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.
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
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
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
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