Cambria County, Pennsylvania
Annals of Jackson Township
Mrs. Betty Burkhart
In 1708 on the banks of the river Eber in Schwarzenau, Germany, a little group met in the early dawn. They were Pietists who had taken refuge in that town from persecution. A difference of opinion concerning baptism had arisen and those whose opinions were the same agreed to "dwell together in the unity of faith," as a society. The leader of this band was Alexander Mack who was asked to perform the ceremony of baptism, but not yet having received the service, another was asked to do so and the ceremony was performed solemnly and humbly, using the three-fold immersion for the first time in the history of the Protestant church.
Following this proceeding, the Taufers, or German Baptist church was
The new sect grew and prospered and later went to the lower
Rhine and in 1719 the migration to America started. They first settled
neighborhood of Germantown, and from there scattered all over the United
States. In 1723 the formal organization of the church took place and it
was then that Peter Becker led a group of believers to the bank of a
little stream and again the sacred ceremony was performed. "German
Baptist" was the
official name of the group, but the name Tunkers or Dunkers, given in
derision, was often used and the name stuck. Today it is referred to as
Dunkard church. In Jackson township we have now three churches direct
offshoots of this first group. At Mundy’s Corner we have the
Progressive Brethren, at Vinco the Progressive Brethren, and at Singer
Hill we have the
newly-built and newly organized Grace Brethren Church, all of whose
beliefs and practices remain
much the same.
The building erected was a very
large one, probable estimates being given as
100 by 50 feet. It had a membership of 200 persons and people from
surrounding communities attended services there. Revival services or
"protracted meetings" were held once or twice each year, as was the
communion services, or "love feast." This latter service was conducted
in a slightly different manner than it is today, it literally being a
feast. Soup, slices of various kinds of meat, pickles, bread and other
food would be served. The basement of the edifice had a large kitchen,
pantry and dining
room and often all day services were held on Sunday with plenty of food
any who might come.
Today there is nothing to mark the spot where this large church of active religious people worshipped, but many of our older residents recall with pleasure the many times they visited the old church. On September 8, 1883 we read: "A piece of ground was deeded to Abram Byers, John Snyder and Frederick Grove, trustees of the Church of the Brethren, from Jeremiah Hays, John Laymon and H.R. Shaffer, trustees of the United Brethren in Chnst, the church property at Vinco for the sum of $700, this ground to be held in trust for them and their successors in office." This land came off of the Jonathan Custer property. The United Brethren group owned it but were unable to keep it so Mr. Custer bought it back at a sheriffs sale and sold it to the Progressive Brethren for the same amount he paid for it. The church building, which the United Brethren group built, had a frontage of three rods by five rods.
building had been remodeled from time to time and was undergoing
extensive repairs in May of 1941 when a disastrous fire broke out during
the early hours of the evening, probably caused by spontaneous
combustion, which completely destroyed the building. The members of the
congregation, however, under the leadership of their pastor and his
wife, Rev. and Mrs. C. Y. Gilmer, immediately made plans to erect a new
church, which they did, completing the work within the year. On May 24,
1942 the new building, a fieldstone structure valued at $20,000, was
dedicated to divine worship.
On August 28, 1871 E.A.Vickroy deeded to the committee of German Baptists tract of land at Mundy's Corner, for the sum of one dollar. The committee was Wm. Byers, Samuel Brallier and Joseph Burkhart. This land was located across the road from where the Brethren church now stands. At one time two churches stood there, the German Baptists, or Dunkard church, and the Evangelical, known as the Albright Church. The latter was a small frame structure and at one time enjoyed active membership. The Mundy family were members of this church. The membership of the church declined and in 1910 it was sold. Henry Riblett of Conemaugh tore it down and used the lumber in building a house in Conemaugh. The building stood where the old cemetery is.
To Be Continued Next Week