Category Archives: Northampton County Carver

Hecktown Cemetery (The Dryland Yard)

dryland
A prominent story in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s Globe Times newspaper on Monday, August 19, 1974 carried one photograph of a bulldozer in a venerable local cemetery, with the following headline and text:
dryland03
Tombstones Bulldozed
Tombstones are being bulldozed in a section of the former Dryland Church Cemetery in Hecktown, where a living memorial will be erected in the future.
Harold Fabian, head of the Dryland Graveyard Assn., said that the site, dating back to the 1750s, will be marked by a central monument with a standard placed nearby listing the names of those buried on the grounds.
The graveyard, over a period of time, will be regraded and seeded so as to be “presentable to the rest of the community,” Fabian explained. No graves will be touched, he added.
The Rev. Robert Herman, pastor of the Hecktown Trinity Lutheran Church, commenting on the work being done, said: “The wind gets terrific up there, blowing over the brittle stones and breaking them. A lawnmower couldn’t get through there.”
It is estimated that approximately 50 tons of topsoil will be needed to complete the work.
Fabian stressed that “considerable time will be required before the changeover is completed.” Repairs attempted in the early 1960s were not successful, the Rev. Mr. Herman said earlier.
It was also pointed out that further attempts at repair work would have involved “tremendous costs” that could not be underwritten.
Further research in local newspapers revealed that the bulldozing was the culmination of a series of meetings to discern what to do with headstones in the churchyard that had served this rural Northampton County farming community’s Lutheran and German Reformed congregations since the 1750s. (Dryland Church was a “union church” in which two often-overlapping Lutheran and German Reformed congregations worshipped on alternate Sundays. A small number of such churches are still active. The congregational union at Dryland was dissolved in March of 1965 and there are now separate churches: Dryland United Church of Christ as successor to the Reformed congregation, and Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA) as successor to the previous Lutheran Church in America congregation.)

In 1899, John Eyerman recorded the epitaphs at Dryland for persons who were born before 1780, noting:

The Dryland Church-Yard is situated at Hecktown in Lower Nazareth township, eight miles W. of Easton. It w as laid out between the years 1760 and 1770. The present Church, a well-built structure adjoining the yard, was erected in the year 1842. The entire property is well-kept. Unfortunately, the inscriptions on some of the older stones have become quite illegible; this is particularly noticeable on the Potsdam sand-stone.—John Eyerman, The Old Grave-Yards of Northampton and Adjacent Counties in the State of Pennsylvania (Easton: Oakhurst House private press), pp. 14-20.

By the early 1970s, enough concern about the condition of the stones had arisen to occasion a piece in the local newspaper of record:
Hecktown Union Graveyard Feeling Effects of Years
The years are beginning to take their toll at the old Union Graveyard in Hecktown.
Headstones and markers “have become dangerous and have fallen into disrepair,” but a move to change it all is being made by the Dryland Graveyard Association, Inc.
A meeting has been called for 6 p.m. Aug. 23 when members of the association have invited interested parties to hear the plans and voice any objections they may have.
“We are interested in getting the graveyard to look the way it should,” William Day, secretary of the association, explained.
“It’s falling apart. What we are trying to do is to beautify the environment.”
“In the one section,” he added, “there are only six flower pots,”—an indication of the number of descendants still around.
More than 1,000 men, women, and children were buried in the nearly five-acre plot behind Trinity Church between 1740 and the 1950s.
There are veterans of the Revolutionary War, the Spanish-American War, the War of 1812, Civil War, World War I … and there are Indians.
Opening of the graveyard predates the organization of the union arrangement between Trinity Lutheran Church and Dryland Evangelical and Reformed Church in 1763.
The Rev. Robert L. Herman, Lutheran pastor, reported that as far back as 1763, however, anyone who paid a nickel a week to the church ($2.60 a year) was entitled to a free grave.
In the early years, Day noted, burials were not confined to any specific row. But from the 1910 period on, they were. “They were really buried all over the place,” he said.
According to the history of the cemetery, if a wife or husband died before he was 45, the survivor could not reserve a space next to the dead spouse. After the age of 45, though, an area was reserved.
Rev. Herman pointed to “an interesting feature about the children’s section, which is closest to the church.”
“There were certain times when four and five children of the same family were buried side by side. They all died in a period of two to five weeks. Apparently an epidemic ran right through the family.”
He said that the marble in the tombstones has been deteriorating over the years.
The proposed plan would involve removal of the headstones, markers and other structures, leveling the ground and replacing all headstones and markers.
(The Morning Call, August 6, 1971)
At the time of this article, one portion of the cemetery looked like this:
hecktown.jpg
Several weeks later, The Morning Call continued its coverage of the deliberations about the cemetery in a repetitive article:
Project Is Unopposed To Restore Graveyard
The Dryland Graveyard Association, Inc., met no opposition to its plans to restore the old Union Cemetery in Hecktown.
Fix of six board members held a two-hour public session has required by law to air proposals on the removal of dangerous conditions at the 231-year-old graveyard.
William Day, association secretary, said the lack of opposition paves the way for restoration, which, it is estimated, will takeover two years.
The problems of the cemetery stem from two major sources—the soft marble formerly used for memorials and the wood and slate used as an overcover for coffins after they were buried.
A representative of the Bath Memorial Co. said soft marble was used for grave markers in the past because stone cutting tools lacked the hard edges of modern tools. The soft marble, over the years, has deteriorated and many markers threaten to fall, thus creating a hazard to visitors, he said.
Granite is now used for memorials because tools have been developed to cut it easily.
The second problem is the deteriorating wood and slate overcovers used to protect coffins underground. These covers have in some instances fallen in, causing depressions in the earth.
Now concrete overcovers are used which eliminate the sinking of the ground.
The restoration proposal involves removing the headstones, markers and other structures, leveling the ground and replacing all headstones.
The association will finance the work from the interest that has accrued to estates willed to the association, Day said.
More than 1,000 men, women, and children were buried in the five-acre site behind Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church between 1740 and the 1950s.
There are veterans of the Revolutionary War, the Spanish-American War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War I and some Indians.
The graveyard was opened before the union of Trinity Church and Dryland Evangelical and Reformed Church in 1763.
The two churches maintained the graveyard after their union until 1962 when the union was dissolved. At that time, each church voted to elect three representatives each year to an independent graveyard association.
As far back as 1763, anyone who paid a nickel a week to the church ($2.60 a year) was entitled to a free grave. None of the ground in the perpetual care cemetery is owned by families.
The Morning Call, August 24, 1971, page 13.
I discovered this remarkable—and to my mind unfortunate—story in 2002 during the course of genealogical research using tombstone inscriptions as primary sources. Beginning in 2002, I corresponded with a family friend, the Reverend Richard Druckenbrod (1930-2003) about the possible fate of the stones. (Pastor Druckenbrod had conducted the funerals of my great-grandparents and several other relatives and friends in eastern Pennsylvania over the course of several decades; he knew the local community well, having served as a minister to the Dryland congregation in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and having worked subsequently as president of the Pennsylvania German Society.) He informed me in a letter in 2002 that the stones had all been dumped in a local quarry after they were bulldozed in 1974. He said that there might be a possibility of recovering them if I were able to ascertain in what quarry the stones had been dumped, even at a remove of almost 30 years; his sense was that water may have offered better opportunities for stone preservation than local air would have in view of car exhaust and industrial pollution.
During personal visits in 2003 and 2004, however, I gleaned conflicting information from cemetery caretakers about the fate of the stones: one said that all of the gravestones had been bulldozed into the ground beneath the current landscaped space, and covered over with dirt; another repeated the story that they had been dumped in a local, unnamed quarry. In a subsequent phone conversation with clergy at the church, I was told that the stones had been turned into gravel.
During the 1940s, Eleanor Martin Barba (1893-1966) and Preston Albert Barba (1883-1971) included the Dryland Hecktown stones in their significant Pennsylvania German Tombstones: A Study in Folk Art (Allentown: Schlechter’s for the Pennsylvania German Folklore Society, 1954). The following drawings by Mrs. Barba are the only known depictions of the destroyed gravestones.
Untitled
Stone for Nicklaus Broder (1706-1776)
Barba and Barba: “The illustration shows the reverse side of Nicklaus Broder’s tombstone. Its architectural lines show the influence of the baroque Georgian style of the period. Traditional themes are shown in more ornate forms. A modified six-point compass star adorns the head of the stone; quarter-suns radiate from the corners of the panel; from a rather clumsy urn emerges a tree of life in asymmetric form with pendent tulip and bursting fruit.” (p. 112)

Untitled 2

Barba and Barba: “The reverse side of Nicholaus Schael’s tombstone. The entire panel is taken up with a boldly executed seven-branched tree of life growing out of an urn containing the water of life. Note again the drooping lower branches—stirb und werde!” (p. 114)


Untitled 3

Stone for Christian Nauman (18 January 1704—28 February 1773)

Barba and Barba: “The illustration shows the reverse side of this interesting tombstone on which traditional motifs are curiously united with unusual insignia. The designer delighted in varying the forms of the sun symbols, both at the foot of the stone and in the lobes of the heart. Out of the heart, typical in form of German peasant art, grows a tree of life culminating in a large blossom, containing within its cup compass, square and broadax. But why? Could these be Masonic emblems? Fortunately we later learned that Christian Nauman was the carpenter of the first church edifice and builder of the wall that enclosed the churchyard.” (p. 128)


Untitled 4

Stone for Simon Koenig (28 April 1795—6 April 1796)

Barba and Barba: “Two radiating suns and a central four-point star are the only adornments on the stone of this infant.”


Untitled 5

Stone for Elisabeth Huber (born 1809).

Barba and Barba: “The only adornment is the familiar heart form of German peasant art, with the tri-branch or dreispross growing from it.” (p. 166)


Untitled 6

Stone for Sara Kufer (16 October 1797—1801).

Barba and Barba: “Little Sara’s tombstone is adorned with two sun-wheels enclosing eight-point stars and surmounted by a heart.” (p. 68)


Untitled 7

Stone for Sara Hertzel (19 June 1771—19 July 1791).

Barba and Barba: “The crowned and winged cherub’s head, still slightly reminiscent of the death’s head, is common property of ecclesiastical art. Confrontal birds, usually doves, are a stock design both in religious and secular folk art. They are seen frequently on illuminated birth and baptismal certificates, as well as on household utensils.” (p. 64)


The stones and several hundred others with them were replaced in 1974 with the following name-board:
name board.jpg

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Christ Lutheran, Hellertown: Elisabeth Laubach (1780)

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Name: Laubach, Elisabeth, 6 September 1780—6 October 1781
Stone date: 1780
Text:

ELISABeT
LAUBACHeN
IST • GeBOHreN
IM • IAHr • CHrISTI 1780
D • 6 • OCT
UND • GeSTOrBeN
A • 1781 • DeN 1 • NOFe
MPer
Ihr • ALTer • WAHr
I • IA • UND • I • M

Photographed July 13, 2019 by Richard Mammana
Old Christ Lutheran Church Cemetery
Lower Saucon, Hellertown, Northampton, Pennsylvania
40.600237, -75.320902

This stone for an infant bears a reverse date of 1780, and an obverse/epitaph death-date of 1781. Her grandparents Johannes Christian Laubach (1699-1768) and Susana Catharina Zimmler Laubach (1705-1770) have nearby stones likely commissioned at the same time. The decorated side has been obliterated by a modern resetting; the reverse was sketched by Eleanor Barba between c. 1939 and 1954:

import (1)

Drawing from Preston Barba, Pennsylvania German Tombstones: A Study in Folk Art. Allentown: Schlechter’s for the Pennsylvania German Folklore Society, 1954, p. 93, with the following description:

At the head of the stone a quatrefoil sunburst for which this stone-cutter seems to have had a preference. The upper half of the panel is adorned with a five-branched tree of life, free in treatment and again with drooping lower branches. Especially interesting are the spirals below an architectural detail in the lower half of the panel. Such spirals are common in the folk art of the Nordic races and are symbolical of the sun’s journey from the winter solstice (when the earth is in aphelion) up to the summer solstice (perihelion) and its descending course in the second half of the year.

 

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Christ Lutheran, Hellertown: Christian Laubach (1780)

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Name: Laubach, Johannes Christian, 1699-29 November 1768
Stone date: 1780
Text:

CHrIST
IAN • LAUBACH
IST • GeBOHreN
IM • IAHr • CHrISTI
1699
UND • GeSTOrBeN
IM • IAHr • CHrISTI
1768 • D 29 • NOF
SeIN • ALTer • WA
Hr 69 • I •

Photographed July 13, 2019 by Richard Mammana
Old Christ Lutheran Church Cemetery
Lower Saucon, Hellertown, Northampton, Pennsylvania
40.600237, -75.320902

Like the stone for Laubach’s wife Susana Catharina, the decorated reverse of this stone by the Northampton County Carver has been obliterated in a 1961 resetting that preserved only the epitaph on the obverse. (The Laubachs arrived in Philadelphia on 16 September 1738.) The stone was originally erected twelve years after the death of the decedent. The reverse was sketched by Eleanor Barba between c. 1939 and 1954:

laubach (1).jpg

Drawing from Preston Barba, Pennsylvania German Tombstones: A Study in Folk Art. Allentown: Schlechter’s for the Pennsylvania German Folklore Society, 1954, p. 91, with the following description:

The stonecutter must have been proud of his work, placing the epitaph on the back of the stone as of secondary importance.

Within a baroque architectural framework are the traditional folk motifs: at the head a six-point compass star formed by six interlacing circles; within the panel radiating quarter-suns; a tree of life growing out of an urn bears diverse flower. The lower branches of drooping tulips denote the passing generation—stirb und werde!—the timeless death-to-life motif.

This article from the Morning Call on June 5, 1961 is an account of a service at the dedication of the memorial incorporating the front of the stones:

laub

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Christ Lutheran, Hellertown: Susana Laubach (1780)

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Name: Laubach (née Zimmer), Susana Catarina, 1705-12 March 1770
Stone date: 1780; see also her husband’s stone
Text:

SUSANA
CATArINA
LAUBACHeN
IST • GeBOHreN
A • 1705
UND • GeSTOr
BeN • 1770 • DeN
12 • MerTZ
Ihr • ALTer • WAr
63 • IAr

Photographed July 13, 2019 by Richard Mammana
Old Christ Lutheran Church Cemetery
Lower Saucon, Hellertown, Northampton, Pennsylvania
40.600237, -75.320902

The decorated reverse of this stone by the Northampton County Carver has been obliterated in a 1961 resetting by the Laubach Family Association that preserved the epitaph on the obverse. The stone was originally erected a decade after the death of the decedent; the birth and death dates do not result in the age in years given by the cutter. The reverse was sketched by Eleanor Barba between c. 1939 and 1954:

laubach (1)

Drawing from Preston Barba, Pennsylvania German Tombstones: A Study in Folk Art. Allentown: Schlechter’s for the Pennsylvania German Folklore Society, 1954, p. 87, with the following description:

The old cemetery of Christ Union Church, Lower Saucon Township, Northampton County, contains a number of 18th century tombstones unsurpassed for beauty of design. The large dates on the ornamented sides of the tombstones apparently denote time of erection and not date of death. Note the discrepancies. These tombstones no doubt were cut in the same workshop. All were created in the 70s and 80s of the 18th century.

The tombstone of a pioneer mother of the Laubach family was only erected 10 years after her death. The head of the stone is adorned with a quatrefoil sunburst. In the four corners of the panel are radiating quarter-suns. From an urn grows a tree of life, beautifully balanced and bearing a variety of flowers. Realism is not an objective in Pennsylvania German folk art.

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Bibliography of Pennsylvania German Tombstones

1899
John Eyerman, The Old Grave-Yards of Northampton and Adjacent Counties in the State of Pennsylvania. Easton: Oakhurst House (private press).

1954
Preston Barba, Pennsylvania German Tombstones: A Study in Folk Art. Allentown: Schlechter’s for the Pennsylvania German Folklore Society, 1954.

1956
Preston A. Barba “Symbols and Stones.” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 23, no. 2: pp. 241-47. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27769646.

1975
Frank E. McDonald, “Pennsylvania German Tombstone Art of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania” in Pennsylvania Folklife, Autumn, Vol. XXV, No. 1, pp. 2-19.

1990
William N. Richardson, “The Pennsylvania German Tombstones of Isaac Faust Stiehly (1800-1869),” Proceedings of the Northumberland County Historical Society, Vol. XXX. Also issued separately.

2000
Claire Messimer, Known by the Work of His Hands. (Kutztown: Pennsylvania German Society annual volume.

2004
Richard J. Mammana, Jr., “Interview With Sandra Hardy, Founder of Pennsylvania German Tombstones Online,” Der Reggeboge 38, no. 2, pp. 27-30.

2011
Bernard L. Herman, “On Being German in British America: Gravestones and the Inscription of Identity.” Winterthur Portfolio 45, no. 2/3: 195-208. doi:10.1086/660910.
2016
Alexander Lawrence Ames, “Quill and Graver Bound: Frakturschrift Calligraphy, Devotional Manuscripts, and Penmanship Instruction in German Pennsylvania, 1755–1855,” Winterthur Portfolio 50, no. 1 (Spring): pp. 1-83. doi:10.1086/687271

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Straw Church Cemetery

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Name: Henitz, Peter, 1718-21 February 1777
Stone date: 1779
Text:

ALHIer
RUHeT • IN • GOTT
PeTer • HenrTZ • IST
GeBOHren A • 1718
IM • FreYeN •  GrUND
IN • Der • GrAFSCHET
HAGeNBUrG • IN
TeUTHLAND • IST
GeSTOrBeN • DeN
21 • FeBr.
1777 • IST • AL
SO • SeINeS
ALTerS
59 • JAr

Photographed July 12, 2019 by Richard Mammana
St. James Lutheran Straw Church Cemetery
Stewartsville, Warren, New Jersey
40°40’48.4″N 75°08’42.0″W

The only stone by the Northampton County Carver outside of Pennsylvania is in the Straw Church Cemetery. It was erected two years after the death of the person mentioned in the epitaph.

“Other early markers survive in the St. James Lutheran Cemetery in Warren County, including the wonderfully ornamented gravemarker of Peter Henitz. Peter’s stone has his biographical information on one face and a wonderful relief image of tulips in a vase on the reverse. The marker is probably the work of a Northampton County, Pennsylvania carver.”—Richard F. Veit and Mark Nonestied, New Jersey Cemeteries and Tombstones: History in the Landscape (Rutgers University Press, 2008), p. 65.

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Northampton County Carver

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Three stones by or closely related to the Northampton County Carver at Christ Lutheran Church Cemetery, Hellertown, Lower Saucon, Northampton, Pennsylvania.

@northamptoncountycarver

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