Graffiti, Lithographs Point To A Proud Church History
The year was 1830, and the “Sabbath School” had been newly formed at the town’s German Reformed Church.
Years later, in 1837, Thaddeus Stevens had just opened his blast furnace along the Conocheague Creek in the village of Caledonia, east of Chambersburg. That same year, as townspeople stabled their wagons and horses behind their nearby homes on South Main Street, someone took a moment to pen their name and the date in the bell-tower entry at Zion.
The younger members of Zion have done the same many times since in writings legible from 1855, 1866 and also the present day.
Zion’s bell tower has long stood watch over the town. After a steep climb up the staircase rising through the hand-hewn timbers, residents watched during the Civil War for the first sight of Rebel invasion.
It has always offered a unique and breath-taking panoramic view of downtown Chambersburg.
Take a walk through the Burial Grounds at Zion and you will find a cemetery full of the history and character of the town. Names such as Stouffer, Nitterhouse, Lutz, and several other epitaphs in the native German language of Zion’s founders.
Many tombstones hearken back to early 1800, with several prominent townspeople interred here as their “final resting place,” including graves of veterans – many who served their country as early as the Revolutionary War.
In the spring and fall months, this walkway to the church blossoms with the colors of the seasons.
Although its use as a cemetery has declined over the years, this plot of ‘sacred ground’ allows Zion to remain connected to its historic past.
We also view it as our commitment to maintain and preserve its heritage, for the generations of those who peacefully rest here.
This view from Zion’s bell-tower was captured in a rare lithographed illustration produced in 1877 by William Denslow, (soon afterwards the famous illustrator of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz), depicting the layout of the streets of Chambersburg, and their juncture at the town Square.
Only two known copies of this rare lithograph reportedly exist today, one proudly owned by a Zion member.
Help Preserve Pennsylvania Church History of the 1800s:
Become A Friend of Zion Reformed Church!
Time, weather and preservation costs all take their toll on helping preserve this area’s local history
and the artifacts and relics of our heritage — not just here at Zion, but in each one of our local communities. At Zion, we are committed to maintaining our heritage for the enjoyment
and education of future generations.
If YOU would like to help us preserve the history and traditions of Zion Reformed Church,
please forward your donation via mail to:
The Improvement Fund
Zion Reformed Church
259 South Main Street
Chambersburg, PA 17201
Please indicate if you require a receipt for tax deduction purposes for your charitable donation!