KEYSER - When Trinity Lutheran Church wanted to recognize the charter members of the church on All Saints Day, member Richard Ridder knew just who to call when he contacted Denny Avers.

By Ronda Wertman
Tribune Correspondent
KEYSER - When Trinity Lutheran Church wanted to recognize the charter members of the church on All Saints Day, member Richard Ridder knew just who to call when he contacted Denny Avers.
The results of Avers’ research are included in his new publication, “This is our Home a History of Trinity Luthern Church.”
 “I knew a lot of these charter members, but I had no idea of the relationships between them,” said Avers, whose grandparents were among the founding members.
“The Lutheran church has been around for a long time,” said Avers, reporting that the first church was in Willimington, Delaware, in 1629.
Established in 1717, the Hebron Lutheran Church Madison, Virginia, is the oldest still standing Lutheran church in the United States.
Closer to home, early Lutheran churches included Winchester Grace 1753, Hebron Yellow Springs 1786, St. Paul Aurora 1787 and St. Paul’s Cumberland 1794.
Avers noted that looking at the history of the church also included is the history of the railroad, buildings and relationships.
“This was a B&O town. If not for the B&O there would be no Keyser today, certainly not as we know it,” said Avers, explaining that in the 1860-70s people were coming to Piedmont for the railroad.
“By 1880 they were living in Keyser because growth had switched,” he said, adding that many people from Preston County were settling in the area with the railroad.
“Preston County was a hot bed for Lutheranism,” Avers said.
There were four tracks between Keyser and Piedmont to link Cumberland and Pennsylvania with the West Virginia Central and Pittsburg Railway.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church opened in 1869 in Piedmont and in 1879 moved to Westernport. From 1901-1904 Harmony Chapel operated in Barnum with ties to the Watson Family and Masteller Coal.
“They were very good to the churches in the area,” said Avers of the Watson family.
In 1903 Trinity Lutheran was chartered in Keyser and within the first three months there were 40 members and 80 for Sunday school.
The congregation met over the Odd Fellows Hall, Carskadon Hall and Johnson Hall in the early years until the church was constructed in 1906 with Johnson Hall continuing to be used for special events.
The stained glass windows in the front of the church were donated by the Rev. William Ney in memory of his grandparents.
Avers described the 22 women and 18 men as “the founding saints of Trinity Lutheran Church.”
The charter members ranged in age from 19 to 65 and by 1966 all had passed away. The children of the charter members have also passed, but there are some grandchildren that remain.
Familiar names among the members included Boehmes, Gerstell, Pifer, Sincell and Wolf.
Among the charter members were three sisters, Elizabeth Geldbaugh Kephart, Anna Geldbaugh Kolkhorst and Margaret Geldbaugh Shaffer.
Interesting facts from the time included that in 1939 the Keyser Theatre had a geothermal heating system.
Avers noted that the foundation for the turn table for the Twin Mountain and Potomac (TM&P) Railroad still exists in the area of Urice Supply.
A group known as the Quartette sang for Luther League and other events. In 1935, these ladies went on the win the national prize at the convention in St. Louis.
A parade was held in their honor upon their return. “It was a big, big deal,” said Avers.
They were invited for tea and to sing at the White House in 1941 by Mrs. Roosevelt.
“There’s so many stories to tell, I appreciate the smiles on your faces,” Avers concluded.