Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church
Affectionately called The Airmont Lutheran Church.
The Palatinate was a German principality, located on the lower Rhine, near Baden.
The people were mostly peasants, who made their living on farms and vineyards.
This territory had suffered several invasions by the troops of the French King Louis XIV.
In May 1707 southwestern Germany was again invaded by France and plundered for supplies
needed for her wars. The peasants of this area suffered further from heavy taxes,
levied by the ruling class which sought to emulate the lavish courts of Louis XIV,
often leaving the poor without bread. Although there is no record of religious
persecutions at this time there were frequent religious quarrels between petty leaders.
The ruling class determined whether a principality was to be Lutheran, Calvinist or
Catholic, according to the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 after the Thirty Years War.
Their meager living conditions became unbearable by an unprecedented cold winter
beginning in October 1708. The cold was intense and by January 1709, the wine froze
in the barrels. Vines and fruit trees died. The swiftest rivers were frozen over
and a heavy snow blanketed the land.
The Palatines had heard about a wonderful land across the sea. England needed colonists
for her new land in America (in 1664, England had taken New Netherland from the Dutch
and changed the name New Amsterdam to New York). In the Palatinate, the snow and ice
had barely begun to melt when families began to sail down the Rhine to Rotterdam. The
trip took four to six weeks. From April to October 1709, at least 13,500 were transported
across the English channel from Holland to England at the expense of the British government.
The names of most of the Ramapo (Ramapough and various other spellings) group appear on
the shipping lists for July.
Ten ships were contracted to take 3300 Palatines to the Hudson River valley. In
December 1709, they boarded the ships and started along the coast of England but anchored
several months and it was 10 April 1710 before they started across the ocean. The people
were closely packed below deck - some had no fresh air for weeks. Many died. There were
30 births at sea. The first ship arrived in New York in the middle of June. By July, 446
children and adults had died. New York did not welcome this large influx of people in
poor health and they were camped on what is now Governorís Island. Things did not go
well for the Palatines. A change in government in London cut off support for the Palatines
and on 12 September 1712, Governor Hunter told the Palatines they were on their own.
Some stayed on, others moved north to Schoharie, some went to Pennsylvania, some south
as far as the Raritan, and a group of about a dozen men moved their families to Ramapo.
On 18 April 1713, this small group of German Lutheran Palatine men with their families
and meager possessions arrived at Ramapo (now Mahwah, New Jersey). Among them were
Peter Wanemaker and wife Anna Clara . Frederick Theoderick (John Dietrick) Wanemaker
and wife, Anna Kunigunda. Conrad and Anna Margareta Meisinger with two children.
Nicholas Meissinger and wife Anna Maria. Christian and Marien Ursula Streight and
four children. Conrad (age 55) and Anna Maria (age 48) Frederick and their two children,
John Peter (age 17) and John Conrad (age 16). Peter (age 40) and Magdalena (age 42)
Kerlack with one child, Margaretta (age 15). Adam Miller (age 39) with wife and two
children. Michael (age 41) and Anna Margaret Storr with one child, Elizabeth Catharine
(age 15). Hendrick Schmidt (age 57) and Anna Elizabeth ( age 57) with two children.
Conrad and Margaretha Linus and six children.
The eleven families settled in this area and organized into a congregation under
Lutheran Pastor Justus Falckner. About 1720, they built a log church near the site
of the present Moffatt Road Cemetery in Mahwah, NJ. The stones of this cemetery
date from the 18th to mid-19th centuries, with the earliest stone dated 1745.
Among others, family names include Wanamaker, Stormes, Fox, Frederick, Hemmion, Fisher,
VanBuskirk, Carlough, Suffern, Messenger, Bevans, Osborn and Esler. The log church
was replaced prior to 1739 with a larger structure, and again in 1798 by the present
Ramapo Reformed Church, which the Lutheran and Dutch Reformed congregations built together.
The two congregations shared the building on alternate weeks until 1848, when the
Lutherans sold their interest in the building to the Reformed congregation. The
Lutheran congregation was reorganized on Airmont Avenue, just over the New York State
boundary. The members began using the new Airmont Lutheran Cemetery opposite the new
church and the Moffat Road Cemetery fell into disuse.
Further information on the area which is called The Ramapo Tract and Its Early Settlers
appears on Dutch Door under "Other, Historical".
*A History of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, Airmont, Suffern, New York
Formerly Ramapo Lutheran Church, Mahwah, New Jersey. Organized 14 June 1715.
250th Anniversary [1715-1965] Booklet by Theodore L. and Erna H. Grottke.
*Moffatt Road Cemetery Marker erected by The Mahwah Historic Sites Committee.
*A Walking Tour of the Moffatt Road Cemetery, Mahwah, NJ by The Historic Preservation
Commission of Mahwah - 1991.
Ethel Kay Konight - June 2005