Saint Michael Lutheran Church
Pastor: John Wertz, Jr.
2308 Merrimac Road
The current St. Michael Lutheran Church is not one of our historic churches, but it is on the site of the first church in the area, which had a completely different history than the other historic churches in the area. This first church was first named St. Michael's, then St. Peter's, and was sometimes referred to as “Prices’ Church.”
Among the first European settlers to the area were German farmers who came to the region in the early 1740′s travelling through English colonies. The German settlers came through Pennsylvania, most of them not speaking English, and established farms near what is now Price’s Fork and also along Tom’s Creek. Apparently they got along well with their Indian neighbors, at least until the English started selling land grants in the Indian territory. In 1755 the Indians killed some of the English and German settlers in the Draper’s Meadows Massacre at the outset of the French and Indian War. After the close of the French and Indian War in 1763, their location was illegal because the dividing line between English and Indian territories was the Eastern Continental Divide which ran along the ridge that is now in the Town of Blacksburg.
Because of the high infant mortality rate among the early settlers, the German Lutherans were very concerned about Baptism and felt the need for a church. At first services were conducted in private homes by lay persons. In 1770 they were able to build St. Michael’s Lutheran Church. This was a small log church erected on land that had been requested from Col. Patton, the Virginia land agent later killed in the Draper’s Meadow Massacre. Later the name of the church was changed to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.
During the early period, there was a shortage of ordained Lutheran pastors, and St. Peter’s was often served by itinerate clergy who visited the congregation from both the northern Shenandoah Valley and from settlements in North Carolina.
By the 1880′s the old church building had deteriorated. Because of the increase in students in the Corps of Cadets, the synod formed Luther Memorial Lutheran Church in Blacksburg, and four other congregations in the Price’s Fork, McCoy and Glade Road areas. In time the original St. Peter’s was closed and was later demolished.
In 1968 the current St. Michael Lutheran Church was established by the merger of two of the four small churches. The new congregation chose to build on the site of the original church and reclaim one of the historic names.
Bodell, Dorothy H., “Social Life and Customs,” Blacksburg, A Special Place for 200 Years, Clara B. Cox, ed. Town of Blacksburg, 1998.
The Church Records of St. Michael’s Lutheran Church of Montgomery County, Virginia 1796 – 1885, copied by Clovis E. Linkous. One copy is in the Special Collections of the Virginia
Tech Library. This document also is on-line at http://www.st-michael-lutheran-church.org/docs/history/St-Michael-Church-History.pdf
Eisenberg, William Edward, The Lutheran Church in Virginia 1717 – 1962. Trustees of the Virginia Synod, Lutheran Church in America, Roanoke, Virginia. 1967.