IMPORTANT NOTE: While basic page layout and pagination has been retained, this is not an exact reproduction of Funkhouser’s book.  Typos and have been corrected, names have been adjusted to be internally consistent, and in some situations a more uniform and clearer format has been employed.  The few significant changes/additions made are denoted in otherwise uncalled-for bold face type.

 

 

HISTORY OF THE CHURCH

 

OF THE

 

UNITED BRETHREN IN CHRIST

 

VIRGINIA CONFERENCE

 

BY

 

REV. A. P. FUNKHOUSER A. M., D. D.

[SEE NOTE]

 

COMPILED BY

OREN F. MORTON, B. Lit.

 

Author of "Under the Cottonwoods." "Winning or Losing?" "Land

Of the Laurel," "A Practical History of Music." "The Story of

Daniel Boone," "A History of Preston County, W. Va.," "A

History of Pendleton County, W. Va.," "A History of

Highland County, W. Va.," "A History of Rock-

bridge County," "Annals of

Bath County, Va."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Funkhouser died before the work was completed. The

material gathered and the language used by the Author

have been carefully preserved by the Compiler.

 

 

 

The Virginia Conference ordered the publication of this

History and appointed Drs. A. S. Hammock, W. F. Gruver,

J. H. Brunk, Rev. J. N. Fries, Mr. W. I. Good and J. K.

Ruebush as a committee on publication.

 

We present to the Church this History which we re-

gard as of the greatest value to the church, not only of

to-day but of the future.

 

 


 

Copyright, 1921

By RUEBUSH-KIEFFER COMPANY

Dayton, Virginia

 


 

 

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

CHAPTER

I     Apostolic Christianity before Otterbein

II    William Otterbein and the German Reformed Church

III   Martin Boehm and the Mennonites

IV    German Immigration in the Eighteenth Century

V     The Evangelical Movement among the German Immigrants

VI    Early Years of the Church

VII   Planting the Church in Virginia

VIII Extracts from Newcomer's Journal

IX    The Early Preachers

X     Reminiscences of Some of the Early Preachers

XI    The Transition from German to English

XII   The Church in the War of 1861

XIII The Church in Recent Times

XIV   Movements toward Union with Other Churches

XV    Concerning Slavery and Intoxicants

XVI   Concerning Secret Societies

XVII List of Preachers: Chronological

XVIII List of Preachers: Alphabetical

XIX   Bishops, Missionaries, and Others

XX    Biographical Sketches of Ministers

XXI   Early Deaths among Ministers

XXII Church Dedications

XXIII Sketch of A. P. Funkhouser

XXIV The Church and Education

XV    The Virginia Conference School

XXVI A Digest of the Conference Minutes

 


 

 

EDITOR'S FOREWORD

 

The late A. P. Funkhouser projected a book which, in

treating of the Virginia Conference of the United Brethren

Church, should "include the origin, growth, and develop-

ment of the Church within its bounds, and its distinctive

features, together with portraits and brief biographies of

many of its ministers." For this purpose he gathered a

large and valuable store of material, but did not prepare

a manuscript copy of the projected work. In early May

of the present year, the undersigned was asked by the

owner and custodians of the collection to supply this lack.

In carrying out the commission to compile a manuscript,

the editor has adhered as closely as practicable to the

topical plan found among the papers mentioned. He has

also sought to put himself in the place of the expectant

author. But in constructing several of the chapters made

necessary by the topical plan aforesaid, the collection

afforded little aid. Dr. Funkhouser could undoubtedly

have written these chapters without feeling much need for

documents and other authorities. On the other hand, the

editor had never met Dr. Funkhouser, is not himself of the

United Brethren, and was not previously familiar with the

rise and development of the United Brethren Church. He

was therefore compelled to make large use of source

material not found in the collection. This is why chapters

I to VII inclusive, IX, XI to XVI inclusive, and XXIV and

XXV are, in the main, of his own authorship. In the quoted

paragraphs, without reference as to source, that occur in

some of these chapters, he has followed the phraseology

of Dr. Funkhouser. It is hardly necessary to add that no

writer can take up an outline formulated by another crafts-

man, and pursue it with the same freedom as is possible to

the projector. Rut since the undertaking had to be finished

 


 

by some one else, it is hoped that the present volume will,

in at least a fair measure, fulfill the promise implied in the

title. The books and pamphlets not found in the collection,

and consulted by the editor, are these: "History of the

Church of the United Brethren in Christ," by John Law-

rence; "Our Bishops," by H. A. Thompson; "Our Heroes;

or United Brethren Home Missionaries," by W. M. Weekley

and H. H. Fout; "Landmark History of the United Brethren

Church," by D. Eberly, I. H. Albright, and C. I. B. Brane;

"The German and Swiss Settlements of Colonial Pennsyl-

vania," by Oscar Kuhns; "The German Element in the

Shenandoah Valley," by J. W. Wayland; "History of Rock-

ingham County, Virginia," by J. W. Wayland; "Origin,

Doctrine, Constitution, and Discipline of the United Breth-

ren in Christ (1841);" "Life of J. J. Glossbrenner," by A.

W. Drury; "Life of William Otterbein," by A. W. Drury;

"Life of David Edwards," by Lewis Davis; "Life and Career

of James W. Hott," by M. B. Drury; "Life and Journal of

Christian Newcomer," edited by John Hildt; "Michael

Schlatter Memorial Addresses," by J. E. Boiler and others;

"Autobiography of Peter Cartwright," edited by W. P.

Strickland; "History of the Rise and Progress of the Bap-

tists in Virginia," by B. B. Semple; "Life of Jacob Bachtel,"

by Z. Warner; the published Minutes of the Conference,

1800-1818, and 1880-1920.

 

The editor is much indebted to Mr. Joseph K. Ruebush

for the helpful interest shown in the undertaking, partic-

ularly in furnishing authorities to supplement the data

gathered by Dr. Funkhouser; also to the Bev. J. E. Hott

for varied and valuable oral information.

 

OBEN F. MOBTOX.

Dayton, Virginia, August 29, 1919.

 

 


1

CHAPTER I

APOSTOLIC CHBISTIANITY BEFORE OTTERBEIN

 

The Apostolic Church was the Christian organization

that existed from the days of the apostles to the so-called

conversion of the Roman emperor Constantine, a period

of more than three centuries. There is excellent reason

for the belief that it was made up only of converted men

and women, and that its government and worship were

very simple. There was no liturgy, neither were there any

stately formalities, or any high-sounding ecclesiastical

titles. Whoever believed the Gospel with the heart and

made public confession was baptized and received into

the church. He was then one of the brethren, and this

term was applied without any discrimination as to wealth

or rank. The worship consisted in reading from the

Scriptures, in sermons and exhortations, in the singing of

spiritual songs, in the relations of Christian experience,

and in a simple celebration of the ordinances established

by Christ.

 

During these three centuries the primitive Christian

Church was a positive power and irresistible force. It

endured persistent and bloody persecution, and yet it made

no compromise with evil. The Christian religion was

preached almost everywhere, and was rapidly advancing

to a general conquest of the world, although this was tak-

ing place without recourse to physical might.

 

In the fourth century of the Christian era, the Roman

empire was still by far the most dominant political power

on earth. The emperor Constantine accepted Christianity

as a state religion. This alleged conversion is one of the

greatest frauds in all human history. Political expediency

was undoubtedly the commanding motive of this monarch.

The Christian Church now became popular and soon was

growing wealthy. So long as paganism was in control,

 


 

2 UNITED BRETHREN

 

the grandees sneered at the Christians. They now created

high positions in the Church for the gratification of their

pride and power. Preaching ceased, new and strange

doctrines came into vogue, while a petrified ceremonial,

elaborate yet empty, took the place of the primitive wor-

ship. The Church, as it was now constituted, was made

superior to the Bible, and to the mass of the people the

latter became an unknown book. This church of the

Middle Ages was a veneered paganism. It made itself a

supreme political power, and as such it was nothing less

than the Roman empire in a new form. Yet even with

the help of popes and kings, this political church ceased

to expand and began to retreat. For some time it was in

great danger of being overthrown by Mohammedanism.

 

This dark age in the history of the Christian Church

lasted many centuries. Yet all this while, there were bands

of Christians, sometimes numerous, who maintained the

doctrine, discipline, and spirit of the Apostolic Church.

Their Christianity was a living protest against the cor-

ruption of the papal system, which was willing to tolerate

no other type than its own. These apostolic Christians

consequently drew upon themselves the wrath of the

papacy, which was even worse than that of paganism.

 

The best known of the early Protestants are the

Waldensees of the southeast of France. They have had

a continuous history for fifteen centuries, and have con-

gregations in America.

 

Peter Waldo, a merchant of France, translated the

Gospels into French, this being the first translation of any

part of the Bible into a modern tongue. Until now, and

indeed for several more centuries, the papal church used

only a Latin version, which could be understood only by

scholars. It resisted any effort to place the Bible in the

hands of the people generally.

 

About the year 1400 it is believed there were no fewer

than 800,000 of the Waldensees. They were most numer-

ous in the south of France and the north of Italy, but had

large congregations in what was until a year ago the

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 3

 

Austrian Empire. Their consistency was such as to force

these words of praise from a papal officer: "They are

orderly and modest in their behavior. They avoid all

appearance of pride in dress. They neither indulge in

finery of attire, nor are they remarkable for being mean

and ragged. They get their living by manual industry.

They are not anxious about amassing riches, but content

themselves with the necessaries of life. Even when they

work they either learn or teach."

 

Peter Waldo died in Bohemia in 1180. That country

became a stronghold of the early Protestants, and in 1350

it contained 200 of their churches. In the fourteenth cen-

tury their greatest religious teacher was John Hus, who

by means of the basest treachery was burned at the stake

by a papal council. This deed of infamy led to civil war

in Bohemia, but the Hussite commander-in-chief defeated

every army sent against him. After his death, however,

the papal party succeeded by intrigue and persistent mas-

sacre in very nearly uprooting the Hussite church. But

in 1457 the scattered remnants organized a society, giving

it the name of Unitas Fratrum, this Latin expression mean-

ing a Unity of Brothers, or United Brethren. This name

has ever since been retained. But up to the time of the

movement led by Martin Luther, these Christians were

harried by almost constant persecution. Nevertheless, it

was they who in 1470 published the first printed translation

of the Bible into any European language.

 

In 1474 a delegation of the Brethren was sent out to

see if there were anywhere in Christendom any "congre-

gations free from popish errors, and lived conformably

to the rule of Christ and his apostles, that they might

form a union with them." These men went as far as

Constantinople and Egypt, but could not find what they

were looking for. A deputation traveling in France and

Italy twelve years later found some "upright souls, who

secretly sighed over the prevailing abominations." A synod

of 1489 unanimously resolved that "If it should please

God, in any country, to raise up sincere teachers and re-

 


 

4 UNITED BRETHREN

 

formers in the church, they would make common cause with

them." In conformity therewith, the Brethren sent dele-

gates to Martin Luther, who received them kindly. They

urged the necessity of strict discipline. Luther admitted

that during the time he was a papist his "zeal for religion

made him hate the Brethren and the writing of Hus,"

but could now say that "since the day of the apostle's,

there has existed no church, which, in her doctrine and

rites, has more nearly approximated to the spirit of that

age than the Bohemian Brethren. They far excel us in

the observance of regular discipline, and in this respect

are more deserving of praise than we. Our German people

will not bend under the yoke of discipline."

 

But the religious wars that followed the death of Luther

were very demoralizing. The Brethren were persecuted

by the Lutherans and the Reformed Church as well as by

the Catholics. They were driven from Prussia to Poland,

where in 1627 a new organization was effected under the

title of the Church of the United Brethren. But in the

same year all their property in what is now Czecho-

slovakia was confiscated, and all their churches and schools

closed. The membership was scattered in all directions.

 

These United Brethren agreed in doctrine with the

Waldensees. They had superintendents, but recognized

only one order of ministers as of divine appointment. They

laid greater stress on piety, moral conduct, and knowledge

of the Bible, in persons holding the pastoral office, than

on human learning. The head of every family was

required to send his children regularly to church, to

instruct them at home, and to hold family devotions. Their

churches were unadorned, and the sexes sat apart. There

was vocal but no. instrumental music, and there was no

prescribed form of prayer.

 

In the opinion of the Brethren the Protestant Reforma-

tion accomplished only a part of its mission. They could

not see that the churches that arose from it were molded

according to the apostolic pattern. One formal religion

had been exchanged for another. Few of those who em-

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 5

 

braced the Protestant faith were inwardly enlightened.

There was little discipline. All who conformed to certain

very easy conditions were recognized as members of the

church for life, although they might be notorious for

impiety and immorality. All grades of unbelievers came

to the communion table. Church and state were united.

Men loved their creeds more than they loved God. They

were orthodox, but only in an intellectual sense.

 

In 1722, Christian David led a band of United Brethren

refugees to the estate of Count Zinzendorf, a Lutheran

nobleman of Saxony. David had some time before met

some imprisoned Brethren and their influence led to his

conversion. He decided to join the Lutherans, but finding

among them that any person seeking the salvation of his

soul was exposed to jeers and taunts, he enlisted as a

soldier. After his discharge he preached to such of the

Brethren as he could find. On the Zinzendorf lands the

refugees built the village of Herrnhut in a forest. Since

this time they have been commonly known as Moravians.

Count Zinzendorf was born in 1700. Losing his father

in childhood he was reared by a grandmother, who had a

daily prayer meeting in her home. Such a thing was then

regarded as fanatical. The count was religiously inclined

from his childhood, and Herrnhut grew into a flourishing

village. Its people organized themselves into a religious

society in 1727, in which year there was a great revival,

thousands of people assembling to attend the meetings.

Thus arose the Moravian Church, which has been greatly

distinguished by self-sacrifice and by missionary zeal and

success. As early as 1723 some of their missionaries

visited England and were the inspiration of the remarkable

Wesleyan revival of after years. Much of the spirit of

the Moravians was carried into the Methodist movement,

both Wesley and Whitefield having a very warm feeling

for these people.

 

In 1735 Moravian missionaries reached America, Count

Zinzendorf himself following in 1742. In 1741 Bishop

Spangenburg and others issued a call for any Christians of

 


 

6 UNITED BRETHREN

 

whatsoever name to meet in a convention at Germantown

"to see how near all could come together on fundamental

points." Representatives of all the German sects, and

perhaps others, were present at the meeting on New Year's

day, 1742. The spirit of it was exactly similar to the move-

ment afterward led by Otterbein. The doctrinal spirit of

those taking part in it was Arminian and not Calvinistic.

It was pre-eminently a missionary body.

 

Yet this movement, begun in so promising a way, was

wrecked by the bitter opposition of the Lutheran and

Reformed pastors, who were opposed to the idea of a

church composed only of converted persons. Wherever

the Moravian missionaries went, they found the seeds of

prejudice sown in advance, to embarrass and in some

degree to frustrate their efforts. 

 

This opening chapter of our book may not at a first

glance seem to have a direct bearing on the history of the

United Brethren in Christ. Yet it will show that the older

bodies bearing almost precisely the same name were pre-

cisely the same in spirit, and also that they had brought

down to our modern era the spirit of the Apostolic Church.

 

"The number of enlightened Christians, who, before the

rise of Luther, adhered unswervingly to the doctrine and

discipline of the Church which Christ had established, was

very great; and the unblenching testimony they bore

against popery, the evangelical light they dispersed by their

preaching and their circulation of the Scriptures, and the

remarkable heroism displayed by so many thousands,

while suffering a cruel death, did far more to make the

papal power odious, and to prepare the public mind to

respond to the voice of the reformers, than is generally

supposed."

 

To the above quotation from Lawrence, it may be added

that the very existence of the pre-Reformation Protestants

is an irresistible argument for the correctness of their

views concerning the Apostolic Church. The church as

reorganized by Constantine and his successors has a long

history of bigoted intolerance and savage persecution, and

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 7

 

is mainly responsible for the religious wars that for several

centuries drenched Europe in blood. Yet it is no more

than fair to state that if the church of the Middle Ages

appears in the light of history as an apostate church, the

Catholic Church of to-day is the product of a counter-

reformation within that church, just as the various Pro-

testant churches are the product of the Protestant

Reformation.

 

 


8

 

CHAPTER II

WILLIAM OTTERBEIN AND THE GERMAN

REFORMED CHURCH

 

The Protestant Reformation began two centuries before

the high tide of German emigration to America. In Ger-

many the reformers split at the very outset into two wings,

the Lutheran and the Reformed churches, the latter bear-

ing much the same relation to the former as the Pres-

byterian Church bears to the Church of England. The

stronghold of the Reformed Church was in Switzerland

and the valley of the Rhine, whence it spread into France

and Holland. In the remainder of Germany, except where

the Catholics retained their hold. Protestantism was repre-

sented almost exclusively by the Lutherans. In each of

the petty monarchies of Germany there was a state church,

and it was either Catholic, Lutheran, or Reformed. Not

one of the three looked with any favor on small sects that

made no claims to being supported by the state.

 

Despite the general opinion to the contrary, the Refor-

mation was to a great extent superficial. It had to do

with the intellect rather than the heart. Where the

Catholics lost power, another formal religion was set up

in its place. Consequently the Reformation soon began

to lose its original force and at length stagnated.

 

But as before the Reformation, so it was afterward.

There was still an apostolic element, and it was no longer

confined to the Moravians or the Mennonites.

 

Philip James Spener was an Alsatian and Lutheran

and died in 1705. It is estimated that 40,000 persons were

converted as a result of his extensive preaching. The

"collegia pietatis" that he established were Bible classes,

prayer meetings, and class meetings, all in one. Spencer

said he brought religion from the head to the heart. He

insisted that no one but a pious man had any business

in the pulpit. He also condemned all forms of question-

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 9

 

able amusements. That the clergy, as well as the laity,

of the established churches were enraged at such obvious

truths indicates a very low degree of spirituality. Pietism,

which was the name given to the teachings of Spener,

was the immediate application of Christian teaching to

the heart as well as to the head. Spener and Pietism were

to Germany what Wesley and early Methodism were to

England, and Wesley was greatly influenced by his Ger-

man forerunner.

 

Pietism, by whomsoever professed, was an emotional

form of religion. But by the year 1800 emotionalism had

died out in Germany, although it lived on in America,

especially among the Americans of German descent. It is

also worthy of remark that Spener made no effort to

establish a new sect. All he sought was to infuse a more

apostolic life into the established churches.

 

Philip William Otterbein, otherwise known simply as

William Otterbein, was born June 3, 1726,* at Dillenberg,

a town of about 3,000 inhabitants in the valley of the

Rhine. His father, a minister of the German Reformed

Church, was also principal of the Latin school in his home

town. He died in the prime of life, the oldest of his seven

children being only eighteen years of age. The widow

was left with slender means, but like her husband she

had character, piety, and learning. She had the satisfac-

tion of seeing all her six sons complete a collegiate course

of study. As rapidly as the older ones became qualified

to teach, they assumed a leading share in the support of

the household and helped to educate the younger brothers.

All the sons lived to a ripe age. Three of them became

authors. All of them, like their father, their father's father,

and their own sister's husband, became ministers. We are

sometimes told that the sons of preachers are always bad.

Occasionally they are wayward, like some of the boys

 

*Old Style, and equivalent to June 15 at the present day. The

change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar took place in

England in 1752. The former was then eleven days behind the

correct time. In Germany the change to New Style had previously

taken place.

 


 

10 UNITED BRETHREN

 

from other homes, and when this is the case the fact is

trumpeted about. Far more usually they become men of

substantial qualities.

 

Herborn Academy, the school in which the Otterbeins

were educated, arose while the Protestant Reformation was

in full vigor, and it was under strong religious influences.

It could almost be classed as a university. In its theological

department the tenets of Calvinism were less rigidly upheld

than was the usual custom in Protestant lands. It is due

to this circumstance that William Otterbein became the

primary founder of a church that is Arminian in its

theology.

 

It was a German custom for the graduate, if a candidate

for the ministry, to demonstrate his fitness to teach before

he could receive ordination. He was expected to serve

this apprenticeship by being a "house-teacher" in some

well-to-do family. In accordance with this custom William

Otterbein took up the work of tutoring, but when not quite

twenty-two years of age was made an instructor in the

very school where he had been educated. One year later —

June 13, 1749 — he was ordained to the ministry in the

Reformed church of Dillenburg, which was the only house

to worship in the town. He had already been appointed

vicar — assistant preacher — in a small village near by.

But although now a minister he did not cease to teach.

His ministerial duties required him to preach every Sun-

day, and occasionally on other days, and to hold a prayer

meeting once each week. The prayer meeting was then

rare in Germany. It is still rare, although we hear of the

"Bible hour" among groups of South Germans in whom

the religious feeling is particularly strong. During the

four years of pastoral work in his mother country, Otter-

bein laid great stress on a pure life and an active religious

spirit. This aroused some opposition among the worldly-

minded church-goers, and there was an unsuccessful

attempt to muzzle his speech. His mother said the home

town was too narrow for one like him and that he would

have to become a missionary.

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 11

 

The Dutch Reformed and the German Reformed de-

nominations are sister churches. Aside from the more

rigid Calvinism of the former, and the fact that the one

arose in Holland and the other in Germany, there is no

well marked distinction between them. The Dutch

Reformed Church was the first to appear in America for

the simple reason that New York was at first a Dutch

colony and sent emigrants across the Atlantic before any

came from Germany. Holland was then wealthy, while

Germany was poor. The smaller country was therefore

the better able to contribute to the missionary work so

greatly needed at this time in America. In addition to

their direct contributions, the people of Holland created

a fund of $60,000 — fully equal to $500,000 at the date of

this book — the income from which was applied to mis-

sionary activities beyond the Atlantic. It is much to the

credit of the Hollanders in that intolerant age that they

were willing to come to the relief of the sister church.

 

In 1746 Michael Schlatter, a native of Switzerland and

a young man of zeal and enthusiasm, arrived in America.

He came to visit the various settlements, and there organize

societies, secure pastors when possible, baptize children,

administer the Lord's Supper, and prepare church records.

In effect, he was a bishop. After five years he returned

to Holland to make a personal report and ask further

assistance, both in missionaries and money. In carrying

out this errand he came to Herborn, the home of the Otter-

beins, and there secured five helpers, one of whom was

William. The mother did not withhold her consent, even

in the face of the strong probability that she would never

see him again in this life. So he went away with her bless-

ing and arrived at New York July 28, 1752. However, a

bronchial ailment had something to do with his leaving

Germany. It was thought the American climate would

prove beneficial. This seems to have been the result, for

William Otterbein reached a greater age than any of his

brothers, although there was at times a recurrence of the

trouble.

 


 

12 UNITED BRETHREN

 

About one month after reaching America Otterbein was

installed as pastor of the German Reformed Church at

Lancaster, then a thrifty Pennsylvania town of 2,000

inhabitants. In importance this congregation ranked

second among the Reformed churches in the colonies. But

discipline and spirituality were at a low ebb. In 1757 he

asked to be relieved but consented to remain another year

on condition that the rules of order which he drew up

should be adopted. These rules were signed by eighty of

the male members of the church, and were so salutary

that they remained in force till about 1830. That Otterbein

did not toil at Lancaster in vain is further evident in the

fact that this city remains a stronghold of the Reformed

Church and is the seat of one of its foremost collegiate

institutions. Furthermore, the small wooden house of

worship was superseded during his ministry by a massive

stone building, used as such for almost a century.

 

It was during this pastorate that there was a turning-

point in the character and effect of Otterbein's preaching.

 

In the state-supported churches of that age, religion

was viewed as a form of intellectual education. If an

adult had learned the catechism, had been confirmed, and

partook at stated times of the sacrament of the Lord's

Supper, and, if furthermore, his general deportment pre-

sented no loophole for well-aimed criticism, he was con-

sidered to be a model Christian. But such educational

religion, had no spirituality, because it was not founded

on the new birth. The appeal was to the head and not to

the heart. It was all very well, so far as it went, but it

did not go far enough.

 

One morning Otterbein preached with more than his

usual fervor and several of his hearers were deeply moved.

At the close of the sermon one of them came forward to

ask counsel. Yet the minister could only reply that

"advice was scarce with him to-day." He awoke to the

discovery that he had been preaching truths he had studied

m a formal manner, but had not adequately experienced.

Almost at once he went to his closest to pray until he

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 13

 

possessed a more perfect consciousness of personal salva-

tion. This does not necessarily mean that up to this point

he was an unconverted man. It does mean that he was

not satisfied with the ground on which he had been stand-

ing. This explains the answer he gave, many years after-

ward, to a question by Bishop Asbury: "By degrees was

I brought to a knowledge of the truth, while I was at Lan-

caster." From this time forward, Otterbein insisted on a

true spiritual experience as both the privilege and the duty

of every member of any Christian church. It was the be-

ginning of a new and more effective epoch in his ministry.

Hitherto he had used manuscript in his pulpit. Hence-

forward he discarded the practice and preached extempore.

Leaving Lancaster in 1758, Otterbein preached two

years on Tulpehocken Creek, near Reading. He now intro-

duced the week-day evening prayer meeting. To see the

preacher and his flock kneeling at such a time was a novelty

to the people and some of them thought it improper. Even

the pastors of that age sometimes persecuted those who

attended such meetings.

 

The next pastorate was at Frederick, Maryland, and

continued five years. It was very successful, although the

formalists in the congregation chafed un)der his denial

that an observance of conventional worship has power in

itself to save the unconverted man. At one time a majority

decided upon his abrupt dismissal. Finding the church

door locked, the minister went into the burial ground and

preached from a tombstone. Another service was an-

nounced for the same place the following Sunday. But

this time the door was opened. At Frederick, as at Lan-

caster, one result of his efforts was a substantial house of

worship built of stone.

 

The fourth American pastorate was at York, Pennsyl-

vania, and lasted from 1765 to 1774, excepting an absence

of about one year, during which he visited the old home

in Germany. He sailed for Europe in April, 1770, having

now been eighteen years in America. His mother and all

his brothers were still living.

 


 

14 UNITED BRETHREN

 

 

The fifth pastorate, which was not only the last but

the longest, took Otterbein to Baltimore, then a city of

6,000 people. His congregation was small, and did not

acknowledge the authority of the German Reformed

organization. This independent attitude had much to do

with the formation of the United Brethren Church, as will

be explained in a later chapter.

 

Otterbein came to America as a missionary, and carried

the missionary- spirit with him during all his pastorates,

making long journeys in order to reach people who were

without the gospel. His traveling work began while he

was on the Tulpehocken. He visited all the German coun-

ties of Pennsylvania and Maryland, and went up the Valley

of Virginia as far as Strasburg. He was entirely evange-

lical, cared little for creeds, and less for church names.

In early youth he was deeply impressed by the teachings

of the Pietists, who were to Germany what the Wesleyan

societies were to England. To him and those agreeing with

him religion was almost wholly an inner work, personal

and individual, within the soul, and was effective and of

value only when the personal experience was conscious

of the mystic union of the divine spirit with the human,

witnessing the conscious forgiveness of sins, and produc-

ing a peace of mind which the world could not give. Right

living was to follow as a matter of course, but was a neces-

sary product of a right heart.

 

Bishop Otterbein was recognized as one of the scholars

of his age. He was familiar with the Greek and Hebrew

languages, and was so much at home in the Latin that he

sometimes wrote the original draft of his sermons in that

tongue. Asbury speaks of him as "one of the best scholars

and the greatest divines in America." But in the line of

authorship he left no evidence of his learning except what

may be gleaned from a few personal letters and the records

of his church work. His industry found expression in

other lines. As a preacher he was argumentative and

eloquent, and an exceptionally clear expounder of the

Scriptures.

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 15

 

Throughout his long life Otterbein enjoyed the affec-

tionate esteem of great numbers of people, both in his own

and other churches. In his last years he was too infirm

to attend the annual conferences. But as "Father Otter-

bein," he continued to be held in deep veneration. His

personal appearance is thus described by Henry Boehm,

a son of his co-laborer: "In person he was tall, being six

feet high, with a noble frame and a commanding appear-

ance. He had a thoughtful, open countenance, full of

benignity, and a dark-bluish eye that was very expressive.

In reading the lessons he used spectacles, which he would

take off and hold in his left hand while speaking. He had

a high forehead, a double chin, with a beautiful dimple in

the center. His locks were gray, his dress parsonic."

Stevens in his "History of the Methodist Episcopal Church,"

makes these observations: "Otterbein was large, and very

commanding in his personal appearance, with a prominent

forehead, upon which the seal of the Lord seemed to be

plainly impressed. His Christian kindness and benevolence

knew no bounds, and all he received, like Wesley, he gave

way in charities."

 

Otterbein's parsonage at Baltimore contained only four

rooms. He was at this time a widower without family.

Anyone who lived with him was required to attend church.

The bishop was sociable and charitable, very regular and

systematic in his habits, and very precise in his costume.

After coming to Baltimore, he gave up wearing a clerical

gown in the pulpit and preached in the attire of a citizen.

He was opposed to church organs, and he did not believe

a Freemason could be a Christian.

 

William Otterbein died at Baltimore, November 17, 1813,

at the age of eighty-seven years, having spent sixty-five

years in the Christian ministry. That the funeral exercises

for the venerable bishop were conducted by ministers of

the Lutheran, Methodist, and Episcopal churches is a

significant witness to the breadth of his sympathies.

 

For several years Otterbein had been too infirm to

travel outside of Baltimore. Only six weeks before his

 


 

16 UNITED BRETHREN

 

death he was assisted from his bed to an easy chair that

he might ordain Christian Newcomer, Joseph Hoffman,

and Frederick Schaeffer, two of whom became bishops.

The certificates of ordination were written in English as

well as in German.

 


 

17

 

CHAPTER III

MARTIN BOEHM AND THE MENNONITES

 

The Mennonite Church was founded in Switzerland in

1522, and very soon it spread into Germany, Holland, and

France. Persecution was prompt to appear, and it is

claimed that in nearly every instance the Mennonite can

trace his ancestry to some forbear who was burned at the

state or tortured. Protestantism was represented in

Switzerland by the Reformed Church, and the churchly

pride which this denomination had inherited from the

mother church, the Roman Catholic, led it to look upon

the Mennonites as contemptible. It persecuted the new

sect as cheerfully as did the Lutherans or the Catholics.

One of the ways of contending with what was deemed a

heresy was to drown the Mennonite offender. This was

looked upon as baptizing him in his own way.

 

Menno Simon, a Catholic priest, espoused the cause of

the harassed people, gave them his name, and added the

principle of non-resistance to their creed. Between 1670

and 1710 large numbers were driven to Austria and Russia

by the Protestants of their home-lands because they re-

fused to have their children baptized. The first to appear

in America were a little party who came in the fall of

1683 at the solicitation of William Penn. Their first meet-

ing-house was built at Germantown in his colony in 1708.

When the war for American independence rose, the Amer-

ican Mennonites had 13 congregations and 15 bishops.

There are now about 60,000 members in the United States.

 

The Mennonite Church came into existence as an effort

to bring back to life the primitive Christian Church, accord-

ing to Menno's conception of it. There are points of re-

semblance between the German Mennonites and the English

Quakers, and this is why William Penn showed them so

much hospitality. Both sects practice simplicity in per-

sonal attire, have no paid ministers, and refuse to make

 


 

18 UNITED BRETHREN

 

formal oaths or to perform military service. It was their

opposition to war that made them particularly obnoxious

to the Swiss. The government of Switzerland ruled that

those of its people who were unwilling to bear arms in

the defense of the state were undeserving of its protec-

tion. They had no theology. "Believe and let believe,"

was their motto. The Mennonites go so far in the direc-

tion of pacifism as to forbid their members from engaging

in personal combat. They are much opposed to the baptism

of infants. They do not countenance secret societies,

neither do they accept civil office or exercise the right of

suffrage. Among their religious practices are the anointing

with oil, the kiss of charity, and the washing of feet. What-

ever may be thought of their views on non-resistance and

on non-participation in civic life, the Mennonites have

always been noted for temperance, pure living, strict

honesty, and conscientious devotion to the observances of

their creed. But the Mennonites of colonial America

allowed the spiritual side of religion to fall into very great

neglect. They drifted into a hidebound formalism, which

made them extremely exact in matters of costume, and to

insist on a precise morality in the affairs of everyday

conduct.

 

Mennonites were among the very earliest settlers in the

Valley of Virginia, yet it was almost a century before they

built any special house of worship. The first was Frissel's,

near Baker's mill, three miles west of Broadway. It is

now called the Brush church and was built in 1822.

Meyer's meeting house, on the Valley Pike, was built about

three years later.

 

From the settlement north of Woodstock the younger

generation pushed up the Valley and occupied the region

about Timberville, Broadway, and Turleytown. From the

thirty families around Coote's store, numbers moved south

and west from Harrisonburg. Here was a district of wood-

land so late as 1780. The previous sparse population of

English and Scotch-Irish cabin-dwellers, each controlling

from 600 to 1,000 acres, lived mainly by hunting and

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 11

 

fishing.

 

About 1825 there was a schism among the Mennonites

of Rockingham county. It came about through the asso-

ciation of Frederick Rhodes, one of their preachers, with

the United Brethren of the congregation at Whitesel's.

About one-half the Mennonite body took offense at the

loud and earnest preaching of Rhodes, and not because of

the doctrines he set forth or of taking an active part in

the meetings of the Brethren. Peter Eby and three other

ministers came from Pennsylvania and restored harmony.

They ruled that Rhodes had not transgressed the gospel.

 

Martin Boehm, son of a Swiss immigrant, was born in

Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, November 30, 1725. His

father, reared as a member of the Reformed Church, fell

under the influence of the Pietists. For this lapse into what

was deemed a heresy, he was denounced by his parents as

well as his pastor, and was sentenced to jail. But he

escaped to France, and in 1715 made his way to America,

where he became a Mennonite, his wife being of the same

faith.

 

The alert intellectuality of the son atoned in a great

degree for his meager educational opportunities. He had

a clear and ready grasp of ideas, and was a fluent speaker

in German, learning also to express himself in English.

His gift of expression caused him to be selected as a

preacher when thirty-three years old. Even then, how-

ever, he was diffident and tongue-tied in his first attempts

to exhort. Like Otterbein he now realized that he had no

gospel message for the people until he had been made

a new man by the power of the Holy Spirit. This radical

change came as an answer to long continued prayer for

light and guidance. Thenceforward he was eloquent and

effective. The necessity of the new birth was the keynote

of his preaching. Some of his Mennonite brethren accepted

the doctrine, while others thought him a fanatic. Never-

theless, he was advanced to the rank of bishop in the

Mennonite Church in 1759.

 

But Otterbein and Boehm were not alone. Certain

 


 

20 UNITED BRETHREN

 

"New Light" preachers from the Valley of Virginia were

presenting the same gospel message to the German-speak-

ing people. The New Lights were the followers of George

Whitefield, an English evangelist who traveled extensively

in America. The Mennonite settlers of the Valley listened

to these disciples with interest. They had no ministers

of their own, neither were they yet organized into societies

They now sent for a minister and Boehm responded to the

call. His missionary labors in Virginia were very helpful

to himself as well as the people. After his return to

Pennsylvania he thought it was no longer his duty to con-

fine his efforts to his own neighborhood. He preached

wherever he felt impelled to Co. As before, some of the

Mennonites listened to his teachings with approval and

some with astonishment. The voice of opposition proved

itself the stronger force. Articles of indictment were drawn

up and Boehm was expelled from the Mennonite com-

munion, yet his Christian character was not questioned,

and he could now preach with more freedom than ever

At length he turned over the care of his farm to his son

so that he might now give his whole time to evangelistic

work. After 1789 his ministerial career is a part of the

history of the United Brethren Church.

 

Bishop Boehm died March 12, 1812, at the advanced

age of eighty-six years. He was hale and strong almost to

the very last, and could ride a horse until his final and very

brief illness. His longevity was inherited by his son

Henry, who preached a sermon in the city of New York

on his one hundredth birthday.  Doctor Drury speaks of

Martin Boehm as "a short, stout man, with a vigorous

constitution an intellectual countenance, and a fine flowing

beard which gave him in his later years a patriarchal

appearance. " Boehm was always plain and simple in

costume, and seems never to have discarded the severely

plain attire of the Mennonites. His estimable personal

qualities and his sincere Christian character made him

deeply revered in the church he helped to found and very

much respected by other denominations.

 


 

21

CHAPTER IV

GERMAN IMMIGRATION IN THE EIGHTEENTH

CENTURY

 

The well informed American knows that the United

States is a nation of 48 states and more than 100,000,000

people. In some particular respects it is outranked, here

by one country and there by another. Yet the substantial

fact remains that in a massing of the fundamental features

of national greatness, the American Republic stands first

in what was styled, until 1914, the sisterhood of nations.

In 1783 it was neither populous nor rich. To-day it is the

wealthiest country on the face of the globe, the richest in

natural resources, and the strongest in physical might.

 

It requires no far-reaching examination of the census

returns to learn that among the Protestant bodies the

Methodists and Baptists are easily in the lead. Next, but

at some distance, follow the Presbyterians, Lutherans,

Episcopalians, Christians, and Congregationalists. The de-

nominations that are still smaller are more numerous, and

it is among these that the one known as the United Breth-

ren in Christ is classified. Yet it must be remembered that

the larger communions, and many of the smaller as well,

are made up of aggregations independent of one another.

The census of 1890 enumerates 141 distinct religious

organizations. Yet not one of the number is supported by

the General government or by the government of any state.

A rapid survey of the America of 1752 will be of much

interest. It was in that year that William Otterbein came to

America after spending nearly four months in crossing

the Atlantic on a sailing vessel.

 

There was not yet any political bond between the thir-

teen colonies that were to become the first members of

the Federal Union. They were still a part of the British

realm and prospectively the most important part. The

million and a half of inhabitants — less than the present

 


 

22 UNITED BRETHREN

 

population of the little state of Maryland — were scattered

a thousand miles along the Atlantic coast. There were

very few indeed who lived more than seventy miles inland

from the very shore itself. Only a few thousands were in

the recently settled country west of the Blue Ridge. Phila-

delphia, Boston, and New York were the largest cities, and

not one of the three was much more populous than Staun-

ton, Va., is now. America was mainly an agricultural land.

There was an active commerce by sea, but no industrial

establishments which now would be considered worthy of

any mention. There were only five colleges, and except

in the New England section there were no free schools. In

the other colonies schooling was looked upon as a private

interest, to be purchased and paid for like a suit of clothes.

America was a new country and in a general sense it was

crude. Yet it was a prosperous land. Furthermore, the

Americans already regarded themselves as a people' dis-

tinct from any other. They had a higher level of intelligence

than was true of England, and they had a higher sense of

civic spirit than the inhabitants of the British Isles. They

were proud of their local institutions, jealous of their

political rights, and were convinced that the future held

much in store for them.

 

But there was no multiplicity of religious denominations

in 1752. Religion was free only in Rhode Island and

Pennsylvania. The first of these colonies was founded by

Baptists and the second by Quakers. Elsewhere the Euro-

pean practice prevailed and there was a state church,

supported by public taxation. To a certain extent all adults

were expected to attend its services. In two of the four

New England colonies the state church was the Congrega-

tional, which under the name of Independent, ranked

as the establishment in England during Cromwell's rule.

In nine of the colonies the Church of England was in

power, the same as in England itself. When the Hollanders

founded New York they introduced their own national

church, the Dutch Reformed, and it is in New York that

this denomination has its chief foothold in America to-day.

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 23

 

The Presbyterian was the state church of Scotland, and

the very heavy Scotch-Irish immigration, beginning in

earnest about 1725, gave that sect a very strong following,

particularly all along the inland frontier. The half-century,

1725-1775, witnessed a very large German inflow. In this

way the Lutheran, the state church of the Protestant Ger-

man monarchies, appeared in the Middle Colonies and in

Maryland and Virginia. Nearly all this German element

was from the upper valley of the Rhine, especially Switzer-

land and the Palatinate. And since the German Reformed

Church was well represented in this very region, that de-

nomination also came to America. Still other Germans

were Moravians or were Mennonites of various branches.

The denominations we have named are substantially

all that were represented in America of 1752. They origi-

nated in Europe, and with the exception of the Baptists,

Quakers, Mennonites, and Moravians, they began there

as state churches.

 

Several organizations very strong in America to-day

were then quite unknown. This is conspicuously true of the

Methodist Church, which began as a society within the

Church of England, and did not become an independent

body in America until 1784. It was unknown in 1752 and

had little more than a thousand members in 1774. Alexan-

der Campbell was not yet born, and consequently the

church founded by him was still in the future.

 

It is in place to say something more about established

churches. Two centuries before the birth of Otterbein it

was strictly true that there was but one church in all West-

ern Europe. This church was the Roman Catholic. There

was a small wave of dissent, but it was the customary prac-

tice to hunt down the objector as though he were a wild

beast. If emphatic persuasion would not silence his voice

he was put out of the way as though a positive danger

to society. Toward the middle of the sixteenth century,

Henry VIII broke with Rome and within the borders of

England he took the place of the pope as the head of the

church. For a while there was no other conspicuous point

 


 

24 UNITED BRETHREN

 

Of difference between the Church of Rome and the Church

of England. But within the latter body an influence sprang

up which conformed its theology to the Protestant standard,

while making little alteration in its ritual and its forms

of worship, so far as outward appearance was concerned.

Somewhat the same thing happened in Germany. Under

the lead of Martin Luther a large portion of Northern

Europe threw off all allegiance to Rome, and adopted the

creed on which the Protestant Reformation had rested its

cause. Yet the externals of worship in the Lutheran

Church, as in the Church of England, were much the same

as in the mother church. This is an illustration of the

fact that mankind is far more prone to effect a change

by steps and not by jumps. A large section of the Prot-

estant world did not consider the change radical enough,

and the Calvinistic creed was the result. Thus arose the

Calvinistic churches; the Presbyterian in Scotland, the

Independent in England, the Dutch Reformed in Holland,

the German Reformed in Switzerland and the south of Ger-

many, and the Huguenot, or French Protestant Church, in

France.

 

Before the coming of the Reformation and for many

years afterward, it was generally believed that no country

should permit more than one church organization within

its confines. The church and the civil authority were

viewed as the twin pillars that supported the state.  It was

plain that no state could endure if it were to tolerate any

rival political organization inside of its borders. How,

then, it was argued, could there safely be more than one

standard of religious belief within a state? Religious dis-

sent was viewed with anger and horror, just as anarchy

and bolshevism are viewed in the political world to-day.

But the spirit of that age was more than intolerant. It

was cruel. The religious remonstrant was boycotted, both

socially and religiously. This policy alone  was severe

enough in its practical effect. But if relatively mild

measures did not affect the desired result, the heretic was

burned at the stake, or was skinned and disemboweled in

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 25

 

the hideous belief that his torture in this world meant the

salvation of his soul for the next.

 

The Church of Rome tried to stamp out Protestantism,

root and branch. It nearly succeeded in France and more

fully succeeded in some other regions. In Germany it was

obliged to come to terms. An agreement was reached

whereby each of the petty states into which Germany was

then divided should choose between Catholicism and

Protestantism.

 

Religious toleration was not by any means a first fruit

of the Reformation. The early Protestants were them-

selves intolerant. Freedom of conscience was not recog-

nized until torrents of blood had flowed on the battlefields

of Europe. When brave, stubborn men fought other men

as brave and stubborn as themselves, each party found at

length that the only way out of the difficulty was to agree

to live and let live. It was next found out that unity in

political government and unity in church organization do

not rest on the same base. It was gradually discovered

that the assumed peril to the state in permitting more than

one sect within its borders was a mere creature of the

imagination. Nevertheless, toleration was resisted in

Europe, inch by inch, year by year, and had not become

generally accepted at the time when Otterbein sailed for

America. And even after intolerance had lost the support

of the civil arm of the state, its spirit survived in the form

of animosity between sect and sect. Instead of presenting

a united front against the manifold forces of evil, the

Protestant churches scattered their energies by persistently

firing into each other's ranks. This spirit has been waning

a long while, yet it is a matter of common observation that

it is still a force to be reckoned with.

 

Religious toleration grew out of the Reformation, al-

though the non-Catholic churches persecuted freely and

even severely, burning some of the more prominent offen-

ders at the stake. The Church of Rome went further and

resorted to wholesale massacre. The Huguenots of France

were either murdered or had to get out of their native land

 


 

26 UNITED BRETHREN

 

the easiest way possible. The government of England

worried the Protestant non-conformists as well as the

Catholics.

 

Crime perpetrated in the name of religion was the lead-

ing cause in the peopling of America. Thus were driven

the Puritans to New England, the Quakers to Pennsylvania,

the Catholics to Maryland, and the Presbyterians to the

Middle Colonies.

 

The tragedy of the Thirty Years War, occurring in the

first half of the seven teeth century, shook Germany to its

foundations. Three-fourths of its population perished,

and the country was set back one hundred and fifty years

in its civilization. In this long drawn out contest religious

and political ambitions were interwoven. But war con-

tinued to follow war at short intervals, and the Germans

had a surfeit of strife that lasted until the full development

of militarism since 1860.

 

On the left bank of the Rhine and adjacent to the

frontier of France is the fine region known as the Pala-

tinate. It is one-half the size of New Jersey and is justly

called the garden spot of Germany. The Palatines, as the

inhabitants are called, possess the steadiness, thorough-

ness, and industry that are characteristic of the German

nation. They are good gardeners and are fond of flowers.

John Fiske has remarked that in going from Strasburg

to Rotterdam by way of the Palatinate, "one is perpetually

struck with the general diffusion of intelligence, refine-

ment, strength of character, and personal dignity."

 

One of the later episodes of the intermittent warfare

of which we have just spoken was the devastation of this

fertile province. Three times was it laid waste within

twenty years, the last time — in 1693 — with a ferocity

which recalls the far more horrible doings of the German

armies in Belgium and France in 1914-18. Dwellings were

burned, orchards were cut down, wells were filled up, and

cemeteries were violated. This havoc is justly regarded

as one of the darkest pages in the history of Europe,

although it has been cast into the background by the

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 27

 

diabolic infamies perpetrated during the recent war by the

express command of the German government.

 

The Palatines were almost wholly Protestant at this

time, and they suffered because they were not Catholics.

But although their oppressors had the power to make them

homeless and destitute, they could not make them recant.

William Penn visited the Rhine and addressed the refugees

in their own tongue. He invited them to go to his colony

of Pennsylvania. A few of them migrated as early as 1683,

and founded German town, then six miles from Philadel-

phia, but now a part of that city. One of the emigrants

wrote back that, "what pleases me here is that one can be

peasant, scholar, priest, and nobleman at the same time."

Favorable reports like this were certain to induce further

emigration. After 1702, and particular after 1726, the

German emigration became heavy. It was the Palatinate

that supplied the greater share of the comers from the

valley of the Rhine, in the period, 1725-1775. A smaller

share came from Switzerland. This little country did not

suffer ill the Thirty Year's war and remained prosperous.

But Switzerland was feudalistic at that time and there was

little real freedom for the mass of the inhabitants. The

Swiss emigrated to better their condition, the Palatines to

escape the tyranny and corruption of their new government.

 

The remaining portion of the German immigration to

America was chiefly from Wurtemburg. Thus it will be

seen that this German influx was almost exclusively from

the upper part of the valley of the Rhine. Except for the

few Moravians from Saxony, the north of Germany had

no hand in the movement. The South Germans differ from

the Prussians, who are not true Germans, but Germanized

Slavs. Yet neither are the people of the upper Rhine typical

Germans. The black hair and dark complexion they so

frequently exhibit are due to a very extensive blend with

an earlier and brunette population. This helps to explain

why the Alsatians, though speaking a dialect of German,

are so thoroughly French in sentiment.

 

When the Palatines began coming, the only settled por-

 


 

28 UNITED BRETHREN

 

tion of Pennsylvania was the southeast corner. Here were

the English Quakers, a sprinkling of Swedes, and the clus-

ter of earlier comers at Germantown. The Scotch-Irish

were also pouring in. When it came to a "showdown,"

there was no very cordial welcome for the deluge of

strangers that bade fair to submerge the population al-

ready on the ground. The Scotch-Irish spoke English but

were not meek nor easy to get along with. The Germans

did not speak English, and some of their customs were un-

familiar. (Nevertheless, they were from the industrial

classes of Germany.) They were intelligent, moral, self-

sacrificing, and most of them were religiously inclined.

"No people in America were so subject to religious excite-

ment as the Germans of the eighteenth century." They

became so numerous in the colony that Benjamin Franklin

began the publication of a German newspaper in 1734.

Certain restrictive laws were enacted by the provincial

government. One of these required all German immigrants

to swear allegiance to the British government as a condi-

tion of their admission to the province. The records kept

as a result of this act give the name of the ship, the port

from which it sailed, the date of its arrival, and the names

of its passengers. These records are therefore of much

genealogic interest.

 

Entire counties of Pennsylvania, such as Lancaster,

York, Berks, Bucks, and Montgomery, were occupied al-

most wholly by these German immigrants. The wave

overflowed into the counties of Frederick and Washington

in Maryland.

 

In 1727 began the peopling of "New Virginia," which

name was then applied to the section of Virginia between

the Blue Ridge and the Alleghenies. Along and near the

Potomac this district was settled mainly by English and

Scotch-Irish pioneers. But southward from Winchester,

nearly to the hue between Rockingham and Augusta, the

German element was much in the lead. Augusta was

founded by the Scotch-Irish and had at first almost no Ger-

mans at all. Of the two classes the Scotch-Irish were the

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 29

 

more venturesome, although the Germans liked plenty of

elbow room on behalf of their descendants. So the former

exhibited a strong propensity to sell out and get nearer,

ever nearer, to the inland frontier. Their places were

often taken by the Germans. By the operation of this

tendency, the German blood in varying but generally large

proportions, is now found throughout the great length of

the Valley of Virginia.

 

Nearly all the German settlers arrived by way of

Pennsylvania. A small number came across the Blue Ridge

from the colony on the upper Rapidan founded by Gover-

nor Spottswood about 1710.

 

In 1775, one-third of the 300,000 inhabitants of Pennsyl-

vania were of German birth or parentage. So far as they

adhered to any church, they were of the German Reformed,

Lutheran, and Mennonite faiths, the strength of the three

bodies being in the order of their mention. As with all

the border communities of that day there was much lapsing

with respect to religious conduct. Many of the settlements

were without pastors, houses of worship, or organized

societies. There was much laxity in manners and morals,

and consequently a great need of missionary effort. The

German pastors were so few that they could seldom visit

a frontier neighborhood oftener than once or twice a year.

 

In the early spring of 1748, Gottschalk, a Moravian mis-

sionary, speaks thus of the Massanutten settlement, situ-

ated on the South Branch of Shenandoah river just above

the Luray valley: "Many Germans live there. Most of them

are Mennisten (Mennonites), who are in a bad condition.

Nearly all religious earnestness and zeal is extinguished

among them. Besides them, a few church people live

there, partly Lutheran, partly Reformed." Gottschalk was

much hindered in his efforts by the opposition of the resi-

dent Lutheran pastor, and the prejudice aroused by stories

circulated against the Moravians. In the fall of the same

year two missionaries of this sect were journeying up the

valley of the South Fork in what is now Pendleton county.

They appointed a preaching service in the house of a Ger-

 


 

30 UNITED BRETHREN

 

man living a few miles above where Brandywine now

stands. The congregation was made up almost wholly of

women and children. The men of the settlement were

hunting bear in Shenandoah Mountain. The valley had

been settled only about three years, and the style of living

is described in the journal of these missionaries as primitive

in the extreme. They did not hesitate to call it a near

approach to savagery. By a much more recent writer it

is thus described:

 

"The food, clothing, furniture and mode of life among

the early German settlers were very plain and simple. They

drank nothing but water and milk (sometimes garden tea),

except Sunday morning, when they always had coffee.

Meat was seldom eaten, and in their time it was considered

something quite extra to have meat on the table. At din-

ner time only, did they have meat, and then the father

would cut it in small pieces, give to each one of the family

his allotted share, and with that they had to be satisfied.

During the greater part of the year they had hot mush and

cold milk for supper, and cold mush and warm milk for

breakfast. It would have been considered extravagant to

have the mush fried in fat. Soup, of different kinds, was

much used. The plates from which they ate were made

of pewter, and the cups from which they drank were

earthen mugs. They used no table cloths. The father sat

at one end of the table; the mother at the other. The chil-

dren stood, sometimes sat, along each side of the table and

ate their meal in silence: there was little talking at the

table. Each one ate what was placed before him without

murmuring. A blessing was asked before every meal by

the father or mother. As soon as the children were old

enough to understand the meaning, they were taught short

prayers which they would pray in regular order, each one

his particular and distinct prayer, commencing with the

oldest and ending with the youngest. No carpets graced

the floor but every Saturday it was scoured clean and white

with sand and water. The furniture was as simple as the

fare. On each side of the hearth a square block was made

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 31

 

stationary for a seat. Benches and home-made chairs with

seats plaited with split hickory were used. Several beds

and a few chests made up the principal part of the furni-

ture. They lived in this plain and simple way but they

were comfortable, and what is better still, they were con-

tented."

 

By what has been set forth in the above paragraphs

it is possible to gain a close idea of social and religious

conditions in 1752 in the region now covered by the Vir-

ginia Conference of the United Brethren Church. It was

a very new country. It was the American West of 1752

in just as real a sense as the line of the middle Missouri

was the American West of 1860. In each instance there

was much recklessness among the frontiersmen, and there

was a falling away from the standard of active religious

life in the homeland.

 

In closing this chapter our attention is called to the

circumstance that, with the one exception of the Quakers,

all the religious pacifists in colonial America were Ger-

mans. Was not the growth of these German sects pro-

foundly aided by the social turmoil growing out of the

religious wars of the seventeenth century? And did not

this very turmoil engender among those who suffered from

it a deep-seated antipathy to warfare? Perhaps the tenet

of non-resistance, adopted by several of the German sects,

was primarily a protest against efforts to advance the cause

of religion by the use of military power. It was but a step

further to object to political as well as religious wars.

 


 

32

CHAPTER V

THE EVANGELICAL MOVEMENT AMONG THE

GERMAN IMMIGRANTS

 

In our last chapter we spoke of a lack of religious

teaching among the German settlers along the inland

frontier. A similar fact was true of the Scotch-Irish, who

were the dominant element on the same border. In the

older communities, on and near the Atlantic seaboard, the

religious privileges were as good as were known anywhere

in that century. But there was a state church in eleven

of the thirteen colonies, its houses of worship and its par-

sonages were paid for out of public taxation, and its minis-

ters were, either in part or altogether, supported in the

same manner. Where the Church of England prevailed,

the rector was provided with a farm, and this was called

a glebe. The rectors were selected by the higher authorities

of the church, and not by the congregations to whom they

ministered.

 

There was an unfortunate side of the influence of a

church supported by the civil government and by public

taxation. There was an almost irresistible drift to an

accepted standard of merely formal piety, such as is spoken

of in our sketch of William Otterbein. It was often the

case that the minister was as worldly-minded as the aver-

age man of the community. If under such circumstances

there was any spiritual life in a congregation, it was in

spite of the system and not as a consequence of it. The

ministers of the Presbyterian, Congregational, and Re-

formed churches, all which were kindred denominations,

had a very real interest in the well-being of the people

under their care. But in their preaching there was too

little of the reformatory and too much of the dogmatic

and argumentative. And the prevalence in these com-

munions of very long pastorates, even of fifty and sixty

years, led to routine methods, spiritual sluggishness, and

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 33

 

churchly dry-rot. In a word, formalism in religion was

everywhere the rule and not the exception. The times

were very much in need of a loosening up of the parched

surface. In Germany, something was being dene in this

direction by the Moravians and the Pietists; in England,

by the Wesleys, whose methods were substantially the same

as those of Spener, the founder of the Pietists; in America,

by Wesleyan missionaries, by the New Lights, and at a

later period by the founders of the Cumberland Presby-

terian Church.

 

In a political sense the American Revolution was a good,

but from another point of view it was an evil. It inter-

rupted the peaceful trend of the evangelistic movement.

Partly through the influence of foreigners, the free thought

then so rampant in Europe was scattered broadcast on the

American soil. Religion was discredited by the formalism

so often seen among the church people. In the popular

estimation it was looked upon as a lifeless garment which

might as well be thrown aside. Thus was prepared a con-

genial field for the nurture of infidelity and near-infidelity.

Experimental religion was deemed weak and silly. Family

worship was thought to be affectation, and many of the

ministers themselves gloried in letting it alone. Among

the students at Yale College in 1795 were only about five

members of any church. William and Mary, which was

the only college in Virginia, was a hotbed of unbelief.

Bishop Meade of the Episcopal Church said in 1810 that

nearly every educated young Virginian was a skeptic. The

same fact was generally true of the professional men in all

the states. In short, the Christian religion was held in

scorn and it was the common opinion that it was outworn

and would soon pass out of existence. Gross drunkenness

was not only an everyday occurrence, but it was almost as

common among ministers and other church members as

among people in general.

 

The portrait of the times that has been drawn in the

last paragraph is startling. And yet its accuracy is attested

by the best of evidence. After 1825 there was a marked

 


 

34 UNITED BRETHREN

 

improvement with respect to religion and temperance, but

this only emphasizes the fact that during the long period

between 1750 and 1825 — the lifetime of an elderly per-

son — America was sadly in need of evangelical instruction.

 

As in the instances of Otterbein and Boehm, there were

a few evangelistic reformers in all the churches. Finding

themselves lonesome in the stifling atmosphere of their

own denominations, they leaped over sectarian lines and

sought each other's society in religious gatherings. These

gatherings developed into the "big meetings" held in barns

and groves, owing to the lack of church buildings of suf-

ficient size.

 

Our narrative now brings us to the memorable meeting

between Otterbein and Boehm. It took place in the large

barn of Isaac Long in Lancaster county in Pennsylvania.

There were more people present than could get into the

huge structure. Those who crowded into the barn were

addressed by Boehm. An overflow meeting in the orchard

was conducted by one or more of the "Virginia preachers"

who were present. The New Light followers of White-

field in the Valley of Virginia were known as the "Virginia

preachers." The meeting took place on Whitsunday, and

the year is believed to have been 1768. Otterbein had left

the city of Lancaster and was preaching on the Tulpe-

hocken. Boehm had not yet been disfellowshiped by the

Mennonites. The crowd at Long's was made up of Ger-

mans and the preaching was in the German language.

Perhaps all the distinctively German sects then known in

America were represented at this meeting. In what way

Otterbein came to be here is not known. There was little

in common between the Reformed and the Mennonite

churches, and there was a great lack of cordiality in the

relations between them. But Otterbein sat on the plat-

form near Boehm and listened to that minister with warm-

hearted appreciation. At the close of the sermon he clasped

Boehm in his arms with the significant exclamation: "We

are brethren." From this time forward, these two men,

dissimilar in training and education, were united in the

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 35

 

firm bonds of religious fellowship. Early tradition has it

that at the close of this meeting Otterbein, Boehm, and

the Virginia preachers entered into a form of union on

some simple yet definite conditions. Even the official name

of the United Brethren in Christ is believed to date from

the exclamation by Otterbein.

 

In fellowship with the leaders of such meetings as this,

Otterbein found what he desired. The leaders were at

first regular authorized ministers of various Protestant

sects. But in evangelical spirit they stood on common

ground. Thus came into being the ministerial intimacy

between the scholarly Otterbein and the comparatively

unlettered farmer-preachers, Boehm and Newcomer. An-

other associate was Guething, a Reformed minister, yet

with only enough education to teach a country school.

 

However, Otterbein was not without other congenial

spirits in his own church. Hendel, Wagner, Hautz, Henop,

and Weimer were brother ministers who agreed with him

as to methods. Adopting the system of Spener, they formed

in the spring of 1774 the society known as "The United

Ministers." They formed classes within their own con-

gregations and congregations that were without pastors.

General meetings were held twice a year, "that those thus

united may encourage one another, pray and sing in unison,

and watch over one another's conduct. All those who are

thus united are to take heed that no disturbances occur

among them, and that the affairs of the congregations be

conducted and managed in an orderly manner." But the

war for American Independence seems to have worked a

suspension of these efforts.

 

We have remarked that it was an independent congre-

gation of the Reformed Church to which Otterbein was

called in 1774. It had had a pastor whose ministrations

were very formal and whose life was inconsistent. The

evangelical minority seceded in 1771, called Benedict Swope

as their pastor, bought a lot, and built a frame house, suc-

ceeded in 1786 by the historic brick church now standing

on the spot. The title to the property was not vested in

 


 

36 UNITED BRETHREN

 

the Reformed Church at all, but in chosen members of

the congregation. After a long drawn out law suit the

validity of the title was upheld. The authorities of the

Reformed Church tried without success to bring about a

reconciliation. In 1774 Otterbein, who was already no

stranger in Baltimore, was called. This independent body

styled itself an "Evangelical Reformed" church, and was

not definitely received into the United Brethren fold until

1817. It did not acknowledge the authority of the Re-

formed synod, nor was it disowned by that body. But in

theology Otterbein's church was Arminian, while the

Reformed Church upheld Calvinism. The class-meeting

adopted as a feature of the Baltimore church, was unknown

to the Reformed Church. The congregation adopted its

own rules of government.

 

In substance these rules were as follows: Each member

was to attend faithfully at all times of worship, and to per-

form no business or needless travel on Sunday; family

worship was enjoined on all members, and offenses between

member and member were to be dealt with as in the eigh-

teenth chapter of Matthew; the slanderer was first to be

admonished privately, then, if necessary, openly rebuked

in class-meeting; members of other churches were ad-

mitted to communion, and persons who were not members

were admitted by consent of the vestry if no objection were

made. Still other rules were these: There was to be a

class-meeting each week, an evening session for the men,

a day-time session for the women. No person was to be

admitted to such meeting unless resolved to seek his salva-

tion and obey the disciplinary rules. The meetings were

to begin and end with singing and prayer. Persistent

absence without cause was to work expulsion. No preacher

was to be retained who upheld predestination or the per-

severance of the saints, or who was out of harmony with

the disciplinary rules and the modes of worship, and on an

accusation of immorality he might at once be suspended.

One of the highest duties was to watch over the rising

youth. There was to be one day of fasting in the spring and

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 37

 

one in the fall. A parochial school with instruction in the

German tongue was to be established. The pastor, the

three elders, and the three trustees were to constitute the

vestry, which was the custodian of all deeds and other

papers of importance. A highly significant rule was that

the pastor was to care for the various churches in Mary-

land, Pennsylvania, and Virginia that were supervised by

Otterbein and "in unity with us," and to give all possible

encouragement to lay preachers and exhorters. Thus

Otterbein's church in Baltimore was a mother church to

various congregations scattered over several counties of

the three states, and may be regarded as the primary organi-

zation of the sect with which it was to unite.

 

The men who founded the Church of the United Breth-

ren in Christ did not wish to come out from the churches

with which they had been associated. Their aim was to

promote spirituality within the parent body. Spiritual

inertia and a rising tide of opposition extinguished Otter-

bein's hope of working wholly within the Reformed

Church. Nevertheless, he never actually withdrew from it,

and until the very last his name was carried on its minis-

terial roll. And this was in face of the fact that he was

criticized and persecuted by some of the Reformed minis-

ters. Boehm, as we have seen, was cast out from the

Mennonite sect. His followers were also excluded "until

in true sorrow and penitence they should return and

acknowledge their errors, both to God and the Church."

 

Both Otterbein and Boehm felt impelled to extend their

usefulness by going beyond their own immediate boun-

daries. Each of these men preached with greatly enlarged

power, because endowed with, a special baptism of the

Holy Spirit. But each labored chiefly among the people of

his own denomination and such other persons as came

within his sphere of influence.

 

For some years the adherents of the new movement

came most largely from the Reformed Church. After the

fathers of the United Brethren died, a revival spirit within

the Reformed Church curtailed the number of accessions

 


 

38 UNITED BRETHREN

 

from that quarter. But for forty years semi-independent

Mennonite circles continued to push their way into the

newly founded church. Otterbein and Boehm and their

co-laborers had no choice. The duty was upon them to

provide an ecclesiastical home for their followers. These

followers were ostracized and even persecuted in the

churches from which they had come, and they were derided

by worldly people. They must have some place to Co. It

was the logic of circumstances that founded the United

Brethren.

 

In the gradual development of the work by Otterbein

and Boehm, congregations were formed, and these were

presided over by local preachers, who were at the same

time lay preachers, since they had to derive their liveli-

hood from secular pursuits. Some of these men were

class-leaders at first. Others felt more distinctly the call

to an active ministry. As a rule they were men of little

education yet of warm spirituality. For a long while these

local preachers worked under the general direction of

Otterbein and Boehm, who were therefore self-constituted

bishops. The great meetings afforded much opportunity

for counsel. But it was increasingly felt that a more

definite and systematic procedure should be adopted.

 

The first actual conference in the history of the United

Brethren Church met in Baltimore in 1789, and in the

parsonage of William Otterbein. Besides the two leaders

there were present George A. Guething, Christian New-

comer, Henry Weidner, Adam Lehman, and John Ernst

Seven others were absent. Of the fourteen preachers

recognized as belonging to the conference, nine had come

from the Reformed Church, four from the Mennonites, and

one from the Moravians. It had been twenty-two years

since the first meeting between Otterbein and Boehm at

Long's barn, and more than ten years since Boehm had

been cast out of the Mennonite Church. Both men were

past their prime and were more than sixty years of age

This marshaling of figures shows in an impressive manner

how gradual and informal had been the rise of the United

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 39

 

Brethren movement. And even this first conference did

not go so far as to effect a complete and well-rounded

organization. It is not certain that it adopted the actual

name by which the church is officially known. Yet it did

adopt a comprehensive Confession of Faith and Rules of

Discipline. Doubtless this little group of men realized

that the hour had not quite arrived for the precise details

of a thoroughgoing organization. The church they were

founding was a growth, an evolution. It was not a thing

made to order.

 

The final clause of the Confession of Faith then adopted

is significant of the concessions made by the two leading

elements which combined to form the United Brethren.

In tradition and tendency the German Reformed and Men-

nonite churches were far apart. The former baptized in-

fants, while the latter did not. The latter made the wash-

ing of feet a sacrament, while the former regarded it merely

as an example. Neither party could be expected to come

at once and unreservedly to the viewpoint of the other side.

But each party could be charitable with regard to a differ-

ence of opinion, and this is what took place. The

clause in question is a compromise and is tolerant and

broad. In the United Brethren Church, three modes of

baptism are recognized, and it is the privilege of the can-

didate to choose between sprinkling, pouring, and immer-

sion. The washing of feet is not held to be an ordinance.

 

The second conference was held in 1791 at the home of

John Spangler, eight miles from the city of York. Nine

members were present and thirteen were absent. But the

large number of absentees does not indicate indifference.

At that time the highways were abominable. There were

no railroads, automobiles, or telephones. The mails were

slow, and letter postage was high. And as there was not

yet an organized itinerancy, it was not the business of the

conference to decide where the several preachers were to

work. This was a matter they decided for themselves.

 


 

40

CHAPTER VI

EARLY YEARS OF THE CHURCH

 

In the early conferences of the United Brethren, busi-

ness was a very subordinate matter. There were no com-

mittees. Everything done was done by the body as a

whole. Circuits were laid out by the preachers themselves

and not by the conference. The preachers met for mutual

encouragement and spent nearly all the session in religious

services. It is therefore easy to account for the brevity

of the minutes of these conferences.

 

The conferences of 1789 and 1791 were in the nature of

informal, advisory meetings between two de facto bishops

and the small band of local preachers working under their

direction. Otterbein and Boehm acted as bishops, but there

was no definite organization to elect them to the office. The

primary object of these two assemblages was mutual

advice and consultation. This fact helps to bring out the

progressive nature of what began as a movement and

gradually developed into a compact organization.

 

The United Brethren movement was one of the results

of the revival period of 1750-1825. It was very hard to

reform the old German congregations and bring them to

the New Testament standard of law and order. Otter-

bein's flock at Lancaster was disorderly, and like some

others it had been in the hands of incompetent pastors.

The fathers of the United Brethren denomination were

committed to the idea of a spiritual church. They were

not designedly "come-outers." Yet they could not stay in

the church homes that had reared them, because of the

narrow and vituperative conservatism which could not

brook any change in the old order of things.

 

The followers of the new movement had not been

known by any general name. Such terms as "the Breth-

ren," "the Unsectarian," and "the Liberty People" were

applied to them. Still other designations were the "New

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 41

 

Reformed" and the "New Mennonites." Sometimes the

names of the leaders would be used, and they would be

styled "Otterbein's People," or "Boehm's People." There

were also semi-independent groups of Mennonites, such as

"Light's People," who were drifting toward the new church.

In 1820 Peter Cartwright speaks of a tavern-keeper at

Knoxville, Tennessee, whom he calls an "Otterbein Metho-

dist."

 

As a distinct church the United Brethren sect begins

with the meeting held in September, 1800, at the house of

Peter Kemp, two miles west of Frederick, Maryland.

Fourteen preachers appeared. Their two-day meeting did

not call itself a general conference, although it exercised

the functions of one. It chose a name for the new denomi-

nation and it elected bishops.

 

It seems to have been easy for these men to agree on

the name by which the church has ever since been known.

It was not enough to use the simpler form of "United

Brethren," because this was already the official name of

the Moravian body. To avoid uncertainty, especially in

matters that might involve questions in law, the words

"in Christ" were added.

 

William Otterbein and Martin Boehm, who were already

bishops in effect, were now elected as such. Otterbein was

now seventy-four years of age and Boehm was seventy-five.

 

The first printed Discipline says this of the first con-

ference: "The preachers were obliged to appoint an annual

conference in order to unite themselves more closely, and

to labor more successfully in the vineyard of the Lord;

for some had been Presbyterian, or German Reformed,

some Lutherans, and others Menonists."

 

In 1801 came the beginning of an itinerant system, ten

men consenting to travel as directed by the bishops, in-

stead of laying out circuits for themselves. Still more

method was introduced into the system by the conference

of 1802. One or two of the preachers would agree to serve

as presiding elders. The action taken in this matter was

generally informal and usually unanimous.

 


 

42 UNITED BRETHREN

 

Ever since the meeting at Kemp's, there has been a

regular and uninterrupted succession of general confer-

ences. Until 1810 there was but one annual conference for

the entire church. The first new conference was the Miami,

set off in that year. In 1829 the Eastern, or original. Con-

ference was divided into the Hagerstown and Harrisburg

conferences, the former including the Virginia territory,

and the latter becoming the Pennsylvania Conference.

The first conference to be definitely known as a general

conference was held in June, 1815, in a log schoolhouse

of Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania. It adopted a Con-

fession of Faith, substantially the same as that of 1789,

and Rules of Discipline, based on those of Otterbein's

church in Baltimore. The Discipline was ordered to be

printed, but only in German. However, the next general

conference, that of 1817, ordered that 100 copies of the

Revised Discipline be printed in English. This book in-

cludes forms for the ceremony of marriage and the ordina-

tion of bishops and ministers. The Confession of Faith

"rests on the Apostles' Creed and the New Testament, and

adds only those necessary specifications in regard to the

application and mission of the gospel that even the simplest

of the later creeds have been compelled to include. The

creed might be called a working creed for a revival peo-

ple."*

 

In 1841 the Confession of Faith was revised and a Con-

stitution adopted. These remained in force until 1889.

 

It had now been half a century since the meeting of

Otterbein and Boehm in Long's barn. The early fathers

of the United Brethren had passed away. Thirteen years

more and the ministry had ceased to be exclusively local.

The pioneer period in the history of the church may there-

fore be considered to close in 1830.

 

Of the three leading fathers of the church, Otterbein

was the skilled theologian. He was eloquent and argu-

mentative, and his elucidation of Scriptural truth was ex-

ceptionally clear. Boehm was essentially an exhorter, and

 

*Drury

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 43

 

his appeal was to the feelings. Geeting was regarded by

Henry Boehm as the greatest orator among the United

Brethren.

 

It is well for us to speak further of George Adam Geet-

ing, whose name in German tongue is spelled Guething.

He came to America in his youth, and settled about 1759

on Antietam Creek near the present town of Keedysville.

In winter he taught school and in the warm weather he

quarried rock and dug wells. He seems to have been con-

verted through the preaching of Otterbein and he at once

became an earnest Christian. For a while he read printed

sermons to his congregation. Discerning that Geeting was

capable of doing better than this, Otterbein had a friend

come up behind the young preacher and take the book out

of his hand. Geeting was thus thrown back on his own

resources, yet delivered an impressive discourse. In 1783

he was ordained as a minister of the Reformed Church.

The Geeting meeting house, a small log building dating

from a little before the beginning of the Revolution, is

believed to have been the first house of worship built by

Otterbien's followers of the revival movement. Otterbein

was too heavy a man to be cast out of the Reformed

Church, yet Geeting was expelled for "wildly fanatical"

preaching that was at variance with "decency and order."

Thenceforward, his home was with the new church, of

which he has been called the St. John, and also the Apollos.

He was the traveling companion and adviser of Otterbein.

His house was a favorite stopping place for Newcomer

and other early preachers. His meeting house was an

Antioch to the young church and many revivals took place

here. Geeting died in 1812 at the age of seventy-three years.

Otterbein, Boehm, and Geeting were the "clover leaf" of

the early church, and their departure occurred at nearly

the same time. This coincidence, coming as it did in the

formative period of the church, had a depressing effect.

Much depended on the new leadership that became neces-

sary.

 


 

44

CHAPTER VII

PLANTING THE CHURCH IN VIRGINIA

 

The German immigration to America made its earliest

home in the southeast of Pennsylvania. The county of

Lancaster, in that state, is, more than any other, the first

seat of United Brethrenism.

 

Like all other immigrants, the German wanted plenty

of elbow room. To be nearer than half a mile to a neigh-

bor was considering crowding. A mile was thought near

enough to be comfortable. And there seemed to be plenty

of elbow room, for the continent appeared to stretch in-

terminably westward.

 

So, as their numbers increased, the German families

flocked over the colonial boundary into Maryland, and

thence into that part of the Valley of Virginia lying between

Winchester and the vicinity of Harrisonburg. The district

next the Potomac, on the Virginia side, was rather avoided

because of the litigation between Lord Fairfax and Joist

Hite, and the consequent difficulty of getting good titles.

The country south of Harrisonburg was at first peopled only

By the Scotch-Irish, but it was not long until German set-

tiers moved onward as the more restless Scotch-Irish

pressed still farther to the south and west.

 

The German settlers were partial to good lands, such as

the limestone belts in the Valley of Virginia. Also, they

were unwilling to make a home unless it could be near

a good spring. Furthermore, they were conservative.

They did not want change. They wanted to do as they

had been used to doing, and they held to the old even at

the cost of becoming unprogressive. And so far as they

adhered tenaciously to their mother tongue they remained

foreigners in feeling.

 

Among the Germans coming to the Shenandoah coun-

try were families who had taken part in the great meet-

ings in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Some of them were

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 45

 

related to Geeting, Newcomer, and others of the early

preachers. So the preachers they had known north of the

Potomac followed them and held great meetings in the

Valley, particularly near Mount Jackson.

 

The site of Keedysville, near Antietam Creek in Mary-

land, was the home of George Geeting, Otterbein's chief

adviser. His home was also a headquarters for Boehm,

Newcomer, and other preachers. At Beaver Creek, a dozen

miles eastward across the mountains, was where New-

comer lived. Farther east were the Kemps and others.

A few miles farther north were the Draksels, Mayers,

Baers, Browns, Hersheys, Russells, and others, while on

the Virginia side of the Potomac and within a day's ride

were Ambrose, Strickler, Senseny, the Niswanders — Isaac

and Abraham, and the three Duckwalds — Ludwig, Henry,

and Frederick. Still others were the twin brothers — Henry

and Christian Crum. Thus there were gathered at Antie-

tam, as a central point, those who were fired with a com-

mon spirit. The great religious experiences they had

enjoyed were told in a wonderful way to the throngs

attracted by interest and novelty.

 

Strong congregations were soon formed around Win-

chester, at Sleepy Creek, and east of the Blue Ridge in

Loudoun county. The last named locality was often visited

by Bishop Newcomer. But by reason of emigration this

flock passed out of existence more than a century ago.

 

Before 1815 there was quite an exodus of these people

across the Alleghenies into Ohio and the west of Pennsyl-

vania. It came thus that the Miami, the first daughter

conference, was organized largely by the preachers who

had come from the East, for up to this time, the whole

work was embraced in the Eastern, or original, confer-

ence. The families who settled in the west of Pennsyl-

vania, especially in Westmoreland county, were active and

loyal, and laid the foundations for the present prosperous

United Brethren Church in that favored region.

 

Almost the only record we have of the early work of

these circuit riders is found in Newcomer's Journal, pub-

 


 

46 UNITED BRETHREN

 

lished in 1835. It was not intended for publication, and

its brevity is often disappointing to those who would like

more complete information. The Journal, after its pub-

lication, was evidently sold by the itinerants.*

 

When eighty-one years old, Newcomer attempted a trip

into Virginia. Sunday, March 1, 1830, he rode to the home

of Michael Thomas at Boonsboro, nine miles from his own

house, and lodged there for the night. Next morning he

was too ill to go on and he returned. Wednesday, he wrote

thus: "This forenoon I tried to write in my journal, but

alas! I find that I am not able to perform the task, so 1

lay down my pen. The Lord alone knows whether I shall

be able to resume it again. The Lord's will be done. Amen.

Hallelujah."

 

It is this record of Newcomer that gives early circuits

in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Ohio. It is not

by any means a complete record, as it gives only the tours

by himself and his companions, for he seldom traveled

alone.

 

Just before the first annual conference at Kemp's, in

September, 1800, Newcomer made a tour of the Virginia

circuit. This time he was accompanied by Martin Boehm

and his son, Henry. Another preacher. Christian Crum,

lived at Pleasant Valley, eight miles northeast of Winches-

ter, on what has since been known as the Jacob Hott place.

For years this was the first stopping place of the German

preachers, and here these three men held their opening

service on the Virginia circuit. They arrived Monday night,

September 1, and the elder Boehm preached. He preached

again at Dr. Senseny's in Winchester, and a Methodist

preacher followed with an exhortation. Wednesday, they

held a meeting at Abraham Niswander's, near Middletown,

and then rode to the house of A. Boehm, a relative to the

bishop, where Newcomer preached and was followed by

Henry Boehm. Thursday forenoon they preached at Jacob

Funkhouser's west of Fisher's Hill, riding thence to Wood-

 

*The copy owned by A. P. Funkhouser was purchased by his

paternal grandfather in 1837, as witnessed by his autograph signa-

ture and the date.

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 47

 

 

 

stock and lodging with one Zehrung, who, by the way,

gave a lot for a church in Woodstock. This gift was made

more than a hundred years ago. The bishop preached in

a church at Woodstock Friday morning, and then they

rode to Jacob Rhinehart's, where Newcomer preached.

Saturday and Sunday there was a meeting at the widow

Kagey's on Smith's Creek. Bishop Boehm preached in

German and was followed by his son Henry in English.

Then they rode to a Mr. Bender's, where Newcomer

preached. After they had retired. Bender's wife began

moaning aloud. They arose and prayed with her.

 

The preachers turned out very early Monday morning,

September 8, and rode to the house of John Peters near

New Market, where Newcomer and Boehm preached in

German and Henry Boehm in English. After dismissing

the people, the crowd continued to stand around in groups,

crying and moaning, so another meeting was held. Ben-

der's wife had followed them to this place, was converted,

and made shoutingly happy. The preachers then rode to

Homan's in Brock's Gap. In the afternoon they accom-

panied Strickler to his home sixteen miles away, arriving

late at night. Their next stopping place was at Peter Bibey's

in Augusta county. Passing through Staunton, they called

on the Methodist pastor and went on to the house of Chris-

tian Hess.

 

On Saturday the 13th, a great meeting began at Henry

Menger's on the side of the mountain, southwest of

Swoope's Depot. In the afternoon they rode to a Mr.

Harris'. Next day, returning through Staunton, they

dined with the Methodist pastor, and then rode seventeen

miles to Widore's. Tuesday morning Newcomer preached

at Zimmerman’s in Keezletown, and then the party rode

sixteen miles to John Peters' near New Market, where the

bishop was again the preacher. Next day they crossed

the mountain into Page, spending the night with Christian

Fori, near the South Fork. Thursday, Bishop Boehm con-

ducted a funeral service at Woodstock, and the night was

spent with John Funkhouser west of Fisher's Hill. Satur-

 


 

48 UNITED BRETHREN

 

 

day a sacramental meeting began at Niswander's near

Middletown.

 

Continuing their return journey the party reached New-

comer's home, Tuesday the 23d, just two days before the

opening of conference. The Boehms must have gone on

to Kemp's, for there was not time to reach their own homes

and be at conference on the first day, this being the time

when Newcomer found them there.

 

The next visit to Virginia was two years later, in June,

and it occupied eight days. Otterbein, Newcomer, Crum,

and Strickler were the preachers and they traveled to-

gether. Their first point was a sacramental meeting at

Jacob Funkhouser's west of Fisher's Hill. The services

Sunday night were at Christian Funkhouser's. The place

was appropriately called Funkhouser Hollow, since there

were seven families of this name, all with farms adjoining.

They all spoke the German language, built their houses

alike, each one over a spring, professed the same religion,

and yet each family had its own burial ground on a hill-

side. Their relationship has never been traced by any one

of the present time. On this journey Otterbein preached

nearly every night. Services were held at Crum's, at

Geeting's, at Newtown, at Niswander's in Middletown, and

at Winchester.

 

In October of the same year Newcomer and Geeting

traveled the Virginia circuit, one or the other preaching

every day for nineteen days and always in German. Their

preaching places were much as before, Stoverstown (Stras-

burg) being one of the appointments. At Mengen's, their

most southern point, was the great meeting for which they

set out. To attend the two-day services the people came in

some instances thirty to fifty miles.

 

"Year after year for almost thirty years Newcomer

made visits to Virginia, continuing them almost to the

time when Glossbrenner began his work as circuit rider.

"The meeting places were changed to suit local' con-

ditions. From Hoffman's the meetings were changed to

Peter Myer's near the present Pike Mennonite church.

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 49

 

George Hoffman moved to Augusta, taking his religion

with him, and Mount Zion became an early preaching place.

Peter Myers built a dwelling house with a large room

in it for meetings, which were held regularly here for

many years.

 

"In the spring 1809 Newcomer made a unique visit

to Harrisonburg. He came as a committee to confer with

Bishop Asbury and the Baltimore Conference of the Metho-

dist Church on the subject of church union. This confer-

ence was held in the log church on the hill where the old

burial ground still remains. Two bishops, Asbury and

George, and sixty preachers were present. The day after

it closed Newcomer, delighted with his cordial entertain-

ment, rode down the Valley with Asbury and other preach-

ers, among whom was Henry Boehm, son of the bishop.

 

"The last visit by Newcomer was in 1828, when he was

seventy-nine years old. That summer he held eight camp

meetings, three of them in Virginia. In company with

William Brown, afterward bishop, and William B. Rhine-

hart, a sweet singer and later the first editor of the Religious

Telescope, he made the usual stops until he came to a

camp meeting on Mill Creek, two miles west of Mount

Jackson. Such meetings were held here from 1825 to

1830 inclusive, on the farm of the great grandfather of

A. P. Funkhouser. The camp spring is yet pointed out in

the middle of Mill Creek. After the close of the meeting,

the preachers went on to Rockingham and spent the night

with Jacob Whitesell, who had married Brown's sister in

Pennsylvania, and who had now an old mill on Dry River,

a mile or two below Rawley Springs. Whitesell and his

family later moved to Vigo county, Indiana, where his

descendants are among the pillars of the strong church

now in that section. The preachers then went to the camp

meeting on Beaver Creek just opposite the home of the

late John Whitmore. Mrs. Maria Paul attended this meet-

ing, being then a girl, and remembered the bishop as tall,

spare, and clean-shaven. During one of his discourses a

large, fat man walked into the congregation and stood

 


 

50 UNITED BRETHREN

 

leaning against a tree. His name was Koogler, and he

was a paper-shaver with a reputation not very savory.

Newcomer pointed him out, remarking, 'Oh me, if that

man would become converted, how much religion he could

hold.'

 

"At the close of the camp meeting, Newcomer and his

companions rode to Peter Whitesell's, where Brown

preached in German and Newcomer in English. Simon,

father of J. D. Whitesell of Harrisonburg, was then but

eight years old, yet preserved to the end of his life a clear

recollection of the visit. Whitesell's church had been built

here the year previous. It was the first United Brethren

church built in Virginia, and a most influential center for

many years. This house of worship grew out of the meet-

ings at Hoffman's and Peter Myers': Passing through Har-

risonburg to the head of Brock's Gap, the party took dinner

with Henry Tutwiler, a brother-in-law to Whitesell, and a

tanner of buckskin. He was postmaster at Harrisonburg

thirty-one years. Tutwiler was a zealous class leader of

the Methodists, and was the father of one of the first gradu-

ates of the University of Virginia. Years afterward, he

died shoutingly happy after a sudden illness, the day after

holding a watch meeting on New Year's eve.

 

"The next day found Newcomer at a camp meeting on

the land of Jacob Lentz, at the head of Brock's Gap four

miles above Dovesville. Lentz had come from Loudoun

county years before, bringing his United Brethrenism with

him, and though he was more than thirty miles from the

county seat, he was not too far away for his old friends

to find him. Near him at Dovesville, was another United

Brethren, Frederick Doub (Dove), who had come from

Frederick county, Maryland. The post office was named

after him. The descendants of the Lentzs and Doves, and

the intermarried families now form a large element of

the population here. The present Keplinger chapel,

recently remodeled, was dedicated November 27, 1858, by

Jacob Markwood, then a presiding elder."

 

The compiler of this volume finds among the papers

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 51

 

given him the statement that the first United Brethren con-

ference — presumably of Virginia — was held June 3, 1794,

in the stone house that was used as a law office of the late

General John E. Roller. But as this meeting is not men-

tioned in the general histories of the church, it must have

been a gathering of the Virginia preachers of that decade

and perhaps a few from the other side of the Potomac.

The first official conference in Virginia was held in the

same town, March 2, 1809.

 

Mention has been made of the Whitesell church. As

late as 1850 there were but two other church buildings of

the United Brethren in Virginia. In 1860 the total mem-

bership in both Virginia and Maryland was not over 3,000.

 

There was for a long while a feeling that there should

be no gathering of church statistics, and none were given

out by the United Brethren Church until 1837. This pre-

judice seems to have grown out of the relation of David's

sin in numbering the people.

 

A more complete account of Newcomer's travels in

Virginia will be found in the next chapter.

 


 

52

CHAPTER VIII

EXTRACTS FROM NEWCOMER'S JOURNAL

 

Christian Newcomer was of Swiss descent and was born

near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, January 21, 1749. His

parents were Mennonites and the, son was reared in their

faith. He learned the carpenter's trade from his father,

but when he was about twenty years old the parent died.

At the deathbed request of the latter, he took upon himself

the care of the farm and thus provided a home for the

mother and a sister. After a year the sister found a hus-

band, and as the mother was a midwife and much away

from home. Christian was married in 1770 to Elizabeth

Baer. Not long afterward he was converted at home as a

result of personal seeking. Thinking he should become

a preacher, he took counsel with one of the Mennonite

preachers, a person who stood high in the young man's

estimation. But this elder could not comprehend the

experience his friend had undergone, and cast doubts upon

it. However, when stretched on a bed of sickness, the older

man became convinced that the younger man was in the

right. Newcomer removed to Maryland, where he found

that his neighbors, though well-meaning and friendly,

were unacquainted with experimental religion. He had

long continued misgivings with respect to becoming a

preacher. It was not until he had overcome this reluctance,

through recourse to earnest prayer, that Newcomer found

restoration from what he regarded as a backslidden state.

 

He had already listened to Otterbein and Geeting. Find-

ing that he and they were in entire harmony in the matter

of experimental religion, he joined a society of what were

then called Otterbein's people, and in 1777 became a

preacher among what were derisively called the "Dutch

Methodists." Newcomer continued to preach very nearly

to the end of his long life. In 1813 he was made a bishop

and thenceforward he led a particularly active career. He

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 53

 

crossed the Alleghenies thirty-eight times and rode on

horseback six thousand miles a year. When nearly eighty

years of age he thus traveled to Ohio and Indiana, held sev-

eral conference, and returned in his usual health. A little

later he made a similar trip to Virginia, where he held a

great meeting near Swoope's. These trips were kept up

till 1828.

 

There is a striking parallelism between Christian New-

comer of the United Brethren Church and Francis Asbury

of the Methodist Church. The former has very justly been

called the Asbury of the United Brethren. Both men were

bishops in the pioneer period of their respective organiza-

tions Each was an empire-builder in the ecclesiastical

sense. Each was an indefatigable worker. Each was a

prodigious traveler, spending so much time on horseback

that it is small stretching of the fact to say that he lived

in the saddle. Each of these early bishops kept a journal

and each journal has been published.

 

Newcomer was tall, commanding in figure, and robust

in physique. No portrait is in existence. In 1828 he held

a camp meeting near Crider's store in Brock's Gap, at a

spring still known as the "camp spring." Seventy years

later Mrs. Maria Paul remembered seeing him there. Her

description of him as a tall, slim, smoothly shaven man of

serious appearance tallies with other accounts.

 

The bishop was not a great preacher except in earnest-

ness of purpose. He had a slight impediment in his speech

and his voice was but moderately strong. Yet he was a

successful evangelist, and as a superintendent he was

fearless as well as diligent. He was a firm believer in the

itinerant system, perceiving that it is peculiarly adapted to

new and sparsely settled districts.

 

Newcomer's journal, written in German and trans-

lated by John Hildt, was published at Hagerstown in 1834.

It is prefaced with an autobiography, this dealing almost

wholly with his religious experiences. The journal begins

October 27, 1795, and continues until March 4, 1830, only

eight days before his death. To many persons it has been

 


 

54 UNITED BRETHREN

 

a matter of regret that most of the entries are so brief

and fragmentary. This brevity impairs the historic value.

But it is highly probable that the bishop never thought his

manuscript would ever appear in book form. Perhaps

his notes were regarded by himself as little more than an

aid to his memory.

 

With a view of allowing the journal to throw all the

light possible on the history of the Virginia Conference

prior to 1830, we now present the following extracts.

 

1795

Preached at Virumbach's in Virginia from John 2:14.

 

1796

Preached at Henry Crum's Thursday, October 13. (Note: Henry

and Christian Crum were twin brothers who went to Winchester

from near Frederick, Md. They strongly resembled one another.

Both were very useful preachers.) Preached Friday at Millers-

town. Next day a sacramental meeting began at Stony Creek

I gave the first discourse — from Psalm XL. On Monday, the last

day, many sinners were converted. Tuesday, preached at Snider's

near Linville Creek, and in the evening came to the home of a

Mennonite uncle, a preacher, where I spoke from Psalm XXIV, 15.

Wednesday, though afflicted with a severe toothache, I preached

twice at J. P.'s near Smith Creek. Thursday rode to Massanutten

and preached there Friday at Mr. Hiestand's but found the people

of that neighborhood rather hardened. Saturday, rode to the

forks of the Shenandoah and lodged with Jacob Weaver, a very

sick man. Sunday morning, preached at the house of J. Fa—

from "It is time that judgment should begin at the house of God"

and in the afternoon the Lion roared wonderfully. A meeting

Monday at the home of a widow whose husband had lately died

but the people seemed cold and lifeless. Tuesday spoke in New-

town from Hebrews XII, 15, and found the Lord present. In

the evening preached in Winchester to a large congregation. Next

day, before returning home, visited two criminals under sentence

of death.  Seemed to make some impression on one but none

on the other.

 

1797

Met Mr. Geeting in Newtown, September 20, and preached in

the evening. Next evening (Thursday) preached at Woodstock

from Revelation III, 19, 20. Friday there was a meeting in New

 

Market, where the Lord was present with saving power.  A meet-

ing at Mr. Steffy’s and lodged with him. Spoke first Saturday

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 55

 

morning at eleven in a three days meeting beginning at Peter

Meyer's in Rockingham. Sunday morning Geeting preached with

remarkable power from, Whosoever will be my disciple let him

take up his cross and follow Me." Exhorted after him and then

followed the Lord's Supper. Candle-light meeting at Mr. Klein’s

several young people prayed for salvation. At the close of the

meeting (on Monday) there was a glorious time, and the people

were so much affected that most of them cried aloud. Tuesday

an appointment with Henry Geeting, son of George, and lodged

with Mr. Brunk. Wednesday morning preached to a large assembly

in a schoolhouse near Shenandoah River, and then rode to the

home of a relative who entertained me in a very friendly way

but cared very little about religion. Thursday, preached at a

widow's to a sympathetic congregation that included two German

Baptist preachers. Friday, visited Mr. Zehrung in Woodstock

and then rode to John Funkhouser's, staying there all night. Next

day a sacramental meeting began in Frederick county. The people

were uncommonly affected. An aged man came forward with tears

trickling down his cheeks. Monday evening preached from Psalm I.

 

1798

August 10, an uncommonly warm day with a torrential rain

after crossing the Potomac. Lost my path in the woods and

had no other light than the occasional flashes from another thun-

derstorm. Got off my horse and prayed for protection. On rising

from my knees, I saw the path only a few yards away, and soon

reached the house of Mr. Ambrose, where I dried my clothes and

had a comfortable rest. The next day was Saturday and a sacra-

mental meeting began here. Christian Crum and Dr. Senseny

preaching with power. Among the seekers was a native of Ger-

many, who praised God he had come to America, and to a people

from whom he had learned the way of salvation. The people

around here generally poor but concerned for the salvation of their

souls. Sunday great many people were present. Monday, rode

to Warm Springs (Berkeley Springs) and crossed to Hancock, Md.

Wednesday, September 26, stayed with my daughter, Mrs. Jacob

Hess near Martinsburg. Next morning preached at Bucklestown

and at night at Winchester. Friday evening preached at Millers-

town to a little flock. Saturday, spoke first in a sacramental meet-

ing with warmth and feeling. Preached at eleven, and after the

sacrament exhorted in English. Monday, visited an uncle and

aunt on Linville, and rode on lodging with Henry Huber. Tues-

day morning preached at the widow Brunk's and lodged at Mr.

Grove's. Wednesday evening, spoke in a schoolhouse, and at night

at the widow Kegis' on Smith Creek. Thursday, preached at Mr.

Meiles', a few miles from Millerstown, and the next day came

to John Funkhouser's. Saturday, October 6, a sacramental meet-

 


 

56 UNITED BRETHREN

 

ing at Abraham Niswander's near Middletown. Felt so stripped

of all grace that I did not know what to say, but at night there

was a glorious time. Sunday I spoke after Geeting. and next day

preached at Henry Crum's. At this meeting a Quaker sister was

moved by the Spirit and gave an exhortation and prayer with

astonishing power.

 

1799

Wednesday, May 1, the first appointment at Henry Crum's.

Next day attempted to speak after Geeting at Jacob's church in

Frederick county, but because of a leg bruised by a falling crow-

bar, I had to desist, and Friday I had to stay at Crum's starting

home Saturday.

 

Thursday, July 25, preached in Winchester, and Friday came

unexpectedly upon a meeting held by Henry Crum, after whom I

spoke to an attentive audience. Then rode with Crum to Stovers-

town (Strasburg), visiting old Mr. Stauffer, a man of 83. Preached

next morning at Jacob Funkhouser's. Sunday, preached to a little

flock in the old church at Woodstock, and at night held a class-

meeting at Zehrung's. Monday, reached Henry Geeting's. His

house was struck by lightning a few days ago, but no one injured

although the whole family were inside. Next morning preached

at Andrew Kauffman's, and in the afternoon at the house of Mr.

Renker, a justice of the peace. Wednesday morning preached at

Stony Creek, and in the evening at Niswander's, where there was

a small but attentive congregation. Thursday, preached at Jacob

Funkhouser's on Mill Creek and lodged at S. Peter's in Rocking-

ham. Friday morning preached here to as many people as the

room would hold, and put up with Mr. Brunk in Brock's Gap.

Saturday, arrived at George Homan's where a great multitude

were assembled for a sacramental meeting. Sunday afternoon I

spoke from Hebrews II:3. Geeting and Strickler were here on the

whole we had a blessed time. Tuesday preached at Christian

Kauffman's. Wednesday I lodged with Mr. Weber and next day

reached Niswander's, whence I rode with Geeting to Winchester

and was the guest of Mr. Kurtz. Friday morning I went into a

drugstore to purchase some medicine. The druggist then took

me into an adjoining room, called the family together, and re-

quested me to hold family worship, which I did. Among those

present was an intelligent young man, a son of the Rev. Mr. Hinkle.

After breakfast I went with Geeting to visit Dr. Senseny, who

had been taken very ill. Nine miles beyond we held a meeting

at Mr. Sweyer's and then went to Ambrose's, where a two-day

meeting had been appointed. Saturday the assemblage was so

large that I could not see how so many people could live in such

a mountainous region. Sunday, a Methodist brother preached

in English.

 


 

57 CHURCH HISTORY

 

1800

 

Thursday, August 7, Geeting and myself had an appointment

at Shepherdstown. Friday I lodged with Mr. Duckwald, and

Saturday began a meeting on Sleepy Creek, which lasted through

Sunday. Monday I preached at Berkeley Springs and stayed with

Mr. Grammer.

 

Monday, September 1, came to Christian Crum's where a great

congregation assembled the following day. Father Boehm preached

first, and at night with great power at Dr. Senseny's in Winchester.

A Methodist followed him in English. Thursday there was a

meeting at Niswander's, the people being very attentive.

preached at A. Boehm's and was followed by Henry Boehm.

day a meeting at Jacob Funkhouser's, and visited old Mr. Yager

at Woodstock. Father Boehm preached here in the church. I rode

on to Rhinehart's and preached there, speaking Saturday at the

widow Kegis'. Sunday, Father Boehm preached in German, and

his son Henry followed in English. The grace of God seemed

visible in almost every countenance. The people were so reluctant

to go away that we prayed once more for them. I rode with Henry

Boehm to Mr. Bender's, where we preached but to all appearance

without any effect. Monday morning we came to the home of

John Peters, where a houseful of people were already gathered.

Myself and the Boehms preached. At the close the people would

not leave, so we began again and prayed with them. Rode thence

to Homan's, where many young people had collected, and whom

Father Boehm exhorted. Tuesday morning a great many people

gathered within a short time. I spoke after Father Boehm. The

whole, congregation shed tears and we had to break away to go

to the next appointment, leaving them praying. Mr. Strickler had

come as a guide to his home, 16 miles distant. Passing into Rock-

ingham we visited Mr. Welsh, a Methodist preacher and most

excellent man. There was a great crowd Wednesday. Father

Boehm, following me, had not spoken long until several persons

rose to their feet, striking their hands and shouting in an ecstasy

of joy. The evening meeting lasted till midnight and the house

could not hold all who were present. Thursday we rode to Peter

Biber's in Augusta, where I preached and was followed by Father

Boehm, but the word seemed to make little or no impression. Fri-

day we came into Staunton, where we called on Mr. King, a

sincere and affectionate Methodist preacher, took some refresh-

ments, and then rode on to Christian Hess', where we lodged. A

great meeting began Saturday at Henry Mengen's. I addressed a

large audience and was followed by King and Henry Boehm.

After Boehm had spoken a few words, the power of God seemed

to pervade the whole congregation. There was prayer and class

meeting at night. Parents shouted for joy to see their children

 


 

58 UNITED BRETHREN

 

converted to God. Father Boehm was followed by King Sunday

morning. After a sacramental service we rode to Mr. Harr's,

where I was followed by King in English, but nothing would

touch these people. Monday we returned to Staunton, dined

with King, and rode on 17 miles to one Widore's, where Father

Boehm spoke with wonderful power to a great many people.

Tuesday morning, Henry Boehm and myself preached at Zimmer-

man's in Keezletown. We went on 16 miles to John Peters',

where Father Boehm spoke to a numerous congregation. Wed-

nesday we preached at Mr. Harshbarger's, and lodged with Chris-

tian Fori at Massanutten. He does not seem concerned about

religion. Thursday morning Henry Boehm preached in English

in an old church near by. Many accompanied us after the meet-

ing and we had to tear ourselves away. Some rode with us across

Three Top Mountain. We passed the night at Mt. Stover's, and

reached Woodstock next day, where Father Boehm preached the

funeral sermon for a Mr. Grove, using this text: "Set thy house

in order, for thou shalt die and not live." At John Funkhouser's

I preached from Romans VHI, 17. Saturday a sacramental meet-

ing began at Niswander's in the open air. I was followed by Crum.

At night I preached at Senseny's and met the class. Sunday, Sep-

tember 21, I delivered an opening discourse to a vast multitude,

but the word had not the desired effect. I preached in the after-

noon, and was followed by Henry Boehm, who made some im-

pression. We had to leave them to meet an appointment at the

Methodist church in Winchester. Father Boehm spoke first and

in German. Henry Boehm and myself followed in English. There

was a blessed time. Lodged with Mr. Lauck. Monday I passed

through Shepherdstown on my way home, lodging with John

Mumma.

 

1801

Sunday, August 2, I heard Enoch George, a powerful speaker,

preach in Shepherdstown. (George was a Methodist bishop.)

August 26 I was told by Bishop Whatcoat (Methodist) in Hagerstown

that at different places in America powerful revivals had taken

place. Next day I reached Berkeley Springs, lodging with Mr.

Kremer. The second day (Friday) a blessed meeting at Duck-

wait's began. Saturday it was protracted till late. Sunday I

spoke in both languages and went home with a Mr. Frosh. Monday

crossed North Mountain to Martinsburg, stopping for a lunch at

Mr. Winter's on Back Creek.

 

1802

 

A sacramental meeting begins Saturday, June 12, at Jacob

Funkhouser's in Shenandoah, Otterbein delivering the first sermon.

Eight were converted at night at Christian Funkhouser's. Sunday

there was a great congregation, Otterbein speaking first — from

 


 

CHURCH HISTORY 59

 

Daniel VII: 13, 14. I cannot but be always astonished and lost in

amazement at the power and energy with which this old servant

of God declares the counsel of his Master. The people were very

attentive. We rode on to Niswander's and tarried. Otterbein

preached at Newtown on Monday. At night I spoke in the Metho-

dist meeting house and lodged with Mr. Bush. Tuesday Otter-

bein preached in the Reformed church at Winchester. At night

we heard Enoch George and Quinn, the Methodist brethren. Wed-

nesday Otterbein preached again and I followed him.

 

Thursday, August 26, I came to John Miller's in Berkeley, and

at the Springs next day met the English brethren (Methodists),

Mitchell and Pitts. Saturday, Geeting, Crum, Geisinger, and Sen-

seny arrived before me at a sacramental meeting at J. M.'s, many

bringing their children for baptism. I baptized a child belonging to

an English lady, using the English language. (Newcomer only

means that he used the English language). Lodged at J. Funk's.

 

Wednesday, October 13, preached at Christian Crum's, next

morning at Dr. Senseny's in Winchester, and at night to a large

congregation in the Methodist church at Newtown. Friday, Geet-