The Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word
597 East Avenue
Rochester, N.Y. 14607
(585) 244-6065
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The 1869 Samuel Bohler Organ

Dedicated 22 October 2006 - The Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word

Rochester, New York

Samuel Bohler Organ

Introduction of the Instrument - Tom Madden October 22, 2006

Listen Here >> -- [6:23]
 Ray Brunner by Bohler Organ


Raymond J. Brunner has been building and restoring organs in the Lancaster, PA area for twenty-five years. He has extensive knowledge of and expertise with the Pennsylvania Dutch and German organ traditions, and is the author of That Ingenious Business: Pennsylvania German Organ Builders, a study of Pennsylvania German organ builders from the 18th through the early 20th centuries.


Ray Brunner's website


Specifications of the Organ    

Built in 1869 by Samuel Bohler, Reading, Pennsylvania


Manual, 54 notes

Open Diapason                        8’          (from low G, 5 wood and 42 metal pipes)

Dulciana                                   8’          (from tenor c, 37 metal pipes)

Claribel                                    8’          (from tenor c, 42 open wood pipes)

Stopped Diapason                    8’          (from tenor c, 42 stopped wood pipes)

Stopped Diapason Bass            8’         (from low C, 12 stopped wood pipes)

Principal                                   4’          (54 metal pipes)

Fifteenth                                   2’          (54 metal pipes)



Pedal, 13 notes

Bourdon                                   16’        (13 stopped wood pipes)

Coupler                                                (couples manual to pedal)


Pitch A-438 @ 72F, equal temperament tuning.

Wind pressure, 3” water column.

Electric blower, 0.25 HP Laukhuff Ventus.

 Background Info by Ray Brunner

           The Bohler organ is a one-manual and pedal instrument of 7 ranks, and is typical of many small Pennsylvania German church organs built in the latter half of the 19th century. It has principal stops at 8’, 4’, and 2’ with the 8’ Diapason a short compass rank. There are two 8’ flutes, a Stopped Diapason and an open wood Clarabel which Bohler generally used. A soft Dulciana completes the manual ensemble.   The Stopped Diapason is divided so that the bass can be used with the short compass Diapason and Clarabell stops. The Pedal is a stopped wood Bourdon of 13 notes and a manual to Pedal coupler is provided.   Metal pipework in the organ was made by Peter Schenkel, a German immigrant pipe maker who had a business in   Philadelphia   supplying pipes to regional organ builders.  

              The organ was built for Muddy Creek Lutheran Church and Reform Church in 1869, located in northern Lancaster county near Adamstown. It was installed in the gallery of the "Old Stone Church" (1847-1938) where it was used until 1938.   That year the old church building was torn down and a new church building was dedicated in 1939. The Bohler organ was saved and installed in a basement hallway by a local organ repairman, Justus Becker of Reamstown.   The organ was apparently used for a few years for the Sunday school, but ceased to play and was unused for many years.


              In 1995 the organ was purchased from Muddy Creek Church and removed by Raymond and Ruth Brunner. Restoration was begun and plans were made to install the organ in the old stone church building of St. Peter’s Lutheran in Middletown, PA.  It was to be a memorial  to my late wife's father and was being donated by her mother.  When those plans changed, the organ was offered for sale.   The organ has now found a new home at Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word, Rochester, NY.


              Restoration of the organ was done with regard to preserving the original intent of the builder and keeping the instrument historically accurate.   The original wind reservoir was retained and new feeder bellows were built to replicate the missing originals.   An electric blower was provided for normal use, but the organ can be pumped by hand as it was originally done. All extant original parts of the organ were restored, including the windchests, action, pedalboard, and pipework. The pipes are original except for the Fifteenth 2’ which Justus Becker had replaced with an 8’ string stop. Fortunately, a rank of period Peter Schenkel pipes identical to the missing pipes was found.   These pipes were restored and fit perfectly in the original rack board holes for the Fifteenth.


              The manual keyboard is a replica of the original, which had been replaced in 1939. Measurements were taken from the original Bohler keyboard at Old Belleman’s Church and an exact copy was made by Nelson Woodworking of Little Compton, RI. The only change is that the natural keys are covered with cow bone instead of ivory. New stop knobs were made of rosewood and antique ivory stop faces were hand engraved in the correct style.


              The casework of the organ is painted poplar designed in a Gothic style. Although simulated grain painting was generally used at the time, the organ seems to have always been painted a light color.   An old photograph of the organ at Muddy Creek shows a darker trim color on some of the moldings, although it is not known if this was added later. When the organ was moved in 1939, the left side of the case was discarded so it could fit into a corner, as was the fretwork around the top of the case which would not clear the new ceiling. These parts of the case were replicated during the restoration. A new set of back panels in a support frame was also installed in the organ to stabilize the case and for better sound projection.   Façade pipes are zinc and were originally gold leafed, now painted gold and silver.   They are speaking pipes of the Open Diapason except for the right center group of five which are dummies.


              The organ was installed in Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word in August of 2006.   Installation was done by Raymond Brunner, Thomas Becker, and Robert Carbaugh with assistance of church members and youth who helped unload the organ parts. Others who worked on the restoration were Ruth E. Brunner, Terry Nace, Larry Siders, and Keith Eiser.


Prepared by Raymond J. Brunner

September, 2006