Black and white photograph of the unveiling service of an historical plaque at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Riverside Heights, Ontario. The plaque commemorates Reverend Samuel Schwerdtfeger, the first Lutheran pastor in Upper Canada.
The Last Years of the Reverend J. Samuel Schwerdtfeger Book given to me by Krista Lee
Most books on the German element and on the Lutheran Church in Maryland mention the name of the Rev. J. Samuel Schwerdtfeger. A native of Burgbernheim, Bavaria, Schwerdtfeger had a difficult childhood.
After six years in the Neustadt orphanage, he entered Erlangen University where he attended some lectures on theology and law but soon began to drift aimlessly. He fell victim to immigrant runners who took him to Holland where he bound himself for passage to America. In the spring of the year 1753 he arrived in Baltimore where the ship captain offered him for sale as a studious theoligist for the amount of his passage. The Lutheran congregation of York, Pennsylvania, being at that time at loggerheads within their old pastor, heard of the bargain and bought Schwerdtfeger as their preacher.
Hazel and Gladys Schwerdtfeger of Carleton Place with the plaque that was made for their direct ancestor.
After five years of service in York, he transferred to New Holland, Pennsylvania. Schwerdtfeger’s temperament was not conducive to a long ministry at one place. In 1763 he assumed the pastorate of the Lutheran Church in Frederick, Maryland. His five years of service there proved beneficial for the organization of that group of Lutherans which
had been without resident pastors for many years.
However, Schwerdtfeger felt the urge to move on. After a trip to Europe, he made again brief appearances in Maryland and Pennsylvania before settling in New York State where he distinguished himself through his pastoral work in Albany and Feilstown. He became one of the founders of the New York Ministerium. American Lutheran sources have claimed that Samuel Schwerdtfeger died at Feilstown, New York in 1788.
Photo Philip Allan- Gladys Schwerdfeger in Carleton Place
Recent Canadian research, however, has proved that Schwerdtfeger’s controversial, yet often distinguished career did not end in New York. During the Revolutionary War, the pastor had remained a staunch loyalist. His name appears on a petition sent to the Crown Lands in Quebec in 1780, with those of 150 other citizens, asking that they be allowed to become citizens of Canada. His son, Frederick, who was born in Frederick, Maryland,in 1765, was then already living in Canada.
The elder Schwerdtfeger made several preaching tours among the Palatine United Empire Loyalists. Finally in 1790, the Evangelical Lutheran congregation in Williamsburg
township, Dundas county, Ontario, extended a call to Pastor Schwerdtfeger who accepted without hesitation. For more than a decade he labored among the German settlers along the Canadian side of the Saint Lawrence river. He died in Williamsburg, Ontario, in 1803. The Lutherans of Ontario consider J. Samuel Schwerdtfeger the patriarch of their denomination.
Some time before the St. Lawrence Seaway was completed, the ladies of the Lutheran Church discovered that their founding pastor Johann Schwerdfeger was buried in an Anglican churchyard and this did not sit well with them. The women sponsored a drive to have his remains relocated to the Lutheran churchyard. Later when the St. Lawrence Seaway was being flooded, the original church was covered with water! Memorial stones were removed to a new churchyard on higher grounds. In some cases, the remains were also moved, but it is not known if Schwerdfeger’s remains were moved for the second time. It has long been speculated that the body was lost or destroyed Specifically? The Body is under the St. Lawrence Seaway.
This is “Tranquila Lodge”,One of two cottages built by Henry Schwerdtfeger at Lake Park. The Schwerdtfegers spent the summers next door in their octagonal cottage, and this building was rented out. It still stands today, painted a bright blue colour!
Lake Avenue West walking tour was treated to black licorice cigars in honour of Henry Schwerdtfeger, Bridge Street tobacconist. We learned about Henry and other business tycoons as we wandered Lake Avenue on this final summer tour.
This is “Juanita Lodge”,One of two cottages built by Henry Schwerdtfeger at Lake Park. The Schwerdtfegers spent the summers next door in their octagonal cottage, and this building was rented out.–Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
One of three in our collection belonging to Hazel Schwerdtfeger.
Hazel was a Carleton Place native who received her nurse’s registration in June of 1935. She eventually became a public nurse in Almonte. Just one of the many young Carleton Place women who went in to the nursing profession.–Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
Bertha’s daughters Gladys and Hazel Schwerdtfeger’s childhood photos and clothing—Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)
Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.