York Town Square

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Civil war prompted strife in churches, too

St. Paul’s Lutheran was one of many York County churches battling their own civil wars.
The same history of St. Paul’s that brought the identity of the apparent bearer of the note to rebel Gen. John B. Gordon delivers insight into the split loyalties of York countians during the Civil War.
Charles Baum, son of the minister of York’s St. Paul Lutheran Church, wrote that his father left the pastorate in the Shenadoah Valley because of his Unionist views. His family left in a hurry with only the “clothing on our backs.”
The minister ran into problems in Democratic York County, too. A majority in the county supported the Peace Democrats, the so-called Copperheads whose mantra was “The Union as it was. The Constitution as it is. The Negroes where they are.”
Several influential members left St. Paul’s after guest preacher, J.H. Menges, proclaimed from the pulpit “all Democrats are rebels.” …

Despite these tensions, Baum went on for a fruitful pastorate at St. Paul’s, overseeing construction of a new church.
The family’s flight from the Shenadoah Valley settled into family lore.
Years later, his son wrote that his father probably had that journey in mind when he preached his first sermon from the York pulpit, based on Psalm 20:5 — “We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the Name of our God we will set up our banners.”
(For more on the note among the roses, see http://www.ydr.com/historicalperspective/ci_5056238.)
Lewis Miller drawing courtesy of the York County Heritage Trust