A Brief History of the Church and Grave Yard

Zion Lutherans’ first communion was held in 1803 and the congregation formally organized in 1804.  In the early years after 1804, the congregation had no church building of its own.  Worship was held in the homes of the members.  The Reverend John Herbst, pastor of the Cumberland County Charge, served the congregation at that time.

Later on, the old Lantz School house was used, and then the Observatory School House that was situated on the grounds.

In 1834, the first church building was erected on property purchased from Jacob Kuntz for $15.  The church, known as the Old Brick Church, lasted until 1927 when it was replaced by the current structure.  The Old Church was torn down in 1932.

Zion Luthern Brick Church .jpg

The Congregation did not have a pastor of its own until 1906.  Until that time, it was served by pastors that covered many congregations.  It was during this year that Zion Lutheran withdrew from the West Fairview Charge.

The Reverend W. A. Wolgemuth resigned the pastorate of the West Fairview Charge and was called by Zion Lutheran as its first pastor.  He served until 1910 and resided at 147 Summit Street, which was the first parsonage.

The current parsonage was built on the North East corner of the cemetery grounds in 1914.

The first recorded purchase for a grave yard was on March 24, 1818.  Jacob Kuntz sold a tenth of an acre to John Erford and Jacob Bowman, trustees of the Observatory School House, for $12.  Other properties were later purchased from Daniel Seiler, Charles Zimmerman, and Emmuel Hoopy.

The first burial is believed to have taken place on December 1, 1811, which indicates a burial ground was present before the first recorded purchase.  Today, there are over 4,500 individuals interred in the cemetery.


Common Tombstone Symbols

Anchor:  hope, or ‘at rest’, used by the early Christians

Angel:  the agent of God; also the guardian of the dead

Butterfly:  freedom

Circle:  eternity; incorporated into the Celtic cross

Column:  the broken or draped column signifies mortality, the support of life has been broken

Cross & Crown:  symbolize the reward of the faithful Christian after death

Crossed Swords:  inverted, signifies killed in battle

Daisy:  innocence

Dove:  the Holy Spirit; peace; a soul ascending to Heaven

Fern:  sorrow, grief

Gates Opening:  a soul entering Heaven

Hands:  when clasped are a symbol of farewell or meeting in eternity

IHS:  are the first three letters in the Greek spelling of Jesus; in english, the IHS stands for ‘In His Service’

Iris:  eloquence, protection

Ivy:  as an evergreen it symbolizes immortality

Lamb:  innocence; often used on a child’s grave

Lily:  symbol of the Resurrection; purity

Oak:  strength

Obelisk:  eternal life; from the Egyptian sun-worshiping symbol

Palm:  victory, eternal peace

Rose:  sinless; also beauty, love, and wisdom

Skull:  symbol of mortality

Thistle:  independence (popular symbol for people of Scottish descent)

Torch:  upturned, symbolizes life extinguished

Tree:  life; immortality; a broken tree trunk means the same as a broken column

Urn:  draped, symbolizes death; derived from classical times

Willow:  grief and mourning

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