ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
833 00063 9838
A Sketch of its Origin
GEORGE C. KEIDEL, Ph.D.
FORMERLY SECRETARY OF THE CHURCH COUN'CIL, LATE ASSOCL\TE IX THE
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY, LANGUAGE EXPERT IN THE
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
WASHINGTON, D. C.
Copyright 1919 by
George C. Keidel
THE NEW ERA PRINTING COMPANY
CATONSVILLE LUTHERAN CHURCH.
1. EARLY GERMAN SETTLERS. *
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.
2 THE CATONSVILLE LUTHERAN CHURCH.
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.
THE CATONSVILLE LUTHERAN CHURCH. 3
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.
2. ORGANIZATION OF SALEM CONGREGATION.
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-
* 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.
4 THE CATONSVILLE LUTHERAN CHURCH.
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.
3. PURCHASE OF A CHURCH LOT.
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 (!)
THE CATONSVILLE LUTHERAN CHURCH. 5
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.
4. ERECTION OF A CHURCH EDIFIC^^'^'^'^^
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
6 THE CATONSVILLE LUTHERAN CHURCH.
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.^^
5. DEDICATION OF THE CHURCH.
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.
THE CATONSVILLE LUTHERAN CHURCH. 7
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.
6. PASTORATE OF REV. C. A. BROCKMAN.
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."
8 THE CATONSVILLE LUTHERAN CHURCH.
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.
7. THE CHURCH GRAVEYARD.
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.
THE CATONSVILLE LUTHERAN CHURCH. 9
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.
10 THE CATONSVILLE LUTHERAN CHURCH.
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
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-
'"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,
THE CATONSVILLE LUTHERAN CHURCH. 11
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.)
12 THE CATONSVILLE LUTHERAN CHURCH.
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!