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Full text of "The Church of the Brethren (Dunkers) in Lebanon County"

The Church of the 

Brethren (Bunkers) 



IN LEBANON COUNTY 



PAPER READ BEFORE THE 

Lebanon County Historical Society 

SEPT. 15, 1916 



BY 

REV. J. G. FRANCIS, A. B., B. D. 



286*5 
F818C 




No. 3 



THE HIGH LIBRARY 



3 8455 1002 2633 3 • '^k^-^ 



The Church of the 
Brethren (Dunkers) 



IN LEBANON COUNTY 



PAPER READ BEFORE THE 

Lebanon County Historical Society 

SEPT. 15, 1916 



REV. J. G. FRANCIS, A. B., B. D. 



Vol VIII No. 3 




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Church of the Brethren 

IN LEBANON COUNTY 



By REV. J. G. FRANCIS, A.B., B.D. 



The Church of the Brethren was organized in 
Schwarzenau, Germany, 1708. Eight persons covenanted 
together to restore primitive Christianity in its purity 
and entirety. Alexander Mack was the leader and 
preacher of the litt.e band. They found from early 
church history and from the New Testament that Christ 
and the Apostles used a threefold immersion forward in 
water as the initiatory rite into the Church. It must be 
preceded by faith in Christ as the Son of God, the sacri- 
fice for sin, and by repantance for sin, and was unto t'le 
remission of sin. It was accompanied by an inner work 
of grace, a new birth. They believed that the Holy Spirit 
was given in connection with water baptism, and not 
apart from it, Christ, our example, receiving the Spirit 
after his immersion in the Jordan. They believed that 
Christ commanded, John 13, that feetwashing be observed 
as an ordinance, in connection with a full supper, pointing 
forward to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, not the 
Jewish Passover, to be followed by the bread and wine, 
memorials of the broken body and shed blood of Christ. 
They believed in observing the ordinances in the manner 
in which they were dehvered and "at their true value". 
They insisted on full obedience to the commands of Jesus, 
not as a means of justification, but in order to abide in 
His love. They did not war on the truths brought out by 
Luther, but insisted that he did not go far enough. They 
refused to crystallize in a creed, taking the New Testa- 
me.it as their creed, and depending upon the Holy Spirit 
to lead i^ito all truth. Direct access to the Word without 



90 LEBANON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

the intervention of a creed, the Sunday School method as 
over against catechization, was their way. Luther was 
PauHne; Mack, Johannine (referring to John the Apostle, 
not John the Baptist), — the embodiment of Brethrenism. 

The little church was fruitful and multiplied, and 
was persecuted by the state churches of Germany. They 
left the Fatherland. The first colony came to America 
in 1719, with Peter Becker as preacher, and settled at 
Germantown. A larger body came with Alexander Mack 
in 1729. The whole church came to America, being 
unique in this; and has been most American ever since. 
They first printed God's word in the New World. The 
first Brethren Church was organized in America at Ger- 
mantown, on Christmas Day, 1723. In the fall of 1724, 
these Germantown Brethren took a missionary tour into 
what was then known as the Conestoga region, five years 
before Lancaster county was formed. They organized a 
church at Coventry, across from Pottstown, then came 
on up farther into the wilderness and organized the Con- 
estoga Church. Elder G. N. Falkenstein, in his history 
of the Brethren for the Pennsylvania German Historical 
Society, says of this effort that it was the most remark- 
able missionary tour in all Pennsylvania colonial history. 
In the Conestoga organization was Conrad Beissel, who 
became its first preacher. He lived on the Muehlbach 
(Millbach) claimed by many as the Millbach creek which 
flows into the Tulpehocken. If this view is correct, the 
Brethren may lay claim to the first church organization 
in what is now Lebanon county, three years older than 
the oldest Lutheran church. Beissel, however, in 1735 
withdrew to the place now known as Ephrata, Lancaster 
county, and was followed by all his adherents. 

A few words to show the relation of the Brethren to 
our great national questions: From the beginning the 
Brethren were against slavery. Elder Christopher Sower 



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92 LEBANON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

said he trembled for our country when God would reckon 
with us for this evil. One hundred years later we were 
plunged into the Civil War. Lincoln was in touch with a 
Brethren preacher in youth and in the White House ; the 
Emancipation Proclamation is certainly an expression of 
Brethren life. The Brethren set themselves against alco- 
hol as a beverage almost at the beginning of our national 
life, and have been to it a consuming fire ever since. Op- 
position to secret societies has in these days resulted in 
the life of openness ; invisible government must go. The 
Brethren have always insisted that the sister wear a 
prayer-covering, it placing her on an equality with man. 
The position could only result in giving woman the bal- 
lot. These facts are sufl^cient to show that the Brethren 
are no blind leaders of the blind. 

The first permanent settlement of Brethren within 
the limits of our present county was likely in the north- 
eastern section, constituting the western part of what is 
now 

The Little Swatara Congregation 

In 1750 EJj:L George Klein, ancester of the late Dr. 
W. F. Klein, of Lebanon, moved to Northkill, Berks 
county, and labored in the Little Swatara region. Soon 
after, near the present town of Millersburg, he baptized 
George Besher (Bashore), Michael Frantz, Peter Heck- 
man, John Frantz, and others. 

The Little Swatara Church grew and grew westward, 
and by 1770 had crossed the present line between Leba- 
non and Berks counties. By this time Peter Heckman 
had been called to the ministry to assist George Klein, 
the elder in charge; and the membership had grown to 
forty-five baptized members, as follows: Peter Heckman, 
minister, and wife, John Heckman and wife, Michael 
Frantz and wife, Nicholas Gerst and wife, Jacob Moyer 



THE CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN (BUNKERS) 93 

and wife, George Beasher, David Marge (Merkey) and 
wife, Simon Merrich and wife, John Frantz and wife. 
Christian Frantz and wife. Rose Schnables, Jacob Smith 
and wife, Eliza Kentzel, Adam Henrich, Mrs. Cryder, 
EhUip Zeigler and wif^ Jacob Breneisen and wife, David 
Kleine, Widow Elizabeth Benedict, Sophy Kish, Leonard 
Sebalt and wife, John Grove, Jacob Baker and wife, Jacob 
Deal and wife, Hans Stohner and wife, Jacob Beasher 
and wife. 

The names are given because we have here the an- 
cestors of many Lebanon countians. The Frantzes, 
Moyers, Bashores, Merkeys, Zeiglers and Kleins became 
very strong Brethren families. 

The Jacob Moyer before mentioned is likely the Jacob 
Moyer who bought from the Penns, 100 acres of land in 
Bethel township, now Lebanon county, on Feb. 28, 1742 ; 
and 160 acres, on Oct. 14, 1747. He is likely the Jacob 
Moyer who is designated a non-associator in Bethel town- 
ship, in the assessment. 

Peter Heckman soon after 1770 was ordained to the 
eldership, and likely then received the oversight of the 
congregation. Aug. 12, 1780, Michael Frantz, mentioned 
in the list, was ordained an elder by Eld. Christopher 
Sower, of Germantown, and Eld. Martin Urner, of Cov- 
entry, and on the same occasion Jacob Moyer and (Hans) 
George Beasher were ordained deacons. David Klein, 
mentioned in the list, and son of Eld. George, was r \ !;3r- 
ward called to the ministry. 

Eld. Michael Fr antz doubtless cared for the church 
till the ordination of Eld. Hans Jacob Beashor, son of 
Hans George, the deacon, who had emigrated to America 
prior to 1738, and had settled a few miles northwest of 
Millersburg, in Berks county. Eld. Hans Jacob seems to 
have been an elder of prominence, for he was one of the 



94 LEBANON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

elders to sign the General Conference or Annual Meeting 
minutes in 1790 and 1814. Hans George, born Feb. 8, 
1775, the son of Eld. Hans Jacob, is claimed by his descen- 
dant, Dr. Bashore, of Palmyra, also to have been an 
elder. Hans George married Christine Fackler, of the 
Big Swatara congregation, and in 1811 moved to near 
Hoernerstown, Dauphin county, within the bounds of the 
Big Swatara congregation. Hans Jacob was still living 
at the time of removal of Hans George, so it is unlikely 
that the latter ever had the oversight of the Little Swa- 
tara congregation. Hans Jacob may have been living till 
after the ordination of Elder Abraham Zug, of Richland 
(1823), and a member of the old Conestoga congregation 
of Lancaster county, he having moved into Lebanon 
county in 1813, the year of our county's birth. At any 
rate, Abr. Zug was called to take the oversight of the 
Little Swatara church. 

Elder Abraham Zug died in 1841, and after this event 
Jacob Wenger and Joseph Merkey, on the same day, were 
ordained. Merkey (Nov. 28, 1782-March 12, 1869), a 
small man and weak physically, of good thought but few 
words, was twnty years older than Wenger. ^ enge r 
(Mar. 10, 1801-Jan. 6, 1881) was a large man, of com- 
manding appearance, pleasant approach, and a powerful 
speaker. He was a son of Christian Wenger, of the Wenger 
family, a short distance east of Jonestown. Jacob's home 
was early a meeting place of the Brethren. He threw 
himself into the work, and the Little Swatara church 
grew greatly. He was married to Lydia Frantz, who 
died in 1853. About a year after her death, this splendid 
worker fell into sin, which at first he confessed but after- 
ward denied, thus closing the door against his re-admis- 
sion into the Brethren Church. His fall was a terrible 
blow to the congregation, and perhaps injured it almost 
-as much as his labors had done it good. Writes Eld. 




1. Moyer Homestead, Moyer's Meeting-house. 2. E1<L Jacob 
Meyer Homestead near Fredericksburg. 3. Eld. Jacob Wenger Home- 
stead south of Jonestown. 4. John Gibble (Light) Homestead on 
Fredericksburg Road. 5. Light's Meeting-houuse, on 4, now removed 
to Rankstown. 



96 LEBANON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

John Herr: "Truly this was a trying time for the Little 
Swaiara church. At times the clouds rose so black and 
thick that there was apparent danger of the church being 
disrupted, but the tide turned, the storm was subdued, 
there was a great calm, and Israel again prevailed." 

Wenger joined the Brinser church, now United Zion 
Children. His son, Jacob P., late in life became a minis- 
ter of the Brethren, and his son David also late in life 
became a preacher of the Brinsers. His-daughtej^^narried 
Ejd^Jacob-Mey^r, Sr_ Wenger and his faithful wife, his 
father and grandfather and their wives all rest in t'-:e 
Wengers' graveyard near Jonestown. 

Eld. Joseph Merkey alone looked after the congre- 
gation, after the falling away of Jacob Wenger. Joseph, 
a short time before his death, had his brother David or- 
dained. David died Dec. 2, 1873. For two years Jonas 
Hunsicker, a minister of the seco id degree, looked after 
the congregation. Though his services w^ere acceptable, 
on account of ill health he wr.s not ordained. The Breth- 
ren have had three de^rc-js in the ministry, — first, second, 
and third ; the third being the eldership or office of bish- 
op. There may be several resident elders in a congrega- 
tion, but one is selected by the congregation as overseer 
or house-keeper, and the other elders, as well as the min- 
isters of the first and second degrees, are subject to him. 
The third degree is sometimes referred to as the full min- 
istry. The Conference of 1917 reduced the number of de- 
grees to two, elders and ministers. 

In 1875, John Hertzler was ordained, and was given 
the oversight. He was the first minister here to preach 
English. He died in 1901 and was succeeded by Eld- 
Jacob W. Meyer, his brother-in-law, who died five vears 
later. Eld. Meyer's son-in-law. Eld. Edward M. Wenger, 
became elder in 1906, and is the present incumbent. John 



TPIE CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN (BUNKERS) 97 

Hertzler resided over in Berks county, near Millersburg, 
but was born, Sept. 10, 1826, and was reared on the Hertz- 
ler homestead at Royer's meeting house, between Myers- 
town and Richland, his mother having been the daughter 
of Jacob Royer, who gave the ground for that meeting 
house. Jacob Meyer lived on the old Meyer homestead a 
short distance below Fredericksburg. Edward Wenger 
was born Aug. 28, 1864, and was a Lebanon county school 
teacher for nearly thirty years. He has been an active 
Sunday School worker, and his church has an enviable 
Sunday School record, there being six in the congrega- 
tion, of which two — Union House and Rankstown — are in 
Lebanon county. He lives on a farm between Fredericks- 
burg and Hamlin. All of the other elders of this congre- 
gation, except Jacob Wenger and Jacob Meyer, lived in 
Berks county. 

For a hundred years the Brethren worshipped in 
their private homes, the houses being built specially for 
the purpose. But the houses became too small for the 
meetings, and special houses of worship had to be erect- 
ed. The first meeting house built by this congregation is 
the Merkey-imuse, north of Millersburg, erected of stone 
in 184S,. There are also houses at Rehrersburg (Zieg- 
ler's) and at Freystown, but these are in Berks county. 
The congregation has four houses in Lebanon county: 
Moyer's, below Hamlin, brick, ercted in 1860, capacity 500, 
rebuilt of brick in 1884, 50x72 ft., capacity 900, -:i ua- 
tion $4,000, love-feast house ; Light's, five miles out from 
Lebanon, near the Fredericksburg road, built in 1877, 
frame, capacity 700, valuation $2,500; Fredericksburg, 
brick, erected in 1910, capacity 600, valuation $2,500; and 
a house at Rankstown. Love-feasts alternate between 
the Moyer and Ziegler houses. At three other places in 
the county services are held by this congregation, but the 
Brethren do not own the houses, — in the Union House in 



98 LEBANON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

Bethel township; at Kutztown, north of Myerstown, and 
at Mt. Nebo. We must refer you to the History of the 
Brethren in Eastern Pa. for an adequate account of the 
Union House, pp. 450-454. For two years meetings have 
again been held at Mt. Nebo, where Brethren had preached 
fifty years ago. The services at the Lebanon county places 
are as follows : Moyer"s, every six weeks ; Light's, every 
six weeks; Fredericksburg, every three weeks; Ranks- 
town, every three weeks; Union House, every three 
weeks; and at Mt. Nebo, every six weeks. 

There are two Sunday Schools of the congregation 
in our county. The one in the Union House, Samuel Meyer, 
superintendent, has an enrollment of about 60. The other 
is at Rankstown, three miles west of Lickdale, enrollment 
about 45, Samuel Wenger, superintendent. 

The meeting-houses came gradually, preaching being 
continued in some of the homes long after the first meet- 
ing-house was erected. Thus in the Tulpehocken con- 
gregation, the Royer house was built in 1840 and the 
Millbach in 1850, but preaching continued in the home 
of John Gibble and of others till 1867, when the Heidel- 
berg house was built. Being a plain people, the Brethren 
built plain meeting houses. The first houses were stone ; 
a decade later, in the fifties, they began to use brick. The 
first houses also were comparatively small ; the only 
thought was a plain room in which to have preaching, the 
sexes not commingling. The love-feasts — the big gath- 
rings — were still held in the barns. But the idea of a 
love-feast house gradually came. The houses were en- 
larged, a basement placed under the whole, with facilities 
for cooking, and long tables to feed the multitudes. The 
large loft was floored, divided into two parts, supplied 
with the old-time rope beds, the one side for the brethren, 
the other for the sisters. Each congregation has at least 
one love-feast house, some have two or three, along with 



100 LEBANON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

houses simply for preaching. But the Sunday School and 
different societies within the church are gradually e voic- 
ing houses suited for these purposes; and in towns and 
cities the idea of feeding the multitudes, which Christ did 
only in desert places, is giving way to methods in keeping 
with city life. 

As the Brethren have congregational lines, we shall 
now define within Lebanon county the bounds of Little 
Swatara. Coming out from Berks county, the northern 
line is the Blue Mountain to Indiantown Gap, thence 
south along the road to Harper's, thence east along Swa- 
tara creek to a point opposite Bunker Hill station, thence 
across Black Oak Hill to the Gravel Hill road, thence along 
said road to where 16th St. runs into it, thence along said 
street to within one mile of the Reading and Harrisburg 
pike, thence following a line east one mile north of said 
pike and parallel to it into Berks county. 

Now let us turn our attention to the Brethren who 
came in from the south. These intermingled at love- 
feasts, intermarried, visited and exchanged ideas more 
or less with those who came in from the northeast ; and 
they met together at Annual Meetings. So their customs 
were identical, and what has been said of the Little Swa- 
tara brethren will apply to those from the south, and in 
great measure to the Brethren throughout the country. 

The Old Conestoga Church 

We have seen that the Conestoga church was organ- 
ized by the fourteen missionaries who came up into the 
Conestoga region in 1724, at Millbach in our county, say 
some; others, that it was in Leacock township, Lancas- 
ter county. Conrad Beissel was the first preacher. He 
absorbed many erroneous fancies, and differed with some 
of the Brethren on points where he may have been cor- 
rect. He began to observe for rest the seventh day in- 



THE CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN (DUNKERS) 101 

stead of the first, and taught that marriage defiled man 
at least to the extent of unfitting him to be a teacher of 
the Word. He was very egotistic ; on one occasion he felt 
the weight of the sins of the whole world resting upon 
him. He was, however, a man of extraordinary gifts, and 
had the Brethren been able to work with him, he would 
have been a great blessing to them. As it was, in 1734 
the Conestoga Church was re-organized with Michael 
Frantz as elder, and with Beissel setting up for himself 
at Ephrata. 

The Conestoga Church spread westward into the 
White Oak land, thence to Conewago creek and up into 
what is now Dauphin county. This territory was early 
divided into three congregations — Conestoga, White Oak 
and East Conewago or Big (Great) Swatara. Morgan 
Edwards tells us that Great Swatara, younger than White 
Oak, dates from 1756; but Elder Samuel R. Zug quotes 
from an old record: "So they, in 1772, divided in three 
districts, with Peter Eichelberger and Jacob Stoll, minis- 
ters in Conestoga; C. Longenecker and Hannas Zug, in 
White Oak; and John Jacob Boshor and Qporg p Klinp in 
Swatara." There is evidently an error here, for we have 
already seen that the last two ministers belonged to Little 
Swatara church, which originated in Northkill, Berks 
county, and spread westward. There were two Swatara 
congregations — Little Swatara and Big Swatara. Elder 
Zug's source should have given the facts concerning Big 
Swatara, as that is the congregation which was a branch 
of old Conestoga, and its ministers were George Miller 
and Adam Hammaker. 

From these three mother congregations on the south 
and west — Conestoga, White Oak and Big Swatara — 
Lebanon county has been largely supplied with Brethren. 
The line between Conestoga and White Oak was the 
Lititz pike, running on north to Brickerville. As the 



102 LEBANON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

Brethren moved over South Mountain this line was ex- 
tended straight on up into Lebanon county till it met 
Little Swatara to the north. The line between White 
Oak and Big Swatara comes over the mountain near Mt. 
Gretna, till it strikes the Colebrook road, which it follows 
till it is intersected by a continuation of 16th St., Leba- 
non. It now follows this 16th St. line to the southwest 
corner of Little Swatara, which from here to the Blue 
Mountain is the eastern boundary of Big Swatara. The 
northwestern part of our county, however, is practically 
unoccupied by Brethren. So at an early day Brethren 
Lebanon county was divided up among themselves by four 
outside congregations — Little Swatara taking the north- 
eastern part, Conestoga the southeastern, White Oak the 
central southern, and Big Swatara the entire western part. 

We have already considered the Little Swatara con- 
gregation in Lebanon county. We shall now turn to the 
southeastern section. 

The Conestoga Church in Lebanon County 

There is one name that stands out big in this section ; 
it is the name ROYER, one of the strong families of the 
Brethren Church, a Huguenot family driven by religious 
persecution to the Palatinate, Germany, a family repre- 
sented in French nobility, one branch apparenly connected 
with royalty. 

When, in April, 1813, Abraham Zug, son of Elder 
John of White Oak, moved to the outskirts of Richland, 
there were three other Brethren families in this Cones- 
toga corner — John Royer, of Millbach, and Jacob and Sam- 
uel Royer where Royer's meeting-house now stands, all 
brothers, to whom Abraham Zug's wife was a sister. In 
1814, Abraham Zug and Jacob Pfautz, of Middle Creek, 
Lancaster county, were elected to the ministry, and in 
1823 both were ordained to the eldership. Middle Creek 









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1. Daniel Royer Homestead east of Richland. 2. Jacob Royer 
(Hertzler) Homestead at Royer Meeting-house. 3. Samuel Royer 
Homestead adjoining 2. 4. Eld. Abr. Zug (Smaltz) Homestead, Rich- 
land. 5. Ezra Royer Homestead near Reistville. 



104 LEBANON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

was a Brethren stronghold, a Brethren school being there 
at an early day. The Pfautzes, Bellingers and oJ/.ers 
from Middle Creek followed the Royers and settle, l about 
them. 

Abraham Zug was a very able preacher, repute J more 
able than Rev. Leinbach, east of Myerstown. It is related 
that one of Leinbach's members once asked him how it 
was that an ignorant man like Abraham Zug could beat 
him preaching. The man received in reply: "Indeed, 
A: vaham is not an ignorant man. He knows his Bible." 
It io said that he had a practice of filling a basket with 
c: -"ibles, which he carried around and distributed in the 
'oi.ies of the poor. Beside being elder of the Conestoga 
Church, we have seen that he also had the oversight of 
Li. tie Swatara. He died in 1841. He no doubt began 
praaching, soon after his election to the ministry in 1814, 
in his own home, and also in the homes of his brothers- 
in-law, John, Jacob, and Samuel Royer. 

In 1840, Jacob Royer gave ground for v/hat is now 
known as Royer meeting-house. His brother Samiicl ^a^ e 
the ground for part of the cemetery. Not only were 
Ihese old Brethren interested in religion, but in educa- 
tion as well. They came over from Middle Creek, Lancas- 
ter county, where, as already stated, the Brethren early 
maintained a school. The basement of the Royer meeting- 
house was erected for a school room. The property was 
transferred to Jacob Bollinger, "Trustee of the German 
Baptists, who call themselves Old Brothers Society 
Meeting-house, and the lands and burying grounds be- 
longing thereto, and Abraham Zug, Jr., and Jacob F. 
Diener of the same place. Trustees of the School depart- 
ment to be established in the above named Meeting-house, 
and the School room, wherein the school is to be held." 
The Building Committee was: Daniel Zug, Johan Weber 
(Weaver), and Jacob Royer. 



THE CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN (BUNKERS) 105 

In 1841, after the death of Eld. Abraham Zug, the 
adjoining elders advised the organization of a separate 
church in the eastern part of the Lebanon Valley, to be 
known as the Tulpehocken circuit. The Conestoga and 
Little Swatara members agreed. Abraham Zug, elder of 
both churches, had likely brought them to this mind. On 
Oct. 5, 1841, the organization was effected. John Zug, son 
of Eld. Abraham, was called to the ministry, and Daniel 
Royer and Jacob Oberholtzer were elected deacons. 
Thirty-five votes were cast. Elder Daniel Bollinger, who 
lived along the pike a short distance east of Halfway, 
likely had the oversight of the new congregation. 

The members in the central southern part of the 
county belonging to the White Oak circuit, however, did 
not fall in with this new organization at once. Let us 
look at 

White Oak Beginnings in Lebanon County 

John Geib (1767-1826) may have been the first mem- 
ber in the section north of Rexmont. He resided on the 
farm now owned by Cyrus Smith, about one mile north 
of the Cornwall meeting-house. John was a son of John 
Geib of White Oak, son of Conrad (1694-1762), the im- 
migrant. John Geib, Jr., was a resident of Lebanon 
township, then Dauphin, now Lebanon county, already in 
1792, on May 28 of which year he bought of Jacob Hersh- 
ey, for £774, 173 acres of land. On Apr. 30, 1803, he 
again bought of Hershey, the purchase being 183 A., 67 P., 
a property doubtless joining the first property. Jacob 
Hershey lived in Warwick township, Lancaster county, 
and was likely the Jacob Hershey who, with his wife, 
was baptized by the Brethren May 15, 1768. Hershey, 
without doubt, was the father-in-law of Geib, as the lat- 
ter's wife had been Barbara Hershey. The farms bought 
by Geib had originally belonged to Jacob Meyer, who 
bought them from the Penns Feb. 2, 1749. The Meyer 



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Meeting List of the White Oak Circuit of about 100 years ago, partly in 
Lancaster and partly in Lebanon county. The list covers a year, second 
two columns being practically a repetition of first two, some dates being 
left open. By such lists Brethren kept track of meetings when held in p'-i- 
vate homes. The places in marks of parenthesis were outside of White 
Oak territory, and were "for visits". 



THE CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN (BUNKERS) 107 

tract was known as "Jacob's Plains." Meyer and his sons, 
Peter and Abraham, may have been members of the 
Brethren, as a Jacob Meyer was baptized in 1743, and a 
Peter Meyer, Oct. 20, 1782. Abraham Meyer, as well as 
his brother Peter, sold his share of his father's land to 
Hershey ; and later we find an Abraham Meyer living 
above Mt. Zion, and on his land was erected the Brethren 
Moyer (Meyer) meeting house. So the Meyers may have 
been the first members about the present Cornwall meet- 
ing-house. (See History of the Royer Family by the 
Author, pp. 487-493.) 

Again, a few miles east of Geib, at Buiia.o Springs, 
lived Henry Weiss, who bought a farm here of 230 acres, 
Feb. 21, 1750. A Henry Weiss was baptized by the 
Brethren in 1742. Henry of Buff'alo Springs was a non- 
associator, as were all the Brethren, being conscientiously 
opposed to bearing arms under any pretext. We believe 
that Weiss was a member of the Brethren. Charges 
Weiss, of Avon, a descendant, however, does not agree 
with our view. 

We are informed by Eld. Martin Heisey, a descend- 
ant of John Geib through the son Jacob, that the Geibs 
invited the White Oak preachers of Lancaster county to 
come over and preach in their home. The home of Jacob 
Geib, a part of the property of his father, was a regular 
White Oak preaching place. Eld. Heisey says the preach- 
ers were Daniel Fretz (1776-1864), Jacob Haller (1778- 
1865), Philip Zeigler (1804-1874), and Abraham Gibbel 
(1790-1864), and likely others, as David Gerlach and 
Jacob Rider. But there was likely preaching here before 
these men were called to the ministry. John Geib already 
had three children when he bought the farm in 1792, and 
not unlikely he was a tenant on it, the property of his 
father-in-law earlier, so there was likely preaching ir 
the old Geib home before 1800. If Christian Longenecker 



108 LEBANON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

(1731-1808) elder of White Oak Church, did not preach 
here, doubtless his co-laborer and successor, Eld. Johannes 
Zug (1731-1821) father of Eld. Abraham of Richlani, 
did. Johannes Zug may have been the first minister of 
the Brethren to preach in the neighborhood of the Corn- 
wall meeting-house. 

Abraham Gibbel, called to the ministry in 1822, was 
an exceptionally able preacher, but unsteady in conduct. 
He especially made inroads into the Mennonite families 
of the community, viz: the Brubachers, Horsts, Heiseys, 
Smiths, and others. The wife of Dr. Benedict Bucher, 
of Rexmont, became a member. 

At the home of Jacob Bucher, son of Dr. Benedict, 
at Isaac Brubaker's, and at Abraham Geib's meetings 
were held every twelve weeks, making meetings in the 
neighborhood every four weeks. Occasional meetings 
and love-feasts were held at other homes. This work in 
the neighborhood of Rexmont led to the building of the 
Cornwall meeting-house in 1871, a frame structure 40 
ft. X 60 ft. In 1880, George Bucher started in this house 
the first Brethren Sunday School in Lebanon County. 

But the White Oak Church was working in another 
part of her Lebanon field. At a somewhat early day, per- 
haps before Geib came to our county, George Royer set- 
tled a short distance below Achey's Corner, now Reist- 
ville. In 1830 his son Henry built the limestone house 
previously referred to as having nearly the whole of the 
second story in one room so that meetings could be held 
in it. George Royer formed a nucleus for a Brethren 
•colony. His son Henry married a Widder of Middle 
Creek, and thus brought the Witters into our county. 
Catharine Widder (Witters), sister-in-law of Henry 
Trover, married Samuel Gibble, of White Oak, and brought 
the Gibbles into our midst. 



THE CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN (BUNKERS) 109 




1. Nathan Gibble Homestead near Schaefiferstown. 2. Rev. Isaac 
Brubaker Farm near Rexmont. 3. Geib (Smith) Homestead, north 
of Cornwall Meeting-house. 4. Yorty (Bomberger) Homestead, near 
Long's Meeting-house. 5. Samuel Gibble Homestead near Mt. Pleas- 
ant. 



110 LEBANON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

Samuel Gibble bought the farm on which the Heidel- 
berg meeting-house was built, one-half mile east of 
Reistville. His home became a regular place of meeting. 
He gave the ground for the cemetery, and it became the 
Brethren's "city of the dead" many years before the 
meeting-house was erected. His will, dated Sept. 21, 1845, 
and probated Nov. 11, 1845, reads: "It is my will and I 
hereby direct and ordain that the graveyard or burying 
ground enclosed on my aforesaid plantation shall be en- 
larged and fenced up with good post and rail fence, and 
the content of the ground shall be four Rods wide north- 
ward and eight Rods long toward the East. The said 
grounds shall be fenced up or enclosed as aforesaid, and 
be kept in such order by the person or persons owning 
or occupying my said farm after my decease, and for all 
times and forever." The farm for many years has been 
occupied by Geibs. Samuel Gibble was a deacon, and 
the father of George, who moved to Greble. Eld. D. W. 
Kurtz, D.D., president of McPherson College, McPherson, 
Kansas, is a descendant. Samuel's son, John, also a dea- 
con, moved on a farm one mile northeast of Schaeffers- 
town, where his son Nathan now resides. John's home 
was a regular preaching place till the Heidelberg meeting- 
house was built in 1867. Nathan is a deacon, as is also 
his son John. 

Eld. John Zug, son of Eld. Abraham, lived about a 
mile north of Reistville, the farm now the home of Lane 
Zug. John's home was a regular White Oak meeting- 
place ; nevertheless, we have seen, the Tulpehocken con- 
gregation, on its organization out of parts of Little Swa- 
tara and of Conestoga, elected him to the ministry. In 
the spring of 1844 the love-feast of the White Oak con- 
gregation was held at Jacob Bucher's, at Rexmont, the 
place wher.^ Rev. Templeman had lived, and the autumn 



THE CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN (BUNKERS) 111 

lOiiowing the members oi White Oak nortn oi tne moun- 
lam decided to coalesce with the 

Tulpehocken Congregation 

This congregation now constituted the southeastern 
quarter of the county, bounded on the north by Little 
tjwatara, on the west by Big Swatara, on the south by 
White Oak and Conestoga, the county line being the line, 
and on the east extending, but not seriously, into Berks 
county to the Maiden Creek congregation. 

Eld. Jacob Pfautz, co-laborer with Eld. Abr. Zug, 
E.d. John Herr thinks, Hkely at first had the oversight of 
the new Tulpehocken congregation. Pfautz, however, 
resided in Lancaster county, while Eld. Bollinger was a 
member of the congregation. Pfautz had bought a farm 
a short distance south of Myerstown, where his son Moses 
lived, afterward the home of Eld. John Herr, and now of 
Rev. Benj. Zug. One of Pfautz's daughters married Ja- 
cob Herr, and became the mother of Eld. John; another 
married a Nissley and became the mother of Eld. Jacob 
Nissley, of Richland ; while a son, Abraham Pfautz, mov- 
ed to Little Swatara Congregation, where he became an 
elder, as is also now his son Jacob, of Freystown, Berks 
county. Eld. Daniel Bollinger, the resident elder, died 
Oct. 6, 1855, and is buried at Royer's meeting-house. 

Our space is limited, and we cannot say much ^- ?re 
about officials. For records of these you are referred to 
the History of the Brethren in E. Pa., pp. 457-461. A 
noteworthy election, however, was held May 29, 1847, 
when Daniel Royer and William Hertzler were called to 
the ministry. Daniel lived a short distance east of Rich- 
land, where his home was a regular preaching place. 
William's mother was Elizabeth Royer, daughter of 
Jacob, who gave the ground for the Royer meeting-house, 
in the basement of which William taught school. Daniel 



THE CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN (DUNKERS) 113 

was the choice of the majority of the members; but Wil- 
liam, the preference of the elder, whoever he was. Elders 
have considerable influence, and this one so manipulated 
matters that William also was installed. Daniel was 
neglected and gradually ceased to preach; but William, 
the boy preacher, was pushed forward. He improved, 
moved away into the Big Swatara Congregation, and ulti- 
mately became perhaps the most influential elder of his 
day in Eastern Pennsylvania. 

John Zug became elder in charge of the congrega- 
tion in 1861, and continued till his death, July 19, 1873. 
He was succeeded by Christian Bucher, who was ordained 
April 3, 1875. John Herr was ordained Dec. 20, 1897, and 
still has the oversight of the church, though he has asso- 
ciated with him as elders, William Oberholtzer and Jacob 
Nissley. The men called to the ministry by the Tulpe- 
hocken church are: Moses Pfautz, Sept., 1842; Daniel 
Royer and Wilham Hertzler, May 29, 1847; Isaac Bru- 
baker, Sept. 18, 1853; Christian Bucher, June 10, 1861; 
George Bucher, Sept. 21, 1865; John Herr, May 18, 1871; 
Abraham Myer, Apr. 3, 1875; Jacob Nissley, Apr. 30, 
1881; Martin Heisey, Oct. 20, 1885; William H. Ober- 
holtzer, Dec. 21, 1896; Joseph Wilhelm, Aug. 20, 1900; 
John L. Royer, Mar. 16, 1903; Benjamin Zug, Aug. 21, 
1905; Michael Kurtz, Mar. 28, 1911. Seventeen in all, of 
whom six are now laboring for the congregation. In t^e 
75 years of her history she has called twenty-one breth- 
ren into the deacon's ofRce ; and among the Brethren this 
office is for life, unless the person proves unworthy. 

Of the principal families. Eld. John Herr found 23 
Bollingers, 23 Klines, 24 Buchers, 25 Gibbles, 25 Weav- 
ers, 27 Brubachers, 32 Geibs, and 56 Royers. 

We have seen that the Conestoga Church erected a 
meeting-house in her Lebanon territory in 1840, since 



114 LEBANON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

known as Royer's or Tulpehocken house. It was the 
first house of the kind erected by the Brethren in Leba- 
non county. The basement fitted up for school purposes 
reveals the attitude of the Brethren toward public edu- 
cation. Elder Heri' says: "There are a few living yet, 
who remember that they went to school in the basement 
of Tulpehocken church, before the public schools were 
fully inaugurated. There were only two desks, one on 
either side ; but they extended through the whole length 
of the building, and the teacher's desk was at the end. 
Among the teachers were: Hoft'man, Levi Car- 
ver, William Killinger, Jacob Kline, and William Hertz- 
ler. The school term was four months in the year during 
the winter. It was a subscription school, thre3 
cents a day, only when present, and the children 
came from near and far, and many are the fond recol- 
lections of the fathers and mothers yet living, of the 
school in the basement of the church. Even when pub- 
lic schools were fully established in the township, sev- 
eral terms were yet held in this church under the super- 
vision of the school board, after which a suitable build- 
ing was procured close by, and today there is a newly 
built school house only fifty feet from the church. Truly, 
church and school go together." 

The Millbach house was built in 1850, brick, 36x46 
ft.; capacity, 350; valuation, $2,000. It was through 
the efforts of Seth Royer and Isaac Gibble, of near Klein- 
feltersville, that the house was erected, both contribut- 
ing liberally, Seth Royer giving more than one-third of 
the entire cost. 

Richland Hall, in Richland, was converted, in 1870, 
into a house of worship, used conjointly by Lutheran, 
Reformed, and Brethren; Adam Schaeffer, father-in-law 
of E. W. Miller, Esq., being the Brethren trustee. In 
1901 the Brethren acquired sole control. In 1913, this 




John Royer (Ephraim Erb) Homestead near Millbach. 2. Myers- 
town Meeting-house. 3. Richland Meeting-house. 4. Union Meeting- 
house above Mt. Zion. 5. Millbach Meeting-house. 



116 LEBANON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

house was sold and an up-to-date brick, 50x80 ft., erected 
on Race street, which was dedicated Feb. 1, 1914. 

The Heidelberg house, east of Reistville, was erect- 
ed in 1867, stone, 50x70 ft., 12 ft. being added to the 
length in 1900 ; capacity, 900 ; valuation, $4,500. This is 
a love-feast house, and really the main house of the con- 
gregation. Its erection practically brought to an end 
meetings in the private houses and love-feasts in barns. 
See the "Versammlungs Register der Brueder in der Tul- 
pehocken Gemeinde," which was likely in use from the 
time of the building of the Millbach house till the Heidel- 
berg house was completed. We have made reference to 
all meeting places on this register except J. Oberholtzer, 
the father of the late Abr. Oberholtzer, of Fourth and 
Cumberland streets. The Oberholtzer farm is the first 
one above Reitville, on the road to Lebanon, on the west 
side. 

The Myerstown house, brick; capacity, 500; valu- 
ation, $3,000; erected in 1876. This house has recently 
been remodeled. 

Midway house, erected in 1895; frame, 50x80 ft.; 
love-feast house; cost, $3,850.65. After the organiza- 
tion of the Midway congregation, seven years later, this 
became the main house of that congregation. This edi- 
fice was greatly improved with vestibules and interior 
decoration in 1916, at a cost of more than $1,000. Spe- 
cial acknowledgments for these improvements are due 
Ep^raim Zug, the Prescott merchant. 

The Tulpehocken Congregation has two town cen- 
ters which give promise for the future — Myerstown and 
Richland. Within Myerstown are 64 members, and Rich- 
land has about an equal number. Eld. John Hen- and 
Eld. William Oberholtzer reside in Myerstown ; and Eld. 
Jacob Nissley, in Richland. In both towns are active 



THE CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN (DUNKERS) 117 

Sunday Schools, the Sunday School at Royer's, midway 
between the two places, having dissolved in 1911 in their 
favor. There are also Sunday Schools at Heidelberg and 
Millbach. The present membership is 367. 

Midway Congregation 

This congregation was organized out of the western 
part of Tulpehocken Congregation, Mar. 24, 1902, with 
two meeting-houses, Cornwall and Midway ; with a mem- 
bership of 195 ; with ministers Christian Bucher, elder in 
charge, Martin Heisey and Joseph Wilhelm; with dea- 
cons Nathan Gibble and Mohler Bucher. Those since 
called into the ministry: A. H. Brubacher, elected Mar. 
28, 1904; A. Z. Brubacher, elected Aug. 30, 1909; Wm. A. 
Forry, elected Apr. 2, 1912; and Samuel Wenger, elected 
. J. G. Francis moved into Lebanon in 1901, hav- 
ing been chosen to the ministry in the Green Tree Con- 
gregation of Montgomery county, in 1895. He was the 
instigator of the Brethren College of E. Pa., located, in 
violation of some Brethren principles, at Elizabethtown, 
Lancaster county, and of the Brethren Historical Society. 
He hopes to build up in the city of Lebanon a church 
worthy of the Brethren. 

The Brethren in Lebanon 

The Brethren first began to work in the city of 
Lebanon on the invitation of Mr. Shomo, associated with 
Mr. Fauber, owner of the Union House of Prayer, on 
South Seventh Street, and of Mr. Young, publisher of a 
German paper in Lebanon. These two gentlemen at- 
tended services in the newly erected church at Cornwall, 
likly in 1871, and invited Christian Bucher to preach for 
them in Lebanon. He entered the open door. At first 
the preaching was irregular, and done only on invitation, 
but before long the Brethren rented the house for serv- 
ices every four weeks. This was about 1873. Bro. 




1. Fredericksburg Meeting-house. 2. Hoke"s Meeting-house, near 
Midway. 3. Long's (S. Annville) Meeting-house. 4. Cornwall Meet- 
ing-house. 5. Bucher Homestead near Rexmont. 



THE CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN (BUNKERS) 119 

Bucher now began to send John Herr and George Bucher 
to fill appointments. William Oberholtzer likely preached 
the first sermon in English. 

By permission of the church, the Brethren Sunday 
School of Lebanon opened, Easter Sunday, Apr. 2, 1899, 
in the house of Bro. Michael Zug, 138 Cumberland street, 
now the residence of the writer, in which are now the 
headquarters of the "First Church of the Brethren," un- 
der the care of the writer. The school was opened 
through the efforts of Mrs. Martha Eckert, daughter of 
Mr. Zug, who was anxious to have her sons attend a 
Brethren Sunday School. Mary F. Zug, now the wife of 
the writer, was made superintendent. The school opened 
at 10 A.M. by singing "Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly 
Dove". The attendance was 20. We were married and 
moved to Reading. The Sunday School languished, and 
closed doors. After nearly two years we moved back to 
Lebanon ; other members had also moved in. The school 
was reorganized Dec. 27, 1901, and the Union House of 
Prayer was secured for the services. In 1908 we ar- 
ranged for a series of meetings in the house on South 
Ninth street, which Brethren now occupy. David 
Weaver, of Reading, did the preaching. Twenty-two ap- 
plied for baptism, and the house was purchased before 
the close of the meetings, for $2400. Last year it was 
enlarged and more fully equipped at a cost of $2100. 
There are living in and around Lebanon about 120 mem- 
bers ; total membership of congregation, 274. The prom- 
ise of a Brethren Church, however, was made to Michael 
Zug, and the promise will be fulfilled by centralizing in 
the work now within his old home. 

Big Swatara Church in Lebanon County 

We have seen that from White Oak the Brethren 
moved westward, and that a church was organized as 



120 LEBANON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

Great Swatara. Morgan Edwards, writing in 1770, says: 
'This church is so distinguished from a river near to 
which the people dwell; and sometimes by the name of 
East Conewago, which is another river that runs through 
the neighborhood. The meetings are held chiefly at pri- 
vate houses in the township of Mount Joy, county of 
Lancaster, 20 miles from Lanccaster, and 86 miles west 
bj' north from Philadelphia. Their preachers are Messrs. 
George Miller and Adam Hammacher, but not ordained. 
The families belonging to the congregation a^e about 
twenty, whereof 39 persons are baptized. This is their 
present state. They began in this manner: In the year 
1752 (baptized in 1753), the said George Miller em- 
braced the principles of the Baptists, and, soon after, 
his wife. Others moved from White Oak-land, and in the 
year 1756 united into a society, having Rev. Michael 
Pfautz to their assistance. He continued to visit them 
while he lived ; and after him, others. They purpose 
soon to ordain Mr. Miller to be their minister." Eld. 
Michael Pfautz succeeded Michael Frantz as elder in 
charge of the church or churches in Lancaster county — 
from 1748 to 1769. Noteworthy among these early fami- 
lies of Big Swatara region were the Etters, Balsbaughs 
and Henrys. They moved on up into what is now 
Dauphin county. In the early days there were perhaps 
no Big Swatara members within the present bounds of 
Lebanon county. But it is in place to note that a Henry 
is now Judge in our county, and a Balsbaugh is Superin- 
tendent of our city schools. 

George Miller looked after the Big Swatara Church 
after the death of Pfautz in 1769, but was not ordained 
till Aug. 15, 1780. He was succeeded in the oversight 
l3y Elder Valentine Balsbaugh, his son-in-law, who died 
in 1851, aged 96 years. Balsbaugh in turn was suc- 
ceeded by his son-in-law, Lorenz Etter; and he by Elder 



THE CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN (BUNKERS) 121 

Jacob Hollinger. All resided over in Dauphin county, but 
their flock strayed more or less across into Lebanon pas- 
tures. 

In 1868 this large territory- was divided into two 
congregations — the part north of the Swatara retaining 
the name Big Swatara, and the part south being named 
after the old stone Spring Creek meeting-house built in 
1848, close to the present town of Hershey, the Spring 
Creek Congregation. John Etter, having been ordained, 
was chosen elder of Big Swatara. None of the mem- 
bers of Big Swatara Congregation are now in Lebanon 
county with the exception of the eighteen spoken of a., 
worshipping in the Moonshine house. William Hertzler, 
previously mentioned in the record of the Tulpehockei: 
Church, had moved to within a few miles north of Eliza 
bethtown. He was ordained an elder and as an unde" 
s'lepherd to Jacob Hollinger, whose home was withir 
t'le Spring Creek limits, looked after this congrsgatior 
As already stated, he became a very prominent elder o ' 
the Brethren Church. His son. Elder Samuel, was large 
ly instrumental in locating the Brethren School at Elizp. 
bct'itown. 

' The Sprlnof Creek Cois^regat'on 

The Spring Creek Congregation has a ?reat deal t 
-'o with Lebanon county. T>^e congregation has centere ' 
largely in Palmyra. In 1893 William Hertzler wished t^ 
be relieved of his duties as elder. S. Becker and Jaco"' 
H. Longenecker were ordained. The latter was chosen es 
overseer, and has been the very efficient elder ever since, 
being one of the leading elders of the Church in Easter i 
Pennsylvania. 

J. H. Longenecker, whose mother was a daughte- 
of Eld. Jacob Hollinger, moved from the old Jacob Ho'- 
linp-er farm one mile south of Campbelltown, to a farm 
one mile north of Palmyra, in 1879. At this time there 



122 LEBANON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

were very few members in the neighborhood. Kate 
Mark lived in Palmyra, and Martin Bowman, John Hoffei;, 
John Baum, and John Zartman nearby. Mrs. Sarah 
Kieffer was the first member to reside in the town. She 
died Feb. 13, 1868. J. H. Longenecker first preached in 
the United Brethren church on the hill, perhaps as early 
as 1877, later in the Evangelical church in town. Rev. 
Amos H. Hottenstein held the first series of meetings in 
Palmyra in the home of Sister Kate Mark, now the wife 
of Joseph Gibble. These meetings led to the building 
of a meeting-house in 1892, which is now being supersed- 
ed by a large, up-to-date church edifice. A Sunday School 
was organized here May 20, 1894, with the following 
officers: Supt., M. R. Henry; Asst. Supt., A. S. Kreider. 
our present congressman; Sec, Samuel Kiefer; Asst. Sec, 
Anna Baum ; Treas., Wm. Erb, now a county commis- 
sioner; Librarians, Samuel Stauffer and Lizzie Stophel. 
The superintendents since have been: Addison Hoffer, 
Samuel Kieffer, George Hoffer, Albert Carper, and Dea- 
con Amos I ongenecker. the present incumbent. In late 
years there have been several successful revivals, so that 
the membership within the town at present is 187. 

One of the first, if not the first member residing 
near Annville was Daniel Struphar, who moved over 
from Schuylkill county and bought a farm north of Cold 
Spring school-house. Mar. 11, 1831. He is doubtless the 
Daniel "Strupenhauer" who was one of the founders of 
the Annville Academy in 1834. Being a member of the 
Big Swatara Church, he may have been the means of in- 
ducing Daniel Balsbaugh, also a member of the Big 
Swatara congregation, to take charge of the academy. 
Prof. Balsbaugh erected in 1859, the large three-story 
Lrick building. "The school," says Dr. Egle, "was never 
in a more flourishing condition than at this period, when 
its very efficient head, Prof. Balsbaugh, was called away 




a 

C 



124 LEBANON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

by death.'" Isaac Struphar, son of Daniel, was a deacon ; 
and Isaac's son Daniel was a preacher. Rev. Daniel, 
however, fell away from the church. A daughter of Rev. 
Daniel married Samuel Baum, son of John before men- 
tioned. Samuel, now occupying the Struphar homestead, 
is a grandson of Eld. Jacob Rider, of Lancaster county, 
who at times preached in the Struphar home. 

The first minister to reside in the Lebanon county 
part of the Big Swatara Congregation, later Spring 
Creek, was Ben jamin Kline, son of Eld. David, son of 
Eld. George, founder of Little Swatara Congregation. 
Benjamin, who was a brother-in-law of the older Daniel 
Struphar, moved from Berks county to Heilmandale in 
the spring of 1843. His home became a regular preach- 
ing place, the only one of Big Swatara in Lebanon coun- 
ty. Benjamin was later ordained an elder, and is said to 
have been an able speaker. He had a large family, a 
considerable part of it remaining in Berks county. 
Though some of his Lebanon county descendants have 
been lost to the church, yet they constitute a verv con- 
siderable portion of the membership in and about Ann- 
ville. 

The Annville meeting-house, brick, of two stories, 
48x78 ft., a love-feast house, was erected in 1906. Five 
brethren gave $500 each-A.-SJKreider, J. Henry Gingrich, 
Harry G. Longenecker, Allen Bucher, and Jacob Heagy. 
A Sunday School was started in 1907, with Hon. A. S. 
Kreider as superintendent. His ideas ceased to coincide 
with the Brethren, and he joined the United Brethren. 
Had our present congressman placed in our city park, 
instead of a brass cannon, a statue of A. S. Kreider mak- 
ing a shoe, he would have done a thing in accord with 
the constructive patriotism of the Brethren. Mr. Kreider 
was succeeded by Bro. Cyrus Winters, the present in- 



THE CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN (DUNKERS) 125 

cumbent. J. Henry Gingrich, as county commissioner, 
was most prominent in remodeling our court house. 

A few miles south of Annville a Brethren center had 
been formed. In 1861 the heads of three families had 
been baptized — Jacob Yordy and wife, Elizabeth; Chris- 
tian Dohner and wife, Catherine, daughter of Christian 
Long; and Joseph Smith and wife, Lydia. Yordy lived 
on the farm, about a mile west of Rocherty, afterward 
occupied by Elder Cyrus Bomberger, who married Annie 
Yordy, it now being the home of Yordy Bomberger. 
Dohner lived a short distance south, near the school 
house; and in the stream back of his house the baptism 
took place. The Smith farm adjoined the Yordy farm 
on the west. All afterward became preaching places. 
After the baptism at Dohner's, Christian Bucher, newly 
elected to the ministry, preached in the wood across the 
road. He has stated that at that time the country from 
Cornwall to Campbelltown was a wilderness. It is thought 
that Lydia Long Smith's' mother, wife of Christian, was 
a member. If so, she was the first in the neighborhood. 

Though these people lived close to Cornwall, yet they 
had to attend church council at Hanoverdale, Dauphin 
county, the Big Swatara Congregation not yet being di- 
vided. Five of the Smith children joined the Brethren — 
Christian on the homestead ; and four daughters — Maria, 
married Jacob Long, near whose home the meating- 
house was afterward erected, and is often called Long's ; 
Sarah, married Martin Funk ; Elizabeth, married John 
Kreider, nine of whose twelve children are active mem- 
bers of the church ; and Ba rbara jnarried Cyrus Bru- 
bacher, son of Eld. Isaac. Annie Yordy married Cyrus 
Bomberger, who later was called to the ministry, becom- 
ing a highly-esteemed elder. 

These things led to the building of the South Ann- 



126 LEBANON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

ville or Long's meeting-housie, about two miles south of 
Annville. On the marble stone up in the brick wall are 
the words : "Built by the German Baptist Church or Old 
Brethren 1869." The first preaching in the house was 
the funeral sermon of Lydia, oldest child of John Kreider, 
who died 15 minutes before the ushering in of the New 
Year of 1870. Two weeks to the day after this service, 
the church was dedicated. 

We should yet say a word about the interest that 
grew up around Bellegrove. In this neighborhood lived 
John Ensminger, a minister, and wife, having previously 
lived south of Annville ; Moses Heagy and wife, Ephraim 
Forney and wife, Jonas Hertzler and wife, who later 
moved to Kansas, and Abraham Moyer and wife. The 
Brethren owned a brick meeting-house north of Belle- 
grove, which had been bought by Mrs. Ephraim Forney 
and Mrfc Isaac Struphar, and by them given to the 
Church. The interest here died out. The house was sold, 
and has since been torn down. 

We have seen how Brethren interests were 'vvcrkeJ 
up in different parts of Spring Creek's Lebanon county 
field. The congregation was at work also across the 
Dauphin county line, but this is largely beyond us. In 
1886 the big love-feast house at Spring Creek, the second 
house there, was erected; and this put an end to love- 
feasts in barns. The last barn love-feast was held at the 
"^ home of Jacob Long, south of Annville. In 1911 a love- 
feast house wa built at Bachmansville, making three such 
houses in the congregation, the one at Annville being the 
third. The Spring Creek congregation was now ripe for 
division into three. 

In conclusion we have a word from Elder Longe- 
necker: "During the nineteen years (from 1893-1912) 
there was slow but healthy growth of the church. Many 
of those who were received into fellowship and had their 



p 
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o 
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128 LEBANON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

Christian training here have moved away to ocuer neids 
01 active service, a tew have gone to loreign neicis. 

"On Saturday, Mar. 14, i9l2, at a council in tne 
Palmyra house, the Spring Creek congregation, number- 
ing about 480 members, was divided into three bodies. 
The western part, retaining the old name of Spring Creek, 
the eastern taking the name of Annville ; and the south- 
eastern part taking the name of Conewago. 

"Spring Creek had two church houses — the large 
frame house for love feasts at Spring Creek and the frame 
house at Palmyra. They had one minister, Eld. J. H. 
Longenecker (living in Palmyra since 1898), and two 
deacons, George H. Hoffer and Andrew Clendenin. The 
membership was about 250. At a special council meeting 
held at the Spring Creek house, March 23, 1912, an or- 
ganization was effected, and the old name of Spring Creek 
retained. J. H. Longenecker was chosen elder in charge; 
Wm. Glasmire, clerk ; and J. H. Hoffer, treasurer. Frank 
S. Carper was called to the ministry, and Harrison Gibe 
and Walter B. Bashore to the office of deacon. Harrison 
Gibe has since been called to the ministry. 

"The Annville Congregation had two houses, both 
brick, Annville and South Annville or Long's. Annville 
Congregation had a membership of 120, had four min- 
isters — Eld. Alfred Gingrich, Eld. Henry Hollinger, Allen 
Bucher, and Jacob Gingrich ; two deacons — Jacob Heagy 
and John Henry Gingrich. They were organized into a 
congregation March 25, 1912. Alfred Gingrich was chos- 
en elder in charge ; Jacob Heagy, secretary ; John Henry 
Gingrich, treasurer. Deacons elected since are Cyrus 
Winters, Jr., Harry Gingrich, and Simeon Bucher, and 
Elmer Minnich has been called to the ministry. 

"Conewago received the brick house, known as the 
Conewago house, near Beverly Station, and the Bach- 



THE CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN (DUNKERS) 129 

mansville house, then in proces of erection. Samuel Wit- 
mer was chosen elder in charge. Only a few members, 
about ten in or about Lawn, are in Lebanon county." 

In estimating the number of our members, we do 
not count unbaptized children, though we believe that 
little children are within the fold of Christ. We have 
seen that Sunday School work originated with us, and 
no church trains their children in a more Scriptural way. 
To tie a child to a creed it understands not, we believe, is 
subversive of religious liberty. Now without our chil- 
dren, of whom we have a moderate number, we have 
members in the Midway church, 274, and in Annville, 132 
— all within the county. Tulpehocken has 367 members 
with the exception of a few across the Berks county line 
all with us. The greater part of Spring Creek, 267 out 
of 315, are in Lebanon county. While Big Swatara has 
considerable territory within our limits, we have but 18 
of her members. Of the Little Swatara we have 114 out 
of 380, Chickes, a Lancaster county congregation, has 
four of her members on this side of the line. Conewago, 
with 120 members, gives us 10. We have thus within the 
limits of Lebanon county 1186 baptized members. We 
have 14 meeting-houses. 

Of the 8 ministers of Little Swatara, we have 4; of 
Big Swatara, none; of Chickes, none; of Spring Creek, 
5 ; of Annville, 5 ; of Conewago, none ; of Tulpehocken, 6 ; 
of Midway, 6. This makes a total of 26 Brethren min- 
isters in Lebanon county. We are all tent-makers, and 
eat of the com only when actually treading it out, and 
very often not then. 

In conclusion, we hope that all who name the name 
of Christ will keep His Commandments, and thus abide 
in His love, and that none will be condemned by His word, 
which will judge us in the last day. 



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286.5 

F8i8c Frsmcis, Jacob G. 

AUTHOR 

The Church of the 

T'TLE Brethren (Dvmkers) in 
Lebanon County. 



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