History of the Lutheran Churches in Boone County, Kentucky
by Rev. H. Max Lentz written in 1902
Submitted By: Bonnie Snow
The publication of this book was made possible by the cooperation of members of the Rouse, Barlow, Crigler, Floyd, Graves, and Tanner families, among others.
The first Lutheran Church in Boone County was probably the result of a trip by Rev. William Carpenter of Madison, Virginia, who made a trip to Kentucky in 1804. Rev. Lentz, claiming to have the journal of Rev. Carpenter before him, says the trip cost Rev. Carpenter eighteen pounds. Rev. Carpenter did not record the purposes of his trip, but it is known that, in the following year, a large contingent of people left Madison for Kentucky. The group was said to consist of George Rouse, Elizabeth Rouse, John House, Milly House, Frederick Zimmerman, Rose Zimmerman, Ephraim Tanner, Susanna Tanner, John Rouse, Nancy Rouse, and Elizabeth Hoffman. They are said to have arrived on November 25, 1805, having come by wagon through the Cumberland Gap, but proof of this is not available.
At this time, Burlington, the county seat of Boone County consisted of a few log houses, a log court house, and log jail. The town of Florence did not exist at this date. Across the Ohio River, Cincinnati consisted of two brick houses and two frame houses. Some of the early information was drawn from the discourse, "A History of the Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Hopeful Church, Boone Co, Ky.", dated January 6, 1854.
Within the year of the migration to Kentucky, the families resolved to hold worship services. Without a pastor, they had prayers, hymns, and then a sermon read by Ephraim Tanner. These services were held regularly until October of 1813, conducted in the German language. The Kentucky members had sought advice from Rev. Carpenter in Virginia, who sent them a copy of a Constitution, and advised them to organize a church. Rev. Lentz said that he had this Constitution in his hands as he wrote. It was translated from the German as:
We, the undersigned, living in Boone County, State of Kentucky, members of the Evangelical Lutheran and Evangelical Reformed Church, unite in the following articles of agreement for our government
We will unite in the establishment of public worship in our midst, according to the Protestant faith, and by God’s help we will constantly uphold it.
We will unite in the erection of a small house, which shall be regarded as a union house of worship, in which we will unitedly worship God."
One of us, for whom it is most convenient, shall give an acre of ground upon which said house shall be built. And this acre of ground, with all that shall be built thereon, or that pertains to it, shall forever belong to this united congregation and their successors; so that he who gives it shall not have the power to sell to any other person.
To prevent discord and offenses, no one shall be permitted to conduct public worship in the house owned by us, unless he is a regular Lutheran or Reformed minister.
We will assemble ourselves every Sabbath or as often as circumstances will permit, and by reading a sermon and with singing and prayer we will strengthen one another when we have no pastor.
We will unite in inviting a worthy minister, at least once a year, or oftener if possible, to preach the Word of God to us, according to the foundation of the prophets and apostles, and administer the holy sacraments, for which we will reward him according to our ability.
It shall be the duty of each one belonging to this congregation to lead an orderly, Christian and virtuous life; to abstain from all gross sins, such as cursing, swearing, card-playing, drunkenness, and all such ungodly actions.
Should any one be guilty of any of the above sins, which may God in his mercy prevent, than the remaining brethren shall have the power and it shall be their duty to deal with him according to the directions of our Savior: Matt. xviii 15-17.
The above articles shall remain unchanged until all the members, or at least a majority of them, shall deem it necessary to alter or amend them.
Adopted this 6th day of January 1806.
George Rouse Ephraim Tanner
John Rouse John House
Fred. Zimmerman Michael Rouse
John Beemon Jacob Rouse
Daniel Beemon Simeon Tanner
For eight years, the pioneers in Boone Co., Kentucky, who came from Madison County, Virginia, were without a pastor. Still, they held services regularly with Ephraim Tanner taking a leading role. He was joined by many members of his family, both brothers and sisters. In turn, Ephraim Tanner and his wife Susanna House had fourteen children, so the genes of the Tanner family course through many citizens of Boone Co.
It is said that Rev. Carpenter came from Virginia twice to hold services. In October 1813, he moved to Boone Co., and became the regular pastor at the church. Perhaps it is fiction, perhaps it is true, but these are some of the stories about Rev. Carpenter.
He was quiet and dignified but with a pleasant word for everyone. By his appearance, he stood out with his knee britches and gold buckles. He was very kind to the poor and would help them. Once, upon catching a neighbor stealing corn from his crib, he told the thief, "You would surely not come here unless you needed it. Now fill your sack. When you need corn again, come and ask me for it, and do not try to steal it."
Once, when asked if he had corn for sale, he asked if the person had money to buy it. When the man said that he did have the money, the Rev. said he didn't have any corn for sale. "Plenty of my neighbors have corn for sale, but I need mine for the poor people who have no money."
Just before he died, he burned $300.00 worth of notes for corn. He lived until 1833, when he was 70 years of age.
We have no photographs of him, but we do have one of his eldest son, Jeremiah Carpenter.
The first communion by Rev. Carpenter in his adopted church was held on Whitsunday, in 1814. A list of the participants persists. It includes:
Christoph Zimmerman, ux. Maria,
George Rausch, ux. Elizabeth,
John Rausch, ux. Nancy,
John Beemon ux. Peggy,
John Hauss, ux Milley,
Friederich Zimmerman, ux. Rosina,
Benjamin Aylor, ux. Anna,
Jacob Hauss, ux. Susanna,
Jacob Rausch, ux. Anna,
William Carpenter, ux. Polly.
(ux.=uxor Latin for "Wife"
At the Congregational Meeting, held 6 January 1815, a new and larger constitution was proposed and adopted. Provision was made to elect three deacons every three years. The first elected were Daniel Beemon, George Rouse, and Ephraim Tanner. At the end of that time, Ephraim Tanner was reelected, and Jacob Holsclau and Ephraim Utz were elected to serve with him. At the next election, in 1821, Jacob Rouse and John House were elected to serve with Ephraim Tanner.
Apparently this Second Constitution was written in German also, since the Deacons were called "Vorsteher".
Within a couple of years after Rev. Carpenter went to Hopeful Church, a new constitution was adopted. It, too, was written in German. It was more detailed and showed stronger Lutheran sympathies than the former constitution, which had the flavor of a union church with the Reformed. The constitution was explicit about the duties of the pastor and the deacons, and it said some things very plainly about the duties of the members, to wit:
He must model his life according to the Christian ordinances and, if he deviates therefrom, he must be cheerfully corrected. Everyone must contribute according to his means as God has blessed him, whether it be much or little, for the maintaining and carrying forward of God's work in the congregation. Through the mercy of God, we should avoid all gross sins and vices, such as cursing and swearing, lying and cheating, carnal sins, fornication and adultery, drunkenness, immoral plays, gambling, obscenity, horse-racing, as also hatred, enmity, strife against neighbors, and all other sins and vices, forbidden in the word of God and offensive to a true Christian...
In 1823, the congregation took up the question of a new church. Father Carpenter spoke upon this subject, and became so deeply affected that he gave vent to his feelings, burst into tears, and said:
"Alle bauen gute Haeuser and lassen Gott in der Hütte wohnen!" [All build good houses and let God live in the hut.]
The effect upon the members was so strong that they resolved to build a new church. So in the summer of 1823, a log church was built, 25 ft. by 25 ft. with an end galley, and a high pulpit. [The old church survived until at least 1900, when it was used as a barn.]
The constitution of 1815 was signed as follows:
William Carpenter, Daniel Beemon, George Rouse,Ephraim Tanner,Christopher Zimmerman Frederick Tanner, Jacob Rouse, Benjamin Aylor, John House, John Rouse, John Beemon, Aaron Tanner, Simeon Tanner, Michael Rouse, Jeremiah Carpenter, William Rouse, Sr., Abraham Rouse, John Crisler,David Crisler, Jonathan Carpenter, Jeremiah Rouse,Elisha Rouse
This constitution was written in German, which sufficed until the 1846 translation by Noah Surface. The services were conducted exclusively in the German language until 1824, when Father Carpenter began to use English half of the time in preaching. Within a short time English was used altogether. Apparently Carpenter was willing to use English even earlier, but the conservatism was very strong and Carpenter was careful not force matters and bring about trouble.
Abraham Beemon was the first recorded baptism. Besides the members from Virginia, a number of people of the neighborhood were converted to the Lutheran faith. Sometimes entire families were baptized at one time.
On the 10th of July, 1832, Father Carpenter wrote to Rev. Jacob Crigler of Berlin, Pa., in which he said:
"I have now been preaching the blessed gospel for a space of forty-five years, this last spring. I was about twenty-five when I began, and am now a little upwards of three score and ten; and according to the course of nature and my feelings, I cannot possibly hold out much longer. We may indeed expect the ordinary blessings of divine Providence, but cannot expect miracles. I have often had heavy thoughts about my little congregation here in the wilderness."
Rev. Carpenter urged Rev. Jacob Crigler to come and take charge of the congregation. Writing of a communion service, he wrote:
"On Whitsuntide we had the sacraments in our church, and I had the pleasure of seeing our old father-in-law, your two brothers and their wives at the communion table, but too many of the members stood back that I could have wished to have seen there. There were only twenty-one communicants, and a few years back I had as many as sixty-two."
Less than a year later, on 18 Feb., 1833, Father Carpenter went to his reward. As recorded in the Hebron Baptismal Register in Virginia, Wilhelm Zimmermann had been born 25 Mar 1762. Thus, he was just shy of his 71nd birthday.
The church was without a pastor for about fourteen months, but the Rev. Jacob Crigler came in April of 1834. He was the son of Aaron and Catherine Crigler, and had been born in Virginia, 15 Jan. 1778. Father Crigler was first married to Lydia Utz, on her eighteenth birthday, 15 Jan 1799. She died, leaving two children, and Jacob married Nellie Tanner in 1808. They had twelve children.
Jacob Crigler had been pastor in Berlin, PA, for a number of years. He was active in denominational affairs, both in Pennsylvania and in Kentucky. Two brothers of Father Crigler, Lewis and Nicholas, had moved to Boone County before Jacob did. After Jacob came, two other brothers, Joel and Jonas, came also. With Jacob and Nellie's twelve children, and the siblings of both Jacob and Nellie, their families left a mark on Boone County.
Father Crigler held his first communion in the fall of 1834, when sixty-nine communicants came, including twelve people who were confirmed. The record of this was made in English, for the first time, and, at the annual meeting on 6 Jan. 1835, the minutes were first recorded in English; however, it was stated that the discipline was read in German.
The Kentucky synod was organized at Louisville in 1835, with Jacob Crigler elected as the first President. He is said to the author of the slogan, "Union, Concentration of Effort, and Decisive Action".
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