A Hagenbuch Church
We know that our early Hagenbuch ancestors were of the Lutheran persuasion. In fact, our immigrant forefather Andreas Hagenbuch (b. 1711) was versed in the Lutheran pietism of Johann Arndt, as evidenced by his possession of Arndt’s book, True Christianity. This leads us to speculate that Andreas may have been more in favor of a personal relationship with God instead of a congregational one. Further evidence of the strong Lutheranism embodied in the Hagenbuchs of the 18th and early 19th centuries is their memberships in several Lutheran congregations.
Andreas and his family were some of the earliest members of New Bethel Union Church founded in 1761 and located just down the road from the homestead in Berks County. Furthermore, Andreas’s son Christian (b. 1747) was an early member of Zion Stone Lutheran church at Kreidersville, PA which was organized in 1770. And a grandson of Andreas, John (b. 1776), gave the land where St. John’s Lutheran Church of Howertown, PA was built – that congregation beginning in 1833.
Hidlay Lutheran Church, founded in 1796 near Bloomsburg, PA, was attended in the early 1800s by the families of Andreas Hagenbuch’s son John (b. 1763) and two grandsons, Henry (b. 1772) and Andrew (b. 1785). Another Lutheran church, St. John’s Delaware Run (the River Church) founded in 1816 and located near Dewart, PA, was attended in its early years by the families of two of John’s (b. 1763) sons: Johann Conrad Hagenbuch (b.1790) and Charles Hagenbuch (b. 1811).
For this article and a future one, the featured Hagenbuch church is Trinity Oak Grove Lutheran church located near Pottsgrove, PA. This was the church that was attended by the descendants of William Hagenbuch (b. 1807) who moved to that area in 1853 from the Bloomsburg area, where he had previously attended Hidlay Church.
Trinity Oak Grove Lutheran Church was founded in 1869, and the cornerstone for the building was laid on June 5th of that year. William Hagenbuch and his growing family were the earliest members of the congregation. The services were held one Sunday in English and the next Sunday in German. Although the church had 100 confirmed members in 1878, there were financial problems as the congregation struggled to meet the costs of upkeep on the church building and to purchase an organ. In fact, it is noted that a Lutheran congregation in Berks County gave a contribution to aid Oak Grove. This church was most likely New Bethel Union – the earliest church that the Hagenbuch family attended in America.
In 1900 a wooden vestibule was erected over a central doorway into the church. This replaced two doors that had been used previously (left door for women, right door for men). It is noted that around this time part of the congregation broke away and built a smaller church across the road from the original Oak Grove building. Little is known about this break away group other than they may have broken away because they wanted the services to be held exclusively in German. The congregation did not last long and that building no longer exists.
In 1952 a redevelopment program was started. A lower level was dug out to form a large basement where Sunday School classes could be held and a kitchen was installed. The church interior was completely rebuilt with new pews, new altar, pulpit, and lectern. Furthermore, new altar cloths, offering plates, bibles, and hymn boards were donated by the members of the congregation – many of them Hagenbuchs. The total cost of renovating the church and updating the furnishings amounted to a little over $9000.
From July 27-30, 1952 a re-dedication service was held at the church with several services and guest pastors. A special poem was written and published in the Re-dedication Bulletin. It was composed by Hannah “Sechler” Hagenbuch, wife of Clarence Hagenbuch (b. 1889). Clarence was the grandson of William Hagenbuch (b. 1808).
Our Church stands by a winding road
Among the sheltering trees,
The Church yard slumbers by its side
In Spring times gentle breeze.
And when the days have longer grown
And hot the sun o’er head
We congregate within its walls
To hear the Scripture read.
Or in the Autumn’s purple haze
On Sabbath days we come
With offerings from home and field
To hold our Harvest home.
And when the wintry winds prevail
And fields are white with snow
We come to worship the Christ child
Born in a manger low.
And now to rededicate our Church
To the glory of God on high;
And as we worship each Sabbath
May He be always nigh.
To keep us ever close to Him
With words of wisdom and love,
So that we may reach the haven
Of the Heavenly Land above.
Mrs. Hannah Hagenbuch
On November 7, 1969 Trinity Oak Grove Lutheran Church celebrated its 100th anniversary. On that day, the congregation was reminded of the church’s history from the listings in the anniversary bulletin. Seven of the ten Church Council members and Committee chairs were part of the Hagenbuch family. After the 1952 renovations, the church continued to grow and improve. In 1958, the church purchased the adjacent one room school house where Vacation Bible School was held. In 1963 an electronic organ was purchased to replace the reed organ and in 1967 the basement was enlarged to house a new heat plant and additional teaching space. Also, modern bathrooms and another addition were added to modernize the building even more.
Even with all these changes and additions, the church’s main building, interior, and grounds hold many fond memories for those Hagenbuchs and related families who were raised in the church. They can know that their ancestors, William Hagenbuch, his wife Rebecca “Muffley” Hagenbuch, their sons Hiram (b. 1847) and Joseph (b. 1852), and so many of their sons and daughters who are buried in the church yard were the Lutheran folks who kept the Hagenbuch name alive through seven attending generations.
A future article will detail some of the interesting memories from this Hagenbuch church.