Time capsule captures Gatesburg history

In 1913, Florence Rider put a Bible and a 5-cent buffalo nickel in the Gatesburg Lutheran Church’s time capsule.

On Saturday — 100 years since the church was erected — church members and Gatesburg village historians unveiled the vault that included that Bible and the buffalo nickel that was lodged inside another pamphlet historians think was an old newspaper.

“I can’t believe it,” said Dave Siphron, Rider’s son. “She always told me she put a Bible and the nickel in there.”

That was the first year the buffalo nickel was minted.

“She was sure to say the nickel was ‘shiny and new,’ ” Siphron said.

Other items included a 1910 penny, a bottle and other paper items that were disintegrating.

Gatesburg Historical Committee Chairman Ernest Harpster said the committee would take the items to Penn State for restoration.

“We want to preserve them because this is an integral part of Gatesburg’s history that really touches our hearts,” Harpster said.

Saturday started with a church service followed by ringing of the church bell 100 times before cracking the capsule.

After the items were taken out of the vault, which was stowed away in the corner of the church’s structure, a roar could be heard from the crowd as the items were passed around to the 69 church members in attendance, then put into plastic bags to preserve their condition.

The unveiling of the time capsule was part of the church picnic, which also celebrated the church’s centennial. The picnic was started in honor of Denny R. Moore, a founding member of the historical committee who passed away last year.

And for church members, being part of this day was special.

“I can’t believe there was actually something in there,” said Ralph Rudy, who was baptized at Gatesburg Lutheran more than seven decades ago. “I came back because this is a very special church and community to me. It’s not every day you get to see things like this from a century ago.”

Harpster said as a child, through word of mouth, he found out about the time capsule. And so did others whose families settled in the area in the early 1900s.

“That’s all we had to go on, and lo and behold, it was right here like they all said,” Harpster said.

Gatesburg Historical Committee member Sue Campbell said this week, historians and church members will be able to sort through items to put back into the time capsule. So far, items selected include a nine-piece commemorative coin collection, a history book, a copy of the certification of the church from 1913, a journal with signatures and messages from church members from 2013, and two copies of the Centre Daily Times with a story about the unveiling of the 100-year-old vault.

“I think we’ll be selective in our items because the capsule is so small and we really want to make it worth it,” Campbell said.

In the next couple of weeks when the items are officially selected, Harpster said the vault will then be sealed back up and bricks will be put back into the church’s structure where the capsule was cracked.

“Who knows? In another hundred years, other people will be cracking the vault and have the same reaction we had today,” Harpster said.