Mohn's Hill Moments
Each month, on the second Sunday, we are taking a step back and looking at the history of Mohn's Hill and also at the history of the denomination. Where did the EC Church come from? What are Mohn's Hill's roots? We will see God's love and faithfulness over all the years through picture and narrative. Come back each month for new (or rather, old) trivia and tidbits of information!
The Evangelical Congregational Church had its beginnings in the period following the American Revolutionary War. The hardships of frontier life, and the lack of spiritual guidance, caused many people to drift away from the religious roots which had foster their faith as they immigrated to this new nation.
One such man was Jacob Albright. Albright was born May 1st, 1759, and grew up on a farm in Douglas township near Pottstown. Albright’s parents were German immigrants, and Albright was baptized a Lutheran.
Albright served in the Revolutionary War under Captain Jacob Witz's Seventh Company, Fourth Battalion, Philadelphia Militia as a drummer boy and later as a guard for the Hessian prisoners at Reading, Pennsylvania.
In 1785, Albright married Catherine Cope and they had six children. Albright moved his family to Earl Township, Lancaster County, near Ephrata and took up farming and tile manufacturing.
In 1790, the Albright family suffered a tragic event, as three of his children died from an epidemic. This caused Albright to seek consolation from his Christianity; however, his Lutheran faith did not meet those needs. Albright turned to Methodism, converted, and became a Methodist class leader.
Rejoicing in his new found faith, Albright set himself to mastering a knowledge of God’s word. His studies made him conscious of the need to win his neighbors for Christ, especially those who spoke German, since the Methodist services were all in English. While mocked and reviled, Albright pressed on by preaching and teaching the word of God where the opportunity allowed, eventually forming classes and societies in the following localities: Leisser’s Class at Celebrook, Walter’s class at Quakertown, and Phillips Class at Blue Mountain.
From these humble beginnings. The Evangelical Association Church, eventually the Evangelical Congregational Church, arose.
Jacob Albright died at the age of 49 on May 17, 1808 from tuberculosis in Kleinfeltersville. He is buried next to a chapel in memory of him in that town.
By 1838, the Evangelical Association, a work begun by Jacob Albright in the 1790’s had grown significantly. In 1803, the first of the annual meetings began to take place among the ministers of these churches. By 1809, the Book of Discipline and Articles of Faith were established. In 1816 the loosely affiliated churches became a denomination, calling themselves The Evangelical Association. And by 1838, a work began up on Mohn’s Hill.
According to Robert J Gettshall, “A stone school house was built [on Mohn’s Hill] in 1838 on the site of the present building, as a pay school and for church services.” Organized initially by Brethren minister Reverend Rupp, the school sought to educate the local population because the Brethren saw a lack of education and spiritual understanding among their recent converts.
Wickersham’s History of Education alludes to the fact that most churches in this time did the same educational ministry. Wickersham notes, “Each congregation...established a congregational school alongside the church, at the earliest possible period after its formation...Even before a pastor could be obtained a school was built, and the schoolmaster conducted Sunday School and read a sermon.”
While education was a driving focus, church services were also part of the building’s purpose. Church services were held only once every eight weeks, as pastors had an eight church charge.
William Mohn, the grandson of Ludwig Mohn, is identified as a man actively involved in religious affairs and instrumental in establishing the school and church. William Mohn aided in this important work by donating a piece of the original Mohn farm as the site to erect the school/church structure.
Around 1845 an addition was built to the school house. In 1853, the church trustees bought the remaining share of William Mohn’s land. In 1856, a new stone structure was erected. In 1872, the stone structure was torn down and a wooden structure was erected through the efforts of Trustee Issac Behm. The building cost $1,000 to construct and the cornerstone was laid by Evangelical Association preacher Reverend Lares.
In 1882, a camp meeting was held on Mohn’s Hill in the grove of Joseph Leininger. Forty three tents were pitched and the Reverend I.E. Kneer was in charge of delivering the evangelistic services.
Notable members of the Mohn’s Hill Evangelical Association included: William Mohn, Joseph Mohn, Civil War Veteran Simpson Ruth, Amos Miller, Peter Palm, Jeremiah Werner, Issac Behm, Rufus Whiskeyman, Adam Grill, Joseph Leininger and Charles Leininger.
Pastors from 1838-1889 included: Reverends Rupp, Metzgar, Sechrist, Yost, and Kneer.