The Red Church, Red Men, and a Red Demon

The Red Church, Red Men, and a Red Demon

Dipping into the folklore of Schuykill Haven we find several bizarre accounts of the supernatural, one of them involving Old Nick himself. The earliest settler of the town beyond the Blue Mountains was Martin Dreilbelbis who migrated into that wilderness from his Moselem, Berks, home in 1775. But Martin Dreibelbis was not acquainted with his Satanic Majesty. Quite to the contrary, he was a devout man, given to the habit of reading his German bible and Psalter in his blacksmith shop and donating the land for the erection of the first parish school in Schuykill Haven.

West Brunswick Township, pronounced Braun-Schweig by the early settlers, was a part of Berks County in 1775 when the first church was built there, near Pinedale. It was known as the Red Church. The one erected on the land donated by Dreibelbis was known as the White Church. These were the first churches in Berks County North of the Blue Mountains. Red, white and blue!

One day an Indian and a white man entered Martin Dreibelbis’s forge. The red man had a nugget of silver ore which he wanted to have melted. The white metal extracted proved to be of excellent quality. Then the white man pressed the Indian to tell them where he had found the ore. On the Govvelberg (Fork Mountain) the red man indicated but refused to show them the exact spot. To this day the source of that precious ore had not been found. (Remember this is legend.)

In a semi-facetious paper, read before the Historical Society of Schuykill County in 1905. W.H. Newell recounts a fascinating bit of Indian and Stygian legendry about the Red Church and Schuykill Haven. He describes the burning of the Red Church during the Indian raids of 1755 and attributes this evil deed to the devil himself. Here is his explanation:

“The devil had been having a hard time in Europe, finally being driven out by long prayers and short swords of the saints of the church militant. Then he came to New England only to be expelled by the long sermons of the Puritans. He came to New York but was driven out by the hymns of St. Nicholas. So the Devil took refuge on the north side of the Blue Mountains.

When Satan heard of the erection of the Red Church he called a conference of his imps, the redmen, and together they connived to destroy the Red Church. When this was done he felt that his work was finished and went on to Canada to torture Jesuit missionaries.

But the Red Church was rebuilt and Satan returned to brood over his disappointment. His red imps, the Indians had fled and he alone could not shake the strong foundations of the faith of the good people of Schuykill.

Long, long years afterwards a hunter, wandering in the Blue Mountains, saw his Satanic Majesty seated upon a high rock gazing sadly below:

Upon a peak of the Mountain Blue,

The hunter saw him stand,

With a storm coat cast across his

Arm,

And a grip sack in his hand.

‘Tis said he dropped a silent tear,

And looked on the vale below,

And saw what a might chage had

Come,

From the time of long ago.”

Archival Notes: Below are pictures of the existing church (the 4th church built) which is on the site of the original log church completed in 1755, and burned by the Natives in 1756. For more information please consult:

http://articles.mcall.com/1988-11-17/news/2663433_1_red-church-log-church-indian-war

Zion's Red Church
Zion’s Red Church
View of Zion's Red Church from Cemetery.
View of Zion’s Red Church from Cemetery.
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