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A Sketch of its Origin 







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Copyright 1919 by 
George C. Keidel 








Catonsville is the name most widely applied to the south- 
western corner of Baltimore County, Maryland, although 
there are no precise limits to its territory. Prior to the 
Revolutionary War this section was known as Hunting 
Ridge, and is frequently mentioned in the early land grants. 
It was settled in Colonial times chiefly by English-speaking 
people, who were largely members of the Church of England 
and of the Society of Friends. "^ That there were a few 
'^\^ Germans among these early settlers is shown by the occur- 
1^ rence of German names in the land records of the time, but 

>§ their number was so small that they probably felt no need 

^ for a church of their own. As all trace of these early emi- 

r\ grants was later on lost, it seems likely that they were 

^ absorbed in the English population of the region and their 

, names completely Anglicized. 

^ Shortly after the year 1830, however, there was a con- 

Cs siderable influx of German emigrants to the valley of the 

r Patapsco River,^ and a group of these new settlers are 

^ known to have located in the Catonsville region. One of 

, the earliest of these was Mr. Johann Kolb (Apr. 15, 1814- 

^ Dec. 16, 1897), who removed about the year 1835 to the 

^■^ section now known as Harlem Lane when the whole neigh- 

borhood was a mere wilderness.^ 


^ 1 Cf. George C. Keidel, The Colonial History of Catonsville, Art. 35 

(published in the Catonsville Argus, 1912-1913). 

2 Cf . the statement made by Eduard Leyh in a work entitled Balti- 
more published by C. C. Bartgis and Bro. in 1887, p. 300. 

3 Statement made on October 14, 1910, by his daughter Miss Minna 
P Kolb to George C. Keidel. This is the earUest date so far obtained for a 

V German settler. 

<^ 1 


The manner of their coming seems to have been about 
as follows. A certain Mr. William T. Somerville, who at 
that time lived near the present St. Agnes Church on the 
Old Frederick Road in all probability, was one of the 
largest landowners in Catonsville in his day. The advent 
of so many prospective settlers to the shores of the Patapsco 
doubtless suggested to him the idea of dividing a portion 
of his estate into small lots to be offered for sale. This 
land was located on both sides of what is now known as 
Harlem Lane, and the very appropriate name of German- 
town was given to the new settlement — a name which in 
the course of years has been entirely lost. 

The land in question had been granted by Lord Balti- 
more, the Proprietor of Maryland, to one Hen. Davis, for 
whom it was surveyed for one hundred acres on March 8, 
1706, when it received the euphonious name of Nannie's 
Fancy, later corrupted to Nancy's Fancy.^ This latter 
form of the name is still found in the deed made on May 5, 
1855, by William T. Somerville to John Dollpoff (should be 
Dollhopf) "for all that piece or parcel of Land situate and 
lying in Baltimore County aforesaid being Lot No. 6 on 
the plat of Germantown and being also a part of a tract of 
Land called Nancy's Fancy."^ 

When the first German settlers arrived the locality was 
probably still known as Caton Village, so named after 
Richard Caton (1763-1845) and his wife Mary Carroll 
(1770-1846), daughter of the celebrated Charles Carroll of 
Carrollton (1737-1832), who were married Nov. 25, 1787.^ 

A description of Catonsville in the year 1844 written some 
years ago by a member of St. Timothy's Church enumerates 
a few families living near the Frederick Turnpike, and then 
adds: "These, with a small German Settlement on and 

* See records still preserved in the Land Office at Annapolis. 

^ See Baltimore County Court House, Towson, Land Records, H. M. 
F. 12, p. 457. 

^ See a plat of the division of Mary Caton's estate preserved in the 
office of the Clerk of the Court at Towson. (Vidimus, Nov. 4, 1918.) 
The form "Catonville" occurs in a codicil to the will of Charles Carroll 
of Carrollton drawn up on February 5, 1827. (PubUshed in life by K. 
M. Rowland, vol. II, p. 420.) This spelling of the name could not be 
verified on the original document unfortunately. 


near Ingleside Avenue, which was then called the New 
Cut Road, formed the then village of Catonsville."'' 

These early German settlers attended the services at 
St. Timothy's Church after its founding in the year 1844; 
but increasing rapidly both in numbers and worldly posses- 
sions they soon came to feel the need of a church of their 
own which would appeal to them in their native language 
and allow them to worship God after their own fashion. 
It was probably some time during this period that there 
was paid to them the traditional visit of Father Heyer, a 
German minister affectionately thus known and then on 
leave of absence from his mission post in India, to which he 
returned in the year 1847.^ Father Heyer is commonly 
reputed to have been the founder of the Catonsville church. 


It was no doubt due to the impulsion given by Father 
Heyer that Mr. Gustav W. Liirmann (Sept. 11, 1808- 
July 8, 1866), a prominent Baltimore merchant residing in 
Catonsville, soon after undertook the formation of a new 
German congregation of Lutherans and Reformers from 
among his widely-scattered Protestant fellow-countrymen 
in Baltimore, Howard and Anne Arundel Counties near 
the point of their junction. 

The first meeting for organization was held on Sept. 30, 
1849, in the frame building situated on the East side at 
the bend in Ingleside Avenue about half-a-mile north of 
the Frederick Turnpike. Fifty years later this home was 
occupied by Mr. Jacob Reich, son of Mr. Paulus Reich, 
who was probably one of the original members of Salem 
Congregation. Such at least was the local tradition at 
the time of the Golden Jubilee Celebration in the year 

' Compare an anonymous type'^vTitten account now in the possession 
of George C. Keidel through the kindness of the editor of the Catons- 
ville Argus. 

* Rev. Carl Friederich Heyer, born at Helmstedt, Germany, July 
10, 1793, died at the Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia, Nov. 7, 1873. 
He was both a home and a foreign missionary. See Lutheran Cyclo- 
pedia, New York, 1899, p. 222. 

^ See Semi-Centennial Salem Lutheran Church (by George C. Keidel), 
Catonsville jSirgus, Sept. 30, 1899. 


The Lutherans appear to have been in the ascendant in 
the new church organization and drew the Reformers after 
them, the few German Catholics among the early settlers 
soon after joining with those Catholics who spoke English 
to form the congregation of St. Agnes Church nearby. 


On January 27, 1845, Mr. Joseph P. Fusting (name orig- 
inally spelt Fiisting), who was one of Catonsville's pioneers 
and whose lifework was later everywhere apparent in the 
village, purchased from Mr. Peter Hause and his wife 
Maria Hause a tract of land which was a part of Lot No. 
108 of the Baltimore Company's lands, originally belonging 
to a large patent named "Frederick Staddt Enlarged" 
granted by Lord Baltimore to Col. Benjamin Tasker of the 
City of Annapolis and Company in virtue of a special 
warrant dated March 14, 1747.1" 

This plbt of ground was triangular in shape and comprised 
about two acres of land. It had a long frontage on Ingle- 
side Avenue a short distance south of its intersection with 
the Ellicott's Mills Road (later known familiarly as the 
Old Road). The consideration named in the deed to Mr. 
Fusting in 1845 was two hundred dollars, and the trans- 
action was duly witnessed and recorded in the land office 
at Baltimore, the county-seat of Baltimore County at that 

It is probable that some time prior to the year 1845 Mr. 
Hause had erected a log cabin on his property, for the lot 
had on it a schoolhouse valued at a modest one hundred 
dollars in an insurance policy when on November 1, 1849, 
Mr. Joseph P. Fusting and Caroline Fusting his wife sold 
it to the Trustees of Salem Church for the sum of three 
hundred dollars,i^ which was advanced to the new con- 
gregation by Mr. Gustav W. Llirmann. The existence of 

"•Recorded at Annapolis, Land Office, Warrants P. T. 3 (15), pp. 
456-457. For a history of this land grant see George C. Keidel, The 
Coloiiinl History of Catonsville, Arts. 25 and ff. 

" Baltimore County Court House, Towson, Land Records H. M. F. 
3, pp. 3G.5-366: "J. P. Fusting to Vestry of German Luthern (!) 
Salem Congregation." 


this log cabin is furthermore attested by a record in the 
Church Register under date of November 11, 1849, to the 
effect that Mr. Fried. Ludw. Maisel had purchased a stove 
for the schoolhouse for the sum of eight dollars and a half. 
It seems likel}^ that the congregation used the schoolhouse 
as a place of worship during the winter of 1849-1850, 
although no definite statement of such use has been found. 


The congregation having now secured a spacious site 
located on the top of a high ridge and commanding a 
beautiful view of the surrounding countryside, there came 
up the serious question of the erection of a suitable house 
of worship. Various plans for the proposed edifice appear 
to have been considered. Many years later Dr. Adalbert 
J. Volck (1828-1912), the well-known art connoisseur of 
Baltimore, distinctly remembered having sketched such a 
plan at the instigation of Rev. John G. Morris (1803-1895), 
the well-known Lutheran divine; but his plan was in the 
end probably considered too ambitious for such a poor 
congregation to carry into effect. 

At the time of the Semi-Centennial Celebration there 
was still in existence a colored sketch for a church edifice 
made by the stonemason Johann Moessmeringer, and 
preserved by the family of Mr. Johann Kolb. The building 
was eventually erected according to this last-mentioned 
plan, although with certain minor alterations in the design. 
The sketch itself was at this time framed and hung on the 
wall of the old church. There is evidence to show that the 
building was completed by June 3, 1850, as the Montgomery 
Company issued under that date an insurance policy on it 
for the sum of fifteen hundred dollars. 

The erection of the church was made financially possible 
by the contribution either as loans or gifts of five hundred 
dollars by Mr. Gustav W. Liirmann, three hundred dollars 
by the German consul at Baltimore, Mr. Albert Schumacher 
(1802-1871), and two hundred dollars by Mr. Robert 
Lehr (1820-1887), another Baltimore merchant.^" In addi- 

12 Under date of March 5, 1919, Mr. Robert Oliver Lehr of Baltimore 
writes that "The subscriber to the Catonsville Lutheran church must 


tion to this the members of the congregation contributed 
labor and material without thought of remuneration. 

The stonework of the main walls was constructed by 
Mr. Johann Moessmeringer, assisted by Messrs. Friedrich 
Hahn, Heinrich Schaub and Robert Dill. The last-named 
was then a mere schoolboy, and at the time of the Golden 
Jubilee he was still alive and active in his calling. The 
woodwork of the church was made by Mr. Caspar Kuem- 
met, assisted by Mr. Johann Kolb, as well as by others.^^ 


A general invitation to the public was given in the fol- 
lowing advertisement published in a Baltimore paper on 
June 15, 1850: 

8@" CHURCH CONSECRATION— Will be consecrated TO- 
MORROW, (Sunday,) June 16, the new German Lutheran Church, 
near Catonsville, Baltimore county. This really beautiful little church, 
its gothic style, its rising tower, and its neat mechanical execution and 
finish, would be an ornament to any neighborhood, but is particularly 
so to this, since from its elevated position it overlooks the whole sur- 
rounding country: and the steeple seems to be a spiritual light -house, 
guiding to the port of Heaven, or a lightning-rod averting the sin- 
begotten thunders of the Almighty. 

The service, which will be accompanied with vocal and instrumental 
music, will commence at 93^ o'clock, A.M. The Rev. Benj. Kurtz will 
preach the first sermon in the German language and the Rev. L. Van 
Bokkelcn, Rector of St. Timothy's Hall, will preach the second sermon 
in the English language. After Divine ser\dce, some refreshments will 
be served up, under the shelter of the surrounding woods, music en- 
livening the scene. At 3 o'clock, P.M., Divine service will again com- 
mence. The Rev. Dr. Morris preaching the EngUsh, and the Rev. 
C. A. Brockman the German sermon. All friends of rehgion and educa- 
tion are invited to attend. A collection will be taken up for the hqui- 
dation of the debt of the church. It*." 

This notice is evidently from the pen of the Rev. L. Van 
Bokkelen, the local Episcopal rector. Rev. Benjamin 
have been another, as I do not believe my father would have been inter- 
ested." And yet all the other e-\ddence points that way. 

" See Semi-Centennial Salern Lutheran Church (by George C. Keidel), 
Catonsville Argus, September 30, 1899. 
^ "See The Sun, Baltimore, Saturday, June 1.5, 1850, Vol. XXVII, 
No. 2.5, p. 2, col. 3. This item, as well as the item quoted below, was 
found in the Library of Congress files. 


Kurtz (1795-1865) was a well-known Lutheran divine, 
and Rev. Dr. Morris was later the veteran pastor of Luther- 
ville, Md., and the Nestor of the Maryland Synod. 

Whether or not this ambitious program was carried out 
has not been ascertained, but on the next day the following 
paragraph appeared in a Baltimore newspaper: 

Dedication. The new German Lutheran Church at Catonsville, 
Baltimore county, was dedicated yesterday. It is a very neat edifice, 
of Gothic st\'le, surmounted by a pretty tower. The Rev. Benjamin 
Kurtz and the Rev. L. Van Bokkelen officiated during the day in the 
German and Enghsh languages.^^ 

It has not been ascertained how the congregation was 
served prior to the dedication of the church on June 16, 
1850, but tradition will have it that from that time on 
Rev. Charles A. Brockman was the pastor. 


The newl}'' installed pastor seems to have been a man of 
some energj^ and determination, and many years later it 
was stated by his successor Rev. Geo. W. Ebeling, Ph.D. 
(1821-1901), that he was reputed to have fraternized with 
his parishioners with considerable success. 

Through his efforts a frame parsonage adjoining the old 
schoolhouse on the south was erected in 1851; and it was 
about the same time apparently, to judge from the oldest 
dates on the tombstones, that the churchyard began to be 
utilized as a burying ground. 

The original records of the organization and official acts 
of the congregation appear to have been either lost or 
destroyed manj^ j^ears ago. But a copy of them had pre- 
viously been made by the first pastor in a large book ac- 
quired for that specific purpose and begun in the year 1852, 
as appears from a statement written in German on the 

15 See Baltimore Clipper, Baltimore, Monday Morning, June 17, 
1850, p. 2, col. 3. Yet compare the following extract from a letter to 
the author: "Maryland Diocesan Library, Jan. 27, 1919. ... I have 
examined the report of the Rev. Libertus Van Bokkelen to the Bishop, 
for the year 1850-1851, and find no mention of his having taken any 
part in the dedication of the Lutheran church at Catonsville . . . 
Frank M. Gibson, Librarian." 


To attempt to enumerate the members then belonging 
to the congregation would be to name almost all the pro- 
genitors of the older Protestant German families for miles 
around. The earliest extant list seems to be that for the 
year 1852, and this comprises in all some forty-three names. 
Such locally familiar family names occur as: Maesch, Ege, 
Gerwig, Leimbach, Spelshaus, Wessling, Knuepling, Piel, 
Renz, Dill, Schneider, Maisel and Reich. This is direct 
evidence to show the early date at which these families 
were established in or near Catonsville. 

Hardly had the pastor moved into the new parsonage 
when the angel of death began to knock long and loudly at 
his door. First his little boy Charles A. Brockman, borh 
October 9, 1850, passed away on March 24, 1853; then his 
wife Caroline Brockman, born August 13, 1823, died on 
May 3, 1854; and finally her baby boy Frederick W. Brock- 
man, born April 22, 1854, was taken on June 28, 1854.^^ 
These names and dates are to be found on a simple marble 
slab a few feet to the south of the church building, and their 
mute evidence shows what sorrow suddenly befell the first 
Lutheran pastor in Catonsville. 

To these severe personal trials were added dissensions in 
the small congregation; and so it is not surprising to learn 
that some time during the summer or autumn of the year 
1854 Rev. Charles A. Brockman gave up his pastorate and 
removed elsewhere. Such are the meagre details to be set 
down in reference to the life and pastoral work of the first 
incumbent of the Lutheran pulpit in Catonsville. 


Prior to the building of churches in the neighborhood of 
Catonsville it was customary to inter the dead in private 

" On November 2, 1918, the following inscriptions were copied by 
the writer from their joint tombstone : 

In memory of Caroline, Wife of Rev. Charles Brockmann Born 13, 
Aug. 1823, Died 3, May 1854. Charles A. Born 9. Oct. 1850, Died 24, 
March 1853 Frederich W. Born 22, April, and Died 28, June 1854. 
Sons of Cha? & Caroline Brockman. 

It will be noticed that they are very crude in form; and it is probable 
that some of the names have been Anglicized. 


burying grounds ;i^ but these were in course of time grad- 
ually abandoned, and burial was made usually in the 
neighboring churchyard, and still later in one of the public 

Hence we find that soon after the purchase of the two- 
acre plot of land and the erection of the church edifice the 
congregation determined to set aside a portion of the land 
for a graveyard in which all members of the congregation 
should be entitled to free burial. This right in a modified 
form was still in force at the time of the Golden Jubilee in 
the year 1899, although the custom of acquiring family lots 
had already largely superseded the earlier method. 

In the new Salem Churchyard the graves were at first 
dug side by side and end to end without regard for order, 
or the possible future needs of the congregation. Many 
graves were left without a distinguishing mark of any kind, 
in some cases not even a mound of earth being raised over 
the coffin. Thus as the years passed all trace of a grave 
sometimes disappeared, and in the older portion of the 
churchyard it is now in many instances impossible to defi- 
nitely affirm the existence of such, and still more a matter 
of guesswork to attempt to count the number of graves in a 
given area. When after a lapse of some forty years paths 
were at length laid out, it was at times found convenient 
to make them directly over some of the oldest unmarked 
graves; yet even then irregularities of alignment were 
inevitable in some instances. 

The burying ground appears to have been started at a 
point a few feet south of the church, and then to have spread 
in all directions until towards both the east and the south 
the boundary lines of the church lot were reached. After 
this progress was made towards the west and behind the 
church itself; and lastly a strip of ground was taken from 
the garden of the old parsonage on the north side of the 
edifice. The r'^sult has been that all the older graves are clus- 
tered in a small area a short distance to the south of the 
church, and it is here that the graves of the original mem- 

" See The Pierpont Burying Ground at Catonsville, Baltimore Co., 
Md., by George C. Keidel, in The National Genealogical Society Quar- 
terly, Vol. VII (1918), p. 25, cols. 1-2. 


bers of the congregation are in general to be sought. No 
definite record of burials appears to have been kept, and not 
even their total number for the first half- century seems to 
be ascertainable. But it may perhaps be justly estimated 
that about two hundred persons were buried in this church- 
yard during the first fifty years after the congregation was 
organized in 1849. 

Many of the earliest German emigrants to the locality 
were destined to find a last resting-place within its peaceful 
borders, among the very oldest of whom may be mentioned 
the following persons born in the eighteenth century and 
who attained to ages ranging from sixty-four to ninety-four 
years '}^ 

1784-1868, Georg Maisel; 
1785-1864, G. Wise; 
1786-1864, Charlotte Wehland; 
1787-1871, Georg Heinrich Wehland; 
1794-1876, Hermann L. Piel; 
1794-1880, J. Heinrich Zehner; 
1796-1863, Johannes Bassler; 
1796-1869, Philipp Pielert; 
1797-1872, Johannes Heidelbach; 
1797-1891, Marie Kniipling; 
1799-1863, Wilhelmina L. Dettmar; 
1799-1867, Jacob F. Rentz; 
1799-1869, Michael Dill. 

Most of these were doubtless born in Bavaria, and prob- 
ably all of them in the Fatherland, having emigrated to 
America in most cases when past middle life. To this latter 
class belongs the writer's grandfather (buried in Loudon 
Park Cemetery) : 

1799-1874, Georg F. W. Keidel, M.D. 

Just after the turning of the century we find the fol- 
lowing i^^ 

'"This list was made by the writer about the year 1895 directly 
from the tombstones; it was shortly afterward published in the Catons- 
ville Argus. It is now reprinted here from the original typewritten 
copy, although the list itself is perhaps not complete. 

" The writer paid a visit to Salem Churchyard on November 2, 1918, 


1804-1861, Anton Lauman; 
1808-1865, Justena Ruff; 
1808-1865, Lewis Sellman; 
1809-1866, H. H. Wehland; 
1809-1874, Paulus Reich. 

Deserving of special mention in this connection is the fol- 
lowing old couple buried in Loudon Park Cemetery: 

1801-1892, John F. Pfeiffer; 
1806-1888, Justina Pfeiffer.^o 

Finally there may be noted the name of the real founder 
himself (buried in Greenmount Cemetery, Baltimore) : 

1808-1866, Gustav W. Lurmann. 

The descendants of these early settlers living in or near 
Catonsville are legion, and many of them are still remem- 
bered by persons who are now numbered among the oldest 
residents of the neighborhood. ^^ 

Other early members of Salem Church are no doubt 
buried in Loudon Park Cemetery near Baltimore, or in 
other cemeteries and private burj-ing grounds near Franklin, 
Hebbville and Ellicott City. It would doubtless be impos- 
sible at this late date to make a complete list of them, and 
besides the few instances cited above no attempt has been 
made to search for their graves. Apparently only a few of 
the early members removed from the neighborhood, for as a 

when he succeeded in obtaining these names and dates from the tomb- 
stones. Though assuredly very incomplete, this hst has the merit of 
adding four more family names to those cited above, two of them well 
represented in the community in later years. 

^^ These names and dates were copied by the writer from their joint 
tombstone a short distance south of the entrance on April 21, 1919. 

21 On May 26, 1919, the writer found among the Carroll manuscripts 
in the Library of Congress a receipted bill from Jno. H. B. Latrobe to 
Charles Carroll of Carrollton, which was dated December 16th, 1830, 
and in which the form " Catonville " was used three times. Compare 
also the following extract from a letter to the author from J. C. Koons, 
First Assistant Postmaster General, dated Washington, May 31, 1919: 
"••• the post office at Catonsville, Maryland, was established as 
Catons Yille on January 20, 1831, and the name was changed to 
Catonsville on November 11, 1831." (Note added on page proof.) 


rule when once settled in their new homes they were content 
to remain where they were until the day of their death. 

And so in the seventieth year of the congregation's 
existence the old church and the old tombstones bear mute 
witness in their quiet rural nook far from the main lines of 
present-day travel to the passing of the era of first settle- 
ment now long since brought to a close. Time brings many 
changes both to places and people, and those that are gone 
have passed on to their eternal reward, while leaving behind 
them faint memories of their loves and labors here on earth. 

And thus will we leave them undisturbed! 

3 ir