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 in 1776. Nevertheless, he was welcomed as a schoolteacher and preacher in the Apples 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 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 $1,306.20-1/2 with most labor provided by members.
A new church should have a new name. Two family surnames were prominent in the church- Troxell and Firor. 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 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 Apples, 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 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.
Adjacent to the church is the cemetery, well maintained since 1926. It contains the graves of many of the early settlers and a great number of the stones are inscribed in German. The earliest birth date is 1696. Many Revolutionary and Civil War veterans are interred here and the graves marked by the Daughters of the American Revolution. As you walk among these stones, it may become apparent to you the great number of children who did not survive to adulthood. This makes you appreciate the advancements our nation has made in medical science.
Numerous interments occurred until the 1870’s, after which the cemetery became overgrown with underbrush and the stones deteriorated. In 1926, in preparation for the centennial of the stone church, the cemetery was restored and beautified and a trust fund set aside for its perpetual care.
1757 – Apples Church was called Central Monocacy Hundred according to Rev. John George Young in a letter written to Rev. D. Helmuch a Lutheran clergy and written in German in the archives of the Lutheran Historical Society of Mt. Airy, Philadelphia and appears translated into English in The Lutheran of April 19, 1894 (Apples was a Union church – Lutheran and German Reformed). The church was consecrated by Rev. Wilbohm, Lutheran and Rev. Henry, Reformed of Frederick Maryland. This agrees with the date in record of April 5, 1770 when the church was organized and dedicated and when Rev. Henop was pastor of the Evangelical Reformed Church, Frederick Maryland. (Recorded in The History of Emmitsburg by Helman, p.23.
Dates and History
1820 – Rev Wilhelm Ruchel, the charge included Emmitsburg, Taneytown, Haughs, Apples, Gettsburg, and Marchs six (6) congregations 359 comunicates.
1821 – Vacant: Emmitsburg, Apples, Cregerstown, Heburgs – four(4) congregations
1835 – Vacant – Glade, Woodsboro, Creagerstown, Rockey Hill, Apples five(5) congregations
1837 – Rev. Elias Heiner – Emmitsburg, Apples, Creagerstown, Millertown, Herbach’s four(4) congregations
1850 – Rev. Mortimer L. Shuford
1857 – Rev. Jesse Steiner
1858 – May 2 to August 29 – Rev. E. E Hubhes (Apples records into English)
1859 – Apples, Sabillasville, Creagerstown, Jacobs(?) – four(4) congregations
1859 – Name changed to Mechanicstown charge.
1859 to 1866 – Rev. Henry I Comfort
1867 – Rev. Nicholas E. Gilds
1868 – Apples voted 17 to 12 to start a new church in Thurmont (Trinity) Rev. Henry Wissler – Close vote so no action taken (One group wanted to stay at Apples – other group wanted to build at Graceham. Classis gave minority permission to build a church at Graceham.
1885 – Rev. A. B Stone – minority continued at Apples, while rest built the church at Thurmont.
1888 – Rev. George A. Whitmore
1894 – Name changed to Thurmont Charge
1900 – Apples asked to be separated from the charge (Trinity) “chiefly because the pastor had seased to hold services at Apples on account of an arrangement of salary. When the congregation promised to pay the amount due, they were assured that regular services would be resumed.”
1901 – Apples requests to be removed from the Thurmont Charge. Request refused.
1905 – Rev. George A. Whitmer resigns.
1906 – Rev. Guy A. Bready
1909 – Rev. Guy A. Bready resigns.
1909 – Rev. John W. Reineche
1910 – Rev. John W. Reineche resigns. Apples asks to be on a separate charge but is refused.
1910 to 1912 – Apples vacant – supplied by Rev. J. B. Shontz
1913 – Rev. Peter E. Heimer. Apples again asks to be removed from charge. Denied.
1926 – Apples Centennial Celebration. 150 years of building.
1929 – Rev. Heimer resigns.
1929 to 1931 – Apples vacant.
1931 – Rev. Edwin D. Bright
William Groff July 14, 1946 through October 24, 1948
Grant Harriety Supply November 7, 1948
Richard Johnson Supply November 21, 1948
Edward Tallis Supply December 5, 1948
Elden Spangler Supply December 19, 1948
Edward Taylor Supply January 2, 1949
Richard Goodling Supply January 16, 1949
Elden Spangler Supply January 30, 1949
Richard Goodling Supply February 13, 1949
John Settlemyer Supply February 27, 1949
Francis Ringer From Middle Class March 3, 1949
Grant Harriety Student March 27, 1949
Donald Englast Communion Service April 13, 1949
John Settlemyer Student April 24, 1949
Edward Taylor Student May 8, 1949
Edward Taylor Student May 22, 1949
Edward Taylor Supply June 1, 1949 through May 31, 1950
Edward Taylor Pastor June 1, 1950 through July 31, 1955
Rev Hamme Supply July 10, 1955
Walter Rice Lay Leader September 4, 1955
Nevin Smith Supply June 1, 1967 through December 3, 1967
William Barnhart Supply September 18, 1955
William Barnhart Supply February 19, 1956
Samuel Moyer Pastor March 1, 1956 through February 29, 1962
Richard Ruof Pastor August 1, 1962 through June 1967
George Halteman Pastor January 1, 1968 through August 24, 1974
Elvert Miller Pastor April 1, 1975 through October 26, 1980
Thurmont Charge (Apples, Trinity, Rocky Ridge dissolved in 1980)
Jurgen Hilke Pastor January 1981 through March 13, 1983
Martha Cook Pastor April 17, 1983 through October 15, 1984
Janice Wyatt Supply October 1984 through January 1985
Janice Wyatt Supply Minister February 1, 1985 through November 20, 1988
Jorris Beckman Supply December 1, 1988
Herbert Mardis Supply January 1, 1989 through March 1989
Greg Wright Supply March through April 1989
Greg Wright Pastor May 1, 1989 through July 25, 1993
David Denham Supply November 1, 1993 through February 13, 1994
Resigned March 12, 2000
Dr. James Fisher & Jan Ports Supply
Jan Ports Pastor June 10, 2001
Resigned November 11, 2013
Laura Robeson Co-Pastor with Jan Ports November 13, 2011
Resigned April 8, 2021
Beth Firme Pastor August 23, 2021