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St. Peter church was built by early German and Swiss immigrants who left their homeland because of religious persecution.  These people were persuaded by William Penn to come to his new colony where he promised they could enjoy religious freedom.  Many of these Germans followed the course of the French Creek, which was then known as Vincent River.  It was named for Sir Matthias Vincent, an Englishman who was an early settler in this region.  The Native American name for the creek was Sankanac.  It is said that the name French Creek was derived from John French, a member of the Council under Governor Evans in 1705.

 

Following the French Creek, some of the early Germans settled in an area known today as Knauertown, named after Johann Christopher Knauer who received a grant of land from William Penn’s agents, and settled here soon after the year 1731.

 

Many of the early German immigrants were of the Lutheran and Reformed churches of Germany.  In some cases, they formed union congregations and worshipped in the same building.  This was the case at St. Peter’s Reformed Church at Knauertown, from the years 1836 to 1839.

 

In the new settlement at Knauertown, the Germans were quite distant from the Brownback’s Reformed Church, which was the first Reformed Church in Chester County.  In early days, the mode of traveling was by foot or on horseback.  The Knauertown people resolved to build their own church.  The tablet on the east wall conations this inscription:

 

“St. Peters Temple, built 1816, rebuilt in 1853.”

 

 

Probably About 1890

 

The cemetery adjoining the church building was used as a burial place for a number of years before the church was built.  The land on which the church stands was donated by John Nyce, and for many years it was called Nyce’s Church.

 

The records of the congregation from 1816 until 1836 have been lost.  A person who was in the building before it was rebuilt in 1853 stated, “There were three doors, one opening towards the road, one opening into the graveyard, and one where the door is now.  It had a gallery on three sides and was higher in the story than at present.  In rebuilding in 1853 the roof was lowered and the galleries on the side removed.”

 

In the year 1926 extensive renovations were made to the building.  A recessed chancel was added at the west end of the church.  The gallery on the east end was removed and a tower was built at the northeast corner, which made provision for a new entrance.  The former entrance was in the center of the east end of the church building.  Subsequently, the basement was excavated, giving much needed space for church school classes and social events.

 

Later, St. Peters acquired possession of Fallsville Seminary, built in 1878, a one-room school house directly across the highway.  This structure was used for social events and several church school classes for many years.

 

 

Until 1925, the minister of Brownback’s Church served as pastor at both churches.  Since then, both churches have supported their own pastor. 

 

The United Church of Christ was formed on June 25, 1957, by the union of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches of the United States.

 

The above information was compiled by Anna Knauer Helfferich

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