Milton History

a pictorial history of Milton, PA

Trinity Lutheran Church

Trinity Lutheran Church 100 Mahoning Street

This church is at the southeast corner of Mahoning and Garfield Streets.

From Bell’s History of Northumberland County 1891:

Among the first Lutherans at Milton were the families of Angstadt, Bastian, Beckley, Beidleman, Bright, Burrman, Kreitzer, Dressier, Egner, Eckbert, Fidler, Follmer, Freed, Gehrig, Goodman, Haller, Hartman, Hill, Kohr, Leib, Markle, Morrison, Noriconk, Overpeck, Peeler, Peterman, Robins, Schreyer, Stine, Strine, Swenk, Trout, Wilhelm, Wolfinger, etc. The first clergy of this denomination who held services at Milton were traveling preachers who visited this part of the State at irregular and infrequent intervals, and their first place of worship was the school house erected on Lower Market street in 1796. After the Broadway school house was built it became the meeting place. In 1807, uniting with the Reformed congregation, a small one-story log house on the south side of Mahoning street was purchased for school and church purposes; but the school was not a success, although occasional worship was conducted here by the Reverends Eyer, Stock, and Engle. In 1817 the Lutherans were represented by Adam Follmer in the building committee of Harmony church, and at its dedication, May 23, 1819, they were regularly organized as a church with Philip H. Shreyer as elder, John Hill as deacon, and Rev. Philip Repass as pastor. When the interest of the Presbyterians in Harmony church was sold it was purchased by Adam Follmer, a member of this church, for the Lutheran and Reformed congregations, who worshiped there until 1850, when the former disposed of their interest and erected a two-story brick edifice on the south side of Mahoning street near the central part of the town. It was dedicated, May 4, 1851. In 1868 this was sold to the Evangelical church. On Sunday, August 25, 1867, the corner-stone of a new church had been laid at the southeast corner of Mahoning and Second streets,and on the 1st of November, 1868, the lecture room of this edifice was dedicated. It was a brick building, erected at a cost of thirty thousand dollars, and was justly regarded as one of the most commodious churches in central Pennsylvania.

The fire of May 14, 1880, having destroyed this building, the pastor, Rev. W. H. Gotwald, called a meeting of the council three days later, at which it was resolved to undertake at once the work of rebuilding. Assistance from the church at large was generously given in the sum of five thousand five hundred thirty-three dollars, twenty-two cents; the Lower Market Street and Center Street school buildings were occupied until May 13, 1881, when the first service was held in the lecture room of the new church. The architect was C. G. Wetzel, the contractor, Charles Krug, and the cost, ten thousand dollars.

Trinity Lutheran Church inside

The lecture room was dedicated, May 15, 1881; the first service was held in the audience room, March 19, 1882, and on the 26th of that month it also was dedicated.

Inside picture from the book “Chronicles and Legends of Milton II” by George Venios

The first regular pastor was Rev. Philip Repass, who resided in Union county and preached at Milton only at long intervals. His successor, Rev. F. Waage, was the first resident pastor at Milton; his field of labor included also Williamsport, Turbutville, Follmer's, Muncy, Chillisquaque, Strawberry Ridge, and Hall's. He had charge three years, 1826-29, and from that date the pastoral succession has been as follows: William Garman, 1829-30; C. P. Miller, 1831-33; J. G. Anspach, June 19, 1836, to June, 1837; C. F. Stoever, September 2, 1837, to 1842; Eli Swartz, 1842-44; Frederick Ruthrauf, April 1, 1845, to November, 1850; J. J Reimensnyder, April 17, 1851, to April 1, 1854; C. C. Culler, June 30,1854, until death, August 19, 1860; T. T. Titus, March, 1861, to April, 1863; S. P. Spreecher, May, 1863, to April, 1865; George Parsons, July 1, 1865, to October 1, 1868; U. Graves, October 2, 1868, to September 24, 1870; A. Buhrman, April, 1871, to 1873; W. H. Gotwald, May 1, 1878, to 1887; J. M. Reimensnyder, present pastor, assumed charge in 1887.

Trinity Lutheran Church 1858

The drawing at left shows the church that was built in 1851. It was on the south side of Mahoning Street, halfway between the alley and Second Street (now Arch), across from the Baker Brewery. In 1867 it was replaced by a new church on the SE corner of Second and Mahoning, the site of the present church.

Lutheran Church map

New church construction, from pastoral records:


After the vestry as above stated had finished their business, the following brethren being present at the Parsonage vis Jacob Bastian, George Kutz, Joseph Angstadt, Thomas Strlne, Leonhard Beidelman, George Strine, Henry Strine, John Haag, Jr., Jacobi Hartman, and the Pastor; a friendly interchange of views was had on the subject of erecting a new House of Worship for our congregation, after which George Strine offered the following viz

Resolved, that it is expedient for the Ev. Luth. congregation of Milton and vicinity to build a new Church.

Resolved, That a subscription for said purpose be made

Resolved, That the brethren Joseph Angstadt and Thomas Strine be a Committee to call on the Citizens of Milton and the vicinity for their subscription to said purpose.

Resolved, That the subscription be made payable to John Datesman, Esqr., of West Milton in Trust for said Ev. Luth. Congregation to be used in paying the expenses for the erection of said Church. F. Ruthrauff Chairman

According to public notice given from the pulpit, the Ev. Luth. congregation of Milton and vicinity, met in Harmony Church on the 11th day of February, 1850. The meeting was organized by calling Rev. F. Ruthrauff, the pastor, to be chairman, and John Datesman to act as secretary. The chairman opened the meeting with prayer.

After the object of the call of the meeting was stated viz the entering into arrangements to carry out the purpose of the Church in erecting a new House of Worship, It was

Resolved, before we proceed further in the business of the meeting, the amount of subscriptions to the new Church be ascertained. Brother Thomas Strine presented his book, and it appeared that about $2000 were at our command.

Resolved. That an estimate of the probable cost of the contemplated building be laid before the meeting.


Elias Walton, architect, presented a bill of the probable cost of building a house brick 40 by 60, with a basement under for lecture room to be $2340.

Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed by the chair to examine suitable sites for a Church and report at the next meeting. The chair appointed George Kutz George Baker John Datesman

Resolved, That the vestry of this congregation be instructed to propose to the vestry of the German Reformed congregation at their meeting on next Wednesday evening, to sell out to them our interest In Harmony Church for the sum of five hundred dollars, and that they report to next meeting.

Resolved, That we now adjourn to meet again on Monday, the 18th of February at 2 oclk P.M. Prayer by the chair F. Ruthrauff, John Datesman, sec. chairman

Harmony Church, Milton Feb. 18, 1850

Congregation met according to adjournment. The meeting was organized by

Resolving, That the officers of the former meeting be again appointed.

Prayer was offered for Divine aid and influence by the chairman.

The Committee on Sites for New Church reported different lots as suitable sites for the contemplated new House of Worship. George Kutz reported Dr. Waldron's - and Hume's lots. John Datesman reported Mrs. Vandegriff's lot.

As George Baker, one of the Committee could not be present, his written report was handed in and received.

John Datesman, one of the members of the Vestry reported, that he had made the proposition of selling our Interest in Harmony Church to the vestry of the German Reformed congregation for five hundred dollars, and requested an answer so soon as convenient.

Resolved, That the subscription book be again examined in order to ascertain what progress there was made since last meeting in raising funds for building.

On adding up the book we find there is subscribed $1838.00
Note for our part of old Parsonage 180.00
Promises to Thms Strine 79.00


Resolved, That congregation vote by Ballot for the Site of the new Church.
Hume's Lot had Eleven votes
Vandegriff's lot had Eight votes
Waldron's lot had Five votes

Resolved, That the chair appoint a Committee of three to purchase the lot chosen. The chair appointed
George Baker
Joseph Angstadt
Jacobi Hartman

Resolved, That a building Committee consisting of three be appointed. The Committee consists of
Thomas Strine
Elias Walton
George Kutz

Resolved, That the purchasing Committee be instructed before they purchase Hume's lot to ascertain whether Vandegriff's lot could be purchased, on Terms advantageous to the congregation, as a Site for the contemplated Church, and if so, to report to the Vestry, so that the Vestry may call a congregational meeting for the purpose of making a choice between Hume's lot and Vandegriff's lot.

Resolved, That we adjourn. Prayer by L. Schreyer, F. Ruthrauff, Chairman, John Datesman, Sec.

March 7, 1850 Harmony Church, Milton

According to a call by the Vestry published from the Pulpit by the pastor on last Sabbeth, a regular day for preaching, the congregation met again to hear the report of the Committee to purchase a Site for the location of the New Church, and to receive the plan for the New Church from the building Committee.

On motion the officers of the former meeting were again appointed. The meeting was opened with prayer by the Pastor F. Ruthrauff. Brother George Baker reported for the Committee on Purchase that they had a conference with Mr. Vandegriff in reference to the purchase of his lot as a site for the new Church but the lot could not be had for less than fifteen hundred dollars ($1500); and that they had purchased Hume's lot for $500.00 in cash; as the price asked for the other lot had placed that out of question.

The building Committee reported a plan and specifications for the new Church, by Elias Walton.


The order on style adopted in the Plan for the building is the Tuscan. The dimensions of the building are to be 40 feet wide, and sixty feet long - The basement story is to be 9 feet in height, and the audience chamber 19 feet in height. The Church is to be built with a vestibule, and a cupola, and of brick.

Resolved, That the Church be built according to the specifications and plan exhibited by the building Committee.

Resolved, That the building Committee be instructed to erect said Church on one side of said Lot so as to leave an Alley on the other side, as a way for carriages. On examining it was found that since our last meeting our subscriptions to the Church was Increased — $197.50.

Resolved, That the Chair appoint a Committee of three as collectors of first installment. The chair appointed
George Strine
George Unger
Abm. Goodman

Resolved, That we adjourn - Prayer by the chair - F. Ruthrauff, Chairman, John Datesman, Secretary

Corner Stone Laying July 27, 1850

This day was very pleasant, and notwithstanding we were still in the midst of Harvest, there was quite a large congregation assembled. After preaching in the German Language by the pastor, and preaching in the English Language by Rev. Monroe Alleman in Harmony Church, the congregation proceeded to the Lot on which the new Church is to be erected. The Pastor of the congregation read the service of the Liturgy appointed for the occasion, and the following declaration, a copy of which is deposited in the corner stone.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen.

The Ev. Lutheran Congregation of Milton and vicinity have for several years felt the need of a Church which they could call exclusively their own, and in which they might enjoy the privilege of worshiping God, and of hearing the Gospel preached by their own pastor every Sabbeth. They have not enjoyed this privilege thus far. While our fellow Christians of other persuasions have had their own churches, where they could meet every Sabbeth for


worship; the Ev. Lutheran and the German Reformed congregations of this and other places, have each owned but one half of the Church, and enjoyed the privilege of preaching by their own pastors only on alternate Sabbeth. Hence, there has been a growing conviction in both Communions that the cause of our common Christianity, and the peace, the good will, and the prosperity of both parties would be greatly promoted by each having their own places of worship.

We have also desired to have a place of worship in a location more convenient, more central to the congregation and population at large and more easily of access at all seasons to the aged and infirm.

The want of a suitable place to hold our Sabbeth-School, and a room for weekly lectures, and other congregational purposes, has also been felt very sensible in the congregations.

Influenced by the above, and other motions which will easily suggest themselves to the reflecting, it was resolved, in reliance upon the favour of God, to build a new Church, and to appeal to our own members, and to our fellow Christians and other denominations and to the public at large, to aid us in our responsible enterprise, and, our appeal was not in vain. There was a general and a generous response to our call, which clearly evinced( ?) that our friends sympathized with us, appreciated our situation, and were willing to encourage an undertaking which be a source of great good, as well to the community at large, as to our congregation in particular. Such a generous spirit in this enlightened community, we believe, will not refuse any further aid, which may be needed to complete this good work.

We are assembled therefore, on this the 27th day of July, A.D. 1850, and the 75th year of North American Independence, and in the 1st year of the Administration of the Hon. Millard Fillmore, President of these United States, and under the State administration of the Hon. Wm. F. Johnston, governor of Pennsylvania, to lay the Corner Stone of a new Church, to be by the name and Title of

The Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church of Milton and Vicinity

We deem it expedient for the information of present, and all that may come after us, to make this public declaration of our motives for erecting this House for the Worship of God, the ground of faith on which we profess to stand, and on which we would near this House.


The only Infallible Rule of faith and practice which we acknowledge as binding on all is the Inspired Word of God of the Old and New Testament, a copy of which we deposit In this Comer Stone.

In order to make known to all whom it may concern, either now or hereafter, what our views of the teachings of the Holy Scriptures are, we deposit in this Stone a copy of Dr. Martin Luther's smaller catechism, and a copy of the Aughsburg Confession of faith. These we acknowledge as symbols of our faith; and as substantially setting the doctrinal views of religious practices of our Church.

We also place in this Head, or Corner Stone, a copy of the Hymn Book used In the worship of God in our Church, together with a copy of our Formula for Church Government, and a copy of the Constitution of our district Synods; together with these a copy of the Minutes of the Eighth Annual meeting of the Ev. Luth. Synod of East Pennsylvania, and a copy of the proceedings of the Fifteenth Convention of the Gen. Synod of the Ev. Luth. Church in the United States, convened in Charleston, South Carolina April 27, 1850.

We further declare, no one shall be able to hold and discharge the office of pastor in this Church who is not a member in good standing, of some regular Ev. Lutheran Synod In the United States.

The number of members of this congregation entitled to Communion is about 190 - average number of children attending Sabbeth School about 100.

The pastor of the congregation is Rev. F. Ruthrauff - the vestry consists of
John Datesman) Elders
George Kutz)

Henry Strine) Deacons
George Unger)
Elias Walton)
John Haag)
Thomas Strine, Trustee

The building Committee
Thomas Strine
Elias Walton

The architect is Elias Walton.

Ministers present at the Comer Stone laying:
Frederick Ruthrauff - Pastor
Rev. Monroe Alleman - Pastor of Ev. Luth. Church at Lewisburg
Rev. David Longmore - Presbyterian Minister, Milton
Rev. Mr. Long - Pastor of Ger. Ref. Church, Milton
Mr. Geiger - Methodist Minister, Milton


A Meeting of the Ev. Lutheran congregation of Milton held the 30th day of November A.D. 1850 in Harmony Church. The meeting was organized by calling George Kurtz to be chairman and Elias Walton to act as Secretary. The meeting was opened with prayer. After the object of the meeting was stated viz the object of this meeting was for to see about getting a man to preach the gospel.

Resolved, That the vestry be authorized to rite to the following persons named:
Mr. Alleman
Mr. Parson
Mr. Reoble
Mr. Shoall
Mr. Angstadt
Mr. Reimensnyder

Resolved, That George Strine being a delegate to the conference held at Williamsport the 2 day of December for the purpose of seeing whether we could get Mr. Parsons and also to get him to preach a German sermon for us.

Resolved, that this congregation must have one third German preaching.

Resolved, that we adjourn.

Milton, February 15, 1860

A meeting of the Ev. Lutheran Congregation of Milton met according to the constitution in the basement of Trinity Church and was opened by prayer. And Jacob Bastion was nominated for president and George Unger as Secretary and was unanimous elected. After the object of the meeting was stated, the congregation was called to vote for a pastor for this and Center congregation and when the vote was cast it was unanimous for the Rev. J. J. Reimensnyder and after the election it was proposed that Bro. Henry Heinen should write a call which was done and signed by the pastor and Elders and Deacons. No more business we adjourned.

George Unger, Sec.

Milton, February 15, 1851 Revd. J. J. Reimensnyder

I certify that an election was held this day in the basement of Trinity Church by the Lutheran congregation of Milton and resulted in the unanimous vote for J. J. Reimensnyder for pastor Milton and Center congregations. And we do hereby agree to pay the said Reimensnyder 500 dollars for his services a year.

Jacob Bastian, President
Elders, John Datesman and George Kurst
Deacons, George Unger
Elias Walton
John Haag, Junior
Henry Strine