Salem Union Salem Lutheran Bakersville

Salem Lutheran Bakersville 1920

Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church 1920 and today (2016)

Source: Centennial History of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod in Maryland 1820-1920, Wentz; History of Western Maryland, Scharf; Deed information: Land Records of Washington County Book T page 825, provided by Joe Davis.

At the close of the eighteenth century the need for a house of worship was strongly felt in the region now known as Bakersville. There were only a few families and they were of different faiths, but the majority Methodists, German Reformed and Lutherans. They realized there were not enough of them to have a church of each faith, so they decided upon a 'Union' church.

They came together, and at a point in the edge of a clearing, they built a log church around 1800.

George Garrick (Garey) (Carey) deeded land for the “Union Meeting house and burying ground” on February 1, 1810 to the trustees of the Meeting house (Michael Stonebraker, Ralph Armstrong, Samuel Avery, Jacob Middlekauff, Christian Middlekauff, and Jonas Hogmire). The group was incorporated in the November session of 1802 and they entered into a verbal agreement with George on the 6th of June 1805 that George would deed the land only after the building was complete. The deed states that “the house was now built and in complete order". Both deeds state that the building was built for the 'promotion of the Christian religion and the Gospel of Jesus Christ'. Source: Washington County Deeds Book T page 825 and Book W page 1)

George had moved into the area in 1773 and owned 286 acres at the intersection which would become Bakersville. George died in May 8, 1813 and was one of the first to be buried in the “burying ground”. Incidentally, at the time the deed was recorded the crossroads was not Bakersville but was known as Carey’s Cross roads.

Later, in 1823 finding this house too small, they tore it down and replaced it with a very large stone structure, that was also used as a school house. Among the early contributors were Peter Palmer, Henry Poffenberger. Martin Newman, John Brantner. John Knode. Henry Zook. William Reynolds, Joseph Roberts, Henry and Jacob Dovenberger. Watkins James, and Otho Baker.

These three congregations worshiped in this house for a quarter of a century, when the Methodists either died out, or merged with the Lutherans and Reformed. These two congregations grew very rapidly, and finally, in 1853, they mutually and willingly agreed to separate, the Reformed people moving two miles west and building for themselves a church at Mount Moriah.

With the withdrawal of the Reformed and their erection of their new church, the Lutherans decided to build their own new church, but first they had to get land separate from the union cemetery land. To accomplish this, they went back to the Reynolds to add more land. On the 6th of October 1854, the Church council paid one dollar for about 3/4 of an acre of land (29 square perches). Members of the council were Elias Baker, Christian Palmer, Andrew Hogmire, William Davis, Josiah Baker, Elias Eakle, and Otho Baker. Otho and Josiah were sons of Elias. The council evidently made a leap of faith because the booklet made on their 175th anniversary of the church states that the cornerstone was laid in March of 1854. The Lutherans built a new meeting house known as Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church. The constitution of the church was voted on July 15, 1854 and placed in the charter records three days later. To remain as a member required that every member must appear regularly on the list of communicates and pay annually as they are able . Source: Book IN 10 page 69).

The Hagerstown newspaper of August 1, 1855 announced that there would be a Church Consecration at the Bakersville Lutheran Church and that the public was invited.

After the construction of their new church, an annual parade, concert and picnic was held in late August or early September. The bands would gather at the intersection and parade to the church. At the church various groups would sing for around two hours and then all would gather in a wooded picnic grove.

This building was remodeled in 1888 at a cost of one thousand dollars and with a seating capacity of three hundred.

The first Lutherans were Germans and therefore conducted the services in German.

The English ministers of whom we have record were:

  • Rev. George Diehl, from 1840 to 1852

  • Rev. Unruh 1852-1854

  • Rev. Marts. 1854-1857

  • Rev. Lunger 1857-1804

  • Rev. Wiles 1864-1868

  • Rev. Fair 1868-1872

  • Rev. Levi Keller 1872-1882

  • Rev. Lentz 1882-1885

  • Rev. Ellis II. Jones 1885-1892

  • Rev. J. W. Lingle 1892-1896

  • Rev. A. A. Kerlin, 1896-1902

  • Rev. M. S. Sharp, 1905-1907

  • Rev. W. L. Remsberg 1908- -

Mrs. Alice Reynolds, who died in 1912, bequeathed the church $3,000. Just before her death she had donated an additional acre of ground to the cemetery. Miss Savilla Welty, who died in 1916, bequeathed the church $500. Out of these bequests the congregation in 1913 purchased new pews and a new carpet costing $1,200. We made two visits to photograph the cemetery, click here.

In 1918 a pipe organ and a new lighting system were installed at a cost of $1,976. For thirty-two years Mr. Cornelius Snively was been treasurer of the church.

The communicant membership in 1920 was one hundred thirty. The Sunday school of which Mr. J. H. Brill was superintendent numbers one hundred twenty-seven. The Women's Missionary Society had a membership of twenty-one; the Young People's Missionary Society nineteen, the Mission Band twenty-nine and the Christian Endeavor thirty.

Note: If you would like to contribute further information on the church history, please send it to

Church Location:

Salem Evangelical Church's Address:

17626 Bakersville Rd

Bakersville, MD 21713

Phone: (301) 432-2155

The Union Charter

Information contributed by Joe Davis

The original Union Church charter is in the Washington County Charter records. From this information, the following was learned.

In October 1809, Rev. Jonathan Forrest gave public notice that there would be a community meeting on Sunday the 26 th of November 1809 where subscribers and supporters of the Union Church were to meet to elect seven trustees for the church. Rev. Forrest was a Methodist circuit rider preacher whose circuit included Frederick and Washington county.

It is not surprising that the Methodists took the lead in the organization of a new church. The Methodists were more aggressive in spreading their religion.

The following seven men were elected -Michael Stonebraker, Ralph Armstrong, Samuel Avey, Michael Avey, Jonas Hogmire, Christian Middlekauff, and Jacob Middlecauff.

1. The German Reformed Church was represented by Michael Stonebraker and the Middlekauff brothers- Christian and Jacob. In the 1760s, their father John Middlekauff had been one of the trustees who had purchased land in Sharpsburg for the building of the German Reformed Church there.

2. The Avey brothers, Samuel and Michael are believed to have represented the Methodist interests.

3. The Lutheran trustees are believed to have been Jonas Hogmire and Ralph Armstrong. Jonas was one of the area’s religious leaders and often had large “campground” religious revivals on his farm. These revivals were popular events and thousands attended.

The next day, the seven trustees met and among the regulations were the following.

1) No preacher has the liberty to ridicule any other sect or denomination.

2) No partiality would be shown to any sect.

3) When a circuit rider desires to preach, he should send word to the neighborhood as to the date.

4) Disputes as to dates would be settled by the trustees.

5) If any person should misbehave or demean himself in any unusual manner not becoming shall be expelled.

6) No one can be elected as a trustee who is not a member, and no one was exempt from their vices as related by Saint Paul in Galatians Chapter 5. Chapter 5 was concerned with the sins of the flesh- and they included adultery, fornication, idolatry, uncleanness, lasciviousness, witchcraft, wrath, hatred, variance, emulations, strife, sedition, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkedness, and revellings.

7) To remove a trustee required a 2/3 vote.

8) To transact any business required a ten-day notice and the trustees were required to hold an annual meeting to relate any transactions.

Source: Washington County Charter Record Book 1 page 39

The Union church changed their charter on the 19 th of March 1835. Each congregation was to provide three persons which would form a nine-person Board of Trustees. Each congregation was to keep a separate treasury and would share equally in any repairs that the Board would deem necessary.

Laws of Maryland Made and Passed at a Session of Assembly- 1835