Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Creating Our Church Archives, Part I: In The Beginning...

My husband's family has been attending Peace United Church of Christ in Hartsburg, Missouri for more than one hundred years. In fact, one of hubby's ACKMANN ancestors was among the "Seven Founding Fathers" of the church in 1894 (originally called Friedens Evangelische Gemeinde). So two years ago, when an announcement was made during the service that they were looking for volunteers to help form a "Historical Committee" -- my genealogical ears perked right up!

I learned that the church was looking for a group of people to help organize and create an archive of the church's documents, photos, and other items. Over the years, these items have just been packed away in boxes and kept in storage cabinets in a little used room of the church. Although the church council was almost apologetic about asking us to take on such a task, I couldn't wait to see what was in those boxes. I have to say, I was *not* disappointed. It was a treasure trove of church history!

The process of creating this archive has been long and rewarding. Since even writing about the process is lengthy, I’ll divide my posting about it into two parts. If you are thinking about embarking on a similar project, whether it’s for your church, your town, or even your own family’s historical papers and artifacts, stay tuned! I’m by no means a professional archivist, but there appears to be lots of good resources out there to help us amateurs, and I’ll be happy to share what I learn!

Coming soon: Creating our Church Archives, Part II: Sorting and Inventorying. Sounds riveting, doesn’t it? **grin**


waldonia said...

Hi Cricket . . . I'm trying to figure out what church cemetery would have been meant on a death certificate that said "Evangelical & Reformed, Hartsburg." Would that have been Friedens at one time? Is there a cemetery attached to what is now Peach UCC? (This is for surname "Schuermann," BTW).

Cricket said...

The name on the arched sign over the gate of the cemetery still reads "Friedens Evang. Cemetery". The cemetery belongs to the church, and over the years the church's name has changed -- originally it was Friedens Evangelische Gemeinde (which loosely translates to Peace Evangelical Parish). At that time, the church was part of the German Evangelical Synod. In 1934 when the Evangelical Synod and the (German) Reformed Church merged, our church's name changed to Friedens Evangelical & Reformed. In 1957 there was another denominational merger, this time between the E&R Churches and the Congregational Christian Churches, which formed the United Church of Christ. Friedens E&R became Peace UCC. So the short answer to your question is "yes" -- the cemetery listed on the death certificate you have would be the cemetery that is owned by Peace UCC in Hartsburg. :-)

By the way, on various death certificates you will see the same cemetery listed by other names: Friedens, Hartsburg Cemetery, E&R, etc.

Also -- I have extracted information from the church's early baptismal records, and I'm currently working on doing the same thing with the early death records. If you contact me privately, I'll be happy to share what I have on the Schuermann family.