The Little White Church
although it is now located within the borough of Palmerton, the history of the Little White Church far precedes the town of Palmerton. And those responsible for its establishment came from the founding families of this region of Carbon Co.
The original road through the Lehigh Gap was a military road built in the 1740s. This became the Moravian Road and later became known as the Easton to Berwick Pike. From Lehigh Gap a branch of the road led to the village of Stemlersville, in present day Towamensing Twp. Along this road is where the church and cemetery were established.
Originally known as the Church of the Evangelical Association, it was erected of stone in 1844, mainly through the efforts of two men.
The Snyder Family: Rev. Jacob Snyder was a son of Jacob Snyder, Sr. and Anna Maria Baumann. Jacob Sr., along with his brother Nicholas came to the Lehigh Gap area in the early 1780s when they came into possession of 310 acres of land. A third brother, David Snyder, also came to the area. Rev. Jacob Snyder began the plan for the church, and donated the land for it and the cemetery along the Stemlersville road.
The Baumann / Bowman Family: The exact time of the arrival of the Bowman family in the area is not known, but they were established in the Lehigh Gap area prior to the Snyders. Jacob Bowman was a son of John Deiter & Mary Margaretha (Newhard) Baumann. His wife was Elizabeth Weiss, a granddaughter of Col. Jacob Weiss who had brought his family north of the Blue Mt. in 1785. Jacob Bowman, a mill and store operator, donated the then large sum of $700 for the construction of the church.
Once established, the Rev. Mr. Haintz served as the first pastor. One year after the church was established, the first burial occurred in the cemetery, that of John D. Bowman, a son of the co-founder Jacob Bowman. The church later became known as Snyder’s Evangelical Church, and was used by that denomination into the 1930s. Though originally set in a wooded place, the town of Palmerton had grown up around the country church. Hemmed in by the expanding town, the cemetery could not be expanded and the last known burial occurred there in 1923, when Civil War vet George Schoenberger was laid to rest. It was later used by the Windish Lutheran Congregation for a short time, following which it sat vacant for about 30 years. The Anglican Congregation used the building for a short time in the 1980s, after which it again sat vacant. By the early 1990s the building was on the verge of collapse. It was at that time the Lehigh Gap Historical Society (LGHS) acted. Financial help came from Horsehead Industries and was aided by a state grant engineered by Rep. Keith McCall. Many other smaller business and private donations helped, and The First National Bank of Palmerton, holder of the deed to the property was helpful and generous with their mortgage terms. The adjacent property, where the cemetery is located was acquired from Salem United Church of Christ of Aquashicola By 1997 the LGHS held both properties and began serious restoration work aimed at preservation and the possible use of the building as a Museum in the future.
Credits: If an attempt was made today to record burials in the cemetery, it is doubtful it would be as complete as this one. Many thanks are due Richard T. Schoenberger who recorded the stones in 1939 and 1940. Since that time, many of the listed stones have probably been lost or have become illegible. Many of Mr. Schoenberger’s family are resting in the cemetery.
Many thanks also go to George Ashman and the Lehigh Gap Historical Society (LGHS), not only for preserving the church and cemetery, but also for providing Mr. Schoenberger’s listing to this online project. Mr. Schoenberger authored nearly all of the genealogical notes on the following pages in his burial listings. John Parsons of the LGHS made a few additions.
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