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Full text of "History of the Central conference Mennonite church [microform]"

CLbe University of CbicaQO 
IGibravies 




. ...HISTORY 

' ' 



of the 



CENTRAL CONFERENCE MENNONITE CHURCH 



William B. Weaver, M. A. 



Published by the Author. 



Danvers, Illinois. 
1926 



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Copyright, 1927 
by William B. Weaver 



THIS VOLUME IS DEDICATED 
TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE 

OF THE 
CENTRAL CONFERENCE MENNONITE CHURCH. 



PREFACE 

Since 1922, when the writer became pastor of the North 
Danvers Mennonite Church, he has been interested in the writ- 
ing of a history of the Central Conference of Mennonites. The 
occasion for writing it was presented when a thesis was re- 
quired for the Masters' Degree at Northwestern University. 
After the writing of the thesis, the writer was urged by a num- 
ber of Conference leaders to enlarge the work and publish it 
as the history of the Central Conference. 

To write the hitsory of the Central Conferencce Mennonite 
Church was difficult because the written sources of information 
were very meager. These Mennonites, as well as all others, 
have not been very much concerned in the past about the 
recording of their activities. They were a rural people. At 
first their congregations were self-governing and independent 
of one another. They were not very much interested in educa- 
tion in the past, and so there were very few who felt they had 
tjhe ability to write history. It should also be noted that the 
Conference is still young, not having been organized until 1908. 
The Church was more interested in the past years in the devel- 
opment of her activities and the establishment of institutions. 

Although it was difficult Ho get information through writ- 
ten sources, yet the writer was very fortunate in the fact that 
there were quite a large number among the ministry and laity 
now living, who were young people at the time of the birth of 
the Conference. This was the opportune time for writing the 
history of this group. Much information was received through 
private interviews and correspondence with the older members 
of the Conference, both ministry and lahty. 

This history is not a detailed account of the activities and 
institutions of the Church. It serves rather as an outline of 
the history of the Central Conference Mennonite Church. It 
is the hope of the writer that other historians will take up va- 



6 History of Central Conference Mcnnonitc Church 

rious phases of the Conference work and expand it still further. 
The primary interest of the book is not as much to record the 
present activities of the Church, as it is those of the past. It 
is more concerned with origins and the past development and 
growth of the various activities and institutions. 

The writer is indebted to many persons for information, 
criticisms, suggestions and the use of written sources. Many 
of these are mentioned throughout the book. The writer is par- 
ticularly indebted to Mr. C. R. Stmckey, Danvers, Illinois, only 
son of Father Stuckey, founder of the Conference; to Mrs. J. 
S. Augspurger (deceased )the only daughter of Father Stuckey; 
to Rev. Aaron Augspurger, Saybrook, Illinois, a grandson of 
Father Stuckey, who gave valuable information in private inter- 
views and also wrote very valuable articles in the Christian 
Evangel and Year Book on the history of the Central Confer- 
ence; to Rev. Emanuel Troyer, the Field Secretary, who kindly 
read^the manuscript and gave critical suggestions; to Rev. L. 
B. Haigh and Rev. William G. Kensinger who furnished valuable 
information concerning the foreign field, and to the older min- 
isters of the various congregations, who so kindly assisted in 
the history of their churches. To all these and others the writer 
is deeply indebted and acknowledges his appreciation. 

Wm. B. Weaver. 

Danvers, Illinois. " - .... 

Dec. 23, 1926. 



INTRODUCTION 

A history of the Mennonites, and more especially of those 
of America, is a task surrounded with many difficulties. But 
few collections of tiheir books exist in America; in many of 
their churches no records have been kept, or have been lost ; 
and many old and valuable papers and records that did exist, 
which would have been the ordinary source of information, have 
been destroyed or lost, not being regarded at the time of any 
value. This is true also of the Central Conference of Mennon- 
ites, as they, too, have been far more concerned about a life of 
service than the recording of their beneficent deeds. 

Bancroft said of the Germans in America: "Neither they 
nor their descendants have laid claim to all that is their due." 
This is attributable partly to language, partly to race instincts 
and hereditary tendencies. Quiet in their tastes, deeply ab- 
sorbed in the peaceful avocations of life, they have permitted 
their more progressive neighbors to deny them a proper place 
even on the historic page. 

Daniel Webster, in one of his speeches said, as if to com- 
mend our kind of notices: "There is still wanted a history 
which shall trace the progress of social life. We still need to 
learn how our ancestors, in their houses, were fed, lodged and 
clothed, and what were their employments. We wish to know 
more of the changes which took place from age to age in the 
lives of the first settlers." 

There is a great need for a history of the Central Confer- 
ence. One reason. why there has been such great loss in the 
Mennonite Church at large, the people did not know their his- 
tory, and the rich heritage which is theirs. Our young people 
need to know the faith, the loyalty, the labor, and sacrifice of 
our Fathers, in building up the new communities and in building 
churches, and their interest in missions, for the promotion of the 
Kingdom of God. 



8 History of Central Conference Mennonlte Church 

Our people ought to know the history of the organization 
of the Conference, the beginning of Missions and the organiza- 
tion of the institutional work of the Church. 

Rev. William B. Weaver, a life long member of the Men- 
nonite Church, is eminently fitted to write a book of this kind. 
A graduate of the Shipshewana High School in the year 1905, 
he taught school for six years and then attended Goshen Col- 
lege where he received his A. B. Degree in 1914. During the 
spring and summer of 1914 he attended Indiana University 
where he majored in history. 

Brother Weaver was licensed to preach in 1913. On Sept. 
14, 1914, he was ordained to the ministry and installed as 
pastor of the Prairie St. Mennonilje Church at Elkhart, Indiana. 

Rev. Weaver became professor of History at Goshen Col- 
lege in the fall of 1914 which position he retained until 1920 
when he became professor of Bible and Church History until 
1922 at which time he took up the pastorate of the Eighth St. 
Church at Goshen for a short period. July 1, 1922, he was called 
to the pastorate of the North Danvers Church which position 
he still holds. During this pastorate, Rev. Weaver studied at 
the Garrett Biblical Institute, majoring in Church History and 
received his Masters' Degree in 1926 from Northwestern Uni- 
versity. 

Rev. Weaver was untiring in his efforts in collecting the 
material for this history, and it should serve as a source of 
inspiration to all Mennonites and especially to the young people 
of the Central Conference. 

Emanuel Troyer, 

Field Secretary of the Central Conference. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

Chapter 

I. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND. (Before the Reforma- 
tion) 1 1 

The Medieval Church H 

Causes of Reformation 14 

II. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND (During the Reforma- 
tion) , 19 

The Anabaptists 20 

III. MENNO SIMON AND MENNONITES 31 

Menno Simon 33 

The Mennonites of Europe 37 

IV. THE AMISH 39 

The Amish of Europe 39 

The Amish of America 40 

Amish Settlements in Central Illinois 43 

V. THE AMISH IN CENTRAL ILLINOIS 1829-1860 45 

Geographic Conditions 45 

Brief History of the Counties . 46 

Early Settlements , 47 

The Pioneer Life 49 

The Church Life : 52 

VI. REV. JONATHAN YODER (Biographical Sketch) 56 

VII. THE YODER CHURCH 1860-1872 60 

The Church House 60 

The Ministers , 61 

The Membership 61 

The Church Activities 62 

The Life of the People , 64 

VIII. REV. JOSEPH STUCKEY (Biographical Sketch) 67 

IX. THE STUCKEY, OR NORTH DANVERS CHURCH 

1872-1898 74 

The New Church House 74 

Ministers 75 

The Church Activities 76 

X. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW CHURCHES 1860- 

1908 78 



CONTENTS (Continued) 

XL THE CENTRAL CONFERENCE MENNONITE 

CHURCH 94 

XII. REV. PETER SCHANTZ (Biographical Sketch) 101 

XIII. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW CHURCHES 1908- 

1913 108 

XIV. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW CHURCHES 1914- 

1926 .- 120 

XV. HOME MISSIONS 132 

Home Mission Committee 132 

General Home Mission Work 133 

Mission Stations '. 137 

XVI. CONFERENCE ACTIVITIES 1 141 

Church Conferences 141 

Ministerial Association 143 

Christian Workers Conference and Institutes '..... 145 

Sunday School Conferences 1.... 148 

XVII. CONFERENCE ACTIVITIES - 151 

Christian Endeavor Union 151 

Publication Work ...: , 153 

Ladies Aid Societies !... . 156 

Central Mennonite Board of Home arid Foreign Missions 158 

XVIII. COOPERATIVE ACTIVITIES 161 

The Spirit of Cooperation 161 

Foreign Missions 163 

Old Peoples Home 173 

XIX. COOPERATIVE ACTIVITIES 175 

Hospital 175 

Education 178 

Bluffton College 179 

Witmarsum Seminary ., 181 

Relief Work ; 183 

All-Mennonite Convention 184 

Young People's Retreat 185 

XX. DOCTRINES OF THE CHURCH 187 

XXI. THE FUTURE OF THE CHURCH 193 

XXII. BIOGRAPHIES OF MINISTERS 199 

SUPPLEMENT 240 

BIBLIOGRAPHY 252 



HISTORY 
of 

The Central Conference Mennonite Church 



CHAPTER I. 

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND BEFORE THE 
REFORMATION 

The Central Conference Mennonite Church, in common 
with all Mennonites, has its origin in the Anabaptist movement 
of Europe at the time of the religious reformation of the six- 
teenth century. The historical background of this church 
involves a discussion of the rise and development of Anabap- 
tism in Europe, particularly in Holland; the organization of 
the 'peaceful Anabaptists by Menno Simon; the division of the 
Mennonite Church in Switzerland in 1693 into the Amish and 
Mennonite groups ; the migration of the Amish to America, par- 
ticularly to Central Illinois. 

THE MEDIEVAL CHURCH 

As stated above, the Amish and Mennonites originated from 
the religious group in the sixteenth century, called Anabap- 
tists. The Anabaptist movement was a reaction from the abso- 
lutism and ecclesiasticism of the Roman Catholic Church of 
the Middle Ages. Some have even attempted to trace the 
origin of the Anabaptists and Mennonites back to the days of 
the Apostles. It is true that the Anabaptists and later the 
Mennonites held religious views that were very similar to the 
teachings of the early Christian Church. Because of these facts 
it is well to trace briefly the history of the church to the time 



12 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

of the Reformation and also to study the various influences that 
helped to bring about the Anabaptist movement. 

The church of the Middle Ages was a product of the histor- 
ical growth and development of the early Christian Church. 
There is a great difference between -the church in the days of 
Paul and the days of Gregory VII, Innocent III and Boniface 
VIII, although there is an historical continuity between the two 
churches. The early Christian Church the first one hundred 
years was very simple in its worship and organization. The 
power of a resurrected Christ and His immediate Second 
Coming served as an incentive to great missionary activity. 
The Church developed no creed nor complex organization. 
In the second period of her history from 100 to 313 A. D. 
the church developed a close organization and formulated 
a definite creed. She was compelled to do this because 
of the inroads made by heresy and the persecutions of the 
Roman Government. This development of creed and organ- 
ization continued until about 590 A. D. when the bishop of Rome 
had gained so much power that he came to be recognized as the 
Pope (Papa) of the Catholic or Universal Church. A very sig- 
nificant event in the history of the Christian Church from the 
standpoint of its temporal power came in 800 A. D. when Pope 
Leo III placed a crown on the head of the Frankish King 
Charles and he became Emperor Charlemagne, the head of the 
Holy. Roman Empire. This Empire had two great powers, the 
Church and State. The church now became interested in poli- 
tical control and the history of the Empire from 960 A. D. to 
1519 A. D. is a conflict between Pope and Emperor for suprem- 
acy. The Christian Church left her former simple faith, sim- 
ple organization and worship, and became a great religious, eco- 
nomic, political institution with a definite formulated creed and 
hierarchical sacerdotal system. The church now came to look 
upon Christianity more as a matter of creeds and rites than 
spirit and conduct. The center of her worship became the cele- 
bration of her mass. Dr. Hulme says, "Instead of the spiritual 
and moral emphasis she had gradually built up a most com- 



Historical Background Before the Reformation 13 

prehensive and with regard to its fundamental dogmas a well 
articulated system of belief. For her creed she has claimed 
absolute authority. She alone was the interpreter to man of 
the Will and Word of God. Seven sacraments, namely bap- 
tism, confirmation, holy eucharist, penance, extreme unction, 
ordination and matrimony had been instituted for the salvation 
of man; they were indispensable to his spiritual life. Thus the 
laity were absolutely dependent upon the priesthood for the 
nourishment of their religious life. She had come to be not 
only a religious guide but also a great juristic, economic insti- 
tution." 1 The enthusiasm, fervor and missionary spirit of the 
early church gave way to an ascetic ideal which is well described 
by John Addington Symonds: "During the Middle Ages man 
had lived undeveloped in a cowl. He had not seen the beauty 
of the world or had seen it only to cross himself and turn aside, 
to tell his beads and pray. Like St. Bernard traveling along the 
shores of Lake Leman and noticing neither the azure of the 
waters nor the luxuriance of the vines nor the radiance of its 
mountains with their robe of sun and snow, but bending a 
thought burdened forehead over the neck of the mule even 
like this, monk, humanity had passed, a careful pilgrim, intent 
on the terrors of sin, death and judgment along the highways 
of the world and had scarce known that they were sightworthy 
or that life was a blessing. Beauty is a snare, pleasure a sin, 
the world a fleeting show, man fallen and lost, death the 
only certainty ; -ignorance is acceptable to God as a proof of 
faith and submission; abstinence and mortification are the only 
safe rule of life, these were the fixed ideas of the ascetic medieval 
church." 2 

The two fundamental institutions that affected the lives of 
the people in the medieval period were feudalism and the church. 
As a result of these two institutions we find at the time of the 
Reformation a peasantry ignorant, superstitious, poor, with lack 
of initiative, burdened and helpless. The spirit of individuality 

* Hulme, Renaissance and Reformation, p. 56. 

2 - Symonds, Short History of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 5. 



14 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

was lost through the oppression of state and church. "The indi- 
vidual who tried to burst his bonds, the baron who revolted, 
the tribune who agitated for liberty, the unbelieving doctor, the 
heretical monk or the cathari were crushed. All through the 
Middle Ages man knew himself only as a member of a family, 
a race, a party, a guild or a church. He was for the most part 
unconscious of himself as an individual." 3 The individual was 
subservient in social and economic affairs to the feudal lord and 
in individual conscience to the external authority of the church. 

CAUSES OF REFORMATION 

The causes for the Reformation can be quite easily classi- 
fied into two groups ; the causes that came from the Catholic 
Church itself and those that are apart from the church. The 
former discussion revealed the fact that the early Christian 
Church developed into a Catholic Church of formalism and dog- 
matism. As the church grew in political and economic power 
she lost much of her spiritual power. Her clergy became lords 
who were more interested in large estates than men's souls. 
The spiritual minded men rather took themselves to the mon- 
asteries where they fostered the ascetic life. A great deal of 
worldliness and immorality came into the church. The three 
great sins of "Simony", "Nicolaitanism" and lay investure became 
very prominent. Various attempts at reform were made by 
various monastic orders such as the Cluniac reform movement 
but in spite of these reforms the church became very worldly 
and began to wane rapidly in power. Thus by corruption and 
formalism in the church and her conflict with the state she lost 
her power to the extent that men and religious groups became 
bold in their criticism of her position and life. 

The causes apart from the church that brought about the 
Reformation were the Renaissance and the Reformers' before 
the Reformation. The Renaissance as a movement in Europe 
was the most important influence in paving the way for the 



3. Bourne, The Revolutionary Period of Europe, p. 61. 



Historical Background Before the Reformation 15 

Reformation. But the Renaissance had its antecedents. There 
is no movement of the Middle Ages that had as much to do in 
'bringing about the Renaissance as the Crusades. These were 
armed pilgrimages to the Holy Land by the people of Medieval 
Europe to drive out "the infidel", the Mohammedan power out 
of the Holy Land. Although this was entirely a church move- 
ment, yet it weakened the power of the church. Crusades 
meant for the masses in many cases their freedom. Many of 
the bishops and lords never returned from the crusades, thus 
weakening the feudal system and strengthening the lower 
classes. The crusades also brought the ignorant, superstitious, 
dogmatic, 'medieval man with his implicit faith, in touch with 
a new world, new people and new ideas. This broadened his 
mental horizon. It also stimulated commerce which gave rise 
to a middle class who wanted freedom and democratic govern- 
ment. All these influences struck vitally at the very heart of 
feudalism and the dogmatism and external authority of the 
church. By 1300 a new revival, material and intellectual, 
appeared so the latter part of the Middle Ages became a period 
of increased activity and progress. This gave rise to .a great 
awakening of human spirit and the revival of classic culture 
known as Renaissance. . 

The Renaissance meant a reawakening, a rebirth, a recov- 
ery of the freedom of thought. It was a revival of the. spirit 
of individuality and nationality. It. expressed itself in different 
forms in different countries. In Italy it was expressed in liter- 
ature and art; in France in education; in Spain a reformation 
within the Catholic Church; in Germany in religion. In con- 
trast with the medieval spirit described in the quotation of Dr. 
Symonds where the individual was considered as part of a 
pocial group the Renaissance emphasized the fact "I am a 
man. I have rights and liberties. It's worth while living in 
this world." The Christian phase of the Renaissance expressed 
itself in the study of the early Church Fathers, study of Greek 
ancl Latin, especially a comparison of Greek and Latin ver- 
sions of the Scripture This intensive study led in time to the 



16 History of Central Conference- Mennonite Church 

questioning of some of the customs and doctrines of the medie- 
val church and so had an important bearing on the Reforma- 
tion. In conclusion it might be said that the Renaissance placed 
the emphasis on this present life, sacredness of the individual,- 
historical and scientific method of study and an encouragement 
of inventions such as the printing press. It is not difficult to 
see how this movement prepared the minds of the people for 
such teachings as were given by the Anabaptist leaders. 

Another cause for the Reformation apart from the church 
was the work of men who were imbued with the reform spirit 
even before the time of the Renaissance and Reformation. 
Among these many reformers should be mentioned Abelard, 
Arnold of Brescia, Petrarch, Wycliff, Huss, Lefevre and 
Erasmus. Just a few brief statements of the contribution of 
these men must suffice. Abelard (1079-1142) stimulated inves- 
tigation. He believed both in reason and faith. He said these 
two are not antagonistic but faith is above reason. His great 
contribution to the reformation was the fact that he encour- 
aged research inscead of an unthinking adherence to tradition 
and authority. Arnold of Brescia (1155) attacked the rich- 
es and temporal power of the church. Through his influ- 
ence people agitated for political and religious freedom. 
Petrarch (1304-1374) has been called the first modern man. 
He emphasized the importance and beauty of this life. His 
contribution to the Reformation was his emphasis on the indi- 
vidual ; his method of work, which is observation, investigation 
and reason. Dr. Hulme says: "Up to Petrarch the world was 
essentially medieval. It is with him that the modern world 
begins." 4 John Wycliff (1320-1384) opposed the worldliness 
and corruption of the clergy and monks of the church. He also 
attacked the doctrines of the church, especially the holy euchar- 
ist. He translated the Bible into the English language from 
the Vulgate. Perhaps, the greatest contribution of Wycliff is that 
he created a demand in England for a religious reformation. 
The lasting impressions of Wycliff, however, were not in Eng- 

4. Dr. Hulme, Renaissance and Reformation, p. 81.. 



Historical Background Before the Reformation 17 

land but rather in Bohemia where his views were accepted by 
John Huss (1369-1413). Huss preached that every Christian is 
a priest and that the sacraments of the church were n.ot essen- 
tially necessary to salvation. The particular contribution of 
Lefevre (1450-1536) was the translation of the Scriptures. He 
accompanied his translations with introductions in which he 
stated his beliefs. In these introductions he advocated a restor- 
ing of primitive Christianity and the sole authority of the Scrip- 
tures. 

The last of this list of reformers and perhaps the greatest 
one is Erasmus (1455-1536). He was the incarnation of 
Humanism. While receiving his training in a school in Dev- 
enter he came in touch with the teachings of the Brethren of 
the Common Life. He has often been called the man of 
Europe because of his extensive travels throughout Europe. 
He attempted to bring about a reformation in the 
church in a gradual silent way by the 'process of education. 
Although he was a staunch Catholic he believed that the 
church is worldlv and corrupt becr.use of ignorance. He 
believed that if people would read the Bible and receive knowl- 
edge the church would become simple in 'worship, pure in life 
and return to primitive Christianity. He found a wide gap 
between the simple precepts in the Sermon on the Mount and 
the theological subtleties and sacramental mysteries of his 
church. He said, "What was there in common between popes 
and bishops and Galilean fishermen; bet/ween monastic piety 
and apostolic life." His contribution to the Reformation can 
best be stated in the well known words: "Erasmus laid the 
egg and Luther hatched it": that is, he presented the idea and 
furnished the material that formed the basis for the reformation. 
Professor Beard says : "the Reformation that has been is 
Luther's monument; pernaps the Reformation that is to be will 
trace itself back to Erasmus." 5 Erasmus' work can best be 
expressed in his own words : "I have raised my voice boldly 
against wars which for so many years have been shaking Chris- 

s - Professor Beard, Hib,bert Lectures on the Reformation, p. 731. 



18 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

tendom; I labored to bring theology, which had degenerated 
into sophisticated niceties, back to its ancient simplicity; I 
taught literature, which before me was almost pagan, to speak 
of Christ ; I have aided in the revived study of languages ; I 
have censured various foolish claims of men; I aroused the 
world sleeping in ceremonies almost Judaic and called it to a 
Christianity more pure, never condemning the ceremonies of 
the church, but showing that which is best." Yet as an imme- 
diate effect Erasmus failed because he attempted the impos- 
sible. Reform had been delayed too long. It required action. 
As one historian says : "The revolution is at hand." 6 

The significance of these men in relation to the Reforma- 
tion is the fact that they stood for two principles which became 
fundamental in the Reformation. First, that the Christianity 
of their day was different from the primitive Christianity and 
that original Christianity must be the ultimate standard. Sec- 
ond, that the right of every individual Christian to study the 
Bible and to reach his own conclusions should be recognized 
by the church." 7 This brief sketch of the historical background 
before the reformation shows that the Reformation was a move- 
ment and grew out of the past. The Anabaptists were sim- 
ply a part of that larger religious movement of Europe. The 
Crusades, the Renaissance, Humanism and these Reformers 
before the Reformation contributed their part. Professor Hurst 
expresses it well when he says: "The morning never comes 
unheralded. Every great historical movement has antecedents 
those prophetic gleams which tell us that a new day is com- 
ing to the world. The Reformation was no exception to this. 
It had its intellectual preparation humanism and the Renais- 
sance; its moral preparation Savonarola; and its dogmatic 
preparation Wycliff and Huss. Each of these was a mighty 
historical current." 8 



6- Hulme, Renaissance and Reformation, p. 221. 

7 - Adams, Civilization during the Middle Ages, p. 421. 

8 - Hurst, History of the Christian Church, p. 3. 



CHAPTER II. 

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND DURING THE 
REFORMATION. 

The purpose of the preceding chapter was to show some 
of the leading antecedents of the Reformation. As stated before 
the Anabaptist movement out of which Mennonitism.came has 
the same historical antecedents as does the general reformation 
movement. It was noted that because of the absolutism and 
corruption of the church the time was ripe for a revolution. 
On the other hand such movements as the Crusades and the 
Renaissance prepared the minds of the people for the change 
that was to come. Also the fact that the reformers before the 
Reformation through their teachings prepared the way by an 
emphasis on the very principles which became the foundation 
of the Reformation. Professor Hulme describes the situation 
well when he says: "It was the Protestant Revolution that 
drew together all the tentative, inquiring, and struggling move- 
ments for reform, put an end to the dualism which the church 
had established between the claims of the present world and 
those of the future life, and made religion an inner possession, 
the product of personality and the inspiration of the finest 
powers of the individual." 1 These movements were all min- 
gled in the great stream that was slowly gathering force and 
would soon burst into a flood. Each movement became a def- 
inite and permanent factor in bringing to pass the Protestant 
revolution. 

The protest of Martin Luther against an ecclesiastical 
abuse of selling indulgences found immediate response by a 
people who were prepared by these antecedents of the revolution 
and launched the great revolution in the history of the Chris- 
tian Church which is called the Reformation. Martin Luther 
came to his decision to protest against the corruption of the 

* Hulme, Renaissance and Reformation, p. 174. 



20 History of Central Conference Mcnnonite Church 

church through a deep and vital religious experience. This 
religious experience drove him to test the beliefs and institu- 
tions of the church. Faith became to him more than a creed. 
It meant a personal relationship with God. He began to preach 
justification by faith alone. This teaching seemed to the Cath- 
olic Church to be heresy because it discredited works as a basis 
of salvation. The final issue came when on October 31, 1517, 
Luther posted on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg 
his ninety-five theses. Zwingli and Calvin followed later as 
reformers with their emphasis on the symbolic form of com- 
munion and simplicity in church worship. All of these views 
advocated by these reformers had been held before. The time 
was now ripe for a revolution. Anabaptism arose out of this 
same general situation. The Anabaptist leaders felt that Luther 
and Zwingli refused to go all the way. The former substituted 
the authority of the Bible for the authority of the medieval 
church but who shall interpret the Bible? The reformers did 
not see that their position would lead to many interpretations. 
And so you have as a result of the Reformation not only the 
establishment of Lutheran and Calvinistic state churches but 
on the other hand the springing up of multitudinous sects who 
dreamed of establishing a community of saints in the midst 
of an evil world. This was the radical element found in the 
Reformation. The name given to this radical movement is Ana- 
baptism. 

THE ANABAPTISTS 

The Anabaptists or "Wiedertaufer" were a group of rad- 
ical reformers of the sixteenth century who were scattered 
throughout Switzerland, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. 
They arose because of a desire for free religious expression 
and better social conditions in the midst of absolutism and 
ecclesiasticism. One of the first problems that arises in the 
study of the history of this movement is the origin of the Ana- 
baptists. Some have attempted to trace the origin of these 
people back to the days of the apostles. Others believe they 



Historical Background During the Reformation 21 

are the direct descendants of the medieval sect called the Wal- 
denses. Others maintain that they arose as an independent 
group in the Reformation era and were called into being by the 
sixteenth century conditions. All of these sources have been 
taken into consideration in this discussion. It is true there 
were individuals and groups from the days of the apostles to 
the days of the Anabaptists who held views similar to those 
held by the Anabaptists. To trace, however, any historical 
continuity between these various evangelical religious groups 
is a fruitless attempt. Mos't of these religious groups 
were separate from the organized Catholic Church and 
attempted to go back in faith and form of worship to the early 
Christian Church. But no one of these groups, not even the 
Waldenses held all of the views of the Anabaptists. But 
since the Anabaptists attempted in their teachings to go back 
to primitive Christianity it" is important to note a few of these 
groups and their teachings. 

The first distinctly Christian group is Montanism. This 
movement was at its height at the beginning of the third cen- 
tury. It was a reaction from the sacerdotalism and worldliness 
of the organized Christian Church. Their fundamental tenets 
were ascetic life, the power of the Holy Spirit, simple life, adult 
baptism and Chiliasm. Another religious group that opposed the 
organized church was Novatianism. The Novatians protested 
against the relaxation of discipline in the church. Both the Nova- 
tians and the Donatists who followed refused to restore those 
back to church fellowship that had fallen away during the severe 
persecution of Decius and Diocletian. Other religious groups 
that opposed the Catholic Church were the Arians, Ebonites, Jov- 
ianists, Vigilantians, Paulicians and later the Bogomiles. All of 
these religious groups originated from the second to the ninth 
century. From the ninth to the eleventh century very few such, 
religious groups were found. Monasticism seems to have 
anwered the purpose for people who wanted to get away from 
the external observances and the worldliness of the church. 
Also by the Middle Ages the church had acquired great author- 



22 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

ity. The barbarians came into the empire and the clergy became 
spiritual advisers and teachers to the barbarian world. This 
had a tendency to crush individualism and very few radical 
groups arose but as a result of the Crusades came the Renais- 
sance with the growth of mysticism, the revival of letters, the 
resurrection of the Greek and Roman classics, the invention of 
the printing press, the publication of the Greek Testament, the 
general spirit of inquiry and the spirit of personal freedom. 
These influences again gave rise to the religious groups whose 
teachings affected the Anabaptists and later the Mennonites. 

This new spirit that arose is well described by Rev. J. S. 
Coffman, a pioneer evangelist and educator in the Mennonite 
Church who in an address delivered at the exercises held at 
the opening of the first school building of the Elkhart Institute 
said: "The open gospel in the schools of Europe burned the 
truth of Christian piety into the, hearts of learned and noble 
leaders whose moral power and eloquence touched the souls of 
multitudes and kindled a fire which threatened to sweep the 
continent. This was indeed a new birth but not in the sense 
of discovering a new religion. It was simply a bounding forth, 
a broadening out, a wafting on the winds, a moral force whose 
progress had been held in check by the power which closed the 
Bible to the common people, enslaved them to a wily priest- 
craft and gave to the world a thousand years of intellectual and 
moral darkness. This was simply bringing to light the truth 
which had been maintained since the days of Constantine, 
even the time of the apostles by dissenters to the state church. 
These little bands of despised and persecuted Christians were 
sometimes entirely annihilated; and when a few escaped they 
were driven into seclusion among the valleys and mountains, 
rocks and caves of the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the Apennines. 
For many years these pious dissenters were known by a dif- 
ferent name such as Bogomiles, Cathari, Paulicians, Petrobrusi- 
ans, Albigenses and later Waldenses. With them crushed and 
bleeding and despised as they were, slumbered the spirit of 
progress like the dormant fires of an inactive volcano ready to 



Historical Background During the Reformation 23 

burst forth at any unsuspected moment. The time had now 
come. The lull in active persecutions had given time for those 
who served God from a true conscience to take hope. They 
could now look back and rejoice anew with the shepherds on 
the plains of Bethlehem in the birth of the world's Redeemer. 
They could now feel a thrill of joy as they beheld the revival 
of that spirit of progress which had been ushered upon the 
world accompanied by the song of angels proclaiming peace 
on earth, good will to men. The mists were scattering and the 
light which had shown in splendor for a time and had then 
been shrouded for centuries by the cloak of ecclesiasticis-m was 
again brightening the world." 2 

These religious groups from the twelfth century to the time 
of the Reformation again placed the emphasis as had the former 
groups on a return to the New Testament doctrine and prac- 
tise. The Petrobrusians of the twelfth century did not believe 
in infant baptism, sacred crosses nor sacraments. They denied 
and ridiculed good works done by the living for the dead. They 
even rebaptised those that had been baptised as infants thus 
antedating the Anabaptists over three centuries. Of all the 
groups of this period there is perhaps none that had as direct 
an influence on the Anabaptists as the Waldenses. As stated 
before some have even maintained that the Anabaptist move- 
ment grew out of the Waldensian movement. Peter Waldo of 
Lyons was the founder of the Waldenses. He lived in the 
twelfth century. The Waldenses believed in the study of the 
Scriptures, sanctity of life and in zealous efforts to serve men. 
They believed the principle of non-resistance and rejected the 
taking of oaths and capital punishment. Many of their views 
were very similar to those of the Anabaptists. 

In a discussion of the origin of the Anabaptists we can then 
at least conclude that there is a very close relationship between 
the Waldenses and the Anabaptists. Anabaptism arose in a 
number of the communities where the Waldenses were found. 
Professor Newman thinks "It is probable that Peter Waldo 

2 - Coft'man, Spirit of Progress, pp. 7, 8. 



24 History -of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

received his views from former evangelical groups and gave 
them to Bohemian brethren and they to the Anabaptists." 3 
This much can at least be said that the Waldenses form a very 
important source in a study of the history of the Anabaptists, 
The Anabaptists interpreted the new evangelical preaching in 
the light of Waldensian asceticism and from the mystic indif- 
ference to dogma, but also from the Chiliastic and Separatist 
ideals of the Christian life born in an older day. 

But on the other hand there are also reasons to believe 
that there. was very little organic relation betAveen the Wal- 
denses and the Anabaptists. Very few Waldenses joined the 
Anabaptist movement. Practically all the Anabaptist lead- 
ers in the Reformation came either directly or indirectly 
out of the Catholic Church. Dr. C. Henry Smith says: 
"It is certain that there would have been an Anabaptist 
faith, even though there never had been any Waldenses 
or other more or less evangelical sects. All these bodies 
sprang more or less independently from the same source, 
namely, an intensive study of the common man of an accessible 
Bible." 4 The Anabaptists sought an individualism, an interpre- 
tation of truth and spiritual freedom of which the religious 
groups of the Middle Ages had no conception. They arose 
because of a desire for free religious expression and better social 
conditions in the midst of absolutism and ecclesiasticism. They 
were called into being by the general religious unrest and the 
social upheaval of the Reformation era. They were the "ultras" 
of the Reformation. The spirit of revolution was all around. 
The fact that Luther and Zwingli refused to go all the way 
gave ground for these radical movements. This was aided by 
the spread of humanism, the wide circulation of the Scripture, 
the art of printing and the spirit of toleration. We might finally 
conclude then that the Anabaptist movement of the sixteenth 
century had its roots in the evangelical life and thought of the 
religious groups of the Middle Ages 'but the movement was 

3 - Newman, History of Anti-Pedo Baptism, p. 43. 

4- Smith, The Mennonites. p. 43. 



Historical Background During the Reformation 25 

called forth by the religious unrest and the social upheaval of 
the time. 

Another difficult problem in a discussion of the history 
of the Anabaptists is to describe the movement because the 
term Anabaptism was applied indiscriminately to all who were 
peculiar and were neither Catholic nor Protestant and there were 
so many sects ranging from the quiet peaceful Anabaptists to 
the most radical and fanatic Chiliasts who would establish the 
kingdom by the sword. On the other hand the movement is 
complicated because it developed from two sources; the social 
stream which resulted in the revolt of the peasants, and the 
religious succession of the brethren. 

The Anabaptist movement began in Switzerland. Social 
uprisings had taken place in Switzerland as early as 1475. Small 
groups of religious people upholding some of the views of the 
Anabaptists were found in Switzerland from 1300-1500. His- 
tory records that these "praying communities" were in Basel by 
1514; throughout Switzerland by 1515; in Mainz and Augsburg 
by 1518. These praying circles were found in France, Nether- 
lands, Saxony, Franconia, Strassburg and Bohemia by 1524. 
These people called themselves the brethren. Their teaching 
served as good soil for the growth of Anabaptism. Dr. Jones, 
after describing a few of these diverse types of heresy as he 
calls them, says : "From the year 1200 these heresies grew like 
mushrooms in all Christian lands and could not be exterminated 
by fire, or force or inquisition." 5 In a dispute held in 1523 
between the Catholics and Zwingli, there was an uneducated 
man, Simon Stumpf, pastor at Hongg, who declared at this dis- 
putation that the spirit of God must decide all matters of dif- 
ference and each individual must interpret the Bible for him- 
self. Here is already found the germ of Anabaptist teaching. 

The earliest movement which directly introduced Anabap- 
tism . Avas the Zwickau prophets. The three most important 
leaders of this movement were Nicholas Storch, Thomas Mun- 
zer and Marcus Stubner. These men were not Anabaptists but 

5 - Jones, The Church's Debt to Heretics, p. 183. 



26 History of Central Conference Mennonlte Church 

they had a very great influence on the early Anabaptist leaders 
of Switzerland. It might be said that these Zwickau prophets 
received their views from the Bohemian brethren and handed 
them on to the early Anabaptists. They left their home in 
southern Saxony and came to Wittenberg, a university town, 
where many men of different views had nocked together. The 
two leading teachers in this university were Philip Melanchthon 
and Carlstatt. Melchanthon was a humanist and did more than 
anyone else in infusing the humanistic element into the religious 
revolutionary movement in Germany. Carlstatt was a man of 
learning, a mystic and a radical. Some of these Wittenberg 
leaders and Zwickau prophets came to Switzerland and there 
taught their religious views. These men believed that infant 
baptism must be abandoned, that God revealed Himself in pres- 
ent visions and prophetic inspirations which had a higher 
authority than the letter of the Bible. They condemned learn- 
ing and claimed that the wisdom of God was hid from the 
learned and revealed to the ignorant. They prided themselves 
on an inner life and preached a millennial kingdom. These 
leaders were largely responsible for the peasant insurrection in 
1525. The teachings of these men had a very decided effect 
on the Anabaptists. 

Aside from the general spirit of unrest in Europe and the 
coming of the Zwickau prophets to Switzerland there is another 
cause for the rise of Anabaptism. In 1522 Huldreich Zwingli 
began his reformation in Switzerland. He abolished the mass, 
allowed the marrying of priests, held his services in German 
and taught the symbolic form of communion. Switzerland was 
prepared for Zwingli in the fact that humanism had spread over 
this country, they had local self government and developed a 
hatred for the absolutism of the church. But as with Luther 
so with Zwingli, he did not go far enough to satisfy some of 
the more radical leaders. Zwingli wanted a state church.- He 
wanted to reform the old church and tolerated all members 
who had held membership in the old church. This did not 
satisfy the more radical leaders. They wanted a church free 



Historical Background During the Reformation 27 

from the state which should be of believers only. Such men as 
Balthasar Hubmeier, a preacher in Waldshut and Carlstatt 
.who had come from Wittenberg urged more radical reforms. 
They began to doubt infant baptism and by 1524 such men as . 
Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, George Blaurock and Wilhelm 
Reublin came to the same conclusion. By the middle of Decem- 
ber, 1524, these men began rebaptizing. George Blaurock was 
baptized by Conrad Grebel and he in turn baptized others. 

The real movement of Anabaptism, however, arose as a 
result of public debates held on infant baptism in 1525. These 
debates were held in January, March and June of this year. 
Soon after these debates the civil authorities ordered all chil- 
dren to be baptized. The Anabaptists refused and as a result 
persecution of the Anabaptists began. The reason these people 
were called Anabaptists or "Wiedertaufers" is because they 
emphasized the re-baptizing of individuals. This was not a new 
doctrine. Peter Debruys in the beginning of the twelfth cen- 
tury did not believe in infant baptism and the Petrobrusians 
re-baptized those that had been baptized as infants. In 1467 
the Bohemian brethren re-baptized all of their members. After 
the first disputation held in January, 1525, all children were to 
be baptized within eight days. The Anabaptists refused and 
were persecuted. Second disputation was held March 20, 1525. 
As a result of this disputation the Anabaptists were imprisoned 
and fed on bread and water until they should be willing to give 
up. Grebel, Manz and Blaurock escaped by a rope. The third 
disputation was held June 5, 1525. As a result many Anabap- 
tists were, thrown into prison. From 1525 to 1535 the perse- 
cutions were very severe and many of the Swiss Anabaptists 
were exterminated. They were thrown into boiling water, 
burned at the stake and thrown into rivers. These Anabaptists 
were not entirely a group of ignorant and fanatical people. Con- 
rad Grebel was a member of an eminent patrician family of 
Zurich, Felix Manz was a scholarly Hebraist, the son of a Zurich 
Canon; Carlstatt was a teacher in Wittenberg University and 
Hubmaier was a professor in Ingolstatt University. 



28 History of Central Conference Mcnnonite Church 

Because of persecution many of the Anabaptists left Swit- 
zerland and fled to Southern Germany. Here again they were 
persecuted and fled to Northern Germany. There were two 
very noted results of these persecutions. In the first place it 
made the movement spread very rapidly and in the second place 
people became more radical and fanatical. This constant per- 
secution made them despair of any hope in this world and led 
them to the expectancy of a speedy coining of Christ and the 
establishment of a millennial kingdom on earth. The Miinster 
revolution in Northern Germany is a result of this fanaticism. 
Dr. Dosker says: "The sheep were without a shepherd, and 
hundreds of them preferred exile and a foreign home to the 
hopeless memories of the past and the dreary outlook for the 
future. Can we wonder that in this night of gloom, the star 
of chiliastic expectations began to twinkle; that what little of 
Munzerisrn had found lodgment in the hearts of the Anabaptists 
should now assert itself in a violent reaction against the unbear- 
able conditions under which they lived? By 1530 the fate of the 
upper German Anabaptists was settled. Torn asunder, scat- 
tered, all but annihilated, the surviving brethren led a pitiable 
life. In remote corners, under the shadows of the forest and in 
the dead of night, the survivors met in sad conventicles and in 
sorrowful commemoration kept alive the names of those who 
had died for a common cause." 6 

As the Anabaptist movement went from Southern Germany 
to Northern Germany it became an extremely radical movement. 
Persecution led to this radicalism. The fruitage is seen in the 
Miinster revolution. This revolution was from 1533-1535. It 
stands between the rise of Anabaptism in Switzerland and the 
organization of the peaceful Anabaptists in the Netherlands. It 
changed the whole course of Anabaptist history. The early 
leader of this movement was Melchior Hoffman. In 1529 Hoff- 
man became an Anabaptist in Strassburg and began to claim 
prophetic inspiration. He opposed the incarnation of Christ 
and taught a visible reign of Christ. He was expelled from 



Dosker, The Dutch Anabaptists, pp. 39, 40. 



Historical Background During the Reformation 29 

Strassburg because of his radical teaching and fled to Holland. 
Here he taught Anabaptist views which later influenced peace- 
.ful Anabaptists of Friesland who became Mennonites. He 
returned to Strassburg having received a vision that Strassburg 
was to be the new Jerusalem where he as the prophet should 
suffer imprisonment six months and then the end of the world 
would come and all who opposed him and his people should be 
destroyed. He went to Strassburg with this hope and was 
imprisoned which he interpreted as the beginning of the mil- 
lennial reign. He died in prison in 1543 and his kingdom went 
to pieces. But Hoffman's apocalyptic preaching won converts 
in Netherlands and in Minister. In Netherlands Jan Mathys, a 
baker of Harlem, accepted Hoffman's views and called himself 
the prophet Enoch and spread a fanatic propaganda through 
the Netherlands and Northern Germany. Mathys believed that 
the kingdom of God should be inaugurated by force. Strassburg 
was now rejected because of the many unbelievers and Miinster 
was selected as the new Jerusalem. Mathys sent John of Ley- 
den in 1534 to become the leader in Miinster. Mathys came 
soon after and made himself the ruler. Anabaptists fled to this 
city from all directions and the city came entirely under the 
control of these radicals. Polygamy was established and com- 
munism was introduced. All those that opposed this organiza- 
tion were called godless and were killed. These fanatical chili- 
astic people held control of the city for two years. The bishop 
of Miinster aided by Catholic and Lutheran troops besieged the 
city and captured it on June 24, 1535. The leaders were killed 
and many of the Anabaptists. Some of them, however, fled to 
the Netherlands. 

The effects of this tragedy were very unfortunate for the 
whole group of Anabaptists. Persecutions became most severe. 
The sincere and honest Anabaptists were killed as well as the 
radicals. Thousands of the Anabaptists, innocent of any par- 
ticipation in the Miinster revolution, even abhorring it, yet on 
account of having the same name received the same condem- 
nation. The Anabaptists of Switzerland and Germany con- 



30 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

demned the Munsterites very severely. Many in Northern Ger- 
many and the Netherlands bitterly denounced these fanatics 
and retained their peaceful non-resistance. Yet even today 
many people judge the whole Anabaptist movement by this 
radical millennial group. 

The Anabaptist movement now went to the Netherlands. 
The Netherlands was prepared for the coming of the Anabap- 
tists in the fact that in 1524 the Bible was translated into the 
Dutch language; the teachings of the Waldenses and the breth- 
ren of the common life were promulgated and in 1532 and 1533 
Melchior Hoffman had traveled through Friesland, making 
many disciples. Netherlands was under the control of Spain and 
Margaret of Austria was the governor. Under her rule the new 
doctrines of the Reformation found ready acceptance and 
Friesland particularly became a refuge for persecuted evangeli- 
cal people. The Bible was circulated and studied. As a result, 
of the work of Hoffman a number of Anabaptists were found 
particularly in Friesland. Dirck and Obbe Phillips and Leonard 
Bouwens of Emden in East Friesland refused to follow the 
radical Anabaptists and became the leaders of the peaceful 
non-resistant Anabaptists of Friesland. Here it was where 
Menno Simon came in touch with the Anabaptist movement. 



CHAPTER III 
MENNO SIMON AND MENNONITES 

The person who did more than anyone else in organizing 
the peaceful Anabajytjgtq ip thg Nptkerlaji^^wa.c; Menno Simon 
from whom the Mennonites received their name. He was born 
in Witmarsum, a small village not far from the sea in Fries- 
land, in the year 1496. Very little is known of his early life 
except that he was trained for the priesthood in the Catholic 
Church. In 1524 at the age of twenty-eight he became a priest 
at Pinjum, a small town not far from Witmarsum. 

There were two experiences in the life of Menno Simon 
that had- much to do with his conversion from a Catholic to 
an Anabaptist. The first was an inward experience. He says 
that while he was officiating as a priest in the communion after a 
year of service the thought came to him that the bread and wine 
in the mass were not the flesh and blood of the Lord. He says : 
"I thought that it was the suggestion of the devil that he might 
lead me off from my faith. I confessed it often sighed and 
prayed yet I could not be free from this thought." 1 Menno 
Simon as many other priests of that day had not read the Scrip- 
tures. He says: "I had not touched them during my life, for 
I feared if I should read them they would mislead me. Behold, 
such a stupid preacher was I for nearly two years." 2 He 
spent his time with two other young men in the ministry in 
playing and drinking. When this experience came to Menno 
in relation to communion he spoke to his pastor but he scoffed 
him. Menno then began to read the New Testament. He 
also read Luther's interpretation of communion. 

The second experience that came to him that changed his 
position was the result of an outward event. In March, 1531, 
a tailor, Sicke Frerichs, was beheaded at Leeuwarden because 
he was rebaptized. This seemed strange to Menno Simon that 

* Menno Simon Complete Works, p. 3. 
2- Ibid, p. 3. 



32 'History of Central Conference Mennonitc Church 

a man should be rebaptized and he began studying infant bap- 
tism. He first searched the Scriptures but could not find any- 
thing concerning infant baptism. He then studied the views 
of other reformers and had personal interviews with Luther 
and Melanchthon in Wittenberg; with Bullinger at Zurich and 
with Bucer at Strassburg. He says that after consulting these 
men and reading the Scriptures he found that they were wrong 
in relation to infant baptism and that the Scripture did not 
teach it. All the reformers had given him different answers. 
Shortly after this experience he went to Witmarsum as a priest. 
Menno describes his experience here the first few years as fol- 
lows: "Covetousness and desire to attain a great name, were 
the inducements which lead me to that place. There I spoke 
much concerning the word of the Lord, without spirituality or 
love, as all hypocrites do, and by this means I made disciples 
of my own stamp, such as vain boasters and light minded bab- 
blers, who, alas like myself, cared but little about these mat- 
ters. Although I had now acquired considerable knowledge of 
the Scriptures, yet I wasted that knowledge through the lusts 
of my youth in an impure, sens'ual, unprofitable life without 
any fruits, and sought nothing but gain, ease, favor of men, 
splendor, reputation and honor, as all generally do who embark 
in the same ship." 3 

In the second year of his ministry at Witmarsum another 
event occurred which made him make his final decision. In 
February, 1535, a party of fanatical Anabaptists, who had 
escaped from Munster, took refuge in the old cloister near 
Menno's home, called "Oude Klooster". Here they were besieged 
and nearly all of them killed. Among those killed was Menno's 
own brother. This made a very deep impression on Menno 
Simon and aroused his conscience. This event seemed to be 
the turning point in Menno's career. He says that before this 
event Anabaptists had come to him and spoken to him con- 
cerning baptism. Some of the Anabaptists in Netherlands were 
led into error by these fanatics from Munster. Menno opposed 



3. Menno Simon, Complete Works, p. 4. 



Men-no Simon and Mennonites 



33 




MENNO SIMON 
1496-1561 



34 History of Central Conference Mennpnite Church 

them very much because they used the sword to defend them- 
selves. But Menno says they were a poor straying flock with- 
out a shepherd and although their blood was shed in error he 
saw that they were zealous and willing to give their lives for 
their doctrines and faith. The crisis in Menno's life as a result 
of this episode can best be stated in his own words : "I thought 
to myself I a miserable man, what shall I do? If I con- 
tinue in this way and live not agreeably to the Word of the 
Lord, according to the knowledge of the truth which I have 
obtained: if I do not rebuke to the best of my limited ability 
the hypocrisy, the impenitent, carnal life, the perverted bap-' 
tism, the Lord's Supper and the false worship of God, which 
the learned teach; if I through bodily fear do not show them 
the true foundation of the truth, neither use all my powers to 
direct the wandering flock, who would gladly do their duty 
if they knew it, to the true pastures of Christ .oh, how shall 
their shed blood, though shed in error, rise against me at the 
judgment of the Almighty, and pronounce sentence against 
my poor and miserable soul/' 4 

He now began to preach repentance. His conversion had 
taken place. He began to instruct the peaceful group of Ana- 
baptists. He took the final step in January, 1536, and openly 
renounced the Catholic Church. One day while he was reading 
the Word of God and writing, a small group of Anabaptist 
leaders came to him and asked him to become their leader or 
bishop. He left his home town and moved to the province of 
Gronningen, where in the early part of 1537 he formally allied 
himself with the Anabaptists. He was baptized at Leeuwarden 
and later ordained to the ministry. This decision of Menno 
Simon to ally himself with the Anabaptists required a great 
deal 'of sacrifice and courage. Dr. Smith says : "To come to this 
decision required no small degree of physical and moral cour- 
age. Unlike Luther, Zwingli and Calvin, all of whom gained 
positions of great power, comfort and influence through their 



4 - Menno Simon, Complete Works, p. 5. 



Menno Simon and Mennonites 35 

separation from Romanism, Menno, by espousing the cause of 
the common people and religious freedom, entered upon a career 
that promised nothing but humiliation, poverty and per- ' 
secution." 5 

Some people hav.e the impression that all of the Ana- 
baptists belonged to the radical, fanatical group as is represented 
by the Miinsterites and that Menno Simon became the leader 
of -this type of Anabaptists, but it should be noted that Menno 
Simon was not in sympathy with the radical chiliastic Anabap- 
tists.' He wrote and preached against their views. He was 
asked to be an elder of a peace-loving, non-resistant group of 
Anabaptists. It must always be remembered that Anabaptism 
was not an organized movement. It was mass movement. 
Dr. Jones says : "Anabaptism was never a single coherent 
clearly organized movement. It lacked form, settled authority 
and corporate wisdom. It was always at the mercy and caprice 
of its local leaders and the conditions which happened to pre- 
vail when and where it emerged. The entire movement suf- 
fered terribly from the blunders of the few, and, as usual the 
world accepted hostile propaganda as though it were truth." 6 
There were about forty different sects of Anabaptists and Menno 
Simon became the leader of the peaceful type.' Professor 
Walker says : The Anabaptist movement itself, especially in 
the Netherlands, came under the wise, peace-loving, anti-fana- 
tical leadership of Menno Simon, to whom its worthy organi- | 
zation was primarily due and from whom the term Mennonite 
is derived." 7 

Menno's work as an Anabaptist leader consisted chiefly in 
the organizing of new churches and the reviving of old ones 
and in writing in defense of the Anabaptist faith. His writings 
are polemical and apologetic. He traveled a great deal through- 
out the Netherlands and Northern Germany in spite of severe 



5 - Smith, The Mennonites, p. 46. 

6 - Jones, The Church's Debt to Heretics, pp. 236, 237. 

7 - Walker, A History of the Christian Church, p. 375. 



36 History of Central Conference Mcnnonite Church 

persecutions. A price was set on his head and people were 
granted special privileges for betraying him to the authorities. 
The first seven years of his ministry he labored in Gronnin- 
gen. In 1543 he left Holland and fled to Cologne to escape 
persecution. In 1546 he was compelled to leave Cologne and 
fled to Wismar in Mecklenberg where he stayed until 1555. 
His last refuge was at Wuestenfeld between Lubeck and Ham- 
burg. He died January 13, 1561, and was buried in his own 
garden. Menno's influence among the Anabaptists as a leader 
was so great that by 1544 Countess Anne of Friesland referred 
to his followers as Mennists, or followers, of Menno. By the 
time of his death not only the Anabaptists of the Netherlands 
but those of Germany and Switzerland as well were called 
Mennonites. 

Menno Simon was not the founder of a new religious group 
but rather the organizer of a movement which was found in 
Europe. Dr. Smith states the contribution of Menno Simon 
to the Christian Church and the world very well when he says : 
"Menno Simon deserves a higher rank among the great reform- 
ers than has thus far been accorded him by writers of church 
history. Although he did not play as conspicuous a role as 
did his contemporaries, Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin his 
real greatness cannot be measured by the humble part he seemed 
to play upon the religious arena of his time. His task was 
in many respects a much more difficult one than that of the 
founders of the state churches. They relied upon a union of 
state and church and upon the support of the strong arm of 
the temporal powers to maintain their system. Menno on the 
other hand appealed to the force of love and simple truth of 
the gospel as vital enough to secure the permanency of the 
true church. Menno and his co-workers were centuries ahead 
of their day on many of the great fundamentals of religious 
and civil liberty which today in America and the more enlight- 
ened portions of Europe are taken for granted such as religious 
toleration, separation of church and state and the desirability 
at least of universal peace. As the world grows into a reali- 



Menno Simon and Mennonites 37 

zation of these great fundamental truths, Menno Simon's place 
as a pioneer will become more and more secure." 8 

THE MENNONITES OF EUROPE 

The history of the followers of Menno in Europe for the 
next two centuries is largely a record of cruelty and perse- 
cution on the one hand and the peaceful and patient suffering of 
the Mennonites on the other. They fled from country to 
country and from province to province in Germany, seeking 
a place of refuge. They were sometimes promised freedom 
in various provinces' and countries only to find after being there 
for some time that they were again to be persecuted. By the 
time of the seventeenth century Mennonites were found in the 
Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, parts of France and Alsace 
Lorraine. 

Since the persecutions of the Anabaptists and early Men- 
nonites were due to their religious views it may be well to 
state briefly the tenets of their faith. These fundamental prin- 
ciples of the Anabaptists and Mennonites are becoming more 
significant as time goes on. Professor Vedder called the Ana- 
baptist movement a radical reformation. Dr. Harnack used 
to say in his classroom they were three hundred years ahead 
of their time! 9 Professor Vedder further says that the time is 
rapidly approaching when the Anabaptists will be as abundantly 
honored as in the past four centuries they have been unjustly 
condemned. The people in the past have looked on the Ana- 
baptists with reproach and have argued that the Munsterite 
group is an illustration of what they all would do if they had 
a chance. One writer describes them as a people who claimed 
a superior holiness and looked with unconcealed contempt on 
other churches and emphasized no church, no education, no 
Jesus and no Bible but that the Holy Ghost reveals to them 
a superior knowledge which is above the Bible or the church 



8 - Smith, The Mennonites, pp.. 56-57. 

9 - Dosker, The Dutch Anabaptists, pp. 1-2. 



38 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

or the thought of man. This is a statement which may be true 
of the fanatical chiliastic group. They even went so far as to 
believe in polygamy and the sword but the statement is untrue 
when it is to be applied to all of the Anabaptists or to the 
early Mennonites. The fundamental tenets of the Anabaptists 
and Mennonites were these: they believed in the complete sep- 
aration of church and state. As a result of this belief they 
refused to take oaths; take part in military affairs and to hold 
office in the government. They were opposed to a state church 
and the baptizing of infants. They set up a new church with 
adult believers only, baptized on confession of faith. They 
emphasized regeneration, a new life in Christ and insisted on 
an imitation of Christ in the life of self-denial. They believed 
in simplicity of worship, church organization and in life. The 
sermon was the main feature of their service. They believed 
in the congregational form of church government. They 
believed in the supremacy of the Scriptures as a rule of faith 
and practise. Kessler says: "The walk of the Anabaptists was 
pious, holy and blameless. They refrained from wearing costly 
apparel, despised luxurious eating and drinking, clothed them- 
selves in rough cloth and wore slouch hats." Franck says 
they refused to frequent wine shops and the guild rooms where 
dances were held. They taught the symbolic idea of bread 
and wine in. the communion. One word which characterized 
the Anabaptists and Mennonites more than any other was 
individualism. It is not difficult to see why these people were 
persecuted in the sixteenth century when society was organ- 
ized on a military basis and the churches were all a part of 
the state. Their principles, however, of separation of church 
and state, a regenerate life and the doctrine of peace have 
become a vital part of the teachings of the Christian church 
in America. 



CHAPTER IV. 
THE AMISH. 

Although the name Mennonite has been given to the Cen- 
tral Conference Mennonite Church, the large majority of the 
membership is Amish. Sixteen of the twenty-nine congrega- 
tions are Amish while the other thirteen have a membership 
of Amish and Mennonites. The church originated among the 
Amish people of Central Illinois, so it is significant to raise ' 
the question from whence come the Amish. 

THE AMISH OF EUROPE 

There was not only opposition from without but also a 
serious division within the Mennonite Church. The spirit of 
individualism which they prized so highly caused considerable 
difficulty in the harmonizing of their own views. The most seri- 
ous faction was the one led by Jacob Amman. He was a Men- 
nonite minister in the Emmenthal congregation in the Canton 
of Bern, Switzerland. He believed that the church was too liber- 
al in its discipline, especially in relation to the ban. The Men- 
nonite churches in SAvitzerland had only observed shunning 
in relation to the communion privileges but Amman would IIOAV 
extend this to all social, business and even domestic relations. / 
He also introduced among his followers the use of hooks and 
eyes instead of buttons on men's clothes. The wearing of beards 
and long hair also came to have religious significance. He intro- 
duced the practise of feet-washing in connection with com- 
munion service, a practise which had been neglected by the 
SAviss for some time. 

The leader of the more liberal group in Switzerland and 
the chief opponent of Amman was Hans Reist. The feeling 
betAveen these tAVo parties became very bitter which resulted 
in bitter discussion and many conferences. Finally in 1693 
Jacob Amman and his group separated from the Mennonite 



40 History of Central Conference Mcnnonite Church 

church in Switzerland and formed a new organization. Amman 
placed the Reist people under a ban while Reist retaliated with 
the same measure. In 1700 Amman attempted to be recon- 
ciled to Reist but Reist refused and so the division remained. 
The followers of Jacob Amman were now called Amish. They 
soon left Switzerland and went to Alsace Lorraine and dif- 
ferent parts of Germany. From here many of them came to 
America. 

THE AMISH OF AMERICA 

The date of the coming of the first Amish to, America is 
not quite certain. A few may have come over before 1727. It 
is supposed that Barbara Yoder, the great-grandmother of Rev. 
Jonathan Yoder, came in 1720. If this is correct, she is one of 
the first Amish to come to America. The first real immigration, 
. however, was between 1727-1750. The Zug brothers arrived in 
Philadelphia in 1742; Peter Jutzy in 1744; Jacob Hartzler in 
1749 and Nicholas Stoltzfus in 1756. Most of these Amish 
came from Alsace Lorraine and the Palatinate. The two most 
important pioneer settlements made in the east were in Penn- 
sylvania, the one in the northwest corner of Berks County 
and the other in Lancaster County at the head waters of the 
Conestoga. From these two settlements most of the later ones 
in Pennsylvania and the western states were made. 

Concerning the early history of the Amish people Dr. Smith 
says : "Of the early history of these people we know very little 
except that they were extremely conservative in their religious 
customs, simple in their tastes and habits and generally pros- 
perous. They never erected a general church building, but 
worshipped in private houses. In their every day life they had 
to meet the usual hardships of the frontiersman" 1 There are 
only about twenty-five family names of the Amish in America. 
Some of the characteristic names are Yoder, Zook, Mast, 
Plank, Stoltzfus, Stutzman, Hooley, Byler, Koenig, Beechy, Mil- 
ler, Hostetler, Kauffman, Jutzi, Troyer, Umble, Kanagy, Hartz- 

! Smith, The Mennonites of America, pp. 212-213. 



The Amish 41 

ler, Lapp, Hershberger, Smucker and a few others. Of these 
the following are significant in the settlements of Central Illi- 
nois : Yoder, Zook. Stutzman, King, Kauffman, Jutzi and Trover. 

The expansion of the Amish in America to the West was 
at first from the parent settlements in Berks and Lancaster 
Counties. From these original settlements the counties of Som- 
merset, Westmoreland, Mrfflin and Juniata were settled. The 
first two Amish settlements west of Pittsburg and in 'the state 
of Ohio were made by settlers from Sommerset and Mifflin 
Counties. The first Amish settlement west of Pittsburg and in 
Ohio was at Sugarcreek in Tuscarawas County by Rev. 
Jacob Miller who c ; ame from Sommerset County in 1808. The 
second Amish settlement was made in Wayne County when 
Jacob Yoder of Mifflin County moved there.' These Penn- 
sylvania colonies also established settlements in Holmes, Logan, 
Champaign and Geauga Counties in Ohio and also Elkhart and 
Lagrange Counties in the northern part of Indiana by 1840. 
It is to be noted that thus far all of the new colonies have 
been started by the Amish in America. 

The third settlement in Ohio introduced new blood from 
Europe. The European Amish immigration from 1820-1860 
came from Southern Germany and Alsace Lorraine. "They came 
to America to better their economic conditions, to escape mili- 
tary service and to seek for religious liberty and freedom of 
conscience." 2 The Napoleonic wars had brought a great deal 
of economic oppression and also pressed many of the younger 
men into military service. 

The pioneer in this new Amish immigration was Chris- 
tian Augspurger from near Strassburg in Alsace Lorraine. 
In 1817 he came to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He 
came west in 1818, -down the Ohio and up the Miami River 
to what is now Butler County. Becoming discouraged 
because he was alone he returned to Alsace Lorraine. In 
the spring of 1819 he came to America again, bringing with 
him about thirty-six other families. In August, 1819, Christian 

2 - Hartzler, Education among the Mennonites of America, pp. 25-26-27. 



42 History of Cc'htral Conference Mennonite Church 

Augspurger, with five other families, came west and located 
in Butler County. The other five were his brother Joseph, 
his cousin, Jacob, Christ Sommer, John Miller and John Gun- 
den. 3 From 1819-1830 came the Imhoffs, Nofsingers, Kennels, 
Strubhars, Rev. Christian Reeser, Nicholas Maurer, Peter 
Maurer and Peter Stuckey,.all from Alsace Lorraine. All that 
came to Butler County thus far were Amish. 

In 1832 a new group of people came from Hesse, Germany. 
These were Mennonites and were more liberal in their views 
than the Amish of Butler County. These were called by the 
Amish, Hessian Mennonites. Some of the leading families of 
the Hessian Mennonites in Butler County were Jutzi, Hooley, 
Kinsinger, Nofsinger, Brenneman, Kennel, Gingerich, Sommer, 
Dormer, Schoenbeck, Birkey, and Schertz. There was soon 
disagreement between the Hessian and the Amish particularly 
as to the use of musical instruments in the home and the matter 
of customs in dress. 4 The Amish wore hooks and .eyes on 
their clothes while the Hessians wore buttons. These dif- 
ferences culminated in a division in 1835, the Amish being led 
by Rev. Jacob Augspurger and the Hessian Mennonites by 
Rev. Peter Nafsiger called the "Apostle". From these two 
groups of Amish and Hessian Mennonites of Butler County 
came -many of the settlers of McLean County. 

Since the Central Conference Mennonite Church originated 
in Central Illinois it is particularly important to note the terri- 
tories from which the early Amish settlers of Central Illinois 
came. The territories in order of their importance are Butler 
County, Ohio ; Alsace Lorraine, Hesse Palatinate and other 
provinces in Germany, Pennsylvania and counties in Ohio and 
Switzerland. Most of the settlers along the Illinois River and 
Woodford and Tazewell Counties came directly from Alsace 
Lorraine. Between 1840-1860 quite a large number of Amish 
settlers came to Central Illinois' from the counties of Mifflin 



3 - Grubb, The Mennonites of Butler County, Ohio. p. 11. 

4 - Smith, Mennonites of America, p. 219. 



The Amish 43 

and Somerset in Pennsylvania. In the '60's and '70's a few 
families came directly from Switzerland. 

AMISH SETTLEMENTS IN CENTRAL ILLINOIS 

The next territory included in the expansion of the Amish 
after Ohio and Indiana is Illinois. The first Amish came to the 
central part of Illinois, including the counties of McLean, Wood- 
ford, Tazewell and Livingston. The first Amish of which there 
is any record to come to central Illinois was Peter Maurer. 
He settled in McLean County near what is now Rock Creek 
fair grounds, five miles north of Danvers, in 1829. Mr. Maurer 
came from Alsace to Butler County, Ohio, in 1827, and two 
years later came to McLean County, Illinois. In 1830 two 
young men, John Strubhar and Nicholas Maurer, walked all 
the way from Butler County to McLean County. John Strub- 
har took a claim and settled in what is now Danvers Town- 
ship. Nicholas Maurer crossed the line into Woodford County 
and took a claim a mile north of Congerville. These three 
are the first Amish or Mennonites to be found in Central Illinois 
and the first Amish to be found west of the state of Ohio. By 
1832 the great migrations to Central Illinois began. From 
1832 to 1850 most of the Amish came. These early settlers 
took the cheap land along the rivers and groves. Amish settle- 
ments were made along the Illinois River in Woodford County 
and along the Mackinaw from 1830-1836. By 1836 you find the 
following families along the Illinois River : David Schertz, 
Peter Engel, Sr., John and Rev. Christ Engel, Joseph Bachman, 
the Beck brothers, George Sommers, Peter Roche, Peter Ging- 
erich, John Miller, the Snyders and John Sweitzer. Along the 
Mackinaw we find Peter and Christ Farni, Joe Gingerich, the 
Zehrs and Christ and Andrew Ropp. 

In 1837 Peter Donner, Sr., and family came from Butler 
County; Ohio, in a wagon and settled in Dry Grove, a few 
miles east of Danvers. This was the first Amish family in 
Dry Grove Township. In the same year Valentine and 



44 History of Central Conference Mcmwnitc Church 

Peter Strubhar, with their mother and Rev. Michael Kinsinger, 
came from Butler County to Danvers Township. Between 1840- 
1855 came the Engels, Rev. Michael Kistler, Ottos, Stuckeys, 
Kauffmans, Swartzentrubers, Troyers, Garbers, Habeckers, and 
others. Between 1848-1854 Pennsylvania furnished a number 
of Amish settlers such as the Yoders, in 1848 came Elias 
Yoder and Amos Yoder, sons of Rev. Jonathan Yoder, also 
a brother of Rev. Yoder, Joe Yoder , Lantzs, Sharps and 
Stutzmans. Solomon Lantz came in 1850, also John Sharp 
and his sons Peter and Jonathan. In 1851 Rev. Jonathan Yoder 
came from MJfflin County, Pennsylvania, and settled in Dry 
Grove Township. A little later came also the Fattens, Zooks 
and Yoders from Ohio, and Lantzs, Planks, Stutzmans and 
Kings from Pennsylvania. Between 1850-1860 came the Mil- 
lers, Nafsigers, Bastings, Redigers, Stalters and Kennels mostly 
from Butler County or direct from Europe. In 1861-1865 came 
the Stahlys to Livingston and McLean Counties. Also by 1874 
the Ummels, Kohlers and Verclers. 5 



5- These names and dates have been gathered from County Atlases, 
Albums, Historical Records, Obituaries, Family Records and private inter- 
views with early settlers. 



CHAPTER V 

THE AMISH IN CENTRAL ILLINOIS, 1829-1860. 

The geographic environment of man as well as the social 
environment is an important factor in determining his life and 
activities. In a history of the Amish in Central Illinois it is 
important to study the geographic conditions of this territory. 
It affected the Amish both in determining the location of their 
settlements as well as their life and activities after they had 
settled in Central Illinois. The social environment also plays 
a large part in determining the life of these people. 

GEOGRAPHIC CONDITIONS. 

The first geographic condition which aided in settlement 
is the natural highways. The state of Illinois is bounded on the 
south by the Ohio River, on the west by the Mississippi, and 
the Illinois flows through the north and central part of the 
state. This river forms the western boundary of Tazewell and 
Woodford Counties. McLean and Livingston border on these 
two counties. These rivers formed a natural highway for the 
Amish settlers as they came from New Orleans in the South or 
from Pennsylvania in the East. 

Another important geographic condition is the character 
of the land. Central Illinois has a vast stretch of high, undula- 
ting prairie land with streams, occasional groves and belts of 
timber. McLean County alone had about seven thousand acres 
of forest growth in the form of belts of timber along the creeks 
and occasional groves. There were about forty-four groves in 
the county. Some of the most important in which the Amish 
settled were Stouts, Dry, Twin, Mosquito and White Oak. The 
largest wooded region in these four counties was along the 
Mackinaw River. These groves and wooded streams were the 
places first sought by the settlers as they came to the central 



46 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

part of Illinois. The large tracts of prairie land with its fertile, 
brown loam soil brought to Central Illinois an agricultural peo- 
ple. 

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE COUNTIES. 

Central Illinois lies in the heart of the Mississippi Valley. 
It was at one time a part of the Northwest Territory. A com- 
plete history of this section would include a discussion of its 
possession by the Indians, discoveries made by the French mis- 
sionaries and fur traders such as Joliet, Marquette and LaSalle 
and also the conflict between England and France in the French 
and Indian War. The English gained control of the territory 
in 1763. George Rogers Clark took the territory from the Eng- 
glish and gave it to Virginia in 1778. Virginia gave it to the 
United States in 1784. A government was provided by the 
Ordinances of 1784 and 1787. The Ordinance of 1787 was par- 
ticularly significant because of its anti-slavery clause and its 
provision for free schools. In 1809 the territory which is now 
Illinois was organized into what was called the Illinois Ter- 
ritory. On April 13, 1818, Illinois was admitted into the Union 
as a state with a population of forty-five thousand. At this time 
the white settlements were all in the southern part of the state. 
The capital at first was at Kaskaskia and later at Vandalia. 
The central part of Illinois was still uninhabitated except as 
someone has said by the deer, wolves, rattlesnakes and Indians. 
The leading tribes of Indians of this part of Illinois were the 
Delawares, Pottowatornies, Kickapoos and Illinois. The state 
received its name from the Illinois tribe, Illinois meaning 
"superior men". In 1819 a treaty was made at Vincennes by 
which the Indians gave up claims to the territory of Illinois. 
By 1829 practically all the Indians had left the territory and it 
was now ready for white settlement. 

Of the four counties that now comprise Central Illinois, 
McLean is the oldest. It is the largest county in the state and 
the third wealthiest in the United States. When Illinois became 



The Awash in Central Illinois 47 

a state in 1818 McLean County was a part of Clark and Bond 
Counties, the third meridian being the dividing line. The ter- 
ritory east of this line was in Clark County and the west in 
Bond. In 1821 the west was in Sangamon County an'd the east 
in Fayette County. In 1827 the west was in Tazewell County 
and the east in Vermillion County. On Christmas Day, 1830, 
McLean County was formed by an act of legislature. It was 
named McLean in honor of Senator John McLean who died in 
1830. At the date of its organization it was much larger than 
it is noAv. It included parts of what are now Livingston, DeWitt 
and Woodford Counties. It had 1200 people in 1830. Tazewell 
County was organized in 1827 and named in honor of Governor 
Tazewell of Virginia. Livingston County was organized in 1837 
and Woodford County in 1841. Livingston County took nine 
and one-half townships from the northeast corner of McLean; 
DeWitt took four and two-thirds townships from the south end 
of McLean and Woodford took nine townships from the north- 
west corner. This left the county with its present dimensions. 
These are the four counties which became the home of the 
Amish as they came from the East and from Europe. 

EARLY SETTLEMENTS. 

It shall be the purpose of this section to show how the 
early settlements of other white people in Central Illinois com- 
pare with the early settlements of the Amish in this same ter- 
ritory. Only those sections will be named where the Amish 
are found. The two earliest white settlements in these counties 
were made in Woodford and McLean. The first white man 
in Central Illinois and in all the territory between' Peoria and 
Chicago was a Mr. Blaylock. He came into Woodford County 
with his family and settled in the region of Spring Bay along 
the Illinois River in 1819. He lived in Indian fashion and spent 
his time hunting and fishing. The first permanent white, set- 
tlement was 'made in McLean County in April, 1822, when 
John Hendricks and family of Virginia located in a grove about 



48 History of Central Conference Mennonitc Church 

four miles southeast of what is now Bloomington. This was 
later called Blooming Grove. John W. Dawson and family of 
Kentucky came to the same place in 1822. In December, 1822, 
Gardener Randolph and family came to a grove later called 
Randolph Grove. In 1823 the Stringfields came to the same 
place. In 1822 William Blanchard from Vermont came along 
the Illinois River and began to farm in what is now Tazewell 
County, a mile or two from the Woodford County line. In 1823 
a Mr. Darby built his cabin near Spring Bay in Woodford 
County and began farming. -These are the first permanent 
white settlements in Central Illinois. 

In 1823 the Orendorfs came to Blooming Grove and in 
1824 Rev. Ebenezer Rhodes, the Hodges, the Walkers and others 
came to the same place. By the end of 1824 there were twelve 
families settled in Blooming Grove. In 1824 Absalom and 
Isaac Funk and William Brock came to a grove, later called 
Funk's Grove in McLean County. The first white people to 
come to Dry Grove in McLean County were a Mr. Smith and 
Peter McCullough in 1826. In 1827 Stephen Webb and in 
1828 Henry VanSickles came to the same place. The first white 
people making settlements along the Mackinaw were the Hen- 
line's and Robert and Samuel Phillips, in the years 1827-28-29. 
In the fall of 1825 Ephraim Stout and his son, Quakers from 
Tennessee, came to Stouts Grove. This grove is in Danvers 
Township near the town of Danvers. In 1827 Matthew Robb, 
the McClures and the Hodges also came to Stouts Grove. By 
1830 there were white settlers found in practically all of the lead- 
ing groves of McLean County and also, along the Mackinaw 
and Illinois Rivers in Woodford County. There were, how- 
ever, less than two people to the square mile in these counties 
of Central Illinois. Peoria was laid out in 1826 and Blooming- 
ton was a town of six or eight stores in 1837. This survey reveals 
the fact that from 1822 to 1829 there were no Amish settlements 
in Central Illinois but it also reveals the fact that seven years 
after the first white man came to Central Illinois, the first Amish 
came here in the person of Peter Maurer. 



The Amish in Central Illinois 49 

THE PIONEER LIFE. 

Since the economic, intellectual and social activities of a 
people have a great effect upon their religious life it is impor- 
tant to consider in a brief way these activities among the Amish 
in Central Illinois. The date 1860 marks somewhat the divid- 
ing line between the pioneer life of the Amish and the modern / 
life with its inventions and modern conveniences. These set- 
tlers as they came from Europe usually left their homes because 
of economic, political and religious oppression. So they were 
willing to endure many hardships in the new country in order 
that they might have freedom. Many of the Amish, when they 
came to Pennsylvania, found that the land had already been 
occupied and that they needed to seek homes farther west. This 
accounted for the migrations to Ohio, Indiana and later Illinois. 
By 1840 most of the land in Butler County had been taken, 
the settlers looked for cheaper land farther west. A number 
of the Amish people that came to Central Illinois lived in But- 
ler County only a few years, just long enough to earn enough 
money to move farther Avest. Quite often young men would 
come into this new territory, take up a claim and then go back to 
Butler County to seek for one to share with them in this new 
land the blessings as well as the hardships of life. This western 
land was also advertised very freely in the East. Pamphlets were 
circulated in the eastern states about the great resourses of the 
Middle West. The earliest pioneers also wrote back to their 
friends both in America and Europe inviting them to come. 
By 1840 the rush for Illinois was on. The settlers came on 
private steamboats on the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. 
Some came -on horseback; some on foot, some with ox-teams 
and others in large conestoga wagons drawn by horses. The 
early settlers often had to live in their wagons or in hastily 
built log cabins until more substantial houses could be built. 

The first land chosen by the early Amish settlers as they 
came was along the rivers and creeks, the timber land and the 
groves. They came from a country of hills and creeks and rivers 



50 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

bordered with timber land and so they naturally settled along 
the rivers and groves in Central Illinois. They looked upon 
the prairie land as a desert waste. They did not believe that it 
would ever be settled. Another reason for them settling in the 
timberlands was the fact that they sought protection from the 
storms and wild animals; it was easier to get fuel and water. 
They could plow the timber land soil with two horses and 
their primitive plows while the prairie sod was tough and dif- 
ficult to turn. The prairies were not drained so there were 
many sloughs and ponds. Timberland seemed so important that 
even the government provided that in every ten acres of prairie 
land taken by the settlers there should be one acre of timber- 
land. Very little of the prairie was claimed before 1853. 

The early settlers had many handicaps in their efforts to 
make a living. Their methods of farming were very crude. Their 
corn which was the main crop was planted by hand and hoed. 
Their harvesting was done by hand. On the other hand there 
were many hindrances to their farming; prairie fires sometimes 
broke out and burned their fences, their fields of corn and their 
stacks of hay. If the wind was very strong it was almost impos- 
sible to stop the fire. One settler tells of a fire that traveled 
eight miles in twenty minutes. 

Another difficulty the early settlers encountered was the 
marketing of their produce The early farmers had one hun- 
dred and twenty miles to the nearest mill, at Attica, Indiana, 
on the Wabash River. The people of Woodford County along 
the Illinois hauled their grain to Chicago which meant a ten- 
day trip. The cattle had to be driven to market either to Pekin, 
Peoria or Chicago. The Amish introduced the first wagons 
into Central Illinois which were so much needed in the trans- 
portation of their grain. 

The settlers lived a very simple life. They lived largely 
on game, milk and cornflour. They made their own shoes and 
clothes. They lived in log cabins where oiled paper served as 
windows and a ladder was used to go to bed in the loft. Often 
these cabins had no other floor than the ground. One of the 



The Amish in Central Illinois 51 

early ministers of our church erected a log cabin sixteen by 
eighteen feet, dividing it in two rooms and the ground served 
as the floor. Here he raised his family. Diseases were very 
prevalent due to the sloughs and ponds and wet marshy prairies. 
Many lost their lives because of these diseases. The one that 
was perhaps the most prevalent was the ague or "shittel fever" 
as the German called it. 

It is a significant fact that wherever the Amish went, 
schools were established for their children and churches for wor- 
ship. In this the Amish of Central Illinois had selected a favor- 
able territory. The Ordinance of 1787 provided that section six- 
teen of every township should be used for school purposes. 
This encouraged the public school system of the Middle West. 
On the other hand there were also handicaps in relation to the 
educating of their children. In the first place they were a farm- 
ing people and so they needed the help of every boy and girl 
that was able to work except through the few winter months 
so the length of the term was usually three or four months. 
In the second place practically all of the schools from 1830 to 
1850 were private schools. They were called subscription 
schools and tuition had to be paid by the pupils. Although a 
law was established in 1825 providing for free schools, there 
were only twenty-six free schools in McLean County in 1850. It 
was in 1855 before a good school law was passed providing for 
supported schools by taxation. The chief reason for this situation 
was lack of money. The townships recklessly sold the land in 
section sixteen very cheap. Land was often sold for seventy 
cents an acre. This did not provide sufficient funds for the 
support of the schools. Most of the early schools in the Amish 
settlements were for the purpose of teaching German as this 
was the language used in their churches. The Amish were 
not interested in higher education. They were an agricultural 
people and did not believe that it was necessary to have higher 
education to engage in farming. Their young people very sel- 
dom took up other occupations or professional work. 

With all the hardships and handicaps of the early pioneers 



52 History of Central Conference Mcnnomte Church 

their life was not all one of drudgery and reverses. The early 
settlers found a great deal of enjoyment in their pioneer life. 
They had their social gatherings which furnished them enjoy- 
ment and developed the community spirit. They had their barn 
and house raising which not only helped the farmers erect his 
buildings but also provided social enjoyment for the neighbor- 
hood. The spirit of helpfulness Avas very prominent among 
these settlers. Spelling schools were held which were an occa- 
sion for the development of social life. A great deal of visiting 
was done by the various families and communities. Church 
services were held only every two weeks. This gave them every 
other Sunday for visiting. The Amish people were a very hos- 
pitable people and entertained their company in a very creditable 
manner. 

THE CHURCH LIFE. 

The most important institution in the life of the Amish in 
Central Illinois was the church. These Amish pioneers were 
not only interested in the making of a living but were also inter- 
ested in- the making of a life. Wherever there were a sufficient 
number of people in a community a church was organized. As 
early as 1833 church services were held in the Spring Bay set- 
tlement in Woodford County with Rev. Christian Engel as their 
first minister. This was the second church to be organized 
in Woodford County, the first one having been established by 
the Christian Church in Walnut Grove, now Eureka, llinois, 
August 9, 1832 1 . The Amish church at Spring Bay was the first 
Amish church organized in the state of Illinois. The church 
services of the Amish up to 1853 were held in the homes. They 
were usually all day services, that is forenoon and afternoon. 
A lunch was served at the noon hour. This made the Sunday 
services not only valuable as a religious factor but also helped 
to develop social life of the people. The second Amish church 



! Received the information concerning the First Christian Church 
in Woodford County from Professor B. J. Radford, Eureka, Illinois. His 
wife's grandfather was one of the first deacons in this church. 



The Amish in Central Illinois 



53 




AUGSPURGER MEETING HOUSE 
Built in 1863, Butler Co., Ohio 




HESSIAN MEETING-HOUSE 
1864, Butler Co., Ohio. 



52 History of Central Conference Mciinonitc Church 

their life was not all one of drudgery and reverses. The early 
settlers lound a great deal of enjoyment in their pioneer life. 
They had their social gatherings which furnished them enjoy- 
ment and developed the community spirit. They had their barn 
and house raising -\vhich not only helped the farmers erect his 
buildings but also provided social enjoyment for the neighbor- 
hood. The spirit of helpfulness Avas very prominent among 
these settlers. Spelling schools \vere held which were an occa- 
sion lor the development of social life. A great deal of visiting 
was done by the various families and communities. Church 
services were held only every two weeks. This gave them every 
other Sunday for visiting. The Amish people were a very hos- 
pitable people and entertained their company in a very creditable 
manner. 

THE CHURCH LIFE. 

The most important institution in the life of the Amish in 
Central Illinois was the church. These Amish pioneers were 
not only interested in the making of a living but were also inter- 
ested in the making of a life. "Wherever there were a sufficient 
number of people in a community a church was organized. As 
early as 1833 church services were held in the Spring Bay set- 
tlement in W'oodford County with Rev. Christian Engel as their 
first minister. This was the second church to be organized 
in Woodford County, the first one having been established by 
the Christian Church in Walnut Grove, now Eureka, llinois, 
August 9, 1832 1 . The Amish church at Spring Bay was the first 
Amish church organized in the state of Illinois. The church 
services of the Amish up to 1853 were held in the homes. They 
were usually all day services, that is forenoon and afternoon. 
A lunch was served at the noon hour. This made the Sunday 
services not only valuable as a religious factor but also helped 
to develop social life of the people. The second Amish church 



! Received the information concerning the First Christian Church 
in Woodford County from Professor B. J. Radford, Eureka, Illinois. His 
wife's grandfather was one of the first deacons in this church. 



The tliiiish in Central Illinois 




AUGSPURGER MEETING HOUSE 
Built in 1863, Butler Co., Ohio 




HESSIAN MEETING HOUSE 
186-1, Butler Co., Ohio. 



54 History of Central Conference Mennonlte Church 

to be organized was in the settlement along the Mackinaw 
River in Woodford County. The first ministers in the Mack- 
inaw Church were Christian Ropp who came to the Mackinaw 
settlement in 1836 and Daniel Zehr. Later in 1858 Rev. Chris- 
tian Reeser came. 2 A number of the Amish families from Dan- 
vers and Dry Grove Townships in McLean County attended the 
Mackinaw services for a number of years. Up to 1850 there 
was no Amish congregation in McLean County. 

Another early congregation that was formed was the Hes- 
sian Mennonite congregation of Dry Grove and Danvers Town- 
ships. . Some of the Hessian families mentioned in connection 
with the history of Butler County came to McLean County. 
Some of these families were Nofsingers, Brenneman, Gingerich, 
Donner, Schoenbeck, Otto, Springer, Kennel and Kinsinger. 
In 1842 Rev. Michael Kistler, a Hessian Mennonite preacher, 
came to McLean County. Rev. Kistler had been ordained in 
1838 in Butler County by his father-in-law, Rev. Peter Nafsiger. 
The Hessian Mennonites now began holding services in the 
homes in their community. 

We are perhaps too near to our fore-fathers to fully appre- 
ciate what they contributed to the present generation but we 
should always hold in grateful remembrance those whose cour- 
ageous and sacrificing lives were responsible for the present 
blessings we enjoy. It is remarkable when we stop to consider 
the fact that the brief span of a century embraces the history 
of the growth and development of the Amish people in Central 
Illinois and yet in that comparatively short time the vast unbro- 
ken prairie has become one of the garden spots of our country. 
The poet Whittier expressed the idea of these early settlers 
when he said: 

"We cross the prairies as of old 
The pilgrims crossed the sea 
To make the West as they the East 
The homestead of the free. 



2- Rev. Reeser died January 12, 1923, at the age of 103. 



The Amish in Central Illinois 55 

"We're flowing from our native hills 
As our free rivers flow. 
The blessing of our motherland 
Is on us as we go. 

"We go to plant the common schools 
On distant prairie swells 
And give the Sabbaths of the wild 
The music of our bells." 3 



3 - These verses from Whittier are taken from the McLean County 
Atlas of 1879, p. 625. They apply very well to the Amish with the excep- 
tion of the last line. The Amish did not believe in church bells. 



CHAPTER VI. 
REV. JONATHAN YODER. (Joder) 

By 1850 there were enough Amish in the northwestern 
part of McLean County to establish a congregation separate 
from the Mackinaw Church. All that was needed was a leader 
to organize the group. This leader Avas found in Rev. Jona- 
than Yoder of Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, who came to 
McLean County in the spring of 1851 and settled in Dry Grove 
Township. Since he was the leader of the church for the next 
twenty years and also organized the congregation from which 
came the Central Conference Mennonite Church, it is important 
to consider the history of his life at some length. Emerson 
says: "Biography is the only true history." So we may from 
the biography of Rev. Yoder get considerable history regarding 
the mother church of the Central Conference Mennonites. 

The ancestry of Rev. Jonathan Yoder can be traced back 
to the year 1720 when his great-grandparents left Switzerland 
for America. While on the sea the great-grandfather died and 
the great-grandmother, Barbara Yoder, came to the eastern part 
of Pennsylvania. She was the mother .of eight sons and one 
daughter. Her son Christian, Avho had eleven children, was the 
grandfather of Rev. Yoder. Jonathan's father's name was David 
Yoder. His mother's name was Jacobina Esh who came from 
Switzerland while young and arrived in Philadelphia about 1780. 
David and his wife were the parents of three sons and five 
daughters, Jonathan being the third child. 

Jonathan Yoder was born September 2, 1795, in Berks 
County, Pennsylvania. When he was sixteen his father moved 
from Berks County to Mifflin County and bought a large farm. 
Here Jonathan's mother died about 1817 and his father in 1820. 
He received most of his training in the home and through his 
own efforts. He received only a few months' actual schooling 
in a subscription school in Mifflin County. He was able, how- 
ever, to read and write both English and German. 



Rev. Jonathan Yodcr 57 

He was married in 1816 to Magdalene Wagner. Her par- 
ents were Hessian Mennonites and came to America during 
the Revolutionary War. Her father died at a ripe old age in 
Berks County, Pennsylvania. Rev. Yoder and his wife .had 
eleven children. Two died while quite young while nine were 
married and reared families. Rev. Yoder raised his large family 
with the labor of his hands when wages for ordinary labor- 
ers were only fifty cents a day. Yet by industry and the pru- 
dent and economical management of his wife, they lived com- 
fortably and became possessors of a small home four miles 
Avest of Lewistown in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. He spent 
a part of his time at carpeiater work and followed the busi- 
ness of framing barns but in the year 1828 he moved to Center 
County, Pennsylvania, and there bought one hundred acres 
of land in Half Moon Township, a little south of the village 
called Stormstown. He lived here eight years and then in 1836 
moved to Tuscaroras Township, Juniata County, Pennsylvania. 
He was ordained as a minister in Berks County in the Amish 
Church in about 1827. He Avas later ordained as a bishop. He 
served the church from his ordination until his death Avithout 
salary or compensation. 1 . 

In 1848 his two sons, Elias and Amos, and his brother 
Joseph came to McLean County, Illinois. Elias settled in Dry 
Grove Township on what is now known as the Kinsinger farm. 
His brother Amos came to the same place. In the spring of 
1851 Rev. Yoder and the rest of the family came to Dry Grove 
ToAvnship, McLean County. Mr. John Ritter, a friend of Rev. 
Yoder, Avho lived in the same county Avith him in Pennsylvania, 
came to McLean County, Illinois, for a feAv years and then 
moved to Oregon. Mr. Ritter wrote to Rev. Yoder encourag- 
ing him to come to Illinois. Partly because of this encourage- 
ment and also because several of his children Avere here, he 
' came to this state. He bought a forty-acre farm not far 

! One of the most important sources of material for the .life of 
Rev. Yoder is a biographical sketch Written by his son Joash in 1875 
and printed in 1900. 



58 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

from his son, Elias, and engaged in farming until about 1860 
when he and his wife went to live with his son, Amos. Here 
Mrs. Yoder died February 2, 1866. Rev. Yoder then went 
to live with his daughter Mrs. John Sharp near Congerville, 
Illinois, where he died January 28, 1869. 

Rev. Jonathan Yoder being a bishop when he came to Mc- 
Lean County, soon became the leader of the Amish people of 
Danvers and Dry Grove Townships. He also had quite a large 
following of his own people from Pennsylvania who came here 
about the same time he did. Soon after his arrival he organ- 
ized a congregation and they held meetings in the homes of 
the members. In the spring of 1853 a church house was built 
at Rock Creek, where are now the Rock Creek Fair Grounds, 
about five miles north of Danvers. Rev. Yoder was not only a 
leader in his own congregation, but also a recognized leader in 
the Amish Conferences in America that were held throughout 
the United States. He was moderator of the first Amish Con- 
ference held in Wayne County, Ohio, in 1862. 

He was a man of great physical strength and endurance. 
He was able to earn a living for a large family and in addition 
perform the ministerial duties that devolved upon him. He 
was a man of more than ordinary intelligence, of reason and 
excellent judgment. He was of a generous and peaceful nature 
and yet very firm in his convictions. Although he was rather 
reserved, yet he had a kind and jovial disposition which made 
him beloved by all who became acquainted with him. He was a 
typical Amishman from Pennsylvania and was conservative in 
his views. He believed in the conventional form of Amish dress, 
bonnets and veils for women, hooks and eyes and long hair 
for men. Yet he was progressive when compared with the 
other Amish bishops of his day. He very often showed a liberal 
attitude toward new things that came up. The story is told 
that he met with a number of Amish bishops in Central Illinois 
to discuss the question as to whether young men should be 
allowed to wear neckties. After the bishops had assembled 
one of them brought the pipes and tobacco and gave a pipe to 



Rev, Jonathan Yoder 59 

Rev. Yoder. He held it a while and then threw it down and 
said to the other bishops: "We have met to consider whether 
the young men can wear neckties and yet we ourselves engage 
in this filthy habit of smoking." It is said that the meeting 
adjourned without discussing the question of neckties. 

Rev. Yoder, judging by the work he accomplished, was 
a man of executive ability, an original thinker and had great 
initiative. He had the marks of leadership. He filled a large 
place in his day because the Amish of Dry Grove and Danvers 
Townships were in need of a leader at this time. He fills a 
large place in the history of the Central Conference Mennon- 
ite Church. His death came in rather an unusual way. A 
ministers' meeting was held at the home of his daughter, Mrs. 
John Sharp, in the latter part of January, 1869. At the noon 
hour when Mrs. Sharp invited the ministers to the dining room, 
Rev. Yoder said he did not care to eat and would rather lie down 
and rest. The other ministers went to the table and after din- 
ner when they came back into the room they found that he was 
passing away. He died January 28, 1869, at the age of seventy- 
four years and was buried in the Lantz Cemetery a few miles 
southeast of Carlock. 



CHAPTER VII. 
THE YODER CHURCH. 1860-1872. 

The congregation organized by Bishop Jonathan Yoder was 
called the Yoder Church. It was formed because the Amish 
were now leaving the timberland along the Mackinaw and the 
groves and were settling on the open prairies in Danvers, Dry 
Grove, Allin and White Oak Townships. These people found 
it very inconvenient because of the distance to worship with 
the Mackinaw congregation. There was also a nucleus formed 
for this congregation by the coming of the Pennsylvania fami- 
lies. 

THE CHURCH HOUSE 

The Yoder congregation was organized in the latter part 
of 1851. After worshipping in the homes for about two years 
the congregation decided to build a church house. This frame 
building was located at the northeast corner of what is now 
the Rock Creek Fair Grounds. This is the first Amish Church 
House in the state of Illinois and one of the very first in the 
United States. 1 The church was located on the farm of Joseph 
Gerber. Some of the men particularly interested in the building 
of a church house were the bishop, Rev. Jonathan Yoder; the 
deacons, Rev. Michael and Rev. Jacob Miller; Joseph Gerber; 
Joseph Stuckey, John Strubhar and Christian King. Rev. 
Jacob Miller was one of the solicitors for funds for the church. 
There was a need for this new edifice because the houses were 
too small to accommodate the rapidly increasing membership. 
The church house was a frame building twenty-eight by thirty- 
six feet and cost five hundred dollars. Material for the church 
building was hauled from Peori'a, a distance of some twenty 
miles. Niggerheads, "large stones", served as the foundation. 
One of the members of this church said that through the sum- 



Smith, The Mcnnonites of America, p. 231. 



The Voder Church 61 

mer the pigs in the timber would sometimes seek shelter or 
shade under the church on Sundays and disturb the meeting. 
This church building served the congregation until 1872. It 
housed the first Sunday School held in a church house in the 
Central Conference Mennonite Church. 

THE MINISTERS. 

The ministers in the Yoder Church from 1853-1860 were 
Rev. Jonathan Yoder, bishop; Rev. 'Michael and Rev. Jacob 
Miller who had come from Butler County, Ohio, deacons. The 
Amish Church had three orders in the ministry; those who 
were the overseers and had full authority were called, "Vollig- 
cliener", bishops ; those who were ordained for preaching but 
did not have full authority were the "Diener zum Buch", min- 
isters; and third, those who were to serve the poor "Armen- 
diener", deacons. All of these ministers were selected by the 
vote . of the congregation, the one receiving the highest vote 
being ordained. 

By 1860 the ministers of the early church were getting 
old and felt that they needed help in the ministry. It was 
the custom among the Amish to have a number of ministers 
in the same congregation. A vote was taken of the congre- 
gation and Joseph Stuckey and John Strubhar were elec- 
ted. They were ordained by Bishop Jonathan Yoder on April 
8, 1860. On April 26, 1864, Rev. Joseph Stuckey was ordained 
bishop by Rev. Yoder. In 1867 Christian Imhoff was ordained 
as a deacon of the church. Rev. Jonathan Yoder now coming 
to the close of his ministerial career, Rev. Joseph Stuckey 
became the leader of the church. 

THE MEMBERSHIP. 

The Yoder Church increased in membership from one hun- 
dred to about four hundred in the period 1853-1872. This rapid 
increase was largely due to two causes outside of a natural 
growth. . In the first place the membership covered a large 



62 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

area. The community included, a territory with a radius of 
ten miles. To those that are familiar with this territory it 
might be interesting to say that some members came to church 
from near Hudson, others from Zook's Crossing, some from 
close to Eureka, and others from south of Danvers. The reason 
for the location of the new church building at Rock Creek was 
to get as near to the center of this territory as possible. The 
second reason for the rapid increase in membership was due 
to the coming of new settlers from the eastern part of the 
United States and from Europe. 

THE CHURCH ACTIVITIES. 

The church activities of the Yoder Church were few. The 
important one was the Sunday morning church service. This 
was usually a very long service and often tedious, particularly to 
the children and young people. They were sometimes found 
out in the timber, engaging in recreation rather than in the 
church house. All the services were in the German language. 
After the sermon given by one of the ministers the others in 
turn would bear testimony which often took considerable time. 
These services were held every two weeks. About the only 
other church activity was an occasional singing class at the 
church. There was no foreign misison work, no young peo- 
ple's work, no women's organization, no institutional work, no 
evening services and no Sunday School. 

By 1867, however, there were those in the Yoder Church 
who felt that a Sunday School should be organized. There 
was considerable opposition from the older members of the 
church, and so the first Amish Sunday School was started in 
the old Strubhar schoolhouse, a few miles from the church in 
the summer of 1867. The leading men who urged Sunday School 
were Rev. Joseph Stucky, Rev. John Strubhar, Elias and Iddo 
Yoder. In the summer of 1869 the Sunday School was held in 
the Yoder Church on Sunday afternoon. In the summer of 1870 
there was a Sunday School started in the Grant schoolhouse in 



The Voder Church 63 

Dry Grove Township. All the teaching in the Sunday School 
was in the German language. The adults used their Bibles while 
the children used German primers from which they learned 
their A B C's. A few years after the building of the new church 
in 1872 Sunday School was held in connection with the morning 
service. 

There is another form of church activity that is signifi- 
cant not only as it relates to the Yoder Church but also to 
the Amish Church of America. Up to 1862 the Amish Churches 
in America were established as independent congregations 
without any conference organization or any definite form of 
cooperation. Each bishop Avith his congregation, or perhaps 
few congregations, was independent of the others. The Amish 
leaders discovered that there were some differences arising 
among the various Amish Churches, due largely to the fact 
that they came from different environments. It seemed that 
the western Amish were somewhat more progressive than the 
Amish in the East. Differences appeared in customs as well 
as religious opinions. One of the differences as stated by Dr. 
Smith was the question of baptism. In Mifflin County, Penn- 
sylvania, there was a division on the question as to whether 
a person should be baptized in the house, as had been the cus- 
tom, or whether the applicant should be baptized in an open 
stream. Other questions Avere such as these : should the min- 
isters go into the council room (Abrat) before service on Sun- 
day morning; some were putting away the old song books and 
using others; prayer books were discarded by some; the ban 
was not enforced in some of the churches; customs in dress 
were changing; questions as to whether members could use 
lightning rods, have photographs, build large meeting houses 
and insure their property. It Avas for the purpose of harmon- 
izing these differences that a series of conferences were held 
including all the Amish Churches of United States and Canada. 1 
These conferences Avere held from 1862-1878. Rev. Jonathan 
Yoder was the moderator of the first conference held in the 



Smith, The Mennonites of America, p. 238. 



64 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

spring of 1862 in Wayne County, Ohio. In 1866 the fifth one 
was held in the large barn of Rev. John Strubhar near 
Danvers, Illinois. Rev. Jonathan Yoder and Rev. Joseph 
Stuckey were some of the leading bishops in these conferences. 
The last one was held at Eureka, Illinois, in 1878. The con- 
ferences ended because they were rather a failure as far as the 
attempt to harmonize their differences was concerned. The 
Yoder Church participated in these conferences from 1862 to 
about 1870. Rev. Jonathan Yoder, however, died in 1869 and 
Rev. Stuckey did not attend after 1872 for reasons which will be 
taken up later. 

THE LIFE OF THE PEOPLE 

From 1850 to 1872 there were great economic and edu- 
cational changes that took place in Central Illinois that had a 
very marked effect on the church life of the Amish. As stated 
before the early settlers settled along the groves and timberland 
and thought that the prairies could not be farmed. With 
the handicaps of no railroads, no bridges, no good roads, prairie 
fires, wet marshes and ponds they thought it was an impossibil- 
ity. But by 1860 many of these handicaps had been removed. 
Townships were organized in 1858 which meant the building 
of bridges where needed and the making of better roads. Drain-' 
age of the prairie lands was introduced among the Amish about 
1850 which soon eliminated the marshes and ponds. Settlers 
now began to move out on the open prairies. In 1850 the gov- 
ernment refused the granting of land to settlers on the prairie 
in order to give the railroads an opportunity to take land grants. 
But after 1851 when the opportunity was again given for secur- 
ing land on the prairies, settlers began to buy it for $1.25 an 
acre. By 1877 this same prairie land sold for $30 an acre, by 
1900 for $150 an acre and during the World War for $400 an 
acre. Land today (1926) sells for $250 an acre. In the time 
of one generation prairie land increased in price from $1.25 to 
$250 an acre. This was largely due to the drainage of the land 
with tile and the coming of the railroads. This has brought 



The Yodcr Church 65 

great prosperity to the Amish. McLean County is the third 
wealthiest county in the United States. It has a decided effect 
on their church life. In the first place it is a blessing because 
it gives the church a large opportunity for service with its 
money. On the other hand this same blessing may become a 
curse in the fact that people become self-satisfied and fail to 
have a vision of the needs of the world. 

Another very important development that helped to 
improve conditions was the railroad. On May 23, 1853, the first 
train on the Illinois Central and October 16, 1853, the first one 
on the Chicago and Alton reached Bloomington. The eastern 
part of Woodford County and the southern part of Livingston 
County was not settled until the Chicago and Alton, Illinois 
Central and Toledo, Peoria and Western railroads were built. 
Towns and farmers elevators began to spring up along these 
railroads. When the Lake Erie and Western was built from 
Bloomington to Peoria in 1887, Carlock, Congerville and Good- 
field were laid out in 1888. Towns like SlabtOAvn and Farnes- 
ville on the Mackinaw and Oak Grove in the East White Oak 
district died. This meant better markets for the farmers. All 
this encouraged the settlement of the prairies. The railroads 
are a very important factor in the .history of the expansion of the 
Amish in Central Illinois. 

There were also marked changes in education from 1850- 
1860. In 1855 the legislature passed a law providing for free 
schools supported by taxation. For the Amish this meant the 
public schools and the teaching of the English language. Their 
children now learned the English language and could not under- 
stand the German preaching in the churches. This helped to 
bring about the transition from the use of the German to the 
English in the Amish church. It also meant that the Amish 
children would receive more schooling throughout the year. 
The term of school soon increased from a few months to five, 
six or seven months. A little later only a very few of the first 
Amish young people went to high school and prepared for 
teaching in the public school. It is this group of young people 



66 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

who later made demands of the church for Christian Endeavor 
Societies, English Sunday Schools and more progressive church 
work. 

Economically this is the period of invention which meant 
improved farming conditions and better production of crops. 
These economic, intellectual and social changes brought about 
marked changes in the Amish Churches of Central Illinois 
which will be. noted in a later chapter. 



CHAPTER VIII. 
REV. JOSEPH STUCKEY 

As we come to the period 1872-1898 the leadership of the 
Amish Church has changed from Rev. Jonathan Yoder to Rev. 
Joseph Stuckey. Rev. Joseph Stuckey, because of his strong 
personality, became the leader not only of his congregation but 
also of the Amish Church in Central Illinois. His leadership 
was so effective that after 1872 his congregation received the 
name Stuckey church, and the Amish people who were his fol- 
lowers- were called Stuckey Amish, while they affectionately 
called him "Father Stuckey". Because of the work that he 
accomplished a history will be given of his life. 

Rev. Joseph Stuckey's grandparents lived in Bern, Switzer- 
land. Here Peter Stuckey, Rev. Stuckey's father, was born 
August, 1801. While Peter Stuckey was yet a small child the 
parents left Switzerland and moved to Alsace. His parents 
both died while Peter was very young. He then lived with his 
grandmother until he was twelve years old. From this time on 
he lived among strangers and was compelled to make his own 
living. At the age of seventeen he became a member of the 
Mennonite Church. In 1824 Peter Stuckey married Elizabeth 
Sommers of Alsace. Her parents had fled to Alsace years before 
because of persecution. Elizabeth was born in 1802. 

Rev. Joseph Stuckey was born in Alsace, July 12, 1825. He 
was the oldest of a family of eight children. In 1830 his parents 
came to Butler County, Ohio, by the. way of New Orleans. 
Here Rev. Stuckey grew to manhood. He received a very 
limited education in one of the old log schoolhouses of Butler 
County. The length of his school experience was about two 
months. The rest, of his education he received in the school of 
experience. He became a member of the Amish Church in But- 
ler County at about the age of eighteen. The Amish at this 
time were still holding their services in the homes of the mem- 
bers. 



68 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

He was married December 17, 1844, to Miss 1 Barbara Roth. 
She was born in Alsace, March, 1821. She came to America 
with her parents in 1842. Rev. Jacob Augspurger, one of the 
first ministers in the Amish Church in Butler County, performed 
the marriage ceremony. He had also baptized Rev. Stuckey. 
Rev. and Mrs. Joseph Stuckey had two children, Jacobina, born 
February 23, 1846, who was married to J. S. Augspurger of 
Butler County, Ohio, and died June 8, 1926; and Mr. C. R. 
Stuckey, born September 10, 1852, who at present resides in 
Danvers, Illinois. 1 

In October, 1850, Rev. Joseph Stuckey with his family and 
parents came to Illinois. They came by the way of the Ohio 
River and the Illinois to Fort Clark where is now Peoria. He, 
with his brother-in-law, John Habecker, worked for a few 
months in a packing house and then in March, 1851, came to 
Danvers Township in McLean County. Here Rev. Stuckey 
rented land for farming until 1858 when he bought forty acres 
a few miles northwest of Danvers. He paid three dollars an 
acre for the land he bought. Rev. Stuckey added to his land 
until he had two hundred acres at the time of. his retirement 
in 1868. He engaged in active farming until October, 1868, 
when he retired and lived with his daughter Mrs. Augspurger 
who moved on his farm. In 1877 he moved to the town of Dan- 
vers where he resided until his death. He was very indus- 
trious, careful in his business dealings and had great admin- 
istrative ability. 

Rev. Stuckey's father died February 22, 1860, and his 
mother in 1885. His wife died April 27, 1881. He was then 
married to Mrs. Magdalene Habecker, a sister of his first 
wife. Rev. Stuckey died February 5, 1902. Before his death 
he selected the text for the funeral sermon, II Timothy 4: 7, 8. 
Rev. Peter Schantz, Rev. Valentine Strubhar and Rev. John 
Kohler had charge of the services. He was laid away to rest 
at the Imhoff Cemetery. His second wife died May 17, 1904. 



! The writer is indebted to Mrs. Augspurger and Mr. C. R. Stuckey 
for much of the information given in this sketch. 




(Rev. Joseph Stuckey) 1825-1902 



68 History of Central Conference Mcnnonitc Church 

He was married December 17, 1844, to Miss Barbara Roth. 
She was born in Alsace, March, 1821. She came to America 
\\ith her parents in 1842. Rev. Jacob Augspurger, one of the 
first ministers in the Amish Church in Butler Comity, performed 
the marriage ceremony, lie had also bapti/ed Rev. Stnckev. 
Rev. and Mrs. Joseph Stuckey had two children, Jacobina, born 
February 23, 1846. who was married to J. S. Augspurger of 
Mutler Comity, Ohio, and died June 8, 1926; and Mr. C. R. 
Stuckey, born September 10. 1852, who at present resides in 
Danvers, Illinois. 1 

In October, 1850, Rev. Joseph Stuckey with his family and 
parents came to Illinois. They came by the way of the Ohio 
River and the Illinois to Fort Clark where is now Peoria. Fie, 
with his brother-in-law, John llabecker, worked for a few 
months in a packing house and then in March, 1851, came to 
Danvers Township in McLean County, llere Rev. Stuckey 
rented land for farming until 1858 when he bought forty acres 
a few miles northwest of Danvers. lie paid three dollars an 
acre for the land he bought. Rev. Stuckey added to his land 
until he had two hundred acres at the time of his retirement 
in 1868. lie engaged in active farming until October, 1868, 
when lie retired and lived with his daughter Mrs. Augspurger 
who moved on his farm. In 1877 he moved to the town of Dan- 
vers where he resided until his death. Jle was very indus- 
trious, careful in his business dealings and had great admin- 
istrative ability. 

Rev. Stuckey's father died February 22, 1860, and his 
mother in 1885. 11 is wife died April 27. 1881. lie was then 
married to Mrs. Magdalene Habecker, a sister of his first 
wife. Rev. Stuckey died February 5, 1902. Before his death 
he selected the text for the funeral sermon, II Timothy 4: 7, 8. 
Rev. Peter Schantx, Rev. Valentine Strubhar and Rev. John 
Kohler had charge of the services, lie Avas laid away to rest 
at the Imhoff Cemetery. 11 is second wife died May 17, 1904. 



1- The writer is indebted to Mrs. Augspurger and Mr. C. R. Stnckev 
fur much of the information given in this sketch. 






(Rev. Joseph Stuckey) 1825-1902 



70 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

The Stuckey family was a charter member of the Yoder 
Church. Rev. Stuckey was one of the chief promoters in the 
building of the Yoder Church House in 1853. April 8, 1860, he 
was called to the ministry and ordained by Bishop Jonathan 
Yoder. Four years later, on April 26, he was ordained as a bishop 
by Rev. Jonathan Yoder, assisted by Rev. Christian Ropp and 
Rev. Jacob Zehr of the Mackinaw Church. 2 He had very little 
training for his work in the ministry, yet he had a great deal of 
mental ability. Practically all his training came through per- 
sonal effort. Mr. C. R. Stuckey, his son, states the situation 
well when he says, "He was then a young man, just a com- 
mon farmer with very limited schooling, working hard every 
day on the farm, trying to establish a home for himself and his 
family , and lay up something for old age. You can well imagine 
the disadvantages he was at to serve the church as their pastor 
and at the same time try to provide a home and some meager 
comforts for his family. Well do I 'remember how my father 
used to pore over his Bible after doing a hard day's work until 
in the late hours of the night, when perhaps the greater number 
of his congregation were sound asleep and comfortably resting 
in their beds, but in the morning he would be up bright and 
early, ready for another hard day's work." 3 Rev. Stuckey in 
spite of all these handicaps was very successful in his pulpit 
efforts. One of the ministers who was then a young man says, 
"I do not think that I have known anyone of Rev. Stuckey's 
limited educational opportunities and of his environment who 
was able^ to draw so large crowds as he in his pulpit efforts." 
He was a fluent speaker and a very clear thinker. Very .few 
Amish preachers of his day were able to draw as large crowds 
as he. .. . '.'.' 

Rev. Stuekey did practically all of his studying' and- preach- 
ing in the German language. There is an interesting incident 
told as to how he learned his German. As a child he was taught 

2. This information is taken from his own records. 
3- This quotation is taken from a paper read by Mr. C. R. Stuckey 
at a reception held for Rev. Wm. B. Weaver in 1922. 



Rev. Joseph Stuckey 71 

the French language. He came to America from Alsace at the 
age of five. During the time of the ocean trip he played with 
the children of a number of German Amish passengers and 
from them he learned the German language. After he came 
to Illinois he also learned to read the English language. Again 
there is an interesting incident told by his daughter as to how 
he learned the English language: He came home from Bloom- 
ington one day with the Daily Pantagraph, an English daily 
paper of Bloomington. When asked by the family what he 
wanted with it he said he was going to learn to read English ! 4 
And largely through the efforts of reading the Daily he became 
quite proficient in the English language. 

Rev. Stuckey was a very busy man. He was not only pas- 
tor of the North Danvers Church but also had the bishop over- 
sight of a number of churches that had been established from 
the parent church. In his ministry he performed two hundred 
and fifty-five marriages, thirteen hundred and twenty-eight bap- 
tisms and ordained eighteen bishops. 5 He travelled a great 
deal over the states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, 
Michigan, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska, baptizing converts, 
ordaining ministers, establishing churches and dedicating church 
buildings. He kept in touch continually by correspondence and 
visitation with the Mennonite and Amish leaders in the United 
States. He was also a writer of considerable ability. He wrote 
a number of articles for various Mennonite church periodicals. 
Some of these articles were an account of his travels through- 
out the United States. He also wrote a number of short poems 
and articles of a religious nature. Rev. Stuckey was a sub- 
scriber of the church papers of a number of the Mennonite 
groups and also attended conferences in these groups. After 
retiring from farming he devoted practically all of his time to 
the work of the church. 

Rev. Stuckey was a large well built man physically. This 

4 - This incident was related by Mrs. J. S. Augsptirger, his daughter, 
now deceased. 

5 - Taken from his own records. 



72 History of Central Conference Mcnnonite Church 

strength gave him the power of endurance in the. midst of his 
economic and religious duties. He was a success in his farming 
while at the same time he was also preparing himself for his 
work in the ministry. One of the men who knew him said, 
"He was a large man physically but to me he seemed even 
larger morally, mentally and spirtually." 6 He was an original 
thinker and had a great deal of general knowledge. He was 
well versed in the Bible and had a good memory. He was a 
man of sound judgment. His advice was sought by many peo- 
ple in the different .phases of life. People sought his advice 
in relation to economic matters as well as ministers in relation 
to their religious work. 

Rev. Stuckey was a man of strong personality and there- 
fore a born leader. He lived at the time when after the death 
of Rev. Jonathan Yoder the church needed leadership. Because 
of this situation he filled a large place in the church. He was 
endowed with natural talent as a speaker. This enabled him. 
to mould the religious thinking of the Amish Church of Central 
Illinois. He was a man of firm conviction and yet very con- 
siderate of the views of others. Although judged by the present 
time as very conservative, in his clay he was criticised very 
severely by the Amish leaders for his liberal attitude. The 
difficulties which he encountered in the Amish Conferences from 
1866-1872 were largely due to his progressive ideas and his 
sympathetic attitude toward those with whom he might not 
agree. He was blamed by those who opposed him for lack of 
stability, a man who could be too easily touched and could 
not say no even when he knew he should. He was sometimes 
blamed for splitting churches when as a matter of fact he was 
only trying to care for those who had left the old church and 
were without a leader. He was blamed for being unorthodox 
because he was sympathetic with those who may even have 
differed with him theologically. The so-called weakness empha- 



6- Quoted from a letter received from Rev. J. C. Mehl who knew 
him personally. 



Rev. Joseph Stuckcy 73 

sized by some of those who opposed him proved to be one of 
his strongest marks of leadership. 

In conclusion then it may be said that Rev. Stuckey's out- 
standing qualities were his natural ability for leadership, his 
pulpit powers, his positive convictions, his great organizing 
ability and his sympathetic attitude towards people and towards 
the problems that the church was facing. Rev. Joseph Stuckey 
was to the Amish of Central Illinois what Menno Simon was to 
the peaceful group of Anabaptists. He did not establish a new 
church but he organized the forces which were then existing 
.and assumed the , leadership of a group of people who were 
without a shepherd. 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE STUCKEY OR NORTH DANVERS CHURCH. 

(1872-1898) 

There were two changes that occurred as we come to the 
period 1872-1898. The one has already been discussed, the 
change of leadership from Rev. Jonathan Yoder to Rev. Joseph 
Stuckey. The other was the change that took place in the loca- 
tion of the place of worship. 

THE NEW CHURCH HOUSE. 

It was noted in a former discussion that the Amish people 
when they came to Central Illinois selected the timber land 
and the groves in preference to the open prairie but after 1850 
when the railroads were built through the country and the 
drainage system was established the Amish people left the tim- 
berland and the groves and established their homes on the open 
prairie. The people of the Yoder Church moved farther a\vay 
from the Mackinaw and the groves and established their homes 
farther east and north. The center of the church community 
therefore also moved farther east. So in order to have the place 
of worship more convenient, the church decided to build nearer 
the center of the community. On the other hand the building at 
Rock Creek erected in 1853 was getting too small for the rapidly 
increasing membership. It is said by some of those now living 
who attended the old church that it was almost impossible 
for the whole membership to get into the church for Sunday 
morning service. It was decided by the congregation to erect 
a frame building three miles northeast of Danvers, and two 
miles south of the old church. The old church was bought 
by the Mackinaw Amish people and used for a few years as a 
house of worship. The new church building was erected in the 
summer of 1872. It was larger than the old church, being a 
structure forty by sixty-two feet. With a few changes this 



The Stuckey or North Danvers Church 75 

church served the congregation until 1917 when it was remod- 
eled and made a brick-veneered modern church edifice. This 
is the building now used as the place of worship (1926). After 
Rev. Stuckey's death and when other Amish Churches were 
established in the surrounding communities such as Conger- 
ville and East White Oak, the church was called North Danvers, 
being in the northern part of Danvers Township. 

MINISTERS. 

The Amish Churches at this time, instead of having one 
pastor, usually ha,d a number of ministers to serve the con- 
gregation. This was true of the North Danvers Church. In 
the year 1872, when the congregation began to worship in the 
new church the following were the ministers : Bishop Joseph 
Stuckey, Rev. John Strubhar, Rev. John Stahly, Rev. Chris- 
tian Im-hoff, Rev. Joseph Stalter, Rev. Michael Miller, and Rev. 
Jacob Miller. These men represented the three orders of the 
Amish ministry; bishops, ministers and deacons. 

Rev. John Strubhar who was a deacon in the church, 
ordained in 1860, died November 17, 1883. Rev. John Stahly 
came as a bishop from Switzerland in 1864. He died June 27, 
1900. Rev. Christian Imhoff was ordained in 1868 by Rev. 
Stuckey. He died May, 1881. Rev. Joseph Stalter came from 
Butler County, Ohio, in the '50's and died in the '90's. Rev. 
Michael and Rev. Jacob Miller were deacons when the Yoder 
Church started in 1853. Rev. Michael Miller died August 23, 
1873, and Rev. Jacob Miller died Aug. 22, 1893. 

Because of the death of some of these ministers and the 
fact that the others were getting old, Rev. Stuckey in 1882 
appealed to the congregation for ministerial help. He believed 
in calling young men to the ministry which was rather unusual 
in the Amish Church at that time. The congregation elected 
two young men, Joash Stutzm'an and Peter Schantz, who were 
ordained as ministers by Bishop Stuckey in 1882. Rev. Stutz- 
man's ministerial career was very short. He died September 



76 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

19, 1891. Rev. Peter Schantz was assistant pastor of the con- 
gregation until 1892 when he became pastor of the new congre- 
gation organized in the White Oak district. The establishment 
of this new church and the death of Rev. Stutzman necessitated 
another ordination. In 1892 the church again elected two young 
men, Joseph Clark and Joseph King. They were ordained 
by Bishop Stuckey April 17, 1892. Rev. Clark only served one 
year when he left for another field. Rev. Joseph King was assist- 
ant pastor to Rev. Stuckey until Rev. Stuckey's death in Febru- 
ary, 1902. Rev. King then became pastor of the congregation 
until 1914 when he became pastor of the new church organized 
at Carlock, Illinois. It was at the beginning of Rev. King's 
ministry that English preaching was introduced into the church. 
Rev. John Kohler, ordained April 30, 1899, and serving as pas- 
tor with Rev. King after 1902, became the pastor of the church 
in 1914 and served until about 1920. After several years without 
a resident pastor the congregation called Rev. William B. 
Weaver of Goshen, Indiana, who took charge of the church 
July 1, 1922, and is at present the pastor (1926). 

THE CHURCH ACTIVITIES. 

A comparison of the church activities of the North Danvers 
Church with those of the Yoder Church show some marked 
changes. After October, 1872, the church became more thor- 
oughly organized. Business meetings were now held each New- 
year's Day where reports were given and the business of the 
church transacted. Written records of the business meeting 
were kept after 1880. These records were written in German 
the first year but after 1881 they were written in English. Dif- 
ferent officers were elected for the various duties of the church. 

The church in this period also encouraged Sunday School 
work. As stated before Sunday School was held in the Yoder 
Church in the afternoon by 1869, but by 1880 the Sunday School 
was held in connection with the morning church service. Both 
Sunday School and church were held every Sunday. A report 
of the North Danvers Church given by Rev. Stuckey to the 



The Stuckey or North Danvers Church 77 

.General Conference Church Secretary shows that by 1890 the 
Sunday School had organized a Teachers' Meeting. It also 
shows that the membership of the church in 1890 was four 
hundred and twenty-five. The present membership is two hun- 
dred and eight. The English language was introduced 
into the song service and Sunday School about 1887 and into 
the church service in 1893. 

Although the church did not have any organized mission 
work the record of 1890 showed that ninety dollars was given 
that year to foreign mission work and ninety dollars to home 
mission work in another Mennonite group. Another phase of 
home mission work was the expansion of the mother church 
and the establishment of new congregations in the surrounding 
communities and in other counties. This accounts for the de- 
crease in membership of the mother church. Rev. Joseph Stuckey 
was largely responsible for the leadership and bishop oversight 
of these new organized congregations in this period. 

Another very important activity of the church was the 
organization of the Christian Endeavor Society in 1892. This 
Avas the first Christian Endeavor Society in the Central Confer- 
ence, Mennonite Church. It is significant to note that it was 
only eleven years after the first Christian Endeavor Society in 
the United States was organized. Mr. Eli Sharp, a member of 
the church, was largely responsible for its beginning. He had 
moved to Minnesota in 1888 and there joined a Christian 
Endeavor Society. When he came back to the North Danvers 
Church he introduced Christian Endeavor work among the 
young people of the church. This encouraged the use of the 
English language and also marked the beginning of evening 
services. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW CHURCHES. 

(1860-1908) 

Thus far the history of the Araish in Central Illinois has 
centered about one congregation, the Yoder Church, and after 
1872 called the Stuckey Church. From this parent organization 
there came a number of new congregations which helped to 
form the Central Conference Mennonite Church. When the 
conference was organized in 1908, there were twelve charter 
member congregations. The following history will give a very 
brief account of the other eleven churches, particularly stating 
under what conditions, by whom, and when they were estab- 
lished. 

THE SOUTH DANVERS MENNONITE. 

The first new church to be established was the South Dan- 
vers Mennonite. In a former discussion we noted that at the 
same time that the first Amish came to McLean County, there 
were also a number of Hessian famlies that came from Butler 
County, Ohio, and established homes in McLean County. It 
might be well at this point to remind ourselves of the history 
given in a former chapter concerning the division that came 
between Amish and Hessian Mennonites in Butler County. It is 
to be noted here that these settlers, both Amish and Hessian 
Mennonites, brought with them to Central Illinois these same 
differences. 

One of the first Hessian families to come to McLean 
County was Peter Donner, Sr. who settled in Dry Grove Town- 
ship in 1837. Between 1837 and 1860 a number of Hessian 
families came, such as the Nafsingers, Donners, Kennels, Bren- 
nemans, Ottos, Kinsingers, Springers, and Gingerichs. In 1842 
Rev. Michael Kistler of Butler County, Ohio, came to the com- 
munity of the Hessian Mennonites. Rev. Kistler had been 



The Establishment of New Churches 79 

ordained as a minister by his father-in-law, Rev. Peter Naf- 
singer, called the "Apostle", of Butler County, Ohio. The Hes- 
sian Mennonites now began to have church in their homes with 
Rev. Kistler as their minister. When the Yoder Church was 
built in 1853 the Hessians with Rev. Kistler began to worship 
at the Yoder Church. 'After worshipping together for several 
years the congregations discovered that they were very different 
in their customs and practices. Rev. Kistler and Rev. Yoder 
could not agree. Bishop Yoder was an Amishman from Penn- 
sylvania and believed in hooks and eyes on clothes and did not 
believe in musical instruments in the home and was very strict 
in his discipline of members. Rev. Kistler, of course, being a 
Hessian, believed in buttons on clothes and was more lenient 
in his discipline. After considerable disagreement Rev. Yoder 
set Rev. Kistler back from communion. Rev. Kistler's people 
supported their leader and so the Hessian congregation again 
Avorshipped in their homes after 1859. 

Their pastor went back to Butler County and was ordained 
as bishop and then came back and took charge of the South 
Danvers Mennonite Congregation. He remained with the 
church until 1863 when, because of his radical views on bap- 
tism he left and joined the Christian Church. . Later he went 
to Missouri where he died. The year before Rev. Kistler left, 
the congregation elected Christian Gingerich who had come 
from Butler County, Ohio, in 1855, and Michael Kinsinger 
who came from Butler County in 1837, to the ministry. They 
were ordained by Rev. Kistler in 1862. In 1863 Rev. Chris- 
tian Gingerich was ordained bishop by Bishop John Nofsinger 
of Walnut in Bureau County, Illinois. He was the leader of 
the congregation until 1893. 

In the spring of 1864 the congregation built the frame 
church house about two miles south of Danvers. The church 
was thirty by thirty-six feet and cost two thousand dollars. 
The membership of the church at this time was about one 
hundred. The church increased rapidly in membership under the 
leadership of Christian Gingerich. By 1885 Bishop Gingerich 



80 History of Central Conference Mcnnonitc Church 

felt the need of ministerial help and so in the fall the con- 
gregation elected John Gingerich, the son of Bishop Gingerich, 
and John Kinsinger who came from Butler County, Ohio, in 
December, 1881, as ministers. They were ordained in Sep- 
tember, 1885. In 1893 both of these men were ordained as 
bishops by Rev. Peter Schantz of the North Danvers Church 
and Bishop Christian Gingerich. Rev. Michael Kinsinger 
died June 28, 1895 and Bishop Christian Gingerich in 1908. 
This church was not connected with any conference organiza- 
tion until in 1908 when the Central Conference Mennonite 
Church was formed. 

Rev. John Gingerich and Rev. John Kinsinger, after years 
of faithful service, retired from the active ministry and are at 
present living in Danvers, Illinois. Rev. L. B. Haigh, a returned 
missionary from Africa, served the church for the years 1922- 
23 and then moved to Havelock, North Carolina. The congre- 
gation then called H. E. Nunemaker of Sterling, Illinois, who 
has been pastor of the church since March, 1924. He is at pres- 
ent (1926) the pastor at Danvers, Illinois. 1 Rev. Nunemaker 
was ordained as minister and bishop March 29, 1925. 

One of the first activities of the South Danvers Mennonite 
Church, outside of the regular Sunday morning preaching ser- 
vice was the Sunday School. The Sunday School was started 
in about 1883, the first superintendent being Rev. John Kin- 
singer. All the teaching was done in the German language. 
The adults used the Bible as a text book while the children 
used the German primer. The purpose of this primer was to 
teach them the German language, since the German was no more 
taught in the public schools. All of the preaching was German 
and the church felt it necessary to teach their children the Ger- 
man language. In about 1895 the question came up concerning 
the introduction of the English language into the Sunday School. 
The young people presented the matter to the congregation but 
the congregation voted it down. Some of the older people sug- 



! Rev Nunemaker resigned as pastor Jan. 16, 1927, and accepted 
a call as pastor of Comins M:ennonite Church, Comins, Mich. 



The Establishment of New Churches 81 

gested that a resolution should be passed that the matter dare 
not be presented for ten years. But it was finally decided that 
they could not have English for one year. When -the end of the 
year came a few of those that were interested in the English 
language decided to get the English material for the Sunday 
School. A class was started with no objections and from that 
time the English was used with the German in Sunday School. 
A few years later Rev. John Kinsinger began English preaching 
in the church. The first material used in Sunday School in the 
English language was that published by Rev. J. F. Funk of 
Elkhart, Indiana. 

By 1914 quite r a few of the older members of the South 
Dan vers Church had retired from farming and moved to Dan- 
vers and quite a few of these had no way to attend the services 
in the country and so there was an agitation for moving the 
church to town. The congregation decided to disband in the 
country and hold their services in town. Before this time ser- 
vices had been held on Sunday afternoon at the Baptist church. 
The congregation later rented the church building of the Evan- 
gelical Friedens (Church of Peace) at which place they are now 
worshipping. The membership of the church is sixty-one. 

The second church activity to be introduced was Christian 
Endeavor work. Mr. J. W. Hilty was largely responsible for 
introducing this work in the church. He had been a member 
of the North Danvers Church and had there been active in 
Christian Endeavor work. He started a Christian Endeavor 
Society in the church soon after the church came to town. 

Another church activity was the Ladies' Aid Society The 
society was organized April 27, 1911. It has been very active 
in contributing to 'the needs of our various institutions. 

CALVARY MENNONITE CHURCH. 

The next new congregation to be organized was the East 
Washington Church now called the Calvary Mennonite and 
located in Washington, Illinois. In a discussion of the early 
Amish settlements it was stated that a number of Amish from 



82 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

Alsace Lorraine settled in Woodford County along the Illinois 
River as early as 1831. From 1840-1860 a large settlement of 
Amish was formed in Woodford and Tazewell Counties. Among 
these early settlers were the Sweitzers, Engels, Nofsingers, Bir- 
keys, Unsickers, Rissers, Garbers, Strubhars, Kennels and Stuck- 
eys. There were also a few Amish families who moved from 
the Yoder Church community to the Washington community, 
such as Peter Strubhar, and Peter Stuckey, a brother of Rev. 
Joseph Stuckey. In May, 1866, Rev. Jonathan Yoder visited 
Peter Stuckey and in their conversation he inquired where Mr. 
Stuckey was attending church. He replied that they had no 
church privileges in their community and so did not go very 
often. Rev. Yoder immediately proposed that he would come 
over and preach for them if they desired it. The following day 
Peter Stuckey told the good news to Peter Strubhar- and he 
immediately called on Bishop Yoder and made arrangements for 
a meeting at the home of Peter Strubhar, one mile east of Wash- 
ington. 

When the time for the first meeting came it was announced 
that Rev. Yoder could not come because of sickness but Rev. 
Joseph Stuckey would come in his stead. Rev. Valentine Strub- 
har, the present senior pastor of the church, says, ."The news 
of this first meeting spread very rapidly and arrangements were 
made for seats by sawing saplings about two and one-half feet 
in length for benches to lay boards on. Everything was 
arranged for the meeting in short order but when everything 
had been made ready the news came that Elder Yoder was 
unable to come on account of illness, but arrangements were 
made for his assistant pastor to take his place. Joseph Stuckey, 
the assistant pastor, was a young man with plenty of executive 
ability and a very able speaker who drew a very large crowd 
for the meeting, as the people came on horse back and wagons, 
some of them for twenty miles and many of them walked for 
several miles." 1 

l- Much of this information was received from an address given 
by Rev. Valentine Strnbhar at the dedication of the new church in the 
summer of 1925. 



The Establishment of Nezv Churches 83 

At the close of this first meeting held in May, 1866, imme- 
diate steps were taken to have meetings every four weeks. These 
meetings were held in the homes of the members. These people 
continued to worship in the homes from 1866-1869. But the 
church at once took on such a healthy growth that it was neces- 
sary to build a house of worship to accommodate the rapidly in- 
creasing membership. This church was erected a few miles east 
of Washington in the summer of 1869. The building was thirty 
by forty feet and cost a little over two thousand dollars. The 
church now felt the need of resident pastors to care for the 
work. A meeting was called in the latter part of 1869 at the 
home of Daniel Nofsinger, one and one-quarter miles east of 
Washington, for the purpose of calling two young men to the 
ministry. The two young men chosen were Peter E. Stuckey 
and Peter Gingerich. These two men were ordained by Bishop 
Joseph Stuckey in November, 1868. About 1880 Rev. Gingerich 
affiliated himself with the Partridge Mennonite Church. Rev. 
Peter Stuckey was ordained bishop in 1875 and remained with 
the congregation until Feb., 1889, when he went to Aurora, 
Nebraska, to take charge of the congregation there. It now 
became necessary to call other men to the ministry. The two 
men chosen in 1889 were Michael Kinsinger, who had come from 
Germany and D. D. Augspurger. They were ordained by 
Bishop Stuckey in the fall of 1889. In December, 1892, Rev. 
Augspurger left for Aurora. Nebraska, to assist in the work 
there and Rev. Michael Kinsinger became the pastor of the 
church. 

After Rev. Augspurger left for Nebraska, Rev. Kinsinger 
felt the need of help and the congregation elected Valentine 
Strubhar and Christian ImhofL Rev. Imhoff died about 1900. 
They were ordained January 10, 1893. Rev. Strubhar is at 
present the senior pastor of the church (1926). About this same 
time, 1892, a difficulty arose in the church in relation to English 
preaching. Some of the younger people of the church wanted 
English introduced while Rev. Michael Kinsinger, having come 
directly from Germany, was opposed to it. In the summer of 



84 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

1894, after a number of attempts to heal over the schism, a divi- 
sion came and Rev. Kinsinger, with a group of people sympa- 
thetic with him, organized what is now known as the South 
Washington Church. Rev. Strubhar now became pastor of the. 
church. 

Because of increased activities in the Central Conference 
Mennonite Church which brought more and greater responsibil- 
ities to the pastor, he presented to the annual business meeting 
in January, 1907, the matter of having an assistant in his minis- 
try. The time did not seem ripe for this matter so it was dropped 
until in January, 1911, when the church almost unanimously 
supported the proposition. Rev. Ben Esch was then called by 
the congregation as assistant pastor and was ordained in Decem- 
ber, 1911. Rev. Esch is at present assistant pastor of the church 
(1926). 

The church erected a new frame building as a place of 
worship in the fall of 1906 and dedicated the'building in January, 
1907. This building served the church until 1925 when a 
modern brick edifice was erected in the town of Washington. 
The church now changed its name from the' East Washington 
Church to the Calvary Mennonite Church. The church has 
a membership of three hundred and eight. It has the usual 
activities of Sunday School, Christian Endeavor, Ladies' Aid 
and missionary work. The church held a Christian Workers 
Institute in January, 1926. 

FLANAGAN MENNONITE CHURCH. 

Soon after 1850, after the building of the Illinois Central, 
and Chicago and Alton railroads a number of Amish people of 
Woodford County settled in the southwestern part of Livingston 
County. In about 1876 these people started a Sunday School 
north of Gridley, Illinois. In 1878 Christian Rediger was 
ordained as a minister for this group of people. He soon after 
organized a congregation which was called the Flanagan Men- 
nonite Church. In 1882 a church building was erected by this 



The Establishment of New Churches 85 

group of people. Rev. Christian Rediger left for Aurora, 
Nebraska, in 1885, and Stephen Stahley was ordained to take 
his place. Rev. Stahley came from Switzerland in 1864. He was 
ordained to the ministry in 1885. He was later ordained as 
bishop by Rev. Joseph Stuckey and served the congregation 
until his death February 26, 1916. October 19, 1890, Joseph 
Zehr was ordained as assistant pastor.' He was later ordained 
as bishop by Rev. Stuckey. He is at present (1926) the bishop 
of the church and one of the oldest ministers in the conference. 
He is assisted in the ministry by Rev. Emanuel Ulrich who was 
ordained May 26, 1918. The membership of the church is 
about ninety. 

MEADOWS MENNONITE CHURCH. 

The next of the charter member congregations to be organ- 
ized was the one at Meadows, Illinois. By 1874 there were a 
number of Amish people living around Meadows who had come 
from Alsace Lorraine and France, such as the Sommers, the 
Roches, the Verclers and the Claudons. In 1874 some of the 
members from the Flanagan Church assisted these Amish from 
Meadows in starting a Sunday School in the Meadows school 
house. Soon after the Sunday School was started preaching ser- 
vices were also held. Ministers of the churches, Flanagan, Wash- 
ington and North Danvers conducted the preaching services. 

In the winter of 1890 this group of people organized a con- 
gregation and in the spring of 1891 they built a church house 
north of Meadows. The church was dedicated by Rev. Joseph 
Stuckey in June, 1891. In August of the same year the congrega- 
tion chose Joseph Kinsinger, Avho had come from Germany, and 
Andrew Vercler, as candidates for the ministry. They were or- 
dained by Bishop Joseph Stuckey August 30, 1891. They were 
ordained as bishops October 23, 1897. After aibout ten years of 
growth the congregation became so large that they needed a 
new church building; so they erected a building in the town of 
Meadows in 1900. 



86 History of Central Conference Mcnnonite Church 

Rev. Kinsinger and Rev. Vercler served as pastors of the 
church until January 1, 1925, when they retired and Rev. George 
Gundy who had been pastor of the Congerville Church, became 
the pastor of the Meadows congregation. Rev. Gundy is also 
superintendent of the Old Peoples' Home at Meadows, Illinois. 
Rev. Joseph Kinsinger died May 8, 1925. Rev. Vercler is treas- 
urer of the Home Mission Board and is one of the oldest min- 
isters in the Conference. The membership of the church is 
two hundred and ten. This church had one of the first Ladies' 
Aid Societies in the Conference. 

EAST WHITE OAK MENNONITE CHURCH. 

As was noted in a former discussion, in 1872 the location of 
the Stuckey congregation was changed from Rockcreek to a 
place a few miles south and east of the former location. This 
was done in order to make it more convenient for the Amish 
families who had left the groves and timberlands and were 
living on the open prairie to attend church. But by 1890 the 
large membership of the North Danvers Church was scattered 
over a large area. A number of the members lived about ten 
miles east of the church in the White Oak district. These peo- 
ple with wagons and buggies would drive from ten to fifteen 
miles every Sunday morning to attend the church services. 

The members living in that territory started a Sunday 
School in the summer of 1892 and then sixty charter members 
got together and organized a church in their community. 
They started building a church house in the fall of 1892. They 
received encouragement from Rev. Peter Schantz who was 
interested in extension work and felt the need of other churches 
being established in neighoring communities. He had moved 
into the White Oak district in late fall of 1892. A congregation 
was organized in 1892 with Rev. Peter Schantz as pastor. It 
was called the East White Oak Church. The new church house 
was dedicated in February, 1893. 

Soon after the dedication, Christian Endeavor and evening 
meetings were begun. In 1899 because of the growing con- 



The Establishment of New Churches 87 

gregation Rev. Schantz felt the need of help in the ministry. 
The congregation chose Emanuel Troyer who was ordained 
by Rev. Schantz in 1899 and became the assistant pastor of 
the church. August 15, 1910, Rev. Peter Schantz moved to 
Normal where he had started a Mission Sunday School 
which later developed in the Normal Mennonite Church. Rev. 
Emanuel Troyer then became pastor of the church and was 
ordained as bishop in 1911. Rev. Troyer is at present (1926) 
serving as pastor of the church and bishop while at the 
same time serving as Field Secretary for the conference. By 
1921 Rev. Troyer felt the same need that had been felt by 
Rev. Schantz of help in the ministry. So in January, 1921, the 
congregation elected Earl Salzman who became the assistant 
pastor of the church. Rev. Salzman is at present in training 
for the ministry in Witmarsum Seminary. The membership of 
the church is three hundred and sixteen. 

ANCHOR MENNONITE CHURCH. 

Another expansion of the North Danvers congregation was 
the establishment of a church in Anchor Township, McLean 
County, in the eastern part of the county. The first Amish 
settlers came to this community in about the year 1880. Most 
of them came from Danvers Township and were members of 
the North Danvers Church. They went there believing there 
were good opportunities in agriculture because the country at 
that time was practically new. Some of the first families were : 
David Werners, Sr., William Leisters, Hiram Troyers, Peter 
Schertzes, Sr. Rev. Augspurger, the pastor, says : "There were 
still other families but since the country was practically new 
and much of the land wet and undrained which proved a dis- 
appointment to some, there was always more or less a floating 
population. However, the families namea were more optimistic 
and persevering and thus gained the victory." 1 

! - This quotation as well as most of the material for the history of 
this congregation has been taken from a history written by the pastor, 
Rev. Aaron Augspurger. 



88 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

In 1884 these first families organized a Sunday School at 
the Rockford schoolhouse, five miles south of the town of 
Anchor, of about fifty members. The Sunday School was con- 
ducted altogether in the German language. Soon after the 
organization of the Sunday School, Rev. Joseph Stuckey made 
frequent visits and held preaching services. Later arrange- 
ments were made to have preaching one Sunday a month. Later 
the center of population had moved eastward and the place of 
meeting -was moved to Fairview schoolhouse, two miles farther 
east. This change took place in 1890. At this time the German 
language was dispensed with except for the older members and 
the Sunday School was conducted in the English language. 

By 1890 there were about fourteen families who took active 
interest in Sunday School. In 1894 the members requested 
Rev. Stuckey to organize a church. The request was granted, 
a church organized and Aaron Augspurger, a grandson of Rev. 
Stuckey was elected as pastor June 10, 1894. Through the 
encouragement of Rev. Augspurger the members decided to 
build a place of worship and the church was erected in 1910. 
The building is a frame structure thirty by forty with two class 
rooms. The church was dedicated December 15, 1910, by Rev. 
Valentine Strubhar of Washington, Illinois, and Rev. Andrew 
Vercler of Meadows. Rev. Augspurger was ordained as bishop 
by Rev. Peter Schantz of East White Oak and Rev. J. B. Zehr of 
Flanagan in 1900. 

The pastor says that the church and Sunday School 
were one body from the beginning and have always remained 
so. Christian Endeavor and evening service were held for 
several years after the church was built, but had to be aban- 
doned, on account of many members living at too great a distance 
to attend evening service. In closing the history of this church 
the writer wishes to quote the pastor when he says : "The future 
of the church is not assured in point of growth for several rea- 
sons: first, because of its itinerating membership, second, its 
location in a strong Lutheran community and third, the lack of 



The Establishment of New Churches 89 

compactness of citizenship. Therefore its largest, work will prob- 
ably always be as stated above, the taking care of and homing of 
what might be called the floating population." Rev. Augspurger 
is at present serving as bishop and pastor of the church. Rev. 
Augspurger is one of the oldest ministers of the Conference and 
has been one of its effective leaders. He was largely respon- 
sible for the origin of the Conference and has also contributed 
much as a member on the various boards of the church. His 
brief sketches of the history of the Conference and its activities 
in the Christian Evangel has meant much in the writing of this 
history. 

ZION MENNONITE CHURCH (GOODLAND, INDIANA). 

The next church to be established was the Zion Mennonite 
near Goodland, Indiana. This was one of the first congregations 
of this Conference to be established outside of Illinois. Rev. D. 
D. Augspurger, who was ordained at the East Washington 
Church and then later moved to Aurora, Nebraska, came in 
1895 to the vicinity of Goodland, Indiana. He says he was the 
first Amish preacher in Newton County, Indiana. In April, 
1895, he organized a Sunday School three miles south of his 
home. He being a minister, preaching services were also held. 
The Sunday School and preaching services were held in this 
schoolhouse for three years. A church house was erected in 
1898. 

Rev. Augspurger served the church as pastor until 1908 
when he ordained his son-in-law, Jacob Sommer. Rev. Som- 
mer served as pastor from 1908-1910. In the fall conference of 
1910 Rev. Sommer and wife volunteered for city mission work 
and later became workers at the Mennonite Gospel Mission in 
Chicago. This necessitated the calling of another pastor. In 
1910 the congregation elected Peter D. Nafsinger who was 
ordained in the same year by Rev. Lee Lantz. Rev. Nafsinger 
is serving at the present time as pastor of the church. Some 
of the early settlers in this community were the Nafsingers, 



90 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

Sommers and Augspurgers. The present membership of the 
church is seventy-three. 

CONGERVILLE MENNONITE CHURCH. 

The Congerville Mennonite congregation was the first 
church of the Amish to be established in a small village. Con- 
gerville is one of the villages that came into existence as a result 
of the building of railroads. Before 1860 such towns as Oak 
Grove in the White Oak district and Slabtown and Farnisville 
along the Mackinaw were quite prominent but when the Lake 
Erie and Western was built from Bloomington to Peoria such 
towns as Carlock, Congerville and Goodfield arose along the 
railroad while the former towns passed out of existence. A 
number of the members of the North Danvers congregation were 
living in the community of Congerville. A Sunday School was 
organized by these members under the leadership of Rev. Peter 
Schantz in 1891. 

Largely through the efforts of Rev. Peter Schantz 
in January, 1896, a congregation was organized. For three 
years the pulpit was supplied by various ministers. Lee 
Lantz was elected as pastor of the church in the spring of 1899. 
Rev. Lantz was pastor of the congregation until 1908 when he 
left for Nampa, Idaho. George Gundy was then ordained by Rev. 
Peter Schantz to serve as pastor of the church. He was pastor 
until January 1, 1925, when he became pastor of the Meadows 
congregation. Reuben Zehr of Flanagan was then called by the 
church and installed as pastor Sept. 6, 1925. He was ordained 
to the ministry on December 5, 1926. The membership of the 
church at present is one hundred. 

PLEASANT VIEW MENNONITE CHURCH, AURORA, NEBR. 

Another one of the charter congregations that was estab- 
lished was the one in the far West. It was the first one in the 
Conference to be established outside of the state. This church 
was organized by Rev. Christian Rediger. He was ordained 



The Establishment of New Churches 91 

near Flanagan in 1878, and preached in a schoolhouse north 
of Gridley for nearly three years, and then was instrumental 
in organizing the Flanagan Church. He was ordained bishop 
by Rev. Joseph Stuckey in 1885. This same year he moved to 
Aurora, Nebraska. 

When he came there he found three Amish families from 
Central Illinois. With these he organized the Pleasant View 
Church near Aurora, Nebraska. In November, 1887, Rev. 
Andrew Oesch, who had been ordained by Rev. Joseph Bir- 
key at Tiskilwa, Illinois, came to Aurora, Nebraska, and was 
a minister in this church. In the spring of 1893 Rev. D. 
D. Augspurger, who had been ordained at Washington, Illinois, 
also came to Aurora. Rev. Augspurger .only stayed two years 
and then moved to Goodland, Indiana. Rev. Oesch left Aurora 
and moved to Normal, Illinois, November 1, 1912. In 1910 
Bishop Peter Schantz of the East White Oak Church went to 
Aurora and conducted a week's religious services. At these 
services two young men, George Donner and Julius Oesch, 
volunteered for Christian work. The congregation immedi- 
ately asked for their services at that place. They were ordained 
by Rev. Schantz to serve as assistant pastors. Rev. Julius Oesch 
soon left and came to Normal, Illinois, and is now preaching 
in another denomination. Rev. Donner served the church until 
1921 when he united with the United Brethren Church. This 
again left Rev. Christian Rediger as the only pastor. At the 
close of 1922 he, because of old age, retired from the ministry 
and the congregation called Rev. Eugene Augspurger of Normal, 
Illinois, who began his pastorate June 16, 1923. Rev. Rediger 
is at present living as a retired minister in Aurora and Rev. 
Augspurger is serving the church as pastor. The present mem- 
bership of the church is one hundred and twenty-five. 

TOPEKA MENNONITE CHURCH, TOPEKA, INDIANA. 

The Topeka Mennonite Church, located at Topeka, Indiana, 
is an outgrowth of the Silver Street Mennonite Church near 
Goshen. The Silver Street Church ^t first belonged to the 



92 History of Central Conference Mennonitc Church 

General Conference of Mennonites and so does not come into our 
history until later. A number of families who belonged to Silver 
Street lived near Topeka and had a long distance to church, 
so in 1893 they asked Rev. J. C. Mehl, pastor of the Silver Street 
Church, to provide services for them at Topeka. Rev. Mehl 
preached for them every four weeks. In 1897 they bought a 
church house of the Methodists and Rev. Mehl preached for 
them every two weeks. He served the congregation for several 
years but finding the thirteen mile drive and the care of the 
two congregations too burdensome, he ordained John C. Lehman 
in December, 1901, to serve the Topeka congregation. Rev. 
Lehman moved to Topeka in November, 1902, organized the 
congregation and also established the Sunday School work. In 
the spring of 1918 during evangelistic 'services conducted by 
Rev. Emanuel Troyer the congregation elected Ernest Hostet- 
ler to assist Rev. Lehman. He was ordained by Rev. Lehman 
June 9, 1918. The senior pastor has now retired and Rev. Hos- 
tetler is the acting pastor. The membership of the congregation 
is ninety-nine. 

BETHEL MENNONITE CHURCH. 

This last of the twelve charter congregations was estab- 
lished through extension work of the East Washington 
Church. Some of the members of the East Washington Church 
lived in this community while there were other Amish who 
were rather dissatisfied with the old church. These people 
called for Rev. D. D. Augspurger to provide preaching services 
for them. He began holding services for them in about 1890 
in what was called the Railroad schoolhouse, four miles east 
of Pekin. A Sunday School was also organized at this place. 
The Sunday School was at first a union project but later became 
a branch of the East Washington Sunday School. After Rev. 
D. D. Augspurger left, the pulpit was supplied by ministers 
from the surrounding Amish congregations, especially Rev. 
Joseph Stuckey of North Danvers and Rev. Peter Schantz of 
East White Oak. 



The Establishment of New Churches 93 

On the first Sunday in August, 1905, Allen Miller was 
chosen as minister of the congregation which had been or- 
ganized a short time before. The congregation worshipped 
in the Railroad schoolhouse until 1910 when a new church 
edifice was erected three miles east of Pekin. It was dedi- 
cated September 11, 1910, and was called the Bethel Mennon- 
ite. Rev. Allen Miller, the President of the Conference, is 
at present the pastor of the church. The activities of the con- 
gregation, such as Christian Endeavor and Ladies' Aid, began 
soon after the congregation worshipped in the new church. The 
membership of the congregation at present is seventy- five. A 
number of the members of this congregation moved to Michigan 
and later organized as the Washington Centre congregation. 



CHAPTER XI 
THE CENTRAL CONFERENCE MENNONITE CHURCH 

A number of references have been made in this history to 
the Central Conference Mennonite Church as an organization. 
The history of the church divides itself into two periods, the 
first dealing with the origin of the Amish and the history of the 
individual congregations which formed the organization. As 
noted before there were twelve congregations which formed 
the Central Conference Mennonite Church. The second part of 
the history deals with the organized conference, its activities 
and a history of the individual congregations which made 
application to be received into the Conference. The question 
that naturally arises at this point is, what is the origin of the 
Conference, and how did it receive its name ? The name Central, 
Conference, and Mennonite need an interpretation. As stated 
before the name Mennonite has been given to this group 
although a large majority of the membership is Amish. 

When the first church originated in 1853 the church was 
Amish and was affiliated with the Amish Conference of the 
United States and Canada. After 1872 when the church left the 
Conference and was under the leadership of Rev. Joseph Stuckey, 
people were called the Stuckey Amish, a name which is still 
given to our group by some people. The name Amish was 
dropped when the Conference was organized in 1908. The name 
Mennonite was deliberately chosen by this group in keeping 
with the tendency among the Amish people. In fact there are 
only a few of the most conservative among the Amish that 
retain the name. 

In this history the term Amish has been used generally up 
to this time, the time of organization of the Conference when 
the name Mennonite was officially taken. The Conference 
called itself the Central Illinois Conference of Mennonites. The 
significance of the term Central Illinois grows out of the fact 
that the first congregations originated, were established in the 



The Central Conference Mennonite Church 95 

counties of McLean, Woodford, Tazewell and Livingston. The 
Conference was called Central Illinois until 1914 when the name 
Illinois was dropped because quite a large number of the congre- 
gations added to the Conference were outside of the state of 
Illinois. The term Conference signifies an organization. The 
twenty-nine congregations included in this group are in one 
organized body called the Central Conference Mennonite 
Church. 

In order to trace the history of the origin of the Confer- 
ence as an organization it will be necessary to go back again 
to the history of the first church of this group of people. It will 
also be necessary to study the history of the Amish Conferences 
in America from 1862-1878. In 1853 Rev. Jonathan Yoder, an 
Amish bishop from Pennsylvania, came to McLean County and 
organized the Amish of Danvers Township and surrounding 
townships into a church. This church, as noted before, was 
located at the Rock Creek Fair Grounds. The Yoder Church, as 
well as all other Amish Churches in America, was independent 
of any conference affiliations from 1852-1862. 

In 1862, because of differences that had arisen among the 
Amish of America in customs and religious opinions, they 
organized a conference for the harmonizing of these differ- 
ences. This conference met each year in various parts of the 
country, the meetings being called "Dienerversammlungen." 
Rev. Jonathan Yoder was one of the leading bishops when 
the first conferences were held, and Rev. Joseph Stuckey, 
after his ordination in 1864 as bishop also became quite prom- 
inent. Rev. Jonathan Yoder was the moderator of the first 
conference held in 1862 in Wayne County, Ohio. One of 
these conferences was held in 1866 in Rev. John Strubhar's 
large barn near Danvers, Illinois. 

By about 1870 it was discovered by the Amish bishops 
that the differences were not being harmonized. There was 
considerable difference between the congregations of the East 
and those of Indiana and Illinois, particularly in relation to 
customs in dress and various religious practices. The Amish 



96 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

Church of the West in which this difference was marked 
was the one under the leadership of Rev. Joseph Stuckey. 
The Amish men of the East still wore hooks and eyes on 
their coats and vests and did not "shingle" their hair nor 
did they wear neckties. In some of the western congrega- 
tions, especially in the Stuckey Church, men began to wear 
buttons, shingle their hair and the younger men began to wear 
neckties. These were some general causes for the separation of 
Rev. Stuckey's congregation from the Amish conference. The 
real crisis came, however, through a situation that arose in Rev. 
Stuckey's congregation. 

Joseph Yoder, a brother of Rev. Jonathan Yoder, had come 
from Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, and settled in Danvers 
Township in 1848. He was a member of the Stuckey congrega- 
tion. Mr. Yoder was eccentric in his ways and very liberal in 
his religious views. He was somewhat of a genius for his day. 
Although having had very little schooling, he mastered Greek 
and Latin after he was forty and also began the study of 
Hebrew. He was a Bible student but his interpretation of 
the Scriptures did not always correspond with that of the inter- 
pretation of the church. He was a poet and began to express 
his religious views in various poems he wrote. One of them 
which caused a great deal of disturbance was "Die frohe Bot- 
schaft" in which he upheld the idea of universal salvation. Mr. 
Yoder reached this conclusion largely through his interpreta- 
tion of the love of God. A great deal of emphasis in his day 
was placed on the wrath of God and the eternal punishment 
of sinners. This was often over-emphasized by the church 
which naturally minimized the love of God. 

From a study of Mr. Yoder's religious poems, particu- 
larly "Die frohe Botschaft", it must be concluded that he was 
trying to break away from the extreme position on the wrath 
of God and in his emphasis on the love of God swung to the 
other extreme that all shall be saved. He undoubtedly was 
very much misunderstood by those who interpreted his poetry. 
This particular poem mentioned above found its way into the 



The Central Conference Mcnnonitc Church 97 

hands of some of the Amish bishops. At one of the conferences 
Mr. Yoder had someone to distribute some of his poems at 
the meeting. The Amish bishops denounced his one poem 
bitterly. It became one of the chief discussions in the Amish 
conferences from 1870-1872. 

Bishop Stuckey being the pastor of the writer of the poem 
was asked to expel him from the congregation. Mr. Yoder 
otherwise was a member in good standing in the church. Rev. 
Stuckey had a number of heated discussions with him but Avas 
not able to change Mr. Yoder's views. He even set Mr. Yoder 
back from communion but did not expel him. Rev. Stuckey 
was blamed by the eastern bishops of agreeing with his par- 
ishioner in his views on universal salvation. This was, how- 
ever, a sad mistake. The pastor being of a charitable disposi- 
tion did not wish to expel him from the congregation although 
he did not agree with him in his views. 

The final issue came in the Amish conference of 1872, 
held in Lagrange County, Indiana. In the written report of 
this conference given by the secretary and published later, 
it is stated that Rev. Stuckey refused to have his name listed 
with the rest of the ministers and the addresses that he gave 
at the conference were not printed. The Amish bishops 'of 
the East now refused to cooperate with him any longer. A 
committee composed entirely of eastern bishops was appointed 
to consult with Bishop Stuckey and try to adjust the matter. 
They, after investigation, declared they could not consider 
Rev. Stuckey in harmony with the Amish Church and could not 
cooperate with him. The Amish congregations of Central Illi- 
nois, with the exception of the Mackinaw Church stood by their 
leader and so from 1872 these churches were not in the Amish 
conference. There never was any formal division but from the 
above date Rev. Stuckey did not attend the Amish Conference. 
This, it might be mentioned incidentally, was the same year 
the North Danvers Church was built. Rev. Jonathan Yoder 
died in 1869 and Rev. Stuckey was the leader of the Amish. 
This accounts very largely for the name Stuickey Amish. In 



98 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

conclusion it should again be said that the incident related 
above was not the only cause for separation but also the fact 
that Rev. Stuckey's people were more progressive than the peo- 
ple of the East. 

From 1872-1898 when new Amish Conferences were formed, 
the churches under Rev. Stuckey's leadership remained sep- 
arate from all conference affiliations. Rev. Stuckey, how- 
ever, was in close touch through these years with the Gen- 
eral Conference of Mennonites and other Mennonite groups 
but his congregation never united with any of them. A re- 
port of the North Danvers Church is found in an 1890 report of 
the General Conference Churches of North America. His note 
books also revealed the fact that through travel and corres- 
pondence and subscribing for the church papers he was in con- 
tinual touch with Mennonite leaders of other conferences. Rev. 
Stuckey in this peoriod also took a great deal of interest in 
congregations which had similar experiences as his. He has 
been even blamed for causing divisions in churches. This 
does not seem to be the case but it can truthfully be said 
that he was always willing to assist through his effective leader- 
ship where a group of people were without conference affilia- 
tion or the proper leadership to make progress. His records 
show that he travelled both east and west in visiting congrega- 
tions and groups of people, who needed help, encouraging the 
work, ordaining bishops and ministers and helping congregations 
to succeed. 

From 1872 to 1898 Father Stuckey kept in close touch with 
the various Mennonite Conferences and was well informed about 
them. Due to his experiences, however, with the Amish Con- 
ference he could never be persuaded to unite with any of the 
other conferences. In September of 1898 the Middle District 
.Conference of the General Conference of Mennonites of North 
America held their yearly meeting in the community of the 
Stuckey Amish at the Rock Creek Fair Grounds. The con- 
ference was entertained by the North Danvers Church. Even 



The Central Conference Mennonite Church 99 

this conference held in Rev. Stuckey's own community did 
not convince him of the advisability of joining a conference. 

From the years 1883 to 1898 quite. a large number of young 
men had been ordained to the ministry by Rev. Stuckey, serv- 
ing as pastors in the various congregations of the Stuckey 
Amish. These ministers felt the need of help and instruction 
in the doctrines of the church and in methods of congregational 
work and also felt very keenly the need of closer cooperation 
as ministers. Rev. Aaron Augspurger, the grandson of Father 
Stuckey, spoke with him a number of times as to the need of 
ministers having a ,- meeting. Father Stuckey was not very 
enthusiastic about the idea and hesitated considerably. With 
his experience in the Amish Conference he did not like to risk 
another one. Largely, however, through the persuasion of 
Rev. Augspurger he finally gave his consent. Rev. Augspurger 
says : "Rev. Stuckey's opposition to a conference was due not 
so much to benefit of united action as it was to wrangling over 
non-essentials." 1 Rev. Augspurger wrote the letters calling the 
first ministerial meeting with the approval of Father Stuckey. 
It was held August, 5, 1899, at the home of Rev. Stuckey's assis- 
tant pastor, Rev. J. H. King, a few miles southeast of Carlock. 
Practically all of the ministers of the congregations then estab- 
lished were present at the meetings. Rev. Stuckey was presi- 
dent of the meeting. This meeting was so helpful that it was 
unanimously decided to have another one. The second meet- 
ing was held September 26, 1899, at the North Danvers 
Church. Ministers and a few laymen were present at this 
meeting. Rev. Peter Schantz was elected chairman of the 
meeting. After these meetings Rev. Stuckey said: "The child 
is born, name and nourish it but be careful how." His fare- 
well message to the ministers before his death in 1902 was : 
"Much hard work lieth before you." 

The conferences from 1898-1907 were largely in the nature 
of Bible study and a discussion of the doctrines of the church. 



* This quotation is taken from a brief history of the Origin of the 
Conference by Rev. Augspurger in the Year Book of 1923. 



100 History of Central Conference Mcnnonite Church 

The meetings were inspirational and not legislative. After 1900 
the Sunday School conference met with the church conference. 
But through the beginning of certain activities in the group 
it was found necessary to be more closely organized. The 
one particular activity which called for closer organization was 
the mission work of the church. Then on the other hand new 
congregations were being established and the work was expand- 
ing rapidly. 

In the conference of 1907 held in the East AVashington 
Church it was decided to organize permanently and a com- 
mittee was appointed to draft a constitution. The constitu- 
tional committee met December 10, 1907, at the North Dan- 
A ers Church and drafted the constitution. It was then dis- 
tributed to the congregations whose history has been given. 
These were to send their written acceptance to Rev. Aaron 
Augspurger, who was secretary, before the fall conference of 
1908. The twelve congregations thus became the charter mem- 
bers of the conference. The first 'conference under the new 
organization was held September 10, 1908, at the North Danvers 
Church. The name Central Illinois Conference of Mennonites 
was given to this new organization until in 1914 when the 
name was changed to Central Conference , Mennonite Church. 
There are now twenty-nine congregations in the conference with 
a membership of three thousand. 



CHAPTER XII. 
. REV. PETER SCHANTZ 

The history of the Central Conference Mennonite Church 
has now been given to 1908 and the conference is established. 
The leadership of the church has now changed from Rev. 
Joseph Stuckey, who died in February, 1902, to Rev. Peter 
Schantz. Since Rev. Schantz was the outstanding leader, both 
in the establishment of new churches and also in the mission 
work of the church, it is fitting that his biography should be 
given in detail. 

The outstanding leader of the Central Conference Mennon- 
ite Church for a quarter of a century (1896-1921) was Rev. 
Peter Schantz. He was born, near Congerville, Illinois, in 
AVoodford County, April 14, 1853. His parents, Jacob and 
Catherine Deiss Schantz came from Hesse Darmstadt, Germany, 
to America on their Avedding trip. Jacob Schantz was born 
about 1822 and Catherine Deiss 1824. They came to America 
in about the year 1847 and settled on a farm near Congerville. 
They lived in an old log cabin with tAvo rooms until December, 
1863, when they built a new house. 

In April, 1864, Rev. Schantz's father died and in September, 
1866, his mother, leaving him an orphan at the age of tAvelve. 
He was HOAV thrown upon his own resources to make his Avay 
in life. He Avas the second child in the family and so did not 
receive help from older brothers and sisters. The oldest in the 
family Avas his sister, Barbara, who later married Rev. Stephen 
Stanley. His school advantages were very meager, getting 
only a feAV months of schooling each year. After the death of 
his mother he Avas taken into the home of ReA r . Christian Imhoff 
who cared for him until he Avas twenty. In 1872, at the age of 
nineteen, he was baptized by Rev. Joseph Stuckey and became 
a member of the North Danvers Church. This was the first 
year of the neAvly organized church at North Danvers. 

December 23, 1875, he married Anna Kinsinger, a daughter 



102 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 




REV. PETER SCHANTZ 
1853-1925 




MOTHER CHURCH 
(North Danvers Church. Built in 1872.) 



Rev. Peter Schantz 103 

of Rev. Michael Kinsinger. After his marriage he moved on 
the farm of his father-in-law and lived there until 1877 when 
he bought the farm. In the winter of 1892 he moved to the 
White Oak district. Here he lived on a farm until August 
15, 1910, when he moved to Normal, Illinois. He died in Normal 
at the home of his son, July 24, 1925. 

In 1882 Peter Schantz was called to the ministry in the 
North Danvers Church and was ordained by Bishop Joseph 
Stu'ckey. Up to this time the North Danvers Church had quite 
a few older men as ministers such as Rev. John Strubhar, Rev. 
Joseph Stuckey, Rev. John Stahley, Rev. Christian Imhoff, Rev. 
Joseph Stalter, Rev. Michael Miller and Rev. Jacob Miller. 
By 1882 the following had died : Rev. Michael Miller, and Rev. 
Christian Imhoff. The rest of the ministers were getting very 
old, so Rev. Stuckey felt he needed younger men in the ministry. 
He appealed to the congregation and they elected two young 
men, Joash Stutzman and Peter Schantz. 

It is rather significant that for the first time younger men 
Avere called to the ministiy. Rev. Schantz was only twenty- 
nine years old, Rev. Joash Stutzman died in 1891 and by this 
time most of the older ministers had died, so Rev. Schantz 
became Rev. Stuckey's assistant pastor. As a minister he soon 
manifested his ability of leadership and as Father Stuckey was 
getting old he naturally became the leader of the church. In 
the early years of his ministry he spent a great deal of time 
in evangelistic work and with very good results. In 1900 he 
was ordained as a bishop and thus had to deal more with the 
official matters of the church. In the later years of his 'ministry 
he devoted a great part of his time to extension work. He had 
been field secretary of the mission board for seven or eight 
years until 1916 when he was elected field secretary of the 
conference with the understanding that he devote practically 
all of his time to extension work. He held this office until 1921. 

Being a man of broad vision and a born organizer he was 
continually seeking new places for the establishing of churches. 
In 1891 he was instrumental in starting a Sunday School at 



102 Historv of Central Conference Menu on it c Church 




REV. PETER SCHANTZ 
1853-1925 




MOTHER CHURCH 
(North Danvers Church. Built in 1872.) 



Rev. Peter Schants 103 

of Rev. Michael Kinsinger. After his marriage he moved on 
the farm of his father-in-law and lived there until 1877 when 
he bought the farm. In the winter of 1892 he moved to the 
White Oak district. Here he lived on a farm until August 
15, 1910, when he moved to Normal, Illinois. He died in Normal 
at the home of his son, July 24, 1925. 

In 1882 Peter Schantz was called to the ministry in the 
North Danvers Church and was ordained by Bishop Joseph 
Stuckey. Up to this time the North Danvers Church had quite 
a few older men as ministers such as Rev. John Strubhar, Rev. 
Joseph Stuckey, Rev. John Stanley, Rev. Christian Imhoff, Rev. 
Joseph Stalter, Rev. Michael Miller and Rev. Jacob Miller. 
By 1882 the following had died : Rev. Michael Miller, and Rev. 
Christian Imhoil. The rest of the ministers were getting very 
old, so Rev. Stuckey felt he needed younger men in the ministry, 
lie appealed to the congregation and they elected two young 
men, Joash Stutzman and Peter Schantz. 

It is rather significant that lor the first time younger men 
were called to the ministry. Rev. Schantz was only twenty- 
nine years old, Rev. Joash Stutzman died in 1891 and by this 
time most of the older ministers had died, so Rev. Schantz 
became Rev. Stuckey's assistant pastor. As a minister he soon 
manifested his ability of leadership and as Father Stuckey was 
getting old he naturally became the leader of the church. In 
the early years of his ministry he spent a great deal of time 
in evangelistic work and with very good results. In 1900 he 
was ordained as a bishop and thus had to deal more with the 
ollicial matters of the church. In the later years of his ministry 
he devoted a great part of his time to extension work. He had 
been field secretary of the mission board for seven or eight 
years until 1916 when he was elected field secretary of the 
conference with the understanding that he devote practically 
all of his time to extension work. He held this office until 1921. 

Being a man of broad vision and a born organizer he was 
continually seeking new places for the establishing of churches. 
In 1891 he was instrumental in starting a Sunday School at 



104 History of Central Conference Mcnnonitc Church 

Congerville. In 1892 he decided to go West because he felt 
there were enough ministers at the North Danvers Church and 
he was anxious to enter new fields. Just at this time about 
sixty members of the mother church living in the White Oak 
district organized a church and urged Rev. Schantz to become 
their pastor. He moved to the White Oak district in the winter 
of 1892. In April of 1899 he ordained Emanuel Trover as min- 
ister to assist him at East White Oak. In 1896 he organized 
a congregation at Congerville and in 1899 ordained Lee Lantz 
as minister and pastor of the church. Later when Rev. Lantz 
left for Nampa, Idaho, Rev. Schantz ordained George Gundy to 
take his place. 

Next the Hessian Mennonites of the South Danvers 
Church living around Hopedale asked for help and so he 
with the assistance of Rev. John Gingerich organized a congrega- 
tion at Hopedale, Illinois, September 15, 1901 and ordained John 
Litwiller as pastor. In 1905 he ordained Allen H. Miller as 
pastor of Bethel Mennonite Church. He saw an opening in 
Normal, Illinois, for mission work so he started a Sunday School 
July 24, 1910, and on March 27, 1912, organized the congre- 
gation. He then asked the congregation to extend a call to 
Rev. Lee Lantz of Nampa, Idaho, who came in 1912. In 1916, 
Aaron Egli, Avho had moved to Kouts, Indiana, asked Rev. 
Schantz to start a church there. So after a series of meeting 
from October 28th to November 6, 1916, a congregation was 
organized there and later Rev. Aaron Egli was ordained as 
pastor. Rev. Schantz also aided Bishop Stuckey in the estab- 
lishment of churches at Anchor, Meadows, Aurora and Silver 
Street Church, Goshen, Indiana. 

He was not only interested in the establishment of rural 
churches but was one of the first men in the church to encour- 
age mission work in the city. He was one of the leaders in the 
foreign mission work and served on the foreign mission com- 
mittee from it's beginning until his death. He became chair- 
man of the Home Mission Committee when it was organized 
in 1908. He had much to do with the establishing of the Men- 



Rev. Peter S chants 105 

nonite Gospel Mission in Chicago and the mission in Peoria. 
After his retirement in 1921 he remained an honorary member of 
the Foreign and Home Mission Committees until his death. 

In the 1920 conference at Flanagan, Illinois, when the time 
came to elect a field secretary, Rev. Schantz was again nomin- 
ated for the position. He then rose and said he must decline 
the nomination because of age and ill-health and advised the 
appointment of an active, younger man for the responsible 
position. Rev. Aaron Augspurger, Avho writes in the January, 
1921, Evangel an appreciation of Rev. Schantz's work says: 
''The delegates fully appreciated the situation. Rev. Schantz 
has always shown himself a man of unassuming, modest and 
humble disposition which displayed itself very feelingly at this 
time, the delegates immediatly acting upon his wishes and 
advice. The delegates then showed their appreciation of 
Rev. Schantz's long years of active service by voting to him 
a stipulated sum from the conference treasury. AVhile Rev. 
Schantz appreciated this recognition and gift yet there is no 
money or other material valuation which can properly express 
the value of Rev. Schantz's service to the conference and we 
regret to lose him from active duty." 

In conclusion then it may be said that Rev. Schantz was 
a man with a broad vision and a born organizer. He was a man 
of decision and persistence. His advice was sought by many 
in business matters as well as religion and in church work. 
Because of his progressive ideas and methods of work he had 
considerable opposition from time to time from the church. 
When he established the first congregations from the mother 
church it was difficult for the mother church to see the advisa- 
bility of such a step. Again when he decided at the East White 
Oak Church in 1910 to leave there and move to Normal a num- 
ber were not able to see with him the open field. Soon after 
the aclvisibility of it was seen when he pursued his field more 
actively than it was possible for him to do before. He was 
an indefatigable worker and made large sacrifices for the church. 

In closing this sketch it is fitting to quote from two of our 



106 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

present church leaders who knew Rev. 3chantz perhaps better 
than any others. The one is from Rev. Aaron Augspurger whose 
article in the church 'paper has been referred to above. In 
closing his discussion of Rev. Schantz's work he says: "Now 
that he is retiring there is probably not another man in the 
entire Conference who has so committed himself and all that 
he has to the service of the Kingdom of our Lord and to the 
Conference; has literally worn himself out in the work for the 
good of lost humanity; an indefatigable worker from the first 
to last who never g^e up when others despaired until he saw 
the victory. Where is the man or woman who has the gift of 
vocabulary to express in terms of value and appreciation the 
work and worth of our dear Brother Schantz to the Confer- 
ence? Who knows of the sacrifices he has made, the secret 
of which lies buried in his own bosom, and only known to him 
and his Lord. Who knows the vicissitudes of life and family 
cares, aside from his arduous spiritual cares which he has borne, 
and yet never a word of complaint, and always ready to go 
forward. Well might we all envy him in Christian heroism 
and emulate him in Christian service. 

Another man who knew him intimately was his assistant 
pastor at East White Oak, Rev. Emanuel Trover, who per- 
haps knew him better than any other minister in the Con- 
ference. At the death of Rev. Schantz in 1925 Rev. Troyer 
wrote a brief history of his life from which the following is 
quoted : "Brother Schantz was a man whose advice was sought 
in religious and business matters, a man with a broad vision 
for the Mennonite Church and a born organizer.* * * * *While 
Brother Schantz was a man of decision and persistency in 
that which he knew was right, he was also a kind hearted, 
generous, sympathetic friend. He never turned a deaf ear 
to anyone who came to him in trouble. He always tried to 
look at a situation from the view point of the other per- 
son. His every act was for the cause he loved so well. No 
one will ever know how much good he did for others. His 
life was lived for others and his delight was to call upon sin- 



Rev. Peter S chants 107 

ners to repent and accept Christ and hundreds of them did so 
in response to his earnest plea: The consciousness of being 
able to relieve someone who was suffering or of performing a 
kind deed was the only reward he craved. I deem it a distinct 
honor to have been his close personal friend. I never had a 
friend who was easier to love, safer to trust or worthier to honor. 
His association was a benediction, his life an inspiration and his 
memory a heritage. His trust was unwavering and the service 
which he rendered to God and his fellow-men was spontaneous 
and complete. His Christ-like qualities shine like the sun at 
noonday and his memory will remain -a perpetual benediction 
throughout coming generations." 

As we close the biographies of these three great church lead- 
ers Rev. Jonathan Yoder, Rev. Joseph Stuckey and Rev. Peter 
Schantz, the reader is reminded of the words of Carlyle when 
he says, "History is the essence of innumerable biographies;" 
and also Emerson, "There is properly no history, only biogra- 
phy." So in the lives of these three men it has not only been 
biography but the history of the church from 1853-1925. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW CHURCHES (1908-13). 

A history has been given in a former chapter of the twelve 
charter member congregations that formed the Central Confer- 
ence Mennonite Church. When these churches were estab- 
lished, each congregation was practically independent and there 
was no organized form of cooperation between the churches. 
The people in that period were usually called the Stuckey Am- 
ish, Rev. Joseph Stuckey being the outstanding leader. As we 
come to this second group of churches the situation has changed. 
Father Stuckey is dead. The twelve churches formed a con- 
ference in 1907-1908. So the following churches as they were 
established needed to make application to the Conference to be 
received and were then accepted by the organization at their 
annual meeting. The rest of the history will deal with the 
establishment of the remaining seventeen churches and also a 
history of the various activities of the Conference. 

BOYNTON MENNONITE CHURCH 

The first church to come into the Conference during this 
period was the Boynton Mennonite near Hopedale, Illinois. 
This church is an outgrowth of the South Danvers Hessian 
Mennonite Church. A number of familes of this congregation, 
such as the Nafsingers, Unzickers, Sutters, Brennemans and 
Jutzis lived in the community surrounding Hopedale and had 
some twenty miles to the South Danvers Church. 

Rev. Peter Schantz was at Wayland, Iowa, engaged in evan- 
gelistic work. Here he met Mrs. Wittrig who had several mar- 
ried children living in the Hopedale community. When she 
bid Rev. Schantz goodbye she urged him very strongly to do 
something for the Hopedale people. About this same time in 
1899 Abert Brenneman, living in this community, wrote to Rev. 
John Gingerich of the South Danvers Church asking for ser- 



The Establishment of A r ew Churches 109 

vices in their community. Rev. Gingerich referred the mat- 
ter to Rev. Peter Schantz, then pastor of the East AVhite Oak 
Church. In the summer of 1900 Rev. Schantz and Rev. Ging- 
erich held the first church service in the Brenneman school- 
house in Boynton Township, Tazewell County. Arrangements 
were then made to hold services every two weeks. 

In the spring of 1901 a Sunday School was organized 
under the leadership of Albert Brenneman. On September 
15, 1901, the members decided to form a new church organ- 
ization and also build a new church house. The building 
was erected in the summer of 1902 and dedicated December 
14th of the same year. In 1908 John Litwiler was ordained 
as minister and pastor of the. church, by Rev. Peter Schantz. 
This congregation came into the Conference in 1910. 

The activities of this church are preaching service and 
Sunday ^chool in the morning and Christian Endeavor in the 
evening service. The Christian Endeavor Society was organ- 
ized June 2, 1912, through the efforts of Elizabeth Streid, the 
field secretary of the Christian Endeavor, who had been there 
the Sunday before. A Ladies' Aid Avas organized April 25, 
1912. There was also some extension work done under the lead- 
ership of Aaron Egli who was a member of the congregation. 
He started a Sunday School in the Oak Grove schoolhouse 
three miles west of Hopedale. Through these efforts a number 
accepted Christ and became interested in Christian work. Sep- 
tember 1, 1911, Mr. Egli organized a Teachers Training Class 
at the schoolhouse. A two years' course Avas given in nine 
months with very creditable results. There were three conver- 
sions as a result of the course. February, 1913, Rev. Lee Lantz 
held meetings in the schoolhouse with good success. Mr. Egli 
later left and went to Kouts, Indiana. RCA?: John LitAviler 
Avas pastor of the church from the beginning until 1925. In the 
summer of 1925 Rev. Frank Mitchell, who .received his training 
at Witmarsum Seminary, supplied the pulpit. On October 1, 
1925, the congregation gave him a call to the pastorate Avhich 
he accepted. Rev. Mitchell is at present the pastor, of the 



110 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

church (1926), while Rev. Litwiler is a retired minister of 
the congregation. The membership of the church at present is 
eighty-two. 

SOUTH NAMPA MENNONITE, NAMPA, IDAHO. 

The South Nampa congregation was organized by a group 
of Mennonite people representing three different conferences. 
There were those from the Central Conference of Mennonites 
who had moved from Illinois to Idaho several years before. 
Then there were those who had left the old Mennonite Church 
at Nampa, Idaho, and also a few from the General Confer- 
ence of Mennonites. Not having a minister the members met in 
the spring of 1907 and organized a Sunday School. They had 
Scripture exposition and prayer service following the Sunday 
School session. 

In 1908, Rev. Lee Lantz, who had been pastor of the Con- 
gerville Mennonite Church, came to Nampa, Idaho, and became 
the pastor of the church. He was ordained as minister by 
Rev. Peter Schantz in the spring of 1899 and as bishop in 
1907. The congregation organized a Ladies' Aid Society in 
February, 1910. A Christian Endeavor Society was organ- 
ized in 1910. Rev. Lantz remained pastor of the church until 
1911. The congregation then called Rev. Merino Niswander 
who had been pastor of the Silver Street congregation at 
Goshen, Indiana. Rev. Niswander arrived in Nampa, Idaho, 
March 31, 1911. On Sunday, April 2nd, Rev Lee Lantz 
preached his farewell sermon in the morning and Rev. Ni- 
swander preached his first sermon in the evening. Rev. Lantz 
left for Normal, Illinois, where he had been called by Rev. Peter 
Schantz and the congregation to accept the pastorate. Rev. 
Niswander served the church as pastor one year. The church 
was then without a -pastor for six years when Rev. Lee -Lantz 
again returned to Nampa in June, 1918. He is at present 
the pastor of the church. The congregation was accepted by the 
Conference in 1910. The membership of the church is sixty-one. 



The Establishment of New Churches 111 

FIRST MENNONITE, NORMAL, LLINOIS 

One of the significant movements in the Mennonite Church 
has been the migration from the country to the villages, towns 
and cities. This has also been true in the Central Conference 
Mennonite Church. An attempt on the part of the church to 
provide places of worship for those who as retired farmers 
moved to town or who went to town to find occupation accounts 
for the establishing of some of the congregations. The first city 
church to be established in the Conference was the First Men- 
nonite at Normal, Illinois. A number of families from the East 
White Oak congregation and also neighboring Mennonite con- 
gregations had moved to Normal and Bloomington. Rev. 
Schantz saw the need of providing a place of worship for these 
people if they were to remain members of the Mennonite 
Church. He was also interested in reaching the non-churched 
families of Normal. He decided to establish a Sunday School 
in Normal and also to locate there as a minister. His 
plan had been to open a Sunday School May 1, 1910, but 
they were not able to find a suitable building to hold the ser- 
vices. The Sunday School was opened July 24, 1910, and the 
services were held in the upper room of a store building. The 
first Sunday there were twenty-five in attendance, seven of 
whom were children. The week following the first Sunday, 
house to house visitation was done, giving people an invita- 
tion to attend the services. The next Sunday there were fifty 
present, twenty of whom were children. The average attend- 
ance for the Sunday School for the first year was fifty. 

Rev. Schantz moved to Normal Aug. 15, 1910, and preaching 
services were held in connection with the Sunday School. The 
place of meeting was soon changed from the second story 
room over the store on the northwest corner of Main and Hovey 
Avenue to a schoolhouse on West Hovey Avenue. After a 
year's Sunday School and preaching services the members from 
the surrounding congregations who lived in Normal and Bloom- 
ington expressed a desire for an organized congregation in Nor- 



112 History of Central Conference Mcnnonitc Church 

mal. They also urged the building of a church. A com- 
mittee was appointed to select a location and they selected 
the corner of University Avenue and Church Street. The build- 
ing was dedicated on July 2, 1911. Rev. J. H. King. had charge of 
the dedication services 

Rev. Schantz took charge of the work but it was to be 
considered as a mission church of the East White Oak con- 
gregation. It continued as a mission church until March 27, 
1912, when a church was fully organized with thirty-five mem- 
bers. The first communion service Avas held May 5, 1912. 
At this service Rev. Schantz asked the congregation to extend 
a call to Rev. Lee Lantz of Nampa, Idaho, as pastor. He ac- 
cepted the call and began his work about the middle of the year 
1912. The church in the same year organized a Sunday School 
April 14th, a Ladies' Aid Society and also Christian Endeavor. 
Rev. Lantz remained pastor of the church until June, 1918, 
when he again returned to Nampa, Idaho. The congregation 
was accepted in the Conference in 1912. In July, 1918, Lee 
Hartzlers, who were at the Mennonite Gospel Mission at Chi- 
cago, came to Normal and Mr. Hartzler became pastor of the 
Normal Church. He Avas there only a short time and then 
resigned because of his health. The congregation then ex- 
tended a call to Rev. A. S. Bechtel who was installed as pas- 
tor April 13, 1919. Rev. Bechtel served the church one year 
and then left for Pulaski, Iowa. He preached his farewell ser- 
mon October 10, 1920. Rev. Schantz again took charge of the 
work until May 1, 1921, when Rev. W. H. Grubb of Schwenks- 
ville, Pennsylvania, began his pastorate. Rev. Grubb was in- 
stalled May 15, 1921. He is serving at present as the pastor 
of the church (1926). The membership of the church is eighty- 
seven. 

SILVER STREET MENNONITE, GOSHEN, INDIANA 

In 1840-1841 the first Amish came from Somerset County, 
Pennsylvania, to Elkhart and Lagrange Counties, Indiana. One 
of the congregations organized in these settlements Avas the 



The Establishment of New Churches 113 

Clinton Frame congregation, east of Goshen. In 1892 there 
was a division in this church largely because of the dress 
question, and about fifty of the members organized a new con- 
gregation. For a number of years there had been considerable 
disagreement between the ministers of the Clinton Church on 
these same questions and the lay members naturally took sides. 
The principal cause of the separation was that some fifty mem- 
bers of the church were banned from communion because they 
refused to accede to certain restrictions concerning dress, es- 
pecially women, and of shaving among men. It had been 
decided by the preachers and deacons that a member who 
opposed these ordinances had no right to commune. 

The final crisis came in 1892 when on the evening of June 
22nd, about fifty dissatisfied members met in the church to dis- 
cuss the situation. This is the only meeting they were allowed to 
have in the church, so the fifty dissatisfied members went to the 
old Union Chapel, located a short distance from the church, 
where meetings were continued. Rev. Ben Schrock, a retired 
preacher and former bishop of the Clinton Frame church, cast 
his lot with the dissatisfied members. Bishop Joseph Stuckey 
and Rev. Peter Schantz were invited by these members to 
come and aid them. One of the members said: "The members 
of the Silver Street Church will ever owe a debt of gratitude 
to Rev. Stuckey and Rev. Schantz that these brethren sacrificed 
their own work and the comforts of home to assist the new 
church in every way possible in giving counsel and advice in the 
dark hours of trial." Members of the congregation had written 
to Rev. Stuckey asking him to co.me but he at first refused 
because he did not wish to cause a division. A committee of 
five members were then sent from the dissatisfied group to 
Illinois to interview Father Stuckey. Finally he decided to go 
to Indiana but requested that Rev. Peter Schantz accompany 
him. Meetings were conducted from June 22nd to June 28th 
in 1892 when twenty-two new members were added to the 
church, eleven by baptism and eleven by confession and letter. 
On Sunday, June 28th, communion services were held and the 



114 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

whole membership, seventy-two in number, participated. 

The new church was also organized at this time and plans 
were made for the erection of a new church building. The trus- 
tees were instrutced to purchase a suitable tract of land and se- 
cured the ground where the Silver Street Church now stands. 
The church was built in the summer of 1892 at a cost of two 
thousand four hundred sixty-eight dollars and forty-eight cents. 
One thousand dollars of this money was received from the 
Clinton frame church for the financial interests the members 
of the new congregation had in the old. The church building 
was dedicated free of debt on October 20, 1892. Evangelistic 
meetings were continued after the dedication, continuing until 
October 30th when seventeen more persons were received into 
the church, now making a total membership of eighty-seven. 
During these meetings on October 27th the church elected J. 
C. Mehl as their pastor. Rev. Stuckey and Rev. Schantz had 
charge of the dedication services and also the ordination of 
J. C. Mehl. 

It is of interest to state here that the brethren Stuckey 
and Schantz especially stressed the fact to these members 
that their success in ministering to the needs of the com- 
munity depended much upon their attitude towards the old 
church. They emphasized the fact that the members should 
always be forgiving, kind, gentle and patient, manifesting a 
truly Christian spirit. The Silver Street congregation felt the 
need of closer relationship with other church bodies and so 
they united with the Middle District of the General Conference 
of Mennonites of North America. They united at the time 
the conference was held at the Fairgrounds, north of Danvers, 
Illinois, in 1898. Rev. Mehl explained that the Central Illinois 
Conference was not as yet organized and their church was located 
about the center of the territory of the Middle District of the 
General Conference. Rev. J. C. Mehl served the church from 
October 27, 1892, to February 25, 1906. He then asked for a 
year's leave of absence because of his health. The congregation 
then extended a call to Menno A. Niswander who was a student 



The Establishment of New Churches 115 

at Bluffton College/ He accepted the call, was ordained by Rev. 
J. B. Baer, pastor of the Ebenezer Mennonite Church near 
Bluffton, Ohio, on February 18, 1906. He began his pastorate 
at Silver Street February 2, 1906, and served the church until 
March, 1911. He then accepted a call to tjhe Nampa, Idaho, 
Church. 

Rev. Alvin K. Ropp became pastor of the Silver Street 
Church, taking up the work in May, 1911. In the spring of 1913 
the church was organized in Goshen and Rev. Ropp became 
pastor of the Goshen Church. Rev. Ropp accepted the pastorate 
of the Silver Street Church with the understanding that the 
church transfer her membership to the Central Conference of 
Mennonites. In 1911 this congregation was accepted as a mem- 
ber of the Conference. Rev. Ropp's accepting of the pastorate 
of the newly organized congregation at Goshen necessitated the 
calling of a pastor for the Silver Street Church. A business 
meeting was held at the church on the evening of April 11, 
1913. At this meeting the church elected Allen Yoder to become 
their pastor. Rev. Allen Yoder was ordained to the ministry 
and also as bishop by Rev. Valentine Strubhar, April 20, 1913. 
Rev. Allen Yoder is at present the pastor of the church (1926). 
The church organized a Christian Endeavor Society in 1912. 
The church had held the Bible Readings before the time of 
the organization of the Christian Endeavor. A Ladies' Aid 
Avas also organized by the women of the church. The present 
membership of the church is two hundred and five. 

TISKILWA MENNONITE, TISKILWA, ILLINOIS. 

By the year of 1910 there were a number of Mennonite peo- 
ple living in Tiskilwa, Illinois. These people requested ser- 
vices to be held for them in town. Rev. Peter Schantz was 
instrumental in starting work at this place and arranging for 
services. Rev. Lee Lantz and Rev. J. H. King held union 
meetings in the Methodist Church in Tiskilwa, November, 1910. 
Again from November 10th to November 26, 1911. Rev. J. H. 



116 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church ' 

King and Rev. Valentine Strubhar held meetings in the town 
hall. During these meetings, November 23, 1911, a church 
was organized. The services were held regularly in the town 
hall. In May, 1912, the congregation called Eugene Augspurger 
of Meadows, Illinois, to become their pastor. He was ordained 
by Rev. J. H. King in June, 1912. He began his pastorate at 
Tiskilwa June 12, 1912 and continued until September, 1920. 
During this time the church organized the Ladies' Aid Society 
March 3, 1913, and also a Christian Endeavor Society in Jan- 
uary, 1913. 

Beginning with 1913 the congregation urged the erection 
of a new church building. The church was built of con- 
crete block with a felt roof. The basement of the church 
was arranged for Sunday School work. The building was 
dedicated May 15, 1913. The dedicatory services were con- 
ducted by Rev. J. H. King. The congregation was accepted in 
the Conference in 1912. Rev. Augspurger left Tiskilwa in Sep- 
tember of 1920, having accepted a call to the Eighth Street 
Church, Goshen, Indiana. From 1920-25 the church was with- 
out a resident pastor. On September 20, 1925, Ernest Bohn 
of Topeka, Indiana, was installed as pastor of the church. He 
was ordained to the ministry August 15, 1926, by Bishop Allen 
Miller of Pekin, Illinois. Rev. Emanuel Troyer had charge of the 
installation service. Rev. Bohn is serving at present (1926) as 
the pastor of the Church. The present membership of the 
church is sixty-one. 

SOUTH WASHINGTON CHURCH, WASHINGTON, ILL. 

The establishment of the South Washington Church conies 
as a result of the problem of introducing the English language 
into the churches. Most of the early settlers that came to 
Central Illinois, came from German speaking communities and 
most of them were German by birth. At first they had the 
privilege of establishing their own German private schools and 
teaching their children German language, but after 1850 with the 



The Establishment of Neiv Churches 117 

tax supporting- English schools the private German schools 
went out of existence. The children of the German Amish 
received all of their training in the public schools in the Eng- 
lish language. The only German they were privileged to get 
was what they learned in the homes from their parents or 
received in the Sunday Schools. It has been noted already that 
the Sunday Schools in the congregation from the time of their 
establishment to about 1896 were German. The ABC Ger- 
man primer was used for the children and the German Bibles 
for the adults. It was the children who had been taught in 
the public schools in the English language that urged in the 
churches that English Sunday School and English preaching 
should be introduced. It was a legitimate request because 
these young people were not able to understand. German teach- 
ing or preaching. 

There was considerable difficulty in a number of congre- 
gations largely because of ministers who had come directly 
from Germany. One of the most serious difficulties was the 
one in the East Washington Church. In 1889 Michael Kin- 
singer, who had come from Germany, was ordained to the 
ministry in the East Washington Church. By 1892 some of 
the younger people of the church wanted English introduced 
into the church service. Rev. Michael Kinsinger was very 
much opposed to it. Various attempts were made by leaders 
of the church to persuade Rev. Kinsinger to allow English. 
Bishop Stuckey's records show that on April 28, 1894, and 
again on June 24, 1894, he with Rev. Schantz went to Washing- 
ton to try to settle the difficulty. Soon after Rev. Stuckey's 
visits the division came and Rev. Kinsinger and Rev. Christian 
Imhoff, with a group of people sympathetic with them, organ- 
ized what is now known as the South Washington Church. 

This congregation remained independent of the Conference 
until 1912. By 1911 Rev. Michael Kinsinger was becoming quite 
old and realized keenly the need of help. He appealed through 
Rey. Joseph Kinsinger of Meadows, Illinois, for help from the 
Conference. Three ministers were sent to assist the South 



118 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

Washington Church, Rev. Joe. Kinsinger, Rev. John Kinsinger, 
and Rev. J. H. King. Meetings were conducted by these, breth- 
ren from February 11 to 18, 1912, to prepare the church for 
the work that needed to be done. Two things were accom- 
plished. In the first place a minister was ordained in the con- 
gregation and in the second place the church came into the 
Conference. The congregation elected John Kennel as their pas- 
tor and he was ordained February 18, 1912. Rev. Kinsinger 
was not able to attend these meetings because, of his feeble 
condition. The resolutions that were niade by the church were 
read to him at his home and he consented to put the church 
in complete charge of the. brethren. Rev. Michael Kinsinger 
died April 10, 1912. The church organized a Ladies' Aid Ma}' 
2, 1912. The congregation asked for admission into the Con- 
ference in 1912 and was accepted. Rev. J. J. Kennel is at pres- 
ent (1926) the pastor of the church. The present membership 
is one hundred and two. 

EIGHTH STREET MENNONITE CHURCH, GOSHEN, 

INDIANA. 

By 1913 there were a number of families of the Silver 
Street Church living in Goshen, Indiana. In December, 1911, 
Rev. A. K. Ropp, pastor of the Silver Street Church, moved to 
Goshen. In the beginning of 1913 the members living in Goshen 
were considering the advisibility of starting a new church. 
On the evening of February 28, 1913, tweny persons met at the 
home of Rev. A. K. Ropp to discuss the situation. It was 
decided at this meeting to establish a new congregation. A 
dwelling house was purchased, located at 616 S. Fifth Street 
which was remodeled so that it could be used for a church. 
This building was dedicated on April 20, 1913. Rev. Valentine 
Strubhar conducted the dedication services. Rev. A. K. Ropp 
became the pastor of the church. The congregation began with 
fifteen charter members. By November of the same year the 
membership had increased to thirty. The church had a rapid 



The Establishment of New Churches 119 

growth. By 1915 there were fifty-five members and by 1918 
seventy-three members. 

The various activities of the church were established such 
as Sunday School with the beginning of the church; Christian 
Endeavor was organized in April, 1914; a Ladies' Aid was also 
organized. Rev. Ropp served the congregation until the spring 
of 1917. In July of. the same year Rev. L. E. Blauch of Ohio 
Avas called. He was ordained December 2, 1917, by Rev. John 
Lehman. Rev. Blauch asked for a leave of absence, leaving 
in February, 1919. Because of the rapid growth of the church 
by 1919 the congregation in May, 1919, decided to build. In 
the same year and month Rev. W. W. Miller of Chicago 
accepted a call to the pastorate of the church. The new church 
building was erected on Eighth Street. It was dedicated May 
2. 1920, Rev. E. A. Troyer having charge of the dedicatory ser- 
vices, assisted by Rev. Allen Miller, Rev. L. E. Blauch and 
Rev. J. F. Funk of Elkhart, a pioneer Mennonite minister. Rev. 
Miller resigned August 15, 1920, and Rev. Eugene Augspurger 
of Tiskilwa, Illinois, began his pastorate September 5, 1920. 
Rev. Augspurger served the church until October, 1921, 
when he left to move to Normal, Illinois. Rev. William B. 
AVeaver then preached for the congregation until June, 1922. 
In January, 1923, Rev. I. R. Detweiler became pastor of the 
congregation and is at present serving the church as pastor 
(1926). This congregation came into the Conference in 1913. 
The congregation has had another rapid growth from 1924 to 
1926. This was due to the efficient leadership of Rev. Detweiler 
and also to the fact that quite a large number of the Goshen 
College congregation affiliated themselves with this church. 
The present membership of the church is two hundred. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW CHURCHES (1914-26). 

CARLOCK M.ENNONITE CHURCH 

The North Danvers Mennonite Church has been the parent 
of quite a few of the congregations in the Conference. The 
history of some of these has already been given, such as East 
White Oak, Congerville, and Anchor. Another one came as a 
result of a number of Mennonite people moving to town. Car- 
lock, -the same as Congerville, was established when the Lake 
Erie and Western was built through that territory. Quite a 
large number of families belonging to the North Danvers 
Church lived in Carlock and its vicinity. In 1911 Rev. J. 
H. King, one of the pastors of the North Danvers Church, 
moved to Carlock. 

One of the first steps in the establishment of the Car- 
lock Mennonite Church was the organization of a Ladies' 
Aid by the Mennonite women of the North Danvers Church 
living in and around Carlock. This society Avas organized 
as a branch of the North Danvers Ladies' Aid in April, 1912. 
In the spring of 1913 a prayer meeting circle was organized 
by the Mennonite families in Carlock. Rev. King was 
the leader of this prayer circle. The third step came when 
in June, 1913, some of the members of the Ladies' Aid with 
some of the resident members of the United Presbyterian Church 
organized a Christian Endeavor Society. The meetings of this 
society were held in the old Presbyterian Church each Sunday 
evening. After the Christian Endeavor session Rev. King con- 
ducted preaching services. There were about twenty-three Men- 
nonite families living in Carlock and some of these had no way 
of attending the church in the country. They appreciated 
the opportunity of attending services in town. The Presbyte- 
rian building was sold the latter part of 1913 and so it neces- 
sitated the changing of the place of meeting. The town hall 



The Establishment of New Churches 121 

was rented for a year and on January 4, 1914, a Sunday School 
was organized, conducted by the Mennonites and United Pres- 
byterians. Eighty-four were present at the first Sunday School 
session. The second Sunday in January there were one hundred 
and two present. Rev. Troyer held evangelistic meetings at 
this place from January 22, to February 8, 1914. 

In this same month the first steps were taken toward the 
organization of the church. The church membership book was 
opened February 18th and all those who wished to unite with 
this new organization were given time to sign their names 
until Easter, April 12, 1914. On April 14th, Easter Day, special 
services were held in the town hall. William B. Weaver of 
Goshen, Indiana, spoke in the morning and evening service. 
The church was organized on the same day with a member- 
ship of one hundred and three. The church became a member 
of the Conference in 1914. 

The first movement toward the new church building 
came on Thanksgiving Day, 1914. An all-day service was 
held in the hall on that day and in the afternoon the necessity 
of a church building was given careful consideration. In Jan- 
uary, 1915, the first definite steps were taken when a special 
meeting was called, and at the meeting committees appointed 
and pledges made. The building was begun the latter part of 
May, the corner stone laid June 12, 1915, by the pastor, J. H. 
King. Rev. Emanuel Troyer gave an inspiring address on this 
occasion. The new church building was dedicated Sunday, 
January 2, 1916. Rev. J. A. Huffman, at that time of Bluffton, 
Ohio, gave the main address of the day. Rev. Emanuel Troyer 
had charge of the dedicatory services. 

Rev. J. H. King agreed to remain pastor of the church 
until they would be able to get someone else. August 31, 
1919, Rev. W. S. Shelly of Chicago preached at Carlock and 
in November 16th to 30th held, evangelistic meetings. The 
congregation extended a call to Rev. W. S. Shelly and he 
began his pastorate June 6, 1920. Rev. Shelly is at pres- 
ent (1926) the pastor of the church. This church has 



122 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

had the privilege of entertaining a number of important con- 
ferences. In 1914 the Central Mennonite Conference; in 1915 
the Christian Endeavor Rally; in 1916 the All-Mennonite 
Convention; in 1924 the first Christian Workers Institute; 
also Interdenominational Peace Conferences on Armistice Day 
for the last five years, and in August, 1926, the Peace Con- 
ference held under the auspices of the Friends, Church of the 
Brethren, Schwenkf elders and Mennonites. The present mem- 
bership of the church is one hundred and twenty-six 

KOUTS MENNONITE CHURCH, KOUTS, INDIANA. 

The next congregation to be established was the one in 
the vicinity of Kouts, Indiana, Porter County. Two groups 
of Mennonites were found in this community ; a few families 
from the Old Conference of Mennonites and then the families 
of the Central Conference. The young man particularly respons- 
ible for the organizing of the church there was Aaron Egli. 
He Avas raised in the Hopedale community and had there been 
very active in extension work. He had organized a mission 
Sunday School at the Oak Grove schoolhouse near Hopedale. 
Through the efforts of Mr. Egli a Teachers Training Class 
was organized there and also evangelistic services by Rev. Lee 
Lantz. Through these activities quite a large number accepted 
Christ and also quite a few were trained for Christian service. 

In the spring of 1916 Mr. Egli and his father, Christian Egli, 
bought land near Kouts, Indiana, and moved there very early 
in the spring. In April, 1916, a Sunday School was organized 
with John Reinhart and Aaron Egli as superintendents. These 
Sunday School sessions were held in a schoolhouse. Later 
Mr. Reinhardt resigned and Mr. Egli had charge of the services. 
In the conference of 1916 held at East Washington Mr. Egli 
made an appeal for the establishing of a church in their commu- 
nity. Besides the Sunday School activity, prayer meetings were 
also held in the homes every week. In November, 1916, the field 
secretary, Rev. Schantz, visited the settlement and held services 



The Establishment of New Churches 123 

in the school house from October 28th to November 6th. As 
a result of these meetings two were baptized and several weeks 
later one received by letter, two by confession. This now 
made a nucleus of nine members for a congregation. Rev. 
Schantz frequently visited the congregation and gave assistance. 
A church was organized in 1918. This congregation made 
application to be received into the Conference August 25, 1918, 
and was accepted at the annual meeting held at the North Dan- 
vers Church August 27-29, 1918. On March 30,1919, Mr. Aaron 
Egli was ordained as minister by Rev. Joseph Zehr at the home 
of Mr. Egli's father near Kouts, Indiana. The Kouts congre- 
gation has been very active in various conference activities and 
although few in numbers have been very good supporters of 
missions and institutional activities of the church. A Ladies' 
Aid Society was organized in the congregation November, 1920. 
Christian Endeavor organization was established 1925. Rev. 
Egli was ordained as a bishop May 23, 1926, by Rev. Emanuel 
Troyer at the home of his father Christian Egli, Kouts, Indiana. 
Rev. Egli is at present (1926) the pastor of the church. The 
present membership of the church is twenty-four. Services at 
present are held in the town of Kouts which is a better centre 
for church activity. 

BELLEVIEW MENNONITE CHURCH, COLUMBUS, 

KANSAS. 

The next congregation to come into the Conference is 
located in the extreme southeast corner of Kansas in Cherokee 
County, and is called the Belleview Mennonite congregation. 
This congregation was a result of extension work being begun 
by the Mennonite congregation at Newton, Kansas. There 
were a few families of Nofsingers living in the community near 
Columbus, Kansas, and Rev. Samuel Mishler who lived about 
fifteen miles south held regular services there. John, Will- 
iam and August Nofsinger with their families came to 
Kansas from Central Illinois. Rev. Samuel Mishler had ori- 



124 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

ginally come from Pennsylvania but had come to Kansas in 1880 
from Central Illinois. He was responsible for the establishment 
of the Belleview Mennonite Church. One of the members says 
that he would drive up in a wagon from his home on Saturday 
evenings and stay over Sunday. He hel'd services twice a month. 
In about 1888 Rev. Samuel Mishler ordained John Nofsinger, 
a member of the congregation and one of the original settlers, 
as pastor of the church. Rev. Mishler returned to Central 
Illinois in March, 1896, and died April 10, 1896. Rev Nofsinger 
was pastor until his death September 19, 1918. Since this time 
the congregation has been without a pastor. This church re- 
mained without any conference affiliations until 1920 when they 
petitioned 'the Conference for admission. At the conference held 
at Flanagan, Illinois, August 31st-September 2d, they were 
received into the Conference. The membership of the church 
is twenty-four. This is one of the congregations of the "Confer- 
ence that needs a pastor. 

WASHINGTON CENTER MENNONITE CHURCH 

Another congregation to come into the Conference in the 
last few years has been the one established in Gratiot County, 
Michigan. In February, 1921, a few families from the Pekin 
Mennonite Church, near Pekin, Illinois, moved into the vicinity 
of Pompeii and Ashley. For a few years these people wor- 
shipped with the Old Mennonite congregation in the community. 
This church is an extension of the Pekin Mennonite Church and 
some of the families established there are relatives of Rev. 
Allen Miller, President of the Conference. In the summer of 
1924 Rev. Allen Miller and Rev. Emanuel Troyer spent seven 
days in meetings there June 15-22 and June 22d organized a 
Sunday School. In August, 1924, they organized a church with 
twenty-two charter members. At the 1924 conference held at 
Congerville, Illinois, Rev. Allen Miller presented a petition for 
this congregation and they were admitted as a member of the 
Conference Septmber 3, 1924. This congregation has no resi- 



The Establishment of Neva Churches 125 

dent pastor at present. In 1925 they purchased a church build- 
ing of the Evangelical Church. The present membership is thirty. 
This is another one of the congregations that is in need of 
a pastor. 

COMINS MENNONITE CHURCH, COMINS, MICHIGAN.' 

The next congregation to come into the Conference in 1926 
is the one established at Comins, Michigan. A number of 
Mennonite families living in the vicinity of Comins had been 
worshipping with the Methodists for a number of years. Mr. 
F. F. Stutesman, formerly of the Old Mennonite congregation, 
started Sunday School in Comins after the Methodist Sunday 
School had died out. Mr. Stutesman started his Sunday School 
as a Union school. In 1924 Mr. Stutesman came to Middle- 
bury, Indiana, to interview RCA^. Emanuel Troyer, the field 
secretary, to see what could be done for them. Rev. Troyer then 
went to Comins and held revival services in the fall of 1924. 
Rev. Allen Yoder and Rev. Emanuel Troyer then went to 
Comins in summer of 1925 and organized a congregation. The 
congregation asked for admission into the Conference. The ap- 
plication for membership was read by the secretary at the con- 
ference held at the Silver Street Mennonite Church, August 29th 
to September 1, 1925. The application was accepted and they be- 
came a member of the Conference. A new church building was 
erected in 1925 and was dedicated November 1st. Rev. Allen 
Miller, Rev. Emanuel Troyer and Rev. Allen Yoder had charge 
of the dedicatory services. The present membership of the 
church is twenty-six. From Nov. 30 Dec. 6, 1926, Rev. Eman- 
uel Troyer assisted by Rev. H. E. Nunemaker conducted evan- 
gelistic meetings at the church. The church extended a call 
to Rev. Nunemaker to serve as pastor. He accepted the call and 
began his pastorate February 15, 1927. 

INDEPENDENT MENNONITE CONGREGATIONS 

The last two congregations that came into the Central 
Conference Mennonite Church were the Warren Street Men- 



126 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

nonite Church, Middlebury, Indiana, and the Barker Street Men- 
nonite Church, Mottville, Michigan. These had formerly 
belonged to the Old Mennonite Church but had been independ- 
ent congregations a few years before coming into the Confer- 
ence. The Warren Street Mennonite congregation had .been 
a member of the Indiana-Michigan District Conference of the 
Old Mennonites while the Barker Street congregation was under 
the general supervision of the Indiana-Michigan Home Mission 
Board of the Conference. Since the reasons for these congre- 
gations, with others, leaving the Old Mennonites are similar, 
a brief statement of the situation will be given. 

These are not very different from the ones that caused 
the separation between Father Stuckey and his people and 
the Amish Church in 1872. In fact history has repeated 
itself a number of times in the Mennonite Church as it re- 
lated to factions and divisions due to customs and practices 
of the church. For a number of years the conviction grew 
upon a number bf ministers and laity in some of the congre- 
gations of Indiana and Ohio that the emphasis placed by 
the Old Conference on customs and various regulations to 
support these customs particularly concerning dress were 
a hindrance to the progress of the work of the church as 
well as without Scriptural basis. The crisis came in Northern 
Indiana in the conference held in the summer of 1923, when 
a resolution was passed providing for the excommunication of 
women wearing hats, and further that ministers who failed to 
carry out the provisions of the resolution should be silenced. 
There were a number of ministers who could not conscientiously 
carry out the resolution and were thus dismissed from the 
ministry. In both of the congregations there were quite a 
large number of lay-members who were in sympathy with 
their ministers and did not wish them to be silenced. In the 
Middlebury congregation the church divided and those sym- 
pathetic with the pastor who was to be silenced formed an inde- 
pendent congregation while at Barker Street practically the 
whole congregation supported the minister. 



The Establishment of New Churches 127 

WARREN STREET MENNONITE CHURCH 

The Mennonite Church at Middlebury, Indiana, from which 
the Warren Street congregation came, was organized as a 
result of Mennonites and Amish from surrounding communities 
moving to town. 

The first meeting pertaining to the opening of work by the 
Mennonite Church in the town of Middlebury was held in 
the home of Dr. W. B. Page in August, 1902. About twelve 
members living in the town and its vicinity were present at 
the meeting. The , ministers of the Forks congregation were 
also present but they neither discouraged nor endorsed the 
movement. There were about forty Mennonite members living 
in the town and vicinity who, however, belonged to the Forks, 
Shore or Clinton Churches. 

During the winter of 1903 a number of the . Mennonites 
living in Middlebury met one evening each week at the various 
homes for a song and prayer service and also study the Sunday 
School lesson for the next Sunday. These meetings led to the 
renting of a public hall in the spring of 1903 for worship. A 
Sunday School was organized and provisions made for the 
supplying of the pulpit by ministers from surrounding con- 
gregations. 

In the winter of 1903-04 Evangelistic meetings were held, 
conducted by Rev. M. S. Steiner, Columbus Grove, Ohio. 
Weekly services were continued throughout the spring and 
summer which finally resulted in the organization of a congre- 
gation July, 1904, with Rev. A. J. Hostettler, who had recently 
moved into the community, as minister and Rev. D. J. Johns of 
Goshen, Indiana, as bishop. The charter membership of the 
church was about thirty-two. By the spring of 1906 it had 
increased to forty-five and for the next seven or eight years the 
congregation kept on increasing about twenty-five a year. 

In December, 1907, Simon S. Yoder, who was serving as 
deacon in the Forks congregation, was ordained as minister 



128 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

in the Middlebury Church. ' In 1911 the congregation purchased 
three vacant lots in Middlebury and erected a new church build- 
ing which was a credit to the Mennonite Church of that day. 
J. C. Hershberger, a deacon of the Clinton Brick congregation, 
became a member of the Middlebury congregation in 1911 
and served as its deacon until his death in 1920. * 

Under the efficient leadership of Rev. S. S. Yoder the 
church made rapid progress. Rev. Yoder served on a number 
of church committees and was chairman of the Executive Sun- 
day School Committee from 1916 until 1923. He was one 
of the pastors referred to in the former discussion who 
could not conscientiously carry out the Conference resolution on 
the dress question and so he with quite a large number of the 
members of the Middlebury congregation organized an independ- 
ent church and became the Warren Street Mennonite 
Church. From 1923 to 1926 the congregation existed independent 
of any Conference affiliation. In the 1926 conference of the Cen- 
tral Conference Mennonite Church held at Washington, Illi- 
nois, the Warren Street congregation was accepted as a mem- 
ber of the Conference. Rev. S. S. Yoder is the pastor at the 
present time. The membership of the congregation is eighty- 
one. 

BARKER STREET MENNONITE CHURCH 

The original Barker Street Mennonite Church is located 
tAvo miles northwest of Vistula, Indiana, in Elkhart County. 
It received its name from the name of the road or street on 
which it is located. This church community was founded by 
Amish families coming from Ohio and Pennsylvania. In 1861 the 
first Amish family, John. Plank's, came. In 1863 came the Yoder 
families, Jonas Kurtz, Abram Zook, the Kings, Kauffmans and 
Jonathan Hartzler, Sr. and Jonathan Hartzler, Jr. In 1864 



! The data for the history of Warren St. congregation was received 
from Rev. S. S. Yoder, the pastor. 



The Establishment of New Churches 129 

came the Troyer families, Joseph Kauffman, and Jephthah Plank, 
and in 1870 Solomon Zooks and Joseph Zeiglers. 

Services were begun in this community in 1863 in a small 
schoolhouse across the road from the present Barker Street 
church house. In 1866 a new schoolhouse was built one mile 
Avest of the old schoolhouse and the services were held there 
until the church house was built. The first Sunday School in 
this community was organized in 1868 with Samuel Hartzler 
as superintendent. It was conducted in the German language 
as was also the church service. The first revival meeting was 
held by Rev. J. S. Coffman in 1879. 

From 1863 to 1867 the pulpit was supplied by ministers 
from surrounding church communities. In 1866 occurred the 
first ordination in this congregation when Christian Warye was 
ordained to the office of deacon. He is the only deacon the 
church ever had. In 1867 Jonas Yoder was ordained minister 
but soon left for West Liberty, Ohio. John Hartzler was also 
ordained to the ministry but soon left for Cass County, Missouri. 
In 1869 Rev. Joseph Yoder, a minister from Topeka, Indiana, 
moved to Barker Street. He was ordained bishop a few years 
later. Rev. Yoder was pastor until about 1883 when he left 
for Iowa. 

From 1883 to 1892 the church' had no resident pastor but 
Rev. J. F. Funk and Rev. Samuel Yoder of Elkhart, Indiana, 
supplied the pulpit, preaching every two weeks. This is the 
time when English services were introduced. About 1892 Rev. 
Harvey Friesner, who had been ordained minister at Bronson, 
Mich., in 1876 moved to Barker Street and became the pastor 
of the Church. 

In about 1892 Rev. John Blosser of Ohio and Rev. J. S. 
Hartzler of Indiana held meetings in the schoolhouse of Barker 
Street and after the meetings urged the congregation to build 
a church house. The church house was built in 1893. The 
church was never very successful from the standpoint of large 
membership. The largest membership the church perhaps ever 
had was sixty-four. This is largely due to the fact that the 



130 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

soil is sandy and has not been very productive and so the 
community has not had very many permanent farmers. 2 

One of the outstanding events in the history of the Barker 
Street congregation was the revival meetings held by a gospel 
team from Goshen College. This was the first gospel team sent 
out by the extension department of the Y. M. C. A. of Goshen 
College. The team was composed of Rev. Amos Geigley, Aaron 
Eby, Walter E. Yoder, Orie Miller and Wm. B. Weaver who 
was chairman of the extension department. The gospel team 
found when they arrived on the field that the church was merely 
existing. Very few of the members attended the regular ser- 
vices of the church. At the close of the series of meetings by 
the gospel team there were forty-three confessions. The major- 
ity of these converts were young people and parents. There 
were bright prospects for the starting of a church which would 
serve the community. The gospel team kept in touch with 
the forty-three converts and all but two expressed their desire 
to unite with the church at Barker Street but when the dress 
regulations of the Conference were presented as a quali- 
fication for membership only eleven of the converts decided 
to join the congregation; the other converts joined some other 
church. The Indiana-Michigan Mission Board took charge of 
the work and with the assistance of Bishop D. J. Johns made 
provision for supplying the pulpit of the church. Wm. B. 
Weaver was licensed to preach and served the congregation 
during the year 1913. He was assisted by Walter E. Yoder, 
who had charge of the song service. 3 June 4, 1914, the Mission 
Board took complete control of the congregation. In the spring 
of 1914 W. W. Oesch moved in the Barker Street community 
from Cass County, Missouri, and was superintendent of the 



2- The material for the early history of Barker St. was taken from 
the Rural Evangel of Jan. 1, 1922. This paper was published by the 
Indiana-Michigan Mission Board. Bishop J. K. Bixler of Elkhart, Ind., 
was editor of the paper, also author of the history of Barker St. 

3- The report of Gospel team's work is taken from the writer's records, 
he being a member of the team. 



The Establishment of Neiv Churches 131 

Sunday School. He was ordained to the ministry October 18, 
1914, by Bishop Jacob K. Bixler and was given charge of the 
congregation. Rev. Oesch served as pastor under the Mission 
Board from 1914 to 1923. For reasons stated in a former dis- 
cussion Rev. Oesch and the congregation were excommunicated 
from the Conference, December 10, 1923. The congregation 
continued its regular worship in the Barker Street church 
until April of 1924. At this time the congregation, feeling that 
there was a larger field of labor in the Mottville community, 
changed their place of worship from the Barker Street Church to 
the village of Mottville, two miles north of the church. Here 
a church building was purchased and a union church and Sun- 
day School started. This union service has been continued 
now for several years with good results. The Mennonite con- 
gregation, however, maintained its identity and communion was 
regularly observed at the Barker Street Church. 4 

At a meeting of the congregation held August 22, 1926, a 
resolution was unanimously passed requesting admittance into 
the Central Conference Mennonite Church. The congregation's 
request was granted at the 1926 conference held at Washington, 
Illinois. The membership of the congregation at present is 
thirty-two and Rev. W. W. Oesch is serving as the pastor 
(1926). 



4> The later history of the congregation was given by Rev. W. W. 
Oesch, the present pastor. 



CHAPTER XV. 

HOME MISSIONS. 

Home Missions in the Central Conference Mennonite 
Church refers particularly to the expansion of the church in 
the rural and city fields. This discussion will deal with the 
organizing of the committees and boards for carrying on Home 
Mission work and then second with the work that was done. 

THE HOME MISSION COMMITTEE 

The first step in the establishing of an organization for 
Home Mission work was taken at the church conference held 
at the North Danvers Church September 10-11, 1908. At this 
meeting an evangelizing committee of three was appointed by 
the Conference which was to take care of the extension work 
in the home field. The members of this committee were Rev. 
Peter Schantz, Rev. Joseph Zehr and Rev. Andrew Vercler. 
In the 1909 conference held at Aurora, Nebraska, September 
22-23 this committee was called the Home Mission Committee. 
At this same conference, at the first delegates' meeting held in 
the conference, a resolution was passed favoring the incorpora- 
tion of Home and Foreign mission work. A special meeting was 
called October 13 and 14, 1909, at the Y. M. C. A. at Blooming- 
ton, Illinois, to receive the report of the committee that had been 
appointed and to consolidate the home and foreign work. The 
name selected for the new organization was the Central Men- 
nonite Board of Home and Foreign Missions. The number 
of the members of this board was seven, three for the foreign 
field, three for the home field and one representing the church 
at large. This board, with a few changes which will be noted 
later, is the present organization for home and foreign mission 
work. The Home Mission Committee on this board looks after 
the evangelization and extension work in the home field. Rev. 



Home Missions 133 

Peter Schantz was a member of this committee from its begin- 
ning until his. death in 1925, and chairman of the committee until 
1921. Rev. Andrew Vercler has served as treasurer from the 
beginning and is serving in that capacity at the present time. The 
present committee (1926) is: Rev. Allen Miller, Chairman; Rev. 
Andrew Vercler, treasurer; Rev. George Gundy, Sam Stuckey 
and F. E. Risser. Under the supervision and guidance of this 
committee the church has established three mission stations and 
has increased its amount of giving from year to year. It is 
interesting to note that from July 1, 1911, to June 30, 1912, 
the church raised one thousand seven hundred and sixty-two dol- 
lars and eighty-five cents for Home Missions while in the same 
time 1924 and 1925 the church raised six thousand three hundred 
and twenty-six dollars and fifty cents and the budget for home 
missions is sixty-five hundred dollars. 

GENERAL HOME MISSION WORK 

Just when the home mission work of the Central Confer- 
ence Mennonite Church began is difficult to determine. It would 
depend on a definition of the term home missions. As an organ- 
ized activity of the Conference it began in 1908, but before this 
time there was a great deal of expansion work done in the 
home field and also money given to home mission work. In 
a report given of the activities of the North Danvers Church 
in 1892, Rev. Stuckey states that the church gave ninety dollars 
to home missions. The different congregations which later 
formed the Conference helped to support mission work in other 
Mennonite groups and also supported institutions of other 
denominations. There was also a great deal of home mission 
work done by the congregations before 1908 in the establishment 
of Sunday Schools in schoolhouses in various communities and 
also in extending the borders of the church. As stated before 
from the mother church at North Danvers a number of new 
congregations were established. Even in the days of Rev. 
Jonathan Yoder he saw an opportunity at Washington, Illinois, 



134 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

to do home mission work and suggested services to be held 
there. Father Stuckey had a missionary spirit and a vision of 
extension work. He travelled over the states of Illinois, Iowa, 
Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Michigan, Kansas and 
Missouri in the interests of needy congregations, ordaining min- 
isters and bishops, dedicating churches and establishing new 
congregations. Rev. Peter Schantz with his spirit of missionary 
adventure was instrumental in the establishing of a number of 
new congregations. All of this was home mission work of the 
church. In the mind of the writer the Central Conference Men- 
nonite Church today is neglecting this very ripe field which 
Father Stuckey and Rev. Schantz saw. We are a rural people 
and are peculiarly adapted to this type of mission work. 

MENNONITE GOSPEL MISSION, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS. 

As an organized activity the Home Mission Committee 
has been responsible for the establishing of two mission stations, 
one in Chicago and one in Peoria and also in taking over one 
station in Chicago which formerly had belonged to another 
Mennonite group. The first mission to be established was the 
Home Chapel in Chicago, now called the Mennonite Gospel 
Mission. The committee had been investigating a number of 
fields for opening city mission work, but by 1909 had decided 
on nothing definite. Mission records show that on May 30, 
1907, the Foreign Mission Committee had met at Peoria, Illi- 
nois, to look for a home mission station but nothing definite 
was accomplished. 

It was at this time when Mr. A. B. Rutt, who had been 
a member of the Old Mennonites and had been doing mis- 
sion work in Chicago for several years, offered his services 
to the Central Conference Mennonite Church. He was in- 
terested while yet in the old conference in the publishing 
of a young people's paper and also in more progressive mission 
work in the city. He finally decided to take his church mem- 
bership to what he thought a more progressive body of Men- 
nonites and so decided to come to the Central Conference 
Church. He wrote to Rev. Strubhar of Washington, Illinois, 



Home Missions 135 

expressing his desire and Rev. Strubhar arranged a meeting 
with him in Chicago. 

The Home Mission Committee was ready for action and 
so they held a meeting with Mr. Rutt. Rev. Schantz 
had been interested in starting city work for a number of 
years. A few weeks after the visit with Rev Strubhar the 
Home Mission Committee with Rev. Allen Miller went to 
Chicago. While there with the assistance of Rev. Rutt they 
selected the site for the mission. On June 20, 1909, the first 
service was held in the nature of a Sunday School at 843 West 
Sixty-third Street. At this first meeting there were present 
the superintendent, one teacher and six pupils. A store building 
was converted into a chapel. The work progressed very rapidly 
the first year. In a report given by Rev. Rutt in the Evangel 
he says the highest attendance the first year reached eighty- 
five. Four services were held each Sunday and from two to 
four a week. The smallest attendance at any service during 
the year was eleven and at the Easter service the largest attend- 
ance. Monthly women's meetings were held and a Home 
department was organized. The workers for the first year at 
the mission were Rev. A. B. Rutt, his parents, Anna Augspur- 
ger, Elizabeth Streid and Edna Patton who came in October, 
1909. 

The Home Mission Committee realized that with the grow- 
ing work another place of worship must be provided for the 
mission. They first decided to erect a new building and on April 
27, 1910, at a Board meeting held at Bloomington they decided 
to buy lots. These were purchased May 25, 1910, but after 
further investigation they found that they were able to buy a 
building at the corner of Sixty-third and Carpenter Streets. 
It was bought in December, 1910, and in February, 1911, the 
mission was moved into the new quarters. This was called the 
Mennonite Home Chapel. The building was raised and a heat- 
ing plant installed. The Home Chapel was dedicated October 
27, 1912. The purchase of the lots and also of this building 
was made possible by the generous gift of John and Mary Rupp 



136 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

of Bloomington, Illinois. They gave an initial sum of five 
thousand eight hundred and forty dollars and then continued 
gifts for the repairing of the building until it amounted to about 
ten thousand dollars. 

The first period of mission work was from 1909-14 when the 
mission was under the jurisdiction of the Board. During this 
time Rev. Rutt was ordained Bishop by Rev. Peter Schantz 
April 9, 1912; Miss Streid and Miss Augspurger left after a 
year or so of service and Miss Edna Patton became the wife 
of Rev. A. B. Rutt June 21, 1911. Rev. Jacob Sommers and 
wife of Goodland, Indiana, volunteered for mission work at 
the 1910 conference. January 1, 1911, they began mission work 
at the Home Chapel, particularly devoting their time to rescue 
work . During this period of mission work Rev. Rutt organized 
the following activities : Sunday School, Children's Work, Jun- 
ior Christian Endeavor, Boys' Club, Girls' Industrial Work, 
Women's Bible Class, and Home Department. Some fresh-air 
work was also done, Mrs. Sommer bringing children from the, 
mission to Goodland, Indiana, August 9, 1912. In 1913 the Sun- 
day School had an enrollment of two hundred and thirty and an 
average attendance of one hundred and thirty. It was Rev. 
Rutt's aim to make his mission self-supporting so that the Board 
could be relieved to establish other stations and so on March 1, 
1914, it became self-governing and self-supporting and was 
called the First Mennonite Church of Chicago. 

The second period of mission work was from 1914-17, when 
the mission was independent of the Board and was a member 
of the Conference. During this same period considerable dif- 
ficulty arose between Rev. Rutt and the church. Rev. Rutt 
finally resigned to the official board of his church and they 
appealed to the Conference. The Conference accepted the res- 
ignation of Rev. Rutt and on January 2, 1917, took charge of the 
Mission again and placed Rev. D. D. Augspurger in charge 
of the work. Rev. and Mrs. Sommers, who by this time were 
working in the Peoria Mission, returned to Chicago and took 
charge of the work until arrangements could be made for work- 



Home Missions 137 

ers. January 3, 1918, Mr. and Mrs. L. D. Hartzler of Goshen, 
Indiana, took charge of. the work. February 1, 1918, Miss Pearl 
Ramseyer of the East White Oak congregation became a worker 
at the Home Chapel. L. D. Hartzlers left Chicago June 25, 1918, 
and the work was given in charge of Rev. E. T. Rowe who had 
been teaching a Bible class in the mission since November, 1917. 
The Board officially elected Rev. Rowe January 7, 1919. 

The work had suffered continually during the transition pe- 
riod and in 1919 the Sunday School only had sixty-six, and an 
average attendance of thirty-five. The work under the supervi- 
sion of Rev. Rowe has continued to grow and a number of new 
features have been added. A Gospel car was purchased in 1919 
and was dedicated at the 1919 church conference at Pekin, Illi- 
nois. With this convenience the workers are able to do consider- 
able work in various institutions of the city such as the Cook 
County institution at Oak Forest or street work. An electric 
sign was purchased a few years ago which during evening and 
night flashes out the message that Jesus saves. The name of the 
mission was changed from Home Chapel to Mennonite Gospel 
Mission. The membership- of the church at present is fifty-six 
and a Sunday School enrollment of one hundred and seventy- 
two. The workers at present are Rev. and Mrs. E. T. Rowe, 
and Miss Pearl Ramseyer. 

MENNONITE GOSPEL MISSION, PEORIA, ILLINOIS. 

The second mission station to be established by the Home 
Mission Committee was the Mennonite Gospel Mission, Peoria, 
Illinois. From 1914 after the, Home Chapel at Chicago became 
self-supporting the Home Mission Committee was attempting 
to locate a place suitable for another mission. After careful 
investigation they decided on April 20, 1914, to start work in 
Peoria. A call was extended to Rev. Jacob Sommer and wife 
to take charge of the work. Rev. Sommer had been ordained 
as a minister in October, 1907, and became pastor of the Zion 
Mennonite church at Goodland, Indiana. As stated above in 



134 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

to do home mission work and suggested services to be held 
there. Father Stuckey had a missionary spirit and a vision of 
extension work. He travelled over the states of Illinois, Iowa, 
Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Michigan, Kansas and 
Missouri in the interests of needy congregations, ordaining min- 
isters and bishops, dedicating churches and establishing new 
congregations. Rev. Peter Schantz with his spirit of missionary 
adventure was instrumental in the establishing of a number of 
new congregations. All of this was home mission work of the 
church. In the mind of the writer the Central Conference Men- 
nonite Church today is neglecting this very ripe field which 
Father Stuckey and Rev. Schantz saw. We are a rural people 
and are peculiarly adapted to this type of mission work. 

MENNONITE GOSPEL MISSION, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS. 

As an organized activity the Home Mission Committee 
has been responsible for the establishing of two mission stations, 
one in Chicago and one in Peoria and also in taking over one 
station in Chicago which formerly had belonged to another 
Mennonite group. The first mission to be established was the 
Home Chapel in Chicago, now called the Mennonite Gospel 
Mission. The committee had been investigating a number of 
fields for opening city mission work, but by 1909 had decided 
on nothing definite. Mission records show that on May 30, 
1907, the Foreign Mission Committee had met at Peoria, Illi- 
nois, to look for a home mission station but nothing definite 
was accomplished. 

It was at this time when Mr. A. B. Rutt, who had been 
a member of the Old Mennonites and had been doing- mis- 
sion work in Chicago for several years, offered his services 
to the Central Conference Mennonite Church. He was in- 
terested while yet in the old conference in the publishing 
of a young people's paper and also in more progressive mission 
work in the city. He finally decided to take his church mem- 
bership to what he thought a more progressive body of Men- 
nonites and so decided to come to the Central Conference 
Church. He wrote to Rev. Strubhar of Washington, Illinois, 



Home Missions 135 

expressing his desire and Rev. Strubhar arranged a meeting 
with him in Chicago. 

The Home Mission Committee was ready for action and 
so they held a meeting with Mr. Rutt. Rev. Schant/c 
had been interested in starting city work for a number of 
years. A few weeks after the visit with Rev Strubhar the 
Home Mission Committee with Rev. Allen Miller went to 
Chicago. While there with the assistance of Rev. Rutt they 
selected the site for the mission. On June 20, 1909, the first 
service was held in the nature of a Sunday School at 843 West 
Sixty-third Street. At this first meeting there were present 
the superintendent, one teacher and six pupils. A store building 
was converted into a chapel. The work progressed very rapidly 
the first year. In a report given by Rev. Rutt in the Evangel 
he says the highest attendance the first year reached eighty- 
five. Four services Avere held each Sunday and from t\vo to 
four a week. The smallest attendance at any service during 
the year was eleven and at the Easter service the largest attend- 
ance. Monthly women's meetings were held and a Home 
department was organized. The workers for the first year at 
the mission were Rev. A. B. Rutt, his parents, Anna Augspur- 
ger, Elizabeth Streid and Edna Patton who came in October, 
1909. 

The Home Mission Committee realized that with the grow- 
ing work another place of worship must be provided for the 
mission. They first decided to erect a new building and on April 
27, 1910, at a Board meeting held at Bloomington they decided 
to buy lots. These were purchased May 25, 1910, but after 
further investigation they found that they were able to buy a 
building at the corner of Sixty-third and Carpenter Streets. 
It was bought in December, 1910, and in February, 1911, the 
mission was moved into the new quarters. This was called the 
Mennonite Home Chapel. The building was raised and a heat- 
ing plant installed. The Home Chapel was dedicated October 
27, 1912. The purchase of the lots and also of this building 
was made possible by the generous gift of John and Mary Rupp 



136 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

of Bloomington, Illinois. They gave an initial sum of five 
thousand eight hundred and forty dollars and then continued 
gifts for the repairing of the building until it amounted to about 
ten thousand dollars. 

The first period of mission work was from 1909-14 when the 
mission was under the jurisdiction of the Board. During this 
time Rev. Rutt was ordained Bishop by Rev. Peter Schantz 
April 9, 1912i Miss Streid and Miss Augspurger left after a 
year or so of service and Miss Edna Patton became the wife 
of Rev. A. B. Rutt June 21, 1911. Rev. Jacob Sommers and 
wife of Goodland, Indiana, volunteered for mission work at 
the 1910 conference. January 1, 1911, they began mission work 
at the Home Chapel, particularly devoting their time to rescue 
work . During this period of mission work Rev. Rutt organized 
the following activities : Sunday School, Children's Work, Jun- 
ior Christian Endeavor, Boys' Club, Girls' Industrial Work, 
Women's Bible Class, and Home Department. Some fresh-air 
work was also done, Mrs. Sommer bringing children from the. 
mission to Goodland, Indiana, August 9, 1912. In 1913 the Sun- 
day School had an enrollment of two hundred and thirty and an 
average attendance of one hundred and thirty. It was Rev. 
Rutt's aim to make his mission self-supporting so that the Board 
could be relieved to establish other stations and so on March 1, 
1914, it became self-governing and self-supporting and was 
called the First Mennonite Church of Chicago. 

The second period of mission work was from 1914-17, when 
the mission was independent of the Board and was a member 
of the Conference. During this same period considerable dif- 
ficulty arose between Rev. Rutt and the church. Rev. Rutt 
finally resigned to the official board of his church and they 
appealed to the Conference. The Conference accepted the res- 
ignation of Rev. Rutt and on January 2, 1917, took charge of the 
Mission again and placed Rev. D. D. Augspurger in charge 
of the work. Rev. and Mrs. Sommers, who by this time were 
working in the Peoria Mission, returned to Chicago and took 
charge of the work until arrangements could be made for work- 



Home Missions 137 

ers. January 3, 1918, Mr. and Mrs. L. D. Hartzler of Goshen, 
Indiana, took charge of. the work. February 1, 1918, Miss Pearl 
Ramseyer of the East White Oak congregation became a worker 
at the Home Chapel. L. D. Hartzlers left Chicago June 25, 1918, 
and the work was given in charge of Rev. E. T. Rowe who had 
been teaching a Bible class in the mission since November, 1917. 
The Board officially elected Rev. Rowe January 7, 1919. 

The work had suffered continually during the transition pe- 
riod and in 1919 the Sunday School only had sixty-six, and an 
average attendance of thirty-five. The work under the supervi- 
sion of Rev. Rowe has continued to grow and a number of new 
features have been added. A Gospel car was purchased in 1919 
and was dedicated at the 1919 church conference at Pekin, Illi- 
nois. With this convenience the workers are able to do consider- 
able work in various institutions of the city such as the Cook 
County institution at Oak Forest or street work. An electric 
sign was purchased a few years ago which during evening and 
night flashes out the message that Jesus saves. The name of the 
mission was changed from Home Chapel to Mennonite Gospel 
Mission. The membership- of the church at present is fifty-six 
and a Sunday School enrollment of one hundred and seventy- 
two. The workers at present are Rev. and Mrs. E. T. Rowe, 
and Miss Pearl Ramseyer. 

MENNONITE GOSPEL MISSION, PEORIA, ILLINOIS. 

The second mission station to be established by the Home 
Mission Committee was the Mennonite Gospel Mission, Peoria, 
Illinois. From 19,14 after the, Home Chapel at Chicago became 
self-supporting the Home Mission Committee was attempting 
to locate a place suitable for another mission. After careful 
investigation they decided on April 20, 1914, to start work in 
Peoria. A call was extended to Rev. Jacob Sommer and wife 
to take charge of the work. Rev. Sommer had been ordained 
as a minister in October, 1907, and became pastor of the Zion 
Mennonite church at Goodland, Indiana. As stated above in 



138 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

the 1910 church conference he and Mrs. Sommer volunteered 
for mission work and finally located at Home Chapel, Chicago. 
Here they remained in mission work until they received the 
call from the Home Mission Committee to open the work in 
Peoria. 

Rev. and Mrs. Sommer came to Peoria in 1914. They at 
once began to look for a suitable location and after making 
a survey of the field decided to establish the work at 920 North 
Adams Street in a vacant store building. The first services 
were held in the nature of a Sunday School on the morning of 
July 19, 1914, with an attendance of thirty-seven. In the eve- 
ning of the same day the building was dedicated. A large 
number were present from the churches in the surrounding 
community which added much to the encouragement of the 
work at this place. Miss Luella Engel of Danvers, Illinois, 
became a worker at the mission in April, 1915. She served 
the mission until September, 1920, when she left to take nurses' 
training at the Mennonite Sanitarium at Bloomington, Illinois. 

The work at the Peoria Mission prospered from the begin- 
ning and at the end of the first year there were forty-eight 
members on the membership roll. The records show that 
December 5, 1915, there were ninety-six in attendance in the 
Sunday School and one hundred and five in preaching service. 
The mission has at present the following activities : Preaching, 
Sunday School Work, Christian Endeavor Work, a Women's 
Missionary Society, Willing Worker's Society, and Mid-week 
Prayer Service. The Home Mission Committee decided the 
latter part of 1915 to purchase a site and erect a permanent 
mission building. A building of veneered brick and suitable 
for the various activities of the mission was erected in the sum- 
mer of 1916 at 1001 North Adams Street and was dedicated 
September 10, 1916. The membership of the church at present 
(1926) is ninety-four and the enrollment in the Sunday School 
one hundred and ninety. The present workers are Rev. and 
Mrs. Jacob Sommer. 



Home Missions 139 

TWENTY-SIXTH STREET MISSION, CHICAGO, ILL. 

The third mission under the jurisdiction of the Mission 
Committee is one that Avas established by the Old Conference 
of Mennonites. It was originally an outgrowth of the Men- 
nonite Home Mission in Chicago under the superintend- 
ency of A. H. Leaman. Rev. Leaman had for years 
had a vision of a number of Mennonite Missions in Chicago 
and finally in the summer of 1906 Avas successful in having 
the second mission opened. In July of 1906 a location on 
Twenty-sixth Street was suggested to the local Mission Board 
of the Old Conference. September 24th the first service was 
held in a rented store room one block west of the present 
location. This new mission came under the superintendency 
of Rev. A. M. Eash. He had come to Chicago in 1904 and had 
worked at Rev. Leaman's mission since 1905. The work devel- 
oped rapidly from the beginning. In 1910 a new mission build- 
ing was erected on Twenty-sixth Street near Halstead and was 
dedicated in December, 1910. 

Through the efficient leadership of Rev. A. M. Eash the 
mission made very rapid progress. . Particular attention was 
given to the Sunday School and soon several hundred chil- 
dren were in attendance at the Sunday School session. Rev. 
Eash left the mission in 1919 and spent two years in orphan- 
age work at Jerusalem. When he returned in 1921 the work 
had gone down considerably. The emphasis Avhich was 
continually being placed by the Old Mennonites on cus- 
toms and practices which were foreign to city folk made it 
difficult for him to build up the work again. The Mission Board 
of the Old Conference decided to sell the building and close 
the work. Rev. Eash and his congregation then decided to 
appeal to the Central Conference Mennonite Church. 

The first meeting of the Mission Board to consider the prop- 
osition was held April 24, 1923. In the 1923 conference held at 
East White Oak the Twenty-sixth Street congregation was ad- 
mitted into the Conference. After considerable negotiation with 



140 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

the Mission Board of the Old Mennonites, Central Mennonite 
Mission Board purchased in January, 1924, the Twenty-sixth 
Street Mission building. 

Under the administration of the Central Conference the 
work at the mission has again been built up and is making prog- 
ress. Particular attention is given to the Sunday School with 
all of its departments. The church also has a weekly Bible 
Class, Ladies' Aid Society, Prayer Meeting and social activi- 
ties for the young people. The last two years Rev. Eash has 
conducted a Daily Vacation Bible School with very marked 
success, having an attendance of nearly one hundred children. 
Another activity which was carried on at the mission and means 
a great deal to the children is placing of children from the mis- 
sion in homes throughout the various congregations of the Con- 
ference. The present membership of the church is sixty-eight 
and the enrollment of the Sunday School is three hundred and 
thirty-five. Rev. and Mrs. Eash are the workers at the Mission 
at present (1926). 



CHAPTER XVI. 

CONFERENCE ACTIVITIES. 

In a former chapter a brief history was given of the origin of 
the Central Conference Mennonite Church. The Conference was 
organized in 1907 and 1908. The significance of the name Cen- 
tral Conference Mennonite Church was also given. The next 
few .chapters will discuss the institutions established by the 
Conference and the general activities. They will divide them- 
selves into two groups, those activities which are carried on 
wholly by the Central Conference Mennonite Church and then 
those which are carried on in cooperation with other Mennonite 
bodies. 

CHURCH CONFERENCES. 

The Central Conference Mennonite Church holds yearly 
conferences convening either the latter part of August or the 
first week of September. These meetings are largely for the 
purpose of giving inspiration, encouraging the workers, pre- 
serving unity, and of giving reports of the work done throughout 
the year. They do not legislate for the individual congregations 
since each church has a congregational form of government. 
The reason for this type of meetings must be sought in the 
history of this particular group of Mennonites. In a former 
chapter it was stated that the Stuckey Amish, after their separ- 
ation from the Amish Conference, did not affiliate with any other 
organization. Rev. Stuckey discouraged the idea of an organ- 
ized conference for the purpose of legislation. In 1899, through 
the persuasion of the younger ministers, he finally gave his 
consent to have ministers meetings Avith the warning that they 
should be very careful what kind of an organization would 
be established. Because of this hesitancy on the part of Father 
Stuckey the first conferences were in the nature of Bible meet- 
ings. The ministers and, beginning with the second meeting, 
the laity met for instruction and fellowship. From 1899 to 1906 



142 History of Central Conference Mcnnonite Church 

there was very little organization except what was needed for 
the immediate purpose of the meetings. 

By 1907, however, the ministers realized that with the 
enlarged activities of the church, it was necessary to form 
a more definite organization. So in the 1907 conference at 
Washington, Illinois, a constitutional committee was chosen 
to draft a constitution for the Conference. The committee 
met December 10, 1907, at the North Danvers Church and 
made the constitution. This was then distributed to the 
congregations and the twelve churches, mentioned before as 
charter members, sent their written acceptance to the Secre- 
tary, September 10 and 11, 1908, the first annual confer- 
ence was held at the North Danvers Church under the new 
organization. These yearly conferences, although better organ- 
ized, have continued to be of an inspirational nature. 

The first conferences held were only for one day. In 1908 the 
first two-day conference was held. At this meeting it was also 
decided that the business of the Conference should be placed 
in the hands of regularly appointed delegates. Before this the 
whole body of the Conference transacted the business. The 
first delegates session was held in the 1909 conference at Aurora, 
Nebraska. These delegates are appointed from each congrega- 
tion on a representative basis, one delegate for every thirty 
communicant members, thus giving the laity a very effective 
representation in the work of the Conference. This has proved 
very satisfactory since it gives the laity an interest in the activ- 
ities of the Conference. By 1911 the activities of the Conference 
had increased to the extent that it was necessary to have three 
days for the conference. The first day of the conference the morn- 
ing and afternoon session is given to Sunday School and the eve- 
ning session to Christian Endeavor. The other two days are taken 
up by the Mission Board and the Conference. In the last few 
years the time has been extended to four days, using the first 
day for delegates' sessions for the transaction of business and 
the evening session for a program given by the Ministerial 
Association. The purpose of these conferences is stated by 



Conference Activities 143 

Rev. Aaron Augspurger who was one of the chief promoters, 
"The purposes of all our conferences have been for the spir- 
itual and intellectual uplift of the members and workers as 
well as for laying plans for more effective work along religious 
lines, also to effect a more perfect union and concentrate our 
forces." 1 Some of the men who have served as Conference Pres- 
idents are : Rev. Aaron Augspurger was President of the first 
meeting held on Aug. 3, 1899 at Rev. King's home, Rev. Peter 
Schantz, Rev. John Kinsinger, Rev. J. P. Kohler, Rev. J. H. King, 
Rev. John Lehman, Rev. Emanuel Troyer, Rev. Allen Yoder and 
Rev. Allen Miller. Rev. Allen Miller has served the longest of 
any minister in the Conference, having been President nine years. 
He is at present (1926) the President of the Conference. The 
Secretaries of the Conference have been: Rev. Lee Lantz, Rev. 
Aaron Augspurger, Mr. M. P. Lantz, Rev. Ben Hash and Mr. 
E. W. Rediger. Mr. M. P. Lantz served the longest number of 
years as Conference Secretary. Mr. E. W. Rediger is at present 
(1926) Secretary of the Conference. The field secretaries have 
been : Rev. Peter. Schantz, Rev. Emanuel Troyer and Rev. J. 
H. King. Rev. Schantz served the longest as field secretary. 
Rev. Emanuel Troyer is at present field secretary. 2 

MINISTERIAL ASSOCIATION 

The delegates' sessions of the Church Conference repre- 
sented both the ministers and the laity. In 1899 when the 
Conference originated, the first meeting that was held was a 
Ministerial meeting. This was held at the home of Rev. J. H. 
King on August 3, 1899. Thirteen ministers were present 
at this meeting. But in the meeting held at the North 
Danvers Church September 26, 1899 there were a number of 
lay members present. The following were present: C. W. 
Kinsinger, J. S. Augspurger, Martin Stahley, M. L. Ramseyer, 

* The Christian Evangel, September 1910, page 27. An article by 
Rev. Augspurger on the Purposes of our Conference. 

2 - The dates of the Conferences with the names of the officers are 
given in a later chapter. ' 



144 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

Peter Sharp, Jonathan Sharp, Jonathan Kauffman, John Det- 
weiler, S. M. Stuckey, Peter Gerber, Val Birkey, J. W. Schertz, 
Hiram Troyer, Manasses Troyer, Mike Rebholz. The follow- 
ing ministers were present at the meeting held. Sept 26, 1899, 
at the North Danvers Church : Rev. Joseph Stuckey, Rev. Peter 
Schantz, Rev. J. H. King, Rev. Val. Strubhar, Rev. John Stahley, 
Rev. John Gingerich ; Rev. Joseph Zehr, Rev. Aaron Augspurger 
Rev. Andrew Vercler, Rev. Emanuel Troyer and Rev. Lee 
Lantz. All ministers at the first meetings were present except 
Rev. Christian Imhoff who died soon after the first meeting. 
Rev. John Stahly and Rev. Joseph Zehr were added to the second 
meeting. From 1899 all questions were decided by the whole 
body of Conference until 1909 when the first delegates' session 
was held. 

By 1911 the ministers began to feel the need of a meeting 
particularly for ministers in which the problems of the mini- 
ster and problems relating to the local congregation could be 
discussed. On June 23, 1911, a meeting was called of the min- 
isters to consider the matter of organizing a Ministerial Asso- 
ciation. At this meeting an association was formed and Rev. 
Emanuel Troyer was elected president and Rev. George Gundy, 
secretary. Rev. Troyer is at present president and Rev. Gundy 
was secretary until 1926 conference when Rev. Reuben Zehr 
was elected. At the 1911 conference at Meadows, Illinois, the 
delegates' session approved of this association formed, thus 
making it a' permanent organization. 

A number of problems that suggested themselves to the 
ministers when they met were: How to settle local church 
difficulties when help was needed; how to secure young men 
for the ministry; how to finance the publication interests and 
how to adopt better methods to finance missions. The Min- 
isterial Association met twice a year usually at the time of 
the Mission Board meeting in January and then at the time of 
the .conference in September. 

In 1925 it was decided to hold quarterly meetings. One of 
these quarterly meetings is to be in the nature of a ministers' 



Conference Activities 145 

outing for the purpose of developing the social life of the min- 
isters. In the summer of 1924 a number of ministers had spent a 
clay by the river. As a result of this meeting another ministers' 
outing was held on July 27th. Fourteen ministers with their fam- 
ilies were present. It was decided at this meeting to make the 
outing an annual occasion, placing it under the jurisdiction of the 
Ministerial Association. The other meetings are for the purpose 
of discussing ministers' problems and suggesting better methods 
of church work. One of the important committees of the Min- 
isterial Association is the Ordination and Installation Committee. 
It helps congregations to supply the pulpit, encourages young 
men to enter the ministry, and ordains and installs pastors in 
various congregations. The last few years the Ministerial Asso- 
ciation has held inspirational meetings open to the public, on 
the evening of the day when the delegates' session met at the 
conference. 

CHRISTIAN WORKERS' CONFERENCE AND 
INSTITUTES. 

There were a number of causes that led to the organization 
of the Christian Workers' Conference. In the first place the 
Conference itself, being organized in 1907-08, began to do more 
systematic work and carry on more organized activities; in the 
second place the work itself expanded and required more and 
better trained workers. Sunday Schools were introducing 
departmental work and more modern methods of conducting 
the Sunday School and Christian Endeavor Societies were being 
organized throughout the church. This development of the work 
and the increasing need of more workers created a desire on the 
part of the leaders for more united efforts on the part of Chris- 
tian workers in the different congregations. On the other hand 
the conditions created by the World War brought discourage- 
ment to a number of the younger Christian workers. 

The first step in the organization of a Christian Workers' 
Conference was taken when Rev. Allen Miller, then president 



146 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

of the Church Conference, appointed a committee composed 
of Rev. J. H. King, Rev. Emanuel Troyer, and Rev. Aaron 
Augspurger to prepare a program having in mind the needs 
of the Christian workers. The first Christian Workers' Con- 
ference was held December 31, 1917, to January 4, 1918, at the 
Normal Mennonite Church, Normal, Illinois. This conference 
was held in connection with the Mission Board meeting. These 
Christian Workers' Conferences were held each year in con- 
nection with the meeting of the Mission Board until 1925. The 
purpose of these meetings was to give inspiration and encour- 
agement to the workers and to develop a stronger bond of unity 
among the workers of the different congregations. 

The Christian Workers' meeting held at Carlock, Illinois, 
January 11-18, 1925, marks the transition from the Christian 
Workers' Conference to the Christian Workers' Institute. In 
this year the last Christian Workers' Conference was held and 
the first Institute. The ministers of a few of the congregations 
surrounding the Carlock Mennonite Church met and arranged 
a program for a Christian Workers' Institute. It was suggested 
that it be held at the time of the Christian Workers' Conference 
and Mission Board meeting. This was approved by the Confer- 
ence and so the Institute was given the forenoon sessions and 
the Christian Workers' Conference and Mission Board the 
afternoon and evening sessions, of Tuesday, Wednesday and 
Thursday of the week. The first Institute was a great success. 
The first day opened with an attendance of fifty and by Friday 
the attendance had increased to one-hundred eighty-nine. This 
kind of meeting seemed to meet the needs of the workers better 
and so the Christian Workers' Conference has been discontinued 
and the Institute has taken its place. The chief difference 
in the two meetings lies in the fact that in the Christian Work- 
ers' Conference the meetings are entirely inspirational with no 
attempt at giving definite instruction or systematic teaching. 

The purpose of the Institute is to give courses of study in 
Bible, Music, Christian Endeavor work and Missions. It is more 
the nature of a training school for workers who are not privi- 



Conference Activities 147 

leged to attend our colleges and seminaries. This type of meet- 
ing seemed to meet a felt need in the Conference and so in the 
1925 conference at Silver Street, Goshen, Indiana, the question 
of Institutes was discussed at the delegates' session held Sep- 
tember 1st. A motion was then made that a committee be 
appointed to organize and conduct Institutes throughout the 
Conference and also to make plans for the promoting of mis- 
sion work. This committee met at the Twenty-sixth Street 
Mission, Chicago, September 25, 1925. They divided the Con- 
ference into six districts according to the location of the 
churches. The districts were as follows : No. 1 Silver Street, 
Eighth Street and Topeka; No. 2 East White Oak, Carlock, 
Normal, North Danvers, Danvers and Congerville; No. 3 Cal- 
vary, South Washington, Peoria, Pekin; No. 4 Meadows, 
Flanagan; No. 5 our tAvo missions in Chicago; No. 6 Good- 
land, Kouts. Special provision was made for our churches that 
were too far from any others to be included in a district. 
Arrangements were made by which these churches could hold 
two or three-day Institutes as individual congregations. This 
movement which had been inaugurated by a few interested 
individuals became a Conference movement. In the autumn 
of 1925 Institutes were held in districts No. 2 and No. 3. 

In the 1926 conference held at Washington, 111., the next step 
was taken in relation to the Institute work. The delegates' ses- 
sion elected a Christian Workers' Institute Committee whose 
sole work was to plan for Institutes throughout the Conference. 
The committee met at the Mennonite Gospel Mission, Chicago, 
Sept. 25, 1926, and planned the work for the year. The following 
courses were recommended by the committee : Bible, Sunday 
School, Christian Endeavor, Missions, Church Music, Peace, 
Stewardship, Church History, Mennonite History and Principles 
and Our Conference and Her Institutions. Of these courses 
each Institute can select four or five. Suggestive leaders were 
also given. The committee published a bulletin which was 
distributed to all the congregations giving needed information 
concerning the Institutes. The time that these Institutes 



148 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

have been in operation has been entirely too short to judge 
what shall be their future but it is believed that the}'' will bring 
the advantages of college and seminary to the very doors of 
Christian workers in the various congregations. 

SUNDAY SCHOOL CONFERENCE. 

The first Sunday School in the Central Conference Mennon- 
ite Church was started by Rev. Joseph Stuckey and Rev; Jona- 
than Strubhar in the Strubhar schoolhouse in about 1867. The 
Sunday School was started in the schoolhouse because there 
was considerable opposition by some of the older people in 
having Sunday School in the church. In the summer of 1869, 
however, the first Sunday School was held in the Y'oder church 
house at the Rock Creek Fair Grounds. In the same year the 
Amish also started a Sunday School in the Grant schoolhouse 
in Dry Grove Township. A Sunday School was also started in 
the East Washington district by Peter Stuckey about 1868. As 
noted in the history of the congregations the origin of the con- 
gregation can often be traced to the establishment of a Sunday 
School in the community. This was true of such congregations 
as Bethel Mennonite, Pekin, Illinois ; Meadows Mennonite, 
Anchor Mennonite, Kouts Mennonite and others. In some of 
the congregations Sunday Schools were started with the estab- 
lishment of the congregations. The first Sunday School ses- 
sion to be held in connection with the morning church service 
was at the North Danvers Church about 1875. 

From the beginning of Sunday Schools in 1867 to about 
1890 all of them were conducted in the German language. The 
older people used the German Bible while the younger people 
and the children used the German ABC Primer. The reasons 
for the introduction of the English language has been discussed 
in a former chapter. It should be said here, however, that in 
a number of the congregations there was considerable difficulty 
in making the transition. In some of the congregations it was 
necessary to hold the English Sunday School in the afternoon 



Conference Activities 149 

rather than in connection with the preaching service. In others 
the English was introduced by forming one class and then 
gradually introducing English into the other classes. With the 
introduction of the English language, lesson helps were also 
introduced. Many of our Sunday Schools first used a series of 
printed Bible lessons published by the Mennonite Publishing 
House at Elkhart, Indiana, under the direction of Rev. J. F. 
Funk. In about 1905 the International Sunday School Quarterly 
was introduced into the Conference. There are still a few con- 
gregations at present in which a class or two use German 
material. 

Modern methods of Sunday School work were adopted later 
on, such as the departmental organization as early as 1909, 
the use of Graded Lessons as early as 1906, the introduction of 
Teacher Training Classes by 1905 and organized Bible Classes 
by 1908. In 1917 quite a few of the congregations remodeled 
their church buildings providing for a basement and class rooms 
for Sunday School work. In the 1922 conference the church 
decided to use the Scottdale Sunday School supplies which are 
furnished the Sunday Schools through the Central Mennonite 
Publication Board. 

The rapid progress of the Sunday School work after 1890 
and the introduction of modern methods created a need for 
closer cooperation and for meetings to discuss common Sun- 
day School problems. Through the suggestion of the East 
White Oak Church under the leadership of Rev. Schantz 
and Rev. Troyer as ministers and Daniel Augustin as Sun- 
day School worker, a meeting of the Sunday School workers 
of the Conference was called to meet at the East White Oak 
Church September 13, 1896. At this meeting it was decided 
to have another one the next year. September 2, 1897, the meet- 
ing was held at the East Washington Church. Here it was 
decided to have Sunday School Conferences yearly. The third 
Sunday School Conference was held at Flanagan June 2, 1898. 
By 1900 the Sunday School meetings were held in connection 
with the church conference. This has continued until the pres- 



150 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

ent time. A morning and afternoon session at the time of the 
church conference is devoted to Sunday School work. 

Soon after 1900 a Sunday School Association was organ- 
ized with a president, .secretary and various departmental offi- 
cers. At the present time this association has a President, Vice- 
President, Secretary-Treasurer and the following departmental 
officers: Elementary, Young Peoples, Cradle Roll, Missionary, 
Temperance and Home Department Superintendents. This 
forms the Executive Committee which is to look after the Sun- 
day School work in the Conference throughout the year. The 
president of the association at present (1926) is A. H. Schertz, 
Metamora, Illinois, and the secretary-treasurer is Pearl Ram- 
seyer, Chicago, Illinois. 

In the conference of 1914 held at Carlock, Illinois, Sep- 
tember 9th, a resolution was passed at the delegates' ses- 
sion to adopt a Sunday School Standard. The committee 
appointed to work out the Standard was Rev. Lee Lantz, 
Rev. Emanuel Troyer and Rev. Valentine Strubhar. The 
Sunday School Standard suggested by this committee was 
adopted at the 1915 conference held at Silver Street Church, 
Goshen, Indiana, August 25, 1915. These Standards were later 
printed by the Central Mennonite Publication Board and are 
placed in the Sunday School rooms of a number of our Sunday 
Schools throughout our Conference. In the church conference 
at Meadows in 1922 the delegates' session approved of having 
Sunday School delegates' meetings at the conference. Such a 
session was held at the 1923 conference at East White Oak. 
These Sunday School delegates' sessions have been discontin- 
ued for reasons unknown to the writer. They are very much 
needed for a discussion of Sunday School problems and for the 
planning of aggressive work for the next year. There is also 
a need for revising the Sunday School Standard and bringing it 
nearer to the requirements of present Sunday School Stand- 
ards. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

CONFERENCE ACTIVITIES CONTINUED 
CHRISTIAN ENDEAVOR UNION 

Christian Endeavor Societies, as the Sunday School, was 
an organization which was borrowed from other denomina- 
tions. It is significant to note that only eleven years after the 
first Christian Endeavor Society was organized in the United 
States, the first one was organized in the North Danvers Church 
in the year 1892. Mr. Eli Sharp, then of Congerville, Illinois, 
who had come in touch with Christian Endeavor work while 
living in Minnesota, was largely responsible for organizing 
the first society in the North Danvers Church. This one was 
soon followed by societies in other congregations. As new 
congregations were established after 1892 they organized 
Christian Endeavor work. The first societies in our congrega- 
tions had very little organization. In fact some of them were 
rather Bible Reading meetings with practically no organiza- 
tion. Rev. Eugene Augspurger has an interesting discussion 
in the March, 1911, Christian Evangel on the condition of the 
Christian Endeavor Societies of our Conference. He emphasizes 
the fact that they need to be better organized and that the 
society should feel under obligation to accept the pledge. 

It is to be noted then that the first step in the forming 
of the Christian Endeavor Union in our Conference was the 
establishment of these individual societies in the various con- 
gregations. In the 1911 conference a Field Committee was 
appointed 'to visit all of the Christian Endeavor Societies and 
to report at the next conference. There were five members on 
the committee and they visited nine societies. They discovered 
that there were a number of the congregations that were not 
having any Christian Endeavor work. In the second place 
they found that societies were poorly organized and were in 
great need of help. About this time a field secretary was 



152 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

appointed to visit the various societies and give them the needed 
help. Miss Elizabeth Streid who had been a worker at the 
Home Chapel in Chicago was chosen as field secretary. To her 
must be given a great deal of credit for better Christian Endeav- 
or work in the Conference. She visited the various societies 
throughout the Conference and -helped them to organize and to 
establish real Christian Endeavor work. She went to Indiana 
October, 1911, and was instrumental in starting Christian 
Endeavor Societies in the congregations there. 

The second step in Christian Endeavor organization came in 
the holding of Christian Endeavor Rallies. Largely through 
the efforts of Miss Streid the first Christian Endeavor Rally 
was held at the East White Oak Church July 19, 1913. These 
Rallies have been held every year in the months of May, June 
or July. The first Christian Endeavor Rally in Indiana was 
held July 16, 1916, at the Silver Street Church. The Confer- 
ence at present is divided into the two districts, Illinois and 
Indiana for the holding of these Christian Endeavor Rallies. 
They have helped to bring greater unity and greater efficiency 
in Christian Endeavor work. 

The third step in the developing of Christian Endeavor 
work is the organizing of the Christian Endeavor Union. In 
the conference programs from year to year up to 1913 subjects 
relating to Christian Endeavor Avork were placed on the con- 
ference program. In the conference of 1913 the first Christian 
Endeavor delegates' meeting was held. At this meeting it 
was decided to make a Christian Endeavor Constitution, pro- 
viding for a Christian Endeavor Union. They also requested 
the Conference Program Committee to make their own pro- 
grams for the conference. Both these requests were granted 
them and in 1914 the constitution was accepted and the Chris- 
tian Endeavor Union Avas formed. The Union has an Execu- 
tive Committee composed of the President, Vice-President, Sec- 
retary-Treasurer, Junior Superintendent, Intermediate Super- 
intendent and Field Secretary. This committee is to direct the 



Conference Activities 153 

work of Christian Endeavor throughout the year. Mr. Lyle 
Strubhar of Washington, Illinois, is president and Miss Clara 
Kinsinger, of Meadows, Illinois is secretary-treasurer at the 
present time (1926). There are twelve societies in the Union 
at present with a membership of seven hundred and ninety-four. 
In 1917 it was decided by the Union to use the regular 
Christian Endeavor topics of the United Society of Christian 
Endeavor. In the Church Conference of 1922 the Central Men- 
nonite Publication Board recommended that the Sunday School 
notes should be omitted in the Evangel and more space be 
given for Christian Endeavor notes. Also that a committee of 
five be appointed to go over the Christian Endeavor topics and 
make changes that might be beneficial for our needs. This 
committee has met from year to year and has revised the topics 
and Christian Endeavor editors have been appointed from year 
to year to discuss the topics in the church paper. There is 
yet much work to be done along the line of better organization 
and greater efficiency in Christian Endeavor work. 

PUBLICATION WORK 

The Publication Work of the Conference, as most of the 
other activities, grew out of the vision of a few of the leaders 
of the Conference. The three men who should be particularly 
mentioned in relation to the beginning of Conference publica- 
tions were Rev. Peter Schantz, Rev. A. B. Rutt and Rev. Aaron 
Aug i spurger. The first publication work of the Conference 
was the publishing" of a church paper called the Christian Evan- 
gel. For a number of years, especially after 1905 when the 
Conference began foreign mission work, Rev. Peter Schantz 
was urging the matter of a church paper. He said that the 
church needed a church paper because the different congrega- 
tions should know what the Conference is doing as a group of 
churches and in the second place we should have it for the 
benefit of our people. He had urged Rev. Augspurger to take 
up the matter but Rev. Augspurger did not feel that- he was 



154 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

capable of doing it. This was before the Home Mission work 
started in Chicago in 1909. 

In 1909 Rev. A. B. Rutt came into the Conference and 
was appointed as superintendent of the Home Chapel in Chi- 
cago. He had been interested for a number of years in the pub- 
lishing of a paper particularly for young people. The mission 
work in Chicago was opened in June, 1909. In the 1909 church 
conference held at Aurora, Nebraska, September 22nd and 23rd, 
the question of a church paper came up at the delegates' session. 
This was the first delegates' session held at the conference. The 
proposal of a church paper met with general approval and the 
delegates voted that one should be printed. Rev. Augspurger 
and Rev. Rutt were appointed to establish the paper, and see 
how it would work out 'by the time of the 1910 conference. The 
plans for the church paper were presented at a Mission Board 
meeting held at Bloomington May 25, 1910. The Board 
approved of such a step but was not in a position to sanction 
it officially. Rev. A. B. Rutt who had experience in publica- 
tion work was suggested as the editor. It was he who sug- 
gested the name Christian Evangel for our church paper. 

The first issue of the Christian Evangel appeared July 
1910. The first three issues of July, August and September 
were published by Rev. Rutt from the Home Chapel in Chi- 
cago. The paper had not yet been accepted as the official organ 
of the Conference. In the 1910 conference held at Flanagan, 
Illinois, September 21-22, the Conference accepted the paper as 
their official organ. 

The Christian Evangel from July, 1910, to February, 1913, 
had two parts; first that published by the Mennonites and sec- 
ond the part of the paper that was under the jurisdiction of the 
United Religious Press. This was the interdenominational part 
of the paper. At the 1910 conference Rev. A. B. Rutt was 
officially chosen as the first editor. There were three depart- 
ments established with three associate editors. Rev. Aaron Augs- 
purger was editor of the doctrinal; Rev. L. B. Haigh of the 
missionary ; and Rev. Lee Lantz of the educational department. 



Conference Activities 155 

The purpose of the paper may well be stated by the points 
emphasized by the editor in the first issue. First, the Evangel 
stands for the highest type of unity. This means the unity 
among the ministers, Christian workers and the various con- 
gregations. This unity was ev'en to be extended to other 
Mennonite groups. At one time there were representatives from 
five different Mennonite groups writing for the paper. In 1911 
Rev. Rutt plead for an All-Mennonite paper and a United Pub- 
lication Board. In the March 22, 1911, United Mission Board 
meeting Rev. Aaron Augspurger and Rev. Rutt invited the 
Defenseless Mennonites to join us in the paper. Second, the 
editor emphasized the need of a church paper to present the 
needs and achievements of Christian work, especially our mis- 
sion work. Third, it shall be the purpose of the paper to uphold 
the doctrines of the church and finally, it is to be for the 
purpose of training youth for the mission field. 

January 2, 1912, a publication committee was appointed 
which was to look after the financial interests of the paper. In 
this same year a business manager was appointed to assist the 
editor. A book agency was also established in connection with 
the church paper. The paper was very well supported from the 
beginning and it was urged by the church leaders. In 1911 
Rev. Vercler travelled throughout the churches in the interests 
of the Evangel. In 1917 the publishing of the Evangel was put 
in the hands of a publication board. The business manager 
and editor were to be on the board. By 1919 there were eight 
hundred subscribers to the Christian Evangel. Beginning with 
January, 1917, an attempt was made to cooperate with the Men- 
nonite Brethren in Christ in the publishing of the church 
paper. This did not seem very successful and so by 1918 the 
Evangel again became the paper of the Central Conference Men- 
nonite Church. The following have served as editors for the 
Christian Evangel: Rev. A. B. Rutt, July, 1910 January, 1915; 
Rev. Lee Lantz, February, 1915 September, 1916; Rev. Ben 
Eash, October, 1916 September, 1919 ; Rev. A. S. Bechtel, Octo- 
ber, 1919 September, 1920; Rev. L. B. Haigh, October, 1920 



156 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

September, 1923; Rev. William B. Weaver, October, 1923 Sep- 
tember 1925 ; Rev. H. E. Nunemaker, October, 1925 September, 
1926. The Central Mennonite Publication Board at the present 
time has charge of all the publication work of the Conference. 
They publish the Evangel, sell books and Bibles and Sunday 
School supplies, and publish the Year Book. Rev. Wm. B. 
Weaver was elected editor at the 1926 conference and is at 
present the editor. The Evangel has seven hundred and thirty 
subscribers. 

In the 1921 conference held at Aurora, Nebraska, it was 
decided at the delegates' session to publish a Year Book for 
the Conference. Rev. W. H. Grubb, pastor of the Normal 
Mennonite Church, was largely responsible for this decision. 
He was appointed editor and issued the first Year Book in 1922. 
In the 1924 conference it was decided that the Year Book should 
be a permanent publication. Rev. W. H. Grubb has published 
all of the Year Books with the exception of the 1926 which 
was published by Rev. H. E. Nunemaker, of Danvers, Illinois. 
The 1927 Year Book was published by Rev. Wm. B. Weaver. 
The Christian Evangel has been one of the most important 
sources for material for this history. The field of opportunity 
for the Publication Board is very great. In the second year 
of the publication of the church paper the Conference expressed 
itself as favoring Conference ownership of a printing plant. 
This, with a book-store, is the greatest need of the Central Con- 
ference Mennonite Publication Board today. 

LADIES' AID SOCIETIES 

The first Ladies' Aid Societies in the Conference were 
organized about the year 1909. They originated very largely 
as a result of our city mission work. The Home Chapel in 
Chicago appealed to different congregations for help in feeding 
and clothing the poor. These societies were organized to supply 
this need. They operated independently in the various con- 
gregations until at the time of the 1925 conference. There 



Conference Activities 157 

are twenty societies in the Conference. These societies have 
a large field of service inasmuch as they supply our institutions 
and home and foreign missions with food and clothing. They 
have also done a great deal in the support of the activities of the 
congregation. 

In the 1925 delegates' session held September 1st an appeal 
came from the ladies that there should be a more effective 
Ladies' Aid organization throughout the Conference. A motion 
was then made that a committee be appointed to formulate 
plans for such an organization. The committee elected Mrs. 
Emamiel Troyer, Mrs. L. D. Hartzler, Mrs. W. B. Page and 
Mrs. S. E. Maurer. Mrs. Emanuel Troyer was elected president 
of the organization and Mrs. S. E. Maurer secretary-treasurer. 
This conimittee has arranged the work in such a way that 
each institution is supported a particular month with food and 
clothing by a particular congregation. The secretary visited 
the various institutions and received a list of the needs of 
each. This organization has had one year of existence 
and thus far has proved itself to be a very great success. The 
purpose of the organization is to unify the work of the societies 
and to encourage the organization of new ones. In these two 
purposes the society has been successful in the last year. 

In the first year's work of the Conference Ladies' Aid there 
was a great deal of pioneering that needed to be done. After 
the work was started the secretary realized that there had been 
no provisions made for the financial support of the work of the 
organization. The committee found it necessary to borrow 
money before they could enter the Avork. Mrs. S. E. Maurer, 
the secretary, then asked permission to undertake to secure 
money. The request was granted and effort put forth to secure 
the amount needed. She first asked the local aid societies for 
donations. Also various individuals gave liberally after the 
work was explained to them. By June 30, 1926, the secretary 
had received $208. 

This organization also wished to do something for the 



158 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

foreign field. They wished to create a fund with which to pur- 
chase cloth for the foreign mission work. By January 18, 1926, 
through the generous gift of Mrs. C. W. Kinsinger of Danvers, 
Illinois, of $100, $129 was raised for this work. A bale of good 
heavy blue denim, such as the African natives like, was bought 
and sent to Africa. This meant a great deal to our foreign mis- 
sion work since one of the primary wants of the natives is 
cloth. This to the mind of the missionary solves a very dif- 
ficult problem in the Congo from the fact that it sufficiently 
clothes the native so that he will work for the mission and 
not go to an ungodly training company to buy his cloth. The 
total receipts of the organization from September 1, 1925, to 
September 30, 1926, was $1191.88. The expenditure was $1069.- 
61. 

At the 1926 conference the first delegates' meeting of the 
Ladies' Aid was held. At that meeting the work of the society 
for the last year was discussed and the committee and the 
delegates felt that the work of the Conference Ladies' Aid 
Avas very much worth while. 

CENTRAL MENNONITE BOARD OF HOME AND 
- FOREIGN MISSIONS. 

The first step in the missionary work of the Central Con- 
ference Mennonite Church began at the church conference held 
at Meadows, Illinois, September 13-14, 1905. Two strong mis- 
sionary addresses were given, one by Alma Doering, a returned 
missionary from Swedish Mission Congo Beige, Africa, and the 
other by Charles E. Hurlburt, President and director of the 
African Inland Mission. The addresses so stirred the Confer- 
ence that they decided they should do something for dark 
Africa, but the Conference realized that organization was nec- 
essary for carrying on foreign mission work. The organization 
resulted in two boards, the one the Foreign Mission Board of our 
own Conference and the other a joint board with the Defense- 
less Mennonites. Since foreign work is a cooperative activity it 



Conference Activities 159 

will be left for a later chapter, and only the Central Conference 
organization will be discussed here. 

On December 1, 1905, a meeting of ministers and dele- 
gates of the different congregations was called to meet at the 
East White Oak Church for the purpose of organizing. After 
considerable discussion a motion was made that a temporary 
mission committee be elected to hold office until the next regular 
conf eren-ce. The committee of three elected were : Rev. Valen- 
tine Strubhar, president; Rev. Joseph King, secretary; and S. 
E. Maurer, treasurer. S. E. Maurer has served as treasurer 
until the present time (1926). In the conference of 1906, held 
at East White Oak Sept. 13, this_ temporary committee was re- 
elected to succeed itself. This was called the Foreign Mission 
Committee. 

After the establishing of home mission work in 1909 a pur- 
chasing committee consisting of Rev. Peter Schantz, John Ropp 
and Rev. A. B. Rutt was also elected. Up to 1909 the Foreign 
Mission Commiittee and the Home Mission Committee, which 
was established in 1908, were independent of each other. 
During the 1909 conference at Aurora, Nebraska, the question 
was discussed in one of the delegates' sessions of incorporating 
mission work. It was discovered that it was necessary to incor- 
porate to do business with foreign governments. It was decided 
to incorporate home and foreign work only and not the con- 
ference organization. The Home and Foreign Mission Com- 
mittee were elected as a committee to secure the incorporation 
papers. October 13-14, 1909, the conference was held at the 
Y. M. C. A. at Bloomington, Illinois. Here the home and 
foreign mission work was consolidated. The name of the new 
organization was the Central Mennonite Board of Home and 
Foreign Missions. Its purpose was to be evangelization, support 
home and foreign work, receive and hold all donations made 
for mission purposes. The number of members of the board 
at first was seven. In the September Evangel, 1910, Rev. A. B. 
Rutt writes suggesting a larger and more representative board. 
In the 1910 conference, held at Flanagan, the delegates decided 



160 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

to enlarge the Mission Board. They decided that there should 
be twenty-five members on the board, fifteen members repre- 
senting the fifteen congregations at that time in the conference, 
seven members representing the Home and Foreign Mission 
Committee, and three representing the Publication Board. 
Today the membership of the Board is determined by represen- 
tation from the congregations. This Board today has three 
committees : the Executive Committee, consisting of President, 
Vice-president, Secretary and the two Treasurers from the Home 
and Foreign Comimittees ; the Foreign Mission Committee; and 
third, the Home Mission Committee. The Foreign and Home 
Mission Co|minittees do practically all of the work of the Board. 
Rev. J. H. King is president of the Foreign Mission Committee 
and also of the Board. Rev. Allen Miller is chairman of the 
Home Mission Committee and Rev. Andrew Vercler, treasurer. 
This Mission Board holds yearly meeting's in the month of 
January. At these meetings business is transacted and an inspir- 
ational program given. It is the purpose of these meetings 
to inform the church concerning mission work done in the home 
and foreign fields and to suggest plans for future expansion. 
The new board Avith twenty-five members was reorganized on 
January 2, 1911, and on January 2, 1912, this newly organized 
board began its work. 

The Mission Board at present is quite large since the size 
of the Board is determined by the membership of the congre- 
gations. There is one representative for every one hundred 
members and two for congregations with a membership over 
one hundred. All ministers are members of the board. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

COOPERATIVE ACTIVITIES. 

The Central Conference Mennonite Church is the eighth 
in size of the seventeen groups of Mennonites and.Amish in 
America. The question that naturally arises is, what is the 
attitude of the Central Conference Mennonite Church to these 
other Mennonite groups. 

THE SPIRIT OF COOPERATION. 

The spirit of cooperation has been found in the Central 
Conference Mennonite Church from the days of Father Stuckey. 
His records reveal the fact that he was in very close touch 
with other Mennonite Groups. He visited churches of the old 
Mennonite conferences and cooperated with some of their lead- 
ers ; he was also in close touch with the General Conference of 
Mennonites. As stated before a report of the North Danvers 
Church is found in the 1890 conference report of the General 
Conference of Mennonites. A number of the leaders of the Old 
Conference and General Conference also visited the churches 
which now form this Conference. Bishops and ministers of the 
Old Conference preached in Father Stuckey's congregation 
and the surrounding congregations. The Middle District of 
the General Conference of Mennonites held its 1898 conference 
session in a grove a few miles from Danvers, 111., and was 
entertained by Father Stuckey's church. 

In 1898 when the old Mennonites began mission work in 
India an attempt was made by the Central Conference to cooper- 
ate with them in their mission activities. Again when the Cen- 
tral Conference began foreign mission work in Africa in the 
period from 1905-1909, Rev. Menno S. Steiner attended the 
mission meeting at Meadows, 111., and gave a stirring mission- 
ary address. He was interested in a united foreign mission 
work by the Mennonite groups. He suggested that the Old 
Mennonites and our Conference work together and offered to 



162 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

present the matter to his board. It seemed, however, that the 
time was not yet ripe for such a movement. 

Another evidence of the spirit of cooperation is found in 
the launching of the Christian Evangel in 1910. It was the pur- 
pose of Rev. Rutt as editor of the Evangel to make it an All- 
Mennonite paper. A number of editorials were written in the 
early issues of the Evangels urging very close cooperation 
between the Mennonite groups and even suggesting a united 
publication board. Rev. Rutt's attitude in this matter was 
sanctioned and supported by the Central Conference Mission 
Board meeting in January, 1911. The board sanctioned the 
policy of Rev. Rutt of using men of other Conferences as edi- 
tors of various departments. At one time there were five Con- 
ferences represented on the editorial staff. At this same board 
meeting a definite invitation was given to the Defenseless Men- 
nonites to join us in our church paper. In 1917 the Evangel 
was published in cooperation with the Mennonite Brethren in 
Christ. These are evidences to show that cooperation with other 
Mennonite groups has been one of the fundamental principles 
of the Central Mennonite Church. The above facts also show 
that the church has not attempted to cooperate with only 
one group of Mennonites but Avith various groups. At the time 
of the yearly conferences invitation is always given to ministers 
of other Mennonite groups to meet with us in delegates' ses- 
sion. 

This spirit of cooperation has not only been expressed in 
words but was expressed by a very definite conference resolution. 
Although the resolution is general it was particularly written 
as a standing invitation to the congregations who had become 
independent of the Old Conference and were seeking affiliation 
with some other Mennonite group. In the conference of 1924 
held at Congerville, Illinois, the question of cooperation came 
up in a delegates' session, particularly as it related to the inde- 
pendent congregations. As a result of the discussion the pres- 
ident of the Conference appointed a committee, consisting of 
Rev. Aaron Augspurger, Rev. Emanuel Troyer and Rev. W. 



Cooperative Activities 163 

B. Weaver to present a resolution expressing the attitude of 
our Conference toward cooperation with other groups of Men- 
nonites. The committee presented the following resolution, 
which was unanimously adopted by the Conference : "The 
Central Conference of Mennonites are a body of Mennonites 
who wish to be known as being desirous of a closer fellow- 
ship and unity between the different Mennonite Conferences, 
independent churches and individuals who are of kindred faith; 
therefore be it resolved, That we heartily invite all such groups 
who may be of like desire to effect with us a closer coopera- 
tion through their appointed representatives." 

This Conference has not only expressed a spirit of coopera- 
tion in words and resolutions but also in various activities 
carried on with other groups. Practically half of the activ- 
ities of the Conference are carried on in cooperation with 
other Mennonites. The chapters that deal with the activities 
of the Conference have been divided into two groups; activi- 
ties for which our Conference was entirely responsible and 
cooperative activities. The first established cooperative activ- 
ity in the Conference was foreign missions. 

FOREIGN MISSIONS. 

The missionary spirit in the Central Conference Mennonite 
Church dates back to the early beginning. The church has 
always been interested in expansion. This has been true not 
only in the home field but in the foreign as well. By 1890 
the congregations were supporting foreign mission work in 
other Mennonite groups. In 1890 the North Danvers Con- 
gregation gave ninety dollars to foreign missions. 

As stated before, in 1898 the leaders of the church were 
interested in the mission Avork that was begun in India by the 
Old Conference. This foreign mission spirit continued to grow 
until in the 1905 church conference held at Meadows, Illinois, 
September 14th. Here the first active missionary work of the 
Central Conference had its beginning. Two strong mission- 
ary addresses were given, one by Alma Doering who had 



164 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

been sent to Congo Beige by the Christian Missionary 
Alliance in 1900 and had returned for her furlough, and 
the other by Charles E. Hurlburt, president and direc- 
tor of the Africa Inland Mission of British East Africa. 
These addresses so stirred the Conference that they decided 
something should be done for Dark Africa. A resolution was 
passed that the ministers present the matter to their congre- 
gations. This was done with the result that there came a 
hearty response and on December 1, 1905. a meeting of the 
ministers and delegates of the different congregations was held 
at the East White Oak Mennonite Church for the purpose 
of temporarily organizing for foreign mission work. After a 
discussion of the situation a temporary mission committee was 
elected, which has been given in a former chapter, and the 
delegates decided to send three missionaries. Since there were 
no volunteers from our own church the delegates decided to 
send any, that came well recommended, to the field. An offer 
Avas made by the. African Inland Mission Board permitting 
the Central Conference to work in British East Africa under 
their jurisdiction. Certain stations were to be given to the 
church but the work was to be done under the supervision of 
the African Inland Mission. 

The second important event in our foreign mission work 
was the decision made at the meeting of the Foreign Mission 
Committee at Meadows, Illinois, February 22, 1906. The com- 
mittee decided to send Lawrence B. Haigh and Rose Boehning 
to the field. These two missionaries left in April, .1906, for 
British East Africa. Miss Boehning was married to Rev. L. 
B. Haigh in February, 1907, at the Mission Chapel of the 
African Inland Mission at Kijabe, British East Africa. 

There are some interesting facts recorded in the secretary 
book of the Mission Board such as these: January 11, 1907, the 
Foreign Mission Committee sent letters to all the churches 
to set apart Sunday, January 13th, for special prayer for our 
mission work in Africa; January 26, 1907, the board met at 
S. E. Maurers; they voted to send five hundred dollars to 



Cooperative Activities 165 

Africa, three hundred dollars to be used by L. B. Haigh for 
dwelling and two hundred dollars for his allowance. March 
8, 1907, committee voted to send seven hundred and fifty dol- 
lars to Africa to build a station. Special efforts were also 
made to raise money throughout the churches by offerings 
and pledges to be used in sending volunteers to Africa. April 
16, 1907, the committee went to Moody Bible Institute to hold 
a conference with volunteers for Africa. Mr. and Mrs. Haigh 
had come from this institution. Jesse Raynor, L. S. Probst, 
Miss Laura Collins and Miss Schoenheit were accepted and 
sent to the field in October, 1907. 

On November 19, 1908, Mr. L. B. Haigh handed in his 
resignation to the African Inland Mission. His reasons were 
that the existing mission field was already congested and it 
was not advisable to establish a permanent work there. Mr. 
and Mrs. Haigh returned to the home field in 1909 because 
of the condition of Mr. Haigh's eyes and the need of medical 
attention. After Mr. Haigh's report to the board concerning 
conditions on the field it was decided to discontinue work in 
British East Africa and the station was sold to the African 
Inland Mission for six hundred dollars. The missionaries on 
the field were given the privilege of choosing whether they 
wanted to stay or return to the home field. The other four 
missionaries decided to stay in British East Africa. 

October 13, 1909, the Home and Foreign Mission Com- 
mittees were united under one board called the Central Men- 
nonite Board of Home and Foreign Missions. On April 27, 
1910, the board decided to purchase six mission stations in 
East Africa from the Moravian Brethren. Rev. Haigh inves- 
tigated the Moravian proposition and discovered that it was 
too large for the Conference. He then proposed to the board 
an entirely new field in the Belgian Congo in Central West 
Africa. Miss Doering, in a letter in the Christian Evangel, 
February, 1911, had urged w r ork along the Kassai River. On 
her return from her first furlough from the Congo Beige field 
in Africa she met Dr. Shepherd, a returned missionary from 



166 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

West Africa who had spent twenty years in that field. The 
board had an interview with Dr. Shepherd May 1, 1911. Dr. 
Guiness of London, who represented the Belgian Congo Field, 
was also intervieAved by the board. March 12, 1911, the board 
decided to send Rev. and Mrs. Haigh to the Congo to investigate 
the field. 

Another significant event in the history of foreign mis- 
sion work in the Central Conference Mennonite Church was 
the uniting of their foreign work with the Defenseless Mennon- 
ites. The Defenseless Mennonites had been doing foreign mis- 
sion Avork since 1896 when they sent Miss Matilda Kohm to 
the Congo Beige under the Christian Missionary Alliance. Miss 
Kohm returned on her furlough in 1899 and returned to the 
field in 1900 Avith Miss Alma Doering. After Miss Doering's 
first furlough in 1906 the Defenseless Mennonites began foreign 
mission Avork in British East Africa under the same Board 
as the Central Conference Mennonite Church, called the Africa 
Inland Mission. 

As stated above, in 1908 the Central Conference discon- 
tinued Avork in British East Africa. The Defenseless Mennon- 
ites discontinued at the same time. These t\vo groups HOAV 
looked for a neAV field Avhich had never been evangelized. Desir- 
ing to start a work independent of any other mission boards, 
the Defenseless Mennonites and Central Conference Mennonites 
realized the need of united effort. 

In the meeting of the Central Conference Mission Board 
January 2, 1911, a motion was made that the Conference join 
with the Defenseless Mennonites in doing mission Avork in 
Africa. Both the Defenseless and Central Mennonite Confer- 
ences in their 1911 meetings sanctioned the uniting of the two 
mission boards for foreign Avork. On January 23, 1912, a united 
mission board Avas organized with four representatives from 
each Conference and was called the Congo Inland Mission 
Board. In the last year this board has been increased to six 
members from each Conference. This is the board which has 
jurisdiction of the mission Avork in the Belgian Congo. The 



Cooperative Activities 167 

president of the Board is Rev. E. M. Slagel, Archbold, Ohio, 
secretary, Rev. Emanuel Troyer, Carlock, Illinois, and the trea- 
surer, Rev. I. R. Detweiler, Goshen, Indiana. 

Rev. and Mrs. L. B. Haigh were sent out by the Congo 
Inland Mission to investigate the field and attempt to locate 
new stations. They left America April 15, and arrived in 
the Belgian Congo September 15, 1911. They stopped in Lon- 
don for several months to take a course in tropical medicine. 

: Rev. and Mrs. Haigh first went to Luebo where was the 
headquarters of the American Presbyterian Mission. Here they 
received much useful information as well as helpful suggestions 
from Doctor Morrison who was one of the first pioneers of 
the district. After spending some time at the Presbyterian 
Mission, Rev. and Mrs. Haigh started on an extended tour of 
investigation along the Kasai River. They investigated the 
field from September, 1911, until June, 1912. 

Rev. and Mrs. Haigh did not feel that they wished to take 
the whole responsibility for the selection of a field and so they 
appealed to the Congo Inland Mission Board for help. The 
Mission sent Rev. A. J. Stevenson, who arrived on the field 
in April, 1912. Rev. Stevenson had received his training in the 
New York Christian Missionary Alliance training school. AVhile 
there he received a call for mission work in the Congo. In 
April, 1896, he went to the field. He did missionary work in 
the Congo under the Christian Missionary Alliance Board until 
1909 when he was compelled to return to America because of 
his health. About a'year later he united with the Defenseless 
Mennonite Church and was ordained as a minister. After the 
appeal from Rev. Haigh and his offering of himself to the board 
because his heart was in the work in Africa, he was sent in 
1912. Rev. Stevenson remained on the field until his death 
February 16, 1913. A month, however, before his death Rev. 
and Mrs. Haigh received new help by the coming of four new 
missionaries who arrived on the field January 24, 1913. These 
were Mr. and Mrs. A. Janzen, Miss Sarah Crocker and Mr. 
Walter Herr. 



168 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

To Rev. and Mrs. Haigh must be given the credit for 
doing the pioneering in foreign mission work in the establish- 
ment of the first stations. Their travels through the jungles 
and forests for miles and miles by hammock and on foot in all 
kinds of weather conditions and with all kinds of dangers sur- 
rounding them demanded a great deal of courage, persistence 
and physical strength. Those of the church who did not go 
through these experiences will never be able to realize 
nor appreciate the sacrifices made by Rev. and Mrs. Haigh in 
the establishment of the Central Conference Foreign Mission 
Work. 

Work was begun at the Djoka Punda station, now called 
Charlesville after Prince Charles of Belgium. This station 
is about thirteen miles inland from the west coast of Africa 
in the Belgian Congo and is at the end of navigation on the 
Kasai River. The territory allotted to the Mennonites for 
evangelization by the Continuation Committee of the All-Prot- 
estant Congo Conference is bounded on the west by the Kamt- 
cha and Kuila Rivers, on the north and east by the Kassai 
and Luebe Rivers and on the south by the Portugese Congo 
line, making a territory approximately of two hundred by three 
hundred and fifty miles. 

The people living in this particular territory are the Bantus. 
They are an intermingling of the Negro and the Hamitic races. 
The particular tribes in this group of people that have been 
given to the Congo Inland Mission are the Baluba-Lulua, the 
Bampende, the Bacoke and the Bashilele. Up to the pres- 
ent time the Congo Inland Mission has stations manned 
by white missionaries in only two of these tribes, the Baluba- 
Lulua and the Bampandi. The Djoka Punda and Kalamba 
Mukenge stations are in the Baluba-Lulua tribe. After a careful 
investigation Rev. Haigh suggested to the board the establish- 
ment of two stations; the one at Kalamba' s village and one 
near the village of Djoka Punda. The Djoko Punda station 
was opened in 1912 by Rev. and Mrs. Haigh and Rev. Steven- 
son and the Kalamba station by Rev. Haigh during the latter 



Cooperative Activities 169 

part of 1912. The government granted the sites selected by Rev. 
Haigh and the cablegram stating their acceptance was sent 
to the 1913 Church Conference at South Washington Sep- 
tember 18th. These two stations formed the center for 
missionary work for the Congo Inland Mission Board for the 
first eight years. 

The Djoka Punda station, now known as Charlesville, is 
located five degrees south of the equator and is about three- 
fourths of a mile from the Kassai River. It has become the 
transport station because it is the end of navigation of the 
Kassai River. One of the significant buildings on this station 
is the brick chapel, erected by Rev. L. B. Haigh in 1920. This 
building was made possible by money willed to Mrs. Haigh 
by her mother, a gift of five hundred dollars. The brick for 
the building was made by the natives ; the iron for the roof was 
ordered from England. The church has a seating capacity of 
six hundred besides having a room in the back large enough 
for the holding of prayer meetings and special classes. This 
building was dedicated the first Sunday in August, 1921. The 
second station, Kalamba, is about one hundred and fifty miles 
south of Djoka Punda.. 

In 1920 the Field Committee, consisting of Rev. Sutton, 
Rev. Barkman, Rev. Janzen and Rev. William Kensinger, staked 
out two new stations in the Bampendi tribe, the one at Nyanga, 
one hundred and ten miles northwest of Kalamba and about 
ninety miles southwest of Djoka Punda, and the other, Mukedi, 
one hundred and ten miles northwest of Nyanga. The station 
of Nyanga was formally opened in April, 1921, while Mukedi 
was not opened until 1923. Thus the Congo Inland Mission 
Board has four stations manned by white missionaries in two 
out of the four tribes allotted to them. These stations repre- 
sent different interests in foreign mission work. Djoka Punda 
is an industrial station and also a transport station. This sta- 
tion serves as the headquarters for the mission Avork in Africa. 
The Kalamba station serves as the center of the educational 



17H History of Central Conference Mennonile Church 

work of the missions while Nyanga and Mukcdi arc particulaHy 
evangelistic centers. 

As stated before, Rev. and Mrs. j iaigh wore the First mis- 
sionaries sent by the Congo Inland Mission Board to the Bel- 
gian Congo. They returned on their first furlough in 1915 and 
ret timed again to the Belgian Congo in May, 1916. 'In 1920 
they returned home on their second furlough and moved to 
Danvers, Illinois. Rev. llaigh became editor of the Christian 
Kvangel and pastor of the Danvers Miennonitc Church until 
the latter part of 1923 when they left for llavelock, North 
Carolina, where they at present reside. In the Congo Inland 
Mission Board meeting of September 9, 1926, a resolution was 
passed to invite Rev. and Mrs. Haigh to return to the Belgian 
Congo. 

The nature of the foreign mission work in the first years 
can well be stated in a report given by Rev. Haigh for the 
Evangel concerning the year 1911 to 1913. He says: "We have 
temporary houses at each station for three missionaries, a chapel 
and a store house. At Djoka Punda we are at present build- 
ing a permanent house which wall house three missionaries 
very comfortably. At each station AVC have a department where 
logs are converted into lumber for building purposes by natives 
under our supervision. We are getting material ready for per- 
manent buildings which wall take the place of the small grass 
and mud houses which we are living in at present. The evan- 
gelistic w r ork of the mission is very encouraging. At each sta- 
tion three evangelistic services are held each week and on Sun- 
day afternoon a Sunday School. At Djoka Punda meetings 
are held four nights in a week for the purpose of giving Bible 
instruction. On Wednesday evening we have prayer meeting 
for the Christians." Rev. Haigh continually emphasized two 
things which are of vital importance in foreign missions today; 
first that there must be industrial, educational, social and relig- 
ious w r ork done; second, that we must get volunteers from our 
own congregations and these volunteers must be trained before 
they are sent to the field. 



Cooperative /Activities 171 

From 1911 to 1915 a number of the missionaries that were 
sent to the Belgian Congo under the Congo Inland Mission 
Board came from European countries such as Germany and 
Sweden. Most of the missionaries sent to the field thus far 
have come from Bible Institutes particularly Moody Institute 
and a number of them have come from other denominations. 
Very few volunteers have come from the Central Conference 
of Mennonites. This has been true because so few of her young 
people have trained themselves for work of this kind. The 
schools must always furnish the missionaries for the foreign 
field and the Central Conference of Mennonites will have vol- 
unteers as soon as their young people find their way to college 
and seminary where they receive the enlarged vision and also 
the proper training for foreign mission work. Some of the 
earliest missionaries on the field who are at present serving 
are : Rev. and Mrs. Omar L. Sutton, Rev. and Mrs. William G. 
Kensinger, Rev. and Mrs. Emil A. Sommer and Rev. and Mrs. 
J. P. Barkman. In 1923 a large number of missionaries were 
sent out raising the number of missionaries at home and on 
the field to twenty-one. There are at present thirty-one mis- 
sionaries under 'the Congo Inland Mission Board, nineteen being 
on the field and twelve on furlough. A party of seven mission- 
aries under the direction of Rev. J. P. Barkman sailed for the 
Belgian Congo October 30, 1926. 

Through careful study and experience the mission work on 
the field has become more efficient both in its government ma- 
chinery and also in its financial methods. The government for 
the field has become more democratic and the financial system 
more active and economical. Dr. Hollenback, one of the mem- 
bers of the Phelps-Stokes Foundation, who investigated the Men- 
nonite Mission work, particularly the headquarters at Djoka 
Punda said: "The Mennonite Mission with headquarters at 
Djoka Punda is working on sound principles and if the Men- 
nonites of America will cooperate, this station, the strategic 
point at the end of navigation on the Kassai, will prove the 
gateway to a large missionary endeavor second to none." 



172 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

Some one has said that the boys and girls of Africa need 
Jesus, churches, schools, learn how to work, learn how to estab- 
lish Christian homes and how to promote the proper kind of 
civilization. This is the program that the missionaries on the 
field are attempting to carry out. Perhaps the best idea can be 
had of the nature of the African work by the description of the 
work given by Rev. William Kensinger who has lately returned 
from the field. He says : "We are working among two of the 
four large tribes of the Bantu people for which we have made 
ourselves responsible. There are four main stations manned 
by white missionaries who in turn have trained approximately 
sixty native evangelists and teachers who are manning as many 
out-stations. There are two lines of missionary endeavor which 
complete a well rounded out work among the natives of Congo 
land. First, the building of main stations for the purpose of 
training native Christian workers as evangelists and teachers. 
Second, the building of outstations where these evangelists 
are sent to teach and preach. The work on a main station is 
divided into six departments : evangelistic, educational, medical, 
industrial, agricultural and itinerating." This type of work 
which has been outlined by Rev. Kensinger is the kind of work 
that our missionaries are doing in the Congo. 

It is fitting to close this discussion with the stating of the 
conditions at present as was given by Rev. Lester Bixel, a 
missionary on the field, in a letter written September 23, 1926, 
to the treasurer of the Congo Inland Mission Board. He says 
that the mission work is more difficult than it was a few years 
ago because in the last few .years a civilization without Christi- 
anity has come in with full force. The natives who had been 
living in their old customs for years are plunged into a new envi- 
ronment. They are perplexed. The traders, the diamond men, 
priests and the missionaries have come in simultaneously and 
with different standards of morals and it becomes perplexing 
to the natives. On the other hand the commercial spirit which 
the natives have imbibed makes them indifferent to the gospel. 
These things, Rev. Bixel says, are a challenge to the church 



Cooperative Activities . 173 

at home. He closes his letter with a plea for men and women 
with a thorough training who can analyze these problems 
and work towards their solution. 

The Congo Inland Mission Board is making special efforts 
to meet these problems through bringing proper information 
to the churches. The treasurer, Rev. I. R. Detweiler, with his 
assistant, Rev. William Kensinger, is issuing a Mission 
Monthly which is sent to all congregations for the purpose of 
disseminating missionary information and to encourage the 
church to more definite and systematic missionary giving. The 
need of the field is money and trained workers and the need in 
the home church is vision and consecration. 

OLD PEOPLE'S HOME. 

Another cooperative activity of the Central Conference 
Mennonite Church is the Old People's Home at Meadows, 
Illinois. This institution is supported by the Central Confer- 
ence and the Defenseless Conference of Mennonites. An Old 
People's Home was the vision of a number of the leaders in 
both Conferences. In the 1917 church conference held at Hope- 
dale, Illinois, a committee of three was appointed to confer 
with the Defenseless Brethren on the Old People's Home. The 
committee was composed of Rev. John Gingerich, Rev. Emanuel 
Trover and Rev. Andrew Vercler. Rev. Peter Schantz, 
although not one of the committee, urged the building of an 
Old People's Home. Each one of the Conferences felt the proj- 
ect was too large for one Conference. 

The first definite step was taken when the following rep- 
resentative men of each Conference formed an organization 
known as the Mennonite Old People's Home, incorporated June 
6, 1919: D. N. Claudon, S. E. Bachman, Daniel Augustin, 
Joseph Rich and Moses Roth. The town of Meadows was 
chosen by this committee as the location for the home. A 
location was purchased in the central part of the village with 
twenty acres of land, a house and barn for the sum of ten 



174 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

thousand dollars. An attempt Avas made at first to unite with 
the Old Mennonites in the building of an Old People's Home 
at Eureka, Illinois, but when they found that this was fruitless 
they decided to build. 

In the spring of 1922 the building of the home was begun. 
The plan of the building was for an administration building, 
the first floor to be used for the office and reception room. The 
second floor to be used for living apartments of the superin- 
tendent and matron. There was to be a one-story wing on 
both the east and west side with an annex to the rear for the 
kitchen and dining room and was to be connected with the 
administration building with a corridor. Up to the present 
time the administration building and the annex and the east 
wing has been built. The building will accommodate besides 
the superintendent and family about twenty persons. All the 
rooms have been occupied since the erection of the building. 
The completed building would house about forty people. 

The Old People's Home was dedicated on Sunday, May 
20, 1923. There were about two thousand people present. Rev. 
J. H. King had charge of the dedicatory services. An all-day 
meeting was arranged for in connection with the dedication. 
Mr. and Mrs. Klaussen who had charge of the Orphans Home 
at Flanagan, Illinois, were chosen as superintendent and matron 
of the home. They continued their services at the home until 
January 1, 1925, when Rev. G. I. Gundy took charge of the 
work. The motto of the institution is well stated in the Scrip- 
ture verse, Psalms 71 :9 "Cast me not off in the time of old 
age; forsake me not when my strength faileth." The insti- 
tution meets a long felt need in the two Conferences that it 
represents. 

The superintendent not only looks after the physical needs 
of the aged but also their spiritual needs. Prayer meetings are 
held every Thursday evening and religious services on Sunday 
afternoon. The present need of the institution is the payment 
of the debt and also raising sufficient funds to complete the 
building. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

COOPERATIVE ACTIVITIES CONTINUED. 
HOSPITAL. 

The next cooperative activity to be undertaken by the 
Conference was the establishment of a hospital. For a number 
of years past a conviction had grown upon the minds of some of 
the Conference leaders that our Mennonite people should launch 
out in hospital work. In fact as early as 1893 there were a 
few Mennonites who were then interested in the establishment 
of such an institution. In May of this year the Brokaw Hos- 
pital was organized to be controlled by Protestant people. 
About five thousand dollars was collected for the project but 
nothing else was done. In 1895 the physicians of Bloomington 
and Normal organized and secured an option on the location 
Avhere the Brokaw hospital now stands. The organization 
formed in 1893 now joined them and gave them their money. 
A building was erected this same year. In 1896 the hospital 
opened and was called the Deaconess Memorial Hospital. From 
the very beginning the hospital was managed by Mennonite 
deaconess nurses under the leadership of Rev. John A. Sprunger. 
It remained under their supervision until August, 1907. There 
were a few Mennonite leaders in our Conference who were 
ready to continue the work but it seemed the time was not yet 
ripe for the support of the church and so the Brokaw Hos- 
pital Avas given over to the Methodist Episcopal Deaconess 
Society of Chicago. During the years 1897-1917 the conviction 
concerning the hospital seemed to grow and particularly was the 
need for a hospital felt when foreign mission work was estab- 
lished by the Conference in 1909. Already in the 1908 church 
conference Rev. Andrew Vercler discussed the subject of the 
need of trained nurses. 

The real agitation for a hospital began in 1918 when the 
matter was discussed at various religious gatherings. The 



176 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

phase of hospital work which appealed particularly to the 
Conference leaders was the missionary endeavor. The motive 
that impelled them was the desire to imitate the Master in His 
ministry of healing". The church leaders believed that we 
ought not only teach and preach but also do something for 
those that are in need physically. On the other hand they 
were also interested in the training of nurses so that they might 
be able to supply the foreign field with trained nurses. The 
men who were particularly interested in this project were 
Rev. Peter Schantz, and Rev. Emanuel Troyer. 

In the 1917 conference held at Hopedale, Illinois, Septem- 
ber 5th-7th, Rev. Troyer urged action on hospital work. A 
committee was then appointed to report to the next conference. 
Rev. Troyer, Rev. Schantz and Sam Stuckey were appointed 
on this committee. From 1917 to the conference of 1918 various 
talks were given throughout the churches, making an appeal 
for hospital work. In the 1918 conference held at North Dan- 
vers, August 27th-29th, Rev. Troyer reported the work of the 
hospital committee for the past year. The delegates decided 
to retain the sa\me committee and to ask them to investigate 
still further. 

The first definite step in organization was taken January 
23, 1919, when the Mennonite Sanitarium Association was 
organized. The association was incorporated January 24, 1919. 
The purpose of the association was to conduct a sanitarium, 
hospital and training school at Bloomington, Illinois, not for 
profit, but to help all people in sickness and distress and to 
further the highest and most progressive ideas of the Mennonite 
Church. The reasons given for locating it in Bloomington 
were that they would be enabled to secure the services of a 
staff of skilled and reliable physicians, and surgeons who had 
an established reputation. Second, that this city is centrally 
located and is a moral, Christian town and an educational cen- 
ter. The city of Bloomington, especially the Association of 
Commerce gave the Mennonite Sanitarium Association a very 
cordial welcome. 



Cooperative Activities 177 

The first directors chosen for the sanitarium were Rev. 
Emanuel Troyer who is still the president, Rev. Benjamin 
Rupp who was elected superintendent and is still serving, Rev. 
Allen Miller, Rev. Joseph H. King- and Rev. John Kinsinger. 
These men are all serving on the present board of directors. 
The association is formed of delegates selected from the differ- 
ent congregations. The hospital is a cooperative effort, rep- 
resentatives from the Defenseless Mennonites and Old Men- 
nonites serving on the board. 

The first work of the association was the selection of a 
suitable location for the hospital. A property was purchased 
on North Main Street which was called the Harber property 
and was a dwelling house. This was remodeled and fitted for 
hospital use. The first patients were received May 1, 1919. 
The board also purchased a large additional lot adjoining the 
Harber property on the south. This lot was to serve as the 
location for the new hospital which was to be built. Twelve 
rooms of the hospital were soon filled and three capable 
nurses began their work. 

While the board of directors Avas planning for the new 
hospital they learned that the Kelso Sanitarium, located on 
North Main Street, was available. The Kelso Hospital had 
been founded by Dr. Kelso in 1893. It was a fully equipped 
hospital with forty nurses in training. He offered the build- 
ings and entire equipment for seventy-five thousand dollars. 
The board of directors called a meeting of the association Jan- 
uary 19, 1920. The association voted unanimously to accept 
the proposition of Dr. Kelso. Possession was to be given 
May 1, 1920. A new building" had been erected in 1918. The 
institution had about sixty rooms. In June, 1920, the build- 
ing was properly dedicated in the presence of a large audi- 
ence. The Harber property served as a nurses' home until 
a few years ago when a home was bought just east of the 
hospital. 

As stated before the chief interest of the church was 
two-fold ; to care for the sick and also to train Christian nurses 



178 History of Central Conference Mcnnointe Church 

and doctors for service in the home and foreign field. A 
nurses' training school has been conducted in connection with 
the Kelso Sanitarium. This school was taken over by the 
church and placed on an accredited basis. The first nurses' 
class graduated in April, 1922. In 1925 the course was extended 
to three years. There are at present about thirty nurses in 
training. The hospital has a capacity of forty-five beds. The 
most pressing need at present in relation to hospital work is 
a new building. 

EDUCATION. 

The educational movement in the Mennonite Church did 
not begin as early as mission work. as far as higher education is 
concerned. The Central Conference Mennonite Church was 
always interested that the children should receive an elementary 
education. The early settlers -established their own private 
schools for the purpose of educating the children. There are 
several reasons why higher education, did not begin . earlier 
among the Central Conference Mennonites. In the first place 
the Amish have been more conservative in relation to education 
than the Mennonites. In the second place because of the fact 
that they lived in communities where farming was done on an 
extensive scale they felt they needed their boys and girls as 
soon as they were old enough to help on the farm. 

It was the missionary movement in the church which first 
brought the need of higher education to the minds of the 
church leaders. The Central Conference Mennonite Church, as 
all other Mennonite groups, discovered that she must get her 
missionaries from some training school; be it a Bible school 
or seminary. Practically all the missionaries that were sent 
to Africa received their training at the Moody Bible Institute. 
Most of these were also not members of the Central Confer- 
ence Mennonite Church. The Church began to see that she must 
send her young people to high school, college and seminary if she 
would have future missionaries. This was the primary reason 



Cooperative Activities 179 

for the interest of the Central Conference in educational in- 
stitutions. 

BLUFFTON COLLEGE. 

The first educational institution in which the Central Con- 
ference of Mennonites became interested was Bluffton College. 
This institution was founded in 1900 by the General Confer- 
ence of Mennonites. It was owned and governed by the Mid- 
dle District Conference and was called Central Mennonite Col- 
lege. The president, Dr. S. K. Mosiman, visited the Central 
Conference Mennonite Churches in the interests of the college 
.as early as 1909 and 1910. These visits meant much .in the way 
of encouragement to the young people to attend the institu- 
tion, and also in creating interest among the Conference lead- 
ers. 

During these same years there was considerable discus- 
sion among the leaders of the different groups of Mennonites 
in regard to a cooperative effort in Mennonite education. ' 

Up to 1909 the Mennonite Colleges that were established 
interested only one group of Mennonites and very little effort 
was made to interest Mennonites of other groups. Perhaps 
one of the first steps in suggesting the idea of cooperation was 
a letter .sent by Prof. N. E. Byers, then president of Goshen 
College, on June 3, 1909, to the heads of all Mennonite schools 
and colleges, stating that Goshen was offering full college course 
for the A. B. degree and asked their cooperation in interest- 
ing the graduates of their schools who desired to complete a 
full college course. There was no response to this letter by 
any of the schools. 

The first step that finally resulted in cooperation was 
made by Pres. N. E. Byers to Pres. J. W. Kliewer of Bethel 
College in November of 1912. He suggested in this letter 
that the next step- in the development of higher education for 
Mennonites should be taken by the cooperation of several 
branches of the church. A few weeks later Pres. J. W. Klie- 
wer and Pres. S. K. Mosiman met in Chicago and after discuss- 



180 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

ing the matter of educational cooperation they asked Pres. 
Byers to meet with them. The three presidents of the three 
Mennonite Colleges with Rev. A. S. Shelly of the Eastern 
District of the General Conference met at the LaSalle Hotel, 
in Chicago in December, 1912. Two important decisions were 
made at this meeting: First, that any advanced work in edu- 
cation in the Mennonite church could best be accomplished 
by cooperation of a number of Mennonite groups ; Second, 
that if sufficient interest in such a movement should mani- 
fest itself, that a meeting should be called at some central 
place to consider the possibility of such an undertaking. 

It was afterwards discovered that a number from several 
of the Mennonite groups were interested and expressed their 
willingness to attend a meeting to discuss a union school move- 
ment. This meeting was held at Warsaw, Indiana, on May 
29, 1913. There were twenty-four interested persons present 
at this meeting, representing five groups of Mennonites. Rev. 
Benjamin Esch, Rev. A. B. Rutt and John Ropp were pres- 
ent from the Central Conference of Mennonites. 

The most important resolution passed at this meeting was 
that it is the sense of this meeting that an institution be estab- 
lished representing the various branches of the Church giving 
under-graduate and graduate work of a standard college and 
theological and Biblical work of a standard seminary. At this 
same meeting a Board of fifteen men was named, whose duty 
it should be to take the necessary steps to establish the pro- 
posed institution. Rev. J. H. King, Rev. Emanuel Troyer 
and Rev. A. B. Rutt were members of the Board from Cen- 
tral Conference. 

This Board met June 24, 1913, at the Mennonite Home 
Chapel in Chicago. At this meeting it was decided that the 
proposed school should be established in connection with Cen- 
tral Mennonite College at Bluffton Ohio. 1 The name adopted 



l- Part of the material for this history of Bluffton College was 
obtained from "The Story of Bluffton College", edited by C. Henry 
Smith and E. J. Hirschler. 



Cooperative Activities 181 

for the new school was Bluffton College and Mennonite Sem- 
inary. The school opened on September 17, 1913, with over 
a hundred students. Dr. Mosiman was President of the institu- 
tion and Prof. N. E. Byers, Dean. 

From the beginning of this institution there were a num- 
ber of men in our Conference who were vitally interested. 
March 10, 1914, the ministers of the Conference met at Bloom- 
ington, Illinois, and passed a resolution endorsing the individ- 
uals of our Conference who were taking an active part in the 
Avork of the school. Another individual, a member of the Cen- 
tral Conference of Mennonites, who should be mentioned here 
as a firm supporter of Bluffton College was John Ropp of 
Bloomington, Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. Ropp and Mrs. Ropp's 
mother, Mrs. Mary Rupp, have given more to the college in an- 
nuities and gifts than any other person. They have given ap- 
proximately $180,000. By 1915 the Conference officially recog- 
nized Bluffton College as its school. In the 1916 campaign of 
the College for the raising of $200,000 endowment the Cen- 
tral Conference Mennonite Church decided to raise $30,000 of 
this amount. Prof. Huffman of the college went through the 
churches soliciting the money. In the conference of 1924 at 
Congerville, 111., the Conference again passed a resolution 
approving the present campaign of the college for raising $500,- 
000. The Conference at present supports the college with 
money and students. It is the only conference thus far that 
has consistently elected all of its members to the Board. 

WITMARSUM SEMINARY. 

In the establishment of the new school by the various 
branches of Mennonites, it was noted that the name Bluffton 
College and Mennonite Seminary was given to the new insti- 
tution. This suggested the idea that the Seminary should have 
a large place in this new united educational movement of the 
Mennonites. In fact the seminary was considered ' the most 
important by many of the church leaders because the great 



.182 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

need of an educational institution was to train missionaries, 
ministers and other Christian workers. 

From 1913 to 1920 the college- and seminary were under one 
board. The seminary was a department of the college. After 
seven years of experience as a part of the college a number 
of the Mennonite Church leaders felt that the institution was 
.too weak in teaching force and equipment to attract any con- 
siderable number of graduates of other colleges. 

The Mennonite Seminary remained a department of the 
college until 1921 when Witmarsum Theological Seminary was 
established. During this time the seminary had two professors 
and after 1917 three. The A. M. and B. D. degrees were 
granted to several students. 

The reasons for the organizing of the seminary as a' dis- 
tinct institution is well stated in the Story of Bluffton College. 
It states as follows: First, some of the cooperating- bodies 
in the union effort of Bluffton College felt the need of more 
elementary courses in the Seminary to provide for their young 
people who did not have the educational preparation to enter 
the regular courses offered by the Mennonite Seminary. To 
meet this demand would require an expansion of the Seminary 
faculty by adding two more men to the teaching force. But the 
attendance and prospects for increased attendance did not seem 
to justify the increase. Second, it was felt that the Seminary 
would be in a better position to serve its whole constituency, 
especially the graduates, of the five degree-granting Mennon- 
ite colleges in the United States, if it were an independent 
institution with its own corporate organization, officers and 
faculty. The persistence of these two needs, and the attempt 
to meet them, finally culminated in the organization of the 
Witmarsum Theological Seminary. 1 On the other hand there 
was also an agitation among the educational leaders of the 
Old Conference for the establishment of a Bible School and 
Seminary. To meet this need was also one of the reasons for 
the establishment of the Seminary. 

! Smith and Hirschler, Story of Bluffton College, p. 145. 



Cooperative Activities 183 

At the regular meeting of the Board of Trustees. of Bluff- 
ton College, January 27, 28, 1921, .the matter of the expansion 
of the work of the Seminary was considered. A committee 
of five was appointed to bring in a report to the Board of 
Trustees. Rev. 'Emaiiuel Troyer was a member of this com- 
mittee. The report of this committee provided that the Men- 
nonite Seminary be placed in charge of a committee of five 
men. Rev. Troyer again served on this committee. After sev- 
eral meetings of this committee the Seminary was finally organ- 
ized and incorporated on July 6, 1921. 

The Central Conference Mennonite Church has aided very 
materially in the financing of the institution. Up to July. 6, 
1921, Rev. Troyer had solicited $135.00 among friends in Cen- 
tral Illinois. He also invited Prof. Whitmer to visit the churches 
in Central Illinois and explain the need and plans of such an 
institution as Witmarsum Theological Seminary. The Centra} 
Conference also gave considerable amount for the first year's 
operating expenses. In the conference of 1922 held at Mea- 
dows, Illinois, a resolution was passed that the Conference 
support one chair at the Seminary, the amount being $2000. 
The Conference, is supporting this chair at the present time. 

The Seminary with only a few years of service as an 
independent institution has already furnished the M-ennonite 
Church a number of trained ministers and missionaries who 
are a credit to the institution. The present needs of the insti- 
tution are. one hundred thousand dollars for building needs 
and two hundred thousand dollars for endowment to put the 
institution on a financial basis. 

RELIEF WORK. 

Another cooperative effort of the Central Conference Men- 
nonite Church was Relief Work. . During the European War 
the Friends, or Quakers of England asked permission of the 
government to send their young men into relief work because 
they could not conscientiously send them to the battle field. 



184 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

This permission was granted and when the United States 
entered the war the same was granted to the American Friends. 
The Mennonites also being non-resistant made application 
to the Friends to do relief work under their organization. The 
Central Conference of Mennonites decided in the conference 
of 1917, held at Hopedale, Illinois, to join with about six other 
Mennonite groups in carrying on War Relief Work in France. 
A committee on Relief Work was appointed January 3, 1918. 
consisting of Rev. Valentine Strubhar, Rev. Allen Miller and 
Rev. Aaron Augspurger. 

After the close of the war the Conference decided to par- 
ticipate in permanent relief work. Thus far the relief work 
has been done in Russia, Germany and the Near East. From 
1918 to 1922 the Conference raised $15,000 for relief work. 
From the time the Conference entered relief work to the pres- 
ent time she has given through congregations and by indi- 
viduals over $270,000. She also has a representative on the 
permanent Central Relief Committee. This is a very feasible 
way to apply the positive doctrine of love and good will. 

ALL-MENNONITE CONVENTION. 

The Central Conference Mennonite Church has been vitally 
interested from the beginning of. its history in the union of 
the Mennonite groups. As stated before the Christian Evan- 
gel, the official organ of the Conference, was started with the 
hopes that it might become an All-Mennonite paper. At a 
meeting of the ministers held at Peoria, Illinois, October 17, 
1917, a committee was appointed to attempt to form an All- 
Mennonite Christian Endeavor and Sunday School Union. Rev. 
Emanuel Troyer, Rev. Lee Lantz and Rev. Ben Esch were 
appointed on the committee. 

So also in 1910 Rev. Aaron Augspurger was the first one 
to endorse the suggestions of Rev. I. A. Sommer for a dis- 
cussion of the question of Union. On May 5, 1910, Rev. Som- 
mer, then editor of The Mennonite, the official organ of the 



Cooperative Activities 185 

General Conference of Mennonites, published an editorial under 
the title, "In What Fundamentals do Mennonites Agree?". In 
his editorial he suggested that a conference should be held 
of the leaders of all the Mennonite branches and invited a 
discussion of the subject in the church papers. There was oppo- 
sition from only one source. Rev. John Horsch, an Old Men- 
nonite, published an article in the Gospel Herald, giving seven 
reasons why they could not participate in a general confer- 
ence with other Mennonite groups. This seemed to check 
the agitation somewhat until August 18, 1910, when Presi- 
dent N. E Byers of Goshen College revived the discussion 
and proposed a plan for the starting of an All-Mennonite Confer- 
ence. He suggested that the editor of The Mennonite nom- 
inate a committee, consisting of one representative from each 
group of Mennonites to prepare a program, select a time and 
place of meeting. Rev. Valentine Strubhar was the represent- 
ative from the Central Conference of Mennonites. 

The first All-Mennonite Convention was held at Berne, 
Indiana, August 19-20, 1913. Fourteen of the Centra'! Con- 
ference Mennonite people were present. The Conference has 
been represented very well at all the conventions. These All- 
Mennonite Conventions have been held every three years, the 
last one having been held at Nappanee, Indiana, September 2 
and 3, 1925. At this convention it was decided to hold the 
meetings every two years. Definite steps Avere taken at the 
last convention for the appointment of a committee to unite 
our publication and missionary activities. The Central Con- 
ference Mennonite Church made provision for a representa- 
tive on this committee at their 1926 annual meeting at Wash- 
ington, Illinois. 

YOUNG PEOPLES RETREAT 

The most recent cooperative activity in which the Central 
Conference has entered is the Young Peoples Retreat. The first 
retreat was held in 1925 at Bluffton, Ohio. The Central Con- 



186 History of Central Conference Mennonitc Church 

ference sent eight young people to the retreat and also had 
a representative on the Retreat Committee. The present repre- 
sentative is Gerald Stanley of Danvers, Illinois. The second 
retreat was held in 1926. The Conference has given its sup- 
port in finances and moral endeavor to this movement which 
is in its infancy. 



CHAPTER XX. 

DOCTRINES OF THE CENTRAL CONFERENCE 
MENNONITE CHURCH. 

A history of the doctrines of the Central Conference Men- 
nonite Church involves somewhat a history of the doctrines 
of the Christian Church. It would be necessary to trace the 
doctrines back through the history of the Amish, the Men- 
nonites, the Anabaptists and then to the Reformation in gen- 
eral. 

At the close of the Reformation there was much in doc- 
trine that the Catholics and Protestants had in common. They 
all believed in the Trinity, in the Divinity of Jesus Christ, in 
the sacredness of the Jewish Scriptures and of the New 
Testament, in the fall of man and his redemption through the 
sacrifice of the cross and in a future life of rewards and pun- 
ishments. Christian virtues continued to be inculcated by Cath- 
olics as well as Protestants. 

On the other, hand there were doctrines which were held 
by all Protestants which distinguished them from Catholicism. 
They denied the claim of the Pope of Rome and rejected his 
government and jurisdiction. They also rejected such doctrines 
of the Catholic Church as purgatory, indulgences, invocation of 
saints, veneration of relics and the modification of the sacra-, 
mental system. They also insisted upon the right of the indi- 
vidual to interpret the Bible and to save himself without the 
mediation of the priest. The Protestant emphasized the author- 
ity of the Bible while the Catholic the authority of the Churqh. 

There were also many divisions of Protestantism as can 
be seen in the number of Protestant divisions today. Most of 
Protestantism, however, can be classified under four heads; 
Lutheranism, Calvinism, Anglicanism and Anabaptism. The 
doctrines of the Central Conference Mennonite Church grow 
out of Anabaptism. 

The distinguishing marks of Anabaptism as it related to 



188 History of Central Conference Mennointe Church 

Protestantism were: 1. The complete separation of the Church 
and State. 2. Adult baptism for believers only. 3. The Bible 
as the only guide of faith and practice. 4. The doctrine of 
non-resistance. The early Mennonites under the leadership of 
Menno Simon accepted these principles as fundamental in their 
doctrines. It may be said, then, that the Central Conference 
Mennonite Church believes in those doctrines that were held in 
common at the time of the Reformation by Protestants and 
Catholics as stated above and that they also hold with all 
Protestants the doctrines which distinguish them from Cath- 
olicism. They also hold the essential principles of Anabap- 
tism. Since the essential principles of Mennonitism are indi- 
vidualism, and literal interpretation of the Bible it cannot be 
said that the Mennonites of Europe and America ever formulated 
any philosophical confession of faith. The Amish, however, 
from whom this conference originated, accepted the confes- 
sion of faith consisting of eighteen articles drawn up by the 
Conference of Mennonites held at Dortrecht, Holland, April 
21, 1632. This confession of faith was signed by fifty-one rep- 
resentatives from Mennonite congregations in Holland and 
Northwestern Germany. In 1660 it was accepted by the 
churches of Alsace and the Palatinate. It became the accepted 
confession of faith for the early Mennonite church in Amer- 
ica. 

The Central Cenference Mennonite Church accepted this 
confession of faith with a few revisions at the time of its organ- 
ization in 1908. Since the question is often asked by those of 
other religious affiliations what the creed is of this Conference, 
the writer will insert here brief statements of the confession 
of faith. 1. There is one Eternal Almighty, and Incomprehen- 
sible God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost who is the Creator 
of all things and particularly created man and woman in His 
own image. 2. Adam and Eve did not remain long in the hap- 
py state in which they were created but seduced by the ser- 
pent and envy of the devil disobeyed God and brought sin 
and death into the world. 3. Jesus Christ, the Son of God 



Doctrines of the Central Conference Mennonite Church 189 

foreordained to the purpose of redemption before the foun- 
dation of the world became the Redeemer of the fallen race. 
4. When the fulness of time came, the promised Messiah, Re- 
deemer and Saviour came into the world in the form of flesh, 
born of the Virgin Mary, lived, was crucified, buried, rose 
from the dead and ascended into heaven from whence He will 
come again to judge the living and the dead. How the word 
became flesh we content ourselves with the description given 
us by the faithful evangelist. 5. Christ, before His ascension es- 
tablished and instituted the New Testament, which contains the 
whole will of His Father and which is sufficient to the sal- 
vation of those who are obedient. 6. Man is by nature cor- 
rupt and it is only through faith in Jesus Christ, the new 
birth and change of life that he can have the promise of sal- 
vation, receive pardon and become sanctified, justified and a 
child . of God. 7. Penitent believers, . who through faith, the 
new birth and renewal of the Holy Ghost, have become united 
with God are baptized with water in the name of the Father, 
of the Son and of the Holy Ghost to the burying of their sins 
and to become incorporated in the communion of saints. 8. 
The church consists of those who have repented and rightly 
believe and are rightly baptised. These are a chosen generation, 
a royal priesthood and holy nation. They shall be known by 
their love, Godly conversation, pure walk and practice. 9. The 
church needs officers and so Christ before His departure, and 
His apostles provided the church with faithful ministers, 
apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. 10. The Lord's Sup- 
per is observed in commemoration of the suffering and death 
of Christ. 11. Jesus instituted the washing of the saints' feet 
and afterwards taught believers to observe it as a sign of the 
washing of the soul in the blood of Christ. 12. Marriage should 
be between two believers, so those to be united in matrimony 
should have expressed their faith in Christ as their Saviour 
and united with the church by baptism or confession of faith. 
The divorce is contrary to the will of God. No brother or 
sister shall retain membership in the church who will marry 



190 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

again after having been divorced or who will marry a divorced 
person. 13. Civil Government is instituted of God for the 
punishment of the wicked, the protection of the pious and for 
the purpose of governing the world. Christians should be sub- 
ject and obedient to the government in all things that do not 
militate against the will of God and to pray for their rulers 
and pay the required taxes. 14. Revenge and resistance is for- 
bidden by Christ to all His disciples. So the Christian should 
refrain form the use of the sword or to take revenge in any 
form. He should overcome evil with good.. 15. All oaths, high 
and low, are forbidden the followers of Christ. The Chris- 
tian's confirmation is to be yea and nay. 16. The church has 
the right of excommunication as a separation or spiritual pun- 
ishment for the amendment of the offender. 17. The church 
believes that those who are excommunicated should be shunned 
and avoided by the members of the church, whether it be in 
eating or drinking .or other such like social matters in order 
that they may be ashamed and be induced to amend their 
ways. They shall not, however, be treated as enemies but ex-, 
horted as brethren. 18. The hope of the church is centered 
in the personal return of Jesus Christ, who will Himself return 
in like manner as he ascended. 19. The principle of secrecy 
is contrary to the spirit and -teaching of Jesus Christ and the 
apostles. Therefore the fellowship of the lodge is contrary 
to Scripture. "These are the chief articles of our general 
Christian Faith, which we everywhere teach in our congre- 
gations and families, and according to . which we profess to 
live; and which, according to our convictions, contain the true 
Christian Faith, which the apostles in their time believed and 
taught; yea, which they testified to by their lives and con- 
firmed by their deaths; in which we will also according to 
our faith, gladly abide, live and die, that at last, together with 
the apostles and all the pious we may obtain the salvation 
of our souls through the grace of God". 1 

! Articles of Faith and The Constitution of the Central Conference 
Mennonite Church. 



Doctrines of the Central Conference Mennonite Church 191 

In the constitution of the Central Conference of Men- 
nonites the purpose of the Conference is stated as follows : 
The endeavor of this Conference shall be to unite all congre- 
gations of like faith. The purpose of this union shall be with 
God's gracious help to establish and strengthen by mutual 
instruction and admonition from the word of God, to carry 
on the work of evangelism, to spread and establish the King- 
dom of God and to enter into the work of home and foreign 
missions. In article three the principle of 'the Conference is 
stated as follows: "quotation II Tim. 3:16-17". This Confer- 
ence shall recognize God's Word as final authority in all mat- 
ters of church government and requires of those congregations 
which would unite with it that they stand upon a Scriptural 
confession of faith and that they adhere to the doctrines accept- 
ed by the Conference. Article five, section four, states: If any 
congregation of the Conference shall habitually fail to support 
the Conference financially and spiritually and after being prop- 
erly dealt with shall still refuse, it shall be excluded from 
having a voice in the Conference. 

The Central Conference Mennonite Church believes in 
congregational form of church government. The annual con- 
ferences that are held are for the purpose of unifying the 
work of the Conference, to give encouragement to the various 
congregations and to report on work done throughout the year. 
The Conference is not a legislative body. It is representative 
in its organization. The delegate body is composed of lay 
delegates and ministers. The lay delegates may be men or 
women. Article six of the constitution provides that each 
congregation shall have a right to be represented at the con- 
ference by one vote for every thirty communicant members 
or fractional part of that number. All ministers are delegates. 

The theology of the Central Conference Mennonite Church 
is conservative. Much emphasis is placed on the literal inter- 
pretation of the Bible. The church has accepted very largely 
the doctrines as they are in the Dortrecht confession. The 
theology of the church has been largely Biblical. The leaders 



192 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

of the church have never spent much time or effort in any 
philosophical interpretation of the doctrines they hold. The 
doctrines are supported with numerous Scripture references 
and are largely literal in their interpretation. The church has 
spent considerable time in an emphasis on the spirit of unity, 
good will and right living. There are various practices that 
the church had in its early history which have been discarded. 

It is fitting to conclude this chapter on doctrines with the 
statement which Dr. Smith gives in relation to all Mennonites. 
"Although Mennonites have always lived a simple and some- 
what secluded life, they were noted for their liberal endow- 
ment of the fundamental virtues of life. They were industri- 
ous, sober, honest, philanthropic, law-abiding and religious. 
Today they are everywhere Avell-to-do and are among the most 
peaceful and generally prosperous people in their respect- 
ive communities." 2 



2 - Smith, C. Henry. The Mennonites. p. 332. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

THE FUTURE OF THE CENTRAL CONFERENCE 
MENNONITE CHURCH. 

Although this concluding chapter is called the future of the 
church, the author does not intend to predict or prophesy what 
the future shall be except as we might interpret it from the 
light of the past. In a study of the history of the Central 
Conference Mennonite Church and its historical background, 
the question naturally arises, Has this group made any con- 
tribution to the world and has it any to make for the future? 

Authorities in the .field of Anabaptist and Mennonite his- 
tory claim that the Anabaptists and Mennonites have not been 
given sufficient credit for the contribution they have made in 
the past. Dr. Newman, in his address at Goshen College, 
Goshen, Indiana, in the spring of 1925, said, "The Anabaptist 
movement was to the Christian religion, then so corrupted 
by priestcraft and patronage, what the American Revolution 
was in politics. It recalled the first principles of the doctrines 
of Christ, it cleared the air and purged the vision, and made 
some hoary institutions, including kingcraft, priestcraft very 
unsafe. The Anabaptists were the forerunners of the American 
Republic, where conscience is free. They denounced that union 
of priest and magistrate, which brings Christ to the cross, 
and lets Barabbas go free. They shook down the dogma of 
close icorporationism in the clergy. They reassured the rights 
of the people. They made the congregation supreme. They 
dug the grave in which the divine right of a particular form 
of church organization lies side by side with the divine right of 
kings." 

Dr. Jones, in his discussion of the contribution of the Ana- 
baptists, says, "Many of their ideas caught hold and lived on 
even where no Anabaptist organization existed, and out of the 
seed-truths, which no forces of Church or State could annihi- 



194 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

late, there sprang, in the course of time, many important relig- 
ious bodies Baptist Societies and Mennonites. Many social 
and spiritual results followed, not the least of which is the 
basic and fundamental position of religion in relation to govern- 
ment in the United States, the general respect for the rights 
of conscience, and the prevailing recognition that religion is 
a matter to be settled between the individual soul and God. 
These free privileges were purchased at a great cost the lives 
of more than thirty thousand martyrs and they are now enjoyed 
by multitudes who have no consciousness that those who first 
proclaimed the ideals died for them." 1 

The Central Conference Mennonite Church holding the 
same religious teachings as the Anabaptist and other Mennon- 
ites has shared in the contribution stated above. There are two 
outstanding .contributions made by this group ; first, that made 
by their own lives, and second, the religious principles they 
have held. 

The writer, in. this research, has found many expres- 
sions of commendation given to these peoples by non-Men- 
nonites. In 1872, when the Russian Mennonites came to Mc- 
Lean County, one of the leading citizens of Danvers, Illinois, 
said, "If these Russian Mennonites are the same kind of people 
as the Amish living here, we welcome them into our commu- 
nity." Another citizen said concerning the Amish, "They are 
a sober and industrious, people." Again, concerning the Early 
Amish settlers it was said, "These people possess the perse- 
verance and sterling integrity that makes good citizens." As 
a rule they have lived quiet, simple and unassuming lives. 
Being an agricultural people, they have selected some of the 
very best farming lands and have become the most prosperous 
farmers. Very few of them are found in prisons or have been 
accused of being law breakers. 

The greatest contribution, however, has been the preserving 
of the great principle of peace. The Anabaptists and Men- 

! Jones, The Church's Debt to Heretics, p. 237. 



The Future of the Central Conference Mennonite Church 195 

nonites have held this principle for four hundred years in spite 
of persecution. The statement of Dr. M'Glothlin was a signifi- 
cant prophecy: "The military basis of society in the sixteenth 
century made such advocates of peace appear dangerous to 
national existence. But this cause of bitter denunciation and 
persecution may yet become their crown of glory as the world 
swings into the era of universal peace. 2 This has become 
vital today in the fact that the peace movement is spreading very 
rapidly. The Central Conference Mennonite Church has had a 
part in this ushering in of world peace. 

Since the future of any institution or group of people is 
very largely dependent on its past history, it is of interest here 
to note the achievements of the Central Conference Mennonite 
Church. This group of people, although only three thousand 
in number, are supporting three mission stations in the Home 
Field and eight missionaries in the Congo-Beige in Africa. 
Besides this they are supporting in cooperation with the De- 
fenseless Mennonites an Old People's Home, and with a few 
other Mennonite groups, a hospital, college and seminary. 
They also support the various activities within the group. 
Within the last year nearly fifteen thousand dollars was raised 
for foreign missions and over six thousand dollars for home 
missions. The older ministers of the Conference, who were 
young men in the ministry at the birth of the Conference, have 
served the Church faithfully without any remuneration except 
the joy that comes from Christian service and the satisfaction 
that they were doing God's will. The Conference is loaded 
very heavily with institutional work for the size of its con- 
stituency. 

The history of the Conference for the pupose of interpret- 
ing its present condition might be divided into three periods. 
The first period would extend from 1899, when*the first min- 
isterial meeting was held, to 1908 when the Conference was 
organized. During this period we find the development of 

2 - Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. I, Anabaptism. Dr. 
W. J. M. Glothlin. 



196 History or Central Conference Mennonite Church 

unity among the congregations and also the beginning of a 
number of activities. New congregations were forming and 
new methods of Church and Sunday Scho&P work were being 
introduced. The second period extends from 1908 to the end of 
the World War. This period marks a time of great prosper- 
ity economically among the members of the Central Confer- 
ence Mennonite Church. It also marks the time of progress in 
relation to Church work. The Church is expanding into other 
states. Various institutions are being established. The work 
of cooperation begins in relation to other Mennonite groups. 
These rapid strides of progress created a number of problems 
which the Church faces today. The conditions of the present 
have been brought about by the past. The third period extends 
from the World War to the present. This is the period in 
which the leaders have been wrestling with the problems cre- 
ated in the other two periods. 

Some of the outstanding problems that are facing the Cen- 
tral Conference Mennonite Church today are : Leadership, edu- 
cation, finances, cooperation and efficiency in work. The prob- 
lem of finances in the Church does not consist so much in the 
producing of enough wealth to finance the institutions and 
activities of the Church as it does in the obtaining of this 
wealth for necessary purposes. The Church, from year to year, 
needs more money rather than less for the greatest efficiency of 
its work. The problem briefly stated is: How to get the laity 
to willingly give the needed amount. The methods used in the 
past are no more adequate to raise the amount of money that 
-needs to be raised for the support of the work. On the other 
hand, since there are today so many opportunities for spend- 
ing money, much of the money that should be given to the 
Church is often spent selfishly. Jesus' teachings concerning 
Avealth are as true today as they were when He taught them. 
The rich man becoming absorbed in his own wealth and los- 
ing his vision of the needs of the world is illustrated again 
and again in the church. 

The problem of leadership is a vital one. The present 



The Future of the Central Conference Mennonite Church 197 

day church member faces tremendous problems which were 
never dreamed of by his forefathers. It was easy to maintain 
church attendance when people had very few opportunities of 
seeing each other except at the Sunday morning church service. 
Today the modern church member has the newspaper, hard 
roads, radio, home comforts and modern conveniences, all of 
Avhich have their effect upon his interest in the church, both 
in giving and in church attendance. There must be a type 
of leadership which is able to cope with these situations. The 
young people are attending high school and college which also 
brings a challenge to. the minister today. 

The purpose of enumerating these problems is to get the 
proper perspective in relation to the future of the Central Con- 
ference Mennonite Church. Rev. Aaron Augspurger, in the 
August Evangel of 1912, spoke prophetically when he said in 
essence tthat because of the financial prosperity of the church 
and the changing conditions of life the future demands that we 
meet the situation if the Conference expects to live and thrive. 
His solution to the problem lay in two suggestions; first: That 
there be a strong, well trained leadership for which the churches 
should now provide. Second : That there should be a great deal 
of attention given to teaching and indoctrinating if the church 
expects to maintain its identity. 

The great need for the Central Conference Mennonite Church 
for today and the future is consecrated, trained leadership. This 
applies to the ministry and the leaders in the church activities 
of the Conference. This means that the young people of the 
various congregations should be urged to receive high school 
and college training. Trained men are needed in the mission 
field, home and foreign, and in our various institutions, as 
leaders of our Sunday School and Christian Endeavor work and 
pastors of our churches. It is a sad fact that in the past very 
few young people of this Conference have chosen as their life 
work the foreign field or the ministry. This has been largely 
due to the fact that they have not received training which 
brings to them the challenge of these fields. The sacrifice has 



198 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

seemed too large. The church needs to encourage every activity 
such as our institutes and college and seminary, which are for 
the purpose of training our youth. 

Another need of the hour in this .Conference is the teaching 
of stewardship. Ministers must be clear and definite in their 
teaching the congregations Jesus' teachings concerning wealth. 
The day has come when we can neither by begging nor com- 
pulsion get enough money to properly support church work. 
It must come by education along the line of stewardship. 

With the emphasis upon trained leadership and the stew- 
ardship of life will come the solution of the next problem, effi- 
ciency in work. There must be specialists in our various fields 
of endeavor such as Sunday School and Christian Endeavor who 
will be able to lead the rest in the solution of various prob- 
lems in the aboye mentioned fields. 

Another serious problem that must be solved in the future 
is the fact that the constituency is small and therefore is not 
able to carry on successfully all the lines of endeavor that 
should be undertaken by the Christian Church. In the humble 
opinion of the writer the future success of the Central Confer- 
ence Mennonite Church lies in the closest cooperation with 
other Mennonite groups. This does not mean necessarily ab- 
sorption by any other group but the uniting of various activities 
such as missionary and publication work under one united 
board. The Central Conference Mennonite Church has always 
stood for cooperation and by the continuing of this effort can 
she make a valuable contribution to Mennonitism in America. 
The Central Conference Mennonite Church has a Message for 
the world. Now as never before are her principles of the regen- 
erated life, simplicity, good will and peace needed by the world. 
May she not be disobedient to her 'heavenly vision but may she 
accept the challenge as it comes to her in this present age. 



CHAPTER XXII 

BIOGRAPHIES OF THE CENTRAL CONFERENCE 
MENNONITE MINISTERS 

The following are biographical sketches of ordained 
bishops, ministers and deacons. 

REV. JONATHAN YODER (1795-1869) 

Rev. Jonathan Yoder was born September 2, 1795, in Berks 
County, Pennsylvania. His parents were David Yoder and 
Jacobina Esh Yoder. He received only a few months of actual 
schooling in a subscription school in Pennsylvania. 

He was married to Magdalena Wagner in 1816. They 
had eleven children. 

He was ordained minister in about 1827 and bishop about 
1840. He moved to McLean County, Illinois, in the spring 
of 1851. He organized the congregation which built the first 
Amish church house in Illinois. He remained bishop and pas- 
tor of the Rock Creek Amish Church until his death January 
28, 1869. 

REV. MICHAEL MILLER (1795-1873) 

Rev. Michael Miller was born in Germany, July 28, 1795. 
He came to Butler County, O., as a young man and lived there 
until- about 1850 when he came to McLean County, Illinois. 
He served as deacon in the Rock Creek Amish Church. He was 
one of the men that was responsible for the building of the 
church house at Rock Creek in 1853. He died August 23, 1873. 

REV. JACOB MILLER (1811-1893) 

Rev. Jacob Miller was born in Germany, June 18, 1811. 
His father was Rev. John Miller who came to Butler County 
and then to McLean County, Illinois. He died October 3, 1859. 

Rev. Jacob Miller came to Butler County as a young man 
and lived there until about 1851 when he came to McLean 



200 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

County, Illinois. He served as a deacon in the Rock Creek 
Amish Church until his death. He was one of the solicitors 
to raise money for the building of the first Amish church build- 
ing in Illinois in 1853. Rev. Jacob Miller died August 22, 1893. 

REV. JOSEPH STUCKEY (1825-1902) 

Rev. Joseph Stuckey was born in Alsace, July 12, 1825. 
His grandparents lived in Bern, SAvitzerland. His father was 
Peter Stuckey and his mother Elizabeth Sommers. 

He came with his parents to Butler County, Ohio, in 1830. 
He received a very limited education, the length of his school 
experience being about three months. He was baptized at 
the age of eighteen by Rev. Jacob Augspurger, one of the first 
ministers in the Amish Church in Butler County, Ohio. 

He was married to Miss Barbara Roth, December 17, 1844, 
He had two children. He came to McLean County, Illinois, 
in 1851. He was ordained as a minister April 8, 1860, by Bishop 
Jonathan Yoder. He was ordained as a bishop April 26, 1864, 
by Rev. Jonathan Yoder, assisted by Rev. Christian Ropp and 
Rev. Jacob Zehr of the Mackinaw Church. 

After the death of Rev. Jonathan Yoder in 1869, Rev. 
Stuckey became the leader of the Amish of Central Illinois. He 
was bishop and pastor of the church, first at Rock Creek 
and after 1872 of the North Danvers Church until his death. 
He died Feb. 5, 1902. 

REV. JOHN STRUBHAR (1808-1883) 

Rev. John Strubhar was born in Alsace, October 14,. 1808. 
His father was Peter Strubhar and his mother was Mary Garber 
Strubhar. His father died in Alsace and his mother came to But- 
ler County, O., with the family. They came in about 1827. In 
1830 John Strubhar left Butler County and came to McLean 
County, Illinois. He was one of the first Amish in the state of 
Illinois. 

He was married to Anna Schertz in about 1831. They had 
ten children. 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 201 

He was one of the men 'who was responsible for the organiz- 
ing of the first Amish Sunday School in about 1865 and also 
in the building of the first Amish church house in 1853. The 
Amish conference of United States and Canada that was held 
in Danvers, Illinois, in 1866 was held in his barn. 

He was ordained to the office of deacon April 8, I860, 
by Bishop Jonathan Yoder. He served as treasurer of the 
church until 1872. He remained deacon of the Rock Creek 
Church and later the North Danvers Church until 1883. He died 
November 17, 1883. 

REV. CHRISTIAN IMHOFF (1840-1881) 

Rev. Christian Imhoff was born in Butler County, Ohio, 
about 1840. He came to McLean County about 1860. He was 
a member of the Rock Creek Amish Church. 

He was married to Mary Strubhar, daughter of Rev. John 
Strubhar. They had six children. 

He was ordained as a deacon in 1868 by Bishop Joseph 
Stuckey. After 1872 he served as treasurer of the North Dan- 
vers Church for a number of years. He served as deacon of the 
church until 1881. He died in May, 1881. 

REV. JOHN STAHLY (1827-1900) 

Rev. John Stahly was born in Switzerland, April 12, 1827. 
He grew to manhood in Switzerland and came to McLean 
County, Illinois, in 1864. He was ordained as a bishop, while in 
Switzerland. He united with the North Danvers Mennonite 
Church when he came to McLean County. He served as bishop 
until 1900. He died June 27, 1900. 

REV. JOSEPH STALTER (1807-1878) 

Rev. Joseph Stalter was born in Zweibrucken, Bavaria, Ger- 
many, in 1807. He was married to Catherine Rediger in about 
1830. They had twelve children. He came to America in 
1854. 

He was ordained as a minister in Germanv in about 1840. 



202 History of Central Conference Merinonite Church 

He came to McLean County in about 1860. He was a member 
of the North Danvers Mennonite Church. He died in 1878. 

REV. MICHAEL KISTLER (1808-1876) 

Rev. J. Michael Kistler Avas born in Hess-Darmstadt, Ger- 
many, March 8, 1808. Here he grew to young manhood. In 
about 1830 he came to Butler County, Ohio. 

He was married to Elizabeth Naffziger, the daughter of 
Rev. Peter Naffziger, called the "Apostle". He was ordained 
to the ministry by his father-in-law in the Hessian congregation 
in Butler County, Ohio, in about 1835. He came to McLean 
County, Illinois, in about 1842. He became the organizer of the 
congregation of Hessian Mennonites in McLean County. He 
served as their pastor until the Rock Creek church house was 
built in 1853 when the Hessians began to Avorship with the 
Yoder Church. This only lasted for a few years when in about 
1859 the Hessian congregation, with Rev. Kistler at the head, 
separated from the Yoder Church. He remained with the 
Hessian congregation until 1862 when he joined the Christian 
Church. He died Nov. 12, 1876, in Golden City, Missouri. 

REV. PETER E. STUCKEY (1844- ) 

Rev. Peter E. Stuckey was born in Butler County, Ohio, 
May 31, 1844. His grandparents lived in Bern, Switzerland. 
His father was Peter Stuckey and was born in Switzerland in 
1800. His mother was Elizabeth Sommer and was born in 
Lorraine in 1801. 

The parents came to Butler County, Ohio, in 1831. Here 
Peter Stuckey grew up to manhood. In October, 1851, he 
came to llinois. He was baptized in 1860 by Bishop Jonathan 
Yoder and united with the Amish Church at Rock Creek. 

He was married to Catherine Engel of Woodford County, 
Illinois, the daughter of one of the early settlers in Woodford 
County. The marriage ceremony was performed by his brother, 
Rev. Joseph E. Stuckey, February 22, 1866. Mrs. Stuckey died 
Jan. 14, 1927. 

Peter Stuckey was ordained minister November, 1868, by 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 203 

ReA r . Joseph Stuckey and became pastor of the East Washing- 
ton Church. He began preaching in 1869 and was ordained 
bishop in 1875. In February, 1889, he went to Nebraska. He 
took charge of the congregation at Aurora, Nebraska. He 
served two churches at different times at Nebraska and then 
later, about 1900, went to Iowa where he served two 
churches. He is at present a retired minister living in Wayland, 
Iowa. He has reached the ripe age of eighty-three years. 

REY. CHRISTIAN GINGERICH (1820-1908) 

Rev. Christian r Gingerich was born in Andenacht, Hesse- 
Darmstadt, Germany, October 5, 1820. His father was Michael 
Gingerich, born in 1789, and his mother Barbara Heinanan, 
born in 1799. They were married in 1816. Both died in Ger- 
many, Barbara Gingerich in 1841 and Michael in 1854. Rev. 
Christian Gingerich grew to manhood in Germany. He came to 
America in the spring of 1850. He landed in New Orleans and 
then came to Butler County, Ohio. In about 1852 he came to 
McLean County, Illinois, and worked on a farm by the month. 
He returned to Butler Co. in 1854 and on March 4, married 
Elizabeth Miller, the daughter of Rev. Daniel Miller of Butler 
County, Ohio. They returned to Illinois after their marriage and 
settled in Danvers Township. His first wife died September 5, 
1865, and he married the second time to Catherine Gingerich, 
September 7, 1866. The oldest son of the first wife was John 
Gingerich, also a minister. 

* 

Christian Gingerich was ordained as a minister by Rev. 
Michael Kistler in 1862. In 1863 he was ordained bishop by 
Bishop John Naffziger of Walnut in Bureau County, Illinois. 
He remained a bishop of the South Danvers Mennonite congre- 
gation until his death June 20, 1908. He was a Hessian Men- 
nonite preacher. 

REV. PETER NAFFZIGER (1787-1885) 

Rev. Peter Naffziger was born February 23, 1787, in Gaurs- 
heim, Rheinpfalz, Germany. His father died while he was very 



204 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

young and his mother again married a Naffziger. Peter Naff- 
ziger in his boyhood days worked in a flour mill in Rheinpfaltz. 
He married Barbara Beck, March 8, 1812, at Rimmon Hoff, 
Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany. They lived on Geiser Hoff, Ger- 
many, until 1826, when they came to America. They settled in 
Canada. They left Canada in about 1830 and came to Butler 
County, Ohio. Here Rev. Naffziger became pastor of the Hes- 
sian congregation formed there. He had been ordained minister 
while yet in Germany. In 1844 he came to Woodford County, 
Illinois, and about two years later came to McLean County, 

He was called the "Apostle" because he was of a roving 
disposition and spent much of his time while in Illinois in vis- 
iting the various Amish Churches. It is said that he made several 
trips on foot to New Orleans where a small colony of Amish 
Avas found. After coming to Illinois he was a retired minister 
and died near Congerville, September 16, 1885. He Avas buried 
in Imhoff cemetery. 

REV. MICHAEL KINSINGER (1814-1895) 

Rev. Michael Kinsinger was born in Germany, October 10, 
1814. His parents were Daniel and Catherine Sclnvartzentruber 
Kinsinger. Daniel was born in 1765 and Catherine in 1771. 
They were married in 1805. Daniel died in 1828 and Catherine 
in 1834. Michael was the third of five children. After the 
death of his father he, being practically homeless, lived with a 
man called Gingve near Marburg, Germany, for ten years. He 
first learned the blacksmith's trade and then later the distilling 
business. He came to America in 1829 and settled in Butler 
County, Ohio. He came to America on his wedding trip. His 
wife died on the ocean. Here he married Magdalena Naffziger, 
the daughter of Apostle Peter Naffziger in 1837. The marriage 
ceremony was performed by Rev. Peter Naffziger. 

They came to McLean County, Illinois, in 1838. They lived 
in Bloomington a short time and then rented land in Danvers 
ToAvnship. They were parents of twelve children. The chil- 
dren were raised in a loghouse 16x18 feet, divided into two 



Biographies of the Central. Conference Mennonite Ministers 205 

rooms and ground for the floor. Rev. Peter Schantz's wife 
was one of the daughters. 

He was ordained to the ministry in the South Danvers 
Mennonite Church in 1862 by Rev. Michael Kistler. He died 
June 28, 1895. 

REV. PETER GINGERICH ( ) 

Rev. Peter Gingerich, who was a resident in the Washing- 
ton community, was ordained to the ministry by Bishop Joseph 
Stuckey in November, 1868. In about 1880 he affiliated him- 
self with the Partridge Church, Old Mennonites. 

REV. SAMUEL MISHLER (1826-1896) 

Samuel Mishler was born March 17, 1826, in Pennsylvania. 
His parents were Abraham and Anna Mishler. He came to 
Holmes County, Ohio, in his boyhood days. In 1848 he was 
married to Catherine Miller, the daughter of Abraham and 
Barbara Miller. His wife was born June 17, 1829. They had 
eleven children. 

Samuel Mishler was ordained to the ministry in Owen 
County, Indiana, in 1874. .He came to McLean County, Illinois, 
October 1, 1877. He began preaching at the homes of the mem- 
bers and then later held services in the schoolhouse. He moved 
to a community 15 miles south of Columbus, Kansas, in the 
autumn of 1880. He began holding services in the commu- 
nity near Columbus, Kansas, about 1881. He remained pastor 
of the congregation until 1896, when he returned to Central 
Illinois. Here he died April 10, 1896, and his wife September 
19, 1908. They are both buried in the East White Oak Union 
Cemetery. 

REV. JOHN NAFFZIGER (1848-1918.) 

John Naffziger, son of Valentine Naffziger and Magdalene 
Imhoff Naffziger was born March 15, 1848, in Bavaria, Ger- 
many. He grew to manhood in Germany. He came to Ameri- 
ca in 1868, settling in Bureau County, Illinois. He married 
Anna Magdalene Christiansen June 24, 1870. In about 1871 he 



206 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

moved near Columbus, Kansas. Rev. Naffziger with William 
and August Naffziger and families served to form the nucleus 
of the Columbus, Kansas, Church. He united with the church 
at the age of fourteen. He was ordained to the ministry by 
Rev. Samuel Mishler in 1890 and served as pastor of the church 
until his death September 19, 191.8. 

REV. MICHAEL KINSINGER (1849-1912) 

Michael Kinsinger was born September 29, 1849, at Bebels- 
heimer, Muhle, Germany. His father was Jacob K. Kinsinger, 
born at Blumenaur, Muhle, Germany, in 1805. His mother's 
name was Esch and was born at Mallerhof by Zweibrucken, 
Rheinpfalz. His father died in 1873. Michael with his two 
brothers and his nephew, Rev. John Kinsinger of Meadows, 
Illinois, came to America in May, 1874. Michael went to Butler 
County, Ohio, and a few years later came to a place near 
Washington, Illinois. He was baptized in the Mennonite 
Church at the age of fourteen. He was married to Katie Garber 
near Washington, Illinois, in 1878. He was ordained to the 
ministry in the East Washington Church in 1889 by Bishop 
Stuckey. In about 1895, because of difficulties concerning Eng- 
lish preaching the East Washington Church divided and Rev. 
Kinsinger became pastor of the German group. He remained 
pastor and bishop of the South Washington Church until his 
death April 10, 1912. 

REV. CHRISTIAN IM'HOFF ( ) 

Rev. Christian Imhoff was born in Germany. He came 
to America and setted in the community near Washington, 
Illinois. He was ordained to the ministry at the East Washing- 
ton Church January 10, 1893. AVhen the division came in 
the East Washington Church Rev. Imhoff went with Rev. 
Michael Kinsinger and became a minister of the South Wash- 
ington Church. He attended the first ministers' meeting held 
in. the Conference at the home of Rev. J. H. King August 5, 1899. 
He died in the winter of 1899. 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 207 

REV. STEPHEN. STAHLY (18424916) 

Stephen Stahly was born in Switzerland, March 30, 1842. 
He grew to young- manhood in Switzerland. He came to Amer- 
ican in 1861 and settled in Livingston County, Illinois. He 
was married to Miss Barbara Schantz, the oldest sister of Rev. 
Peter Schantz, in 1866. They had eleven children. 

He became a member of the Mennonite Church in his early 
youth. He was ordained to the ministry in the Flanagan 
Mennonite Church in 1885. He was later ordained as bishop 
by Rev. Joseph Stuckey and served the congregation until 
his death February 26, 1916. 

REV. CHRISTIAN RE'DIGER (1849- ) 

Christian Rediger was born in Rheinpfalz, Germany, Au- 
gust 26, 1849. His father was Christian Rediger and his mother 
Magdalena Stalter Rediger. His father died in Europe. His 
mother came to America. Christian Rediger grew to young 
manhood in Germany. In 1867 he came to America. He married 
Catherine Risser March 25, 1875. They had ten children. His 
wife died November 18, 1919. 

He was baptized by Bishop Joseph Stalter in 1863 and 
united with the Mennonite Church. He was ordained to the 
ministry in 1878 and was instrumental in organizing the Flan- 
agan Mennonite Church. He was ordained to the office of 
bishop in 1885 by Bishop Joseph Stuckey. He left Flanagan 
in 1885 and moved to Aurora, Nebraska. Here, he organized 
the Pleasant View Mennonite Church near Aurora, Nebraska. 
He is at present a retired minister in the Aurora congregation. 
He is seventy-eight years old. 

REV. ANDREW OESCH ( ) 

Rev. Andrew Oesch was married to Magdalene Unzicker 
February 21, 1871. They lived in Bureau County, Illinois. 
They had four children. In November, 1887, they moved to 
Aurora, Nebraska. Rev. Oesch had been ordained as minister 
by Rev. Joseph Burkey.at Tiskilwa, Illinois. After November, 



208 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

1887, he served as a minister in the Pleasant View Mennonite 
Church at Aurora, Nebraska. He served the Aurora Church 
until November 1, 1912, when he moved to Normal, Illinois. 
He is now a retired minister and lives in California. 

REV. D. D. AUGSPURGER (1853- ) 

Rev. D. D. Augspurger was born in Butler County, Ohio, 
October 16, 1853. His father was David Augspurger, who 
was born and raised in Butler County, Ohio. He was born in 
1824 and died in 1894. His mother was Elizabeth Schertz, born 
in Alsace-Lorraine in 1826 and came to Butler County when 
quite young. She died in 1895. Rev. Augspurger was the third 
youngest child of a family of eight children. He received a 
common school education. He was baptized in 1869 by Bishop 
Christian Ropp and united with the Amish Church. He was 
married to Lena Schrock near Washington, Illinois, December 
31, 1875. They had four children. 

D. D. Augspurger was ordained a minister in the East 
Washington Church in the fall of 1889 by Bishop Joseph Stuck- 
ey. He served the East Washington Church until December, 
1892, when he moved to Aurora, Nebraska, to assist in the work 
of the church there. In 1895 he left Nebraska and came to Good- 
land, Indiana, where he organized the Zion Mennonite Church, 
Goodland, Indiana. His wife died March 18, 1907. August 1, 
1910, he married Catherine Sloneker of Butler County, Ohio. 
Rev. Augspurger served as temporary superintendent of the 
Gospel Mennonite Mission in Chicago in 1916 and also for about 
five months as temporary superintendent of the Peoria Mennon- 
ite Mission. He then moved to Trenton, Ohio, where he is living 
at present but still has bishop oversight of the Goodland Men- 
nonite Church. 

REV. JOASH STUTZMAN (1853-1891) 

Rev. Joash Stutzman was born October 16, 1853, in McLean 
County, Illinois. His father was Solomon Stutzman, born in 
Pennsylvania, October 16, 1829. His mother was Sarah Yoder, 
the daughter of Rev. Jonathan Yoder born December 7, 1827, 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 209 

in Pennsylvania. Solomon Stutzman came to Fail-field County, 
Ohio, when a boy and from there to McLean County, Illi- 
nois, in about 1850. Sarah Yoder Stutzman came to McLean 
County from Pennsylvania in 1851. They were married in. 
1852. Joash's mother died December 23, 1896, and his father 
March 10, 1902. 

Joash Stutzman Avas educated in the district schools in 
McLean County. He united with the Rock Creek Church in 
his early youth. He married Magdalene Miller, a grandchild 
of Rev. Michael Miller, September 16, 1880. They had four 
children. 

He was ordained to the ministry in the North Danvers 
Mennonite Church in 1882 by Bishop Joseph Stuckey. Rev. 
Stutzman's ministerial career was very short. He died Sep- 
tember 19, 1891. 

REV. PETER SCHANTZ (1853-1925) 

Peter Schantz Avas born April 14, 1853, near Congerville, 
AVoodford County, Illinois. His father was Jacob Schantz, born 
about 1822 in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany. His mother 
Avas Catherine Deiss Schantz, born in 1824 in Hesse-Darm- 
stadt, Germany. His parents came to America on their 
Avedding trip in about 1847 and settled on a farm near 
Congerville. His father died in April, 1864, and his mother 
September, 1866. He greAv up as an orphan boy. He was the 
second child in the family, his sister, Mrs. Stephen Stahly, 
being the oldest. His school advantages were very meager, 
getting only a few months' schooling each year. He was bap- 
tized By Rev. Joseph Stuckey in 1872 and became a member 
of the North Danvers Mennonite Church. 

December 23, 1875, he married Anna Kinsinger, daughter 
of Rev. Michael Kinsinger. He was ordained as a minister 
by Rev. Joseph Stuckey in 1882 and a bishop in 1900. He served 
as minister in the North Danvers Church until 1892 when he 
became pastor of the neAvly organized church at East White 
Oak. He was pastor of the East White Oak Church until 1910 



210 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

when he moved to Normal, Illinois, and organized a congregation 
there. He served as field secretary of the Central Conference 
Mennonite Church for a number of years. He died July 24, 
1925. 

REV. JOSEPH H. KINSINGER (1855-1925) 

Rev. Joseph H. Kinsinger was born at the Hirshbacher, 
Muhle, Rheinpfalz, Germany, September 28, 1855. At the age 
of eighteen he left his father and mother and came to America 
because of compulsary military training. He came over with 
Rev. Michael Kinsinger and his brothers. They landed at New 
York May 11, 1874. He went to Butler County, Ohio, and 
then later came to Washington, Illinois. His parents came to 
Butler County, Ohio, in the latter part of the seventies and he 
went back and joined them. In about 1881 he with his parents 
came to Meadows, Illinois. He united with the Mennonite 
Church while in Germany. In 1885 he married Jacobina Naff- 
ziger. She died October 19, 1894. In 1897 he married Bar- 
bara Bertsche. On August 30, 1891, Joseph Kinsinger was or- 
dained to the ministry by Bishop Joseph Stuckey. On October 
23, 1897, he was ordained as bishop. Rev. Kinsinger served as 
one of the pastors of the Meadows Church until January 1, 
1925, when he retired. He died May 8, 1925. 

REV. AARON ROSZHART (1887-1918) 

Aaron Roszhart, son of John D. and Elizabeth Roszhart, 
was born October 1, 1887, northeast of Meadows. Here he 
grew up to young manhood. He united with the Meadows 
Mennonite Church in 1901. On January 19, 1910, he was mar- 
ried to Miss Amelia Lehman. They had two children. He at- 
tended Goshen College for six weeks in 1905. Later he spent 
two years at Moody Bible Institute. He was ordained as a 
minister February 13, 1916, and March 1, left for Iowa to take 
charge of a congregation at Manson, Iowa. He was there 
seven months and then returned to Meadows where he was a 
minister until the time of his death. He died December 29, 
1918. 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 211 
REV. VALENTINE STRUBHAR (1859- ) 

Valentine Strubhar was born in McLean County, four miles 
northwest of Danvers, April 23, 1859. His father was Peter 
Strubhar. Peter Strubhar's father and mother were Peter and 
Mary Garber Strubhar of Alsace-Lorraine. Peter's father died 
in Alsace and his mother came to America in 1835, settling in 
Butler County, Ohio. Peter and his mother came to McLean 
County in 1837. Peter Strubhar was married to Barbara Sweit- 
zer, the oldest daughter of John and Marie Sweitzer, natives of 
Nancy, France. Peter Strubhar settled on a farm northwest 
of Danvers where Valentine was born. In the spring of 1865 
Valentine with his parents moved to Washington, Illinois. Here 
he grew to' manhood. 

Valentine Strubhar was baptized in the autumn of 1879 
by Rev. Peter Stuckey and became a member of the East Wash- 
ington Church. He was married to Katie Guth, daughter of 
John and Mary Guth of Washington, Illinois, on February 1, 
1883. 

He was active in church work before he was ordained. At 
the age of fourteen he taught a Sunday School class in Ger- 
man spelling and was also superintendent of the Sunday School 
for about one year. He was ordained to the ministry January 
10, 1893, by Bishop Peter Stuckey and Rev. Peter Schantz. 
A few years later he was ordained to the office of bishop. Rev. 
Strubhar has served on the Foreign Mission Board from its 
beginning and has been very much interested in all the activities 
of the church. He is at present the senior pastor of the Cal- 
vary Mennonite Church and one of the oldest ministers in the 
Conference. 

REV. JOHN GINGERICH (1856- ) 

John Gingerich was born December 10, 1856, in Danvers 
Township, McLean County, Illinois. His father was Rev. Chris- 
tian Gingerich who was born in Germany in 1820 and came to 
America in 1850. His mother was Elizabeth Miller of Butler 
County, Ohio. John Gingerich grew to manhood in Danvers 



212 History of Central Conference Mennointe Church 

Township. He received a common school education. He 
united with the church at the age of fifteen, becoming a member 
of the South Danvers Mennonite Church. He was baptized 
by his father. 

He was married to Catherine Slaubaugh, the daughter of 
Daniel Slaubaugh of Maryland, who came to McLean County 
about 1874. They had four children. 

John Gingerich was ordained to the ministry September 1885, 
by Bishop Christian Gingerich. In 1893 he was ordained to the 
office of bishop by Rev. Peter Schantz and Bishop Christian 
Gingerich. On February 24, 1916, Rev. Gingerich moved to 
the town of Danvers where he now resides. The church was 
moved to town at about the same time. He retired from the 
ministry in 1922. He is one of the oldest ministers in the Con- 
ference. 

REV. JOHN KINSINGER (1854- ) 

John Kinsinger was born June 5, 1854, in Butler County, 
Ohio. His father was Peter Kinsinger, born in Zweibrucken, 
Bavaria, in Germany, January 28, 1827. Peter's father Avas 
John Kinsinger, born in Germany May 26, 1801. Peter's mother 
was Magdalena Oesch, born in 1803. She came to Butler 
County in .about 1840. 

Peter Kinsinger's wife was Catherine Augspurger, born in 
Butler County, Ohio, December 23, 1834. They were mar- 
ried February 22, 1853. Peter Kinsinger died September 7, 
1887, and Mrs. Kinsinger on March 5, 1858. John was the 
oldest of three children. He grew to manhood in Butler County 
and received his education in the public schools. He was bap- 
tized in the fall of 1872 by Rev. Nicholas Augspurger and 
united with the Amish Church. He was a Sunday School 
teacher while in Butler County, Dr. Mosiman, president of Bluff- 
ton College, being one of his pupils. 

In December, 1881, he came to McLean County, Illinois. 
January 30, 1883, he was married to Louise Schoenbeck, who 
was born March 4, 1855, and was the daughter of Daniel Schoen- 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 213 

beck. Her mother was the daughter of Rev. Daniel Unzicker 
who was a minister in Canada and later in Butler County, 
Ohio. They had four children. 

John Kinsinger was ordained to the ministry in the South 
Danvers Mennonite Church in September, 1885, by Bishop 
Christian Gingerich. In 1893 he was ordained to the office 
of bishop by Bishop Gingerich and Rev. Peter Schantz. He was 
superintendent of the South Danvers Mennonite Sunday School 
before and after his ordination for a number of years. He was 
one of the first secretaries of the Conference. Rev. Kinsinger 
retired as a minister in 1922 and is at present living at Dan- 
vers, Illinois. 

REV. JOSEPH H. KING (1861- ) 

J. H. King was born May 2, 1861, near Carlock, Illinois. 
His father was Daniel King, who came from Butler County, 
Ohio. His grandfather was Michael King who came from 
Germany to Butler County, Ohio. J. H. King's, mother was 
Mary Hottler, also from Butler County, Ohio. She died in 1906 
and Daniel King in 1918. 

J. H. King grew to manhood in the vicinity of Carlock. 
He was baptized by Bishop Joseph Stuckey in 1876 and united 
Avith the North Danvers Mennonite Church. He married Salina 
A. Lantz, the daughter of Simeon Lantz, October 16, 1883. 
They had three children. 

J. H. King was ordained to the ministry by Bishop Joseph 
Stuckey April 17, 1892. He was ordained bishop in 1900. He 
was one of the ministers of the North Danvers Church until 
1914 when he became pastor of the Carlock Mennonite Church. 
He remained pastor until 1920 when he retired as a pastor. Rev. 
King has been very active in church work. He was largely 
responsible for the introduction of English into the North Dan- 
vers Church and was also instrumental in the organizing of 
the Carlock Church. He has been a member of the Mission 
Board since its organization; he is also a member of the Congo 
Inland Mission Board. He served as field secretary for a 



214 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

number of years and is at present secretary of the Mennonite 
Sanitarium Association. He is actively engaged in church and 
Conference activities and is a member of the Ordination Com- 
mittee of the Conference. 

REV. JOHN KOHLER (1859- ) 

John Kohler was born in Switzerland, May 10, 1859. His 
father was Christian Kohler and his mother Susanna Maurer 
Kohler. His parents were married in Switzerland and lived 
there until 1862 when they came to America. Christian Kohler 
died in 1874 and Susanna Kohler in 1876. 

John Kohler grew to manhood in McLean and Woodford 
Counties. After the death of his parents he lived with his 
sister till 1880. John Kohler married Katie Maurer, the daugh- 
ter of Nicholas Maurer, one of the earliest settlers in Central 
Illinois, March 15, 1885. He was ordained to the ministry in the 
North Danvers Church in 1899 and to the office of bishop 
in 1903. He served the North Danvers Mennonite Church 
until about 1921. He resides at present in McLean County, 
Illinois. 

REV. JOSEPH B. ZEHR (1853- ) 

Joseph B. Zehr was born in Alsace-Lorraine, October 3, 
1853. His grandfather was Joseph Zehr and his grandmother's 
name was Verley. His father's name was Joseph Zehr and 
his mother's Catherine Kohler. His parents came to America 
in 1857 and settled near Metamora, Woodford County, Illinois. 
In 1867 he came to Livingstone County, Illinois, near Flan- 
agan. He. united with the Amish Church in 1869 and was 
baptized by Rev. Christian Ropp. He was married to Phoebe 
King, the daughter of Jacob King, November 18, 1879. The 
marriage was performed by Rev. Joseph Stuckey. 

Before his ordination he served as church trustee, secretary 
of the church, Sunday School teacher and Sunday School su- 
perintendent. Joseph Zehr was ordained to the ministry in 1887 
and to the office of bishop by Joseph Stuckey October 19, 1890. 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 215 

He is at present bishop of the Flanagan Mennonite Church. 
He served on the Home Mission Board when the Chicago and 
Peoria Missions were established. He is one of the oldest 
ministers of the Conference. 

REV. ANDREW VERCLER (1850- ) 

Andrew Vercler was born October 21, 1850, on a farm near 
the village called the Azoudange Department of the Meurthe, 
Province Lorraine, France. His father was Christian Vercler, 
born August 5, 1817, at the same place where Andrew was 
born. His father was a minister and was ordained in 1862. An- 
drew's grandfather was Rev. Andrew Vercler, an elder of the 
Mennonite Church in Lorraine. 

His mother was Jacobina Schertz, born January 23, 1829, 
in a village called Lorentz Department of Bas French Rhine, 
Province of Alsace, France. His grandmother was Catherine 
Sommer. 

Andrew A^ercler grew to manhood in Lorraine. He 
attended a French school for thirty-five months and a Ger- 
man school for five months. He joined the Sarrebourg Men- 
nonite Church iii April, 1865. He 'was baptized by Elder Hir- 
schy, one of the two elders of the Sarrebourg Mennonite Church 
in Lorraine. He came to America in February, 1874, with his 
father and mother and four brothers. He settled on a farm 
northwest of Chenoa in McLean County, 111. 

He was married to Jacobina Lehman February 3, 1876. Ja- 
cobina Lehman was born near Danvers, Illinois, January 13, 
1858. Her father came from Lorraine, France, and her mother 
from Bavaria, Germany. Andrew Vercler and wife had five 
children. 

He served as a Sunday School teacher in 1889 and in 1891 
was elected superintendent of the Sunday School. He was 
ordained to the ministry August 30, 1891, at the newly built 
Meadows Mennonite Church, by Rev. Joseph Stuckey. October 
23, 1897, he was ordained as bishop. He retired from active 
ministry January 1, 1925. He is at present living at Meadows, 



216 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

Illinois. Rev. Vercler has served as Home Mission Treasurer 
since the beginning in 1908 until the present (1927). He is also 
a member of the Home Mission Committee. 

REV. JOHN C. LEHMAN ( ) 

Rev. John C. Lehman Avas born in Pennsylvania, June 14, 
1862. He grew to manhood in Elkhart County, Middlebury 
Township, Indiana. He was baptized April, 1893, by Rev. 
Peter Schantz, and united with the Silver Street Mennonite 
Church. 

He married Anna S. Elliot, January 29, 1882. Rev. Lehman 
was ordained to the ministry December 15, 1901. He became 
pastor of the Mennonite congregation at Topeka, Indiana. He 
moved to Topeka from the Silver Street Community in 1902. He 
organized the Topeka congregation and established the Sunday 
School work. He retired from the ministry January 26, 1919. 
He was ordained bishop at the same time as minister. His 
congregation was one of the charter members of the Central 
Conference Mennonite Church. He served one year as president 
of the Conference. 

REV. AARON AUGSPURGER (1865- ) 

Aaron Augspurger was born December 3, 1865, in Butler 
County, Ohio. His father's name was Joseph S. Augspurger, 
also of Butler County. His grandfather was Rev. Joseph Augs- 
purger, born in Alsace, France. 

Aaron Augspurger's mother was Jacobina Stuckey Augs- 
purger, born in Butler County, February 23, 1846. Her father 
was Rev. Joseph Stuckey, whose biography has been given. 
Aaron's parents left Butler County when he was a few months 
old and came to McLean County, Illinois. He grew to manhood 
in the Danvers Community and received a common school 
education. He was baptized by Bishop Stuckey in the fall of 
1883 and became a member of the North Danvers Mennonite 
Church. February 20, 1889, he was married to Emma Schertz, 
the daughter of Peter Schertz. Her father was born in Alsace 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 217 

and came to Butler County and later to McLean County, Illi- 
nois. Aaron Augspurger, after his marriage settled in Cheney 
Grove Township, McLean County. He was ordained a min- 
ister June 10, 1894, by Bishop Joseph Stuckey, his grandfather. 
He was ordained as a bishop in 1900 by Rev. Peter Schantz 
and Rev. J. B. Zehr. 

Rev. Augspurger was very largely responsible for the first 
ministers' meeting held at the home of Rev. J. H. King, August 
5, 1899. He served as secretary of the Conference for many 
years. He also served as a member of the Foreign Mission 
Committee and as a 'member of the Publication Board. He 
served very largely as the historian of the Conference, writing 
many accounts of the various activities of the church. He has 
been vitally interested in all activities of the Conference. 

REV. EMANUEL TROYER (1871- ) 

Rev. Emanuel Troyer was born December 31, 1871, near 
Hudson, Illinois. His father was Mannasses Troyer. He was 
born in Holmes County, Ohio. His grandfather was Jonas 
Troyer, who came from Holmes County, Ohio, to Chicago and 
then to Peoria on horseback. He sold his horse at Peoria and 
walked to Bloomington. 

Emanuel Trover's mother was Catherine Salzman of But- 
ler County, Ohio. Her parents came to McLean County, Illi- 
nois, in 1851. Emanuel Troyer grew to manhood in McLean 
County on a farm near Hudson. He received his education 
in the public schools and attended Moody Bible Institute for 
about six weeks. He was baptized in the spring of 1888 in 
the North Danvers Church by Bishop Stuekey. He served as 
superintendent of Sunday School and also as chorister for a 
time in 1894. He was ordained to the ministry in April, 1899, 
by Rev. Peter Schantz and Rev. J. H. King. He was married 
to Ida Horst of Bloomington, Illinois, whose parents had come 
from Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. 

He was ordained bishop in 1909. He served as Confer- 
ence president for a number of years. He has also served 



218 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

on the Foreign Mission Committee. He was largely responsible 
for the establishing of the Mennonite Sanitarium at Blooming- 
ton, serving as president of the Board from its beginning. He 
has served as field secretary for a number of years. 

REV. ALLEN H. MILLER (1870- ) 

Allen H. Miller was born November 29, 1870, near Shore, 
Lagrange County, Indiana. His father was Noah Y. Miller, 
born October 14, 1845, near Berlin, Holmes County, Ohio. His 
father's parents moved by wagon to Elkhart County, Indiana, 
in 1851. Allen Miller's mother was Susanna Miller, born in 
Holmes County, Ohio, December 23, 1849. She moved with 
her parents to Lagrange County, Indiana, in 1852. Allen Mil- 
ler grew to manhood and received a common school education 
in Lagrange County, Indiana. In 1894 he came to Tremont, 
Illinois, and worked on a farm. He was baptized in the spring 
of 1889 by Bishop D. J. Johns and united with the Clinton 
Frame Amish Church. He served as secretary of the Sunday 
School and later Sunday School teacher until he came to Illinois. 

On December 31, 1895, he married Lydia M. Ropp, daughter 
of Andrew W. and Mary Albrecht Ropp. His wife was born 
September 21, 1877, in Elm Grove Township, Tazewell County, 
Illinois. 

He was ordained to the ministry August 6, 1905, by Rev. 
Peter Schantz and Rev. Valentine Strubhar. He became pas- 
tor of the newly organized church now called Bethel Mennon- 
ite. He was ordained bishop by Rev. Valentine Strubhar in 
1914. He served as president of the Sunday School Conference 
in 1908 and in 1909 was elected president of the Church Con- 
ference. He has served as president of the Church Confer- 
ence for about ten years, serving at various times and is at 
present the president of the Conference. He has served as 
president of the Home Mission Committee for a number of 
years and has also served as a member of the Hospital Board. 
He also served a few years as a member of the Bluffton Col- 
lege Board. 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 219 

REV. LEE LANTZ (1873- ) 

Rev. Lee Lantz was born near Congerville, Illinois, June 
15, 1873. His father was Solomon Lantz who came from Penn- 
sylvania, and his mother Malinda Yoder Lantz, who also came 
from Pennsylvania. Lee Lantz grew to manhood in the vicin- 
ity of Congerville. He received his education in the public 
school and in the Washington high school and also attended 
Eureka College. He joined the North Danvers Mennonite 
Church in 1891 and was baptized by Rev. Joseph Stuckey. He 
served as Sunday School teacher and also superintendent. Also 
held different offices in Christian Endeavor Society. 

He was ordained to the .ministry in April, 1899, at Conger- 
ville. He was ordained, as a bishop in 1907. He served as pas- 
tor in the Congerville Mennonite Church, First Mennonite 
Church, Normal and the Nampa Mennonite Church, Nampa, 
Idaho, where he is at present pastor. He served as Confer- 
ence secretary for several years. He was married to Miss 
Riesser, the daughter of John P. Riesser and Phoebe Miller 
Riesser. 

REV. L. B. HAIGH (1881- ) 

Rev. Lawrence Benjamin Haigh was born in Bradford, 
, England, January 15, 1881. His father was Benjamin Haigh 
and his mother Ruth Tuck Haigh. He came to United States 
with his parents in 1884. He grew to manhood at Holley, New 
York. Here he received his education from the Holley Union 
School and Academy. He was baptized in 1900 and united 
with the Baptist Church. In 1903 he received a call to Chris- 
tian work and in January, 1904, he entered Moody Bible Insti- 
tute of Chicago, Illinois. 

He was married to Rose Boehning, born near Elgin, Illi- 
nois, December 20, 1877, in February, 1907. His wife was 
converted at the age of five. She received her education in 
the public school near Elgin, Illinois. In 1901 she entered 
the deaconess work of the Evangelical Church and in 1903 
entered Moody Bible Institute to prepare for foreign mission 



220 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

work. As a girl she had read David Livingston's life, which 
deeply impressed her and gave her a deep longing to go to 
Africa. 

Miss Boehning and Rev. Haigh left for British East 
Africa in April, 1906, under the direction of the African Inland 
Mission. They were married at the Mission Chapel of the 
African Inland Mission at Kijabe, British East Africa. After 
three years on the field they returned to the home land. Rev. 
Haigh was ordained to the ministry at the home of S. E. 
Maurer, Carlock, Illinois, by Rev. J. H. King. In March, 1911, 
Rev. and Mrs. Haigh were sent to the Belgian Congo, West 
Central Africa, to open a new mission field. They remained 
on the field until 1914 when they returned on their fur- 
lough. They went to the field again in 1915 and remained until 
1920. Rev. Haigh was instrumental in opening the first two 
mission stations and also made the first investigations for the 
opening of the work among the Bampendi tribe. He served 
as the legal representative of the mission to the government 
from 1912 to 1920. He also served as chairman of the Field 
Committee and was the secretary and treasurer of the station 
till 1920. He served as pastor of the Danvers Mennonite Church 
in 1921 and 1922 and was also editor of the Christian Evangel 
from 1921 to 1923. 

REV. GEORGE GUNDY (1880- ) 

Rev. George I. Gundy was born April 3, 1880, one mile east 
of Carlock. His father was Jacob Gundy, who was born in 
Lee County, Iowa. His grandfather was Rev. John Gundy, 
who came from Butler County, Ohio, to Lee County, Iowa, 
in about 1847. The Gundy family was one of the first five 
families that came to Butler County, Ohio, in 1819. 

George Gundy's mother was Lena Kinsinger Gundy, daugh- 
ter of Rev. Michael Kinsinger and granddaughter of (Apostle) 
Peter Naffziger. George Gundy grew to manhood in the Car- 
lock community. He received his common school education 
and also attended Moody .Bible Institute for several months. , 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 221 

He was baptized by Rev. Joseph Stuckey in 1899 and united 
with the North Danvers Mennonite Church. He served as 
Sunday School teacher and also Sunday School superintendent. 
He also served as township president. In 1904 he was married 
to Clara Strubhar, daughter of Rev. Valentine Strubhar, by 
Rev. Peter Shantz. 

He was ordained as a minister October 4, 1909, by Rev. 
Joseph Zehr and Rev. Valentine Strubhar. He was ordained 
as a bishop in 1915 by Rev. Peter Schantz. Rev. Gundy became 
pastor of the Congerville Mennonite Church in the spring of 
1909. He served the church fifteen years and during this time 
received one hundred and twenty-one into the church, preached 
one thousand five hundred and sixty sermons, officiated at sixty 
funerals and married thirteen couples. In the fifteen years Rev. 
Gundy lived fourteen miles from his church and drove in that 
time about sixty thousand miles to serve his church. Rev. 
Gundy was called by the Meadows Mennonite Church and be- 
gan his work January 4, 1925. He served as secretary of the 
Ministerial Association from its beginning in 1911 until 1926. 
He has been superintendent of the Old People's Home at Mead- 
ows, Illinois, since 1925. 

REV. EUGENE AUGSPURGER (1874- ) 

Rev. Eugene Augspurger Avas born on his grandfather's 
farm six miles northwest of Danvers, April 24, 1874. His father 
was Joseph Augspurger who came from Butler County, Ohio, 
to Danvers Township in 1866. His grandfather was Rev. 
Joseph Augspurger born in Alsace, France, May 19, 1818. His 
great-grandfather was Rev. Jacob Augspurger of Butler County, 
Ohio, who came with the- first settlers from Alsace to Butler 
County in 1819. 

His mother was Jacobina Stuckey Augspurger, born in 
Butler County, February 23, 1846. Her father was Father 
Stuckey. Eugene Augspurger grew to manhood in the Danvers 
community. He received a common school education and at- 
tended Moody Bible Institute in 1911 for two months. 



222' History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

He was baptized by Father Stuckey in 1888 and united 
with the North Danvers Mennonite Church. He was married 
to Mary Carolina Gundy, February 10, 1898. His wife was 
born March 4, 1873. She was the daughter of Jacob Gundy 
and Mrs. Lena Kinsinger Gundy. 

He was ordained to the ministry in 1912 by Rev. J. H. King 
and became the pastor of the Tiskilwa Mennonite Church. He 
served the church until 1920 when he accepted a call to the 
Eighth Street Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana. He served 
the Goshen Church until September, 1921, when he moved to 
Normal, Illinois. He received a call from the Pleasant View 
Mennonite Church, Aurora, Nebraska, June, 1923, which church 
he is still serving. He was ordained as bishop in 1920 by Rev. 
J. H. King. 

REV. JOHN LITWtLLER (1874- ) 

Rev. John W. Litwiller was born in Hopedale Township, 
Tazewell County, Illinois, August 17, 1874. His father was Jo- 
seph Litwiller, born in Butler County, Ohio. His grandfather 
was Joseph Litwiller and his grandmother Barbara Ulrich Lit- 
willer. His mother was Catherine Birkey Litwiller, born in Taze- 
well County, Illinois. Her father was Christian Birkey and her 
mother Catherine Moseman Birkey. 

John Litwiller grew to manhood in the Hopedale com- 
munity. He was baptized by Bishop Christian Naffziger of the 
Amish Mennonite Church in 1894. In 1899 he was married to 
Mary A. Roth by Rev. Andrew Vercler. His wife's father 
was Christian L. Roth, born in Alsace, France, and her mother 
Verena Roszhart, born in Tazewell County, Illinois. His wife's 
grandfather was Benedict Roth and her grandmother Catherine 
Lauber Roth. Her mother's father was John Roszhart and 
her mother's mother Grace Dierberger Roszhart. 

John Litwiller served as superintendent of the Sunday- 
School before his ordination. He was ordained to the ministry 
in 1908 by Rev. Peter Schantz and became pastor of the Boyn- 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 223 

ton Mennonite Church. Rev. Litwiller is still serving as sen- 
ior pastor of the Church. 

REV. JACOB SOMMER (1878- ) 

Rev. Jacob Sommer was born at Flanagan, Illinois, July 
18, 1878. His father was Joseph Sommers and his mother 
Anna Schertz Sommer. Both came from Alsace-Lorraine. He 
moved to Pontiac, Illinois, in 1887 and to Goodland, Indiana, in 
1895. He was married to Sarah Augspurger a daughter of Rev. 
D. D. Augspurger of Goodland, Indiana. He was ordained to 
the ministry in October, 1907, and became pastor of the Zion 
Mennonite Church, Goodland, Indiana. In the fall of 1910 
Rev. and Mrs. Sommer volunteered for city mission work. They ' 
moved to Chicago in November, 1911, and Rev. Sommer became 
assistant pastor of the Mennonite Gospel Mission. 62nd St., 
Chicago. He served the mission until 1914 when he became 
superintendent of the new mission station opened in Peoria, 
Illinois, called the Mennonite Gospel Mission. Rev. Sommer 
is at present superintendent of the Peoria Mission. 

REV. PETER NAFFZIGER (1884- ) 

Rev. Peter D. Naffziger was born in 1884 at Metamora, 
Illinois. His father was Peter Naffziger, born in Alsace-Lor- 
raine. His mother was Catherine Belsley. 

Peter D. Naffziger lived near Metamora until 1895 when 
he came with his parents to Goodland, Indiana. He received 
his common school education at Goodland and attended Moody 
Bible Institute for a few weeks. He was baptized by D. D. 
Augspurger in 1896 and united with the Zion Mennonite Church 
near Goodland, Indiana. He was married December 12, 1912, 
to Mattie M. Zehr, 'born November 21, 1889. His wife is the 
daughter of Rev. J. B. Zehr and Phoebe King Zehr. ' 

Peter D. Naffziger was ordained to the ministry in 1910. 
by Rev. Lee Lantz and Rev. Emanuel Troyer. Rev. Naffziger 
is at present pastor of the Zion Mennonite Church at Goodland, 
Indiana. 



224 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

REV. JOHN KENNEL (1877- ) 

John J. Kennel was born in Morton Township, Tazewell 
County, Illinois, September 19, 1877. His father was Jacob 
Kennel, a brother of Rev. Peter Kennel of Butler Co., Ohio, 
and his grandfather, John Kennel. His grandmother was Mag- 
clalena Naffziger Kennel, a sister of Rev. Peter Naffziger (Apos- 
tle). His mother was Catherine Garber. 

John Kennel grew to manhood in Morton Township. He 
was a school teacher for a number of years. He Avas baptized 
August 20, 1893, by Rev. Michael Kinsinger. He was married 
January 30, 1907, to Antonia C. Gingerich. The marriage cere- 
mony was performed by Rev. Michael Kinsinger. His wife's 
father was Otto Gingerich and her grandfather Jacob Gingerich. 
Her mother was Christiana Stutte Gingerich and her grand- 
mother Catherine Otto Gingerich. John Kennel was ordained 
to the ministry February 16, 1912, by Rev. J. H. King with the 
assistance of Rev. John Kinsinger and Rev. Joseph Kinsinger. 
He served as superintendent of the Sunday School for many 
years before his ordination and also served as a Sunday School 
teacher. He has served as pastor of the South Washington 
Mennonite Church from the time of his ordination until the 
present time. 

REV. BEN ESCH (1887- ) 

Rev. Ben Esch was born August 24, 1887, near Washing- 
ton, Illinois. His father was Peter Esch and his grandfather 
Christian Esch, Avho came from Alsace-Lorraine. His mother 
was Catherine S.chertz Esch, daughter of Christian Schertz. 
His grandfather Schertz also came from Alsace. 

Ben Esch grew to manhood on a farm near Washington, 
Illinois. He received a common school education and then 
attended Goshen College for four years where he graduated 
from the Academy. He also attended Bluffton College for a 
few years. . 

He was baptized January, 1903, by Rev. Valentine Strub- 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 225 

har and Rev. Emanuel Troyer. August 7, 1912, he was mar- 
ried to Anna E. Schutt. The marriage ceremony was performed 
by Rev. Valentine Strubhar. His wife was the daughter of 
Abraham Schutt and Harriet Skinner Schutt. 

He was ordained at the East Washington Church Decem- 
ber, 1911, by Rev. Peter Schantz. He is at present assistant 
pastor of the Calvary Mennonite Church. He served as editor 
of the Christian Evangel from 1916 to 1919; Conference secre- 
tary from 1922-1925 ; secretary of the Mission Board, 1916-1925. 
He is at present secretary of the Mission Board. 

REV. ALLEN YODER (1874- ) 

Rev. Allen Yoder was born in Elkhart County, Indiana, 
October 1, 1874. His father was Manasses Yoder, born in Lo- 
gan County, Ohio, in January, 1848. His mother was Lydia 
Smoker Yoder, born in Elkhart County, Indiana, January, 1853. 
Allen Yoder grew up to manhood in the vicinity of Goshen. 
He received a common school education in the public schools 
of Elkhart County. He was baptized in June, 1890, by Rev. 
D. J. Johns. He accepted Christ through the preaching of 
Rev. J. S. Coffman. 

He was married to Laura McConaughy, November 11, 1896. 
His wife was born December 9, 1875, and died April 16, 1920. 
He was married the second time to Mrs Sophia Ummel Ver- 
cler. She was born February 27, 1886, in Switzerland and 
came to this country in 1889. 

He was ordained to the ministry April 20, 1913, as minister 
and bishop by Rev. Valentine Strubhar! He became pastor of 
the Silver Street Mennonite Church, which church he is serving 
at present. Rev.. Yoder attended Moody Bible Institute for 
several months after his ordination. He took a trip through 
the Holy Lands in the spring of 1914. He has served as 
president of the Mission Board; president of the Conference 
and on the Bluffton College Board. He is at present the Cen- 
tral Conference representative on the Relief Committee. 



226 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 
REV. E. T. ROWE (1885- ) 

Rev. E. T. Rowe was born at Aberdeen, Scotland, Jan. 3, 
1885, in military barracks and from early childhood desired to be 
a soldier. He left home at an early age and enlisted in the Brit- 
ish anmy. He was converted May 11, 1904. Soon after his con- 
version he left the army and trained for definite Christian work. 
He then returned to the barracks and encampments to do evan- 
gelistic work. He was ordained to the ministry November, 1908. 
He traveled the Midlands of England in a caravan preaching 
the gospel. He came to America in 1913, arriving at Chicago 
May 1. He became pastor of the Ashburn and Evergreen Park 
Methodist Churches, which pastorate he held until 1917. Dur- 
ing 1916 he conducted a Bible class at the Mennonite Gospel 
Mission on Tuesday evenings. He joined the Mennonite congre- 
gation December 8, 1917. He was appointed superintendent of 
the Mennonite Gospel Mission at Chicago, June 30, 1918, which 
position he holds at present. October 23, 1914, he married 
Violet M. Edmunds of Burwash, Sussex, England. They were 
married at Ionia, Michigan. 

REV. W. S. SHELLY (1885- ) 

Rev. Warren S. Shelly was born near Shelly Station, in 
Berks County, Pennsylvania, Jan. 15, 1885. His first five years 
were spent on a farm in Berks County. His parents then moved 
to Allentown, Pennsylvania, after which he resided in Bethlehem, 
Pennsylvania. He attended the Bethlehem high school, also Al- 
lentown preparatory and in 1905 and 1906 Bluffton College. In 
1906-1908 he attended Moravian College and Theological Sem- 
inary. 

November 29, 1906, he was married to Viola E. Anderson, 
daughter of Benjamin and Mrs. Hannah Anderson of Allentown, 
Pennsylvania. He was baptized August 4, 1901, by Rev. A. B. 
Shelly, pastor of the East Swamp Mennonite Church. He 
helped to organize the Mennonite Church at Allentown, Penn- 
sylvania; was one of the charter members and served as the 
first secretary of the congregation. He was teacher of a Sun- 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 227 

day School class; president of Christian Endeavor Society 
served as assistant pastor for two years to Rev. A. B. Shelly 
and also to Rev. W, S. Gottshall. He was ordained to the 
ministry July 11, 1909, at the First Mennonite Church, Allen- 
town, Pennsylvania, by Rev. A. B. Shelly, assisted by Rev. 
W. S. Gottshall and Rev. Wm. H. Grubb. He held the pas- 
torate at Wadsworth, Ohio, in July 18, 1909 to July 1, 1918. He 
was field secretary for the Home Mission Board of General 
Conference 1918-1919. He was pastor of the First Mennonite 
Church, Chicago, 1919. He became pastor of the Carlock Men- 
nonite Church June 2, 1920, and is at present pastor of the 
church. 

REV. W. H. GRUBB (1879- ) 

William H. Grubb, son of Rev. N. B. and Salome Grubb, 
was born in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, September 28, 1879. 
When fours years of age his parents moved to the city of Phila- 
delphia, where he attended the public schools and later the 
Temple University. 

In May, 1902, the Eastern District Conference in annual 
session licensed him to preach. In January, 1903, the Home 
Mission and Church Extension Board stationed him at Allen- 
town, Pennsylvania, where he organized a congregation and a 
church building was erected under his pastorate. In 1905 he 
was called to the newly organized congregation at Perkasie, 
Pennsylvania, where he was likewise successful in building a 
church. In connection with this charge he also served the 
Quakertown and East Swamp Churches in and near Quaker- 
town, Pennsylvania. 

August 1, 1913, Rev. Grubb accepted a call to the Apostolic 
Mennonite Church in Trenton, Butler County, Ohio. The congre- 
gation had recently built a new and modern church in the town 
and abandoned the old church in the country. Here he was 
instrumental in bringing about a harmonious and working or- 
ganization and his ministry was blessed with a large number 
of additions to the church. In 1921 he was called to the First 



228 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

Mennonite Church in Normal, Illinois. During this pastorate 
the membership has been considerably increased and progres- 
sive program of activities as well as a building program adopt- 
ed 1 . He was ordained to the Gospel Ministry September 13, 
1903, and to the office of bishop June 24, 1906. 

Rev. Grubb's activities have not been confined to his local 
church. He has also been active in Conference work. He 
served as president of the Eastern District Conference, also a 
member of the Publication Board and one of the editors of the 
Year Book and of other various committees. When a member 
of the Middle District Conference he was likewise a member 
of committees at various times. He was the founder of the 
Year Book of the Central Conference and for four years its 
editor and has been active in various ways in the larger. work 
of the church. 

REV. AARON D. EGLI (1890- ) 

Rev. Aaron D. Egli was born September 16, 1890, near 
Hopedale, Illinois. His father was Christ Egli and his mother 
Fannie Augspurger Egli. .He grew to manhood in the vicinity 
of Hopedale and Delavan. He received his common school 
education in Hittle Township and his high school in Hopedale 
and Delavan. He also attended the University of Illinois. He 
attended Moody Bible Institute and took a correspondence 
course in Witmarsum Seminary. 

He was baptized November, 1905, by Rev. Peter Schantz 
and united with the Boynton Mennonite Church near Hopedale. 
He served as chorister for a number of years and was also pres- 
ident of the Christian Endeavor Society. He organized four 
Sunday Schools in needy fields. 

July 9, 1912, he married Myrtle Canopy, daughter of Frank 
and Mary Canopy. The marriage ceremony was performed 
by Rev. Lee Lantz. He was ordained to the ministry March 
30, 1919, at the home of his father near Kouts, Indiana, by Rev. 
Joseph Zehr. Rev. Egli was instrumental in starting the Kouts 
Mennonite Church. He was ordained as a bishop May 23, 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonlte Ministers 229 

1926, by Rev. Emanuel Troyer at the home of Christ Egli near 
Kouts, Indiana. He is at present pastor of the Kouts Mennon- 
ite Church. 

REV. ERNEST HOSTETTLER (1894- ) 

Rev. . Ernest Hostettler was born in Lagrange County, 
Indiana, March 11, 1894. His father was Moses P. Hostettler. 
His grandfather was Paul Hostettler and his grandmother, Es- 
ther Hostettler. His grandmother was Caroline Mehl Hostettler, 
daughter of Jacob C. and Lucinda Mehl who came to Lagrange 
County, Indiana, from Ohio in 1876. 

Ernest Hostettler grew to manhood in Lagrange County, 
and after receiving his common school ducation he received a 
high school education at Topeka, Indiana. He taught public 
school for five years. He also attended Goshen College for 
some time. He was baptized October 15, 1908, by Rev. J. C. 
Lehman and united with the Topeka Mennonite Church. 

June 9, 1915, he was married to Susie Kitchen, the daughter 
of Mr. and Mrs. S-. M. Kitchen of Wolcottville, Indiana. Before 
his ordination he was teacher of a Sunday School class. He 
was ordained to the ministry June 9, 1918, by Rev. J. C. Lehman 
and became pastor of the Topeka Mennonite Church. 

REV. EMANUEL ULRICH (1890- ) 

Rev. Emanuel Ulrich was born in Livingston County, Illi- 
nois, November 17, 1890. His father was Peter J. Ulrich and 
his grandfather Joseph Ulrich. His grandmother was Fannie 
Ulrich. His mother was Mary Egli Ulrich. Her father was 
Christian Egli and her mother was Mary Egli. 

Emanuel Ulrich grew to manhood in Waldo Township, Liv- 
ingston County, near Flanagan. He was baptised June, 1903, 
by Rev. C. R. Egli. 'December 23, 1913, he was rnarried to 
Katie Zehr. The marriage ceremony was performed by Rev. Ste- 
phen Stahly. His wife's father was Valentine Zehr and her 
grandfather was Joseph Zehr. Her rapther was Elizabeth 
Stahly Zehr, daughter of Rev. Stephen and Barbara Stahly. 



230 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

Before his ordination Emanuel Ulrich was a Sunday School 
teacher for two years and a superintendent of the Sunday 
School for three years. He was ordained to the ministry in 
May, 1918, by Rev. Lee Lantz. He is serving as assistant 
pastor in the Flanagan Mennonite Church. 

REV. WILLIAM B. WEAVER (1887- ) 

Rev. William B. Weaver was born at Nappanee, Indiana, 
January 24, 1887. His f.ather was Emanuel Weaver, born De- 
cember 9, 1849 in Holmes County, Ohio, and died in Elkhart 
County, Indiana, July 13, 1920. His grandfather was David 
Weaver, born in Weaverlancl, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. 
He came to Holmes County, Ohio, when six months old. Rev. 
Weaver's mother was Magdalena Yoder Weaver, born August 
8, 1853, in Lagrange County, Indiana. Her parents were 
Joseph and Magdalena Yoder. In 1891 Wm. B. Weaver with 
his parents moved to Lagrange County, Indiana. Here he grew 
to manhood. He received his common school education and 
four years of high school. He then attended Goshen College 
where he received his A. B. degree in 1914. He taught public 
school for six years and at Goshen College for eight years. 
He received his M. A. degree at Northwestern University in 
1926. 

He was baptized in the spring of 1906 by Bishop John 
Garber and united with the Emma Mennonite Church. He 
served as Sunday School superintendent for five years. 

May 30, 1915, he married Fanny A. Stoltzfus, born August 
13, 1887, near Hartford, Kansas. She is the daughter of Rev. 
Benjamin and Emma Rich Stoltzfus, Lima, Ohio. 

William B. Weaver was licensed to preach in the spring 
of 1913 by the Indiana Michigan Mission Board. He preached 
one year at Barker Street Mennonite Church near Vistula, 
Indiana. He was ordained to the ministry September 14, 1914 
by Bishop J. K. Bixler and became pastor of 'the Prairie Street 
Mennonite Church, Elkhart, Indiana. He served as pastor 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 231 

until September, 1920, when he moved to Goshen, Indiana. 
He became pastor of the North Danvers Mennonite Church July 
1, 1922. He was installed by Rev. J. H. King-, Rev. Allen Miller 
and Rev. Emanuel Troyer. He has served as editor of the 
Christian Evangel from October, 1923, till October, 1925. He 
is at present editor of the Christian Evangel and pastor of the 
North Danvers Mennonite Church. 

REV. A. M. EASH (1882- ) 

Rev. A. M. Eash was born August 22, 1882, near Middle- 
btirj, Indiana. His father Avas Emanuel Eash and his grand- 
father Samuel Eash. His grandmother was Sarah Keim Eash. 
The Eash family came from Somerset County, Pennsylvania, 
to Indiana. His mother was Anna Adeline Schrock Eash, 
daughter of Cornelius and Magdalena Bontrager Schrock. They 
came to Indiana from Holmes County, Ohio. 

Rev. A. M. Eash grew to manhood near Middlebury, Indi- 
ana. He was baptized October, 1898, by Bishop P. Y. Lehman 
and united with the Shore Mennonite Church. He came to 
Chicago in the fall of 1903 and was employed as a stenographer 
in the office of the Mining World and later of the Billposter's 
Association of the United States and Canada. The years 1904 
and 1905 were spent in mission work under Rev. A. H. Leaman 
at the Home Mission. During 1905 and 1906 he worked for 
Albaugh Brothers, a Brethren mail order firm. 

He Avas married to Anna Annacker October 19, 1905, by 
Rev. A. H. Leaman. She was born in Berlin, Germany, January 
10, 1880, and came to America in 1886. 

In the fall of 1906 a new mission station was opened under 
the leadership of Rev. A. H. Leaman on 26th Street, Chicago, 
and A. M. Eash became superintendent of the new mssion. 
He was ordained to the ministry at the Mennonite Mission, 
September, 1909, by Bishop J. S. Shoemaker of Freeport, Illi- 
nois. He served as superintendent of the mission until July 
1, 1919, when he went to Palestine in the service of the Near 



232 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

East Relief. He had charge of the Syrian Orphanage in Jer- 
usalem. He returned to America September 1, 1921, and again 
assumed charge of the 26th Street Mission. He is at present 
superintendent of the mission. He is a member of the Christian 
Workers Institute Committee of the Conference. 

REV. H. E. NUNEMAKER (1893- ) 

Rev. H. E. Nunemaker was born December 11, 1893, near 
Sterling, Illinois. His father was Samuel Nunemaker, born 
September 17, 1852, in Elkhart County, Indiana. The Nune- 
makers came from Pennsylvania. His mother was Frances 
Ebersole Nunemaker, born March 14, 1853 in Berks County, 
Pennsylvania. Rev. Nunemaker received his common school 
education near Sterling, Illinois, where he grew to manhood. 
He entered Goshen College in the fall of 1912 and graduated 
from the Academy in 1916 and from the college with an A. B. 
degree in 1921. He attended Garrett Biblical Institute six 
weeks. 

He was baptized in the spring of 1903 by Rev. J. S. Shoe- 
maker and united with the Science Ridge Mennonite Church 
near Sterling, Illinois. He served as a Sunday School teacher, 
assistant superintendent and president of the Young People's 
Meeting in the church. 

February 5, 1922, he married Alma Ruth Hostettler of 
Elkhart, Indiana. The marriage ceremony was performed by 
Rev. Wm. B. Weaver. His wife was born June 2, 1894, in 
Lagrange County, Indiana. Her parents were Samuel S. Hos- 
tettler, born November 20, 1873 and Anna Cripe Hostettler, born 
May 16, 1870. He accepted a call from the Danvers Mennonite 
Church and served as pastor from March 1, 1924 to Feb. 1, 1927. 
He was ordained as minister and bishop March 29, 1925, by Rev. 
Aaron Augspurger and Rev. Enianuel Troyer. He edited the 
Year Book of 1926 and was editor of the Evangel from October, 
1925 to October, 1926. He is at present pastor of the Comins 
Mennonite Church, Comins, Mich. 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 233 
REV. I. R. DETWEILER (1873- ) 

Rev. I. R. Detweiler was born August 24, 1873, near Sou- 
derton, Pennsylvania. He lived near Sterling, Illinois, until 
1888, when he moved to Octavia, Nebraska. His father was 
Joseph B. Detweiler and his mother Hettie Rutt Detweiler. 
After receiving his com.mon school and high school education 
he attended Elkhart Institute and Goshen College. He also 
attended Bethany Bible School, Garrett Biblical Institute and 
Chicago University. He was professor of Bible at Goshen Col- 
lege for a number of years and also served as acting president 
of the college. He was baptized in 1898 by Bishop J. F. 
Funk, Elkhart, Indiana. He was married to Bertha Zook in 
1902. The marriage ceremony was performed by Rev. J. S. 
Hartzler. His wife's parents were Abiah Zook and Emma 
Hooley Zook. He was ordained to the ministry in 1904 at To- 
peka, Indiana, by Bishop Jonathan Kurtz and became a minister 
in the Maple Grove Church. He served as a missionary to 
India from 1902-1904 under the Old Conference. He \vas 
pastor of the Goshen College congregation for a number of 
years. He accepted a call to the pastorate of the Eighth Street 
Mennonite Church in 1923. He is serving at present as pastor of 
the Eighth Street Church. He is also treasurer of the Congo 
Inland .Mission Board. 

REV. REUBEN ZEHR (1899- ) 

Rev. Reuben Zehr w.as born August 12, 1899, in Livingston 
County, Illinois, near Flanagan. His father was Rev. J. B. 
Zehr whose biography has been given. He was baptized in 1910- 
by Rev. J. B. Zehr and united with the Flanagan Mennonite 
Church. 

August 26, 1923, he married Magdalena Irene Lehman. 
The ceremony was performed by his father, Rev. Zehr. His 
wife was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Lehman. Her 
grandparents were Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Lehman and Mr. and 
Mrs. Joseph Unzicker. 

Reuben Zehr was installed as pastor of the Congerville 



234 ' History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

Mennonite Church September 6, 1925. He was ordained to the 
ministry in January, 1927, by Rev. J. H. King. He is at pres- 
ent serving as secretary of the Ministerial Association. 

REV. FRANK MITCHELL (1896- ) 

Rev. Franklin Rea Mitchell was born April 8, 1896, at 
Orland, Illinois, a little village southwest of Chicago. His 
parents were John and Alice Mitchell. When Frank Mitchell 
was about two years old his parents moved to the City of 
Chicago. He was baptized by a traveling evangelist, Rev. 
Moore and united with a Baptist church in Chicago. In July, 
1915, he and his mother began attending special tent meetings 
held by the Mennonite Mission at Carpenter Street. In the 
fall of 1918 he entered Bluffton College to prepaid himself for 
definite Christian work. While at college and seminary he has 
served the pulpits of Tiskilwa, Eighth Street, Bethel and Boyn- 
ton Mennonite during the summer months. He served as 
assistant pastor of the Boynton Mennonite Church and in 1926 
he was called by the church to serve as their pastor. 

REV. EARL SALZMAN (1895- ) 

Earl L. Salzman was born September 13, 1895, near Carlock, 
Illinois. His father is Hiram Salzman and his grandfather 
Christ Salzman, who came from Ohio to Illinois and in 1860 
married Mary Trover. She died June 9, 1873. In 1881 his 
grandfather, married Miss Lizzie Hodler and lived in Chicago 
until his death in March, 1908. 

Earl Salzman's mother was Miss King, the daughter of 
Mr. and Mrs. Peter King w r ho were born in Butler County, 
Ohio, and came to Illinois with their parents when quite young. 
The grandparents died in the summer of 1905. 

Earl Salzman was baptized in 1904 and united with the East 
White Oak Mennonite Church. He received a common school 
education and then attended Brown's Business College three 
winter terms. November 14, 1920, he was licensed to preach 
and January 5, 1921, he entered Bluffton College to prepare 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 235 

himself for the ministry. He graduates in the spring of 1927 
with the Th. B. degree from Witmarsum Seminary. In the 
summer vacations he has been assistant pastor in the East White 
Oak Mennonite Church. 

REV. EMANUEL AUGSPURGER (1884- ) 

Emanuel Augspurger was born July 1, 1884, near Danvers, 
Illinois. His father was Joseph S. Augspurger, who came from 
Butler County, Ohio, in 1866. His grandfather was Rev. Joseph 
Augspurger, born in Alsace, France, May 19, 1818, and came 
to America in 1819. His great-grandfather was Jacob Augs- 
purger, one of the first settlers to come to Butler County, Ohio, 
and the first Amish minister to be ordained in Butler County. 

Emanuel Augspurger's mother was Jacobina Stuckey Augs- 
purger, daughter of Father Stuckey. It is of interest to note 
that Emanuel Augspurger's great-grandfather, Rev. Jacob Augs- 
purger, baptized his grandfather Rev. Joseph Stuckey in Butler 
County, Ohio. 

Emanuel Augspurger grew to manhood in the community 
of Danvers, Illinois. He was baptized in 1899 by Father 
Stuckey and united with the North Danvers Mennonite Church. 

He was married to Emma Mae Lehman, December 22, 
1909. The marriage ceremony was performed by Rev. Andrew 
Vercler. His wife was born March 11, 1888. She was the 
daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Lehman. 

Emanuel Augspurger was licensed to preach by Rev. J. 
H. King in 1922. He preached his first sermon at Meadows, 
Illinois, July 3, 1921. He does not have a regular charge but 
assists at various churches. He has preached at Hopedale, 
Flanagan, East White Oak, Danvers, Anchor, Pekin and Con- 
gerville. 

REV. ERNEST BOHN (1894- ) 

Rev. Ernest Bohn was born in 1894 in Woodford County, 
Illinois. His father was Henry Bohn and his mother Rosa 
Zoss Bohn. His grandfather and grandmother Bohn came from 



236 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

Alsace-Lorraine. His mother's parents came from Switzerland. 
Ernest Bohn moved to Fisher, Illinois, in 1895 and lived there 
until 1910 and then moved to Elkhart County, Indiana, near 
Millersburg. He received his common school education in 
Illinois and his academy and college work at Goshen Col- 
lege, Goshen, Indiana. He received his degree in 1923. He 
was a student at Princeton Theological Seminary 1923-1925. He 
received his B. D. degree from Garrett Biblical Institute in 1926. 

He was baptized in 1909 by Bishop Peter Zehr of the Fisher 
congregation. In 1924 he married Nora Lantz. The marriage 
ceremony was performed by Rev. S. S. Yoder of Middlebury, 
Indiana. His wife's parents were Melvin D. Lantz and Cather- 
ine Yoder Lantz of Topeka, Indiana. 

Ernest Bohn served as a Sunday School teacher for eight 
years and filled the pulpit as supply while a student at 
Princeton Seminary. He accepted a call to the Tiskilwa Men- 
nonite Church September, 1925. He was ordained to the min- 
istry-August 15, 1926, by Rev. Allen Miller and Rev. Emanuel 
Troyer. He is at present a member of the Christian Workers 
Institute Committee of the Conference. 

REV. S. S. YODER (1878- ) 

Rev. Simon S. Yoder was born May 5, 1878, in Lagrange 
County, Indiana. His father was Simon Yoder and his grand- 
father was Joseph Yoder of Lagrange County, Indiana. His 
grandfather was born November 20, 1819, and died September 
4, 1863, in Lagrange County, Indiana. His grandmother Mag- 
dalena Yoder was born June 11, 1821, Somerset County, Pa., 
and died January 3, 1861, in Lagrange County, Indiana. His 
mother was Fannie Miller Yoder, the daughter of Jacob S. 
Miller, born December 10, 1795, and died in 1874. His grand- 
mother, Fannie Hershberger, was born May 9, 1806, and died 
February 2, 1892. 

S. S.. Yoder received his common school education and 
also attended normal school which prepared him to teach. He 
taught public school for twenty years. 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 237 

He was baptized April, 1893, by Bishop D. J. Johns and 
united with the Forks Mennonite Church. He served as Sun- 
day School teacher and superintendent for a number of years. 
He was ordained to the office of deacon in the spring of 1903. 
He was ordained to the ministry in the Middlebury Mennon- 
ite Church in December, 1907. He served as a member of the 
Sunday School Program Committee of the Indiana Michigan 
Conference from 1904 to 1916. From 1916 to 1923 he was 
chairman of the Executive Sunday School Committee. He 
was also a member of the General Sunday School Committee 
of the Old Mennonites'from the time of its organization until 
1923. 

He was married to Sarah Trover May 14, 1899. She was 
the daughter of Samuel Troyer and Catherine Hershberger 
Troyer. Rev. Yoder is pastor of the Warren Street Mennonite 
Church and a member of the Christian Workers Institute Com- 
mittee. 

REV. W. W. OESCH (1884- ) 

Rev. W. W. Oesch was born in Cass County, Missouri, 
near Garden City, July 16, 1884. His father was John Oesch, 
born in Waterloo County, Ontario, and his grandfather Chris- 
tian Oesch who came from Alsace-Lorraine. His mother was 
Amanda Smith Oesch, born in Butler County, Ohio, and moved 
with her parents to Missouri. 

W. W. Oesch grew to manhood in Missouri where he re- 
ceived his common school education and also attended a normal 
school for a term. In 1904 he came to Goshen College, Goshen, 
Indiana, and graduated in 1910. 

He was baptized in 1900 by Bishop John Hartzler and be- 
came a member of the Amish-Mennonite Church -near Garden 
City, Missouri; August 10, 1910, he was married to Elva Alice 
Garber. The marriage ceremony was performed by Rev. David 
Garber of Lajunta, Colorado. His wife's father was Abraham 
Garber and the grandfather Abraham Garber who was one 
of the early pioneers of Elkhart County. Her mother was Mary 



238 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

Troyer, daughter of John Troyer and Catherine Egli Troyer. 

He served as teacher and superintendent of Sunday School 
for six years. He was ordained to the ministry by Bishop J. 
K. Bixler in October, 1914, and became the pastor of the Barker 
Street Mennonite Church near Vistula., Indiana. He is at present 
pastor of the Barker Street Church. 

REV. E. A. SOMMER (1884- ) 

Rev. Emil A. Sommer was born April 2, 1884, near Flana- 
gan, 111. He grew to manhood and received his common school 
education at Fairbury, Illinois, and at Goodland, Indiana. He 
attended Moody Bible Institute two and one-half years. He 
was baptized in 1900 by Rev. D. D. Augspurger. He married 
Lydia Mae Augspurger in 1909. He was ordained to the min- 
istry in 1916 at Carlock, Illinois, by Rev. J. H. King and Rev. 
John Kinsinger. Before his ordination he served as Christian 
Endeavor superintendent, teacher of Bible class and assistant 
pastor. He volunteered for Africa and sailed in the year 1916. 
He is at present a missionary on the field. 



A number of ministers have come into the Conference for 
only a few years. Mention will be made of them here. 

Rev. Menno Nis wander went to Nampa, Idaho, from the 
Silver Street Mennonite Church and served the Nampa, Idaho, 
Church for one year in 1912. 

Rev. A. S. Bechtel came from the General Conference to 
the Normal Mennonite Church in 1919 as pastor. He remained 
with the church for one year. During this time he also served 
as editor of the Christian Evangel. 

Rev. Alvin K. Ropp came from the Old Mennonites and 
served as pastor of the Silver Street Church for almost two 
years, 1911 to 1913, and then was instrumental in starting the 
Eighth Street Mennonite Church, located at the time at Fifth 
Street, Goshen, Indiana. 



Biographies of the Central Conference Mennonite Ministers 239 

Rev. W. W. Miller came from the General Conference Mis- 
sion in Chicago and became pastor of the Eighth Street Mennon- 
ite Church from 1920 to 1923. 

Rev. A. B. Rutt came from the Old Mennonites at the 
Home Mission, Chicago, and became superintendent of the 
Mennonite Gospel Mission at Carpenter Street from its .begin- 
ning in 1909 to about 1914. Rev. Rutt was also editor of the 
Evangel for three years, from 1910 to 1913. 

Rev. Jacob Donner and his son, Rev. George Donner, were 
ministers in the Aurora, Nebraska, Church for a number of 
years. 

Rev. L. E. Blauch came from the Ol'd Mennonites and be- 
came pastor of the Eighth Street Mennonite Church for several 
years. He was ordained to the ministry by Rev. John Lehman 
of Topeka, Indiana. 



SUPPLEMENT 



MARRIAGES PERFORMED BY REV. JOSEPH STUCKEY. 
These Marriages Were Taken from Rev. Stuckey's Own References. 



John Detweiler 

Jonathan Yoder 

Joseph Beachler 

William Hans 

Christian Gerber 

Nicholas Strubhar 

Andrew Risser 

Christian Strubhar 

Peter E. Stuckey 

David Rupp 

Jacob Naffziger 

Jonathan Yoder 

Stephen Stanley 

Frederick Zerlein 

John Heines 

Jacob Unzicker 

Christian Schwartzentruber 

Joseph King 

Peter Rupp 

Joseph Yoder 

Jacob Gundy 

Peter Gerber 

Philip Kohler 

David Moseman 

Jacob Newhouser 

Christian Moseman 

Jacob Ingold 

Amos F. Yoder 

John Oswalt 

Joseph King 

Solomon Yoder 

Daniel Schwartzentruber 

Jonathan A. Yoder 

Edward Sanday 

John Ummel 

Al,bert Schellhorn 

Christian Kinsinger 



Elizabeth Gerber Oct. 20, 1864 

Catherine Ballaman Nov. 8, 1864 

Magdalena Farney Jan. 12, 1865 
Anna Yoder " Oct. 1, 1865 

Marie Risser Oct. 5, 1865 

Elizabeth Rupp Oct. 17, 1865' 

Marie Schweitzer Dec. 20, 1865 

Magdalene Ehrsmann Feb. 20, 1866 

Catherine Engel Feb. 22, 1866 

Barbara King Nov. 4, 1866 

Anna Zook Dec. 16, 1866 

Barbara Fry Dec. 20 '1866 

Barbara Schantz Dec. 20, 1866 

Marie Stauffer Feb. 3, 1867 

Marie Wilrich Mar. 10, 1867 

Jacobina Engel Nov. 7, 1867 

Elizabeth Fry Dec. 24, 1867 

Anna Hueller Jan. 30, 1868 

Marie Rupp. Feb. 2, 1868 
Marie Zehrline - Feb. 25, 1868 

Lena Kinsinger Jan. 14, 1869 

Catherine Habecker Jan. 19, 1869 

Elizabeth Ummel Jan. 31, 1869 

Anna Stecker Nov. 9, 1869 

Anna Meyer Nov. 10 1869 

Catherine Sommer Dec. 28, 1869 

Catherine Sick Dec. 30, 1869 

Barbara Habecker Jan. 4, 1870 

Veronica Roth Mar. 17, 1870 

Elizabeth Schlegel Apr. 5, 1870 

Lydia Esch Apr. 7, 1870 

Elizabeth Birkey July 26, 1870 

Marie Stau,b Aug. 7, 1870 

Elizabeth Zehr Sept. 8, 1870 

Elizabeth Saltzman Oct. 20, 1870 

Jacobina Gingerich Dec. 6, 1870 

Magdalena Strubhar Jan. 10, 1871 



Supplement 



241 



Abraham Kohler 
Joseph King 
Joseph Zook 
Andrew Oesch 
Daniel Kauffman 
John Stanley 
Joseph "fiurkey 
Peter D. Naffziger 
Joseph Hodler 
John A. Saltzman 
David Ummel 
Christian Reber 
John Meyers 
Levi D. Yoder 
Michael Rupp 
John L. Rupp 
John Miller 
Jacob Orendorff 
Albert Walter 
Christian Sommer 
Jacob Lantz 
Peter Schnur 
John Ringenberg 
Christian R. Stuckey 
John Shafer 
Jacob Nusbaum 
Samuel King 
Christian Fry 
Washington Grove 
John Gerber 
Christian Engle 
Christian Schmit 
William Yoder 
Frederick Haushalter 
Daniel Albrecht 
Henry Augspurger 
Joseph Risser 
Christian Miller 
Peter Schrock 
Eli Gerber 
Jephthah Lantz 
Samuel Gerber 
Nickolas Strubhar 



Rosy Ummel 
Catherine Waugler 
Leah Plank 
Magdalena Unzicker 
Magdalena Gerber 
Marie Stahley 
Elizabeth Rediger 
Magdalena Zook 
Magdalena Lehe 
Magdalena Strubhar 
Rosina Luthy 
Catherine Miller 
Lizzie Gerber 
Jacobina Fry 
Susanna Zook 
Marie Rupp 
Lena Baughman 
Elizabeth Sommer 
Sanel Miller 
Barbara Rogge 
Emma Yoder 
Magdalena Stecker 
Lena Albrecht 
Catherine Strubhar 
Mary Strubhar 
Catherine King 
Mary Schad 
Caroline Troyer 
Alary Dellenbach 
Emelia Unzicker 
Elizabeth Naffziger 
Jacobina Schweitzer 
Veronica Stauffer 
Mary Imhoff 
Magdalena Unzicker 
Anna Risser 
Catherine Schweitzer 
Royal Scharp 
Lena Unzicker 
Jacobina Gundy 
Mary E. Yoder 
Catherine Naffziger 
Hanna Yoder 



Jan. 26, 


1871 


Feb. 1, 


1871 


Feb. 13, 


1871 


Feb. 21, 


1871 


Mar. 2, 


1871 


Mar. 4, 


1871 


Mar. 5, 


1871 


Mar. 14, 


1871 


Mar. 28, 


1871 


Apr. 4, 


1871 


Sept. 16,' 


1871 


Dec. 21, 


1871 


Dec. 26, 


1871 


Jan. 10, 


1872 


Feb. 2, 


1872 


Feb. 6, 


1872 


Mar. 5, 


1872 


Mar. 19, 


1872 


Mar. 28, 


1872 


June 4, 


1872 


Sept. 10, 


1872 


Dec. 11, 


1872 


Dec. 14, 


1872 


Dec. 23, 


1872 


Dec. 24, 


1872 


Dec. 26, 


1872 


Dec. 31, 


1872 


Dec. 21, 


1872 


Jan. 4, 


1873 


Jan. 28, 


1873 


Feb. 6, 


1873 


Feb. 13, 


1873 


Mar. 4, 


1873 


Mar. 7, 


1873 


Mar. 15, 


1873 


May 5, 


1873 


July 17, 


1873 


Oct. 9, 


1873 


Nov. 13, 


1873 


Nov. 20, 


1873 


Dec. 23, 


1873 


Jan. 20, 


1874 


Jan. 27, 


1874 



242 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 



John .B. Amberg 
Valentine Naffziger 
John Beecher 
Louis Stalter 
John Stecker 
John Yoder 
Joseph Streid 
David D. Augspurger 
Christian Beck 
Joseph B. Gerber 
Ferdinand Schertz 
Moses Kamp 
Joseph Ropp 
Joseph Haushalter 
Peter Claudon 
Augustus Schertz 
Jacob Kinsinger 
Joseph Sommer 
Joseph Martin 
Daniel Kinsinger 
John Ruvenach 
John Lantz 
Christian Rediger 
Christian Imhoff 
John Schertz 
Peter Schantz 
Peter Risser 
Jacob Yoder 
Andrew Vercler 
Daniel Unzicker 
John Ummel 
Adam Zook 
Benjamin Lantz 
Christian Reber 
Nickalos Meyer 
Jacob Kinsinger 
Joseph Kauffman 
Joseph Schloneker 
Andrew Beller 
Benjamin Clark 
Jacob Schloneker 
Joseph Newhouser 
Samuel P. Yoder 



Nancy Yoder 
Maggie Risser 
Mary Schertz 
Jacobina Rediger 
Mary Schertz 
Rebecca Lantz 
Barbara Hudler 
Magdalena Schrock 
Barbara Schick 
Susan Ehrsman 
Mary Gerber 
Barbara Bellsley 
Barbara Farney 
Caroline Greiser 
Catherine Vercler 
Elizabeth Gerber 
Phoebe Naffziger 
Anna Schertz 
Mary Egli 
Mary Schick 
Lena Engle 
Addie Clark 
Catherine Risser 
Baribara Ehrsman 
Mary Stuckey 
Anna Kinsinger 
Barbara Strubhar 
Lydia King 
Jacobina Lehman 
Mary Hodler 
Rosa Ummel 
Miriam Kauffman 
Emma Troyer 
Magdalena King 
Mary Ehrsman 
Helena Koehn 
Mary Donner 
Mary Miller 
Elizabeth Beecher 
Mary Lantz 
Rosa Maurer 
Barbara Stalter 
Uree Lantz 



Feb. 19, 


1874 


Sept. 14, 


1874 


Nov. 17, 


1874 


Dec. 3, 


1874 


Dec. 8, 


1874 


Dec. 28, 


1874 


Dec. J 28, 


1874 


Dec. 31, 


1874 


Jan. 5, 


1875 


Jan. 14, 


1875 


Jan. 19, 


1875 


Jan. 25, 


1875 


Feb. 4, 


1875 


Feb. 7, 


1875 


Feb. 14, 


1875 


Feb. 16, 


1875 


Feb. 18, 


1875 


Feb. 25, 


1875 


Mar. 4, 


1875 


Mar. 11, 


1875 


Mar. 11, 


1875 


Mar. 21, 


1875 


Mar. 25, 


1875 


Oct. 12 


1875 


Dec. 21, 


1875 


Dec. 23, 


1875 


Dec. 28, 


'1875 


Jan. 25, 


1876 


Feb. 3, 


1876 


Feb. 8, 


1876 


June 20, 


1876 


Sept. 26, 


1876 


Nov. 22, 


1876 


Dec. 12, 


1876 


Dec. 21, 


1876 


Jan. 11,. 


1877 


Jan. 30, 


1877 


Feb. 27, 


1877 


Mar. 1, 


1877 


M.ar. 4, 


1877 


Mar. 7, 


1878 


Aug. 28, 


1878 


Dec. 19, 


1878 



Supplement 



243 



John Reber 
. Peter Rogge 
Joseph Fuhrer 
Joseph Saltzman 
John Miller 
Aaron Lantz 
Joseph B. Zehr 
John E. Schertz 
John Engle 
Joseph Habecker 
J. H. Stutzman 
John I. Plank 
Christian H. Saltzman 
John W. Strubhar 
David Danzer 
Joseph Eymann 
Joseph E. Zook 
Christian Habecker 
Amos G. Smith, la. 
John Ernst 
Jacob Beller 
Samuel Kauffman 
Joseph Bertsche 
Peter Schrock 
Peter Clauden 
Solomon Burkey 
Christian Zehr 
William Egli 
John B. Gungrich 
Daniel Miller ' 
Christian Lehman 
Joseph E. Stuckey 
John Kohler 
Joseph H. King 
Joseph Forney 
Samuel F. King 
James F. Tobias 
John Detweiler 
Daniel B. King 
Daniel Augustine 
Jaco,b Engle 
John Y. Sharp 
Gearge Kirchner 



Elizabeth Ehrsman 
lAnna Zehr 
Anna Sommer 
Anna Stalter 
Helena Schlabach 
Susan King 
Jacobina King 
Barbara Risser 
Lena B. Schertz 
Katie Burkey 
Magdalena B. Miller 
Barbara Kauffman 
' Elizabeth Miller 
Catherine Farney 
Anna Baumetz 
Catherine Beller 
Malinda Kauffman 
Irene Stutzman 
Anna Reese, la. 
'Phoebe King 
Anna Zimmerman 
Barbara Gerber 
Urina Grissar 
Catherine Roszhart 
Magdalene Engle 
Katie Zehr 
Mary Unzicker 
Phoebe Augstine 
Lizzie Maurer 
Maggie Denier 
Catherine Myer 
Katie B. Miller 
Catherine Maurer 
Salina Lantz 
Mary Penner, Kan. 
Anna B. Claudon 
Rosanna Strubhar 
Elizabeth Miller 
Lucy King 
Emma A. King 
Lydia A. King 
Mary Miller 
Carolina Kinsinger 



Feb. 6, 


1879 


Feb. 23, 


1879 


May 27, 


1879 


July 17, 


1879 


Oct. 7, 


1879 


Oct. 21, 


1879 


Nov. 1, 


1879 


Dec. 23, 


1879 


Dec. 25, 


1879 


Aug. 29, 


1880 


Sept. 16, 


1880 


Oct. 26, 


1880 


Nov. 25, 


1880 


Dec. 2, 


1880 


Jan. 3, 


1881 


Jan. 6, 


1881 


Feb. 15, 


1881 


Mar. 10, 


1881 


Oct. 23, 


1881 


Dec. 22, 


1881 


Jan. 10, 


1882 


Feb. 21, 


1882 


Feb. 24, 


1882 


Aug; 15, 


1882 


Sept. 21, 


1882 


Oct. 26, 


1882 


Nov. 23, 


1882 


Fe,b. 1, 


1883 


Feb. 6, 


1883 


Feb.. 22, 


1883 


Feb. 17, 


1883 


Feb. 26, 


1883 


Mar. 13, 


1883 


Oct. 16, 


1883 


Nov. 22, 


1883 


Dec. 4, 


1883 


Dec. 13, 


1883 


Dec. 18, 


1883 


Jan. 15, 


1884 


Jan. 15, 


1884 


Feb. 5, 


1884 


Mar. 4, 


1884 


Oct. 16, 


1884 



244 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 



David Y. King 
John Gyssler 
Christian Lehman 
Joseph Augspurger 
John E. Yoder 
John Trover 
Joseph J. Clark 
Joseph Hodler 
Abraham Stutzman 
Ulysses Stutzman 
Joseph Baughman 
Rufus Bardwell 
Adam King 
Valentine Birky 
Henry Kinsinger 
Joseph A. Lehman 
Abraham Unimel 
Fred Schafter 
Christian King 
Samuel A. Zehr 
Christian Witmer 
John Lantz 
Jacob Baughman 
Chris Egli 
Milo Lantz 
Henry Denier 
Jacob Rediger 
Michael Ramseyer 
Gnstave Naffziger 
Samuel Stuckey 
Aaron Forney 
Christian Gerber 
Peter Vercler 
August Miller 
Ulysses Stutzman 
Abraham Plank 
Louis Lampl 
Joseph Maurer 
Daniel Baughman 
Samuel E. Naffziger 
Hiram Saltzman 
John Augspurger- 
Jacob L. Plank 



Mary L. Zook, Logan Co., O. 

Lena Bertsche 

Catherine Myer 

Jacobina Rupp, Ohio 

Rosa Zimmerman 

Anna Troyer 

Mary M. Yoder 

Mary Seller 

Nancy Lantz 

Mary Lantz 

Anna Ruvanach 

Mary Ummel 

Lizzie Holderly 

Anna Ramseyer 

Katie Bertsche 

Martha Unzicker 

Amy Ramseyer 

Phoebe King 

Katie Steinman 

Elizabeth Lehman 

Anna Ramseyer, la. 

Lydia Lantz 

Katie Gingrich 

Fannie Augspurger 

Lydia Ropp 

Lena Augspurger 

Elizabeth Denier 

Louisa Risser 

Emma Maurer 

Lydia Augspurger 

Mary King 

Mary Saltzman 

Katie Rogge 

Lydie Maurer 

Bertha Augspurger 

Anna Heina, Yoder 

Lena Egli 

Amelia Newhouser 

Anna King 

Emma Gungrich 

Pheobe King 

Katie Saltzman 

Mary Stutzman 



Nov. 16, 


1884 


Feb. 15, 


1885 


Feb. 19, 


1885 


Apr. 7, 


1885 


Sept. 6, 


1885 


Sept. 17, 


1885 


Sept. 22, 


1885 


Dec. IS, 


1885 


Jan. 31, 


1886 


Jan. 31, 


1886 


Feb. 4, 


1886 


Aug. 31, 


1886 


Oct. 7, 


1886 


Jan. 27, 


1887 


Jan. 30, 


1887 


Feb. 3, 


1887 


Feb. 10, 


1887 


Feb. IS, 


1887 


Mar. 3, 


1887 


June 16, 


1887 


Oct. 13, 


1887 


Dec. 7, 


1887 


Dec. 8, 


1887 


Jan. 19, 


1888 


Jan. 25, 


1888 


Jan. 26, 


1888 


Jan. 26, 


1888 


Feb. 14, 


1888 


Feb. 21, 


1888 


Mar. 13, 


1888 


Jan. 22, 


1889 


Jan. 24, 


1889 


Feb. 7, 


1889 


Feb. 14, 


1889 


Oct. 22, 


1889 


Dec. 1, 


1889 


Dec. 19, 


1889 


Dec. 22, 


1889 


Dec. 23, 


1889 


Jan. 7, 


1890 


Jan. 15, 


1890 


Jan. 23, 


1890 


Jan. 23, 


1890 



Supplement 



245 



Joseph Holderly 
Aaron Augspurger 
Jacob Miller 
Rufus Rader 
Sam Ummel 
Isaac Hooley 
John Lantz 
John S. Stanley 
Fred Burkey 
John Bertsche 
S. E. Maurer 
John D. Zook 
Christian King 
Albert Gerber 
Henry W. Schertz 
David Schertz- 
George Schertz 
John Heibert 
Joseph Eichelberger 
John Bartsche 
William Burkey 
Jacob Steinman 
Joseph Gascho 
Jacob Mohr 
David Ummel 
John Forney 
Ed. Scharp 
Ben Wise 
Albert Naffziger 
Abraham Maurer 
Christian- Eymann 
John Eymann 
Jaco,b Stuckey 
William Thewlies 
Daniel King 
Hiram Troyer 
Albert Haushalten 
Chris Miller 
Ben Scharp 
Daniel Ummel 
David Risser, Eureka 
Daniel Ehrsman 
Chris Zehr 



Adalina Zook Feb. 6, 1890 

Emma Schertz Feb. 20, 1890 

Lizzie Zook Feb. 26, 1890 

Susan Ramseyer Feb. 27, 1890 

Lucy Otto Mar. 6, 1890 

Lydia Lantz Mar. 6, 1890 

Anna Sharp June 24, 1890 

Anna Stuckey Sept. 9, 1890 

Fannie Schertz Sept. 25, 1890 

Phoe,be Kinsinger Jan. 11, 1891 

Dinah E. Ropp Feb. 12, 1891 

, Anna L. Kauffman M'ar. 3, 1891 

Mary Baechler May 14, 1891 

Lena Schertz Sept. 8, 1891 

Molly Schwartzentrub Dec. 22, 1891 

Katie Kauffman Jan. 12, 1892 

Alia Troyer Jan. 21, 1892 

Julia Appel Jan. 26, 1892 

Rosa Naffziger Feb. 4, 1892 

Fannie Kinsinger Feb. 16, 1892 

Ida Fry Feb. 17, 1892 

Katie Unzicker Feb. 17, 1892 

Anna King Feb. 28, 1892 

Lizzie Basting Mar. 2, 1892 

Lena Dann Habeck Apr. 28, 1892 

Mattie Kropf July 5, 1892 

Emma Lantz Nov. 17, 1892 

Alia King Jan. 26, 1893 

Ophelia Kinsinger Feb. 7, 1893 

Emma Kennel Feb. 9, 1893 

Katie Vercler Rogge Feb. 21, 1893 

Mary Rogge Feb. 23, 1893 

Mannie Troyer June 7, 1893 

Saloma Gasco Oct. 4, 1893 

Laura Rinkenburg Feb. 6, 1894 

Lizzie Guengrich Dec. 12, 1894 

Lena Springer Jan. 27, 1895 

Phoe,be Miller Mar. 5, 1896 

Lavina Augspurger Nov. 26, 1896 

Eliza Jane Fogel Feb. 16, 1897 

Allie Miller, Congerville Dec. 28, 1898 

Magdalena Augspurger Mar. 28, 1899 

Mary Miller April 1900 



246 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

William Renkel Katie Zehr Dec. 2, 1900 

George Bender Barbara Springer Dec. 12, 1900 

Henry Dallman Bertha Springer Dec. 12, 1900 

255 Marriages to 1901. 



IMPORTANT DATES IN CENTRAL CONFERENCE 
MENNONITE HISTORY 

1496 Birth of Menno Simon. 

1517 Beginning of Reformation. 

1525 Beginning of Anabaptism. 

1536 Menno Simon leaves Catholic Church. 

1537 Menno Simon becomes leader of Peaceful Anabaptists. 
1561 Death of Menno Simon. 

1632 Dortrecht Confession of Faith. 

1693 Rise of Amish. 

1720 First Amish to America. (Barbara Yoder). 

1727-1750 Emigration of Amish to America. 

1770-1800 Amish settle in Western Pennsylvania. 

1795 Birth of Jonathan Yoder. 

1808-1840 Amish settlements in Ohio and Indiana. 

1819 Christian Augspurger and four other families come to Butler 

County, Ohio. 
1819 First white man in Centra] Illinois. 

1822 First white settlers in McLean County, Illinois. 

1823 First white settlers in Woodford County, Illnois. 
1825 Birth of Rev. Joseph Stuckey. 

1825 First white settlers in Danvers Township. 

1826 First white settlers in Dry Grove Township. 

1827 First white settlers along the Mackinaw River. 

1829 Peter Maurer comes to McLean .County, Illinois. The first 
Amish in Illinois. 

1830 Nicholas Maurer and John Strubhar come to McLean and Wood- 
ford Counties. 

1830 Rev. Joseph Stuckey and his parents come to Butler County, 
Ohio. 

1832 Hessian Mennonites come to Butler County, Ohio. 

1833 First Amish church organized in the State of Illinois. 

1835 Division of the church in Butler County into Amish and Hes- 
sian congregations. 
1832-1850 The Amish settle in Central Illinois. 



Supplement 247 

1837 Peter Donner Sr., a Hessian Mennonite, comes to Dry Grove, 
McLean County., Illinois. 

1842 Rev. Michael Kistler comes to McLean County as a Hessian 
Mennonite preacher. 

1848 Joseph Yoder, the author of "Die Frohe Botschaft", came to 
McLean County, Illinois. 

1850 Rev. Joseph Stuckey and family came to McLean County, Ill- 
inois. 

1850 The Amish settle on the prairies. 

1851 Rev. Jonathan Yoder comes to McLean County, Illinois. 

1852 Beginning of Amish church services in the homes in Mc- 
Lean County under the leadership of Rev. Jonathan Yoder. 

1853 The first railroads 'in McLean County, Illinois. 

1853 The first Amish church house in the United States built at 

Rock Creek, five miles north of Danvers, Illinois. 
1855 Free English school supported by taxation. 
1860 Joseph Stuckey ordained minister. 
1862 Amish Conferences of United States and Canada .begin. 
1864 Rev. Joseph Stuckey ordained bishop. 

1866 The United States Amish Conference held in John Strubhar's 
barn, Danvers, Illinois. 

1867 First Sunday School organized by the Amish of Central Illinois. 
1869 Sunday School held in church house for first time. 

1869 Death of Rev. Jonathan Yoder. 

1870 Separation of (Stuckey Amish) from the Amish Conference. 
1872 North Danvers Mennonite Church house built. 

1880 Sunday School held with morning church service at North Dan- 
vers. 

1882 Peter Schantz ordained minister. 

1890 English introduced into the Amish churches. 

1892 First Christian Endeavor Society in the Conference. 

1896 First Sunday School workers meeting held in the Conference. 

1896 Deaconess Memorial Hospital established in Bloomington. (Men- 
nonite superintendent and nurses). 

1898 Middle District Conference 9f General Conference of Mennon- 
ites held at Danvers, Illinois. 

1899 First Minister's Meeting held at the home of Rev. J. H. King, 
August 5. 

1900 Sunday School Conference and Church Conference meet together. 
1900 Sunday School Association formed. 

1902 Death of Rev. Joseph Stuckey. 

1905 International Sunday School lessons introduced. 

1905 Foreign Mission Committee organized. 



248 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

1905 Beginning of foreign missions. 

1906 Two first missionaries, L. B. Haigh and Miss Rose Boehning, 
leave for British East Africa. 

1907 Constitutional Committee chosen to draft constitution for Con- 
ference. 

1908 Evangelizing Committee appointed. 

1908 Central Illinois Conference of Mennonites organized. 

1909 Home Mission Committee organized. 
1909 First city mission established. 

1909 First delegate session at Conference. 
1909 First Ladies' Aid organized. 

1909 Central Mennonite Board of Home and Foreign Mission organ- 
ized. 

1909 Rev. and Mrs. Haigh return on furlough from British East Africa. 

1910 First issue of Christian Evangel published. July. 

1911 Ministerial Association formed. 

1911 Rev. and Mrs. Haigh sent by Congo Inland Mission Board to 
Belgian Congo to investigate field. 

1912 Congo Inland Mission Board organized. Union of Central Con- 
ference and Defenseless Mennonites. 

1912 Rev. A. J. Stevenson sent to Belgian Congo to assist Rev. Haigh. 

1913 First Christian Endeavor Rally held. 
1913 First Missionary died. Rev. Stevenson. 

1913 Belgian Government grants sites to Congo Inland Mission Board 
for two first foreign mission stations. 

1913 Bluffton College and Mennonite Seminary is established as a 
union school. 

1913 Fourteen members of the Central Conference attend first All- 
Mennonite Convention. 

1914 Conference is called Central Conference of Mennonites. 
1914 Christian Endeavor Union formed. 

1917 First Christian Workers Conference held. 

1917 Committee appointed to establish Old People's Home. 

1917 Committee appointed to investigate concerning the establishing 
of a Hospital. 

1918 Conference enter Relief Work. 

1919 Old People's Home Board organized. 

1919 Mennonite Sanitarium Association organized. January 23. 

1919 First patients received in new Hospital. May 1. 

1920 The first stations selected in the Bampende tribe in Africa. 

1920 Kelso Sanitarium is purchased by Mennonites. 

1921 Witmarsum Theological Seminary is established. 



Supplement 249 

1922 First Year Book of Conference is printed. 

1922 First trained nurse's class graduated. 

1922 Central Conference decides to support chair at Seminary. 

1923 Dedication of Old People's Home at Meadows, Illinois, May 20. 
1925 Christian Workers' Institutes established. 

1925 Conference Ladies' Aid organization formed. 

1925 First Young People's Retreat. 

1926 Missionary Bulletin issued to all the churches by treasurer of 
Foreign Mission Board. 

1927 First history written of Central Conference of Mennonites. 



CHARTER MEMBER CONGREGATIONS 

Name of Congregation Date of Organization 

North Danvers Mennonite 1852 

South Danvers Mennonite 1859 

Calvary Mennonite 1866 

Flanagan Mennonite 1878 

Pleasant View, Aurora, Nebraska 1885 

Meadows Mennonite 1890 

East White Oak 1892 

Anchor Mennonite 1894 

Zion Mennonite, Goodland, Indiana 1895 

Congerville Mennonite 1896 

Topeka Mennonite 1902 

Bethel Mennonite, Pekin, Illinois 1905 

Name of Congregation Date Entered Conference 

Boynton Mennonite, Hopedale 1910 

South Nampa Mennonite 1910 

Silver Street, Goshen, Indiana 1911 

First Mennonite, Normal 1912 

Tiskilwa Mennonite 1912 

South Washington Mennonite 1912 

Eighth Street Mennonite .-. 1913 

Carlock Mennonite 1914 

Kouts Mennonite 1918 

Belleview Mennonite, Columbus, Kansas 1920 

Washington Center Mennonite, North Star, Michigan : 1924 

Comins Mennonite, Comins, Michigan 1925 

Warren Street Mennonite, Middlebury, Indiana 1926 

Barker Street Mennonite, Bristol, Indiana 1926 



250 History of Central Conference Mennonite Church 

Mission Churches 

Mennonite Gospel Mission, Chicago 1909 

Mennonite Gospel Mission, Peoria 1914 

Twenty-Sixth Street Mission, Chicago 1923 

Sunday School Conferences Church Conferences 

October 13, 1896 East White Oak August 3, 1899 Minister's 

September 2, 1897 .... East Washington Meeting at Rev. J. H. King. 

June 2, 1898 Flanagan September 26, 1899 North 

September 14, 1899 .. South Danvers Danvers Church. 

Sunday School and Church Conferences. 

September 6 and 7, 1900 North Danvers. 

September 26 and 27, 1901 East White Oak. 

October 1 and 2, 1902 East Washington. 

September 9 and 10, 1903 Flanagan. 

September 14 and 15, 1904 South Danvers. 

September 13 and 14, 1905 Meadows. 

September 12 and 13, 1906 East White Oak. 

September 18 and 19, 1907 Washington. 

September 9 and 10, 1908 North Danvers. 

September 22 and 23, 1909 Aurora, Nebraska. 

September 21 and 22, 1910 Flanagan. 

September 13 and 14 and 15, 1911 Meadows. 

September 11, 12, 13, 1912 East White Oak. 

September 17, 18, 19, 1913 South Washington. 

September 9, 10, 11, 1914 Carlock. 

August 25, 26, 27, 1915 Silver Street. 

September 6, 7, 8, 1916 East Washington. 

'September 5, 6, 7, 1917 Hopedale. 

August 27, 28, 29, 1918 North Danvers. 

August 27, 28, 29, 1919 Bethel. 

September 1, 2, 3, 1920 Flanagan. 

August 24, 25, 26, 1921 Aurora, Nebraska. 

August 30, 31, September 1, 1922 Meadows. 

August 29, 30, 31, 1923 East White Oak. 

September 3, 4, 5, 1924 , Congerville. 

August 30, 31, September 1, 1925 Silver Street. 

September 4, 5, 6, 7, 1926 East Washington. 



Supplement 



251 



Presidents of the Conference 

1899 Father Stuckey. 
1899 Aaron Augspurger. 
1900 Peter Schantz. 
1901 John Kinsinger. 
1902-1905-^0 record. 
1906 Rev. Troyer. 
1907, 1908 Rev. John Kohler. 
1909 Allen Miller. 
1910 Emanuel Troyer. 
1911 John Lehman. 
1912-1914 J. H. King. . 
1915-1917 Emanuel Troyer. 
1918-1922 Allen Miller. 
1923-1924 Allen Yoder. 
1925-present Allen Miller. 



Secretaries. 

1899-1905 Lee Lantz. 
1906-1911 Aaron Augspurger. 
1912-1922 M. P. Lantz. 
1922-1924 Ben Esch. 
1925-present E. W. Rediger. 

Field Secretaries. 

1915 Emanuel Troyer. 
1916-1920 Peter Schantz. 
1921-1924-JRev. J. H. King. 
1925-present 'Emanuel Troyer. 

Editors of Year Book. 

1922-1925 W. H. Grubb. 
1926 H. E. Nunemaker. 
1927 W. B. Weaver. 



Editors of Evangel 

A. B. Rutt, July, 1910-January, 1913 

Lee Lantz, February, 1913-September, 1916. 

Ben Esch, October, 1916-September, 1919. 

A. S. Bechtel, October, 1919-September, 1920. 

L. B. Haigh, October, 1920-September, 1923. 

Wm. B. Weaver, October, 1923-Octo.ber, 1925. 

H. E. Nunemaker, November, 1925,-October, 1926. 

Wm. B. Weaver, November, 1926-Present. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

I. SOURCE MATERIAL 

1. All-Mennonite Reports. 1913 and 1925, 

2. Amish Conference Reports. 1866, 1870, 1871, 1872. Elkhart, 

Indiana. 

3. Articles of Faith and Constitution of the Central Conference Men- 

nonite Church. Adopted 1909, Revised 1915. 

4. Biographical Atlasses of McLean, 1879, 1898, 1908, 1925, Woodford, 

1879 and Tazewell 1908 Counties. 

5. Bontrager, J. E., Eine Geschichte der Ersten Ansiedelung der. Ami- 

schen Mennoniten und die Griindung ihrer ersten Gemeinde im 
Staate Indiana. Elkhart, Indiana, 1907. 

6. Commemorative Biographical Sketch of Rev. Jonathan Yoder by 

his son Joash Yoder, written in 1875, printed in 1900. 

7. Family Records in Family Bibles. 

8. Fast, H., Mienno Simon and His Work. Paper read at Bluffton 

College, spring of 1925. 

9. General Conference Report of 1890. 

10. Menno Simon's Complete Works. Translated from Dutch by Rev. 

J. F. Funk, 1871. Elkhart, Indiana. 

11. Newman, A. H., The Significance of the Anabaptist Movement in 

the History of the Christian Church. Address given at Goshen 
College in spring of 1925. 

12. Note Books. Written by Rev. Joseph Stuckey. 

13. Personal Letters by Correspondence. 

14. Private Interviews with Church Leaders. 

15. Private Interviews with Old Settlers. 

16. Secretary Records of Organizations of the Conference. 

17. The Christian Evangel. Complete File 1910 to 1926. 

18. Weaver, W. B., The Anabaptists. Paper in Private Library. 

19. Year Book of the Central Conference Mennonite Church. Com- 

plete File 1922 to 1926. 

20. Yoder, Reuben. A Report. A History of the Amish in Elkhart 

County and Reports of Amish Conferences, 1862, 1864, 1865 and 
1868. 

21. Rural Evangel Jan. 1, 1922. 



Bibliography 253 

II. SECONDARY MATERIAL 

A. Anabaptism 

1. Dosker, H. E., The Dutch Anabaptists. Chicago, 1921. 

2. Fisher, George P., History of the Christian Church. New York, 

1914. 

3. M'Glithlin, W. J., The Course of Christian History. New York, 

1918. 

4. Hulme, E. M., Renaissance and Reformation. New York, 1914. 

5. Jones, R. M., The Church's De,bt to Heretics. New York, 1925. 

6. Langenwalter, J. H., Christ's Headship of the Church. Berne, 

Indiana, 1917. 

7. Newman, A. H., A History of Anti-Pedobaptism. Philadelphia, 1897. 

8. Walker, Williston, A History of the Christian Church. New York, 

1918. 

9. Walker, Williston, The Reformation. New York, 1923. 

10. Van Braght, T., Martyrs' Mirror. 1748, Translated 1887, Elkhart, 
Indiana. 

B. General Histories 

1. Adams, George Burton, Civilization During the -Middle Ages. 

2. Beard, Charles A., Hibbert Lectures on the Reformation. 

3. Bourne, E. P., The Revolutionary Period of Europe. 

4. Coffman, J. S., The Spirit of Progress. (Pamphlet). 

5. Hurst, John F., History of the Christian Church. 

6. Symonds, John Addington, Short History of the Renaissance in 

Italy. 

C. Menno Simon and Mennonites 

1. Grubb, W. H., Mennonites of Butler County, Ohio. Trenton, Ohio, 

1916. 

2. Hartzler, J. E., Education Among the Mennonites of America. Dan- 

vers, Illinois, 1925. 

3. Hartzler, J. S., Kauffman, Daniel, Mennonite Church History. 

Scottdale, Pennsylvania, 1905. 

4. Smith, C. H., The Mennonites of America. Goshen, Indiana, 1909. 

5. Smith, C. H., The Mennonites, A Brief History. Berne, Indiana, 
- :/ 1920. 

6. Smith, C. H., Hirschler, E. J., The Story of Bluff ton College. 

.Bluffton, Ohio, 1925. 



254 History of Central Conference Mcnnonite Church 

D. Encyclopedias 

1. Encylopedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. I. Art. Anabaptism, W. 

J. M'Glothlin. Vol. VIII. Art. Mennonites. W. J. Kuhler. 

2. Schaff-Herzog, New Encyclopedia, Vol. I. Anbaptists. Vol. VII. 

The Mennonites of Europe, S. Cramer; of America, John Horsch. 
Vol. X. Menno Simon, John Horsch. 

3. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. I. Anabaptists, N. A. Weber. Vol. 

X. Mennonites, N. A. Weber. 







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HALL