St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Records

These church records are important for several reasons. Zacharias himself, perhaps his wife, and all but two of his children are mentioned in its surviving records. Another area in which these records might help is the question of how early Zacharias Bard may have been in the Shenandoah area. His son, Jacob Beard, stated in his Revolutionary War pension application that he was born in Shenandoah (then Frederick) County on 29 August 1762. A history of the church, and of its records, might be helpful in determining how credible that statement is.

Early History

There were multiple small colonies of Germans in the Shenandoah valley by 1730. Some form of informal Lutheran congregation existed in the area within a few years, though not one with an actual church building. John Caspar Stoever Jr., the first Lutheran minister for Virginia, made seven trips through the Shenandoah Valley between 1734 and 1742. His first recorded baptism on the Shenandoah was of John Frederick Brintzler on 31 March 1735.1 This was perhaps the same Frederick Printzler who was the first husband of Eve Beard.

A Moravian missionary named Leonard Schnell passing through “the Chanador,” as the area around Strasburg was sometimes called, in 1747 reported the existence of a church, probably the earliest reference to the congregation that later founded what became St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.2 3  This church was apparently meeting at the home of one of its members, George Dellinger. He and others made a survey of land, which was never patented, on 20 December 1751 ,“for the use of the Dutch Chappel or Society of Dutch Protestants including the said chappel.”4 The land was located about five miles north of what would later become Strasburg, roughly at the intersection of Cedar Creek and Mulberry Creek. The same persons associated with this land were later elders of the St. Paul’s church in Strasburg.

St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church

Dellinger, Snapp, Roller, and other members of the congregation had settled near Strasburg, several of them on Tumbling Run. They were still without a church building, but apparently intended to build one. Several years later, Henry Melchior Muhlenberg noted in his journal that Lutherans from Strasburg and vicinity had visited him on July 3, 1765. “They were formerly prosperous, but several years ago they suffered much from the hostile Indians, etc. Now that they appear to have some degree of peace, they are again coming back to their ruined settlements and are anxious to build a church.” [This refers to the Indian attacks of 1763.]

Peter Stover, who had applied for a charter for the town of Strasburg in 1761, provided a town lot for the church. On 1 November 1768 he sold lot #12 in Strasburg to Heroniounous Baker, George Dellinger, Jacob Faggot, and Lawrence Snapp “trustees for the high Dutch Lutheran Congregation in and about the said town”.5  A church building was constructed (presumably on this lot), probably the following year, 1769. The log building was 50 by 40 feet, and within a few years included a pipe organ, said to have been built in Germany.6

There was no resident pastor until 1785. Even after the building was constructed, the church met on the infrequent occasions when traveling pastors visited the area. Communion was probably held, at most, once a year. During the period 1772-1776 there was a Lutheran pastor at Winchester who probably held more frequent services in Strasburg, but the area was again without a pastor until 1785. Simon Harr (see elsewhere) is thought to have operated a school associated with the church as early as 1763, and probably also led services at the church. He was given the right to perform civil marriages in 1785 after non-Anglicans were permitted to do so, but was never ordained by the church itself.

The church was not actually called “St. Paul’s” until several years later.

St. Paul’s Church Records

Only fragmentary records of the church exist for the 18th century. The earliest pages of its records are illegible, and only a few pages reference dates before 1795. No list of members exists, and there are only a handful of records for adults joining the church. Only one record, in 1776, lists adult participants at communion. The next list surviving list of communicants is not until 1795. There are three records of confirmations of young people. 46 teenagers were confirmed in 1772 and another group of 28 in 1776.

The great majority of early records are for baptisms, which were held when circuit pastors visited. Even baptismal records appear to be fragmentary. They are noted for one date each in 1770 and 1771, but not again until 1774. Baptisms for several years are missing entirely, with none recorded between 1779 and 1784 for example.

With so few available church records, we are denied a potentially valuable source of information about the Bard/Beard family which probably existed in the missing or illegible records. However, there are a few references to them in the handful of records that still exist.

Barth/Bard Records

[Note that these records are written in German, in which the name is “Barth” or “Bard” (depending on the writer) and the feminine form adds “in” or “en” to each surname. Also note that the records were written by different persons, so names may be inconsistently spelled.]

31 Mar 1770 Zacharias Bard paid 16 shillings,according to a short list of accounts. (p1, financial records)
Zacharias was almost certainly a member of the church, since every other person listed in the financial records appears in other records as a member of the church.
4 June 1770 Christina Barth and Jonas Lotz sponsors (witnesses) to the baptism of Margareth, daughter of James and Christina Murdock. (p14)
James Murdock was at this time living on land adjoining the patent to Zacharias Bard of 17727 and Jacob Lotz was another neighbor. Jacob Lotz’s wife was a joint sponsor with Martin Barth for a baptism in 1777. Since sponsors had to be adult members of the church, and were typically neighbors or relatives, it seems likely that Christina Barth was the wife of Zacharias. Note that she was a sponsor for Christian Bard’s daughter in 1784 and a communicant in 1795.
28 Oct 1772 Martin Barth, age 20, among 18 teenagers confirmed into the church. (p192.)Another 28 teenagers had been confirmed on 22 June.
There are no other confirmation records until 1795 other than a single record in 1776, when Martin’s two sisters were mentioned. His brother Christian Bard, is not listed in either of these records, but was apparently a member of the church by 1777.
 9 Apr 1775 Christian Hemp and Margaretha Hempin listed among communicants. (p16)
This is the only record listing adult communicants prior to 1795. Margaretha is probably the daughter of Zacharias Bard who was listed as Margaret Hemp, wife of Christopher Hemp, in the 1797 and 1799 deeds.
 22 Sep 1776  Listed among 28 minors confirmed into the church…Elisabetha Bartin “going on 19 years” and Catharina Bardtin “going on 18 years”. (p227)
 8 Jun 1777  Christian Barth and Eva Gisterin witnesses to baptism of Eva, daughter of Christopher and Catherina Gisterer. (p18)
Christian Bard is thought to have been born about 1760 (from his pension application) making him only about 17 at the time. This record is for an adult. This is not likely to have been a mis-transcription of “Christina” since the male form of the surname was used. Note that Margaret Lotz was a sponsor for another child of the Gisterers the following year.
 16 Jun 1777  Mart. Barth and Margar. Lotzin witnesses to baptism of Margaretha, daughter of Heinrich and Catharina Spohr. (p18)
 25 Sep 1784 Christina Bardtin the sponsor for the baptism of Sara, daughter of Christian
“and wife.” (Sarah born on 23 November 1783.) (p21)
Another reason to suspect that Christina Bard was the wife of Zacharias. Note that few baptisms are noted for the years 1780-1783, but this may have been Christian’s first child since he has a household of only three persons in 1785.
 1795 Baptism of Christian, son of Martin Bardt and “wife Elisabeth”. Date omitted, but appearing on a page labeled “Baptisms of the Year 1795.” (Christian born 7 January 1795.) (p30)
 26 Apr 1795 Listed consecutively among 75 communicants (p230):
Martin Bart
His wife Elizabeth
Christina Bartin
< Apparently the same Christina Bart as in 1770 and 1784.
 17 Feb 1799 Baptism of Appolona, daughter of Martin Barett and “wife Elizabeth”. Parents were sponsors. (Appolona born November 1798.) (p33)
This is probably a mis-transcription of Martin Bard (listed previously as “Bardt”). There is no Martin Barett or Barrett listed on the 1798 or 1799 Shenandoah tax lists.
  1. Early Lutheran Baptisms and Marriages in Southeastern Pennsylvania, The Records of Rev. John Casper Stoever from 1730 to 1779, ed. Elizabeth P. Bentley, (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1982).  Two children of Nicholas Brintzler, Johan Frederick and Maria Elisabetha, were baptized on the Shenandoah by Stoever.  Johan Frederick Brintzler was born 17 February 1735 and baptized 31 March 1735. []
  2. Article entitled Henry Melchior Mühlenberg: The Patriarch of American Lutheranism, John L. Hoh, Jr. (1999). []
  3. Schnell preached at the home of George Dellinger that year.  It seems most likely his reference was to Dellinger’s congregation.  However, there was also a Reformed church, which obtained a grant on 15 May 1750 for two lots in Winchester. []
  4. Survey in Northern Neck Surveys.  It is referred to in a patent 5 August 1752 to Lewis Stephens (NN Book H, p187) as “the late survey made for the use of the Dutch Chappel”.   And again in the survey of 9 January 1754 (Patents and Surveys II, p37) for James Colvil for land on both Cedar and Mulberry Creeks in which one corner is “in the line on a bank of Mulberry Run corner to the land surveyed for the Chapel.” []
  5. Frederick County Deed Book 12, p524. []
  6. A History of Shenandoah County, Virginia, John W. Wayland ( Shenandoah Publishing, 1927). []
  7. Lawrence Snapp’s patent of 13 October 1779 (NN Book R, p309) for land adjoining the Zacharias Bard grant is described as including a warrant of James Murdock dated 30 May 1770.  Murdock, who had settled on and obtained a warrant for the land, never perfected the title.  After Snapp surveyed on 29 May 1777, James Murdock entered a caveat but was unsuccessful in preventing Snapp from obtaining title. []