Zion Stone Church, Kreidersville, PA - Located near Allentown, PA
Organized 1770, first church of logs, built 1771; second edifice of stone, still standing, erected 1836; remodelled 1870 and 1905. Close to this historic old structure lie buried many generations of the Dreisbach family among them are Simon Dreisbach Sr., his sons Jost, Simon Jr and John (it is not known where son George is buried), their wives and many of their children.
BRIEF SKETCH OF ZION STONE CHURCH from a booklet entitled: Burial Record of Zion Stone Church Graveyard and Cemetery, near Kreidersville, Allen Township, Northampton County, PA. From 1772 to July 1st, A.D. 1940
Zion (Stone) Church dates its beginning back to February 25th, 1771, when a large number of the members of three small congregations, namely, the one at Indian Creek (Howersville), the one in Moore Township, and the one at Indian Land, together with the German settlers of Allen Township, met and decided to erect a union church of stone near the township line between the Indian Creek and the Hokendauqua Creek, the dimensions of which were to be 36X46 feet. Finally, the members of the Indian Land congregation decided to withdraw from this project, and to build a church in their community.
The church was to be erected on a two acre plot of ground purchased for this purpose from Peter Fried. This piece of ground was bounded on the north by the Township line between Allen and Lehigh and the land of Valentine Waldman; on the west by the road known as the King's Highway and the land of Conrad Kreider; and on the south and east by land belonging to Peter Fried.
The following persons constituted the building committee: Valentine Waldman, George Edelman and George Michael Bastian (Lutheran); and Adam Dreisbach, Casper Erb and Simon Dreisbach [Jr] (Reformed).
Early in the following year building operations were started and on June 18, 1772, the corner stone was laid, with Rev. Pithahn (Reformed) and J.A. Friederich (of J.A. Frederici, as he used to sign his name) Lutheran, officiating. On November 15th of the same year the new church was dedicated to the glory and service of the Triune God. Rev. J. A. Frederici, Lutheran, and Rev. Helfrich, Reformed, officiated at this service.
From this time on the old log church at Howersville, or Indian Creek, was allowed to fall into ruin, and at present no on seems to know the exact place where it once stood; gradually the old graveyard which, no doubt, was near the place where the church stood, also fell into ruin; and the stones which marked some of the graves of those early pioneers were removed and placed on a nearby stone fence.
In 1920 the Joint Council of Zion (Stone) Church resolved to perpetuate the memory of those early pioneers, and secured the privilege from the owner of the land where once the old church and graveyard were situated, to remove said markers, or tombstones, to the graveyard at Stone Church. These markers were imbedded in a cement monument to which is attached a bronze table bearing these words:
WERE BROUGHT HERE ON
JULY 22, 1920
FROM THE OLD ABANDONED
BURIAL GROUND AT
HOWERSVILLE, NORTHAMPTON CO., PA.
WHERE THE FIRST CHURCH OF THESE
HAD BEEN ERECTED IN THE YEAR 1747
The Dreisbach Family Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 1, June 15, 2000
When the extended family gathers for the third reunion in 2001, one of the prime places of interest will be Zion Stone Church. The sons of immigrant Simon Dreisbach, Sr. were active in its founding, and many Dreisbachs are buried in the church graveyard.
Simon's son Jost had started the Indian Creek congregation, nestled between the Indian Land and Moore township congregations near the Blue Mountains in northern Northampton County. These three congregations were unable to provide enough for the salary for a pastor, and Simon Jr. worked to try to unite them into a single congregation.
When most of the members of the Indianland and Moore township congregations decided at the last minute to remain at their original locations, the members of Indian Creek, the Germans in Allen township, and a few others determined to go ahead with their plans [for a new church.]
On June 18, 1772 Andrew Friderichs and William Pythan laid the cornerstone for a church. Friderichs and Henry Helffrich dedicated the new stone church on November 15, 1772, the day after a union agreement was formally ratified. Nine days earlier, six officers of the Indian Creek church agreed that since the new "church is now finished and we have abandoned the church at Jost Dreisbach's we deem it reasonable that we shall have no further use for the church vessels here, but desire to transfer them to the new Stone church." Accordingly, they turned over the baptismal dish, chalice, table cloth, and collection bags. Perhaps it could be said that the final step in endowing the Allen township church with what remained of Indian Creek was not taken until 1920, when the last remaining tombstones were removed from the old graveyard, encased in concrete, and placed in the graveyard of the Stone church.
A union register for the "Stone Church in Allen Township" was begun in 1772. Later, each congregation had its own.
On December 7, 1772 Peter Friedt sold to Valentine Waltman, George Edelman, George Michael Bastian, Casper Erb, Adam Driesbach, and Simon Driesbach, trustees of the Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed congregations in Lehigh, Moore, and Allen townships, two acres, "to perform Divine Worship in the Church already built on the said hereby granted Premises after the manner of their respective Religions and at their pleasure to erect Churches or School Houses thereon, and to educate (in the Buildings made or to be made) their Children in the German Tongue."
--Pastors and People, Charles H. Glatfelter, 1980, p. 388
Simon Dreisbach's descendant Fred Varker recalls his various visits to the Stone Church:
I first visited Zion Stone Church in January 1995, inspired by the publicity I was receiving in connection with the Dreisbach reunion that was to be held in October of that year. I was impressed by the magnificence of the pastoral setting and by this simple, solidly constructed church standing on a small knoll, with its well-kept cemetery on gently sloping ground. According to a published cemetery record, there are some 50 graves bearing Dreisbach names. A granite and bronze memorial lists 60 men buried there who were veterans of the Revolutionary War; seven of them are Dreisbachs.
A subsequent visit to the church and cemetery was made in 1998 in connection with a fund-raiser to improve the 'Old Graveyard.' Topsoil was needed as well as tombstone repairs (the first burial was in 1772). There were raffles, a bake sale, flea market, etc. and tours of the cemetery were conducted by church historian Harold Smith.
Another fund-raiser was held in October, 1999. Descendants of the Simon Dreisbach line may be interested to know that contributions in amounts of $50 or more can be designated for perpetual care of specific graves. Trust fund certificates are issued to donors.
Those who attended the first reunion will recall that the church invited everyone to the Sunday morning service. There was a display of pewter communion vessels and collection bags which were transferred in 1772 from the early church at Jost Dreisbach's residence. Generous refreshments were provided by members of the church following the morning service and tours of the cemetery were given.