In this continuing historical series, I'll be visiting the village of Kreidersville and viewing one of the oldest churches in the county. Mr. Harold Smith, president of the Northampton Historical Society and historian of Zion Stone Church, will give all of us a local history lesson.
"As a youth, each Sunday my sister Dorothea and I attended Sunday School at Zion Stone Church," he recalls. The year is 1930.
"The road from Northampton to Kreidersville was quite different. We crossed two covered wooden bridges, the Becker Bridge and the Hummel, Koch, Solt Bridge which today is lovingly cared for by the Covered Bridge Association."
"The early road through Kreidersville was called 'The Kings Highway.' It linked Philadelphia with the wilderness and was used by militia during the French and Indian Wars and Revolutionary War. The route was used by Benjamin Franklin when he inspected frontier forts and later our primitive postal system.
"The village is named in honor of General Conrad Kreider who was born in 1736. He owned and operated grist mills along the Hokendauqua Creek. A friend of Gen. George Washington, he served as wagon master for the county and helped in rescuing an icon of our history, the Liberty Bell, when the treasure was moved from Philadelphia to Allentown during the Revolutionary War.
"The family home remains in the village. The patriot and his wife rest in eternity in the Zion Stone Church cemetery."
The village had Kern's store, a hotel, Knerr's Farm Implements, Wolf Implements and Indian motorcycles.
"Mr. Knerr's daughter, Norma Knerr Newhard, a grand lady, was a witness to the village's past. A centenarian, she passed away at the age of 103.
"We arrived at Zion Church for Sunday school," Mr. Smith continues. "My Sunday school teacher was Annie Kleppinger whose family owned and resided in the Gen. Kreider House."
Mr. Smith is now the historian of Zion Stone Church so I asked him about the church's history. I asked him why it is called "Zion Stone."
"It was one of the first churches in the area constructed of stone," he explained. "The origin of the church was a combination of three small churches dating back to 1742. Because of Indian attacks and the small size of the churches, they decided to construct a large centralized church, a union church to serve German Lutheran and Reformed denominations.
"The church was founded in 1771 near the township line between Allen and Lehigh townships. The land was sold to the church by Peter Fried for three pounds. The cornerstone was laid on June 18, 1772, and was completed on Nov. 15, 1772."
In those days you weren't required to have a dozen zoning meetings, site plans and inspections.
"A new church was constructed in 1835," Harold says. "The cost was $2,720. The bid was submitted by Mr. Adam Hower. The church built was 65 feet long and 50 feet wide."
All church services were conducted in the German language. Only a few members had hymn books, so the minister usually repeated every line before it was sung.
In 1910 there was occasional preaching in English.
Up to the year 1880, the pastors did not receive a stated salary, they simply received what members voluntarily contributed. The deacons collected the contributions once a year.
The organist and janitor also received what members voluntarily contributed, but had to collect the money himself. In 1910 a new constitution was adopted granting the organist and janitor a stated salary. A Duplex Envelope system was introduced whereby members paid church dues on a weekly basis.
A school, a private school, was maintained across from the church. The teacher would wear three different hats – he was teacher, organist and janitor. The school became a public school in 1834, supported by Allen and Lehigh townships as a public free school.
For a long time it was the custom for men and women to sit in different parts of the church. The married men sat on the east gallery, boys on the west gallery, married women west side, girls east side. It was not until new pews were put into the church in 1905 that members began to sit together.
In two weeks, come to Sunday school with us. One of the students will be a future Nobel Peace Prize winner. Can you name the famous person?