hackensack appears to be the article, “Lutherans of Saddle River, N.J.” prepared by J. Hosey Osborn for the celebration of the church’s 100th anniversary in 1921 (38). Unfortunately, in the words of Mr. Osborn:
“The facts relating to the church and the people were gathered about half a century ago when I was a boy from the lips of the people who were present when the cornerstone was laid and saw the building put up.” Although the paper is well written and contains a wealth of information, certain events are inadequately covered, and there are several instances in which names or dates do not agree with those in the official church records (59). In that respect, it is not unlike many of the available histories of the Lutheran congregations in New York and New Jersey. The historical sketch which follows attempts to bring together the information contained in the article by Osborn (38), the official church records (59), and a number of other sources (3, 11, 13, 15, 20, 26, 27, 28, 31, 32, 33, 43, 51, 52, 54, 55, 56).
It seems appropriate at this time to mention that all the records agree with respect to the following events which took place in 1821 and which are being commemorated in this 150th Anniversary year:
1) February, 1821 — The calling of the first pastor, the Rev. Henry N. Pohlman.
2) March 25, 1821 —The first sermon by the new pastor in the attic of the home of Thomas Van Buskirk.
3) October 14, 1821— The dedication of the new church building.
4) December 23, 1821— The first celebration of the Holy Communion in the new church. 5
The history of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River would not be complete without some discussion of the early history of the Lutheran churches which preceded it on the continent of North America. While it is common knowledge that our church is descended from Martin Luther (Figure 1), it has only recently been proved that Zion is a direct descendant of the “Oldest Lutheran Church in America.” Documentary proof of this fact is given below.
About a year prior to the sailing of the Mayflower from England, a flotilla of two ships with 66 men aboard left Denmark in search of a northern route to the East Indies (49). They sailed into 4 Hudson Bay and spent the winter at the mouth of the Churchill River. Among the crew of Captain Jens Munck was a Lutheran pastor, the Rev. Ramus Jensen. Pastor Jensen administered communion on Christmas day, 1619. These were the first Lutherans in America, preceding the Pilgrims by one year. During the bitterly cold winter, all except the Captain and two of the seamen t died. Those that were alive returned home in July of 1620, never i4 having established a church.
In 1638, through the colonization project of Gustavus Adolphus a number of Swedish Lutherans settled at Fort Christina (Wilmington) on the Delaware River. On nearby Tinicum Island, the first Lutheran church building in America was dedicated in 1646 When William Penn sailed up the Delaware River in 1682 to select a site for his city of Philadelphia, he chose a spot where a Swedish village and a Lutheran church stood (31). It was to the Swedish Lutherans of Gloria Dei Church in Philadelphia that the New York and Albany congregations finally appealed in 1702 after having been without a pastor for eleven years.
The Swedish Lutheran congregations in the area of Wilmington and Philadelphia flourished for a number of years, but immigration to America ceased and descendants of the early Swedish settlers lost all contact with old Sweden and the Lutheran Church and were forgotten among the people of Sweden until about 1840 Thus, although the Swedish Lutheran Church at Wilmington was the first Lutheran church in America, it is not the oldest Lutheran 8 church in America. That distinction belongs to the New York and Albany congregations to be discussed next.
Lutherans came to New York as early as 1625, during the Thirty Years’ War. They emigrated from northern Germany and Scandinavia to Holland and from there to the New Netherlands. Although the official religion of Holland, and, consequently, of New Amsterdam, was Reformed (Calvinist), a Jesuit priest, Isaac Jogues, wrote in 1643 that “there are in settlement Catholics, English Puritans, Lutherans, etc.” (43).
By 1649, the Lutherans in New Amsterdam had banded together to form the “Congregation of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession of Faith” and had sent a delegation to the Consistory of the Lutheran Church at Amsterdam in search of a pastor. No help was forthcoming, however, probably because only the “true Reformed church” was permitted to hold public services in the Dutch colony. Thus, the Lutherans had to hold secret services to avoid persecution.
Early in July, 1657, the first Lutheran pastor, John Ernestus Gutwasser, arrived in New Amsterdam. Unfortunately, continued persecution of the congregation and personal illness forced the Rev. Mr. Gutwasser to return to Holland. The persecution by the Dutch Reformed domines tended to knit the Lutherans even more I closely together, and they continued their efforts to secure a pastor. Two Swedish Lutheran pastors from Delaware — Lars Lock and Abelius Zetskoorn — served the congregation briefly in 1660 and 1662.
Dutch rule and religious intolerance ended in September of 1664 when a squadron of English warships appeared in the harbor and took possession of the town. New Amsterdam became New York.
The congregation applied to the first English governor, Richard Nicolls, for freedom of worship. Their request resulted in the following charter:
WHEREAS several persons under my government who profess the Lutheran religion have taken the oath of obedience to his Majesty, his Royal Highness, and such Governor or other officers as shall by their authority be set over them, and they having requested me for liberty to send for one minister or more of their religion and that they may freely and publicly exercise divine worship according to their consciences; I do hereby give my consent thereunto, provided they shall not abuse this liberty to the disturbance of others, and submitting to and obeying such laws and ordinances as shall be imposed upon them by the authority aforesaid. Given under my hand and seal at James Fort in New York on the Island of Manhattan this 6th day of December, Anno 1664.
The above appears in Kreider’s book, “The Beginnings of Lutheranism in New York” (26). The original is in the archives of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, New York City. For clearness, Kreider has put the spelling into modern form.
This charter establishes the Lutheran Churches in New York and Albany as “the oldest Lutheran Church in America.” It marks December 6, 1664 as the date the church came into legal existence — although the congregation at that time could look back upon an eventful 15-year history.
This congregation tried in vain for more than four years to obtain a pastor. Meanwhile, they held reading services in the Luthersche Kerck in the Hanover Square neighborhood, shown in Figure 2.
Fig. 2. The Luthersche Kerck was the first home of the Lutheran congregation in New York, believed located in the Hannover Square area. The congregation held reading services for four years while awaiting the arrival of the first pastor from Europe.
In February, 1669, Magister Jacobus Fabritius arrived in New York and obtained the permission of Governor Lovelace to be- come the pastor of the Lutherans in New York and Albany. For 62 years, these churches and other Lutheran communities along the Hudson formed a single parish and were served by the pastors of the New York Church (43). The important happenings during the various pastoral ministries are discussed briefly below.
As mentioned above, Pastor Fabritius began his ministry in New York City in February, 1669. Later that year, he made his first trip to Albany. Thus, 1669 marks the beginning of pastoral ministry in both the New York and Albany branches of the congregation. Serious differences soon developed between Pastor Fabritius on one side and the congregation on the other. In 1671, a new pastor was dispatched to New York in response to complaints about Pastor Fabritius by his parishioners and by civil authorities.
The Rev. Mr. Fabritius then made his way to the Swedish Lutheran settlements on the Delaware. Although he became blind during the last ten years of his life, he continued to minister to the Swedish flock until his death in 1693.
The immediate task of Pastor Arensius (Arnzius) upon his arrival in New York in August of 1671 was to complete the building of a church, a project started by Pastor Fabritius. With the financial aid of the Swedish Lutherans now being served by Fabritius, the dream of a new church became a reality. The building was on Broadway, just outside the city wall, on the same plot or land occupied 25 years later by Trinity Episcopal Church. In July 71, 1673, however, the Dutch recaptured the town. Since the church was outside the city wall, the Dutch felt that it might interfere with the defense of the city and the church was demolished. The Dutch paid the Lutherans 415 guilders in cash and a parcel of land inside the city gate as compensation for their loss. The plot was on Broadway, just south of Rector Street. A new church was erected on this site, and this house of worship served the congregation for more than fifty years. Pastor Arensius was also instrumental in having a church built on Pearl Street in Albany. This was in 1672. According to the 300th Anniversary Booklet of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church (43), the records of Pastor Arensius are sketchy but there seems to be no doubt that he also ministered to other Lutheran settlements along the Hudson and in New Jersey. This is the first mention of the possibility of any church in New Jersey existing before 1704 when Justus Falckner made his first visit to Hackensack. During the ministry of Pastor Arensius, the first difficulties between the German and Dutch factions of the congregation began to develop. Also, as the country became more settled, many families moved away from the city. At the time of Pastor Arensius’ death in 1691, only about 30 families remained in the New York City congregation.
From the time of Pastor Arensius’ death until 1702, a period of eleven years, the congregations were without a pastor, largely because European wars had made help from overseas impossible to obtain. In 1702, the congregations appealed to the Swedish Lutherans in Philadelphia for help. In response, Pastor Andreas Rudman of Gloria Dei Swedish Lutheran Church came to the rescue. However, he became ill with yellow fever soon after his I arrival in New York. His illness forced him to retire. Before deciding to retire, however, Pastor Rudman convinced Justus Falckner to become pastor of the New York and Albany congregations. In a census taken by Pastor Rudman, it was reported that there were a number of Lutheran families living along the Hackensack River (55). Principal among these were the Van Buskirks who had been attending the Lutheran church in New York. Andrew Van I Buskirk was an elder of the church and Lawrence Van Buskirk ‘ was a church warden.
Justus Falckner was born in Germany in 1672. The son of a Lutheran minister, he received his education at the University of Halle. When he came to America on a business venture in 1700, he had not yet been ordained. As soon as he was called upon to serve the New York Church, arrangements were made for his ordination. On November 24, 1703, in the Swedish Lutheran Church in Philadelphia, Justus Falckner became the first Lutheran minister to be ordained in America (43). He immediately set out for New York, where he found both the church and the congregation in sad condition. Pastor Falckner had to learn to speak Dutch in order to preach to his congregation. This he did, and, in a short time, he had things in good shape. The old building was repaired and a building fund for a new church was started.
According to the 300th Anniversary Booklet of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in New York (43), Pastor Falckner had things so well in hand by 1704 that he was able to look after the scattered communities throughout New York and New Jersey. He traveled by canoe, sailboat, horseback, and on foot, ministering to his flock which included Dutch, Germans, English, Spanish, Italians, Negroes and Indians. His work with the New Jersey congregations will be covered in some detail later in this survey.
In December of 1708, the Rev. Joshua Kocherthal arrived in New York with a group of 40 to 50 refugees from the Palatinate, a German principality located near Baden on the Rhine River (13). Governor Lovelace granted Kocherthal 500 acres for a glebe, and an additional 250 acres for his family (27). The land was situated at the mouth of the Quassaic Creek. This was the beginning of the city of Newburgh. In May of 1709, Governor Lovelace died, leaving the new colony without adequate support. Kocherthal returned to England to plead his case before the Queen. Queen Anne was sympathetic toward the destitute Protestants, since her husband, Prince George of Denmark, was of German Lutheran stock (13). Approximately 3000 Palatines arrived in New York City in the summer of 1710 along with their new governor, Robert Hunter. They were settled on three tracts of land along the east and west banks of the Hudson River, about 90 miles north of New York City. Seven villages were laid out. Of these, only Germantown on the east side and West Camp on the west side still remain. Some families stayed in New York City, but most of them migrated shortly thereafter to New Jersey. Some went to the Raritan Valley and about a dozen men moved their families to Ramapo (13). For Falckner’s work with the Ramapo congregation and the congregations at Hackensack and Raritan Valley, see the section devoted to these congregations.
Falckner assisted Kocherthal by making regular visits to the congregations along the Hudson. Kocherthal settled permanently at what is now West Camp in 1711. In addition to the congregation at West Camp, Kocherthal served Queensbury (East Camp, later Germantown), Schoharie (from 1714), and Rhinebeck (from 1715), faithfully until his death on June 24, 1719 (27).
In 1718, the year before Kocherthal’s death, Pastor Falckner made the following visits to the congregations in New York and New Jersey (27):
January Loonenburg (Athens)
April New York City
June Hackensack, Ramapo,
“Pieter Lassens,” Quassaic
July New York City
August Raritan (Pluckemin), Hackensack
September New York City
October Hackensack, Ramapo, New York City
By 1722, there were at least fourteen organized congregations under the care of Pastor Falckner. Although he traveled extensively, he was unable to visit all of his congregations in one year. Falckner died toward the end of 1723 at the age of 51.
During the period between Falckner’s death and the arrival of the Rev. Wilhelm C. Berkenmeyer in New York on September 22, 1725, trouble broke out in Albany and Hackensack over the way in which the formal call was made. As a result, Albany considered calling Pastor Falckner’s brother, Daniel Falckner, who had taken over the Raritan congregation. Hackensack called the “tailor-pastor” Johann Bernhard Van Dohren (Dieren), a vagabond preacher from the Schoharie Valley (27). The Albany congregation was soon appeased, but the Hackensack congregation persisted in keeping Van Dohren.
Pastor Berkenmeyer’s first job was to try to straighten out this problem. He found that the New York City congregation was sincere in their desire to maintain harmony within the congregation. The Hackensack congregation also pledged their loyalty. However, a number of influential members resented the ousting of Van Dohren.
On June 29, 1729, a new church building— measuring 30 by 46 feet with a 58-foot spire— was dedicated and named Trinity Church. This church, shown in Figure 3, served the New York congregation from 1729 to 1776 when it was destroyed by fire.
Fig. 3. Trinity Church built in 1729 served New York Lutherans; was destroyed by fire in 1776.
By 1731, Berkenmeyer was caring regularly for ten congregations in New York and New Jersey. The congregation in New York City was growing smaller and smaller. The immigrants from southern Germany did not feel at home in Trinity Church 1 where only “Low Dutch” was preached. On the other hand, the northern part of the parish was growing so rapidly that Pastor Berkenmeyer thought it advisable to expend all of his energies there. He recommended grouping the congregation into parishes, with a pastor in each parish. To secure additional pastors, he appealed to the Old Hamburg Church in London (27).
Perhaps Berkenmeyer was influenced by the success of the Raritan Valley congregations which had been organized into a parish by Daniel Falckner. A second parish emerged in 1731 with its center at Rhinebeck. The pastor of this parish was the Rev. Johannes Spaler. The third parish was organized in the Lower Hudson Valley, upon the arrival of the Rev. Michael Chris- tian Knoll in late 1732. This parish embraced New York City, Hackensack, “Pieter Lassen’s” (near New Hamburg), and Quassaic (Newburgh). Berkenmeyer himself took over the fourth parish at Loonenburg, in the Upper Hudson Valley. In 1743, a fifth parish was established in the Schoharie and Mohawk Valleys with the town of Schoharie as its center.
During the period of the organization of the parishes, Pastor Berkenmeyer had gradually assumed the position of Superintendent. This is discussed in detail in Kreider’s book (27) and will not be covered here. The remainder of this survey will be devoted to the Lower Hudson Valley parish, the Raritan Valley parish and several other New Jersey congregations.
Michael Christian Knoll was born at Rendsburg, in Schleswig-Holstein, in Denmark in 1696. This area later became part of Germany. Pastor Knoll was ordained in his homeland on August 13, 1732. He arrived in New York City to take care of the Lower Hudson Valley Parish on December 9, 1732. Pastor Knoll inherited two extremely difficult problems. First, the “tailor-pastor” Van Dohren who had caused so much trouble for Pastor Berkenmeyer continued to be a thorn in the side of the New York pastor. In the record of the Lutheran Church in New York from 1649-1772 in the Lutheran Church Archives at Amsterdam, Holland (51) there are a number of entries concerning this controversy. The elders and deacons of the Hackensack and Ramapo congregations published an announcement on December 7, 1734 that they did not believe the things that Pastor Knoll had written about their Domine Van Dohren and that these things would be considered as lies until proven before the Magistrate of Hackensack.
The second problem facing Pastor Knoll was the increasing ratio of Germans to Dutch in the congregation. The question came up as to whether Pastor Knoll shouldn’t occasionally conduct a service in German. The church council gave their consent for a sermon to be preached sometimes on the second Sunday and sometimes on the third Sunday, sometimes in the morning and at other times in the afternoon or between the morning and afternoon services (27). This satisfied some Germans, but others demanded more concessions. After years of battling back and forth, a division of the congregation resulted. In 1749-1750, the dissidents purchased an old brewery and converted it into a church. Johann Friedrich Ries was called to be their pastor. Pastor Knoll was left in the old church with a few Dutch and German members and Pastor Ries gathered together the rest of the German Lutherans and Reformed. Pastor Knoll was so discouraged by his experiences that he resigned his office in September 1750, and sought to earn his living by giving language lessons. However, when Pastor Berkenmeyer died, Pastor Knoll once more became his successor. This time, however, the congregation was at Loonenburg. Pastor Knoll continued in his upstate ministry until his death in about the year 1772.
As mentioned above, the German-speaking portion of the New York City congregation broke away from the mother church and operated independently from 1749 on. However, the congregations were reunited in 1784. The pastors who served at Christ Church were as follows: 1750-1751, Johann Friedrich Ries; 17521756, Philipp Henrich Rapp; 1756-1757, Johann Georg Wiessner; 1759-1761, Johann Martin Schaeffer; 1763-1767, Johann Georg Bager; 1767-1773, Johann Siegfried Gerock; and 1773-1776, Fredrick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, the second son of the “Patriarch.”
By 1767, the congregation had outgrown the converted brewery mentioned above and had built a new church called “Christ Church.” The building became known as the “Swamp Church” because of its location. The church is shown in Figure 4.
Shortly after his arrival in New York City in 1773, Pastor Muhlenberg attempted to organize a ministerium similar to the one his father had founded earlier in Pennsylvania. Toward this end, he held a meeting of pastors in his church and arranged for at least one more meeting. Unfortunately, the minutes of these meetings have not become part of the permanent records. He was unable to complete the organization of the New York Ministerium because of the occupation of New York City by the British. He left for Pennsylvania to avoid being hanged for his outspoken espousal of the patriot cause.
Fig. 4. German speaking Lutherans in New York outgrew their converted brewery and built Christ Church in 1767, at the northeast corner of Frankfort and William Streets. The building was sold in 1831. Parsonage and school adjoined.
F.A.C. Muhlenberg remained in the ministry in Pennsylvania for a short time and then devoted his life to politics. He was a member of the Continental Congress in 1777. Later, he served in several positions of importance in Pennsylvania. In 1787, he was elected president of the convention which ratified the Constitution of the United States. He served in the Congress from 1789 to 1797 and was elected speaker of the House of Representatives in the first and third Congresses (43).
Fig. 5. The Rev. Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, early American Lutheran leader, later honored by having a college named after him.
Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, shown in Figure 5, was born September 6, 1711 in Einbeck in the Electorate of Hannover, Germany. His father was Nicolaus Melchior Muhlenberg and his mother was Anna Maria Muhlenberg, a daughter of Mr. Kleinschmid, a former superior officer in the military service. He was educated at Gottingen and at Halle. He arrived in Pennsylvania in 1742 to serve as pastor of several congregations in and near Philadelphia, and soon became the leader of all the Lutheran groups in the colonies (27). In 1743, Augustus Lutheran Church in Trappe, Pennsylvania, was dedicated. This church, commonly known as “Old Trappe Church” is still standing today and has the honor of being the “Oldest Original Lutheran Church in America.” The church is shown in Figure 6. In 1745, Muhlenberg, Pastor Berkenmeyer and Pastor Knoll went to Raritan to look into the matter of a Pastor August Wolf who had been accused of a number of acts unbecoming a pastor. Pastor Wolf was finally convinced that he should resign. In 1746, Pastor Kurtz was sent to serve the vacant congregation formerly served by Pastor Wolf. In 1748, the Rev. John Albert Weygand was dispatched to serve at Raritan. On occasion, Weygand probably visited Hackensack. Pastor Muhlenberg had become acquainted with the conditions in New York when he visited the city in 1750 after Pastor Knoll’s resignation. Several elders and deacons from the Hackensack congregation attended services in New York while Muhlenberg was there and offered him a call. Muhlenberg agreed to come to New York for a short period to try to bring about a reconciliation of the two factions. He served from May, 1751 to August, 1751 when he had to return to his Pennsylvania congregations. When Muhlenberg returned to Pennsylvania he left the New York congregation in the temporary care of the Rev. Johann Albert Weygand. Pastor Muhlenberg returned to New York to serve from May, 1752 to August, 1752. Upon leaving New York, Muhlenberg recommended that the congregation call Pastor Weygand to take charge.
Fig. 6. Augustus Lutheran Church, known as the “Old Trappe Church,” is the oldest original Lutheran church in America, and still stands. It was dedicated in 1743.
In September, 1748, a young man by the name of Johann Albert Weygand arrived at the home of the Rev. Henry Melchior Muhlenberg to live there and to study theology (31). In 1749, as will be noted below under the Raritan Valley Parish, he began his ministry at New Germantown (Oldwick), Mountain (Pluckemin), and German Valley.
In December of 1749, Pastor Weygand was married to the daughter of the “tailor-pastor” Van Dohren (31). It seems that Pastor Weygand had been turned down in his request for the hand of the daughter of one of the deacons of the church and had immediately gone to the home of Mr. Van Dohren and was married at once to his daughter by Mr. Van Dohren. Pastor Weygand then came under considerable criticism by some of his parishioners, so much so that when he went to see Muhlenberg on June 15, 1750, expecting to be ordained, the objections were so strong that ordination was withheld until the congregation was satisfied that he was qualified (31). Late in November, the congregation at Raritan built a new church and requested that Pastor Muhlenberg visit Raritan and consecrate the church and ordain Pastor Weygand. Since Pastor Muhlenberg could not be there in person, he composed a few verses in German to take his place. Pastor Weygand continued to serve the Raritan congregations after his call to New York. In addition, he served at Hackensack and at Ramapo during this period.
The Rev. Weygand preached in German, English, or Dutch, as the occasion demanded. During the early part of his ministry in New York, a schoolhouse was erected and a regular teacher was employed. Pastor Weygand continued to serve the New York congregation until his death in 1770, although Muhlenberg had to send Pastor Daniel Kuhn to assist him for a brief period in 1768 and 1769 because Pastor Weygand was in ill health at the time.
The Rev. Bernard Michael Houseal became pastor of Trinity Church upon Weygand’s death in 1770. In 1771, the last services in Dutch were held. From then on, services were held in English and in German. The church records at this time were almost exclusively in English. Pastor Houseal was socially prominent and was a trustee of King’s College, now Columbia University. He was an outstanding speaker in either English or German, as could be gathered from the size of the audience in his church whenever he preached.
During the Revolution, Pastor Houseal took the side of the British and his church was crowded with Hessian soldiers who were quartered in the city. Trinity church and parsonage were burned to the ground on September 21, 1776. The congregation then worshiped in the Scotch Presbyterian Church on Cedar Street while the chaplains of the Hessian troops ministered to the members of Christ Church. Pastor Houseal left New York with the evacuation of the British on November 23, 1783.
Fig. 7. The Rev. John Christopher Kunze served as pastor of the “United Churches” from 1784 to 1807, and was also first president of the New York Ministerium.
John Christopher Kunze (Figure 7), a Saxon by birth, was educated at Halle and at Leipzig. He began his ministry in Philadelphia in 1770 at the age of 26 and continued to serve there until 1784. On January 7, 1784, under his direction, the church councils of Trinity Church and Christ Church signed an agreement by which the two churches were reunited under the corporate name, “The United German Lutheran Churches of the City of New York.” Dr. Kunze was a son-in-law of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg. He accepted a call to the combined New York church and began his tenure on August 1, 1784. While he was pastor of the New York church, he also served as Professor of Oriental Languages at Columbia University, as a trustee of that university, and as an interpreter for the Congress of the United States, which was meeting in New York at the time. Pastor Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, second son of the “Patriarch,” had attempted to organize a New York Ministerium similar to the one his father had founded earlier. The Revolution prevented him from seeing his dream come true. Dr. Kunze finally accomplished the goal in October, 1786. He was named first president of the New York Ministerium. Since Trinity Church had not been rebuilt after the fire, all services were now held in Christ Church. German immigration had practically ceased by this time and Dr. Kunze preached almost exclusively in English. In 1795, George Strebeck, one of his students, joined him to assist with the English work. Dr. Kunze and Mr. Strebeck collaborated to produce the first Lutheran Hymnal compiled in America (43). Strebeck turned out to be a disappointment to Pastor Kunze. He convinced many of the English-speaking members to withdraw from the congregation in order to form the first English Lutheran church in America, later known as Zion Church. The congregation built a church on Magazine (Pearl) Street, off City Hall Plaza (27). Because of this action, Strebeck was suspended from the Ministerium until he admitted his mistake. This he did in 1800 and was restored to membership. Strebeck remained in the New York Ministerium only four years after his membership was restored. He then left to join the Episcopal Church. He subsequently became rector of St. Stephen’s Church. In 1805, Ralph Williston, a Methodist, was called to Zion Church. In 1810, he also became Episcopalian. Shortly thereafter, most of Zion’s congregation followed him into the Episcopal fold (53). Thus, 1810 marks the end of the existence of the English Lutheran Church Zion in New York City. Pastor Kunze died July 24, 1807 at the age of 63.
Friedrich Wilhelm Geissenhainer was born on June 26, 1771 in Muhlheim, Germany. He studied theology for three years at Giessen and two years in Gottingen and was ordained in the Pennsylvania Synod in 1793 (43). He was selected by Pastor Kunze as his successor prior to the latter’s death. In 1808, he was issued a call. The call was accepted, and Pastor Geissenhainer began his labors immediately. He served from 1808 to 1814, but the defection of the English Lutheran Church had made the need for English preaching in Christ Church even more urgent. Since Pastor Geissenhainer preached eloquently in German but was unable to deliver a satisfactory sermon in English, he felt it necessary to resign in 1814. He returned to Pennsylvania but not until he had recommended the Rev. Frederick Christian Schaeffer as his successor. The latter was recommended because of his ability to preach equally well in English and German. Pastor Geissenhainer returned to the New York congregation in 1823 at the suggestion of Pastor Schaeffer to preach in German at Christ Church while Pastor Schaeffer preached in English at the new St. Matthew’s Church. He remained at Christ Church until his death on May 27, 1838 (53).
Frederick Christian Schaeffer was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on November 12, 1792. His father, David Frederick Schaeffer, was a pioneer American Lutheran minister who had been born in Frankfort/Main, Germany in 1760 and had come to America in 1774. Pastor F.C. Schaeffer was the third of four sons of David Frederick Schaeffer to become a Lutheran minister. He was trained for the ministry by his father and his oldest brother, also called David Frederick Schaeffer. His other brothers were Frederick Solomon Schaeffer and Charles Frederick Schaeffer. He also had a sister, Catherine, who married the Rev. Frederick A.C. Muhlenberg.
After he was ordained in the Pennsylvania Ministerium, he was called to Harrisburg. As mentioned above, he came to the New York congregation at the recommendation of Dr. Geissenhainer in 1814.
Pastor Schaeffer had the distinction of being the first American. born minister to serve the New York Church. He was only 22 years of age when he accepted the call to New York.
In September, 1815 at a meeting of the New York Ministerium in Rhinebeck, he was examined as a pastoral candidate, and was ordained the same year.
In spite of his youth, Pastor Schaeffer soon gained the confidence of all those who came into contact with him. He has been reported to have been a man of striking appearance and oratorical ability (43).
Pastor Schaeffer and the New York Ministerium took the initiative and invited the Pennsylvania Ministerium and the North Carolina Synod to help in a general North American celebration of the 300th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation in 1817 (54). Simultaneous services were held in the three synods on Reformation Day, October 31, 1817 with special sermons and special music. Two services were held in New York City. The first was in the morning in the Lutheran Church. Dr. Schaeffer preached in German and the Reformed and the Episcopal clergymen assisted in the service. The second service was a three-hour affair held in the afternoon at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Pastor Schaeffer delivered an oration on the text, “I believe, therefore I have spoken,” before an amazing crowd of at least 5,000 people. Pastor Schaeffer was assisted in the service by a Moravian and two Episcopal clergymen.
The Rev. F.C. Schaeffer devoted himself to the spiritual needs of the congregation. For years he was chairman of the Mission Committee of the Synod. About 1818, he began to take an active interest in the Lutherans of the Saddle River area. He preached every fourth Sunday in the Upper (Saddle River) Dutch Reformed Church. According to J. Hosey Osborn (38), “Rev. Schaeffer, being a very able man, soon drew larger congregations than their own pastor — the Rev. Mr. Goetchius. This aroused the jealousy of some of his members, and the Lutherans were denied the use of the church.”
Pastor Schaeffer’s efforts in behalf of the Saddle River congregation are discussed later. Pastor Schaeffer’s work with the English-speaking members of the church was so successful that it became necessary to build a separate church to satisfy their needs. The church was built on Walker Street, east of Broadway, at a cost of $45,000. It was dedicated December 22, 1822. The building, which was 72 feet wide and 100 feet long, is shown in Figure 8. It was decided that the new congregation should maintain ties with the old congregation. All business was handled by the preacher, elders, churchmen, and trustees.
At the suggestion of Pastor Schaeffer, the Rev. F.W. Geissenhainer was called back to New York to take over the German work in Christ Church.
Soon after the original St. Matthew’s Church was built, serious difficulties again developed between the German and English factions of the congregation. The Germans refused to help with the liquidation of the debt of about $15,000 which still remained. The English became so discouraged that they sold the church on November 10, 1826 for $22,750. It was soon purchased by the corporation of the United Lutheran Churches for the same amount (43).
Because of all the problems, Pastor Schaeffer resigned his charge and founded the new Evangelical Lutheran St. James Congregation. At first, this congregation rented the chapel of the New Jerusalem Congregation on February 6, 1827. Peter Lorillard, a brother of Jacob Lorillard who was married to one of Dr. Kunze’s daughters made St. James Church a gift of the Ireland
Fig. 8. The first St. Matthew Church building, built in 1822 at the southeast corner of Walker St. and Cortlandt Alley, New York. It was sold in 1868.
Presbyterian Church on Orange Street. Soon after the church building had been donated, Pastor Schaeffer was sued for defamation of character by one of the officers of the United Congregation. The Verifying Committee found him clear of any wrongdoing. Shortly thereafter, Pastor Schaeffer was made President of the New York Ministerium, and Columbia College conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Theology.
As mentioned above, the Rev. Friedrich Wilhelm Geissenhainer served at Christ Church from 1808 to 1814 and returned to preach in German in 1823 at Christ Church while the Rev. Frederick C. Schaeffer preached in English at St. Matthew’s. When Pastor Schaeffer resigned in 1827, the elder Pastor Geissenhainer continued to serve at Christ Church and his son, Friedrich Wilhelm Geissenhainer, Jr., was called to preach in English at St. Matthew’s. When Christ Church was sold in 1831, both Geissenhainers continued to serve their respective congregations using the St. Matthew’s Church on Walker Street. Pastor Geissenhainer, Sr. died in 1838 and was replaced by the Rev. Carl F.E. Stohlmann, D.D. The younger Pastor Geissenhainer continued to serve until 1840 when English services were discontinued at St. Matthew’s Church. He then withdrew from the congregation and founded St. Paul’s Church on West 22nd Street.
The history of St. Matthew’s Church from 1838 to 1964 is covered in detail in their 300th Anniversary book (43). The Rev. Carl F.E. Stohlmann served from 1838 until 1868. During this period, German immigration had reached its peak. People came from near and far to hear Dr. Stohlmann preach in German at St. Matthew’s. Galleries were added, but there still was not room for all that wished to attend. It was for this reason that it was decided to dis- continue English services altogether in 1840. As mentioned above, Pastor Geissenhainer, Jr. then founded St. Paul’s Church on West 22nd Street. Other events of importance in the history of St. Matthew’s Church were the calling of the Rev. J.H. Sieker in 1876, the change of St. Matthew’s to the Missouri Synod in 1885, the resumption of English services in 1906, and the move to the present location at 204th St. and Sherman Avenue in 1957. In Figure 9 is traced the history of the New York City branch of the “Oldest Lutheran Church in America.” The Albany branch and many of the offshoot congregations are not shown, in the interest of brevity. It should be remembered, however, that the Albany branch shares the honor of being the “Oldest Lutheran Church in America” with St. Matthew’s.
Among the other congregations which were part of the Lower Hudson Valley Parish were Hackensack (established in 1704), “Pieter Lassen’s” (established in 1707), Quassaic (established in 1709), and Remmersbach (established in 1715). Quassaic (New burgh) was lost to the Lutherans in 1747 despite all that Pastor Knoll did to prevent it (27). “Pieter Lassen’s” (New Hamburg) appears to have gone out of existence in 1750.
The history of Lutheranism in New Jersey is not nearly so well documented as that of New York. In some cases, the dates listed by the New York Ministerium for the formation of the congregations do not agree with those recorded by the churches themselves. The Minutes of the Ninth Annual Convention of the New Jersey Synod of the Lutheran Church in America lists only five existing churches which pre-dated Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River. They are: Zion, Oldwick, 1714; Emanuel, Friesburg, 1726; St. James, Phillipsburg, 1750; Zion, Long Valley, 1760; and Zion, Spruce Run, 1774. One other existing congregation pre-dated our church in New Jersey. This is the Remmersbach (Ramapo) Church, founded in 1715 in what is now Mahwah, New Jersey (13). this church has since moved a few miles away into New York State and is now called Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church of Airmont, Suffern, New York. There were a number of other Lutheran congregations in New Jersey in the eighteenth century. However, these have either merged with other congregations or simply gone out of existence altogether. The Hackensack church was formed in 1704 (27). As will be shown later, there is some doubt as to the date this congregation ceased to exist. The Mountain Church, also known as Pluckemin and as Bedminster, was organized in 1714. There are some discrepancies in the history books as to the fate of this congregation. There is no question that it no longer exists, however. This is discussed below under the Mountain and Smithfield congregations. The Racheway (Rockaway, Potterstown) congregation was organized in 1731, Millstone (Harlingen) was organized in 1734, and Uylekill (near Montville), began in 1735 (27). After 1735, the names of Uylekill and Millstone no longer appear in the records. Two other congregations were formed about this time. These were Leslysland (White House) and Hanover (probably Uylekill) (27). In 1748 Rockaway, Leslysland, and Hanover were merged with Zion, Oldwick (27). There was a congregation of Swedish Lutherans that started in Swedesboro in the early eighteenth century. This congregation built a new church in 1784. This church is now Trinity Episcopal Church and is located at King’s Highway and Church Street in Swedesboro, N.J. It contains historical documents and relics. It may be visited free of charge at any time during daylight hours. Figure 10 is a map showing portions of New York and New Jersey and the locations of some of the congregations mentioned above. Also shown in Figure 10 is our own location. The histories of some of the New Jersey congregations are dis cussed briefly below in chronological order.
The Rev. Justus Falckner paid his first visit to Hackensack on February 22, 1704 (55) conducting services for the public in the barn of Cornelius Van Buskirk. He baptized three children that day. Falckner served the Hackensack congregation until his death in 1723. The land grant was given by Laurence Van Buskirk in 1716. There is no record of any church having been built during Falckner’s pastorate, however. From 1723 to 1725, the Hackensack congregation was served by Domine Van Dohren, the “tailor-pastor” who had caused so much trouble for Falckner. When the Rev. W.C. Berkenmeyer took over in 1725, his first job was to try to straighten out this problem. That he was unsuccessful in his attempts is indicated by the fact that the records show that the same problem faced the Rev. Michael Christian Knoll when he took over in 1732 (51). After the schism of the German-speaking members of the New York congregation, the Rev. Johann Friedrich Ries of the German congregation occasionally preached at Hackensack and Ramapo. These two congregations offered Pastor Ries a call, but the call was never accepted.
Fig 10. Portions of New York and New Jersey, sowing the early Lutheran congregations
According to the Muhlenberg Journals (31), the Rev. Henry M. Muhlenberg visited Hackensack on June 4, 1751 to see a number of Dutch members of the congregation, especially Laurence Van Buskirk who was lying sick with dropsy. According to Muhlenberg, “Mr. Van Buskirk is a sixty-five-year-old man deeply devoted to our religion. He helped to build the church in New York and was for some years one of its deacons. He was also so highly respected in the province that for several years he served as a member of the provincial assembly. A little temporal good fortune, association with unbelieving gentlefolk, the offense he took at Pastor Knoll and his conduct, and his inexperience in the practical side of spiritual things, all worked together and almost extinguished the spark of religion implanted in him.” On June 5, 1751, Muhlenberg preached at the home of Laurence Van Buskirk to the members of the congregation and a number of neighbors. When the author of this present article first read the above entry in the Muhlenberg Journals, he assumed that the reference was to the original Laurence Van Buskirk. However, further investigation showed this assumption to be incorrect. If the man was 65 years old in 1751, he was born in 1686. As will be discussed., later in the section on the Van Buskirks, the elder Laurence Van Buskirk came to America in 1654. His son, Laurence, Jr., was born; in 1663. Perhaps the man mentioned by Muhlenberg was a grandson of the elder Van Buskirk.
On July 21, 1751, Muhlenberg preached in Dutch in the morning at the Hackensack Church (31). He was impressed by the fine church built of massive stone and by their parsonage. He was also impressed, but in a negative fashion, by their singing. He states: “They are not able to sing even the best-known hymns and the miserable and lamentable noise they make sounds more like a confused quarrel than a melody.” The Rev. Johann Albert Weygand served the Hackensack an Ramapo congregations from 1753 to 1759. Osborn’s account of the pastorate of Rev. Weygand follows (38):
“In 1753, Muhlenberg secured the services of the Rev. J. Albert Weygand’ to take charge of the congregation of New York and Hackensack. For the next six years Weygand looked after the spiritual welfare of the Lutheran from New York to Ramapough. In those days the preachers found much hardships in their work. They were forced to travel from place to place on horseback, going miles and miles through the forest—over roads that were “no more than Indian trails or cowpaths, with here and there a clearing and its cabin. Preaching was not their only labor. They were often called in to settle strife between neighbors—to adjust family quarrels. They were also the school teachers and the doctors. In their rounds they stopped at the nearest cabin when the night overtook them, and always found a warm welcome without money. Until 1759 Hackensack and Remmerspack (Ramapough) were in a parochial connection with the old Dutch Lutheran congregation at New York. Later, Weygand finding the labor too hard, turned the two Jersey congregations over to the erratic Rev. L.H. Schrenk who, within six months, had both congregations in an uproar, and he was forced to leave in disgrace. Both congregations were now without a pastor.”
The Rev. William Graaf served the congregations at Hackensack and Ramapo from 1760 to 1775. There appears to be some question concerning the history of, the Hackensack Church after 1775. The Bergen County Historic Society has marked the site of the Hackensack Church with a granite marker inscribed as follows:
“The site of the Protestant Lutheran Church and Cemetery of Hackensack (Township), N.J. Record 1704-1776, Grant of Land by Laurence Van Bus. kirk, 1716. Erected by Bergen County Historical Society.”
From this marker, it would seem that the Hackensack Church ceased to exist at the time of the Revolution. However, from the survey by the Grottkes (13) it is learned that in 1801, the Rev. John Frederick Ernst visited the area and offered to preach at Hackensack, Saddle River and Ramapo on successive Sundays, but not enough subscription money could be raised. The Hackensack Republican published a series of articles concerning the Hackensack Church in September and October of 1925 (14). The articles were based on the extensive research by Mr. Adolph Nutzhorn of Englewood, N.J. According to these articles, the last report of the Hackensack Church was at the annual meeting of the New York Ministerium in 1825 when Dr. F.C. Schaeffer was chair. and churches without pastors. The Rev. John P. Goertner, who by order of the committee had visited the place at Hackensack said man of the committee which was concerned with mission churches.
“Several years ago a Lutheran congregation existed here. Now it is scattered and its church is a wreck. However, steps have been taken to rebuild. The people are making an effort to re-establish regular services. Revs. Schaeffer, Pohlman, and Wessels have preached here during the last year.” John C. Honeyman is quoted in the above articles (14) as saying he had met an old man who had lived all his life near New Bridge and had remembered the church very well before it was accidentally burned to the ground by a man burning brush about 1812. Honeyman reported that the old man told him:
“I was a little boy then and I am now 89 but I remember that Dr. F.C. Schaeffer from New York during the summer of 1821 preached in the cemetery. He stood in the ruins of the old church and tried to arouse new interest in the congregation, but he accomplished nothing.”
The articles note that only four tombstones remain in the cemetery and all four bear the name Van Buskirk. Only three of the names are given, however. They are: John Van Buskirk (1742 1820); Jacob Van Buskirk (1765-1812); and Elizabeth Van Buskirk, widow of John Bogert (1772-1852).
The first Lutheran service in the Raritan Valley area was held in the home of a free Negro, Are Van Guinea, on August 1, 1714 (27). Mr. Van Guinea and his wife Jora had been members of Falckner’s congregation in New York City before moving to the Raritan Valley, near Pluckemin. From this first meeting, there emerged the “Mountain” congregation (Pluckemin, Bedminster) and the Smithfield congregation (New Germantown, Oldwick). The latter organization is listed in Kreider’s book (27) as having started in 1724. However, the official records of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Oldwick, N.J. (47) list the date of organization as August 1, 1714, indicating that. the church at Oldwick was a direct outgrowth of the one at Pluckemin. An account in the History of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties (45) states that the earliest church in the section was the Washington Valley church built in 1730. This was a log church built about 1-1/2 miles from Bedminster. The account goes on to mention that when the Lutheran congregation at New Germantown was organized, the log church was abandoned and the congregations united. This reference is probably to the building of the new church at New Germantown in 1750 after the merger of Rockaway, Leslysland and Hanover with New Germantown in 1748 (27). Also from Snell (45) we learn that in 1756 at a meeting of Zion’s Church (New German town) it was decided to build a church at Pluckemin, Bedminster Town in Somerset County to be called St. Paul’s Church. The church was built on land donated by Jacob Eoff. Van Horn (50) mentions that there was an agreement December 7, 1756 that half of the sermons would be preached in English and the rest would be preached in High Dutch or German. The agreement was signed by about 150 people. The cornerstone was laid July 4, 1757.
According to the Muhlenberg Journals, St. Paul’s was laid waste during the Revolution (31). Van Horn, on the other hand, simply mentions that the church had been damaged in the Revolution (50). He goes on to say that the congregation depended upon Zion Church in New Germantown for its ministers. After 1800, St. Paul’s held services only every three or four weeks. Activities were discontinued about 1809 (50).
The early pastors of the Raritan congregations were: Justus Falckner, 1714-1723; and Daniel Falckner, brother of Justus Falckner, 1723-1734. From the Muhlenberg Journals we learn that there were two strong German Lutheran congregations on the Raritan in New Jersey from 1732 to 1736 (31). When feebleness caused Daniel Falckner to resign in 1734, Pastor Berkenmeyer wrote to Hamburg in behalf of the Raritan congregations to ask for a preacher. In response to this request, the leaders at Hamburg sent Magister August Wolf to New Jersey. Wolf lead such a scandalous life that it caused strife between the two congregations. In 1745, Muhlenberg went to Raritan to investigate the matter. His journals (31) record the results of this investigation. The blame for the quarrels was laid upon Mr. Wolf and, as a result, he resigned his call.
There seems to be some disparity in the records concerning the pastors who followed Wolf. Kreider (27) lists the pastors as follows:
Fig. 11. Ramapo Reformed Church in Mahwah was originally built by the Lutheran and Reformed congregations of Ramapo
H.M. Muhlenberg 1745-1749
J.A. Weygand 1749-1755
L.H. Schrenck 1754-1756
H.M. Muhlenberg 1756-1760
P.D. Bryzelius 1760-1766
H.M. Muhlenberg 1767-1775
P.G. Muhlenberg 1769-1772
G.H. Muhlenberg 1771-1774
William Graaf 1775-1809
The overlapping of periods involving Pastor H.M. Muhlenberg indicates that he was considered to be in charge of the congregations even though he could not always be in New Jersey. Twice during the period from 1745 to 1749, Muhlenberg sent substitutes The Rev. John Kurtz served for three months in 1746 (57). The Rev. John Christopher Hartwick served for one year in 1748, . The remaining pastors from 1749 to 1809 were as listed above From 1809 to 1815, the Rev. Ernest L. Hazelius served the Germantown congregation, followed by the Rev. David Hendrick (1816-1822), the Rev. H.N. Pohlman (1822-1843), the Rev. James, R. Keiser (1843-1849), the Rev. George Smith Collins (1850-1858), the Rev. Jacob Christian Duy (1853-1872) and the Rev. Job Franklin Diener (1872-1878) (57).
The “History of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church of Airmont, Suffern, New York, Formerly Ramapo Lutheran Church of Mahwah, New Jersey” by Theodore L. and Erna H. Grottke (18), besides boasting the longest title of any of the individual church, histories is one of the most complete and most scholarly historical surveys this author has read. It is heartily recommended for the personal library of anyone interested in the early history of Lutheranism in Bergen County.
According to the Grottkes (13), on June 14, 1715 Falckner reported baptizing Magdalena, child of Hon. Peter Wanamaker a. Rembuck. In September of 1715, Falckner wrote to Sandel, the Swedish Lutheran pastor at Philadelphia, that he now served three congregations in New Jersey. One of these was Ramapo, Thus, June 14, 1715 is taken as the date of the beginning of the Ramapo congregation (13). The Ramapo church and the church at Hackensack shared pastors until 1801, as mentioned above under the Hackensack Church.
The first church built by the Ramapo congregation was located on what is now Moffatt Road, near Island Road in Mahwah. It was a log church built in 1720. A new frame building was erected about 1750 and abandoned in 1790. In 1795, a new church was built jointly by the Lutherans and the Reformed congregations of Ramapo. This church, now owned entirely by the Ramapo Reformed Church, is shown in Figure 11.
In 1800, the New York Ministerium decided that no future candidate for the ministry would be ordained without a thorough course of study. This led to the establishment of the first Lutheran theological seminary near Cooperstown, New York, on property willed for the purpose by the former pastor, Hartwick. Dr. Ernest L. Hazelius, who had served at New Germantown from 1809 to 1815 became the first principal and professor of theology. In 1818, the New York Ministerium started a fund for itinerant pastors. This date coincides with the beginning of visits by the Rev. Frederick C. Schaeffer to the Lutherans of Saddle River. Prior to that time, the people of Saddle River attended services at Ramapo.
From 1821 to 1847, Ramapo and Saddle River shared pastors. In 1848, the agreement between the Reformed Church and the Lutheran Congregation to share the Island Church was terminated. Ramapo and Saddle River again shared pastors in 1853 when Pastor Wert began his ministry. Pastor Wert was largely responsible for the increased interest of the congregation that led to the erection of the new building in 1855.
Although the date of organization of Emanuel Lutheran Church in Friesburg, N.J. is given as 1726, their 200th Anniversary booklet indicates that the church may have been established even earlier (49). The following observations are recorded:
“As more immigrants arrived, settlements were made at Pigeon Point and Chester. Some venturesome Swedes pushed across the Delaware to the Jersey side and settled in what is now Pennsneck, and Racoon, now Swedesboro. These congregations separated from the “Mother” at Christiana about 1700. No record can be found as yet showing that a settlement was made at Friesburg or a church established there, but undoubtedly some Swedes pushed up the Alloway Creek to its source, built houses and cleared land at the same time Pennsville and Swedesboro were settled.”
From 1726 to 1745, the Friesburg Church was served by Swedish pastors, but in 1745, the congregation wrote to the German Lutheran pastors at Philadelphia for pastoral help. The Pennsylvania Ministerium provided part-time pastoral help for the next 50 years. The first church building used by the Friesburg congregation was built of wood in the year 1739. In 1768, a new church was built of brick.
Two of Zion Lutheran Church of Saddle River’s pastors served the Friesburg church. The Rev. Jacob C. Duy served from 1836 to 1838 and the Rev. P.M. Rightmeyer served from 1874 to 1879. These pastors served Zion from 1838 to 1847 and from 1881 to 1882, respectively.
The history of this church dates back to 1750 with the construction of a building made of logs and thatched with straw (41). The name “Straw Church” has stuck with St. James Lutheran Church of Phillipsburg from that time to this. In the early days, the church was known as St. John’s. There was no pastor. However, the schoolmaster read sermons written by Martin Luther. In 1790 a new and larger stone building was erected. By this time, the congregation had begun using the name St. James and had begun calling pastors. The first pastor, J. Peter G. Muhlenberg, son of the great Lutheran pioneer, H.M. Muhlenberg, served from 1770-1772. None of the pastors of the Phillipsburg church ever served at Zion, so they will not be enumerated here. It might be mentioned, however, that the Rev. Edwin L. Ehlers, President of the New Jersey Synod of the Lutheran Church in America at the time of this writing, served as pastor of St. James from 1953 to 1961.
The present brick building was erected in 1834. At various times, suitable renovations have been made, including the educational building which was added in 1960 (42). Figure 12 depicts the original “Straw Church.”
Kreider (27) lists this church as having had its beginnings in 1749. The earliest records of the church itself (4) tell of churchgoing as early as 1743. At that time, services were held in a very crude log chapel at the foot of Fox Hill. In 1747, a log church was built in the Village of German Valley. The Lutheran congregation was formally organized in 1760. The log church served both congregations — Lutheran and Dutch Reformed. The congregations did not have regular ministers at this time. They were fortunate to be visited once or twice a year by ordained ministers who preached, confirmed and administered Holy Communion. At other times, laymen conducted the services, or the members of the congregation walked seven miles to the church at New Germantown carrying their shoes until they were in sight of the church. In 1774, a new church called Old Stone Church was built. This served until 1832 when the Lutherans and Dutch Reformed decided to build separate churches. From the time that Long Valley began having regular pastors, they shared pastors with the New Germantown church. However, by 1846 they were able to call a pastor of their own. The first resident pastor was the Rev. Ephraim De Yoe (45) who served from 1846 to 1858. Pastor De Yoe resigned his call at German Valley to accept a call to Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River. He was succeeded by the Rev. A. Miller who served from 1858 till his resignation in 1881 to accept a teaching position at Hartwick Seminary. The recent history of the German Valley church is covered in the brief survey by Virginia Allen (4).
Fig. 12. St. James Lutheran Church, Phillipsburg ; the “Straw Church” built in 1750, long replaced with a handsome brick edifice.
The congregation was organized in 1774 with thirteen members (46). The first pastor was the Rev. William Graaf (or Graff) who served from 1774 to 1800. From 1775 to 1800, services were held every fourth Sunday in the barn of Frederick Fritts during the summer and in his home during the winter. It is interesting to note that the first church at Spruce Run was erected in 1795 by George Banghart, Abraham Van Buskirk, Thomas Van Buskirk, Frederick Fritts, George Moors, Andrew Miller, Joseph Laninger, and Stoffel Hulsizer. Of particular interest, of course, is the presence of the names Abraham and Thomas Van Buskirk. We know that all of the Van Buskirks descended from a common ancestor (34) as will be discussed later. Unfortunately, time and space do not permit a complete genealogical study of this family in order to determine the family relationships of the Van Buskirks of other congregations with those of Saddle River. From the beginning of the church to 1834, the pastors at Spruce Run were those of Oldwick mentioned above. In March of 1834, it was resolved to erect a new church and the Rev. Richard Collier was called to be the first pastor of the new church. The new building was erected of stone in 1835 on the site of the original edifice (46). The present building was erected in 1870. The present pastor, the Rev. Richard R. Shenton, Jr. has been serving the congregation since 1966.
The early days of Saddle River and Upper Saddle River are covered rather sketchily in the history books. The brief account contained herein has been gathered together from the article by Osborn (38), an article by John G. Esler (11) and a history of the Saddle River Dutch Reformed Church and cemetery (2). From these sources, it was learned that the first white landowner in the Saddle River Valley was Albert Zaborowsky (Zabriskie). According to Osborn (38), he was a Lutheran who had studied to be a minister in his native Poland. However, he did not find the ministry to his taste, so he joined the army. As soon as he could arrange it, he came to America. This was at the age of twenty in the year 1662. He settled in Hackensack and married a Dutch woman by the name of Van De Linde. The Indian Chief Manshier conveyed a large tract of land to Zaborowsky in 1702 for debts which he had contracted in 1675. On the reverse side of the deed is a conveyance of half of the tract by Albert Zaborowsky to Thomas Van Buskirk. This deed was dated March 29, 1708 and is signed by Albert Zaborowsky. It is said that this is the only signature of that famous individual who was the ancestor of the Zabriskie family of today (11).
There is some question as to whether the first Thomas Van Buskirk ever moved to his tract in Saddle River. Osborn (38) says “Soon after the tract was conveyed to him, Thomas Van Buskirk moved to the Saddle River area and became the first known settler there.” Esler (11) said “Thomas Van Buskirk, a descendent of the first settler of the same name, was noted as a large slaveholder and one of the last to own a slave in the vicinity of Saddle River. The last slave owned by the old gentleman was incited to run away by William Osborn, Mr. Van Buskirk’s son-in-law.” Williams (56), however, refers to the fact that Andries and Lawrence Van Buskirk moved to Saddle River and Thomas and Peter stayed behind. Peter later moved to Bucks County, but nothing further is mentioned about Thomas as far as relocation is concerned. Since it is not important to the history of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, we shall not belabor this point. As will be shown later, a Thomas Van Buskirk donated the land on which the church now stands. We have been unable to trace the lineage of this Van Buskirk, except that he is a descendent of Laurens Andriessen Van Buskirk.
According to Osborn (38), in 1700 Governor Morris wrote to the Bishop of London that in this section, the settlers were nearly equally divided into Calvinists and Lutherans. As has been mentioned earlier, the Calvinists were the Dutch Reformed. The Lutherans of the area no doubt attended either the church at Hackensack or the one at Ramapo during the early days. Some attended the Upper Saddle River Dutch Reformed Church, the oldest church in the Saddle River Valley, organized in 1784 (2). At the time of its organization, the “Old Stone Church,” as it is now called, constituted the upper part of the congregation at Paramus. The official name was the New North Reformed Low Dutch Church at Saddle River. The church was not to be considered as having a distinct existence, but simply as a second church to accommodate the scattered congregation. Each of the churches was to have the services of the pastor, at the time, the Rev. Benjamin Van der Linde (pastor from 1748-1789). The articles signed in 1788 for Saddle River by Elders Albert Terhune and Baurent Forshur and Deacons Andries Hopper and David Ackerman were written in the Dutch language. The first church was octagonal in shape, and authorities differ as to whether it was constructed of wood or stone (2). This structure remained standing until 1819 when the present church was erected. Among the members of the Upper Saddle River Dutch Reformed Church at the time of its separation from the mother church at Paramus were David Ackerman and his wife, Catalyntje Blauvelt (2). The church which was built in 1819 is shown in Figure 13.
Fig. 13. The Old Stone Church, Upper Saddle River, built in 1819 it is the second house of worship used by this historic church. Early Zion services were held here.
A detailed map of the “Early Days of Upper Saddle River” was compiled and drawn by Mrs. C.K. Tholl of Upper Saddle River in 1962. The map, which measures 19 inches by 21-1/2 inches, contains a wealth of information. It is available at the office of the Ramsey Store News on Main Street in Ramsey, N.J. It is a “must” for anyone interested in the history of the area. In Figure 14 the map is reproduced to approximately one-fourth its original size. Naturally, much of the detail is lost. However, even in the smaller size, the properties of a number of families prominent in the history of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River can be located. The Old Stone Church is shown in the upper right segment of the map at the corner of East Saddle River Road and Old Stone Church Road. The first schoolhouse located just behind the church was used from 1840 to 1860. The second schoolhouse was built in 1853 just across the street from the present Borough Hall. This building was moved to its present location in 1896 and is now the headquarters for the Ambulance Corps. The third schoolhouse was built in 1896. This is the building which is now used as the Borough Hall.
Although there were no battles fought in the Saddle River Valley during the Revolution, it is believed that Washington’s army used East Saddle River Road in its travels from Paramus to Kakiat (west of New City) in 1778.
The Methodist Church on West Saddle River Road was built in 1849 and nicknamed “Little Zion.” According to Dorothy Ware, Annie Elizabeth Ackerman Ware served as organist of that congregation for a number of years before she and her husband, John C. Ware, Sr., joined Zion Lutheran Church. Unfortunately, the job of raising four young children prevented her from serving as organist of our church.
The following excerpts have been taken from the article by John G. Esler (11):
“Foremost among those who made Saddle River famous in the early days was David I. Ackerman, the proprietor of the works known as the Triphammer. Mr. Ackerman was the grandfather of David A. Pell who was surrogate of Bergen County in 1900. Mr. Pell was an energetic businessman, a large landed proprietor and slaveholder.”
“Andrew Esler, a millwright and builder, was widely known as the architect and builder of Zion Lutheran Church of Saddle River.”
“Trade unions were unknown in the 20’s and Esler and his men shouldered their tools on Monday morning and walked to the Hackensack River, a distance of 10 miles, in time to commence work at sunrise.”
“Thomas Van Buskirk, a descendent of the first settler of the same name, was noted as a large slaveholder and one of the last to own a slave in the vicinity of Saddle River. The last slave owned by the old gentleman was incited to run away by William Osborn, Mr. Van Buskirk’s son-in-law.”
“The first school built in the Saddle River Valley was erected before the dawn of the 19th century. The exact date is shrouded in mystery, but it served as a shelter for those who acquired a knowledge of ‘the three R’s’ until 1825.”
“In 1825, a two-story frame schoolhouse was erected where the Ladies Social Union (now the Parish House of Zion Lutheran Church — CLH) now stands. The land was donated by David Ackerman for school purposes and reverted to his heirs when the school was moved to another site in later years. The ground floor was used as a schoolroom and the second floor was used as a lecture and classroom for the Lutheran Sabbath School. When the building became too dilapidated for school purposes, the building was sold to William Osborn who used it for many years as a paint shop.”
“One of the first teachers was Garret Zabriskie, a direct descendent of Albert Zaborowsky. He was a local celebrity who taught the village school, pulled teeth, and surveyed his neighbors’ lands, besides giving good advice to all who applied.”
In 1654 Laurens Andriessen came to New Amsterdam from Denmark by way of Holland (34). According to J. Hosey Osborn’s book “Life in the Old Dutch Homesteads, Saddle River, N.J.” (37), Andriessen came from Holstein, which belonged to Denmark at that time. The language of the area was “Low Dutch.” Holstein later became part of Germany.
Laurens Andriessen was a cabinet-maker by trade, but he dabbled in real estate. The records show that he owned a considerable amount of valuable land west of Broadway in New York City, between what are now Morris and Rector Streets. At that time there was a great amount of woodland in the immediate vicinity which was owned by the church. Because of this, Andriessen received the Dutch designation of Van Boskerk (of the church woods) to distinguish him from another Laurens Andriessen, who was a Norwegian. The latter received the designation “Van Noordwegen.”
According to Nothstein’s book (34), “Laurens Van Buskirk, the common ancestor of the Van Buskirk family which has figured so prominently in the history of the Lutheran church in colonial New York and New Jersey, married Jannetje Jans, the widow of Christian Barentsen.” This was in 1658. More details are found in the book by Williams, “Christian Barentsen Van Horn and His Descendents.” (55).
The name Christian Barentsen Van Horn simply means he was Christian, son of Barent, from the city of Hoorn in Holland. He and Jannetje Jans had three sons. He died on July 26, 1658. The grieving widow remarried on December 12, 1658, less than five months after the death of her first husband.
Laurens and Jannetje Van Buskirk had four sons: Andries, baptized March 3, 1660, died Bergen County, N.J. in 1738; Laurens, born in 1663, died 1724; Peter, born Jan. 1, 1666, died 1738; and Thomas, born 1670, died in 1756.
According to Osborn, Thomas Van Buskirk married Margrietje Hendricks Van der Linden and Lawrence Van Buskirk married her sister Hendrickje Van der Linden (37). Thomas and Margrietje had seven sons and three daughters: Johannis, Abraham, Peter, Laurens, Andries, Isaac, Michael, Fitje, Geertruy, and Margrietje. If the book by Osborn (37) is correct, Thomas Van Buskirk moved to Saddle River in 1708 with his wife and two children and three slaves. It does not mention which two children came along with them.
Captain Jacob Van Buskirk was the grandson of the original Laurens Van Buskirk. He lived at Hackensack, New Jersey, and has the distinction of being the first native American to give a son to the Lutheran ministry (34). That son, Jacob, Jr., was born in Hackensack in 1739. He was confirmed in the nearest Dutch Lutheran Church by the Rev. J.C. Leps (34). The confirmation class included twenty-nine boys and twenty-three girls. Young Jacob studied for four years in the home of the Rev. J.A. Weygand of New York. He then attended Princeton College. He was instructed in Lutheran theology in the home of Dr. Henry M. Muhlenberg in Trappe, Pennsylvania (34).
It would not be possible, in the space allotted to this survey, to delve deeply into the genealogy of the Van Buskirk family. According to Nothstein’s book “Lutheran Makers of America” (34), genealogies may be found in Chute’s “Genealogy of the Chute Family” (9) as well as in the book by Williams already cited (56). Several Van Buskirks can be located on the map of Upper Saddle River shown in Figure 14. A number of others can be located on the map of Saddle River shown in Figure 15.
Early Days of Upper Saddle River Map
Early Days of Saddle River Map
The Presidency of James Monroe (1817-1825) coincided with an “era of good feelings” (10). In 1816 Monroe (Figure 16) was elected President by a big margin over the Federalist candidate, Senator Rufus King of New York. After the election of 1816, the Federalist party disappeared and the Democratic-Republicans ‘ flourished as the country’s only party. Thanks to fast-developing industry and settlement of the West, the country prospered. Not even the depression of 1818-1819 could dampen the good feeling. It was during this period that Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River had its start.
In 1819, Missouri applied for admission to the Union as a slave state. A bitter legislative fight resulted in the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which provided for the admission of Missouri as a slave state while banning slavery from much of the rest of the Louisiana Purchase.
In 1820, Monroe was reelected with only one electoral vote cast against him. That vote was cast to keep the record of President George Washington intact— that of being the only president ever elected unanimously.
A triumph of skillful presidential leadership, the Monroe Doctrine was formulated when Spain’s former Latin American colonies began to clamor for recognition.
Monroe sent special agents to these countries and on December 2, 1823, he and his cabinet sent a message to Congress which set forth the doctrine. It said, in effect, that the United States would declare war against any European power that attempted to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere.
Fig. 16. It was during the presidency of James Monroe that Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Upper Saddle River had its start.
Fig. 17. The Thomas Van Buskirk home in Saddle River, now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Guilbert Bond, was used by Zion for church services in 1818-19.
In the discussions which follow, the history of the church is covered, pastor by pastor, in chronological order. Since the Rev. Frederick Christian Schaeffer was largely responsible for the organization of the Saddle River Church, his work is discussed first.
As mentioned earlier, the Rev. Frederick C. Schaeffer began preaching for the Lutherans of Saddle River in 1818 using the Upper (Saddle River) Dutch Reformed Church every fourth Sunday. Since the present church was not erected until 1819, the first services must have been in the octagonally shaped church mentioned earlier. Because of the large crowds drawn by Pastor Schaeffer, the Dutch Reformed Church denied the Lutherans the use of the church. After that, services were held in the barn of Thomas Van Buskirk during the summer months and in the attic of his house in the winter. The house is still standing at the southeastern corner of West Allendale Avenue and East Saddle River Road. It is presently owned by Mr. and Mrs. Guilbert Bond. Mrs. Bond is a member of Zion Lutheran Church of Saddle River. The home is shown in Figure 17.
In order to adapt the attic of the Van Buskirk home for use as a church, a platform was built in the eastern end of the attic and boards were laid over benches to serve as the pews. Pastor Schaeffer received no definite salary for his work in Saddle River. However, he was paid for his services in the form of the money which his hat contained after he had passed it around the congregation. When Pastor Schaeffer first preached in Saddle River, he was only 26 years old.
According to the church records (59), Pastor Schaeffer baptized Maria Blanche Van Buskirk, daughter of Thomas and Rachel Van Buskirk on September 12, 1818, marking the first baptism in the Zion Lutheran Congregation. Maria was born June 24, 1818. The parents acted as sponsors.
On December 1, 1819, a meeting was held at the schoolhouse at Thomas Van Buskirk’s for the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety of building an English Evangelical Lutheran Church in Saddle River (59). The night was stormy and only four people attended: Stephen Van Buskirk, Andrew Van Buskirk, Reynard Achenbach, and David Ackerman. Because of the small attendance, the meeting was adjourned to meet one week later at Lawrence Van Buskirk’s.
The following excerpts are from J. Hosey Osborn’s account of the early days (38): “A second adjournment was made to meet on December 15th at the schoolhouse. At this meeting there were present Stephen, Andrew, Lawrence, John and Thomas Van Buskirk, Reynard and Thomas Achenbach, David I. Ackerman and Daniel Berdan. At this meeting by a unanimous vote it was decided to build a church. A subscription was then and there started. Reynard and Thomas Achenbach, Thomas, Lawrence and Stephen Van Buskirk, and David L. Ackerman subscribed $100.00 each; Andrew Van Buskirk, $75.00; John Van Buskirk and Andrew Esler, $50.00 each, and Daniel Berdan, $30.00. This subscription gives you the comparative wealth of the people at that time. In those days they gave according to what they had.”
“On December 29th, at the fourth meeting, Thomas Van Buskirk and David I. Ackerman each agreed to give half the ground required for the church building and graveyard. At this meeting the trustees were elected, and a building committee, with Andrew Esler as chairman, was appointed. All the people gave generously, for no one knows the value of a church in a community so well as those who lived before one was erected. And today, if this church should close its doors for one year, any amount necessary could easily be raised to open it. None of us fully appreciate the value of those things that we have continually with us.”
“The church building was now commenced. The farmers around furnished the heavy timber, hauling it here with their oxen. Many of the people volunteered their services free. At last the ‘raising day’ came. This was a ‘high day,’ long to be remembered by those who took part. A person who was present told me ‘early in the morning, the people began coming from far and near, to give a helping hand to the raising of the frame. Their wives came also. There were the Van Buskirks and Losiers from Hackensack Boards, Baldwins and Zabriskies from Paramus; Storms and Bantas from Pascack; Myers from Wearimus; Fishers, Litchults and Shuarts from Masonicus; the Winters, Wannamakers and Fredericks from Ramapough, and the Pulis from Campgaw.’ All were happy. Hard cider, furnished by David I. Ackerman, was the beverage of the day. There was plenty of it, and no one refused to drink it heartily. The men did the work and the women the shouting of ‘O Lord! O Lord! How high are they going?’ Before night the skeleton of the church stood erected, and a mighty building it seemed in the eyes of those people. The steeple they thought reached to the very clouds.”
Among the children baptized by Pastor Schaeffer on February 13, 1820 were four Negro children who had received Instructions in the Lutheran faith from Pastor Schaeffer prior to baptism. They were Nicholas, Mary, Charles and Sarah Sutton, children of William and Hannah Sutton. Thomas and Rachel Van Buskirk acted as sponsors. A list of Zion’s children baptized by Pastor Schaeffer is given in Table 1.
Table 1. Children of Zion Baptized by the Rev. Frederick C. Schaeffer
Date Parents Children Born Sponsors
9/12/1818 Thomas and Maria Blanche 6/24/1818 Parents
2/13/1820 William and Nicholas 5/2/1812 Thomas and-
Hannah Sutton Mary 5/26/1814 Rachel
(Colored) Charles 3/3/1816 Van Buskirk
2/13/1820 John and Henry 2/10/1820 Parents
2/13/1820 Lawrence and Adolphus 1/19/1820 Parents
2/13/1820 Conrad and Henry 9/24/1819 Parents
3/13/1820 David and Tiney Joseph 8/16/1819 Parents
7/30/1820 Stephen and Wilhelmus 6/15/1820 Parents
7/30/1820 John and Albert 7/17/1820 Parents
The Rev. F.C. Schaeffer reported to the New York Ministerium at the annual meeting in 1820 that there were several small Lutheran Societies in the State of New Jersey which desired to be connected with that body and pray to be supplied with Lutheran clergymen sent to them by the Synod (32). As a result, the Rev. Mr. Schaeffer and the Rev. D. Hendricks were requested to visit these societies at the Lutheran Village, Saddle River and Ramapo, Bergen County, State of New Jersey and also near the Wykoff and Pond Church and promise them on the part of the Synod a further supply of ministers as soon as circumstances will permit.
According to Osborn’s account (38), “the cornerstone was laid October 4, 1820 and a bottle of wine, a loaf of bread, a bible, and a hymn book were placed within the stone. The Rev. Charles T. Schaeffer preached the sermon taking his text from Cor. 3-11.”
According to our church records (59), the cornerstone was laid October 20, 1820. The Rev. Christian F. Schaeffer, D.D., preached the sermon, taking as his text I Cor. Chapter 3, Verse 11, “For other foundations can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ.” A thorough search of the records of the New York Ministerium (17, 32, 33) has indicated that there was never a Charles T. Schaeffer nor a Christian F. Schaeffer in the New York Church. Apparently Pastor Frederick C. Schaeffer was known by his middle name, rather than his first, by the person making the entry in the church records. Since there is no record of the cornerstone laying in the history of St. Matthews Church (43), it is possible that Pastor Schaeffer reversed the order of his names for “moonlighting.” Unfortunately, the minutes of the New York Ministerium for 1820 and 1821 (32) contain no reference to the laying of the cornerstone.
Henry N. Pohlman (Figure 18) was born in Albany, N.Y. on March 8, 1800 (30). His parents were of German descent. His father, Daniel F. Pohlman was an official of the Ebenezer Church. In October of 1816, he entered Hartwick Seminary, near Cooperstown, New York. Thus, he was the first student of the first Lutheran Theological Seminary in the United States. He was the student of the Rev. Earnest L. Hazelius who had served the Raritan congregations from 1809 to 1815 before he accepted his position at Hartwick. In August, 1820, before he reached majority, Pohlman was graduated from Hartwick. The rules of the New York Ministerium did not permit licensing preachers under the age of 21. Consequently, Pastor Pohlman was not ordained at that time. In February of 1821 the Rev. Mr. Pohlman was called to serve the churches of Saddle River and Ramapo. In March of 1821, Pastor Pohlman was licensed to preach in a ceremony that took place at St. Peter’s Church in Rhinebeck, New York. He preached his first sermon at Saddle River in the attic of Thomas Van Buskirk on March 25, 1821. On the 29th of May, 1821, the Rev. Mr. Pohlman was ordained in Christ’s Church in New York City.
Fig. 18. The Rev. Henry N. Pohlman.
The following certificate of incorporation is recorded in Hackensack (59):
“We, the subscribers having at an election of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River and Ramapough, held at Ramapough Church on the 13th of June, inst., been duly elected according to the act in such case made and provided as trustees of the said Church do by these our presents certify that we acknowledge and accept of said name and appointment.” “Done at Saddle River this twenty-third day of June, in the year of our Lord, Eighteen hundred and twenty-one.
David I. Ackerman
Received in the office and recorded this 26th day of July 1821.
From Zion’s church records (59) we find, “The church edifice was completed and dedicated to the service of the Triune God. The Rev. C.F. Schaeffer, D.D., preached the dedication sermon from the book of Habakkuk, Chapter 2, Verse 20 (`But the Lord is in his holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before He was assisted by the Pastor H.N. Pohlman and Rev. D. Hendricks of New Germantown.” This entry was dated October 14, 1821. Note that the Rev. Frederick C. Schaeffer was again listed as the Rev. C.F. Schaeffer. An early photograph of Zion Lutheran Church is shown in Figure 19.
After the church was completed, it was found that it was burdened by a considerable debt (59). David I. Ackerman volunteered to go on a collecting tour. He visited Philadelphia and New York and collected a handsome little sum after which there remained a debt of $250. This sum 10 of the members became responsible for and paid when called upon to do so.
The following account is from J. Hosey Osborn’s 100th Anniversary discourse (38):
“When this church was built little thought was given to comfort. The seats were plain boards, with high, straight backs, coming to the shoulders of the adults. The children sitting on the seats could not be seen from behind, nor could they look back of them. No cushions were upon the seats. There was a door at the end of each pew, fastened with a wooden button. In those days the children were brought to church and the parents were expected to fasten their pew doors to keep them in. But there were some proud mothers who would not lock their children in, and it was an ordinary sight to see children running up and down the aisles, crawling up the pulpit steps, during the services. On one occasion when the children had been unusually noisy in the aisles, the pastor at the close of service requested the parents hereafter to keep their children with them in their pews, or else leave them at home. At this one of the parents took offense, and kept not their children at home but themselves too.”
“The floor was not carpeted. The pulpit originally was a closed box, built high up with a sounding board over it. It contained but room enough for two. This pulpit was reached by two flights of stairs of six steps each, at its right and left side, which was barred by a door. On the front gallery a pew was boxed off, large enough to seat one person. In this the leader of the choir used to sit with his tuning fork. Harry Hokum was the church’s first choir-leader — followed in turn by Henry Young, John Hopper, Nicholas Peterson, Mr. Bowden, and the last one to have the honor was Mr. Henry Esler. Then, in the latter part of De Yoe’s ministry, the organ came much against ‘the voice and vote’ of many of the older members. This instrument put an end to the days of the choir-leader and his tuning fork.”
“At this time, the church was not heated even in winter. The builders never thought that a stove would be needed and consequently no chimney was put up. Such luxury as a stove in a church was not dreamed of in those days. In the coldest weather, some of the ladies would bring with them to church a little square tin box that contained lighted charcoal. These they would place under their feet to keep them warm. They needed no fine carpet, no soft cushions, no pipe organs, nor steam heat to induce them to come. Their thirst for Christ and His Word brought them in the coldest winter weather. Every Sunday that there was preaching they would come many miles around, some on horse-back, husband and wife riding on one horse—others in lumber wagons. Dutch collars, rope reins, and chain traces comprised the harness. The greatest number would come on foot. In the summertime, the women would carry their shoes in their hands to save them, until they came in sight of the church, when they would put them on.”
Fig. 19. Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church as it looked during the early days of the automobile age, prior to addition of present front.
The first communion was held in the new church on December 23, 1821. The communion set was a gift of Rev. Schaeffer’s congregation in New York City. This same communion set will be used in the 150th Anniversary celebration of this first communion in December, 1971.
The Rev. Mr. Pohlman remained with the Saddle River and Ramapo congregations for just over one year. This in spite of the fact that he was boarded free in the home of Thomas Van Buskirk and, according to Osborn (38) “David I. Ackerman furnished him with hard cider, of which he was very fond.”
Table 2 is a list of the children of the Saddle River congregation who were baptized by the Rev. Mr. Pohlman during his brief pastoral ministry at Zion.
Table 2. Children of Zion Baptized by the Rev. Henry N. Pohlman
Date Parents Children Born Sponsors
3/25/1821 Garret and Maria Andrew Horn 12/6/1820 Parents
4/8/1821 Conrad and Mary George 3/7/1821 Parents
4/15/1821 Silas and Margaret David 1/15/1820 Parents
5/14/1821 Samuel and Samuel 1/15/1817 Parents
6/3/1821 David and Margaret Cornelius 4/2/1821 Parents
7/11/1821 Rev. David and Elias Ogden 12/21/1821 Father
10/28/1821 Lawrence and Thomas 8/17/1821 Parents
Rachel Van Buskirk
10/28/1821 Andrew and Thomas 10/3/1821 Parents
Perhaps it was the challenge of serving three congregations at the same time that led Pastor Pohlman to resign his position in Saddle River. Perhaps it was the lure of the higher salary, since he was unmarried and was desirous of taking a bride. At any rate, in August of 1822, Pastor Pohlman accepted the call to serve three congregations: Zion Lutheran Church at New Germantown, Zion Lutheran Church of German Valley, and Zion Lutheran Church of Spruce Run.
There appear to be some discrepancies in the records of the life of Pastor Pohlman. Zion Lutheran Church in Oldwick (formerly New Germantown) reports (57) “Three months after his arrival in New Germantown (Oldwick), Pohlman brought a bride to the parsonage. From their marriage issued a son and three daughters.” Manning (30) reports, “On September 6, 1824, he married Susan Cassedy of New Jersey. They had five children.” When Pastor Pohlman first moved to New Germantown, he preached there every second Sunday and alternated between Long Valley and Spruce Run the others. By 1833, he had practically severed his connection with Spruce Run, and in 1834 that congregation called its own pastor. Since that time, Spruce Run has maintained complete independence.
A most remarkable event took place in New Germantown in the winter of 1839-1840. This was the year of the “Great Revival.” Pastor Pohlman was so successful in his preaching that about 150 new members joined the Lutheran Church and about 50 others joined neighboring churches. Prior to this revival, the congregation had only 80 members.
Pastor Pohlman left New Germantown in 1843, after 21 years of service, to take charge of the Ebenezer Church in Albany. The same year, Pennsylvania College awarded him the degree of Doctor of Divinity. He was president of the New York Ministerium for 22 years, of the New York Synod for 5 years, and was also head of the nation-wide General Synod. He retired from Ebenezer Church in 1868 and died January 20, 1874.
David Hendricks was educated at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. He studied theology under the Rev. Frederick Mayer at Albany, New York. He had served from August 5, 1816 until August 18, 1822 at the three Raritan congregations. Thus, in August 1822, he and Pastor Pohlman exchanged pulpits. The records at Oldwick contain the following: “There is scanty information concerning the pastor and pastorate from 1816 to 1822. At the latter part of his six-year period, the Rev. David Hendricks was eager to leave New Germantown.” His successor began his parish records with the blunt statement that “there is a deficiency in these records of upward of two years arising from the neglect of the rector.” Perhaps part of this negligence can be attributed to the death of his wife. When Pastor Pohlman baptized his son Elias Ogden Hendricks, born December 21, 1820, his wife was deceased (See Table 2). It is quite possible that she died in childbirth.
Evidently Pastor Hendricks never recovered from whatever caused his negligence, since the records of Zion Lutheran Church of Saddle River are completely devoid of entries during his pastorate except for lists of baptisms and confirmations. Although the church records contain no such entry, the account by Osborn (38) tells of Pastor Hendricks going to the Saddle River church to preach on Sunday morning in May of 1830 and finding a padlock and chain fastened to the church door as a gentle hint that his services were no longer needed. He continued to serve the Ramapo congregation after he was locked out at Saddle River. Apparently his unhappy experiences in New Germantown and Saddle River had a telling effect on him. He died in the summer of 1830 in Ramapo, where he had built himself a fine home.
H.J. Smith was called to Saddle River in 1831 and remained three years until April, 1833. Evidently the pattern set by the Rev. David Hendricks with respect to entries in the church records rubbed off on Pastor Smith and the two pastors to follow him. No entries other than pastoral acts such as baptisms and confirmations can be found.
The Rev. W.L. Gibson, a former Methodist minister, was called to Saddle River in April 1833. He served until July 1835. He returned to the South in 1836 and his name disappeared from the records of the New York Ministerium.
The Rev. J. Eisenlord was licensed in 1829 and ordained in 1830. He served at Minden in Montgomery County, New York (33). He also served at Canajoharie and Fort Plain in New York before being called to Saddle River in the Fall of 1835. He left Saddle River in the Summer of 1838.
Jacob C. Duy was born in Germantown, Pa. October 10, 1808. He was graduated from Gettysburg Theological Seminary in 1836. From 1836-1838, he served in Friesburg, N.J. He came to Saddle River and Ramapo October 10, 1838. On March 8, 1839, a protracted meeting convened. The pastor was assisted by the Rev. William N. Shole. The meeting lasted three days. On April 10, 1839, the first Sabbath School was opened in Saddle River. On April 11, 1839, a congregational meeting was held and the first church constitution or Formula of Church Government and Discipline was presented by the pastor. This was taken up paragraph by paragraph and after full discussion and alterations, it was unanimously adopted (59). The title page of the original constitution is shown in Figure 20.
Fig. 20. Title page of Zion’s original constitution.
On May 18, 1839, the first church council was elected (59). The winning candidates were:
Elders for 1 year —David I. Ackerman and John D. Ackerman
Elders for 2 years—Thomas Achenbach and Laurence Van
Deacons for 1 year —Henry Blauvelt and Conrad H. Bush
Deacons for 2 years—John Van Buskirk and Henry Esler
On October 28, 1839, the four Sabbath Schools met for the last time that year. Since the church had no heat at that time, it was too cold in the church to hold Sabbath School during the winter months. The Rev. J.C. Duy and the Rev. J. Manly were on hand for the occasion. The parents and children were addressed after which the children were rewarded with suitable books and refreshments (59). On February 13, 1840, a congregational meeting was held to consider the propriety of purchasing lamps to light the church more efficiently during the evening worship. The Rev. J.C. Duy and Mr. Thomas Achenbach were appointed a committee to procure the lamps. The money was raised by a subscription amounting to $40. The lamps were purchased on February 25, 1840.
In March of 1840 another protracted meeting was held —this one lasting four days. Ten new members were received into the church. Also in March of that year, the congregation bought the home of Daniel Shurts “on the turnpike” (59) for the sum of $1,555, the subscription money to be paid by June 1, 1841. On April 16, 1840, Pastor Duy moved into the parsonage. The New York Synod met in Zion Lutheran Church in Saddle River on September 11, 1841 and on Sunday the Lord’s Supper was administered. The meeting was very interesting and well attended (59).
At a meeting on October 2, 1841, it was unanimously resolved to purchase a lot from David I. Ackerman for $600 for the purpose of building a parsonage in Saddle River. On January 4, 1842, a meeting was held at the home of William Dixon for the purpose.’ of making arrangements for building the parsonage house. It was resolved to build the house. On April 12, 1842, the parsonage house was raised. This parsonage is shown in Figure 21.
In September of 1844 the Saddle River and Ramapo congregations sold the parsonage at Ramapo to James Crouter for $1,200. The half of this amount which was due Saddle River was used to pay David I. Ackerman for his lot. In December of 1844, Saddle River offered Ramapo part interest in the new parsonage in Saddle River (59). There is no indication in the church records that this offer was ever accepted.
On October 4, 1844, the last entry was made concerning the closing of the Sunday School for the winter (59). Although no indication can be found in the church records as to when the first stove was brought in, it is certain that it happened between 1844 and 1868. In 1868, an entry appears concerning “new” stoves (59). According to Osborn: “It was at this time that one stove could no longer keep the congregation warm, and two stoves were placed in the back of the church” (59). Since Pastor Duy was quite faithful in marking the opening and closing of the Sunday School in the spring and fall, respectively, it is possible that the date for the first stove was 1845. At any rate, the following account by Osborn (38) tells of the new stove and of some of the customs of the church in the early days:
“It was a number of years after the church was finished before the first stove was brought in. It was a small affair, placed upon boards that were laid across the backs of the pews in the middle of the church. It burned wood, and the pipe was run out through the window. Later a large stove was bought and put up at the back end of the church. This, after awhile, was not warm enough, so then two coal-burning stoves were put in, but even those after awhile failed to keep the congregation warm, and now we have hot air all through the church, heated by a furnace. God only knows how long this will keep them warm. I once asked an old lady how it was that the people could keep themselves from freezing in winter without stoves? She told me ‘that there was fire in the pulpit —the dominie kept them warm.’ `Yes,’ said her husband who was by, ‘in those days the dominie gave us hell right from the shoulder.’ So it seems our pulpit is getting cooler and cooler and, perhaps after all, it was not wise of Dr. Brigg of New York to attempt to put hell entirely out of the Word of God.”
“At communion, the men and women did not partake of the ‘bread of life’ together. Then, the men were served first, after which the women were allowed to partake. In those days it was a case of men first in everything but work.”
“Another custom of interest at this time was the funerals. The services then were not held in the church. It was always held at the home of the deceased, and friends for miles around quitted work to come and pay their last respects to the dead. It was customary for the family to provide pipes and tobacco and wine and, sometimes for the men, apple-jack. The wine was handed around to the mourning friends before the services. The pipes and tobacco and whiskey were placed on a table in a room set apart (generally the kitchen) for that purpose. Here the men would sit on benches and smoke and drink, and speak kindly if never before of him who had passed away. The coffin was a plain oblong box, made by the nearest carpenter, and dyed with a stain made from walnut shells. There were no sleek undertakers in those days to rob the dead man’s family. Some neighbor would volunteer to take the coffin in his wagon to its last resting place. He was assisted by the bearers.”
“After the body was properly buried the minister and bearers were always invited to dine, or if in the afternoon, to sup with the afflicted family. The minister on this occasion wore a white scarf. It passed over his shoulders and across his breast and the ends were fastened together under his arm at his waist. This scarf was generally linen, and enough was given to make a shirt. The family of the deceased gave it. In this way the minister’s family was kept in linen the year around, provided if there were many deaths. You might call this ministerial graft.”
“The weddings were conducted much different from now. The ceremony generally took place on Saturday afternoon, and it was an affair of two days. After the marriage, which took place at the bride’s home, the invited guests would sit down to a grand supper. In the evening the bride and groom, with their unmarried friends, would attend some Saturday night dance at a nearby tavern. The young people throughout the country would find out to what tavern the bridal party would go and they would be there in great numbers to see the bride and groom; and many a horn of whiskey the groom would have to pay for.”
“After the dance broke up, which was at midnight, the wedded pair with the young men and their girls would return to the bride’s home for the night. Here the boys and girls would ‘bundle’ indiscriminately together during the remainder of the night. In the morning all would go to church on horseback, each young man would have his girl sitting behind him on his horse. After services the whole party would go over to the groom’s home where an ‘infere’ would be given by his parents. Such was the people and their customs during the first years of this church.”
Pastor Duy preached his farewell sermon on June 6, 1847. He moved to Churchtown, New York on June 15, 1847. By his first wife, Elizabeth Moore, he had ten children. After her death in 1849, he married Emeline Murphy of Philadelphia (57). From 1853 to 1872, Pastor Duy served at Zion Lutheran Church in New Germantown, now Oldwick. After leaving New Germantown, the Rev. Duy retired to Bergen County until his death March 25, 1882. He was buried in the Zion Lutheran Church cemetery in Saddle River after a service on March 29, 1882 at which the Rev. A.C. Wedekind preached the sermon. Pastor Duy is the only ex-pastor buried in the Zion cemetery. His tombstone bears the inscription, “Faithful Unto Death.” The Duy plot can easily be located by looking for the needle-like spire which is the tallest memorial in the cemetery. This belongs to his son, Robert M. Duy, born December 12, 1859, died September 18, 1902, and his son’s wife, Eleanor Ann Stebbins, born December 1, 1860, died July 20, 1924. Pastor Duy’s first wife, Elizabeth Moore Duy, and their infant son, John Jacob Duy, are also buried in the Duy plot. Mrs. Duy died October 11, 1849 at the age of 37 years, 10 months, and 3 days. Their son died October 31, 1849 at the age of 1 month, 10 days. Pastor Duy’s second wife, Emeline Murphy Duy, born February 11, 1819, died December 21, 1886, is buried alongside Pastor Duy. Just behind the marker of Robert and Eleanor Duy is a small stone belonging to their daughter, Emeline Duy who died January 3, 1895 at the age of 4 months and 21 days. The Duy plot is shown in Figure 22.
Mr. Neff was licensed by the N.Y. Ministerium in 1842. He was ordained on June 25, 1844 by the Rev. H.N. Pohlman at Canajoharie, N.Y. He settled in as pastor of Saddle River on August 28, 1847 and preached his introductory sermon on September 19, 1847. From the time of his first sermon until February 16, 1850, only four entries appear in the church records. These include two brief notes on the congregational meetings of April 1, 1848 and April 1, 1849 and two notices of installments received on subscriptions.
The entry on February 16, 1850 is a detailed account of the special congregational meeting pursuant to a public notice to discuss the resignation tendered by Pastor Neff (59). The account is written by the chairman of the church council, Laurence Van Buskirk. The resignation was prompted by the secession of a few members of the church to form an opposition congregation. The meeting was held to “hear of any, and if any, what charges could be alledged against Mr. Neff to justify the course of such members.” After allowing sufficient time for the purpose and finding that no one had availed himself of the opportunity to speak, several resolutions were offered by John J. Zabriskie for the consideration of the meeting. These resolutions were to the effect that the members present approved of the whole course and conduct of Mr. Neff since he had pastoral charge of the congregation, that they regretted the course of action taken by a few of the members of the congregation which led to the resignation, and that the members present should earnestly and urgently request the pastor to withdraw his resignation. It was further resolved that Thomas Achenbach, Garret Van Dien and John Achenbach should go to the parsonage and present Pastor Neff with a copy of the resolutions and invite him to attend the meeting. Whereupon, Pastor Neff returned with the committee and thanked the members present for their kind feelings. He stated that it would be impossible for him to withdraw his resignation.
On March 10, 1850, Pastor Neff preached his farewell sermon. When he left, the congregation lost a number of valuable members including the Zabriskies, the Boards, the Van Diens, and the Hoppers of Paramus, who afterwards joined the Dutch Reformed Church nearer home (59).
Evidently time heals all wounds, for on April 16, 1882 the Rev. Mr. Neff preached at Zion Lutheran Church on the occasion of the installation of the newly elected church council members and on October 22, 1882, he preached at the installation service for the Rev. D.A. Shetler. At this time he was President of the New York and New Jersey Synod.
The Rev. Matthew Waldenmeyer was licensed by the N.Y. Ministerium in 1846 and went to the Hartwick Synod in 1847. On April 13, 1850, the congregation of Zion Lutheran Church met to consider whether or not to unite with Ramapo in calling a pastor. It was resolved that the congregation should not unite with Ramapo but that they should call a minister alone. It was then resolved that the Rev. Matthew Waldenmeyer be called. Some of the members mentioned that the Ramapo congregation intended to call the Rev. Mr. Waldenmeyer. A committee consisting of David J. Carlough, Andrew Van Buskirk and Henry Achenbach was appointed to meet with the Ramapo committee to give the result of the meeting. At a meeting on August 19, 1850, it was decided to give the Rev. Mr. Waldenmeyer a call. The installation service was held on October 17, 1850.
According to Osborn (38) “He was a very learned man, loved by the whole congregation, although a scandal darkened the latter end of his ministry. After his resignation, which the scandal forced, his friends rallied around him and showed their confidence in him as a man by offering him the position of schoolteacher. This he accepted and taught for two years, drawing many scholars from out of the place, who boarded at his home.” The scandal to which Mr. Osborn refers is not described in any detail in any of the available records. According to John G. Esler (11) the Rev. Mr. Waldenmeyer was disciplined by the Lutheran Conference and debarred from preaching because of confessed immorality. He left February 16, 1853.
Fig. 22. Tombstone of the Rev. Jacob C. Duy, the only Zion pastor to be buried in the Zion Cemetery.
The Rev. N. Wert was licensed by the N.Y. Ministerium in 1853 and immediately accepted a call to the Saddle River church. He settled in as pastor on November 6, 1853. Pastor Wert became interested in the scattered Ramapo congregation which had had some lean years after their agreement with the Reformed Church to share the Island Church was terminated in 1848. In January 1855, he held a series of evening sessions for a period of one week in the home of Adolphus Shuart. This so revitalized the congregation that they held a meeting on March 3, 1854 to reorganize. At the same meeting, they made plans to build a new church. On July 7, 1854, the cornerstone was laid at a ceremony presided over by the Rev. Jacob C. Duy. Pastor Duy, who had been the last regular preacher of the Ramapo congregation, was now serving in New Germantown.
Evidently Pastor Wert had little interest in the Saddle River church during his ministry, for the church records show only the congregational meetings for the election of the church council. He resigned in June of 1856.
Mr. De Yoe (Figure 23) was ordained by the N.Y. Ministerium in 1843. In November of 1846, he became the first resident pastor at German Valley (45). During his ministry at that church, a parsonage was built for him.
Fig. 23. The Rev. Ephraim De Yoe.
Pastor De Yoe remained at German Valley until his call to Zion on May 1, 1858. He was also to serve the Ramapo Church. At a congregational meeting in the fall of 1858, it was decided to put a 16 foot extension onto the parsonage. Preparations were made early in the spring of the following year. The timber for the frame was to be donated by the congregation (59) and also the work until it was raised. The work was then put out to contract. Jerry Woodward took the carpenter’s work for $50.00 and Jacob Woodward the mason work for $35.50. The building was finished by June 1, 1859. It cost $275.31, which money was raised by subscription in the Saddle River congregation. Evidently Pastor De Yoe was a “go-getter,” since both the Saddle River (59) and Ramapo (13) records show a number of entries concerning painting, refurbishing, or expanding the church building or parsonage.
On August 27, 1859, Pastor De Yoe preached at the funeral of Thomas B. Blauvelt, a member of Zion who was studying for the ministry at Pennsylvania College. Mr. Blauvelt was 27 years of age when he died. The entry in the church records reads “Farewell brother, thou has left us.”
A series of “donation visits” were held in Saddle River and Ramapo from 1858 to 1866. At the meeting in January 1861, 208 persons took supper in Saddle River on a day that was “good sleighing and pleasant” (13).
On April 1, 1862, the Saddle River congregation held a meeting at which it was decided to ask the Ramapo congregation to pay rent at the rate of $25.00 per year which represented one half of the estimated annual rental value of $50.00. Ramapo felt that since the parsonage was considerably closer to the Saddle River Church than to the Ramapo Church, it should only have to pay one third the rental (59).
In April of 1865, Pastor De Yoe began regular Sunday School sessions and occasional church services in a one-room schoolhouse in Ramsey, New Jersey located at the present Cherry Lane and Main Street intersection (29).
In October of 1866, the people of the congregation at Saddle River united in making a festival for the benefit of the church. The amount collected was three hundred and five dollars which was taken for the purpose of buying a cabinet organ. The organ was purchased from Beal and Sherwoods of Monsey, New York. Part of the money also went toward the purchase of blind shutters for the windows of the church. The shutters were made by John Storms of Pascack, New Jersey and cost the church ninety dollars.
In February of 1867, a building committee was formed by the Ramsey congregation (29). Evidently, the task of serving three congregations became too much for the Rev. De Yoe. On April 7, 1867, he resigned his charge at Saddle River and continued to serve the Ramapo and Ramsey congregations. In September of 1868, the cornerstone was laid for the new Ramsey church with the Rev. Henry N. Pohlman preaching the sermon. In 1870 a Sunday School was started at Tallman, N.Y. Pastor De Yoe suggested that a church be built there. The cornerstone was laid in 1874 by Dr. Pohlman. The Tallman church was supposed to remain under the officers of the Ramapo church. However, some misunderstanding arose which caused the resignation of Pastor De Yoe (13). He continued to serve the Ramsey congregation until his retirement in 1878 at the age of 64.
Mr. Wells was born in 1838. He entered Hartwick Seminary in 1860, was drafted for war service, and then completed his theological course. He was licensed to preach in 1867 and started his duties as pastor of the Zion Lutheran Church in Saddle River on January 5, 1868. That year, the interior of the church was rebuilt (59). The tall back pews were cut down, the doors taken off and walnut wooden arms were fitted on the ends of the pews. The doors that were removed were made into washstands by George Berdan. Two new stoves were brought in to replace the one stove which had proved inadequate. Also in 1868, the old barrel pulpit was taken out and a chancel was added. This gave more seating room (59). The cost of the alterations was $600.
The rededication of the church and official installation services for Pastor Wells took place on Thanksgiving Day, the 26th of November, 1868. The rededication service and the charge to the congregation were delivered by the Rev. Jacob C. Duy and the installation service was by the Rev. Ephraim De Yoe (59).
It was decided in January 1869 by a congregational meeting to rent the pews of the church for the term of one year which took effect on April 1, 1869. The seats of the pews were cushioned in the year 1869 and sashes were purchased for the windows of the church. The money was raised by holding a festival (59).
The Rev. Laurent D. Wells resigned his call at Saddle River, October 1, 1870, and preached his farewell sermon from the words of Exodus, Chapter 14, Verse 15, “Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward.” (59).
The records do not show where Pastor Wells went when he left Saddle River. However, the 250th Anniversary Booklet of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church of Airmont, Suffern, New York, formerly Ramapo Lutheran Church (13) records the fact that Pastor Wells served their congregation from March 1910 to May of 1916 when he died. He came to Airmont from Rhinebeck, New York. He was in the 49th year of his ministry when he died. Hartwick Seminary had awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity some years before. His years at Airmont were quite eventful. There were times when there was not enough money available to cover the salary of Pastor Wells. In fact, there was some question as to whether or not the church should remain open. Just before his death, however, Pastor Wells was successful in leading the congregation to the point where they not only decided to remain open but they increased his salary by $60 per year.
William A. Julian became pastor of Zion on November 20, 1870, A protracted meeting was held the latter part of January, 1871 by the Rev. Mr. Julian assisted by the Rev. Mr. Kline and Pastors Smithdeal and De Yoe. A number of people were confirmed as a result of this meeting (59).
Except for the usual congregational meetings and elections of church councils, the records of the church (59) show little of importance during the pastoral ministry of Pastor Julian. He resigned in November of 1873. According to Osborn (38) “Three years, with a few exceptions, seemed to be all that the ministers and the congregation could stand of each other.”
Pastor Switzer preached his first sermon at Saddle River on April 5, 1874. He stayed nearly seven years, preaching his final sermon March 27, 1881. The following is the account of the Rev, Switzer’s pastoral ministry at Zion as given by Osborn (38):
“The fatal thirteenth minister was the Rev. John Switzer, who so loved our people that when they gave him a call, he left the Methodist church to join the Lutherans, and stayed until 1881. Rev. Mr. Switzer was a forcible preacher and drew large houses. During his stay he won a great number of young folks to the fold. The highest salary that the church ever paid was raised during his stay, and everything had a prosperous look, but it is with churches as with people, they all cannot stand prosperity. This proved so at the latter end of his ministration. He then became the centre of a congregation uproar which caused his resignation. He preached his farewell sermon from the text ‘Suffer me to speak and after I have spoken, mock on,’ and many of his members did it for many years after he left.”
It was during the pastorate of the Rev. Mr. Switzer that the Ladies’ Social Union had its beginnings. The account from the 125th Anniversary Booklet follows (58):
“The Ladies of the Evangelical Lutheran Church assembled at the residence of D.A. Pell on February 7, 1878, in view of organizing a society— its object, to promote sociability in the congregation and of aiding or assuming a part of the financial responsibilities of the church.” (Part of the first minutes).
“It was known as the Ladies’ Aid Society of the Evangelical Lutheran Church—This name was later changed to the Ladies’ Social Union. Among their early activities was a sociable held at members’ homes once a month, the admission being ten cents for entertainment and refreshments.”
“This society for a great many years was the active aid society of the church. In later years because of dual membership in the Loyal League and Ladies’ Social Union, it was decided to concentrate the activities into one organization. Thus the Ladies Social Union completed over fifty years of active church work before disbanding. During its active period it functioned in the same manner as the Loyal League and contributed to the social and financial needs of the church.”
There is no photograph available of the original Ladies’ Social Union building. However, as will be mentioned later, this hall formed the nucleus of the present Parish House which is shown in Figure 24.
The records show that when the Rev. P.M. Rightmeyer was issued a call in 1881 it was for a period of one year. He began his pastorate on April 3, 1881 (59). No mention is made as to the reason for the one year term. Pastor Rightmeyer had served for five years from 1874-1879 at Emanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Friesburg, N.J. (49). From 1879 to 1881 and after 1882 the whereabouts of Pastor Rightmeyer have not been discovered. The records of the Friesburg church show that his body “lies in God’s Acre which surrounds the old Church he served” (49). Pastor Rightmeyer preached his last sermon at Saddle River March 26, 1882.
From March 26 to July 9, 1882, the church was without a pastor. On the latter date, the Rev. D.A. Shetler preached as a candidate (59). Afterward, the congregation issued a call, again for the period of one year. Pastor Shetler began his labors August 6, 1882. On October 22, 1882, Pastor Shetler was installed by the Rev. George Neff, a former pastor at Saddle River. Pastor Neff was now President of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of New York and New Jersey. The Rev. B.B. Collins of German Valley gave the charge to the congregation (59). When Pastor Shetler came to Zion, he was unmarried. Although the marriage is not recorded in the church records, Osborn (38) mentions that during his term of office he married one of the young ladies of the congregation.
During the year 1884, the following changes were made in the interior of the church: a new winding stairway was placed in the front part of the church edifice, the walls were calcimined, the pews repainted, stained glass windows were substituted for the old windows, and the front door and piazza were changed. The cost of remodeling was $1,200. The money was raised by subscription and by a gift from the Ladies’ Social Union. The old pulpit furniture was also removed and a new set was presented to the church by Mrs. Henry Blauvelt of Paramus (59). When the changes had been made, the church was rededicated. Pastor Shetler was assisted by the Rev. J.G. Griffith of Ramsey, and the Rev. T.J. Yost of Ramapo. Pastor Shetler resigned in February, 1886 to takeef2fectM8a6rch 1, 1886. He preached his farewell sermon February 8, 1886.
The Rev. J.V. Bodine preached at Saddle River as a candidate on March 28, 1886. At a congregational meeting held on April 1, 1886, it was decided to issue Pastor Bodine a call. He preached his first sermon as pastor of Zion on April 18, 1886. He resigned April 1, 1889 and went to Ramapo, where he served the congregation for five years (13).
Fig. 24. The present parish house facing on West Allendale Avenue.
The Rev. E. Hughes began his pastorate October 1, 1889. At a Church Council meeting on April 7, 1890 a proposition was received from Conrad Bush through John Berdan that if John and George Berdan give a certain piece of land to enlarge the cemetery, he would pay the debt now on the church which amounted’ to $200. (59). The proposition was accepted on April 21, 1890, In May of 1891, the council voted to purchase another 3/4th acre from John Osborn at the rate of $500 per acre for the purpose of further enlarging the cemetery.
In 1894, the following changes were made in the interior of the church: the pulpit platform was changed in order to make room for the choir and an organ in the rear of the pulpit, a vesting room was made on each side of the platform with doors to the 0 audience room and also to the rear of the church, a pipe organ was purchased at a cost of $350, the walls were re-calcimined, the woodwork was varnished, and new carpet was laid in the audience room. The cost was about $800. The full amount was provided for at the time of the entry in the church record, April 2, 1894 (59).
Pastor Hughes was well liked by the congregation. When he resigned on May 2, 1897, he gave up preaching and purchased a home in Saddle River (59).
Pastor Hutton began his labors in August, 1897. The most important event that took place during the Rev. Mr. Hutton’s pastoral ministry was the congregational meeting on April 2, 1900 in which the name of the church was officially changed to Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River. The church had originally been incorporated as the Evangelical Lutheran Church ‘ of Saddle River and Ramapough in 1821 and the name had not been changed since that time. For this reason, the seal of the church bears two dates: 1821 and 1900. The certificate of incorporation in 1900 read as follows:
THIS IS TO CERTIFY, That, at a meeting of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River and Ramapough, a religious corporation, held on the second day of April, Nineteen Hundred, at the Church of said corporation at Saddle River, in the County of Bergen and State of New Jersey, and called for the purpose of changing the name of said corporation, in the manner that meetings of said corporation are called, according to the form of Government thereof, by publishing to the members thereof the time, place and purpose thereof, at least two weeks before the time of said meeting: the following resolution was passed by the votes of two-thirds of all the members of said corporation:
“RESOLVED. That the name of this corporation be and the same hereby is changed from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River and Ramapough to ‘Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River’ and that Andrew H. Blauvelt, one of the Trustees of this corporation, be authorized to verify by affidavit the certificate of said change in name.” IN WITNESS THEREOF, we the Trustees of said corporation, have hereunto set our hands and seals, this second day of April, A.D., Nineteen Hundred. Signed and sealed in the presence of Robert Dickson (signed)
- Nelson Carlock (Signed) Cornelius J. Myers (Signed)
Aaron C. Ackerman (Signed) Jacob D. Ackerman (Signed)
Frederick Demarest (Signed) Andrew H. Blauvelt (Signed)
Oscar Nelson (Signed)
Pastor Hutton resigned on June 24, 1900. He unexpectedly left
without preaching a farewell sermon (38).
Fig. 25. Pastor Snyder was also an able farmer; is shown with two of his helpers.
M.L. Snyder of Manheim, Pa., preached as a candidate on August 19, 1900. After the service, a congregational meeting was called for the purpose of taking a vote to see if the congregation should have more than one candidate preach before issuing a call. It was decided to have but one candidate, and Pastor Snyder was given a call. (59). He took charge in September and moved into the parsonage at the same time.
It is interesting to note the different value of the dollar in 1901 compared to 1971 from the decision of the congregation on September 2, 1901 to insure the church property as follows:
Church $2,000 Parsonage $1,000
Pipe Organ 400 Barn 100
In addition to his duties as pastor, the Rev. M.L. Snyder found time to do a bit of farming. Figure 25 shows Pastor Snyder with two of his helpers on the farm.
The church records contain a note by Pastor Snyder that in August, 1902 the church was redecorated with new altar, pulpit, lectern, baptismal font, seats, and carpet. The entire church was renovated with new paint. There also were changes in the narthex and gallery (59).
On the same page of the records are notes to the effect that in 1903 the church celebrated its 153rd Anniversary as a “church society” and in 1904 the 154th Anniversary was celebrated. These entries place the beginning of Zion as 1750. However, no historical basis for this date has been found.
On April 1, 1906, a new constitution was adopted, replacing the one which had served the congregation since 1839 (59). In December of 1906, the President of the Ladies’ Social Union offered the use of the Hall for Sunday School for six months from October 1st together with fuel and light free of charge, provided the church furnish a janitor for the Sunday School. The offer was accepted (59).
At the regular meeting of the Church Council on June 1, 1908, the general subject of discussion was the lack of interest manifested in the welfare of the church by the members of the congregation (59). Pastor Snyder suggested that he secure other pastors to preach either by exchanging pulpits or otherwise and then note the effect on the congregation. The council agreed to the plan, but there were no entries concerning the success or failure of the idea.
Pastor Snyder completed his pastorate at Zion on December 1, 1911 after more than eleven years of service.
The Rev. J.K. Efird of Virginia preached as a candidate on January 28, 1912, and the congregation voted to give him a call (59). On February 22, 1913, a young women’s society was organized by the pastor’s wife. It was known as the Lutheran Loyal League. Its object was “to cultivate a missionary spirit in its members and its church — also to aid in the local work in the church and in the community.” (59). Pastor Efird served a little over two years, resigning in May of 1914.
The Rev. W.H. Mimicke has the distinction of having served the shortest time of any of Zion’s pastors. He began his pastorate on June 14, 1914 and resigned February 15, 1915.
Although the church records contain no entries to that effect, it seems that Pastor Snyder was an extremely difficult man to replace. The Rev. Carl H. Yettru began his pastorate August 1, 1915 and served until June 20, 1917. Thus, after having one pastor for more than eleven years, Zion had three pastors in less than six years.
During the three-month period when Zion was without a pastor, the Loyal League continued to be active. In August, 1917, the name of the society was changed to the Loyal League and Helper’s Circle, and became affiliated with the New York Synod and Women’s Missionary Society of that body (59).
Pastor Strail began his duties on October 1, 1917. At a meeting of the church council on June 27, 1921, it was decided to hold the 100th Anniversary celebration October 14, 15, and 16, 1921 (59). The records contain no references to the actual celebration. However, the historical survey of Zion’s Evangelical Lutheran Church by Osborn (38) gives the presentation date as October 14, 1921. The parsonage was sold March 16, 1922, eighty years after it was built. The contract for building the new parsonage was awarded to Mr. S.A. Shuart for the amount of $6,376.00 (59). In spite of the fact that a new parsonage was to be built for him, Pastor Strail resigned September 1, 1922.
The Rev. Albert Massey (Figure 26) accepted a call to Zion to take effect December 1, 1922 at a salary of $1200 per year without furniture or automobile. He was fortunate to have the use of the present parsonage during his ministry. The parsonage is shown in Figure 27.
Fig. 26. The Rev. Albert Massey.
Fig. 27. The present parsonage.
Pastor Massey served just over two years. He appeared to be well liked, as evidenced by the budgets for 1922 and 1923 (59). Note that he received a substantial raise in salary each of the two years.
Table 3. Church Budgets 1922 & 1923
Item Budget 1922 Budget 1923
Salaries $1305.00 $1500.00
Insurance 52.50 55.00
Fuel 79.00 80.00
Light 30.00 30.00
Printing 10.83 20.00
Conventions 75.00 75.00
Incidentals 58.00 75.00
Repairs 85.00 100.00
Improvement — — 250.00
Benevolence 200.00 300.00
Total $1845.38 $2485.00
Pastor Massey tendered his resignation in December of 1924 to take effect January 25, 1925 (59).
At a special meeting of the Church Council on March 29, 1925, it was unanimously decided to give the Rev. Emanuel Dreibelbis a call (59). He began his pastorate on June 1, 1925. In 1925, the garage was built behind the parsonage. In 1930, the “Ladies’ Hall” was enlarged to provide more space for the Sunday School and to provide an adequate place for meetings, church suppers, fairs and entertainments. At this time, the Ladies’ Hall belonged to the Ladies’ Social Union, which was the Ladies’ Aid Society of those days (59). Since the remodeling was done as an activity of the church as a whole, title was transferred to the church and the “Ladies’ Hall” became the Parish House. Figure 24 shows the Parish House as it looked after remodeling. It appears much the same today.
In 1900, Esler wrote, “In 1825, a two-story frame schoolhouse was erected where the Ladies’ Social Union now stands.” The original building consisted of one room and a stage on the main floor and a basement which was used for church suppers. The areas were much smaller than those of the first floor and basement of the Parish House. In addition to the enlargement of the first floor and basement, a second story was added. The confirmation classes meet on the second floor of the Parish House at the present time. Even though this addition was made at the beginning of the depression, the money for the addition was easily raised by contributions from individuals and the two church societies and by interest-free loans. All loans were repaid in a few short years, and the property has since been free of debt.” At the annual congregational meeting in 1932, the members present voted to give Pastor Dreibelbis a rising vote of thanks for his work in taking care of the two furnaces and keeping the church and Parish House clean, paying for the services of a plumber; and paying for other items without any remuneration from the church (59).
Detailed minutes of all church council meetings and congregational meetings for the remainder of Pastor Dreibelbis’ pastorate may be found in the Church Records (59).
A Hammond electric organ was added in 1940, replacing the pipe organ which had served the church for about 45 years. The pipe organ was rebuilt and installed in the Old Stone Church of Upper Saddle River.
On April 30, 1942, Pastor Dreibelbis retired, having completed his fiftieth year as pastor in the Lutheran Church two years earlier, in 1940.
Figure 28 is a photograph of Pastor Dreibelbis taken during his pastorate at Zion.
Fig. 28. The Rev. Emanuel Dreibelbis.
At a special meeting of the Church Council held Sunday, April 12, 1942, it was unanimously voted to make the Rev. Emanuel Dreibelbis Pastor Emeritus of Zion effective May 1st, 1942. In the 125th Anniversary Booklet (58), tribute was given to Pastor Dreibelbis’ wife, Mary, who contributed so much to the success of the church.
John H. Sardeson was born in Chicago, Ill. on July 23, 1915 He was graduated from Harvard in 1937. He obtained a master* degree from the same institution one year later. Union Theological Seminary conferred the Bachelor of Divinity degree on Mr. Sardeson in 1942. The same year, it was unanimously decided to offer the Rev. John H. Sardeson the pulpit of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River. He accepted the call and preached his first sermon on June 7, 1942. Pastor Sardeson was installed on October 4, 1942 by the Rev. Dr. Sherer. Also in October of that year, Pastor Sardeson received permission to hold Sunday evening services beginning at 7:30 P.M. He also offered to arrange for a guest speaker once every two months. This offer was quickly accepted by the Church Council.
At a special congregational meeting held on Sunday, March 7, 1943, two amendments to the constitution were unanimously adopted:
- That the date of the Annual Congregational Meeting be changed from sometime in the third week of November to a date in January prior to the fifteenth of the month.
- That the membership of the Church Council be increased from eight to nine members. The members to be elected by the Congregation at its annual meeting, for a term of three years in such a manner that one third shall retire annually, and that though a Councilman shall be eligible to succeed himself once and thus to serve for a period of two terms in succession, if elected, a Councilman may not be elected to serve again until at least one year shall have elapsed from the time of his retirement.
At the Church Council meeting on October 26, 1942, it was decided that the Annual Congregational Meeting should be held on January 10, 1944, and that the business meeting should be preceded by a Church Supper. At this Annual Meeting, Pastor Sardeson reported that he had received 26 new members during the year: 13 by letters of transfer, 5 by profession of faith, 1 by reaffirmation, and 7 by confirmation. This brought the total confirmed members to 178. Pastor Sardeson also reported that 138 members had communed during the year.
At a special meeting of the Church Council on March 18, 1944, it was announced that Pastor Sardeson had received through the Synod, a call to minister to the students of Cornell University, through the medium of the Lutheran Students’ Association. The Church, at Ithaca, N.Y., also included a regular congregation about the size of Zion’s. The resignation was requested to take effect May 1, 1944 and was submitted to the Church Council for consideration before presentation to the congregation as a whole. It was recommended to the congregation that the resignation be accepted. The congregation agreed at a special Congregational Meeting on April 2, 1944 after Pastor Sardeson explained the new position in more detail and assured them that only such an important call could have led him to make the decision to resign from Zion.
From 1944 to 1956, Pastor Sardeson served the church at Ithaca, New York. He then resigned to take a position with the Grand Union Company in East Paterson, New Jersey. In 1958, he became director of the office of finance of the National Council of Churches.
In 1963, Mr. Sardeson became affiliated with the National Conference of Christians and Jews and has remained with that organization in various positions since that date. A photograph of Mr. Sardeson is shown in Figure 29.
Fig. 29. The Rev. John H. Sardeson.
G.W. De Lawter, (Figure 30) was born in Myersville, Md. December 3, 1913. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lenoir Rhyne College in 1935, a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University in New York in 1944, and a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1944. At a special Congregational meeting of Zion Lutheran Church on July 2, 1944, it was decided to give Mr. De Lawter a call. The pastorate was to begin September 10th, and he was to be invited to use the parsonage beginning August 15th. Pastor De Lawter was ordained at a special service on September 10th, 1944 with a huge crowd attending. The installation service was held October 8, 1944. Dr. Fred Knubel preached the sermon, members of the Church Council took communion with the pastor, and the Rev. Dr. Walter Ruccius, from Hempstead, read the service.
Fig. 30. The Rev. George W. De Lawter.
In June of 1945, Pastor De Lawter showed the Church Council pictures of stained windows which he suggested might be added to the church as memorials. In March of 1946, it was decided to proceed with the contract for the stained glass windows.
A number of changes in the Constitution were adopted in May of 1946. In June of that year, an alms bason was purchased as part of the memorial to Pastor Dreibelbis. In October, the stained glass windows were installed. Also in 1946, Pastor De Lawter received his Master of Sacred Theology degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The most important event that took place in 1946 was the celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the church. The article prepared by J. Hosey Osborn for the celebration of the 100th Anniversary (38) was reprinted in its entirety and the history of the church was brought up to date in a 125th Anniversary booklet (58). This booklet included a separate section on the Auxiliaries of the Church: The Ladies’ Social Union, the Loyal League, the Sunday School, and Youth Activities.
In January, 1947, the church entered into a pension plan for Pastor De Lawter. This marked the beginning of pension plans for pastors insofar as Zion was concerned.
In 1948, the Parish House was renovated, and in 1949, a major remodeling of the front of the church took place to provide a narthex, a pastor’s study, and choir facilities including cloak rooms and lavatories. Also in 1949, the chimes were installed.
On April 4, 1951, a special Church Council meeting was held at Everett Smith’s house. The pastor reminded the Council that the custodian should be replaced by May 1, 1951, since the present custodian did not wish to continue. He also mentioned that he was considering a call to Teaneck, New Jersey and that he had preached there on Sunday. His resignation was accepted with regret at a special Congregational meeting on April 15, 1951.
At a special congregational meeting in October, 1951, it was voted that the Rev. William F. Behrens should be called to be our new pastor. Pastor Behrens came to us from Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Hasbrouck Heights, where he had served since 1941. A recent photograph of Pastor Behrens is shown in Figure 31.
Fig. 31. The Rev. William Frederick Behrens.
The Rev. William F. Behrens was born August 23, 1904 in New York City, the son of William Frederick Behrens and Helen Louise Schroeder Behrens. He was educated in the New York City public schools through the tenth grade, attending P.S. 107, P.S. 10, and Commercial High School, all in Brooklyn. He completed his high school career in the High School Department of Wagner College in 1922. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University in 1926. In 1929, Hamma Divinity School of Springfield, Ohio awarded him the Bachelor of Divinity degree. Pastor Behrens was ordained by the United Lutheran Synod of New York on June 6, 1929 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Albany, New York.
The Rev. William F. Behrens and Hazel Rose Keim were married on June 30, 1929, in St. John’s Chapel, West Albany, New York. They have three children: Barbara (Mrs. Marvin Cohan), William Raymond Behrens, and Wilma (Mrs. Dennis Manning).
Shortly after his ordination, Pastor Behrens began his duties as the first pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church in Cranford, N.J., which had been organized in 1928. Also in 1929, Pastor Behrens became the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Union, N.J. Although Christ Lutheran Church had only been organized in 1926, it had already been served by at least two other pastors before Pastor Behrens arrived on the scene. The stabilizing influence of a personality such as that of Pastor Behrens was just what the church needed. It is a tribute to Pastor Behrens’ ability that he was able to serve Calvary and Christ Churches concurrently for a period of nine years from 1929 to 1938. In 1938, Christ Church severed its relationship with Calvary and called a new pastor. In 1939 he received his Master of Theology degree from New Brunswick Theological Seminary of the Reformed Church in America. He continued to serve Calvary until 1942, when he accepted a call to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Hasbrouck Heights. As has already been mentioned, Pastor Behrens was serving in Hasbrouck Heights at the time of his call to Saddle River.
Pastor Behrens has served on committees and boards of the Synods serving the New Jersey area as follows: Luther League Committee, Social Missions Board, Committee on Full-time Christian Service, the Examining Committee, and the Committee on Evangelism. Before coming to Saddle River, Pastor Behrens served as Secretary of the N.J. Conference, United Lutheran Synod of New York in 1948. He also served as delegate to the U.L.C.A. Conventions in Philadelphia in 1948 and in Des Moines in 1950. He was President of the Northern Conference of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of New Jersey in 1951. He was reelected to this office in 1952. In that year, he also served as a delegate to the U.L.C.A. Convention in Seattle, Washington.
Some important events which have taken place thus far during the Rev. Mr. Behrens’ pastoral ministry are given below:
- In May, 1955, the first reference was made to the possible purchase of the 4.2 acre Savoye property for future expansion.
- In January of 1957, the church constitution was amended to enable women to serve on the church council.
- A special congregational meeting was held in June, 1957 to approve negotiations for the purchase of the Savoye property.
During 1957, the congregation appointed a Proposal Committee to study the needs of our congregation from nursery to council room, from parsonage to pulpit, and from home base to the mission fields. A complete report was given to the church council on October 24, 1957. A list of thirty-five recommendations was included in that report. In January, 1958, the master planning committee was formed. By the end of 1958, the purchase of the Savoye property was completed. An architect was engaged in February, 1960 to make preliminary drawings and site plans resulting from the recommendations of the master planning cornmittee. The architect selected was Mr. Robert S. McCoy of the firm of McCoy and Blair, White Plains, New York. Arrangements were made for the Lutheran Layman’s Movement to handle the fund-raising drive for the new building. A drive held in 1961 resulted in pledges totaling $95,000. A contract was awarded in July, 1962 to Minnema Builders for the construction of the Fellowship Hall. The building was dedicated September 8, 1963 with the Rev. Dr. Edwin H. Knudten, President of the New Jersey Synod of the Lutheran Church in America at that time, preaching the sermon. Norman Kelley played the organ. There were 225 members and friends in attendance. The building as it stands today is depicted on the back cover of this booklet.
Robert C. Brower, a member of Zion, was ordained on May 25, 1966, at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Ocean City. Pastor Behrens had the privilege to act as sponsor. Pastor Brower was installed as minister of St. Paul’s Church, Hightstown, N.J. the same year.
In 1966, Pastor Behrens preached the sermon at the installation of the Rev. Harry C. Fox as pastor of Zion Church in Carteret,’ N.J. Pastor Fox was Assistant for Youth Work at Zion in Saddle River in 1961 and 1962.
In 1967 and 1968, the Wolfe Fund for the benefit of needy children was received. A part-time Parish Worker was added to the staff in 1967 as a result of the establishment of the George F. and Melinda Achenbach Memorial Fund.
On September 21, 1968, Pastor Behrens baptized Andrew James Blauvelt, son of James A. Blauvelt and Joyce Evelyn Cooley . Young Mr. Blauvelt was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa on August 28, 1968. The Rev. Robert C. Brower assisted in the service. The group is shown in Figure 32. The father, James A. Blauvelt, is the son of Andrew M. Blauvelt, our church historian. A new organ was installed and the old organ moved to the Fellowship Hall in 1969.
It is interesting to note that Zion Church has maintained its record of paying full apportionment to the New Jersey Synod, since the policy was started by the Rev. George W. De Lawter. in 1944. Also noteworthy is Zion’s acceptance of an enlarged benevolence program including contributions to the Lutheran Welfare Association, Upsala College, Luther College, and the chaplaincy program at Valley Hospital, Ridgewood, N.J. A high point in the activities of 1969 was the celebration of the fortieth anniversary of Pastor Behrens’ ordination. Through, the generosity of many members, the congregation was able to provide Pastor and Mrs. Behrens with a two-week vacation trip to Italy and Greece.
On June 14, 1970, James A. Blauvelt was ordained a Deacon in the United Methodist Church at the Kentucky Annual Conference meeting in Richmond, Ky. He is now Assistant Minister , at the First United Methodist Church in Lexington, Ky. Much of the activity at Zion in 1970 was devoted to the preparations for this 150th Anniversary year. As we celebrate our sesquicentennial, we note that during 1971 Pastor Behrens will also celebrate an important anniversary— twenty years as Pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church at Saddle River.
Fig. 32. Andrew James Blauvelt is baptized by Pastor Behrens on Sept. 21, 1968. The Blauvelt family has deep root
Fig. 33. Mrs. Beatrice Ford at t
Tracing the history of music in our church has been somewhat of a problem, since the early records contain no mention of music. The first entry in the church records was in October of 1866 (59) when it was noted that the congregation held a festival for the purpose of collecting money. for the purchase of a cabinet organ. Fortunately, however, we have the account by Osborn who has the following to say about the music at Zion (38).
“Harry Hokum was the church’s first Choir-Leader—followed in turn by Henry Young, John Hopper, Nicholas Peterson, Mr. Bowden, and the last one to have the honor was Mr. Henry Esler.”
“Mr. Bowden used to lead the choir with a fiddle. Also, Henry Achenbach would now and then bring his bass viol to church.”
The bass viol to which Mr. Osborn refers is now in possession of Mr. Andrew M. Blauvelt, our historian. It is badly in need of repair, and this is one of the projects which Mr. Blauvelt has lined up for himself for the near future. As mentioned earlier, in October of 1866 the people of Zion held a festival for the purpose of raising money for the purchase of a cabinet organ. The organ was purchased from Beal and Sherwoods of Monsey, New York. The first organist was Jennie Eckerson, who later became Mrs. A.C. Ackerman (59). She served from 1866 to 1894. When the pipe organ was installed in 1894 (59), William H. Ackerman, her son, became the organist. Mr. Ackerman, assisted by Mrs. Mary Linckroum, served from 1894 to 1897. From 1897 to 1901, the organist was Miss Christene Blauvelt. She was assisted by Mrs. Fred Demarest. Miss Mary Ackerman served from 1901 to 1903. The assistant organist was again Mrs. Fred Demarest. Arthur H. Craig and Miss Kitty Storms comprised the team from 1903 to 1906. In the latter year Mrs. Bertha Terhune served briefly. Mrs. J.G. Berdan, the former Christene Blauvelt, assisted Mrs. Terhune and then took over the position in late 1906 (59).
When Mrs. Berdan accepted the position of organist in 1906, she began the longest consecutive term of service of any of our organists. She served for thirty-four years, from 1906 to 1940. Counting the four years in which she served as organist prior to her marriage, Mrs. Berdan’s term amounted to 38 years. She was assisted by Mrs. Carl Siner from 1906-1907, by Miss Elsie Mowerson from 1908 to 1911 and by Mrs. W.H. Packer in 1912. There is no assistant organist listed in the church records from 1913 to 1915 (59). In 1916, Marie Esler, later Mrs. Willey, took over as assistant organist. She served from then until 1921. From 1921 to 1940, Elsie Mowerson Forshay (Mrs. Abram) was our assistant organist.
Perhaps Mrs. Berdan would have served even longer had it not been for the purchase of the Hammond Electric Organ in 1940. It may be that she felt she was losing an old friend when the instrument which she played for 38 of its 45 years of service at Zion was retired. It may have been that she simply did not feel up to learning to play the new-fangled contraption. Actually, the pipe organ was not retired at that time. It was rebuilt and installed in the Old Stone Church in Upper Saddle River (59). From 1940 to 1943 Lela Blauvelt (Mrs. Andrew M.) and Daniel Brockhuizen alternated at the console of the Hammond organ.
For the next twenty years, Gurnea Wiles Perine (Mrs. H. Ford) served the congregation as organist. She was assisted for varying periods by Lela Blauvelt, Doris Knoblock (Mrs. George), Edna Stadel Rugge (Mrs. John H.), Jean Pulis, Ruth Massaro, Norman Kelley, and Mrs. F.M. Lauter. From 1964 to 1967, Mr. Arthur V. Larson was assisted by Stephen Whitney and Mrs. Joan Voogel. John Larson served from 1967 to 1968 and Gail Yates served in 1968 and part of 1969. Our present organist, Beatrice Ford (Mrs. Everett E.) took over in 1969.
In 1969 a new Allen “Classic” Organ was installed at a cost of $11,900.
The purchase was made possible by a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Milton Speicher and a bequest from the estate of the late David Ackerman Pell. When the new organ was purchased, the Hammond organ was moved to the Fellowship Hall. Figure 33 shows Mrs. Ford at the console of the Allen organ.
As part of our 150th Anniversary Celebration, an organ concert was held on Sunday afternoon, March 28, 1971, at 4:00 P.M. The guest organist, Mr. John R. Rodland, S.M.M., organist of t. the West Side Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood, N.J., charmed the large audience of members of Zion and their friends with his brief explanations of the musical numbers prior to their presentation. Mr. Rodland’s playing of such masterpieces as Lubeck’s “Prelude and Fugue in E Major,” Buxtehude’s “Passacaglia in 6, D Minor,” Bach’s “Fantasie and Fugue in C Minor,” Cesar Franck’s “Cantabile,” and Walond’s “Cornet Voluntary in G Major” emphasized the fact that our organ is styled in the tonal manner of the 17th and 18th century European organs. At the end of the concert, Mr. Rodland received a standing ovation for a job extremely well done. Our present organist, Mrs. Beatrice Ford, is extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to study under an organist of the caliber of Mr. Rodland.
For many years, Zion’s Sunday church school was a one-room affair where young and old met together for the worship period and the singing of hymns, all of which favored the older folk, Miss Martha DeBaun and Mrs. Lola Esler Dumser took the initiative and organized a primary department which met in the nave of the church where the pews were used for work tables, the children kneeling to do their color work. Mrs. Abram Forshay (Elsie) assisted with this work until September 1945.
The next step forward came with the organization of the Junior department under the leadership of Mrs. Dumser. This group used the room which now serves as the working sacristy. When the Parish House was remodeled, they moved to two rooms in that building which were furnished by Mrs. Lola E. Dumser, Mrs. Helen Inskeep, and Mrs. Marie Willey in memory of their parents, Mr. and Mrs. John George Esler. Mrs. Helen Inskeep did the research work which led to the printing of the map of early Saddle River which was shown in Figure 15. John G. Esler wrote the historical survey which was discussed earlier (11). The rooms used by the Junior department were carpeted as a result of a gift from Mrs. Charles L. Denison. Additional furniture was purchased from the same gift. Mrs. Denison continued to make generous contributions to the church and to the Sunday church school until her death.
The school continued to grow as the community grew and in 1946 when the congregation celebrated its 125th anniversary there were eight pupils enrolled in the cradle roll, 70 in the beginners and primary departments, 35 in the junior department, and 35 in the intermediate and senior departments. Mrs. David A. Pell served as supervisor of the junior department for many years. William J. von Mindon served as general superintendent and supervisor of the intermediate and senior departments. Twenty-one teachers completed the staff.
The Sunday church school grew at such a rate from 1946 to 1955 that in the latter year the congregation began to show an interest in expansion of the facilities. In 1957 a study began which resulted in the building of the Fellowship Hall. The building was completed and dedicated in 1963. The average attendance per Sunday had grown to 120 just before the move to the new building. In 1964, after a full year in the Fellowship Hall, the average attendance had grown to 144. Since that time there has been a gradual decline in both enrollment and attendance. This can be attributed to a drop in the school-age population. It is anticipated that another cycle is about to begin. The enrollment in 1970 was 161 distributed as follows: cradle roll, 15; nursery, 8; kindergarten, 15; grades 1 and 2, 23; grades 3 and 4, 35; grades 5 and 6, 31; and grades 7 and 8, 34. A staff of 29 served the Sunday school in 1970.
The first Luther League at Zion was organized during Pastor Hughes’ ministry. Several years later the Christian Endeavor Society was organized. Mrs. Robert Wilson served as president of this group for eleven years. During the pastorate of the Rev. Carl Yettru, an active athletic program was carried on for the youth of our church.
In September of 1946, the Luther League of Zion Lutheran
Church served as one of the three hosts to the state convention
of the Luther League of New Jersey.
The following served as student assistants for youth work at Zion from 1950 to 1967: John Metler, John H. Wagner, Jr., William W.J. Ennis, Iris Gallez, Harry C. Fox, Carol Thiele, William Danowski, Albert Zella, George Van Hassell, Leon Zinkler, and Peter Strom.
In 1967, Mrs. Hallie R. Confer came to us, as part-time parish worker. Her work with the youth of our church has been outstanding. In 1970, fourteen of the young people served on the Sunday Church School staff and five served on the staff for Vacation Church School. Others sang in the choir or served as ushers and acolytes. Several participate regularly in service activities outside of church, such as tutoring and ecology projects.
Among the special activities of the High School Youth were the Folk Services, gift-making parties for the children at the Christian Home for children in Fort Lee, an overnight retreat at Camp Koinonia, and participation in the Youth Conference at Asbury Park, N.J. The officers of the high school group are: President, Kathy Hilton; Vice-president, Libby Bell; Secretary, Susi Fecht; Treasurer, Laura Troy; and Representatives to the Bergen County Council of Churches, Bill Stewart and Bill Korn.
The Confirmation Youth, consisting of 7th and 8th graders, have been exceedingly fortunate in being able to obtain the services of Mrs. Edward Vrana as advisor. Outstanding among the activities of this group during the past year was a series of four supper and workshop meetings culminating in an excellent Advent Celebration. For this program, the group enlisted the aid of other young people in the church and a number of adults. Four of the Confirmands delivered the offering received at the Advent Celebration in the Day Care Center of St. Matthew-Trinity Parish, in Hoboken, N.J.
On February 7, 1878, the Ladies’ Aid Society of the Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized. The name was later changed to the Ladies’ Social Union. The activities of this organization have been discussed in earlier segments of this presentation. The group disbanded in November of 1940 after more than 60 years of service to the church (59). The reason given for disbanding this group was the dual membership in that organization and in the Loyal League which had been organized on February 22, 1913 by Mrs. J.K. Efird, wife of the pastor at that time.
In 1958 the United Lutheran Church Women was organized, bringing together the Loyal League and the Evening Guild, a group of younger women. A group called the Priscilla Circle was added later. The three “circles” met separately each month. A fourth group, the Altar Guild, met quarterly. The circles also met together for a quarterly meeting in September, November, February, and June. The enlarged program included study, worship, service projects, and sociability. At the time of the merger of the Loyal League and the Evening Guild, the former made a gift to the congregation which enabled the church to buy 150 copies of the newly published Service Book and Hymnal.
In 1962, upon the formation of the Lutheran Church in America, the name was changed to simply the Lutheran Church Women. In 1970, the group voted to discontinue the circle meetings. At the present time, a general meeting is held once a month starting at 10:00 A.M. for Christian service projects and the meeting and program at 1:00 P.M. The officers for 1971 are: Mrs. W.F. Behrens, President; Mrs. L. Hofmann and Mrs. W. Stewart, Vice presidents; Mrs. G. Larsen, Secretary; Mrs. H. Boutcher, Treasurer; Mrs. W. Hirsch and Mrs. E. Vrana, Membership Chairmen; and Mrs. H. Pooley, Publicity Chairman; Mrs. J. Rose and Mrs. W.J. Newman, Christian Service.
The 150th Anniversary of the dedication of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River will be celebrated at a special service on October 17, 1971. The Rev. Edwin Lord Ehlers, President of the New Jersey Synod of the Lutheran Church in America, will preach the sermon.
The Rev. Dr. Ehlers obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Wittenberg University. in 1951 and his Bachelor of Divinity degree from the Hamma School of Theology in 1953. He has done graduate work at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and at Temple University. He was awarded the Doctor of Divinity Degree from Wittenberg University in 1971. He served at St. James Lutheran Church at Phillipsburg, N.J. from 1953 to 1961. This is the “Straw Church” discussed earlier. Pastor Ehlers served at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Moorestown, N.J. from 1961 to 1963 when he was appointed Assistant to the President of the New Jersey Synod ofthe Lutheran Church in America, the Rev. Dr. Edwin H. Knudten. He assumed his present position in 1970 upon the retirement of Dr. Knudten. A recent photograph of the Rev. Dr. Ehlers is shown in Figure 34.
Fig. 34. The Rev. Dr. Edwin Lord Ehlers, President of the New Jersey Synod of the Lutheran Church in America.
The complete Sesquicentennial Anniversary Service follows:
SESQUICENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY SERVICE
ZION EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
October 17, 1971
PRELUDE Prelude and Fugue in E Minor. J.S. Bach
“Look Upon Us, Blessed Lord”. . J.S. Bach
HYMN 408 “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.’ (Lobeden Herren)
PROCESSION (with banners) … Crucifer, Choir, Children, Young People,
Adults, Church Council, Clergy
CONFESSION OF SINS page 15
THE INTROIT The Introit for a Day of General or Special Thanksgiving, page 115
GLORIA IN EXCELSIS
THE LESSON Isaiah 61: 10-11
PSALM HYMN 168 “0 God our help in ages past” (St. Anne, C.M.)
THE EPISTLE 1 Timothy 2:1-8
THE GOSPEL Matthew 6:25-33
THE APOSTLES’ CREED
ANTHEM “0 Church of God, Reach Up, Reach Out!” Eugene Butler
THE HYMN 150 “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” (Ein feste Burg)
THE SERMON The Rev. Edwin Lord Ehlers, President of the New Jersey Synod of the Lutheran Church in America
SOLO— Suzanne Herrick “Alleluia” W.A. Mozart
THE OFFERTORY page 27
HYMN 556 “Rise, ye children of salvation” (Neander)
POSTLUDE “The Heavens Declare the Glory of God” Benedetto Marcello
Fig. 35. An interior view of the Fellowship Hall, dedicated in 1963.
- Ackerman, Herbert S. and Goff, Arthur J., “Ramapo Reformed; Church, Mahwah, N.J. Reformed Dutch and Lutheran Churches, Ramapo” 1944. Contains baptisms, marriages and member:
ship rolls from 1837.
- Ackerman, Herbert S. and Goff, Arthur J. “Saddle River Dutch Reformed Church and Cemetery” 1944. Similar information on Old Stone Church 1784-1944.
- Ackerman, Herbert S. and Goff, Arthur J. “Records of Zion Lutheran Churches of Saddle River and Ramapo.” Similar information on Zion.
- Allen, Virginia “A Brief History of Zion Lutheran Church” (Long Valley). 7-page, mimeographed history.
- Bodensieck, Julius, Editor —”The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church,” 3 Volumes, Fortress Press, Philadelphia, Penna. 1965.
6 Burgess, Ellis B. “Survey of Christ Lutheran Church, Airmont, N.Y.” 6-page typewritten report on the background and status of the congregation. 1935.
- Burgess, Ellis B. “Survey of Zion Lutheran Church, Long Valley, N.J.”—similar information on the German Valley congregation.
- Burgess, Ellis B. “Survey of Zion Lutheran Church, Oldwick, N.J.”—similar information on Oldwick church.
- Chute “Genealogy of the Chute Family”— Privately Published.
- Dangerfield, George “The Era of Good Feelings” Harcourt Brace, New York (1952)
- Esler, John G. “Upper and Lower Saddle River Boroughs” in Van Valen, Reference pp 228-237.
- Evjen, John 0. “Scandinavian Immigrants in New York 1630- 1674” Minneapolis, 1916, pp 152-155.
- Grottke, Theodore L. and Erna H. “A History of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, Airmont, Suffern, New York — Formerly Ramapo Lutheran Church, Organized June 14, 1715, Mahwah, N.J.” Hastings Photographic Illustrations, Suffern, N.Y. 1965.
- Hackensack Republican (Newspaper) Four-part article published September 11, 18, and 25 and October 2, 1925. Based on research of Adolph Nutzhorn on the Hackensack Lutheran Church.
- “Hallesche Nachrichten” -2 Volumes, in German, Volume 1, Allentown, Pa., 1886; Volume 2, Philadelphia, Pa., 1895. Complete title “Nachrichten von den vereinigten deutschen evangelish-Lutherischen Gemeinen in Nord-Amerika, absonderlich in Pennsylvanian.”Much of this material is included in the translation of the Muhlenberg Journals cited in Reference 31.
- Heneveld, The Rev. George G. “History of Wyckoff Reformed Church (1806-1931).
- Historical Records Survey, New York (City) Division of Professional and Service Projects, Works Progress Administration, “Inventory of the Church Archives in New York City Lutheran” -New York City, December, 1940.
- “History of Morris County (New Jersey) from 1739-1882,” no author or editor cited. W.W. Munsell and Company.
- “A History of Morris County, New Jersey Embracing Upwards of Two Centuries – 1710-1913” Three Volumes Lewis Historical Publishing Co., New York and Chicago (1914).
- Holland Society of New York, “Year Book of the Holland Society of New York -1903” Knickerbocker Press, N.Y. (1903). Pages 1-118 contain the records of baptisms, marriages, etc., of the New York Lutheran Church.
- Honeyman, John C. “Zion, St. Paul and Other Lutheran Churches in Central New Jersey to 1800.” In Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, Vols. 9-16, 1924-31.
- Jacobs, Henry E. “A History of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States” New York (1893).
- Jacobs, Henry E. and Haas, John A.W. “The Lutheran Cyclopedia” New York (1899).
- “Kirch Buch Vor Die Rembachische Evangelische Lutherische Gemeinde” In German (Ramapo Lutheran Church Records).
- Klenke, William W. “Zion’s Evangelical Lutheran Church at Saddle River”-Article #5 in a series of articles on HISTORIC CHURCHES OF NEW JERSEY, December 11, 1932. Series appeared in Bergen Record.
- Kreider, Harry J. “The Beginnings of Lutheranism in New York” Times and News Publishing Company, Gettysburg, Penna. 1949. Written for the United Lutheran Synod of New York in connection with its celebration of the 300th anniversary of the “Oldest Lutheran Church in America.”
- Kreider, Harry J. “Lutheranism in Colonial America” – Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Political Science,
Columbia University. Edwards Brothers, New York (1942).
- Kreider, Harry J. “Minutes of the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of the State of New York and Adjacent States and Countries for the Years 1807 to 1818” New York City, 1935.
- Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Ramsey, N.J. “A Century of Faith”- 100th Anniversary Booklet.
- Manning, J.H. “New York State Men” #64 “Henry Newman Pohlman.”61
- Muhlenberg, Henry M. “The Journals of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg” In three volumes. Translated by Theodore G. Tappert and John W. Doberstein. Published by the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States and the Muhlenberg Press, Philadelphia, Penna. Vol. 1 111 (1942) covers 1711-1763, Vol. 2 (1945) covers 1764-1776, and Vol. 3 (1958) covers 1777-1787. Vol. 3 contains index to all three volumes.
- New York Ministerium “Minutes of the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of the State of New York and Adjacent States and Countries.” The complete set is in the office of the President of the Metropolitan New York Synod, Lutheran Church in America, 123 East 15th St., New York City. Abstracts, in German, can be found in Nicum’s “Geschichte “cited in Ref. 33. The years 1786-1806 have been translated by Palleske (Ref. 39) and the years 1807-1818 have been translated by Kreider (Ref. 28).
- Nicum “Geschichte des Evangelische-Lutherischen Ministeriums vom Staate New York and angrenzenden Staaten und Landern (In German) – New York Ministerium New York, 1888.
- Nothstein, Ira 0. “Lutheran Makers of America,” United Lutheran Publishing House, Philadelphia, Penna. 1930. Brief sketches of 68 Notable Early Americans.
- Old Paramus Reformed Church – 225th Anniversary Booklet (1725-1950).
- Old Trappe Church, Trappe, Penna. 4-page brochure prepared by the Rev. W.O. Fegely, D.D., former pastor of Old Trappe Church (1928).
- Osborn, J. Hosey “Life in the Old Dutch Homesteads, Saddle River, N.J.” Highway Printing Company, Paramus, N.J. (1967).
- Osborn, J. Hosey “Zion’s Evangelical Lutheran Church” Historical discourse delivered on the Hundredth Anniversary of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Saddle River, N.J. Oct. 14, 1921-16 pages.
- Palleske, Theodore E. “Translation of the German Minutes of the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of the State of New York and Adjacent States 1786-1806” Wagner College, Staten Island, N.Y. 1937.
- Ramapough Reformed Church, Mahwah,N.J. Sesquicentennial Booklet (1785-1935).
- St. James Lutheran Church, Phillipsburg, N.J. 200th Anniversary Booklet, 1950.
- St. James Lutheran Church, Phillipsburg, N.J. 220th Anniversary Booklet, 1970.
- St. Matthews Lutheran Church, New York City “The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Matthew – America’s Oldest Lutheran Church – Tercentenary – 1664-1964” Custombook, Inc. South Hackensack, N.J. 1964.
- Schmauck, Theodore E. “The Lutheran Church in Pennsylvania, 1638-1800” Lancaster, Penna. (1902).
- Snell, James P. and Ellis F.-History of Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, N.J. Everts and Peck, Philadelphia, Penna. (1881).
- Spruce Run Evangelical Lutheran Zion Church, Glen Gardner, N.J. “The One Hundredth Anniversary – 1870-1970” This is the booklet prepared for the 100th Anniversary of the dedication of the present church building.
- Thompson, Charles 0. “225 Years, A History of Zion Lutheran Church, Oldwick, N.J.” 23 Pages, mimeographed (1939). Available on microfilm in Hunterdon County Historical Society Library in Flemington, N.J.
- Traver, C.H. “Early History of Lutheranism in Hunterdon and Somerset Counties” Typewritten manuscript in the archives of the New Jersey Historical Society, Newark, N.J.
- Trostle, Luther S. “History of Emanuel’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Friesburg, N.J.” Pioneer Press, Bridgton, N.J. 1926.
- Van Horn, J.H. “Historic Somerset” Compiled by the Historical Societies of Somerset Co., N.J. (1965)
- Van Laer, Arnold J.H. “The Lutheran Church in New York 1649-1772” – Translation of the record in the Lutheran Church Archives at Amsterdam, Holland, N.Y. Public Library (1946).
- Van Valen, J.M. “History of Bergen County, N.J.” N.J. Publishing and Engraving Co., New York (1900).
- Wenner, George U. “The Lutherans of New York, 1648-1918” The Petersfield Press, New York (1918)
- Wents, Abdel Ross “A Basic History of Lutheranism in America” Fortress Press,Phila., Pa., Revised Edition (1964).
- Westervelt, F.A., Supervising Editor “History of Bergen County, N.J.” (1630-1923) 3 Volumes, Lewis Historical Publishing Co. Inc. New York and Chicago (1923).
- Williams, C.S. “Christian Barentsen Van Horn and His Descendants” C.S. Williams, New York (1911).
- Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Oldwick, N.J. 225th Anniversary Booklet.
- Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River, N.J. “Historical Sketch 1821-1946. Contains reprint of Ref. 38 plus the history from 1921-1946.
- Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River, N.J. Official Church Records, Volume 1-Pastors’ notes and records of council meetings from Dec. 1, 1819 -Nov. 24, 1916. Volume 2-Pastoral acts -baptisms, confirmations, etc. from Sept. 12, 1818 through October 1850.
Volume 3 -Pastoral Acts 1850-1871.
Volume 4-Pastoral Acts 1872-1906.
Volume 5 -Pastors’ notes, meetings, etc. December 1917-27.
Volume 10-February 1961 to – –
Pastor and Mrs. William Frederick Behrens in Memory Of Granddaughter, Elizabeth Ann Cohan (1955-67)
Abram Forshay in Memory Of Elsie Forshay
Harriet W. Savoye In Memory of Ulysse W. Savoye
Pastor and Mrs. William Frederick Behrens In Memory of Their Pastors Emil Roth and Theodore 0. Posselt
Mr. an Mrs. Clifford L. Hilton in Memory of Loved Ones
Mrs. Herbert E. Skold In Memory Of Herbert E. Skold
Mr. and Mrs. Andrew M. Blauvelt In Memory Of Mrs. J.G. Berdan (Christene Blauvelt), organist at Zion for many years
Mrs. Willhi ill jam HornkohlIn Memory Of William Hornkohl
Margaret Telgheder In Memory Of Dr. and Mrs. 0. Nelson, Lifetime Members
Mrs. Felix L. Bume, In Memory Of Felix L. Bume (Dec. 5, 1969)
The Walter S. Johnsen Family In Memory Of 0 Of Our Servicemen Who Gave Their Lives for Our Country
Mr. and Mrs. John C. Ware, Jr. In Memory Of Annie Elizabeth Ackerman Ware
Mr. and Mrs. J.E. Cianci In Memory of Nils and Anna Pearson
Alice B Lewis In Memory Of Ida M. Lewis
Mr. and Mrs. Albert Winterhalder, Jr. In Memory Of Their Grandparents
Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Danowski In Memory Of Loved Ones
Loved Ones In Memory of Mrs. C. Brockhuizen
Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Zeman In Memory Of Aunt Mary (Mrs. John) Zeman
Mr. and Mrs. Rudy Dengel In Memory Of Loved Ones
Dorothy E. Nyman In Memory of Ture H. Nyman, Beloved Husband
Anonymous In Memory Of The Eslers and the Wards, Who Have Worshipped in the Church
Catherine Fleischmann In Memory Of Harold Fleischmann
Florence Savoye In Memory Of Loved Ones
John C. Alford Mr. and Mrs. E.D. Grol
Renate Alvi Mr. and Mrs. Harry Hi
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Bayles Mr. and Mrs. Leroy C,1
Mr. and Mrs. Francis E. Barnes Otmar J. Hofmann
Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Barnes Mrs. William Hornkehi
Pastor and Mrs. William Frederick Behrens Mr. and Mrs. Alfred HU
Mrs. William F. Behrens, Sr. Mr. and Mrs. Herbert
Mr. and Mrs. G.T. Bell Mrs. Herbert I. Jonel
A.J. Bianco Mr. and Mrs. Jack KM
Mr. and Mrs. Frederick H. Bliss Mr. and Mrs. William ji
Karl-Heinze and Charlotte Boeckemann Mr. and Mrs. Gordori0
Mr. and Mrs. John 0. Boerner Mrs. Les Lorch
Gladys F. Bond Mr. and Mrs. William V
Mrs. M.H. Bottum Lt. Col. (Retired) and fo
The Boutchers Miss Susan M. Metz
Mr. and Mrs. R.W. Brachold Edna M. Mooney
Mrs. J. Brockhuizen W.J. Newman and Feel
Mr. and Mrs. Peter Buck Mr. and Mrs. L. Onody
Mrs. D. Dall’Ava Alice E. Pell
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Essig Mr. and Mrs. H. Ford P
Marta and Edward Fecht Mr. and Mrs. Williarn II
Mr. and Mrs. Roy Feudtner Helga Pfau
Mrs. Henry Fitter Ron and Ardith Richari
Catherine Fleischmann Mr. and Mrs. John R. H
Walter Fredrick Mr. and Mrs. Edward
Mr. and Mrs. Anthony C. Gibbs, Jr. Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth 1
Reinhold Gramsch Family Mr. and Mrs. Fred Sc
John C. Alford Mr. and Mrs. E.D. Grosman Mr. and Mrs. Harold Schroeder
Renate Alvi Mr. and Mrs. Harry Hazen Mr. and Mrs. Walter Schubert
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Bayles Mr. and Mrs. Leroy C. Hofmann Mrs. Estelle Sieber
Mr. and Mrs. Francis E. Barnes Otmar J. Hofmann Mrs. E.A. Sievert
Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Barnes Mrs. William Hornkohl Dr. and Mrs. Richard A. Slezak
Pastor and Mrs. William Frederick Behrens Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Hussnatter Mr. and Mrs. Everett C. Smith
Mrs. William F. Behrens, Sr. Mr. and Mrs. Herbert W. Johnson Mrs. F. Spaulding
Mr. and Mrs. G.T. Bell Mrs. Herbert I. Jones The Staderman Family
A.J. Bianco Mr. and Mrs. Jack Kenyon Peter Stahl
Mr. and Mrs. Frederick H. Bliss Mr. and Mrs. William J. Korn Mr. and Mrs. William C. Stewart
Karl-Heinze and Charlotte Boeckemann Mr. and Mrs. Gordon 0. Larsen Mr. and Mrs. Howard Sulley
Mr. and Mrs. John 0. Boerner Mrs. Les Lorch Mr. and Mrs. Charles Thie
Gladys F. Bond Mr. and Mrs. William F. May Mr. and Mrs. Fred E. Torstrup
Mrs. M.H. Bottum Mr. and Mrs. William Troy
The Boutchers Lt. Col. (Retired) and Mrs. Michael T. Metz
Mr. and Mrs. R.W. Brachold Miss Susan M. Metz Laura Troy
Mrs. J. Brockhuizen Edna M. Mooney Ruth F. Vanderbeck
Mr. and Mrs. Peter Buck W.J. Newman and Family Mr. and Mrs. Edward P. Vrana
Mrs. D. Dall’Ava Mr. and Mrs. L. Onody and Family Mrs. Fred S. Walter
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Essig Alice E. Pell Marie T. Wendel
Marta and Edward Fecht Mr. and Mrs. H. Ford Perine Congressman William B. Widnall
Mr. and Mrs. Roy Feudtner Mr. and Mrs. William R. Peterson Charles and Eleanor Wilde
Mrs. Henry Fitter Helga Pfau Mr. and Mrs. Herman C. Winter
Catherine Fleischmann Ron and Ardith Richardson Mr. and Mrs. G. Clifford Woodruff
Walter Fredrick Mr. and Mrs. John R. Rose A Friend
Mr. and Mrs. Anthony C. Gibbs, Jr. Mr. and Mrs. Edward C. Schaertel Anonymous (8)
Reinhold Gramsch Family Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth 0. Scheller
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Schoeffel