Graveyard Tour – Shiloh Evangelical Lutheran
The Old Cemetery
The final stop of the 2009 Historic Graveyard Tour that was held on May 2, 2009 was The Old Cemetery at Shiloh Evangelical Lutheran Church, the oldest congregation in Lewisville, and the oldest Lutheran Church in Forsyth County. Located a quarter mile east of Shiloh Evangelical Lutheran Church — tucked away in a peaceful nook in the woods — The Old Cemetery offers a bit of “revolutionary” history and local legend for all who walk that sacred ground. The site of the original church is located further into the woods, not too far from The Old Cemetery.
Terry Dull, a long-time member of Shiloh Evangelical Lutheran Church, hosted the last portion of the Historic Graveyard Tour. About eight years ago, Terry and his wife Bette began researching the history of the church and the old graveyard. They wanted to preserve the church’s rich history for future generations. In 2002 Terry and Bette published their findings in a 36-page booklet titled The Old Deutsch Meeting House Graveyard, just in time for the church’s 225th anniversary.
For more HISTORY, PHOTOS and AUDIO, please continue to the NEXT SECTION.
The roots of what would become Shiloh Evangelical Lutheran Church began in 1777, when a group of German residents organized a church. Lutheran Church historians have written of a settlement of German Lutherans living in what would later become Lewisville, prior to the arrival of Moravian settlers in the area by the early 1750s.
The church, which eventually was called “The German Church Beyond Muddy Creek” by the Moravians, was served both by visiting Lutheran and Moravian preachers. As early as 1776, Moravian records bear evidence of regular visits by Moravian preachers and of the services, baptisms and funerals over which they presided.
In 1810, Lutheran Church records recognized the church as “belonging to the Lutherans and Reformed.” Those records further state:
All House-fathers thanked the Brethren [Moravians] for their faithful service in serving this church with preachers, and asked that they might continue to do this as often as the congregation might be in the position to arrange for it.
Moravian records indicate that its preachers continued to minister to the Muddy Creek Church until at least 1854, the date of the last mention of the Muddy Creek Church in Moravian records.
The Church by Many Names
The original church has been referred to somewhat differently in various records over the years. One of its names was “The Old Deutsch Meeting House.” The term “Deutsch” is the German language word for “German.” Over time, the pronunciation of the word “Deutsch” (pronounced “Doitch”) erroneously evolved to “Dutch,” resulting in the reference, “The Old Dutch Meeting House,” even though the members were most certainly German, not Dutch.
As previously mentioned, Moravian records include the use of the name, “The German Church Beyond (or By, Near, On) Muddy Creek” — or simplified to “Muddy Creek.” In 1813 the church was named Gerber’s Church, because of the gift of two acres of land for the church building and graveyard from George Gerber’s 245-acre plantation.
Lewisville Historical Society information sets circa 1860 as the year that the church became known as “Shiloh.” In addition, Lutheran records refer to a visit to “Shiloh church” by Lutheran official, William A. Lutz, in 1876, the date considered by many in the Lutheran Church as the beginning of the present-day Shiloh Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Notable Graveyard Information
Folklore has it that The Old Cemetery may include unmarked graves of two Indians and three black women (who were not slaves). While a few graves have been added within the last several decades, most are considerably older. Some of the more significant graves in The Old Cemetery include:
- Francis Ketner — Revolutionary War soldier. Born in Pennsylvania in 1748 and died in 1831 at age 83. Married for 59 years.
- Wilheminia Doll (Dull) — Oldest grave. Born in 1772 and died in 1792 at age 20. Tombstone written in German.
- Emma Shelton — Oldest person. Born in 1897 and died in 1987 at age 90.
Purchasing the Booklet
Copies of The Old Deutsch Meeting House Graveyard booklet (containing a brief history of the church and a map of the graveyard and the known names associated with graves) can be obtained by calling Shiloh Evangelical Lutheran Church at (336) 945-5255. Church office hours vary, so please leave a message if your call is not immediately answered. A $5.00 donation is requested.
Directions to The Old Cemetery
The Old Cemetery is not visible from Shiloh Evangelical Lutheran Church. (The church’s modern graveyard, on the other hand, is located near the present sanctuary.) Upon approaching Shiloh Evangelical Lutheran Church at 703 Lewisville-Vienna Road in Lewisville, turn onto the drive on the RIGHT-HAND SIDE of the church.
Follow the drive and bear to the right when you come to a fork. Continue driving on the paved stretch that narrows to driveway width. Keep a watchful eye as you eventually round two blind curves and then pass by homes on your left and right. You’ll soon come to the end of the paved drive and begin traveling on a short stretch of dirt road that leads through a wooded section to a clearing on your left that is The Old Cemetery. (View a Google map of The Old Cemetery.)
A Peaceful Resting Place
When Terry and Bette Dull completed The Old Deutsch Meeting House Graveyard booklet, there were 294 marked graves in The Old Cemetery. Since then, two more graves have been added, including Terry’s wife Bette, who passed away in 2008.
Bette’s final resting place at The Old Cemetery seems quite fitting. Having grown up as a Moravian — and remaining a Moravian at heart — Bette played an important role in preserving the history of The Old Cemetery near Shiloh Evangelical Lutheran Church, whose early spiritual life was shaped by Moravians.
Whispers in the Wind
If you’ve never visited The Old Cemetery behind Shiloh Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lewisville, I encourage you to do so. In that quaint clearing, nature’s soothing sounds evoke a feeling of reverence. The wind itself whispers through the towering trees, as if conveying to those who are listening that each life represented on that sacred ground is uniquely precious.
Photo Gallery and Other Info
Check out the links below for the PHOTO GALLERY, the GOOGLE MAP and the 5-minute AUDIO RECORDING of Terry Dull providing additional information on The Old Cemetery. A link to the CHURCH’S WEBSITE is also provided below.
ATTRIBUTIONS: Sources for this article include The Old Deutsch Meeting House Graveyard, the Lewisville Historical Society, and Shallow Ford Country, by G. Galloway Reynolds.