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Prepared and submitted by Buddy Duckworth

The fame of Grantsville, Maryland was assured from the very moment that General George Washington set foot upon the soil of its vicinity. As early as 1754, Washington cut a road through this section from Cumberland to the Great Crossings of the Youghiogheny River. In the following year, with General Braddock and his ill-fated expedition, he traveled this road, crossing the Little Youghiogheny (now the Casselman) river near Grantsville. After the close of the Revolutionary War, Washington again traveled this way, and in his journal names the Little Crossings of the Youghiogheny. The River to which he referred is the Casselman, which was known in those early days as the Little Youghiogheny. The name of Little is still retained to designate the point at which one crosses the Casselman. The River, however, is spanned by a high arched bridge, which is reputed to be over one hundred years old, and was built with a high arch for the accommodation of ships. The introduction of steam railroads precluded any such use of the Casselman River.

Grantsville is a very old town. Many years ago a farmer by the name of Grant lived near the site of the present town, and as houses began to spring up in its vicinity, the place took the name of Grant, its most influential citizen. At that time the Baltimore -–St. Louis Highway took a more southerly course, past the Cemetery and through what is called the Old Town of Grantsville in contradistinction from the present town. Near the Cemetery was a church, erected probably by the Presbyterians, but used as a common meeting house of all denominations. Later the Pike was changed to its present location and the new town sprang up along the Highway.

For one hundred years or longer, Grantsville has been a Reformed Preaching point. In the Church to which reference has just been made, Rev. Henry Giesy, during his residence at Berlin, is reputed to have conducted religious services. In those days the pastor at Berlin was pastor of the whole of Somerset County, Pennsylvania and of Garrett County, Maryland. While we have no record at hand that dates back earlier than 1840, we have every reason to believe that all successors of Rev. Henry Giesy ministered to the Reformed people of Grantsville and its vicinity. If this be true, the following ministers, in the order named, were the early pastors succeeding Rev. Henry Giesy in the Grantsville congregations: Messrs. Siegmund, Ringier and Denius.

When the Grantsville congregation was organized and by whom, we have no way of knowing, but from the facts at hand, it is safe to place the date of organization prior to 1830, and during the pastorate of Rev. Henry Giesy. Miss Margaret Brown tells us that, ninety years ago, a log School House stood on her lot a short distance north of the present pike, in which all denominations worshipped, the Reformed included. While this fact does not establish the date of organization, it indicates that, by the Reformed people had a place of worship, and in all probability assembled as an organized body.

From the minutes of Westmoreland Classis, to which Classis Grantsville originally belonged, we learn that in 1844, Rev. William Conrad was settled in Berlin, and that he had under his pastoral oversight congregations at Berlin, Stoyestown, Stony Creek, Centerville, Elk Lick and Grantsville. From the same record we are also informed that Rev. Henry Giesy (spelled Giese) was pastor emeritus, with residence at Berlin.

In 1846, the Grantsville Charge, consisting of Grantsville, Elk Lick and possibly Addison or New Germany, was formally organized. The Charge received its designation from the fact that Grantsville was the place of residence of the pastor, rather than from other considerations. The first pastor to be called was Rev. Henry Knepper, a brother of Rev. Benjamin Knepper, who labored for so many years in the Wellersburg Charge. Rev. Henry Knepper was not only a minister of the Gospel, but also a practitioner of Dentistry. He lived in the house now occupied by Mr. E. B. Durst, which he used for residence and office.

Two years before he came to Grantsville, Rev. Henry Knepper reported to Classis as pastor of Mt. Carmel, Glades, Crab Orchard, Cuppert’s, Frankhauser’s and Nester’s, all of which, except Nester’s, were in Preston County, Virginia. Mr. Knepper reported his post office address as German Settlement, of the same county and state. All of these congregations are extinct. The following year, he reported from Kittanning, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, and had two congregations: Kittanning and Yakis. He did not remain here long, for the next year he reported from Grantsville, Maryland, with eleven additions by confirmation.

His pastorate, covering a period of six or seven years, was in many respects, very successful. By the end of the fifth year, the Charge numbered 166 members, which was three times the membership when he began his work. In a single year, he confirmed 47 persons. During his pastorate the present Church Building was erected, the corner stone bearing the date of August 27, 1847. The congregation was regarded as sufficiently important to entertain the meeting of Classis that convinced in Grantsville on June 6, 1851. Whatever be said in favor of its importance in other respects, there is nothing on the records to show that the Grantsville Charge had caught the missionary spirit. Seldom were contributions made for foreign missions and only three dollars a year were invested in home missions.

Rev. John McConnell succeeded Rev. Henry Knepper in 1853 and served the Charge for about two years. In the meantime, Mr. Knepper moved within the bounds of Illinois Classis, to which Classis he was dismissed in 1856.

A special meeting of Westmoreland Classis, which was held on June 9, and 10, 1858, is of interest to us in this connection. At this meeting, Rev. A. B. Koplin was received from Tiffin Classis, by which he had just been licensed to preach, and a call to Shade (Stoyestown) Charge was confirmed. This was the first pastorate of Dr. Koplin. The application Rev. G. A. Fickes, asking for license to preach the Gospel, was also received, and a call from the Grantsville Charge was confirmed. Thus, after a vacancy of more than two years, the Charge was supplied with the services of a minister. But unfortunately the pastorate of Rev. Mr. Fickes was very brief, as he requested Classis in November of the same year dissolve the pastoral relationship, giving as a reason, "want of support". He anticipated favorable action of Classis, and without waiting for its action removed to Fremont, Ohio.

Rev. A. B. Koplin had already located at Elk Lick at that time of the meeting of Classis in the fall of 1858, although his call was not confirmed until the following June. In 1860, he reported five congregations as belonging to the Charge. While he exercised pastoral oversight over all the congregations under his jurisdiction, it seems that his work in the Grantsville congregation was of a rather routine nature. Elk Lick was his place of residence, and because of that fact Elk Lick people received considerable attention. But Mr. Koplin’s chief interest was in the Wilhelm congregation, of which he was the founder, and which was ever the joy of his heart. What was gain in other parts of the Charge, we are constrained to believe, was loss for Grantsville. It came to be regarded as a preaching point.

The successors of Dr. Koplin were Revs. V. A. Gring, C. U. Heilman, G. M. Zacharias, J. M. Evans, E. S. Hassler, S. C. Stover and the present pastor Rev. L. N. Wilson. The history of the Congregation during these pastorates is a story of steady growth. With baptisms, confirmations, the preaching of the Word, the Administration of the Sacraments, the visitation of the sick and dying and the burial of the dead. There has been no building project to chronicle no phenomenal growth to narrate. Grantsville remains a small congregation, serving the spiritual necessities of a small community. Her members are loyal and true to the faith, and every indication points to her continued usefulness for many years to come.

In the list of pastors succeeding Dr. Koplin, the name of Rev. G. M. Zacharias is mentioned. The record of this minister and his work would form a large and interesting chapter in itself. Mr. Zacharias, for one year, was assistant to Rev. Mr. Heilman, and had his residence at Grantsville. He was a son of Rev. Dr. Daniel Zacharias, who was pastor of the Reformed Church in Frederick, Maryland, for 39 years. The younger Zacharias was educated at Washington and Jefferson College, the Eastern Theological Seminary, the University of Berlin and the Institute of History at Rome, Italy. He was a member of several learned societies in America, and engaged in research work in History. After acting as assistant to Rev. C. U. Heilman, he served Charges at Birdsboro, Pennsylvania; Marietta, Pennsylvania; and Cumberland, Maryland. Brilliant as he might have been in classical learning, he was not very successful in Grantsville Congregation, and it was not long until the members expressed dissatisfaction.

That Mr. Zacharias was eccentric and ignorant of many things that are regarded as commonplace, there can be no doubt. It is related of him that, in arranging the service which was used in connection with his ordination and installation, he had a very elaborate program, modeled after the service used in Germany upon such occasions. The Academic procession and the extreme formalities were calculated better to become a high dignitary of the church of Rome than a plain, simple minister of the Reformed faith.

A rather amusing story is related of him, which illustrates his utter ignorance of common things. When he settled in Grantsville, one of the members presented him with a hen and a sitting of eggs. He graciously accepted the gift and put the hen to work. One day he decided upon a journey on horseback to Meyersdale, a distance of some twelve miles. He was in a dilemma. To leave the hen at home would deprive her of necessary attention; to take her with him would result in some inconvenience. He could think of no alternative; so he chase what seemed the lesser of the two evils. He carried the hen and eggs with him in a hatbox. The story adds that, in spite of their pilgrimage, some of the eggs did hatch; and as fast as the chicks came out he added other eggs, keeping the hen engaged continuously for several weeks, until she rebelled and left the nest.

As the chicks were hatched, he removed them to the room immediately above the kitchen, which was by the stovepipe from the kitchen stove. Around the pipe where it passed through the floor was considerable space, in fact sufficient to admit a small chick. One of the chicks, so the story relates, realized this fact and took the liberty of falling down through the space into the oatmeal that the parson was preparing for breakfast.

Among the earlier members of the Grantsville congregation may be mentioned the McKinley’s, the Glotfelty’s and the Browns. Stephen McKinley, an uncle of Dr. McKinley of Meyersdale, was a saddler by trade and lived in Grantsville. He held office in the church, probably as elder, and much credit is due him, his wife and two daughters for the proper administration of the affairs of the Church during their residence in Grantsville.

Joseph Glotfelty was another active member. He lived on the farm now occupied by Samuel Hershberger, his land extending as far south as the pike. In his day he was rated as a man of means. He was an officer of the Church, and probably acted as Secretary, keeping the records of the congregation. Unfortunately the early records of the Church have disappeared, but the older members believe that they were last in his possession.

Samuel Engle, who lived about four miles south west of Grantsville, on the farm now held by his son, Ralph, also deserves mention as one of the pillars of the church and probably an office holder.

Captain Henry Brown, whose portrait is to be found on another page, was intimately connected with the work of the congregation. He was born in 1808, and spent the first sex weeks of his life in Elk Lick Township, Pennsylvania. Most of his early life was spent just across the state line in Maryland. Later he located in Grantsville. By occupation, he a contractor and was engaged in the erection of Coal Tipples in the great coal region of Allegheny County, Maryland. One more source of information related him with the building of the Grantsville Church in 1847; but we are not in a position to verify this statement. However, he was an officer in the Church as early as 1855, and was probably a leading elder. The rank Captain was conferred upon him as an honorary title which he received as a member of the Governor’s Staff.

Captain Brown has two daughters living, who are conversant with the History of the Church a half century ago. They are Miss Margaret Brown and Mrs. George Charles. Miss Brown in length of membership is the oldest member of the congregation. Mr. Charles’s father claimed the honor of publishing the first newspaper west of Baltimore. Dr. Charles, a son of Mrs. George Charles, has in his possession files of these papers as far back as 1825.

Coming down a little later, the name Eli Stanton appears as elder and the leading man of the congregation. Mr. Stanton was a son of William and Mary Ann Stanton, and was born January 28, 1841, at Bittinger, Maryland, where he spent the early part of his life. He was reared in the Catholic Faith, but after he settled at Grantsville, he and his wife united with the Reformed Church, and took a hearty interest in all its operations. For many years, Mr. Stanton was elder of the congregation.

On February 28, 1865, he was married to Miss Harriet Broadwater. To them were born the following Children: Mrs. Jennie Maust, Albert, Wm. Edgar, Howard M. and James Urban. Of these, Wm. Edgar is an elder of the Grantsville Congregation and James Urban is a deacon.

Mr. Stanton was a miller by trade, having charge of the mill at Little Crossings, which he owned and operated for many years. He also took an interest in local affairs, and was a member of the House of Delegates of the state of Maryland.

Mr. Stanton died June 20, 1910, from paralysis. His body was laid to rest in the Grantsville Cemetery. Rev. S. C. Stover officiating at the Funeral Service.

In the late war, this congregation took an active interest and gave its full share of young men to the service. Two of these were called upon to sacrifice their lives to the cause of democracy. The congregation will ever honor the memory of Corporal W. Clay Stanton and Private Frank E. Stanton, not only for their connection with the war, but also for the interest they took in the church and its work.

Corporal W. Clay Stanton, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Stanton, was born April 29, 1892. He was baptized in infancy, and in due time was confirmed into the membership of the Church. He pursued a course of study at Maryland Agricultural College, after which he accepted a position with the First National Bank, Grantsville, Maryland. Mr. Stanton served the Sunday School as teacher and as Secretary. He was elected to the office of Deacon in 1916, and was serving his first term at the time of his death.

Corporal Stanton was killed in action on October 12, 1918. He was called to the colors in the fall of 1917 and went into training at Camp Meade, where he remained until the following July when he sailed for France. Mr. Stanton was of a sunny disposition, and it is no exaggeration to say that he was beloved by all who knew him. His devotion to his mother and his consideration for his friends made him a favorite. He laid down his life for a great cause, and his memory will be cherished for the heroic performance of duty and for the willing sacrifice of his bright young life.

Private Frank E. Stanton, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. U. Stanton, was born October 20, 1898, and died October 24, 1918.

On September 30, he entered the Student’s Army Training Corps at College Park, Maryland and was in service one day, when he was taken sick and removed to the Hospital at College Park and later transferred to the Walter Reed Hospital. His death was caused by influenza and typhoid, followed by bronchial pneumonia.

He was baptized March 2, 1899 and confirmed April 6, 1912. Deeply interested in the work of the Church, he was faithful in attendance and was serving the Sunday School as Secretary at the time of his death. He had a perfect communion record. As a young man he gave promise of future usefulness in the Church and the Community.

The Funeral was held at the home on October 28, and the body was laid to rest in the beautiful Grantsville Cemetery.

The members of the consistory are as follows: Elders, Dr. G. C. Keller, W. E. Stanton and John H. Folk; Deacons, J. U. Stanton, Frank S. Durst and Jacob R. Gnagey.

Dr. G. C. Keller was born at Patterson Depot, Virginia, March 9, 1856. He took up his residence in Grantsville in 1871 and was confirmed by Rev. C. U. Heilman about three years later. Mr. Keller is a Dentist, by Profession. In 1886, he graduated from Baltimore Dental College, and for about 35 years has practiced in Grantsville.

For some twenty years and at a time when Church finances were much harder to raise, Mr. Keller was Treasurer of the congregation. He also acted as Secretary, and for many years served his congregation as Deacon and as Elder.

W. E. Stanton, son of Eli and Harriet Stanton, was born September 28, 1870. He was baptized in infancy and confirmed by Rev. J. M. Evans, November 13, 1886. After completing the common School course, he attended Business College. Later he succeeded his father as owner of the Mill at Little Crossings which he operates.

Mr. Stanton has served in the capacity of Deacon and of Elder, and has represented the Charge at Classis and at Synod. He has served in the Sunday School as Teacher and as Superintendent.

John H. Folk, son of Jacob and Annie Folk, was born September 6, 1884. By occupation, Mr. Folk is a farmer, but also engages in threshing and bailing. He was baptized and confirmed by Rev. E. S. Hassler, June 14, 1902. He served his congregation as Deacon for three years, Mr. Folk has been Treasurer of the Sunday School.

J. U. Stanton, son of Eli and Harriet Stanton, was born at Little Crossings, July 14,1876. By occupation, Mr. Stanton is a farmer. He was baptized in infancy and confirmed September 17, 1892. He served as Deacon from 1913 to 1916, and was re-elected to that office in 1918. Mr. Stanton has served the Sunday School as Secretary and is the Treasurer of the Congregation.

Frank S. Durst was born March 20, 1894, and was baptized in infancy, and was subsequently confirmed into the membership to St. John’s, Grantsville. Mr. Durst served the Sunday School as teacher and as Superintendent. He was elected to the office of Deacon in 1917, in which capacity he is now serving.

Mr. Durst received his early training in the public schools of Maryland and in Franklin and Marshall Academy, at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For a time he engaged in Teaching. At present he is clerk in the First National Bank, Grantsville.

On January 1, 1918 Mr. Durst was called to the Colors and went into training at Camp Meade. The following fall he went over seas and later was sent to the front, where he was a corporal in a Machine Gun Corps. He was discharged and returned to his home in the spring 1919.

Jacob R. Gnagey is a son of Gideon Gnagey. He united by certificate with St. John’s Congregation in 1915. He is Deacon-elect, having been elected in January 1919, but not installed.