Manuscript Group 1048, Swackhamer Family Papers, 1827 – 1954

Archives Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs

Manuscript Group 1048, Swackhamer Family

Papers, 1827 – 1954, 0.15 linear feet / 5 folder

Call Number: MG 1048 + Folder number


Manuscripts, photographs, and genealogical data concerning the Swackhamer family in New Jersey and New York.  Of particular interest are letters and parochial reports of Rev. Lambert        Swackhamer (1805-1857), who in 1844 founded the Old “Swake Church” at Mount Bethel, Hunterdon County, remaining there until 1850, when he accepted the ministry of the Lutheran Church at Berne, near Albany, New York.  Swackhamer was ordained to the Lutheran ministry by the Hartwick Synod in 1833, but broke with it four years later over his opposition to slavery and was one of the organizers of the Franckean Synod.

Biographical Note:

Lambert Swackhamer, the son of Stephen and Jane (Bowman) Swackhamer, was born on April 21, 1805 in Middle Valley, Morris County, New Jersey.  As an infant, his parents moved to Hartwick Seminary, New York where, in 1831, Lambert graduated from the seminary for which the town was named.  He was licensed as a preacher and became the pastor of a Lutheran church in Manheim, New York.  After withdrawing from the New York synod in 1833 over doctrinal differences, he joined the newly formed Hartwick Synod, which ordained him on September 24, 1833.  Four years later, he again withdrew from the governing body, this time over differing views on slavery.  With John D. Lawyer, Phillip Wieting, William Ottman, and their congregations, he formed the Franckean Synod, which condemned slavery as “a sin in the sight of God.”  Later, after a New York chancery court found the Franckean Synod “un-Lutheran,” Swackhamer returned to the Hartwick Synod.

In 1842, after bring stricken with tuberculosis, Swackhamer moved from Manheim to Hartwick Seminary, and from there to South Carolina.  He returned to Hartwick Seminary a year later, but soon moved his family to German Valley (now Long Valley, but also known as Dutch Valley), New Jersey.  He then helped found the Mount Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church, also referred to as the “Old Swackhamer Church” in Hunterdon County, where he was pastor until 1850.  At that time he became the pastor of the Lutheran Church at Berne, near Albany, New York, where he died on November 2, 1857.

Lambert Swackhamer married three times, the first to Janet MacNaughton (1804-1899) on June 19, 1828.  He had twenty-five children, among who was Catherine Margaret Swackhamer, born to Janet Swackhamer on January 11, 1838.  Catherine graduated from the Hartwick Seminary, was a teacher for a period of time, and married Charles Edmund Whitbeck (ca. 1831-1912) on January 11, 1859.  Catherine and Charles Whitbeck had seven children: Lambert (1860-1865), Alice May (b. 1862), Clarence H. (1865-1878), George G. (1867-1941), Harry Nelson (b. 1870), Charles Edward (b. 1872), and Stella Pearl (b. 1877).  Catherine Swackhamer Whitbeck lived in Hartwick Seminary, New York for sixty-eight years and died there on January 6, 1926.


Neel, John Dickson “Crumbling Ruins, Old Tombstones Mark ‘Swackhamer’ Church Site,” The Star (1954 April 1) (located in the collection)

Provenance Note:

This collection was donated to the New Jersey Historical Society in March of 1977 by Mrs. Carlton Burrer, a great-granddaughter of Reverend Lambert Swackhamer.

Scope and Content Note:

The Swackhamer Papers consist of five folders of documents dating from 1827-1954.  This collection includes a letter from Lambert Swackhamer to Phillip Wieting; parochial and synod reports; a sermon written by Lambert Swackhamer; photographs of members of the Swackhamer family and of Hartwick Seminary, New York; Hartwick Synod minutes; and newspaper clippings and obituaries.  The materials are separated by document type and then arranged chronologically.

Folder List:

Folder Description Dates
1 Correspondence
– L(ambert) Swackhamer to Bishop P(hillip) Wieting 1843
– Valentine: Charles E. Whitbeck to Catherine M. Swackhamer ca. 1857
2 Church documents
– Report: Parochial report of German Valley district 1836
– Account: Franckean Synod in account with L(ambert) Swackhamer 1837
– Report: “On the Hartwick Synod and their conduct” October 7, 1837
– Sermon: Rev. Lambert Swackhamer 1854
– Report: on church activity n. d.
3 Certificates
– Certificate recommending Lambert Swackhamer as a teacher 1827
– Certificate of completion at the Hartwick Seminary 1855
– Certificate recommending Catherine M. Swackhamer as a teacher 1856
4 Photographs 1867-1931, n. d.
5 Printed matter
– “Minutes of the Twenty-Eighth Convention of the Hartwick Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, in the State of New York, Helad at Johnstown, Fulton Co., N.Y., October 9-15, 1858” 1858
– Invitation to the golden wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Whitbeck” 1909
– Newspaper clippings: obituaries and articles 1883, 1926, 1954

Processed by Kim Charlton, January 2000 as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.


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