A Brief history of Welty Church of the Brethren, Smithsburg Md
The first structure was built in 1836 on land purchased by John Welty (1780‐ 1844), a former Mennonitewho lived nearby. It was a simple stone building, with the interior divided into two rooms by foldingdoors. One part was used as a community subscription school and the other part as a meeting houseshared by three denominations (Winbrenerians, Brethren in Christ, and German Baptist Brethren).In 1838 a separate brick building was built on the property for the school. Around this time John Weltyand his wife were baptized into the German Baptist Brethren congregation, which was part of theAntietam Congregation (organized 1752) of Waynesboro Pa. also known as Price’s Church. He deededthe property to the “society of old brethren” another name for the German Baptist Brethren church – tothem forever after his death.
In 1878 the school had to be rebuilt. In time a county school was built at another location and by 1930
the school house was no longer needed. It was dismantled and the bricks sold to a nearby farmer. The structure he built with them is still standing.
In 1896 the Antietam Congregation became concerned about “doing things the legal way”, and in 1900 the Welty Church of Washington County was incorporated by Maryland law. It wasn’t until 1934 that the Welty Church became an independent congregation from Antietam Congregation. In 1954, with an amendment of the charter, the name became Welty Church of the Brethren.
1898 a corner of the stone meeting house gave way. Using the stones from the original building as a foundation, a larger brick building was constructed. This building still stands. It was remodeled in 1944‐49 and an educational wing addition completed in 1967.
Disagreements within the German Baptist Brethren developed nationally and in 1881‐83 the denomination split into 3 branches, eventually known as Old German Baptist Brethren, Church of the Brethren, and Grace Brethren. The Welty congregation was also divided. Those who followed the “Old Order” as Old German Baptist met for some time in the school building but in 1928 built a separate meeting house across the road. Those who remained using the original meeting house became Church of the Brethren. In the 1950s the German Baptist no longer needed their building and it was bought and moved across the road to join John Welty’s original meeting house.
It is believed that John Welty was the first adult buried in the cemetery. The stone wall bordering the cemetery was built in 1921‐22 of native sandstone.
The German Baptist Brethren, as the name indicates, are of German heritage. Services were conducted only in German until 1830 to 1875 when both German and English were used. After 1875 English was the language of the church and by 1900 only a few could converse in German.
Pastors of Welty Brethren
Our sincere thanks to Joyce Rivera Stevenson for the information above.
There is also a Welty Cemetery behind the church. Click here for transcriptions and a photo album of the ‘Memorial Stones’. If you have any additional information and you wish to share, send it to GermanMarylanders@gmail.com.
13465 Greensburg Rd
Smithsburg, Maryland 21783