They came to America! They arrived in the port of Philadelphia in the early 1700’s. Palatines – from southern Germany. First settling in Pennsylvania, they moved onward to western Maryland where land could be bought for 1% - 2% per acre and the mountains and streams reminded them of home. They built farms, schools, and churches. In 1760, an immigrant, Peter Apple (Apfel) donated an acre of ground for a school. The school served as a church on Sundays and was visited occasionally by a circuit preacher. At other times, the schoolteacher led the services. Around 1765, on the same plot of ground, a log church was built for the use of the Lutheran and Reformed congregation, which was organized on April 15, 1770. A minister, Rev. Ludwig Henop, was assigned to Frederick and told to visit the mountain churches whenever possible. Around 1777, he introduced to the residents a well-educated Hessian, |Heinrich Giesi. Giesi was quite possibly a prisoner housed in Frederick, who was captured at the battle of Trenton on Christmas day, 1776. Nevertheless, he was welcomed as a schoolteacher and preacher in the Apple’s community. Only ordained ministers were allowed to baptize and confirm and serve communion. Giesi applied for ordination, but was told to “return to your school.” He later was ordained and served churches in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.
In 1813 pews were built for the church. Glazed windows were installed. Ten years later, a second story was added along with galleries to accommodate the growing membership. By now, services were read in both German and English, a practice that ended in 1830.
By 1826 it was decided to build a new stone church on the site. It contained two tiers of windows, galleries, a high wine-glass-shaped pulpit and a gun corner. Located under the steps to the gallery, guns were still carried to church, to protect the families from the wild beast and the dishonest and unsavory characters who are present in all civilizations, and no doubt an occasional Monday dinner was bagged on the way home from church.
A gun corner was also built into the log church for many of the same reasons, but also for protection from Indians who still came into the mountains. There is a story that four gravesites marked by unlettered fieldstone contain the remains of Indians.
The cost of the stone building was $1,306.20 ½ with most labor provided by members.
A new church should have a new name. Two family surnames were prominent in the church – Troxells and Firors. During the construction, arguments and a few fights erupted concerning this matter of a name. Eventually, the strongest member from each family was selected to settle the dispute. For a few years, the church was known as Troxells Church in the records, but soon reverted back to its original name of Apples’.
Due to population shift and the change of jobs, the Lutherans decided to build their own church in nearby Mechanicstown – now Thurmont in 1857.
The Reformed congregation followed in 1880. A few members remained at Apple’s, but no formal services were held until 1885. That summer, the minister from Trinity in Thurmont agreed to conduct services every other Sunday, a practice followed until 1980 when services were held every Sunday.
In 1912, the church was extensively remodeled. Due to lack of funds and to the dismay of some members and especially to the present congregation, the galleries and the high pulpit were removed and the stone walls lowered about eight feet.
In 1965, the Christian Education building was completed, once again by using the labor of the members. Another major renovation to the interior of the church was completed in March 1980, making the structure more energy efficient and giving it a more colonial appearance.
In 2017, Apples UCC purchased a small piece of land along Apples Church Road which contains a “Spring House” that is historically known for its fresh water that was used for the church. A future project will be to refurbish this structure that will contribute to a historical understanding of how our ancestors both used and maintained the church and the cemetery.