History of Danville Main Page
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Danville Past and Present
Danville, Montour County, Pennsylvania
A Collection of
Historical And Biographical Sketches,
By: D. H. B. Brower
Harrisburg, PA.:
Lane S. Hart, Printer and Binder

 Evangelical Lutheran Church

     The first Lutheran church in this region was in Mahoning town-
ship as it is now.  In that day it was called Ridgeville.  Some time
prior to 1800 a man named Shelhart visited this place, whether he
was a regularly ordained minister or not, cannot now be told.  The
first record of a church organization, is dated 1803 and the first regu-
lar pastor was Johann Paul Ferdinand Kramer.  From 1805 to 1808
there is no record, except that which was kept by M. C. F. S.  Who
he has or whether he was pastor, we are not informed.  Then there
is a blank until 1810, when Rev. J. F. Engel took charge and re-
mained until April 1816.  Here again there is a bland until 1820.
From this date until 1828 the congregation was ministered to by
Rev. Peter Kesler.  Rev. Peter Kesler seems to have been the only
Lutheran preacher then in this region of the State, as he served all
the congregations in this and adjoining counties.  After Rev. Kesler
left the field the Lutherans aided in building a church under the
impression that they would have the privilege of worshipping in the 
church when completed.  But they were disappointed.  Rev. Jere-
miah Shindel came from Bloomsburg about that time and preached
regularly in the old court-house and organized a congregation of
those who adhered to the Lutheran church.  This was in 1830 after
he had preached a year or two in the church, now the Episcopalian.
The removal to the court-house was in consequence of some disa-
greement in relation to the occupancy of the church.  Rev. Shindel
remained five or six years, then the congregation was left without a
pastor for some time.  During this period some became discouraged
and united with other churches.  After some time those who ad-
hered were united with the Catawissa charge and had preaching once
a month by Rev. William Eyer.  This continued for a year and a 
half when a call was given to Rev. Meyer.  He labored among the
people with much acceptance; but the congregation was neither
large nor rich and Rev. Meyer resigned for want of adequate sup-
port.  They were then without a pastor until 1843 when Rev. Elias
Swartz, sustained in part by the Home Missionary Society and under
the guidance of the Great Head of the Church, ministered to this
long neglected people.  On his arrival he found only twenty mem-
bers left.  Some had been called to their last account; others had
become discouraged and found a home in other congregations,
where they are now among the most exemplary and influential citi-
zens of this place, exerting a salutary influence in the cause of the
Redeemer; but wholly estranged from the peculiar Church of their
fathers, and while their former brethren bless them for what they are
doing in behalf of the kingdom of Christ, yet many of them regret
the necessity that drove them from their home into the bosom of
strangers.  Many of the sigh to think that so many of the sons
 abd daughters of the Church of the Reformation, and bearing the
name of the great Reformer, were compelled for the want of the
bread of life to abandon the household of their fathers.

     Danville had now become a considerable town, numbering be-
tween two and three thousand inhabitants.  The various denomi-
nations who had been better supplied with pastors, had become
firmly established; when Rev. Swartz, with the little remnant of th
former flock, (and these were mostly poor in this world's good,)
held a series of meetings which were abundantly blessed by the vis-
tations of divine favor and the outpouring of spirit.  As the re-
sult of this meeting he received into the communion of the church
by the rites of Baptism and Confirmation between forty and fifty
members.  After laboring successfully for about a year they formed 
the design of building a suitable church edifice for their accommo-
dation.  A meeting was called and the following persons were duly
appointed to superintend the erection of the House, viz; William
G. Miller, Thomas Ellis, Samuel Gulick and William Sechler.  The
church was built and dedicated to the service of God, with the title
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Danville, Pennsylvania....
This occurred during the first week of June, 1845.  The officiating
ministers present on the occasion were Revs. Elias Swartz, William
Eyer and Jacob Smith.  On the following March, Rev. Swarts
having become somewhat discouraged on account of straitened cir-
cumstances, a heavy church debt resting on the cnogregation, and the
consequent meager support he received, he finally resigned his pas-
toral relation and accept the call of a Lutheran congregation in
Maryland.  The Danville congregation was then connected with 
the Milton Charge, and served by Rev. Ruthrauff, one in two
weeks for the space of nine months.  At the end of that period, a
call was given to Rev. M. J. Alleman, who accepted the call and
entered on his labors, and served the congregation with great ac-
ceptance until 1848, when he resigned and went to Sunbury, and
took charge of one of the churches in that place.  The congrega-
tion was then without a pastor for nearly two years, when Rev. P.
Willard, agent of the Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, was
called.  He commenced his pastoral labors in this place in 1850.
He found the member scattered and disheartended, some debt still
remaining, and the trustees without a deed for the ground on which
 the church was built.  But a new zeal seemed to be infused into
remnant of the flock.  Past troubles were for a time forgotten,
and they once more in the faith and work of the Gospel emulated the
spirit of their fathers and came up rejoicing to "the help of the Lord
against the mighty."  The number of communicants in February,
1850, had already reached to the number of 142.  A series of meet-
ings were held in February and March of this year, which resulted in
the accession of about one hundred.  In oneness of spirit and pur-
pose the pastor and people harmoniously labored together.  A 
lot was also purchased about this time for a cemetery, and in 1853,
a parsonage was purchased.  Union and brotherly love prevailed,
and walking in the light of life and the comforts of the Holy Ghost,
many were added to the church and the work of the Lord pros-
pered in their hands.

     In 1854 the church became too small to accommodate the con-
gregation, and with this subject the elements of discord entered the
membership, as the same question had operated in a thousand other
instances.  Seven sites for the new church were reported, and on
the first vote a majority voted for the old location.  The German
portion of the congregation now refused to give their consent, and
threatened the trustees with prosecution if they persisted n build-
ing an exclusive English Lutheran church.  Another meeting was
therefore called in January, 1855, to ascertain fully the sense of the
congregation in regard to the project, as well as the locality.
Seventy-three votes were cast for a site in the North ward and
seventy for the old location in the South ward.  Much dissatisfac-
tion prevailed; unkind feeling arose during the protracted contro-
versy, some of which was even directed against the pastor.  A di-
vision of the congregation was then contemplated, and an amicable
proposition wasmade to join in the erection of another church in
the North ward and secure the services of a separate pastor, but was
again withdrawn.  A lot was, however, purchased in the North
ward; and the Church council resolved to grant Rev. P. Willard
permission to leave as soon as he could secure another place.  This
was, doubtless, the part of wisdom under the circumstances, as Rev.
Willard had freely given expression to his views on the subjects of
 dispute, and of course rendered himself personally obnoxious to a
portion of the congregation.  He soon received a cll from Perry
county, Pennsylvania, which he accepted, and preached his fare-
well sermon on the 11th of May, 1856, after serving this charge for
more than six years.

     We had the pleasure of an acquaintance with Reverend Willard,
and with many others regretted the separation, although it seemed
necessary in order to restore harmony to the church.  His is a mann
of considerable ability, possessing much energy of character, and
had it not been for the unfortunate circumstances adverted to he
would no doubt have realized the hopes and expectations of the peo-
ple of God who rejoiced in the success that attended the first years 
of his ministry in this place.  In July of the same year, the congre-
gation extended a call to the Reverend M. J. Stover, of Waterloo,
New York.  He accepted and entered on his charge on the first of
September, 1856, and was duly installed on the 21st of October, in
the same year.  The sermon was preached by Reverend George
Parsons, President East Pennsylvania Synod.  the charge to the 
pastor on his installation was delivered by Reverend E. A. Sharrats,
of Bloomsburg, and the charge to the people by Reverend A. Fink,
of Lewisburg.  Reverend Stover entered upon the responsible duties
of his high calling with an earnest desire to harmonize the discordant
elements and establish his people in the unity of the spirit.  His
labors thus far had been crowned with success.  He held a series
of meetings during the winter which resulted in the upbuilding of
the membership in the faith and hope of the Gospel, and bringing
many new converts into the church.  His ministration had calmed
the troubled waters and restored the confidence and brotherly love
that characterized the church through long years of toil and trouble.

     This is known as the Pine street Evangelical Lutheran Church.
It is a large and handsome brick building, and a fine parsonage now
adjoins it.  The congregation worshipping there is large.  It occu-
pies an influential position in the community, and as far as human
judgment extends is "abounding in the work of the Lord."

     After Reverend Stover came Reverend E. Huber, but he re-
mained only six months.  He was followed by Reverend P. P. Lane
who remained two years.  During his pastorate the church was com-
pleted and dedicated.  The next pastor was Reverend E. A. Shar-
 ratts, who served the congregation two years and six months.  Then
came Reverend George M. Rhoads and labored with great accept-
ance and marked success for four years.  He was followed by Rev-
erend U. Grave, who remained two years; and February, 1874,
the present pastor, Reverend M. L. Shindel, was called and took
charge of the congregation.  Reverend Shindel is now in the seventh
year of his pastorate, and every year the bonds of Christian confi-
dence between the pastor and his people seem to grow stronger and
stronger.  His labors have been greatly blessed in building up the
church in the faith and hope of the Gospel.

This page is maintained by Terri Cook as part of the USGenWeb Project.
©2001. Terri Cook. All rights reserved.