This is a transcription of an article published in the Warwick Valley Dispatch, dated June 2, 1976. Used with permission. This is an article about the Volga Germans founding a Church in Pine Island around the turn of the last century. It is an interesting history. I grew up with some of these families. The Schadt family was one, and I think the Scheurerman and Schmick families were part of that same group.
St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church to celebrate 75th Anniversary
On June 6, 1976, at 4 p.m., a special service will be held to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church, Little York Road, Pine Island, N.Y. A supper will be served in the Church Hall following the service.
The Lutheran Church was founded on June 5, 1901, by a group of Russian immigrants who were actually German.
Just about two-hundred years ago, when Catherine II was Empress of Russia, she encouraged Germans to colonize the vast unsettled lands near the Volga: Catherine, subsequently called The Great, who was born a Prussian princess, recognized the farming skills of the Germans. Conditions at this time in Germany were critical - the Seven Years' War had just ended, leaving many risidents in ruin and devastation. Catherine's invitation, therefore, brought new hope to many people.
It is known that the ancestors of the group that founded St. Peter were among a group of eighty families which left Budingen in Hessen in 1766, and a year later founded the village of Jagodnaja, approximately sixty miles north-west of Saratov on the Volga. They were granted certain privileges, as promised by the Empress Catherine, such as right to self-government, religious liberty, exemption from military service, land grants, and their own churches and schools. However, they were disillusioned in Russia and life was very difficult. With German perseverance they made the best of it, and for many years these Germans dwelled peacefully in the land of the Czars. They enjoyed their traditional German life and were progressing in all areas of life - economic and cultural, but towards the end of the ninteenth century, religious, racial, and national persecution became prevalent againist non-Russians, and eventually another eimigration was put into motion.
During the last decade of the ninteenth century many of the residents of Jagodnaja, Russia, migrated to America, and with the help of immigrant missionaries some were steered to settle in what is now known as the hamlet of Little York.
"Die Kirche" (The Church) was always the focal point of social and family life of these people. It, therefore, wasn't long before steps were taken to start a church. In 1898 land was purchased and soon thereafter a church building was started at the present location of St. Peter. By June 5, 1901 the congregation was incorporated and the first pastor was called - Rev. C. George Kaestner. Since then there have been a sucession of twelve pastors, with Rev. Phillip N. Sallach presently pastor in 1975.
At first there were just German services, but in later years English services were also held every Sunday, and in 1964 German services were discontinued.
The orignal church burned down on Christmas Eve of 1917 and the present edifice was erected in 1918. A large hall and Sunday School rooms were added in 1968.
Many of the descendants of the Volga-German fouonders are still active in the church, but as a microcosm of the melting pot of these United States, people of other religious and national origins have also become staunch members and officers of St. Peter.
Many of the transcriptions found here are now in published form. They have been published by the Orange County Genealogical Society (in Goshen, New York). Volume 3 includes my Volume 3 and Volume 5. Volume 4 includes my four parts of New Milford history. There is a planned Volume 5, which will include my Volumes 6, 7, and 8, Part 1, which is about 250 transcriptions. They can be purchase through the Genealogical Society. Just Google them and print out the order form. Or they can be purchased from the Warwick Historical Society. They are also on sale at the gift shop at Baird's Tavern. I would like to thank the Genealogical Society and Dan Burrows for their efforts. Started a new blog for images of Warwick. Go to: www.imagesofwarwicknewyork.blogspot.com.