A large proportion of the U.E.L. pioneers of this county and of Dundas county, who were of German origin, were members of the Evangelical Lutheran church. A number of the first churches built to both counties belonged to that denomination. It has been already mentioned in THE BEAVER that the first Protestant church built in this province, of which, we have a record, was a Lutheran church, built in Williamsburgh, Dundas county in 1789. Some of the earliest missionaries in this section of country were Lutherans and three of the early churches of the county were erected by the members of that body. They were located in Fredericksburgh, (near where Chambers’ post office is now located), in Ernesttown (near where Ernesttown Station now stands), and in Camden (where the village of Napanee Mills now is). The first two mentioned of these churches are yet standing, and are now used as Methodist churches; the Camden one was torn down some years ago and on its site now stands the very neat and comfortable Napanee Mills Methodist church.
THE OLD CHURCH RECORDS
Fortunately the records of the three old Lutheran churches in this county are still in existence and in a good state of preservation and they contain a good deal of very useful and interesting information in regard to the names of the various ministers and members; of the baptisms and a number of marriages in the olden times. These records date back as early as 1793, and come down to past 1830. We have been indebted to the kindness of Mr. Willet R. Smith, of Chambers P.O. for a perusal of this valuable old record. Most of the facts contained therein have not been published before. The same book contains the record of al three churches already names, which appear to have been always under the pastoral care of the same minister. It may be as well to mentioned here that, in later years, nearly all the members of these various Lutheran churches became merged in the Methodist classes, and so did several of the ministers.
ST. EBENEZER’S CHURCH
Probably the first of these churches erected was “Ebenezer”, located on Big Creek, Fredericksburgh, in the vicinity of where Mr. J. Close’s flouring mill now stands. Just when it was built, no one appears to know, but it appears to have been about the first years of this century. A deed was afterwards given, but it was not until after the church had been in use for some time. The original deed is now in the possession of our townsman, W. N. Doller, Esq., whose parents were among the early members. The deed bears date of July 14th, 1815, and is a very neatly written and concisely worded document. The land on which the church then stood and that surrounding it, then and ever since used as a burying ground, was conveyed by Philip Smith, the owner, for the use and control of the Lutheran church. No trustees are named in the deed and whether any were appointed at that time we have now no means of knowing.
The witnesses of the deed were Lewis Fralig, David Barry and Jacob Smith. They were all members and it is not improbable they were the trustees appointed at the time. Philip and Jacob Smith, here named, were brothers. They were among the U.E.L. pioneers of the township and the heads of very numerous and well known families in this county to-day. Philip Smith owned the farm now occupied by Mr. Charles Cummings, immediately adjoining the church. Since his day the same farm has been owned by Alexander Edgar and Ebenezer Ham, both well known citizens in their day, but who have long since passed over with the great majority. Jacob Smith lived and died on the farm where his son, the late George l. Smith, Esq., also spent his active days, and is now owned by Ira B. Schell. Lewis Fralig (or Fralick) was a tailor and owned the farm, near the Morven brick church, now owned by Mr. F. M. Vanluven. It is said that Mr. Fralick brought with him from the States a large bundle of Lombardy poplar twig cuttings which he planted along the road side which became later on, the beautiful and lofty trees, which were, years ago, the beauty and admiration of Morven. Ebenezer church was, for many years, a sort of Lutheran headquarters for the surrounding townships. It was also freely used by the Methodists and other denomination. It was remodelled and renovated in 1854 and again in about 1880. In 1879 it was formally deeded to the Methodist church by George I. Smith and George Schryver, the surviving trustees of the old Lutheran board. The present trustees are W. N. Doller, J. Bailey Ham, Charles Garrison, William Crabbe and John Albert Bell. It is now in a good state of preservation and is used regularly every Sunday afternoon in connection with the Morven circuit.
ST. PETER’S ERNESTTOWN
We have also been favored with the loan of the original deed of St. Peter’s church, now in possession of William Hogle, Esq., of Ernesttown Station. The deed bears date of February 9th, 1819. The deed also mentions that a church had already been erected on the ground and the probabilities are that it had stood there a number of years at that time. Jonas Amey was the proprietor and he conveyed an acre from the east half of lot No. 16, in the second concession of Ernesttown, to trustees of the Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian churches conjointly, each denomination to have a legal right to its use, the Lutherans having the right to use it at all times when they may have a minister, and when not so needed the Methodists, and Presbyterians to have the right of use, under the direction of the trustees, who, were given authority to regulated the times of use. The trustees named were as follows: For the Lutherans, - Jacob Stover, Joseph Amey, Lodowick Hartman, and Joseph Amey; for the Methodists, Peter Day, and for the Presbyterians, Isaac Fraser, Esq. It was also provided that land should be set apart for a public burial ground and it has been used as such ever since. The Lutherans in that locality have also dwindled out, but the church has always been used as a place of worship, having been renovated and improved from time to time. It is now in an excellent state of preservation and is regularly used by the Methodists in connection with the Odessa circuit. The present trustees are Jesse Amey and W. A. Hogle.
We have not been able to obtain any very definite information in connection with the original Stone church in Camden, other that the names of its members. During its later years it was used as a Methodist church, and nearly thirty years ago it was torn down to make room for the present Methodist church at Napanee Mills.
SOME EARLY MINISTERS
It is a difficult matter to give a list of the various ministers who were in charge of these churches at various times, for no regular list of them is given in the old records before us. The names of various ones occur casually, here and there, in connection with the baptisms and other passing events, but it is not evident that all the names so occur. Dr. Canniff, in his U.E.L. history mentions that a Rev. Mr. Myers, from Philadelphia lived in Marysburgh at an early date, and preached to the Lutheran Germans of that township where a log church, 24 feet square, was built. Later on he moved to the St. Lawrence and in 1804 became pastor of the Lutheran churches in Dundas county. Whether his pastoral work ever extended across the Bay of Quinte into Fredericksburgh is not now known.
THE REV. JOHN G. WIGANT
or Weant, as the name is sometimes spelled, was the minister at an early date and for some years. His name appears in the old baptism register time and again from 1797 to 1804. The names of five of his children appear in the baptism register, - Jacob, John, Catarina, Anne and Samuel. They were all born between January 28, 1798 and November 23, 1806, inclusive. There is also a record of some marriages solemnized by him in 1796, 97 and 99. We have also been informed that similar lists of marriages by him exist somewhere about Wellington, in Prince Edward County, but as to the date of them we do not know. In the “Reminiscences” of the late John Collins Clark, already published in THE BEAVER, it is stated that he owned a farm and lived for some time in the front of Ernesttown, near Mill Haven. It is said that he preached one Sunday in each month at Smith’s Bay in Marysburgh, and the balance of the Sundays in Ernesttown. He is said to have received a call from the Lutherans of Matilda in 1808, which he accepted and resided in the parsonage there. Having been induced by assurances of more adequate support, he is reported to have secretly joined the Church of England in 1811, and was re-ordained by Bishop Mountain, in Quebec. It was some time before his people suspected that he had made any such change. He began to use an English prayer book, having always before conducted all his services in German; he began, too, to wear a white surplice, which gave the greatest offence, as the homely people among whom he labored would not consent to having their minister preach to them “in his shirt sleeves.” There was a division caused in the congregation in consequence, some going with him to the Church of England, and the balance inviting the Rev. Mr. Meyers to return to them from Pennsylvania, where he had gone. That was in 1814. Sleighs were sent in the winter from Matilda to Pennsylvania for Mr. Myer’s family and belongings, but when he arrived in Canada Mr. Weant refused to give up either the parsonage or the church. A compromise was finally effected, and the Lutherans were allowed to use the church once in two weeks. At the end of three years, in 1817, it is reported that Mr. Myers also forsook the Lutherans and joined the Church of England, also because of inadequate support. Dr. Canniff, writing of them, says: “The end of Mr. Weant and Mr. Myers, according to accounts, was not, in either case, satisfactory. The latter died suddenly from a fall, it is said while he was intoxicated, and the former was addicted to the same habit of intemperance.” Spirit drinking was common among ministers and members of nearly all denominations in those times and it is not to be wondered at that with many their appetites became stronger than their wills.
In 1816, the name of the Rev. Wm. McCarthy appears as the Minister, in the old records now before us. Whether he was the immediate successor of Mr. Weant we do not know. He married Miss Fralick, daughter of Lewis Fralick, already referred to. In the old St. John’s church record of Bath, the marriage is recorded, by the Rev. Geo. O’Kill Stuart, of Kingston, of Rev. Wm. McCarthy to Clarissa Fralick, of Ernesttown, on the 29th of January, 1816. At that time only ministers of the Church of England, and of the Presbyterian church were considered legally qualified to perform the marriage ceremony. Mr. McCarthy appears to have remained here a number of years, and his name appears quite frequently in the old register.
The Rev. Francis H. Guenther appears to have been the next minister. His name appears on the record first in 1826 and appears quite frequently for some years after that. There is quite a long list of marriages performed by him in the register between May 31st, 1827 and May 29th, 1831, inclusive. He lived for years in a house on the Kingston road a little east of Morven, just opposite where Captain Fralick then lived, and now owned by Mr. Edward Kayler. That house appears to have been occupied as a Lutheran parsonage for years and is still standing. Mr. Guenther afterwards moved to the city of Buffalo, where he preached for years.
The Rev. Thomas Kilmer appears to have been next on the list. His name first occurs on the record in 1831 and then the following year and some marriages were performed by him. He married a daughter of Lewis Fralick, but did not long continue in the ministry here.
The Rev. S. P. Ladu was a successor and came some time in the thirties. After labouring a time he joined the Wesleyan Methodists and was a very successful revivalist on the Napanee circuit for some years. We believe he was one of the Wesleyan ministers in Napanee when the first brick church was built here - in about 1841.
The Rev. S. W. Champlin followed, and according to the old register he preached in the Fredericksburgh church on the first Sabbath in October, 1843. He is yet well remembered by some of the old members, but how long he remained we have not been able to learn. He returned to the States.
The Rev. M. Plato was the last of the long list of Lutheran ministers in this county. He came late in the forties, but by that time the old membership had become quite small; nearly all had become identified with one of the branches of the Methodist church. In about 1850 he joined the Episcopal Methodists and became an itinerant preacher. He was a man much respected and is yet very kindly remembered by many of the older people. He lived, with his family, in Morven for some time. He died years ago somewhere east of Brockville.
For lack of space the register of the various baptisms extending over many years, of the members of the different Lutheran societies and of the marriages celebrated, must be deferred until next week. The names include the heads of a good many well known and highly respected families in this county.