Thanks to Ron Jolly and the St. James Preservation Team, they have shared two very important pieces of history, one is a 40 page history of the church from 1848 to the closing in 2012. This includes much of the information below, but I have decided to leave Ms. Gompf's information on the site as well. They have also been kind enough to provide us with the Book A Translation of earliest record in 1850. Please use the links below to access this wonderful and informative update. Our sincere thanks to Mr. Jolly and his team.
BALTIMORE COUNTY (ROCKDALE), MARYLAND
Source: Minnie E. Gompf; Centennial History of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod in Maryland 1820-1920, Wentz
Information written in 1972 by Minnie E. Gompf provided much of the information contained herein. The beginning of the church was the result of a group of German immigrants who came to American in the 1840s. They desired to have a church of their own.
Prior to this time the German settlers in Catonsville worshiped at St. Timothy’s Episcopal. Father Carl Frederick Heyer encouraged the Germans to build their own church. They built Old Salem Evangelical Lutheran. This church became closely associated with St. James and it is felt that many of the congregation worshiped at one time in Catonsville.
It was also Father Heyer that persuaded the Germans in the Randallstown-Rockdale area to form their own congregation. A building was erected on Old Court Road near Liberty Road and a section of ‘George’s Park”. Synod notes reveal that the church was vacant and it was reported in 1850, ‘A congregation which appears to have been recently organized on Liberty Road in Baltimore County’. They wish to have it dedicated to the service of God. They also requested a supply pastor. Further along in the report, it states, “In regard to the church on Liberty Road, resolved that said church be received into this Synod as soon as they comply with the requisitions of the constitution; that Brothers Kurtz, Anstadt and Brandau be a committee to investigate the differences existing there and attempt to bring about an amicable reunion with their late pastor.
In the 1851 minutes of the Synod, it was stated that Dr. John Morris and Rev. Anstadt on June 9th dedicated a new German Church which was being served by Rev. Mr. Brockman. The church at that time was called St. Jacobi, later St. James.
As seen elsewhere on this website, it was customary at the time to merge or blend two congregations, normally the Lutherans and the German Reformed, both being small bodies but similar in beliefs. The combined or ‘union’ congregations could then afford/support a church building. Ms. Gompf in her review states that in both copies of the church’s original constitution, the term ‘reform’ has been crossed out. This may be one of the difficulties during early discussions with the Synod.
The church has two books in their possession, both written in old German script. One ‘Church Book’ is of the German Evangelical St. Peter’s Congregation on the Liberty Road near Randallstown, which began in January 1850. This book does contain a constitution signed by 38 members. It contains a list of communicants, members and the towns in Germany where they emigrated from, as well as baptisms, burials and confirmations. The second book called ‘Protocoll Buch der Deutschen Luth. Jacobi Gemeinde an der Lyberty Road bei Randalstown B. Co. Md., angelegt im Jahr 1852”. This book includes the same constitution. Both books give the name of C.A. Brockmann as Minister and Secretary. The latter book records payment of dues. The St. Peters book was translated for Ms. Gompf by Pastor Frederick Weiser, Archivist, Gettysburg Luth. Seminary. It is not understood why there were two books with the same information with two different names.
Some important items contained in the constitution at this time, was the fact that it stated, “As long as 3 members of the congregation demand it, there shall be services in the German language”. It also stated that “The congregation shall elect from its membership five honorable, outstanding deacons, who, together with the preacher, form the church council and at the same time have the right and duty of trustees”. The constitution also laid out the pricing for the cemetery plots. “Whoever does sign as a member and pays the necessary fees, has all the rights of our church and his place for burial on our parish cemetery”. At the time, “Prices for places in the cemetery for non-members are: for each person over 16 years must be paid $2, over 10 years-$1.50, under 10 years one dollar.”
It is unknown the construction of the initial church, however, most at that time were log construction. The first minister of record was Charles A. Brockman. He served St. Jacobi and Old Salem Lutheran, as well as a church at Powhaten Whiteground (now Woodlawn). When Mr. Brockmann was proposed as a candidate for license, it was noted that he was not afforded a learned education and worked mostly on his personal piety, his acquaintance with God’s Word, the fundamental doctrines of Christian theology and church discipline. A committee was appointed to work with Mr. Brockmann for one year. On January 1, 1850, Mr. Brockman was installed at Old Salem and licensed in the German language to perform all ministerial acts under the restrictions of the constitution for the space of one year. Of course he did a wonderful job and it is noted that in 1850 he had five congregations. He was retained as the minister/pastor for St. Jacobi.
The bylaws stated that anyone signing the church book is obliged to give alms of $2.00 per year for the salary of the preacher. The Protocoll Buch shows the following in 1850 noted as trustees, Christoph Rosalieb, Heinrich Reiblich, Georg Schussler and Simon Zorback. Their first financial statement shows $89.46 collected.
A cute story in Ms. Gumpf’s article tells about the time after the pastors received the collection plate, the minister looked down and saw a dollar bill in the collection plate…this was a rarity and the minister in his broken English exclaimed, “Ach, some von a mishtake macht!”.
Charles Brockmann’s life took some rough turns. He lost his twenty five year old wife, Caroline in May of 1854 and also lost two sons, Charles in March 1853, at the age of 3 and Frederick in June 1854 at the age of 2 months. During these difficult times, his moods changed and he lost the support of much of his congregation. He left and went to St. John’s in Erie and left the ministry entirely in 1860.[i]
A notation in the meeting records of Salem indicate that in 1863 it was resolved that the parish on Liberty Road would unite with Salem and all agreed. So once again, the St. Jacobi congregation worshiped at Salem.
Pastor George Ebeling accepted the call to the Catonsville charge in 1854. He served the congregation and in 1866, the Rev. Gerhard Rademacher was called and became the pastor of St. Jacobi’s and also Trinity Lutheran near Westminster. It was Rev. Rademacher that removed his congregation from the Maryland Synod and took them to the Missouri Synod, his reason being the Maryland Synod practiced false doctrine or ‘falsh glaubige’. It is believed he went to New York in 1869. Most of the congregation didn’t understand the different synods.
It was about this time that Rev. Ebeling took the reins again at the Rockdale church. He preached for the last time here on October 23, 1887. He and his wife are buried in Salem Church cemetery in Catonsville.
Rev. Conrad B. Gohdes became the minister in 1889. He also served St. Johns in Sweet Air and St. Paul’s at Chestnut Ridge. Prior to his service here, he served the Mt. Winans and Curtis Bay congregations. He went on in life to be a founder of several churches and a professor at Capital University.
Rev. Gohdes was followed by Rev. J.W. Kuntz. It was he that began keeping written records, including minutes, of the church. Rev. Kuntz was ordained to the ministry in the old church on Old Court Road on July 12, 1891, and installed as pastor on the same date. At that time, there were five Sunday School teachers and 45 students. Pastor Kuntz also organized the People’s Society in 1892. The society became dormant in 1894, but was reorganized in 1897. The last meeting of the People’s Society was held in July, 1900.
The congregation felt that they needed a new church and on Palm Sunday in 1892, it was resolved to erect a new house of worship. The site was at this time moved to Liberty Road. The cornerstone was laid on June 19th. The new church was dedicated on October 9, 1892. Rev. Kuntz preached his farewell sermon on May 28, 1893. The new church was frame construction. It was initially heated by a pot belly wood burning stove, light was furnished by kerosene and the sacristy was at the back of the church. The church received a new organ in 1898 because a bill shows the price at $125.00
Rev. C.A.F. Hufnagel was ordained at St. Peter’s in Baltimore and called to St. James and installed as their pastor on June 11, 1893. In 1894 an English constitution was signed by the Church Council. It is odd that there is no further mention of St. Jacobi’s church. The church hired their first sexton at this time and sermons alternated between English and German (normally German in the morning and English in the afternoon). There was a special ‘Jubilation’ service on June 16, 1895, celebrating the frescoeing of the church. The service was done by Rev. John Hoerr and was done in English and German. Rev. Hufnagel died on August 9, 1897 of typhoid fever. He is buried in Green Mount Cemetery.
Rev. G.A. Hoppe was installed as pastor on September 12, 1897. The 50th Anniversary was held on May 9, 1899 and the German service was held in the morning and the English service in the afternoon. Pastor Hoppe preached his last sermon on September 10, 1900. He was followed by Rev. E.J. Duerr on June 30, 1901. He served only briefly until May 18, 1902 when J.C. Einfalt was installed as pastor. He resigned on May 28, 1905 and on May 28, 1905, Rev. O.C. Mees was installed.
It was around this time that the wood stoves were replaced with a hot air furnace and other updates were done and the church was rededicated on October 16, 1907.
Rev. Mees resigned in 1908 and in May of that year, the Rev. I. Wegner was installed as pastor, only remaining one year. He was followed by Rev. W. Euchler. Rev. Euchler served until April 1, 1910. On June 19, 1910, the Rev. J.H.W. Hoerr was installed. It was also at this time and during a congregational meeting that one Philip Lentz made a proposition to the congregation. He proposed that he and his sister Lizzie Lentz would buy the property adjoining the church (owned by Dettmer) and would donate the property to the church the house could be used as a parsonage. The ground deed was turned over to the church by Philip and Lizzie Lentz on March 30, 1911.
Some German services were still held in 1918, but Rev. Hoerr was the last pastor to preach in German.
The following young men served in WWI in France: Henry J. Kittel, James Murphy, J. Frederick Pahl and Wm. S. Marriott. James Murphy was killed in action on October 15, 1918.
Rev. Hoerr accepted a call to St. Michael’s in Perry Hall in 1919 and preached his last sermon at St. James on April 27, 1919.
Rev. Wm. Tober was installed on August 24, 1919. He was well education. During his service the church purchased an automobile for his use.
In April 1921, the church voted to buy the corner lot on S.W. Liberty and Rolling Roads. The cost of the property was $2,000. Here they would build the stone church with a basement for the Sunday School. A building committee was appointed on January 6, 1921 (Committee: Liebno, Marriott, Dettmer, Gompf, Lentz, Tober). A notice in the Sunpaper indicated their intent (March 10, 1923)
Old Church to be closed
Last Services held in Rockdale Lutheran Edifice. The last service was held a 2:30 o’clock yesterday afternoon in the old St. James Lutheran Church at Rockdale, Balto. Co. The sermon was preached by Rev. H.J. Eberly. The congregation has erected a new stone church building at the corner of the Rolling and Liberty Roads. It will be occupied on next Sunday. Services will at first be held in the basement pending the installation of a new pipe organ.
The new church was dedicated on May 6, 1923. A seventy fifth anniversary service was held on May 3, 1925, Rev. Walter E. Schutte and Rev. J.H. Hoerr preaching.
Rev. J. Adrian Pfieffer was installed on June 1, 1930. He was followed by Rev. Arthur O. Combs who served longer than any other pastor. He was installed in November 1934 and served until his retirement in September 1958. He was succeeded by Pastor Wm. A. Miller and then the Rev. Edward F. Yost.
· Mr. Charles Brockmann
· Rev. George W. Ebeling, PhD (1860-1875)
· Rev. Gerhard Rademacher
· Rev. G.W. Ebeling (1889-1901)
· Rev. Conrad Gohdes
· Rev. J.W. Kuntz (1891
· Rev. C.A.F. Hufnagel
· Rev. G.A.H. Hoppe (service 1897-1900)
· Rev. E.J. Duerr (1901-1902)
· Rev. J.C. Einfalt
· O.C. Mees
· Rev. I. Wegner
· Rev. W. Euchler
· Rev. J.H.W. Hoerr (1910-1919)
· Rev. Wm. Tober
· Rev. J. Adrian Pfieffer
· Rev. Arthur O. Combs (1934-1958)
· Rev. Wm. A. Miller (1958-1966)
· Rev. Edward F. Yost (1966-
See also Maryland State Archives
[i] Burgess, History of the Pittsburgh Synod, 1904, p. 470