Stones Of Faith - Pennsylvania Germans and their Gravestones

A look at the genealogy, history, folk art and archeology of the PA Germans and their gravestones, with German language translations, at Brickersville.

ARTICLES

THE PEOPLE

THE STONES

Pennsylvania and American German Gravestone Guide

The 'Old' Stone at Brickersville

Front of the James Old StoneIn Brickersville, Lancaster Co., not far from the site of the old iron works of'Baron' von Stiegel is the Emanuel Lutheran church where stand the stone of his grandson, James Old (1773-1777). Henry Stiegel (who in later years called himself Baron von Stiegel) came to America in 1750, and a few years later married Elizabeth Huber, whose father owned the iron works in Lancaster. Stiegel took over his father-in-law's foundry, expanded the works, and then went on to build a glass factory at Manhiem, becoming the main employer in the region. He had two daughters by Elizabeth, the oldest of which, Elizabeth, married into an English iron working family, the Old, in 1773.26 The couple's first child, James, was born that same year, but sadly lived for only four years. Buried in the Lutheran graveyard in Brickerville, his gravestone stands beside that of his grandmother's. His stone is carved in the baroque manner popular among his mother's people but the inscriptions are in the English of his father. Its reverse bears a verse:

God my redeemer lives
Reverse of the James Olds Stone who often from the sky looks down and members all my dust
till he shall bid me rise.

Above the verse is carved a sun, moon and many stars. A verse carved on a later Pennsylvania German stone in Berks Co. gives a possible biblical reference for the funerary usage of this grouping.

Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.
Isaiah 60 v. 2027

The front of James' stone bears a picture of his soul, winged at the shoulders and heels, on its way to Heaven. The 'Mercury' like figure is reminiscent of the Mercury, wings on feet, hands and cap shown on 'Der Hoch-Deutsche Americanische Calender' cover art of the 1760s, an almanacCover of the 1766 edition of 'Der Hoc-Deutsche Americanische Calender' published by Christofer Sower II in Germantown. The cover art for the almanacs was reused from issue to issue so this motif was probably very familiar to the carver of the Olds stone. The almanac, after the Bible, was second most important book a Pennsylvania German used since it provided educational and interesting articles as well as civil court calenders and astronomical calenders.28

The Stiegel family fortunes declined after the Revolutionary War, and it is believed that neither James' famous grandfather nor his parents had head stones to mark their graves. There is a modern monument erected to Baron Stiegel in the church yard of the Manhiem Lutheran church.


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Copyright 1985-2005 Sandra J. Hardy. All rights reserved.

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