By Trip Wiggins
Rev. George Strebeck
Born abt. 1772/Baltimore, MD – Died abt. 1832/Perquimans Co., NC
m. 24 Oct 1793/NYC to Jerusha Mott of NYC (abt 1772/NYC – abt 1811/NYC)
They had at least 6 children (1810 census).
m. 20 Oct 1812/Fredericksburg, VA to Sydney Susannah Graham of Fredericksburg, VA by. Rev. Woodville
At St. George’s Nov. 19, 1811 – abt. Feb. 1813
1797-1804 Zion Lutheran Church, NYC (Founding pastor)
1804-1805 New Castle & Bedford Episcopal Churches, NY (missionary)
1805-1811 St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, NYC (Founding Rector)
1811-1813 St. George’s
1813-1815 Christ Church, New Bern, NC
For serving such a short time at St. George’s, there is quite a bit we can find out about the Rev. Mr. Strebeck – who had a pretty interesting life, even if only two years were spent in Fredericksburg.
He was born about 1772 in the Baltimore, Md., then moved to New York City (NYC) about 1790-92. There he plunged into theology and the ministry and was probably first ordained as a Methodist minister about 1792 but by 1797 had been ordained as a Lutheran minister and was the founding pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in NYC, the first English Lutheran Church in NYC. It was established to serve the non-German speaking Lutherans in the city. He even translated the prayer book for his congregation from German to English.
1797 was a busy year for Strebeck as he also published “A Collection of Evangelical Hymns, made from different Authors and Collections, for the English Lutheran Church in New York” in NYC.
As to his preaching at this time, it was noted, “Mr. Strebeck was a very zealous, popular preacher, and crowds attended his ministry.”
In 1804 his life radically changed. It was then that he withdrew from the Lutheran Church (with much of his congregation) and moved to the Episcopal Church. (It appears this was fairly common in the Lutheran Church at the time as most churches wanted to remain German-speaking and the liturgy for the Lutheran and Episcopal churches was very similar but, of course, the Episcopal liturgy was in English.) For the next year he was a missionary in Westchester, NY at the New Castle and Bedford Episcopal Churches.
He was ordained by Bishop Benjamin Moore, Diocese of New York; the following year and accepted a call to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in NYC with much of his congregation former Lutheran’s at Zion. He was the founding rector. Trivia: Bishop Moore gave Alexander Hamilton communion on his deathbed following his famous duel AND Moore’s son, Clement C. Moore, wrote “A Visit From St. Nicholas.” Back to our story.
To show his personal commitment to his new church, he re-baptized all of his children into the Episcopal Church.
In 1811, Strebeck resigned from St. Stephen’s “due to health” (and probably his first wife’s death) and said he was moving to a warmer climate to the south and accepted a call to St. George’s Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg, VA. Would you believe it, but future Virginia Diocese bishop Richard Channing Moore, as a priest, replaced Strebeck at St. Stephens.
While at St. George’s Strebeck is noted for a few things. He remarried – to Sydney Susannah Graham of Fredericksburg. He established a committee to look at the deterioration of the current church and investigate the building of a new church. The diocese must have been impressed with the new rector as they elected him as a deputy to the General Convention, which was to meet in Philadelphia in 1814 and chose him to preach the sermon before the Diocesan Convention of Virginia in 1814. He never did either of these last two due to his move out of the diocese in 1813. The new church would also have to wait for his successor.
In early 1813, he resigned from St. George’s and took a position as Rector at Christ Church in New Bern, NC holding the position during the turbulent War of 1812. He resigned in 1815 and moved to the Chowan/Perquimans counties area of NC where remained until his death about 1832.
Of note, like many ministers of the time, he was active in establishing and teaching at schools wherever he was a pastor/rector.
Odd family tidbit: In December, 1821, Mrs. Strebeck ran an ad in the Virginia Herald in Fredericksburg for a school she had established. She continued teaching in Fredericksburg until the 1840s. In some of the ads she was identified as Mrs. Sydney Strebeck. No other Strebecks have been found in the greater-Fredericksburg area in this time. So did she and the Rev. Strebeck part ways? We may never know.
Quenzel, Carrol. The History and Background of St George’s Episcopal Church Fredericksburg, Virginia (1951)
Slaughter, Rev. Philip. A History of St George’s Parish (1847)
St. George’s Vestry Minutes
“Lost Chapters recovered from the early history of American Methodism”; Chapter XLIII Methodism in New York in 1782. By J B Wakeley, 1858 (Ancestry.com)
“Index of marriages and deaths in New York Weekly Museum (newspaper) 1788-1817” (Ancestry.com)
“New York Historic Homes & Family Histories.” Vol 4 (Ancestry.com)
NC Wills & Probate Records; Perquimans Co, Wills and Estate Papers [his Inventory by Administrator] (Ancestry.com)
“U.S., Dutch Reformed Church Records in Selected States 1639-1989.” NY, NYC; NYC Lutheran Churches, Vol II, Bk 86 (Ancestry.com)
U.S. Census for Strebeck (Ancestry.com)
1810 New York City, NY
1820 Chowon Co., NC
1830 Perquimans Co., NC
VA Herald, Wed. 6 Oct 1812 (Marriage to Graham by Rev. Woodville)
“History of the Church of Zion and St Timothy in NY 1797-1894” (GOOGLE BOOKS) by David Clarkson (1894) [following the merging of Zion and St Timothy PE Churches]
“A History of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States”, by Henry Eyster Jacobs (1893)
“History of Westchester County, New York, including Morrisanai, Kings Bridge, and West Farms.” by J Thomas Scharf, A.M., LL D. (Vol 2, 1886) (GOOGLE BOOKS)
“History of St. Stephen’s Parish: In the City of New York.” 1805-1905 by Joshua Newton Perkins (1906) [copied from Ancestry]
“Historic Christ Church, New Bern, NC, 1715-1977: based on 7 Sunday morning lectures 6 Nov -18 Dec 1977” (archive.org)
“Crown of Life: History of Christ Church, New Bern, NC 1715-1940.” by Gertrude S Garroway (1940) Notes that he was rector 1813-1815 and also taught a school there.