ANNALS OF

 

 

 

THE EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION

OF NORTH AMERICA

 

 

 

AND

 

 

 

History of the United Evangelical Church

 

 

 

BY

 

REV. A. STAPLETON, M. S.

 

Author of Natural History of the Bible.

 

 

 

The Lord has done great things for us,

whereof we are glad. — Psalms cxxvi.3.

 

 

 

published by

 

Publishing House of the United Evangelical Church

 

Harrisburg, Penna.


 

 

Copyrighted in the year 1896

by the Board of Publication

 

of the

United Evangelical Church.

 


 

iii

 

AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION

 

 

 

"We take no note of time

But from its loss. To give it then a tongue

Is wise in man." — Young.

 

Almost a century has passed by since the ecclesiastical foundations of the

Evangelical Association were laid, and the hands that, under the Providence of

God, gathered the materials, have long since been folded in death. Yea, even

the immediate successors of our Church fathers are already growing old and fast

passing away. One by one the few remaining links are being broken, and soon

our aged Evangelical pilgrims, who in their youth came in contact with, and under

the influence of our early pioneers, will also have joined the triumphant Evan-

gelical host beyond the tide.

 

The Evangelical Association has come to her present position through many

severe trials and tribulations. No denomination originating in America has a

more interesting history than our Evangelical Zion.

 

Although several histories of the Association have been published, all excel-

lent in their way, it has nevertheless been felt for many years that one of the

most interesting phases of her history has been passed over too lightly by previous

authors. This deficiency the author of this work has endeavored to supply in

the first part of this volume, in the recovery of the names of early members and

preaching places, as well as incidents connected with the establishment of the

work by our early preachers.

 

The publication of this work is the consummation of a long and fondly

cherished desire of the author. There are many things connected with it which

to him seem providential. In early youth it was his good fortune to be a member

of several of the first classes of the Association, in which were still found some of

the original members, who had much to say about Albright and his co-laborers.

Many of these old people had very clear and distinct recollections of the stirring

scenes of the olden times. In course of time the knowledge thus gained was

reduced to notes, without any regard to their connection with the history of the

Association. The accumulation of so many interesting facts and incidents pertain-

ing to the olden time, naturally found expression in a desire for their preservation

in a permanent form.

 

A circumstance very remarkable and worthy of record, is the fact that so

many very aged people kept alive and cherished in their memories the knowledge

of facts pertaining to our early denominational history, in the hope of some day

 


 

iv AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION.

 

communicating it to the right person for publication. Some of these people

communicated important matters to their children, and in this way many of the

facts here recorded were preserved.

 

Our older preachers often expressed a desire that the names of the old

appointments and first members might be recovered for the benefit of posterity,

before all the sources of information should be forever closed. This desire the

author has endeavored to meet in the publication of this work, which was under-

taken, as he firmly believes, none too soon, seeing that most of the sources of

information from which materials of the first part were gathered, have passed

away since the work was commenced, and much of the matter could not again

be reproduced from the sources now at command.

 

There are doubtless some errors in this work, as may be expected in such a

vast mass of details, embracing many hundreds of names and dates. Yet the

author confidently believes that such errors are few in number. Neither pains

nor expense have been spared to secure accuracy. Records in the state and

county archives have been examined to ascertain facts, and to verify such as

were doubtful.

 

The oldest living preachers of the Association co-operated with a zeal which

evinced their deep interest in the work. Among them may be mentioned father

Joseph M. Saylor, who entered the ministry in 1824, and was a contemporary

of some of the first preachers of the Association. He not only furnished a large

amount of material, but also reviewed a considerable portion of the copy pertain-

ing to the first circuits. Father Francis Hoffman, who entered the ministry

in 1826, also did considerable in the same line. To father Daniel Long (1835)

the author owes his first knowledge of Albright's work in Bedford county, and

other important matters, but while gathering fuller details for this work, he was

suddenly called to his eternal reward. Father Joseph Harlacher (1832) also

rendered valuable services. The recovery of the names of early preaching places

and members in Ohio is largely due to fathers Lewis Einsel (1836), Daniel

Swartz (1835), Abraham Loehner (1837), and Ch. Idleman. The latter

was one of the first converts in northwestern Ohio. The four last named brethren

traveled in Ohio when most of the appointments established by our first mission-

aries were still maintained. A great many other brethren, both ministerial and

lay, co-operated heartily in the preparation of this work, some going to great

pains to ascertain or verify facts. Without their help this work could never have

been accomplished.

 

To the reader who is not a member of the Evangelical Association it may

seem strange that so much attention has been paid to the laity, and matters of

family history. This feature finds its explanation in the following grounds: The

author holds that men who were willing to come out from among the formal

churches and espouse the cause of Evangelical truth in the face of bitter perse-

cution, and opened their houses as preaching places, which often required great

sacrifices, deserve a wider recognition than has been hitherto accorded them.

Another reason is the fact that most of these old fathers became centers of

Evangelical influence. Their houses served as preaching places until churches

were built, and in many cases they provided for the maintenance of public worship

 


 

AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION. v

 

at their homes after their death. There are homesteads now in the Evangelical

Association where preaching appointments have been maintained ever since the

days of the founder of the Church; a period of almost one century.

 

A great many of the first families of the Association were among the most

prominent in their respective communities. This is contrary to a generally received

opinion. We have for many years been misrepresented in this respect, and the

reproach has been laid at our doors that our early members and adherents were

composed of the ignorant classes and gathered from the humbler walks of life.

From a careful study of this subject, we can assure the reader that this opinion

is an erroneous one, as the following chapters will abundantly show. It required

no small degree of moral courage for them to abandon the formal churches with

which they stood connected. Many of them were officers in these churches, and

cases were not infrequent in which their former pastors incited their parishioners

to violent measures to prevent them from receiving the “false prophets,” as our

first preachers were called.

 

In this connection it may be observed that most of the early conversions

were deep and powerful. This assertion must not be understood as implying

that conversions now are less genuine. The spiritual condition of the masses at

that time was at such a low ebb, and such erroneous opinions respecting the

character of experimental religion prevailed, that when people were thoroughly

converted to God, its immediate effects upon the individual, as well as those with

whom he came in contact, were far more powerful than at the present time.

The converts then were especially drawn to God in prayer. They sometimes

gave pledges to each other of special remembrance in prayer. When such per-

secution as they endured is prevalent, it requires special grace to remain faithful.

Although denounced by their formal pastors as heretics, and in many cases

disowned and disinherited by parents and relatives, they held out well, and their

inspiring examples still live among us to incite us to follow, as they did, the

footsteps of the Lord Jesus, and ever reminding us that

 

"By the thorn road, and none other,

Is the mount of vision won."

 

The preparation of the second and third parts of this book was less difficult,

as the sources of information were more accessible. The works of Orwig,

Raidabaugh, Breyfogel and Yeakel, and also the periodical literature of

the Church, were freely consulted. To the many friends who have rendered

valuable aid, and above all, to our dear Heavenly Father, who has blessed us with

health and the spirit of perseverance for the successful accomplishment of our

arduous but agreeable task, we give our most heartfelt thanks.

 

A. STAPLETON.

 

Berwick, Pa.

 


 

7

THE EVANGELICAL ANNALS.

 

 

 

PART I.

 

Containing an Account of the Origin and Development

of the Evangelical Association Through the Labors of

REV. JACOB ALBRIGHT and His Co-Laborers. Also

an Account of the Early Preaching Places and of Prom-

inent Laymen.

 


8  [page 8 is blank]


 

9

CHAPTER I.

 

 

 

THE EARLY DAYS.

 

The Pennsylvania Germans — The Immigration to America.

Their Spiritual Condition — Awakening Among Them.

Conversion of Jacob Albright, and beginning of his

work.

 

The Pennsylvania Germans. The Evangelical Asso-

ciation, of North America owes its origin, under the providence

of God, to the labors of Rev. Jacob Albright and his co-laborers

among the Pennsylvania Germans. As our early preachers labored

exclusively among this people, and as they have a dialect, cus-

toms and traits of character peculiarly their own, a brief history

of them seems proper in this connection.

 

The Pennsylvania Germans were mostly emigrants from the

Palatinate, or Lower Rhinish provinces of Germany. Prior to

1702 very few Germans had settled in Pennsylvania. The first

settlement by them was made in 1683, when a small colony under

Pastorius founded Germantown, now a part of Philadelphia.

This was the beginning of one of the most remarkable emigrations

of modern times, chiefly because such a large proportion of the

emigrants represented a distinct division of the great Germanic

race. So large indeed was this proportion, that it absorbed and

assimilated in a great measure' all other racial elements with which

it came in contact, and thus were laid in America the foundations

of a new and distinct Germanic people, differing widely in many

respects from the typical native of the Fatherland.

 

In this we see the necessity for inquiring more minutely into

the circumstances which led to this remarkable development.

 


 

10 EVANGELICAL ASS0CIATI0N ANNALS.

 

The Huguenots. There is no more eventful period in

modern history than the close of the seventeenth century. Oct.

18, 1685, marked the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, by

Louis XIV. of France. In 1598 Henry IV. granted religious

tolerance to French Protestants who were called Huguenots, and

by its revocation Louis XIV. kindled anew the fires of persecu-

tion against them. He deprived them of all exercise of their

religion, and tore their children from them to be educated as

Catholics. He was very ambitious of the fame that would attach

to the extirpation of heresy from his dominions. Notwithstand-

ing his tyrannical decree against the emigration of his unhappy

subjects, and the strict guard on his borders, great multitudes

escaped the vigilance of his guards and spies, and in a few years

over half a million of the best and most intelligent people of the

nation had fled the country, many thousands of whom in course

of time found a congenial refuge on the shores of the New World,*

and many of their descendants were among the first to open their

doors to Albright and his co-laborers.

 

The Mennonites. About this same time the Mennonites were

also bitterly persecuted, especially in Switzerland, and thousands

fled to Holland and the Lower Rhine provinces, and later came

to Pennsylvania. The Mennonite emigration properly began in,

1709. In 1706, or 1707, the Mennonites of the Canton of Bern,

Switzerland, sent several agents to London to make arrangements

with William Penn for the settlement of a large number of their

people in his province.* Soon thereafter the envoys came direct

to Pennsylvania, and after considerable exploration selected a

very fine tract of 10,000 acres on the north side of Pequea Creek,

now in Strasburgh township, Lancaster county. The title was

perfected Oct. 10, 1710, and the land divided according to

previous arrangement the following April 27, 1711.*** In a few

decades thousands of these conscientious and peaceable people

had found homes in Pennsylvania.

 

The Palatinates. In 1688 Heidelberg was taken the sec-

ond time by the French Papists and laid in ashes. Like the

Phoenix of old it arose again from its ruins, only to be stormed

and destroyed again by the same inveterate enemy in 1693.

The panic-stricken inhabitants were compelled to flee from the

 

* Bancroft says the United States are full of monuments of this Huguenot

emigration.

** Col. Records iii. p. 397.

*** Rupp's Hist. of Lancaster county, p. 75.

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 11

 

relentless foe in the darkness of the night. Manheim, Speyer

and Worms were also pillaged and partly destroyed, and the whole

region was laid waste and desolate by the wanton fury of the

Papists.

 

The unfortunate inhabitants were, however, induced to rebuild

their ruined homes again under promise of religious freedom, and

immunity from taxes for a certain length of time. In this they

were cruelly deceived by their Elector, who doubtless acted on

the Papistical principle then prevalent, that promises made to

heretics should not be redeemed. Betrayed by their heartless

Elector, and despoiled by their old enemy, the French, they were

well nigh driven to despair.

 

Emigration to Pennsylvania. Queen Ann of England

issued a proclamation in 1708, inviting the persecuted, long-

suffering Palatinates to her dominion, and before the end of the

year nearly 12,000 of them were quartered in warehouses and

tents in London and vicinity. Stripped of all their earthly

possessions they were very poor, and were supported by the gov-

ernment and the munificent charity of the queen.

 

The presence of so many thousand indigent foreigners became

a serious burden to England, and plans were devised to transport

them to the Provinces. In the summer of 1710 about 3,000 who

had lived on the bounty of Queen Ann, were shipped to New

York. One large party, under Rev. Kocherthal, settled at

Schoharie, New York. Trouble, however, arose, and the Ger-

mans became dissatisfied, many gradually working their way to

Pennsylvania, and were the first Palatinates in the province.

Their dissatisfaction soon became known to their kindred in

Europe, and thereafter New York was shunned by them. In

1723 the proprietaries of New York invalidated the titles of the

Schoharie settlers and they came to Pennsylvania that same winter,

suffering incredible hardships in traveling through the wilderness.

In this company was the famous Conrad Weiser, afterwards

Colonial Indian agent and interpreter. This colony settled on

the Tulpehocken, fifteen miles northwest of Reading, Pa.

 

While the English emigration was comparatively insignifi-

cant, the Germans from the Lowlands and the war -scourged

Palatinate poured into the province at a rapid rate. James

Logan, provincial secretary, wrote the proprietor in 1717, "We

have of late a great number of Palatinates pouring in upon us

without any recommendation or notice, which gives the country

 


 

12 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.

 

some uneasiness, for foreigners do not so well among us as our

own English people." Two years later Jonathan Dickinson

wrote, "We are daily expecting ships from London which bring

over Palatinates in number six or seven thousand." In 1717

Gov. Keith appeared before the Colonial Council with a state-

ment that great numbers of foreigners from Germany, who were

strangers to the language and customs, were dispersing themselves

immediately after landing, "without producing certificates from

whence they came, or what they are," etc. This was considered

dangerous to the colony, and led to the adoption of a measure

which has preserved the names of upwards of 30,000 male emi-

grants, (Germans), as all males sixteen years old and upwards

were thereafter compelled to subscribe to an oath, or article of

allegiance to the English government and obedience to the Colo-

nial authorities. This was equivalent to the naturalization of the

present day. The lists containing these names are among the

most precious treasures in the archives of the Commonwealth.

 

In 1727 no less than six vessels arrived in Philadelphia, well

laden with Palatinates, followed in 1728 by three more vessels, and

the same number in 1729. The Palatine emigration, however,

was unprecedented from 1730 to 1740, as no less than sixty-five

ship-loads arrived. In 1730 the region west of the Susquehanna

river was opened to settlement, and what are now York and

Adams counties were soon filled up with Germans. Thousands

also mingled with the Scotch Irish in the fertile Cumberland

Valley, and many Palatine settlements were made in Maryland

and in the Shenandoah Valley, in Virginia, as far south as Shen-

andoah and Rockbridge counties. "When George Washington

and others were surveying lands in that part of Virginia in April,

1748, they were attended by a great company of people, men,

women and children, who followed them through the woods. They

would never speak English, but when spoken to would always

speak Dutch"* (German). In 1742 the Germans of Pennsylva-

nia were estimated to number 100,000,** and in many sections

formed fully nine-tenths of the inhabitants. After the treaty of

Fort Stanwix, Nov. 5, 1758, the rich and fertile valleys of the

west and northwest were penetrated by the Germans, and some

extensive settlements were made by them west of the main ridge

of the Allegheny mountains, prior to the war of the Revolution.

 

* Sparks' Washington, Vol. ii. 418.

** Horn's History of Lehigh Co., p. 23.

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 13

 

Their Language. The language spoken by the Pennsyl-

vania Germans is a slight variation of the soft and beautiful dialect

still prevailing in the Palatinate (German "Pfaltz"). This dia-

lect in America retains its grammatical forms, but has acquired

some additional idiomatic features, and a curious intermixture'

of English words which have been adapted to it. As a dialect

it holds a place between High and Low German. By many it is

supposed that "Pennsylvania Dutch" is merely a corrupt German

and English. The reader will see that this is not the case. As

originally spoken it is one of the finest and softest dialects of the

great Teutonic tongue. Some fine works have been published in

this dialect, notably those of Rev. H. Harbaugh, Prof. Horn,

and Henry Fisher, Esq.

 

Their Religious Condition. The German emigration to

Pennsylvania, as already indicated, was mainly the result of relig-

ious intolerance in the Fatherland. The co-religionists generally

settled together. The Mennonites and Dunkards mostly located

in Lancaster county. The Schwenkfelders, most of whom arrived

in 1734,* settled in a section now embraced in Berks, Lehigh and

Montgomery counties. The Moravians, under the patronage of

Count Zinzendorf,** settled in the Lehigh Valley, in 1741, and

founded the towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth. The Lutherans

and Reformed, who were mostly Palatinates, and formed the bulk

of emigrants, spread themselves more generally over the country.

 

Strange as it may seem, the strong tide of religious feeling

which led to this influx of Germans seems to have subsided in a

great measure soon after their establishment here. Their new

surroundings may have contributed to this condition. It became

a hand-to-hand struggle for subsistence. For more than a quar-

ter of a century they had no pastors, and religious training was

woefully neglected. This statement has particular reference to

the Palatinates.

 

* They came in the ship St. Andrew, Sept. 12, 1734 (Col. Records iii. 568).

Among them were the Yeakels, Schuberts, Huebners, Kribels, Hoffmans.

** Nikolaus Ludwig (Count Von Zinzendorf). Born 1700, died 1760. A

German nobleman of deep piety. He espoused the faith of the Moravians,

who were then reduced to a mere handful through the religious persecutions then

prevalent. He invited them to settle on his estates, which they did, and founded

the town of Herrnhut. Z. was made a minister and bishop of the reorganized

church, and thereafter was its leader until his death. He established numerous

Moravian colonies. He was the author of more than one hundred works in

prose and poetry.

 


 

14 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.

 

Although there were some congregations formed as early as

1735, still the great mass of the people were strangers to the

sanctuary. In 1742 the noted Lutheran divine, Henry Melchior

Muhlenberg,* was sent from the Fatherland to look after the

spiritual interests of the Lutherans in Pennsylvania. He found

the spiritual condition of his countrymen most deplorable, and in

letters published in the Halliche Nachrichten, describes their con-

dition in a vivid manner. In 1746 Rev. Michael Schlatter,**

a Reformed minister from Switzerland, came to Pennsylvania

on a similar mission. His communications to the home church

convey the same sad story of spiritual decline. In 1752 there

were but sixteen Reformed congregations, having regular pastors,

in a Reformed population of thirty thousand souls.

 

The war of the Revolution likewise had a demoralizing effect

on the Pennsylvania Germans. Intemperance, especially, became

alarmingly prevalent among them. Their pastors seldom raised

a hand to stem this rising tide of evil. Many of the clergy con-

doned the use of ardent spirits and, alas, in many instances were

themselves openly intemperate. This was overlooked by their

people, who regarded it as only a "Fehler" (an infirmity) in

their preacher, about which it was best not to say anything.

 

Beginnings of Religious Revival. It is gratifying to

know that the darkness and spiritual ignorance of this period was

relieved by many burning and shining lights. Signs of promise

multiplied, and harbingers of better days everywhere appeared.

While we would not disparage the influence of the great Wesleyan

revival in England, and its spread in America through the preaching

of that man of God, George Whitefield, still it is a remarkable

•fact that many conversions of prominent men were brought about

spontaneously, a considerable number of the ministry and laity

in nearly all denominations professing conversion, and becoming-

 

* Heinrich Melchior Muhlenberg, D. D. Born at Einbeck, Germany,

1711, died 1787. A distinguished German divine. He was sent by the Univer-

sity of Halle to organize and promote the interests of the Lutheran Church in

America. He is justly regarded as the founder of the church in America. Several

of his sons became men of great distinction. Muhlenberg and his sons were

great patriots during the war of the Revolution.

** Rev. Michael Schlatter. Born in Switzerland 1716, died 1790. Edu-

cated at St. Gall. Sent by the synods of Holland 'to organize the Reformed

Church in Pennsylvania. In 1751 he went to Europe and secured six missionaries,

with whom he returned to Pennsylvania. He was a patriot in the war of the

Revolution, for which he was imprisoned by the British.

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 15

 

dissatisfied with the cold and formal worship of the times. This

was the state of affairs about the close of the Revolutionary War.

 

Among those who cried aloud and spared not, was the Men-

nonite preacher, Martin Boehm.* He was brought to see his

own unconverted state, and after experiencing God's saving grace

in his own heart, he became a strong advocate and forcible

expounder of experimental religion in his church. His fearless

denunciation of sin and his views on experimental religion were

so radical as to constitute a great gap between him and his corelig-

ionists. The spirit of toleration was then almost unknown, and

Boehm was excluded from the Mennonite Church. His influence,

however, was felt powerfully among the people of that denomi-

nation, and contributed in a marked degree to preparing the way

for the great success of later evangelists.

 

A well defined movement was also about this time noticeable

in the Reformed Church. William Otterbein,** one of the

prominent preachers of that church, began to preach Evangelical

repentance and conversion in a very forcible manner, and made

profound impressions. George Adam Guething [Geeting], John G.

Phruemer [Pfrimmer], and Anthony Hautz, all of the Reformed Church,

became earnest preachers of repentance and conversion. The

two former associated themselves with Otterbein and Boehm,

and became prominent ministers of the United Brethren Church.

Mention should also be made of John Neidig, of Dauphin county,

Felix Licht [Light], of Lebanon county, and Christian Newcomer.***

 

* Rev. Martin Boehm was born in Lancaster county, Pa. in 1725. He

became a Mennonite preacher in 1756. Five or six years later he was excluded

from that denomination, "for holding fellowship with other societies of a

different language." Thereafter he was an active co-worker in the Evangelical

movement of the times, and became one of the founders of the United Brethren

in Christ, of which church he was made a bishop in 1800. After a long life of

signal usefulness, he died in Shenandoah Valley, Va., in 1812.

** Philip William Otterbein. Born in Germany 1726, died in Baltimore,

Md., 1813. Was one of the Reformed missionaries sent by the Holland Synod to

America in 1752. Became pastor of a Reformed Church at Lancaster, Pa., and

later at Baltimore, Md. Many revivals and conversions followed his preaching.

He was associated with Martin Boehm, and through their labors the movement

which resulted in the formation of the United Brethren Church was brought about.

*** Rev. Christian Newcomer, whose name occurs prominently in this

work, was a son of Wolfgang Newcomer, and was born in Lancaster county,

Pa., 1749. He began to preach in 1787, and was a member of the first United

Brethren Conference in 1789. He was elected as bishop of that denomination

in 1818. He labored with great zeal in that capacity until March 12, 1830, when

he died at his home near Hagerstown, Md.

 


 

16 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.

 

Separation from the Old Churches. We have now out-

lined the beginning of the Reformation among the Pennsylvania

Germans. The churches for the most part being closed against

these men of God, they were compelled to preach in houses and

barns and on the streets. Hundreds of people opened their houses

as regular preaching places. There was, however, a strong aver-

sion on the part of many against leaving the old churches where

they had rendered their confirmation vows. Many of the laity

were excluded from the churches for following after or abetting

the so-called "heretics," but the churches soon discovered that

thereby they excluded their best, their fraying people, and were

glad enough to retain them if possible. Many of these preach-

ing places were open to all preachers who were approved and

converted 'men of God. Bishop Newcomer's journal reveals the

fact that he frequently preached at the houses of persons who

had connected themselves with Albright's society, and the same

is probably true of nearly all the "New Measure" preachers of

that day. Therefore it follows that because some prominent

member of the old churches opened his house as a regular preach-

ing place, we must not at once conclude that he left his church.

The converted people of the various churches often met as an

unorganized society — if such an expression is allowable — calling

themselves "Brethren." Later they became "The United Breth-

ren." Still later, when the number of those professing conversion

was considerable, it became quite common to speak of them as

a class, as "die bekehrte Lent" (the converted people), and the

adherents of the old churches as "die Kirche lent" (the church

people).

 

While it is an undeniable fact that the spirit of sectarianism is

an evil in the Christian church, it is also true that the lack of

organization and administrative powers is an evil equally deplor-

able. At first view there is something noble in the thought of

coming out and standing aloof from a cold and dead church, and

seeking the genial warmth of true devotion burning on other altars,

but this spirit of independence and non-allegiance to church

organization is found to be an evil in practice. It weakens the

incentives to support the cause of the church, her ministry, her

ordinances and her work. This fact soon became apparent to

the many gospel workers of the various denominations who for

several years had labored independently of the denominations

with which they were formally connected. In 1789 a number

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 17

 

of them, under the leadership of Boehm, Otterbein, and others,

connected themselves together under the name of "The United

Brethren in Christ." It does not seem that a separate church

organization was at first contemplated, but the hostility of the

old church against this movement drew the converted ministry

and laity more closely together, which necessarily developed into

denominational organization. A large number, however, remained

independent of any organization.

 

A remarkable incident relating to this subject is worthy of

record. In the early ministry of John Seybert, (afterwards

bishop,) he had an extensive revival near the Black Oak Hill,

Lebanon county, Pa., at a meeting held at the house of Joseph

Kreider,* at which the noted Felix Licht, was present. Licht

had been a prominent Mennonite, but after his conversion he,

with many others, stood aloof from churches. Seybert urged

the converts to hold together, and showed the necessity and advan-

tages of organization. Licht astonished the assembly by arising

and contradicting the advice of Seybert and spoke against the

formation of a class, to which little attention was paid.

 

Rise of the Evangelical Association. In the religious

movements which we have outlined, the Evangelical Association

also took its rise. The establishment of our Zion was not the

result of disruption, or secession from any of the old denomina-

tions. Neither is it the result of a difference in faith or church

polity, but it represents, as its name indicates, a revival of the

evangelical or spiritual element, which existed only in the creeds,

but not in the practice of the German churches of that day.

Herein we see her standpoint and distinctive features as a church.

Should the Evangelical Association ever lose sight of the funda-

mental principles of her existence, namely, the conversion of

sinners to Christ and the building up of God's people in true

holiness of heart, then may it be truthfully said, there is no apol-

ogy for her existence. That such a stage should ever be reached,

may God forbid!

 

The Evangelical Association has no connection whatever with

any of the more recently established churches in America. Her

origin and development were entirely independent of them all.

Her's was a growth by accretion, brought about by instrumental-

ities of her own, which were blessed and owned of God in the

 

•Near Palmyra, Pa. He died in 1878, aged eighty-four years. His place

was for many years an important point.

 


 

18 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNAL8.

 

conversion of souls. We have already seen how for some time

the new measure preachers labored side by side without formal

organization, and with them the founder of the Evangelical Asso-

ciation. But in its organization and subsequent development

there does not seem to have been much material except that which

Jacob Albright and his co-laborers could properly call their own.

This of course has reference to the fruits of their labors. Most

of the members of the original classes were the spiritual children

of Albright and his assistants, as will appear to every candid

reader of the subsequent details of their labors in this work.

 

Conversion of Albright. In 1790 Jacob Albright, who

then lived in West Cocalico township, Lancaster county, Pa.,

lost several of his children by death. On the occasion of their

burial Rev. Anthony Hautz,* a Reformed minister already

referred to, officiated. The word spoken had the effect of bringing

Albright into a penitent condition. He failed, however, to find

peace, and after many months of prayerful seeking he was brought

to the verge of despair. Not very far from him lived a minister

named Adam Riegel, who, like many others of his day, stood

independent of the churches. To this man Albright went for

counsel and help after having been in the deepest spiritual distress

for over a year. The Sun of Righteousness then arose upon him

with healing in his wings, and he was converted in the house of

Riegel, in 1792, and together they subsequently enjoyed many

happy hours in Christian communion and devotion.

 

We have already noticed the aversion of the early German

converts to a separate church organization, a feeling in which

Albright did not share. He felt the need of a church home in

which he could serve God according to his new light and experi-

ence. He therefore united with the Methodist Episcopal Church,

a class of which had been established in his locality. This, on

the whole, maybe regarded as a fortunate circumstance, inasmuch

as he found not only congenial Christian fellowship, but also

opportunities for the free exercise of the gifts with which he was

 

* Rev. Anthony Hautz, a deeply spiritual Reformed minister and faithful

preacher of experimental religion was licensed as a Reformed preacher in 1787,

was a co-worker with the independent brethren, but never withdrew from his

church. Because he advocated the "New Measures” he came in conflict with

his conservative parishioners, and changed charges a number of times; finally he

removed, in 1804, to the state of New York. Here he died in Groton township,

Tompkins county, in 1830, at an advanced age.

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 19

 

naturally endowed. Although a German, so well did his Metho-

dist brethren think of Albright that they granted him license as

an exhorter. After laboring in this capacity for some time, he

felt the inward call to the holy ministry. The difficulties in the

way, however, seemed insurmountable. The church with which

he was connected was English in language, while the people with

whom his labors as a minister could be successful, were German.

After much fasting and prayer, he finally determined to enter the

gospel field as an independent evangelist, and labor among his

German countrymen, in the full belief that God had called him

to this work, and would open the way for him. Albright never

withdrew from the Methodist Church, neither was he excluded.

His membership simply lapsed when his sphere of usefulness was

enlarged from the exhorter to the itinerant preacher.

 

Beginning of Albright's Ministry. In 1796 Albright

started on his first evangelistic tour, which, as he himself says,

embraced, a portion of Maryland and Virginia and the interior of

Pennsylvania. The first definite account we have of his labors

refers to October of this same year, when he preached at the mar-

ket house at Shafferstown, Lebanon county, Pa., on the occasion

of the dedication of the new Reformed Church at that place.

It is exceedingly difficult to gain definite information of his early

labors, for the reason already advanced, that he doubtless preached

at many places where all godly ministers were alike welcome.

The first tangible results of his work, so far as we know, appear

in the eastern part of Berks county, near the Colebrookdale iron

works. Here he preached at Samuel Liesser's, and Abraham

and Joseph Buchwalter's. At Quakertown, Bucks county,

eighteen miles northeast of this, he preached at Peter Walter's

and Charles Bissey's. In Penn township, Schuylkill county,

he preached regularly at Leonhart Zimmerman's. In North-

ampton county, along the Blue mountains, he preached at the

houses of George Phillips and his sons, Conrad and Jacob, and

Jacob Riedy. In what is now Lebanon county, near Jonestown,

he preached at the house of Ludwig Zehring. At the foregoing

places he preached prior to 1800. The persons named, with their

families, were his first fruits in the ministry, and loved him as

their spiritual father. As the number of the converts through

his ministry increased, he clearly saw the necessity of organizing

them into classes. This he did in 1800, when his adherents num-

bered about twenty.

 


 

20 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.

 

The first class was formed on the Ridge, three miles east of

Quakertown, Bucks county, and consisted of Charles Bissey

and wife, and Peter Walter with his wife and family. Peter

Walter was the leader of the class. The second class was formed

about twenty miles southwest, at the Colebrookdale iron works,

in Berks county, and consisted of Samuel Liesser, his wife and

several children, Abraham Buchwalter and wife, and Joseph

Buchwalter and wife. Samuel Liesser was leader. The third

class was formed along the Blue mountains, in Hamilton town-

ship, Northampton county, and consisted of father George

Phillips and his two sons, Conrad and Jacob, and their wives,

Jacob Riedy and wife, Phillip Miller and wife, and Barbara

Hecht. Conrad Phillips was leader.

 

First Co-laborers of Albright. After laboring alone in

the vineyard for a period of about five years, the Lord gave his

servant, Jacob Albright, an assistant, in the person of John

Walter, son of Peter Walter, the first class-leader. This

young man entered the Evangelical work in 1802, and became

noted for his untiring zeal and powerful eloquence. From his

biography and the numerous references to him in this work, the

reader will perceive that he was a man of brilliant talents whose

oratorical powers have never been excelled in the history of the

Association. The following year, 1803, another young brother

entered the work. This was Abraham Liesser, son of father

Samuel Liesser, of Colebrookdale, Berks county. He was a

young man of mild and quiet disposition, zealously devoted to

the saving of souls, but does not seem to have possessed a strong

bodily constitution. In 1805 he broke down altogether and died

the same year. In 1804 Alexander Jemison, of Lancaster

county, entered the active work. The following year, however,

he located, after which but very little is known of him. In 1805

George Miller entered the itinerancy and eventually became

the leader of the Association. In 1806 the number was not

increased. In 1807 John Dreisbach, of Buffalo Valley, in Union

county, and Jacob Frey, of Middle Creek Valley, in (now)

Snyder county, entered the work. The former became in course

of time the leading man of the church. John Erb, of Conestoga,

Lancaster county, began to preach in Albright's time, was

received on trial in 1808, and became a very useful man* The

foregoing brethren entered the ministry under the supervision

of the founder of the church.

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 21

 

Of local preachers of this period it is doubtful whether all the

names of those who exercised the office, and were recognized as

such, can be definitely ascertained. Several of the names given

below do not appear on the records of the church, but of their

license as local preachers there is no doubt. In 1806 the office

of local preacher was established in the society. The first to be

received were the following: Charles Bissey, of Quakertown,

Bucks county; Jacob Phillips, of Northampton county, and

Solomon Miller, brother of Rev. George Miller. The great

revival on the new circuit, in 1806, almost doubled the mem-

bership of the society. The number of local preachers was also

increased as follows: In 1807 Christopher Spangler accom-

panied John Dreisbach to attend the first conference of the

church. Spangler, at this conference, received license to

preach,* and for half a century was a pillar in the church. John

Thomas, Jr., of Mifflin county (died in Wayne county, O., 1837),

whose license was given him by Albright.**  Christian Wolf,

of Derrstown (now Lewisburg, Union county), who removed

to Seneca county, New York, 1807, and died 1833. Besides the

above, mention should also be made of Michael Maize and

Henry Niebel, of Dry Valley, Union county, and Matthias

Betz, of Millheim, Centre county. These brethren without doubt

began to preach in Albright's time, Niebel and Betz entering

the active work immediately after the founder's death (1808).

 

Biographies of nearly all the co-workers of Albright will be

found in subsequent chapters. They were men of untiring zeal,

and willing to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ

(II. Tim. ii. 3). Amid many privations and disappointments

they laid the foundations of our Evangelical Zion.

 

Pentecostal Meeting. The first meeting of Albright and

his adherents, of which we have any knowledge, was held when

he had but four male followers, of whom Charles Bissey*** was

one. The names of the others are not known. The place and

time of the meeting are also unknown, but the time must have

been soon after he began his ministry. The object was to seek

a closer union with God, and to pray together for the power of

 

* Letter of Dreisbach in "Chr. Botschafter," 1843, P. 189.

** Orwig's History of the Ev. Association, p. 219.

*** This fact was given in a historical address at the General Conference at

Allentown, Pa., in 1883, by Rev. Henry Stetzel, who had obtained his infor-

mation from Charles Bissey.

 


 

22 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.

 

the Holy Ghost. The Lord blessed them in a wonderful manner,

and the meeting no doubt proved a great encouragement to

Albright and his little band.

 

First General Assembly. After Albright had labored

in the gospel ministry about six years, it was felt necessary to give

a more definite and formal recognition of his call and work.

Hence a general Council Assembly was called, which met Nov. 3,

1803, at Samuel Liesser's.* Besides Albright and his two

assistants, John Walter and Abraham Liesser, there were pres-

ent the following brethren: Jacob Phillips, George Miller,

Carl Bissey, Conrad Phillips, John Brobst, Solomon W.

Frederick, Chr. Brobst, George Phillips, Michael Brobst,

Samuel Liesser, Peter Walter, Adam Miller, Jacob Riedy

and Solomon Miller. This assembly transacted the following

important business:

 

1. An ecclesiastical organization was effected by the adoption

of the Holy Scriptures as the guide and rule of faith.

 

2. Jacob Albright was declared to be a minister of the gos-

pel in the full sense of the term and recognized as their spiritual

father and teacher.

 

3. He was solemnly ordained as such by the laying on of hands;

 

4. And was given a license or commission, of which the fol-

lowing is a close translation:

 

"From the Elders and Brethren of His Society of Evangelical Friends.

We, the undersigned Evangelical and Christian friends, declare and recog-

nize Jacob Albright as a genuine (Wahrhaftigen) Evangelical preacher, in

word and deed, and a believer in the Universal Christian Church and the commun-

ion of saints. This testify we as brethren and elders of his society (Gemeinde).

Given in the State of Pennsylvania Nov. 5, 1803.”

 

The document was signed by Albright's two colleagues,

Walter and Liesser, and the fourteen laymen mentioned.

 

Second Assembly. Some time between 1805 and 1807

another council was held in the house of George Becker, of the

Muehlbach. Of this meeting there is no record whatever; but that

it was held, is substantiated by the testimony of two daughters of

George Becker who were present, namely, Mrs. Gockley and

Mrs. Catharine Klinefelter, the wife of Rev. John Kline-

felter. Some time prior to their death they made definite

statements relative to the assembly, Mrs. Gockley especially

 

* This statement of the place is according to the testimony of John

Dreisbach.

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 23

 

having a vivid recollection of it. Mother Elizabeth Stump, a

daughter of Samuel Becker, in whose house the first conference

was held in 1807, related to the author that she frequently heard

her relatives, including her uncle, George Becker, speak of the

council at the house of the latter.

 

First Conference. The first regular conference was held

in November, 1807, at the house of Samuel Becker, on the

Muehlbach, Lebanon county, a few miles east of Schaefferstown.

With this conference the official history of the Association prop-

erly begins.

 


 

24

 

CHAPTER II.

 

THE "OLD CIRCUIT."

 

An Account of the First Field of Labor, Commonly Called

"Schuylkill and Lancaster Circuit" — Its Preaching

Places and Classes as Established by Rev. Jacob Al-

bright and His Co-Laborers, with Copious Biographical

Notes.

 

We have already in a previous chapter noted the beginning

of Jacob Albright's ministry. In this chapter we will seek to

give a description of the first field of labor, with an account of

its preaching places, and the noble families who, in the face of

great persecution, opened their homes to the founder of the

church and his co-laborers. In doing this it will, however, be

impossible to follow the work in the order of its establishment,

as that plan would necessitate a frequent recurrence to the same

locality. The number of preaching places on the old circuit,

prior to Albright's death (1808), was upwards of sixty. In

their enumeration We deem it proper to begin with the locality in

which the first class was organized.

 

Bucks County. On the rocky ridge, about three miles east

of Quakertown, Bucks county, Albright was received by Peter

Walter and Carl Bissey.

 

Peter Walter, who lived in Rockland township, three miles

east of Quakertown, was the father of a large family, nearly all

of whom were grown when Albright first visited them, and so far

as can be ascertained, Walter was one of the very first to asso-

ciate himself with Albright. In the year 1800, when Albright

decided to organize his spiritual children into classes, he began

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 25

 

here, and father Walter was made leader of the first class of the

Evangelical Association. In the year 1805 he and his entire

family removed to the Swatara Creek, near Jonestown (now),

Lebanon county. In that connection the reader will find a

further account of him and his family.

 

Carl Bissey, of Richland township, lived three miles north of

Walter, and was also one of the first adherents, and was promi-

nent in the early days of the society. He was present at the

council assembly of 1803, and became one of the first local

preachers of the church. In this capacity he rendered good

service until his death, Oct. 20, 1847, at the age of seventy-

five years.

 

Northampton County. Along the southern slope of the

Blue Mountains, in Hamilton township, Northampton county,

was organized the third class of the Evangelical Association in

the year 1800. The first to open their houses to Albright as

preaching places, prior to the organization of the class, were

father George Phillips and his sons, Conrad and Jacob, Jacob

Riedy and Adam Miller, all of whom were present at the Gen-

eral Assembly of 1803. The following were the members of the

class: Father George Phillips and wife, Conrad Phillips and

wife, Jacob Phillips and wife, Peter and Jacob Riedy and

their wives, Philip Miller and wife, Adam Miller and wife

and Barbara Hecht. Conrad Phillips was the class leader.

 

In the fall of 1802 Jacob Albright held the third general

meeting of the society at Conrad Phillips', and was assisted by

John Walter, his first fruits for the ministry. This meeting

was attended by George and Solomon Miller, who at this time

publicly identified themselves with the work of Albright, and

soon became very efficient instruments in the establishment and

promotion of the society.

 

Jacob Phillips became one of the first local preachers of the

society. He died in the prime of life, in 1809.

 

In 1811 Conrad Phillips removed to Dry Valley, in Union

county, where his house became a prominent preaching place.

Here he died in 1816, and his aged father, who had removed

with him, died in 1822.

 

Adam Miller was one of the first converts under Albright

 

Note. — Catharine Hecht died in 1808, leaving a bequest of $100 to the

society, which was the first it received. This was considered a large amount at

that time, and was added to the fund for the support of the preachers.

 


 

26 EVANGELICAL ASS0CIATION ANNALS.

 

in Northampton county. In the early part of the century he

removed to Crawford county, O., where he died in 1848, aged

eighty-one years.

 

Berks County. At the Colebrookdale iron works near the

eastern line of Berks county, Rev. Jacob Albright found some

open doors in the very beginning of his ministry, and here formed

his second class in 1800. The men who received him and opened

their houses as preaching places were the following: Samuel

Liesser, who with his family was converted through the labors

of Albright and became the leader of the class that bore his

name. His son Abraham became Albright's second assistant

in 1803. Father Liesser was widely known as a man of exem-

plary piety. At his house Albright held his first "general

meeting"* in June 1802. Brother Liesser died in the early part

of the century. His wife Anna died in 1838, at the ripe age of

eighty-two years.

 

Abraham** and Joseph Buchwalter and their families also

became adherents of Albright. They were Mennonites in faith

but became dissatisfied with the cold and formal worship of their

society, and cast their lot with the persecuted "converted peo-

ple." The Buchwalters were men of deep piety and sterling

worth, and quite prominent in the community. In 1820 they

removed to Ross county, O., where they were among the first to

receive the Evangelical preachers. John Buchwalter, a son

of Abraham, married to a sister of Rev. John Dreisbach, also

removed to Ross county in 1827, and his house was for years a

preaching place.

 

In Albany township, almost surrounded by the Blue Moun-

tains, lived a very wealthy man named Michael Brobst. He

was an iron master, and his furnace and two forges stood in the

very heart of the valley. His landed possessions comprised over

10,000 acres. About the year 1800 his daughters, Magdalena

and Maria, married George and Solomon Miller respectively.

 

* "General meetings" were meetings held at irregular intervals in various

'parts of the society. They usually began on Saturday, and continued over the

Sabbath. As the work became more established, these meetings gave way to

the "quarterly meetings."

** Abraham Buchwalter was born in Berks county, Pa., 1761, and died in

Ross county, O., 1837. Barbara, his wife, born 1764, died in Ross county, O.,

1868, aged 102 years. Their son John, who served 1812 in the ministry, born

1787, died 1872. His wife Susanna (Dreisbach) born 1793, died 1881. Joseph

Buchwalter, born 1767, died 1838.

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 27

 

The Millers, with their wives, were soon afterwards converted

through the labors of Jacob Albright, which greatly incensed

Mr. Brobst, who was a strict adherent of the old churches.

Soon after the conversion of the Millers the three sons of

Brobst were also converted. Circumstances point to father

Zimmerman's house as the place of their conversion. Their

names were John, Michael and Christian. They were all pres-

ent at the Council Assembly of 1803, and their names are on the

instrument declaring Albright a gospel minister. Of Christian

nothing can be learned, and it is probable that he died prior to

his father. John and Michael lived on the estate and were con-

nected with the business of their father, and at his death inherited

the vast estate, but through circumstances not necessary to detail

here, lost their possessions in after years. The homes of John

,and Michael were regular preaching places for Albright and

his co-workers from 1803. The home of John is especially

worthy of note from the fact that here at a general meeting, held

on Easter day, 1808, Albright stationed his preachers for the

last time.

 

Northwest of Reading, along the Tulpehocken, Albright

and co-laborers found entrance at an early day. The home of

father Peter Dundore was the chief preaching place. A class

was formed here in 1806. In 1809 an extensive revival occurred

in this region and a considerable ingathering took place. Among

the converts at this time were George Lantz,w1io entered the min-

istry in 1820, and Lewis Henkey, who became a local preacher

in 1828. Later he removed to Summit county, O., where he

was an Evangelical pioneer, and where he died in 1873, aged

83 years. The Miesse family were also members on the Tulpe-

hocken, and later removed to Ohio, where they became strong

supporters of the work, and some of the younger members later

became ministers.

 

About 1823 the Evangelical preachers were received by John

Tobias, Sr., and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, who lived on the

Tulpehocken, about six miles from Reading. A great revival

began here in this year, and many souls were converted at his

house, among whom were his sons, John, Jr., Benjamin, Peter,

Abraham, David, Samuel, Daniel and Henry, who in later

years became pillars in the church. In 1832 father Tobias

removed to a locality six miles north of Circleville, O., where

the family again received the preachers and were instrumental in

 


 

28 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.

 

the establishment of a church. Here father Tobias died Aug.

23, 1847, aged seventy-eight years, three months and fourteen

days. His last words were, "I know that my Redeemer liveth."

Mother Tobias survived a number of years. In course of time

most of the sons removed to Illinois. Samuel entered the min-

istry in 1826, preached many years in Pennsylvania and Illinois,

and died at Naperville, Ill., in 1890. Daniel entered the min-

istry in 1833 and died the following year while serving Wooster

circuit. David was a local preacher. Of grandsons the following

entered the ministry: Benjamin Franklin, son of Benjamin,

died in the ministry of the Ohio Conference; Simon A. and L.

B., sons of John Jr., entered the Illinois Conference, and J. H.,

a son of Peter, is a prominent member of the Kansas Conference.

 

In Bern township, along the southern slope of the Blue

Mountains, in Berks county, Albright and his associates gained

entrance prior to 1805, and a class was formed here about this

year. The preaching places were at father Levergood's, Val-

entine Brobst's, John Miller, Sr.'s (see Miller family), and

father Jacob Kline's. The latter resided about four miles west

of Shoemakersville. All the foregoing were men of means and

high standing in their respective communities. They had been

connected with the old churches, and when they opened their

houses as preaching places for the expounders of Evangelical

truth, they became the objects of ridicule and persecution, yet

they stood like pillars of light in that region of moral darkness.

Camp-meetings were held at father Levergood's at an early day.

In later times the families of Earnst and Loose became strong

pillars in this section.

 

Near the gap where the Schuylkill River forces its way through

the Blue Mountains, is the town of Hamburgh. Here Albright

was entertained by a merchant named Diehl. In 1801, when

passing through, he asked permission of Diehl to preach at his

house, but the latter said it was hardly a suitable time, as there

was a "frolic" in progress at the tavern not far away. A mill

stood in close proximity to the tavern, at the front of which was

a worn-out millstone. Albright obtained permission from the

proprietor to mount the stone and preach. A multitude soon

gathered, to whom he delivered a heart-searching address. As it

had the effect of breaking up the frolic, the tavern-keeper became

incensed at Albright and attempted to punish him with a whip.

George Miller, who a few years later was converted and became

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 29

 

a co-laborer with Albright, was at this time engaged in working

at the mill, and received impressions which came to an early

fruitage.

 

Some time later Albright and his co-laborers began to preach

in a small school-house in the town, but because of opposition the

work made but little progress for years.

 

A Wayside Meeting. In 1812 an officer who had died in

the war with England then in progress, was brought to his home

in Hamburg for interment. To this funeral, which was attended

with considerable demonstrations, Mrs. Saylor, of Orwigsburg,

came, accompanied by her son, Joseph M. Saylor, who was

then a boy of nine years of age. The town was full of people

who had come to witness the obsequies of the dead officer. The

attention of the mother and son was attracted by a crowd gath-

ered around a man who was holding a religious service on the

pavement. The mother drew near and with close attention lis-

tened for the first time to an Evangelical preacher, who was none

other than George Miller, who eleven years before had first

heard Albright preach from the millstone, a few hundred yards

away. Miller was at this time the chief man in the society.

An incident which impressed itself upon the mind of the little boy

was that of a man who took off his hat and reverently bowed his

head when Miller kneeled on the pavement in prayer, while all

the rest of the hearers kept on their hats and laughed and talked

in a disrespectful manner.

 

The Bertoletts. Near Friedensburg, in Oley township,

Berks county, is the old home of the Bertoletts. In 1726 Jean

Bertolett, a French Huguenot, of Chartien Duise, Switzerland,

with his wife Susanna and five children, was compelled to flee

from his home because of religious persecution. He settled in

Oley, Pa., and many of his descendants became members of the

Evangelical Association. In 1735 his son Abraham married

Esther DeTurk, through whom he came in possession of the

estate still owned by the Bertoletts at Friedensburg. In 1736

he built a stone house which is still standing, and is one of the

most interesting landmarks of the church. In course of time

Daniel Bertolett, a grandson of Abraham, came in possession

of the estate. He, like his ancestors, was noted for his inde-

pendence of thought and thrifty habits. When still young he

became dissatisfied with the dead formality of the churches, and

became an earnest inquirer after spiritual life, and through a

 


 

30 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.

 

providential circumstance became acquainted with the Evangel-

ical Association.

 

In 1809 a traveler stopped at the Bertolett home and asked

for dinner, which was cheerfully given him. He was young,

entertaining in his manners and made a favorable impression.

Soon after this he stopped again, this time feeding his horse.

Bertolett was naturally curious to know his name and business,

but not until the stranger had mounted his horse and was ready

to proceed on his journey did he ask him. The reply was, "I am

John Walter, and my business is to -preach the gospel to rich

and poor wherever doors are opened to receive me." He then

bade farewell and rode away. Bertolett stood awhile engaged

in thought concerning the strange visitor, when a voice seemed

to say to him, "Why did you not invite him to preach in your

house?" Following its promptings, he ran after the preacher

now disappearing in the distance and succeeded in stopping him.

The conversation on religious matters was resumed, with the

result that an appointment was made for Walter. This was the

beginning of a great work in that locality and the organization

of a strong class, the principal members of which were the Ber-

toletts, Clevers, Weidners, Yeakels and Hochs. For many

years Bertolett's house was a preaching place and he one of

the chief pillars of the church. A camp-meeting was held on his

land in 1814 and many years thereafter, besides many important

general meetings. He was one of the principal promoters of the

Book Establishment in 1816, and was elected by the conference

as one of the commission. He possessed fine poetical talent;

many of his hymns became familiar throughout the church, and

some are still to be found in our German hymn book. One of

his notable hymns begins with the lines:

 

"Die Wasserbaeche rauschen dar

Die Stern' am Himmel leuchten klar,

Die kuehlen Winde weh'n."

 

Many of his productions were published in a separate volume.

In the conference records of 1820 is a resolution ordering the

publication of a volume of hymns written and translated by John

Dreisbach and Daniel Bertolett. In 1832 Bertolett was

licensed as a local preacher. He was severely plain in his habits,

so that many who did not understand him thought him peculiar.

In his house was posted a notice forbidding the use of tobacco

on his premises, which he considered a great evil. He was a:so

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 31

 

a prominent anti-slavery man. He died in 1868, at the age of

eighty-eight years, and his son Jacob, born in 1815, succeeded

to the ancestral estate. He was a local deacon of the church

and also a prominent man. He died in 1878.

 

Lehigh County. At Lynnville, Albright found entrance

to several families who opened their homes for preaching places.

His leading support here was George Kuster, whose house

became a regular preaching place as early as 1800. He died in

the early part of the century, but his house continued as one of

the preaching places of the Schuylkill circuit as late as 1835. In

1842 the widow Maria Kuster died, aged eighty-three years.

Having no children, she bequeathed the entire estate to the East

Pa. Conference, which in turn very generously transferred all the

proceeds of the estate, which were considerable, to the Charitable

Society of the Evangelical Association.

 

Near the present town of Macungie lived a liberal-minded

man named Philip Wescoe, who welcomed Albright to his

home, and permitted him to preach in his house. No immediate

results were apparent until 1834, when J. M. Saylor preached

to an assembly of over one thousand people in the orchard of

Mrs. Susan Mohr, near the old home of Wescoe. This was

the beginning of a great work.

 

Schuylkill County. In West Penn township lived that

eminent man of God, Leonard Zimmerman, and his wife Sophia.

He was a member and officer of the Reformed Church, and a

spiritually enlightened, pious man. About 1797 he turned his

back to the dead formality of his church and opened his house

as a preaching place for the zealous evangelist Albright. For

this he was decried as a heretic and became the subject of sore

persecution. His former pastor did his utmost to keep him from

"falling from the faith," and urged him to close his door against

the "false prophets" and "deceivers." Zimmerman at this time

was well advanced in years. He was the father of a large family,

nearly all of whom were grown, and some were already heads of

families. The following is a list of his children, all of whom

became members of the church prior to Albright's death:

 

(1) John Zimmerman, Esq., for many years a justice of the

peace in Schuylkill county, and whose house was one of the early

preaching places; (2) Rev. Leonard Zimmerman; (3) Maria

and (4) Eve, married brothers, John D. and Michael Sey-

bert, respectively; (5) Catharine, married to John George

 

 

 

32 EVANGELICAL ASS0CIATION ANNALS.

 

Zehner. The Seyberts and Zehner lived in the North Branch

valley, in (now) Columbia and Luzerne counties, where Albright

and associates preached in their homes. (6) Susan, married

Conrad Biebelheimer; (7) Barbara, married H. Balliet,

and (8) Albertina, married Jacob Bochard. About 1806 the

three latter sons-in-law also emigrated to the same valley, and

received the Evangelical preachers. Bochard settled a short

distance above Danville, in (now) Montour county. After the

death of the parents (9) Margaret, the youngest, was cared for

by Rev. Solomon Miller, who in 1816 removed to New Berlin,

Pa., to take charge of the Printing Establishment of the society.

Here she met, and in 1818 married, George Miller, "the

printer." In the early history of the church father Zimmerman's

was one of the leading points of the connection. In the begin-

ning of the century Albright preached there a sermon of great

power from the words, "But who may abide the day of His

coming?" (Mal. iii. 2.) The whole assembly was melted under

its influence and many were converted, among whom was father

Zimmerman's son Leonard, who later became a minister. At

another meeting held here in 1802 George Miller, who became

so eminent and useful in the church, was fully confirmed in the

faith. Father Zimmerman's house was open to all godly preach-

ers, whether adherents of Albright or not. Father Peter

Beaver,* one of the first German Methodist preachers in Amer-

ica, frequently preached at Z.'s house, and often spoke of his

deep piety and his zeal for the work of the Lord. Father Zim-

merman was gathered home, like a shock of corn fully ripe (Job

v. 26), in the latter part of 1812, and his wife soon thereafter.

A great number of his descendants are members of the Evangelical

Association, some being useful ministers of the gospel.

 

In 1803 the first Evangelical class was formed in Schuylkill

county, and George Miller was appointed leader by Albright.

 

The Miller Family. Jacob Miller and his wife Eliza-

beth were highly respectable people of Pottstown, Pa., and

members of the Lutheran Church at that place. During the

Revolutionary War they removed to Alsace township, Berks

county, where Miller died in 1784. As their sons became

prominently identified with the society through the ministry of

Albright, a notice of them seems proper in this connection:

 

 

* Grandfather of ex-Governor James A. Beaver.

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 33

 

(1) John Miller and his wife Sabilla lived in Bern town-

ship, Berks county, and their house was one of the first preaching

places. John Miller never united with the society, but his wife

did. He died early in the century. She died at the home of

her son Solomon G., in Stoyestown, Somerset county, Pa., in

1850, at a very advanced age. John Miller, Jr., son of the

foregoing, entered the Evangelical ministry in 1822, traveled

seven years, broke down in health, and died near Shoemakers-

ville, Pa., in 1833. Solomon G. Miller, another son of John,

was a very talented man. He entered the ministry in 1829, trav-

eled a number of years, and later was employed at the Book

Establishment at New Berlin, Pa. He resided for some time at

Stoyestown, Pa., and still later removed to Kansas, where he

died, near Augusta, Nov. 19, 1883, aged seventy-six years.

 

(2) George Miller lived in Schuylkill county, where he, in

June 3, 1802, became a subject of saving grace, but some years

later removed across the mountain to Allemangel, near his father-

in-law. In 1805 he entered the active ministry. As his biogra-

phy appears elsewhere, a further notice of him in this connection

is unnecessary.

 

(3) Solomon Miller lived in Schuylkill county, near his

brother George. He was also converted in 1802, and his house

became a regular preaching place in the Autumn of that year.

On Easter day, 1803, Albright held his fourth general meeting

at his house. In the Fall of 1803 he attended the First Council,

and in 1807 the first annual conference, where he was licensed as

one of the first local preachers. In 1816 he removed to New

Berlin, Pa., to take charge of the newly established printing busi-

ness of the society. As he derived no income from this source,

he carried on his trade as a hatter. His good work for the church

was, however, soon cut short, as he died March 29, 1820, aged

forty-two -years, five months and twenty-two days. His body

reposes near that of his brother George.

 

(4) Frederick Miller in the early part of the century re-

moved to the upper end of Lehigh county, near the Blue

 

Note. — A few years after their conversion, George and Solomon Miller

removed from Schuylkill county to the head of Allemangel corner, near their

father-in-law Michael Brobst. Here George built a saw mill, and Solo-

mon erected a small hat factory, on the same premises. In 1809 the second

annual conference was held at their house, and in the Fall of 1810 the second

camp-meeting was held on the north bank of the mill dam, where there is a

beautiful spring. Still later they removed to New Berlin, as elsewhere noted;

 


 

34 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.

 

Mountains, where his house was for many years a preaching place.

He became quite wealthy, and being without issue, willed his

entire estate to the East Pa. Conference. This was the largest

bequest ever made to the church. The will, however, was con-

tested by other claimants, and after a very costly litigation the

conference saved about $10,000, which was very generously

turned over to the Charitable Society of the church. He died

in 1854, at a very advanced age.

 

In the vicinity of Orwigsburg, Schuylkill county, lived George

Orwig, who was a member of the Lutheran Church, and a highly

respectable citizen. He was liberal in his views and strongly

opposed to the dead and formal worship so prevalent in his

locality. He therefore opened his house as a preaching place

for Jacob Albright.* Although he never withdrew from the

church of his fathers, he was nevertheless a warm friend of the

Evangelical Association, and his children and grandchildren be-

came prominent members. Several of his sons having removed

to Buffalo Valley, Union county, he and his wife Magdalena

went thither to spend their last days with them, and there they

both died in 1841, each at the age of eighty-two years.

 

In Lower Mahantongo Valley lived John Haldeman, whose

house became a preaching place for Albright and his asso-

ciates. Probably nowhere else in Pennsylvania was there greater

spiritual darkness than in this region, and the work seemed fruit-

less. Brother Haldeman, however, did not become discour-

aged, although he stood almost alone for a quarter of a century

as a professor of experimental religion. His house was for many

years a noted stopping place for the preachers in their travels to

and fro. The precious seed of the gospel sown in this place was

not lost, however, as in course of time it came to a rich fruitage,

and a class was formed. John Seybert and others took up ap-

pointments in adjoining places, and a rich harvest of souls was

realized. One of the chief pillars in this valley for many years

was Henry Heppler. Many victorious camp-meetings were held

on his place, and the Evangelical work throughout that region

has continued to nourish to the present time.

 

* This statement is from his grandson, Bishop W. W. Orwig.

 

Note. — Father John Haldeman died 1842, aged seventy-four years. His

wife Salome in 1838, aged seventy-one years.

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 35

 

Lebanon County. For some unknown reason Albright

was specially interested in Schaefferstown and vicinity. This place

is situated about seven miles south-east of Lebanon, in one of the

finest agricultural regions of the State. It is especially noted as

the place of Albright's first labors, of which we have definite

knowledge. In October, 1796, the Reformed church here was

dedicated, and we find him addressing an overflow meeting from

a board pile at the entrance of the market house, in the public

square. A furious attack was made upon him by a godless mob,

and the result would doubtless have been serious to him had not

the arm of the Lord encircled him. At the critical moment when

a rush was about to be made upon him, a powerful man, named

Maize, who saw his danger, seized him, and carried him away,

as though he were a child. The cowardly mob well knew the

strength and courage of Maize, and made no further attempt to

harm him. A kind hearted man named Peter Mohr then took

him to his home and sheltered him. This perilous attempt to

preach Evangelical doctrine in this wicked place did not in the

least discourage him, but with true Christian heroism he fre-

quently returned, and the Lord not only opened doors for him,

but also hearts to receive the truth, and the precious seed thus

sown in tears and sorrow, came to a rich and glorious fruitage,

as will be observed. But before this result could be reached,

God's servant must pass through a still more fiery ordeal.

 

Albright's Terrible Persecution. In the Autumn of

1799 a fair was held at Schaefferstown, at which time he preached

to a large multitude by the wayside. On this occasion he was

attacked by a mob and shamefully abused. Bruised and bleed-

ing, and with garments almost torn from his body, he escaped

with his life to father Zentmyer's, who lived two miles distant,

and at whose home he had often found a warm welcome. Here

he lay for two weeks under the care of a physician.

 

Among Albright's hearers at the fair was George Becker,

who lived two miles east, at the Muehlbach. The word of truth

made an impression upon his heart, and some years later he was

converted, and became one of the strongest pillars the church has

ever had. (See Muehlbach.)

 

Near Schaefferstown lived Jacob Gleim, a man of sterling

worth and deep piety. Soon after Albright began his labors

here Brother G. opened his house for preaching, and it was for

many years a noted place. He died in 1837, at the age of

 


 

36 EVANGELICAL ASS0CIATION ANNALS.

 

seventy-one years. It is worthy of note that when Albright

was suffering from his last illness and was on his way home, as

he said, to die, he was brought from Linglestown to brother

Gleim's. From there he resumed his journey, but was compelled

to stop at George Becker's, only two miles distant, where he

breathed his last.

 

Among the converts of Albright at Schaefferstown was Jacob

Bricker, who was, so far as we know, the first in the town to

open his house as a preaching place. He died in Lebanon,

in 1840, aged seventy-three years. Bishop Newcomer, of the

United Brethren Church, mentions in his journal the fact of

having preached in Bricker's house in 1823. John Grumbein

and family were also converted under the preaching of Albright,

and their house was a preaching place. (Father G. died in 1868,

aged ninety years.) A little later Jacob Bucks became a prom-

inent member. He was class leader for many years, and was the

father of Rev. H. Bucks, who entered the ministry in 1832.

 

The Muehlbach and Vicinity. In West Cocalico town-

ship, in the northeastern part of Lancaster, and near the line of

Lebanon county, is a locality known as "The Swamp," opening

in the direction of Schaefferstown, between the Muehlbach and

Chestnut Ridge. The Muehlbach is a few miles north and Schaef-

ferstown northwest. In this place Albright was received by

John Wenger,* who opened his house for the preachers of exper-

imental religion. On one occasion when Albright preached

here, the house was so thronged that the floor gave way, and

a disaster was narrowly averted. Some people regarded this

mishap as a sign of God's disfavor and thereafter kept aloof.

 

In the Spring or Summer of 1805 George Miller, Albright's

co-laborer, gained entrance a little farther north towards the

Muehlbach. In his autobiography he says, "One evening I

stopped with a man in Lancaster county named Lesher, and

was lovingly received. In the evening and morning I prayed

with them, and as I was about to take my departure, he asked

me whether I was not a Methodist preacher. I replied that I

was no Methodist. 'But,' said he, 'you are a preacher, and in

what connection do you stand?' I replied, 'I am an Evangelical

preacher, and preach the gospel to all who receive and hear me.'

 

* He was a brother to Jacob and Joseph, of State Line, Pa., which see, and

brother-in-law to father Philip Breidenstein, and Bishop H. Kummler.

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 37

 

'Tell me the truth,' said he, 'are you not a Methodist preacher?'

'You can depend upon it,' said I. 'I would like to hear you

preach, but the Methodists I would not receive, because they are

too boisterous. Or are you so loud too? At any rate, I will

give out an appointment for you and then we will see.'

 

"An appointment was given out, and the house was filled

with people. The Lord gave me grace to preach His Word with

feeling and power, so that nearly all were melted. Lesher desired

another appointment, and as I preached again others desired it

also, and the Lord so wrought that in a short time sinners began

to seek for pardon. As Lesher heard the noise he left the

assembly, but God worked powerfully so that many sinners were

converted, and also this old man with nearly his entire family

were converted."*

 

The Beckers and Lefflers Converted. Among the peo-

ple who came to the meetings at Lesher's were some from the

Muehlbach, about three miles distant, among whom was Cath-

arine, wife of Frederick Becker, a highly respected man, and

a brother of George and Samuel, of the Muehlbach. John

Leffler, married to Becker's sister Julianna, lived near Lesh-

er's, and also attended the meetings. Mrs. Becker was con-

verted and a little later her husband Frederick. This opened

the way for the introduction of the work.

 

Soon after his conversion Frederick Becker began to urge

his brothers, Samuel and George, to attend the meetings at the

Swamp. After much persuasion they agreed to do so, and went

together. The service made a deep impression upon them, and

on their return they discussed the propriety of having Albright

preach at the Muehlbach also. Samuel thought that inasmuch

as he was an officer in the Lutheran Church, it would not do for

him to open his house as a preaching place, but urged his brother

George to do so. George signified his willingness, but there

were domestic obstacles in the way, and the project was deferred.

Quite unexpectedly, however, whether in jest or earnest we can-

not say, the wife of George told him to have an appointment

made at their house. This was just what he desired, but she had

hitherto shown no disposition in favor of the work. An appoint-

ment was accordingly made, which was filled by Albright.

The wife, however, opposed a second meeting, but Albright

 

* Miller's Leben, page 83.

 


 

38 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.

 

persuaded her to permit another appointment, to which she finally

agreed. At the second meeting he was assisted by his colleagues

John Walter and George Miller. The house was thronged

with people. Much opposition was manifested by the enemies

of the cause, and considerable damage was done about the prem-

ises. The meeting nevertheless was a glorious triumph, and

among the saved was George Becker. The precious seed

dropped into his heart by Albright at the Schaefferstown fair,

five years previous, at last matured in his salvation. Becker's

sister Julianna, and her husband John Leffler, from the Swamp,

were also present at this meeting. She was powerfully wrought

upon, and with contending emotions within her soul she stole

away ere the meeting closed and returned to her home, several

miles distant. When her husband returned he found his wife in

bed and the door securely barred. To his repeated calls to open

the door she paid no attention, whereupon he bowed down and

offered up a fervent prayer in her behalf. This induced her to

open the door, but she immediately returned to bed. She there

began to upbraid him for falling away from the faith of their

fathers. It was quite evident, however, that her heart had been

touched by the spirit of conviction, and she was in that condi-

tion in which the enemy of souls makes a last desperate effort to

hold his victim. Her husband then bowed down by the side of

a chest near the bed, and with tears began to pray for her salva-

tion. Soon the mighty power of God came down upon them,

and the woman cried out with a loud voice, "Der Teufel muss

weichen." (The devil must flee.) After a season of Jacob-like

wrestling the unseen One revealed His hidden name, and the

house resounded with shouts of joy and praise from the lips of

husband and wife.

 

Samuel Becker was still unconverted. Soon after the con-

version of Lefflers a prayer-meeting was appointed at their

house. When the time for the prayer-meeting came, Samuel

Becker's wife, who had been converted, said to her husband,

"Come, get ready, and let us go over to Leffler's to the prayer-

meeting." "No," said he, "I must go to church to-day or they

will throw me out of office, as I have missed church pretty often

of late." After much persuasion, however, she induced him

to accompany her. The meeting was one of great power, and

Becker resolved to seek the Lord in the salvation of his soul.

The friends joined in fervent supplications with him, and he was


 

 

THE EARLY DAYS. 39

 

soon overwhelmed with the power of saving grace. Springing to

his feet, with his streaming eyes turned heavenward, he repeated

that grand old hymn of Rothe, beginning,

 

"Ich habe nun den Grund gefunden

 Der meinen Anker ewig haelt;

Wo anders als in Jesu Wunden;

 Da lag er vor der Zeit der Welt,

Ein Grund der unbeweglich steht

Wann Erd und Himmel untergeht."*

 

Deacon Samuel Becker was now converted, and another

strong pillar added to Albright's little society. His conversion,

however, was the signal for abuse from his former co-religionists.

He had "fallen away from the faith," according to their notion,

and to ridicule him and disturb the meetings at his house was

considered just what he deserved. His father-in-law, who was a

man of considerable means, was especially hostile to him and

his wife, and finally announced to them that he had disinherited

them. Mrs. Becker said, "Dear father, you may do me all the

harm you can. You may throw me out of my inheritance, if you

will, but you cannot take from me my inheritance above, which

rests in God's hands, and is incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth

not away.” The aged father spent much of his time at her house,

but whenever there was preaching there, he left and remained

away until the service was over. His bitterness against the

Evangelical work never abated, and at his death it was found

that he had executed his cruel threat, and his dear daughter, who

had bestowed upon her aged father the tenderest care and affec-

tion, was cut off from her father's estate. In the light of eternity

this was of little moment to her, for she has for many years

enjoyed her more enduring substance in the City of God.

 

Becker Family History. Among the early German emi-

grants in Pennsylvania were a number of Baptists, who fled from

the religious intolerance of the Old World to seek homes in the

New, where they might serve God according to the dictates of

their consciences. At first they were somewhat scattered, but

Conrad Bissel having settled at the Muehlbach in 1721,** he

was in 1724 joined by others, and a society was organized. This

society chose one of their number named Peter Becker*** as

 

* See English translation in Evangelical Hymn Book, No. 324.

** Egle'S History of Lancaster county.

*** Becker was from Dilsheim, Germany.

 


 

40 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.

 

their official baptizer.* This was the ancestor of the Becker

family. In 1724 he baptized Bissel in the Pequea Creek,**

Bissel was a man of considerable intelligence, and changing his

views somewhat, he a few years later withdrew and founded the

famous Communistic Society at Ephrata. Becker's estate on

the Muehlbach was quite large, and a good portion of it has

remained in the hands of his descendants continuously to the

present time. Among the sons of the emigrant was John George,

to whom the estate descended.

 

John George Becker was the father of fifteen children, nearly

all of whom became supporters of Albright and members of his

society, and multitudes of his descendants are to be found as hon-

ored members in almost every quarter of the church. He died

prior to 1800, aged ninety-two years. His aged companion, who

was his third wife, lived to see the Evangelical work established,

became a member of the Muehlbach class, and died in peace soon

afterwards. Of the children of John George Becker, several

of whom have already been mentioned, a brief reference can only

be given in this connection. John Jacob soon after his conver-

sion removed to Windsor township, York county, where he was a

pillar for many years. Michael lived on the Swatara, where he

received Albright and his co-laborers. Frederick, (wife Eliza-

beth), Elizabeth, married to John Lesher, of Dauphin county.

Frederick Becker and his brother-in-law Lesher removed to

Seneca county, O. Julianna, wife of John Leffler, already

referred to; Christina, who became the wife of Rev. John

Walter, the first co-laborer of Albright; Samuel and George,

of whom more will be found presently.

 

The Becker mansion is one of the most interesting land-

marks connected with the history of the church. It was erected

by John George Becker, and is a two story stone edifice of

large size. The body of the building is of limestone, but the

corners, windows, and doors are of fine red sandstone trimmings.

Over the door is neatly cut the legend, "G, 1767, B." The edi-

fice is in an excellent state of preservation. An abiding interest

attaches to it, because in it was held, in 1807, the first annual

conference of the Evangelical Association. Brother Samuel

Becker gained possession of the homestead, and it has been

 

•Rupp's History of Lancaster county, page 214.

** Ephrata Chronicles.

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 41

 

retained by his descendants ever since. He was killed in 1809

by accidentally falling under the wheel of his wagon, while on his

way to Reading. George Becker lived on the western end of

the estate. The old homestead was situated near a large spring,

which is the source of the stream known as the Muehlbach,

(Millcreek.) In this house Albright died in 1808. The an-

nual conference was held here in 1810 and 1811. The old home

has long since given way to a more modern edifice. George

Becker was blessed with a family of godly children, of whom

his eldest daughter Mary married Rev. John Erb, but died in

the bloom of life in 1814. Catharine in 1823 became the wife

of Rev. John Klinefelter, who was one of the leading men of

the church. Father George Becker died in 1855, at the age

of eighty-eight years, his wife Maria having preceded him many

years.

 

The Muehlbach class was organized in 1805, John Leffler,

leader. Members: Father John Lesher and family, John Lef-

fler and wife Julianna, mother Julianna Becker, Frederick

Becker and wife Catharine, John Jacob Becker, Catharine

(Becker) Kissinger, Christina Becker, (afterwards Mrs. Rev.

J. Walter), Anna Yost, John A. Hake, and also Jacob Bricker,

Jacob Gleim, and John Grumbein, with their families, of Schaef-

ferstown.

 

Albright was buried in the private burying ground of George

Becker. In course of time it was enlarged, father John Kline-

felter donating considerable land for the purpose, and it is now

known as the Albright, or Evangelical cemetery. In the midst

 

Notes. — 1. Frederick Becker's son Abraham entered the ministry in

1822 and traveled five years. John Jacob was noted for his wonderful gift of

prayer, under which the hearts of many sinners melted like wax before the flame.

He died in Windsor township, York county, Pa.

2. John Adam Haake, whose remarkable conversion at Michael Becker's

in 1805 is elsewhere related. He was blind through the premature explosion of

a blast, which accident occurred before his conversion. He was a powerful

exhorter, and was accustomed to go to meetings in distant localities and wrought

much good. He died in 1851, aged seventy-five years. He is buried close by

Rev. Jacob Albright.

3. Anna Yost lived in a small house belonging to George Becker. She

was one of the first converts, and especially noted as a sweet singer. She was

Albright's nurse during his last illness at Becker's, and cheered him by

singing the sweet songs of Zion. Later she married Brother J. Snavely and

removed to Cornwall, Lebanon county, where she died in 1855.

 


 

42 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.

 

of it stands the Albright Memorial Church, built in memory of

the founder in 1850. The material is red sandstone. It is,

however, not as originally constructed. Because of faulty work

in its erection, it became necessary to rebuild the entire struc-

ture. The inscription on the marble slab above the entrance

reads as follows:

 

"Albrechts Kirche,

errichted

zum andenken des verewigten

Jacob Albrecht,

Stifter der Evangelischen Gemeinschaft in Nerd Amerika,

im 50 ten Jahr der Gemeinschaft,

Anno. 1850.

Ganz neu aufgebaut im Jahr 1860."

 

Translation. — "Albright Church, erected to the memory of the Sainted

Jacob Albright, founder of the Evangelical Association of North America, in

the 50th year of the Association, Anno. 1850. Rebuilt in the year 1860."

 

The Breitenstein Family. A few miles south-west of

Lebanon, Pa., lived Philip Breitenstein, a man in good cir-

cumstances and highly respected in his community. Albright

had become acquainted with him prior to the beginning of the

century, when he lived at Adamstown, Lancaster county. Late

in the Fall of 1805 he preached in his house for the first time.

The weather being unfavorable, his audience consisted of the

family and a pumpmaker, who was then doing some work for

Breitenstein. Although favorable to Albright, he did not

fully yield to the influence of the gospel. His wife was still less

inclined than her husband. She was not only indifferent, but

also in a measure opposed to Albright's pretensions as a min-

ister of the gospel. On the score of old acquaintance, and the

fact that he was welcomed by her brother, John Wengerd, near

Adamstown, it would seem she tolerated his services at their

house. But with the exception of the privilege of preaching there

occasionally, his work for the time being seemed in vain. Sev-

eral providential circumstances occurred by which the Lord

turned these otherwise excellent people to Himself, and raised

them up as pillars in His church. The following remarkable

account of Mrs. Breitenstein's conversion she related to her

pastor, J. M. Saylor, from whose lips the author received it:

 

The evening was drawing near, when a young man on horse-

back drew rein in front of Breitenstein's house. He inquired

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 43

 

whether they could tell him of the whereabouts of Jacob Al-

bright. The appearance of the young man and his inquiry at

once aroused the interest of Breitenstein, who asked' his name.

The young man replied, "I am John Walter, Albright's helper."

He was then kindly requested to remain for the night, an invita-

tion which he thankfully accepted. Mrs. B. at once proceeded

to prepare supper, and the young itinerant was invited to share

the repast. He was requested to ask the blessing at the table,

which he did in a unique manner. He made it the occasion for

praying specially for her who had prepared the meal. This was

something new to her, but it was of God. "The words of the

wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assem-

blies, which are given from one shepherd." (Eccles. xii. 11) It

was this remarkable prayer that led her to the Saviour, and like

Lydia her heart was opened "that she attended to the things

spoken of." (Acts xvi. 14.)

 

Brother B. still refused to receive Christ fully, but mark how

strange are the ways of Providence. Soon after the foregoing

incident (May 18, 1808) Albright was called to his rich reward,

and the same Walter who could lead souls to Christ by saying

grace at meals, preached such a sermon at the funeral of the

sainted founder of the church that the hearts of the hearers

melted like wax before the flame, and father Breitenstein was

led into "the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Jesus

Christ." (Rom. xv. 29.) From this time on he was a pillar in

the society. Many important general meetings and camp-meet-

ings were held on his place. Later he was licensed as a local

preacher, in which capacity he was signally useful. His son

John, who was also converted at an early day, entered the active

ministry in 1818.

 

After faithfully serving his day and generation father Breit-

enstein was gathered to the fathers above. His mortal remains

were deposited in the little family burying place on his farm. By

his side rests his beloved companion, and his distinguished son

John.

 

Father B. was born in 1764, and died Jan. 22, 1838. His

wife Barbara died April 29, 1851, aged eighty-one years. Their

entire family were prominent members of the church. Their

daughter Catharine became the wife of Rev. J. C. Reisner.

Another daughter, Mary, converted in 1807, married Jacob

Middlekauff, of Hagerstown, Md., and their house was one of

 


 

44 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.

 

the most important preaching places of the old Franklin Circuit

for many years. She died in 1855, aged sixty-one years.

 

In May, 1811, the third camp-meeting of the Connection was

held on Breitenstein's place, and when it is remembered that

ministers and people came from all parts of the church, it will

be seen that an ordinary farm would be taxed to its utmost to

furnish pasturage for their horses. After considering the matter

B. found that he had no suitable field into which he could turn

the horses except a clover field on which he depended for that

season's crop. After much anxiety he referred the matter to the

Lord, praying that He would in some way provide. The time

for holding the camp-meeting arrived, and also people from all

parts of* the church, with a great number of horses, jaded and

hungry. What was to be done? There was no alternative and

brother B. opened the bars to his field of clover then in blossom.

The unconverted people now pointed to this act as proof that the

"false prophets" had completely turned Breitenstein's head,

and said the people would "eat him out of house and home."

Reader, mark the sequel. While the horses were feeding a whole

week in the best pasture they ever had, their owners were enjoy-

ing one of the best camp-meetings ever held. The second day

following the close of the camp and the departure of the people

a steady rain set in which continued several days. This caused

the downtrodden clover to grow afresh and produced the greatest

hay crop ever gathered from that field. The year in general was

a prosperous one to him, which brother B. regarded as a special

indication of God's favor because of his trust in Him.

 

Lebanon and Vicinity. Through the labors of Father Breit-

enstein and his son John the Evangelical work was established

in the vicinity of Lebanon. They were ever ready to secure new

preaching places for the preachers. Although Albright and his

co-laborers had preached in the town of Lebanon as early as 1805,

there was no visible fruit until the Breitensteins effected a reg-

ular appointment.

 

A gracious revival resulted in 1826 under the labors of John

Seybert, afterwards the first bishop of the church. A strong class

was formed and our work has ever prospered at that place.

 

It is worthy of note that of the early converts three young

men, Henry Fisher, Elias Stoever and Jacob Burkett, became

prominent ministers. The former was one of our early publish-

ers, and editor of the Evangelical Messenger.

                                     


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 45

 

About three miles from Lebanon, and the same distance from

Breitenstein's, lived two brothers, Jacob and Henry Eby, both

highly respected farmers. The time and circumstances of their

conversion are unknown, but it is certain that in 1805 George

Miller preached at their houses, and beyond doubt the Founder

of the church often did likewise. Important general meetings

were held here at an early day, and conversions took place, but

no organization was effected. The members of this locality and

Breitenstein's constituted one class. Preaching was kept up

here for many years, and many camp-meetings were held on their

lands. Jacob Eby died in 1838, aged sixty-four, and Henry

died in 1863, in his eighty-second year.

 

Samuel Bien and wife were among the first converts in Leb-

anon county and are supposed to have been members of the

Breitenstein Class. Their house became a preaching place in

Albright's time, but we have not been able to ascertain, with

certainty, the locality of their residence. In the early part of

the century they removed to Warren county, Ohio, where they died

near Lebanon. Father Bien died in 1852, aged seventy-eight

years, and his companion soon afterwards.

 

During the year 1809 a general meeting was held at Henry

Eby's, attended by all the traveling preachers of the Association.

At this meeting George Miller, John Walter, and John Dreis-

bach were solemnly ordained as elders in accordance with a pre-

vious resolution of the conference. The meeting was an occasion

of great rejoicing. The brethren reconsecrated themselves to the

service of God, and the work of the ministry, and the consequence

was that great and unprecedented revivals took place on all the

charges soon afterwards.

 

Jonestown is situated about seven miles northeast of Lebanon,

near the Swatara Creek. Albright and his associates found

some open doors in this region, but also met with violent oppo-

sition. In Jonestown they preached in a small building in which

all denominations were permitted to hold services. Mother

"Ketty" Wingerd (noticed below) often related that she was

present at a meeting held here by the Old Brethren ("Die Alte

Brueder" — meaning Albright and his associates), when the

building was surrounded by a mob and an attack made upon the

worshipers, from which they escaped without injury only with

the greatest difficulty, and their deliverance was ever afterwards

ascribed to the providence of God. After several years of hard

 


 

46 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.

 

labor and great opposition, a class was formed in Jonestown and

vicinity by Rev. George Miller in 1805 ("Miller's Leben"

page 84).

 

Among those who received Albright was Ludwig Zehring,

a man of wealth and influence who lived on the Swatara Creek,

a few miles east of Jonestown. He was a prominent member of

the Reformed Church, and made great sacrifices when he opened

his house to the Evangelical preachers. There seems but little

doubt that Albright visited him in the early part of the ministry,

as his daughter Catharine, already referred to, was converted

in 1799. She died in Jonestown in 1874, at the age of eighty-

eight years, having been connected with the church from its

infancy. Ludwig Zehring's house was a regular preaching

place as late as 1825.

 

Between Jonestown and Mt. Nebo ("Ono" post-office), and

about a mile east of the latter place, lived Adam Faber, whose

father Michael came from the Palatinate, Germany, in 1733.

Adam Faber was a highly respected member of the Reformed

Church and an officer in the same. He was led to see the spir-

itual darkness then prevailing in his own heart, and by the grace

of God, was led into the blissful experiences of salvation. His

house became a regular preaching place for Albright and his

associates, and continued to be one of the strongholds of the

church for many years. His son John, who lived on his father's

estate, also opened his house as a preaching place at an early

day. The first camp-meeting of the Association in this vicinity

was held on Faber's land in 1815, at which time the noted John

Walter (whose little farm adjoined Faber's) preached what

was probably his last sermon. Father Faber died in 1819 and

was laid to rest in the family burial ground by the wayside, on

the north side of the farm. (Rev. John Walter was buried in

the same graveyard.) His wife Anna Faber died in 1839, aged

eighty-two years, and was buried in the Reformed churchyard

at Jonestown.

 

The Walter Family. About three miles west of Jonestown,

Pa., lived Father Peter Walter, who with his wife Margaret,

was of the first to adhere to Albright in the beginning of his

ministry. We have already observed that he was the first class-

leader of the Association, and removed from Quakertown to

this locality in 1805. From the fact that this family was not

only one of the first, but also one of the most noted in the early


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 47

 

history of the society, a more extended account seems proper in

this connection.

 

The family consisted of the following sons: Joseph, John,

Abraham and Peter; and daughters: Elisabeth, Magdalena,

Sarah Christina and Rebecca. Joseph, soon after his father's

removal here, was married to Mary Stine. Their house became

a regular preaching place in Albright's time, and became a noted

place for general meetings and camp-meetings. He died near

Mt. Nebo in 1857, aged seventy-nine years, his companion having

preceded him about ten years. John became Albright's first

co-worker, as will be seen in his biography. After his health

failed he purchased a small farm near his parental home where he

resided till his death. Abraham was a local preacher in the early

days, although his name does not appear in our history as such. He

lived at Linglestown and was class-leader there. Peter removed

to Ohio, where he died. Lena (Magdalena) was noted for her deep

piety, zeal and remarkable courage. Once when attending a gen-

eral meeting at Solomon Miller's, held by Albright and others

in 1804, she with other sisters was engaged in prayer, when a wicked

man named Brobst, father-in-law of Rev. George and Solomon

Miller, who was most bitterly opposed to the work, entered the

house and forced his way up stairs, where he drew a sword, and

in a terrible manner menaced the life of the worshipers. Lena

Walter arose and boldly withstood him, declaring that neither

he nor his sword should prevent her from loving and praising

her Lord, and that she was willing to die for Jesus' sake. With

one accord the worshipers then called on the Lord for help, and

the heart of the cruel old man relented and he withdrew, and

afterwards confessed to having wept and prayed on his way home.*

Lena afterwards was married to a man named Douglass, and

removed across the mountain into Dauphin county, and became

a member of the "Stroh" Class, in Fishing Creek Valley. Sarah

married a brother named Hockman, of Lancaster county. Chris-

tina married John Lesher, a son of Father John Lesher, who

first received our preachers in the Swamp, Lancaster county.

They removed to Seneca county, Ohio, where they were among

our first members. Mrs. Lesher died in 1838, aged forty-seven

years, and her husband the year following, aged fifty years.

Rebecca married a brother named Bader, and also moved to

Ohio. She died in Iowa in 1865, aged seventy-one years.

 

* Miller's "Leben und Wirken."

 


 

48 EVANGELICAL ASS0CIATION ANNALS.

 

A sad story remains to be told in this connection. About

1822 Abraham Walter conceived the idea of removing to Tur-

key Valley, in Juniata county, and persuaded his aged father

to remove thither with him. This was very unfortunate, as the

region is rough and unproductive, and was then a mere wilder-

ness. Despite the entreaty of his children he resolved to go, and

in his old days build up a new home in the forest. Here both

he and his aged companion soon found graves for their home.

Abraham also died here, so far as is known.

 

The following account we take from Orwig's history:

 

"It was in the month of August, 1808, when John Dreisbach returned

from a general meeting near the Muehlbach, accompanied by a young brother,

Andrew Wolf,* in order to fill an appointment that evening in Jonestown,**

but as he had been disturbed while preaching there before, on his way to said

general meeting, it was his intention to preach to the friends there without

giving public notice of it. From fear (not of the Jews, but of the heathen-like

Christians), the doors had been locked and the window shutters fastened inside

before the services commenced. After singing and prayer the sermon com-

menced, but as the exercises had in all probability been heard by some of the

adversaries, a mob gathered in a short time, and forcing the doors and shutters

open, they rushed with a dreadful noise and with still more dreadful impreca-

tions into the house and thus put a stop to the exercises. The preacher then

took a light and went among the crowd to restore order, but several ruffians

seized him and dragged him toward the door, at the same time treating him very

roughly, extinguishing all the lights in the house, and calling to their companions

who were outside, 'Boys, open the door; we have got him!' They replied,

'Give it to him; kill the priest!' The preacher was justly apprehensive of still

worse treatment if they should succeed in getting him out of the house, but how

to get out of their hands he knew not. Suddenly it flashed upon his mind, as if

God had revealed it to him, that if he would jerk himself up with all his might

and then suddenly fall down like a log, he might get out of their hands. He

did so and thus got rid of them, although he was still among the crowd in the

dark. Now as the ruffians were groping for him, they got hold of each other,

letting torrents of blows descend on one another, each fancying he was giving it

to the 'priest;' but while they were thus regaling each other to their heart's

content with blows and pushes, he managed to get out of the crowd and the mob

got out doors. Alarmed for the minister, some of the friends hastened out also,

but were seized and very much abused by the mob. The landlord, father P.

Walter, was so much hurt that the blood gushed from his mouth and nose. A

sister was knocked down and carried into the house for dead, and several more

friends were likewise very roughly dealt with."

 

As an agreeable sequel to the above, we may add that the

leaders of the mob, seven in number, were legally indicted the

 

* Brother Wolf was from Buffalo Valley, Union county, and soon thereafter

was married to Anna Dreisbach, sister of Rev. John Dreisbach. (See

Buffalo Valley.)

** It was three miles west. — Author.

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 49

 

next day and heavily fined by the court when the case came to

trial. The fines were generously remitted by the brethren. One

of the jurors in the case was Philip Breitenstein, who after-

wards became a local preacher and a great pillar in the church,

as already noticed.

 

Lancaster County. Among the first in Lancaster county

to receive Albright was a widow named Elisabeth Thomas,

who resided in Manor township, near the confluence of the Big

and Little Conestoga. By a first marriage she had two sons,

Jacob and John Rippley, and by a second marriage Christian

and David Thomas, all of whom became men of great prominence

in the church.

 

Albright began his labors in this place in 1802 or 1803.

Souls were saved from time to time, and a class was formed in

1806 or 1807. During the latter year a considerable revival

occurred at Millerstown. Among the converts was John Erb,

who entered the ministry the following year.

 

In 1809 another gracious revival took place all along the

Conestoga and many prominent conversions occurred. Among

those who at this time became actively identified with the society

were John Rippley, and David and Christian Thomas. The

latter had some years previous opened his house at Millersville

as a preaching place for Albright. Some years later Jacob

Rippley also united with the society, and thereafter the Evangel-

ical work on the Conestoga made rapid progress. Christian

and David Thomas and John Rippley were licensed as preachers

soon after their conversion. John Rippley's was for many

 

Notes. — David Thomas entered the active ministry in 1815. Traveled

two years and thereafter served in a local capacity with great acceptance until

his death, which took place in 1874. His services to the church were important

and valuable. He was one of the delegates to the "Social Conference" in

1816. In 1818 he conducted the obsequies of Rev. John Walter, Albright's

first co-laborer.

 

Christian Thomas was early licensed as a local preacher. Entered the

active work in 1832. Located next year. Died in 1851.

 

John Rippley, after serving the church many years as a local preacher, died

in 1851, aged seventy-seven years.

 

Jacob Rippley, at an early day, with others, removed to Erie county, Pa.,

where he opened his house to John Seybert, who was sent there as missionary

in 1833. He died in 1851, aged seventy-nine years. His wife Anna died in

1853, aged eighty-two years.

 


 

50 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.

 

years a noted place for meetings. An amusing incident occurred

here which we give, as serving to illustrate the ignorance of divine

things in that day. About 1810 John Walter preached here,

at which time he had among his hearers a man named Adam.

In the course of his sermon he remarked that it was absolutely

necessary that the "Old Adam" be driven out, referring, of

course, to the expulsion of the sinful nature. The individual

Adam, however, did not understand it in that sense, but took it

as a personal matter and left the assembly greatly offended. A

daughter of John Rippley married Michael Kneisley, who also

became a prominent member, and was for many years one of the

pillars of the work on the Conestoga.

 

A few miles distant from mother Thomas', at Conestoga

Centre, lived Philip Herrman, who was the first in this neigh-

borhood to open his house as a preaching place for Albright

and his co-laborers. His wife Barbara, however, was very much

opposed to it, and it was with difficulty that the appointments

were filled. On one occasion when Albright was preaching, she

blew out the lights. In the revival of 1809 she was converted,

and thereafter the preachers were doubly welcome. Herrman's

house was for many years a preaching place. He died near the

close of the first quarter of the century, and his wife died in

1849, aged eighty-three years.

 

The home of Henry Wertz and his wife Mary, near the

Herrman home, was also a preaching place of Albright and

his co-laborers.

 

Henry Mandebach and his wife Maria and David Williams

and his wife Magdalen a were among the first members in Manor

township, and their homes were, in all probability, preaching

places. David Williams removed with Rippley and others to

Fairview, Erie county, Pa., and were among the first members

there. Brother W. died in 1864, aged eighty years, his wife

having preceded him in 1860.

 

At Mt. Joy lived father Samuel Lehn and his wife Magda-

lena. They were converted under the ministry of Albright in

1804, and not long afterwards opened their house as a preaching

place, which was an important point for many years. He was

the father of Rev. Michael Lehn, who entered the ministry in

1839. Father Lehn died in 1854, aged eighty-two years. His

wife preceded him in 1847, aged seventy-five years. A class was

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 51

 

formed here between 1807 and 1809. The sainted John Seybert

served as leader of this class in 1810, as well as the Manheim

Class at the same time.

 

The first and principal preaching place here was at Herman

Long's. He was converted in the early days, probably on the

Conestoga, and some time prior to 1810 his house became a

regular preaching place. He was a man of deep piety and great

zeal for the cause of vital godliness.

 

At Manheim entrance was gained soon after Albright's

death. In 1809 a number of conversions took place under the

labors of John Dreisbach and M. Betz, among whom was David

Boyer. On the evening of April 5, 1810, as Brother Betz

preached his last sermon preparatory to going to conference, a

young man named John Seybert was brought under conviction.

Little did the young preacher think that his words would result

in the conversion of the future first bishop of the church. Brother

Boyer followed up the good impressions made by the preacher

upon the heart of Seybert, and he was soon thereafter (June 21),

as he expressed it, "converted deep into eternal life." He was

then living with Jacob Lehr who, with his entire family, was

soon converted through his instrumentality. This same insatia-

ble thirst for souls remained a predominant characteristic of

Seybert through his entire ministry. He was appointed leader

of both the Manheim and Mt. Joy classes (eight miles distant)

in this same year. One of the first and most important preach-

ing places at Manheim was at Catharine Krall's.

 

A few miles below Columbia, on the Susquehanna River, is

situated the town of Washington. Here lived a number of highly

respected people, who opened their houses as preaching places.

Among them may be named Father Andrew Kauffman, and the

brothers Abraham, Christian and David Herr. The time

when the Evangelical preachers began their labors here cannot

ascertained with certainty, but it is quite probable that Albright

preached at Kauffman's, and Abraham, and Christian Herr's,

as they were connected with the revival movement already prior

 

Notes. — David Boyer was licensed as a local preacher soon after his con-

version. He was the father of a large family, all of whom became useful

members. He died in 1823. His family later removed to Dark county, Ohio,

where his widow died in 1852.

 

Father Lehr at an early day removed to Wayne county, Ohio, where his

house became a preaching place, and here he died in 1846, aged seventy years.

 


 

52 EVANGELICAL ASS0CIATION ANNALS.

 

to 1800, and all ministers who preached experimental religion

were welcome. That eminent servant of God, Christian New-

comer, (later bishop in the United Brethren Church) records in

his journal of 1801. "This day (October 20) came to Abraham

Herr's. (22) To-day I preached here from Jer. xlvi. 13. Bless

the Lord, conviction fastened on a few. We prayed with them

some time. At night I preached at Christian Herr's from Ps. viii.

5. The meeting continued until nearly daylight." An Evangelical

class was formed here about 1810, of which Father Kauffman

was leader.

 

Dauphin County. About eight miles northeast of Harris-

burg Albright found entrance in the early years of his ministry.

A revival took place and a class was organized in 1806. The

principal members were Jacob Becker and family. Also the

Steins and Leonard Crum. The latter became class-leader, a

position which he filled for many years, and the class became

known as "Crum's Class." He died in 1869, aged eighty-three

years. His wife Anna died in 1877, aged eighty-three years.

 

As already noticed, Jacob Becker (also Baker) and family

were members of the Paxton Class in 1805. A little later John

Baker, a son, removed to the vicinity of Linglestown, where he

opened his house as a preaching place. He was a personal friend

of Albright, and sometimes accompanied him to his neighboring

appointments. He was one of the first members of the Paxton

Class in 1805, and sometime after the class was established at

Linglestown, he was made leader. For many years he was a

strong pillar in the church. He died in 1868, aged eighty-four

years. His son, Rev. C. H. Baker, labored many years in the

itinerant ranks of the East Pa. Conference.

 

In Fishing Creek Valley, about five miles north of Crum’s,

beyond the mountain, Albright was received as early as 1800,

by Benjamin and P. Stroh. The latter removed to Ohio at an

early day and was one of the first to receive our missionaries in

that State. Benjamin Stroh and his wife Mary became the

chief pillars of the work in Fishing Creek Valley, and many con-

versions took place in their house. In 1802 Albright baptized

their daughter Mary, of whom more will be said hereafter.

Father S. died in 1855, aged eighty-four years. Other members

 

Note. — Father Andrew Kauffman died 1837, aged eighty-one years.

David Here, died 1846, aged eighty-eight years.

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 53

 

in the vicinity were the Colliers, Hoffmans* and Gippels.**

 

About nine miles from Harrisburg, near the base of the Blue

Mountain, is the village of Linglestown. Hare in the early days

lived Peter Raidabach, a deacon and chorister in the

church. He was a well informed, highly respected man. In the

beginning of 1808, during the prevalence of a snowstorm, a stranger

on horseback stopped before his door, and requested lodging for

the night, which was granted. This stranger was Jacob Albright,

seeking the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He soon made

known his character and requested permission to preach there

that night, which was also granted. Word was sent throughout

the neighborhood, and the house was filled with people, anxious

to hear what the strange preacher had to say. Albright preached

from the words, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just

to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

(I John i. 9.) The preacher spoke with great power, and a

wonderful commotion was produced. The doctrine of the new

birth and heart purity was something new to the people, and

some contended with Albright during the service that his doc-

trine was heretical, as they had never heard their preacher

advance such ideas. Some, however, were convinced that the

doctrine was in accordance with God's Word and that they had

been following blind guides. After the people had dispersed,

Albright convinced his host and the remaining friends from the

Bible and the catechism that his doctrine was true. Another

appointment was made for him and he preached on Sunday

morning, after which he and Raidabach proceeded to Michael

Becker's, where he also preached, little dreaming of the con-

spiracy which Satan instigated to destroy the precious seed he

had sown. That same Sunday morning a large number of people

had met at their church and conspired to break up Albright's

work, and if possible rescue their highly-esteemed chorister from

 

* The Hoffmans removed to Crawford county, Ohio. Mrs. H. was

converted under Albright in 1801. She died in. 1863, aged seventy-eight years.

** George Gippel, a member of the above family, married Mary Ann Stroh.

In 1831 they removed ten miles north to Peter's Mountain, where they opened

their house as a preaching place. A class was formed here of which Bro. G.

became the leader, which position he held until 1852, when he and several other

families removed to Grandview, Iowa, and where they organized themselves into

a class. The first Evangelical church in Iowa was built by them. Bro. G. was

the first leader of this class, and remained in office until he died in 1856, aged

fifty eight years. His wife survived until 1891, aged eighty-eight years.

 


 

54 EVANGELICAL ASS0C1ATION ANNALS.

 

his influence. They proceeded to Raidabach's house to accom-

plish their purpose, but when they arrived Albright and Raida-

bach had already gone to Michael Becker's. When Albright

preached again, a little later, a number of evil disposed persons

gathered around the house, intent on mischief. At the close of

the service they rushed into the house to attack Albright and

his host. In the struggle which ensued they dragged Raidabach

out of the house. He had a number of sons who were fearless, as

well as muscular young men, and who rushed upon their father's

assailants. Bethinking themselves as to whether it would be

right, they cried out, "Vater, sollen wir drauf schlagen?"("Father,

shall we strike?") The father answered “No." Not in the least

daunted by this dreadful persecution, Raidabach still clung to

Albright, and soon after the foregoing occurrence it was deter-

mined to hold a General Meeting at his house. At this meeting

there were present Albright, Walter and Miller. The house

was crowded with people, many of whom were convinced of their

sinful state, while others were there to hinder, if possible, the

spread of the work. In the afternoon Walter preached with

wonderful power, so that during the sermon many cried out for

mercy, while some fled in terror as though from the presence of

God. The meeting was a great victory for the people of God,

Many found salvation in the blood of the Lamb. A strong class

was formed, of which Raidabach was made leader. A peculiar

interest attaches to this man from the fact that at his house

Albright held his lost public service. On Easter day, 1808, there

was a general meeting at John Brobst's in Berks county, where

Albright stationed the preachers for the ensuing year. (There

was no annual conference this year.) Eight days after this another

general meeting was held at Raidabach's, at which time Albright,

Miller and John Dreisbach were present Albright's health,

however, was so precarious that he was not able to preach. He

felt that his work was done, and arrangements were made to

remove him to his home. It was here he gave that admirable

advice which should find a place in the hearts of all Evangelical

preachers. As he gave the parting hand to his faithful co-laborers,

Miller and Dreisbach, he repeated the lines of a familiar hymn:

 

"Kampfe bis auf's Blut und Leben,

Dring hinein in Gottes Reich."

 

"Struggle even unto blood,

Press into the kingdom of God."

 


 

THE EARLY DAYS. 55

 

When advanced in years, Father Raidabach and his children,

who were then heads of families, removed to Medina county,

Ohio, where they again became pioneers in the establishment of

the church. Several of the sons were prominent members of the

church. Father R. died at Gillfort, Medina county, Ohio, in

1838, aged seventy-four years. His companion followed him

in 1841, aged eighty-four years.

 

The first one to open his house to Albright and his co-laborers

in lower Dauphin county, near Hanover, was Michael Becker,

a brother of the Beckers on the Muehlbach. This was sometime

in 1805, during which year a class was formed here by George

Miller, of which Becker became the leader.

 

As an illustration of the mighty power of God which often

accompanied the preaching of His word, we here append part of*

a letter written by Father John Fleisher and published in the

Christliche Botschafter:

 

Esteemed Brethren in the Lord: I have felt for some time as though

I ought to write something for the Botschafter concerning God's work of years

ago, and since I am old and unable to write much more, I will relate some things

of the early days. Forty-three years ago (1805) Father Albright held a big.

meeting at Michael Becker's, two miles from Hanover, under some apple

trees. On this occasion I found Him in whose blood we have purification from

sin. On Sunday forenoon Brother Albright preached. After him John Walter

spoke so powerfully that a wonderful commotion took place among the audience.

 

There was a blind man present named H--- who was so deeply affected that

he cried "Fire! Fire!" believing that the world was burning. Another man,

then unconverted, sprang upon his horse and hastened to his people and told

them that the world was coming to an end and was even then burning. I did

hot know Brother Miller very well as I only once came to where he preached.

Still I know that God was with him. In course of time Brother Seybert came

to our place to preach the gospel. At this time he also wanted to go into Stone

Valley to preach. A certain man who was very much incensed against him, lay

in ambush with a gun to murder him. In all probability he would have accom-