a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mount Zion Church Day 30

By Scott Beveridge

As this 30-day photography project evolved this month at historic Mount Zion Church, a few people who care about this place urged me to go in search of the old log building where its congregation formed in 1800 in nearby in Fallowfield Township, Pa.

The Internet is littered with with information about the historic Lutheran congregation, some of which inaccurately indicates the original church still stands and is rumored to be one of the oldest such structures in Pennsylvania.

That church building, which hosted the first conference of Lutheran ministers west of the Allegheny Mountains on Oct. 18, 1812, was dismantled in recent years on what became the Ivill Farm, said Sandy Mansmann, coordinator of Washington County History & Landmarks Foundation. She said there is a monument regarding that conference near where that church once stood off Kevech Road.

One of the first settlers in this area, Christopher Stacker, sold an acre of his property in 1800 to the Societies of the Presbyterian and Lutheran churches, Washington County deed records show.  Each society built a log church there. Neither of the buildings survive, but there is a cemetery on the site that contains the graves of many former area residents, Mansmann said.

The Lutheran group took sole ownership of the acre of property and sold it in 1857 to Alfrey Rial, and it stayed in his family for several generations, according to records at the Washington County recorder of deeds office. 

The congregation relocated to the small redbrick Mount Zion Church in Nottingham Township about 1846, and it has remained vacant for about two decades.

(The name of the Stacker family shows up in local records with different spellings and it's is listed on a tombstone at Mount Zion's cemetery as Stacher)

The marker on Kevech Road in Fallowfield Township, Pa., commemorating the first conference of Lutheran ministers west of the Allegheny Mountains. 

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