Festival of the Red Rose

By on June 3, 2015

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, 2 S. Hazel St., Manheim, will celebrate its annual Festival of the Red Rose on Sunday, June 14, at the church. The Rose Payment Service begins at 1:30 p.m. with a variety of gospel and spiritual music performed by a special Rose Festival Choir. The public is invited to attend.

On December 4, 1772, Henry William Stiegel (founder of the town of Manheim) and his (second) wife, Elizabeth Holz Stiegel, conveyed to their fellow Lutherans, a plot of ground on the corner of Wolf and East High Streets on which to build a church in exchange for a unique continual payment. The deed specifically states “for five shillings and in the month of June, yearly forever hereafter the Rent of One Red Rose if the same shall be lawfully demanded.” Interestingly, Stiegel himself collected the rose in 1772 and 1773.

However, the payment of the rose was virtually forgotten for over 100 years until Manheim physician, Dr. J.H. Sieling, heard about the legend of “Baron” Stiegel. He went through the old church records belonging to the congregation and discovered the deed with its special clause. Dr. Sieling suggested that an all day celebration be held in conjunction with the annual rose payment, and that the payment be made to a descendant of Stiegel, if one could be located. In June 1892, John C. Stiegel of Harrisonburg, Va., was the first recipient to receive the payment of the red rose since 1773. The celebration and rose payment, originally called “The Feast of Roses” became a tradition, and each year on the second Sunday of June, the congregation pays the rent of one red rose to a selected Stiegel descendant.

This year Edwin (Neil) Luther IV will serve as the heir who will accept the “one red rose” as payment on behalf of the Stiegel family. Luther is a tenth generation descendant of Stiegel and his first wife, Elizabeth Huber Stiegel. He is the Director of the Henrico County Division of Recreation and Parks. Luther has a BA degree from Davidson College in North Carolina and a MA degree from the University of Wyoming. Luther, his wife and their two children reside in the Bon Air community of Chesterfield County, which is a part of the Richmond metropolitan area.

Edwin (Neil) Luther IV

Edwin (Neil) Luther IV

Serving as the church’s legal representative will be Attorney J.D. Young. He is a graduate of Manheim Central High School, Gettysburg College and The Delaware Law School of Widener University. Attorney Young is a member of the Pennsylvania and Lancaster Bar Associations and maintains a law practice in Manheim.

Guest speaker at this year’s event will be Jack Brubaker, retired investigative reporter for the Lancaster Newspapers and author of the “The Scribbler” column. He has written six historical books, including “Massacre of the Conestogas” and “Remembering Lancaster County.” He is a graduate of Conestoga Valley High School and Dickinson College. Brubaker will speak on “What Makes Lancaster County Unique.”

Readers who would like to know more about the Festival of the Red Rose may visit zionmanheim.com or contact the church office at 665-5880.

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