Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - 5 Generations, Same Church

St. John's Church
Mt. Aetna, Berks County, PA

 View of St. John's from the far end of the cemetery
(photo taken 25 September 2010 by Karen Fox)

St. John's Church is a small intimate country church. It was originated as a Protestant Reformed Congregation, and for many years was associated with the United Church of Christ. In 2003,  it elected to become an independent, non-denominational Christian Church. This was the church of my paternal family for five generations.

Buried in the adjoining church cemetery are
  • my gr-gr-grandparents, Nathan and Elizabeth (Achenbach) Gruber
  • my gr-grandparents, T.(Thomas) Henry and Mary E. (Gruber) DeHart
  • my grandparents, Earl L. and Ada M. (DeHart) Yohn
  • my father, John Henry Yohn
  • [Karen M. (Yohn) Fox] was baptized as an infant in St. John's Church in 1958.

In addition, many extended family members were baptized, confirmed, married and/or buried at St. John's.

Interior view of St. John's sanctuary taken from rear right corner
(Photo taken 25 September 2010 by Karen Fox)

As a child I have many memories of visiting the cemetery to place flowers on my grandparents' grave (they both passed before I was born). When I'd see a familiar last name or an interesting looking tombstone, I'd always pester my father with questions -  "Who is that? Tell me about them!". He'd do his best, even if it belonged to a stranger. As I grew older, I saw the empty spaces in the cemetery slowly start to fill with relatives I knew and loved - my many gr-aunts and gr-uncles, my own aunts and uncles, my father's cousins, and then my father joined them. Visiting that cemetery is visiting my childhood.



  1. It is awesome that your faith is/was so much a part of ancestry/life. Five generations attending the same unusual that no one moved away and joined elsewhere or stopped going to church altogether.

  2. I have to say that it makes it easy for that twig of the family tree as far as locating church records, both for my direct line and for my extended family.

    An exception to this was that my parents were married in a church in Upstate NY, not in this Pennsylvania Church. That's where my Mom is from and she and my Dad met when he was stationed in the Army up there (her brother was one of his Army buddies). They married while up there and later moved back to his hometown in PA, where myself and my siblings were born and raised.