Evangelical Congregational “Old Dutchie” Church 1581 Valley Forge Road Worcester, PA
The Evangelical Congregational Church of Worcester, or Evangelisches Versemmlangs Haus, was built in 1845 by German immigrants who fled to Pennsylvania to escape religious persecution. The building was referred to as the “Old Dutchie Church” by Worcester residents because of its German origins.
The church was built on 5 acres of land donated by Christian and Sarah Wanner (see page 405 of A History of Worcester Township for additional information), who lived across the road in the old farmhouse to the southeast. Henry Frick, an original member, owned a local quarry and donated the stone. The Frick quarry is now but a depression on a private property on nearby Potshop Road. The structure of the church is common to the period, although few examples in the area remain today, as many were torn down and replaced by larger buildings during the Victorian period.
The property was purchased in 1978 by the Friends of the Worcester Historical Society and later transferred to the Worcester Historical Society, which continues to preserve it as an important part of the township’s history.
Thanks to a number of generous donations to the Worcester Historical Society, the “Dutchie” Church has recently undergone extensive repairs to protect its architecture and historic integrity. This includes a new chimney, roof, exterior and interior paint, and a thorough cleaning of the floor.
The small medallion on the exterior left corner of the building is a “US Coast and Geodetic Survey” seal, which was placed on the building in 1942 as a surveying benchmark. It is part of a nationwide network of over 1 million survey monuments which are the basis for horizontal and vertical control for all the mapping done in the US. The “Geodetic Survey” dates back to Thomas Jefferson, who commissioned a survey of the coast of the United States in 1807.
An additional point of interest is the Red Oak in the woods behind the cemetery, which has been recognized as one of Worcester’s “ancient trees,” found as #8 on page 335 of A History of Worcester Township.
The cemetery contains 81 graves, according to the records, which represent three generations of many families; grandparents, parents, and children. The oldest STONE (first burial) dates to 1846 and belongs to Ann Beyer (J-10). [The church was constructed in 1845.] Ann was the daughter of John and Lydia Beyer (J-11) and was about 15. For reasons not known, Lydia chose to bury her daughter, a grandson, and herself here and not with her husband, John, in the Methacton Mennonite Cemetery. He died in a fall at a mill in 1832 when Ann was one year old. Lydia’s maiden name was Frick.
The oldest PEOPLE buried in the cemetery are Michael Bruner (E-10), Sallie Landis Lare (B-9,) and Haddie Loos Kreamer (C-3), all of whom reached 91 years of age. The oldest BODY in the cemetery belongs to Agnes Lehman (H-3), who was born about 1775 and was likely the mother of George (H-1) and grandmother of Jacob (H-2), another example of three generations buried together.
Trap door leading to the Underground Railroad tunnel.