The Old Union Church, Long Valley

MarkBNJ

Piney
Jun 17, 2007
1,875
70
Long Valley, NJ
www.markbetz.net
Permit me to divert your attention northward for a brief moment. The old Union Church sits crumbling into ruin in a bend of Fairview Avenue, a stone's throw from Schooley's Mountain Rd., in Long Valley. Built in 1774, it replaced an earlier structure that legend (and some historical references) suggest was made of logs.



Certainly there are burials in the adjacent churchyard that predate the given date of construction, and in fact extant references tell us that religious services were held on the site as early as 1743.



This building hasn't held up as well as some others of similar age in the area, and I think it may have been subject to a fire, which wouldn't be surprising given that there was an open pit in the center of the floor for a fire.



The details of the wall construction are interesting, as are the many burials in the churchyard, which is maintained by the local historical society. The German Reformed Lutherans who populated the valley beginning in 1707 have long since been diluted by waves of Irish and Italian immigrants, and the area is now a suburban commuter town for the most part, yet the church remains a place of reverence for the descendants of those inhabitants.



Leonhard Nachbar was born in 1698, and emmigrated to what was then German Valley with his wife in 1748. Note the smaller stones in the foreground with just initials and a date. I believe these were the orignal stones, and that they were latter supplemented with fancier ones when descendants could afford them.



Leonhard was layed to rest here in 1766. He passed on the family homestead, on a large piece of the former Logan Tract just west of town, to his second son Leanard because he was able to pay the most. He didn't pass on his name: Nachbar became Neighbour, and in some places Naper, or Nabers, and the family branched out across the midwest. The manor house still stands on West Mill Road.



While most of the stones are in english, three or four remain that are incribed in flowing german script. If I am puzzling out the German correctly, this stone marks the resting place of the wife of a man named Haas, who was buried in 1796.



John Thomas, laid to rest in 1820, may have composed his own epitaph:

My friends who live to mourn and weep,
And see the grave wherein I sleep,
Prepare for death before you die,
And lay in tomb'd as well as I



Anne Thomas, wife of Matthias, buried in 1793. "There is now therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus."



There are many broken stones in the yard, as well as half-buried fragments, sockets, and pedestals. These three have seemingly rested against this wall for a long time.



Sophia Neighbour, a descendant of Leonhard Nachbar, and sufficiently proud of that lineage that she retained her maiden name when she went to her reward.



The two graves in the foreground of this shot are interesting. Conrad Rorich lies to the left, buried in 1790. His is the only other standing intact stone inscribed in German. To his right lies Anne Rearik, buried in 1799. Rearik may be an anglicized spelling of Rorich.



Detail of Conrad Rorich's stone, set up in 1790. If anyone knows enough German to have a shot at that inscription, it would be interesting to know what it says.



Leanard was Leonhard Nachbar's second son. He was the one who was able to pay the most, and so ended up with the family farm. He also anglicized the family name.



Leanard was one of those who first received a simple stone bearing only his initials and the year of his death.



Loesa Neighbour, wife of Leanard, died the year following the death of her husband, as is related in histories of the family written by their descendants.



Another stone propped up against a wall. I didn't bother trying to make out who it was, as the light was growing long.



Lest there be any doubt that Lambert had two wives. I was not able to find the first. Perhaps she ran off to Ohio.



The local area still has plenty of folks carrying the name Welsh, Welch, or Welsch. The gentleman for whom this striking stone was placed made it to the ripe old age of 85.



Others did not live as long.



Judy Tufford, wife of Matthias, died in 1798.

"for a day In thy Courts is better than A thousand: I had rather be A doorkeeper in the house of my god then to dwell in the tents of wickedness:"
 

MarkBNJ

Piney
Jun 17, 2007
1,875
70
Long Valley, NJ
www.markbetz.net
I'm not exactly sure, Enoch. It was described as being "in an antiquated condition" by Barber and Howe in 1846. A wooden Lutheran church erected in 1832 stands across Schooley Mountain Rd. from the old Union Church, which I presume was built to replace it.
 

Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
23,939
5,971
Those stone for the most part seem to have held up well. An interesting place!

Guy
 
Oct 25, 2006
1,757
1
71
The cemetery reminds me including the surroundings somewhat of the cemetery at Topanemus above Freehold.

Jim
 

MarkBNJ

Piney
Jun 17, 2007
1,875
70
Long Valley, NJ
www.markbetz.net
Those stone for the most part seem to have held up well. An interesting place!

Guy

It's interesting how differently they have fared across the space. Some of the stones are granite, or gneiss, not sure which, one or two might be marble, and the majority are iron-bearing sandstone. I took some pics of one stone, dating to 1835 (Margaret, widow of Matthias, Flock, the family for whom Flocktown was named) which has its entire face separated and just hanging on by a few small areas. Another couple of good storms or a freeze and it will be gone. Or maybe it will last longer than I think, but it seems to be in very fragile shape.

Here's a shot:

 

TrailOtter

Explorer
Nov 24, 2007
101
0
Interesting post! Thanks :)

Mark, I took a closer look at the German etched stone. It appears the name is Arnold Kleehaus (it's etched Klee=haus); the word "gebornen" is also kinda squished in the one corner - born 12 April 1721. It is carved in fraktur writing. It's interesting to note his date of death is noted as 29 Hornung 1796. "Hornung" is Old German for February. Psalm 34 verse 23 is written at the bottom of the stone.

Again, interesting post! Looks like a neat place to see.
 

MarkBNJ

Piney
Jun 17, 2007
1,875
70
Long Valley, NJ
www.markbetz.net
Ah, Kleehaus, that makes some sense. Right before Arnold is "der Leib des", so I'm still thinking it was his wife. Do you think that's right? I learned a tiny bit of German on two or three visits to Munich, and promptly forgot it all.
 

Enoch

Scout
Apr 15, 2007
41
1
Camden County, NJ
I'm not exactly sure, Enoch. It was described as being "in an antiquated condition" by Barber and Howe in 1846. A wooden Lutheran church erected in 1832 stands across Schooley Mountain Rd. from the old Union Church, which I presume was built to replace it.

It's been quite a long time then. Imagine attending church week after week across the street from that hulking ruin. I guess it must have been too difficult to repair or maintain after the fire that initially damaged it.
 

TrailOtter

Explorer
Nov 24, 2007
101
0
Ah, Kleehaus, that makes some sense. Right before Arnold is "der Leib des", so I'm still thinking it was his wife. Do you think that's right? I learned a tiny bit of German on two or three visits to Munich, and promptly forgot it all.

My German's a little rusty (took it in high school). I think it says "Here rests nicely" - it's inscribed "Hier ruhet der Lieb des Arnold Kleehaus...". I'm looking at the other stone which begins "Here rests in God Conrad Rorich, born 1723, died 16 April 1790, aged 67 years and 9 months..." The rest of the inscription is a bible verse....not sure which one.
 
Mark:

Very, very nice posting. Back in the mid-1990s, Toll Brothers began building a townhouse development called Patriot Mews near Pluckemin on top of a prominence known locally as Pig or Schley Mountain. In the course of blasting bedrock to lay in the utilities and construct foundations, a dispersed collection of faunal material began appearing on the surface and all work stopped. They called in the New Jersey State Police, who called in a forensic anthropologist, who declared the bone material human. To make a long story short, the firm I worked for at that time received the contract to conduct salvage archaeology at the site and ultimately recovered the remains of over 70 men, women, and children. My research revealed a portion of the construction project sat on top of an early eighteenth century Lutheran churchyard and cemetery known as Raritan-in-the-Hills. The congregation there consisted of rude, superstitious scratch-dirt farmers who established their church building, village, and graveyard as squatters on land they did not own. The church and cemetery functioned at this location between 1713 and 1765, with the last burial occurring there in the latter-named year. This congregation experienced great difficulty with all other people they encountered, whether it was other congregations or with their own pastors. Muhlenberg took great pity on the people for what they went through, particularly with one pastor named Wolf, and Muhlenberg served as their shepherd and, later, pastor beginning in the late 1740s. Finally, the congregation abandoned their mountaintop location and moved into Pluckemin, where they built a new edifice. The old log church fell in on itself and the presence of the cemetery passed into the fog of history until Toll Brothers rediscovered it. Articles about this site have appeared in several professional archaeological journals and I am hoping that the largest and most complete article will appear either this year or next in the Society for Historic Archaeology journal.

In any case, during the course of my exhaustive research on all things Lutheran in the Raritan River Valley, I found that the first Lutheran church—a log building—appeared in German Valley during 1749 proximate to where the stone ruins now stand. When I have time, I will dig out my notes and provide you with some additional information.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

MarkBNJ

Piney
Jun 17, 2007
1,875
70
Long Valley, NJ
www.markbetz.net
Thanks, Jerseyman. I'd love to see whatever you have. My information also indicates that the first church was built on the same site, and of wood, and I have seen references indicating the construction was of logs. A number of sources state that the first group of Reformed Lutherans arrived in the valley in 1707, and most repeat the tale that their arrival was an accident of weather (a ship bound for NY blown into Delaware Bay, etc.) although I don't know whether this is true, and I'm not sure anyone else does either. What they did for services between 1707 and 1749 I don't know, but there is a record of some sort of religious occasion in 1713. I'll have to go back and look it up again to refresh my memory.
 
Thanks, Jerseyman. I'd love to see whatever you have. My information also indicates that the first church was built on the same site, and of wood, and I have seen references indicating the construction was of logs. A number of sources state that the first group of Reformed Lutherans arrived in the valley in 1707, and most repeat the tale that their arrival was an accident of weather (a ship bound for NY blown into Delaware Bay, etc.) although I don't know whether this is true, and I'm not sure anyone else does either. What they did for services between 1707 and 1749 I don't know, but there is a record of some sort of religious occasion in 1713. I'll have to go back and look it up again to refresh my memory.

Mark:

There are two theories on how the early German Lutherans arrived in the Raritan River Valley: one is the shipwreck idea and the other stems from factional infighting, causing a splinter group to walk away from the New York Germans and travel south. I think the latter is the more plausible of the two. Initial worship services occurred in homes, including that of Ari d'Guinee, most likely a former Dutch slave that now lived in the Raritan hills as a free Black. The 1713 date you mention represents the beginning of the Raritan-in-the-Hills congregation that I researched. While I would enjoy continuing this thread, I suspect Ben would prefer we return to discussing the Pines here. So, I will PM you and we can continue this discussion away from the forums. I have my history file ready to send to you.

Best regards,
Jerseyman

P.S. One correction to my previous posting made from memory. The last burial at the Raritan-in-the-Hills cemetery occurred in 1755, not 1765.
 
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