Long Green Valley 21092 &
Prigel Family Creamery
Audrey Haig, 5, and Olivia
Donohue, 4, have just polished off their ice cream when they run across
the lawn at Prigel Family Creamery to see the cows.
fawn-colored Jersey cows are standing in a line that rambles from a gate
at Long Green Road through a field next to the creamery.
cow. Hi cow. Here's some food for you. Here you go," the girls say as
they pull up grass and throw it toward one whose head reaches under a
fence toward them.
The youngsters have no idea they're talking to the source of the black cherry and the caramel pretzel ice cream they just ate.
The entire process — from cow to milk to cone — takes place on Bellevale Farm run by three generations of Prigels.
Donohue and Olivia, of Cockeysville, stop by on this recent Friday
afternoon for cows, country scenes and ice cream after he picks her up
from Chestnut Grove Child Development Center in Jacksonville.
Olivia and Audrey don't know each other, but they stand near each other, slurping ice cream, and become instant friends.
Like Donohue, Chelsea Haig brings Audrey to the Prigel creamery on their way home from nearby St. John's Lutheran School.
"We come here all the time. We love their ice cream," says Haig, of Perry Hall
. "We drive by here every morning and look for Daisy, their dog. It's like this is our very own ice cream store."
Sentiments like that make Bobby Prigel, who heads up the family creamery, as content as his pasture-fed, certified organic cows.
he knows it would please his great-grandfather John Mathias Prigel, who
was a sharecropper on the land in 1895. He bought it in 1906 and named
it Bellevale Farm.
"We've had loyal fans since the day we opened
two years ago," Prigel said. "Our first day, we wanted to do a slow
opening, so we just took down our 'Closed' sign. Four hundred people
showed up. It was amazing."
The cows are milked in a barn on the
other side of Long Green Road, so they leave their two young friends to
follow Scott Childs, 26, Prigel's nephew.
"C'mon. C'mon. Move it
up. Move it up," he urges as the cows saunter across the road in the
mid-afternoon. Several cars stop and wait out the bovine backup.
never really had anybody get mad about having to stop for the cows,"
Childs says. "Most people pull out their cell phones and take pictures."
takes Childs an hour to milk the cows using a machine that suctions
onto the udders. He and Bobby Prigel's 20-year-old son, Matt, share the
twice-a-day milking chores.
The cows stay by the barn until a 4:45
a.m. milking the next day. They then cross back to the creamery side to
spend the day grazing in the fields.
The Prigels sell 1,400
gallons of milk to Horizon Organic Milk each week. They also bottle
about 170 gallons weekly at the creamery for local sales.
still leaves plenty of milk for the two-day process that results in
frozen concoctions named Bobby's Black Mud, Cappuccino Chip and Dulce de
A family affair
The Long Green Valley Story
A stream runs through a small, rolling valley, north of Baltimore, Maryland. The
soil is rich along this tributary of Big Gunpowder Falls, which flows to the
Chesapeake Bay. Into this "Long Green Valley" came some Amish
Mennonites from Pennsylvania in the eighteenth century. They built stone houses,
raised large families, and farmed the land for many years, alongside their
Catholic and Protestant neighbors. When the Civil War broke out many returned
home to Pennsylvania. A small group remained, many of whom are buried in the
walled cemetery on Kanes Road (their descendants hold a yearly meeting
in our fellowship
hall every September). Our story starts in the fall of 1897.
John Matthias (J.M.) Prigel, and his wife, Wilhelmina, affectionately known as
brother Mott and Aunt Minnie, joined the Church of the Brethren in Baltimore.
They were baptized into the Woodbury congregation, he in 1893 and she in 1899.
The Prigels moved to the Long Green Valley where they lived on the Rankin farm.
The Prigels and Charles P. Bonsack were visiting a Sister Haines, who had been
living in the Valley some years and was isolated from her church. At the earnest
plea of Sister Haines and J. M. Prigel, Charles P. Bonsack agreed to hold a
revival in the community if a place of worship could be found. The Mennonites
shared their facility.
By 1902 church services for the Brethren were held in the Mennonite meetinghouse
on Kanes Road every fourth Sunday of the month. In April of 1903 five persons,
some of whom came from that Mennonite church, were baptized by Charles P.
Bonsack in the stream on Prigel’s farm. They were Ida and Lillie Nafzinger,
Emma Neuhauser, John Breidenbaugh, and Maggie Glee. The organized effort by the
Brethren in Long Green Valley began May 1, 1903.
Services continued in the Mennonite church for the next four years. After a
revival was held by Abram P. Snader some objections were raised about his
doctrinal sermons, and it became necessary for the Brethren to move to another
location. J.M. Prigel and his two nephews, John C. Breidenbaugh and Christian P.
Breidenbaugh began holding church services in the Prigel's home. Brethren
ministers from Carroll County, particularly from the Meadow Branch Church, came
regularly to aid in the venture. The Prigel family housed these traveling
preachers, and readied their home for Sunday services, preparing dinner for all.
Some missionaries on furlough would also visit this new fellowship and encourage
them. A Sunday School program was started in 1906.
In April of 1908, the Brethren in the Long Green Valley petitioned the Eastern
Maryland District, asking that funds be raised to help build a meetinghouse.
Samuel Utz of New Market was authorized to solicit money for the new church. The
funds were soon raised and a lot was purchased from Dr. S.M. Rankin, for
$1,000.00. He was the former owner of the Prigel farm. Dr. Rankin also donated
the logs from his woods to build the new church. The cutting and hauling of the
trees were all done by volunteers. Samuel Neuhauser did the sawing free of
charge at his sawmill on Long Green Rd.
A small meetinghouse was built and dedicated on October 25, 1908. At this time
there were thirty members in the fellowship. In 1910, they invited the Mission
Board of Eastern Maryland District to come and hold a council meeting in the new
church and take the voice of the membership whether a congregation should be
organized. The Mission Board sent George Sappington, A.P. Snader, Tobias Fike,
William E. Roop and John A. Smith to hold the council. It was decided by a
majority vote to organize a new congregation to be known as Long Green Valley,
hence our name.
The first trustees were Moses Nafzinger, J.M. Prigel, William Stauffer, John
Prigel, and J. C. Briedenbaugh. When the congregation was organized, A.P. Snader
was elected elder-in-charge with C.P. Briedenbaugh as clerk and Joseph Southard
as treasurer. There was no resident minster until October 7, 1911, at which time
J.M. Prigel was called to the ministry. He was ordained to eldership in 1916.
In 1925, with the donations and hard work of the members, and some help from the
Woodbury Church, an addition to the meetinghouse was constructed. Now there was
more room for the growing Sunday School program. This was accomplished without
any debt and was dedicated on October 25, 1925. At that time there were about
The first wedding in the meetinghouse was that of Dennis and Martha Reed in
August of 1926. This was a new development for the Brethren. Prior to that time
ceremonies were performed in the homes of those involved. This was an era of
great change for our denomination in general. Gradually the Brethren were
shedding some of their plain garb, but this did not come without struggle. Was
it right for a brother to wear a tie, or a sister to wear jewelry? What about
prayer coverings for the sisters? There were plenty of long council meetings
asking such questions.
In the early 1940's, brother William Kinsey, then pastor of the Bush Creek
congregation, painted the picture of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane
which graced the front of the sanctuary for many years. He shared this talent
with many other congregations. The contributions of other ministers over the
years made their impact. Many of these were students from Bethany Seminary who
spent a summer in the Valley. Others were called out from within the
congregation to preach and teach, as needed.
In the early 1950's, brother Frank Williar was called as pastor, paid part-time,
of this congregation. At the same time he also served the North Baltimore Church
of the Brethren, a new fellowship in the city. In 1957 a school teacher by the
name of Paul L. Groff was called to be Pastor. Not long afterward, he was asked
to put his energies full-time into this church in the Valley. With his
leadership, Long Green Valley grew rapidly. Soon we could not fit into the old
church, so a new building was erected across the road in 1962.
Brother Mott served the church as a minister for the last forty nine of his
eighty seven years, his God-given vision for a church in the Valley having
called it into existence. On October 5, 1960, he went home to his heavenly
Father. Able leadership has guided this church ever since: Paul Groff (1957-67),
Dale Varner (67-70), Ralph Detrick (70-74), Kenneth Long (74-78), Bernard King
(interim 78-79), Scott Duffey (79-89), Warren Kissinger (interim 89-90), and
Pete Haynes (1990 to the present).
A fellowship hall was built in 1988, which was fully paid for in mid-1999. This
hall houses Sunday School rooms, a gym, and a very modern kitchen. At present we
have 150 active members, not counting many young children. We have an active
ministry here, focused both on inward growth and outward mission.
There is picture in our entryway, painted by sister Martha Reed. In the center
of the scene we see the beginning of our church and a baptism in the stream on
the Prigel farm. In the upper left-hand corner is a picture of the Prigel home
and on the right we see the first meeting house. As you look at this picture,
you can see her dream of what a future church would look like. It is remarkably
similar to our new building. The story of these Brethren in the Long Green
[An online reprint from History of the Church of the Brethren in Maryland, by J. Maurice Henry, Elgin, IL: Brethren Publishing House,
1936 can be found here.]
Some personal recollections:
"In 1925 they were digging the foundation for the Sunday School rooms with
a scoop shovel and a pair of horses. Margaret Cuffens, Philip Eckhart, and I
were running around where they were digging and I slipped into the foundation
and got red mud all over me.... Twelve were being baptized at 12:00 noon on
Sunday when I was 12. I was so sick with a high fever but I wanted to be
baptized with the others so they carried me and by 3:00 o'clock that afternoon
my temperature was down to normal.... Verlin and I were married at the church
August 9, 1939.... Verlin and I were Youth Counselors and took the youth to the
first National Youth Conference at Anderson, Indiana in 1954.
- Ida Mae Tombaugh
"When I was a child, church services were held at Long Green only every
other Sunday. Brother John M. Prigel served as minister, Brother William Roop of
Westminster was often the visiting speaker. Brother Roop was a shouting,
pulpit-pounding speaker, who frightened me then. As I grew older, I realized
what a dedicated man he was. Love Feast was celebrated on Saturday, beginning in
the afternoon. Although my father was not a church member, he attended regular
services and brought my mother and grandmother to Love Feast. Dad kept my
brother and I amused in the church yard. It seemed a long wait till we heard the
sound of ‘Till We Meet Again,’ which was always sung as the closing
- Margaret Bayless
"I remember... The beginners Sunday School class with Aunt Lillie
Breidenbaugh as the teacher. If it rained we got a red ticket, other days a blue
ticket. We saved the tickets up to get a picture or a book... Sunday School
picnics at Rocky Point Park.... Lord's acre where we planted potatoes and
harvested them to raise money for the church. Carl and I own that property
now.... Children's Day Services when we had to get up front and recite
pieces.... When we had Sunday School classes at the church, the Prigel home, and
in the old parsonage.... Singing our first Cantata with Barbara Groff as our
choir leader.... Carl and I were married at the church August 3, 1952."
- Lillie Mae Palmer
"As a child, I remember... the man (on a scaffold) painting a picture in
the front of the old church... In Emma Prigel's classroom we kept quilting
supplies and extra prayer veils (which we all wore back then) in a metal
cabinet... The wooden rack in the vestibule, where every family received a
Gospel Messenger in their pigeon hole... Since I lived next door, we always
played hide and seek, counting on the church doors and hiding behind the tree,
the tombstones, and in the stairwells, or ladies bathroom area... Hearing about
BVS from summer pastors, Stanley Davis and Delbert Kettering in 1954... Going to
the first National Youth Conference in Anderson, Indiana that same summer."
- Nancy Rosas
"Homecoming arouses many memories, some we are thankful to forget and some
we hope will linger on. A memory that lingers on happened years ago when the
carolers visited. A neighbor who practices Catholicism stopped by and heard
them. It was so grand that she makes sure she comes by each year when they (the
carolers) are here. Thus, it is we are extending our worship to all religions...
Another memory is from the ‘old’ church. An epilepsy seizure came upon me
and Rev. Groff stayed with me for the duration. At this time he shared that he
knew how it felt because he was also an epileptic. Even though medicine has
controlled this, it was comforting to know that medicinal aid was enhanced by
the words of Rev. Groff."
- Betty Tracey Chenowith
"As a newcomer to this church one of my favorite things we did as a
congregation was the night we had a pot luck dinner and displayed our many
talents. There were arts and crafts, some members playing musical instruments,
voices raised on high singing, fun games, and face painting. I love the support
from everyone no matter what the situation happens to be... someone getting
married... when we're short handed at Carpenters Kitchen... baby sitting. When
someone is sick and needs care or in time of sorrow, our prayer chain gets the
word and someone hears the call."
- Mickey Price