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Gateway to the Mountains

George Wireman

Chapter 10: Weller's United Brethren Church

While conferences of United Brethren were held as early as 1789, it was in the First General Conference held in the home of Peter Kemp, near Frederick, in the year 1800, that the name United Brethren in Christ was adopted. The General Conference of 1815 adopted a discipline, and re-elected Bishops, which office had been created in the First General Conference in 1800.

Since that time the U. B. Church has spread throughout the country and has planted missions in Africa, China, Japan, Philippines and Puerto Rico. Since 1800 United Brethrenism has reached around the world.

The Wright Brothers, inventors of the airplane, were sons of Bishop Wright, of the U. B. Church, and they were also members of the church.

Weller's Church

The world famous melody, Darling Nellie Grey, was written by a U. B. boy, Ben Hanby, while a student at Otterbein College.

Francis Scott Key learned the rudiments of music in a U. B. Sunday School taught by a U. B. teacher of Keysville, Maryland.

Bishop Otterbein assisted at the ordination of Francis Asbury, first M. E. Bishop in America, December 27, 1784.

The U. B. Church is the first in our country to be known as an "American Born Church."

These and many other facts of the church in general are of some importance to the members of the U. B. Church.

The church has been often called, "The Bulwark of Civilization," and there is hardly a person living today who will dispute this fact. Weller's Church of Mechanicstown has been just such a bulwark. From the pulpit of Weller's Church the gospel of Jesus Christ has been proclaimed to the community for over one hundred and thirty-eight years. During this time the church has grown from a mere handful to over three hundred and twenty-five members. History alone cannot tell of the many sacrifices made down through the years by those who have been prompted by the love of God to give their all to Him in service.

The history and development of Weller's Church is closely related to the history and development of Mechanicstown. The church takes its name from the Weller family who were the original settlers. The Wellers had three sons, Jacob, Joseph and John. Jacob Weller also had a son named Jacob and it was Jacob Weller, Jr., who was the moving spirit in the erection of the Thurmont church. He donated the ground for the church and cemetery and was the first person to be buried in this holy place. In signing the preamble of the original church constitution in 1830, the letters "B.S." were written after his name. The abbreviation stood for "Black Smith."

The corner-stone of Weller's Church was laid in October 1830 and the building was dedicated on December 11, 1831. It is certain that the organization dates back several years before this time. The likelihood is that services were held in the Weller home on West Main Street. Several historians have recorded that prior to the erection of the church, services were held in private homes and in a school house. Weller's Church was the first church to be built within the community and it has the unique distinction of being one of the oldest in the denomination.

Below appears a copy of the original preamble of the church constitution and the five persons who signed it were the original trustees of the church.

"Whereas, we whose names are underwritten, do think and believe it our duty to our God, our posterity, and our fellow citizens, to build and establish a house of worship in Mechanics-town, Maryland, for the use and purpose of the United Brethren in Christ, and also guaranteeing privileges to ministers of other persuasions whose piety and purity of doctrine shall commend them to the trustees, if there be no appointment previous to the application. Likewise there will be the privilege of burying at the meeting house for all subscribers and successors. Moreover, this meeting house shall forthwith be known by the appelation of "Weller's Church" in the name of God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Praying that the Lord may here record his name, and consecrate this building unto himself, sanctifying the worshippers here and elsewhere unto Himself, in time and eternity, through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

Jacob Weller, B.S.
George Stokes
Henry Kemp
Frederick Rider
Jacob Martin

Dr. C. I. B. Brane, states in his history of the church that the Weller brothers had been converted under the preaching of Otterbein and his co-laborers. This was sometime between 1760 and 1765, when Otterbein was pastor in Frederick. We are rather certain that from this time on there were services held under the leadership of the Wellers who "could pray and preach the gospel and win souls as well as they could make matches, axes, mill-stones, and augurs."

The original church, erected in October 1830, is the same building that is being used today, having been enlarged and improved several times.

The first improvement or renovation was around 1880 during the pastorate of the Reverend J. D. Freed. These were general improvements to the entire structure, the amount and extent of which is not known. The Board of Trustees at this time were J. W. Baltzell, Washington H. Ward, Jacob Wastler and Henry L. Moster.

It was in 1915, during the pastorate of Dr. Paul E. Holdcraft, that an addition to the church was added. The church was extended twenty feet to the front and a tower added to one side. The front of the church was changed, having but a single entrance by way of the vestibule in the tower. Memorial windows were added and general improvements made throughout the building. The cost of these renovations was around $4,000, and the architect was C. I. Creeger. The building committee consisted of the trustees and the following additional members: Rev. W. L. Martin, J. W. Mack-ley, Frank Albaugh, W. O. Wertenbaker, E. F. Stottlemyer, J. J. Shindledecker, W. H. Cover, Frank Eyler, Henry Hetterly, J. W. Kelbaugh, Harry Hetterly, Ross Eigenbrode and others.

In 1929 during the pastorate of Rev. Harry E. Krone, the basement was excavated and this provided additional space for the rapidly growing Sunday School. The committee in charge of this improvement, which also included a kitchen was: Rev. H. E. Krone, E. F. Stottlemyer, Harry Hetterly, William H. Cover, J. W. Mackley, J. J. Shindledecker, Frank Kelbaugh, John W. Kelbaugh, John Creeger, William Ridenour, Roy G. Frushour, Ross Eigenbrode and Robert Watson.

In 1943 the church underwent a few more changes which included the altar, divided chancel and furnishings at a total cost of $2,200.

By 1955 the Sunday School was again in need of additional facilities and plans were drawn up for an educational building which would provide more class room space. Also included in the plans were a modern kitchen and the remodeling of the sanctuary.

Two years later in 1957, the educational building was completed and dedicated in February of that year. Rev. Elmer R. Andrews, pastor of the church reminded the members of the congregation that it was not the erecting of great structures that insured the future of the church, but the presence of God's spirit. It is an established fact that the members of Weller's Church have been blessed with His spirit and that because of their devotion to their church and to God, the work of the church has indeed moved forward.

In 1965, a beautiful white spiral was erected on top of the tower and at night is flooded with light. Located at the top of Altamont Avenue, overlooking the community, this spiral can be

seen for miles around and is a constant reminder that Weller's Church is proud of its rich heritage and has served the community well for over one hundred and thirty-eight years.

Pastors who have served Weller's Church since 1831 include the


  • 1831-1832 John Miller and George Geeting, Jr.
  • 1832-1833 W. R. Rhinehart and H. Burtner, John Dorcas and Peter Wetzel
  • 1833-1834 John Dorcas and W. R. Coursey
  • 1834-1835 John Dorcas and Jacob Bachtell
  • 1835-1836 John Kroch and W. R. Coursey
  • 1836-1837 W. Knott and J. Tobey
  • 1837-1839 G. B. Rimel
  • 1839-1840 George Gilbert and G. A. Shuey
  • 1840-1841 J. J. Glossbrenner and G. A. Shuey
  • 1841-1842 J. J. Glossbrenner
  • 1842-1843 J. Bachtel and J. Markwood
  • 1843-1845 D. S. Spessard
  • 1845-1846 J. Ruebush and J. Gibbons
  • 1846-1847 G. B. Rimel
  • 1847-1848 G. B. Rimel and J. W. Fulkerson
  • 1848-1849 W. R. Coursey and G. W. Statton
  • 1849-1850 W. R. Coursey
  • 1850-1851 H. B. Winton and W. T. Lower
  • 1851-1852 G. W. Statton and L. W. Matthews
  • 1852-1853 G. W. Statton and W. T. Lower
  • 1853-1854 J. Bachtel and John F. Station
  • 1854-1855 J. Ruebush and J. Philips 1855-1857 W. T. Lower
  • 1857-1858 I. K. Statton and H. Tallhelm
  • 1858-1859 I. K. Statton and Samuel Evers
  • 1859-1860 L. W. Matthews and W. A. Jackson
  • 1860-1861 L. W. Matthews and T. Bushong
  • 1861-1862 Isaiah Baltzell and T. Bushong
  • 1862-1865 W. T. Lower and J. W. Grimm
  • 1865-1866 C. T. Stearn and J. W. Grimm
  • 1866-1867 C. T. Stearn and J. D. Freed
  • 1867-1868 J. D. Freed and J. Delpha
  • 1868-1869 J. W. Kiracofe and J. W. Grimm
  • 1869-1870 H. Tallhelm and J. E. Hott
  • 1870-1872 J. K. Nelson
  • 1872-1873 J. B. Funk
  • 1873-1874 C. M. Hott
  • 1874-1876 C. I. B. Brane
  • 1876-1877 E. P. Funk
  • 1877-1881 J. D. Freed
  • 1881-1882  S. K. Wine
  • 1882-1884 W. R. Berry
  • 1884-1886 W. L. Martin
  • 1886-1891 G. J. Roudebush
  • 1891-1893 A. N. Horn
  • 1893-1895 W. L. Martin
  • 1895-1898 E. C. B. Castle
  • 1898-1901 W. E. Dougherty
  • 1901-1902 W. L. Martin
  • 1902-1903 E. H. Free
  • 1903-1905 C. T. Jones
  • 1905-1909 G. I. Rider
  • 1909-1911 C. M. Sparrow
  • 1911-1912 W. J. Marks
  • 1912-1916 P. E. Holdcraft
  • 1916-1918 G. E. Smith
  • 1918-1920 F. B. Emenheiser
  • 1920-1924 J. I. Green
  • 1924-1928 W. F. Kohler
  • 1928-1937 H. E. Krone
  • 1937-1954 I. G. Naugle
  • 1954-1968 E. R. Andrews
  • 1968-Raymond Kingsborough

Chapter Index | Chapter 11: Thurmont Methodist Church

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