Hidden window plate honors Shank family: Beautiful First Moravian Church in York, Part 7
York artist J. Horace Rudy’s stained glass window at York’s First Moravian Church features a dove, perhaps referencing the Bible verse: ‘And the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” ‘ Also of interest: All Rudy stained-glass window posts from the start and York native Steve Zirnkilton’s ‘Law & Order’ voice known to the world and York County enthusiasts could find historical event, site to visit every day.
Some families honored with plates on the 31 J. Horace Rudy-produced windows at York’s First Moravian Church are well known. The S. Morgan Smith family would be one such example.
But others so honored lived less notable, productive lives.
This was the case of the unsung Shank family whose plate is, coincidentally, obscured at First Moravian Church.
Here is the seventh window, and family, profiled in this series by First Moravian member Terrence Downs:
As the basic but impressive glass at right shows the Dove in flight passing through the Trident, this symbol exemplifies the Holy Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit; the purpose of Jesus’ baptism was to reveal the identity of the Messiah to John the Baptist, the Dove being the Sprit of God. This unit is presented In Loving Memory – Jacob Shank and Mary Landis Shank.
The name-plate of this window is partially obscured by location of the organ console at the choir platform.
Jacob B. Shank, son of John & Mary A. (Buser) Shank was born in Spring Garden Township June 3, 1832. He was the grandson of George Shank and his grandmother was Margaret Brown.
Noted in John Gibson’s “History of York County”, Jacob Shank’s great-grandmother cooked for the soldiers of the American Revolution while they occupied York, as his great-grandfather was a soldier in that war. Mary Landis Shank was born in York December 25, 1836 and according to the Moravian Pastor C. A. Weber’s journal, she resided ‘in and around York all her life’ and ‘She was remembered as a faithful member of the Congregation for many years and highly respected by all who knew her’ upon Mrs. Shank’s death in 1920.
Her family home, where she died was located in Freystown, when at the close of the 19th Century was annexed to part of the 12th Ward of present-day York City. Mr. Shank married Mary Landis Shank on December 4, 1859, with the Rev. Francis F. Hagen of the Moravian Church of York officiating. Two children were born – Agnes A. and Henry J. Shank, information on them is vague, except in Gibson’s book previously referenced, that Henry was dead upon Gibson’s narrative being printed (1905). No mention is made of Agnes upon the death of Mary Landis Shank in 1920.
Jacob Shank’s trade was a miller, his start at the Philip Shaeffer Mill in Glen Rock (in operation until the 1933 Flood and now is site of the Glen Rock Mill Inn). In 1856, Mr. Shank was hired by George Loucks to have charge of the Loucks Codorus Mill operation for P.A. & S. Small, and for many years.
It appears thru Church records that both the Shank and Buser families were extensively involved in the life and function of the Moravian Church from its inception. Joseph Schank was emigrated from Ober, Ryxingen (on the Entz) in 1752 – Henry Buser was born in Basel, Switzerland and arrived to colonial territories of America in 1749. Both families settled in York County.
This quiet family in the annuals of First Moravian has little info thru journals and resources to chronicle their lives. In review of an 1876 Atlas of York County – in the south-western segment of Spring Garden Township holds a land notation of ‘Shank and Shaffer’ just east of a grist mill where listed owners are A. Loucks and Jacob Weiser. This area is situated about 1-2 miles due west of present day Apple Hill campus within close proximity of the Codorus Creek.
However, by their families’ devotion to First Moravian, their names adorn this lovely tribute.
Acknowledgement is heartily given to John Knokey, Jr. for his providing research in the Shank/Buser family records of the York First Moravian archives.