Colonial Life

Evangelical Lutheran Church

In the New World, faith and frugality were guiding principles. Numerous churches were established in early Fredericktowne, which served for religious purposes, as well as centers for education and social life.

The distinct cultures of these early settlers were illustrated by the diverse architectural designs, styles of dress, cooking traditions and festivities. Many of these original congregations still exist in downtown Frederick today.

John Thomas Schley
John Thomas Schley (1712-1790)

John Thomas Schley (1712-1790) of Moerzheim, Germany immigrated to Frederick in approximately 1745, and was among its earliest settlers. Schley (who is said to have built the first house in Frederick) was highly involved in the development of the town. Schley was a schoolmaster, tavern owner, organist and composer. He was also very active in the Reformed Church (now Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ) which had a large German congregation. He was a founding member of Frederick’s first fire company. Schley became a naturalized citizen in 1760.

John Thomas Schley’s Songbooks

John Thomas Schley’s Songbooks from Marshall L. Etchison Collection
John Thomas Schley’s Songbooks
from Marshall L. Etchison Collection

John Schley, a schoolmaster, musician, and organist, brought his songbooks from Germany and continued to update them. His notes reflect his worldly education and include his own musical compositions, popular music of the day, and a quotation from Shakespeare.