Filey’s fire: Why are so many family names attached to York County churches?

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Christ Lutheran Church (Filey’s) in Monaghan Township, in York County’s northwestern tip, is engulfed in flames on Thursday, Aug. 12. It takes its name from Jacob Filey, who donated land for the church. The building was dedicated in 1894. Background posts: Church’s landmark: ‘A man named Beech carving a beech tree, it seemed too perfect’ and People of varying religious groups founded York County and York’s worst blaze struck 150 years ago.
The devastating fire at Christ Lutheran Church in the Dillsburg area raises an interesting question about York County churches.
Why do so many venerable York County congregations add a family name in or near their official name?
The short answer, according to church historian Charles H. Glatfelter, is that the name of the person or family who donated land for new buildings stuck with the church.
Glatfelter writes in his authoritative “York County Lutherans” about some 18th-century examples:

“For unknown reasons, Sherman’s was called David’s and Stone, Jacob’s; the saint was added much later. Peter Strayer sold (actually, he gave) the land on which Strayer’s stands, as did Frederick Fissel that on which the first Fissel’s church was built. Martin Blymire happened to live next to land which the proprietors surveyed in 1771 for a church which very quickly took his name. Barnet Ziegler was a tavern keeper near the church which bears his name … .”

In the case of Filey’s, Jacob Filey (1770-1832) left an acre of land and a sum of money for building a new church in his will, according to Glatfelter.
His family also left another legacy in that northwestern sector of York County: Filey’s one-room school.
But thank heavens for the Filey family name when it comes to Lutheran churches that start with Christ. Churches in Dallastown, Loganville, Manchester, Shrewsbury, Starview, York, Spring Grove and Spry all bear Christ in their name.
Also of interest:
‘Painting pastor’s’ work survives devastating southeastern York County blaze
Archives:
All York Town Square posts from the start. (Key word search by using “find” on browser.)
Additional photos:
For a slide show showing Filey’s fire, click here.
Photo courtesy of Bruce Peifer

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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