In researching this series with Mr. Harold Smith, we discovered a prominent and world reknowned social reformer in her youth attended Sunday School at Zion Stone Church in Kreidersville. Many of my readers may not recognize her name, Jane Addams. Her contributions to society were one of my lessons when this writer taught United States history at Northampton High School.
Jane was born in Cedarville, Ill., in 1860. Her mother was the former Sarah Weber, daughter of George Weber. Mr. Weber was a miller, farmer and tavern owner in Allen Township. Sarah married John Addams in 1844. Jane's mother died when she was 2 years old, and as a result she spent some of her youth in the Kreidersville area of Allen Township.
Jane's grandfather, Col. Weber, organized the first Sunday school at Stone Church in 1825. Here Jane would receive her early biblical training, a foundation for her vision toward humanity.
Educated at Rockfield Female Seminary, she would visit England and be moved by the deplorable living conditions in the slums of London. She decided to devote her life to help the unfortunate in society.
Returning to Chicago, she rented a small home which became known as the "Hull House," named after a former owner. The neighborhood was home to a large number of immigrants.
Hull House became an oasis of hope for those in need. A kindergarten was formed along with a soup kitchen, and medical care given to the poor. If you could pay, the rate was 5 cents a day per child. She lobbied for child labor laws. Seven-year-old children in some instances worked 14 hours daily at 4 cents an hour. Some were maimed, a few were killed by machines where they were compelled to work.
A woman of peace, she organized The American Women's Peace Party striving for international understanding. She was awarded the 1931 Nobel Peace Prize. She wrote a literary gem entitled "Twenty Years at Hull House."
The former Stone Church Sunday school student whose name would become synonymous with compassion and reform died in Chicago in 1935.
Although Jane was not buried in the church cemetery, the old burial grounds hearken us back to Colonial times.
Harold Smith, the historian of church, guided us on a tour of the church cemetery, one of the oldest in the area thus opening a window to the past. Harold is a walking encyclopedia on cemetery history (he leaves no stone unturned).
He speaks about the early days of the cemetery.
"The undertakers were usually carpenters," he said. "They made the caskets which had no handles. They were carried on a bier. Neighbors dug the graves and acted as pallbearers. A Conestoga wagon conveyed the deceased of the family to the church and graveyard.
"Funerals were always held in the forenoon and the deceased was buried before the church service. In the early days there was no embalming. When the cortege arrived at the cemetery the casket was opened for relatives and friends to take their final view of the deceased. A hymn was sung in German to the tune of "Old Hundred."
Non bringen wirden Leib zur Ruh
Und decken ihn mit Erde Zu;
Den Leib, der nach des
Zu Staub und Erde werden mus
Now we bring the body to rest
And cover it with earth
The body, which according to
the Creator's decision
Must become dust and earth
The casket was then carried to the grave followed by friends and relatives and, after the committal a second stanza of the hymn was sung.
The relatives then proceeded to the church where the service was held.
At the close of the service, relatives and friends were invited to return to the house of the mourning where lunch was prepared."
From the founding of the church until 1872 the dead were buried in the old graveyard.
The deceased were buried in rows, one for adults another for children.
Many members desired to have a burial space where the whole family could be buried so a new cemetery was opened near the church and family plots were then used.
The first burial was Iva Koffin in 1772. Over 400 graves have no tombstones. Some graves are marked with fieldstones showing dates and the initials of the deceased.
Zion Stone Church, a union church of Lutheran and Reformed congregations since 1771, dissolved on July 1, 1969. Zion United Church of Christ became sole owners of the properties. The Lutheran congregation joined with St. John's of Howertown and St. Peter's of Seemsville to become Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.
In two weeks we will return to the church cemetery to honor Revolutionary and World War II veterans.