In 1849, Zachary Taylor became President of the United States, Edgar Alan Poe died, gold was
discovered at Sutter's Mill in California, and Samuel's Church was begun. On January 6, 1849,
thirty-two people met at the home of Joseph Yetter and unanimously voted to erect a church
building on the southeast corner of a piece of land in Decatur Township. The three-quarter
acre property was donated by Samuel Barr for the sum of $1.00 to the Board of Trustees of
the Lutheran and German Reformed congregations. An article in the Lewistown Gazette on June
13, 1912, reported, "These congregations were a considerable portion of the members of the
church at Black Oak Ridge (St. John's) living west of that place, some a great distance, who
came to the conclusion to put up a church building more convenient for them."
The building committee obligated itself to construct the stone foundation, and on November 3,
1849, the corner stone was laid. The completed structure was two stories high with interior
balconies on three sides. The exterior was weather boarded and painted white, with an overall
dimension of 40 feet in length and 32 feet in breadth. The church was finished and dedicated
on June 16, 1851. All but $350 was raised within the congregation, and an appeal for
help was made to the Christian public to assist with paying off the remainder of the debt. At
its dedication service, the church was named Samuel's Church after the owner of the land, and
Rev. J. P. Shindle led the ceremonies before a large gathering of people.
On November 6, 1851, Rev. Shindle began as the pastor of the Lutheran congregation, and Rev.
N. G. Hackman began as the pastor of the German Reformed congregation, Beaver Dam
Charge. The two pastors preached alternately every 2 weeks.
The first communion was held on May 1, 1853, when 96 Lutheran members met for worship.
Rev. Shindle continued to preach until November 1857, when on account of ill health and
physical weakness he resigned the congregation after having served as the Lutheran pastor
for 5 years. Rev. Hackman served as the Reformed pastor until 1853.
On November 19, 1862, two coal stoves were bought for the church, and in 1857, 1860, and
1862, money was collected for the construction for a stable.
In 1883, Rev. William Landis reported on his first year's work with the Sunday school program.
It read, "The Salem's Reformed School and Samuel's Union School have resolved to do
something for our foreign missions in Japan; the latter by raising corn, etc. and giving
the contributions of the last 3 months of the year. A number of the scholars of Samuel's
school planted corn last spring and are now ready to gather their harvest and give it to
the Lord. We hope that the other schools may soon follow the good example of these two.
Let all our children be made to interest themselves in the cause of Christ's kingdom."
The First Constitution
On December 9, 1884, Rev. Landis called a meeting of the congregation to resolve the
need for a church constitution. He presented a proposed by-laws and a constitution for
examination, and after being read, the congregation adopted them article by article.
According to the constitution the name of the church at that time was "Samuel's Reformed
Church". "The officers of this congregation shall be a pastor, 4 elders, 4 deacons, and
1 trustee. The pastor, elders and deacons shall constitute the consistory (Church Counsel)
of this congregation. The consistory shall meet annually on the 3rd Saturday in November
and at such other times as occasion may require. It shall be the duty of every member of this
congregation to labor and to promote its general welfare and to contribute fifty cents a year
and upwards according to his or her ability to the support of the pastor." The final article
indicated that by this time Samuel's Church was part of the charge called the Beaver
The Second Church Building
The first reference to the need for a new building appeared in the Church Counsel minutes for
September 24, 1889. At a meeting the next month, action was taken to build a new church
a short distance west of the old church. In November 1889, it was decided the new building
would be 60 feet long and 36 feet wide. Jacob Smith was contracted to build the church at
a cost of $1,985.00. This included the price of pews and pulpit, but no other furniture or
carpeting. Work began on the new church in the fall of 1890, with the cornerstone being laid
by Rev. Landis on September 7. The pastors, Rev. Zimmerman, Lutheran, and Rev. Landis,
Reformed, preached the sermons and performed the ceremonies.
After the roof was on, cold weather set in and made it necessary to put off construction until
the spring of 1891. The old church was torn down in 1891 and services began in the new
church in October of the same year. The finished dimensions were 60 feet by 38 feet with a
tower in front containing a vestibule and a spire for a bell. The membership of the church
was close to 110 in the Reformed congregation and 50 in the Lutheran.
• An interesting article was discovered an old journal dated January 10, 1873, and reads,
"At a meeting of the joint council of the Adamsburg Mosser Valley Church, and Samuel's
Church congregations it was resolved that
Samuel's Church is to be used exclusively by
the Lutherans on the 19th of January, 1873, and by the Reformed on the 26th, and so on
alternately until otherwise ordered by the joint council and consistory of both denominations.
Signed by the Council of Adamsburg on the 10th day of January 1873."
• A single sheet of paper found among others reveals that the Reformed congregation
purchased an organ in August 1885 for $110, but they would not let the Lutheran congregation
use it for services until they bought half of it for $55. The Lutherans voted to buy half in
September 1885, but were not allowed to use it until they paid for it in January 17, 1886.
• On a piece of paper about 3 x 4 inches long, this item was found: "April 4, 1889, there was
a funeral at Samuel's Church near Bannerville that was a very sad affair. The father Aaron
Shilling and daughter were buried in the same grave. He was 55 years and she was 18
years old (Middle Post, 1889)."
• In 1890 a certain man pledged $25 toward the church. He became dissatisfied with the
minister and refused to pay. Action was taken by the Church Counsel to put his debt into
the hands of a Justice of the Peace for collection.
• In the minutes of the Joint Lutheran Councils January 7, 1929, appears this interesting note,
"Matters of interest to the parish were discussed, after which it was unanimously voted that
we do our best and leave the rest to the Lord."
• Howard Knepp served as janitor for all but a brief time from 1903 until 1930. His son, Fern,
was then elected and served until just before his death in May of 1961.
Your Organization Name Here