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Jerusalem Western Salisbury
3441 Devonshire Road
Allentown, PA 18103
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Office: 610-797-4242 or 610-791-4979
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The 275th Anniversary Committee has decided to re-publish our church records as one of our projects for the anniversary year. This will be accomplished in volumes, such as 1734 - 1800, 1801 - 1850, etc. This project is necessary because our past church record books are long out of print and contain errors that should be corrected. Also, there are some records, such as records of communions from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries that have never been published. As far as a time table is concerned, our goal is to have the first volume ready for the beginning of the anniversary year in 2016. The committee is looking for volunteers to help with the typing of the records; please contact me (see email below or call the church office) if you are interested in helping.
Our church records have been published over a number of years. Here is a list of the church record books/history books of the past:
1.) Membership and Burial Record of Jerusalem Lutheran and Reformed Congregations and Cemeteries, Western Salisbury, Allentown: 1906 (henceforth referred to as the 1906 Burial Record). This small booklet with grey paper cover was prepared for the 165th Anniversary of the church and is the earliest endeavor of publishing our church records and history. The booklet contains a membership list and burial list, or as the Introductory says "the names of the living and the dead." The Introductory also contains a short history of the church. Because they are small and fragile, copies of this record book are rare.
2.) History of Jerusalem Lutheran and Reformed Church, Western Salisbury, Allentown: 1911 (henceforth referred to as the 1911 History Book). This 283 page book was issued with blue, red and leather brown covers (if anyone has or knows of copies of these books in another color, please let me know). This was a comprehensive history and church record book covering the years 1734 - May 1911.
3.) Supplement to the History of Jerusalem Lutheran and Reformed Church, Western Salisbury, Allentown: 1916 (henceforth referred to as First Supplement). This booklet has a cream paper cover that contains updated church records from June 1911 to August 1916 and was meant to be glued into the back of the 1911 History Book.
4.) Second Supplement to the History of Jerusalem Lutheran and Reformed Church, Western Salisbury, Allentown: 1931 (henceforth referred to as the Second Supplement). This booklet has a cream cover and contains both church records and history from September, 1916 to July 31, 1931.
5. History [of] Western Salisbury Jerusalem Joint Congregation and Cemetery Association, 200th Anniversary Edition, Supplement Number 3. Allentown: 1941 (henceforth referred to as the Third Supplement). This book, with a red cover and picture of the church on it, contains both church records and history from August 1931 to May 1941. It also contains corrections to early history books and supplements, as well as new historical material that had not been published earlier.
6.) The Salisburger Allentown: 1935 - 1976. There are various volumes that cover the years from 1935 to 1976 and include church records and history in the form of annual reports. The last volume of the Salisburger to be published was 1974-1976 and is a photocopied report.
7.) History of Western Salisbury Union Church 1741 - 1986, by Gladys C. Rader and Lorraine J. Weida. Allentown: 1987 (henceforth referred to as the 1986 History Book.) This book contains a comprehensive history of the church, as well as histories of early families and members of the congregations, information on interesting tombstones, and the drawings of Walter Chapman.
Each of the above history and/or record books contains important information for our congregation's history. Unfortunately, some of the information was not well documented, so it is difficult to ascertain the source of the information. For instance, it appears that the sources for the very oldest burials contained in both the 1906 Burial Record and the 1911 History Book was a reading of the tombstones, rather than an independently written record book. As an example, I cite the following information from the 1906 Burial Record:
Roth, Frantz - born Dec. 28, 1757.
Roth, Heinrich - born June 16, 1888.
Roth, Margaret - died, November 17, age 19 years, 11 months.
The source of the above information, it would seem, is what can be read from the tombstones, even today. From other sources, we know that Frantz Roth actually died on December 28, 1757, very suddenly, so the above entry is incorrect (this was corrected in the 1911 History Book.) Heinrich Roth's tombstone only contains his birth date; the rest of the inscription has disappeared due to the effects of weather and time. Margaret Roth is actually Anna Margaret Roth and she died on November 22 at 19 years, 4 months, so again the above information was incorrect. Other sources tell us that she was born on July 22, 1727, so her death year was 1746 and she died at age 19 years, 4 months (this was later corrected in Third Supplement.) This tombstone is important because it is said to be the oldest tombstone on any Lutheran or Reformed Church Cemetery in Lehigh County that can still be read in its entirety.
The above three tombstones are in the Roth Family Burial Plot. They appear in a row in the cemetery from left to right, in the exact order given above (unfortunately, it appears that the fragment of a tombstone in between Heinrich and Anna Margaret's tombstones was unreadable even in 1906, so we do not know who is buried there.)
So with inspiration from the past and thankfulness for our forefathers who had the forethought to compile this information, we are embarking on a new and exciting project to publish our church records.
I have appreciated the positive responses to my articles and I am pleased that people are interested in the rich history of our church. If you have curiosity about our church and its history, or information to share, please contact me through the church office or at Finkyx@aol.com.
Joshua Arthur Fink, Historian