I was born and raised in the German Reformed tradition in the anthracite coal regions of Pennsylvania and have lived my entire life in various small towns in western Schuylkill County. My family was involved primarily in mining and farming. By the time I was 10 years old I had lost my father, my grandfather and an uncle in separate incidents in the coal mines. I graduated from Kutztown University in 1963 with a major in chemistry. I taught High School science at the Kutztown Area High School for four years. In 1967 I was married to my current wife and accepted a teaching position at Northern Lebanon High School. I taught Earth and Space Sciences, including advanced courses in Introductory Oceanography, Paleontology and Historical Astronomy to gifted students. I was at Northern Lebanon for 27 years, and during the last 14 years, I was also the pitching coach on a very successful baseball team.
At the age of 54, in 1994, I received the call to the ministry. This occurred while standing in front of the Kirkland monument on the battlefield at Fredericksburg, Virginia. I elected to take an early retirement from teaching and for obvious reasons entered the Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg (despite not being Lutheran). At the end of my first year in the seminary I received a call to be a student supply minister at the Hegins Valley Charge of the United Church of Christ. Upon graduation from the seminary in 1997, I received a permanent call to the Hegins Valley Charge. After 18 years I remain the full-time minister at the only two churches I have ever served.
My interest in the Civil War began during my years at Kutztown University. I remember the first full length book I read on the war. The early 60’s were the centennial years of the war and several series of books were published to mark the anniversary. I happened on a book titled “I Rode with Stonewall” by Henry Kyd Douglas. I was captivated by the story and became an avid reader of anything related to the Civil War years. Since then I have traveled to virtually every major CW battlefield east of the Mississippi River. I found Antietam to be special because of the way it has been preserved. Unlike many others it has not been marred by over development. It is not what I would call a “Tourist Trap.” Here the battlefield is a vista that enables visitors to see more clearly what happened than any other site I have ever visited. This made the study of Antietam of particular interest to me. I hope I can impart some of that interest and enthusiasm to others so that areas such as this might be preserved for future generations, and thereby make clear the price that was paid by others to give us this great nation.