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(Salem Lutheran Church, Killinger, Pa.)

P.O. Box 240
Port Royal, PA 17082-0240
(Revised 1995)

The early founder and donor of the land for the present Salem Lutheran Church, Killinger, Pa., was Johann Adam Wirth (1727-1806) who married Eva Elizabeth Schnug Wirth (1730-1800) in 1755, and settled in Upper Paxton Township about 1765. Johann Adam was born in Berod, Westerwald Region of Germany; and he came to America on the Ship Two Brothers, arriving in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1753. Birth and baptism records for Johann Adam Wirth can be found in the Parish records at Hochstenbach. He came to Lykens Valley from the Lebanon area, and on several occasions traveled to Lykens Valley to, clear land as early as 1760. During this period, villages of Indians lived along the Susquehanna River, the Shawnee, Tutelo, Delaware, Susquehanna or Conestoga, and Tuscarora tribes. Shikellamy, an Oneida Indian was the viceroy of the Six Nations and ruled as their; representative in the Susquehanna Valley. He was a Christian and made a lot of treaties with the white settlers. Shikellamy died in Sunbury in 1784. As a result of Indian uprisings, Johann Adam Wirth was frequently driven off his land in Lykens Valley, and during these times from 1760-1769, he would return to his home in Lebanon. Prior to 1765, the French and Indian Wars made it very risky or unsafe for many people to live in Lykens Valley. Johann Adam's land, over 800 acres, was obtained through land grants from the Province of Pa. His house and farm was located by an excellent spring which now feeds a pond on the Harrisburg North Golf Course, and his land holdings extended West through the Killinger area. Some of Johann Adam's land was divided among his sons who lived their entire lives in Upper Paxton Township, Johannes, Johann Jacob, and Johann George Wirth. They were all farmers.

Johann Adam and Eva Elizabeth Schnug Wirth had eleven known children, nine sons and two daughters. Names of the sons and their spouses include: Johann Adam Wirth, Jr. (Revolutionary War Soldier) married Elizabeth Preiss Nye, Johannes Wirth (Revolutionary War Soldier) married Anna Maria Miller, Johann Christian Wirth (Revolutionary War Soldier) married Catharine Bretz, Johann Jacob Wirth married Sophia Miller, Johann Henrich Wirth married Elizabeth Enterline, Johann George Wirth married Catharina Miller, Johann Peter Wirth married Elizabeth Sheesley, Johann Philip Wirth married Elizabeth Loos, and Johann Joseph Wirth married Barbara Kitch. Names of the two daughters and spouses include: Anna Margaretha Wirth married Michael Radel, and Anna Catharine Wirth married Sebastian Metz. The records for Wirth's Evangelical Lutheran Church and Salem Lutheran Church contain numerous entries on the above individuals and their descendants, because the Wirth's were very staunch Lutherans and involved in the early Christian movement. In addition to Johann Adam and Eva Elizabeth Schnug Wirth, three of their children, and some other descendants were buried in the cemeteries at Killinger. Three of Johann Adam Wirth's sons buried in the oldest cemetery included: Johannes, Johann Jacob, and Johann George Wirth. The German inscription on Johann Adam Wirth's tombstone reads: "THE PURCHASER OF THE LAND AND DONOR OF THE EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH TOGETHER WITH THE BURIAL PLACES UPON WHICH HIS REMAINS SLUMBER UNTIL THE MORNING OF THE RESURRECTION."

Wirth's Church (Wert's Church) was the early name given to the church because two different congregations used the same building which also doubled as a school during the week. The two congregations included: Wirth's Evangelical Congregation and the Reformed Congregation. The official record keeping for Wirth's Church began in 1770. At that time there were very few families in the Lykens Valley, and not enough to warrant a full-time preacher. Although the members of the Lutheran and Reformed Congregations got along well, over the years their views changed. It was at this time that Johann Adam Wirth donated a farm to each Congregation. The land was provided for the Congregations to construct two churches and cemeteries. Even though the building and land had been provided for Wirth's Church many years earlier, the land was not officially deeded to both Congregations until June 3, 1805 according to records at the Dauphin County Courthouse. On July 15, 1815, the name of Wirth's Evangelical Lutheran Church was changed to Salem Lutheran Church by constitution. The first church building was an old log house which was located East of the oldest cemetery. There were other buildings with the farm that had been donated, and the Church Council made annual or periodic agreements with members to use those buildings and some of the land. For example, on March 29, 1818, the Church Council for Salem Lutheran Church made an agreement with Henry Ditty (1783-1858) where he could use a house, school house, stable, garden and certain fields previously donated by Johann Adam Wirth. Henry Ditty also taught school. He was paid .50 cents a year for each student by the parent.

From 1770-1773, it did not appear that Wirth's Evangelical Lutheran Church had a full-time preacher. In those days, a preacher may have been committed on Sunday to a large congregation in a more populated area than Lykens Valley. However, preachers were known to ride on horse back into wilderness settlements during the week. It was during these times that services were held in the homes or in the established buildings such as Wirth's Church. Since there was no full time preacher for Wirth's Church, and preachers often had full-time commitments with a congregation, there was no need for a parsonage. From 1765-1785, wild roving animals were as much of a problem to church goers as the Indians. Some people walked to church, others rode horses or traveled in wagons. Because of the dangers, it was not uncommon for the early settlers to carry their guns to church services. If there was no preacher available, prayer services were conducted by an Elder or Teacher for the school/church. At those times, religion was a very important component of ones education, both in the school and at home. The early German settlers established Parochial Schools
to teach their children to read, write, cipher, and also learn the word of God through the Bible.

The Wert's used the Bible frequently in teaching their children. For example, one record indicated that three teenage Wert children wanted to travel to Perry County to visit relatives and friends. They would be away from home for three nights. They asked their father if they could go. He told them yes, but under the following conditions: 1) you must memorize specific verses or passages from the Bible that according to records at the Dauphin County Courthouse I select, 2) you must be able to recite the verses to me verbatim, and 3) you must be able to discuss the meaning of the verses to my satisfaction. The father selected verses that could possibly have had relevance to real life situations or decisions that the three youngsters might encounter on their trip. By doing this, the father would feel more secure that his children could make mature and responsible decisions concerning the events in their lives.

There are many conflicting dates and events in the history of Reverend Johann Michael Enterline who was the first regular preacher at Wirth's Evangelical Lutheran Church. In the "Genealogy of Rev. Johann Michael Enterline1726-1800 and Descendants" it states that the first church that he founded was St. John's Lutheran in 1773. Wirth's Church had  been established as early as 1770. The above source states that Johann Michael Enterlinedid not formally establish Wirth's Church or preach regularly their until April, 1774. He did make trips to Lykens Valley, and other places in the Susquehanna Valley between 1770-1773. Records on Rev. Enterline indicate there were disputes between the Lutheran and Reformed Congregations or their preachers concerning the Heidelberg Catechism, religious beliefs, etc. He served denominations in Lancaster County, Elizabethtown, Maytown, Sand Hill, and Hummelstown up until February 18, 1776. One record indicates that Rev. Enterline moved to Lykens Valley near Berrysburg on October 6, 1773, taking a patent on 250 acres. Another record states that it was not until August 20, 1792 that Bartram Gailbraith sold him the 250 acre farm in Upper Paxton Township. One other record indicates Rev. Enterline moved to Lykens Valley in 1777. In any case, Rev. Johann Michael Enterline was a visiting preacher in the Lykens Valley before he moved there, and he was a strong force in organizing and formally establishing churches. As members of various congregations spread out into the wilderness, as the case with many of Johann Adam Wirth's descendants, it was Rev. Enterline who traveled from one church to another. He kept people informed about their relatives and friends in distant places. Johann Michael Enterline died on March 6, 1800, and he is presumed to have been buried under the pulpit at the back of St. John's Lutheran Church near Berrysburg.

Johann Adam Wirth and Rev. Johann Michael Enterline would have known each other when they both resided in Lancaster County outside of Lykens Valley for several reasons. First, one of Rev. Enterline's sons, John Paul Enterline (176?-1841) married Charlotte Schnug (1777-1811), daughter of Christian Schnug. Christian Schnug (1740-1783) was a brother to Eva Elizabeth Schnug Wirth. Second, Christian Schnug, brother of Eva Elizabeth Schnug Wirth was an active member of Rev. Enterline's Congregation at St. John's Lutheran and Wirth's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Killinger. Many of Christian's children were baptized at Wirth's Church where Rev. Enterline preached. Third, Rev. Enterline's daughter, Elizabeth (1771-1838), married Henrich Wirth (1769-1846), son of Johann Adam and Eva Elizabeth Schnug Wirth.

According to the early records for Wirth's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Johann Adam Wirth was an Elder in 1773, 1782, 1789, 1790, 1791, and 1802. He also served in other positions such as Treasurer and Trustee. Christian Schnug was a Deacon in 1773. Some of the first members who attended Wirth's Church included: George Radel, father of Michael Radel who married Anna Margaretha Wirth; Sebastian (1727-1787) and Mary Magdalene Deibler Kerstetter; Joseph Metz, father of Sebastian Metz who married Anna Catharine Wirth; Ludwig Bretz, father of Catharine Bretz who married Christian Wirth; John, Jacob and Henry Sheesley; Ludwig Schott; George Shupp (buried in Wirth's Evangelical Lutheran Church Cemetery), Martin Weber/Weaver; George Neagley; John Frank; John Frolich; George Feidt; Johannes Paul; John Wilhelm Klein; John Adam Miller; George Minich; John Ditty; Philip Lenker; Abraham Snyder; and Deitrich Krammer (buried in Wirth's Evangelical Lutheran Church Cemetery). In addition to those Wert's mentioned above, the following others and their relatives are mentioned frequently in the church history: John Wert, son of Johannes Wirth (1755-1805); George Wirth; Daniel Wert; Isaac Wert; Solomon Wert; Simon Wirt (first Burgess of Millersburg); Benjamin F. Wert; Roscoe Wert; Earl Wert; William B. Wert; Joseph Wert; Hiram F. Wert; Calvin P. Wert; Mark W. Wert; Elias Wert; Florence E. Wert; Emma J. Wert; Caroline Louisa Wert; Jonathan Wert (1814-1909); Henry and Catharine Wert Harmon; Mary Ellen Wert; George and Susan Wert Shaffer; Nora C. Wert; Rev. Arthur and Carrie M. Wert Lehman; Harvey and Jennie Wert Strawhecker; William C. Wert, and B. W. Holtzman. Benjamin Holtzman (1845-1912) married Mary D. (Polly) Wert (1844-1925) on January 2, 1867 at Salem Lutheran Church. He was the first organist at Salem Lutheran Church, a good musician, and music teacher. On April 3, 1876, Mr. Holtzman paid $600.00 for a plot of ground just east of Salem Lutheran Church, and for building material out of the old Lutheran Church located west of the present day Church. He used this material to construct his home next to the third and present day Salem Lutheran Church which was completed in 1874.

Information concerning the ancestors and descendants of some of the individuals who were active members of Wirth's Evangelical Lutheran Church is attached.



E-mail Jonathan Wert


Johann Michael Enterline II... John Paul Enterline... Daniel & Lucinda Enterline...
Anna Maria (Enterline) Lenker... Elizabeth (Enterline) Wirth...

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