Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Kurtz, John Nicholas

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KURTZ, John Nicholas, clergyman, b. in Lutzelinden, Nassau-Weilburg, Germany, about 1720; d. in Baltimore, Md., 12 May, 1794. He was educated in the University of Halle, selected as a missionary to Pennsylvania, and came to this country, 15 Jan., 1745. Soon after his arrival he settled at New Hanover, Montgomery co., Pa., where he labored for two years, teaching and preaching. In 1748, at the first meeting of the first Lutheran synod in this country, he was ordained to the ministry, and became pastor at Tulpehocken, Pa., where he remained for twenty-three years. In 1771 he removed to York, Pa., where he continued his pastoral labors until 1789, when he retired from the active duties of the ministry and removed to Baltimore, Md., to spend his last days with one of his sons. By his learning and indefatigable activity Dr. Kurtz acquired great influence in the church, and received various marks of confidence and honor, especially in being selected senior of the synod. — His son, John Daniel, b. in Germantown, Pa., in 1763; d. in Baltimore, Md., 30 June, 1856, studied theology under the direction of his father, and afterward with Rev. Dr. Gotthilf Henry E. Muhlenberg at Lancaster, Pa. He was licensed to preach by the synod of Pennsylvania in 1784, and for some time assisted his father in pastoral work. He afterward took charge of a congregation near York, Pa., and in 1786 was installed as pastor of the principal Lutheran church in Baltimore, Md., with which he remained till 1832, when physical infirmities compelled him to resign. He was one of the founders of the General synod, a director in the Theological seminary, and prominently connected with all the benevolent institutions of the Lutheran church. — His grandson, Benjamin, b. in Harrisburg, Pa., 28 Feb., 1795; d. in Baltimore, Md., 29 Dec., 1865, began his studies in Harrisburg academy, and at the age of fifteen was an assistant teacher there. At the age of eighteen he began the study of theology at Lebanon, Pa., in 1815 he was licensed to preach, and immediately received a call as assistant to his uncle, the Rev. John Daniel Kurtz, D. D., who was then pastor at Baltimore. He was then pastor at Hagerstown for sixteen years, and in 1831-'3 at Chambersburg, Pa. Retiring from the active duties of the ministry in 1833, owing to failing health, he took charge of the “Lutheran Observer,” a post which he held for nearly thirty years. In 1838 he received the degree of D. D. from Washington college, Pa., and in 1858 that of LL. D. from Wittenberg college, Springfield, Ohio. Dr. Kurtz was regarded as one of the most eloquent men of his time. He was a zealous advocate of revivals, and had very little sympathy with the confessional writings of the Lutheran church. He was one of the founders of the general synod and of the theological seminary at Gettysburg, and was for more than thirty years one of the trustees of Pennsylvania college and of the board of directors of the seminary. He was also the founder of Missionary institute at Selinsgrove, Pa. During his two European tours, in 1825 and 1846, he contributed interesting incidents and reminiscences to the “Lutheran Intelligencer” and to the “Lutheran Observer,” of which he was editor at the time. Among his other publications are “First Principles of Religion for Children” (Hagerstown, 1821); “Sermons on Sabbath-Schools” (1822); “Faith, Hope, and Charity” (1823); “Infant Baptism and Affusion, with Essays on Related Subjects” (Baltimore, 1840); “Theological Sketch-Book, or Skeletons of Sermons, Carefully arranged in Systematic Order,” partly original, partly selected (2 vols., 1844); “Why are You a Lutheran?” (1847); “Lutheran Prayer-Book” (1856), etc.