Zion German Lutheran Church – Scranton, PA – Brief History: First Pastor Fled Lynching Threat in the South

1884 Zion Lutheran Chuch on Sanborn Map
Zion Lutheran Church on an 1884 Sanborn Map. It was located at 226 Mifflin Ave in Scranton, PA.

I’ve been (obsessively 🙂 ) researching my German ancestors in Pennsylvania. One German branch of my family, the Maiers/Mayers from Nattheim, belonged to the Lutheran Church, and they attended the Zion German Lutheran Church in Scranton, PA. Other Nattheimers who attended this church (that I know of) include Greiners, Mailanders and Zieglers.

Zion Lutheran Church kept excellent, extremely legible records of its congregants that I’m very grateful for today- even if all of the records are written in German!

A brief history of the Lutheran Church in Scranton, Pennsylvania

I recently found an article from 18961 that discussed the history of the Zion Lutheran church in Scranton and supplied a few drawings. The article also touched on the history of the Lutheran Church in general in Scranton, PA.

According to the article, in the 1840s, a Lutheran pastor, Rev. Mr. Reichert from Philadelphia, held services in a schoolhouse in Providence [which is now the name of a neighborhood in Scranton]. From 1850 to 1860, Rev. Nathan Yeager of the Ministerium of Pennsylvania held services in six places: Scranton, Hyde Park, Providence, Archbald, Ransom and Carbondale.

In 1860, Rev. Zizelmann “came all the way from San Antonio, Texas, the war having made it uncongenial for him to remain any longer. He, with many others, was in great danger of being lynched.” (Perhaps due to the anti-slavery stance of the German community in San Antonio?) Zion’s congregation, on 226 Mifflin Avenue, between Spruce and Linden Streets, was organized August 19, 1860, by Rev. Zizelmann.

A drawing of the Zion Lutheran Church on Mifflin Ave in Scranton, PA1. This church building no longer exists.
Rev. Mr. P.F. Zizelmann, who founded Zion Lutheran Church in Scranton1. Many of our German Lutheran ancestors from Nattheim would have known him.

Pastor Zizelmann’s successor was Rev. A.O. Gallenkamp, who was a minister of the church for over 20 years. He undoubtedly officiated at many of our ancestor’s marriages, baptisms and funerals, and indeed, his name is frequently listed as the officiant.

Rev. A.O. Gallenkamp of Zion Lutheran Church2. He was born in Hanover, Germany.

In the late 1920s, this church merged with another Lutheran Church to form St. John’s Lutheran.

That’s about all I’ve found to share about Zion Lutheran Church in Scranton for now. I’d love to find out if there were any records kept of Lutheran marriages and baptisms in Scranton prior to the establishment of this church. So far, I’ve been unable to find any.

Lutheran Churches in Scranton, PA
“Lutheran Churches in Scranton,” (May 14, 1896), Scranton Tribune, (Scranton, Pennsylvania), Page 18, digital images,
Newspapers.com, accessed Nov 28, 2017.

(1) “Second Day’s Business of the Lutheran Ministers’ Convention,” (Oct 14, 1896), Scranton Republican, (Scranton, Pennsylvania), Page 6, digital images, newspapers.com, accessed Jan 10, 2018.

(2) “Death comes to Rev. M. Gallenkamp: Well known Lutheran Minster Passes Away After Long Illness.” (Dec 04, 1915), Scranton Republican, (Scranton, Pennsylvania), Page 3, digital images, Newspapers.com, accessed Jan 10, 2018.