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Wytheville in Wythe County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Historic St. John Lutheran Church

1799

 

— Wytheville, Virginia —

 
Historic St. John Lutheran Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By TeamOHE, July 25, 2020
1. Historic St. John Lutheran Church Marker
Inscription.  St. John Lutheran Church

St. John Lutheran Church, formally organized in 1799, is an important Wythe County historical landmark located at the intersection of Interstate 81 and U.S. Routes 21/52. The congregation came into being as a result of the migration of German settlers into the western part of the county following the Revolutionary War. At its inception the new mission was yoked with sister Lutheran congregations organized in Wythe County before 1800 St. Paul Church (1776), Zion Church (1791), and Kimberlin Church (1797).

St. John Church was served for several years (1798-99) by the Reverend Bernhard Willy, a Reformed pastor from the Shenandoah Valley. He was responsible for organizing the Lutheran churches of Wythe County under a common constitution.

In 1799, George Daniel Flohr, a native of Germany who came to America as a schoolmaster, arrived in Wythe County as a licensed minister after receiving training at Hebron Lutheran Church, Madison, Virginia. Father Flohr, as he was affectionately known, was called to be the first pastor of St. John Church where he served until his death in 1826. He also served

St. John Lutheran Cemetery - Introduction image. Click for full size.
By TeamOHE, July 25, 2020
2. St. John Lutheran Cemetery - Introduction
The cemetery is divided into eleven sections, labeled A-K, as shown on the area map. Following the area map are maps of each section, an alphabetical index of all headstones, an appendix for 2001, listing all new stones at that time and any stones inadvertently left off the 1995 map, an appendix for 2006, listing new stones since August 2001, and an appendix for 2011, listing new stones since July 2006. The index and appendices list each name, if legible, birth and death dates, and the section letter and number where that headstone can be located on the map. The appendices appear different from the index in that they list the section and a number preceded by a cross. The cross is to assist the eye in locating the number on the map and the 01, 06, and 11 represent 2001, 2006, and 2011 respectively, the year the appendix was done. The scale for all the sections is the same.
as pastor of St. Paul and Kimberlin Lutheran Churches near Rural Retreat and Ebenezer Lutheran Church in Smyth County. His extended parish included the New River Settlement in Montgomery County and Lewisburg in Greenbrier County (West Virginia). The influence of Father Flohr on the Church and the community in Southwest Virginia is immeasurable.

Under inspired leadership St. John Church prospered and grew. Its place of influence in Wythe County and church circles in Southwest Virginia continued for a full century under such pastors as the Reverend James A. Brown and the Reverend Alexander Phillippi, both of whom were leading educators in the church and community.

This influential Church spawned a number of new mission congregations near Wytheville, namely Lebanon Church (1851), Holy Trinity Church (1876), St. Luke Church (1888), St. Mark Church (1891), Poplar Grove Church (1897), and Holy Advent Church (1915).

Eleven pastors, including three future college presidents, came from St. John Congregation.

The original building, believed to have been constructed in 1800, was used for half a century. The present frame structure was dedicated in 1854 and underwent extensive remodeling in 1885. Since that time it has been preserved as well as possible without noticeable structural change.

After the beginning of the 20th century, the membership of St. John began

Historic St. John Lutheran Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By TeamOHE, July 25, 2020
3. Historic St. John Lutheran Church Marker
to decline as the population clustered around the railroad and the town churches. In 1924 the congregation, now small in membership, resolved to merge with Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. An essential part of the merger resolution provided for perpetual care of the St. John Church Building and cemetery and an annual homecoming service at the 'mother church' in August of each year.

St. John Cemetery

The precise time when the present burial ground was first occupied as 'God's Acre' cannot be ascertained from church or civil records. It is probable that the graveyard was commenced before Wythe County was formed in 1790. Some of the graves bear evident marks of extending far back into the 18th century, although no legible inscription dates further back than 1805.

There is a sacredness attached to this hallowed ground, the final resting place of Wythe County's rich and poor, old and young, famous and forgotten, who now rest from their labors.

Among the first graves that were marked, we find the names of Rader, Kegley, Sharitz, Repass, and Brown. One of the most recognizable graves is that of Pastor George Daniel Flohr. His grave is marked by a native stone known as 'mountain marble', hewn and chiseled in the form of a coffin. Another burial plot of note is the Gibboney square which is located within the foundation of the original church. First intended

Historic St. John Lutheran Church image. Click for full size.
By TeamOHE, July 25, 2020
4. Historic St. John Lutheran Church
to be reserved for pastors, the plot was 3old to the Gibboney family by special concession.

A number of members of Wytheville's founding families are buried at old St. John Cemetery, including such names as the Simmermans, the Spillers, the Hallers, the Crocketts, the Baumgardners, and others.

The graves, the monuments, and the inscriptions of this old cemetery are witnesses to the faithful departed and memorials of the devotion of the living for their dead.

The Flohr House

The Reverend George Daniel Flohr, born in Germany in 1763, was the founding father of St. John Lutheran Church and served as its first pastor from 1799 until his death in 1826. His home, located about one mile north of the church, was built on 47 acres of land purchased in 1807 by Pastor Flohr from Andrew Brown, an elder of the congregation. It is uncertain whether the house was built by Flohr or whether it was on the property when he purchased it. The original structure was a two room house constructed of hewn logs. It has a large fireplace made of native stone, used for heating and cooking, and all indications are that it had a dirt floor. The house was later enlarged with two additional rooms and other structural improvements. After Pastor Flohr's death in 1826 the home was owned by his widow, Elizabeth Baer Flohr, until her death in 1858. The Flohr House has been owned

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by a number of persons since that time.

In 1984, when the house faced destruction for a real estate development, effort was initiated to save the old Flohr home and to relocate it on the St. John Church property. The house was purchased by Everett Kegley, then disassembled, moved to the new site, and reassembled using stone from a spring house and chimney for the foundation. The project to develop this house into a museum continues as funds become available from private contributions.

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The old church building, the cemetery, and the Flohr House are maintained by the generous gifts of families and friends of St. John Church. Gifts may be made payable to St. John Foundation, 405 West Main Street, Wytheville, Virginia 24382.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial SitesChurches & Religion.
 
Location. 36° 57.698′ N, 81° 6.063′ W. Marker is in Wytheville, Virginia, in Wythe County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of North 4th Street (U.S. 52) and Holston Road, on the right when traveling west. Attached to the south wall of Saint Johns Church. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1650 N 4th St, Wytheville VA 24382, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Battle of Wytheville (within shouting distance of this marker); The Flohr House

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(within shouting distance of this marker); St. John’s Lutheran Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Boone Trail Highway Memorial (approx. 1.3 miles away); Wytheville (approx. 1.3 miles away); Edith Bolling Wilson (approx. 1.3 miles away); Wytheville Training School (approx. 1.4 miles away); Robert Enoch Withers (approx. 1.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wytheville.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 22, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 20, 2020, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. This page has been viewed 61 times since then and 25 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on December 20, 2020, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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Feb. 25, 2021