The Kuder and Langkamer families of Lehighton, starting with the Reverend John H. and wife Rebecca (Fink) Kuder and G. Charles and Emma (possibly Koch) Langkamer, have placed many gifts at the feet of those living here today. Among them: A still prosperous and faith-filled congregation of Trinity Lutheran Church, an historical account of the sanitary conditions of the town of Lehighton as they appeared to a somewhat neutral observer, a nationally famous radio gospel singer, and three Kuder men who served our country in war-time: One during WWI, and a father and son who both served in World War II.
None of this perhaps would have been possible had the congregation of Trinity been less persistent. For even though he would become their longest tenured pastor, it is fair to say the Rev Kuder was somewhat reluctant to take up their numerous offers. He served as their supply pastor from May of 1882, and then as a year to year pastor from 1884 until March of 1885. He deflected every overture until certain conditions were made right, chiefly, the clearing of Trinity's $4,200 building debt incurred beginning from 1873.
|Trinity Lutheran Church on Third and|
Iron Streets in Lehighton as it looked
during the tenure of Rev Kuder.
Dr. Joseph Matthew Kuder was born in Lehighton on May 27, 1891 to the Reverend John and Rebecca (who married in 1888). At a young age of nineteen, Joe became the organist and choir director of his father's church, a position he held for about two years starting in 1910.
The Kuder's other son, John Andrew, was born August 24th, 1894. Prior to the war he worked as a clerk at Bethlehem Steel. Oddly, as the younger Kuder brother served in the first world war, it was the older brother Joseph who at the somewhat riper age of fifty-three, made the landing at Normandy in World War II albeit nearly two weeks after the initial assault.
But for the Rev Kuder, starting in 1902, a small controversy was brewing, one that would not be fully reconciled until after the first war.
Since Pastor Kuder was still known to speak for more than an hour during his German-only sermons, a small group of further removed German descendants sought to include more English into the services at Trinity.
The still predominately German-language only majority of the church declined to budge, even if the request was for only one Sunday per month.
In January 1903 the issue was put to a vote again. This time the one English language service per month motion passed.
|A workerman attempts to make|
repairs to the original steeple
after a 1968 lightning strike. After
careful consideration, the congregation
decided it was better to build a new
sanctuary over fixing their current
However it was still not enough for this minority group. In November of 1903 they proceeded with their plans to form their own English language-only congregation. They formed the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church at the corner of Fourth and Mahoning Streets in Lehighton.
Germany's villainous disposition in 1917 is believed to have caused many of that lineage to shun their own heritage. In my own family, my great uncles Strauch changed their names from Ludwig to "Louie," Wilhelm to "Willie", Heinrich to "Henry," and Great Aunt Katherine with a "K" became Catherine with a "C." So much so was the case at Trinity that the members loosened the language standard to English-only in the first and third Sunday of each month.
The spring of 1919 brought many more changes to the congregation. By April and in light of the new-found animosity toward all things German, the congregation voted to stop all German language services. And in light of the Nineteenth Amendment granting women national suffrage, so too did they grant full membership and voting rights to the women of the congregation.
It was also in this spring that Rev Kuder decided to try to "conserve his health" and offered his last resignation (He once tried to resign in 1910.). The council accepted it as of March 1st, however in July of 1919, they created the position of "Pastor Emeritus" for him.
|Trinity Lutheran Church as it looks today since 1973.|
During the course of his thirty-seven years as pastor, Rev Kuder buried both the young and the old. Some deaths due to natural disease and simple aging, while others came unexpectedly swift and vicious to the young and their unprepared families.
|Department of Health quarantine placards included in Kuder's 1916|
Sanitary Survey of Lehighton.
My Great Uncle Garrett Edgar Rabenold died of typhoid fever at the age of 14. Rev Kuder performed the graveyard services on October 25, 1905 in Lehighton. These premature deaths had a way of spreading a certain gloom over the community, for if death could take a healthy boy of fourteen, who then was safe?
|Rev Kuder buried many residents over his|
career: This a 14-year-old typhoid fever
victim, Garrett Edgar Rabenold.
The record is full of the burials Rev Kuder made. People who died from common illnesses of the time such as pneumonia, "consumption" (tuberculosis), "brain fever," cholera morbus, scarlet fever, and "la grip." He buried infants and teens and healthy working men and mothers.
It can be inferred that burials as these had their effect on the Pastor and his family, since he too had a boy of fourteen and one of eleven at home. And certainly hearing of these untimely deaths must have played into the young Joseph Kuder's decision to go on to study medicine.
Dr Kuder interned at Boston City Hospital in 1918 to 1919 and was a resident surgeon at Burlington County Memorial Hospital. Later he started his private practice in Mt Holly. He became Major Kuder as a battlefield surgeon for the army in World War II.
Suffice it to say that there are many alive today, as well as many descendants of those he healed, who can be thankful to Dr. Kuder.
While in his third year of medical school, the yet to be married Joseph Kuder came home with a special project aimed at the betterment of the Lehighton community as a whole. In the summer of 1916 he completed a comprehensive 200-page "sanitary survey" of the town, including many first-hand photographs of town seen here in this post.
With an eye on sewage management, the water supply, refuse collection, proper ventilation of privies and chicken coops, and the amelioration of mosquito breeding pools, the future doctor made a thorough documentation of the sanitary condition of Lehighton as it stood in the summer of 1916.
He hoped to make an impact on his hometown and perhaps save some the community from senseless deaths due to improper sanitation, like the typhoid fever death of my Great Uncle Garrett Rabenold. For current historians, it provides a vital snapshot of life in this Carbon town nearly one hundred years ago.
In the age before antibiotics, science had begun accounting for the environmental causes, sources and spread of communicable disease. So just like Dr. Urbino in Garcia-Marquez's "Love in the Time of Cholera," our own future Dr. Kuder was plotting out life saving measures for the modern, prospering 6,000 residents of Lehighton.
|A modern day view of Dam #1 of Lehighton's Long Run Reservoir. The flood-gate turret and surrounding flora and fauna looks strikingly unchanged in the nearly 100 years since Dr. Joseph Kuder visited here.|
The town was much different then. Though it had fifty-four miles of street, only one-mile of it was paved (First Street). He notes in the report that even though Lehighton's water supply did not have a purification system, he concluded one was not necessary due to the elevated and remote location of the two dams of Long Run Reservoir within the pristine hills four miles east of town.
Lehighton had no central sewage then. Most homes had their own cesspools. However, a significant amount of sewage was sent into the river by way of three privately built sewers. One of these sewers was created by Obert's Meat Packing plant, the last section of which, ran through a small creek near the Lehigh Valley Railroad tracks near the present day by-pass in Lehighton.
It was a small creek largely tinted red with the blood of the slaughtering, which was one of the largest operations of its kind in the country. The other two sewers were privately built and Kuder could not ascertain just how many households contributed to them.
None of this was deemed a major concern. No town below Lehighton drew water from the river except one "thirty-miles" downstream. Therefore, a central sewage plant was considered an unnecessary luxury. The town mentioned also had an "excellent slow sand filtering plant" and conducted "weekly laboratory inspections of the water" which diminished Lehighton’s culpability.
More from this "1916 Sanitary Survey" will be included in future posts.
John Andrew Kuder, the younger of the Rev John and Rebecca only two children, attained the rank of 1st Lieutenant at the Headquarters Company of the 58th Infantry Regiment. Though he was well enough to work for Kodak of northern New Jersey after the war, he can be counted as among the casualties of the first war due to a rare and little known disease called "sleepy sickness."
In some cases long after the initial onset, patients have developed 'postencephalitic' Parkinson's disease. Sadly, such was the case of John Kuder. There wasn't much that medical science of the day (or even today either for that matter) could do. Dr Kuder did what he could for his dear brother, but in the end all he could do was make him comfortable and even that was no small task.
John Kuder died one month shy of his fortieth year. His widow Helen (Kuntz; the same family name as his father's mother's family) Kuder buried him on June 28, 1934. They are both buried in section D-28 of Allentown's Fairview Cemetery. They did not have any children.
His brother Joseph did not serve in World War I as he was still in medical school. He earned his Bachelor's in 1914 and graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1918. Perhaps it was this missed opportunity of service and his brother's premature death that called him to volunteer twenty years later.
Dr. Joseph Kuder married Laura Viola Langkamer in 1921. Her family were congregants of his father's church and lived within one block of the Kuders. Laura was making a career as a dressmaker until she married the doctor. Her parents were G. Charles and Emma Langkamer.
G. Charles Langkamer was a brakeman on the Lehigh Valley Railroad. He was born in 1873 in Bavaria Germany while Emma's parents were earlier German immigrants, both born in Pennsylvania. They had a total of nine children, eight of which lived beyond childhood.
They were: Laura (1893), Sadie N. (1897), Luella (1898), Arthur C. (1899), Infant (born in 1902 or 1903, buried July 16, 1903), Ruth J. or N. (1907), Geneieve (1911), Carl L. (1914), and Richard J. (1918).
Arthur C. Langkamer dropped the "-kamer" and became simply "Arthur C. Lang" to make a career as a radio gospel singer. In 1930 he was living in Los Angeles with his wife Jeanie Lang. They headed the household with three 'roomers' living with them: a husband and wife, and a bachelor named Harold G. Leonard, a movie actor.
|There are several pictures like the one above of|
Jeanie Lang. Despite several attempts, a picture
of her husband and Lehighton native Arthur C.
"Lang" has yet to be found.
Their celebrity required an odd bit of deception. His WWI draft card reveals his birthday to be December 22, 1899. But instead of saying his age to be twenty-nine, he claimed to be only 26 in the spring of 1930. His wife of three years listed her age as nineteen. Another showbiz device forced them to travel and perform not as a couple, but rather as brother and sister. Jeanie Lang appeared in film and on radio with Buddy Rogers and starred with John Boles in the 1930 film "King of Jazz."
There is family lore that my grandmother, Mary Strauch Rabenold a lifelong devout member of Trinity, enjoyed listening to them on WJZ radio out of New York City in the 1930s. However, according to Joe Kuder Junior, their careers were a bit short-lived, especially so for Art. "He developed trouble with his ear, so much so he couldn't hear himself sing."
The following is an excerpt from a social column in "Radio Mirror" believed to be from sometime around the end of 1935:
"Sometimes, one runs into marriages that even outlive radio careers. For instance, remember the baby voice of cute Jeannie (sic) Lang?
She trotted about town like a gaga, Wellesley girl escorted by a handsome lad she always introduced as her brother. I took it all in for too many months. Finally, the news broke that Brother Lang was really Husband Lang. Also, he held a responsible job as a director of the choir of New York’s Calvary Baptist Church.
Somehow, after that news story, Jeannie dropped out of the Manhattan radio picture. She and Buddy Rogers did a series from Chicago and then the networks lost track of her. So did I. Old friends in radio wondered what had become of her.
Several months ago, I happened to go to a service at the Calvary Baptist Church. That morning, I found the answer to all our questions. For there was Jeannie Lang, former hotcha spellbinder of the kilocycles, singing in the choir."
At sometime before the above appeared there were other mentions of the couple pretending to be siblings, once they both dressed for a production as fishermen, and there were several other articles that mentioned the allegation of them being married. One article mentions Arthur Lang starting his career in 1923 and it listed his hometown as Lehighton.
He last appears in the 1920 census in Lehighton as Langkamer. He shows up in Los Angeles in the 1930 census as Lang. According to Kuder, Art became the District Sales manager for the Webster Cigar Company in NYC. They retired to Florida sometime after 1945, both are buried there. They did not have any children. Though they loved their pair of Yorkies.
|A look inside the 51st Evacuation Hospital from August|
of 1944 in France.
The 67th Evac Hospital was still in Gloucestershire Enlgand on June 14th, but landed on Utah beach on June 17th, 1944. And though some enemy action was expected, none occurred. They gained the beach "without so much as a wet foot."
The younger Kuder fought in the Combat Infantry Unit in Northern Africa and was wounded during the landing at the Anzio beachhead. The 95th Evacuation Hospital at Anzio was bombed by German fragmentary bombs, killing twenty-eight and wounding sixty more. Joseph Kuder Junior survived the heinous attack.
So while Joe Kuder Senior was making his way across the English channel, Joe Junior was heading home across the Atlantic aboard a hospital ship. After he recuperated at Valley Forge Military Hospital, he served eight months at Fort Dix New Jersey before being discharged near the war's end. Dr Kuder remained in Europe until several months after the end of the war.
Both Joseph Kuder Senior and Junior were the last of the Kuder line. And had it ended there on the battlefield in Europe, it would read near to a Greek tragedy as any.
|The commemorative placard that hangs in the hallway|
outside of Luther Hall today was salvaged from the church
Rev Kuder presided over into the modern Trinity of today.
Rev Kuder passed away on April 13, 1923 and is buried in Lehighton Cemetery section A-112 with his wife Rebecca. She died January 6, 1935.
|Rev John and Rebecca Kuder resting in Lehighton Cemetery.|
Dr. Joseph Kuder retired in the late 1960s and died February 23, 1973. His wife Laura Langkamer Kuder lived into her 100th year, passing away August 7, 1993. They are both buried at the Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Moorestown, New Jersey.
One other Langkamer, Laura's younger brother Carl (b. November 8, 1913) was still a faithful member of the Trinity congregation until his death on April 13, 1991. He served on one of the 100th anniversary committees for Rev Kuder's church in 1973. He and his wife Grace (March 21, 1913 to April 9, 2001) are buried in plot B-66 in Lehighton Cemetery. One son was an Art Teacher in Bethlehem. Another son, Lynn, recently retired as Lutheran minister, having served a congregation in Allentown, PA.
|Carl Langkamer (center) served on the Furnishings Committee|
for Rev Kuder's church for their 100th anniversary in 1973.
Also in picture are Mrs. Dennis Zellner, Mrs. Eugene
Hutchinson, and Willard Green.
World War II Veteran and retired architect Joseph Kuder Jr, healthy and well and into his early nineties, still lives in his home area of Marlton, New Jersey with his wife Peggy (Bird of Cleveland). They raised one son, Joseph Kuder III husband to the former Karen Kapistan, and two daughters on named Jessica.
Among their grandchildren lives Joseph Kuder IV.
The Kuder and Langkamer names have vanished from Carbon's landscape. But their lives have made distinct impressions into the culture and community of Lehighton and beyond.
Kuder Family Lineage:
The three Kuders involved in WWI and WWII were not the only of their lineage involved in fighting for our country.
Bernhard Kuder was born to Hans Adam and Margaretha Kuder in Neckargartach, Wurttemberg Germany February 15, 1729. He emigrated to Germantown, PA in September 1748 at the age of nineteen. He married Anna Maria Hoffman (the widow of Wilhelm Hoffman) in November of 1764. Bernhard served as a wagonmaster in the Revolutionary War and according to family lore was wounded at either the Battle of Brandywine (September 1777) or the Battle of Germantown (October 1777) and supposedly died as a result of those wounds but not until about five years later and having bore two more children in that span.
Second of his eight children was John Kuder, born February 13, 1767 in Germantown. While bound out in New Jersey, John returned to Pennsylvania with his first wife Elizabeth (Minn).
Among their children was William (Wilhelm) M. Kuder born January 3, 1816 in Trexlertown. William married Catherine (Kuntz) Keck. William purchased his brother Solomon's coverlet weaving and dying business in Laury's Station in 1848. On May 1st of 1852, John Henry Kuder was born. William and Catherine both died in 1886 about four years after Rev John H. Kuder took over his duties in Lehighton. They are buried in Egypt Cemetery in Whitehall Township.
Lehighton Press - October 27, 1905: "Rev and Mrs Hiram Kuder and family of Seigfrieds, are guests of the former's brother, Rev. J. H. Kuder and family, South Fourth Street."