York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

How two groups with divergent religious views who came to America in the 1700s to escape religious persecution worked things out in a remote part of York County. They formed a community, a membership.

A tour in pictures of remote and beautiful western York County

There’s a story that has come down through Washington Township families about a teen who went to work on a farm of a family who worshipped God on a Saturday, the seventh day of the week.

He came from a family who met on the traditional Christian worship day, Sunday, the first day of the week.

He was pleased with this arrangement. It gave him two days of Sabbath rest — both Saturday and Sunday — in a farming community where such time off was a luxury.

Or the story could have been the other way around, said Glenn Julius, longtime resident of this western York County township. The worker could have come from a family who worshipped on Saturday and thus enjoyed Sunday off, too.

That was about the only thing the 99-year-old was not sure of in a February interview and a recent tour of this remote rural region. Both occasions focused on the relationship of York County’s Seventh Day Baptists, a settlement emerging from the Ephrata Cloister, and a congregation known today as Bermudian Church of the Brethren.

The story of the farmworker shows how two groups coming to America in the 1700s to, in part, escape religious persecution could work things out, while living near each other in a remote part of York County. They formed a community, a membership, that exists to this day.

The two Protestant groups differed on two key points: the day of the week that the Bible required worship and attentiveness to the Advent, or second coming of Jesus. That Adventist theology, as it’s called, was a hallmark of the Seventh Day Baptist beliefs, as was Saturday worship.

The two groups eventually intermarried and the Seventh Day Baptist group became part of Bermudian Church of the Brethren by about 1820.

Community membership

Julius was primarily responsible for establishing a reminder of those days that York County’s Bermudian Settlement was part of a network of Seventh Day Baptist communities coming from the Ephrata Cloister and settling in Snow Hill, Franklin County; Salemville, Bedford County; and elsewhere.

He restored a family cemetery on the Markey Farm in this fertile land between the Bermudian and Big Conewago creeks that includes the resting place of members of the Bermudian Settlement or their descendants.

In our February interview, Julius eagerly spoke about getting out when the pandemic eased to show the places with great meaning and historic importance in this rolling area that you pass through after crossing over the Big Conewago on Davidsburg Road near Detters Mill.

This month, we went on that tour with Glenn, accompanied by his son, Galen.

The vestiges of 18th- and 19th-century Pennsylvania German life promised to be fascinating – and, indeed, they were.

Please check out the pictures from the tour below. And for the rest of this story, please see: Finding community and membership in remote York County.


Our tour begins in a barn on a Julius farm near the Conewago Creek. Glenn Julius, center, and Galen, left, look at a massive mantel log removed from a house in the nearby village of Mulberry – the place where Glenn grew up.
The date that the fireplace mantel log was installed, 1759.


Galen Julius give a sense of how high the water from the Conewago Creek rose in the barn. The top mark was from Hurricane Eloise in 1975. The bottom, Tropical Storm Agnes, in 1972. Surprising, higher flooding from Eloise than Agnes.
Where Glenn Julius grew up – the village of Mulberry. This is the house that formerly housed the massive fireplace mantel log, so Glenn Julius dates the house’s construction at 1760.
Galen and Glenn Julius visit the homestead in Mulberry, a village that hosted a store and other buildings. Today, this house, a modern home and a barn just about make up this place along the Davidsburg Road. The road was a main route between the York area and Shippensburg.
Inside the homestead, looking out toward the Davidsburg Road. These hooks or their predecessors have been there for years, and there are stories about youngsters who were hoisted and their overalls pinned to the hooks, just for fun.
The Juliuses at Markey Cemetery in Washington Township, from left, Glenn, Galen and David. Glenn Julius restored the cemetery that is the resting place of members of two congregations – the Seventh Day Baptists and Church of the Brethren. This photo with a story by Elmer Q. Gleim about the Seventh Day Baptists, associated with the Ephrata Cloister, appeared in the Journal of York County Heritage.


Many years later, the same scene at Markey Cemetery. The cemetery has been maintained for years by Glenn Julius’s brother, Donald.
Markey Cementery, on a hill overlooking the Big Conewago Creek. The Juliuses say that the creek, when it floods, does not reach this elevated site.
The markers in Markey Cemetery were made from a number of different materials: from fieldstone to slate.
This newer barn within sight of the cemetery sits on a foundation of a past barn that was used for meetings of Church of the Brethren congregants. Early Brethren and the Seventh Day Baptists worshipped in barns and homes.
This one-room schoolhouse, now a private residence, served this region. The school is one of more than 300 one-room schools that operated in York County before World War II.
Glenn Julius says the fence on this property – residence of an undertaker and woodworker – gave the name to Pickett Road. Some people believe incorrectly that this area, near Detters Mill, took on the name after a visit by Confederate Gen. George Pickett. Confederate troops, part of Jubal Early’s division foraged in this area in the invasion of York County in 1863. But Pickett was not part of those units. Photo, Glenn Julius.
The site of the mortician’s long-gone house and its picket fence.
Glenn Julius points out a drain in a small building on a 1700s farm settled by the Dierdorff family that reminds him of those seen at the Ephrata Cloister in Lancaster County. Some settlers from the Ephrata Seventh Day Baptist community moved to this region of western York County to establish a cloister here in the mid 1700s.
A massive fireplace near the drain on the Dierdorff Farm.
The stone in the upper reaches of the house says this was the home of John and Susanna Dierdorff. The outbuilding with the fireplace and drain can be seen at left.
Another outbuilding on the Dierdorff Farm. Glenn Julius was uncertain about the original use of this building. These buildings stand on the farm of Wayne and Arlene Kreider, left.
The upper level of the old stone outbuilding on the Dierdorff farm.
This stone has been reset and the best thinking is that a mason misdated the stone. The first European settlers did not reach York County until circa 1720.
Glenn Julius mounts a four-wheeler at the next tour stop – Bermudian Church of the Brethren. This is the Juliuses’ longtime church. He heads down several hills to the bank of the Bermudian Creek.
The outdoor chapel overlooking the baptismal pool in the Bermudian Creek.
Stone supports for the old wooden dam that diverted water to power the Trimmer, Eisenhart (and other names) mill downstream is visible on the Bermudian’s bank.
If you look closely you can see giant logs that formed the based of the wooden dam. The current baptismal pool is upstream.
Glenn and Galen Julius climb from the creek bank.
Inside Bermudian Church, pastor Larry Dentler explains the kettles’ use to make soup as part of the Love Feast meal.
In groundbreaking of a multi-purpose facility on Bermudian church grounds, Glenn Julius mans the plow as the congregation symbolically pulls it – the membership works together.