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 Pipe Organ rededicated at Picture Rocks Baptist Church

By Staff | Jul 3, 2012

Participants in the rededication of the 75-year-old pipe organ at the Picture Rocks Baptist Church included (l-r): Jan Bryan-Davis, Pastor Ronald Turner, Tim Wertz, Rebekah Gordner and organist Patricia Shreiner.

After more than 75 years of use, one of the areas few remaining pipe organs was rededicated Sunday evening, June 17, at the Picture Rocks Baptist Church.

Pastor Ronald Turner summarized its history over the years by saying, “Since its installation, the organ, pipes and chimes were moved from one side of the platform to the other. Recently when the pipes were laid on the floor, it gave up its secrets that leathers covering the pipes needed replaced. It was a long process with one cipher repaired just this morning. The work was done by Justin Frey of Frey Pipe Organs of the Scranton area.” Monies from donations to the memorial fund were directed to the restoration costs.

According to church records, on October 12, 1924, a sum of $5,000 was received from the estate of Charles Runkle to purchase the pipe organ. On July 17, 1927, at $50 per year, the church employed its maker, Bemin and Company, to keep the instrument in repair.

Records did not report any details about the generous benefactor. Current research into Hughesville’s Pleasant Hill cemetery records revealed that Charles Runkle (1844-March 15, 1924) served in the Civil War as a Private in Company K in the 89th Regiment. It was a New York regiment formed in Elmira in December 1861 and was known as the Dickinson Guard where Runkle served til war’s end.

Runkle’s obituary states “the well known resident of Picture Rocks died in Montoursville at the home of his nephew, Irvin Converse,” with funeral services also held there.

“The deceased was survived by a sister, Mrs. Daniel (Ida Emma) Haas, then of Montoursville but at her death in 1938, lived in Hughesville and also buried at Pleasant Hill. Other siblings were a sister Henrietta and brother Melvin. The parents, Cornelius and Maria lived in New York, then in Liberty in 1860 before locating to Picture Rocks. In more recent censuses, Charles was listed as a farmer.

The plot in which Charles and his wife Martha are interred is shared by another Picture Rocks couple, Franklin and Maria “Mary” Krause. At the gravesite, small stones indicate the Runkle’s as auntie and uncle, making it a possibility they were childless.

Due to the national holidays surrounding the rededication service date, the event committee billed the gathering as “A Patriotic Sing-along.” Learning the organ’s donor was a veteran who made the selection of songs even more fitting with at least five selections written during the Civil War era.

Songs in which the audience participated were accompanied by Patricia M. Shreiner who provided a list of names of former organists. They included Ethel Scholl, Sue (Dorman) Dublin, Sharon (McClain) Fisher, Eleanor Hill, Joan Snyder and Connie Eddy.

This is Shreiner’s second stint as organist having served between Fisher and Hill. Soloists of the evening included Tim Wertz, Jan Bryan-Davis and Rebekah Gordner. Refreshments were served to more than fifty attendees.