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jeneral fonference 


Mennonites of North America, 


Pastor of the First Mennonite Church, Canton, Ohio. 


Kntered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1898, 

in the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington, D. C. 

A. WiEHfscn it SON PRTG. Co., ST. Louis, Mo. 


My Beloved Parents, 

ttjis YolUnqe 
is affectionately inscribed. 




The occasion for the production of this work was the 
need of it. By those who participated in this movement 
from the beginning, this need may not be so distinctly 
felt. But for those who have since united, or for the 
generation which has since grown up, as well as for 
the casual inquirer the need is real. There has for 
years been a steadily increasing demand for information 
with regard to the history of the General Conference 
of the Mennonites of North America. The publication 
in pamphlet form of the proceedings of that body did 
something toward satisfying this demand. Yet many 
questions of historical importance these minutes left 
untouched or unexplained. Then the work of commit 
tees and individuals, performed during the triennial 
periods, necessarily received practically no mention. 
Even of its own sessions these minutes of the Confer 
ence give but a very limited account. Only the reso 
lutions as finally formulated are presented ; of the 


persons who did the work, of the discussions, the share 
taken by individuals, the obstacles encountered, the 
general surroundings, the reader gets no information. 
This is as it should be in the minutes of the sessions. 
But for this reason these minutes can not pass as the 
history of the General Conference, but only as a por 
tion of it. 

In allying himself directly with the Conference 
work, the writer was naturally led to make closer in 
quiry into the historical development of the Confer 
ence, but he soon found that no literature on the sub 
ject was obtainable. There was need of a book that 
would give minute and accurate information on the 
subject. Realizing this need, the determination arose 
to supply it. At first the undertaking seemed a small 
one, which could be completed in a few months, and 
it was thought that a little pamphlet would suffice to 
present the subject. It was soon discovered that the 
task was a greater one than supposed, and that some 
thing more than a pamphlet would be required. And 
now, after three years labor, the work has expanded 
into a handsome volume. 

Not a few difficulties were encountered in the 
prosecution of this work. Chief among these was the 
securing of the necessary subject matter and reliable 
historical data. The realm was unexplored ; there were 
no landmarks to serve as guides. It required a great 
amount of correspondence to ferret out sources of in- 


formation. Often isolated facts pointed to some event 
or incident, or hidden cause as yet unknown, and it 
frequently required much study and acute exercise of 
the historical scent to locate the unknown fact suffi 
ciently to lead to its discovery. Nor was it a small 
matter to bring all the isolated events into their proper 
historical relation. And even with the most careful 
study this first attempt can only hope to have approx 
imated correctness. 

In these efforts to get at the facts, the writer de 
sires to acknowledge the very valuable assistance ren 
dered by many persons, and to thank them, one and 
all, for their kindliness. Without this assistance it 
would have been impossible to attain to the present 
degree of completeness. Grateful mention is here fit 
tingly made of special assistance and contributions as 
follows : By Christian Schowalter very much historical 
matter from personal memory ; by A. B. Shelly much 
from personal memory, as also the use for several 
years of the almost complete series of the "Religioese 
Botschafter," "Chrisliche Volksblatt," and "Menno- 
nitische Friedensbote ;" from Christian Krehbiel much 
information from personal memory, also access to im 
portant sources of information ; by S. F. Sprunger and 
I. A. Sommer the use of the complete series of the 
"Bundesbote ;" by C. H. A. van der Smissen the use 
of the "Nachrichten aus der Heidenwelt ;" from 
Ephraim Hunsberger all the records of the Conference 


school at Wads worth. 1 Others who have furnished 
valuable information are : J. B. Baer, A. S. Shelly, 
N. B. Grubb, J. A. Moser. 

For the photographs for many of the illustrations, 
which in all cases have been furnished gratis, the 
writer desires here publically to express his thanks. 
Especially valuable assistance was rendered in this di 
rection by H. R. Voth, S. K. Mosiman, J. S. Kreh- 
biel, N. B. Grubb, N. C. Hirschy and G. A. Linscheid. 

In the production of the work completeness and 
accuracy have been steadily aimed at. Nevertheless 
the writer is thoroughly conscious that the subject has 
not been exhausted. That no errors shall have crept 
in is more than the limitation of the human mind 
justifies in expecting. The hope of the author is that 
readers, knowing of additional information, or discover 
ing inaccuracies, will in kindly spirit and from histor- 

1 On occasion of a visit with Ilunsberger the writer, in quest 
of information concerning the General Conference and her 
school in particular, was asking questions along these lines, 
when the aged brother suddenly said: "I have a lot of old pa 
pers concerning the school here. I ve been thinking of burning 
them up, because they are in my way. If you want them, you 
can have them, then I ll be rid of them." Of course I wanted 
them, I was delighted. All the records ever kept of the school, 
with a number of valuable correspondences, thus fortuitously as 
well as fortunately fell into my hands and were saved from de 
struction by fire. 


ical interest, be free to make suggestions to the author, 
that he may complete and correct the work at a 
later date. 

This little work is not submitted to the reading 
public with any claims to special literary merit. It is 
not intended as a work of art, but simply as a his 
torical production, and to those of a critical mind it 
presents itself as such only. 

That much attention has been given to biography is, 
partly, because it was felt that a closer knowledge of the 
lives of the leading men would enable the author to un 
derstand many points better and to enter more fully into 
the actual development of the Conference. Then also 
it is certain that increased knowledge of the men tends 
to stimulate interest in their work, and that so the 
reader, perusing these sketches, will have an increased 
interest in the cause for which these men have la 
bored. That of some very prominent men no biograph 
ical sketches appear, is due to respect to their prefer 
ence in this matter. 

As I part from this work it is with feelings akin 
to regret, for I have become attached to it ; during 
many months it has almost daily occupied my atten 
tion for many hours. It has been a source of pleasure 
and profit to me, and in working the subject matter 
through, I have, as it were, lived through the events 
myself as a silent spectator. The leading characters, 


though I have never met some of them, have become 
my personal friends. 

Trusting that this little volume will be received 
by an appreciative circle of readers, I now submit it 
to public perusal, and if in the Providence of God it 
shall be the means of kindling an increased interest in 
the cause it narrates, it will have fulfilled its mission. 


Canton, Ohio, July /, 1898. 




"Of the making many books there is no end." 
These words, written by a wise writer thousands of 
years ago, and which, being true then, are no less true 
to-day. As the world is advancing in literary, scien 
tific and religious pursuits, w r orks of literature, of 
science, of art, of religion, of history and of biography 
will multiply. And is this to be deplored ? It is not. 
While new discoveries are made, new developments 
take place ; while new and improved methods are in 
troduced, it is but meet that these advances be re 
corded and brought before the public, for the benefit 
of those now living and those who are coming after 
us. This in a special sense is true in regard to ec 
clesiastical or church history. It is both interesting, 
and at the same time instructive to learn, how the 
kingdom of God has developed and come to be w r hat 
it is to-day. By the study of church history we learn 
how the Lord has brought forth great things from 

- XII 

small beginnings. We learn how the Church of Christ 
has been retained and strengthened under many severe 
trials and conflicts, how her bitterest and vilest ene 
mies were not able to overcome her, and how their 
efforts to subdue her were often the means which the 
Lord employed to strengthen her and to extend her 
influence. This teaches us to realize the divine ap 
proval of his church, and gives us courage in the con 
flicts, which we and the church in our days have to 

Not only is it desirable that Christians should be 
made acquainted with church history in general, but 
all Christians should be familiar with the history of 
their own denomination - with the church of their own 
choice. In order to bring this knowledge of their own 
church within the reach of all, it is necessary that 
denominational church histories, as well as general 
church histories be written. That in this line there 
has hitherto been a great want in our beloved Menno- 
nite Church, is a fact too evident to need proof. It is 
only within comparatively recent years that the writ 
ing of Mennonite church history in our country was 
begun. Most of these Mennonite histories hitherto 
published dwell principally on the origin and the early 
development of our church, and more incidentally only 
on what has taken place during late years the times 
just passed. At the same time it is an evident fact, that 
the Mennonite Church has made more real progress, 


and has thus furnished more material for denomina 
tional Church History, during the last fifty years, than 
during the preceding three centuries. The field cov 
ered by the following pages is, therefore, a field which 
has hitherto received but meager attention by Menno- 
nite church historians, and there is thus a wide space 
left open for. a work like this. It is true, several of 
the later writers of Mennonite History have touched 
upon the origin, the rise and the development of our 
General Conference, but none of them has given the 
subject the same amount of careful study, nor presented 
such an elaborate, extended and minute account of 
the object, the rise, the progress and general develop 
ment of the General Conference, as we find in the 
work before us. 

Through the courtesy of the author, it became our 
privilege to peruse the manuscript pages of the histor- 
cal part of the work, before it was given to the printer. 
And as it has also been our privilege to be more or 
less connected with the work of the General Confer 
ence almost from its beginning, having been a delegate 
at each of its meetings since A. D. 1866, having served 
on one or more of its standing committees since A. D. 
1872, and having had the honor of serving as its presi 
dent for a period of twenty-four years in succession, it 
gives us much pleasure to testify to the authenticity 
and correctness of the accounts as given in this work. 
The work itself testifies to a great amount of careful 


research and indefatigable labor on the part of its 
author, and it can not fail to be read with interest by 
all who are interested in the history and the develop 
ment of our Mennonite church. 

In the writing of history the writer can not avoid 
at times giving his own personal impressions and ideas 
of persons and things, while noting the facts which it 
is his object to record. In this a writer may some 
times differ from others, who are equally conversant 
with the facts, but who have not received the same 
impressions which he has received. This should, how 
ever, not detract from the value of his work for any 
one. The historical part, so far as the facts therein 
related are correct, is what gives a work its princi 
pal value for us, and on account of which it is mainly 
to be prized. When the author of the work before us 
writes of the parts individual persons have taken in 
the work of the General Conference, our knowledge 
of the facts tells us that what he writes is true. As 
to the capability of the persons thus mentioned for the 
work in which they were engaged, the work itself 
gives the best testimony. When the author speaks of 
the general fitness of these persons, as well as of cer 
tain mistakes that have been made, he may be sub 
stantially correct. Yet others may differ with him. 
Their impressions and ideas of persons and things may 
be different. But this is immaterial. In the writing of 
history and the narrating of facts, the author must not 


be influenced by friend or foe. He is to give the 
facts as they occurred, irrespective of the persons who 
were instrumental in bringing them about. It must 
on this account not be construed as boasting, when a 
historian speaks highly of the part which his own 
friends and relatives, or even he himself, have taken 
in the work which he is recording. His calling as a 
historian demands this of him, in order to give a true 
and faithful narrative of the events as they occurred. 
In this particular also, we believe the author of the 
present work has been faithful. In the compilation of 
the work he has been guided by the facts only, and, 
as we think, the work as it lies before us, fully proves 
that his only object was to give a true and authentic 
account of the work of the General Conference of the 
Mennonites of North America. 

For these reasons it gives us great pleasure to rec 
ommend this new work to the reading public in general, 
more especially, however, to the members of our be 
loved Mennonite church, as a work replete with au 
thentic historical facts worthy to be read and remem 
bered by all. The perusal of a work like this can not 
fail to create a new interest for the work, in which our 
General Conference is engaged, and to incite to earnest 
prayers for its further prosperity and its ultimate suc 
cess in accomplishing its principal aim, the unification 
of all Mennonites, As time advances new history will 
be made by our church, and as a natural consequence 


other works of history will follow. The present work, 
however, which covers a period of almost fifty years of 
great advancements in our church work, will always be 
regarded as a pioneer in this particular sphere, and will 
never lose its value as long as, and wherever the Men- 
nonite church is known as one of the Evangelical Chris 
tian church organizations of our country. That the 
work may find a wide circulation, and that God s bles 
sing may accompany it, and make it a means of creating 
a wider and more zealous interest for the work of the 
Mennonite General Conference is our earnest prayer. 


Milford Square, Pa., June 9, 1898. 







CHAPTER I. Influences which prepared the way for Unification. 10 

CHAPTER II. Events which led to the rise of the General Conf . 14 

Publication, p. 14. Canada-Ohio movement, p. iS.-- 
lowa Unification movement, p. 30. 

CHAPTER III. The various movements come in touch 315 



CHAPTER IV. Unification begins 48 

First General Conference, p. 53. Articles of Union, p. 55. 
Pennsylvania Churches, p. 66. 


Plan of Union completed, p. 78. Mennonite Printing 
Union, p. 89. Steps taken to establish a school, p. 92. 


Third General Conference, p. 115. School decided upon, 
p. 117. Arrangements for building, p. 120. Building 
erected, p. 123. Dedicated, p. 126. Fourth General Con 
ference, p. 132. Mission Department formed, p. 135. 
School, 138. 





School opened, p. 144. Its early Career, p, 146. Van der 
Smissen, p. 148. Fifth General Conference, p. 150. 
Western Conference organized, p. 157. School, p. 159. 
Troubles arise, p. 160. Admission of women, p. 170. 
Church Hymnal, pp. 155, 174. Publication, p. 179 In 
corporation of School, p. 180. First Graduates, p. 182. 
Mission, p. 184. 


School, p. 192, 209. Sixth General Conference, p. 194. 
Mennonite Immigration, p. 200. Foreign Mission, p. 222. 
Home Mission, p. 223. Seventh General Conference, Ses 
sion I., p. 225; Session II., p. 242. 


Mission field sought, p. 248. Kansas Conference, p. 252. 
Publication, p. 253. Last years of School, p. 254. Eighth 
General Conference, p. 257. School abandoned, p. 258. 
Retrospect on School, p. 268. 



CHAPTER X. Foreign Mission 272 

Alaska, p. 273. Arapahoe Mission founded, p. 282. 
Development of Missionary activity, p. 301. 

CHAPTER XI. Home Mission 344 

CHAPTER XII. District Conferences 353 

CHAPTER XIII. Publication 364 

CHAPTER XIV. Education 368 

CHAPTER XV. General Conference Sessions 376 










1. Arapahoe Indian Family 283 

2. Bethel College, Main Building 371 

3. " " and Boarding Halls 372 

4. " Library .372 

5. " " Literary Society Halls 373 

6. il " Art Studio 374 

7. Cantonment Chapel 336 

8. Mission Station 342 

9. " School (destroyed by fire) 314 

10. " School 331 

11. " School Girls 305 

12. " School Room 304 

13. Cheyenne Family 301 

14. " Women 300 

15. Christmas at Moki Mission 333 

16. Clymer, H. M 354 

17. Darlington Mission Station 293 

1 8. Eastern Conference Delegates 355 

19. First house built by Mennonites in America 3 

20. Fretz, Allen M 354 

21. Geary Chapel 337 

22. " Station 318 

23. Gottschall, W. S 354 

24. Grubb, N. B 354 

25. Grubb, Silas , 354 

26. Hege, Daniel 414 

27. Hirschy, N. C 359 

28. Home for the Aged 356 

29. Hunsberger, Ephraim 358 

30. Indian Camp 272 

31. Indian Grave 305 

32. Indian Industrial School 308 

33. Katcina Dance 330 

34. Krehbiel, Christian 428 

35. Krehbiel, Daniel 401 

36. Krehbiel, H. J 358 

37. Krehbiel, H. P 359 

38. Krehbiel, Jacob 358 

39. Lehmann, Joel 358 

40. Lehmann, P. P 359 



41. Mehl, J. C ................. ................ ............ 35$ 

42. Mennonite Church, (Alexanderwohl) Kansas ............. 392 

43. " Berne, Ind .......................... 3 8 

44. " " Bluffton, Ohio ....... ............... 3& & 

(Zion) Donnellson, Iowa ............ 31 



46. " Ilalstead, Kansas ................... 377 

47 . " " " " ................. 377 

48. " u Hereford, Pa ........................ 393 

49. < u Ourtown, S. Dak .................... 385 

5 0. " " Summerfield, 111 ..................... 116 

51. " " Wadsworth, Ohio ................... 79 

r 2i a a (i t( ................... So 

53. " (West Swamp), Pa .................. 226 

54. Mennonite Educational Institute ....................... 374 

55. " " " ........................ 375 

56. Mennonite School at Wadsworth ........................ 128 

57. Miller, W. W ........................................... 359 

58. Ministers of the Eastern Conference .................... 35-1 

59. " Middle District ---- .................... 358 

60. Moki Girls ............................................. 3 2 5 

61. Moki House, Interior ................................... 325 

62. Moki Men .............................................. 3 2 5 

63. Moki Mission Station ................................... 326 

64. Moki Priest ............................................. 333 

65. Moki Snake Dance ...................................... 332 

66. Mojer, J. S ............................................ 354 

67. Moyer, M. S ............................................ 358 

68. Oraibe ................................................ 3-3 

69. Oraibe Street ........................................... 324 

70. Oberholzer, J. H ........................................ 407 

71. Schowalter, Christian ............................... 359, 417 

72. Shelly, A. B ........................................ 354, 422 

73. Shelly, A. S ............................................. 354 

74. Schimmel, L. O .................................... -354 

75. Shuhart, Aug ........................................... 354 

76. Sommer, I. A ........................................... 359 

77. Sprunger, S. F .......................................... 358 

78. Strubhar, Valentine .................................... 359 

79. Stucky, P ............................................... 359 

80. Van der Smissen, C. J ................................... 436 

81. Van der Smissen, C. H. A ........ ...................... 358 

82. Voth, H. R. and Family ................................. 326 


Mankind is slowly but steadily advancing toward 
the full reception of those doctrines of our Lord Jesus 
Christ which apply to practical life. But these doc 
trines are not everywhere received at the same time. 
The process is gradual. A few persons become deeply 
impressed with some doctrine of Christ and begin to 
live up to its demands. By and by others unite with 
them even though it is unpopular to do so. Usually 
the advocates of these as yet unaccepted doctrines have 
many bitter experiences to endure in the form of ridi 
cule, ostracism or persecution, but by faithful persist 
ence the doctrines, at first so repugnant, at last find 
general acceptance. The doctrine of liberty of con 
science has had such a course to run, while the doc 
trines of peace and uprightness, held and advocated 
by the Waldenses of Italy and by their spiritual de 
scendants, the Mennonites and Quakers, although con 
stantly gaining in favor are still pleading for full recog 
nition and acceptance. 

At the time of the Reformation, when men s con 
sciences were freed from the yoke of Rome and the 
Bible was placed in the hands of all, many by original 
research and stud}^ of Christ s teachings were led to 
accept the doctrine of non-resistance, so plainly taught 
by Christ. They now honestly endeavored to enthrone 

2 (I) 

the rule of love instead of returning evil for evil. How 
ever the time for the universal acceptance of this doc 
trine had not yet arrived. Armed selfishness, supported 
and justified by ambitious reformers, opposed this peace 
movement and cruelly persecuted its adherents. Dur 
ing the period of oppression which followed the Menno- 
nites anxiously sought for some country whither they 
might flee and where they might serve God according 
to the dictates of their own consciences. By Divine 
Providence a place of refuge offered itself on the western 
continent. William Penn invited his persecuted brethren 
of Germany to settle in his domain and soon a consider 
able number fled from the land of oppression and took 
up their abode in the fertile woodlands of Pennsylvania. 
On October 6, 1683, the first Mennonite immigrants 
landed in Philadelphia. The settling in and subduing 
of the wilderness subjected them to great hardship and 
privation. Nevertheless they rejoiced ; for at last they 
had what they prized more than all else in this world 
freedom of conscience. As the persecution against those 
who had remained behind continued many soon fol 
lowed their brethren to the land of freedom. So rapidly 
did the number of immigrants increase that within a 
few years the first settlement, made at Germantown, 
would contain no more ; so new settlements were be 
gun. In 1724 there were already five churches which 
together had sixteen ministers. l The number of churches 
rapidly increased. In 1770 there were in Pennsylvania 
alone 42 churches, with about 1500 communicant mem 
bers and 53 ministers. 2 The total number of Mennonites 

1 General Hist, of Baptist Denom. (Ed. 1848, N. Y.) by D. 
Benedict, p. 598 foot note. z Ibid. 

First House built in Germantown, Pa. 

Built in 1683 by Thomas Kunders, a Mennonite; the First Story 
being the original, the Second Story was built later. 

in America in 1848 was estimated at 58,000^ which 
estimate probably was too high, nevertheless it indicates 
that their number had greatly increased. 

The Mennonite immigrants with but few exceptions 
were neither educated nor rich. They came from the 
common people, and being driven from their country by 
persecution, they brought little or nothing to their new 
homes. Under the new surroundings they were com 
pelled to live a rough pioneer life. Though all were 
busy the year round at the forbidding task of subduing 
the wilderness most of them were unable to gain more 
than necessary for existence. These privations and 
hardships were not at all adapted to keep up a high state 
of religious life. To the growing generation neither 

i Ibid. 

- 4 - 

sufficient nor suitable educational facilities could be 
offered. The result was a lamentable decline among 
the succeeding generations in mental development and 
a corresponding decay in religious life. Of this de 
generating effect of pioneer life a letter written in 1726 
by Mennonites of Holland to the oppressed Schwenkfel- 
dians speaks as follows : "This matter, that some of you 
have taken it into your heads to emigrate to Pennsylvania, 
has grieved us much. For, since we have some knowl 
edge of such undertakings by experience, we are 
prompted by pure brotherly love to urgently advise any 
who contemplate such a step to abstain therefrom, as it 
is almost impossible even by industry to earn the daily 
bread. A few who had gone there have returned after 
having endured many hardships and dangers. They 
preferred to live in sorrow in the land of their fathers 
rather than to stay there. . . . But further all those who 
are of the same faith testify that great indifference pre. 
vails so far as religious matters are concerned ; that in 
deed the brethern land together, but compelled by 
circumstances, they later live many miles from each 
other and not infrequently they never see each others 
faces again, thereby losing what by the grace of God 
they have obtained. . . . With us there is no disposition 
to help because we know that both materially and spirit 
ually such action on their part would have to be re 
gretted by them." 1 The fathers had fled to this country 
to secure religious liberty and to them soul life, the 
spirit not the letter had value. The descendants, how 
ever, gradually departed from this position and came to 
place increasing emphasis upon forms and externals. 
1 D. Cassel, Menno. Geschichte p. 379. 


As a natural consequence this superficiality led to 
misunderstandings and friction. Back of the externalism 
there was indeed a sincere purpose scrupulously to obey 
the Lord. But this very purpose, coupled with illiteracy, 
bred differences and produced divisions. The difficulty 
was augmented through the distance the churches were 
often separated from each other. For in communities 
far separated differences in customs and modes of life 
arose. Such differences, though only external, strangely 
enough, came to be considered as barriers to fellowship. 
Occasionally it occured that some church endeavored to 
return to the original purity of doctrine and practice 
which usually, however, consisted in putting greater 
stress on form and custom and manifested itself by 
greater exclusiveness and the excomunication of all that 
would not conform to tradition and the often arbitrary 
laws. Deeper and deeper the shadows settled upon the 
denomination which had been transferred to this country 
as a light a light which when first placed here sent 
forth such beneficent rays and shone so promisingly 
toward the future. It seemed as though a thick cloud 
w r ere covering the children of peace, turning the light 
into darkness, converting peace into strife, love into 

To offset this tendency to divide there were, how 
ever, not wanting efforts which, in cognizance of an 
inner relation between all Mennonites, sought to secure 
an outward coherance and formal union. The desire 
for a closer co-operation manifested itself soon after the 
pioneer settlers had passed away. The date of the first 
effort at unification is not known. But it is known 
"that in 1727 a meeting was held for the purpose of 


the closer unification of the churches." 1 No reports 
exist to show whether or not regular meetings were 
continued from that date. The next meeting of which 
we have traces occurred more than thirty years later. 
Cassel in his History says: "Further we find that a 
great meeting of ministers and bishops occured shortly 
after the death of Henry Funk in 1760, at Franconia." 2 
After seventeen years (1777) another meeting was held 
in the same place. This council or conference con 
tinued after the latter date to hold semi-annual meet- 
ngs, and under the name of Franconia Conference has 
continued its sessions till the present time. Eby in his 
history, written 1841, says: "The Mennonite churches 
of Pennsylvania are divided into three districts, in each 
of which two conferences are held annually for the 
purpose of consulting together with regard to the affairs 
of the church. Minister s meeting is also held in Ohio." 3 
Speaking of the Mennonites in Canada the same writer 
reports as follows: "Here two meetings are annually 
held in which ministers and deacons participate ; aleo 
one general meeting is annually held, alternating between 
Waterloo, Clinton and Markham, at which all ministers 
and deacons in Canada are expected to be present." 4 

From this information concerning unification , though 
limited, it becomes evident that what was attempted was 
of local nature. The aim at no time was to establish 
an organization which should embrace all churches. 
What was sought was to secure the co-operation of 
neighboring churches in the exercise of church disci 
pline within the given district. Such bodies as above 

1 D. Cassel, Mennonitische Geschichte p. 307. 2 Ibid. 
3 Eby, Kirchen-Geschichte p. 31. 4 Ibid. 

spoken of consisted chiefly of neighboring churches and 
their meetings had little value as a means towards se 
curing the unification of churches of different sections. 
Official connection with each other these separate district 
meetings had none. In fact they seem to have been 
very imperfectly organized, as no record whatever w r as 
kept of their deliberations. 

As these organizations were local in nature their 
deliberations also were but of local interest. Rarely 
was anything brought up for consideration which con 
cerned interests reaching out beyond their own little 
sphere. In character these meetings were on the one 
hand deliberative and advisory, without any binding 
authority over participating churches ; on the other 
hand they, however, constituted a sort of court of appeal 
before which any difficulties arising in church might be 
brought for investigation and settlement. In addition 
to such unedifyiug labors these meetings busied them 
selves with the discussion of doctrinal points, and the 
formulation of laws by which traditional customs and 
habits might be perpetuated. An example is offered 
by the conference of 1727, already spoken of above. At 
that conference an attempt was made to secure a union 
of certain churches by adopting a common creed. The 
result was that the creed of Dortrecht was agreed upon 
and signed by the ministers of five churches. 1 That 
the deliberations at these meetings concerned only the 
churches represented is evident from the following state 
ment made in Kby s history : "Conferences or minister s 
meetings are held for the purpose of discussing the 
affairs of the churches represented." 2 In character 

1 D. Cassel, Mennonitische Geschichte p. 307. 
- Eby, Kirchen Geschichte p. 131. 

these conferences were not progressive but conservative, 
not constructive but purifying, not tolerant but ex 
clusive. For this reason it was impossible that through 
them the unification of the various and differing churches 
should be secured. Erroneously it was held that union 
must rest on an absolute likeness in doctrines and cus 
toms. This led to strict laws to secure external uni 
formity. But instead of being the means to bring the 
churches into more fraternal relation it multiplied pre 
judices and increased divisions. The thing striven for 
absolute uniformity can be approximated only in 
very small organizations. When sought to be realized 
among larger numbers it inevitably leads to ruinous 
factionalism. Had the Mennonites not entered upon 
this disastrous course, in all probability but few schisms 
would have occured and they might rank among the 
leading denominations of this country. For in the main 
tenets of faith and doctrine there is substantial unity 
among all Mennonites in America. Menno and his 
co-laborers had advocated freedom from man-made laws 
and forms. However in America this position w r as 
yielded, with the result that factionalism multiplied and 
threatened to anihilate the denomination. Man, made 
for freedom by God, will not always submit to arbitrary 
forms and laws. This proved true also of the Menno- 
nite youth. Unwilling to bear such a yoke they in 
large numbers turned their backs upon the church of 
their parents and united with other churches. Had the 
succeeding generations adhered to the parental church, 
without any additional immigration after 1750, the 
Mennonites should be as numerous in this country as 
they now are. In fact, however, many churches have 

constantly decreased in membership and some have 
become entirely extinct. Not without good reasons did 
close observers say: "the Mennonites are dying out." 
Upon friends of the denomination the knowledge of 
these discouraging conditions must have had a very de 
pressing effect. It had to be admitted that the Menno- 
nite interpretation of Christ s teachings was certainly in 
accord with scripture. But the representatives of these 
doctrines - how far were they from living up to them ! 
Peace, peace ! that was the watchword ; but there was 
no peace. Instead of fraternally co-operating, many 
churches, animated by intolerent prejudices, came actu 
ally to antagonize each other with great bitterness. Has 
the lamp of the people of peace been thrown down ? 
Shall the dark cloud which has long been settling on 
this people continue to hide them in darkness until they 
shall have lost the ability to see ? Surely after this dark 
night a bright morning of new life must dawn. As to 
their doctrines and history the Mennonites are a unique 
people. Not without some sufficient object has God 
called forth and preserved this denomination. Nor will 
he allow it to disappear before this object shall have 
been accomplished. We shall see how God had already 
prepared the way for revivication and deliverance from 
man-made laws when the prospect still seemed dreary 
and hopeless. The days of the Mennonite church are 
not yet numbered. It has still a mission to fulfill. 
Progress indeed is slow and many bitter trials must be 
endured, but ultimately those doctrines of which the 
Mennonites are the bearers will find universal accept 
ance in the world and application to practical life. 




Influences which prepared the way for a unification 

When the middle of the present century had already 
been passed the prospect for a union of the Mennonites 
must still have seemed hopeless. The conditions de 
scribed on the preceeding pages still prevailed, and mat 
ters apparently were growing worse. However for some 
time various influences had been at work which could 
not fail to have a revolutionizing effect. To these we 
shall now direct our attention. 

Most prominent among these influences was the 
spread of better education. It is well known that in the 
early years of the history of our country education was 
exceedingly deficient. After the revolutionary war, and 
particularly after the war of 1812 more favorable con 
ditions prevailed and the improvement of education be 
came possible. With peace and quiet came settled 



order, so necessary for the successful development of 
education. Material prosperity accompanied the quiet 
and order, so there was no lack of means for the support 
of schools. The advantages of improved conditions re 
verted also to the Mennonites, and soon their youth, in 
stead of being as formerly barely able to read and write, 
obtained a better education. This expanded their realm 
of thought and knowledge, enlarged their vision, broke 
down much of bigotry, and opened the way for a litera 
ture of their own by which a quickening influence could 
easily be exerted. 

Another important factor in the preparation for uni 
fication was a new tide of immigration of Mennonites 
which set in at the beginning of the present century. 
Those Mennonites whose ancestors had come to this 
country over a century ago were divided into a number 
of antagonistic factions which would not associate with 
each other. To restore these factions to friendly and 
fraternal relations must prove an almost hopeless task, 
as the courses of the disruption continued to live in the 
memories and would fatally intrude themselves when 
ever an effort was made to return to fellowship. No 
such difficulties prevented fellowship with the new im 
migrants ; and because they were newcomers, different 
customs, habits or views would be borne with greater 
tolerance. Thus it has occured that those in this 
country who wore "hooks and eyes" gave a kindly and 
fraternal reception to immigrants who wore "buttons," 
while they refused absolutely to fellowship with churches 
in this country that permitted the wearing of the offen 
sive buttons. Under these circumstances the wearing of 
buttons would not seem so much an innovation as simply 


a difference in custom. But learning thus to bear with 
some the tendency was to grow more tolerant in general. 

As a result of the immigration, however, another in 
fluence developed which proved more powerful even than 
the one just mentioned. Reference is had to the crav 
ing for fellowship with others of like faith on the part of 
the immigrants. Their removal from their former home 
had also separated them from former church fellowship. 
Everything in this new home being foreign and strange 
they became doubly eager to be in sympathetic touch 
with brethren \vho like they had sought and found a 
a home under the western sky. To fellowship and make 
common cause in a strange land is natural as is shown 
by the readiness with which travelers, hailing from the 
same place and meeting in some foreign land, will make 
up with each other. Later on we shall meet with in 
stances of this desire for fellowship. 

A third factor influential in the preparation for uni 
fication was the fact that when the great west and north 
west were opened for settlement some churches came to 
be situated at great distances from each other. This 
isolation created a more intense longing for some closer 
bond of fellowship, some formal union with those of the 
same faith. 

If we study the situation about the middle of the 
present century w r e find that the Mennonite churches 
were widely scattered. Of course in Pennsylvania, in the 
old settlements, a large number of churches were in close 
proximity. But elsewhere as a rule only a few small 
churches were found together, while occasionally a 
single little church was separated from other Mennonite 
churches by hundreds of miles. About that time there 

- 13 - 

were churches in Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, 
Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Canada. 
Between the two extremities, Pennsylvania and Iowa, 
more than one thousand miles intervened and over the 
immense section of country expanding between the ex 
tremes lay here and there the few and comparatively 
small Mennonite churches. Had not railroads furnished 
a quick and easy means of communication, annihilating 
as it \vere the distances, it is doubtful if ever a union of 
the Mennonites of America could have been achieved. 

14 - 


Events which led to the rise of the General Conference. 

Having thus far considered general conditions which 
indirectly affected the rise of the General Conference we 
shall now direct our attention more particularly to those 
events which more or less directly had to do with the 
origin of that movement. 

The first event of this kind which engages our at 
tention is the origin of a Mennonite paper. Though the 
achievement of a union would not have been impossible 
without a paper, yet it would have been far more diffi 
cult, and at best would have been much slower of reali 
zation. For through the columns of a paper the in 
dispensable exchange of opinion could easily take place, 
while the wide circulation would quickly bring new 
ideas to general notice. Most important of all, the sub 
ject of union could be constantly agitated and held before 
the general attention until people everywhere were 
ready to act in unison. For only where such likemin- 
dedness exists is it possible to secure a union which 
shall embrace many and widely scattered persons. 

The first number of the paper referred to appeared 
June 9, 1852, at Milford, Bucks County, Pa., under the 
name of "Religioser Botschafter. " As this kind of un 
dertaking was something new and untried among Men- 
nonites the proprietor did not feel at all certain that 
his paper would secure subscribers. For this reason he 
sent out the first number as a sample copy. It had four 


pages, mostly set in very large type, announced itself 
a? a bi-weekly, and was to cost seventy-five cents per 
year. It contained a proposition from the editor, a 
sermon, a story, some matter of general interest and 
various business matters. 

The editor and proprietor of this paper was John 
H. Oberholzer, at that time minister of the Swamp 
Mennonite Church." By what motives Oberholzer was 
prompted to venture upon the publication of a paper 
appears from his salutatory article. He there sets forth 
that the printing press is employed as a powerful agent 
in the service of sin, and protests that the prudent way 
to battle against this evil is not to seek to destroy the 
press, but rather to employ it in the service of good, and 
thus counteract the evil, "for," says he, God could 
not well have revealed any better means by which to 
spread good influences wider and faster than is furnished 
by the art of printing." Farther on the writer says that, 
realizing this fact, he, though poor, could remain in 
active no longer and so resolved to employ the printing 
press and come to the assistance of his colleagues by 
publishing a bi-weekly religious paper. To use this 
paper as a means for promoting the cause of union seems 
not to have been a part of Oberholzer s purpose ; nor 
is it probable that he even anticipated that it could or 
would prove a powerful means to that end. His aim, 
so far as he had it formulated in the beginning, was 
primarily to preserve the purity of doctrine and to de 
velop and deepen spiritual life. At the head of his 
paper he had printed : "A paper for the defense of true 
religion," and under this the scripture passage: "The 
fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Thus 

16 - 

modestly did the first Mennonite paper in America 
begin. But its purpose was good and noble. Although 
in the course of its history it has had many difficulties 
to overcome and several times has changed both form 
and name, it nevertheless has continued uninterruptedly 
until the present time and has become a source of bles 
sing far exceeding all expectation. 

The sample copy sent out met with sufficient ap 
preciation and secured enough financial support to en 
courage Oberholzer to continue the publication of his 
paper. Of course, the number of subscribers was not 
large, for after a half year the whole number of sub 
scribers was only three hundred and fifty ; but after 
this time there was a slow and steady increase. In our 
day it seems almost incredible that the paper should 
have been able to exist with so small a support ; and 
in fact it was possible only through the heroic self- 
denial of Oberholzer. For he did all the work of get 
ting out the paper himself. He combined in his own 
person the whole staff of a printing establishment. He 
was manager, author, editor, compositor and printer. 
In addition to this he performed his duties as minister 
of several churches, besides supporting himself and 
family at his locksmith s trade. For about four years 
he thus labored alone without receiving any assistance, 
financial or otherwise, and when the expenses of the 
paper exceeded the receipts, which was usually the case, 
he had himself to bear the loss. Yes, he did more. 
He also patiently bore the unfriendly criticisms heaped 
upon him by antogonistic conservatives, and did not 
allow himself to be discouraged by opposition which 
this venture as an innovation had also to endure. 

17 - 

After some years, however, the burden of thus 
carrying on this work alone became too heavy for him. 
But considerable interest had now been awakened in 
others and some persons were found who were willing to 
assist. A stock company was organized under the name 
of the "Mennonite Printing Union" with headquarters 
at Milford Square, Pa. The title of the paper, of which 
Oberholzer continued to be editor, was changed to <( Das 
Christliche Volksblatt" (The Christian People s Paper). 
The first number appeared July 30, 1856. Instead of 
confining itself as heretofore to religious topics only, at 
tention was now also given to secular affairs of life. 
Advertisements formerly excluded were now received 
into its columns. The company erected a building of 
its own, raised the price of the paper to one dollar, and 
in general sought to establish the enterprise on a sub 
stantial business basis. This general change soon 
brought good results. Within a few months the circu 
lation greatly expanded and fields formerly not reached 
were opened. The contents of the paper also witnessed 
a noticeable improvement, due to the fact that the editor, 
relieved from mechanical labor and business cares, 
could devote his time and energy to literary work. Soon 
also contributions began to be sent in from subscribers 
and very lively discussions were carried on upon a 
variety of subjects by correspondents from the various 
districts. The paper had now attained that stage of de 
velopment in w 7 hich it could be used as the mediumfor 
agitating and securing the unification or co-operation of 
the many unconnected Mennonite churches. 

Additional details on the later history of the paper 
will be given at the proper place. It may, however, be 


i8 - 

helpful to note at this point that the title of the paper 
was changed in 1867 to "Mennonitische Friedensbote" 
(Mennonite Messenger of Peace), and that in 1881 it 
was consolidated with the "Zur Heimat" under the title 
of "Christlicher Bundesbote" (Christian Messenger of 
Unity) and is now published at Berne, Indiana. 

Canada-Ohio Movement. 

The next event of importance which claims our 
attention is an evangelization and mission movement 
which arose in Canada and Ohio. During the first half 
of the nineteenth century a large number of Mennonites 
settled in Ontario, Canada, just above Lake Erie. Most 
of them came from Pennsylvania. They did not form a 
compact settlement, but scattered out into a number of 
smaller ones. This was to their disadvantage. For 
settling, as they did, in a wilderness exposed them, be 
cause of isolation and hardships, to spiritual declension. 
There was, however, one man who labored very earn 
estly to quicken spiritual life and prevent religious 
decay. This man was Daniel Hoch. His home was in 
Lincoln County, Canada, near Niagara Falls, at which 
place are situated the oldest Mennonite churches in 
Canada. It appears that he frequently and at his own 
expense made ministerial visits among the churches. 
The result of his labors was that a demand for live and 
systematic evangelization work was awakened. During 
August of 1853 meetings were held in the various 
churches of Canada at which the question of evangeliza 
tion work was considered. The outcome was that a 
call was given to Daniel Hoch to become itinerary min 
ister of these churches ; they agreeing to give him sum- 

i 9 

cient financial support to enable him to devote all his 
time to this calling. In order to obtain the funds the 
co-operating churches agreed upon a system of collec 
tions among themselves. Hoch was not to confine his 
labors to the churches calling him, but was expected to 
labor with churches that stood in danger of growing 
cold, as also to visit neglected or isolated churches and 
individuals. Whether or not Hoch accepted this call 
could not be ascertained. However, it is probable that 
he did, as he developed a greatly increased activity after 
this time. His itinerary work must have extended even 
into Ohio. For in 1855 an organization was effected 
which styled itself the "Conference Council of the 
United Mennonite Community of Canada West and 
Ohio," in the formation of which Hoch took the lead 
ing part. 

As yet, however, the idea of a union of all Menno- 
nites of America had not appeared. Bven this Canada- 
Ohio union was only of local nature, as there existed no 
conscious purpose to extend this union beyond its pres 
ent limits. Nevertheless this movement, we shall find, 
was closely connected with the ultimate realization of 
the General Conference. 

The Unification Idea appears. 

In order that the union of a number of independent 
churches may be accomplished, it is necessary first of all 
that the idea be proposed. Thereupon must follow a 
general discussion of the purpose of the union as also 
the methods for its accomplishment. After the matter 
has been thoroughly agitated and the right method and 
means have been hit upon, then the time has come for 


union. Such a process of development marks the rise 
of the General Conference. 

The idea of a union of all Mennonites of America 
was first proposed in 1856 in the editorial columns of 
the "Christliche Volksblatt." The article in which 
this subject is discussed appeared without signature. 
But since it appeared in the editorial columns and was 
written in the familiar style of the editor, there can be 
no doubt but that J. H. Oberholzer was the author. In 
this article, after referring with regret to the many 
divisions among Mennonites and asserting that it is im 
possible for one person alone to bring harmony into this 
chaos, the writer says: 1 "Although this denomination 
has suffered so many schisms and is at present divided 
into many factions, nevertheless there is a possibility of 
regaining better fellowship, if not entire reunion^by pur 
suing the following course : 

1. Let all ministers of the various branches of the de 
nomination cultivate a fraternal confidence toward 
each other, and abandon all prejudice. 

2. Let a general council from the several states and 
Canada be convened, at which council the brethren 
may become acquainted with each other, and may 
deliberate on the present condition and needs of the 

3. Let this council not adjourn without electing a num 
ber of men, whose duty it shall be to meet at some 
later date and agree on some creed (confession of 
faith), which shall be based on Holy Scripture only. 

1 This quotation is a free rendering of the thought rather than 
a literal translation. The same is true of all quotations from 
Oberholzer. His writings are in very imperfect German, the 
sentences are often involved and frequently the thought is vague. 


4. The creed thus formulated and agreed upon by the 
committee shall then be published and brought to 
general attention. 

5. Finally, all those who will accept this creed and 
unite upon it shall be considered the real Menno- 
nite denomination. 

Here we have very clearly the proposition for unifi 
cation, and undoubtedly it was the wish and purpose of 
the writer to bring about a union of all Mennonites. 
However, had the attempt been made to effect a union 
on the plan proposed it would not only not have gained 
the desired result, but it \vould have led to further divis 
ions. It would have been utterly impossible to formu 
late a creed which in all its details would have embodied 
the peculiar traditions and practices of the various fac 
tions to the satisfaction of all. The weakness of the plan 
lay in the fact that it was based on the erroneous as 
sumption that there existed a difference in doctrine, 1 and 
that, in order to make union possible, this difference 
must be removed. The proposition aimed at a compro 
mise in doctrines and customs in order to attain to ex 
act likeness, instead of a combination for the purpose of 
together carrying on Christian work. But the idea of a 
union was now at hand, although the "how" and where 
fore" needed still to be discovered and formulated. 

The idea met with immediate approval where most 
had been done in this direction, namely from the 
Canada-Ohio Conference. This body held its third ses 
sion in May, 1857, and on that occasion passed the fol 
lowing resolution : "Resolved, that \ve hereby inform 

1 The same fundamental doctrines were then and are to-daj 
adhered to by almost all Mennonites of America. 


our brethren in Pennsylvania that with our whole heart, 
with deep gratitude and great hope, we accept the pro 
posal to hold a general council of the Mennonites of 
America." But they also sought union on doctrinal 
agreement, for relative to the purpose of such a council 
they say, "that if possible a principle for union, based 
on the Bible and satisfactory to all, may be found." 
Having met with this approval, the prospect seemed en 
couraging for union, but, as is so often the case, after 
proposal and enthusiastic resolution, nothing was done. 
Considerable time elapsed before unification was 
again heard of. Doubtless the proposal had not failed 
to impress itself permanently and was quietly gaining a 
strong hold on the minds of many. But the matter 
needed further agitation before it could gain general at 
tention and become a live issue. A new impetus was 
given to the cause by Oberholzer through an article 
\vhich he published in the Volksblatt on March 10, 
1858. The heading of the article was: "The Great 
Question." "Are the Mennonites ever to constitute an 
ecclesiastical body ?" The writer asserts "that at no time 
since the beginning have the Mennonites been ecclesias 
tically united." He then enumerates twelve points in 
which the Mennonites have not unity : "i. In doctrine 
in general. 2. In the form of baptism. 3. In the Lord s 
supper and the washing of feet. 4. In the attitude toward 
other Christian denominations. 5. With regard to hold 
ing public office. 6. With regard to the use of the law 
for protection. 7. On the question of catechetical in 
struction and sunday school. 8. As to mission. 9. In 
the selection and calling of ministers and deacons. 10. 
With regard to an educated ministry, u. As to the 


support of ministers. 12. With regard to the spread of 
Christian teachings by means of publication." The fol 
lowing is also from the same article : "If the Mennonite 
denomination is to hold its own as a Christian church 
and not gradually to disappear, it is necessary that self 
be denied and that all the rubbish of rules and traditions 
as well as all the various creeds, which the contending 
factions have from time to time drawn up, be set aside, 
and that those fundamental doctrines, on which all can 
agree, be adopted and be made the common creed." 
The article closes with this striking appeal : "It is hoped 
that every one, that still possesses a spark of spiritual 
life, and is possessed of love and good will for the Men 
nonite denomination, will be incited by this to express 
himself on this vital question. 

As might be expected this article did not fail to stir 
up renewed interest and for the first time a thorough dis 
cussion on the question of unification took place, and 
that in a public way through the columns of the Volks- 
blatt. The first one that felt "incited" was Daniel Hoch. 
He says, that as so many propositions for union had al 
ready been made, without attaining the desired end, cer 
tainly the right plan could not yet have been hit upon. 
For a confession of faith he thinks that the Dortrect con 
fession is sufficiently biblical to be adopted. That there 
are so many divisions he attributes to the attempt to force 
unbiblical rules upon the people. As a remedy for the 
disease of schisms he proposes that the enlightened 
"ministers of the church abide faithfully by the Word of 
the L,ord and continue to teach true repentance. " It is 
evident that Hoch did not favor a union to be accom 
plished through the adoption of a newly formulated 

confession. But lie failed to produce some other plan 
for union. 

Christian Funk of Stouts Grove, Illinois, wrote that 
fraternal fellowship was very much to be desired, inas 
much as the same fundamental doctrines were held by 
all. The cause of the separations he finds in the strict 
rules concerning external things. He recommends that 
love be given full sway in the hearts and then the diffi 
culty will be overcome. In so far as love is essential to 
prepare the hearts for Christian fellowship, Funk s sug 
gestion was right. But it does not furnish a workable 
plan for the union of the isolated elements. 

Through the vigorous urgency of Oberholzer the 
Canada-Ohio Conference was once more led to notice 
this important question. Encouraged by what they read 
in the Volksblatt, they, at the fourth annual session held 
at Wadsworth, Ohio, in May 1858, decided to go a step 
further than before. It was agreed to make the following 
proposition to the brethren in Pennsylvania, "that they, 
(the Pennsylvanians) if satisfactory to them, may fix 
the place and time for a union council between them 
and us ; which council is to be conducted on the prin 
ciple of mutual forbearance on which the churches of Ca 
nada and Ohio are already co-operating. This principle 
consists in an agreement that the churches of Canada 011 
the one hand and those of Ohio on the other shall mutu 
ally be permitted to continue their practices and customs 
as to baptism or whatever else it may be unmolested." 
This friendly approach, however, seems not to have been 
received with favor. For Oberholzer editorially remarks : 
"What the Volksblatt seeks to attain through a council 
of all the Mennonite ministers is not only the union of 


the churches of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Canada, but a 
union of all the churches in America. What Oberhol- 
zer wanted was a movement, which in its organization 
principle^ should embrace every Mennonite church in 
America. J He had already risen to that height where all 
party lines vanished and the Mennonite denomination 
presented itself to his view as a unity. 

Although the well meant overture from Canada and 
Ohio met with this repulse, it nevertheless helped along the 
course of union. The important principle of mutual for 
bearance and tolerance found expression therein and was 
seized upon not long after and successfully utilized. 
Then also the thought that the conference busy itself 
with missionary enterprise had its origin in this connec 
tion. Daniel Hoch had been elected by the Canada- Ohio 
Conference as traveling minister and the Mennonites of 
Pennsylvania were requested to lend a helping hand in 
this work. 

To the desire for unity had now 7 been added the pur 
pose of doing home missionary work. The attempt to 
fulfill this purpose naturally leads to unity. For mis 
sionary work is the duty of all and requires the support 
of many and so will bring men into co-operation. The 
sense of the need of home missionary work was intensified 
by the many appeals for ministerial visits and spiritual 
help. In August of 1858 Oberholzer appeared with 
another article entitled: "What the Mennonites in Amer 
ica should do." He urges that all ministers should rea- 

1 This conception in all its greatness lies at the foundation of 
the General Conference and should never be lost sight of. The 
General Conference is not a "branch" of the Mennonite Denomi 
nation, and as an organization must in theory always consider it 
self as embracing all Mennonites of America. 


lize that it is the duty of every one to do all in his power 
to facilitate the spread of the Gospel. But that if any 
thing worth mentioning is to be done, at least one man 
ought to be appointed and supported, whose business it 
should be to visit all the scattered members and churches 
and strengthen them spiritually. In order that something 
be done in this direction, he recommends that at the next 
council of the Mennonites of Pennsylvania a "messen 
ger" be commissioned to this work. 

A few weeks later an "Observer" writes: "It seems 
to me that our denomination ought to realize the need of 
having the "Upper Council" select a "peace messenger" 
who should travel in our own country and in foreign 
lands, everywhere where Mennonites are to be found. 
His duty should be to inquire minutely into their doc 
trines, faith and rules and carefully to make note thereof. 
He should collect the various confessions, written rules 
and ancient documents. But above all he should direct 
the attention of all to a coming general church council, 
to be composed of delegates from all the churches which 
claim to hold the Mennonite confession of faith." Surely 
not a small task for one man to perform was here pro 
posed. The plan was impracticable. But though im 
practicable, it possessed the decided advancement over 
ever} r other proposition so far made, that it outlined a 
course how to proceed. There was one statement in this 
article which must have had an encouraging effect. All 
along the question whether the people would back mis 
sionary endeavor with financial support had been a mat 
ter of entire uncertainty. Now the writer of this article 
says: "I believe if you (the ministers) would take cour 
age and undertake this work in a thorough and sensible 


manner, that hundreds of members would support you in 
the endeavor, in order that something substantial might 
at last be done. 

The thought that upon the church rests the obliga 
tion to engage in missionary work, from this time on 
rapidly gained in favor. The truth that Christian life 
consists not only in "doctrine," but that "action" is in- 
dispensible w r as gradually recognized ; knowing that 
"faith without works is dead." In September 1858 one 
writer very forcibly expresses himself on this point as 
follows : "I am convinced that, if we are sincere follow 
ers of Christ, we cannot be indifferent in this matter. 
The disciples very faithfully did their \vork as missiona 
ries. The world has not yet been converted ; many are 
are still unconverted. If w r e know this and have par 
taken of the divine nature, we cannot treat the mission 
ary cause with indifference ; particularly so far as home 
mission is concerned. Therefore, dear brethren, let us 
fraternally consider this matter in the next council. The 
Lord has blessed us with temporal goods. We have no 
excuse for not supplying the necessary funds for the 
maintainance of at least one missionary. It is simply a 
matter of willingness." 

In the next council (conference) of the Mennonites 
of Eastern Pennsylvania (October 1858) this matter was 
really brought up for consideration. How r ever, it did not 
mature sufficiently for the actual beginning of work, but 
a resolution was adopted which promised ultimately to 
lead to it. The resolution was as follows : "Many of the 
ministers and members of our denomination have long 
ago recognized from the word of God that mission work 
is one of the duties of the church. But as this important 


work has heretofore been entirely neglected among the 
Mennonites of America, while according to reports from 
Holland and Germany our brethren there have already 
begun in mission \vork, therefore, be it resolved, that J. 
H. Oberholzer address a letter of inquiry to our Euro 
pean brethren for the purpose of ascertaining under 
what methods they carry on their mission enterprise." 

This letter was prepared and addressed to J. Mann- 
hardt, editor of the "Mennonitische Blaetter. " The re 
ply to this letter was awaited with no small curiosity. 
However, months w r ent by but no reply came. Oberhol 
zer at one time makes mention of the matter in the 
Volksblatt, stating that the letter had been sent and 
"as it is the earnest desire of the American Mennonites 
to receive a reply, we request of J. Mannhardt, that if 
the above mentioned letter has not reached him that he 
make this known to us, either by letter or through his 
paper as soon as possible. Again months elapsed with 
out bringing the anxiously expected reply. The Penn- 
sylvanians \vere about to despair of ever being favored 
with an answer, when, to their great joy, early in the 
year of 1859, a letter came, written by B. C. Roosen of 
Hamburg. In this letter a description of the Mennonite 
mission of Java, which had been begun a few years be 
fore, is given. Roosen urges the American brethren to 
lend their support to this work, stating "that already 
many churches of Holland, Germany, Russia, Austria 
and America participate in it with their prayers and 

By this letter a way was pointed out how the Men 
nonites of America might co-operate with those of 
Europe in carrying on mission work among the heathen. 

2 9 

And the opportunity was not left unnoticed ; for during 
a number of years considerable sums of money were an 
nually sent to the support of the mission enterprise car 
ried on by the "Missionary Association of the Mennonites 
of Amsterdam." However, the letter contained no sug 
gestions which might be helpful in meeting the home 
mission demands in this country. Nor could this prop 
erly be expected, in as much as the conditions in Europe 
differ so greatly from those prevailing in this country. 

Some time after Roosen s letter another correspond 
ence arrived, this time from J. Mannhardt, in which 
much valuable information is given as to confessions, 
creeds, church discipline, church constitutions and the 
like. As this letter was afterwards published in the 
Volksblatt, it served to spread a better knowledge 
concerning the European brethren among the Menno 
nites of this country and assisted in cultivating a closer 
fraternal relation. 

But though it was an advantage to become better 
acquainted with the brethren in Europe, nothing was 
gained by this correspondence, either for unification or 
the development of the home mission cause. There was 
still lacking the necessary principle on which to co 
operate, and a clear statement of a common enterprise 
in which to engage. There was needed an organization 
which would lay hold firmly on the thought of a general 
union, seize upon a workable principle of union and 
set up a worthy object to be attained. These require 
ments were met by the movement to which we shall 
now direct our attention. 

30 - 

Iowa Unification Meeting. 

Near the close of the changeable month of March, in 
the year 1859, there was held an unpretentious meeting 
in a little house in the frontier country of south eastern 
Iowa. From outward appearances one would not have 
thought that this little gathering were of more than local 
significance. And yet it was providentially ordained to 
form the beginning of a mighty movement, which to 
this day is constantly increasing in power and beneficent 
usefulness. The participants in the gathering were 
sturdy German Mennonites, the greater part of whom 
had but a few years before immigrated to this country 
from south Germany l and had settled in the fine forests 
and fertile prairies of Iowa. They had formed two set 
tlements about nine miles apart, one at West Point, the 
other on the Franklin Prairie, in each of which a church 
had been organized, called respectively West Point and 
Zion. These two churches had met at the above stated 
time for deliberation. What they aimed at in their de 
liberations and what steps the} took to attain the end 
desired, is set forth in the report of their meeting, which 
is here reproduced in a free translation. 

"The United Conference of the Zion church of 
Franklin Township, Lee County, Iowa, and the West 
Point Church of West Point Township, Lee County, Iowa, 
was held today, March 21, 1859, in the Zion church. 

"The purpose of this conference is to devise ways on 
the one hand for the centralization of the Mennonite 

1 Many came from the Palatinate and a large number were 
from the Weierhof in Bavaria. 

Zion Mennonite Church at Donnellson, Iowa. 

Churches, but chiefly, on the other hand, for supplying 
isolated Mennonite families with the gospel blessings. 
"Be it therefore resolved : 

1. That hereafter the above mentioned churches shall 
observe as heretofore the customary missionary sab 
baths (the first Sunday of each month), and that on 
these days collections shall be taken for missionary 
purposes, both home and foreign, the collections 
being alternately for one then for the other. 

2. That on the first Sunday of April of this year a col 
lection shall be taken in both churches for the pur 
pose of defraying the expenses of minister Jacob 
Krehbiel II., whom we send to Oskaloosa (Iowa) to 
preach the gospel to the Mennonites residing there 
and to administer the sacrament of the Lord s supper. 


3.. That Daniel Krehbiel 1 and Jacob Ellenberger of West 
Point, and Jacob Krehbiel I. and Jacob Krehbiel III. 
of Zion church are to serve as a business committee 
for this union ; and in addition they shall correspond 
with other Mennonite churches and invite them to 
join this union ; and finally they shall have these 
resolutions published in the Christliche Volksblatt. 

4. That the next meeting of this Union shall be held on 
the second day of Pentecost in 1860, at West Point. 

5. That the committee is authorized to purchase the 
necessary supplies and to draw upon the missionary 
treasury for defrayal of expenses. 

JOHN C. KREHBIEL, 2 Chairman. 
CHRISTIAN ScnowAi/TER, 3 Secretary." 

Inquiry into the causes which led to this meeting 
reveals on the one hand that the intimate relation which 
existed between these churches would naturally lead 
them to seek fellowship with each other. For nearly all 
the members of these churches were connected with each 
other by family ties. But fundamentally this particular 
meeting owes its origin to one person. Daniel Krehbiel 
was the originator and soul of this union meeting. He 
first suggested the idea and it was through his personal 
influence and efforts that the idea gained sufficient hold 
among the people that the meeting could be called and 
held. The end, which he sought, was not the meeting 
itself. The meeting the union -was to be the means to 
this end, namely, the co-operation in support and carry 
ing on of mission work. Krehbiel w r as intensely devoted 
to the cause of missions as well as to the deepening of 

1 See Biographical Appendix. 2 Ibid. Ibid. 


spiritual life at home. He felt that upon him, though 
but a lay member, rested the duty to do what he could 
to promote missions. He at the same time was deeply 
pained at the great lack of fellowship w T hich prevailed 
among the Mennonite churches. Seeing that the two 
churches, with which he stood in connection, might be 
in closer fellowship and that they might do more for the 
spread of the Gospel, he seized upon this opportunity 
and persuaded them to unite, that by their combined 
strength they might more successfully discharge their 
common duty of missionary work. In this thought he 
had grasped the principle which could be successfully 
utilized for the unification of all Mennonites. It is on 
this principle that the General Conference has since 
developed and unfolded its beautiful activity. To Daniel 
Krehbiel, therefore, under divine guidance belongs the 
honor of being the originator of the General Conference 
movement. l Besides this great service which he did for 
the Mennonite denomination, he further proved himself 
a zealous worker in the Lord s cause by his efficient, 
faithful and self-denying labors in behalf of the General 
Conference in the later course of its history. To his 
efforts it is to a very large extent due that the Conference, 
when yet young and weak, was not overcome by the 
difficulties and trials which beset it. 

As we study the above resolutions we observe that 
thereby a missionary society has been founded. The 
purpose named is centralization of the Mennonites for 
the prosecution of home mission. Arrangements are 

1 It appears that Jacob Krehbiel III, of Zion church, intro 
duced the motion to invite all Mennonite churches to participate 
in a meeting a year hence. 


- 34 - 

made for the raising of funds for home and foreign mis 
sion. Home mission work is inaugurated. The way is 
opened for general participation in the enterprise. These 
points embody all the ground-work upon which the 
General Conference has since developed its activity. 
Every branch of work the Conference has since taken 
up, may readily be classified under home or foreign 
mission. As a general principle a union of churches 
should be formed only for the purpose of co-operating 
in Christian \vork missionary enterprise of some form. 
For such labor there is room, however, only either in 
the upbuilding of spiritual life within the churches or 
in the spread of the Gospel abroad. Because of this it 
is reasonable to expect that upon the fundamental princi 
ples of the General Conference the unification of all 
Mennonites of America will ultimately be realized. For 
here dogmas, customs, traditions, externals are not con 
sidered. Union is not to be achieved on the basis of 
likeness or unity in opinions, customs or other non- 
essentials. These are entirely overlooked. Extending 
the hand of Christian fellowship, common cause is made 
of the discharge of the missionary duties resting upon 
all. The endeavor is not to make all alike, in order 
that union shall be possible, but union is sought in order 
more effectually to "Do" the Lord s bidding. Let us 
now follow the further developments. 

- 35 


7 he various movements come in touch with each other. 

The Iowa church union had ordered its proceedings 
published in the Volksblatt. Accordingly they appeared 
in this paper on April 20, 1859, accompanied by a letter 
from Jacob Krehbiel I. The conclusion of his letter 
indicates plainly that the society aimed at missionary 
work and that the union should serve as a means to that 
end. He says : "May the Lord so bless this small be 
ginning that by and by the common bond of brotherhood 
shall unite all the Mennonite churches, that united they 
may care for the spiritual wants of all the isolated and 
scattered brethren of this faith. In the same paper also 
a letter from Daniel Krehbiel is published in which he 
emphasizes the same thought. As this letter gives us a 
glimpse into the inner life of the man and at the same 
time is worth the reading for its general contents, it is 
here inserted with but little abbreviation. 

"West Point, Lee Co., la., April 4, 1859. 

it in mind to write you a few lines, and that particularly 
because nearly five years ago I had the pleasure of meet 
ing you personally. For undoubtedly you still remember 
how together we walked the streets of Cleveland, and 
that, though not on the pinnacle of the temple, we stood 
on the dome of the Evangelical printing establishment 
and from there had such a beautiful view of the city and 

- 36 - 

the shining waters of Lake Erie. That scene still lingers 
vividly in my memory. For such experiences (when 
persons meet who have like dispositions, whose aims are 
the same, who have had the same experiences, even 
though one came from the tropics, the other from the 
north-pole) are in a human life \vhat the oases are to 
the Arabian desert. 

"In itself this should be sufficient reason why I 
should ere this have written you. Something new and 
very important which has recently occured forbids 
further silence. I refer to the movement which has 
sprung up in our two churches. The proceedings of our 
conference held March 21, you have, no doubt, already 
received for publication. In this movement a subject 
has been taken up which surely has been neglected alto 
gether too long by our denomination. What is here, in a 
small way, beginning to develop is, we observe, being agi 
tated on a larger scale by the "Mennonitische Blatter" of 
Danzig (Europe). The aim of the Christliche Volksblatt 
has long been in the same direction. Here and there 
are signs of aw r akeiiing life among our brethren. It is 
greatly to be regretted that some, occasionally even 
entire churches, are not friendly toward such a move 
ment. Such ought, however, to be treated kindly and 
with forbearance. The Lord will in his own time grant 
even to them the great privilege of participating in his 
glorious work. For the dawn of morning which is 
gradually rising in the horizon emboldens us to hope, 
if not for a cloudless, yet for a blessed day. Then, when 
the mild beams of the Divine Sun of Grace shall have 
illumined and warmed the hearts, will come the time 
when all shall with united hands labor in the good 


cause. Perhaps the time is not far distant when the 
bond of fraternity shall extend not only from the Atlantic 
far into the western prairies, but even from the northern 
climes of Europe to this land of the setting sun. Glorious, 
inspiring, encouraging prospect ! It cannot fail to fill 
every one with joy that at last, also among us, the com 
mand of Christ : "Go ye into all the world is receiving 
attention ; that we too as a church may now enter the ranks 
of those who are engaged in the spread of the Gospel." 
Seven years had already elapsed since J. H. Ober- 
holzer began to publish his paper and through it to 
labor unwearied for the upbuilding of his denomination. 
But as yet apparently very little had been gained. It is 
therefore not surprising that he was overjoyed when he 
received the correspondence from Iowa. Here at last 
was a movement which aimed at nothing less than the 
union of all Mennonites of America. Commenting on this 
matter he says : "The contents of the resolutions of the 
Iowa conference of Mennonites have come as no small 
surprise to me, but at the same time since they are as 
spoken out of my own heart they have given me great 
pleasure." He devotes a whole column to this matter. 
He points out that in three respects this conference hits 
upon the right thing. First it recognizes the need and 
duty of home mission. Secondly they have adopted 
energetic measures for the overthrow of the erroneous 
notion of many, who think it wrong to support ministers 
with money, in that they actually send and support a 
minister. And in the third place it is correct that 
through home mission a union can be attained. At 
another place Oberholzer says: "For this reason it 
seems to us and others that the invitation of our Iowa 

- 3 8 - 

brethren is of unusual importance. For we see that this 
is the only correct method for the attainment of fraternal 
relations and the ultimate unification. 

Although the Iowa proposition was hailed with 
pleasure as well as the plan fully endorsed, nevertheless, 
this was not yet participation in the work. The future 
must show whether others would really unite w r ith the 

Let us now retrace our steps to the Canada-Ohio 
conference, which we left at its fourth session. Its fifth 
session was held at Waterloo, Canada, May 1859. At 
this meeting it was agreed that, instead of holding an 
nual meetings as heretofore, after this the meetings 
should occur biennially, alternately in Canada and 
Ohio. Accordingly it was arranged that the next session 
should occur in May of 1861 at Wadsworth, Ohio; a 
circumstance of which we shall later again take notice. 
In the off-year local conferences were to be held sepa 
rately in Canada and Ohio. Of particular importance to 
us is the fact that at this meeting a resolution was adop 
ted which favored the organization of a mission society. 
To this action the conference had been led by a paper on 
the subject of missions, which a member by the name of 
Detweiler had prepared and read in the meeting. 

We observe that almost simultaneously with the 
rise of the missionary endeavor in Iowa, efforts in the 
same direction were made in Canada, sections which 
are separated by great distance, and communities which 
were not at all in touch with each other. The ideas of 
unification and of missionary enterprise are therefore not 
to be considered as having arisen in a certain section, 
but rather is it true that there was a gradual awakening 


throughout the denomination, so that at different places 
many were ready at the same time to take hold of the 
work as soon as appropriate opportunity should offer it 
self. The particular and exceedingly important contri 
bution which the Iowa movement furnished to the cause, 
was that it offered a servicable system and a worthy 
principle. The people were ready the time was ripe 
for the inauguration of the unification movement and 
the undertaking of missionary work. 

The proposed missionary society was soon formed 
by the Canada and Ohio people. In September 1859 it 
was fully organized under a constitution of which a part 
is here presented in a free translation : 

ARTICLE r. This society shall be known as the 
Home and Foreign Missionary Society of the Menno- 
nites. Its object is to support the spread of the Gospel 
of Christ at home and among heathen people. 

ARTICLE 2. Any person paying fifty cents into the 
treasury shall be considered a member of this society for 
one year. Twenty dollars paid in one or in successive 
payments, entitles the donor to life membership ; the 
sum of fifty dollars making the donor a director for life. 

ARTICLE 6. Every church in care of a minister is 
considered a branch of this society. . . . 

The society was to be managed by directors chosen 
from the "Life Directors;" a distinction or privilege to 
be granted upon the payment of a fixed sum of money. 

Plainly the aim in the formation of this society was 
to establish a system for obtaining funds to be used in 
support of the mission cause. It contained no principle 
on which a general union could be effected. Member 
ship could be obtained only through money contribu- 


tions. The funds could be used only for direct mission 
work. By constitutional limitation a manifold activity 
could not be developed by this society ; especially not 
with regard to interests of the churches themselves. 
For to admit of that the churches as such must have a 
voice in the matter. Nor do the founders of this society 
seem to have aimed at anything besides simple support 
of missions. A. Z. Detweiler, the leader in this move 
ment addressed a letter of inquiry to J. H. Oberholzer in 
which he asks for information concerning the Menno- 
nite Missionary Society in Europe, as also concerning 
the one, he says, they had heard, had lately been organ 
ized in Iowa. Because, he proceeds to explain, it is 
their intention to support these missions with all the 
money they may be able to collect for missionary pur 
poses. He also gives a brief sketch of the origin of their 
society as follows : 

"Ever since this church has been organized, some 
of the members have been deeply interested in the cause 
of missions, and this has been intensified since the union 
with the brethren in Ohio. During the first session 
of that conference (1855) the cause of missions was in 
troduced and touchingly recommended by Ephraim 
Hunsberger ; : his suggestion being that we support so 
cieties already existing. Consequently it was agreed 
that at all places, where regular services are held, an 
nual collections should be taken for mission. Experi 
ence has now taught us that by this method we would 
never be able to accomplish much for mission. " As it 
had been found that very little was contributed on the 

1 See Biographical Appendix. 

plan first adopted, the society already spoken of was 
organized in the hope of gaining the end desired more 
successfully in this way. 

In the articles of their constitution no provision had 
been made for a general unification, nevertheless efforts 
were made to win participants for this work. In his cor 
respondence Detweiler says: "This constitution which 
we have prepared may become the basis for the carrying 
on of mission work for all the branches of Mennonites of 
America. . . . From the proceedings of your conference 
I observe that you also have the question of missionary 
enterprise under consideration, but that positive action 
has for the present been postponed. Permit me, there 
fore, to inquire, whether you could not co-operate with 
us. If I am not mistaken, your conference is in position 
to do much in furnishing both men and money. What 
then could hinder co-operation ? Could you not send 
delegates to the next session of our mission society ?" 

Here we have a second movement similar to that of 
Iowa, which solicits others to share in the work. Will 
these different societies develop their activity independ 
ently or even antagonize each other ? Will the Pennsyl- 
vanians continue to pursue their own plans, or will they 
heed the solicitations and make common cause with one 
or the other of the societies already started ? At the three 
centers the same aim is pursued, must not this common 
interest then lead to a consolidation ? 

It did not escape close observers of the Mennonite 
churches of America, that a new condition of things had 
begun, which justified great expectations. Many prom 
ised themselves much of the near future. The signs of 
awakening life kindled joy in the hearts of the friends of 


the church. At different times the Volksblatt brought 
articles, which gave expression to this exultant spirit. 
L. O. Schimmel pours forth his happiness in ryhme. J. 
H. Oberholzer says: "Whence comes it, that from all 
ends of the earth, wherever there are Mennonites, come 
voices which loudly call into the house of our denomina 
tion ? They everywhere recognize the need of co-opera 
tion in the denomination, if ever it is to fulfill its mission 
as a church or to perform the duties assigned to her by 
the Lord. It is the Lord that doeth this. 

The same feelings pervade a letter written by Daniel 
Krehbiel February, 1860. It contains the first invita 
tion to attend a general conference, and in it the question 
of a denominational school finds mention for the first 
time. The following is the letter without abbreviation : 

a West Point, Iowa, February $th, 1860. 

From number 92 of the Volksblatt I learn to my 
great pleasure that interest in mission is constantly gain 
ing greater hold among the Mennonites. So my hearty 
well wishes are with the timely enterprise of the Cana 
dian brethren. By request of the officers of this church 
the attention of the brethren in Canada, Pennsylvania, 
Illinois and other places is kindly called to the confer 
ence to be held here on the second day of Pentecost, and 
we sincerely hope that many other churches will send 
delegates to it. For not only w r ould the missionary 
cause find greater support among us, but to our denomi 
nation it would be no small gain to establish a more in 
timate and fraternal relation between all. 

"The need of establishing an institution of learning 
here in the United States, in which young men could 


prepare for the ministry, is coming to be felt more and 
more distinctly. This matter deserves general attention 
and might be considered at such a meeting as the con 
ference offers. For it will become necessary ere long to 
have efficient German schools in connection with our 
churches, if the churches are not gradually to become 
English. We recommend this matter to the thoughtful 
consideration of the brethren, accompanied by the mod 
est wish that we may yet have the privilege to meet with 
many who read this and to discuss with them this very 
question ; but let all things be entrusted to the guidance 
of the Lord. DANIEL KREHBIEL. " 

To the invitation given in this letter the editor of 
the Volksblatt calls especial attention and urges very 
strongly that the invitation be accepted by very many, 
and he closes with this question : "Brethren of Pennsyl 
vania, New York, Ohio,. Illinois and Canada What do 
you say to this proposition to attend the conference at 
West Point, Iowa, next pentecost!" A few responses 
came. Ephraim Hunsberger of Ohio writes that it gives 
him pleasure to know that a general invitation has been 
extended, and in the expectation that Oberholzer will be 
one of the visitors, he invites him to pay Wadsworth a 
visit in passing. Someone from the east, signing him 
self "Freimuth," writes that he fully approves attend 
ance at the proposed conference and recommends that 
the next session of the Pennsylvania council (conference) 
make arrangements for representation through delegates. 

The official invitation for general attendance on the 
proposed conference appeared in the Volksblatt, May 2, 
1860. In an accompanying letter Daniel Krehbiel writes 
as follows : "It would give us great satisfaction to be in- 

44 - 

formed at an early date, either through the Volksblatt 
or by letter, that many brethren contemplate attending 
on this conference. Everyone is welcome ; but Oberhol- 
zer in particular should not fail to come. Let us hear 
from you very soon. God grant that we may meet in 
the same spirit w r hich he at one time poured out upon 
his apostles, in order that a new epoch may thereby be 
gin for our denomination." 

Again the Volksblatt spoke in favor of attendance 
and expressed the hope that, as the purpose of the con 
ference could certainly not be accomplished in one meet 
ing, a second general conference be held, but nearer the 
center, preferably in Ohio. From this it is evident that 
Oberholzer did not then think of this conference as a 
permanent institution. As had been proposed, the 
matter of representation at the conference in Iowa came 
up in the Pennsylvania council and it was resolved that, 
if any ministers are disposed to attend, permission is 
granted by this council. Objections to attendance there 
do not seem to have been any. But on the other hand 
there was also no disposition to delegate any one to at 
tend nor to furnish means for defraying the travelling 
expenses for any one who might be ready to attend. So, 
notwithstanding the enthusiastic approvals and the re 
peated urging to attend, the prospect for attendance from 
Pennsylvania was far from promising. 

Not long before the time for convening the confer 
ence a list of the subjects which should come up for dis 
cussion was published, as follows : 

"i. Organization of all Mennonite churches of the 
United States that wish to take part, into a mis 
sionary society. 


2. The founding of an educational institution in the 
United States, in which young men may receive 
preparatory training for the ministry, as perhaps 
also for mission work. 

3. The plans proposed in the "Mennonitische Blaet- 
ter" for the formation of a "Menno Society." 

4. Tract publication as suggested in the Volksblatt. 

The first two points are of great importance to every 
denomination ; particularly to a denomination which is 
doing nothing in either direction. Very properly, there 
fore, an active interest should have been taken in the 
proposed projects and every effort aiming at their reali 
zation should have been willingly and vigorously sup 
ported. That this was not the case, but that it took a 
number of years and much labor to establish a school 
and to start mission work, is evidence how nearly 
extinct the fire of religious life was. The condition of 
the denomination resembled that of one fallen asleep 
from long exposure to cold who can be revived only by 
much shaking, rubbing and warming. 

Let us pause a moment here and see what the 
status of this unification cause was at this time. As 
yet there was no real union ; union was only proposed. 
Several movements existed, each of which aimed with 
more or less clearness for the same end. In Pennsyl 
vania the Volksblatt labored for union ; and the "coun 
cil" in that state drifted in this direction. The Canada- 
Ohio conference was trying hard to induce the Pennsyl- 
vanians to join their union, and their mission society 
was hoping to gain supporters from out-lying districts. 
And finally there was the attempt in Iowa to combine 

- 46 - 

missionary enterprise with unification, the promoters of 
which were zealously soliciting participation. 

To us, to whom that period of time belongs to 
the past and who can look back and survey the whole 
course of the unification movement, it seems so natural 
that everything should have come just at it did. To 
those who then took active part the future lay hidden in 
impenetrable darkness. How must not their hopes have 
faded away as the date for the conference rapidly ap 
proached but not one visitor had announced his inten 
tion to be present. It was a time of anxious expectation. 
When only ten days remained there was still no pros 
pect of attendance from without. Will any one come ? 

If we put ourselves into that time and those circum 
stances it will seem very improbable that a movement 
aiming at a general union but arising in those few out of 
the way little churches can succeed. For those churches 
had then practically no connection with other churches 
and were situated on the outer rim of the most western 
verge of civilized settlement ; in a wilderness, and not 
easily reached. Could it be expected that any one would 
be willing to leave a large and old settlement of Menno- 
nites, make a tiresome and expensive trip of more than 
a thousand miles into the far, wild west, there to attend 
a meeting which in its further development might after 
all remain of local significance only ? Must it not have 
seemed very unreasonable to expect an eastern man to 
travel to a wilderness where only a few Mennonites were 
living in order to start an institution which must find 
utilization mostly in the east? Was it not clear that 
Pennsylvania was the natural place to begin a unification 
movement ? For there were many churches situated in 


close proximity. These all had a common history. Among 
them the same language was current. There everything 
was settled instead of being in turmoil and confusion as 
in the west. Bearing these facts in mind one cannot but 
marvel at the faith and courage of the Iowa people in 
issuing from their remote section a call for universal at 
tendance on a unification meeting. But, that they felt 
very anxious about the outcome, and were not at all sure 
that any one would be attracted to the prospective con 
ference is easily believed. This work had, however, not 
been undertaken for any temporal gain or for personal 
ends, but only for the advancement of the Lord s King 
dom, and was from the beginning entrusted to his guid 
ance. Therefore the workers in the cause, though under 
a nervous strain, yet confidently awaited further develop 
ments, believing for a certainty that this humanly weak 
work would be blest of God to his own glory. 

We have now come to the close of the period of 
preparation. It took years to develop enough life, power 
and courage for action that a common enterprise could 
be undertaken. But at last the time for this had arrived. 
No longer should the Mennonites be a scattered flock 
like sheep without a shepherd. Henceforth they should 
not stand idle at the market place, but should also be 
permitted to work in the Lord s vineyard. In the next 
section we shall see how the various movements combine 
and thus bring to realization the long looked for Menno- 
nite Union. 




Unification Begins. 

In the preceding section we traced the rise of con 
ditions favorable to the unification of the Mennonites of 
America. I,et us now follow the further events and no 
tice how on the ground-work already done the foundation 
is laid upon which has since arisen the beautiful and sub 
stantial structure of the General Conference. 

The date for the convening of a general conference 
had been fixed. Urgent invitations to attend were issued 
from Iowa. The approval with which the movement had 
met justly entitled to the hope that many from abroad 
would be present. Nevertheless only a few days before 
the appointed time there was not the least evidence that 
there would be any outside participants. Of course the 
originators of this undertaking were certain that the two 
churches which had met the previous year would again 
be present and hold their meeting even though no others 
should come. That, however, would in all probability 


- 49 

reduce the intended general movement to local signifi 
cance only. We can therefore readily believe that hopes 
began to wane as the appointed time approached and it 
became questionable whether any one would come. Hu 
manly speaking it lacked but little and this would have 
been the case. 

But in the providence of God it had been otherwise 
ordered. The cause was to succeed. The I^ord desired 
that the denomination which had so long stood idle at 
the market should also engage in the work of his vine 
yard. The proposed conference was destined to be the 
means to this end. So, while the w r orkers in Iowa were 
still in uncertainty as to the outcome, several from 
abroad were led of the L,ord at the last moment to resolve 
to attend. One visitor, Joseph Schroeder, came from a 
little church near Polk City, Iowa. 1 Two visitors came 
from Pennsylvania. The delegation from Pennsylvania 
was of exceedingly great importance to the cause of union. 
This, on the one hand, because two widely separated 
districts were thereby brought in touch with each other, 
on the other hand, because of the importance of the per 
sons themselves. For they were none other than the 
editor of the Volksblatt, J. H. Oberholzer, accompanied 
by Enos L,oux. Heretofore Oberholzer, observing the 
Iowa movement from a distance, had helped it on by the 
influence of his paper. If after personal observation he 
would still be favorably impressed by it then the most 
potent influence of the time among Mennonites would be 
permanently won for the cause. 

But how came it that Oberholzer finally did go to 

1 This was a small evangelical Mennonite Church, organized 
in 1858. 


Iowa ? From the council he had received no encourage 
ment. In a half hearted way permission had been 
granted by that body, but no money was appropriated to 
meet the expenses. Oberholzer, however, was unable 
to make the trip unless assistance be given him, as the 
distance was great and traveling expensive. For a 
number of years Oberholzer had unselfishly devoted all 
his energies to the upbuilding of his denomination and 
consequently had accumulated no property of his own. 
So, though he longed to attend the conference, it seemed 
that because of lack of funds the trip must be abandoned. 
As late as May 15, he did not know that he could go. 
On that day he wrote the following statement : "Whether 
or not it shall be possible for me to attend the conference 
I am unable to say. Assuredly there is no lack of 
sincere desire to go ; if it is the I^ord s will that I go to 
Iowa then it will be so, that God s will be done in all 
undertakings, that is my most sincere wish and prayer." 
However, the following day must already have brought 
a change in the situation, for he says: "There is now 
bright prospect that I shall go to Iowa, provided no seri 
ous obstacle intervenes. " 

This sudden change had been brought about through 
the efforts of L. O. Schimmel. 1 He had been deeply im 
pressed with the great importance of the Iowa movement, 
and at the same time he realized that it was especially 
desirable that J. H. Oberholzer should be present at the 
contemplated meeting. Now when he saw that the only 

1 Levi O. Schimmel was then employed as agent for the Volks- 
blatt. He was a minister and preached for some time in Philadel 
phia, and for some time he was steward in the conference school 
at Wadsworth, O. 

obstacle was the lack of money, and that unless this be 
provided there would be no attendance from Pennsyl 
vania, he hurriedly secured the needed money through 
private subscription. When this money was offered to 
Oberholzer he at first declined to accept it, claiming that 
it would be as well if Schimmel would make the trip. 
Schimmel and others, however, urged that he should go 
in behalf of the Mennonite cause in general. After much 
urging they finally prevailed. Bnos Loux, a fellow min 
ister, became Oberholzer s traveling companion. 

Thus it was at last decided that Pennsylvanians should 
become participants in the conference. Only a few 
days now remained before that body should convene. 
Preparations for the journey mu?t therefore be completed 
in haste. May 21 found them already on the way. Their 
first stopping place was at Wadsworth, O., where they 
visited and rested one day with Kphraim Hunsberger, 
pursuant to Hunsberger s invitation recorded on a previ 
ous page. On this occasion the cause of union was thor 
oughly considered and as Hunsberger was favorably dis 
posed toward the Iowa plan, Oberholzer was authorized 
to invite a future session of the contemplated conference 
to Wadsworth, provided the present session would prove 
satisfactory. From Wadsworth the journey led via Chi 
cago to Burlington, Iowa. As Oberholzer himself gives 
an interesting account of this portion of his journey we 
shall let him relate : 

"On Friday evening we again boarded the train in 
Chicago and away it went through the night southwest- 
ward in the direction of Burlington. Saturday morning 
we arrived at the Mississippi river, opposite Burlington. 
Here ferry boats cross and recross about every five min- 

- 52 - 

utes. Having crossed over and entered the city we were 
about to go to the depot to take the train for the interior 
of Iowa to get as near as possible to West Point which 
is situated about twenty miles from Burlington, when 
very unexpectedly we were most pleasantly surprised. 
For before we had arrived at the depot we were met by 
my friend D. Krehbiel and two other young men. And 
there, yes on that spot, in the middle of the street we 
had to submit to an examination whether perhaps we 
were not spies or Pennsylvanians, and behold Pennsyl- 
vanians and no dream ! 

"The joy felt and expressed may more easily be 
imagined than described ; especially as this meeting 
was so unexpected. Krehbiel and one of the young men, 
in the hope that after all some one might arrive from 
Pennsylvania, had come to Burlington with a team in 
order to convey any such visitor to West Point. At the 
latter place we arrived Saturday evening at five o clock, 
in good health and full of joy, and were very cordially 

The next day was Pentecost. In observance of this 
occasion as also for a preparation for the unification de 
liberations which were to begin on the day following the 
Lord s Supper was celebrated. The visitors from abroad 
also took part in this. To be assembled about the Lord s 
table under these peculiar ciscumstances could not fail 
to bring the hearts of these sincere Christians into closer 
fellowship ; being consciously reminded that all have 
but one and the same Lord. With this thought in mind 
fraternal considerateness would be more readily observed. 
It was exceedingly appropriate that these people should 
be in such a solemn frame of mind. For the work which 

53 ~ 

they were about to perform involved great responsibility 
and was of immeasurable importance to the Mennonites 
of America. 

The first General Conference was held at West 
Point, Lee County, Iowa, on May 28 29, 1860. The 
greater part of the first day was devoted to religious ser 
vices. The people had turned out in large numbers. 
Very many outsiders in addition to almost all the mem 
bers of the two churches were present, and they filled the 
good sized church 1 to overflowing. They were attracted 
by the unusualness of the occasion. The plan to effect 
a union of all Mennonites was something entirely new, 
and of itself created enough interest to attract many. But 
now that visitors from abroad had come, and among these 
Pennsylvanians representatives of those churches which 
had been in this country for more than a century, who 
had their own peculiar language and were exceedingly 
strict and exclusive when this became known the in 
terest grew into excitement and everybody flocked to the 
meeting in greatest expectancy. In order to gratify the 
demand thus expressed three sermons were delivered in 
the forenoon and two in the afternoon, the visiting min 
isters, of course, being given particular prominence, and 
undoubtedly in all those speeches fraternity and unity 
formed the chief topic. Judging from later references to 
this meeting, there was a deep moving of the Spirit felt 
at the time. The Lord was nigh. 

The conference proper opened after the conclusion 
of the afternoon service. Just how the beginning was 
made is not on record. Very likely J. C. Krehbiel, 

1 It was the church of another denomination. The West Point 
people had no church of their own at that time. 


chairman of the previous meeting, set forth the cause 
and purpose of the meeting, whereupon an organization 
was effected which consisted in electing a chairman and 
a secretary. J. H. Oberholzer was nominated for chair 
man and Christian Schowalter for secretary and both 
were unanimously elected by acclamation. As the day 
was already rapidly drawing to its close arrangements 
were made by which the main question, the cause of 
union, could be brought under successful deliberation 
on the following day by "electing a committee of five 
who should prepare a plan for the union of the Menno- 
nite churches of America, and submit the same on the 
following morning." Into this committee were chosen 
J. H. Oberholzer, Joseph Schroeder, Jacob Krehbiel I, 
David Ruth, and Jacob Krehbiel II. 

With this the business session of the first day was 
concluded. But the labor in behalf of union was not 
ended for this day. For there was yet to occur the most 
important work which had ever been performed in be 
half of the Mennonites of America. The foundation was 
to be laid on which to build a general union. So not 
only did the success of this conference session depend on 
the work of this committee, but upon it hinged the suc 
cess or failure of the whole movement. For it is plain 
that no strong objections would be made to the principles 
and regulations which this committee would propose, 
but that they would be adopted practically as outlined 
by them. It was therefore now in the hands of these 
five men to select those principles which should to an 
indefinite future shape the character and guide the des 
tiny of the Mennonite union. They were not men of 
great learning to whom this momentous task had been 


entrusted ; on the contrary their education was very lim 
ited. Although ministers they supported themselves by 
their own labor, four by farming, one by printing. They 
were thoughtful, modest men, gifted with good common 
sense, of deep piety and actuated by pure motives. In 
their efforts for union selfish motives had no place. 
They were actuated by the sincere purpose to do God s 
will, to assist in the upbuilding of his kingdom by se 
curing if possible fraternal fellowship and unity among 
the scattered Mennonites. This being true they did not 
enter upon their task without fervent prayer and suppli 
cation. And the lyord heard their prayer and so blessed 
their work that they were enabled to draw up a plan 
and adopt principles upon which the conference has 
since developed with most gratifying success. 

On the following morning the committee submitted 
its report in writing. Bach of the proposed points was 
subjected to a thorough consideration. According to 
the minutes of the conference few, perhaps no altera 
tions or additions were made to the report as submitted. 
The brief reference made to it is as follows : "In to 
day s meeting the committee submitted its report in 
writing. After thorough deliberation it was adopted 
as follows." 

As the resolutions adopted are of great importance 
they are below inserted in full, the translation being as 
faithful as possible to the thought. 

"Union of all Mennonites of North America. 

"It is a matter of gratification to every friend and 
supporter of Mennonite doctrines to know that within 
the United States and Canada there are about 128,000 

- 56 - 

Mennonites. But at the same time it is humiliating to 
know that this denomination has never, since its exist 
ence in America, constituted an ecclesiastical organiza 
tion ; that is, has failed entirely to co-operate as a 
general church. But most deplorable of all, seems to 
us, is the fact that, just because of the lack of fraternity 
among those who still cling to the Mennonite doctrines, 
there is in many places a constant increase of factional 
ism and a corresponding decline in spiritual life. Be 
cause they recognized this state of affairs many ministers 
and members have for many years earnestly desired that 
an intimate and fraternal co-operation might be gained. 

"Accordingly a number of ministers and members 
in the western states issued a call for a general confer 
ence, to meet at West Point, Lee County, Iowa on May 
28, 1860, for the purpose of considering ways and 
means for the unification of all Mennonites of North 
America, conformable to i Cor. 12 : 12 27. 

"After this great and important matter had, under 
devout prayer and supplication, been deliberated upon, 
the following resolutions were adopted : 

1. That all branches of the Mennonite denomination 
in North America, regardless of minor differences, 
should extend to each other the hand of fellowship. 

2. That fraternal relations shall be severed only when 
a person or church abandons the fundamental doc 
trines of the denomination ; namely those concern 
ing baptism, the oath etc., (wherein we follow 
Menno Simon), as indeed also all those principal 
doctrines of the faith which we with Menno base 
solely upon the Gospel as received from our Lord 
Jesus Christ and his apostles. 


3. That no brother shall be found guilty of heresy 
unless his error can be established on unequivocal 
Scripture evidence. 

4. That the General Conference shall consider no ex 
communication as scripturally valid, unless a real 
transgression or neglect, conflicting with the de 
mands of scripture, exists. 

5. That every church or district shall be entitled to 
continue, without molestation or hindrance and 
amenable only to their own conscience, any rules 
or regulations they may have adopted for their own 
government ; provided they do not conflict with the 
tenets of our general confession. 

6. That if a member of a church, because of existing 
customs or ordinances in his church, shall desire to 
sever his connection and unite with some other 
church of the General Conference, such action shall 
not be interfered with." 

These six points constitute the entire set of resolu 
tions, adopted at this time, looking to the formation of 
a union. By the first article the greatest obstacle to 
union is removed. For it is just on minor differences 
on non-essentials that some of the most calamitous 
schisms have occurred. Had non-essentials been given 
any place in the program for union surely this cause 
would also have been wrecked on that perilous rock. 
But the danger was known and the framers of the plan 
wisely steered clear of it. The strength of the Conference 
was not to be wasted in disputes over non-essentials. 
To this position the Conference has since steadfastly 
adhered to her great gain. "In essentials unity, in 


non-essentials liberty" has become the current expres 
sion of this principle. 

The second article seizes upon the central feature 
of the Mennonite faith, in that it rests all doctrinal 
points of faith on Scripture only and rejects all tradition, 
and that it asserts that on essential points Menno Simon s 
interpretation of Scripture is correct. 

Articles three and four are concerned with church 
discipline and show what position the General Confer 
ence assigns to the Word of God, pointing out the limits 
of authority for those who exercise discipline. God s 
Word and conscience are in all things to be the final 
arbiters. Freedom from purely human ordinances is vouch 
safed. Arbitrariness in church discipline is ruled out. 

The relation of the individual church to the Con 
ference as provided for by article five, is fortunate and 
appropriate. The Conference is not set up as a superior 
authority w 7 hich may dictate to the churches. Each 
church retains its independent self-government. This is 
the relation in which churches stood toward each other 
in apostolic times. Every church governed itself while 
at the same time it co-operated with the others in carry 
ing on missionary enterprises. This democratic form of 
church government is in full harmony with the spirit of 
our denomination as w r ell as that of our free country. 

By article six the Conference aims to take such a 
position that existing differences in customs and ordi 
nances shall be no obstacle to fraternal cognizance and 
fellowship between individual churches ; guaranteeing 
at the same time full liberty of conscience to individuals. 

The plan of union therefore embodies the following 
points : i. The principle for union. 2. The essence of 


the confession of faith. 3. The position on church disci 
pline. 4. The form of church government. 5. The 
establishment of freedom of conscience for the individual, 
and fraternal relation between the churches. So nearly 
do these points cover the necessary ground for union 
that, excepting a few verbal changes made later, almost 
no additions have since been made. 

After having agreed upon the plan for union the 
conference directed its attention to the object for which 
as an organization it should .exist. This object is ex 
pressed in the one word Mission. Under this general 
head come all the activities the Conference has ever en 
tered upon ; which, however, in practice divides itself 
into various phases of work. Four of the principal lines 
of work undertaken later are already named at this con 
ference (namely Foreign Mission, Home Mission, Pub 
lication, and Education) as will be seen from the fol 
lowing report : 

"The cause of Missions was also considered and the 
following resolutions were adopted : 
i. That hereafter Home and Foreign Mission shall be 
carried on according to ability by our denomination. 
There shall be one treasury at Franklin Centre, lyee 
Co., Iowa, and another at Milford Square, Pa., the 
latter to be in charge of the treasurer of the Menno- 
nite Printing Union. Into these treasuries all 
money intended for missionary purpose or for the 
distribution of tracts shall be paid, and the fund 
thus contributed shall be considered the common 
property of the denomination. This arrangement 
shall continue until changed by some future session 
of the Conference. 


2. Every church is requested to collect money in the 
manner as to it seems right and best and then to 
remit the money to one of the treasurers, designating 
to what cause the money is to be devoted. 

3. That the Publishing House already in existence in 
our denomination is appreciated as a helpful institu 
tion and that it is hereby fraternally recommended 
to general support. 

4. That an institution for theological training shall be 
established as soon as it can be accomplished through 
the support of the denomination." 

By whom Home and Foreign Mission were proposed 
as departments of activity is not known. There was no 
need that any one in particular should champion their 
interests for all present were already in full sympathy 
with efforts along those lines. The cause of Publication 
naturally found its advocate in J. H. Oberholzer. For 
the cause of Education Daniel Krehbiel had raised the 
banner, and it was through him that this vital interest 
found a place on the program. 

Although the Conference through its resolutions set 
forth what particular lines of w r ork it was intended to 
engage in, nevertheless nothing was done at this session 
looking to the realization of any of them. The money 
to be collected by the system proposed was not to be 
used on any project of their own but was to be remitted 
to other organizations. The cause of publication was 
only approved of and recommended, but no responsibility 
taken with regard to it. In order to continue in existence 
it was necessary for the Conference to engage in some 
enterprise. For without anything to do or accomplish 
no organization can long exist nourish never. The 

61 - 

Conference was in need of at least one undertaking for 
the existence and success of which she was responsible ; 
some enterprise which depended for support on the 
churches and the individual members, upon which the 
interests of the members could be centered ; a cause 
through which a sense of ecclesiastical self-consciousness 
could be awakened ; a work of which the many could 
say "it is ours." This work needed to be such as would 
easily win the hearts and gain support. It should re 
quire repeated deliberations in conference, give to a 
standing committee plenty to do and year after year 
center upon itself the attention of the churches and enlist 
their loyal support. No enterprise could meet all these 
conditions better than a school. A better religious as 
well as literary education was felt as a great need. To a 
school supplying this need parents would the more 
readily contribute because of the benefit their children 
would reap. In addition to other advantages school is 
an excellent means to remove sectional differences and 
peculiarities and to break down the artificial boundaries 
with which prejudice has always hedged itself in. As 
the establishment and operation of a school by a denomi 
nation requires an organization it is evident that the 
cause of union would have a promising beginning if the 
first common work undertaken would be a school. That 
this particular line of work was actually proposed as the 
first undertaking did not arise from the contemplation of 
such reasons as above enumerated. It is doubtful 
whether anybody thought of them. The determination 
to provide for Christian education had its motive in the 
fact that those men believed that thereby a great blessing 
would arise to their denomination and because they 


hoped that on the one hand the denomination would 
then secure a better educated ministry and on the other 
hand that through the school some young men would be 
led to become missionaries, which would enable the de 
nomination to carry on mission work of their own. 

Although a plan for union had now been completed 
and the lines of work agreed upon, no actual union was 
effected. Nothing of what had been done was to be con 
sidered binding on anyone. The resolutions were to be 
submitted to the churches for consideration, after which 
they should be reconsidered at the next conference and 
only then should they be signed and become binding. 
This deliberate proceedure, it must be admitted, was 
very prudent. For after prolonged deliberation objec 
tionable points are sometimes discovered which at first 
had escaped detection and w 7 hich it might be very desirable 
to have removed. Then again it guarded against any ap 
pearance of undue haste. And finally the proposed plan 
could be subjected to close scrutiny by such as contem 
plated uniting but had not before taken part, and if any 
change seemed desirable it could be more easily made 
than if the instrument was already binding on some. 

Its next session this conference decided to hold at 
Wadsworth, Ohio, on the second day of Pentecost 1861 ; 
the same place and almost the same time appointed for 
the next meeting of the Canada-Ohio Conference. Are 
these two movements to come in touch with each other 
at that time ? 

As to the spirit. in which the deliberations of the 
conference were conducted, as to what feelings possessed 
those present, what hopes were entertained can be seen 
from what was retrospectively written of that occasion. 

- 63 - 

We quote first from Oberholzer. He says : "When I 
look back to the Mennonite Conference held at West 
Point, which it was my privilege to attend, I experience 
a genuine joy in my heart. Everything that I saw and 
heard justifies one in saying : The whole assemblage 
was one heart and one soul. A more important meeting 
of ministers and members has in my opinion never been 
held among Mennonites in America ; that because this 
conference aims at a union of all Mennonites in the 
United States and Canada. In another place the same 
writer says : "It is befitting the times that at last men 
have arisen within our denomination who are willing to 
undertake the task of raising this denomination to that 
condition and position which is worthy of the denomina 
tion itself and suitable to the age in which we live. 

Another writer, signing his article with "K," says : 
"It is but a few days ago that we were permitted the en 
joyment of fraternal and cordial association, and already 
we are separated again by a distance of more than a 
thousand miles. The occasion, of which so much had 
been said and written has come and gone, but a grand 
work, to which that meeting is to form the foundation, 
has been inaugurated. It is the Lord s work and if we 
are found to be usable tools in the Master s hand the 
work will prosper. The beginning has satisfied even 
the most sanguine expectation. We may confidently 
believe that the spirit of God was with us and that we 
had essentially a pentecost. It was an occasion never to 
be forgotten." 

In a letter J. C. Krehbiel says: "I must confess 
that the pentecostal days which our heavenly Father 
permitted us to enjoy will remain as an especially bright 

- 6 4 - 

place in my memory of the past. For seemingly we 
were taken by the unifying spirit of God and together 
lifted to Tabor s height. Who would censure us for be 
ing filled with the wish to stay the flow of time, saying 
with the disciples : L,ord it is good for us to be here. 

In the conference proceedings this meeting is re 
corded as the First General Conference and all later 
meetings are consecutively numbered from this one. 
To avoid confusion this order shall here be observed in 
references made to conferences. But in reality that was 
a preliminary meeting aiming at the formation of a 
General Conference and not that organization itself, un 
less, indeed, the first meeting held pursuant to a call for 
unification is conceived as constituting the Conference. 
If, however, the Conference is thought of as an organi 
zation it must have had its beginning at some later ses 
sion. For at this meeting no churches were represented 
by delegates, the plan of union was not considered as 
completed, and no one signed the resolutions. There was 
as yet no union. What had so far been done was purely 
preliminary for the attainment of a union. Even at the 
next meeting the organization was not completed. For 
though the resolutions agreed upon at that time were 
signed by a number of ministers and lay-members, they 
were not yet ratified by the churches, and so were bind 
ing only upon the individual signers. The union was 
not properly completed until the churches had become 
participants through duly authorized delegates. This 
occurred for the first time in 1866, membership being 
that year secured only through written credentials from 
the respective churches. 

That the process of union and organization experi- 

- 65 - 

enced a rather slow development need not surprise us. 
For almost without exception the participants were en 
tirely inexperienced in organized co-operation of any 
sort. It was necessary to a great extent to let things take 
their own course and to adjust matters according as 
changing circumstances and new needs seemed to de 
mand, and thus gradually learning from experience, to 
perfect the originally rather primitive organization. Hav 
ing begun weak and small, it was the lot of the confer 
ence to develop as a child, gradually coming to know its 
powers and learning, sometimes by mistakes, how to use 
them. But this slow development was really to the ad 
vantage of the movement. For into it were to be drawn 
people of various views, customs, language etc., and 
brought into fraternal relation. By keeping the original 
cast in a plastic state it was possible more easily to adjust 
for the reception of the different elements than would 
have been the case had all been complete and unalterable. 
The results achieved by the First Conference were 
a great gain for the cause of union. Never before had a 
workable scheme been devised in this country by which 
all Mennonites could be united. What made the result 
still more significant was the fact that it had been 
brought about through the co-operation of representa 
tives from sections which were distant from each other, 
which differred greatly in external matters and had here 
tofore not been in touch with each other. The partici 
pants were from two main sections, i. Three churches 
in Iowa, namely : a. Zion ; b. West Point ; c. Polk City. 
These were alike in that they were situated in the west 
and had recently immigrated from Germany. 2. Pennsyl 
vania churches, Oberholzer and Loux being the repre- 



sentatives. It must not be understood that these men 
stood in intimate relation with all the Mennonite churches 
of Pennsylvania. Only with a comparitively small num 
ber did Oberholzer stand in such a relation that it could 
be expected that his influence would lead them to unite 
with the movement. As we shall hereafter have to deal 
with the churches, which adhered to Oberholzer, as a 
part of the General Conference an account of them may 
properly be given space here. 

Churches of Pennsylvania which united with the General 

In order to trace out the history of these churches 
we must once more return to the past. The Franconia 
Conference, to which reference is made in the introduc 
tion, had since the middle of the eighteenth century con 
tinued its semi-annual meetings. No progress had been 
made either in aims or methods. On the contrary retro 
gression have taken place. Such a burden of human 
ordinances had now accumulated that spiritual life could 
no longer prosper in those who attempted to bear this 
burden. Of this conference Oberholzer had at first also 
been a member. Soon after he was called to the min 
istry he recognized many of the weaknesses and defects 
of that body. He was most impressed at first by the 
lack of system and organization and decided to make an 
effort to improve conditions along this line. With this 
end in view he drafted a constitution and in 1847 su b- 
mitted it to the Franconia Conference for consideration. 
Some approved of the plan but the majority did not. It 
appears that opposition against Oberholzer now arose 

- 67 - 

and that the conference undertook to discipline him for 
attempting to introduce an innovation, the demand be 
ing that he recant and confess his error. As he, how 
ever, did not believe himself guilty of any disciplinable 
offense he refused to submit to this demand ; several 
ministers and churches supporting him in this position. 
When Oberholzer persisted in his refusal the conference 
excommunicated him from their council," and with 
him all who had taken sides with him. It was a hard 
blow for Oberholzer to be thus treated, when he had been 
actuated by the purest motives to be cast out when he 
had sought only to do good. As late as 1860 he speaks 
with sadness of the unjust treatment received and even 
then labors for reunion w r ith those who, to their own in 
jury, had rejected him. 

Those excommunicated soon afterwards held a 
meeting and in October 1847 organized a conference of 
their own. This movement soon gained additional ad 
herents and has since that time steadily increased in 
strength and numbers. Reference has several times been 
made on preceding pages to this conference as the Coun 
cil" of the Pennsylvania churches. It was through this 
organization that the correspondence with European Men- 
nonites relative to mission had been opened. Through 
a long period of years Oberholzer was the moving spirit, 
the head and leader of this progressive departure, and to 
his influence it is chiefly attributable that those churches 
were won for co-operation with the unificatioiviniovement 
begun in Iowa. After uniting with the General Con 
ference this conference in Pennsylvania still continued 
its independent local activity. Because of its geographical 
position it has since come to be called the "Eastern 


District Conference," this name also designating its 
membership in the General Conference. 

From the foregoing it is evident that it was the pro 
gressive part of the Pennsylvanian churches that was 
friendly to the movement for union in Iowa. That these 
centers of progress, differing so greatly in external mat 
ters, but alike in spirit and purpose, extended to each 
other the hand of fellowship from the extremities of the 
inhabited land has, as it were, bound together all Men- 
nonites of the entire country, and it presages in a beauti 
ful figure the time when all the spiritual descendants of 
Menno Simon shall have set aside all minor differences 
and shall in the sunshine of fraternity co-operate in the 
work of the Lord. 

Before proceeding with the narrative let us pause a 
moment and consider just what the General Conference 
is and what it is not. 

1. Admittance to membership in the General Confer 
ence is open to every church that holds to the fun 
damental doctrines taught by Menno Simon ; no 
matter what special name such church may bear. 
The professed aim of the Conference is to unite with 
itself all Mennonite churches regardless of all dis 

2. The General Conference will know of no branches 
or divisions among Mennonites. 

3. The General Conference makes no laws for the 
churches. Her office is not to rule but to do mis 
sion work build up the kingdom of God. 

4. The churches constituting the General Conference 
have by their union not become something else from 
what they had been before. Each church remains 

- 6 9 - 

just what it was and retains all peculiarities she had 
if she so chooses. Each church retains her individ 
uality as well as her independence. 

5. The General Conference is not a separate class or 
division of Mennonites which may be distinguished 
from others by special doctrines or customs. It is 
impossible to class the Conference as such a divi 
sion because her membership list contains churches 
which differ very much in customs and special 
views, and which to this day retain these differences 
precisely as they did previous to uniting with the 
Conference. The General Conference is therefore 
in no sense whatever a branch or division of the 
Mennonite denomination. 

6. The General Conference is that movement which 
aims to unite the isolated forces of the Mennonite 
denomination into a co-operative union for the pur 
pose of doing missionary work. 

A real union, as has been previously stated, had not 
been effected by the First Conference. In order to bring 
the cause to successful issue it was necessary that the 
matter be thoroughly agitated during the ensuing year. 
Upon this work Oberholzer entered at once and that on 
his homeward journey. The idea how to secure a union 
as also the principle on which to base the same had 
their origin in Iowa. But to Oberholzer belongs the 
honor of opening the way for their introduction and ac 
ceptance. By the influence which he exerted through 
the Volksblatt as also through his personal touch with 
many churches he inspired others to interest and action. 
The results of the conference and his pleasant personal 
experiences had worked Oberholzer up to a high pitch 

of enthusiasm and wherever he went he brought this to 
bear on others. On his way home Oberholzer stopped 
at several places, making this a sort of missionary 
journey in behalf of the Conference. A detailed account 
of that trip is preserved and as it admits of a glimpse 
into that early time of beginnings, a few extended ex 
tracts are given space here. 

"Just this morning we arrived at the home of 
brother Hege and his dear family (Summerfield, 111.). 
Filled with gratitude for the graciousness of our Lord 
which he has so abundantly manifested toward us poor 
"pilgrims" in our journey, I feel prompted also to w r rite 
a few lines for the Volksblatt. 

"But I must remark that when I had gotten pen 
and ink ready and wanted to begin writing I had to sit 
still for a while, not knowing where to begin among the 
multitude of interesting experiences which I have lately 
had and which now surge in upon my attention. . . . 
Let me begin with the thirtieth of May. On that day we 
visited a few families in West Point. The next day 
Jacob Krehbiel I. took us to Franklin Center. After 
having made a few visits there we proceeded to the so 
called "Prairie" in which section the Franklin Center 
church members live in close proximity to each other. . . 
I wish to make particular mention of the choirs of both 
the West Point and Franklin Center churches. The 
young people surprised and pleased us with their good 
singing. So also their parochial school, of which Chris 
tian Schowalter is the efficient instructor, deserves of 
special mention. . . . 

"On Monday a number of dear friends once more 
assembled with us at the home of David Ruth and there 

bade us a final farewell in contemplation of which even 
now my eyes become moist with tears so that I am un 
able to write. . . . On the next morning we took our 
departure for Keokuk, Jacob Krehbiel and David Ruth 
accompanying us. Having found our steamboat in Keo 
kuk these brethren also bade us farewell and returned. 
As our boat was to leave at four o clock the next morn 
ing w r e took up our lodging in the cabin that evening, 
and so spent two nights and a day on the steamboat un 
til we arrived at St. Louis. . . . 

"We did not fare better in Summerfield than in 
West Point or Franklin. It is curious how it goes now 
adays in the world. If one goes to strange places it does 
not take long before one is surrounded by persons who 
endeavor to take from one everything of value one may 
possess. Conduct yourself as you may, \vithout some 
loss you will not escape. Now, dear reader, you will 
wonder what the western people have taken from us. 
Have they taken your money? (Oh ! that would nt have 
been much.) No, not just that. Have they sought to 
ruin your honor ? Not this either, so far as we know. 
Then what was it those people took from you ? Well, if 
it must out . . . they have taken our hearts, so we can 
not bring these back entire (and still enough thereof) to 
the east ..." 

After his arrival home Oberholzer refers to this trip 
once more. He says : "If we look back over the last six 
weeks and recall the crooked and straight railroads, the 
hills, valleys and chasms over which we have travelled ; 
the rains, storms and dark nights we passed through, we 
must say with the Psalmist : The Lord hath done great 
things for us. We have travelled about 2600 miles and 


at no time were we more certain of God s presence with 
us than during this journey. 

The proceedings of the First Conference were not 
given to the public through the Volksblatt but were 
published together with an explanatory statement in 
pamphlet form. These pamphlets were offered at a low 
price to the friends of the cause of union, the expectation 
being that in this way the movement could be brought 
to more general attention. It is doubtful, however, 
whether this procedure was of advantage to the cause. 
But though the proceedings were not published in the 
paper there was no lack of discussion and agitation 
through that medium during the year following. Be 
sides others, particulary J. H. Oberholzer and Daniel 
Krehbiel repeatedly wrote on this subject, presenting it 
from the various points of view and urging participation 
in the cause. By this persistent and courageous agita 
tion the cause was held before the general attention 
throughout the year. 

We shall here let follow a few extracts of what some 
writers had to say during this period. One writer, sign 
ing himself "More Soon," says : "It cannot be expected 
that the noble purpose, that of elevating the Mennonite 
denomination, wall be attained if only one or but a few 
churches adopt some plan and seek to do the work 
alone. The usual result of such action is simply that 
another division of Mennonites comes into existence, 
which indeed carries on its own plan but with difficulty, 
while the rest of the churches remain just where they 
were. Experience has abundantly taught us that such 
procedure leads only to increased estrangement, divi 
sion and indifference. 

- 73 

A clear insight into this situation of the Menno- 
nite churches of America has given rise to the General 
Conference held at West Point. The plan which was 
after prayerful deliberation agreed upon has already 
found the sincerest approval of many. But if the Men- 
nonite denomination is to perform her duty along this 
line it will be absolutely necessary for the ministers as 
well as the members to give up their selfishness and 
surrender their enormous egotism in such matters as are 
not clearly set forth in the Word of God, to the extent 
that no one shall think it his prerogative to compel 
others to accept his view. 

"That unreasonable notion, that ministers ought 
not to be educated, must be abandoned and full sway 
given to Christian education. How can it be asked or 
even expected of a man that he correctly and clearly 
present the truth when he is entirely deficient in matters 
of learning? . . . Then also that unbounded love of the 
world in particular of money so common among us 
Mennonites, needs to be checked if w r e are ever to gain 
the position of an active denomination. It is absolutely 
indispensable to establish Christian schools of our own in 
which our youth may be instructed in the Gospel truths. 
(But that costs money). And then all sons ought to at 
tend. (That too costs money). And finally ministers 
ought to travel in the interests of our denomination. 
(And again that costs money). . . . These great needs 
the Conference, held at West Point, has recognized and 
formulated a plan by which all Mennonites of America 
may be united and at the same time guided to activity 
and the fulfillment of her ecclesiastical duties." 

When the time appointed for the Second Conference 

- 74 - 

was already near at hand Daniel Krehbiel wrote : "Con 
ference time is rapidly approaching and undoubtedly 
many are awaiting developments with great interest 
whether there will be a fairly general attendance or 
whether the cause will be barely able to drag on its ex 
istence. If only matters of minor importance will not be 
too stubbornly adhered to ! Unfortunately it is still a 
weakness of our denomination that too much emphasis 
is placed upon non-essentials, thus preventing a healthy 
growth in the important functions \vhich belong to a 
Christian church. While other denominations are busily 
engaged in bringing the Good News to our poor fellow- 
beings who still worship idols, many among us depre- 
catingly shrug their shoulders as though it \vere wrong 
to support such work. While others are constantly in 
creasing the number of their institutions of learning, we 
waste time in discussing the wisdom of having an edu 
cated ministry. A great and beautiful work a work 
which God demands, has been undertaken by a small 
portion of our denomination, and the accomplishment of 
of its purpose will require many sacrifices and much 
self-denying effort. ..." 

Daniel Stauffer wrote from Ne\v Jersey: "This 
awakening to life in our denomination is a great delight 
to us - particularly with reference to the Iowa Confer 
ence. May the spirit which proceedeth from the Father 
and the Son kindle many hearts with love that this 
cause may survive and prosper. ..." 

A special opportunity to work directly for the cause 
of union presented itself to Oberholzer in the course of 
the year. Daniel Hoch, of whom we know that he had 
considerable influence among the Canada churches, 


made a preaching tour through Pennsylvania during 
this time. This naturally brought him in touch with 
Oberholzer who could thus personally set the proposed 
plans clearly before him and could labor with him to 
win him over to the movement. That he was successful 
in this must be concluded from the fact that Hoch ap 
peared at the next conference. 

From w r hat has been said it is clear that the cause of 
union had succeeded beyond expectation and that it was 
rapidly gaining in popular favor. After a long separa 
tion friends rejoice to meet again. A similar joy seemed 
to come upon many at the re-union of the churches 
which it was felt had begun. But the happiness was 
not unalloyed. The cause which had sailed so smoothly 
into sea was yet to contend with many storms before the 
haven of its destiny should be reached. Even the first 
year brought difficulties and in some form they have 
been present ever since. But nothing has so far been 
able to check this stately ship in its progressive course. 

It was quite natural that opposition should arise 
against the new movement and it was in this direction 
that the young cause had its first trial. Not w T ith all did 
the proposed union meet with welcome. Though no 
w r ritings of opponents are accessible it is know T n from 
writings by friends of the cause that opposition was 
made. As evidence we shall quote from several writers. 
One says : "Opposition to the unification cause is after 
all made only by such as are devoid of the spirit of frater 
nity, or by such as are slaves to their own mighty Kgo. 
Another waiter complains : "Many are filled with ques 
tionings such as these : and will all approve of what the 
Conference decides on? Will all support the Union? 

- 76 - 

What are these few who have undertaken this great task 
compared to the many who so far remain indifferent ? 
They say : money, yes money we can waste on this 
cause and nothing will come of it after all. And finally 
some one says : And what do such and such men want ? 
We know them only too well. We know their record. 
If such and such had begun this work then one might 
have confidence in it, but as it is, looking on will do for 
the present." 

Another writer, speaking of the opposition, says : 
"This good plan could not remain without opposition. 
Indeed it is known that not only lay members but minis 
ters themselves put unclean hands upon this peaceable, 
well-meaning movement by using an unholy pen for the 
purpose of defeating the aims of the Iowa Conference 
and of checking the further action of this Christian 
"leaven." They carry on their sinister work in the dark 
by quietly sending letters to others and not only advis 
ing them not to unite with this Mennonite Conference, 
but warning them against the men who labor so un 
selfishly for the church and casting suspicion upon them. 

How sad it is that men are often unwilling to let 
others help them, though they be in spiritual or moral 
need. Even Jesus and his devoted Apostles met with 
the experience that men declined to receive the higher 
gifts offered them. They too were maliciously misrepre 
sented. It must have greatly pained the promoters of 
the General Conference to find that those w T hom they 
wished to help met them with calumny and accused 
them of evil intentions. However they were not dis 
couraged. Nor did the attempt thus made to defeat the 
movement succeed with those who were spiritually alive 

- 77 

and conscious of the need of union. But with those who 
were cold and infected with the disease of factionalism 
this malicious antagonism served as a welcome excuse 
to continue in stagnant indifference. 

A danger of another nature arose during the first 
year which, though it had nothing directly to do with 
this movement, might yet have brought the young and 
feeble work to an early termination. Reference is had 
to the destructive civil war which broke out at that time. 
It was several weeks before the appointed time for this 
meeting of the Conference when on April 12, 1861, the 
war cloud burst upon the land. But as the early part 
of the war was not of such alarming nature as to disturb 
the peace-loving Mennonites, visitors nevertheless came 
to the appointed meeting, and so while the government 
tried to retain national unity by force, the people of peace 
formed a union in love. But had the time for convening 
the Conference come a few months later it is very doubt 
ful whether any one would have attended, and that 
would probably have ended the whole attempt at union. 
For by that time the country was already deeply involved 
in the deadly struggle while the people stood aghast. 

We shall see how, notwithstanding the war and 
other hindrances, the work nevertheless prospered and 
gradually developed under God s gracious guidance. 


Plan of Union completed. Steps taken for the establish 
ment of a Denominational School. 

The movement begun in Iowa theoretically includes 
in its plan of union all Mennonite churches of North 
America. At the First Conference but a few persons 
from abroad took part. It had been possible on that oc 
casion to do some important preliminary work. Final 
action was postponed until the next session in the hope 
that sufficient interest w r ould have arisen by that time to 
secure a more general attendance. It therefore depended 
very largely on the Second Conference whether the work 
would succeed or fail. An organization which was to 
combine in itself such a variety of elements as the Men- 
nonites of America represented, ought from the very be 
ginning to bear the stamp of universality ; a requirement 
which called for representation from various districts, 
not necessarily from many churches. Some of the more 
sanguine promoters of the movement entertained the 
hope that the majority of the churches w r ould be repre 
sented at the next Conference. But this was more than 
could reasonably be expected. For the scattered condi 
tion of the churches, both geographically and ecclesias 
tically, rendered such a suddden union impossible. To 
reach all churches and remove all obstacles is more than 
the work of a few months ; only gradually in the course 
of many years can this be accomplished. Not crystalli- 

- 79 - 

zation but growth describes the process of unification 
under the General Conference. But let us now direct 
our attention to the Second Conference. 

At the appointed time, May 20, 1861, the Second 
Conference convened at Wads\vorth, Ohio. As in the 
previous year spiritual fellowship was cultivated by 
special services preceding the conference. The Con- 

Wadsworth, O., Church, in which General Conference of iSbi was held. 

ference report says: "The conference proper was pre 
ceded by five services for worship held on Sunday and 
Monday the days of pentecost. The Lord s Supper was 
also celebrated, almost all visiting ministers and others 
partaking with the members of the church." At that 
conference the beautiful custom was introduced of hold- 


Present Wads-worth, Ohio, Church. 

ing services in the intervals, especially in the evenings 
between conference sessions. 

From eight different churches visitors had come as 
follows: i. Zion, la. 2. West Point, la. 3. Wadsworth, 
Ohio. 4. West Swamp, Pa. 5. East Swamp, Pa. 6. 
Philadelphia, Pa. 7. Summerfield, 111. 8. Waterloo, 
Canada. This, indeed, was but a small number to in 
augurate the movement which should ultimately em 
brace all Mennonites of America. But the composition 
was appropriate. Persons living at great distances from 
each other and differing much in external matters met 
here to join in a common cause. Here were Germans 
lately immigrated, Pennsylvania Germans, and some 


nearly English. Peculiarities of different nationalities 
and sections as well as of various antecedents were 
noticeable. From north, east and west representatives 
were present. Even in matters of dress, customs and 
views there were strongly contrasting varieties. But 
one thing they all had in common a heart for the cause 
of God; readiness to put God s cause above self-interest 
or egotism ; willingness to work for the welfare of the 
denomination at large. 

Among those present we note some additions over 
the previous year. The two churches from Canada and 
Ohio were members of the familiar Canada-Ohio Confer 
ence ; that movement having thereby allied itself at least 
in part with the larger one. The Summerfield, 111., 
church is closely related to the Iowa churches in char 
acter and history. The three sections which have here 
tofore labored independently, we observe, are represented 
at this meeting. By thus identifying themselves with the 
same movement they were merged into one to the great 
gain of all. However by uniting with the General 
Conference the formerly existing societies were not dis 
continued. The Conference in Pennsylvania, as stated 
before, has continued its specific work until the present 
time. The Canada-Ohio Conference kept up its sessions 
for about ten years longer when it was discontinued. 
The accession of these churches was a substantial gain 
for the Conference, not only in members but particularly 
in working force. The Canada-Ohio Conference had 
capable leaders, and from Summerfield there came then 
and later men to whose ability, wisdom and labors, under 
God s blessing, is attributable to a great extent the suc 
cessful development of the Conference. 


In organizing the Conference the new additions were 
recognized by selecting Daniel Hoch of Canada as chair 
man, and Daniel Hege 1 of Summerfield as secretary. In 
the deliberations the first matter attended to was the re 
consideration of the resolutions of the previous meeting. 
After thorough discussion several changes were made, 
but these were merely verbal and did not affect the 
sense. To the basis for union one article was added, 
viz. : "That no one may be a member of the Mennonite 
denomination who is a member of a secret society." 
That the Conference took this antagonistic stand toward 
secret societies is chiefly due to J. H. Oberholzer. Dur 
ing the first years of the publication of his paper he had 
already expressed himself against those institutions. As 
early as 1851 he had induced the Eastern Conference to 
take its stand against them. In his little book, "Ober- 
holzer s true Character" (1860), he justifies his position 
with convincing reasons. That the Conference thus 
early took this decided stand against secret societies has 
proven a blessing and will continue to do so in the 
future, as it will serve to keep the denomination free 
from the deadly coils of that evil. 

The resolution to establish a Theological Institution 
being approved, it was thought wise to add an explana 
tion to this resolution. This explanation, produced by 
Daniel Hege, is a masterly presentation of the impor 
tance and need of Christian educational institutions for 
the Mennonite denomination. 2 The following are a 
few extracts. 

1 See Biographical Appendix. 

2 For the whole article see the printed Conference proceed 
ings. German. 

- 83 - 

"Should some one question: Why are Christian 
institutions of learning necessary for the promotion of 
faith in Jesus Christ? Does not faith arise from the 
preaching of the word of God? Then the answer is : 
Yes, faith comes through preaching. But since so much 
preaching is done and yet so little is believed it is plain 
that not all preaching works faith, but that only such 
preaching is effective which labors with the heart and 
produces in it willingness to receive the seed out of the 
divine Word, and which secures an intelligent compre 
hension of the truth concerning the crucified and risen 
Savior. . . . We learn from God s word that it must be 
preached as a living personal experience, must fall as a 
seed into the hearer s heart and if Satan is not to uproot 
it before it has borne fruit, it must necessarily also be 
understood. But since it is of such vital importance for 
every one to understand God s word, is it not then ab 
solutely indispensable that the minister himself under 
stand it, yea more, be able to make it clear to others? 
But to help the minister to obtain this ability, that is 
what Christian schooling is to do. . . . Therefore, above 
all things, we need for the beginning at least one 
thoroughly Christian Mennonite school, both as a help 
in the unification of the Mennonites and as a means 
toward the spread of the Gospel. ..." 

This explanation as well as the work of the Con 
ference in general met with approval at home and in 
Europe. In an interesting letter, dated July, 1861, B. 
C. Roosen of Hamburg writes as follows: "As of un 
usual importance I consider the establishment of a school 
for the training of ministers and teachers. In the "Men- 
nonitische Blatter" various views as to the desirability, 

- 84 - 

superfluity and even the dangerousness of scholarly edu 
cation have appeared. That without any outside in 
fluence there now arises within our churches in America 
a sense of the need of thorough education is with us 
a cause for joy. What is said in the report of the 
Conference with regard to education has my fullest 

By other resolutions adopted at this Conference the 
way was prepared for the realization of a school. It was 
agreed to announce that the Conference was ready to 
receive contributions for the establishment and main- 
tainance of a school, and it was further agreed to elect 
an itinerary minister who should labor for the cause of 
union, but should give particular attention to mission 
and school ; incidentally he was also to solicit subscriptions 
for the establishment of the school. For this important 
but difficult office one man among the delegates seemed 
particularly fitted. This man was Daniel Hege, at that 
time minister of the Summerfield congregation. He 
was unanimously elected and the sequel will show that 
the choice was a wise one. 

When the proceedings had reached this stage those 
present felt ready to enter upon a formal union. This 
was accomplished by first agreeing upon the following 
resolution: "All these articles (those adopted at this 
Conference) shall be binding on all who join this union, 
and future Conferences shall be entitled to make changes 
or amendments only on a majority vote of two-thirds. 
Thereupon followed the formal union by signing, as be 
low, the following declaration : 

- 85 - 

"Upon these articles of constitution we the under 
signed declare ourselves as united. 



Additional Delegates. 







According to a remark appended to the record of the 
above proceedings there were others who would have 
signed, having expressed themselves as in full harmony 
with all resolutions, but who had to leave before the 
document was ready for signature. Who these were is 
not known. 

These signatures were of course not binding upon 
the churches but only upon the person who had signed. 
However it was almost certain that the respective 

1 In the published Conference proceedings the name of J. H. 
Oberholzer does not appear. However it does appear in the re 
port as published in the Volksblatt June 12, 1861. 

churches would endorse what was done, as for each of 
the districts the names of at least two representative men 
were recorded who had a leading influence in their re 
spective churches and upon whose advice the churches 
would undoubtedly unite with the Conference. That the 
action of these met with approval at home is evident 
from the fact that at their next sessions both the Canada 
and the Pennsylvania Conferences expresed themselves 
by resolutions as favorable to the General Conference. 

Thus finally had the beginning to a union been made, 
for the attainment of which efforts had been made for so 
long a time. At last there existed an organization with 
which all Mennonites could ally themselves in co-oper 
ative activity. The General Conference was born. We 
now leave the work of foundation-laying and direct our 
attention to the w^ork of building on this foundation ; ob 
serving how the Conference unfolds its activity in vari 
ous directions ; how by repeated additions the member 
ship multiplies, how her strength increases and she 
gradually becomes able to carry on work on a liberal 

There can be little doubt but that those sharing in 
the conference did not have a clear understanding as to 
what constituted membership in conference ; whether the 
Conference was an organization by churches or by indi 
viduals. The Conference itself had not made its position 
clear. One private opinion published anonymously is 
preserved. The writer s views do not agree with the 
present arrangement for membership. However his ar 
ticle gives some valuable views on the Conference and 
we quote below an extented extract : 

Among Mennonite people there are still current some 

- 87 - 

erroneous views with regard to the Plan of Union. The 
Union as well as its proposed school is a purely volun 
tary cause which does not aim to be coercive in the least. 
Members are to be such not by compulsion but volun 
tarily. So likewise all support of conference undertak 
ings is to be obtained through free-will offerings. No 
whole church is to be dra\vn into this union, but only 
ministers and members who recognize it as a good cause 
and are willing to support it. Those who cannot recog 
nize it as a good movement and will therefore not support 
it are nevertheless to be considered as dear brethren of 
our faith, and are not to be censured in the least for their 
attitude, provided they do not seriously oppose the cause. 
The aim of the union scheme is to give to no branch 
any preference, nor to shut out any who adhere to Meii- 
nonite doctrines. But of course that element from which 
the largest number become members will be most in 
fluential. The General Conference will not trouble itself 
with matters of dispute which may exist between various 
factions or persons ; such work were altogether too in 
significant and aside from the real purpose of the Con 
ference. Indeed it is the professed purpose of the union 
to overcome the feuds between factions, not directly but 
by indirect means, namely through instruction and en 
lightenment. If anyone has a complaint against a brother, 
a church or a set of churches, this General Conference is 
not the place for presenting such a complaint. The Con 
ference has not come into existence for the purpose of 
judging the various sections of Mennonites, but for the pur 
pose of edifying building up the whole denomination." 
The General Conference is not only the agency 
through which the churches are able to discharge their 


common Christian duties, but it is also a blessing to the 
churches themselves in several ways. First of all ma}- 
be mentioned that through these meetings a better ac 
quaintance with and knowledge of one another is gained 
among the membership in general. Instead of being 
limited, as formerly, in their personal acquaintance to 
the members of their own church, they now come to 
know and love as brethren persons who are members 
in distant churches, and thus the sense of fellowship is en 
larged. Almost every member of the affiliating churches 
now has personal acquaintances in all churches. Through 
the holding of the conference sessions in the various sec 
tions of the country this process of becoming acquainted 
is facilitated. Again from this increased acquaintance 
arise several beneficent effects. The people s horizon is 
enlarged and narrowness of judgment is somewhat fore 
stalled. By one on the mountain top a more accurate 
view of the country can be had and so a more correct 
judgment can be given with regard to it than by one 
who is in the valley ; he sees more and farther. If a 
man has lived all his life in the same neighborhood 
where certain customs have always prevailed, he is easily 
shocked when he meets with customs differing greatly 
from what he is used to. But if it is his fortune to have 
come in touch with many different social conditions and 
customs he w r ill be much more tolerant toward such as 
differ from his own. The same may be said for differ 
ences in personal opinions. The observing and thought 
ful person, who is in frequent contact with such as hold 
opinions differing from his own, will grow more tolerant 
and will take a positive stand on such questions only as 
involve a vital principle. 

Then we may further notice that the Conference is 
a blessing through the fact that the needs which all 
churches have in common, as also the particular needs 
of the individual churches can be brought to general at 
tention, and concerted action may then be taken for the 
satisfying of such needs. Thus it has already been pos 
sible through the Conference to adopt common Hymn- 
nals, Catechisms, Rituals ; neglected churches have been 
built up ; and in many other respects by mutual assist 
ance and co-operation improved conditions have been 
secured. Bven where material aid is needed in a church 
the Conference serves as a convenient agency through 
which to secure assistance. In this direction a commend 
able beginning was made as early as 1861. As stated 
before, the West Point congregation had no church of 
its own, and, because of the stringent times, was unable 
to raise the necessary funds to build. The other con 
ference churches came to their assistance, those of Penn 
sylvania contributing one hundred and twenty five dol 
lars, to which the General Conference added twenty 
three dollars more. Since that time assistance could be 
rendered in different directions and it is not at all im 
probable that a separate department must in time be 
created by the Conference for the discharge of her duties 
along this line. 

It is opportune once again to attend to the publish 
ing interest, that is, the Mennonite Printing Union. A 
brief historical review, published in 1862, reads as follows : 

"With this number (July 23, 1862) the sixth year 
of this paper closes. Onr press was first set up in 1852 
in J. H. Oberholzer s workshop. (Oberholzer was a 
locksmith by trade.) Of course the trade had to rest 


when the "Religioese Botschafter" began its pilgrim 
agecontinuing three years. In 1855 no paper was 
published as the press was then used for the publication 
of Gottfried Arnold s Erholungslehre. 

"In 1855 the former owner sold the printing estab 
lishment to the Mennonite Printing Union, they to con 
tinue the work. Under this management the Christliche 
Volksblatt has already appeared for six years. This 
paper has so far been the most effective means for the 
spread of truth used by Mennonites since their settle 
ment in America. It is therefore a cause for regret that 
the majority of Mennonite families have not yet sub 
scribed for the paper. Were this paper generally kept 
there certainly could not be so many persons found who 
are ignorant as to the real condition of their own denomi 
nation. Is it not through the Christliche Volksblatt that 
fraternal correspondence has been begun with our breth 
ren in Europe and that we have increased information 
with regard to them? ..." 

What the writer claims is true. No other influence 
had done so much toward upbuilding the denomination. 
No other means could be so effective. Through published 
reports the churches know of each other. The discus 
sions carried on in the right spirit through the paper 
have an educating and unifying effect. The paper offers 
a ready means for bringing special matters quickly to 
general attention and so makes special efforts involving 
many persons possible. Without the assistance of the 
paper the mission assigned to Hege could scarcely have 
been successful. 

Previous to the war the publishers were barely able, 
even with the most careful economy, to publish the paper 

without loss. But when the war came everything ad 
vanced in price, while subscriptions were less promptly 
paid. During that period many publications, especially 
church papers, were compelled to discontinue. The 
Volksblatt also felt the pressure. Some of the stock 
holders urged that the size of the paper should be dimin 
ished and expenses reduced. Others favored discontinu 
ance. But that they felt would deal the death blow to 
the unification cause. After much private discussion 
the company held a meeting during February, 1863. With 
what unselfishness this \vork was conducted appears 
from the financial report. The paper had at that time 
706 subscribers. The subscription price being one dollar 
it is plain that no one made large wages out of the re 
ceipts from the paper. The report says : "If these sub 
scribers had all promptly paid up it would have been 
possible with the small side income to cover all costs 
of publishing the paper, for all employes receive but very 
small pay and the most careful economy is exercised." 
Two causes mainly produced the financial embarass- 
meiit. i. Delinquent subscriptions. Some received the 
paper for many years and never paid. 2. Great advance 
in the price of paper. It had advanced to twenty cents 
per pound which was double the former price. Three 
ways out of the difficulty were suggested : reduction in 
the size of the paper, change from bi-weekly to monthly 
editions, or advance in the subscription price. But as it 
seemed clear that any one of these changes would reduce 
the circulation or curtail the usefulness of the paper it 
was after all decided to continue as before. That the 
paper was published for three years more (1863 1866) 
is well known, but whether any changes were made or 

what difficulties, if any, were encountered could not be 
ascertained as copies of the paper for those years could 
nowhere be found ; a fact which with respect to the 
General Conference history is greatly to be regretted. 

After this somewhat extended digression we shall 
now 7 return to the history proper of the Conference. By 
the resolutions of the Conference the greatest prominence 
had been given to the school question ; a position which 
that cause held for a number of years, the interest of the 
churches as also the deliberations of the Conference all 
centering in this one issue. The school withdrew the 
general attention from minor matters to itself and held 
it long enough for the amalgamation of the various ele 
ments and until the union was sufficiently perfected and 
strengthened that it could endure even under severe trials. 

The school undertaking was peculiarly adapted in 
several ways to promote the cause of union, i. It was 
a business undertaking which required general participa 
tion and gave the Conference something to do. 2. It 
offered opportunity for money contributions and so enlisted 
the personal interest of the donors. 3. The direct per 
sonal sharing in the common enterpise helped to develop 
the sense of fellowship. 4. It was a worthy cause ap 
pealing to head and heart and gave to the supporting 
churches increased self-respect and dignity. 5. The as 
sembling of the youth from the several districts in one 
common institution necessarily tended to efface differ 
ences in thought and custom and strengthened real fel 
lowship. But this enterprise also contained certain pos 
sibilities which if unfortunately developed might easily 

- 93 

lead to the ruin of the school while the cause of union 
would be put to a great strain. 

In order to obtain the proposed school it had been 
arranged that Daniel Hege should visit the different 
Mennonite churches and solicit subscriptions. Several 
causes conspired to delay Hege s entrance upon this 

1. Such work was new among Mennonites. It was 
an untrodden road. The churches themselves had to 
be prepared for the visit. Without such preparation 
small success was likely to attend the effort. Then 
the solicitor must first gain information with regard to 
the churches, must know where they are and how they 
might be most easily reached. Then of course it was 
well to know in advance the size of the churches, their 
peculiar views, their attitude towards the Conference, 
in order to successfully carry on the work when on 
the spot. But all such information was obtainable 
only slowly and with difficulty in those days when 
there was practically no affiliation between churches, 
and no statistics existed. 

2. This work had been delegated to Hege quite 
unexpectedly. As he was not a man of large means but 
had a family to provide for, special arrangements for 
the care of his family must first be made. 

3. These praparations and arrangements could prob 
ably all have been made in the course of a few months. 
However another factor entered which postponed the 
work for a whole year. The war which at first had 
seemed but a small disturbance, soon to subside, 
daily assumed more direful proportions, and within 
but a few months had drawn the whole nation into its 


awful torrent. Under these circumstances postponement 
of travel was very natural ; this the more as Hege s 
own home seemed exposed to the ravages of war. So 
near to Summerfield was fighting done that the roar of 
the artillery could be heard there. The Volksblatt 
makes mention of this fact as follows : "Through 
private correspondence w r e have been informed that as 
Hege s own home is exposed to the terrible devastations 
of war, he will for the present not leave his family on 
the chance of thereby abandoning them to the sav 
agery of war." 

Nevertheless preparations for the tour were not neg 
lected. Through the Volksblatt it was brought to gen 
eral notice that Hege was about to enter upon a solicit 
ing tour. The purpose w r as explained, the importance 
of the cause emphasized and liberal support encouraged. 
The matter was again agitated chiefly by the two men 
w r ho had all along shown themselves faithful champions 
of the cause of union J. H. Oberholzer and Daniel 
Krehbiel. The former labored particularly to rouse the 
churches from their death-like sleep of indifference, to 
enlist their sympathies in behalf of education, and to 
dispose them favorably toward Hege as solicitor. So for 
example he says: "As the best evidence of revival 
among our churches stands the fact that at the last ses 
sion of the Conference an itinerary minister was chosen 
who is to visit all Mennonite churches in America, is to 
preach wherever desired, to visit in the homes etc. This 
most important duty has been delegated to our respected 
and beloved brother Daniel Hege. He is a man of 
scholary attainments and enjoys the advantage over 
many of his fellow 7 ministers of possessing a classical as 


well as theological education. As a man he is serious 
yet amiable. In social intercourse and in conversation 
he is considerate and kind, and approachable by every 
one ; nevertheless he always holds fast to his purpose 
and convictions. In short, we most heartily recommend 
him, as in our estimation, he, of all Mennonites in Ame 
rica, is best qualified for the execution of the apostolic 
mission assigned to him." 

Daniel Krehbiel devoted his attention mostly to the 
school. He sought to show the advantages of Christian 
education and to point out the blessings which would 
accrue to the denomination through a better educated 
ministry. The following extract is from his pen. "Thor 
oughly educated men are an absolute necessity to the 
church, and the church has always had them from the 
apostolic age to the present time. Even our Mennonite 
denomination has not lacked them in the past and is not 
without them at present. Yes, Menno himself was an 
educated man and without his education he could not 
have accomplished what he did. The apostle Paul, be 
ing a learned man, labored and achieved most. Then 
why should we withhold our approval and support from 
an institution which under divine guidance will bring 
great blessings to our denomination?" 

Bfforts were also made in some other ways to prepare 
the field for solicitation through Hege. In the fall of 1861 
the Eastern Conference adopted the following resolution : 
"Resolved, that Daniel Hege is to be received among us 
with fraternal cordiality as soon as he shall come here ; 
and our prayer is that blessed success may attend him 
wherever his duty shall lead him." Several dialogues 
were published, one in the Pennsylvania German dia- 

_ 9 6 - 

lect, 1 in which the cause of education and union was 
argued pro and con. This literary form seems to have 
been popular at that time. 

Notwithstanding the fact that the war grew more 
and more terrible and times became more stringent, Hege 
made arrangements to begin his work in the spring of 
1862. In order to pave the way for his visit to the sev 
eral churches he published a request that all churches 
desiring a visit from him should send him their addres 
ses. To his disappointment almost no addresses came. 
That this did not tend to encourage him is certain. And 
if w r e consider the difficulties w r hich the tour itself offered, 
the antipathy to schools as yet so prevalent, the preju 
dices which many harbored against the dreaded innova 
tions as also against strangers, w r e can easily understand 
why Hege hesitated. All signs seemed to indicate that 
the undertaking would not meet w T ith satisfactory suc 
cess. What Hege s state of mind \vas at this time may 
be learned from what he writes on April 2, 1862. He 
says: "The three months fixed upon in the beginning 
of the year in my request for addresses, have now elapsed, 
but only a few addresses have been received. When I 
perceived this discouraging fact I decided that since 
those to w r hom I had been sent showed so little desire for 
my visit, I \vould come before those w r ho sent me with 
the question whether the war trouble and the financial 
distress w r ere not sufficient ground for further postpone 
ment of my work. But as it seems that both the war 
and the financial crisis are felt less severely in the east 
it is now my purpose, without awaiting any further 
prompting, invoking Divine assistance, to enter upon 
1 See Appendix II. for this dialogue. 


the task assigned to me and begin the soliciting tour 
before the middle of May. 

"The nearer the time comes for beginning the work 
the more difficult, but also the more important it appears 
to me, so that not infrequently it rests as a great weight 
upon me and I am able to bear up and stand by my pur 
pose only because it is the Lord s will "At another 

place in the same writing Hege expresses his regret that 
no committee was appointed under whose direction and 
advice he might perform his work. As it was he found 
the entire responsibility resting on himself alone. He 
says : "Often have I regretted that I had to decide 
everything myself ; for example, when to begin work, 
where and how far to go, and how long to remain at each 
place. Of course experience will be the best instructor, 
yet a committee would have proven a great help. 

When a whole year had slipped by and still the man 
failed to appear whose coming in many places was looked 
forward to with genuine interest and no small curiosity, 
impatient voices began to make themselves heard. 
People began to question : When will Hege come or 
will he come at all ? It was therefore advisable no longer 
to delay the solicitation of subscription. There was 
danger that the interest awakened would subside again, 
perhaps never to be regained. Hege hesitated no longer. 
In accordance with his announcement he entered upon 
his work in May 1862. Of the early part of his work we 
let Hege himself report as follows : 

"Blair, Waterloo Co., Canada West, June ij, 1862. 

our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. First of all, by 
way of reply to all the requests which have come to me 


9 8 

for reports of my work and journey, allow me to make of 
you the counter- request that you unite with me and let 
our wishes become prayers, united, intense prayers for 
the coming of the kingdom of God, Amen. 

"Perhaps an apology is expected for not writing 
of my work before this, inasmuch as it is my duty to 
give an account to our denomination of my labors and 
the results. However I hope if I make even a brief re 
port it will then not require an apology. 

"On May 12, I left my home, Summerfield, and 
have since then travelled considerably more than one 
thousand miles upon ten different railroads, on Lake 
Erie, and on more than twenty-five different vehicles, 
without however being more than seven hundred miles 
distant from Summerfield). I have preached seven 
times, made three addresses, led three devotional meet 
ings, attended several conferences and made a great 
many calls at homes. I find these visits at the homes 
particularly advantageous for the successful presentation 
of our common aim the unification of the Mennonite 
churches, co-operation in missionary work and the es 
tablishment of a Christian educational institution by and 
for Mennonites. But it is also these visits at the houses 
which contrary to my expectation I find the most fatigu 
ing. To acquaint in a single day two to four of the most 
influential men with our plan, to receive their views on 
the subject, to become mutually acquainted with and to 
know each other, this coupled with the repeated conver 
sations on church ordinances, customs and confessions 
offers more matter for consideration and discussion than 
the brevity of the allotted time usually admits of be 
ing disposed of, and so not infrequently a portion of 


the night is also employed in this work. The result is 
that I have found myself compelled to seek a several 
days rest here with dear brother Samuel B. Baumann 
who has very hospitably received me. My intention is 
to again enter upon my w^ork today. 

"As to the success of my efforts I am as yet in the 
dark. Excepting my home church (Summerfield, 111.) 
and Canada I have for the most part only acquainted the 
people with our purpose and plan, my intention being to 
visit those places again on my return trip. This I did 
because it was my purpose to attend the Conference to 
be held on May 30, at The Twenty, Canada, and so 
had to make my stay short. I shall therefore briefly 
relate with what reception our cause has met in Sum 
merfield and here in Canada. 

"To the Lord be praise and thanks that he disposed 
the hearts of the Summerfield church members far more 
favorably toward the cause of mission and education 
than I had expected. Indeed that missionary obligation 
w r as being more and more recognized and acted upon I 
had for some time observed with pleasure, though much 
remains to be desired in this direction. Nevertheless at 
least a willing beginning has been made in participating 
in mission work. But that the proposed school was felt 
to be something much needed and that so much was 
subscribed toward it was a genuine surprise to me. 
Those who know how young our church is and that 
even now there is a debt of 400 dollars upon the little 
church, dedicated January 23, 1859, and that at least 
1 200 dollars have been paid toward the church during 
the last three years, and this notwithstanding the fact 
that most of the members are but beginners and are 


struggling to gain independent foothold for themselves, 
not a few having debts of their own I say, those who 
know this will appreciate with me that the 400 dollars 
subscribed voluntarily for the school by the Summerfield 
church is evidence that a Christian school for Menno- 
nites is felt among us as a great need. 

"Here in Canada my work until within four days 
has been devoted entirely to the "Old brethren." These 
people constitute the larger number of Mennonites in 
this section. To these duty of mission work or the need 
of a school are subjects entirely foreign and are therefore 
looked upon with suspicion and prejudice. However 
here and there I have met with some who manifest ap 
preciation for these things and I doubt not but that 
through the present agitation, the many conversations 
with single individuals and families, the addresses before 
meetings, many will be led to reflect on mission and 
school with the result that they will become favorably 
disposed toward them. Much, very much could be done 
here for the spread of the Kingdom of God if only a 
general awakening of the missionary spirit could be 
effected. The number of Mennonites exceeds my ex 
pectation ; and most of them prosper financially. From 
official statistics I have approximately computed that 
about 10,000 Mennonites reside in upper Canada ; few 
or none in Lower Canada. In the section where I now 
am, in a circumference of about 60 miles the largest 
number of our brethren reside. There are eighteen 
ministers and about as many meeting houses. Most of 
the ministers I visited at their homes ; the rest, with 
few exceptions, I have also met and have found them 
mostly kind at heart and honest minded, and everywhere 


I was hospitably received ; for which I again extend my 
heartfelt thanks. . . . 

I commend you all to the protecting care of God, 
dear brethren. Remember me and my work in your 
prayers. In love your DANIEL HEGE." 

As traveling companion through Canada Hege had 
selected Ephraim Hunsberger of Wadsworth, O., because 
he was a member of the Canada-Ohio Conference and 
Hege expected that his presence would secure for him a 
more ready and welcome reception. How they were 
received is shown by the above report. That the aims 
which Hege pursued met with approval is evident from 
resolutions, adopted on May 30, by the Canada Confer 
ence, which read as follows: "3. Resolved that this 
council is highly pleased with the visit among us and 
the presence with us of the dear brethren E. Hunsberger 
of Ohio, and Daniel Hege our Home Missionary from 
Illinois ; and believing it our duty to support him 
(Hege) in his work we recommend that a friendly re 
ception be given him and that his w r ork be supported by 
all the churches in Canada. 5. Resolved that this 
council recognizes it as the sacred duty of all faithful 
Mennonites of America to support the beautiful and 
evangelical plan for union by all Christian means." The 
sincerity of the first of these resolutions was demonstrated 
by an appropriation of twenty-five dollars from the 
mission treasury toward the support of Hege, their 
Home Missionary. 

Hege continued his labors without interruption, 
developing an activity truly astonishing, which, however, 
must have been very exhausting. As he pursued his 
work with such zeal, almost with haste, he found little 


time or no opportunity for collecting himself and prepar 
ing reports of his labors. We have but one more brief 
report. It contains very little in detail of the work done, 
but as it is the last writing we have of this zealous and 
devoted man it is also here inserted. 

"Schwenkwille, Montgomery Co., Pa., September 18, 1862. 

peace be to you. At last, at last we hear of Hege ! But 
why did he make us wait so long ? Answer. On the one 
hand he could not and on the other hand he did not wish 
to write sooner. So far as not being able is concerned, 
the fact is my time is very closely occupied, for I preach 
two to four times a week and during the intervals I make 
addresses, conduct devotional meetings, make fifty to 
sixty visits at homes. In so doing I travel sixty to a 
hundred miles, to accomplish which I have perhaps fif 
teen different companions and spend each night under a 
different roof. That this brings on much speaking and 
contradicting, questioning and answering and often more 
to hear than is comfortable can easily be imagined. 
But how one feels who has for seventeen weeks almost 
uninterruptedly been under pressure of this sort, in 
which the mind is mostly occupied with speaking and 
hearing, sometimes until utter exhaustion must be ex 
perienced in order to be appreciated. Nevertheless my 
heart goes out toward our gracious God who so sustains 
my health and strength that usually after only a few 
hours rest I am again able to pursue my exhausting 
work. Now if I wished I might use one day each week 
for writing. So far as this "not wishing to," is con 
cerned it is not that I have not the good will to do so 
but it is this way : If I were to devote during the whole 


time but one week to correspondence I would have to 
protract my journey one week longer or in reality 
would have to cut it short by that much. For as I have 
broken up housekeeping (my wife and family are with 
her parents, household goods and stock are with friends) 
I shall have to hasten that I may set up housekeeping 
again before winter comes on. If I limit the rest of my 
visits to those churches and persons whom I may expect 
to find favorably disposed toward union, mission and 
school, or who will probably become so through my 
visit, and if during this time I press on w r ith reasonable 
haste the winter will nevertheless be upon me when I 
shall barely have completed the task. 

"My main reason, however, for not writing much 
on the way is because that would not be attended with 
good results. If I w r ere to report my experiences from 
station to station and would only report one-sidedly that 
which is favorable, I would do what properly should not 
be done. If I would also report truthfully what is de 
serving of censure that could only work mischief ; it 
would not foster the spirit of union but animosity. 
Even if I were to omit names the experiences reported 
on the way would nevertheless be correctly applied in 
their locality to the proper persons, which would be pro 
ductive of evil, and if not correctly applied would make 
matters worse still. So neither love of ease nor indiffer 
ence, neither pleasing of men nor the fear of men is the 
cause why I relate so little of my experiences now. The 
only cause is my sincere purpose to avoid doing any 
harm through indiscretion. True this work has not been 
undertaken for my sake but for the benefit of our de 
nomination and for the advancement of the Kingdom of 


God. Toward the accomplishment of this the observa 
tions I have made must be published for the general 
benefit. This by the L,ord s assistance will be done at 
the proper time, after the completion of the journey, 
through the Volksblatt and at the next General Con 

"Finally, dear brethren, in order to give you occasion 
to rejoice and to give thanks to God with me, and heart 
ily to pray for God s continued blessing upon the work, 
I wish to report to you that there are now subscribed to 
the proposed school 3150 dollars. This is a far larger 
amount then I had at first dared to hope for, and yet it 
is not even enough by one half for the realization of the 
good plan. But let us do our duty, pray diligently and 
trust in the L,ord who is doing more for us than we ex 

"Within about one week I expect to leave this sec 
tion and if suitable will visit our brethren in New Jersey, 
whereupon the homeward journey is to begin. Once or 
twice I shall stop in Pennsylvania. On September 28, 
I expect to visit Kph. Hunsberger s church, then Ash 
land and Cleveland, Ohio, and after a few visits in In 
diana I shall probably first go home to Summerfield be 
fore I make my trip to Iowa. God be with you. In 
affectionate love your DANIEL HEGE. " 

It was not in accordance with the wish of many 
that Hege did not publish more of the detail of his work. 
The Volksblatt in particular had expected more frequent 
communications. For the editor expected that this would 
supply his paper with some very interesting reading 
matter. But we must support Hege in his position. He 
saw deeper and so was aware that the gratification of 


this curiosity would be attended with undesirable re 
sults. His prudent action shows how well suited he was 
for this delicate and difficult work. Being an unselfish 
man, free from prejudice, full of love, clear-minded, 
firm, deliberate, of large knowledge of the world, highly 
talented and equipped with a good education, he was 
eminently qualified to conduct this work in which so 
many and widely differing persons should be won over 
and in which it was necessary to adapt ones self to so 
greatly varying conditions and circumstances. 

The result which Hege attained justly surprises us. 
It is but seventeen weeks since he began the work and 
during this time the destructive war has been raging, 
shaking the nation to its very foundations and consum 
ing its strength. By the thousand the men of the coun 
try are hurried to a bloody death. Property is destroyed 
and wasted by the many millions. In order to meet the 
constantly increasing expenses heavier taxes are imposed 
until the people groan under the burden. That under 
these conditions such liberal support tow r ard the school 
was promised justly claims our admiration particularly 
as the Mennonites had been so little accustomed to giving. 

We are not able fo follow the later movements of 
Hege very closely because, as already stated, no further 
reports of his work are available. But some general facts 
can be given. He continued his travels in accordance 
with the announced plan. Almost everywhere he won 
the favor of the people and in every place some people 
were ready to support the school. In Pennsylvania the 
people were greatly pleased with his visit. Some one 
wrote from that section as follows: "Under the shat 
tered condition in which the church in eastern Pennsyl- 


vania is he has performed his task excellently far better 
than expected. He will be long remembered by all who 
had the privilege to meet him and to hear his addres 
ses." About the middle of October he had reached In 
diana, the subscription list now showing about 4500 dol 
lars, and by the end of that month the amount exceeded 
five thousand. On Sunday, November 2, he had the 
privilege of being with his own church, after which he 
went to Iowa, intending to complete his work there be 
fore the close of the year. 

The success with which the work met was noticed 
with general satisfaction. Far beyond expectation did 
the plan of union meet with approval, while the financial 
support promised for the school was astonishing. No 
one seemed to have anticipated that so much heart for 
fraternity or readiness to contribute for a common cause 
existed within the denomination. After an icy winter 
when the white cover disappears and new life every 
where buds forth man rejoices. A similar feeling pos 
sessed those who followed the events and whose hearts 
throbbed with interest for the new cause. For a mild 
and beautiful spring seemed now to be coming for the 
Mennonites, destined to arouse the cold body of that de 
nomination from its long winter sleep and to warm it 
through with new life. Very rapidly indeed the work 
had spread. Scarcely four years had elapsed since those 
two small churches had seized upon the bold scheme of 
forming a general union and already many hundred per 
sons from all over the land were joining with the move 
ment, and with mighty onward strides this young cause 
was making its influence felt in all Mennonite churches 
of America. From the pen of Daniel Krehbiel we have 


an excellent picture of the situation at that time. On 
December 21, 1862, he says : 

"If we look back we behold but a few years ago a 
few members of the churches of Lee Co., Iowa, as 
sembled for the purpose of establishing more fraternal 
relations between the two churches in particular, as also 
to begin co-operative activity in mission work and other 
lines. And to-day the little fire kindled at that time has 
already spread so far that in almost every state where 
there are Mennonites enthusiastic supporters are found 
of this divinely favored cause, and more than five thous 
and dollars have been subscribed toward the establish 
ment of an educational institution. Does this not stimu 
late us to sing with David : The works of the Lord are 
great, sought of all them that have pleasure therein ." 

The future seemed full of promise. Quickly, easily, 
steadily the cause of union had moved forward. No bit 
ter disappointment had yet been experienced. The cause 
had not yet suffered any severe trials. But as no cause, 
even the best, can escape difficulties and trials so this 
cause should not be left untried. Yes, even while the 
sky seemed so clear and the prospect so bright the 
clouds of bitter trial were already rapidly approaching. 
By the fact that the Conference had assigned to Hege 
the home missionary work without associating with him 
a committee she had really placed her own future into 
the hands of this single person. If his work proved suc 
cessful then the Conference would prosper, if it failed 
the collapse of the Conference would be almost inevi 
table. We have noticed how the movement received a 
mighty impulse through Hege s successful t labors. But 
his work was not yet ended. It was his personality 


through which many had been won upon which the 
eyes were directed. Through him as yet the different 
elements were held together. In order to cement these 
firmly into one organization they should continue to be 
in touch with him, especially should they be attracted 
to the next Conference through him. Then there were 
the subscriptions. So far these were but promises, not 
cash. They must be collected. Who could better ac 
complish this task then Hege ? To him they had been 
made, to him the} 7 would most readily be paid. We then 

?ee how all the vital interests of the Conference center in 
this one man ; how indispensable he is. If he should 
be taken- away the blow must be sufficient almost to de 
stroy the young and tender cause. But this very trial it 
was doomed to undergo. Hege died. Seriously ill he 
had returned from Iowa to Summerfield on November 
22. The sickness developed into a very violent case of 
typhoid fever to which he succumbed on November 30, 

1863. Faithfully and zealously he had served his Master 
and was permitted to pass from the midst of his labors to 
the joy of his Lord. 

He had requested his friend Mary Leisy to report 
his death to his many friends through the Volksblatt. 
Of this report, which expresses such deep and heartfelt 
sorrow, we quote the first part : "With great sorrow in 
my heart I undertake my sad task of announcing to you 
new 7 ? which will no doubt give great pain to all friends of 
the Volksblatt and of Mission. This sad news is concern 
ing the unexpected and sudden death of our dear brother, 
minister and home missionary Daniel Hege, who returned 
from his western trip seriously ill with typhoid fever, to 
which he succumbed after a sickness of ten davs. ; 


This was a very sudden and unexpected event. As 
a stroke of lightning from the clear sky this shock came, 
paralyzing, as it were, all friends of the unification 
cause. Oberholzer expresses the general feeling when 
he says : "This indeed is sad news. My pen is unable 
to express the feelings I experienced w r hen I read the re 
port of the decease of my dearly beloved fellow minister 
and home missionary Daniel Hege, and I doubt not that 
hundreds, who became acquainted with him during his 
missionary tour, or who knew 7 him before are equally 

It was indeed a great loss which the Conference suf 
fered in the death of Hege. Among those who shared 
in this work he was the best educated man. What ex 
cellent characteristics he combined in himself we have 
already noted. His heart was aglow for God s king 
dom in the world in all its magnitude, and in particular 
he was thoroughly devoted to the Mennonite denomina 
tion. For this reason he would not use the denomination 
for the advancement of personal interests (as it never 
ought) but on the contrary he unsparingly devoted all 
his strength and means to its edification. Yea, even 
more. He consumed himself in this work. For it is al 
together probable that the overexertion during his tour 
of seven months was too much for his nerves and consti 
tution and brought on the fatal fever ; an opinion which 
was held at that time according to the statement of one 
writer who says : "To which (school) our dear deceased 
brother Hege had so entirely devoted himself, and for 
which he practically sacrificed himself. 

How Hege and his work were appreciated and how 
deeply his loss was felt appears from the following words 


of Oberholzer : "He gave his money, his health, his 
life for the benefit of the denomination. It is very prob 
able that not enough money has been contributed to 
him to cover the expenses of his trip and other expenses 
occasioned by his undertaking this task. 1 ... If the 
purpose of the General Conference is realized Daniel 
Hege will forever be known as one of the most promi 
nent of those men who led in the conquest of the strong 
hold of opposition and paved the way for the cause. 
Through his missionary tour as also by his written plans, 
which are so well suited for the carrying out of this 
Mennonite project, he will always be gratefully remem 
bered by the Mennonite denomination." 

Through the unexpected death of this faithful 
worker the denomination had also lost the man who un 
doubtedly would have been put in charge of the school, 
hence his death was also a loss to the cause in this re 
spect ; particularly as educated and capable men were 
then so scarce among Mennonites. That Hege was al 
ready spoken of as the man for the school appears from 
an Iowa correspondence which says: "Last summer and 
fall when Hege was travelling we entertained the fond 
hope that the school would soon begin and Hege would 
then be the man who should conduct it." 

At the last session of the Conference it had been ar 
ranged that the officers, "Daniel Hoch (chairman) and 
Daniel Hege (secretary) should fix the time and place 
for the next session, to be governed in this by the results 

1 In this article Oberholzer proposes the raising of a fund to 
be given to liege s widow. In 1864 135 dollars were paid Mrs. 
Hege out of the school fund "on a claim of Daniel Hege for 


of the labors of the home missionary." No definite time 
had therefore been set for the convening of another Con 
ference. After Hege s death it devolved on Hoch alone to 
fix time and place and to issue the call for another meet 
ing. In order to prevent retrogression this should have 
been promptly done and a session of the Conference im 
mediately called. However two months passed by and 
nothing was said or done. Everybody seemed stunned 
by the shock. The first to recover himself was J. H. 
Oberholzer. Undismayed he encouraged others to again 
lay hold on the work. He says : "We hope that the 
brethren will soon communicate to us their views with 
respect to continuance of the school enterprise and that 
this matter will be further agitated through the columns 
of the Volksblatt. 

This call had the desired effect and signs of life 
soon appeared. John C. Krehbiel wrote from Iowa : "It 
is possible that this (Hege s death) might produce a 
standstill and collapse of our common cause. ... It is 
therefore positively necessary that a session of confer 
ence be held which shall complete and put in order the 
yet incompleted results of the home missionary s labors, 
and which shall take the necessary steps for the continu 
ance of the divinely approved and prosperous work al 
ready begun." He then calls attention to the fact that 
the duty of appointing the time for this meeting rests on 
D. Hoch. He also states that Hege had expressed the 
wish that the Conference be held in Summerfield and 
proposes that this wish be respected ; but that either 
West Point or Zion are ready to offer the Conference a 
welcome. About this time an invitation came from 
Summerfield to hold the Conference there in accordance 


with Hege s wish. Because of a desire to respect the 
wish of Hege Pennsylvania expressed itself in favor of 
Summerfield. Other invitations came from Milford 
Square, Pa., and from Wells Co., Ind. From various 
quarters expressions came encouraging the continuation 
of the good cause and various suggestions and plans 
were made as to what should be done and how to con 
tinue the work. 

But all the while nothing was heard of Daniel Hoch 
and nothing \vas done with regard to time and place for 
the next meeting. Finally Chr. Schowalter took up the 
matter, wrote directly to Hoch and called his attention 
to his duty, informing him at the same time of Hege s 
desire that the Conference might meet in Summerfield. 
He also advised him to appoint some one in Summer- 
field to copy the subscription list and have it published 
in the Volksblatt. Thus reminded, Hoch appointed the 
conference to Summerfield for June 8, 1863. This date, 
however, did not meet with general approval as at that 
time harvest would be under full headway in Illinois. 
After a somewhat protracted consideration of this matter 
the session was postponed until October. As copyist of 
the subscription list Hoch had appointed Jacob E. Kreh- 
biel. He, however, could not do this work because of 
an eye trouble, so Mary Leisy prepared the list and it 
was published in the Volksblatt May, 1863. It was a 
complete list of all the amounts subscribed and gave also 
the names of the subscribers. The individual subscrip 
tions ranged from twenty five cents to fifty dollars. The 
entire number of subscribers was 1200 and the average 
amount subscribed was four dollars and seventy five 
cents. It would not be of interest to insert the whole 

list, but it is of interest to know which churches contrib 
uted, and what the amounts were as originally subscribed 
to Hege. We therefore present this statement below. 

1. Waterloo Canada West $262.00 

2. Markham " 89.00 

3. At The Twenty " " 133.25 

4. Summerfield Illinois 366.08 

5. Clarence Center New York 86.00 

6. Great Swamps Pennsylvania 527.00 

7. Upper Milford " 355-QO 

8. Hereford " 596.00 

9. Saucona " 86.00 

10. Springfield " 387.00 

n. Flatland " 51.00 

12. Deep Run " 109.00 

13. Shippach . " 7 . oo 

14. Branche " 29.00 

15. Gottschall " 189.00 

16. Philadelphia " 107.00 

17. Baumannsville " 79.50 

1 8. Metuchen New Jersey 33.00 

19. Cleveland Ohio 82.00 

20. Wadsworth " 358.50 

21. Ashland " 389.00 

22. Wayne Co Ohio 1 

23. Wells & Adams Co. . . .Indiana/ 536.75 

24. West Point and Zion . Iowa 729.50 

25. From isolated persons 151.00 

Total $5,738.58 

Total subscriptions by churches as made to Hege. 
It was realized that the coming conference would 



be of great importance, and that matters would be de 
cided in which the churches should have a voice, as, for 
example, in the location of the school. Accordingly it 
was considered through the Volksblatt what would consti 
tute a suitable system of representation. Oberholzer pro 
posed that every participating church should be entitled 
to two votes and that all churches should elect delegates 
who, upon presentation of credentials, should represent 
their respective churches in conference. This plan met 
with general approval and it is probable that at least 
some of the churches observed this arrangement. 

Some preliminary \vork w y as also done with regard 
to obtaining a teacher for the school. For some did not 
feel disposed to go ahead with the erection t>f buildings 
without knowing that a suitable teacher to conduct the 
work would be obtainable. Among the adhering Men- 
nonite youth of America none had so far secured for 
themselves higher education. There was little prospect 
therefore that a suitable person could be found in this 
country. Attention was therefore directed to Europe. 
In order to gain some idea as to the probabilities of find 
ing what was wanted in Europe Jacob Krehbiel I. w r rote 
to B. C. Roosen of Hamburg early in 1863, requesting 
his advice in this matter, and "whether a suitable man 
for the proposed school could be secured in Germany. 
Evidently the unification movement was not broken 
up. The forces were rallying. The recovery from the 
severe trial was slow but full of life and strength. With 
unshaken faith in the Lord the prostrate cause was cou 
rageously taken up anew 7 and pushed forward. In the 
name of the Lord most High the work had been under 
taken in his name it should still go on. 


Third Conference. School decided upon. Arrangements 

for building. Building erected ; dedicated, fourth 

Conference. Mission Department formed. 

Preparations for opening School. 

The unexpectedly large and general support of the 
school enterprise demonstrated two things ; first, that the 
need of better education was felt in the denomination, 
and second, that the school enterprise offered an open 
field for co-operation. The problem now was how to 
take advantage of this opportunity, and what steps to 
take for satisfying this felt need. As yet the Conference 
had no means at command with which to establish and 
carry on a school. The subscribers had not given money, 
but only promises. Unfortunately all the participants in 
the Conference were inexperienced in the management 
of such undertakings. Under these circumstances the 
first steps had to be taken as on unsteady ground. That 
so every step should be correctly taken was more than 
could be expected. It was no easy task which confronted 
the Third Conference. 

Daniel Hoch finally fixed the date for the Third 
Conference on October 19, 1863, and accordingly this 
meeting began on that day in Summerfield, 111., and 
continued its sessions until October 24. The forenoon of 


the first day was given to religious services. The con 
ference proper began its work in the afternoon, with 
Daniel Hoch in the chair. The election which followed 
called J. H. Oberholzer to the chair while Chr. Scho- 
walter was made secretary. 

Mennonite Church at Summer field, III. 

A formal presentation of credentials does not seem 
to have occured at this conference. However according 
to the agreement arrived at through the Volksblatt every 
participating church was to be entitled to two votes. As 
a ballot was taken during the progress of the sessions in 
which thirty-eight votes w r ere cast, nineteen churches 
should have been represented. But according to good au 
thority 1 only fourteen churches participated, as follows : 

1 Chr. Schowalter. 

1. Zion Iowa. 8. East Swamps .... Pa. 

2. West Point " 9. Philadelphia " 

3. Wadsworth Ohio. | 10. Hereford " 

11. Upper Milford 

12. Springfield . . . 

13. Schwenksville 

14. Boyertown . . . 

4. Waterloo Can. 

5. At The Twenty. . " 

6. Summerfield 111. 

7. West Swamp Pa. 

Churches participating in the Third Conference. 1863. 
Held at Summerfield, 111. 

A disposition to learn from experience and to im 
prove thereby began to manifest itself already at this con 
ference. At previous sessions there had been a lack 
of system. The first thing done at this session, after 
the organization had been effected, was to make ar 
rangements to expedite the business of the conference, 
yet so that it might be disposed of most successfully. 
A committee was appointed whose business it was to at 
tend to the wants of the conference. An appointment 
of time for the daily programme was made. A com 
mittee of seven was appointed to draw up a consti 
tution for the prospective school. Representatives from 
the different districts were put on this committee, as 
follows ; Chr. Schowalter and J. C. Krehbiel for Iowa ; 
J. H. Oberholzer and Iy. O. Schimmel for Pennsyl 
vania ; Daniel Hoch for Canada ; David Ruth for Illi 
nois, and Kph. Hunsberger for Ohio. 

This committee organized with J. H. Oberholzer 
as chairman and C. Schowalter as secretary. Prelimi 
nary work for a constitution had not been done by any 
one. Accordingly these men were expected in a very 
limited period of time to outline a plan in accordance 
with which to conduct the school, and to adopt prin- 


ciples and regulations upon which to a great extent 
would depend the ultimate success of the school. Un 
necessary haste was certainly exercised here. For at this 
time there was neither a house in which to hold school 
nor a teacher to conduct it, no, nor any money with 
which to make a beginning. Surely it might have been 
foreseen that it would require several years in w r hich to 
collect money, erect a building and get ready for the 
operation of a school. A committee would have had 
ample time during this interval to study the manage 
ment and courses of other schools, adopt w T hat could be 
utilized for their own school, and so draw up a consti 
tution which should in all respects best meet the require 
ments. But this work was done now, and to the honor 
of the committee it must be said that, notwithstanding 
the disadvantages under which they labored, they suc 
ceeded in preparing a constitution upon which, had 
other conditions permitted, the school might have been 
successfully operated. 

In this constitution the school was named the 
" Christian Educational Institution of the Mennonite 
Denomination." The Conference itself was to have 
charge of the school through a committee. Only well 
qualified men, thoroughly in harmony with the Menno 
nite cause, should be employed. The school was to be 
conducted in the German language ; however, English 
should also be taught. The course of study should oc 
cupy three years. Admission was granted upon satis 
factory certificate of good character, to young men not 
less than eighteen nor more than thirty years old. The 
students should spend three hours each day at "manual 
labor" for the sake of their physical and mental health 

u 9 

and for the benefit of the institution. According to a 
later arrangement, "each student should pay annually 
the small amount of one hundred dollars for instruction, 
board, lodging, washing, fuel and light." In the curri 
culum the greatest prominence was given to the study 
of the Scriptures. The direct management of the school 
the Conference delegated to a Committee of Supervisors 
composed of three members. This committee had au 
thority to act for the Conference. The teachers in 
special cases also the students were responsible to this 
committee. All the school property was at its disposal. 
In order to signify their approval of this constitution, 
the delegates signed their names to it. As this offers an 
opportunity to see who the delegates were, these names 
are here presented for the benefit of the reader. 












Delegates who signed the School Constitution. 
An additional list of forty-five names is appended to 
this document. The Conference then as now showed its 
courtesy to all present by extending to them the privi- 


lege of participating in the deliberations. The list refer 
red to contained the names of these visitors. Most of 
them were members of the Summerfield church. We 
therefore have here an approximately complete list of 
all persons attendant on the Third Conference, and we 
can realize from it how small the movement then still 
was. The sixteen delegates w r ith the forty-five visitors 
gives a total of but sixty-one. We may vividly realize 
the expansion of the cause since that time by contrasting 
this small number with the multitude of people which 
now assemble at the conferences. The additional reso 
lutions adopted at this conference were of immediate im 
portance, provision being made thereby for the continu 
ance of the w r ork already begun. In order to collect the 
money already subscribed it was arranged that each dis 
trict appoint its own local treasurer, to whom all sub 
scriptions made to Hege, as well as additional contribu 
tions, should be paid. These local treasurers should 
remit to a treasurer general whom the Supervisors were 
to appoint. The question whether or not to build does 
not seem to have been considered, nor was a resolution 
passed to build. All this was assumed as already settled. 
Indirectly the point was covered through a resolution 
directing the Supervisors to erect the necessary build 
ings. Ephraim Hunsberger, Daniel Krehbiel and Mi 
chael Lehmann 1 were elected to constitute the Commit 
tee of Supervisors. A sub-committee was also created 
with whom the supervisors were to consult in difficult or 

1 Michael Lehmann was born February 8, 1804, near Worms, 
Germany. About 45 years later he came to America. He lived at 
Ashland, O., for a number of years, then at Summerfield, Ills. 
Daniel liege was his son-in-law. He died in 1879 at Halstead, Kan. 

important matters. Six persons constituted this sub 
committee, one from each district as follows : Daniel 
Hoch, Jordan, Lincoln Co., Canada; Samuel B. Bau- 
mann, Blair, Waterloo Co., Canada; J. C. Krehbiel, 
West Point, Iowa ; Moses Gottschall, Schwenksville, 
Montgomery Co., Pa.; Jacob I^eisy, Summerfield, Ills.; 
Christian Herschler, Haysville, O. The supervisors 
were instructed not only to erect the necessary buildings, 
but also to select the place where the school should be 
located; the Conference itself, however, specifying the 
district. The selection of the district was accomplished 
through a vote by delegates, with the result that Ohio 
was chosen by an almost unanimous vote. Of the "38 
votes of the conference" 34 were cast in favor of Ohio, 
two for Pennsylvania, and two for the west. The choice 
was a wise one, for at the time Ohio was in the center of 
the settled part of the United States. Another commit 
tee, consisting of J. H. Oberholzer, Chr. Schowalter and 
John C. Krehbiel, was instructed to co-operate with the 
Supervisors in finding and employing instructors for the 

Heretofore no rule had been established as to how 
frequently the Conference should hold its sessions, but 
each conference had made special appointment for the 
next. At this session it was decided that in the future 
the Conference should hold regular triennial sessions ; 
the officers, however, being authorized upon special oc 
casion to call extra sessions. This arrangement has since 
been adhered to. At this session it was also arranged 
with regard to representation that any affiliated church 
may have itself represented through a member of some 
other church. There was as yet no definite understand- 


ing as to the number of votes to which each church 
should be entitled. Admission to the conference was, 
after this, to be obtained only by delegates presenting 
credentials from their respective churches. 

It appears that the deceased home missionary Hege 
had composed various writings of interest to the Confer 
ence which had been intended for publication, for a com 
mittee was appointed at this session to examine these 
writings and cause to be published whatever might be of 
value to the denomination. This work was never per 
formed "for," so one member explains, "the committee 
never found time to do it. " l 

By the last resolution adopted at this session the 
desire was expressed that the "Mennonite Printing 
Union" publish an English paper. This shows that it 
was realized even at that time that the language of the 
country must be considered that, if the denomination is 
to endure and progress in America, the introduction of 
the English language into the church must not be stub 
bornly opposed, but that English must be used as a 
means to build up the work. 

The work done at this conference exhibits so much 
vigor that it is evident that the movement had not lost 
its spirit of undertaking. The founders and early work 
ers in the Conference, though plain and untutored, w r ere 
men of immense vigor and power of both body and mind, 
who would easily have been leaders in greater undertak 
ings had their lot been cast in with such. These their 
powers they devoted in full consecration to the cause of 
union and progress among Mennonites, and the Lord has 
richly blessed their efforts. 

1 These writings are in the custody of the conference secretary. 


The events which transpired between the 
Third and Fourth Conferences can not be entered 
upon in detail, as the sources of information are 
too meager. It is great cause for regret that for 
the period from June 1863 to January i, 1867, no 
copy of the Christliche Volksblatt could anywhere 
be found. If, fortunately, it should be the case 
that part or all of these numbers have been pre 
served by some one, it would be a valuable service 
to the Mennonite denomination to save these papers 
from destruction. A good plan would be to place 
them in care of some one with whom they would 
be easily accessible to those who interest them 
selves in Mennonite history. 

The supervisors met at Wadsworth soon after the 
Conference. As treasurer general they selected Eph. 
Hunsberger, one of their own number. The next step 
was to select the place in Ohio where to locate the school. 
Several Mennonite settlements were visited and the ad 
vantages and disadvantages of each w r ere noted. Two 
places finally were given chief consideration, namely 
Ashland County and Wadsworth. Lehmann and Kreh- 
biel voted for Wadsw r orth, Hunsberger for Ashland 
County. The majority of course decided the matter, but 
undoubtedly it was acceptable to Hunsberger to get the 
school to Wadsworth, as that was his home. He had not 
voted for Wadsworth because he washed neither to ap 
pear nor to be selfish. 

The selection was fortunate. At Wadsworth was an 
active church with a bright and zealous minister. The 
membership of this church was mixed, some living in 
the country, some in town. The town, though small, 

I2 4 - 

offered all the needed commercial facilities. Its one rail 
road made access to it easy. The surrounding country 
is one of the most beautiful sections of Ohio ; and 
this is saying much, for Ohio is renowned for its many 
picturesque landscapes. As site on which to build the 
committee selected a pleasing elevation on the west side 
of the town, near enough for convenience in business 
dealings, yet far enough away not to be disturbed. How 
ever the owner asked such an unreasonable price for this 
particular tract of land as to be prohibitive to the com 
mittee, wherefore they were about to give it up and select 
some other place. Just then it came to Hunsberger s 
knowledge that the whole farm (103 acres), including 
the desired site, was for sale at a reasonable price. Acting 
promptly, Hunsberger bought the farm for 6,695 dollars. 
A large part of this land was then sold in smaller par 
cels , only twenty-four acres being reserved for the school. 
When the committee had progressed thus far in its 
work, the spring of 1864 had arrived, and with it the 
time for beginning with the erection of a building. Be 
fore anything could be done in this direction, it \vas 
necessary that money be furnished by the churches. This 
they promptly did. By March of that year contributions 
began to pour in, and by the close of the year 3400 dol 
lars had been paid. This demonstrated that the prom 
ises made w r ould be kept, that therefore it was entirely 
safe to begin building. A three story brick structure, 
thirty-four feet wide by fifty-four long was decided upon. 
The groundwork was finished and the foundation laid 
before the close of 1864. During 1865 the walls went 
up, and by the fall of 1866 the building was finished. 
The committee had given Hunsberger entire charge of 

I2 5 

the building operations, and under his direction the work 
had progressed successfully. That he might not have 
too much work, the office of treasurer general had been 
given to Jacob G. Kolb of Wadsworth. There was at 
this time great scarcity of capable and experienced busi 
ness men ; a lack which may seem of small significance 
in connection with church undertakings provided 
honest and well intentioned persons be appointed. But 
under these circumstances even more than when a man 
undertakes business for himself, business knowledge and 
judgment are necessary in order that all interets may be 
protected and advanced and the undertaking guarded 
against crippling waste or ruinous financial blunders. 
More experience and talent in this direction at this and 
later times would very probably have prevented the ca 
lamity which ultimately overtook the school. 

Upon completion of the building it was discovered that, 
together with the land, it cost considerably more than had 
so far been contributed by the churches, although these 
had raised by far more than had at first been expected. 
According to the report made to the Conference the 
house alone cost 12,145 dollars. The contributions re 
ceived amounted to the snug sum of 1 1 ,530 dollars which, 
however, was less by 615 dollars than the cost of the 
house. Moreover there was an additional debt of 1145 
dollars on the land, swelling the total indebtedness to 
1760 dollars. It was this debt which developed into one 
of the most vexing troubles of the school. Had the cau 
tion been taken to collect the money first and afterwards 
build by contract, at a cost within the means at com 
mand, the subsequent battle with debts could have been 
avoided. Under ordinary conditions the churches might 


easily have cleared this debt. But as it was it could not 
be done. The liberality of churches had already been 
heavily taxed to make up the amount contributed. 
Though the churches were small their contributions 
averaged nearly one thousand dollars per church. As the 
money had been raised during the time when the country 
suffered from the calamitous effects of the war, it had 
required no small amount of self-denial on the part of 
many to enable them to contribute as much as they did. 
To follow on the very heels of this collection with a 
second one, and that while the financial crisis was 
deepening, must neccessarily have proven a failure. 

As already stated the building was completed in the 
fall of 1866. The time appointed for the Fourth Con 
ference was now close at hand. As was natural, arrange 
ments were made for the dedication- in connection with 
the conference session. The dedication of a common 
institution was something entirely new among Menno- 
nites. Never before had they had a denominational 
school of their own in America. As this coming event 
was brought to general attention through the Volksblatt, 
a great number of visitors gathered for the occasion from 
the various Mennonite settlements and centers. It w r as 
an occasion which for unusualness will perhaps never 
find its parrallel among Mennonites in America. 

Of the dedication there exists but one descriptive 
report. It appeared in the "Friedensbote" preceded by 
the following explanation : "The following description 
of the proceedings at the dedication of our school-build 
ing was written by our respected young friend A. J. 
Moser of the Sonnenberg (Ohio) congregation. So far 
as we know he took few or no notes but reproduced ver- 


batim from memory much of what was said. As the 
editor of the "Friedensbote," A. B. Shelly, 1 was pres 
ent at the dedication the correctness of this report is as 
sured. The report is very long, due in part to extended 
quotations from speeches made. Extracts of this very 
interesting account are given space below in order to al 
low a glimpse into the dedicatory proceedings. 

"When the announcement appeared in the Christ- 
liche Volksblatt that the school building at Wadsworth 
would be dedicated on October 13 and 14, and that this 
occasion should be a general celebration for Mennonites, 
there arose within me the wish to attend, to see this 
building for myself and to hear whether indeed it had 
been erected for a good purpose. 

"Very early on the morning of the thirteenth, I, in 
company with several friends, started for Wadsworth 
and arrived there at about ten o clock. When yet some 
little distance away we saw the little cupola towering 
above the new building, and soon we also heard the bell 
in it sounding forth its mellow tones and inviting the 
people to the celebration. Presently the school edifice 
itself stood before us. It is a stately building yet modest 
in appearance and, as I believe, has been planned very 
suitably to its purpose. It is three stories high, has a 
flat roof, in the center of which rises the little tower con 
taining the bell. 

"The upper story is arranged for a dormitory. The 
other stories are divided into rooms and halls as required 
for school purposes. In the basement are the kitchen, 
dining hall and storage rooms ; in short, the whole 

J See Biographical Appendix. 


School at Wadsworth, Ohio, erected 1866. 

building is nicely arranged without much display or un 
necessary ornamentation. 

"At our arrival the people were just gathering for 
the first service held in the school. We were glad to 
share in this and so hurried to the hall in the second 
story where preparations had been made for this occa 
sion ; there being also a small rostrum for the speakers. 
I for my part entered the building and hall, moved with 
extraordinary feelings, and when the music of a hymn 
sung by the choir resounded through the halls my soul 
was filled w r ith deep devotion. 

"The opening remarks were made by J. H. Ober- 
holzer of Pennsylvania, whereupon Christian Krehbiel 1 
of Summerfield, 111. took the floor. He is a young and 
powerful man of robust appearance, positive yet modest 
bearing and wears a heavy beard. 
1 See Biographical Appendix. 


"This man, after he had spoken a few words, fell 
upon his knees with the assembled multitude and in a 
long prayer spoke with God so fervently and sincerely as 
has seldom been my privilege to hear. After the prayer 
he read Mark n : 22 24, where are these words : Have 
faith in God. 

"He then showed very clearly what constitutes gen 
uine faith and that he who begins a work with confiding 
faith in God will succeed in overcoming the greatest ob 
stacles. ... By his faith Martin L,uther nailed the 
ninety-five theses to the Wittenberg church door and 
afterwards, when summoned to Worms, he by the same 
faith stood fearlessly before kings and nobles. By a faith 
immovable Menno Simon, when he discovered many 
weaknesses in the teachings of preceding reformers, 
founded a church which in its doctrines coincides more 
nearly with Gospel teachings. . . . We too are to carry 
on a work which can never prosper unless supported by 
strong faith. . . . He further said that some may main 
tain that such a school is not a necessity inasmuch as 
our fathers did not have such institutions. But we must 
remember that our fathers lived under entirely different 
circumstances. They did dot enjoy such political and 
religious privileges as we now have, and besides the)^, in 
all probability, were without the necessary means for 
such an undertaking. . . . He then continued : How 
great is the need for such an institution in which faithful 
workers may be trained for carrying on the L,ord s work ! 
Do not many thousand heathen still pine in the dark 
shadows of death to whom the glad tidings of peace have 
.not yet been preached ! . . . This powerful address by 
Christian Krehbiel, which I have only imperfectly 



touched at a few points, stirred me to the depth of my 
soul. I may well say that I have never heard a more 
beautiful sermon. He was succeeded by Samuel Klem- 
mer of Pennsylvania who preached on Luke 14 : 17. This 
concluded the first service held in the school building. 

"The preachers for the afternoon session were A. B. 
Shelly from Pennsylvania and John C. Krehbiel of 
Iowa. The former spoke on John n : 28, The Master 
is come and calleth thee. He said that just as then 
when the Lord called the sorrowing Mary, so now to-day 
he calls all men ; yes, whole peoples and nations. . . . 
So too he has called us, a portion of his people, to work 
for the spread of the Gospel and the establishment of his 
kingdom. . . . But what have we done in the past? 
Where have w r e any educators for our youth ? To w r hat 
place have we sent missionaries ? We have done nothing 
although we do not lack the means. . . . 

"John C. Krehbiel spoke on Deut. 33: 8. (This 
verse . in literal translation from the German version 
reads : Thy right and thy light abide with thy holy 
man. ) Basing on these few words he preached an excel 
lent sermon. He said that what man needed in order to 
recognize anything was light. The first thing the Cre 
ator made was light that it might drive away darkness 

from chaos He then spoke of the school, saying 

among other things : This school building, for the dedi 
cation of which we are met, is our house something we 
have in common and it is to form, the center of union for 
all Mennonites. From it are. to shine forth beams of 
light to remotest places. Yes, all of us that are present 
from South, North, East, West, from Iowa, Illinois, 
Pennsylvania, Canada, Ohio and elsewhere, we all feel 

ourselves at home here and rejoice in saying this is our 
house. A few years ago we knew almost nothing of each 
other ; yes, we scarcely were conscious of the fact that 
beyond the limits of our own home church there were 
other Mennonite churches. . . . 

"After the conclusion of Krehbiel s address the af 
ternoon session was closed with song and prayer. At 
the evening service two English preachers spoke, one of 
whom, Pope by name, delivered a brief but fitting sermon. 

"The dedication proper occurred on October 14. 
Christian Schowalter preached the dedication sermon, 
his text being Isa. 63 : 16. He showed among other 
things how in olden times God had from small begin 
nings developed great things. ... So too this school, 
though but an imperfect and small work, can be used of 
Him to add glory to his name. But to do this the school 
must own him as Lord and Father. He then reviewed 
how the thought of this school had first arisen. . . . 

"After Schowalter s sermon J. H. Oberholzer read 
John 7 : 37. 38 and made the second of these two verses 
the motto for the school. . . . Thereupon he requested 
the audience, the hall being densely packed, to stand 
while he fell upon his knees and in heartfelt, fervent 
prayer dedicated the building to the eternal God. . . . 

"This powerful and beautiful prayer constituted the 
real dedication of the Mennonite school. It was a sublime 
moment when the Supreme Being was thus solemnly 
and earnestly invited to come in and make his dwelling 
place there. 

"The impression which this celebration has made 
upon me I shall never forget, and even now, as I recall 
those blessed hours, a gentle spirit of devotion fills my 


soul. The dedication ceremony was concluded by the 
singing of a hymn specially composed for this occasion. 
In the afternoon, after having listened to a sermon by 
Schultz and a short address by L O. Schimmel, both 
from Pennsylvania, we began our home- ward journey ; 
I for my part with a satisfaction in my heart such as 
sensual pleasure cannot give. For I had the conscious 
ness of having witnessed a celebration which had for its 
purpose the glorification of the Almighty and the spread 
and establishment of his Kingdom. The lasting impres 
sion which the beautiful and spiritual addresses and 
prayers made upon me has accompanied me and has of 
ten since filled my heart with joy " 

With regard to the building itself an extract from 
an article by another writer 1 may prove interesting. 
The writer there says: "As already stated, darkness 
had hid the building from our view as we passed it on 
the previous night. But it presented itself to us the 
more beautifully after refreshing sleep. Plain, yet beau 
tiful, stately but without showy display it presents a 

pleasing appearance to the eye Only this much 

may be added here. Everything seems suitably and 
conveniently arranged. We have reason to be satis 
fied. It is my opinion that few buildings of similar 
nature, covering no more space nor having more stories, 
can be favorably compared with this building in ad 
vantageous interior arrangement." 

The dedication over, the Fourth Conference began. 
The session lasted from the fifteenth to the nineteenth 
October, 1866. This was the first time that all dele- 

1 "Reise und Konferenz-Erinnerungen," by Chr. Krehbiel, 
Friedensbote, February and March, 1867. 


gates came provided with credentials from their churches, 
and that the conference was formally organized by pre 
sentation of these credentials. Eighteen delegates were 
present, as follows : J. H. Oberholzer, Chr. Schowal- 
ter, A. B. Shelly, L. O. Schimmel, A. O. Moyer, S. G. 
Klemmer, L. S. Moyer, J. C. Krehbiel, S. B. Bau- 
mann, D. Schneider, Eph. Hunsberger, Jonas Neisz, B. 
B. Baumann, Chr. Krehbiel, Jacob Leisy, M. Lehmann, 
D. Krehbiel, Jacob Risser. These delegates represented 
the following thirteen churches : 

Boyertown Pa. 

Hereford " 

East Swamp " 

West Swamp. ... " 

Philadelphia " 

Springfield " 

1. Waterloo .... Canada. 8. 

2. At the Twenty " 9. 

3. Summerfield 111. 10. 

4. Zion Iowa. n. 

5. West Point " 12. 

6. Wadsworth .... Ohio. 13. 

7. Salem " 

Two churches from Pennsylvania, Upper Milford 
and Schwenksville, were not represented. One new 
church, Ashland Co., Ohio, had been added. It is not 
recorded to how many votes each church was entitled ; 
probably two, as at the preceding conference, no notice 
being taken of the difference in size of the various 

As the activities of the conference multiply there is 
a proportionate increase in necessary deliberation. Now 
that the building was finished provision had to be made 
for the inauguration of the educational work. This was 
done by adopting a number of resolutions. These pro 
vided for the continuance of the Committee of Super 
visors. They should select one of their own number who 
should serve as President of the institution. The Sub- 


Committee was increased to seven members, one each 
from Canada, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and two 
from Pennsylvania. Three departments of instruction 
were planned for: i. Theology, 2. German and ele 
mentary branches, 3. English and the sciences. The 
instructor in German was to serve as principal of the in 
stitution. In addition to the teachers a steward was to 
be employed. 

What should be taught was set forth in a general 
outline, as follows : "Bible History, Christian Doctrine, 
German and English Grammar, Reading, Orthography, 
Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Geography, 
Natural History, Penmanship, Pedagogics, Church His 
tory, Secular History, Music, Singing, Foreign Lan 
guages, and Drawing." 

The compensation promised the teachers was very 
liberal. The principal and the theological professor were 
each to receive five hundred, and the English teacher 
four hundred dollars annually, in addition to rent-free 
residence and board for themselves and families. This 
brought their real salaries up to about nine hundred 

The committee on teachers nominated the following 
persons : Christian Schowalter, German teacher and 
principal ; English teacher, Isaac B. Baumann ; and for 
the theological department Isaac Molenaar. After care 
ful consideration the conference approved these nomi 
nations. Schowalter we already know. Concerning Bau 
mann no information has been obtainable. Molenaar 
was at that time attending a theological institution in 
German} 7 . 

About this time there seems to have existed a gen- 


eral desire to create a center where all Mennonite in 
terests might come to a head. Wadsworth had been 
singled out as the place for this. The beginning should 
be made with the printing interest. So it was resolved 
that the Conference make an effort to purchase the prin 
ting establishment in Pennsylvania and locate it at Wads- 
worth. It was thought that an advantageous combina 
tion could be made, the expectation being that much of 
the \vork might be done by students during the three 
hours which they were daily to devote to manual labor. 
But this plan was never realized, nor have other at 
tempts, which have since been made in the same direc 
tion, proven successful. 

The efforts made and the success attained for union 
and improved education attracted some attention in Eu 
rope. Among others who showed real interest was Mrs. 
A. Brons of Emden, Germany, authoress of "Ursprung 
und Kntwickelung der Mennoniten. " She presented to 
the institution a medal and a picture of Menno Simon. 
The medal was sold to the highest bidder, John Haury 
of Summerfield, 111., securing it at twenty-four dollars. 
Haury, however, immediately re-presented it to the school. 

In its inception the conference movement was born 
of a missionary spirit, and the prime object in forming a 
co-operative movement was to do mission work. Only 
indirectly had anything been done in that direction, the 
school being considered a means to that end. But now 
the Conference felt itself ready to aim directly at mis 
sionary work and so created a separate department, 
naming it the "Central Mission Society of United Men- 
nonites of America." The special work of this depart 
ment was declared to be "the direct and indirect spread- 

- 136 - 

ing of the Gospel and the upbuilding of the Kingdom of 
Christ." Part of the money received should, for the pres- 
sent, be applied to the support of the Javanese Mission of 
the Dutch Mennonites, while the rest should be used in 
assisting young men, preparing for mission work, to ob 
tain the necessary education. This department was put 
in charge of a committee of three to serve respectively 
as president, secretary and treasurer. The first members 
of the committee were Jonas Neisz, R. B. Bauer and P. 
Yoder, all of Wadsworth. 

With this a small beginning had been made 
foundation w r as laid on which the later missionary enter 
prise might be built. Unacquainted as all were with 
mission work and its possibilities, it was necessary to 
move slowly, feeling the way out step by step to the 
great and w r ide field. But this slowness is no loss to the 
movement as it renders it more stable and enduring and 
ultimately capable of achieving greater things. 

This conference at last fixed upon the definite sys 
tem of representation which prevails to this day. Ac 
cording to this system every participating church is 
entitled to as many votes as its total number of members, 
divided by thirty, amounts to, and one vote to be added if 
a fraction remains ; or, putting it in another form, every 
thirty members entitles to one vote, and a final fractional 
part of thirty to an additional vote. The smallest church 
is thus entitled to at least one vote and larger churches 
have pow r er according to their proportional strength. 
This system has given entire satisfaction. Each church 
is at liberty to send as many delegates as they w r ish, but 
all together may cast only as many votes as their church 
is entitled to. 


Through all these years of the rise and development 
of the Conference J. H. Oberholzer had labored indefa- 
tigably with great self-denial for the welfare of the 
Mennonite denomination in general and the unification 
is movement in particular. Within the conference these 
unselfish services were recognized and appreciated, as evi 
denced by the fact that they presented their aging leader 
one hundred dollars ; desiring thereby to offer something 
by way of compensation for the many ill-paid services 
rendered. But what he did was not done for the sake 
of perishable money. Nor can his services to the Men 
nonite denomination ever be valued in money. His 
work was that of a true benefactor. And his labors were 
richly blest blest because he did his work unselfishly 
and sought no private ends of his own under cover of 
the general work. As long as the General Conference 
remains in the hands of such zealous, self-giving leaders 
it will not be wanting in successful continuance. 

Soon after this conference session a change was 
made in the Christliche Volksblatt. As "Religioeser 
Botschafter" it had begun in 1852. In 1856 the form 
was enlarged and the name changed to Christliches 
Volksblatt. Under this name it appeared for ten years. 
Another change was made in January, 1867. The paper, 
as before, remained property of the "Mennonite Printing 
Union", but its name was changed to "Der Mennoniti- 
sche Friedensbote". Editors also were changed. J. H. 
Oberholzer, founder of the paper and editor up to this time, 
withdrew and A. B. Shelly, a young and capable man, 
succeeded him. The size of the paper was reduced, but 
the number of pages increased. During the first two 
years it appeared as a monthly, after that as a bi-weekly. 

- 138 - 

The conference had instructed the secretary to ad 
dress an open letter to all Mennonites of America, set 
ting before them the conference movement and the school 
enterprise and inviting them to join hands and to share 
in the work. This letter appeared, April 1867, in the 
Friedensbote. The Conference and her aims received 
almost no mention in it, but it contained a very kind 
and cordial invitation to unite with the unification 

The conference had done all it could in making 
preparations for putting the school into operation. It 
now devolved upon the supervisors to see to it that these 
resolutions were executed. First of all teachers had to 
be employed. For though the conference had extended 
a call to the persons nominated, it still remained for them 
to accept. It was at this point that difficulties arose. 
Isaac Baumann declined. Isaac Molenaar 1 was at that 
time studying theology in Germany. Attention had been 
directed to him through B. C. Roosen. A correspon 
dence was opened with him. He was disposed to accept 
the call, but as his health began to fail he was finally 
compelled to inform the committee that he could not 
enter this work. 

At first it seemed that Schowalter could also not be 
secured. Only a short time before this he had been 
called to the pastorate of the Zion church in Iowa. He 
was so popular with his people that when the call to the 
school came, the church after much deliberation decided 
to answer the committee that they could not spare their 
minister. This left the committee without any teachers ; 

1 He was the son of John Molenaar (died 1869), Mennonite 
minister at Monsheim, Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany. 


but without instructors the school could not begin. It 
had been expected that by the ensuing spring the school 
would begin. But when spring came, the committee 
had not yet succeeded in securing teachers. Something 
definite must speedily be done if the coming fall should 
see the opening of the school. The committee believed 
Schowalter to be the man best qualified to inaugurate 
and conduct the school and therefore called of God to 
take charge of it. A second writing was therefore ad 
dressed to Schowalter s church and the claims of the 
cause upon Schowalter urged upon them. The church 
now felt that it could refuse no longer and subordi 
nating their own local interests to the wider and greater 
interests of the denomination, they yielded, though 
with heavy hearts, and allowed Schowalter to accept 
the call. 

Meanwhile summer had come. It was now impos 
sible for Schowalter to remove from Iowa to Wadsworth 
and complete the necessary pre-arrangements in time to 
open the school in the fall. Moreover the English teacher 
had not yet been secured ; it being thought that with 
less than two teachers the school could not be begun. 
For these and other causes postponements w r ere repeat 
edly made. In July a prospectus had been issued stating 
the conditions of admission but the time for opening was 
not stated. Here and there were young men ready to 
enter and some were growing impatient. For example the 
following query appeared in the Friedensbote: "When 
will the school begin ? Upon this almost daily recurring 
question we are still unable to give definite reply. The 
expectation, however, is that at the most the school 
shall begin within a few months. We ourselves are anx- 

ious that it begin soon or that the committee try to in 
form us when the work is to begin. 

Finally, toward the close of the year, A. Fritz 1 was 
secured as English teacher. Other arrangements were 
also completed, so it was announced that the school 
would open her doors and enter upon her work on Jan 
uary 2, 1868, more than a year after the dedication. 

With this we have come to the close of an impor 
tant period of the Conference history. The Conference 
is now a well organized body. School is now provided 
for in that the Conference owns a house for this purpose. 
Teachers are engaged and the work is ready to begin. 
Arrangements have been made for participation in and the 
carrying on of mission work. Publication has received 
some attention. It was the time of beginnings. In calling 
this the period of organization let this not be understood 
to mean that all elementary work is now finished. What 
is meant is that sufficient fundamental work has been 
done that the conference may now, as an organized in 
stitution, carry on its various lines of work ; but that 
nevertheless much still remains to be done in arranging 
for the undertaking of additional phases of activity. So 
long as the Conference remains a useful institution it 
must be capable of changing and adapting its methods 
and means to the various changing circumstances and 
demands. It had required eight years to bring the or 
ganization to this stage of development. The movement, 
begun so small, had spread until it now included thir 
teen churches with a total membership of about one 

1 He was not a Mennonite. The committee was compelled to 
act contrary to the conference instructions, no English teacher be 
ing available within the Mennonite denomination. 

thousand. New life and great joy was felt throughout 
the Mennonite denomination as the direct result of this 
movement. Commendable zeal was manifested for the 
cause, for in these few years more than eleven dollars 
per member had been contributed toward a school, and 
in addition a considerable amount was contributed to 
ward the Java Mission and mission work at home. It 
was a period of awakening, of joyful activity. And still 
greater things were expected of the future when this 
movement under the guidance of God should mature its 
blessed fruits. 



The Conference experiments and has some trying experiences. 
This period covers eleven years; from the opening 
of the school January 2, 1868 to its aban 
donment, December 31, iSj8. 

In the first attempt at co-operation by the newly 
formed union it was inevitable that the various peculi 
arities of custom and aim should manifest themselves 
and occasionally clash upon each other. This of course 
must result in more or less friction and misunderstand 
ing. If the Conference should continue to exist it had to 
endure the shocks arising from such differences and 
the differences themselves had to be reduced. 

Every undertaking entered upon by inexperienced 
persons is subjected to trials arising from blunders of in 
experience. The General Conference had such a begin 
ning and could therefore not escape such trials. 

In this section are recorded the adversities and dif- 
culties with which the Conference has had to battle and 
by which she was sorely tried in her first attempt at 
carrying on a common work but over which she has 




School opened. Its early Career. Van der Smissen called. 
Fifth General Conference. Western Conference organ 
ized. School later Career; Troubles arise; Change 
in Teachers; Financial Straits; Controversy over 
admission of women. Church Hymnal. Publication. 
Incorporation of School. First Graduates. Mission. 

In her process of development the Conference has 
now entered upon a new stage the carrying on of a 
common work. From the opening of her school at 
Wadsworth dates the activity proper of the Conference. 
For all that had so far been done was chiefly preli 
minary and preparatory to the inauguration of their 
enterprise. The whole procedure may be compared to 
what occurs in the rise of a business enterprise. Sup 
pose a company starts a manufactory. First of all a 
number of persons meet who discuss the feasibility of 
the project and make plans for it. By and by a com 
pany is formed. Plans for buildings and the like are 
adopted. General arrangements for the operation of 
the undertaking are made and finally a business man 
ager is appointed. But in all this the company has 
not yet reached the point when the thing aimed at is 
accomplished. This it has reached only after the fac 
tory has been set in motion in accordance with given 
instructions. After that the company simply keeps a 
watchful eye on the work, receives reports, gives gen 
eral instructions affecting the welfare of the undertak- 

- H4 

ing, while the work itself is carried on through rep- 
reprsentatives. The Conference is, as it were, a com 
pany in which the individual church members are the 
responsible and interested shareholders, the various 
phases of activity of the Conference constituting the 
business carried on under the management of commit 
tees. From these committees the members receive re 
ports as to the condition and needs of their respective 
departments, and to them they give instructions as to 
what they wish to have realized. In entering upon the 
operation of the school the Conference had reached the 
latter stage of development as a business organization. 
The date for beginning the school had been fixed for 
January 2, 1868. Before the close of the old year 
students from more distant places began to arrive. 
Principal Schowalter, who had already established him 
self and family in the building, gave them a cordial 
welcome. From abroad thirteen young men presented 
themselves, eleven of these taking lodgings in the 
school. These thirteen represented five different states, 
as follows : Illinois (Summerfield) three, Iowa one, 
Pennsylvania four, Indiana one, Ohio four. On the 
opening day eleven more were added to this number, 
these coming from Wadsworth and vicinity. Of the 
total number at least thirteen came from Mennonite 
homes. In the presence of the Committee of Super 
visors, principal Schowalter, instructor A. Fritz and 
the students the actual school work was begun. The 
opening act was a devotional exercise conducted by the 
Supervisors and the Principal. Then the teachers ac 
quainted themselves with the students, examined them 
as to their knowledge, made the necessary classification 

and acquainted the students with the daily program 
and the house rules. 

Thus the first Mennonite denominational school 
in America could begin its first session with the very 
nice number of twenty- four young men. That was an 
important moment in Mennonite history when that com 
pany of young people met for the first time. It was the 
initial step in the direction of enlightenment and mental 
as well as spiritual liberation of a pious and capable 
people ; it was then that the march of progress began 
under which that which is noblest in man is given op 
portunity to develop and express ifself ; then the process 
of leavening began which is gradually affecting all the 
Mennonites of America, strengthening the denomination 
and not only keeping it from ruin but re-establishing it 
in a new lease of life and usefulness. 

During the first three months term of school there 
were no additions to the number of students. Schowal- 
ter very much desired that a greater number of Menno 
nite young men might attend the institution built for 
them, and he urged this very strongly upon the parents. 
However the second term did not bring the desired in 
crease. For at the close of the first term sixteen of the 
old students dropped out and only eight new ones came 
in, giving a total attendance of but sixteen. Of these 
the greater number, however, were Mennonites. In this 
decline in attendance the school at Wadsworth under 
went the same experience that most other schools un 
dergo. When the work is new it is prominently before 
the attention of all and the novelty attracts many, par 
ticularly from the vicinity. The novelty however soon 
wears off, the school becomes a common place in life 



and with the disappearance of the transient interest the 
school drops to a normal attendance. 

Undoubtedly it will afford the reader pleasure to get 
a glimpse into the inner life of the first Mennonite 
school in America. For this an opportunity is offered 
through a description given by Daniel Krehbiel upon a 
visit to the institution. Of this description the following is 
an extract : "After supper a short time was spent in con 
versation with the principal until the time arrived for eve 
ning devotionals, at which exercise all the students lodg 
ing in the building, ten in number, were present. Soon 
after this I retired. At five o clock in the morning the 
bell gave the signal to the students to arise. Very soon 
I heard foot-steps in the rooms above me and not long 
afterwards all were gathered in the school room busy at 
reading and studying. For breakfast the bell rang 
again. After breakfast morning service was held which 
consisted in singing, reading a selection from Scripture 
and prayer. Class sessions begin at eight o clock and 
continue until one P. M. I attended alternately the 
German and English classes and found it very interest 
ing. The German work closed with instruction in sing 
ing. I was agreeably surprised to observe that they 
were able after so brief a period of instruction to render 
music in four parts with pleasing success. At one 
o clock dinner was served. After dinner the students 
spend several hours at manual labor in various employ 
ments as circumstances may direct. Some also work at 
trades such as carpentering and shoe making. . . . 
When I returned to the institution at eight o clock in 
the evening the students were in the chapel singing to 
the accompaniment of the organ. Surely, I said to 


myself, it is pleasant to be here. Music, singing, read 
ing, studying, praying and by way of variation some 
physical exercise, with that one ought to be able to 
satisfy himself. 

About this time general attention was largely cen 
tered on the school. It was the cause to which contri 
butions had been made and which had now so far 
developed that young men from various churches were 
actually being instructed and trained for work inthe 
lyord s vineyard. Information pertaining to the school 
\vas eagerly sought. There was especially large demand 
for photographs of the building. Pictures of various 
sizes had been taken and these were offered for sale. In 
a short time more than one hundred dollars worth were 
disposed of. A general enthusiasm for the common 
cause not unlike patriotism prevailed. There seemed 
to be a fair prospect that Mennonite denominational 
life would pulsate through this school as through its 
great heart. The school was centrally located and com 
mon property of all. Here a new intellectual and spirit 
ual life was growing. At this place were held the com 
mittee meetings and from here the business of the Con 
ference was transacted. Here were held the Canada and 
Ohio Conferences and for a long time the General Con 
ference held all its sessions at this central gathering place. 

As )^et the teaching force had not been completed in 
accordance with the conference instructions, the chair 
of theology being still vacant. Previous to opening the 
school the search for a suitable man had been in vain. 
Finally, when the school was already in operation the 
prospect brightened, as there now seemed to be some 
promise that a man thoroughly educated and successful 


in the ministry might be engaged for this position. This 
man was Carl J. van der Smissen 1 of Friedrichstadt, Si 
lesia, Germany. Already in 1867 the supervising com 
mittee had extended a call to him through Chr. Scho- 
walter but he had immediately declined. In the follow 
ing year the call was repeated with increased urgency. 
As van der Smissen s friends advised him to accept the 
call he made a more favorable reply. He proposed to 
accept the call if certain matters upon clearer presenta 
tion would prove satisfactory and if certain conditions 
would be agreed to. The conditions were that his ex 
penses be paid for a visit to and study of institutions in 
Germany similar to the one in America ; that the ex 
penses of removal from Germany to America be paid ; 
that the position offered him be permanent and the sup 
port of himself and family be guaranteed ; and that two 
hundred dollars be annually paid toward defraying the 
expenses of his son at college until he should have com 
pleted his studies. 

At first these demads seemed greater to the commit 
tee than the churches would be able to meet. However, 
when the churches were informed of the situation they 
soon proved the contrary. Summerfield, as was often 
the case in those days, led in the matter. In one of her 
councils this church appropriated out of her treasury two 
hundred and fifty dollars towards paying the expenses 
of van der Smissen s removal to America. Similar action 
was soon afterwards taken by the Iowa churches. With 
the rest of the churches this example also found willing 
imitation so that within a few weeks the thousand dol 
lars necessary for this purpose were at disposal. Conse- 
1 See Biographical Appendix. 


quently van der Smissen s conditions could be agreed 
to and his services engaged. 

The removal occurred toward the close of the 
year 1868. Upon his arrival in America van der 
Smissen spent a few weeks among the churches of 
Pennsylvania. He writes of this visit, as follows : 
"The reception given the newcomers in Pennsylvania 
was very encouraging. Of course day by day and at 
every turn it was evident that they had come into a 
new world ; the familiar home customs were unknown 
here, perhaps even gave offense. And then the Penn- 
sylvanian language how strange it sounded to the 
newcomer ! It was not at all an easy matter to un 
derstand one another. ..." In another place he says : 
"Not one hour had we been there (Quakertown) in 
the pleasant, hospitable home, when the feeling of 
strangeness already subsided and now followed days 
and weeks so rich in kindnesses shown us that we in 
all humility had again and again to confess our un- 
worthiness. From Quakertown to Philadelphia might 
appropriately form the heading for one section of an 
autobiography should I wish to write one ; and this 
section would be richer in content than many sections 
of my previous life. 

The arrival at Wadsworth and the settlement in 
the institution occurred in the last days of the year. 
In the institution there \vas great satisfaction over this 
gain in teaching force. Schowalter, writing of this 
time, says: "The Lord has been gracious to us in a 
special way in that he has given to us, to the insti 
tution, nay, to the whole Mennonite brotherhood, the 
dear brother and theological professor C. J. van der 


Smissen together with his dear family. That the ar 
rival of this dear brother was, for us a special occasion, 
you will readily perceive. There was general rejoicing 
over this addition to our family and as it came just at 
the close of the year we entered upon the year 1869 
with happy hearts. 

The second school year, begun on November 2, 

1868, had had an auspicious beginning. An encour 
aging increase in attendance had taken place. It was 
felt as an especially gratifying fact that a larger number 
of Mennonite young men took advantage of the educa 
tional facilities offered. Of these there were eighteen. 
Referring to these, Schowalter says : "Although there 
are but few among this number who are preparing for 
the work for which our institution particularly exists, 
we nevertheless entertain the hope that all our students 
shall carry away something to their homes and into their 
later lifework which shall prove a blessing both to them 
and our denomination." The total number of students 
now was thirty, of whom seventeen lodged in the school 
dormitory. The increased attendance was evidence that 
there was a growing interest and confidence in and ap 
preciation of the school. With van der Smissen added 
to the teachers staff and this goodly number of students, 
considering the newness of the undertaking, the school 
enterprise was now in a prosperous condition. 

With the year 1869 came the time for the regular 
triennial session of the Conference. Accordingly the 
Fifth General Conference was held May 31 to June 3, 

1869, at Wadsworth. This time it met in the spring 
instead of the fall. The request for the earlier session 
came from the school, as from that quarter "the demand 

was made for an earlier meeting of the General Confer 
ence, and this demand was re-enforced by several reasons 
which led the officers to believe it their duty to yield 
and have an earlier meeting." Churches were repre 
sented as shown in the following table : 

Church. Place. Delegates. Votes. 

(Chr. Krehbiel. Job. Schmitt,) . 

1. Summerfield ..Illinois 1_ _ . J T . 6 

(Jac. I-eisy, M. Lehmann..) 

2. Salem Dayton, la.... Daniel Krehbiel 2 

3. West Point . . . Iowa J. C. Krehbiel 3 

4. Zion Franklin, la. . Chr. Schowalter ...... 5 

5. Cleveland Ohio Daniel Krehbiel i 

6. Salem Haysville, O. . .Jacob Risser i 

7. Wadsworth. . . . Ohio Eph. Hunsberger 3 

S. Deep Run Bucks Co., Pa.. Eli Fritz 2 

9. East Swamp . . " " L. O. Schimmel 3 

10. Flatland " " Wm. B. Moyer i 

( Montgomery ( Moses Gottschall ) 

11. Gottschall .... [4 

I Co., Pa ( Sam. Langacker ) 

12. Hereford Berks Co., Pa. .J. F. Funk 5 

13. Philadelphia -. Pennsylvania ..Sam l Klemmer 2 

14. Saucona Lecha Co., Pa.W. H. Oberholzer 2 

15. Springfield Pennsylvania . . Sam l Mayer 4 

16. Upper Milford. Lecha Co., Pa. Peter Mayer 2 

17. West Swamp.. Bucks Co., Pa.. J. H. Oberholzer, A. B. Shelly 6 

Total Votes 52 

Representation at Fifth General Conference, 1869, held 

at Wadsworth, Ohio. 

Up to this time the several districts which from the 
beginning had joined with the conference movement had 
remained faithful to it. At the Fifth Conference, how 
ever, no representatives appeared from Canada. To 
withdraw now while the movement was still small and 
weak and had resting upon it the assumed obligations 
for the school was no light blow. It was a blow on the 

152 - 

one hand because of the withdrawal of financial support, 
and on the other hand because of the discouraging effect 
such action could not help having upon the other parti 
cipants. The withdrawing churches, however, were the 
greater losers in the end in that they shut themselves off 
from the benefits arising from the co-operation and larger 
fellowship. From within this secession does not seem 
to have originated, but apparantly one, John Brenne- 
mann, came among them from elsewhere and influenced 
the churches to take this attitude. It is sincerely to be 
hoped that these churches, with others closely associated 
with them, shall ultimately reunite with the movement 
they helped to originate and which has since so success 
fully developed. For accuracy s sake it needs to be 
stated here that these churches did not yet entirely with 
draw ; for at the Sixth Conference one of their number 
once more joined hands with her sisters. Even after the 
churches as such no longer sent delegates to the Confer 
ence individuals still shared in the work, and for a 
number of years the district continued to be represented 
on the sub-committee of school supervisors through 
Jacob Hoch. 

Notwithstanding this loss which the Conference sus 
tained the total number of churches represented at the 
Conference had increased. Instead of thirteen as at the 
last session there were now seventeen churches. One 
church had been added from Ohio, one from Iowa, and 
five from Pennsylvania. At this session the proportion 
ate system of representation was for the first time in 
operation. This offers an opportunity of ascertaining at 
least approximately the total numerical strength of the 
Conference. The entire number of votes for all churches 

153 - 

was fifty-two. Deducting for conservative estimate one- 
half a vote from each church for the vote allowed for a 
fraction of thirty members, we have say forty-four votes 
representing thirty members each, or a grand total for 
the co-operating churches of 1320 ; a very respectable 
number when it is remembered that but nine years be 
fore the movement had begun with scarcely 200 members. 

In the deliberations of this session very little was 
done looking to new enterprises, but attention was chiefly 
given to the setting in order of various matters which 
came up in connection with work already begun. After 
years of planning and arranging a sort of recess was 
taken for rest and in order to see and enjoy what had so 
far been accomplished ; to see how the seed sown would 
grow, like the farmer who after careful seeding rests 
and watches the growth of his crops. The delegates had 
hurried to Wadsworth in order to delight themselves in 
witnessing the growth of their common crop the school. 
However the situation was not such as to furnish unal 
loyed pleasure. As not infrequently insects or wet or cold 
damage the crop to the farmer s discomfiture so disorders 
appeared in the school which, if they did not discourage, 
must have greatly pained the friends of the institution. 

As already indicated this session occurred earlier 
than usual because of a request from the school. The 
request was made for two reasons, first because of mis 
understandings and friction which had arisen between 
members of the faculty, for the removal of which the 
Conference now made special arrangements ; and sec 
ondly that Schowalter might be granted release from 
his position in the school to return to the ministry of his 
church. His church had only reluctantly yielded and 


permitted him to take up the school work. They had 
since tried in vain to find some one to fill his place and 
now urgently insisted that Schowalter should return, and 
he at length believed it his duty to yield to their entrea 
ties. After the conference had thoroughly deliberated 
on this matter it was concluded that the school could not 
spare Schowalter, that the wish of his church could there 
fore not be granted. The communication of this delicate 
message to the church was entrusted to Chr. Krehbiel, 
who, after the seseion, went there in person and succeeded 
in arranging matters satisfactorily. But that the church 
might not be entirely disappointed it was so arranged 
that Schowalter should spend the summer vacation with 
his church, the school bearing the travelling expense, 
while one of the students was sent there to take charge 
of the instruction of the children. Thus for the present 
Schowalter remained connected with the school. 

Upon request van der Smissen as professor of 
theology set before the Conference his ideal of what the 
school should strive to do, and enumerated the particu 
lar branches to be taught. He said he understood the 
purpose of the institution to be "to train young men 
to pious, humble, modest members of our denomination. 
He stated with emphasis that from the instruction all 
show all that was simply display should be omitted, 
but that all diligence should be given to render the in 
struction simple and thorough. He declared in favor of 
a three years course in which instruction should be given 
in the following branches : Bible History, Exegesis, 
Mennonite Confession of faith, Church History, History 
of the Waldeuses, Homiletics and Practical Theology. 

Up to this time Schowalter had not only served as 


teacher but the management of the whole household 
had also devolved upon him. At this session of con 
ference it was thought wise to employ a steward who 
should have charge of the kitchen, dormitory, employ 
ment of the students during working hours and all other 
domestic business of the institution. 1^. O. Schimmel, 
one of the ministers of the "Swamp" Mennonite churches 
in Pennsylvania, was called to this position. 

For some time the need of a new German hymnal 
had been felt, especially in the Pennsylvania churches. 
The hymnal then in use had gone out oi print, which 
made it impossible to supply the increasing demand. 
Moreover that hymnal was not considered suitable to pre 
sent conditions. The churches in the west were also 
repeatedly in need of additional supplies of hymnals. 
But the books used in the different sections were not the 
same. It was soon recognized that it would be of mu 
tual advantage, if all churches would use the same hym 
nal, not only for business reasons, but also because the 
feeling of fellowship would thereby be strengthened and 
co-operation in worship would be improved. By and 
by the thought was proposed and gained in favor that 
the conference publish a hymnal suitable to the needs 
and views of the churches. This matter was brought 
before the conference, and it was resolved "that it be 
proposed to the several District Conferences east and 
west that they agree to the following plan : that the 
western brethren select and omit those hymns which they 
can spare from their hymnal, and the eastern brethren se 
lect those from their hymnal which they wish to retain ; 
that these selections be sent to Professor van der Smissen, 
w T ho with the assistance of a committee of three to be ap- 

- 156 - 

pointed for this purpose shall arrange these for a new 
hymnal ; that Chr. Schowalter, A. B. Shelly, and Kph. 
Hunsberger shall constitute this committee ; and finally 
that this resolution shall he submitted to the District 
Conferences for their approval." With this resolution 
the matter was allowed to rest for the present. 

Finally also a resolution was adopted pertaining to 
the cause of union itself. It appears that at this time 
the idea of union had also been gaining some in favor 
among the so-called "old" Mennonites 1 of the north and 
west. Purposing to manifest their fraternal feeling to 
ward these the conference made a friendly advance by 
instructing van der Smissen "to prepare a letter bearing 
on this subject and to send it to John and Daniel Bren- 
nemann with the request that it be submitted to the next 
council of the "old" Menuonites." 

School work had not been discontinued during the 
time the Conference was in session. All visitors there 
fore had a good opportunity to see the institution and 
its workings for themselves. The impressions received 
were universally favorable. A few extracts from what 
was written on this subject may prove of interest. From 
A. B. Shelly we quote the following : "Even this, the 
first service we attended, made a very favorable impres 
sion on all. It is our opinion that any persons not blind 

1 By "old" Mennonites are meant those descendants of the 
early Mennonite settlers of Pennsylvania who still maintain a con 
servative, non-progressive attitude. For it was by way of distinc 
tion from the progressive movement started by J. H. Oberholzer 
that they came to apply the adjective "old" to themselves. In 
order to be consistent those, who no longer protest against such 
things as Oberholzer sought to introduce, but freely use these 
themselves, ought to drop that adjective and simply call them 
selves Mennonites. 


to what is good would be convinced by attendance upon 
a single devotional exercise that the right spirit prevails 
in our institution. Today s service was especially im 
pressive to me because on this occasion farewell was 
given by the theological professor to tw r o students. The 
grave, yet kindly admonitions to those departing, the 
urgent appeal to all fellow students and friends to pray 
for them could not fail to touch those present very 
deeply. It is no exaggeration if we say that few re 
mained unmoved that few eyes were left dry. . . . Af 
ter this service \ve enjoyed the privilege of attending 
upon some class-exercises. We were agreeably surprised 
to note the thoroughness of the work of the students 
and were thereby convinced of the thoroughness of the 
instruction." The visitors in leaving the institution 
carried with them the satisfaction of knowing this their 
common enterprise successfully engaged in the noble 

cause of education. 

# * 


When churches, belonging to the General Confer 
ence, form organizations for the purpose of promoting 
local interests, such organizations are properly considered 
branches of the General Conference and therefore de 
serve mention in a history of the General Conference, in 
so far as their activity affects the general cause. To 
such an organization attention is here directed. 

Rise of the Western District Conference. 
It will be remembered by the reader that the im 
mediate purpose of the meeting, held in Iowa in 1859, 
had been to arrange for carrying on home missionary 
work in that section of the country. On that occasion 

- 158 - 

some one had been detailed to attend to that work. In 
the years following that small and originally local move 
ment had, however, gradually expanded into a far- 
reaching and general cause which no longer concerned 
itself with the local interests of any one section. Their 
own creation had grown too large for the section and 
could no longer be used by them to meet the special 
needs of their own locality. At first this situation was 
scarcely realized. By and by, however, when the local 
demands for assistance became more and more persist 
ent, it dawned upon those interested, that the General 
Conference, their own child, could no longer serve their 
local interests. It was discovered that they must again 
form an organization through which to satisfy the de 
mands arising in the locality. 1 

After the situation was once fully realized the mat 
ter soon came to a head. A conference of the western 
churches was called in 1868. The first session of the 
Western District Conference 2 began October 4, in Zion 
church, Iowa ; the same church in which the First 
General Conference was held. As of some historic inter 
est we quote the preamble to the minutes of that meeting : 

"For several years past there was felt among us 
deep pity for, and sympathy with, the condition of 
many of our brethren in the north and west who have 
become isolated and are without the necessary spiritual 
care. Because of this feeling it has repeatedly been a 
question with us whether love did not require it of 
us to supply these brethren w r ith at least some of the 

1 Christian Krehbie) first suggested such a conference and it 
was upon agitation by him that the first session was called. 

2 Later "Middle District." 

159 - 

crumbs from the tables of our organized churches and 
to encourage and edify them in their isolation. 

"This matter had been brought under consideration 
here (Iowa) and found considerable support. In order, 
however, to be able to discharge this obligation, a con 
ference was proposed of as many churches as would care 
to share in this work of love. Accordingly we extended 
an invitation to all churches known to us and situated 
within a certain distance. 

Five churches responded to this invitation. Plainly 
the object was to form an organization through which 
to carry on home missionary work, for all resolutions 
adopted concerned themselves with this subject. Two 
home missionaries were chosen, Chr. Krehbiel of Summer- 
field, 111., for the southwest, and John C. Krehbiel of 
West Point, la. , for the northwest. They were to devote 
a portion of their time to this work and as compensation 
should receive two dollars per day and expenses paid. 
The spirit of sacrifice and action of these churches is re 
markable. For at the very time when these few small 
churches undertook this additional work they were also 
the most liberal supporters of the conference school and 
the Javanese mission. They have furnished an example 
of self-denying service which is worthy of being studied 

and imitated in our day. 

* * 


The second school year closed not long after the 
session of the Fifth Conference. Schowalter spent the 
vacation with his church in Iowa. Van der Smissen 
paid a visit to the churches in Canada with which he 
had carried on a correspondence while yet in Europe. 
The third school year opened in September. That the 

i6o - 

institution was gaining in popularity is evidenced by the 
increased attendance ; but what was especially gratifying 
in this connection was that the eastern churches had a 
decidedly increased representation. During the first two 
years those churches had sent a total of only eleven stu 
dents, but during the first month of the third year thir 
teen were enrolled from that section, and by the close of 
that year the number was increased to twenty. The 
other districts were also well represented so that the total 
enrollment for the year was forty -six. Most of these 
came from Mennonite families and had their lodging in 
the school dormitory ; this being crowded to the utmost. 
This state of affairs gave great satisfaction to the friends 
of the school. Of course those in charge were especially 
pleased, their pleasure being enhanced by the attendance 
of so large a number of youths of whom it could be ex 
pected that, after completion of their studies, they would 
devote their attainments to the benefit of the denomina 
tion. In this respect the institution was in a prosperous 
condition and its future apparently full of promise. How 
pleasant a task would it not be to be permitted to report 
equally satisfactory conditions in all phases of the school 
enterprise. Unfortunately this is not possible. On the 
contrary it must be reported that for many months a most 
unhappy state of affairs existed which gradually developed 
into a sort of chronic evil, and ultimately became one of 
the chief causes for the abandonment of the institution. 
The state of affairs referred to is the more humilat- 
ing because it existed between members of the faculty. 
The trouble had its origin in a misunderstanding be 
tween van der Smissen and Schowalter as to the au 
thority and position given to van der Smissen in his call. 


On this point an investigating committee, appointed at a 
later time, reported as follows : "The origin of these 
vexatious circumstances dates back to the time of the 
call of van der Smissen, in that the call, as composed 
in 1868, contains a contradiction to resolutions adopted 
at the conference of 1866. Said resolutions assign the 
highest authority (principalship) in the institution to 
the teacher of the German department. However Scho- 
walter, who had accepted his position on the condition 
that the principalship should not devolve on him alone, 
had assigned the principalship to van der Smissen. This, 
it is true, was done with the approval of the supervisors, 
but in contradiction to the conference instructions. 

In accordance with the stipulations made in his 
call van der Smissen expected at entrance upon his 
duties to step at the head of the institution and to con 
duct it according to his own ideas. Schowalter on the 
contrary expected to co-operate with van der Smissen, 
and that in a fraternal spirit they would manage the 
school together. Had both from the beginning been less 
self-assertive and more willing to forbear it is probable 
that all could have been amicably arranged. Unfortu 
nately, however, the one adhered obstinately to the 
verbal terms of the call, claiming for himself undivided 
principalship, while the other was prohibited by the con 
ference instructions from yielding his position. This 
brought on a conflict in which bitter feelings were aroused 
and very unpleasant scenes occured. 

It was this lamentable conflict which had occasioned 
the demand for the earlier convening of the Fifth Con 
ference in order that through it the difficulty might be 
removed. For the Conference alone had authority to 



act in this matter, since the regulation binding Scho- 
walter had been established by the Conference. The 
problem was not an easy one to solve. If van der Smis- 
sen insisted on the terms of the call given him, then no 
choice remained for the Conference. For van der Smis- 
sen could not be dismissed, the terms of his call guaran 
teeing support of himself and family while he lived. What 
the outcome would be therefore depended entirely on the 
attitude van der Smissen would take. Three possibil 
ities were open : i. Agree to the original arrangements 
of the Conference which assign the principalship to the 
German teacher. 2. Let van der Smissen have his way 
and give him the principalship. 3. Compromise. Van 
der Smissen chose to compromise, and with the approval 
of the Conference he made a written agreement with 
Schowalter, assigning to each a certain definite part of 
the management. The agreement was as follows : 

"Specification of the work, rights and duties of the 
Theological and German teachers agreed upon at the 
General Conference held May 31 to June 3, 1869. 

1. They co-operate in fixing the daily program. 

2. Both assist in entrance examinations. 

3. Certificates and other credentials of students are 
in the custody of the second teacher (German) ; he also 
has charge of the enrollment. 

4. Upon the first teacher (Theological) devolves 
the conduct of devotional exercises. He sees to it that 
order is observed in the dormitory. 

5. Permission to leave the premises must be ob 
tained from the first teacher. 

6. The second teacher has charge of the books and 
treasury of the institution. 

- 1 63 - 

7. The care of the class rooms devolves upon the 
second teacher. 

8. The second teacher has the care of the beds of 
the students. 

What is not expressly specified in the foregoing 
comes under the charge of the first teacher. 

"To the above agreement the Conference gives her 
full consent." 1 

By this compromise a sort of division of work and 
duties had been effected which apparently removed the 
cause of conflict and friction. However this divided 
government could not and did not work as well as had 
been expected. For the carefully described limits of 
duties and rights could not prevent clashes and friction 
in the practical execution of the work. 

Not only had the Conference succeeded in settling 
the cause of dispute by a compromise, but a reconcilia 
tion between these men had been effected which justly 
entitled to the hope that, after this, mutual forbearance 
would be exercised which would obviate all further dis 
cord. However with the unpleasant experiences still 
fresh in memory the divided government soon led to re 
newed friction. From the very beginning Schowalter 
had wished to end the difficulty by retiring, to which, 
however, the Conference had not consented. But now, 
when under the new arrangement the longed for peace 
could not be maintained, Schowalter resigned his posi 
tion, and a successor having been secured in Jonas Y. 
Schultz, 2 he retired October, 1869, from the work in 
which he had labored for two years wdth signal blessing. 

1 Wadsworth Institution Record, No. IX. p. 118. 

2 Jonas Y. Schultz now lives at Quakertown, Pa. He edits a 
little paper called "Ilimmelsmanna." 

- 1 64 - 

Schultz had been only temporarily engaged until a 
suitable man could be found for the position. The com 
mittee believed to have found in him the very man to 
help the school to continued success and so prevailed 
upon him to accept the position permanently. The 
committee had not misjudged the man. To him the 
welfare of the institution was a matter of conscience. 
His heart was in the cause. He was in every way suited 
to the place. He possesed an appropriate education, so 
was qualified as instructor. At the same time he was of 
a kind and yielding disposition ; it was easy to get along 
with him. It is said of him that he frequently retired to 
the solitude of the neighboring woods in order that he 
might there pray undisturbed for the welfare of the 
school. As there had been no estrangement between him 
and the theological professor, and as each had certain 
specific duties to perform, it was hoped that thereafter all 
would go smoothly in the management. So far as could 
be observed from without this satisfactory condition did 
prevail and for several years the institution unfolded a 
richly blest activity. It was the flowering time of the 
school during which it attained its greatest glory. 

The reader no doubt will enjoy a look into the 
daily life of the institution at this time. Fortunately a 
description of the routine of one day is given to us by 
van der Smissen himself. It is as follows : 

"At five in the morning the bell sounds, and soon 
afterwards you may notice that the night is passed and 
day has come. The young people now wash, beds are 
made up and the study rooms are swept this constitutes 
the first work. Every one goes to his studies as soon as 
possible ; for the time before morning devotionals must 
be utilized. 

- i6 5 - 

"Breakfast is served at half past seven. At eight 
recitations begin and continue until dinner is served at 
one o clock. As the students file out of the room after 
dinner, the steward, Iy. O. Schimmel, awaits them with 
instructions in hand for now the manual work begins. 
This is an excellent arrangement in our institution. All 
crowd about the steward, each curious as to what special 
work will be assigned to him. Nothing of dissatisfaction 
with this arrangement can be noticed on the students ; 
they seem to enjoy it. Soon you may see them, accord 
ing to the time of the year, in yard, garden or field busy 
at work. It is no simple matter, especially when the 
weather is bad and the house is as full as it was this 
winter, to find work for all ; and still more difficult to 
assign work to each to suit his natural tastes. Never 
theless it works well, the appointment of a steward hav 
ing greatly improved this part of the school. 

"That the reader may be able to form some concep 
tion of what the daily assignments of work are, a list is 
here inserted : 

1 person stable work. 

2 persons peeling potatoes in kitchen. 

2 persons - carry wood for supply of kitchen and rooms, 
i person -take wagon to blacksmith. 

1 person fasten wash line. 

3 persons work at carpentering. 

2 persons work at shoemaking. 
2 persons cut wood. 

i person borrow 7 saw in town. 

1 person get mail. 

2 persons take meat to Hunsberger to be smoked. 

The rest cut wood. 


"One person regularly milks the cow, two assist in 
setting the table and are free from other work. 

"At three o clock the bell calls the students from 
their work to class sessions ; two occuring in the after 
noon. From five to six is a study hour. At six supper 
is served. The time after supper is spent at studying 
until nine o clock when evening devotion is held. Bed 
time comes at ten, and soon after that all the young 
people are in their bed-rooms. 

"When the weather is favorable a short time of the 
day is usually spent at ball play or some other athletic 
exercise. While on the one hand diligent study is re 
quired, on the other hand opportunity for physical ex 
ercise is gladly given." 

Of course at this time the school was popular with 
the churches, and its friends were constantly multiplying. 
Contributions flo\ved freely. Not only was money given 
but also supplies for kitchen and dormitory. For ex 
ample the following credits are given for November, 
1870: 16 bushels apples, one 16 Ib. cheese, several 
barrels apple butter, 6 bushels turnips, 25 head cab 
bages, 2 squashes, 10 cans tomatoes, i package dried 
beans. People gave gladly, for they believed the school 
to be a means for advancing the Lord s cause. An 
illustration of the feelings with which the school was 
regarded is furnished in a letter by Jacob Hoch, 1 dated 
February 21, 1870. He says : "What then is the evi 
dence, or where is the fruit of so many prayers offered 
by Mennonite brothers and sisters during many years for 
a reformation, for new, sanctified life in God in the 
Mennonite denomination ? Behold ! Yonder in Ohio 
1 Member from Canada of sub-committee of supervisors. 

- i6 7 - 

there stands a house, built by God through the hands of 
men, contrary to all thought and expectation, in which 
there are teachers and students engaged daily in study 
ing and practicing godliness to the blessing of the Men- 
nonite church and also of the heathen. That is the fruit, 
that the blessing wrought by so much prayer. It is the 
Lord s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes." 

With the students themselves the institution was 
popular, and to such as remained for an extended pe 
riod of time it became as a home. This is clearly ob 
servable from occasional communications from students 
published in the Friedensbote. Ex-students bore away 
with them a fond attachment to the institution and it is 
remembered by many with tender gratitude to this day. 
Referring to this attachment one ex-student wrote as fol 
lows : "All have more or less definitely expressed the 
wish I wish I might still remain in the institution !" 

So far as the school work itself is concerned it was 
at this time very successfully carried on. Able teachers 
were sincerely endeavoring to train men for the church 
who should be spiritually alive and thoroughly educated. 
An unexpectedly large number of Mennonite youths 
were taking advantage of the opportunity offered. To 
the people the school was giving satisfaction. Had no 
other disturbing conditions existed a prosperous continu 
ance would have been assured. But untoward con 
ditions did exist. 

The reader will remember that the building when 
dedicated had a considerable debt resting upon it. As 
the school did not begin until a year after its dedication 
no funds were required for conducting it. This there 
fore was the opportunity for freeing the institution from 


debt. But nothing was done ; no one seems to have 
realized the situation. The debt was not only not re 
duced but it actually increased through accumulating 
interest and necessary expenses. At the time of opening 
the school Schowalter reported a debt of 2050 dollars. 
Had a sufficiently large admission fee been charged to 
cover at least the greater part of the teachers salaries 
this debt would easily have been wiped out in the course 
of a few years. However the charges to students were 
so low that they barely sufficed to pay for the students 
board. Salaries of teachers and current expenses had 
therefore to be met by contributions from the churches, 
whether the students were few or many. The churches 
did not fail to contribute for this purpose and that right 
liberally. But there was no system in the whole matter. 
No one knew how much each particular church needed 
to give in order to meet the demands of the school. The 
giving being done at random the contributions failed to 
cover the annual deficit. So the debt increased from 
year to year until on January i, 1871, it amounted to 
more than five thousand dollars. When this became 
known the friends of the institution began fo tremble 
for its safety. 

When it was once fully realized that the situation 
was growing worse every year some began to cast about 
for a remedy. At one of her sessions the Eastern Con 
ference decided to pay off 2200 dollars which had been 
borrowed in the east. This was very noble on their 
part, provided they intended to assist in liquidating the 
rest of the debt. But if they expected the other churches 
to cover the remainder which was more than half the 
debt the division would have been too unequal, for more 

169 - 

than half the conference churches then belonged to the 
Eastern District. As this proceedure was not general it 
did not bring relief ; the debt remained. Various 
schemes for overcoming the difficulty were suggested. 
One was that thousand persons give each ten dollars 
annually and thus give prompt and permanent relief. 
But plausible as this plan seemed it was entirely im 
practicable. For the total membership of the Conference 
was not much over one thousand and of course many of 
these were children or persons without means. Daniel 
Baer of Summerfield, realizing this weakness in the 
scheme made the following reply to the proposition: "If 
the proposer only had the 998 contributors I would gladly 
take the last two places." Another scheme which 
aimed at a partial payment of the debt was more feasible 
in that it proposed that fifty persons should each give 
fifty dollars. The best plan, however, came from J. H. 
Oberholzer who as early as 1869 suggested the creating 
of a school fund. According to his scheme a large num 
ber of persons should pledge themselves to some sum of 
money, the amount being at the donor s option, on which 
they would pay five per cent, annually into the school 
treasury. The fund should be obtained through solici 
tation and the total fund w r as set for at least 15,000 dol 
lars. It is true this total was not set high enough, as at 
five per cent, it would not have covered the annual de 
ficit. Nevertheless the scheme w r as the correct one and 
if adopted would undoubtedly have given as satisfactory 
results as it does now in connection with Bethel College. 
During the summer of 1870 the committee of super 
visors, upon the suggestion of instructor Schultz, re 
quested the sub-committee members to induce their 

170 - 

districts to take a general and systematic collection for 
debt payment. To this the Eastern Conference replied : 
"It is the sense of this Conference that on the whole it 
is better at the present time not to take any collection 
toward the cancellation of the debt. The answer of the 
Western Conference was : "Resolved, that we fully real 
ize that the debt must be paid, and that we are willing 
according to ability to make efforts that it be paid. " As 
might be expected these resolutions did not secure any 
improvement in this troublesome situation. However 
in some quarters energetic efforts began now to be made 
aiming at relief. In 1871 one of the Western churches 
(Summerfield) alone contributed one thousand dollars 
toward debt payment. From other places also came 
good sized donations. But such isolated efforts did not 
secure the desired result. The debt was not even re 
duced during that year. There was a lack of concerted 
action in this matter. The scattered forces needed to be 
combined that with one decisive action the evil might 
be removed, which as a festering sore was eating away 
the vitality of the institution. As long, however, as the 
old system was adhered to, even the cleaning up of the 
old debt would not have brought permanent relief. The 
source of indebtedness must be shut off and the 
school put on such a financial basis as to prevent an an 
nual shortage. In failing to do this one of the mistakes 
of inexperience was made which in its effects proved 
fatal to this first and highly cherished undertaking. 

When originally founded the school was planned 
exclusively for men. Not that the founders of the school 
in so doing consciously purposed to bar women from the 
privileges of the institution. The thought of a co-edu- 

cational school never entered their minds. It was with 
them a matter-of-course that their school was for men 
only. The}* aimed to train missionaries, ministers and 
teachers, and such work, according to the bias of tradi 
tion, only men could do. Many of the founders had 
only recently come from Europe where the higher edu 
cation of the sexes is carried on separately, so in found 
ing their institution they simply followed what was cus 
tomary in admitting men only. 

Not many months after the opening of the school 
there already arose a demand for admission of women 
into the institution, and so give to them as well as to 
young men the benefits to be derived. As time went on 
this demand became more and more persistent. The 
desire for this privilege was particularly strong in the 
east w T here w T omen had long ago been granted co-ordinate 
social position with men. This subject came to public 
discussion as early as 1868. The question of the edu 
cation of women was very intelligently discussed in 
articles published in the Friedensbote. However opin 
ions varied so greatly that the doors of the school still 
remained closed to women. On the one hand it was 
urged that just as education equips man for greater use 
fulness in life so too woman, if given the benefit of edu 
cation, is more capable of discharging her duties success 
fully ; in the home she will fill her place with more 
dignity and more acceptably to God ; as an educator of 
her children she will be more apt and successful ; and 
should she be called upon to serve as a missionary s wife 
she will be a far more valuable help to her husband and 
of greater service to the cause if possessed of a good 
education. On the other hand some of the opposition 


still clung to the antiquated idea that all the education 
a woman needs is at most the ability to read and write ; 
others, though not opposed to education of women, held 
that education of men and women in the same institution 
was improper. 

As stated, this discussion brought no change. As 
before only men were admitted. For two years the 
question was agitated in private only, but was constantly 
gaining supporters. In 1870 it was again brought to 
general attention through an article by J. G. Stauffer. 
From this article we quote the following extract : "Sup 
pose our daughters should receive more Christian edu 
cation what would be the effect? Very likely, upon 
becoming mothers, they would apply themselves to 
better advantage in giving their children Christian train 
ing. Who loves the children more than mother ? Who 
has an earlier chance to instruct them than mother ? . . . 
I rise to champion the cause of woman the weaker sex. 
They too should have the privilege of receiving instruction 
in our school. How r have not the sisters in our denomina 
tion labored in behalf of the institution in furnishing beds 
and other things ! Work they may but not enjoy. ..." 

About this time J. H. Oberholzer also exerted his 
influence in favor of co education. He addressed a 
writing to the supervisors in which he says "that he can 
see no contradiction to the real spirit and purpose of the 
institution if women be permitted to attend the classes, 
even though the constitution be entirely silent on the 
question of instruction of women. His plan was that 
women attend the class sessions but have their lodging 
elsewhere than in the institution. Oberholzer s sug 
gestion was considered in the regular session of the 

- 73 

committee and the following resolution was adopted : 
"This committee appreciates the full importance of this 
matter and therefore requests the members of the sub-com 
mittee to bring it up for consideration in the coming ses 
sions of the district conferences and to report the results. 
As a result of this request a general and very lively 
discussion on the proposition to admit women to the 
class sessions arose. It appears that a majority favored 
such an arrangement, that there was, however, a stub 
born minority who vehemently protested. As already 
stated the strongest support came from the east, so the 
matter could be easily disposed of at their conference. 
Their resolution was "that if in the judgement of the 
committee and faculty it seems practical to admit women 
to the classes then such admittance is sanctioned by this 
conference." The commendable purpose evidently was 
to open the school to women. But in passing we note 
that the resolution contained a feature which might be 
come dangerous to the General Conference in that her 
authority in this matter was entirely ignored. The 
answer of the Western Conference was that "it is the 
sense of this conference that it is not within the province 
of district conferences to give instructions with regard to 
admission of women into the institution, as the disposition 
of such fundamental matters rests exclusively with the 
General Conference. However this conference recognizes 
that a school for women is desirable. We purpose, there 
fore, first of all to wipe out the debt resting on the school, 
after which we shall be ready to undertake the establish 
ment of a girl s school." While not opposed to the 
education of women, the western churches w r ere evidently 
not ready to make the concession to the east of admitting 

174 - 

girls to the classes of the present institution. About 
this time opposition was manifested by occupants of the 
institution. Mrs. van der Smissen, the professor s wife, 
made a reply through the Friedensbote to Stauffer s 
article. She endeavored to show that the proposed 
arrangement would not be accompanied by desirable 
results nor would it bring any blessings to the de 
nomination or the institution. ; No agreement could 
be reached on this question, hence no change was made ; 
only men were admitted. Women, if they would secure 
higher education, must, procure it elsewhere. 

* * 


The preparation of a new hymnal, it will be remem 
bered, had been delegated by the General Conference to 
the district conferences and a co-operating special com 
mittee. The Eastern Conference first took up the mat 
ter. In their fall session of 1869 the plan of the General 
Conference was approved , and a committee was instructed 
"to select from the hymnal no\v in use the hymns to be 
incorporated in the new hymnal." At the next session 
( 1870) this committee reported that two hundred hymns 
had been selected, of which, however, about one hun 
dred were also contained in the hymnal of the Western 
churches ; that this selection had been forwarded to the 
Western brethren and that the action of the \vest was 
now being awaited. 

The Western Conference did nothing in the matter 
until the fall of 1870. These churches had in use a 
hymnal published by the Mennonite churches of South 
Germany 1 with which they were very well satisfied. 

1 The churches of Baden and the Palatinate had co-operated 
in the publication of a hymnal. A committee assisted by the 

~ 175 

They were not at all disposed to give it up on the 
chance of having it replaced by something inferior. Af 
ter having seriously considered the matter they adopted 
the following resolution : 

"With respect to the proposed new hymnal we feel 
ourselves prompted in fraternal affection to submit to 
you, our eastern brethren, for your consideration, the 
following result of our deliberation : It is our aim and 
purpose, dear brethren, to strengthen the bond of union 
among those of our faith whether they be near or far, in 
this country or Europe. We therefore desire to evade 
everything that even by appearances might tend to 
weaken this bond of love. For, dear brethren, you no 
doubt are aware that by this hymnal the bond of fel 
lowship is already established between us and many Eu 
ropean brethren. 

"Further we desire to submit to your thoughtful 
consideration that our hymnal is of such a high standard 
that it is not at all probable that we ourselves would 
succeed in replacing it by another which could consti 
tute a treasure so suitable to home and public service, 
and which would offer so well for heart and life what 
we need as does this one. 

"We also desire in all kindness to propose for your 
prayerful consideration and self-examination, dear breth 
ren, whether over-fondness for your own hymns has not 
prompted you to select so large a number as you have 
sent us for incorporation in the new hymnal ; for we 
presume that what has been said above is clear to you 
and that you concede the correctness thereof. 

hymnologist Albert Knapp succeeded after laboring for four years 
in producing an excellent hymnal containing six hundred spiritual 
hymns. It was published about 1856. 

- : 7 6 - 

"Finally, brethren, we are very willing to accept 
from you your most valued hymns, and w r ish to suggest 
that in your selection you remember particularly the 
needs of the unification cause, as also of Feet-Washing 
and Non- Resistance. And in this connection we suggest 
to you whether it would not be suitable to secure the 
new hymnal by adding a supplement (to our hymnal), 
supplied entirely by yourselves. In conclusion we would 
most affectionately, yet urgently request you to recon 
sider this matter of a new hymnal." 

At first the attitude of the western churches gave no 
offense. With the better informed the idea of a supple 
ment met with approval. Among these were A. B. 
Shelly and J. S. Moyer. The latter made a comparison 
bet\veen the hymnals now in use and pointed out the 
advantages and superiority of that of the west. One of 
the advantages he enumerated was that the western 
hymnal "has also the melodies, 141 in number, for all 
hymns in the book." But to the Eastern Conference, in 
session in the spring of 1871, the proposition from the 
west did not prove acceptable. A few indeed supported 
it, but the majority hesitated. The matter was therefore 
postponed and the ministers were instructed to bring the 
subject up for consideration in their respective churches. 
At the fall session the matter again came before the con 
ference and the proposition of the west was now accepted. 
A committee of three, consisting of A. B. Shelly, Joseph 
Schantz and Christian Clemmer, was instructed to make 
the selection of hymns and arrange them for the supple 
ment ; the rest of the work being left to the committee 
of the General Conference. 

At this stage the matter halted once more ; for the 


wishes as to the size of the book and the arrangement 
of the contents diverged so greatly that the committee in 
charge thought it best not to proceed. In the west the 
wish now was to retain their portion of the book un 
altered. The brethren of the east wanted to make some 
changes. They had finally consented to let those of the 
west retain their book while they would add a supple 
ment. However the western hymnal was inconveniently 
large. The hymns were divided only into stanzas, the 
verses not constituting separate lines. The eastern 
churches desired to publish the hymnal in a pocket size 
and to have the verses set in separate lines. But both 
these changes were stiffly opposed ; the western churches 
wanted to retain their book unchanged. They therefore 
proposed that "for the present not the whole hymnal 
but only the supplement be printed (in America) but 
that the rest of the book be obtained from Europe already 
printed, but unbound." In short, the western churches 
insisted that their book be left unchanged, without having 
proper regard for the wishes of their sister churches. 
Leading persons in the east even now counseled, for the 
sake of peace and unity, to surrender their own wishes 
arid accept the plan made by the western churches. 
However the forbearance of long-suffering persons can 
come to an end. There was danger that this matter 
would develop into an estrangement between the Eastern 
and Western districts. The temper which prevailed in 
the east may be discovered from an article which ap 
peared anonymously in the Friedensbote and of which 
the following is an extract : 

"Those of the east were, and for the most part still 
are, in favor of a new hymnal composed of the choicest 


hymns from the European and Pennsylvania!! Menno- 
nite books, as also from hymnals of other denominations. 
This book ought to be published as a pocket edition and 
with the verse in separate lines. 

"The European brethren seem to be very decidedly 
in favor of retaining their book just as it is ; and support 
this position with the good argument that the European 
hymnal has been stereotyped and can therefore be ob 
tained cheaper in Europe than if printed here. 

"The present writer is of the opinion that, as the 
Mennonites of Pennsylvania admittedly are of a more 
yielding disposition than are those from Europe, the 
former should adopt the book of the latter just as it is 
without a supplement. For this supplement, composed 
of hymns from the eastern hymnal, would very likely 
not suit the European brethren, and they would grant it 
simply to please us. Besides the supplement would be 
expensive and would withal give the volume an un 
shapely appearance. 

"But if the eastern brethren are not disposed to 
enter upon the last named plan, then let them return to 
their original plan and, regardless of the European 
brethren, produce a hymnal suitable to their own taste 
and wish." 

There was in the east a growing feeling that the 
west had not dealt with them in a fraternal spirit in this 
matter. As the setting of the verse in separate lines 
would not change the contents, it was thought that "as in 
all other respects the wishes of the dear western churches 
had been submitted to, that now they should not compel 
the eastern churches to sacrifice their reasonable wish 
to the simple preference of those of the west. Fortu- 


nately, however, feelings were held in check on both 
sides and nothing rash \vas done tending to dissolve 
fellowship. Both district conferences referred this matter 
back to the General Conference accompanied by state 
ments that they would be satisfied with what that body 
would see fit to do. At its session of 1872 the General 
Conference decided to publish the hymnal with the sup 
plement, in a smaller size ; with the verse set in separate 
lines ; and to have the printing done in America. 

In the year 1856 the Mennonite Printing Union had 
undertaken the publication of the Friedensbote (or Christ- 
liche Volksblatt as it was then called), and had con 
tinued in this work until 1871, when it became necessary 
to make some changes. This work had not been under 
taken for financial gain and it never did have any gains 
to record. On the contrary it was one prolonged struggle 
to make the receipts cover the expenses. As not even 
enough was made to replace the wear and tear in the 
printing outfit, the time finally came when everything 
was so run down that, in order to continue, a new equip 
ment must be secured. But there was not enough money 
in the treasury with which to do this ; in fact during the 
fifteen years since the organization of the company many 
of the shareholders had died, so that there was little 
prospect of securing the necessary funds from the com 
pany itself. For this and other reasons it was deemed 
prudent to reorganize or to make a change some other 
way. One way would have been to organize a new 
company similar to the existing one. As, however, the 
purpose was to serve not private but denominational in- 


also been prepared. The proceedings having now been 
interrupted nothing further was done until the Confer 
ence met in 1872. That body after due deliberation gave 
instructions as to what should be done, whereupon the 
incorporation was effected in December, 1872. 

Theclose of theschool for the year 18701871 marks 
a climax in its history. For in that year the first fruit was 
matured the first class was graduated. Five young 
men had completed the three years theological course 
and were graduated on June 22, 1871. These were 
Samuel F. Sprunger, 1 John S. Hirschler, 2 S. S. Haury, 3 
William Galle 4 and Jacob S. Moyer. 5 With just pride 
the architect views the finished structure which under 
his masterly superintendence has, piece after piece, grad 
ually developed out of a mass of unrelated material into 
its present stateliness, unity and usefulness. But more 
justly the faithful teacher s heart swells with joy as he 
beholds the spiritual structure which has been built up 
under his direction in the successful graduate ; and to 
this the instructors of the Mennonite school were no ex 
ception. It was to them 110 small satisfaction, as this 
class of five completed their course, to be permitted to 
present them as the first graduates of the institution. 
But not only was this an occasion of rejoicing for the 
school, it was a triumph for the unification movement. 
Only eleven years ago few had dared to entertain the 
hope that co-operation among Mennonites would ever be 

1 See Biographical Appendix. 

2 Now Home Missionary for the Western District Conference. 
s Practices Medicine at Newton, .Kansas. 

4 Pastor of the Zion Church at Moundridge, Kansas. 

5 See Biographical Appendix. 

- i8 3 - 

secured. And now not only was a successful union in 
existence, but already the ranks were being re-enforced 
by trained young men, sent forth by an institution owned 
and controlled by this union. It is true it had cost much 
self-denying labor and many sacrifices to establish and 
maintain the institution. But it was now seen and felt 
that these efforts had not been in vain. The institution 
had already become a manifest blessing to the whole de 
nomination in that by it the number of spiritual laborers 
was increased ; for all the members of the class had con 
secrated themselves to the service of the Gospel. 

That, however, over which the greatest satisfaction 
was felt, was the fact that Samuel S. Haury, one of this 
class, had not only given himself to the ministry of the 
Gospel, but had dedicated himself to missionary service 
among the heathen. Nothing could have better answered 
the prayers and hopes of the promoters of this whole 
cause. For it was as a means to the advancement of the 
missionary cause that the need of a school was at first 
felt. The institution had therefore fulfilled the .highest 
expectations ; it had matured the fruit most ardently de 
sired ; it had produced the best it could so far as kind 
was concerned. 

Good begets good. Not only had excellent fruit 
been matured, but this result in turn was destined by re 
action to be stimulating and spiritually invigorating. 
The fruit had to be cared for. The missionary born into 
the lap of the church made demands. With increased 
blessings obligations multiplied. New duties arose. A 
great and needy field for Christian activity opened itself. 
By the providence of God the school became the means 
for opening to the Mennonites of America the way to the 

- 182 - 

also been prepared. The proceedings having now been 
interrupted nothing further was done until the Confer 
ence met in 1872. That body after due deliberation gave 
instructions as to what should be done, whereupon the 
incorporation was effected in December, 1872. 

The close of the school for the year 18701871 marks 
a climax in its history. For in that year the first fruit was 
matured the first class was graduated. Five young 
men had completed the three years theological course 
and were graduated on June 22, 1871. These were 
Samuel F. Sprunger, 1 John S. Hirschler, 2 S. S. Haury, 3 
William Galle 4 and Jacob S. Moyer. 5 With just pride 
the architect views the finished structure which under 
his masterly superintendence has, piece after piece, grad 
ually developed out of a mass of unrelated material into 
its present stateliness, unity and usefulness. But more 
justly the faithful teacher s heart swells with joy as he 
beholds the spiritual structure which has been built up 
under his direction in the successful graduate ; and to 
this the instructors of the Mennonite school were no ex 
ception. It was to them no small satisfaction, as this 
class of five completed their course, to be permitted to 
present them as the first graduates of the institution. 
But not only was this an occasion of rejoicing for the 
school, it was a triumph for the unification movement. 
Only eleven years ago few had dared to entertain the 
hope that co-operation among Mennonites would ever be 

1 See Biographical Appendix. 

2 Now Home Missionary tor the Western District Conference. 
;i Practices Medicine at Newton, .Kansas. 

4 Pastor of the Zion Church at Moundridge, Kansas. 
* See Biographical Appendix. 

secured. And now not only was a successful union in 
existence, but already the ranks were being re-enforced 
by trained young men, sent forth by an institution owned 
and controlled by this union. It is true it had cost much 
self-denying labor and many .sacrifices to establish and 
maintain the institution. But it was now seen and felt 
that these efforts had not been in vain. The institution 
had already become a manifest blessing to the whole de 
nomination in that by it the number of spiritual laborers 
was increased ; for all the members of the class had con 
secrated themselves to the service of the Gospel. 

That, however, over which the greatest satisfaction 
was felt, was the fact that Samuel S. Haury, one of this 
class, had not only given himself to the ministry of the 
(iospel, but had dedicated himself to missionary service 
among the heathen. Nothing could have better answered 
the prayers and hopes of the promoters of this whole 
cause. For it was as a means to the advancement of the 
missionary cause that the need of a school was at first 
felt. The institution had therefore fulfilled the .highest 
expectations ; it had matured the fruit most ardently de 
sired ; it had produced the best it could so far as kind 
was concerned. 

Good begets good. Not only had excellent fruit 
bivn matured, but this result in turn was destined by re 
action to be stimulating and spiritually invigorating. 
The fruit had to be cared for. The missionary born into 
the lap of the church made demands. With increased 
blessings obligations multiplied. New duties arose. A 
gival and needy field for Christian activity opened itself. 
By the providence of God the school became the moans 
for opening to the Mennonites of America the way to the 

1 84 - 

most noble, beautiful and extensive enterprise so far un 
dertaken by them namely the proclamation of the Gos 
pel to the heathen. This fruitage alone forever marks 
the school as a successful undertaking and worthy of a 
prominent place among the influences which shaped the 
history of the Mennonite denomination. 

Steps had been taken by the Conference in 1866 for 
undertaking missionary work. But no particular work 
had been assigned to the committee then elected; nor 
did this committee work up the cause and do something 
to open the way for activity. In 1869 the troubles within 
the school had so completely overshadowed all else that 
nothing was done with regard to mission ; that phase of 
the work seemed to have been entirely forgotten. How 
ever when it became known that one of the students of 
the school felt himself called to enter the missionary 
service, interest in the cause awakened with redoubled 
vigor. This new situation took the idea of mission out 
of the realm of the ideal and made it real brought it 
closer home to the people. For was there not now pros 
pect that one of their own number would be sent to the 
field who would depend upon them for support ! Ex 
pectations even rose higher than this. The question im 
mediately arose whether the General Conference should 
not begin an independent mission of their own with 
Haury as missionary. This idea received a very sub 
stantial support through the fact that as far back as 1866 
Jacob and Mary L,eisy of Summerfield, Ills., had donated 
one thousand dollars to the General Conference, with the 
provision that this money be put on interest until the 
General Conference should begin an independent Mis 
sion, when it might be used in support of that enterprise. 

- i8 5 - 

From the beginning the aim of the Conference had 
been to open up and conduct a missionary enterprise 
of its own. This purpose had become more firmly 
established in the progress of time. With the an 
nouncement of Haury s intention the time seemed to 
have arrived for action. 

It was of course not expected that this work would 
be begun at once, as Haury was not ready to enter 
the field. He had as yet to spend several years in 
preparing for this special work, but it was universally 
expected that after that he would enter the mission 
field as the representative of the American churches. 
How great, therefore, was the disappointment when it 
became known that Haury had already applied for ad 
mission to another missionary society. If Haury should 
really enter the service of another society, then all 
the new and cherished hopes of the conference churches 
would be utterly shattered. 

The association with which Haury had applied was 
the Mennonite Missionary Society of Amsterdam, Hoi- 
land. His application to this society was due to van der 
Smissen who suggested it and encouraged Haury to 
take this step, even before it came to the knowledge of 
the churches that Haury had dedicated himself to mis 
sionary service. This action was directly contrary to 
the conference instructions of 1866, and these certainly 
should have been regarded in this matter. When van 
der Smissen s attention was directed to these instruc 
tions, he justified his action by referring to his call. 
For this subject is touched in that document in the fol 
lowing language : "First of all you desire information as 
to what is expected of the theological professor. Parallel 

1 86 

with the aim to train teachers in the institution there is 
another, namely that of imparting to the students the in 
dispensable theological knowledge ; and, should one or 
the other desire to become a missionary, to give to such 
person a course of instruction, as would fit him to enter 
the missionary society of Holland and prepare himself 
for mission work there." Van der Smissen further 
explained that as both the conference instructions of 
1866 and the call had been written by Chr. Schowalter, 
it could never be supposed "that he (Schowalter) had 
not comprehended the sense of the instructions and 
written the very opposite in the call from what had been 
agreed upon and been intended." 

Schowalter s reply to this was, that the part of the 
call referred to really set forth what had found expres 
sion at the Conference, but had not been recorded at the 
time ; that he therefore had written more into the call 
than he should have. He denied, however, that van der 
Smissen had correctly interpreted what had been writ 
ten. For what was said in the call was intended to in 
dicate only the kind and degree of information which 
should be imparted, and not to delegate to van der Smis 
sen the authority of sending missionary candidates to 
Holland without consulting the Conference. 

Haury had applied with the Amsterdam Society in 
February, 1871. In May he received favorable reply. 
They were ready to accept him and recommended ad 
ditional preparation, preferably at Barmen, Germany. 
But before entering upon any binding arrangements they 
desired to know whether his parents or his home church 
would not provide the means for his further education. 
At the same they asked for security against possible loss 

- i8 7 - 

in case he should change his mind with regard to be 
coming a missionary. 

Not long after Haury had written to Amsterdam he 
also informed his home church (Summerfield) of his 
purpose to become a missionary, and that he had offered 
himself to the Amsterdam society. His purpose to be 
come a missionary was cause for great satisfaction, they 
"saw in it an answer to prayer." With regard to the 
proposal to Amsterdam they say, "we cannot be pleased, 
because thereby the wish of the General Conference has 
been ignored, which we feel in duty bound to regard." 
They communicated their feelings and wishes in regard 
to this matter to Haury. The actions of the church in 
this matter naturally were inspired by its minister, Chr. 
Krehbiel. When afterwards reply came from Amster 
dam Haury sent a copy to the Summerfield church. 
The church replied that it could not obligate itself, 
as suggested by the Amsterdam society, without the 
co-operation of the affiliating churches of the General 
Conference. At that time they also requested Haury to 
spend his vacation at home with the church, to which he 
readily consented. 

Accordingly Haury returned to Summerfield after 
graduation. He being present, several church meetings 
were held in which Haury s future course as also the in 
terest of the General Conference were fully considered. 
It was there decided that Haury should write up a state 
ment of his purpose of becoming a missionary and of his 
wishes with regard to the matter, and then publish it in 
the Friedensbote. At the same time the officers of the 
church should prepare another writing containing a full 
statement of the present situation and setting forth plans 


as to what might be done. Both writings appeared in 
the Friedensbote in August, 1871. At the close of 
his article Haury expressed the wish to be permitted to 
continue his studies at Barmen without having taken 
final action with regard to his relation to either the 
Amsterdam society or the General Conference. Finally 
he appealed to the Mennonite churches of America to 
assist him in securing "further training for the sacred 
missionary service. In the article from the Summerfield 
church the whole matter was first clearly set forth, and 
then the proposition was made that Haury should not 
ally himself with any missionary society before com 
pleting his studies. That in the meantime he was to 
bear in mind that the American churches, with which 
he stood in closest relation, had the first and greatest 
duties toward him and the prospective work. After the 
completion of his preparation he should then "if pos 
sible with the approval of the General Conference go to 
the missionfield to which the Lord might direct him, 
wherever that be, and whether under the General Confer 
ence in co-operation with the Amsterdam society or un 
der the Conference alone. " Attention was also directed 
to the fact that, in case Haury should decide to pursue his 
further studies as the prospective missionary of the Gen 
eral Conference, the mission committee would be autho 
rized to supply Haury with the necessary funds. The 
request was also made that all churches soon express 
themselves through the Friedensbote with regard to this 
matter, and that if no objections were raised it should be 
considered as acceptable to all that the committee, to 
gether with the conference officers and van der Smissen, 
in behalf of the Conference undertake the support of 
Haury in his further preparation. 


The whole situation "being thus brought to general 
notice, it soon became manifest that there existed a 
deep-seated purpose to carry on independent mission 
work through the Conference ; that there was a readi 
ness to provide the necessary funds for this purpose ; 
and that all were jealously opposed to any procedure 
which could injure the Conference through disregard of 
its instructions. Within a few days after the publica 
tion of the communication from Summerfield the "Penn 
sylvania Mission Board" (auxiliary of the Eastern Con 
ference) held a session to consider this matter. They 
expressed their pleasure at Haury s resolution to become 
a missionary, but disapproved of his allying himself 
with another society; because, said they, "it is clear 
from a resolution of the Conference of 1866 that this or 
ganization intends to carry on mission work independ 
ently, and so we are unwilling to withdraw our support 
from it." They appropriated two hundred dollars 
toward Haury s support at school, provided he place 
himself under the auspices of the General Conference. 
Iowa was also soon heard from with resolutions urging 
greater faithfulness to conference instructions and aims, 
but also promising support to Haury in the further pro 
secution of his studies. Encouraged by these expressions 
and assured of support on the part of the American Men- 
nonite churches, Haury decided to act upon the Summer- 
field plan and continue his preparation for the work. 
Accordingly he left in September, 1871, for Europe, there 
to attend the school at Barmen, Germany. With this 
the mission enterprise had to rest until the Conference 
would meet in 1872 and adopt resolutions for the future. 
About this time a very buoyant, hopeful spirit pre- 

i go 

vailed throughout the conference churches. Indeed now 
and then threatening clouds had arisen, but they had 
always blown over without breaking into a storm. Fric 
tion which had occassionally existed had been removed 
by the application of the oil of love. Never before had 
such blessings been enjoyed by Mennonites in America 
as now came to them through school and fellowship. 
Under these conditions it was but natural that there was 
a universal feeling that the Conference was moving on 
toward a very bright and happy future. These feelings 
were voiced in an article by John G. Stauffer, entitled : 
"The Promising Future of the Mennonites of America." 
The following extract of this article will be read with 

"More than one hundred and fifty years have elapsed 
since this denomination was transplanted to this country , 
into all parts of which it has now spread, and in some 
places it has sent its roots down deep, even as a mighty 
tree. What constitutes the most pleasing sign of the 
times to which I wish to call attention, is, that this tree 
is now in full blossom and is even now beginning to 
mature some fruit, which gives reason for confidence and 
faith in the future of the Mennonite church in America. 

"This church now has two printing establishments, 
which are effective means for the dissemination of 
truth. ... It also has an educational institution for 
young men which is in charge of very sincere, Christian 
men. From this institution have already gone forth 
very active and useful young men, full of the spirit of 
Christ. Others are in course of training and promise 
well. One is even now at work preparing himself to go 
as the first German- American Mennonite missionary to 

preach the Gospel to the heathen. Assuredly these signs 
of life entitle to the joyful hope that the Mennonite 
church has a future. But how much grander still will it 
be when the evangelists of our church, anointed with 
the Holy Spirit, shall in great numbers labor in this and 
in heathen lands and everywhere establish churches ; a 
hope, the realization of which is perhaps not far distant." 

That such brilliant hopes were entertained need not 
surprise us when we remember how rapidly the unifica 
tion movement had developed, how success after success 
had been achieved, how the capability and activity of 
the Conference had surpassed all expectation, causing 
the astonished witnesses to exclaim : "This is the Lord s 

Not at all times did circumstances warrant such 
buoyancy. In its career the Conference had now reached 
a climax of success. But as the traveller must pass from 
the hill- top to the valley, so for the Conference there 
came after this season of triumph a period of bitter 



School its further course. Sixth Conference. Mennonite 

Immigration. Foreign Mission. Home Mission. 

Seventh Conference. 

Though the school had closed under such satisfying 
conditions, the succeeding year (1871 2) could not be 
begun without disturbing changes. These changes oc 
curred among the teachers, of whom two retired during 
the summer of 1871. One of those retiring was Schultz. 
Once before he had handed in his resignation, pleading 
ill health and that the debt of the institution was an un 
bearable burden to him. It will be remembered that 
upon him as German teacher devolved the care of the 
accounts of the institution. His sensitive nature could 
not endure the annoyance arising from constant shortage 
of funds. His honest soul contemplated with dread the 
possibility of a financial insolvency. He wanted the 
debt removed and did all in his power to accomplish 
that end, but instead of succeeding in this he saw this 
harrassiiig debt growing larger and larger until he felt 
he must withdraw. At his first resignation the super 
vising committee had so urgently plead with him not to 
deprive the institution of his services that he finally 
yielded. However the following year brought no im 
provement in the financial embarrassment, and as in 


addition to that vexation the double system of manage 
ment of the school brought experiences, which were 
exceedingly painful to him, he concluded to retire, and 
accordingly vacated his position in the Spring of 1871. 
The retirement of this pious, modest but capable man 
was a great loss to the institution. M. S. Moyer, 1 a 
young man from Pennsylvania and for a time a student 
in the school, was called to fill the vacancy. He entered 
upon his duties in August of 1871. 

Soon after Moyer s entrance Fritz, who had served 
as English teacher since the opening of the school, sud 
denly and unexpectedly vacated his position. It was 
necessary promptly to fill his place. As Moyer was able 
to serve also as English teacher, and had originally been 
intended by the supervisors for that place, he was as 
signed to that department. To the German department 
Daniel F. Risser of Summerfield was called, and he en 
tered upon this work in December, 1871. 

As both the new teachers were members of the 
Mennonite church, it was now for the first time that 
the school had a faculty of Mennonites only. This was 
felt as a cause for congratulation among supporting 
churches, and that particularly because two of the 
teachers were of their own number, Moyer from the 
east and Risser from the west. 

At the outset all went very nicely and in good 
harmony as very properly it should when brethren of 
peace" co-operate. How cordial the relations between 
the occupants of the institution were at this time is evi 
dent from a report of a Sunday school Christmas cele- 

1 See Biographical Appendix. 


bration held in the institution in 1871. Instructors and 
students participated in the best of harmony. All assisted 
in trimming the tree. The three teachers lit the candles. 
Students made speeches and sang beautiful hymns. 
Sunday school scholars recited Scripture passages and 
other selections. It was indeed a pleasant occasion for 
the participants ; in the history of the institution it 
stands as a bright example of the spirit which should 
always have prevailed, but rarely did. 

The attendance was not as large as desired or even 
as it had been before. At the close of the year 1871 the 
total attendance was but 28, of whom 21 however had 
their home in the institution. Among these students 
were representatives from all the states in which there 
were conference churches, viz : Ohio, Pennsylvania, 
Indiana, Iowa, and Illinois. Considerable effort was 
made to increase the attendance, the matter being agi 
tated from the school as \vell as by the churches them 
selves, but the desired result was not obtained. Evidently 
there was still lacking with many a full appreciation of 
the advantage of a more than common education, and as 
long as that was wanting a very full attendance upon the 
school could not be expected. 

With the year 1872, the time for the regular triennial 
session of the General Conference had arrived. Accord 
ingly the Sixth General Conference met on October 28 
of that year at Wadsworth, Ohio. 

Again the Conference experienced an increase. 
From seventeen the number of participating churches 
had advanced to twenty-three. Nearly all of these 


twenty-three churches were small ; their total number of 
votes aggregating but sixty a gain of eight votes over 
the last session. Most of the churches which united at 
this time were situated in Pennsylvania, one (Munster- 
berg later Berne) was in Indiana. Below is given a list 
of the churches with their representatives and votes. 

Church. Place. Delegates. Votes. 
i. Waterloo Canada J. Huber 3 

( C. Krehbiel ; J. Leisy,^ 

is < J.Vogt ; D.Hirschler, ( 

D. Baer, J. Haury . . ) 

2. Summerfield Illinois s i. vogt,u. mrscnier. "> 5 

3. Munsterberg (Berne) Indiana S. F. Sprunger. 

4. Salem Dayton, la Wm. Galle 2 

5- Zion Donnellsonja. $ Chr Schowalter 
} Jac. Krebill 

6. Franklin Iowa J. S. Hirschler 2 

7. WestPoint J.C. KrehbielJ. Risser. 2 

5. Ashland Ohio John Risser i 

9. Cleveland Daniel Krehbiel i 

10. Wadsworth 5 E Hunsberger 

( J. Neisz. T. lodes 

1 1 . Bartolets Pennsylvania ^ 

12. Schwenksville > G H< Gottscha11 4 

13. Bedminster ) Wm. G. Moyer 3 

14. Baumansville 

15. East Swamp I A. B. Shelly , 

16. West Swamp fj. H . Oberholzer. . . . } IO 

17. Flatland " J 

c8. Boyertown ..Abr. Gottschall i 

19. Hereford . . Chr. Clemmer 5 

20. Philadelphia . . L. O. Schimmel 3 

21. Saucona ..W. H. Oberholzer 2 

22. Springfield -J. S. Moyer 4 

23. Upper Milford ..Jos. Schantz 3 

Total Votes 60 

List of churches represented at Sixth General Conference. 
Held at Wadsworth, Ohio. 1872. 


The election of officers, occurring then at the begin 
ning of the sessions, brought on a change which deserves 
notice. Up to this time J. H. Oberholzer, who had done 
so much toward originating the Conference, had served 
as chairman of the organization. Because of his ad 
vanced age he now desired to be relieved of this respon 
sibility. When such zealous and successful leaders retire 
from activity, we regret to see them go, and we call to 
remembrance with gratitude what they have done for us. 
As for himself he could retire with a satisfied heart. 
Many years had he labored unselfishly in the Lord s ser 
vice, but now in his old age it was his privilege to see 
the beautiful fruit of his labors. He was present at this 
session and presided at the opening, but as soon as his 
successor was elected he vacated his chair. 

In the selection of a new chairman the Conference 
was very fortunate. The choice fell on A. B. Shelly, 
editor of the Friedensbote, who was well known as an 
intelligent, clear-sighted man, honestly seeking to pro 
mote the best interests of the cause. He was well quali 
fied for the office tendered him, as he possessed a calm 
temper and would not allow himself to be drawn 
into any rash act. His sincere purpose at all times was 
to treat every one with full fairness and considerateness 
under the existing rules. For twenty-four years he filled 
this important position to the entire satisfaction of all. 

The first subject for consideration presented by the 
business committee was Home Mission, that is, evange 
listic work among Mennonite churches. After due de 
liberation it was resolved to undertake this kind of work. 
Accordingly three persons were appointed to this duty. 
For the east L- O. Schimmel was chosen, for the central 

district B. Hunsberger, and for the west Chr. Krehbiel. 
They were instructed to devote a portion of their time to 
this work according to needs and circumstances, in com 
pensation for which the Conference promised them two 
dollars per day and payment of travelling expenses. 

The reports from the school were not at all encour 
aging. On the one hand a decrease in the attendance 
during the year from twenty-six to twenty had occurred, 
and on the other hand the debt, despite the efforts made 
to wipe it out, still amounted to almost four thousand 
dollars. Nevertheless the supporters of the cause were 
not disheartened, but endeavored to find ways and means 
to let them out of the difficulty and to set the school 
upon a solid basis. In order to rid the school of the 
harassing debt, it was resolved, i. That the Conference 
urgently requests that every church appoint out of their 
own number a solicitor of funds for the liquidation of the 
debt ; and 2. That a separate account be kept of the 
debt and that it be not confused with the current ex 
pense account. 

The system of management of the institution was 
altered somewhat at this time. The division into a local 
committee of supervisors and a sub-committee of persons 
from the several districts was retained. It was, however, 
desired that the sub-committee should be more intimately 
connected with the management of current affairs. The 
following plan was therefore adopted : 

"The committee of supervisors order and dispose 
of all such matters as will bear of no postponement ; 
provided, however, that matters which are of interest to 
the Conference be reported monthly to each member of 
the sub-committee. Matters of great importance which 


can bear postponement for at least two weeks shall first 
be reported to the sub-committee members and their 
opinion obtained, whereupon the supervisors shall take 
action in accordance with their conscientious conviction. 
Members of the sub-committee shall always be entitled 
to express to the supervisors their approval or disap 
proval of matters appearing in the monthly reports. As 
desirable and feasible as this arrangement appears in 
theory, it nevertheless became the cause in practical 
operation of serious friction and misunderstanding. 

The following persons were chosen to the manage 
ment of the school interests : Committee of supervisors, 
Hiram H. Drake (President), Harrison Thomas, An 
thony Overholt; Sub-committee, S. B. Baumann for Ca 
nada, W. H. Oberholzer for Pennsylvania, Jacob Kreh- 
biel III. for the West. 

That interest in Foreign Mission had been thor 
oughly awakened was very manifest at this session. 
Steps were now taken to begin the work in earnest. A 
new Mission Board was elected, now of five persons. 
Those elected were C. J. van der Smissen, J. H. Ober 
holzer, Chr. Krehbiel. The officers of the Conference, 
A. B. Shelly and Chr. Schowalter, were members by 
virtue of their office. 

As stated before Haury, through van der Smissen s 
instrumentality, had begun a correspondence with the 
Amsterdam Mennonite Mission Society with regard to 
entering their service. On the part of that society it was 
of course desired that American contributions might 
flow into their treasury as heretofore. Accordingly they 
offered Haury a position as missionary to Summatra, 
there to be associated with Henry Dirks. This friendly 

approach the Conference did not wish to pass by un 
noticed. It was decided, therefore, to propose that the 
Conference as an organization enter into co-operation 
with the Amsterdam society on a basis of equality ; ac 
cording to which the Conference w r ould send her own 
missionary to Summatra, there to labor in conjunction 
with missionary Dirks, but to be accountable only to 
the Conference, the Conference also being entirely re 
sponsible for his support. 

It was further ordered that in case nothing should 
come of these negotiations with the Amsterdam brethren 
that "then the Mission Board is authorized and in 
structed to take such steps as the I^ord shall point out to 
them for the opening of an independent mission. 

Upon the request of the Mission Board the Confer 
ence agreed to consider Haury as their prospective mis 
sionary and therefore to bear his expenses while pur 
suing his course of preparation, but without insisting 
that he at this time pledge himself to the service of the 
Conference, yet with the expectation that he do so as soon 
as the proper time for this should arrive. 

As it was expected that others would offer them 
selves for missionary service it was resolved "that every 
young man that proposes to become a missionary shall 
present to any member of the Board a written applica 
tion, including also a statement how he came by his 
purpose ; and that every missionary candidate must be 
at least eighteen years old." 

By these resolutions the way was opened by which 
the Mennonites of America, under the gracious guidance 
of God, entered into active labor on the mission field. 
Though unforeseen, the performance of this sacred duty 


has by reaction become a great blessing to the Confer 
ence itself. Until now the school, as common possession 
and undertaking, had been the means to hold the various 
elements in co-operation and to cement them in closer 
fellowship. But repeated difficulties, within and con 
cerning the institution, had now so weakened the power 
of the school in this respect, that it no longer centered 
general interest upon itself, wherefore something new 
was needed which would enlist the interest and support 
of all. This the work of foreign mission happily did. 
So, while the Conference sought to do good to others in 
the mission enterprise, it unwittingly brought a blessing 
upon itself. 

Mennonite Immigration. 

During the decade following 1870, an extensive 
Mennonite immigration occurred. Notice is taken in 
this work of that important event because of the in 
timate relation in which the General Conference has 
stood with that movement, and because the history of 
the Conference has to some extent been shaped through 
the new conditions arising from the settlements then 
made in this country. 

After the close of the Civil War the United States 
experienced a mighty industrial growth and develop 
ment. Among other things it was at that time that the 
great, fertile plains of the west were made accessible to 
settlement ; in consequence of which a great wave of 
emigration moved westward. Among those Mennonites 
already settled in this country the desire to move westward 
also took hold, prompted largely by the circumstance that 
the increased posterity found it difficult to secure a livli- 


hood. As experience had taught that independent remov 
als of single families so scattered the emigrants that new 
churches could not be organized to offer them spiritual 
homes, the idea was originated to colonize the immi 
grants in communities of sufficient strength to form 

This plan was first discussed among the churches of 
the Western District Conference ; its originator and chief 
promoter being Chr. Krehbiel, pastor of the Summer- 
. field church, who, as we shall see, played a leading part 
in the whole migratory movement. In a private way 
this idea had been under consideration for some time, 
when in 1869 it w r as brought to public attention by plac 
ing "colonization" as a topic for consideration on the 
program of the Western Conference. At that session 
Chr. Krehbiel presented a plan for colonization. After 
some consideration of the scheme the Conference re 
quested Krehbiel to associate with himself five other 
members of the Summerfield congregation and prepare 
the plan for publication in the Friedensbote. The scheme 
thus developed was published February, 1870. Viewed 
in the light of events which have since transpired, it 
must be conceded that the plan was very practical. 

The scheme as published met w r ith approval, but 
not sufficient interest was awakened to lead to actual 
colonization. At the Conference one year later the mat 
ter received no mention. Chr. Krehbiel, backed by his 
church, finally stood alone as supporter of the idea, but 
he was not to be discouraged. In the fall of 1871 the 
church sent a deputation of eight men on an inspection 
tour to the great prairies of the west to seek out a suit 
able place for a colony. This company, making its 


trip overland in a single wagon, passed through Mis 
souri into Nebraska and back through Iowa. Of Ne 
braska they reported favorably. It now seemed that the 
colonization scheme would receive a new impetus 
through the inviting opportunity of securing good farms 
almost as a gift. 

Just about this time, however, a new movement 
arose which gave a new direction to the work already 
begun. Reference is had to the Mass-Immigration of 
Mennonites from Europe. As early as 1869 rumors had 
reached America that the Russian government was 
about to abrogate the concessions made to Mennonites 
and no longer to exempt them from military service ; 
that the Mennonites, however, were not willing to sub 
mit to this change and would therefore probably emigrate 
en-masse. The dreaded law was later really passed, not 
only in Russia, but Germany and Austria likewise passed 
laws making universal military service compulsory. 

That the passage of these laws would result in ex 
tensive emigration was certain, for the great majority of 
Mennonites still faithfully adhered to the doctrine of 
non-resistance. But in which direction the movement 
would go could only be conjectured. Africa, Australia, 
South and North America all offered suitable condi 
tions and inviting opportunities. North America was, 
however, soon given the preference. During the summer 
of 1870 a deputation from Prussia visited the United 
States. Other deputations followed from Russia. There 
were also independent travellers that made inspection 
tours to the United States and elsewhere. A company of 
these reached Summerfield, 111., in the summer of 1872. 
Four young men, Bernhard Warkentin, Philip Wiebe, 


Peter Dyck and Jacob Beer, composed this company. As 
these men here met with the already existing coloniza 
tion scheme, and detected in Chr. Krehbiel a wise and 
far sighted adviser and leader, and in other respects 
found very agreeable conditions in that congregation, 
they remained at that place for a considerable time, and 
from it as a center made an inspection tour of the west, 
northwest, and southwest, accompanied by several mem 
bers of the church. The Summerfield people were greatly 
pleased with this visit of brethren from beyond the ocean 
and gave them a cordial welcome. Heart and home of 
fered its best in friendship and hospitality. In a beauti 
ful little poem entitled "The Four L,eaved Clover L,eaf," 
Mary Leisy described their mission. Through the Frie- 
densbote news of this visit from Russia and its signifi 
cance reached the public. This visit gave a vigorous 
impulse to the colonization plans. Again plans were 
made, but now with a view to a possible union with the 
prospective immigration from Europe. 

The coming in contact of these visitors with the 
Summerfield church and its leader is of importance to 
the General Conference history, because the immigra 
tion movement here first came in touch with a Confer 
ence church, and because already at that time relations 
were established which made Summerfield one of the 
main objective points and chief stopping places for the 
immigrants, by whom in turn acquaintances were formed 
which helped to make the later extensive union with the 
General Conference much easier and greatly hastened it. l 

1 No mention is made of the noble activity of the "Old" Men- 
nonites, during the immigration movement, as that would lead be 
yond the legitimate sphere of this work. 


The following spring (1873) brought another depu 
tation to Summer field, composed of Jacob Peter, Henry 
Wiebe and Cornelius Baur. Chr. Krehbiel accompanied 
these men on a land inspection tour to Kansas, with the 
result that all carried with them most favorable impres 
sions of the advantages which Kansas offered. 

Just previous to this the Summerfield church had 
entered into still closer relations with the brethren of 
Russia. It will be remembered that D. Risser had been 
called to Wadsworth from his position as teacher in the 
Summerfield parochial school, the latter school in conse 
quence being without teacher. Through the first visitors 
from Russia attention had been directed to a talented 
young teacher in Russia, w r hom they thought it would be 
possible to induce to come to this country and accept 
this position. Upon Chr. Krehbiel s advice correspond 
ence was opened with this person and a call extended to 
him. The call was accepted. In the summer of 1873 
the new teacher arrived in Summerfield. Soon after 
wards he entered upon his duties and for several years 
served very successfully in this capacity. This man was 
David Goerz, who, being among the first immigrants to 
this country and placed at an important center so far as 
the immigration was concerned, was easily led into 
prominence and usefulness. 

Upon pressure by Chr. Krehbiel his long cherished 
colonization scheme again rose into prominence. He 
succeeded in organizing a colonization company from 
members within his own church. This company sent a 
committee under leadership of Krehbiel to Kansas "to 
examine accurately land and conditions, and if suitable 
and possible, to arrange fora purchase, subject to ratifica- 


tion by the company." This expedition was joined by 
D. Goerz and several other Russian brethren. The re 
sult of the expedition was that the country about Hal- 
stead was selected as suitable for a colony, and arrange 
ments were made which later led to a settlement under 
most favorable advantages. 

In advance of the great immigration from Europe a 
few r families had arrived during the year 1873, some of 
which temporarily took up residence in Summerfield. 
The mass-immigration occurred later. One of the causes 
of delay with some was the problem how to provide 
means for the transportation of their poor. For even 
with the richer churches it soon became evident that the 
cost of transporting their poor constituted a heavy bur 
den ; to leave the poor behind was not deemed right. 
With the poorer churches the carrying along of their 
poor was impossible. Help was needed. Appeals for 
assistance soon reached America ; for it had already 
been noticed that among the brethren in this land there 
were sympathetic hearts ready to help those in need. 
The first appeal for help came from the so-called Stucky 
Swiss church in Russia, and was brought to the general 
attention of the Conference churches through the Frie- 

Again Summerfield took the lead, the first proposi 
tion and plan for rendering assistance coming from there. 
Jacob Leisy proposed (August 1873) that funds should 
be solicited in all churches, either as loans or donations 
with which to assist the poor brethren to come to this 
country. With others the appeal also struck a responsive 
chord. In all places this matter was discussed and a 
widespread interest and willingness to help became mani- 


fest. Some plan was needed by which this willingness 
could be crystalized and brought to action. The Western 
Conference (Nov. 1873) furnished the plan. In the 
resolutions respecting this matter it was agreed that col 
lections should be raised in the several churches. A 
committee was authorized to receive these contributions 
and to remit them for appropriate application. Into this 
committee were chosen Chr. Krehbiel, D. Baer and B. 
Warkentin, 1 all of the Summerfield church. 

At about this same time a similar movement had 
sprung up among Mennonites not participating in the 
General Conference. With the representatives of that 
movement the above named committee entered into cor 
respondence, with the result that the two movements 
consolidated and formed an aid society under the name 
of "Mennonite Board of Guardians" with Chr. Krehbiel 
as president, D. Goerz, secretary, John F. Funk, treas 
urer and B. Warkentin, agent. Its business headquarters 
the society made at Summerfield, Illinois. 

A few months later another society for the same 
purpose was organized in Pennsylvania by "Old Menno 
nites" and members of the Eastern District Conference, 
which styled itself the "Mennonite Executive Aid Com 
mittee." This society, however, did not co-operate with 
the Mennonite Board of Guardians but engaged in in 
dependent activity. Both societies pursued the same 
noble purpose of assisting poor brethren in Russia and 
Germany to remove to America. 

Both societies soon had plenty to do. Nor were the 
means wanting, although the country was still suffering 

1 B. Warkentin, a member of the first deputation, had united 
with the Summerfield church and now resided at that place. 


from the consequences of the war, and even now the 
panic of 1873 was resting heavily on the people. The 
Mennonites of America pitied their oppressed brethren 
and were therefore willing to bring large sacrifices in 
their behalf. In May, 1874, so only a short time after 
the organization of the societies, the Mennonite Board of 
Guardians already had 11,500 dollars at its disposal and 
the Executive Aid Committee was not far behind with 
8,000 dollars. These sums, however, constituted but a 
beginning to the contributions which, both as loans and 
gifts, flowed for the needy brethren. For in all more 
than one hundred thousand dollars were contributed. 

But not only were the poor assisted, but the whole 
immigration was greatly aided by favorable contracts, 
which these societies made with steamship and railroad 
companies, for greatly reduced rates for all immigrants, 
and by supplying each company of immigrants, upon 
arrival, with competent and experienced guides, who in 
many cases accompanied them to their new homes ; and 
finally by making arrangements for temporary resting 
places in Menuonite communities for companies of immi 
grants in their journey to their future home. 

During the summer of 1874, the stream of immi 
gration began to flow and so continued for several years. 
Settlements were made chiefly in Manitoba, Dakota, 
Minnesota, Nebraska and Kansas. In the United States 
Kansas secured the largest number of settlers. Those 
people who were assisted by the two societies also 
settled mostly in that state. Not all churches received as 
sistance. Several neither asked for nor received any aid, 
but carried their poor with them at their own expense. 

After the transfer to this country had been accom- 


plished it was soon discovered that the payment of the 
travelling expenses for the poor was not all the assistance 
required. For they had to have a living after being here, 
and that was difficult to secure in that new section of 
country, where industry and natural resources were still 
entirely undeveloped. Everybody wanted work and 
there was no one to give employment. Starvation stared 
these people in the faces. Again the appeal for help 
this time for something to eat, went forth, and not in 
vain. Though times were hard, whole car loads of pro 
visions were sent to the sufferers and a large amount of 
cash was contributed. Of the very large quantity of pro 
visions sent no record is at hand. It is known, however, 
that for the maintainance of the poor of Kansas alone 
about 5000 dollars were given, and that later about 
10,000 more was raised for settling these people on 
farms. Besides these direct gifts a large number of poor 
families had been distributed among different churches 
in various states, where they were cared for until they 
could provide for themselves. 

As the immigrants were so amiably received and 
fraternally assisted by their American brethren, it could 
scarcely be otherwise than that they, in grateful recogni 
tion of such kindness, felt themselves drawn to these 
brethren. The immigrants had come into more or less 
intimate touch with American brethren ; acquaintances 
had been formed ; though differing in external matters 
the spiritual relationship was recognized and so the way 
was prepared for continued fraternal relations and closer 
association in the future. Summerfield in particular 
was the place \vhere the bonds of fellowship were early 
established. As already stated both D. Goerz and B. 


Warkentin lived there for several years. Other leading 
men among the early immigrants also resided there with 
their families for several months, or stopped there for 
several weeks. Among such may be mentioned the de 
ceased minister Wm. Ewert and minister I^eonhard Su- 
dermann. 1 As the colony of American Mennonites at 
Halstead, Kansas, (composed chiefly of Mennonites from 
Summerfield, Chr. Krehbiel himself also soon settling 
there,) came to be situated in close proximity to several 
European settlements, the intimate relationship already 
established at Summerfield was here further developed, 
and practically proved the door through which the Eu 
ropean churches ultimately approached and joined with 
the unification movement of the General Conference. 

From the school we parted at the conference of 
1872. Let us see how it fared under the disturbing in 
fluence of the great tidal wave of Mennonite immigra 
tion. Of the new system of management introduced at 
the last session it was expected that it would produce 
more tranquil conditions within the school, and that with 
regard to external matters all would go more successfully 
and to better satisfaction, and that in consequence the 
institution would regain its former popularity. But the 
change in management alone was not depended upon 
to bring about this improvement. A decided effort was 
about to be made to wipe out the troublesome debt and 
to secure a fund witli w r hich to meet the annual short 
age. In a number of churches the request of the Con 
ference, to take up collections, was heeded. In the spring 

1 See Biographical Appendix. 


of 1873, A. B. Shelly urged all churches thus to collect 
that by unanimous, concerted action enough might be 
raised to pay the entire debt. About this time a move 
ment was started to raise a fund of 30,000 dollars, the 
interest of which should be used to meet the annual de 
ficit. But just at this juncture, when these salutary efforts 
were about to assume definite form, the immigration ex 
citement began to distract the attention and interest. 
The churches of the west were first drawn into the ex 
citement, while the eastern churches continued to labor 
for the improvement of the school. But as the immigra 
tion assumed constantly increasing proportions, it finally 
carried all before itself and turned the expectant gaze to 
ward Europe. And when the appeal for help came then 
the support was diverted from the institution to the aid 
of the needy brethren of Europe ; money intended for 
the school was absorbed by the immigration movement. 
All the money that could be spared was contributed to 
ward the aid of the poor immigrants and nothing re 
mained for the school. The stream of immigration bore 
everything away before it, to the detriment of the school ; 
which neglected steadily drifted toward destruction. 

Not only, however, through the immigration and its 
attendant claims were attention and support withdrawn 
from the school. The prospective foreign mission had a 
very similar effect. This condition of things was recog 
nized at the time, as is shown in the following extract 
from an article by A. B. Shelly. He says : Upon 
our Mennonite churches, formerly so little accustomed to 
giving, of late many demands are made for money con 
tributions, so that if all the appeals are heeded, there is 
a superabundance of opportunity to make sacrifices. 


The most important and pressing demand for money 
now comes from our needy brethren, the Russian immi 
grants. Large sums have already been given for this 
purpose ; it now appears as though only a beginning 
had been made. Many thousand dollars are still re 
quired. ..." "A further demand upon our churches 
comes from the mission cause. ..." "Finally the school 
comes in for her share of support by the churches. 

Had the school at this time been internally in a 
prosperous condition, the temporary need would not 
have produced any permanent injury. Unfortunately, 
however, this was not the case. Disturbing contentions 
within the institution continued to eat away its vitality. 
One such trouble was occasioned through a refusal by 
the principal to admit a nephew of Chr. Schowalter to 
the privileges of the institution accorded to Mennonite 
youths, on the ground that the young man had been 
baptized in his childhood. By this imprudent action of 
the principal, the good will of the western churches was 
temporarily alienated, but to the permanent injury of 
the institution. 

But even between the members of the faculty con 
tentions of a most deplorable character arose. The 
double headed system of management for the school 
proved so irritating through confusion of rights and du 
ties, that it finally produced a bitter conflict between the 
Theological and German professors. Both men were 
quick tempered. Instead of practicing forbearance in 
love, they allowed their passions to control them. Los 
ing sight of the welfare of the school, each sought to 
make the other unpopular with the students ; the Ger 
man teacher apparently having made the grossest blun- 


ders in this direction. Finally the trouble became so 
aggravated that the committee of supervisors made a 
serious attempt to remove it. A joint session with the 
sub-committee was called. In May, 1874, all members 
of both committees being present, the following resolu 
tion was adopted : 

"Resolved that the students shall have unrestricted 
communication with every one of the teachers ; that it is 
the duty of every teacher to encourage the students to 
confidence in fellow 7 teachers ; and that in no case shall 
it be permissible to use derogatory expressions, to ex 
pose weaknesses, or to make any statements w r hich could 
in any w r ise tend to lower the respect of students toward 
any member of the faculty." 

Although all members of the faculty promised to 
be governed by these instructions, this effort of the com 
mittee did not prove sufficient to remove the difficulty. 
The passions had already been too much inflamed. The 
fire, temporarily checked, smouldered on and under pro 
vocation soon broke out anew in threatening flames. 
After the session in May, W. H. Oberholzer, sub-com 
mittee member from the east, remained for some time at 
Wadsworth, in order to gain more accurate knowledge 
of the inner working of the institution by personal obser 
vation, and so be better equipped to act intelligently in 
matters pertaining to the school. As a result of his ob 
servations he, however, allowed his feelings to carry him 
into an action, which for a time threatened to prove fatal 
not only to the school but also to the Conference. For at 
his instigation a committee session was held on July 26, 
1874, to which the members from the west and Canada 
were not invited. Upon Oberholzer s advice it was de- 

- 213 - 

cided at this meeting to request the German teacher to 
resign his position, because the Pennsylvania brethren, 
as also all the students from the east, had lost all confi 
dence in him and that for this reason the east was now 
withholding its support from the institution. This reso 
lution was then communicated to the other members of 
the committee. In the west, the German teacher being 
the representative on the faculty of that district, this pro 
cedure met with decided opposition. The western 
member of the sub-committee, Jac. Krehbiel III., im 
mediately sent copies of the communication to all the 
churches of the Western Conference and requested their 
opinion on this matter. Councils were held at once in 
all the churches, and without exception the action of the 
Wadsworth session was disapproved and sharply re 
buked. As the German teacher was in full possession of 
the confidence and respect of the western churches, the 
action at Wadsworth was considered in the nature of an 
affront to the western churches. The strained relations, 
which had been gradually arising between east and west, 
threatened now under this new provocation to become a 
complete rupture. The remonstrances from the churches 
were in part couched in rather caustic language and 
there was no lack of accusations. Thus for example it 
was claimed that at the General Conference the east had 
solemnly promised "enormous sums" toward the cancel 
lation of the debt, but had failed to make good their 
promise, while the west had done its duty. As another 
example the following quotations may answer : "At that 
time, however, and long enough afterwards the German 
teacher was still held in esteem by the Pennsylvania 
brethren, that they might have fulfilled their pledged 

2I 4 

duty ; nevertheless they withheld their contributions 
and now the German teacher is the cause of this with 
holding ! Such an inconsistent position is too glaringly 
wrong to be accepted as a sufficient reason for removing 
a man who at least can count on no insignificant number 
of supporters of the school, whose entire confidence he 
commands to this day." From the same writing we also 
take the following : "That the German teacher has lost 
much of his reputation in Wadsworth, we concede, par 
ticularly as the whole institution has suffered the same 
fate, not only in Wadsworth but far beyond, and that long 
before the present German teacher was employed there." 
That passion was allowed to enter into this matter is 
cause for regret. The welfare of any cause is always 
jeopardized when excited passions are yielded to. If the 
eastern brethren were really behind in the fulfillment of 
promises as compared to those of the west, the situation 
was not improved by casting it up to them in such an 
unfriendly tone. Then also it surely w r ould have been 
more consistent with Christian forbearance not to have 
insisted so stringently upon their rights and the main- 
tainance of their honor. For was it not after all possible 
that the situation in the institution might be improved 
by the withdrawal of the German teacher, whether the 
charges against him were well founded or not ? Surely it 
would have been better to have taken this view of the 
matter and with self-denial have permitted this resigna 
tion. For it must have been plain to all that if east and 
west should permanently oppose each other the whole 
unification movement would be hopelessly wrecked. It 
was indeed a grave mistake which the incomplete com 
mittee had made, but the attitude of the west is likewise 

2i 5 

not above criticism. Excitement had taken hold of the 
the people and under its influence mistakes were made 
on both sides. 

After receiving the remonstrances from the several 
churches , the western sub-committee member added a 
letter of his own and sent the lot to the committee of 
supervisors. W. H. Oberholzer had meanwhile left 
Wadsworth. Upon the supervisors the forcible and un 
animous disapproval of the western churches had an 
overwhelming effect. The antagonistic movemement 
against Risser had really not originated with them, and 
plainly they had not realized the full import of their 
action. Two members of the committee forthwith sent 
writings to the western churches, in which they con 
fessed to having erred in this matter, one of them adding 
the assurance that it was an error not of the heart but of 
the head, as they had sincerely sought to advance the 
welfare of the institution. This, however, did not satisfy 
the west. They wanted assurance that hostilities against 
the German teacher had ceased before they would send 
any more students, wherefore they demanded that the 
committee officially report cessation of hostilities. This 
the committee did in November, 1874. Thus another 
threatening danger to the school and Conference had 
been narrowly escaped. But what must finally become 
of the school under these disastrous experiences ? 

Scarcely had the difficulty related above been settled 
then another came up. This time it was a contention 
between the principal of the school and the president of 
the committee of supervisors, Hiram Drake. At a meet 
ing of the supervisors, held December, 1874, at which 
the faculty members were also present, the principal 


censured the president. Drake had already before this 
time contemplated resignation, as the friction and petty 
hostilities which were rife in the institution were unen 
durable to him. He loved and desired peace. When 
now personally affronted, he lost courage entirely and a 
few days afterw r ards handed in his resignation, composed 
in a loving, Christian spirit, and assigning no cause for 
his action. 

At the next session of the committee the other two 
members made no inquiry as to the cause for Drake s 
action, but decided to request him to withdraw his 
resignation, and in order to make their request more 
effective they asked the sub-committee members to sup 
port this request if they saw fit. Two of the members 
acted upon, the suggestion of the supervisors, but the 
western member insisted that he must first know more 
about the case before he could take any action. At the 
same time he accused the supervisors of general neglect 
of duty in not keeping the sub-committee accurately in 
formed as to events in the school. This led to a heated 
controversy in which the western member was indeed in 
the right, but in pressing this right he exercised neither 
forbearance nor good judgment, making no allowance 
for existing circumstances and limitations. On the part 
of the supervisors the matter was treated more kindly 
and considerately, and as meanwhile the officers of the 
Conference had also added their request for Drake to 
remain, the supervisors took action without having the 
support of the western member. To these kindly re 
quests Drake yielded and withdrew his resignation, but 
only upon certain conditions which he named and by which 
he aimed at the prevention of further friction in the school 


and its management. These conditions he submitted in 
writing and they were signed by the committee of super 
visors, the instructors and the steward. 

This difficulty was thus also removed, but the harm 
ful effects could not be prevented. While such discord 
and contention existed among those in charge of the in 
stitution, the school could not be popular with the stu 
dents. It is therefore not matter of surprise to find that 
the attendance rapidly diminished and finally became so 
small that (April, 1875,) the English teacher, M. S. 
Moyer, believed it his duty to resign, because there were 
so few students that they could not be divided into classes 
enough to keep three teachers engaged, and because by 
reducing the teaching force a considerable sum of money 
would annually be saved for the institution. To Moyer 
the testimony can be given that he sincerely sought to 
promote the best interests of the school. He was the one 
steady, clear headed man among his volatile companions. 
When at times everything was going wrong and certain 
ruin seemed impending, he alone remained calm, and 
with prudence and tact conciliated the fractious elements 
and averted disaster. Moyer s services in this respect 
were appreciated by the leaders in the churches, for 
which reason there was an unwillingness to accept the 
resignation. He was urged to remain at least until the 
Conference should meet in the fall. To this he consented. 

But not only was the school unpopular with the 
students. Rumors of a most disparaging nature with 
regard to occurrences in the institution circulated among 
the churches. Apparantly the teachers had lost control 
of the school, in consequence of which order ran riot 
.among the students. For example it was reported that 


duriiig night one student had burnt the face of a fellow 
student with nitrate of silver, but that under the lax 
discipline the matter had been lightly treated by the 
faculty and the offender let off without proper punish 
ment. Another report circulated that students had taken 
a goat to the second or third story of the building, had 
there placed him before a window and held a mirror 
before him. The goat, incensed at the defying attitude 
of his supposed antagonist, made for him and dashed 
through the window in a fatal leap. Whether or not 
such things really happened we shall not presume to 
establish. But they indicate very clearly in what sort 
of repute the institution stood with the churches at this 
time. These disgracing rumors once having gained 
currency could not fail to further injure the reputation 
of the school. 

But the measure of disaster was not yet full. The 
deplorable conditions in the institution reached their 
climax when, during the night of July 3, 1875, the 
malicious attempt was made to destroy the building 
by fire. In an unoccupied room of the third story some 
one had filled a desk with wood shavings, saturated 
these thoroughly with coal oil, lit the contents, closed 
down the cover of the desk, opened a window and 
hurried away. Although so well planned this incendiary 
attempt was frustrated by God s protecting providence. 
The fire was not choked in the closed desk but smoul 
dered on until it had burnt through the bottom of the 
desk. Some fire fell upon the floor of the room, which 
was also soaked with oil, and there burnt a large hole, 
but, remarkably enough, without any one discovering the 
fire it was some way extinguished. Not until the follow- 

ing day was the discovery of the incendiary attempt 
made when the steward inspected the various rooms. 
What was most humiliating about this criminal attempt 
was, that it must certainly have been committed by some 
one in some way connected with the institution. For the 
incendiary must necessarily have been familiar with the 
conditions and interior arrangement of the place. How 
ever it never became known who committed the act. On 
this point an article in the Friedensbote says : "Who it 
is that is guilty of this malicious act and what his motives 
were will probably always remain unknown. But God s 
eye has seen all and He will know how to recompense 
the guilty one for this deed, which aimed at the destruc 
tion of a Christian institution and which would have 
caused the destruction of much property and could 
easily have cost human lives, had not God mercifully 

The many untoward experiences to which the insti 
tution was subjected in rapid succession had now seri 
ously injured its vitality. By the immigration as also 
through the prospective foreign mission attention had 
been diverted from the school, and a large part of the 
support which w r ould otherwise have gone to the school 
was absorbed by these new interests. Neglected by its 
supporters and torn by contentions within, the once 
prosperous work was rapidly drifting toward ruin. 

For some time the more farsighted had realized that 
a crisis for the school was impending. Thus a letter ad 
dressed to a teacher in 1875 contains the following : "In 
view of the events of the past year must we not appre 
hensively inquire can a blessing rest upon our institu 
tion when scandal after scandal occurs ? I have sincere 


compassion for the members of the faculty because of 
the destructive contentions in the institution." Some 
one, writing of the crisis toward which the institution 
was drifting, says : "May the Lord look in mercy upon 
our institution. ... As matters go now it can not con 
tinue much longer. Something must be done. But as 
to what that something is I am as yet entirely in the 

In the presence of all these untoward conditions a 
disposition was still manifest not to abandon the institu 
tion, which had in the past brought such rich blessings, 
but to keep it up for the future. Articles written by 
eastern friends appeared in the Friedensbote in which 
the blessings secured by the school w r ere recounted. At 
tention was called to the dangers which threatened it, 
and it was strongly urged that a decided effort should be 
made to save the institution from failure. J. S. Moyer 
for example writes as follows : "Important as the next 
conference session may be for the mission cause, it seems 
to me, it is still more important for the school. It is 
certain, unless a change is made for the school by the 
Conference, that this beloved work cannot exist much 
longer. External and internal troubles will cause its 
death. The financial situation alone is sufficient to 
wreck it. If we propose continuing the school and not 
let our undertaking be disgraced by defeat, then this 
wagon must be dragged out of the mire." 

From the pen of A. B. Shelly we have the follow 
ing : "We are most positively convinced of the blessing 
the school has been to us. Eight young men who have 
shared the benefit of its instruction are now actively en 
gaged at different places as ministers of the Gospel. 


Obviously they are performing their work better and 
with greater aptness than they could have, had they not 
attended our institution. How many of these would 
have become ministers, had they not attended the school, 
can of course not be known, but it is doubtful whether 
all of them would." 

At the district conferences the interests of the school 
were now taken under consideration. At the Eastern 
Conference, "after the condition of the institution had 
been thoroughly considered, a committee of five persons 
was appointed to devise a scheme for delivering the 
school from its present disastrous situation, which scheme 
should thereafter be submitted to the General Confer 
ence. " The deliberations of the Western Conference led 
to an expression of satisfaction at the good which had 
been achieved through the institution, but no resolution 
was passed aiming at the relief from existing difficulties. 

With the opening of the summer term (1875) it be 
came sadly evident, how thoroughly the institution had 
lost its good reputation with the churches. For the 
school began with a total attendance of but thirteen stu 
dents, and of these only six came of Mennonite families. 
Pennsylvania furnished two students, and the west 
stopped short with one. Yes, prospects were that at 
tendance would soon cease altogether, for only eight re 
mained for the fall term. Surely there was dire need 
that something effectual be done soon. Will the Con 
ference in its approaching meeting succeed in removing 
the causes which drag the institution down, and will 
ways and means be found by which once more to restore 
the tottering school to life and to establish it to flourish 
ing usefulness? 


Foreign Mission. 

The Mission Board had received instructions to 
open the way for the Conference to engage actively in 
foreign mission work- that is the spread of the Gospel 
among heathen. Accordingly they opened a correspond 
ence with the Amsterdam Mennonite Mission Society, 
informing that body of the wish of the General Confer 
ence to co-operate with them in missionary work. They, 
in their reply, did not decline consideration of the pro 
posal, but [made their proposition on conditions which 
the Board under instructions received could not accept. 
The General Conference desired to co-operate on equal 
terms with the Amsterdam Society, so far as the control 
of the missionaries sent by the Conference was concerned. 
The Amsterdam Society was willing that the Conference 
should send their missionary, fix his salary and make it 
up for him ; the payment of it to the missionary should, 
however, be made through the treasury at Amsterdam. 
Then as to the position of the missionary and his parti 
cular place of labor, the Conference should have nothing 
to say, and only indirectly through the Amsterdam Soci 
ety should he be accountable to the General Conference. 
The conditions of the Amsterdam Society were fair, 
and no more was asked than was necessary for the main- 
tainance of successful control of their missionary enter 
prise. However this denied to the General Conference 
the very thing sought, viz. active participation in the 
control of the mission work. After having continued 
this correspondence for several years, van der Smissen 
acting as correspondent, it was concluded that co-opera- 

tion with the Amsterdam Society must be abandoned. 
The alternative was to enter the mission field independ 
ently. And this had to be done soon, for Haury had 
finished his studies and returned to America during the 
summer of 1875, and was therefore ready to begin his 
work. But the Board chose to take no action at present, 
but instead to postpone the matter and let the Conference 
take action upon it at its next session. 

Home Mission. 

By the three home missionaries appointed at the 
last conference session some work had been done. L. 
O. Schimmel had labored with the church at German- 
town, in order to revive it and keep it from becoming ex 
tinct. In company with K. Hunsberger he had also 
been active among some of the churches of Ohio and 
Canada. The churches and scattered Mennonite fami 
lies of Michigan had been visited by Hunsberger. Chr. 
Krehbiel also made several trips in the interest of Home 
Mission. In 1873 he visited the churches in Missouri. 
A little later he ordained S. F. Sprunger at Berne, Ind. 
In addition to this he travelled a great deal during this 
period, but mostly in behalf of the immigrants. But in 
this he had an especially good opportunity to do home 
mission work, and he by no means neglected it. During 
these years he was in constant contact with immigrants 
that settled in Kansas. Personal friendship and attach 
ment was formed with all the leading men. He often 
preached in their churches. His advice was constantly 
sought and cheerfully given. His unselfish, voluntary 
services were appreciated and gained for him universal 

22 4 - 

respect and confidence. By this intimate personal rela 
tion the way for the union of the newly immigrated 
brethren w T ith the Conference was to a large extent pre 
pared and the actual unification facilitated. 

The General Conference conducts her work through 
representatives or committees to whom for specified pe 
riods she delegates her authority. At every meeting, 
however, the Conference resumes all the delegated au 
thority and directs for the future as is seen fit. If un 
desirable conditions exist in any one department it be 
comes the duty of the Conference to provide for improve 
ment ; if some new work is to be undertaken, the Con 
ference must create the committees and give the instruc 
tions for the department. In both these directions the 
approaching Seventh General Conference had important 
work to perform. In the school the deplorable con 
ditions demanded speedy relief. The present stage of 
development of the mission department made it incum 
bent upon the Conference to give final directions with 
regard to the inauguration of this work. For the ac 
complishment of the latter it was necessary on the one 
hand to open sources from which should flow the means 
with which to carry on the work. On the other hand a 
field for missionary activity had to be selected. These 
were important tasks ; the one relating to the school 
somewhat delicate, because of the slightly strained rela 
tions between the districts and because of the animosities 
existing between teachers. No small apprehension was 
felt that the discussion of the school question might lead 
to scenes which would greatly injure the cause of union. 
The greatest obstacles, with which the unification 
movement has had to contend, have not arisen from 

- 225 - 

doctrinal disagreement, but rather from differences in 
language, customs, habits of life, temperaments, and 
even from sectionalism and other such outward matters. 
The apparently impending crisis had its roots in just 
such differences among the co-operating elements. Dis 
agreements arising from this diversity in external matters 
were practically unavoidable, as each one necessarily 
looked through his own peculiar spectacles and there 
fore saw things differently from the rest. The lesson 
which had to be learnt in the past, and which to this day 
needs to be observed is -forego prejudices and practice 
loving forbearance with that which seems outlandish or 
peculiar in others. 

Seventh General Conference. Session I. 

The time for holding the Seventh General Con 
ference arrived with the year 1875. Very prudently this 
session was not held at Wadsworth, but in Pennsylvania, 
far away from the place which at present fomented so 
much contention. It was also good for the Conference 
cause that by arrangement of A. B. Shelly the day 
preceding the Conference was devoted to a mission cele 
bration, at which a number of spiritual addresses were 
made and many prayers offered, stimulating on the one 
hand interest in mission and on the other hand prepar 
ing all for a more pacific consideration of the questions 
coming up in the conference session. No person can be 
deeply touched by the divine spirit without becoming 
willing to subordinate narrow human interests to the 
wider and larger interests of God s work. 

On Monday forenoon of November 15, 1875, the Se 
venth General Conference held its first session in the 



Sunday school room of the West Swamp church, in 
Bucks Co. , Pa. , and continued its sessions until Novem 
ber 26. Accordingly the whole conference session oc 
cupied twelve days. No other conference before or after 
has occupied so much time. 

West Swamp, Pa., Mennonite Church, in which General Conference 
met in 1875 and 1887, 

Twenty-two churches had sent delegates ; an in 
crease of one over the representation in 1872. Two 
churches, Waterloo and Ashland, were not represented, 
while the new west furnished one church Halstead the 
fore runner of a large number which w r ere to follow in 
the course of a few years. In the following list are set 
forth the details relative to the representation : 


Church. Place. Delegates. Votes. 

Summerfield . .Illinois ......... Chr. Krehbiel, Daniel Baer. . 5 

Berne ......... Indiana ........ S. F. Sprunger .............. 3 

Franklin ...... Iowa ........... Chr. Schowalter ............ T 

Salem ........ Dayton, Iowa .. " " ............ i 

West Point ...Iowa .......... " " ...... ..... 2 

Zion ......... Donnellson, la. " " ............ 5 

Halstead ...... Kansas ..... ---- Chr. Krehbiel, D. Goerz ..... 2 

Cleveland ..... Ohio .......... D. Krehbiel ................. i 

Wadsworth . . . " .......... E. Hunsberger, I. Loux ...... 3 

Bartolets ...... Pennsylvania . .N. B. Grubb ................ i 

Boertown ---- 

13. Deep Run. 

East Swamp. 
Gottschalls . 

16. Hereford 

Philadelphia I. 
Philadelphia II. 

S. Ott i 

A. Gottschall 2 

r Jos. Hackmann, E. Fretz, ^ 
IP. Leatherman,W. Moyer J 

J. H. Oberholzer 3 

Moses Gottschall 3 

C.Clemmer,A. Gottschall, 

J. Funk, D. Clemmer 

A. H. Bechtel 

A. E. Funk, Abr. Neisz 

L. O. Schimmel ^ 

19. Saucona 

M. Schumacher 
\V. H. Oberholzer 

20. Springfield 

2 I . 

Upper Milford, 

West Swamp.. 

\ D. Geiszinger 

r S. Moyer, J. S. Moyer... ^ 

" IP. A. Mayer J 3 

f J. Schantz, U. S. Shelly, ~\ 

" tj. S. Stauffer / 3 

..Peter Sell, A. B. Shelly 6 

Total Votes 60 

Seventh General Conference. Session I., 1875. Held in 
West Swamp Church, near Milford Square, Pa. 

The auditing committee on the accounts of the in 
stitution reported that the debt had now reached the 
enormous amount of over eight thousand dollars. This 


was two-thirds of what the building and ground had 
originally cost. Divided equally among participating 
churches a debt of 375 dollars fell to the share of each. 
As the churches were mostly small, some of them having 
less than thirty members, the task of shaking off this 
debt must have seemed stupendous. It was realized at 
the conference that it required a heroic effort to succeed. 
A committee of seven was appointed to devise a plan for 
securing funds with which to cancel the debt. This 
committee, however, simply recommended that the Con 
ference request the churches to begin now and continue 
for one year to solicit promises of money toward debt 
cancellation. This conference also decided to make an 
attempt to secure a list of subscribers for annual con 
tributions toward meeting the current expenses of the 

When the inner life of the institution was taken up 
for consideration, it was soon discovered that a minute 
investigation would be necessary to locate the cause for 
the unhappy and disastrous contentions. This work 
could be accomplished only through a committee. In 
order to be fair and to prevent all partisanship in the in 
vestigation it was agreed "that the chairman shall nom 
inate twelve persons. Of these seven shall be elected, 
with the provision, however, that any delegate shall 
have the right to object to any of the persons nomi 
nated." The committee elected was composed of the 
following persons, A. B. Shelly, J. S. Moyer, Chr. Kreh- 
biel, J. H. Funk, Daniel Krehbiel, S. F. Sprunger and 
David Goerz. Authority was given them "to call wit 
nesses if deemed necessary." After having proceeded 
thus far the conference session took a recess, until the 


investigation committee should have completed its deli 
cate task. That the investigation was thorough is evi 
dent from the fact that the committee continued its work 
for four days, in which time twelve sessions were held. 
Their report is very important and contains points of in 
terest to the reader, \vherefore, though of considerable 
length, the report is given entire below, as follows : 

"The conditions within the institution are of such a 
nature that a prosperous continuation of the school under 
the existing circumstances can not be expected. 

"The origin of these vexatious circumstances dates 
back to the time of the call of van der Smissen ; in that 
the call as composed in 1868 is in contradiction with the 
resolution adopted in 1866. Said resolutions assign the 
highest authority (principalship) in the institution to the 
head of the German department. But Schowalter, who 
had accepted his position on the condition that the su- 
peri tendency should not devolve upon him alone, had 
assigned the principalship to van der Smissen. This, it 
is true, was done with the approval of the supervisors, 
but contrary to the Conference instructions. 

Now, through the action of van der Smissen (who, 
resting simply on the terms of his call, without regard 
for the conference instructions or without having come to 
a proper understanding with the supervisors and Scho 
walter, had proceeded to assume the principalship of the 
institution by announcing himself as principal to the 
students), the relation between van der Smissen and Scho 
walter had become so strained, that even a personal re 
conciliation between them was insufficient to entirely 
prevent damaging results to the institution ; for the con 
tradiction of the call with the conference resolutions 


manifested itself even after Schowalter s withdrawal, al 
though under a changed form and under different cir 
cumstances. Just as the theological professor was not 
sufficiently clear as to his rights and duties, so also the 
other instructors as well as the steward labored under 
the same difficulty ; personal prejudices and lack of con 
fidence among these persons unfortunately fostering the 
suspicion of encroachments upon rights. 

"Even the committee of supervisors appears not to 
have fully comprehended its duties, otherwise it could 
not have been a difficult task for them to have definitely 
fixed the precise duties and rights of the employees in 
the school, so that frictions from this source should not 
have been a hindrance to the prosperity of the school. 
If, however, the supervisors fully understood their duty 
the neglect thereof is evident. 

"The natural consequences of these conditions were 
disorder in the management of the school, disorder be 
tween the members of the faculty, disorder in the stew 
ard s affairs, disorder between the students, disorder in 
the present affairs of the institution in general. 

"The theological instructor as principal, having 
lately immigrated from Europe, could not in all respects 
make due allowance for American conditions, and having 
an irritable temper, collisions with other instructors, 
who judged and acted from the American standpoint, 
were a natural but deplorable result which could not 
remain without influence upon the students. 

"There being opposition between the teachers, fac 
tions were also formed among the students supporting 
one or the other teacher; this the more because the 
German instructor during the last four years had en 
couraged rather than opposed this partisan spirit. 


"This partisanship was naturally directed by the 
instructors through influences exerted by them either 
intentionally or unintentionally. Thus the theological 
students were first given the preference in every respect 
by their natural patron, for example, in conduct toward 
them, at the table, in food etc. Those not studying 
theology had of late been attached more to the German 
teacher, this being encouraged by him. 

"Under these circumstances this partial, or really 
unfair treatment of the students on the part of the teach 
ers went so far that lately, particularly the German 
teacher, had used severe utterances toward students. 

"In addition to the partisanship arising from the 
personal influence of the instructors, partisan lines seem 
also to have been drawn by sections, in that by one in 
structor the eastern students were preferred while the 
other favored those from the west. 

"The instructors themselves, instead of setting an 
example to the students of the application of the principle 
of peace by friendly co-operation, studiously avoided 
each other and would have nothing to do with one 
another except where duty unavoidably compelled them 
to meet ; the same unfriendly attitude being also observed 
between their families. This feud between two families, 
residing in the same building, sadly depressed the spirit 
ual life in the institution ; and separate aims were now 
pursued where all energies should have been united for 
the accomplishment of a common object. 

"These evils within the institution could not fail 
to produce undesirable effects upon its supporters, the 
most lamentable result being that the institution lost its 
attractiveness as well as its students ; those of the east 


professedly remaining away because of the German in 
structor, those of the west because of the Theological 

"With regard to the steward s affairs it must be 
said that here too disorder prevailed. While one steward 
had given opportunity for unauthorized interference with 
the management of kitchen affairs on the one hand 
through mistaken considerateness, and on the other 
through neglect of his rights and duties, because not 
fully understanding his position, later stewards also did 
not prevent the occurrence of similar disturbances. How 
ever no complaints are brought- before this committee 
with regard to the last two stewards. 

"The English teacher has given no occasion for 
complaint with regard to disorder or partisanship among 
students ; but it appears that he could not satisfactorily 
meet the demands of the department, because he was 
overloaded with work. 

"With regard to the personal relation to each other 
of the Theological and German teachers we hope that all 
obstacles to a full reconciliation may soon be removed ; 
which they can accomplish only by fully recognizing 
and sincerely confessing their mutual errors. 

"The same must be said w r ith regard to the ruptures 
between the Theological professor and Chr. Schowalter, 
Jonas Y. Schultz, L. O. Schimmel and Hiram Drake ; 
which estrangements, it is true, are considered as re 
moved and are here not mentioned as matter of com 
plaint by any one, nor is it at all desired to stir up once 
more bitter feelings of the past, nevertheless, we have 
not been able to gain the impression that the evil has 
been rooted up by the formal reconciliation, without a 


confession on the part of the offender. Wherefore we 
feel ourselves compelled to say : that the desired and 
needed blessing upon the institution can not be hoped 
for until genuine reconciliation shall have been made 
and until genuine peace and harmony shall once more 
grace the institution." 

The discouraging revelations of the investigation, 
coupled with the alarming increase in the debt, made it 
plain to the conference that something radical must be 
done to save the institution from collapse. A committee 
of five persons, including Chr. Schowalter, Chr. Clem- 
mer, Chr. Krehbiel, Peter Sell and Daniel Baer, was ap 
pointed to devise a scheme according to which the insti 
tution might be conducted in the future. This commit 
tee augmented its number by asking A. B. Shelly and 
John Funk to act with it. 

The plan suggested by this committee and adopted 
by the conference was that two departments be created, 
i. Theology and German. 2. A Normal school con 
ducted in English. Each department was put under the 
independent charge of one instructor. The schedule of 
hours was, however, to be so arranged, that students could 
pursue studies in both departments. The annual charge 
to students residing in the institution was advanced to 
one hundred and seventy dollars ; which, however, cov 
ered only elementary studies. Higher branches could 
be pursued only at an extra cost. Hereafter the insti 
tution should be open to all, whether Menuonites or not. 
Women were now granted admittance, although but a 
few years ago this had been obstinately opposed as a 
dangerous innovation. This plan should be tried for one 
year, from January i, 1876, to January i, 1877. Van der 

- 234 - 

Smissen was put in charge of the Theological depart 
ment. The supervisors were instructed to find a suitable 
person for the Normal department. Risser presented his 
resignation and with the close of the year 1875 severed 
his connection with the institution. M. S. Moyer also 
retired in accordance with the already recorded arrange 
ment. The change was indeed radical. The situation 
had been wisely and courageously dealt with, and the 
problem now seemed happily solved. But had the in 
stitution not lost too much of its prestige to be able to 
recover ? 

The second important task before this conference 
was to take definite action for the actual undertaking 
of mission work. Haury, as already stated, had com 
pleted his preparation and returned to America. He 
had now definitely offered his services to the General 
Conference ; ready to be sent as missionary of that body. 
At this session he was formally accepted as General 
Conference missionary, and on the evening of November 
26, was solemly ordained to the ministry of the Gospel 
"by van der Smissen, all ministers present assisting." 

For the present Haury was directed to visit 1 the 
Mennonite churches in America, in order to stimulate 
interest in the missionary enterprise and at the same 
time he should look up a mission field among heathen 
in America, and in case a suitable place should be 
found, to bring this to the knowledge of the Board 
that they might present the matter to the next con 
ference for further action. If, however, no suitable 
place for beginning missionary work could be found in 
America, then this should be considered as an indication 
from the Lord that work should be done else\vhere. " 

- 235 

The present members of the Mission Board were re-elected 
to their office. 

In accordance with the professed purpose to unite 
all Mennonites of North America in the General Con 
ference, endeavors were made from the beginning to 
win the new immigrants for that movement. This was 
manifest at the Western District Conference, as also now 
at the General Conference. D. Goerz, who \vas present 
at this session, was made a member of several commit 
tees. Specimen hymnals, also circular reports of this con 
ference session, were distributed among the churches of 
the immigrated brethren. There was already at this 
time some prospect that at least a few churches would 
soon unite ; for from two Kansas churches, Alexander- 
wohl and Bruderthal, letters were received, in which in 
quiry was made as to certain matters of faith and as to 
the conditions of union with the Conference. In response 
to this friendly inquiry the venerable J. H. Oberholzer 
was requested to prepare an appropriate answer, as also 
to extend to the inquiring churches and all others a cor 
dial and fraternal invitation to participate in the confer 
ence work. 

Soon after the opening of this conference session it 
was realized, that both the untoward conditions in the 
school and the unsettled condition of the missionary en 
terprise, made it advisable that the Conference meet in 
extra session before the next regular triennial session. 
Accordingly it was agreed to hold an adjourned meeting 
of the Seventh Conference during the following year. 
Let us now follow the developments of this inter 
vening year. 

That a decided revolution in the inner life of the in- 

stitution had been achieved is apparant from one of van der 
Smissen s reports. Among other things he there says : 
"We have entered upon a new year, and with the new 
year the institution has begun its activity in accordance 
with the new plan mapped out by the Conference. This 
system differs so greatly from the former that it may 
properly be said : a new period has begun for the insti 
tution. While formerly German characteristics were 
predominent, the school will hereafter become more and 
more American. To offer young people of both sexes 
a course of instruction which shall prepare them for the 
teacher s profession under the requirements of the state, 
now constitutes the main object of the school. The 
change brought immediate improvement to the school. 
On January 6, 1876, a few days after the opening, van 
der Smissen could report that the number of students 
had again increased to twenty-five. Thirteen of these 
had their residence in the school. The privilege ex 
tended to women was not left unutilized, for as soon as 
opportunity offered four young women applied for ad 
mission. By the close of the first month the number of 
students had increased to thirty. The gain for the 
school, however, was not as great as the increase in at 
tendance might seem to indicate. For what attracted 
the students now was the normal course, and as normal 
schools as good as the one at Wadsworth were near at 
hand in every state, few students were attracted from a 
distance. Of the total attendance but few were from 
outside of Ohio, and but very few, even of the Menno- 
nites in the institution, were enrolled in the theological 
department. So while the attendance increased, it was 
felt that the school was failing at the vital point. It was 


fast becoming a normal school for the locality, instead of 
being a school for the denomination. Preparation for 
spiritual labors was superseded by preparation for teach 
ing and secular professions. But what proved most un 
satisfactory was the fact that of the whole number of stu 
dents only nine were from Mennonite families. The 
object for which the institution had been established and 
was now being maintained, was to raise up better 
equipped workers for the denomination, and in this re 
spect the institution was loosing instead of gaining. The 
cause of this, however, lay not so much in the institu 
tion as in the people maintaining it, for they sent almost 
no students. The conduct at this time of the churches 
toward their school is very peculiar. They had for years 
been making heavy sacrifices for the school and were 
doing so now r . But while doing so they withheld their 
children for whose benefit the institution was being main 
tained thereby defeating themselves. What the school 
needed now as much as money was Mennonite students. 
By a conference resolution it had been requested 
that a general collection be taken for the cancellation of 
the debt. Some churches acted on this request, but it 
did not develop into a general and simultaneous action. 
The western churches which had formerly contributed 
so liberally, remained inactive at this time, notwith 
standing the pleadings of Chr. Krehbiel. By this collec 
tion about one thousand dollars were raised and applied 
on the debt. At its fall session the Eastern Conference 
made the proposition that the school be discontinued 
until the debt should be wholly paid. Had this course 
been adopted it is very probable that the institution 
would have been saved for the denomination. 

- 2 3 8 - 

The tour of the churches, which Haury made in ac 
cordance with the conference instructions, gave general 
opportunity to become personally acquainted with the 
man who should represent the churches as missionary. 
By his personal influence as well as through his ad 
dresses he succeeded in greatly increasing interest in 
the mission cause. While doing this work, Haury 
was also looking up opportunities for mission work in 
this country. A field was sought for among the 
American Indians. Through the Quakers, who were 
engaged in missionary work among the Indians, the 
w r ay was opened to a suitable field. Matters had soon 
matured so far that definite action was about to be 
taken for settlement there, \vheii progress \vas inter 
rupted by a serious illness, due to over-exertion, which 
in May, 1876, overtook Haury while at Wadsworth ; 
his recovery being for a time despaired of. By the 
Lord s graciousness he recovered, but only very slowly. 
Because of his weakened condition the mission cause 
had to lie dormant for several months. By October 
he had, however, sufficiently recovered to undertake 
an investigation tour into the Indian Territory. This 
trip had to be be made over land from Kansas, as 
railroads had then not been extended into that section 
of the country. In company with his brother Peter 
the journey was undertaken in a light spring wagon, 
drawn by two ponies. Upon the advise of the super 
intendent of Indian affairs he visited the tribes in the 
northeastern part of the Territory. The Kaws were 
first visited, and next the Osages, thirty-five miles 
further on. With the chiefs of the latter tribe a council 
was held at which Haury learned that the catholics 

- 239 

were very active there and that some of the Indians 
in form at least adhered to the catholic church. The 
Pawnees, about forty miles further on, were next vis 
ited. This tribe then numbered about eighteen hund 
red. Very little mission work was now being done 
among them, wherefore Haury was inclined to select 
this tribe for a field. One other tribe, the Sac and Fox, 
sixty miles further south, remained yet to be visited. 
But an obstacle now presented itself. One of the horses 
became lame and they could drive no further. No other 
team could be hired. But Haury was determined that 
this hindrance should not prevent the execution of the 
plan, so he saddled the other horse and rode on alone. 
For one who had lately recovered from a serious illness 
this was a daring undertaking, and few under similar 
circumstances would have had the courage to press on. 
The experience on this ride we let Haury himself relate, 
as follows : 

"Under the firm conviction that I was on the ford s 
way I could confidently commend myself to the ford s 
care, and guided by him, undertake this fatiguing trip. 
Supplied with a little corn for my horse and some bread 
and meat for myself I set out on this journey at eight 
o clock in the morning. A halt was made for dinner at 
the Cimmeron river. It was now one o clock and the 
distance but half covered. As the water in the river 
proved salty I had to ride for about two hours more be 
fore water fit to drink was found. It was my intention 
to reach the Sac and Fox agency on this day. So I rode 
on until eight o clock in the evening, when my horse 
was about tired out. As I now believed myself on the 
wrong road, and as I had no idea how far it was to my 

2 4 - 

journey s end, I had just about decided to camp out for 
the night under a tree, leaving the horse to graze on 
the prairie, while I would wrap myself up for the night 
in a horse blanket and shawl which I had had the pre 
caution to take with me. Just then I heard the sound 
of a bell, and taking courage I rode in the direction of 
the sound and to my delight found several wagons 
loaded with flour and headed for the agency. The 
teamsters had built a fire near a river. I requested 
permission to camp with them for the night, to which 
they cheerfully assented. They showed their hospitality 
by cooking some coffee for me, and they even baked 
some bread of course after their own fashion. For my 
horse, which I pitied more than I did myself, I secured 
from them some feed. They permitted me to sleep in 
one of their covered wagons. They themselves slept on 
the ground near the fire. Although my bed on the 
filled sacks of flour was hard, I rested well and slept 
soundly. On the following morning I easily completed 
my journey to the agency, for I was but two miles away. 
I was very grateful to my Heavenly Father that this trip 
was finished. For several days all my joints ached and 
my whole body was so stiff that I was almost unable to 
move about." 

The return trip was accomplished without accident 
or particular hardship. Seventeen days had been occu 
pied with the whole expedition. From the experiences 
on the trip it became manifest that the mission life would 
not be one of ease, but that it would involve the endur 
ance of no little hardship. 

In order to offer better opportunity to the immi 
grated brethren to become acquainted with the confer- 


ence movement the Western Conference for 1876 was 
held in Halstead, Kansas. At this conference Haury, 
just returned from his trip to the Indian Territory, was 
present and reported. In the Conference itself that 
which most attracted the European brethren was the 
missionary enterprise. A proposition was made by them 
at this time to co-operate with the General Conference 
in carrying on that work. How this was to be done was 
presented in writing by Henry Richert. l After fraternal 
consideration of the matter the brethren were requested 
to submit their proposition to the General Conference 
which was now soon to meet. 

According to the arrangement at the previous ses 
sion the Seventh General Conference met for its second 
session on December 4, 1876, at Wadsworth. Only 
twenty churches were represented. From Pennsylvania 
there were three less, but one church from Kansas had 
been added, and that one from the ranks of the newly 
immigrated. It was the first substantial evidence of a 
genuine spirit of fraternity on the part of the European 
brethren toward the American Mennonites, and the 
honor of having led the way belongs to the Alexander- 
wohl congregation. This church brought with it from 
Russia a live interest in the missionary cause and in this 
country seized upon the opportunity to support the work 
they found already begun at their arrival. The union 
of this church proved a great blessing to the mission 
cause in its later development. At the conference session 
this church was represented by Henry Richert and D. 
1 See Biographical Appendix. 


Goerz. Below is given a full statistical statement of the 
representation of the whole conference. 

Church. Place. Delegates. Votes. 

1. Summerfield . .Illinois Chr. Krehbiel. 5 

2. Berne ...Indiana S. F. Sprunger, D. Reusser. 2 

3. Franklin Iowa Chr. Schowalter i 

4. Salem Dayton, Iowa.. a i 

5. West Point... Iowa " a 2 

6. Zion Donnellson, la. " " 5 

7. Alexanderwohl, Newton, Kans.H. Richert. D. Goerz 9 

8. Halstead Kansas S. S. Haury 2 

9. Cleveland Ohio D. Krehbiel i 

10. Wadsworth.-.Ohio E. Hunsberger, J. R. Loux. 3 

11. Baumannsville. Pennsylvania. . J. H. Funk i 

12. Bedminster ... " ..J. S. Moyer 3 

13. Boyertown " ..J. H. Funk 2 

14. East Swamp . . . . A. B. Shelly 6 

15. Hereford " . J. II. Funk 5 

16. Philadelphia.. " ..A. E. Funk 2 

17. Saucona ..W. H. Oberholzer 2 

18. Springfield ... . . J. S. Moyer 3 

19. Upper Milford. ..U. S. Shelly 3 

20. West Swamp.. " .. A. B. Shelly 3 

Total Votes 61 

Seventh General Conference (Session II). Held at 

Wads worth, Ohio, 1876. 

In the deliberations at this session the financial 
interests of the school were first of all subjected to a care 
ful consideration. It became questionable whether the 
industrial department with steward should be continued. 
A committee, appointed for this purpose, submitted a 
carefully computed statement in which it was shown 
that the receipts of the industrial department exceeded 
the expenses by one dollar and thirty cents ; that, there 
fore, the institution did not only not loose by this ar- 


rangement, but was a real gainer, wherefore they ad 
vised the continuation of the department. The confer 
ence, however, viewed the matter differently and decided 
not to keep up this department at its own risk. 

During the year just past the expenses of the in 
stitution had again far exceeded the receipts, in conse 
quence of w r hich the debt had been increased by about 
eleven hundred dollars. The total debt now was 9849.61 
dollars. The collections taken in the churches during 
the year, together with a special collection taken at the 
conference session, had yielded over two thousand dollars, 
which w r hen deducted from the debt still left remaining 
an indebtedness of nearly eight thousand dollars. To 
meet an annual deficit of over one thousand dollars and 
in addition tug away at a large debt, surely was a severe 
test of the willingness to bring sacrifices of those few 
small churches. But, though there were temporary lulls 
in giving, the willingness to give liberally was great in 
those early years, and continued against great odds for a 
long time. Contributions in aid of the immigrating 
brethren had been very large ; the institution was inces 
santly making demands which were more or less liberally 
responded to. In addition those few churches had raised 
2 1 oo dollars between 1871 and 1876 toward paying for 
Haury s education. 

Two points were made very clear to the Conference 
by long experience. In the first place the school, in order 
to prosper, must be cleared of debt, and in the second 
place it must be placed upon such a footing as to prevent 
all further debts in the future. To cover both these 
points was attempted at this conference. 

In order to rid the school of the debt it was decided 


to elect one person whose business it should be to solicit 
from house to house not only among the churches already 
supporting the institution, but also among such as had 
not shared in this work before. The person appointed 
should be paid travelling expenses, but should receive 
no compensation for his work. For this uninviting task 
Daniel Krehbiel was elected by a unanimous vote. And 
he, faithful to the last, with the advanced years now 
weighing heavily upon him, consented, It could easily 
be foreseen that in the prosecution of this work many un 
pleasant experiences would be met with. But Krehbiel 
was admirably adapted for this peculiar task. For in ad 
dition to an amiable disposition and winsome manners he 
had good common sense and tact. Above all, he was 
thoroughly devoted to the welfare of the institution, to 
the origin of which he had given the first impulse. 

In order that the school might in the future be 
operated without giving rise to new debt, the institution 
was now divided into two distinct schools, one German, 
the other English, The instructor in the German school 
was allowed a salary of six hundred dollars per annum 
instead of one thousand as heretofore. A certain portion 
of the building was assigned to him for his private use 
and his school work. To secure his salary the amount was 
apportioned among the nineteen participating churches 
at eleven dollar per vote ; this arrangement to be bind 
ing for two years. 

The part of the building not occupied by the Ger 
man school was assigned to the English or Normal 
school. No salary was guaranteed to the teacher of 
that school, but he should receive twenty-five dollars 
from every student in his school ; his income being thus 

entirely dependent upon the attendance at his school. 
No doubt this acted as an effective stimulus to win stu 
dents for the school. 

The industrial department, including board and lodg 
ing for students, was transfered to the care and risk of 
the German teacher, so no loss could arise to the Con 
ference from this source. 

In addition to these arrangements plans were com 
pleted for a scholarship fund. Persons contributing to 
this fund were entitled to draw upon it at any time for 
payment of tuition for students. Otherwise only interest, 
accumulated from this fund, could be applied toward 
current expenses of the institution. 

This whole arrangement was business like and sen 
sible. With but six hundred dollars to raise annually 
and this guaranteed beforehand, there was reason to ex 
pect that deficits were now a thing of the past. If now 
success should crown the effort to shake off the old debt, 
restored confidence rendering this probable, then the 
prospect seemed promising that the institution would 
once more flourish and prove a blessing to its supporters. 

With regard to the Foreign Mission it was resolved, 
after deliberation, to instruct the Board to continue the 
inquiry for a suitable field for mission work, and when 
found, to begin the work. Upon their request the Board 
was permitted to augment their number by adding Henry 
Richert ; this by way of fraternal recognition of his 
church which had just united with the Conference. 

In order to secure sufficient funds for carrying on 
mission work, the ministers of the various churches \vere 
requested to hold monthly meetings in behalf of mission, 
and annually to celebrate a mission day, as also to estab- 

- 246 

lish local mission societies. A monthly mission paper, 
called "Nachrichten aus der Heidenwelt" (Missionary 
News) should be published by the Board. The Board 
appointed C. J. van der Smissen and Chr. Schowalter 
editors of this paper. It does not seem to have been a 
prudent move to publish this paper independently of the 
Friedensbote and "Zur Heimath", as those papers, in 
order not to render the reading matter of the mission paper 
stale, had t abstain from publishing news concerning the 
mission. It is probable that the mission did not gain as 
much in this way as it would have, had mission depart 
ments been established in the other papers. 

All in all this conference session was pleasant and 
harmonious. Good will and cordial fellowship prevailed. 
What spirit was prevalent is interestingly described in 
an editorial in the Friedensbote, from which the follow 
ing is a quotation : 

"That this was a busy conference is very evident 
from the minutes. No one who reads what has been 
done will think that the brethren, the representatives of 
the churches constituting the Conference, made a holi 
day season of the eight days the session lasted. No, 
nothing of that sort. They had to work, and work hard. 
But no one not present can appreciate the greatness and 
difficulty of the task to be accomplished. Not only the 
days, but almost day and night had to be spent at work, 
particularly by the committees. For this reason it is no 
wonder that all were glad when the work was over and 
the session could be closed. 

"On the other hand, however, there was much that 
was pleasant and inspiring, so that after all one felt 
sorry that this blessed season of fellowship had to be 


closed and that we had to part. For the oftener our 
Conference meets the more we feel that we are brethren ; 
the more closely is the bond of fellowship drawn in love, 
wherefore parting occurs with increased regret, not 
knowing whether a similar privilege of association shall 
again be granted to us in this life. At no previous ses 
sion, it seems to us, was the spirit of fellowship more 
prominent than at this one. 

"We may well believe that it was the spirit of love, 
which is the spirit of Him who is love, that moved in 
the hearts of all and inspired to united, harmonious ef 
forts for the cause of the Lord. And it was this spirit 
of love and harmony which, as we believe, made this 
session so very pleasant to all." 

Although ominous clouds had in past years repeat 
edly risen above the conference horizon and threatened 
to discharge themselves upon the Conference in a de 
structive storm, they had now disappeared and no disturb 
ing elements could be noticed at this session. The 
estrangement between east and west, which had at times 
been more or less developed, had by the Grace of God 
been removed, and the common cause was carried for 
ward with renewed confidence in each other. The test 
ing time was indeed not yet over, but one thing was now 
certain, that the unification movement could survive very 
trying experiences. Love for the general cause of the 
Lord outweighed all local or selfish interests. Love sub 
dued the human and gave to the Lord s interests the 

"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, 
we have fellowship one with another." John. 



Missionfield sought; various obstacles. Mennonite settle 
ments in the west; rapid growth. Publication. Last 
years of the school. Eighth Conference. School aban 
doned. Retrospect on School. 

The development of the mission enterprise shall first 
engage our attention. In accordance with the conference 
instructions Haury continued his tour among the 
churches and endeavored to create a more general in 
terest in the mission cause. His labor was not in vain 
as could be seen by the rapidly increasing contributions. 
Not only did he labor among churches already affiliating 
with the Conference, but among others also. In his re 
ports he speaks of visits to the churches in Butler, Put 
nam and Allen counties of Ohio ; to Elkhart, Indiana ; 
the Amish churches in northern Illinois ; Davis and 
Henry counties of Iowa, and others. Everywhere he 
was very cordially received and opportunity to present 
his cause was gladly granted. 

During this tour he narrowly escaped in a railroad 
accident. Near Hamilton, Ohio, the coach in which he 
was, left the track, broke from the train, turned a sum 
mersault and rolled on for about fifty feet. Haury had 
been sitting near the stove. By God s marvelous and 
gracious protection not only was Haury s life spared, 
but he escaped with but slight injury, not a bone being 
broken. He suffered several bruises and burns, and>on 


account of the latter he was compelled quickly to free 
himself and extinguish the fire in his clothes, for the aw 
ful shock and tumble had scattered the burning coal all 
over him and had set his clothes afire in perhaps twenty 

After completing this tour, Haury was directed to 
give his attention directly to the selection of a field for 
his future missionary labors. This he did between July 
and October of 1877. The Cheyenne Indians, a tribe 
numbering at that time about 3500, had then just lately 
been transferred from the far north to the Indian Terri 
tory. As no mission work was being done among them 
by any society, it was thought that this constituted the 
opportunity sought for, and so Haury went to these 
people. He spent about two months at the agency and 
studied the people and their situation. While there he 
came in touch with another tribe under the care of the 
same agency ; namely the Arapahoe tribe which then 
numbered about 1700. Of these he was led to make 
a closer study. He lived with them for a time in 
private life, attended one of their festivities, and, by 
living for three days in his tent, became well acquainted 
with Powder Face, the chief of this tribe." 1 The result 
was that he became convinced that the mission work 
ought to be begun among this people. 

As pioneer missionary of the Mennonites of America 
it was not an easy matter for Haury to go forth into the 
mission field. Back of him as his supporters stood a 

1 With Cut Finger, a chief of lower rank, he spoke of his 
intention of settling among them as missionary. Cut Finger 
invited him and volunteered to give him some land among his 
tribe. The next day Cut Finger said to the agent that his tribe 
had adopted Haury. 


weak, ecclesiastically unorganized and spiritually al 
most dormant denomination. Before him was a hard, 
\vild and barborous people, proverbially difficult to evan 
gelize. When on the field and in the presence of stolid 
heathendom, the great difficulty of the task rose up be 
fore him as never before, and discouragement seemed 
nearly to overwhelm him. The obstacles seemed too great 
to be surmounted, the task too great for achievement. 
Under those depressing surroundings he wrote as fol 
lows : "Again I am among the Indians. But as a 
mountain that cannot be crossed, the work for the ac 
complishment of which I was sent hither, stands before 
my spirit. The more I observe these poor Indians the 
less competent do I feel for the hard task of living and 
laboring among this people. In fear and trembling my 
heart would cry out : Send, Lord, whom thou wilt, only 
send not me !" A month later he wrote : "I cannot say 
that I enter upon the missionary work among the In 
dians with any great hopes of success. On the con 
trary, my spirit is depressed by the greatness and diffi 
culty of the task, for the accomplishment of which I feel 
so incompetent. For I know that many more able than 
I, have spent their energy and lives among the Indians 
without any apparent success attending their labors. 
But, nevertheless, I believe that the Lord calls me, and 
if. he calls it is not for me to inquire as to prospects of 
success. That belongs to the Lord. For this reason I 
can with joyful readiness of mind and heart go to the 
Indians He sending me." 

Upon his return, October 1877, Haury submitted to 
the Board the following outline of his plans. He says : 
"My purpose is as follows, that next spring, perhaps in 


April, God willing, I shall again return to the Indians, 
there to settle among the Arapahoes. First of all I shall 
erect a small building to serve as a present home. Dur 
ing the following summer I shall then endeavor by the 
Lord s aid to learn the language of these people. . . . 
By fall of 1878 the Lord will show us how to carry the 
work on further. 

For his decision to labor among the Arapahoes 
Haury assigns the following reasons : "My reasons," 
says he, "are these : More preliminary work has been 
done among the Arapahoes ; they seem to be more wil 
ling to receive a missionary than the Cheyennes. The 
Indian agent here has also advised me to begin my work 
with the Arapahoes. But above all I feel myself drawn 
more to this tribe ; for the purpose above stated im 
pressed itself upon me while I was upon my knees in the 
tent of Tschana Gamit (Powder Face), pleading with God 
that he help me to clearness and decision in this matter. 

The proposition to begin work among the Arapahoes 
was approved by the Board, and they instructed Haury 
to spend the intervening time until April 1878 in further 
agitating the mission cause among the churches. While 
engaged in this work Haury s eyes began to trouble 
him. The malady kept growing worse, and finally be 
came so aggravated that when the time appointed for 
taking up the work among the Indians arrived, he was 
compelled, instead of going there, to seek treatment in 
St. Louis. Three months elapsed before a cure was ef 
fected. In the meanw r hile the prospective field neces 
sarily remained unoccupied on the part of the Confer 
ence. When after full restoration Haury went to the 
Arapahoes in September, he found that during the delay 


the Quakers had entered the field and that for two 
months past one of their missionaries had been located 
there. This of course made it questionable whether he 
should also begin work there, and as the time for the 
regular session of the Conference was now near at hand, 
the Board decided to postpone further action until after 
the Conference session. 

Origin of the Kansas Conference. 

Elsewhere has been related how by colonies of 
American and European Mennonites an extensive settle 
ment had been formed in Kansas. As those settlers, 
both the American and European, are progressive peo 
ple, and the close proximity of the churches rendered 
communication easy, it was not long before the fraternal 
fellowship began to assume an organized form The 
American churches were drawn mostly from the churches 
belonging to the Western Conference. Several of the 
European churches had also united with that body. 
Thus they were familiar with the system on which the 
General Conference movement operates, and they soon 
sought to organize a conference for their section under 
the same system. As early as 1877 this purpose had 
sufficiently matured that on December 14, the first ses 
sion of the Kansas Conference could be held, with ten 
churches participating. Matters considered were such as 
the care of the poor, home mission and church hymnal. 
The most important point considered, however, was the 
question of education. All these churches maintained 
parochial schools, and good teachers for these were in 
demand, but enough could not be obtained. The need 
for an institution was therefore felt, in which persons 


might receive proper training for such work. In order to 
secure such an institution, a committee of seven was 
elected at this conference, to prepare a plan for a Menno- 
nite academy and to submit it to the conference at its 
next session. Let it not be supposed that these churches 
were opposing the school at Wadsworth or that they 
were unwilling to support it. On the contrary several 
of their young men were at that very time studying at 
Wadsworth. But just as the school in Kansas is too dis 
tant for young people from the east to attend it in large 
numbers, so Wadsworth was to far away for the youth 
of the new west. 

The further development of both this conference 
and school will be dwelt upon further on. 

Western Publication Company. 

By a combination of interests in the west, another 
enterprise had risen to considerable prominence dur 
ing late years. A number of members of the Western 
Conference had organized the Western Publication 
Company, with business headquarters at Halstead, 
Kansas. In addition to doing a general printing bus 
iness this concern also published a paper known as the 
"Zur Heimath," David Goerz serving as editor and 
business manager. This paper quickly secured a large 
circulation, and exerted no small influence in promoting 
the general progress in the Mennonite denomination 
through its sound views, its circumspection, tolerance, 
and hearty support of the unification movement of the 
General Conference. Naturally the paper circulated 
most in the w r est among the late immigrants ; finding a 
readier reception than could the Friedensbote or any 


other paper edited from the American standpoint. Tem 
porarily the Friedensbote was injured to some extent by . 
this division of territory. Nevertheless on the whole 
the undertaking was helpful to the denomination, and 
ultimately paved the way to the consolidation of public 
ation interests in the hands of the General Conference. 

And now let us again attend to the school at Wads- 
worth. By direction of the Conference the new system 
for the school was inaugurated on January i, 1877. 
Whether this attempt w r ould prove successful seemed 
doubtful to some. Van der Smissen, upon whom greater 
responsibility now rested, entertained small hopes. Re 
lative to this he says : "I candidly confess that I enter 
this new phase of activity \vith fear and trembling." 
Nor was the attendance upon his school ever such as to 
inspire him .to a happy mood. With regard to the at 
tendance during the two years, 1877 and 1878, he later 
briefly reports, as follows: "At the opening of the year 
1877 there were three students ; when vacation came, 
the number had reached six. After vacation seven en 
rolled and by Christmas the number had increased to 
sixteen ; after which time it as usually decreased until 
vacation. At the opening of the second year eight en 
rolled, some of which are, how r ever, now teaching. The 
attendance reached ten, the present enrollment being 

From this comparatively small attendance on this 
school it does not follow that it was a failure. The en 
nobling influence w r hich the aged professor van der Smis 
sen exerted made lasting impressions for good upon all 

255 - 

who came under his instruction for an extended period 
of time. These impressions the young men carried away 
with them wherever they went and multiplied them in 
their later lives. Had but one able and consecrated 
minister gone forth each year from van der Smissen s 
school it would have abundantly paid to have kept up 
that work throughout all these years. The last years of 
van der Smissen s activity in the school have well repaid 
what they cost the churches. 

But van der Smissen was not working alone. The 
English school was also doing good work. At first a 
certain Stutzmann served as English teacher. During 
the first term about thirty persons attended his instruc 
tions. Later the school was put in charge of A. S. 
Shelly, 1 then still a young man, and under his care the 
school rapidly gained in popularity. At first some diffi 
culty was experienced in overcoming the lack of con 
fidence in the institution, which had been occasioned, 
among other things, through the many and frequent 
changes. But when confidence had once been secured 
the attendance soon increased, reaching sixty during the 
first year and going still higher during the second year. 
Shelly himself reports of his school as follows : 

"For one year I had the school alone, but was as 
sisted in some classes by my brother Daniel, since de 
ceased. The second year I associated with myself Mr. 
Iy. S. Schimmel, a fellow graduate of Millersville Normal 
school. We named our school the Excelsior Normal 
School , and planned our course of study with an espe 
cial view to preparing young men and women for teach 
ing in the public schools. 

1 See Biographical Appendix. 

"The attendance kept increasing steadily during 
the two years, and the prospects were so encouraging 
that we would gladly have continued, if we could have 
rented the building longer. . . . Our last term closed in 
May, 1879. 

"Among the students that attended the German 
school and took English studies were H. R. Voth, Chr. 
Augspurger, Daniel Hirschler, S. J. Baer, J. High 
Stauffer and others. 

The relation between the two schools was harmoni 
ous and highly satisfactory. No friction of any sort ex 
isted, and for the first time in years the life in the institu 
tion moved smoothly and delightfully on. Speaking of 
Shelly as a co-worker, van der Smissen says that it is a 
comforting fact "that Shelly is an amiable fellow teacher, 
under whose charge the English school has received a 
new and better form, and together with whom it is pleas 
ant to labor hand in hand." With the students the in 
stitution was now held in growing respect and was re 
gaining its old time popularity. 

Financially the prospects of the school were also 
brightening. For through the energetic efforts of D. 
Krehbiel the collection was progressing nicely. He had 
begun his work in April, 1877, and continued the ardu 
ous task, some interruptions during winter excepted, un 
til near the close of 1878. The result was that he ob 
tained subscriptions toward debt payment amounting to 
over sixty-one hundred dollars. Seven hundred came 
from other sources, so that almost seven thousand dol 
lars were available against the debt ; an amount nearly 
large enough to cover the debt as it stood in 1876. But 
since then through accumulating interest the debt had 


increased so much that, after deducting the amount sub 
scribed, a debt of over twenty-five hundred dollars still 
remained. It is not surprising that the conference work 
ers, when they found so large a debt still on their hands 
after this heroic effort, felt discouraged. Now that by 
the solicitation from man to man throughout all the 
churches, the possibilities of clearing the school from 
debt seemed exhausted, the hope of ever ridding the 
institution of that burdensome debt was despaired of. 
From the first the school had suffered from a lack of 
wise and farsighted financial management. And for 
want of business circumspection and courage the institu 
tion was finally abandoned. Surely it would have been 
possible to continue the school a few years longer until 
donations could again have been solicited. A. S. Shelly 
was anxious to continue his school and was willing to 
rent the building. Very likely he would have been 
willing to pay the interest on the outstanding debt as 
rent. Thus an increase of the debt could have been 
avoided, and undoubtedly after a few years a fund for 
the maintainance of the school could have been raised, 
just as but ten years later a fund was raised for another 
Mennonite school. 

But let us now see what the Eighth General Confer 
ence determined with regard to the school, the mission 
and other interests. 

Eighth General Conference. 

The Eighth General Conference met at Wadsworth, 
Ohio, November 25, 1878. Twenty-four churches par 
ticipated ; a gain of four over the last session. Of these 
four, one was from Pennsylvania and three from Kansas. 
But the gain in membership was proportionately much 


2 5 8 

greater, for several of the churches had each about three 
hundred members while none of the churches heretofore 
adhering had more than about one hundred and fifty 
members. The total number of votes of the Conference 
was now eighty-seven as against sixty-one at the previ 
ous session, this being a gain of twenty-six votes or 
about seven hundred and fifty members ; that is, the 
conference membership had increased by almost one- 
half. The following table shows the representation. 

Church. Place. Delegates. 

/-J. E. Krehbiel ^ 

1. Summerfield Illinois ) Dan. Hirschler > 5 

C A. Hierstein, D. Baer, ) 

2. Berne Indiana S. F. Sprunger 4 

3. Franklin Iowa J. S. Hirschler i 

4. Salem Dayton , la \ 

5. West Point Iowa > Chr. Schowalter S 

6. Zion Donnellson, la. } 

7. Christian Kansas! S. S. Haury 3 

8. Halstead 

9. Bruderthal " 

10. Hoffnungsau " 

11. New Alexanderwohl " 

12. Cleveland Ohio 

JD. Goerz 5 

D. Gaeddert 10 

J. Buller, Cor. Wedel...i2 
Daniel Krehbiel i 

E. Hunsberger 

Jos. Neisz, P. Joder. 

J. L. Bauer 7 

N. B. Grubb 5 

J. S. Moyer 

13. Wadsworth 

14. Boyertown Pennsylvania 

15. Hereford 

16. Bartolets 

17. Gottschall 

18. Deep Run 

IQ. Saucona 

20. Springfield 

21. Philadelphia 

22. East Swamp 

23. Upper Milford 

24. West Swamp 

Total Votes 87 

Eighth General Conference. Held at Wadsworth, O. 1878. 

,A. E. Funk 

A. B. Shelly 12 


The first important matter considered, related to a 
common confession of faith, this subject being agitated 
by the churches which had just united. For to these, in 
identifying themselves with this larger body, it was a 
matter of vital importance what doctrines the Conference 
held. It will be remembered that the Conference had 
never adopted any particular confession of faith, nor had 
any special confession been drawn up and agreed upon 
except that three tenets, non-resistance, adult baptism, 
and refusal of the oath, had been endorsed. 

It was the desire of those now uniting that some 
thing more definite be adopted. Accordingly after pro 
longed deliberation it was agreed to accede to this wish. 
A committee of seven (Chr. Krehbiel, A. B. Shelly, C. 
J. van der Smissen, Chr. Schowalter, Dietrich Gaeddert, 
lyeonhard Sudermann 1 and S. F. Sprunger) were in 
structed to "examine all catechisms and confessions of 
faith current among Mennonites", to reduce the result 
of their examination to a plan, and to submit this plan to 
the district conferences and later to the General Con 
ference for consideration. 

As early as 1872 the Conference had expressed its 
purpose to do home missionary work. The persons ap 
pointed at that time, labored in this capacity and some 
good was done. But after that nothing had been done 
in this direction. At the present session this subject was 
again taken up. A committee of three (Iy. O. Schim- 
mel, D. Goerz, J. S. Hirschler) was appointed and in 
structed to draw up resolutions bearing on this line of 
work. This committee submitted a carefully developed 
and practical plan. It demands that the Home Mis- 
1 See Biographical Appendix. 


sionary should devote all his time to this work, and 
among other things it presents a valuable explanation as 
to what constitutes the particular duty of the Home 
Missionary. For the benefit of the reader we insert this 
explanation. It is as follows : 

"As the duty of the Home Missionary we conceive 
not only incessant travel and visiting among our churches, 
but rather a sufficiently prolonged stay at a place where 
work may have been begun, that his going away shall 
not be injurious to the work ; that is, until a church is 
fully organized and can care for itself, or provision has 
been made that their spiritual \vants are looked after 
from elsewhere. Not that the Home Missionary shall be 
stationed for years at one place, or that he is to care for 
one church only, but the plan is that he shall give most 
attention to places needing it most, while at the same 
time he may do work elsewhere in the neighborhood, 
so far as he is able and circumstances will permit." 

As Home Missionary the committee nominated S. 
F. Sprunger, minister of the Berne, Indiana, congrega 
tion. The plan as recommended was adopted by the 
Conference and a call was extended to S. F. Sprunger to 
become Home Missionary for the General Conference. 

With regard to Foreign Mission the Board submit 
ted a detailed account of their own labors, of Haury s 
travels, and the obstacles encountered in trying to launch 
the missionary enterprise. After recounting present 
hindrances to opening mission work among the Arapa- 
hoes, attention was directed to another inviting mission 
field now unoccupied. The committee report speaks of 
this matter as follows : "Unsought, and without any 
thing being done on our part, the situation now points to 


Alaska, where, as it seems, an inviting field offers itself 
to us, on which the work might be conducted with more 
freedom among a people more receptive for the Gospel. 

Attention had been directed to Alaska by a report, 
in the "Deutscher Volksfreund" of February, 1878, of a 
speech on Alaska, which Dr. Sheldon Jackson delivered 
% Bloomfield, N. J. , setting forth the spiritual need of 
the inhabitants as also their longing for the truth. He 
colors the opportunity as very promising to missionary 
enterprise, while climatic and other conditions are said 
to be exceedingly favorable. 

After this matter had received due consideration, 
a committee, consisting of C. J. van der Smissen, J. S. 
Moyer, and D. Gaeddert, was instructed to draw up suit 
able resolutions on the subject. Upon recommendation 
of this committee the Conference resolved to send Haury 
to Alaska, there personally to study the situation. If 
conditions was found suitable he should then and there 
settle down and begin his work. If, however, he should 
find no opening, the Indian Territory should again be 
looked to for .a field. 

Up to the present time Haury was the only one 
who had given himself to the missionary service. Now 
another was added. Cornelius Duerksen offered him 
self, and the Board received instruction to employ him 
when able to do so. 

The cause of publication also received some at 
tention at this session. Both east and west the con 
viction had been gaining ground that publication is 
properly a function of the General Conference, and that 
the interests of the Conference could be better subserved 
by one paper, published by that body, than by several 


papers not tinder conference control as at present. It 
was therefore resolved to elect a committee of three, 
whose duty it should be to correspond with the Eastern 
Conference and the Western Publishing Company with 
a view to arranging within a year, if possible, for the 
consolidation of the Friedensbote and the Zur Heimath. 
The persons elected on this committee were A. B. Shelly, 

Chr. Schowalter, and D. Goerz. 

* * 


From what has been recorded on previous pages, 
it is known that the school was at this time in a com 
paratively prosperous condition. This, with the greatly 
reduced debt, it seems, should have been good reason for 
the Conference once more to take courage to carry on 
the work with renewed confidence. Nor had the aban 
donment of the school been seriously contemplated pre 
vious to the conference session. In fact the Western 
Conference had expressed its wish, that it be continued, 
in the following resolution : "Since the present school 
at Wadsworth with the capable principal is exactly 
suitable for the education of missionaries, the Western 
Conferene can have but the one desire, namely : that 
this school be continued." A similar sentiment pre 
vailed in the east. It is therefore the more surprising 
and unaccountable that the conference members now be 
came disheartened. It seems impossible that a work, 
which had cost so many sacrifices and which now once 
more gave promise of successful development, should be 
abandoned. And yet this is precisely what was done. 
For this session resolved to discontinue this school and 
sell out the plant, as appears from the following ex 
tract from the minutes : 


"The consideration of the school matter led to 
this resolution : As the last plan for the conduct of the 
school was limited to two years and must therefore 
be renewed or replaced by another, a committee of seven, 
including the conference officers, shall examine the re 
ports of the German and English teachers as also that of 
the committee of supervisors, and study the history of the 
school for the last two years, in order that they may sub 
mit to the conference a plan whether to continue this school 
and in what manner. This committee shall be composed of 
A. B. Shelly, Chr. Krehbiel, Chr. Schowalter, A. E. 
Funk, Daniel Krehbiel, J. L. Bauer and S. F. Sprunger. 

"On the evening of December 2, a special session 
was held to hear the report of this committee and to 
deliberate on the course to be pursued in the future. 

"The result of that session is summed up in the 
following resolution : 

"As the present double arrangement of our school 
does not seem to be suited to the development of an 
educational influence generally beneficial, and as ex 
perience shows that the location is not the best for the 
continuation of a school in which the German language 
predominates, and that therefore such a school does not 
prosper well here, be it resolved : 

a. To instruct the Mission Board to re-establish the school 

at some other more suitable place, in accordance with 
the originally adopted constitution. The necessary 
equipment (for that school) shall be taken from this 
institution, and if not enough, the further needs 
shall be covered by voluntary contributions. 

b. The salary of the German teacher shall be raised from 

tuition and by annual collections to be taken in all 
conference churches. 


c. If van der Smissen is willing to take charge of that 

school, he shall have the privilege to do so ; if not, 
the Conference pays him 1500 Dollars indemnity, 
thereby cancelling all conditions agreed upon in the 
call. In the latter case the Mission Board shall, if 
possible, employ some other competent person to 
have charge of the German shool. If no one can be 
secured the school shall be discontinued until the 
next conference session. 

d. The money necessary to cover the indemnity shall be 

raised by collection, and shall be paid by March i, 
1879. If this can not be done, the Board ot Super 
visors are herewith authorized to borrow the money 

e. The Conference instructs the Board of Supervisors to 

gether with the sub-committee and the conference 
officers to sell the building and real estate, if possible 
at its present market value. From the proceeds of 
the sale first of all shall be paid all debts of the in 
stitution. The remainder shall be invested on good 
security as a fund for the further continuation of the 
school elsewhere. 

/. If the committee is unable to sell the school within 
three months . it shall rent the building to some ac 
ceptable person at a suitable rental for the carrying 
on of an English school, until the next conference 
session. In the latter case the present teachers shall 
have the use of the building until the close of the 
current school year at a rent to be named by them 
selves, provided, however, that the rooms now oc 
cupied by the German teacher need not be vacated 
before April i, 1879. 

g. As security for the debts now resting on the school, if 
no sale is effected, the Conference directs the super 
visors to borrow money at the lowest possible rate 
of interest and to secure the loan with a mortgage 
on the property. To protect the mortgagee against 
loss, the supervisors are instructed to insure the 
building against fire. 

h. The Conference makes it optional for the Mission 
Board to educate missionary candidates in other in 
stitutions, if this can not be done in our own." 
As members upon the Board of Supervisors were 
elected : Joseph Kulp, Anthony Overholt, and Isaac 
Neisz ; as sub-committee members : Jacob Krehbiel III. , 
John H. Funk and Daniel Krehbiel. 

These resolutions of course contained the death 
sentence of the present institution ; the school at Wads- 
worth must now inevitably cease as a Mennonite institu 
tion. But one thing is clear school as such was not 
abandoned. On the contrary the school was simply 
to be transferred to some other locality. That in this 
removal to a place where the German language formed 
the medium of communication, Kansas was had in view, 
cannot be doubted, as at that very time efforts were be 
ing made to establish an academy in that state. But 
that this school was sacrificed, even with the prospective 
academy in view, must be acknowledged to have been 
an unfortunate mistake. The Conference should have 
retained ownership of the property even though it would 
have been necessary to discontinue the school for a few 
years. But now in a moment of weakness and discour 
agement that was abandoned which it had cost much time, 
effort and expense to acquire. That this building, about 


which so many associations of the early history of the Con 
ference cluster, passed from the control of the Conference 
is cause for permanent regret to every friend of the cause. 

Leaving the rest of the history behind for a time, let 
us follow the career of the school to its conclusion. 

The supervisors did not adhere closely to instruc 
tions received. In January of 1879, they resolved to 
sell the property at public sale, if no buyer should be se 
cured within three months. Objection being raised to 
this, the public sale did not occur. When the three- 
mo-nth-limit set by the Conference had expired, the 
building still remained unsold. According to instruc 
tions the building should now have been rented, and a 
settlement of claims have been made by mortgaging the 
property. But the committee refused to rent, though A. 
S. Shelly was anxious for it. His urgent requests were 
passed by unheeded. The money for van der Smissen s 
indemnity should have been raised by collection, but no 
collections were inaugurated. When April arrived van 
der Smissen vacated the building without having re 
ceived his due. Hven the gathering in of the unpaid 
subscriptions made to Daniel Krehbiel was neglected. 
The whole matter seemed at a dead stand-still. The 
supervisors did not possess sufficient business ability, and 
no one else seemed willing to give or do anything. The 
ship, having been abandoned, was allowed for a time to 
drift. There seemed to be danger now that the enter 
prise, once so nobly supported, would yet end in disgrace, 
in that debts contracted in its hehalf would be left un 
paid. But not all, if any, were willing that it should 
come to this. Many, both east and west, were ready to 
do anything necessary to honorably close the career of 

- 267 ~ 

the school. Among these may be mentioned in particu 
lar Daniel Krehbiel, the originator of the school, who, 
speaking of this matter, says : "I desire to let the breth 
ren know that I am not one of those who say : I shall 
do nothing now, let come what will. My weak abilities 
and resources are still at disposal to keep disgrace from 
the Mennonites. " 

When in June the supervisors were in sore straits be 
cause the creditors demanded payment, w r hereas they 
had nothing with which to pay, a scheme was originated 
in the east to sell the property in shares to members of 
the Conference, and thus be rid of the debt, while at the 
same time the property would be held for the denomina 
tion. That this was a very sensible and practicable 
scheme must be conceded. We are not a little surprised 
therefore that Daniel Krehbiel disapproved of it. He 
wanted greater liberality on the part of the Mennonites. 
What seemed to him not quite as it should have been 
was that some were willing to supply money w r hen they 
could secure property right, while they were unwilling 
to donate the same money outright. As this scheme 
did not promptly meet with approval, and a buyer was 
found in the meantime who offered an acceptable price, 
this good plan was dropped. The whole property was 
then sold in July, 1879, for five thousand dollars, to a cer 
tain Mr. Dague, whose son proposed to conduct a normal 
school in the building. How strange ! Here is a num 
ber of churches with many children to educate, and 
counting among its members not a few worth from fifteen 
to fifty thousand dollars, and they let go of a school, 
simply because they cannot raise five thousand dollars. 
To relieve them one man alone buys the property, in 


order that his son may have a chance to conduct a 
school! Surely, there was no need to sacrifice this place 
so dear to many, so full of promise for the future! 

Once more the school at Wadsworth received atten 
tion from the Conference. In 1881 E. Hunsberger sub 
mitted the account. It appears that even after sacrificing 
the building there still remained a debt of 685.38 dollars 
for which the Conference was liable. There seemed to be 
a wide-spread unwillingness to do anything more. But 
upon the urgent appeal of Chr. Krehbiel it was agreed 
to divide the remaining debt equally between the Eastern 
and Western Conferences and thus honorably to relieve 
the General Conference of this obligation. Both Con 
ferences did as agreed. The final amount to be paid was 
788.76 dollars. Toward this the Eastern Conference 
paid 399.38 dollars, the Western 592.23 dollars; there 
being therefore now a surplus of 202.87 dollars, which 
according to agreement was paid into the Foreign Mis 
sion treasury. Thus the General Conference was honor 
ably relieved of its debt, but it was also without a school. 
The Mennonites of America no longer had an institution of 
learning. The career of the school at Wadsworth is ended. 

But shall the discontinuance of that school be proof 
that the undertaking was a failure ? Is it true that it 
would have been just as well or better if there never had 
been such a school ? Has all the money spent on that 
work been spent in vain ? Have all the prayers been 
unanswered ? Does no blessing corresponding to the 
sacrifices abide with the church ? Questions such as 
these crowd upon us as we turn our eyes in retrospec 
tion upon the first Mennoiiite educational enterprise. A 
statistical review will therefore not be amiss at this place. 


As a Mennonite institution the school opened its 
doors on January 2, 1868, and closed them on December 
31, 1878, The school work therefore extended over ex 
actly eleven years. During the first nine years, that is, 
before division into two schools, the total enrollment 
amounted to 310 students. This gives an average at 
tendance of a little over 34 ; surely not a bad record for 
those early years and small beginnings, when as yet 
there was so little general interest in, and appreciation 
of education. Many students of course attended for sev 
eral years, wherefore the number of different persons 
who attended is less than the total enrollment. As near 
as can be ascertained, 209 different persons attended dur 
ing the stated nine years. As the roll kept states only 
the name and home of students, it cannot be accurately 
ascertained how many Mennonite youths there were 
among the students, but it is certain that at least 130 
were from Mennonite families, and it is probable that the 
number was much larger. Of the. last two years no roll 
is accessable, but it is known that the attendance dur 
ing this time, taking the two schools together, was 
larger than it had been at any time previous. 

The erection and maintainance of the institution 
was accomplished with no small expenditure of money. 
If we remember that Mennonites were practically unac 
customed to donating money for the general cause of the 
Lord, their generosity toward this enterprise surprises 
us. For toward the erection of the building and the main 
tainance of the school no less than 31,700 dollars were 
contributed, and that mostly by seventeen small churches, 
whose total membership did not exceed 1400. In par 
ticular does the small congregation at Summerfield ) 


Illinois command our admiration, for they alone con 
tributed more than 5400 dollars toward this cause. 

But how about the blessings, the benefits, which at 
the founding were so confidently expected ? That visible 
blessings were not wanting at the time when the school 
closed, is evident from an article by A. B. Shelly, pub 
lished in the Friedensbote in 1879. He says : "Among 
our ablest ministers, both west and east, engaged in 
blessed work for the Lord, are some who have secured 
their education in our school. Almost in every church 
are some who for a longer or shorter period have at 
tended that institution, and who are now exerting their 
influence as leaders and teachers in Sunday schools etc. 
Whether the churches realize it now or not, they would 
painfully feel it, if suddenly everything the school has 
given them should be removed." Several years later A. 
J. Moser contributed and article to the Zur Heimath, in 
which he refers to the beneficent influence of the school 
as follows : "Although the work must at present rest at 
the center (the school), there are nevertheless single 
forces at work everywhere in the great circumference. 
And if never again a common educational institution 
should be established among Mennonites (which no one 
will dare to assert), the influence of the Wadsworth 
school will continue to be active into the distant future. 
Are there not here and there in different churches a 
number of ministers engaged in useful and blessed work, 
for which they received the inspiration in that school ! 
By them the churches are stimulated to greater activity ; 
and the gulf, which not infrequently separates ministers 
from each other, and churches as well, is gradually fil 
ling up, in that there is a gradual approach to mutual 

recognition as co-workers. These certainly are blessings 
which by no means indicate failure of the cause." 

And now, while this is being written, almost twenty 
years after the close of the school, can any fruits be 
shown which are traceable as blessings from that school ? 
Yes, to-day more than twenty years ago. The educating 
as well as spiritually quickening influences, which were 
transmitted through students to churches, have silently 
but effectually been at work transforming and uplifting 
whole communities. Those churches in which students 
became active workers, stand now in striking contrast 
with such as have not had the benefit of such or similar 
advantages. A number of the former students are now 
among the main workers in the general unification 
movement. Among these may be named : J. S. Moyer, 
N. B. Grubb, 1 A. S. Shelly and Allen M. Fretz 2 in 
Pennsylvania ; S. F. Sprunger in Indiana ; in Missouri 
M. S. Moyer and P. P. Lehmann; 3 in Kansas William 
Galle and J. S. Hirschler. All of these are successfully 
engaged in the ministry. To this list belong also the 
well known general workers : Home Missionary, J. B. 
Baer, 4 I. A. Sommer, 5 editor of the Bundesbote, and H. 
R. Voth, 6 missionary to the Moqui Indians. And the 
Foreign Mission enterprise - is it not a direct result of 
the school? When such fruits can be shown, no doubt 
can remain as to whether the institution which produced 
them, was a success. The sacrifices made in its behalf 
are richly rewarded. The school at Wadsworth may well 
be gratefully remembered by the denomination, to whose 
welfare it w r as devoted. 

1 See Biograph. Appendix. 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid. 5 Ibid. 6 Ibid. 




Foreign Mission. Alaska. Mission founded among Ara- 
pahoes. Development of missionary activity. 

Although a mission field had now been sought for 
for a long time, none had as yet been fixed upon. The 
way did not seem to open to a field where the work might 
be undertaken, without encroaching upon others. For 
this reason the Conference was glad for the apparantly 
promising opening in Alaska, and accordingly had di 
rected Haury to make an investigation tour to that dis 
tant country. Alaska is situated in a high latitude and 
has therefore a cold climate. It was therefore thought 
prudent to delay the trip until spring. While waiting 
for the approach of spring, Haury made the necessary 
preparations for this adventurous expedition. To under 
take such a journey into a wild and barbarous country 
a journey in which much exposure and hardship must be 
endured to undertake this alone did not seem advis 
able ; so a travelling companion was wanted. Haury, it 
will be remembered, was a member of the Summerfield 
church. In that church there was at this time a young 



man who had for a number of years taken deep interest 
in spiritual things, and now felt within himself the 
promptings of the spirit in one way or another to serve 
the Lord in missionary effort. He naturally followed 
with intense interest the developments of the missionary 
movement, and when Haury in February, 1879, visited at 
his home in Summerfield, this young man consulted 
with Chr. Krehbiel, his minister, who was also presi 
dent of the Board, and with Haury, and being encour 
aged by both, he offered himself to the Mission Board as 
Haury s companion. Not only did he offer to go and 
give his time, but he undertook also to pay all his own 
expenses on this adventurous and expensive journey. 
This self-denying, self-giving man was J. B. Baer, later 
Home Missionary of the General Conference. 

Only a few weeks later, on March 10, 1879, the 
journey to distant Alaska was begun. The trip was 
made via San Francisco, thence to Portland, Oregon, by 
boat. After a brief stay at the latter place the travellers 
embarked again, and after nearly a month at sea, they 
landed at Sitka, situated on the most southern point of 
Alaska. This place had been determined upon as the 
present destination ; the purpose being, if possible to 
establish a mission station in that vicinity. On the day 
preceding the arrival at Sitka their boat had stopped for 
a few hours at Fort Wrangle. At that place they visited 
a Presbyterian missionary, Young by name, engaged in 
mission work among the Indians of that section. This 
missionary was overloaded with work and urgently re 
quested that Baer remain and assist him for one month 
by teaching in his school. After their arrival in Sitka 
they decided to accept Young s proposition. Accordingly 



Baer returned to Fort Wrangle on the following day and 
taught Young s school, while Haury remained in Sitka. 

Upon presentation of his letters of recommendation 
from the government at Washington, Haury was very 
cordially received by the United States revenue collector, 
Mr. Ball. A small house belonging to the government 
was granted Haury for temporary use. This house con 
tained a little furniture. A mattress Haury borrowed, 
and this with a woolen cover sufficed for a bed. Bread 
he bought. Fish and coffee he prepared for himself. 
Thus his physical wants were provided for. 

Inquiries made while yet at home had led to the im 
pression that no missionary society had as yet under 
taken work in Sitka. However the case \vas different. 
For during the preceding year a Presbyterian missionary 
had been stationed there. It is true, he had again left 
the field that fall, but it was not certain that the Presby 
terian Society had abandoned the work. The expecta 
tion at Sitka was that a successor to last year s occupant 
would arrive soon. Haury believed it would be an un 
warranted intrusion to settle down permanently before 
knowing whether or not the Presbyterian Board had 
abandoned this station. So he concluded to await further 
developments. But while waiting he did not remain in 
active. Some of the Indians desired him to open a 
school. He did so on April 14, and found to his satis 
faction that a large number took advantage of the oppor 
tunity. Occasionally he had as many as one hundred 
pupils. On Sundays he held services, and these too 
were attended by the Indians, the audiences numbering 
from forty to one hundred. Haury was enabled to do 
this work by the aid of an interpreter, an Indian, whom 
he paid a small sum for his services. 


When one month had elapsed, Baer rejoined Haury 
at Sitka. Meanwhile information had arrived that a 
Presbyterian missionary was on his way to Sitka to re 
sume the work there, and that he would arrive about the 
middle of May. Although the situation was very at 
tractive and the prospects promising although to leave 
this inviting field and again begin the search for some 
place in which to work proved no small trial, neverthe 
less Haury and Baer, after prayerful consideration of the 
matter, decided to leave, and not become guilty of intru 
sion upon the work of others. 

Two possible fields were now r taken under conside 
ration ; one was Chilkot, about 150 miles north of Sitka ; 
the other was the Aleutian Islands about 800 miles to 
the west. Chilkot could at that time not well be reached, 
as no ships touched in that region, so that, should they 
attempt to go there, the trip must be made per canoe. 
They preferred not to attempt this and so decided to go to 
Kodiac Island, the largest of the Aleutian group. They 
also decided that, should no field open there, they would 
push further on to Cook s Inlet. Opportunity to reach 
Kodiac was offered by the Revenue Cutter "Richard 
Rush," which sailed from Sitka on the twenty third of 
May. Two days later they reached their destination. 
They secured a temporary home with Mr. Stauff, who 
was the business agent for a firm dealing in ice, and 
who had his residence on a little island (Wood Island), 
situated about one and one-half miles from Kodiac. They 
remained here for two months, there being no oppor 
tunity to leave, ships touching there but rarely. 
They found that about 2200 natives inhabit those is 
lands, who, however, live in widely scattered settle- 

- 2 7 6 - 

ments. They were unable to do any missionary work 
among the natives, as they did not understand their lan 
guage and no interpreter could be secured. To settle 
here they did not feel free, as the Russian church was 
well represented and had a strong hold upon the people. 

Tired of waiting and anxious to reach their north- 
most destination Cook s Inlet, about 200 miles distant, 
before the approach of winter, they ventured upon a dar 
ing undertaking. Stauff had a little sailboat, 28 feet 
long, which he consented to let them use. Committing 
themselves to the protection and guidance of God, they 
embarked in this little shell. Of course comfort was not 
to be thought of, on the contrary this perilous journey 
could not be accomplished without much hardship. 
Their crew consisted of two natives. As Stauff himself 
accompanied them they had a total of five men on board. 
The two natives slept in the hold of the ship, the other 
three lived in the little cabin, which had a floor room of 
but six by eight feet and measured but four feet to the 
ceiling. In these narrow 7 quarters they cooked, dined 
and slept. As food supply they carried with them bread, 
potatoes, tea and coffee. With meat they supplied them 
selves by catching fish with the hook. The natives were 
unable to perform all the sailor s work alone, which made 
it necessary for Haury and Baer to assist in raising and 
lowering anchor, in the management of the sails, in 
steering and rowing. In case of calms they w r ere not in 
frequently compelled laboriously to row the clumsy 
"Alaska" for a considerable distance before an anchor 
ing place could be found. 

On June 19, they came into the region kno\vn as 
Cook s Inlet. They landed at Taiumik, an Indian set- 

- 277 

tlement, which is situated a little above the sixty first 
degree northern latitude. They learnt that about six 
hundred natives live about that gulf in scattered little 
companies. After a short stay at Taiumik they pushed 
thirty five miles further to the north-east to the mouth of 
King river. There also they met Indians. But most of 
these came from the interior, and, having settled for the 
summer on a small island, were engaged in securing 
their winter s supply of fish. Their stay there was on 
June 20, and 21, the longest days of the year. Certainly 
the days were long enough, for the sun stood above the 
horizon for over twenty hours and during the short time 
between sunset and sunrise it remained so light that they 
could easily read or write. 

The return trip to Kodiac Island was begun on the 
twenty-first of June. But the worst part of the journey 
now began. At one place nice coal had been found ly 
ing on the surface of the ground and Stauff could not 
resist the temptation to take some along, and once started 
he overloaded the little craft. Before they had proceeded 
very far they were overtaken by a severe storm. As the 
boat was not strongly built, its heavy load proved too 
great a strain and it sprung a leak, in consequence of 
which they came very near sinking. For several hours 
they labored desperately at dipping water, and yet the 
water rose in the ship until it was nearly full, there be 
ing several inches of water even in the cabin. And all 
this time they were in danger of running on some hid 
den rock and thus be wrecked. The situation was ren 
dered more desperate by the fact that the native seaman, 
upon whom they had depended most, was sick and unable 
to do anything. But in all this storm and peril the Lord 

- 2 7 8 - 

graciously kept them from harm, and finally on July 7, 
after spending sixteen days on the return trip, they 
landed safely at Stauff s home on Wood Island, "glad 
and thankful to be permitted to set foot upon solid 
ground." They had travelled seven hundred miles on 
this adventurous journey. 

As they had not found an open field for missionary 
labor, their intention now was to return to the states as 
soon as possible. But there was no opportunity to get 
away from Kodiak. Had there been an open field for 
labor here, they would have gone to work. As it was, 
nothing remained for them to do, but patiently to await 
the arrival of some ship on which they could leave. As 
early as the middle of July a trading vessel from San 
Francisco had been expected. That time came but not 
the ship. Week after week slipped wearily away and 
still the ship failed to come. Their patience was sorely 
tried until at last, on August 27, the longed for vessel 
arrived. Great was their joy. For not only did it offer 
them opportunity to return home, but it brought them 
letters, the first they received since the tenth of May ; 
an indication of how isolated up to that time that distant 
country was from the civilized world. On August 31 
their ship hove anchor and sailed for San Francisco. 
On this trip they had another terrific storm to endure 
which lasted for eighteen hours, the ship, however, 
suffering no serious harm. Their ship cast anchor in 
the harbor of San Francisco on September fifteenth. In 
order to reduce expenses as much as possible, the trip 
from San Francisco to Colorado Springs was made in an 
emigrant train ; half fare being thus secured. From 
Colorado Springs to Halstead, Kans., the Board had 

- 279 - 

secured passes for them, and they arrived at the latter 
place on October 10, after an absence of just seven 
months. It is remarkable at what a small cost this 
journey was accomplished. Haury s total expense was 
only about 400 dollars. They had travelled over nine 
thousand miles. 

So far as the immediate object of this journey was 
concerned it seemed an entire defeat, as no unoccupied, 
accessible field had been found. The Presbyterians were 
in possession of Sitka, on Kodiak the Russian church 
was established, and at Cook s Inlet not a sufficient 
number of Indians had a permanent settlement to war 
rant the establishment of a mission there. Soon after 
the return of Haury the matter, however, took an unex 
pected turn. A letter arrived from revenue collector 
Ball at Sitka, in which among other thing he says : 
According to my opinion the Presbyterians will do 
nothing and it is not too late for you. I hope that you 
will return and remain. ; At the departure of the mis 
sionaries Ball had done all he could to persuade them to 
remain. He even volunteered to issue an "official re 
quest" for them to continue there, if they desired it, in 
order that they might justify themselves toward the 
Presbyterians for remaining. So too the captain of the 
warship "Alaska", which was stationed there at that 
time, said they did wrong in leaving. The doctor and 
the traders of Sitka had implored them to remain. Even 
the Indians had expressed their regret at their leaving 
them to go west. Under these circumstances it is nat 
ural that on receipt of the letter from Ball, Sitka was 
once more taken under consideration as a possible mis 
sion field. 


The present state of the mission enterprise made it 
necessary for the Board to meet and arrange for further 
action. This session was held at Summerfield, Novem 
ber, 1879, in connection with the Western District Con 
ference. The following is an extract of the minutes of 
that meeting : "In order not to act with undue haste, a 
letter shall be directed to revenue collector Ball at Sitka 
in order to ascertain whether Sitka is really occupied by 
missionaries. If a favorable reply is received by March 
10, 1880, it is to be interpreted as an indication from the 
I,ord that we shall begin mission work there immedi 
ately. In order to conduct ourselves with all fairness 
toward the Presbyterian Missionary Society our Mission 
Board shall inquire of the Presbyterian Board whether 
or not they propose to occupy Sitka ; at the same time 
they shall be informed that in case they do not intend 
to do anything our Board is ready and willing to take 
up the work." 

That no time might be wasted, it was decided that 
w r hile these other correspondences were being carried on, 
the Board should plan and arrange for establishing a 
mission station in the Indian Territory, so this work 
might, if desired, be taken up without further delay. 
The necessary correspondence in these matters the 
Board put in charge of Haury. In the event that the 
report from Alaska should prove unfavorable, it was ar 
ranged that after March 10, 1880, a committee composed 
of Chr. Krehbiel, Henry Richert and D. Goerz should 
visit the Indian Territory, there to select the future mis 
sion field. 

During the session of the Mission Board, Haury had 
been married to Susie I,. Hirschler, and for the present 



they made their home at Summerfield. After conclu 
sion of the session Haury immediately entered upon the 
correspondence assigned to him. From the Presbyterian 
Board a reply was received in December in which it was 
claimed they now had a missionary at Sitka and that 
they proposed even to increase the force there. In Jan 
uary of 1880, reply also came from Mr. Ball of Sitka. In 
his communication he described the situation as very 
favorable for the Mennonites. However in view of the 
communication received directly from the Presbyterian 
Board, it did not appear permissible to the Conference 
Mission Board to establish a Mission station in Alaska. 
Alaska was therefore dropped from the list of prospective 
fields. This was more readily done because of the 
inviting opportunity which now again presented itself 
among the Arapahoes. Indian agent Miles (a Quaker), 
stationed at Darlington, had sent word that his denomi 
nation proposed to confine their labors to the Cheyenne 
tribe, which would leave the field open among the Ara 
pahoes. Not only did he give this information, but he 
urgently invited the Mennonites to occupy this field 
through Haury. 

In accordance with the resolution of the Board the 
appointed investigation committee, accompanied by 
Haury, went to the Indian Territory in April, 1880, and 
there visited the Arapahoe tribe. The result of the 
consultation with agent Miles was highly satisfactory. 
Everything was found as represented in his writing. He 
now further volunteered to use his authority and in 
fluence in favor of this undertaking. He already at this 
time promised Haury a house which he might occupy 
until buildings for the mission could be erected. He fully 

- 283 - 


Arapahoe Family at Geary, Okl., in typical every day appearance. 

endorsed Haury s special plans for conducting the mis 
sion work ; for example the establishment of a mission 
industrial school, and in this direction volunteered to 
assist in securing the necessary permission from the 

The committee was very favorably impressed w r ith 
regard to the whole situation. With satisfaction it was 
observed that Haury was welcomed as an old friend 
both by the government officials and by the Indians. 
Among other expressions of joy at meeting him again 
an old Indian Chief by the name of Big Mouth em 
braced Haury with a tenderness \vhich quite surprised 
the spectators. The impressions received in the Indian 
camps and at the agency were such as favorably dis 
posed them toward the establishment of an Arapahoe 
Mission and consequently to recommend this course to 
the Mission Board. 

28 4 

As could be expected the Board decided to engage 
at once in mission work among the Arapahoe tribe of 
Indians. Matters now moved rapidly forward. On May 
18, 1880, Haury and his young wife left Halstead, Kan 
sas, in a light spring wagon, drawn by two ponies, and 
after a four days journey they arrived at Darlington, In 
dian Territory. They were very kindly received by 
agent Miles and his amiable wife and for a time had 
their lodging in the agent s home. The first work Haury 
did was to fit up for occupation the little government 
house, granted for present use, by cleaning and white 
washing it. On May 29, they moved into this house, 
but as their furniture and other household goods had not 
yet arrived, they had to live in very simple fashion for a 
while. For seats and tables they used store-boxes. The 
bed was spread on the floor. A few weeks later the fur 
niture arrived after which they could live comfortably in 
their three-roomed house. 

Missionary activity was entered upon at once, in 
that Haury and his wife gave religious instruction to the 
children in Sunday school and the week day school, 
while on Sunday afternoons meetings were held for the 
older Indians. More than this could not be done at the 
out-set, as much of Haury s time was necessarily occu 
pied with providing indispensable equipments. For this 
reason Haury soon requested of the Board that an assis 
tant be sent who should relieve him of the manual labor, 
and so enable him to attend to that interest for which he 
was there. To this the Board consented and sent Corne 
lius Duerksen, who arrived at Darlington in September 
of 1880. By this time the Board had already decided on 
building a mission house and had secured the consent of 

285 - 

the government. As then no railroad ran near Darling 
ton, it was necessary to secure much of the building 
material from the raw condition. Trees must be cut 
down, hauled and sawed into lumber ; stone must be 
quarried and hauled, lime burnt, and other heavy work 
must be performed. In all this work Haury assisted in 
person, in addition to carrying on the study of the Ara- 
pahoe language. He made some progress in this study, 
but it was soon discovered that the acquisition of that 
language was a greater task than had been anticipated. 
All along as much missionary work as possible was 
done. On Sundays particular attention was paid to this, 
but more or less was done throughout the week as op 
portunity offered. 

When spring approached, the building material was 
ready. A lively interest w r as at this time taken by the 
churches in the mission, when therefore the Board is 
sued a request for volunteers to assist in the construction 
of the building without pay, several persons responded. 
Especially valuable service was thus rendered by Jacob 
Kirchhofer, a carpenter by trade, who took charge of the 
erection of the building. 

The building was completed in August, 1881. It 
was a wooden structure, costing about four thousand 
dollars, and was large enough to accommodate the mis 
sionary family and helpers, and about twenty-five Indian 
children. On the twelfth of August the mission workers 
occupied the house, greatly rejoicing that the L,ord had 
blessed their efforts and that now at last they had a foot 
hold. They hoped hereafter to be in position to carry 
forward the mission work under more advantageous 
conditions. The plan was now to receive Indian chil- 


dren into the family, to give them a Christian training, 
and if possible to win them for the Savior. At the same 
time these children should also be trained for practical 
life, so as to enable them to secure their own livlihood 
under the conditions of modern civilization. 

While the building \vas in process of erection, 
Haury never felt quite sure that the Indians would vol 
untarily commit any of their children to his care, but at 
the opening of the school in September, the mission 
workers had the pleasure of receiving seven boys from 
ten to eighteen years old. This number was soon in 
creased by further additions. Previous to this Haury had 
taken several small children into his care. The first one 
received was Jenny, a winsome little orphan girl. This 
little child Haury had taken with him to Kansas and 
there had exhibited her to the visitors of the General 
Conference. Thus the mission work had at last been en 
tered upon under an auspicious beginning auguring well 
for the future. 

But the Lord sometimes cancels the plans and shat 
ters the hopes of men. The young mission work was 
about to be severely tried. On the evening of February 
19, 1882, while evening services were being conducted, 
fire broke out upstairs, and a few hours later a smoking 
heap marked the place where the mission house had 
stood. What had been gained by much toil and expense, 
was in a few short hours consumed by the flames and 
with it much of the personal effects of the occupants. 
Yes, the loss was greater still. Four of the small chil 
dren, among them Jenny, and Karl, the infant son of 
Mr. and Mrs. Haury, had been suffocated by the gas. It 
was an awful experience which cut to the quick to be 

- 28 7 

deprived of all thus suddenly and in such a dreadful 

Of that awful night a vivid description was given by 
Mrs. Haury, which is here inserted and reads as follows : 

"My dear Friend Mrs. Krehbiel : You have heard 
of our aw^ful loss, but likely you have not learnt any of 
the particulars. 

"On that unfortunate evening (Sunday, February 
19,) at about quarter before seven, I took the four 
smaller ones, Karl, Jenny, Kmil and Walter to bed. 
The larger ones prayed the little evening prayer : 

"Now I lay me down to sleep; 
I pray the Lord my soul to keep. 
If I should die before I wake, 
I pray the Lord my soul to take. 

"Karl sat in my lap for a few minutes, as w y e played 
with him. Then after having nursed him, I took him to 
bed also. Between our sitting room and bed room there 
was a wardrobe, through which, however, we always 
passed (it having two doors). The inner door I left 
open, the outer door I closed, and remarked to Samuel 
(her husband) that there was a little smoke in the room, 
something which had never happened before. Yet we 
were not alarmed at this, as the chimneys, particularly 
the one on the south side, often smoked so badly that we 
could not stay in the rooms. I then went to the school 
room, sang and played on the organ for a little while. 
At half past seven Samuel came from up-stairs and rang 
for evening devotion. This exercise lasted at most for 
half an hour. I then called the girls to bring them to 
bed. Just then Samuel saw a spark flying past the east 
window, then another, and another. Thinking of fire, 

he rushed to the east door ; the whole yard was lit up , 
the south end of the house was enveloped in flames. 
Samuel immediately dashed upstairs to the sitting room, 
opened the door, but was met by such a column of gas 
and smoke that it was almost impossible for him to go 
forward. The lamp which he had set on the table was 
extinguished by the gas. Nevertheless he went to the 
bed room door, but found this locked from inside ; the 
night latch must have closed some way. He hurried 
down stairs, called for an axe, seized the lamp in the 
school room and quickly went up again. As the lamp 
was again extinguished, he threw this down and en 
deavored to break open the door. I now went down and 
got a lamp from Duerksen s room, and when I returned, 
Samuel had already succeeded in forcing the door (with 
his body). He hastened into the room, snatched up our 
little one from his bed, and feeling his strength gave 
way, he yet made another effort, came and placed our 
darling in my arms - dead. He immediately hurried 
back and also brought Jenny out. By this time many 
people had come. Some one took Jenny. Samuel called 
for help, as he felt unable to enter twice more. Duerk- 
sen took Emil at the door. Samuel entered the fourth 
time, took up Walter, and just as he came out, the 
flames burst through the wardrobe. 

"The four children had been rescued from the 
flames, but two of these had already passed away. We, 
however, did not know of Jenny s death until after mid 
night, when she was brought to the house where we 
women were with Karl and Emil. Efforts were made to 
revive the children, they were all like dead. All efforts 
to revive Karl were in vain, but Emil and Walter were 


partially revived, but only to pass away also after suf 
fering for twenty-four hours. 

"Now all that we had on this earth had been taken 
from us, even the children whom we so longed to keep. 
But the Lord who has wounded can heal us again ; in 
Him do we trust. He has supplied our wants thus far 
and w r e rest in the confidence that he will care for us in 
the future. 

"On Tuesday afternoon furneral services were con 
ducted here in the government school. After that Mr. 
Hauser (Emirs Father) took Bmil away to the Fort 
(Fort Reno), where he was buried on the following day. 
The other three were interred in the new cemetery north 
east of the agency. 

"Through the kindness and helpfulness of the 
people here we are for the present supplied with clothing 
and shelter, until we shall again have our own home. 
Here I wish in particular to express my heartfelt thanks 
for the things which you (the Halstead, Kan., sewing 
society) have sent us through brother Krehbiel and 
Richert ; these things have proven a great help to us 
just now. 

"I have now related to you the events of that awful 
night, but it is impossible to bring these before you as 
they were pen and words are unable to do that. Some 
thing like that must be experienced in order to be able 
to form an adequate conception of it. 

On the loss occasioned by the fire Haury reported 
as follows : "So far as the material loss is concerned it 
can be reported that some of the mission property has 
been saved, but very little. Duerksen s and Wedel s 
effects are nearly if not all saved. My sister-in-law res- 



cued her child but nothing else. The child suffered but 
little from the gas, but the fright and the exposure to 
the cold seem to have harmed it. Its mother could not 
even save a dress for it, but the evening was cold, a raw 
wind driving the snow. 

"Now as to ourselves; practically nothing is left 
us. The I^ord has deprived us of our things and our 
children. Of my books some were saved ; besides these 
only the organ. . . . Neither my wife nor I had shoes or 
hat left to wear. 

Being notified by telegraph of the disaster, Chr. 
Krehbiel, taking H. Richert with him, hastened to 
Darlington and found the missionary workers greatly 
distressed, yet bearing their sore trial with quiet submis 
sion. The house was totally destroyed. Nothing, not 
even the foundation could be used again. The question 
now was what next? This had been a discouraging 
experience, ought not perhaps the work be abandoned? 
That course would not be in accordance with the bold 
character of the president of the Mission Board. Often 
before his boldness had secured benefits to the general 
cause, and so here. Undismayed by the crushing blow 
the work had received, Krehbiel began, as soon as he 
was fully acquainted with the situation, to plan for the 
continuation of the enterprise, endeavoring to prevent 
an entire stand-still, even though the work had been 
temporarily interrupted. Into this plan Haury heroically 
entered. Upon application Major Randall, commander 
of Fort Reno, granted temporary use of two tents in 
which to conduct the school for the present. The wash- 
house was to be transformed into a dwelling for Haury, 
while the loft in the stable was appointed as sleeping 

place for the school boys and others. It was expected 
that in this manner, though ever so crude, the school 
could be continued until a new house would be erected, 
and that thus no vantage ground already gained would 
be lost. For to rebuild upon that it was agreed then 
and there. The mission work entered upon should not 
be abandoned but should go forward. 

However the final action with regard to this must 
be taken by the whole Mission Board. This body held 
a special session in March, at which time the purpose to 
rebuild, and that at once, w r as approved. A brick build 
ing to cost about 4500 dollars was decided upon. But 
there was no money in the treasury for the execution of 
this purpose ; this must first be contributed by the 
churches. Although only a year ago the money had 
been raised for the first building, the call for contributions 
was met with a hearty response and within a few months 
over 5000 dollars were in the mission treasury ; the 
churches thus endorsed the purpose to go forward. Re 
building could begin at once. 

When work on the new building had already been 
begun, something occurred which gave a new turn to the 
mission enterprise. Through agent Miles Haury s at 
tention was called to the fact that Fort Cantonment, 
situated about sixty miles north-west of Darlington, 
would be abandoned by the government. He pointed 
out that, as the most prominent Arapahoe Chiefs had 
their camps in that vicinity, it would be wise to establish 
an additional mission station at that point, and that this 
could be easily done as the vacated government buildings 
could be used by the missionaries free of charge. For 
such an additional undertaking the Board was at first 

not very enthusiastic ; they did not see where the funds 
should come from to equip and maintain a second sta 
tion ; indeed they felt they had enough to do to rebuild 
at Darlington and get that station upon a solid footing. 
But very unexpected and entirely unsolicited this pro 
posed departure received substantial encouragement 
from the goverment which turned the scale in favor of 
Cantonment. Agent Miles was making good his prom 
ises. For it was at his request that the government ap 
propriated 5000 dollars toward the new mission building 
at Darlington, the government to have ownership in the 
building to that extent. By this unforeseen but welcome 
turn enough money remained in the hands of the Mission 
Board to establish a new station. The Board was the 
more ready to begin this new station, because after study 
ing the situation, it was already then foreseen that Can 
tonment would very naturally serve as the center for 
more extended mission work in the future, while Dar 
lington would ultimately become a side station. Thus 
recognizing God s own guiding hand in this matter the 
work in Cantonment was promptly and courageously 
undertaken. On October 2, 1882, the military vacated 
Cantonment and a few weeks later H. R. Voth, 1 who 
had been received into the mission service by the Board, 
was sent to the Fort by agent Miles, there to keep a 
watchful eye on the property left there, while negotia 
tions were pending for the transfer of the Fort to the 
Mennonite Mission. On December i, 1882, information 
was received that all the buildings 2 in Cantonment, one 

1 See Biographical Appendix. 

2 The buildings in Cantonment consisted mostly of one-story 
palisade houses. There were twenty-five of these of different sizes; 


excepted, had been transferred from the Department of 
the Interior to the Mission. That the government thus 
favored the Mennonite Mission was due on the one hand 
to the noble Christianity of agent Miles, and on the other 
hand to Haury, who had the full confidence and respect 
of Miles as also of the government. 

Darlington, Oklahoma, Mission Station. 

The building in Darlington progressed rapidly and 
by the close of the year 1881 it was ready for occupation. 
The house consumed by the flames in spring was no w 
replaced by a better and larger one. Instead of twenty- 
five, fifty children could now be comfortably housed and 

some being very large. There were two brick buildings, the hos 
pital and the bakery. See article by H. R. Voth in Bund esbote 
January 15, 1883. 


cared for. The disaster of ten months ago had not only 
not resulted in abandonment of, or retrenchment in the 
work, but on the contrary, the Lord had used this trial 
for the more rapid extension of the mission enterprise. 
Besides the better and larger quarters at Darlington 
there was now another promising station at Cantonment. 
Nor was this all. A number of additional mission work 
ers had been secured during the year. Among these 
were C. H. Wedel, H. R. Voth, A. E. Funk, O. S. 
Schultz and others. On Christmas of that year the 
number of workers in the field was fourteen. Evidently 
the mission work was in a prosperous condition at this 
time so far as facilities and forces were concerned. So 
the new year could be entered with gratitude toward 
God and with bright hopes for the future. 

In order that the occupation of Cantonment might 
be most advantageously effected, it was deemed advisable 
that the Board visit the place, there personally to study 
the situation. With the exception of A. B. Shelly all 
members of the Board visited Cantonment in February, 
1883. After careful inspection and due deliberation it 
was decided that Haury, who desired this, should occupy 
Cantonment, while Darlington was put in charge of 
H. R. Voth. The superintendency of both stations was 
delegated to Haury. It was Haury s intention to estab 
lish an Indian colony in Cantonment by settling as 
many Indian families there as could be induced to do 
this. In addition to doing spiritual work among these, 
Haury purposed to instruct and train them industrially. 
This plan received the approval of the Board. As it 
seemed certain that the region about Cantonment was too 
dry for agricultural pursuits, the Board appropriated one 


thousand dollars for the purchase of a cattle herd in the 
interest of the mission. On the one hand the gain from 
this herd should go to support the mission. On the 
other hand it was intended to offer opportunity through 
it for Indians to get a start in cattle raising, and thus 
learn to support themselves. At that time the Board also 
adopted a set of regulations 1 with regard to the superin- 
tendency of the mission, as also for the stewards and 

The resolutions adopted here were followed. Haury 
soon afterwards moved to Cantonment and began to 
make arrangements for the reception of children and the 
opening of a school. He also endeavored to induce Indian 
families to settle permanently at the station. H. R. Voth 
took charge of the Darlington station. Having been ac 
cepted as missionary by the Board, he was ordained as a 
missionary and minister by Chr. Krehbiel, in the Alex- 
anderwohl church on July 22, 1883. His instructions 
were to devote all his time and energy to mission work 
among the old Indians ; while upon others should rest 
the responsibility for the school and other affairs. When 
the time for opening school came in the fall of 1883, it 
was for the first time that the missionaries could invite 
the children to "come, for all is ready." Accurately 
speaking it is the year 1883 that marks the beginning 
of the missionary labors among the Indians. The 
schools had a good attendance from the beginning. Dar 
lington began with twenty- eight, Cantonment with 
twenty- three children. Later the attendance was greatly 
increased. At last the mission work was in operation. 
What had been aimed at through so many years of trial 

1 See Bundesbote April i, 1883. 


and delay was now successfully realized. The Menno- 
nite denomination was at last also permitted to partici 
pate in the proclamation of the glad tidings to the be 
nighted heathen. 

In addition to educational efforts among the chil 
dren and camp visits among old Indians, another form 
of missionary activity was entered upon through the in 
ventive and undertaking genius of Chr. Krehbiel ; 
namely the placing of Indian youths in Christian families 
in Kansas. The purpose of doing this was to bring these 
young Indians in touch with Christian family life, and to 
give them an opportunity to become acquainted with 
Christianity by a closer daily association with Christians. 
Then, secondarily, the purpose was to give them an op 
portunity to acquire valuable information and skill in 
modern methods of agriculture ; in short, that they might 
see and study Christian civilization in the very midst of 
it. As early as February, 1882, Krehbiel had made a be 
ginning in this by taking with him to his own home in 
Kansas a young Indian by the name of Smith. This 
young man had proved troublesome at the agency and 
had been punished at different times for insubordina 
tion. Upon Krehbiel s request the agent granted per 
mission to take Smith outside the Territory. Smith, 
though forbidding in his exterior, was received into 
Krehbiel s family with true Christian love, and remained 
there for a number of months. Permission was soon ob 
tained from the Indian Commissioner through Haury to 
take as many bo)^s as desired to Kansas, there to place 
them in good, Christian families during the vacation 
months of July and August ; and permission was further 
granted to thus place boys for a period of three years, if 


opportunity offered. For several years in succession a 
number of boys spent trie summer in Kansas, and a few 
were there on the three-year arrangement. Through the 
experience thus gained the way was opened for the es 
tablishment of an industrial school, later so successfully 
conducted by Chr. Krehbiel. What the Indian needed 
was not only conversion, he was in need of industrial 
training, and this could very successfully be offered to 
him in this way. It was for this reason that Haury took 
this course from the very beginning ; aiming to educate 
and train the growing generation both spiritually and 
industrially. An argument in favor of this method of 
work we have from the able pen of J. van der Smissen. 
He says : 

"It is exceedingly difficult to effectively preach 
the Gospel among a people who have been weaned 

from all wholesome, regular work The Indian 

does not think of the morrow, nor does he know any- 
think of the fascination the earning of an independent 
livlihood has for men, as the whole tribe has a sort of 
community of goods. . . . The government does much in 
a most praiseworthy manner for the literary education 
of the Indian ; but experience has made it clear that the 
civilization of these people must be accomplished in 
an altogether different manner. Our mission desires to 
enter upon the method which we consider the only cor 
rect one. Our dear mission workers desire to accustom 
the Indians to work, to get them to love work, to teach 
them the blessings of labor, and, while constantly giving 
them spiritual care so far as this can be done, also to train 
them into settled, useful citizens." The final result 
aimed at, christianization, was thus to be attained by 


three influences exerted in the mission work. These 
were : i. Education and industrial training of the 
children, 2. Colonization of the old Indians, 3. Evan 
gelization of all. 

In addition to these various general methods of work 
a special effort was made to reach the more promising 
young Indians and win them for Christ, and being christ- 
ians to prepare them for the work and send them among 
their own people as missionaries. This was done by 
placing them in the Mennonite Academy at Halstead, 
Kansas, and there giving them a course of instruction 
similar to that given to other students. A beginning in 
this was made in March, 1884, when four young men 
were placed in that institution. These by their conduct 
and diligence encouraged the expectation that they would 
ultimately be useful as missionaries among their people. 

With the government the endeavors of the mission 
met with full approval, as was evident from the fact that 
all undertakings found cordial and liberal support, and 
that in various ways the work was substantially en 
couraged. The missionaries had a good reputation 
among the government officials. The following case will 
serve as evidence of this. A certain paper had misre 
presented the Mennonite mission work as also its super 
intendent Haury. Mr. Hauser, an officer at Fort Reno, 
made the following reply: "Mr. Haury does not only 
enjoy the highest respect of all the white people here 
who know him, but has also gained the confidence of the 
Indians and the love of the little ones placed in their 
care. Anyone acquainted with the Indian character 
knows that only he will succeed in the latter who does 
not only teach and preach the right, but who faithfully 


practices it in his own private life. I have in my life 
time had many opportunities to observe attempts at ci 
vilizing Indians and teaching their children. Among 
the few that were successful and still are so, the Menno- 
nite school in Cantonment, Indian Territory, occupies a 
high, in my personal estimation the highest, position. 
And what this school is it is through the untiring zeal 
and self-denying, self-giving labors of Mr. Haury." 

How highly Voth was esteemed and loved by the 
agency officials and employes, is evidenced by the fact 
that at the close of the year 1883, a number of his friends 
at the agency made him a present of one hundred and 
fifty dollars as a token of appreciation of his services to 
them as a minister ; this gift being presented to him by 
Agent Miles on occasion of a little gathering appointed 
by them for this purpose at the mission house. 

That this good reputation of the mission continued 
to later years, as also what was thought of the work in 
higher government circles may be gleaned from re 
marks a school inspector made at the ninth annual 
meeting (1888) of the Indian Commission. A. B. Shelly 
reports these remarks as follows : "One of the speakers, 
who during the year past had visited the Indian Terri 
tory and inspected the various mission stations and In 
dian schools, spoke in words of praise of the work which 
our denomination carries on in Darlington and Canton 
ment. He said, our schools were model schools, far ex 
celling the government schools, and closed with the re 
mark : The Mennonites are doing an excellent work 
there ." 

During the year 1884, when the mission enterprise 
was expanding very rapidly and was for this reason test- 


Cheyenne Women ; Child in Cradle. 

ing the liberality of the supporters, the cause received a 
substantial aid in the form of a legacy from Jacob and 
Mary L,eisy of Summerfield. The reader will remember 
that Leisy, soon after the origin of the Conference move 
ment, had donated one thousand dollars to the Confer 
ence, on condition that this money could be used as soon 
as the Conference should begin independent mission 

3 01 

Cheyenne Family. Dressed in their Best. 

work. In the succeeding years he with his noble wife 
hed been liberal supporters of everything the Conference 
undertook. They also agreed together that after their 
decease ten thousand dollars of their estate should go to 
the mission cause. By this noble act the departed have 
not only set for themselves a beautiful monument, but 
they have effectively assisted the young and weak mis- 


sion enterprise, and so have left an influence at work, 
which to this very hour is proving a blessing. 

When the work was begun among the Arapahoes , 
a Quaker missionary labored among the Cheyennes. 
But in 1884 the Quakers left this field, which left the 
Cheyenne tribe open for the Mennonite mission. The 
Board received permission from the Conference to appoint 
a missionary to that tribe, but as no suitable person was 
accessible, nothing could be done in this direction at 
that time. However as many Cheyenne children as pos 
sible were taken into the schools, while the Arapahoe 
missionaries sought to spread the Gospel among this 
tribe also by the aid of interpreters. 

Missionary work proper among old Indians could 
be conducted with but little success during this period. 
One great obstacle was the language. The missionaries 
had acquired enough knowledge of their language to 
converse with them on every day topics, but did not 
attain to such proficiency that they could present the 
Gospel to them in public address. But the main cause 
for this lack of success lay in the nomadic mode of 
life of the Indians, and the many disturbances which 
rendered them restless and unsettled. It was but a few 
years since these tribes had been forcibly transferred by 
the government from their former home to the Indian 
Territory, of course contrary to their wish. Here they 
were kept under strict military surveillance, which to 
them was the same as captivity. Can we wonder at it 
that they hated the whites their oppressors ! Or that 
they were rebellious and repelled everything originating 
with the palefaces ! Filled thus with bitterest animosity 
toward the whites, they also repelled the Gospel for 


was not that the religion of their hated oppressors? 
Such prejudices as these the early missionaries had to 
encounter ; prejudices which stood like adamantine walls 
and baffled the first efforts at evangelization. And it 
was only after many years when the exasperating expe 
riences were further removed in time and were some 
what forgotten that successful work among the Indians 
could reasonably be expected. Then there was the ob 
stacle of the Indian s nomadic habits. In order that the 
missionary might reach the heart of these heathen he 
needed to be in daily touch with them for a long period 
of time. What was needed was a free, natural associ 
ation, such as is easely secured among people who have 
fixed habitations. Rut no such association could be se 
cured during the early years of the mission enterprise. 
The Indians had no fixed habitations. Perhaps a family 
would have its "tepee" at a certain place for a month or 
two. During this time the missionary possibly w r ould 
become somewhat acquainted with them and gain some 
influence with them in spiritual matters. Then suddently 
his work would be interrupted, and possibly all be lost, 
through the removal of the family to some distant place, 
twenty to seventy and more miles away, to which the 
missionary might never come. In addition to these ob 
stacles the work was greatly hindered by the occasional 
"war-path" excitements which always threw the whole 
tribe into such a fever that all favorable impressions which 
the missionaries had succeeded in making were again ef 
faced. It was only by turning their faces to the future, 
by believing that the L,ord would bless the labors with 
the young, and that, after all, general impressions would 
lodge with the old which would ultimately render the 


whole tribe receptive for the truth, that the workers 
kept up courage to continue with this stoical, un 
yielding people. 

Although the work could not be satisfactorily con 
ducted among the old, the opportunity to labor among 
the children offered through the schools, were excellent. 
For a number of years both schools at Darlington and 
Cantonment had as many children attending as they 
could accommodate. The usual number at Darlington 

School Room in Cantonment. 

was about fifty, that of Cantonment about sixty-five. 
Hence about one hundred Indian boys and girls were 
constantly enjoying the beneficent religious influence 
and the practical training for industrial life afforded 
through the mission of the General Conference. The 
mission workers rejoiced to observe that their labors 
here were not altogether in vain. The seed sown was 
taking root more or less deeply and impressions for 
good were made, which promised well never to be 
effaced. When afterwards these children returned to 


Group of School Girls at Cantonment, 

their homes, they carried these impressions with them 
into the camps, where they would necessarily act as a 
leaven, working effectively toward the ultimate trans 
formation of the whole tribe. 

By experience it was found that the schools in the 
Indian Territory, being in the immediate vicinity of the 
Indian settlements, were at a disadvantage in that by 

Indian Grave. 


the easy and frequent touch with ordinary Indian life 
the influence of the schools was to a great extent coun 
teracted. The plan was therefore hit upon to establish 
an industrial school far removed from the tribes. For 
this the temporary transfer of children to Kansas, as be 
fore stated, had paved the way. That four Indian boys 
were in attendance at the school in Halstead has been 
reported. In the fall of 1885 this arrangement had 
experienced an expansion. 

The Mission Board had agreed with the school com 
mittee to combine an Industrial Mission School with the 
Kansas Conference school. The school should furnish 
the necessary room, while the Mission would board the 
students and pay the salary of the teachers, appointed 
conjointly by the Mission Board and the school com 

In accordance with this agreement the school was 
opened with fifteen Indian boys and girls in the fall of 
1885. A. S. Shelly officiated as superintendent during 
the first year. During the second year G. A. Haury 
served both as superintendent and teacher. All the 
young people received instruction in the ordinary 
branches of learning. In addition the two girls attend 
ing were trained in practical housekeeping, while the 
boys under Haury s direction tilled a few acres of 
ground. After having tried this for two years, it became 
apparent that it was neither wise nor profitable to have 
this school in town. It was also thought that the con 
ference school was being hindered by the industrial 
school, because the two institutions were pursuing differ 
ent aims. So it became necessary to discontinue the in 
dustrial school in its present form and connection. The 


other members of the Board would have been satisfied to 
discontinue this particular kind of work entirely after 
this attempt. Not so, however, Chr. Krehbiel, the 
originator and promoter of the undertaking. He was 
convinced that the best method for preparing young In 
dians to meet the demands of modern civilized life was 
to train them in an industrial school, conducted as nearly 
as possible on the basis of ordinary family life. He also 
held that these young people could be won for Christ 
easier through such a touch with Christian family life 
than in any other way. To undertake such a school 
was no small matter. But, desiring from his heart the 
welfare of the people whom the Conference had under 
taken to evangelize, he resolved with the lyord s aid to 
carry on this work himself by removing it to his farm, 
located about one mile from Halstead, and assuming per 
sonally all financial risks and responsibilities. The Board 
was very willing to accept his proposition, and so, in 
April 1887, after Krehbiel had erected suitable build 
ings for the accommodation of the children, the "In 
dian Industrial School", as it was thereafter known, was 
removed to his farm. At the time sixteen boys and 
girls attended. In order to waken in them a sense for 
acquisition through personal effort, he permitted them to 
plant ten acres of ground to castor beans with the under 
standing that the whole yield would belong to them. 

The whole work was conducted as nearly as possible 
on the plan of ordinary family life. During the farming 
season the larger boys performed all the various kinds of 
labor which occur in the routine of farm-life. The 
.smaller boys were employed in the garden. Morning 
and evening they cared for the stock and did the differ- 



ent chores. The girls learnt and performed all kinds of 
house work. In all their activities Krehbiel himself kept 
in personal touch with the boys and was their practical 
teacher ; to the girls Mrs. Krehbiel was as a mother. 
For nine months in the year all the children of school 
age received instruction by a teacher employed by Kreh 
biel, in a school room specially built for this purpose. 
The government permitted children to attend this school 
for three successive years. This extended period of life 
in the school was of great advantage to the children. 
Removed for this long time from uncivilized surround 
ings, without being subjected to military exaction or 
slavish dependence, but instead being allowed the free 
dom of children in a family, these children of the red 
man, considering differences in former advantages, suc 
ceeded as well as those of the white man. They pro 
gressed spiritually and in practical attainments. The 
experiment was in every way successful. 

There was one weakness from which the mission 
enterprise suffered from the first, namely the frequency 
of change in mission workers. It was a ceaseless coming 
and going which kept the Board in a constant dilemma 
how to fill the vacancies. In 1886 Haury, who had done 
so much toward the inauguration of independent mission 
work for the General Conference, also retired. His place 
in Cantonment was filled by J. J. Kliewer, who had for 
some time served as teacher. 

At the session of the General Conference in 1887 
the report of the Board stated with especial emphasis 
that mission work among the adult Indians, desired 
from the first, but not accomplished, ought now to be 
pushed more vigorously, and that efforts should not be 

3 io 

confined to children alone. The following is a portion of 
the report: "As already suggested, the Board is deci 
dedly of the opinion that in the future we should not 
confine ourselves to the training of children only, but 
that our workers should realize it as their first duty to 
labor for the saving of souls of the grown people. The 
training of children should also receive due attention 
and should not be discontinued. But it is an illusion to 
expect that without labor upon the parents these are to 
be won for Christ through the children." As the In 
dians had by this time become more quiet and in part 
had fixed residences, being thereby rendered more access 
ible to gospel work, the time seemed to have arrived for 
more aggressive efforts in that direction, though even now 
the work had to contend with many and great obstacles. 
It was about this time that missionary Kliewer 
felt prompted to devote himself exclusively to this spe 
cial work among the adults by settling with his family 
in an Arapahoe Indian camp. As this accorded with 
the wishes of the Board, that body approved of his plan 
and so a third mission station was founded. About 
sixty miles west of Darlington and about seventy miles 
southwest from Cantonment, on the Washita river, there 
was a large Arapahoe settlement near which Kliewer 
desired to locate. The establishment of a station at that 
place was begun in July of 1889. This task involved no 
small hardship, but Kliewer was a man of courage and 
faith in God, and possessed that kind of genius which 
overcomes difficulties. The place selected was far away 
from any white settlement. Everything was still in the 
undisturbed condition of nature. In order to gain a 
foothold in that country, Kliewer, accompanied by his 

brother, drove there in a covered wagon. They cut 
down small trees and made them into posts. Of these 
they then built a palisade house. This is done by set 
ting in trenches side by side rows of posts, enclosing a 
space of the size and form wanted for a house. The 
upper ends of the posts are fastened together by laying a 
strip of wood over them and nailing this down to each 
post. This frame is now covered over with heavy sticks. 
On these long grass and branches are piled, and over the 
top of all comes a cover of earth. The cracks between 
the posts are closed with clay. Simple doors are put to 
the openings, and the house is ready for occupation. 

The development of the Industrial School at Hal- 
stead and the promising prospects at the new station on 
the Washita did much to keep up interest in the mission 
work among the supporting churches. Lack of success 
always tends to check the flow of contributions. However 
the schools in the Territory were not devoid of encourag 
ing fruits. The workers at Darlington had the great 
privilege of winning a soul for Christ the first-fruits of 
the Mennonite mission. Maggie Leonhard, a half-blood 
Indian girl, was led of the spirit and through the en 
deavors of missionary Voth and his spiritually minded 
wife, to accept Christ. She soon desired to be baptized. 
Early in the summer of 1888, several members of the 
Board (A. B. Shelly, Chr. Krehbiel, Chr. Schowalter 
and H. Richert) were making an official visit to the 
mission. Among other things they arranged for the 
baptism, and on June third the seventeen year old Mag 
gie was baptized by A. B. Shelly. This was the first 
sheave the General Conference as a missionary society 
was permitted to garner. 

As stated in another place the buildings in Canton 
ment were mostly palisade structures. In the course of 
time most of these became unfit for dwellings, as the 
posts had rotted away below, the roofs leaked and some 
threatened to collapse. Moreover these peculiar struct 
ures for various reasons were not suitable for missionary 
work. It became necessary therefore to build a mission 
house. The committee referred to above, after careful 
investigation of the situation, decided to build, and that 
large enough to comfortably accommodate seventy-five 

During October of that year, while visiting at Can 
tonment, Chr. Krehbiel, as president of the Board, had 
selected as site for the proposed building a pleasant ele 
vation, situated about half a mile west of the old station. 
Great enthusiasm existed among the mission workers for 
the proposed new building. This was shown on the wed 
ding-occasion of one of the workers, when the workers 
among themselves subscribed seven hundred dollars for 
building purposes. But nothing had as yet been done 
by the churches, no call for money having been issued. 
Chr. Krehbiel now brought the promising conditions in 
the mission field vividly before the minds of the people 
in a report of his last visit to the Territory. At the same 
time a request for funds for the erection of the needed 
building was issued by the secretary A. B. Shelly. The 
request was promptly responded to. Early in 1889 
enough money had already been contributed to assure 
the Board that the amount needed would be supplied 
and that they were safe in beginning to build. 

The erection of this building was in its line the 
most difficult task the Conference had so far undertaken. 

Cantonment was situated seventy miles from a railroad. 
To haul material that distance would be very expensive. 
Nowhere in all that region was there any industrial de 
velopment. The building material had to be collected 
and prepared in that vicinity. It was necessary to quarry 
stone, cut timber, saw lumber, burn lime, make brick, 
and prepare many other things, which in the states are 
bought ready for use. The Board, however, was fortu 
nate in securing A. T. Kruse of Halstead, Kans. , as 
architect, and under his able direction and by his re 
sourceful and inventive genius all difficulties w r ere over 
come, and the beautiful brick structure was finished in 
the summer of 1890. In the commodious quarters of the 
new building seventy-five children could easily be ac 
commodated. It was larger than the house in Darling 
ton, but cost less, its cost being six thousand dollars. On 
July 6, 1890, Chr. Krehbiel, assisted by other members 
of the Board, dedicated the building to its special use. 
It was a great loss to the mission work in general, 
and to Darlington in particular, when in February, 1889 
Barbara Voth, wife of missionary Voth, was called away 
by an untimely death. She was a quiet, but very pious 
and spiritually minded person, and labored for her Indian 
charges with whole hearted devotion as well as with 
wisdom and tact. Under her regime a peaceful quiet 
rested over the whole place. Her heart was in the 
cause and so she won the hearts of the children whom 
she lovingly sought to lead to Jesus. She had also won 
the esteem and love of the older Indian women through 
genuine works of Christian love. How much they had 
become attached to her was shown by the sympathy 
which they exhibited during her sickness and by their 

- 3 4 - 


unfeigned sorrow at her death. They wept for her as 
for a sister. 

Not long afterwards another faithful worker was 
called to his reward. When in 1889 Kliewer was sta 
tioned at Washita, the Board called D. B. Hirschler to 
Cantonment as superintendent and missionary. Only 
one year had he been permitted to serve in this capac 
ity when he was taken down with typhoid fever, to 
which he succumbed after a few days. The loss of such 
faithful laborers necessarily interfered with the success 
ful progress of the mission work. But as the Lord him 
self was thus breaking the ranks, even these afflic 
tions must in some way have served to advance his 

About ten years had now elasped since the Con 
ference began work among the Arapahoes. During 
these years civilized settlement had been steadily coming 
closer and closer to the formerly isolated tribes, in con 
sequence of which new conditions had arisen which 
could not be ignored by the mission, but had to be 
reckoned with. The changed situation called for a 
change in means and methods. Oklahoma, which 
bordered on the Cheyenne and Arapahoe reservation 
on the east, was thrown upon to white settlement in 
1889. This brought the Darlington station, which is 
situated w r ithin one mile of the eastern boundary, into 
immediate touch with the whites. Railroads also came 
closer. When the mission work was begun, the nearest 
railroad station was more than one hundred miles 
distant. Later a road was extended to Oklahoma City, 
twenty-five miles away. And in 1889 the Rock Island 
road came within a mile of the mission station. These 

changed conditions greatly affected the whole mission 
work. So much that was new and distracting to the 
Indian was now brought to his very door and forced 
upon his attention that interest in the Gospel was for 
the present crowded out. To the mission workers them 
selves the opportunity to secure nice farms as a gift 
proved very alluring. There before their eyes stretched 
the nice farms which they might claim as their own 
by simply going over and taking them. With a num 
ber the desire for settlement became so strong that in 
consequence the minds were more occupied with thoughts 
of occupying farms than of winning souls. The out 
come was that not a few, both male and female workers, 
took claims at the opening of Oklahoma. While it can 
appear only as desirable that Mennonite settlements 
should be situated in the immediate vicinity of the In 
dian s home, the manner of formation of this settlement 
was to the present disadvantage of the work. When the 
excitement, incident to the opening of Oklahoma, had 
died away somewhat and the work had become adjusted 
to the new conditions, another disturbance appeared which 
interfered still more with the prosecution of the mission 
work. In 1892 it was ordered by the general government 
that the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians should hold 
their land in severalty ; one quarter section to be allotted 
to each man, woman or child. Whatever remained after 
allotment should be thrown open to settlement by whites. 
The census and registration of the Indians which this 
made necessary, as also the inspection and choice of 
farms by the Indians, proved of such absorbing interest 
to the Indians and caused them to move about so much, 
that there was little chance for gospel work among them 

for a long time. By this allotment of land the mission 
itself was confronted by a problem. Now that all land 
was to be given away to the Indians or to whites, how 
should the mission hold the stations already established, 
and how secure a foot-hold for the establishment of new 
stations already planned? The land on which Kliewer s 
station was located, and that for several others expected 
to be established, could not be reserved for the mission 
through the government, but became subject to the 
general homestead law. It was therefore necessary, 
should these places be held for mission stations, that the 
missionaries, just as other persons, go temporarily out 
side the reservation and, taking equal risks with all 
others, make the run for these places, and if successful, 
take them as homesteads in their own name ; not in the 
name of the mission as that w r ould invalidate the claim. 
In this manner the station on the Washita was taken by 
J. J. Kliewer, while J. S. Krehbiel homesteaded a place 
for a new station near the Red Hills, half way between 
Darlington and Cantonment. 

When the Cheyenne and Arapahoe reservation was 
thrown open for general settlement, many thousand 
whites rushed in and in a few days took all the good 
land. Thus the mission field, instead of being far away 
in the wilds of the prairies, was suddenly surrounded by 
whites, and now is in the midst of modern civilization. 
Upon the Indians themselves this situation must of course 
exert a mighty influence. By constant touch with whites 
they learn much, both good and bad ; the good, however, 
preponderating, inasmuch as most of the settlers are 
Christians. One decided gain these altered conditions 
did bring; a gain to the mission, a blessing to the 

/. S. KrehbieVs Home at Geary, 
Mr. and Mrs. Krehbiel seated. Arapahoe Family in Front. 

Indian. Namely the Indians have become more settled. 
The settlement interferes with the nomadic life of the 
Indians, and in addition the government has been trying 
to break up their roaming habits by compelling each 
Indian, together with his family, to reside on his farm 
during certain periods of the year, and not to leave it 
to make visits. 

Disturbing though the accomplishment of these 
changes has been to the mission work, yet, through the 
fact that, by the conditions existing now, the Indian s 
civilization is hastened, it is certain that the mission 
gains in the end in that evangelization work becomes 
much easier. 

That the influences of Christianity and civilization 
have not remained without effect upon the Indian, is 
shown by a unique religious movement which made its 

appearance among them early in the nineties. Refer 
ence is had to the "Messiah Craze" which spread among 
all Indians from Canada to the far south. This craze 
was caused by a strange mixture of gospel truths and 
pagan superstitions, and gained its power with the In 
dians from one of its leading doctrines, which was that a 
messiah would soon appear who would destroy the whites 
and restore to the Indian his hunting grounds and buffalo 
herds. Among the Cheyennes and Arapahoes the craze 
also raged for some time. Wild religious dances, some 
times lasting for weeks , were performed, by which the 
performers as well as the spectators worked themselves 
up into a great frenzy. Of course they would not listen 
to any gospel preaching during that time. By and by, 
however, when the time fixed for the appearance of the 
messiah came, but no messiah appeared, they quieted 
down and began to loose confidence in their religion as 
well as in their leaders. The opportunity for gospel 
preaching had come. 

Another great change in conditions is properly re 
corded at this place. When the mission work was begun , 
all old Indians were rude and ignorant. They could 
neither write nor read. And almost none of them under 
stood any English. Of the civilized mode of life of the 
white man they knew practically nothing. For until 
then they had come in touch only with the police or 
military side of our national life. But after these years 
of work through government and mission schools the 
situation had greatly changed. Now young men and 
women could everywhere be met with who fluently 
spoke and wrote English, who possessed no small knowl 
edge of the world and who had to a greater or less 


extent been touched by the ennobling influences of the 
Christian civilization of our age. And, more important 
still, all these persons were acquainted with the teach 
ings of the Bible, had received instructions in the doc 
trines of Christianity, and efforts had been made to win 
their souls for Christ. Yes, many had yielded to these 
pleadings and had accepted Christ. Here and there in 
the camps were baptized young Indians, some coming 
from the government schools, others from the mission 
schools. It was unfortunate that these young people 
had to return to camp life without any systematic, stable 
support on the part of fellow Christians to sustain them 
in their Christian life. Young and weak as they were, 
they were returned to their former surroundings into 
the pagan as well as barbarous life led by their parents 
and friends. That most of these young people became 
lax in their religious and moral life under this severe 
test, cannot be surprising. Yet not all was lost. Some 
held to their faith in Christ more or less perfectly. Then 
also the way for the Gospel was prepared some\vhat 
among the adult Indians through the telling of the Bible 
stories by these young people ; and undoubtedly the 
Messiah Craze became possible from what the old heard 
from the young, but imperfectly understood. Adjusting 
what they heard to their accustomed mode of thinking, 
and infusing into it their own crude notions, they ob 
tained only a caricature of the truth. But though at first 
very unclear to them, it is evident that the old Indians 
were gradually drawing nearer to, yes, were slowly ac 
cepting the teachings of the Christian religion. The time 
had come for energetic evangelization work among the 
old Indians. 

As stated before the Board was fully aware that the 
time for missionary work among the adults had come. 
Through Kliewer this work had been taken up among 
the Arapahoes. But no suitable man had yet been found 
to work among the Cheyennes. Providence, however, 
so guided it that in 1890 the attention of the Board was 
directed to Rudolph Fetter of Switzerland, who had just 
completed a course of preparation and was now ready 
and willing to enter the service of the Conference mis 
sion. A call was soon extended to Fetter and was ac 
cepted by him. In August 1890, he arrived in America, 
studied English at Oberlin for one year, and toward the 
close of 1891 began his work as missionary. He was 
settled at Cantonment and was assigned to work exclu 
sively among the adult Cheyennes in the camps. Such 
an arrangement was formerly impracticable, because of 
the undeveloped conditions. But now this could readily 
be done. Here was now a good house in which he 
could live. He could come and go whenever he chose, and 
everything remained in order and was cared for. Here 
was food, fuel and every comfort for himself and wife; 
here was food, shelter and care for his team. He needed 
not to trouble himself about any of these things. Others 
were here that took care of everything industrial and 
secular, so Fetter could give his whole time, thought 
and energy to his special work. It proved a wise and 
advantageous arrangement. Fetter and his wife daily 
visited the Indians in their camps, conversed with them, 
made their acquaintance, studied their language and 
sought to enter their mode of thought. Their meals 
they got at the mission house, and here also they spent 
their nights. Under these favorable circumstances, not 



offered to any of the workers before, they were enabled 
to make rapid progress in the acquisition of the Chey 
enne language, and to approach the Indians more closely 
spiritually. This approach was something new to the 
Cheyennes, and they gladly welcomed it. Here and 
there a heart began to inquire for truth and light. It 
seemed that the time of redemption of this people had 
come, and in some of the churches no small hopes were 
entertained that the new departure in mission \vork 
would result in the speedy conversion of the tribe. 

When H. R. Voth had been in the mission service 
for ten years, he applied for a six month s vacation. 
This was granted him. His place as superintendent of 
the mission was filled by temporarily calling J. S. Kreh- 
biel to this position, he entering upon his work in No 
vember of 1891. About this time an urgent appeal came 
to the Mission Board from Arizona to open a mission 
among the aboriginal mountain inhabitants in that 
section. It was through Peter Stauffer that attention 
was directed to Arizona. Stauffer had formerly been in 
the mission service in the Indian Territory. Indian agent 
Collins had there made his acquaintance and secured 
his services for the government school. When later 
on agent Collins was transferred to Arizona, he per 
suaded Stauffer to go with him. There Stauffer came in 
touch with the mountain inhabitants, and being a sin 
cere Christian he greatly longed that some one might 
preach the Gospel to these people. Accordingly he 
wrote to the Board in April 1891, described the con 
ditions and situation, pictured the people as open to 
Gospel work and urged that the work might be begun 
by the Conference Mission. At first this appeal was 

323 - 

left unheeded, because it was ieared that neither means 
nor men would be available for such additional 
work. But the appeal was repeated several times and 
with increased urgency, until at last the Board believed 
it their duty to yield to it. As the mission work in 
the Indian Territory moved along harmoniously and 
prosperously under the superintendency of J. S. Krehbiel, 
it was decided to entrust this position to him per- 


manently, while H. R. Voth with his ripe experience 
was selected for opening the new field in Arizona. 
However before settling this matter definitely it was 
thought best to subject the field to a personal in 
spection. Accordingly Chr. Krehbiel, president of the 
Board, accompanied by missionary Voth, made a tour to 
the prospective field in November 1892. The highly 

3 2 4 

Street and House in Oraibe, Arizona. 

Interior of a Moki House. 

- 325 

Oraibe (Moki) Girls. 


Oraibe (Moki) Men. 

- 326 - 

Mr, and Mrs. H. R. Voth and daughter Frieda. 

interesting experiences and observations made on this 
trip were described at that time in the Bundesbote. A 
description of that remarkable people and their strange 
dwellings and mode of life can not be entered upon here. 
But it is proper to note at this place that those mountain 
inhabitants differ entirely from the Indians of the plains 
and forests. They are a different race. They have 
fixed habitations, cultivate the soil and raise stock. In 
spinning and weaving they possess no small skill. They 
manufacture their own pottery and in many respects ex- 

327 - 

hibit a high degree of intelligence and susceptibility for 
civilization. The impression with regard to establishing a 
mission among this people was very favorable upon both 
Krehbiel and Voth. The result was that the Board de 
cided to station a missionary there. In July 1893 Voth, 
who had recently married again, went to Arizona with 
his wife and daughter Frieda, and under many hardships 

Missionary Voth" 1 s Home, Craibe, Arizona 

endeavored to establish himself in that wild and moun 
tainous coutry. He from the outset began to study the 
language of the people, to familiarize himself with their 
mode of life, to gain their confidence and to win their 
souls for Christ. 

Before the work was begun in Arizona, the mission 
was once more severely tried by fire. This time Canton 
ment was the scene of conflagration. As usual the school 
was filled with children. Under the management of. A. 

- 328 

S. Voth the work was moving along nicely, when on 
February i, 1893, during a severe snowstorm, it was ab 
ruptly terminated by fire. It broke out in a room up 
stairs, and, baffling all attempts to extinguish it, it 
rapidly spread and in a few hours had reduced the 
beautiful structure to a smoking ruin. Fortunately no 
lives were lost. As the fire occurred during the day 
time, all children were easely removed beyond danger. 
As soon as the mission workers had recovered somewhat 
from the awful shock, they notified Chr. Krehbiel of the 
disaster by telegraph. To him as to the whole Confer 
ence this was distressing news. But he quickly rose to 
the occasion, and notwithstanding the inclemency of a 
bitterly cold winter day and unmindful of his advanced 
years, he hastened to reach the scene of disaster. Going 
by way of Darlington he faced a northwestern blizzard 
for sixty miles and, thoroughly chilled, arrived at Can 
tonment scarcely two days after the fire. He found as 
was reported that the building was entirely ruined. In 
his report he writes of the impressions made upon him, 
as follows : "Oh! what a sad sight these ruins pre 
sent in comparison to the magnificient building as 
it once stood here in its grand completeness ! With deep 
emotion I saw here destroyed what had cost many years 
of labor and much anxiety and thought. 

The mission workers had temporarily found shelter 
near by in the homes of the kindly government em 
ployees. The school was necessarily discontinued and 
the children were dismissed until it should be decided 
what next to do. Yes, that was the perplexing question 
what next ? Shall this school be entirely abandonded ? 
All were reluctant to do this. But where secure the 


funds for rebuilding ? It was but two years since the 
churches had with praiseworthy liberality supplied the 
money for the building now in ruins. But it had been 
a strain upon them. Now the country was troubled by 
hard times, reducing many to a struggle for their own 
maintainance. Moreover, increased demands had lately 
been made upon the churches to enable the Board to 
take up the work in Arizona. The situation was per 
plexing. Timid natures would under these circum 
stances have counselled retrenchment or perhaps aban 
donment. But such thoughts were foreign to the mind 
of Chr. Krehbiel. He believed that this sore trial was 
sent of God not in order to destroy the work but to im 
prove it. He also had the confidence in the churches 
that if the situation should be fully and clearly presented 
to them that they would not permit any retrogression, 
but would in due time furnish the means to restore the 
loss. Believing that this would be the case he, with 
characteristic boldness in undertakings, made plans for 
the reconstruction of the building before he left Canton 
ment, and then published these together with a clear 
presentation of the situation as affecting the whole mis 
sion enterprise. In April the Board held a session for 
the consideration of the matter. The result was the de 
cision to build. However the building was to be under 
taken only after the churches, upon presentation of the 
matter, should have expressed their willingness to supply 
the necessary means. The matter was presented to the 
churches about the middle of May, and by June eighth 
it could already be announced that 2800 dollars had 
been subscribed for rebuilding. By this prompt and 
liberal response the Board felt encouraged to proceed. 


The business conected with building was put in charge 
of superintendent J. S. Krehbiel. H. Iy. Weiss had 
charge of the architectural part. By November the new 
building was ready for occupation. It is of wood, stands 
on the old foundation, but is only two stones high. 
It accommodates forty children and costs about five 
thousand dollars. Without any urging on the part of 
the Board, the hearts of the people had been made wil 
ling gladly to supply sufficient means to complete the 
building. Thus, though severely tried, the work was 
enabled to go on without retrogression. 

Moki Katcina Dance. 

The opening of the new mission field was greatly 
assisted by aid, which was rendered by three ladies mis 
sionary societies of the east, namely the Woman s In 
dian Association of New Jersey, The Philadelphia 
Women s Association, and the Delaware Indian Associ 
ation. The first of these contributed seven hundred dol- 


lars toward Voth s salary for the first year. The second 
donated five hundred dollars toward a home for the mis 
sionary, and the last society promised a donation for the 
erection of a chapel. The Mokis, among whom Voth 
labors, have their home in the north eastern part of Ari 
zona. Oraibe, the Indian village, is situated about 
seventy miles from the nearest railroad station. These 

Moki Snake Dance. 

people live in villages high up among the bare rocks of 
the mountains. Voth built his modest little house below 
in the valley, and from there climbs the mountain to la 
bor among his charge. He has already gained consider 
able knowledge of their language, tells the people in 
their own language of Jesus Christ their Savior, helps 
them by word and deed in temporal matters, and \vith 
his family is to them a living example of what lie 
teaches. As yet these people adhere to their traditional 

A Moki Priest. 

religion. Patience and faithfulness in the work are still 
demanded, until to the joy of all the Lord in his own 
time will there also reap his harvest. 

Christmas at the Moki Mission Station. 

- 334 

If the result of mission work is to be measured by 
the number and thoroughness of conversions, very little 
result can as yet be shown among the Arapahoes and 
Cheyennes. For a time it seemed that the labors of 
Fetter among the adults would lead to general conver 
sions. But those hopes have so far not been realized. 
Nevertheless there is now better prospect for the ultimate 
acceptance of Christianity by both tribes than ever before. 
The Indians as a whole appear to be gradually coming 
nearer to Christianity, and when the proper time has 
come, they will very probably accept Christianity in large 
numbers, perhaps by tribes. For this reason it behooves 
the conference mission to compose her soul in patience 
and continue her work in hope. The time of a bounti 
ful harvest is coming. 

But entirely fruitless the work has by no means 
been. For through the spiritual labors among the chil. 
dren in the schools a number have come to the knowledge 
of the truth, have submitted themselves to the Lord and 
upon their confession of faith in Jesus Christ have been 
baptized. Several conversions have occurred in the 
mission schools in the Territory, but the best results in 
this direction were attained in the Industrial School in 
Kansas. Some of the young men and women that went 
forth as converts from the different schools later became 
cold and indifferent, but it is doubtful whether there would 
have been less back-sliding, had so many white young 
men and women been subjected to similarly disadvan 
tageous conditions as were these young Indian Christians. 
Young Christians need the care and support of Christian 
surroundings of the church, the Christian home and 
community. This fact has for many years been recognized 


by the Board and the workers. But it is only within 
most recent times that anything definite is being done to 
come to the Indian Christians aid. The means now em- 
ployed is the organization of converted Indians into 
churches. Two churches are now organized, one by 
missionary Fetter, the members being Cheyenne Indians, 
the other by missionary Funk, the members being Ara- 
pahoe Indians. The members of the latter are mis 
sionary J. A. Funk and wife, Lizzie Raven, Ella 
Stander, Laura Sage, Minnie Arrow and Philip Rab 
bit. This organization was effected on October 28, 
1897. A f ew months later the Cheyenne church was 
organized by Fetter, the following Indians uniting 
with it : Kaowess and Mrs. Todd (two adult Cheyen- 
nes), Mary Todd, Charley Roman Nose and Olympia 
Lone Wolf. Into these organizations the missionaries 
of course expect to receive others of the younger and 
older Indians as they accept Christ and are baptized. 
Undoubtedly these churches will prove useful means 
to support those who do profess Christ in their Christian 
life. In this direction the Mennonite churches organ 
ized at Geary by J. S. Krehbiel, and at Shelly (form 
erly Washita) by J. J. Kliewer, will also be helps to 
the converted Arapahoe Indians. Several Indians are 
now members of the church at Geary, and by this 
Christian fellowship are strengthened and supported. 

The financial panic and accompanying stringent 
times of 1892 to 1896, by which almost all missionary 
and philanthropic societies were plunged deeply into 
debt and compelled to retrench, likewise brought the 
General Conference mission into no small perplexity. The 
contributions were greatly reduced, but of course the 

- 336 - 

current expenses remained about the same. The Board 
was firmly resolved to make no debts ; they would rather 
retrench at once. When it became known to the mis 
sionaries that the Board was in financial straits, a praise 
worthy spirit of self-denial was manifested by some of 
the missionaries. J. J. Kliewer and J. S. Krehbiel do 
nated a large part of their salaries in order to relieve the 
pressure upon the mission treasury ; and H. R. Voth 
later did the same. But this brought temporary relief 
only ; ends could still not be made to meet. The Board 

Mission Chapel at Cantonment. 

finally appealed to the churches and explained, that un 
less contributions would increase, it would be necessary 
to retrench, which, however, would result in the sacri 
fice of several important positions. Be it said to the 
honor of the churches that they were neither willing to 
make debts nor to retrench. For notwithstanding the 
hard times they again supplied enough money that the 
work could go forward clear of debt and without re 
trenchment. They did more. For several years a need 

- 337 

had been felt for small chapels, in which to hold serv 
ices with the Indians. This need became more and more 
pressing, and finally through the reports of the missiona 
ries came to the attention of the churches. Without any 
request whatever having been made, donations began to 
be made for chapels. It was not very long before enough 
had been contributed for the erection of a chapel at 
Washita for Kliewer and one at Cantonment for Fetter. 

Mission Chapel at Geary, Oklahoma. 

A chapel was also needed at the new station at Geary 
(formerly Red Hills). This Chr. Krehbiel built of his 
own means and granted the use of it to the mission. 

The Indians selected their lands in such a manner 
that they came to be settled in groups. The largest of 
these groups were at Cantonment, Washita and Geary. 
But at several other places there were settlements of con- 


- 338 - 

siderable size. As these could not well be cared for from 
the other stations, it was found necessary to establish 
new stations. One was located at Dyke, twelve miles 
east of Cantonment, and put in charge of A. S. Voth. 
But as Voth was later needed at Darlington, this station 
was not continued. Another station was located near the 
town of Arapahoe, twenty-five miles northwest of Klie- 
wer s station and also situated on the Washita River. 
This station was put in charge of missionary M. M. 
Horsch. For the establishment of these stations special 
donations had been received. Among the donors may be 
mentioned in particular Gerhard and Katherine Vogt of 
Summerfield, Illinois, who gave five hundred dollars for 
this purpose ; and Mary Stauffer of Metuchen, New Jer 
sey, who gave one hundred dollars. 

Since the Conference began to do mission work, a 
number of changes have occurred in the membership of 
the Board to whom this work is entrusted. Several per 
sons, however, have served all or the greater part of this 
time, and to the wisdom and courage of these men in 
particular, under the blessing and guidance of God, the 
development and growth of the mission enterprise is 
due. The accompanying list exhibits the composition of 
the Board for every triennial period. 

For twenty-four years Chr. Krehbiel served in the re 
sponsible position of President of the Mission Board. His 
varied talents, his energy, his power as a leader, his busi 
ness ability, his love for the cause, all combined to render 
him highly qualified for this position, and he lent him 
self willingly, devoting the best years of his life to the 
work. He studied its needs, devised ways and means for 

- 339 

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340 - 

strengthening and further expanding it. Through fre 
quent visits to the field and personal observation of the 
work he was thoroughly conversant at all times with 
existing conditions, and succeeded in remaining in closest 
touch with the work. In him all workers, whether mis 
sionaries, teachers, stewards, or hired girls found a wise, 
able and sympathetic counsellor. If the cause met with 
difficulties, he boldly confronted the situation and al 
ways found the way out. Extraordinarily gifted with 
power to make plans and to find ways and means for 
their execution, the mission gained much from him in 
this direction, and undoubtedly the growth and suc 
cess of the mission work is to a large extent due to his 
genius and devotion. 

Until shortly before his death, C. J. van derSmissen 
served as secretary of the Board. As such it devolved 
largely upon him to keep- the churches posted on the 
work. His knowledge of missionary history as well as 
his education in general, together with his deep love for 
the cause, rendered him particularly qualified for this 
position. Through his correspondences and as editor of 
the Mission paper, "Nachrichten aus der Heidenwelt," he 
has done invaluable service in awakening and keeping 
alive the missionary spirit among the churches. 

After van der Smissen s decease A. B. Shelly suc 
ceeded him as secretary, and as such is doing good 
service for the mission by his sound views on all mat 
ters, and by his stimulating writings as missionary corre 
spondent to both the Mennonite and Bundesbote. 

Previous to 1896 the mission treasurer was not a 
member of the Board. Different persons have served in 

that capacity. From 1872 to 1881 Daniel Krehbiel held 
this often troublesome and financially responsible po 
sition. He was succeeded by H. Sudermann, Sr., who 
served until his death which occurred in 1892. His son 
H. Sudermann, Jr., was appointed to fill the place until 
the following conference session, at which G. Harder 
was elected. Though this office in the discharge of its 
duties requires much work, is often annoying, and has 
attached to it no small financial responsibility, no com 
pensation attaches to it. The Conference may well con 
sider itself fortunate in possessing such competent, un 
selfish men, who are willing to give their time and credit 

The Indian Industrial School in care of Chr. Kreh 
biel at Halstead, Kansas, was continued to the entire 
satisfaction of the government and the great blessing of 
the children until the summer of 1896. In that year all 
the contract schools were discontinued by act of Con 
gress. As no exception could be made, this school, after 
a successful career of eleven years, had to be discontinued. 
The station at Geary still continues, but not under 
the direction of the Board. J. S. Krehbiel, after serving 
successfully for five years as superintendent of the mis 
sion stations, resigned, and though the Board desired 
him to continue in the mission service, he severed his 
connection, but continues still to labor among the Ara- 
pahoes in full sympathy with the conference mission and 
its workers, while at the same time he serves as pastor 
of a Mennonite church, organized at that place and com 
posed of a mixed membership of a few Indians and a 
number of Mennonites who have settled there. 

The Conference has at present five stations at which 

342 - 

mission work is carried on, of which four are in Okla 
homa, as follows : i. Darlington, 2. Cantonment, 3. 
Shelly (formerly Washita), 4. Arapahoe ; and one is 
in Arizona. The station Shelly is, however, probably 
soon to assume the same relation to the mission as the 
one at Geary. Darlington may also be dropped from the 
list. The following missionaries are employed at present 
(1897): H. R. Voth in Arizona, in Oklahoma R. Fet 
ter, J. J. Kliewer, M; M. Horsch, and John Funk. The 
total number of workers in the field is usually about 
twenty, including missionaries, superintendents of schools, 
teachers and helpers, together with their wives. 

Mission Station at Cantonment, Oklahoma. 

Seventeen years have elapsed since the first missionary 
undertook to do mission work as the representative of the 
General Conference. Under many difficulties was the 
beginning made. By many severe trials has the work 
since been sorely tested. Sometimes it seemed that the 

- 343 " 

cause could not survive the awful shocks. But the I^ord 
always granted recovery, and opened the way for repeated 
extensions of the work , until now a well organized system 
covers the field, manned with tried and able workers 
and supported by an enthusiastic missionary spirit among 
the churches. It constitutes one of the worthy activities, 
for the sake of which the Conference is entitled to exist. 
This is the fruit which evidences that God s spirit works 
through the Conference. It is the glory of her conse 
crated activity. Though not a large number of con 
versions can be shown, yet those sheaves already garnered 
are prophetic of the coming harvest. 



Home Mission. 

In a former chapter has been recorded that the Con 
ference of 1878 made arrangements for the employment 
of a home missionary, who should give his whole time 
to evangelization work. As worker in this department 
a call had been extended to S. F. Sprunger. But he was 
unwilling to discontinue his work in his church without 
the consent of the members. They were willing to let 
him go for a short time, but not permanently. As no 
other suitable person could be secured, the method for 
merly employed was again resorted to namely that of 
sending out different ministers for short periods to visit 
the churches. From 1878 to 1881 S. F. Sprunger, M. S. 
Moyer and A. K. Funk served in this manner. The 
sections visited were mostly in Indiana, Ohio and near 
Niagara Falls. Comparatively little was accomplished. 

At the Conference in 1881 it was decided to send 
out alternately a minister from the east to travel in the 
west, and then one from the west to travel in the east- 
each to spend six months at this work. Among those 
sent there should also be such as were able to preach in 
English. It was expected that much good would be ac 
complished by this somewhat novel scheme. However it 
was never put into operation ; in fact, almost nothing was 
done until the Conference met again. At the session 
of 1884 neither the president nor the secretary of the 

345 - 

Home Mission Committee were present, nor had they 
sent in reports. Chr. Krehbiel, as third member, gave a 
verbal report, stating that during the three years past two 
ministers had been instructed to visit in certain places. 
The conference minutes, referring to Krehbiel s report, 
say : "What was verbally added by the speaker did 
much toward making a deep impression on the Con 
ference and disposing it toward the employment of a 
permanent home Missionary." 

After deliberation on the matter the Conference de 
cided to drop the plan of 1881 and return to the one 
of 1878, which called for one permanent home mission 
ary. The committee was now increased to five mem 
bers ; the persons elected being H. Richert, Chr. Kreh 
biel, S. F. Sprunger, D. Goerz, J. S. Moyer. Up 
to this time it had been impossible to secure a suit 
able person for this difficult position. In order to per 
form this work successfully, the occupant must be 
thoroughly educated and able to speak fluently in 
public in both English and German. He should be a 
good judge of human nature ; should be of such ami 
able disposition as readily to win the hearts of the 
people ; and should be proof against pride or conceit 
to which constant manifestation of respect and de 
ference naturally would expose him. He needed a 
good supply of mother wit and tact, so that under the 
greatly varying conditions and surroundings, he might 
easily adapt himself to each particular situation. But 
above all, this person needed to be a man of strong faith 
and full of life and fire. In short, such a man as 
needed is a great scarcity. But the Lord had pre 
pared a man for the place. In an extraordinary degree 


the qualities enumerated combined themselves in J. B. 
Baer, to whom the attention of the Conference was 
now directed. To him a call was extended to become 
the Home Missionary of the General Conference. 

Baer was at that time a student at Union Theo 
logical Seminary in New York, and as he did not wish 
to abandon the course entered upon, he declined to ac 
cept the call to a permanent position, but signified his 
willingness to spend his vacation at that kind of work. 
To this the committee agreed. Baer accordingly labored 
during the summer of 1885 with evident success, among 
the churches of Pennsylvania and those in the vicinity 
of Niagara Falls. 

Although the committee did not consider Baer dis 
missed after his brief service, the department was never 
theless without an active worker. But the present ener 
getic committee was unwilling that the work should lie 
dormant. M. S. Moyer was temporarily called into ser 
vice. From October 1885 until the close of that year he 
visited churches in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and 
New York. Especial attention was given to the churches 
at Bluffton, Dalton and Trenton, Ohio, and to the Amish 
churches in Illinois. These churches were already at 
that time in sympathy with the conference movement. 
After Moyer s tour the work rested until September of 
1886, when the committee secured another worker in D. 
B. Hirschler. His activity in this department continued 
for seven months. During this time he visited the Amish 
churches in Illinois, the churches in Kansas, an Amish 
church at Stuttgart, Arkansas, the churches in Mis 
souri and finally several churches in Nebraska, when 
his work was suddenly interrupted by the sickness 

- 347 

and death of his wife ; after which he resigned his 

Just about this time (spring of 1887) word came 
from Baer, who had just completed his seminary course, 
that his services were now at the command of the com 
mittee. In accordance with the call extended to Baer by 
the Conference, the committee promptly received him 
into active service. For his first work the committee di 
rected him to Manitoba, where there seemed now to be 
an opening for home missionary work. Two months 
Baer labored there and, having found an open door, was 
enabled by the ford s aid to make the beginning for 
the revival of spiritual life in that extensive Mennonite 
settlement. I^ater Baer labored also among the churches 
of Minnesota and Dakota ; now, at the request of the 
Mission Board, in a double capacity that is, in the in 
terest of both Foreign and Home Mission. His labors 
were everywhere blest with good results. Wherever he 
went, he won the hearts of the people, and his return 
was eagerly desired. 

The more energetic prosecution of home mission 
work during these three years already showed some of 
its beneficent results at the conference session of 1887. 
Through the labors and reports of the workers, the Con 
ference had gained increased knowledge of the condition 
and needs of the churches, and was thus in position to 
adopt measures to suit. So, for example, the church at 
Stevensville, Ontario, Canada, was in need of a meeting 
house ; accordingly the Conference recommended that 
the churches assist that little congregation with funds 
for the erection of a church. And this they gladly did. 
The spiritually needy condition of the churches in Mani- 

348 - 

toba induced the Conference to instruct H. Richert to 
visit there and do what he could for the people. This 
Richert did, spending a month there in spiritual labors 
attended with signal blessing. As Home Missionary the 
Conference re-elected Baer. The members elected into 
the committee were : M. S. Moyer, A. M. Fretz, D. 
Gaeddert, D. Goerz and L. Sudermann. 

During the year 188.8 Baer was exceedingly active. 
He succeeded in visiting with and laboring in all 
churches connected with the General Conference, and 
in addition he worked in many other Mennonite 
churches. He began the year s work in Pennsylvania 
during January, visited all the conference churches 
there, preached several times in most of them and 
made many visits at the homes. Of his work there 
Baer writes as follows : Our calls at the homes 
we have often continued undismayed by cold and 
storms. During late months I have been almost con 
stantly on the road during very severe winter weather ; 
often being out both during the day and in the even 
ing. In a number of churches we made calls at the 
homes during the day and held services in the evenings. 
In the course of one week fifty calls at homes were made. 
In most cases I read a chapter from God s Word, prayed 
with the people and spoke to them of the "one thing, 
needed. In this manner Baer zealously pushed on in 
the work, gradually moving westward until he had 
reached the boundary of Colorado. Farther west, except 
ing a small church on the Pacific coast, there were no 
Mennonite churches at that time. This exhausting ac 
tivity proved almost too much for Baer s strength. Of 
his activity in the Middle states he writes, as follows : 

- 349 - 

"On some Sundays it falls to my lot to deliver from three 
to four sermons and addresses ; rarely less than two. 
During the week we have had in some churches from 
two to six services. At some places we daily made as 
many as ten house calls." 

In one church in Iowa the L,ord gave grace that a 
revival took place. During the eight days of Baer s stay 
thirty conversions occurred. Pulaski is still reaping the 
blessings of that season of refreshing. 

During this year Baer travelled in eight states, de 
livered 235 sermons and addresses, and made hundreds of 
visits in homes. Everywhere he sought to awaken and 
stimulate spiritual life, as also to cultivate a sense of 
fellowship with other churches. That his labors were 
appreciated is evident from the reports published by cor 
respondents in the "Bundesbote" of seasons of blessings 
enjoyed during Baer s stay. This work also proved of 
advantage to the Conference, in that an increased interest 
in her aims and undertakings became manifest, this being 
noticeable particularly in churches which had formerly 
been somewhat indifferent. 

During 1889 little home mission work was done, as 
Baer made a tour through Europe during that year. In 
1890 M. S. Moyer was directed to visit the different 
churches in Iowa. In March of 1890 Baer again entered 
upon active service, and has since, excepting a few pauses 
caused by sickness, constantly devoted himself to this 
exhausting work. To describe all the work and travels 
in detail would be out of place here. Only in general 
outline shall this constantly expanding work be here re 
corded. After visiting a few churches in the middle 
states, and then laboring for a time in Minnesota and Da- 


kota, Baer pushed westward during 1890 until he reached 
the Pacific coast, where he labored among the Menno- 
nites settling at that time in Oregon and Washington. 
Since almost everything was new and unsettled here, 
Baer was able to do much toward directing religious and 
church interests into well ordered channels, and so toward 
preventing spiritual declension, which so frequently at 
tends settlement in new countries. The return trip 
Baer made by way of Manitoba and thus found oppor 
tunity to visit the brethren there a second time. Already 
an awakening of new life was noticeable there. Of that 
visit he writes : "On Sunday we had three meetings in 
churches twelve miles distant from each other. The 
doors are opening here more and more. This great field 
of labor is brought to the door of the Conference. 

Being greatly encouraged by the gratifying results 
already attained, the conference session of 1890 had in 
structed the committee "in addition to Baer to send out 
other evangelists. The members chosen for the com- 
mitte were A. S. Shelly, M. S. Moyer, Jac. J. Balzer, D. 
Goerz, J. R. Toews. Baer continued his activity as be 
fore, travelling through the entire country, and every 
where encouraging and stimulating spiritual life through 
preaching and personal work. The committee also em 
ployed N. F. Toews. Manitoba was assigned to him as 
his special field. Indirectly another form of home mis 
sionary activity was extended from the Conference into 
the Manitoba settlements. H. H. Ewert, formerly prin 
cipal of the Mennonite school atHalstead, Kansas, being 
in full sympathy with the Conference movement, opened 
a school at Gretna, Manitoba, similar to the one at Hal- 
stead and conducts it with gratifying success. In a short 

time his school had an attendance of forty. As he is 
inspector of all Mennonite schools in Manitoba, he is 
able to supply many local schools with teachers from his 
normal school. Inasmuch as these young teachers are 
more advanced in knowledge and hold to a higher 
standard of spiritual life, improved conditions are grad 
ually permeating the whole settlement through this work. 
In addition to his educational labors, Ewert frequently 
preaches and in this manner exerts directly an influence 
for good upon the community. 

Home missionary work was also done by some other 
workers between 1890 and 1893. M. S. Moyer visited 
churches in Illinois and Iowa ; A. S. Shelly those in 
New York and Canada ; J. A. Sprunger was active in 
Kansas and Missouri, D. Gaeddert and J. R. Toews 
worked in Manitoba, Washington and Oregon. It may 
be noted here that the district conferences have been and 
are doing much in caring for their local home mission 
ary interests, and undoubtedly the time is coming when 
each district will have its own permanent worker. Of 
this there is the greater need, as it is entirely impossible 
for the one worker of the General Conference to satisfy 
the demands of the great and expanding field. Then 
also a worker limited to a narrower field can be better 
posted on particular local needs and has more time to 
give to them the needed attention. 

By the Conference session of 1859 the following per 
sons were elected members of the Home Mission Commit 
tee : J. J. Balzer, J. Penner III., W. S. Gottschall, 1 J. 
S. Moyer, N. C. Hirschy, 2 D. Goerz. 

1 See Biographical Appendix. 2 Ibid. 


In his activity Baer has been confining himsef 
more and more to interests of a general nature, such as 
looking after new fields, activity in churches which do 
not yet affiliate with the General Conference, and the like. 
As such general work must also be considered his assist 
ance in the formation of two new district conferences, 
the Northern and the Pacific Coast Conference. Through 
his personal acquaintance with all the churches and their 
respective situations and conditions, he is in position to 
know what combinations can be made to advantage, 
and he can readily prepare the way for the execution of 
any such plan. The formation of the Northern Confer 
ence is due largely to his mediation, while the Pacific 
Coast Conference is wholly the result of his labors. 

The efforts at evangelization and organization, put 
forth through the Home Mission department of the Gen 
eral Conference, have already produced rich fruits for the 
Kingdom, and helped greatly in the edification of the 
Mennonite denomination, and the indications are that 
the lyord will use this department for the accomplish 
ment of still greater things. 



District Conferences, 

When the General Conference was at first organized 
the participating churches were so few in number, and 
the departmental work was so small, that all the local 
demands for co-operative assistance could be satisfied 
through that organization. But as it increased in size, 
it became correspondingly less able to deal with local 
affairs. This made it necessary to devise some other 
means for satisfying these local demands," and the need 
was met by the organization of district conferences. This 
arrangement secures a practical and advantageous divis 
ion of labor. The General Conference now concerns 
itself only with such matters as are of equal interest to 
all churches, and which do not properly come within 
the province of a district conference, or for which the 
local organization is inadequate. Such interests are 
Foreign Mission, Publication, Home Mission in the 
wider sense, and Higher Education. As within the 
province of district conferences may be considered Edu 
cation, Evangelization, Local Church Matters, Philan- 
thropical Work such as the care of orphans, the poor, 
the aged, etc. District conferences, while organized en 
tirely independent of the General Conference, are never 
theless subdivisions of the general co-operative move 
ment, which pursue the same aims with the General 
Conference, and therefore, while engaged in advancing 


354 - 

local interests, they also seek to promote the general 
cause ; just as on the other hand the General Conference 
seeks as far as possible to promote the welfare of the 
several district conferences. As a rule district con 
ferences hold annual sessions. Triennially delegates 
from the churches of all the districts meet in general 
conference. Thus both the local and general interests 
receive proper attention and prosper the better for it. 

L. O. Schimmel. Aug. Shuhart. A. S. Shelly, N. B. Grubb. 

Silas M. Grubb. Jacob S. Moyer. IV. S. Gottschal! . 

H. M. Clymer. A. B. Shelly. A. M.Fretz. 

Ministers of the Eastern Conference. 

In the course of time one district conference after 
another has been formed, until there are at present 
five of these organizations as follows : i. Eastern, 2. 
Middle, 3. Western, 4. Northern, 5. Pacific Coast. 

- 355 - 

With the first of these organizations the reader is 
already acquainted. The Eastern Conference was or 
ganized on October 28, 1847, a ^ Schippac, Montgomery 
County, Pa. This organization exists under a consti 
tution which makes it both a legislative and an advisory 
body. All churches at present connected with this con- 

Delegates of the Eastern Conference^ Spring of 1898. 

ference are located in the following counties of eastern 
Pennsylvania : Berks, Bucks, Lancaster, Montgomery, 
and in the city of Philadelphia. In 1897 sixteen churches 
were connected, having a total membership of 1650. 
Special credit is due this conference for its services to the 
publication interests among Mennonites. For many years 
it was under the auspices and financial responsibility of 
the Eastern District that the "Volksblatt" and later the 

356 - 

Home for the Aged. Frederick, Montgomery Co., Pa. 

"Mennonitische Friedensbote" were published. Soon 
after the General Conference took charge of the German 
publications, the Eastern Conference began to publish the 
"Mennonite," an English monthly church paper. For 
several years this conference has also been publishing 
the "Mennonite Year Book," which is proving a de 
cided success. In 1896 this conference founded an Old 
Folks Home at Frederick, Montgomery County, Pa., at 
a cost of two thousand dollars. Already a few aged per 
sons are taking advantage of this benevolent institution 
and are peacefully spending their last days at the home. 
Evangelization work within its own district this confer- 


ence has never neglected. The church in Philadelphia 
is the fruit of such labor. Several churches which had 
nearly died out have been revived, and new churches 
have been organized and built up. Lately city mission 
is receiving much attention and is attended with signal 
blessings. Some efforts are also made to raise up ad 
ditional workers from the growing generation, and edu 
cation in general is receiving liberal support. Young 
men possessing aptitude and talent for the ministry are 
aided financially to obtain appropriate training. A school 
of its own the district has not, however, the conference 
co operates \vith the spiritually related Schwenkfeldians 
in the maintainance of their excellent school, and many 
Mennonite young people attend that institution. 

The Middle District Conference has also been spoken 
of in a former chapter, but under a different name. Its 
present name this organization bears only since 1888. 
But its historical development dates back to 1868. At 
that time there was a great demand by small and new 
churches for visits from ministers. In order to supply in 
a measure this demand, the church at Summerfield, 111., 
and those in Lee County, Iowa, formed a co-operative 
union. The first meeting was held November 6, 1868, 
at Franklin, Iowa. They named the organization the 
"Western District Conference of the Mennonites of North 
America." Five small churches participated in the first 
meeting, four from Iowa as follows : West Point, Zion, 
Salem and Franklin ; the fifth was the church at Sum 
merfield, 111. By the twenty-first session (1888) the 
number of affiliating churches had increased to thirty. 

- 358 - 

Ministers of the Middle District Conference. 
C. H. A, v. d. Smissen. Jacob Krehbiel. E. Hunsberger. 

Joel Lehmann. Chr, ScJioivalter. 

J. C. Mehl. H. J. Krehbiel. M. S. Moyer. 


Ministers of the Middle District Conference. 
S. F. Sprunger. W. W. Miller. J. B. Baer. 

N. C. Hirschy. P. P. Lehmann. V. Strubhar. 

I. A. Sommer. H. P. Krehbiel. B. Sttuky. 


But these were scattered over so great a territory, and re 
presented so many divergent local interests, that it was 
felt that the organization could not properly care for 
all interests, wherefore a division was thought advis 
able. As the churches in Kansas had previously or 
ganized a local conference, the Western Conference 
decided to discontinue the present organization, with 
the understanding that as many churches as chose to 
do so might unite with the Kansas Conference, while 
the rest would immediately reorganize. Accordingly the 
Western Conference adjourned sine die. 

Those delegates, who at this time knew that their- 
churches would unite with the reorganized conference, 
immediately met for organization. Because now no 
longer the most western district, they adopted the name 
of "Middle District Conference" for the new body. 
Only six churches participated in this brief session, 
namely: Berne, Ind., Summerfield, Ills., Dalton, O., 
Zion, la., West Point, la., and Franklin, la. However 
in the following year six other churches, which had co 
operated before, united. This conference, therefore, was 
composed in 1889 of twelve churches with a membership 
of about 1250. Several churches have since united. In 
1897 fifteen churches stood in active connection, with a 
membership of 2800 approximately. 

The Middle District Conference aims to be active 
along three lines: i. Evangelization, 2. Education, 3. 
City Mission. The first named activity has been prose 
cuted with more or less vigor throughout the history of 
the organization. The Evangelization Committee sees 
to it that every year all the conference churches as well 
as other Mennonite churches in the district are visited. 

As yet the conference has no permanent home mis 
sionary, but at the session of 1897 the committee was 
instructed to employ one. In the past educational 
interests have been furthered by contributions to the 
schools at Wadsworth, Ohio, and Newton, Kansas. 
It has now been decided to establish a school within 
the district. A committee is at work upon this matter, 
and with God s blessing this district will in the course 
of a few years have its own school. 

The organization now known as the Western Dis 
trict Conference, is the successor to the Kansas Confer 
ence. The latter had its first session "in December 
1877 and was continued until 1891, at which time it was 
dissolved, only immediately to reorganize and continue 
activity under a new name and a fixed constitution" and 
with extended borders. The new organization was 
called the "Western District Conference." In its first 
session nineteen churches participated. At the session of 
1897 twenty-seven ch.urches were represented. Of these 
twenty-one are located in Kansas, five in Oklahoma and 
one in Nebraska. They have a total membership of 
about 3300. This conference has manifested a commend 
able interest for education. Through it the Mennonite 
school at Halstead has been founded, and was conducted 
and maintained by it until that institution was merged 
into Bethel College. In addition to its Committee on 
Education this conference has three other standing com 
mittees as follows : Home Mission, On Church affairs, 
For Care of Poor. Of late years increasing attention is 
given to evangelization ; a home missionary being kept 

-362 - 

at work a large part of the time. The committee on 
church affairs seeks to adjust difficulties arising in 
churches. The committee for the care of the poor has 
been enabled to relieve many who w r ere in distress. 
This is a practical arrangement which deserves to be ex 
tended into other districts. 

* * 


The Northern Conference held its first session in 
October, 1891, at Mountain L,ake, Minnesota. In order 
that this new movement might profit from the experience 
of other districts, a number of workers from the older 
conferences w r ere invited to assist in the organization. 
Among these were A. B. Shelly, Chr. Schowalter, I. A. 
Sommer, and D. Goerz. Home Missionary Baer, who 
had planned the whole matter, was of course also present. 
In this first session six churches took part. A consti 
tution was adopted in 1895. The following churches 
were participants at the session of 1896 : Mountain Lake, 
Minn. ; Butterfield, Minn. ; Henderson, Neb. ; Wisner, 
Neb. ; Childstown, S. Dak. ; Loretta, S. Dak. Their 
total membership is about nine hundred. This con 
ference has made a beginning in useful activity by an 
nually sending out a home missionary for several months, 
whose special work it is to cultivate the sense of fellow 
ship and the spirit of co-operation, and to awaken an in 
terest in mission work. 

The Pacific Coast Conference is the youngest mem 
ber of the family of district conferences. Its first session 
was held May 25 to 27, 1896, at Salem, Oregon. Here 
as at the Northern Conference outside visitors were pres- 

- 363 - 

ent to assist in the organization. The second session 
was held in June 1897, ^ ve churches participating, as 
follows : Zion, near Dallas, Oregon ; Knimanuel, near 
Irving, Ore. ; Waldo Hill, near Salem, Ore. ; Central, 
near Klmyra, Ore. ; Coif ax, Washington. Through the 
zealous home missionary work of P. Aeschlemann, min 
ister of the Coif ax congregation, the spirit of fellowship 
and co-operation has been greatly stimulated, and several 
of the churches are enthusiastic in this work. The pros 
pect is that this movement, though young and small, will 
experience a healthy growth, and that it will prove a 
powerful influence for collecting, uniting, and saving for 
the denomination the Mennonites now settling in in 
creasing numbers on the Pacific coast. 

- 364 



The origin and early history of Mennonite jour 
nalism has been related on preceding pages. By way 
of review a few facts are here repeated. The first 
Mennonite paper in America, the "Religioese Botschaf- 
ter", was published by J. H. .Oberholzer and first ap 
peared June 9, 1852, at Milford, Bucks Co., Pa. After 
July 30, 1856, it appeared under the name "Das 
Christliche Volksblatt;" J. H. Oberholzer still being its 
editor, but proprietorship having passed to the Menno 
nite Printing Union. On January i, 1867, this company 
changed the name of the paper to "Der Mennonitische 
Friedensbote. " A. B. Shelly, who had for a short time 
served as editor pro tern, on the Volksblatt, was now 
made editor. In 1871 the company turned the paper 
over to the Eastern Conference which continued its pub 
lication, A. B. Shelly being retained as editor. 

From the beginning this undertaking had not proven 
a financial success. Repeatedly the publishers had to 
close the year w r ith a loss. With laudable public spirit 
members of the Eastern Conference had through a num 
ber of years cheerfully supplied the funds, believing that 
the welfare of the denomination was being promoted 
through the paper. When, however, the territory was 
divided about 1875 by the appearance of the "Zur Hei- 
math", rendering it still more difficult to maintain the 
paper, many became convinced that the publication of 
a general church paper is properly a function of the 
General Conference. Consolidation of the two papers 

- 365 - 

was therefore advocated, with the understanding that 
the General Conference should publish the new paper. 
By the year 1878 this scheme had gained sufficiently in 
favor that the publication interest was considered at the 
Conference and a committee was appointed to arrange for 
the consolidation. 

Into this committee were elected A. B. Shelly, D. 
Goerz and Chr. Schowalter. Before anything definite 
had been done by them, the Western Publishing Com 
pany, publishers of the "Zur Heimath", sustained a se 
rious loss which, however, greatly facilitated the pro 
ject. On March 7, 1879, the printing establishment of 
that company, located atHalstead, Kansas, was destroyed 
by fire. Their paper, the "Zur Heimath," continued to 
be be published, but through the committee arrange 
ments were completed by which, after June i, 1880, 
this paper and the Friedensbote appeared on alternate 
weeks, thus supplying the reader with a weekly. The 
management of the papers remained unchanged ; however 
both papers conld be ordered together at a reduced price. 

Under this arrangement both papers continued until 
1 88 1. Meanwhile the committee had obtained the consent 
of the Eastern Conference and the Western Publishing 
Company to consolidate the papers in the hands of the Gen 
eral Conference, and so reported to the session of 1881. 
Upon this the Conference adopted measures for conducting 
such work by creating the Publication Department. The 
management of this department was put in charge of five 
persons. The Conference elected the chief editor ; to 
the district conferences was granted the privilege of 
electing assistant editors. It was ordered that a sample 
copy should be issued as soon as possible and sent to all 


subscribers of the former papers. The regular weekly 
publication should begin as soon as 2000 subscribers had 
been secured. In order that the paper might bear a 
name expressive of its enlarged sphere and special mis 
sion it was called "Der Christliche Bundesbote. " As 
first members of the Publication Board were elected A. 
B. Shelly, A. E. Funk, S. F. Sprunger, Chr. Krehbiel, 
and Chr. Schowalter. D. Goerz was chosen editor in 
chief, and A. B. Shelly became associate editor in charge 
of the Eastern Department. Berne, Ind., was selected 
for the place of publication, and S. F. Sprunger was 
made business manager. 

The sample copy of the Bundesbote appeared Janu 
ary 5, 1882. Instead of securing the 2000 subscribers 
desired, only 1000 were obtained. So the paper was 
published as a bi-weekly at a somewhat reduced price. 
Under this arrangement it appeared until January 1888, 
when, having secured nearly 2000 subscribers, it began 
to appear as a weekly. The session of 1884 believed it 
would improve the paper, if only one man would have 
charge of the editorial work and devote his whole time 
to it. Accordingly the Conference made I. A. Sommer 
editor, and he has since successfully performed this duty. 
In 1885 the Conference undertook the publication of a 
German Sunday school paper, "Der Kinderbote. " It 
was a successful undertaking. The paper soon gained a 
circulation of 1300 and has greatly increased since. 
Later the Sunday school Quarterlies and the Bundesbote 
Kalender were added to the list of publications. 

As early as 1881 the Conference had instructed the 
Publication Board to endeavor to establish a book store. 
But nothing was done in this direction until in 1884, 

- 367 - 

when Joel Welty and his brother offered to loan one thou 
sand dollars to the Conference for 3 years without interest, 
on condition that this money be used in establishing the 
contemplated book store. The offer was accepted. The 
undertaking was further aided by additional loans on 
similar conditions. D. Goerz loaned 327 dollars and D. 
B. Hirschler 300 dollars. Some money was also donated 
to this undertaking. The Board was thus put in posi 
tion to begin the book trade. The store was located at 
Berne, Ind., and the enterprise entered upon a fairly 
successful career. By 1887 the establishment had sold 
over eleven thousand volumes. 

Encouraged by the icsults attained, the Conference 
decided in 1887 permanently to continue this branch of 
activity, and recommended the employment of colporters 
for the greater spread of good literature, C. H. Wedel 
being suggested as colporter for the General Conference. 
Since that time this branch of activity has steadily 
though slowly increased, and has proven a helpful agency 
for the introduction of denominational publications, such 
as hymnals, pastor s manuals and the like. At the same 
time it has been instrumental in supplying Mennonite 
homes with more and better literature. 

Under the new constitution the Publication Board 
consists of six members. In 1896 the following persons 
were elected into this committee : N. B. Grubb, 1 W. J. 
Ewert, H. J. Krehbiel, 2 J. F. Lehman, 3 J. Janzen, 
J. van Steen. 

1 See Biographical Appendix. - Ibid. 

3 Japhet F. Lehman was born June 8, 1860 in Adams County, 
Indiana. His education he obtained in the common schools. He 
is a laymember. In 1893 he was elected a member of the Publi 
cation Board and was re-elected in 1896. He has since been made 
business manager of the department. His home is at Berne, Ind. 




When the General Conference decided in 1878 to 
discontinue the school at Wadsworth, the Mission Board 
was at the same time instructed to re-establish the school 
at some more suitable place. The purpose, therefore, 
then was simply to remove the school not to abandon it. 
It was this purpose which greatly stimulated the school 
interest in Kansas, and suggested the idea for a more ad 
vanced institution of learning for that section. For ori 
ginally they had there aimed at a school for very ele 
mentary instruction only. But now when it was pro 
posed to remove the conference school to a section where 
German was the current language, it was naturally ex 
pected that it would be located in Kansas, that therefore 
the proposed local elementary school could be merged 
into this general and higher institution. It was with this 
end in view that in 1879 a committee of the Kansas Con 
ference proposed to the Mission Board to combine the 
projected school for Kansas with the intended conference 
mission school. However the situation of the mission 
enterprise was then not such as to encourage the Board 
to venture upon the educational undertaking, hence they 
did not enter into the proposed combination. 

But the educational interest had now been thoroughly 


awakened in Kansas, and it continued to gain from year 
to year, until in 1882 a beginning was made by opening 
a school on September 12, in the Alexanderwohl settle 
ment, twelve miles north of Newton. This school was 
undertaken and supported by the Kansas Conference. 
H. H. Ewert served as principal. The enrollment for the 
first year was twenty-nine. As a larger attendance was 
expected during the second year, it became necessary to 
build. Propositions were made by Newton and Halstead 
to furnish buildings, and as Halstead s offer to furnish 
a six thousand dollar building rent free for five years 
was the best, the choice fell upon Halstead. The beauti 
ful new building was dedicated on September 16, 1883, 
in the presence of a great multitude, and on September 
19 the school itself began its work. H. H. Ewert con 
tinued as principal and P. J. Galle was given charge 
of the English department. During the first year the 
attendance was very gratifying, the enrollment being 
fifty-four. A. S. Shelly took charge of the English de 
partment in 1884. The Indian mission school, spoken of 
in another chapter, was brought into connection with 
this school in 1885. During this year the enrollment, 
not including the Indian students, reached sixty-five. 
In 1887 H. O. Kruse was put in charge of the English 

The Kansas Conference had located the school at 
Halstead for five years ; after which it should be decided 
whether or not to establish it there permanently. About 
a year before the time expired, H. H. Ewert began to stir 
up interest for the school in Newton. He secured prom 
ises of very liberal support if the school should be lo 
cated at Newton. Business men and others in the city 



subscribed twenty thousand dollars in cash for the pro 
ject. Many town lots, also forty acres of land two miles 
north of Newton, were donated. When the matter had 
progressed thus far, the proposition was submitted to the 
Kansas Conference for consideration, it being expected 
that the proposition would be accepted with alacrity. 
However at a special session held April 28, 1887, the 
liberal proposition was declined. But the Conference 
gave its consent that a company, composed of conference 
members, accept the offer, solicit a fund, erect the build 
ings, and when all should be in successful operation that 
then the Conference would be ready to accept the school 
from this company. 

The company as suggested was organized and entered 
upon the undertaking. The prospective school was 
named Bethel College. The relation of it to the con 
ference vSchool at Halstead was defined at the next ses 
sion of the Kansas Conference, namely that these should 
for the present be two separate schools. Not long after 
this the Bethel College Society ceased to confine itself to 
the Kansas Conference, and began to solicit contributions 
in all churches connected with the General Conference, 
as also in some others. The field for the school had been 
expanded. This should now become the educational 
institution for all Mennonites in America. When the 
project took this form, contributions flowed freely from 
all sides. Almost one half the money contributed came 
from outside the state of Kansas. Until 1890 H. H. 
Hwert, as originator of the Bethel College project, had 
been the principal leader in the undertaking. In the 
year named, however, he received an urgent invitation 
to take charge of the educational interests among the 

Mennonites of Manitoba, and as he believed it his duty 
to accept the call, he removed to that field in the following 
year. H. O. Kruse succeeded him as principal of the 
school at Halstead. The direction of the Bethel College 
enterprise went into the hands of D. Goerz. 

Jictkcl College. Main Building. 

The Bethel College enterprise had many difficulties 
to surmount and only after prolonged exertion and after 
many perplexities did the society finally succeed in 
completing the main building in 1893, a t a cos t of about 
thirty-five thousand dollars. A fund of about sixty-five 
thousand had also been collected, from the interest of 
which the school should be maintained. In the year 
named the Kansas Conference decided to discontinue 
her school at Halstead, to donate all its equipments, in 
cluding the library (which also contained the library of 


Bethel College and Students Boarding Halls. 

Library in Bethel College. 


Literary Society Hall in Bethel College. 

the Wadsworth school) to Bethel College, and hence 
forth to support that institution. Accordingly the whole 
equipment of the school at Halstead was removed to 
Bethel College, where, beginning in the fall of 1893, the 
school was continued. 

Bethel College is situated on a pleasant elevation, 
about one mile north of Newton, Kansas. At first the 
attendance was not as large as had been desired and ex 
pected. However the enrollment has gradually increased , 
until now it ranges between eighty and one hundred. 
Although there are students from various states and a 
few even from Russia, by far the greater number are 


Art Studio in Bethel College. 

Mennonite Educational Institution. Gretna, Manitoba. 


from Kansas, and most of these from the immediate 
vicinity of the school. 

For the Mennonites of the United States in general, 
but for those of Kansas in particular, the Kansas Con 
ference School and its child, Bethel College, have been a 
great blessing, and it may properly be expected that 
Bethel College will continue the beneficent usefulness 
in the future. 

In sections far removed from Bethel College, observ 
ing people are beginning to realize that the local needs 
can not be properly satisfied by a school so far away. 
For this reason efforts are now being made in different 

Prof. H. H. Ewert and Family } and Students of the Mennonite Edu- 

cational Institution, on a Snow Drift sixteen feet high in 

^ront of the School Building. 

districts, to secure schools of their own, located more 
conveniently for attendance by the growing genera 
tion. May the day soon come when Mennonite edu 
cational facilities shall everywhere be conveniently lo 
cated at the door of the Mennonite vouth. 

- 376 - 


General Conference sessions Ninth to Fourteenth. Growth 
of the Organization. Constitution. Representation 
at the different sessions. Conclusion. 

The activity of the General Conference during all 
the triennial periods has already been recorded, but 
nothing in particular has been given of sessions nine to 
fourteen. L,et us now attend to these. 

With the exception of the first session, the General 
Conference had held its first eight meetings east of the 
Mississippi river. The Ninth Conference, however, was 
held in the west, and that as far out as Kansas. It met 
in the pleasant little village of Halstead, the original 
center of the Mennonite settlement of that section. Very 
low transportation rates had been secured, and as this 
new country with its foreign settlers then had great at 
tractiveness, many others besides the conference dele 
gates were attracted from eastern states. Again, to the 
European settlers in Kansas, the General Conference 
was something new, consequently great numbers flocked 
in from the surrounding settlements to attend the 
sessions. As everything was still new and undeveloped, 
Halstead then had but a small church building, which 
could not nearly accommodate the multitudes which 
sought admission. Not only was the church too small, 
but the dwellings of the very hospitable church mem 
bers would not hold all the guests that sought shelter. 


Mennonite Church in Halstead, Kans., in which General Conference 
met in 1881. 

So in order to provide lodging for those who found no 
room elsewhere, the church rented a vacant two- story 
store building. On the upper floor beds were made for 
hundreds, below board was offered, of course without 
charge to guests. 

Present Mennonite Church at Halstead, Kansas, 

- 378- 

Its sessions the Ninth General Conference held No 
vember 14 22, 1 88 1. Thirty-two churches were repre 
sented. Of these ten participated for the first time, 
Pennsylvania furnishing two, South Dakota two, Kan 
sas five, and Missouri one. The following table gives 
further particulars. 

Church. State. Delegates. Votes. 

1. Childstown S. Dakota. Jos. Graber, Chr. Mueller 8 

2. Friedensberg... " Benj. Schmitt, Cor. Ewert 4 

3. Summerfield... Illinois.... J. E. Krehbiel 5 

4. Berne Indiana .. .S. F. Sprunger, Joh. Sprunger. .. 6 

.J. S. Hirschler 2 

..J. C. Krehbiel 2 

7- Zion " Chr. Schowalter 5 

8. Alexanderwohl. Kansas 

5. Franklin ....... Iowa 

6. West Point .... " 

9. Bruderthal 
10. Canton 

f H. Richert, P. Unruh . . . 
I H. Unruh, H. Baumann . 

W. Ewert, Jac. Funk.... 

Rud. Riesen, H. Ewert . . 
f Joh. Ratzlaff, T. Wedel . 
I P. Richert, A. Ratzlaff . . 

11. Christian... 

12. Emmaus.... 

13. Gnadenberg 

14. Halstead. ... 

fV. Krehbiel, W. Galle 

I Jac. Vogt, D. J. Krehbiel.. 

. L. Sudermann, P. Dyck 3 

. J. Schroeder, A. Harms 2 

f D. Goerz, B. Warkentin \ 

I J. Lehmann . . . f 

f D. Gaeddert, D. Unruh \ g 

" \D. Flamming, G. Becker I 

/ Jac. Stucky, J. Gehring ) 

I Sol. Krehbiel J v 

. B. Regier, H. Sudermann 2 

f M. S. Moyer, P. P. Lehmann, 1 

IChr. Welty I " 

19. Wadsworth . . . .Ohio E. Hunsberger 3 

15. Hoffnungsau. . 

16. Hoffnungsfeld 

17. Newton 

18. Bethel Missouri 


Church. State. Delegates. Votes. 

20. Bartolet Pennsylvania "] f 

21. Baumansville . l{ 

22. Boyertown .... " 

23. Deep Run " 

24. Flatland " 

T T C J LI *** B. 

25. Hereford 

^ T- ,* J- S. Moyer, 

26. East Swamp ... j- J J 

27. Philadelphia... 

.. W. G. Moyer. 

28. Saucona 

29. Schwenksville. . " 

30. Springfield .... a 

31. Upper Milford. u 

32. West Swamp... " j 

Total Votes 126 

Ninth General Conference. Held at Halstead, Kan. 1881. 
Besides those matters which were attended to at 
this" session, but have already elswhere been recorded, 
the matter relating to a catechism came up. The 
committee appointed at the previous session had dele 
gated the work of writing a catechism and confession of 
faith to Chr. Schowalter. His work was submitted for 
examination. The committee to which it was referred 
reported favorably. Accordingly it was ordered that the 
catechism be published. As compensation for his labors 
Schowalter should receive the net gain of the first edition. 
This catechism appeared in 1882 and has come into 

general use. 

* * 


The Tenth General Conference met November 6 12, 
1884, at Berne, Ind. Five churches participated for the 
fisrt time ; from Canada one, New York two, Missouri 
one and Pennsylvania one. Three churches, though still 
members of the Conference, had failed to send delegates. 

J\lennnonite Church at Berne, Indiana. 

For details of representation see the table below. 
Through the officers of the Conference an invitation had 
been extended to the agedj. H. Oberholzerto attend this 
session. He attended and was thus permitted to see how 
much the movement he helped to originate had gained 
in power and volume. It was to him a season of re 
joicing. An invitation had also been extended to J. F. 
Funk of Elkhart, Ind. , but he was not present. 

Church. State. 

1. Black Creek ....Canada... 

2. Salem(Childstown)S. Dakota. 

3. Summerfield Illinois ... 

.4. Berne Indiana. 

West Point Iowa 


Jac. Krehbiel i 

Chr. Kaufmann 5 

Job. Brand, D. B. Ruth 5 


Jac.Lehmann,F.Sprunger I 6 
P. Bixler, C. B. LehmannJ 

Chr. Schowalter 2 


Chr. Schowalter 

Church. State. Delegates. Votes. 

7. Alexanderwohl . . Kansas ...... H. Richert, H. Baumann ..... 16 

8. Bruderthal ...... " ...... W. Ewert .................... 4 

9. Canton ......... " ...... John Ratzlaff ................ 5 

10. Christian ....... " . . . ... W. Galle .................... 7 

11. Emmaus ........ " ...... L. Sudermann ............... 3 

12. Gnadenberg .... i( ...... A. Harms .................... 3 

( Chr. Krehbiel, D. Goerz. "I 

13. Halstead ........ " ...... <, r S 

I J. L. Schowalter ......... ) 

14. Hoffnungsau ---- " ...... A. Ratzlaff, Jac. Regier ...... 8 

15. Newton ......... a ...... L. Sudermann ............... 3 

f M. S. Mover. A. J. Moser, ) 
1 6. Bethel .......... Missouri ---- < _, _ _ / J r 3 

IP. C. Lehmann .......... J 

17. Elkton ......... " ---- P. S. Lehmann ---- , ......... 2 

18. Clarence Center. New York. . .Jac. Krehbiel ................ i 

19. Niagara Falls. ... " ... " ................ i 

20. Wadsworth ...... Ohio ....... A. Oberholzer ............... 2 

21. Bartolet ........ Pennsylvania, A. B. Shellj ................ i 

22. Baumansville ---- " u " ................ i 

23. Boyertown ...... " " " ............... 2 

24. Deep Run ....... " J. S. Mover ....... ..... ...... 4 

25. East Swamp ..... A. B. Shelly ................. 3 

26. Flatland ........ " " " ................. i 

27. Germantown ---- " N. B. Grubb ............... i 

28. Hereford ....... " A. B. Shelly, J. S. Mover ..... 3 

29. Philadelphia ---- " N. B. Grubb ................. 4 

/N. B. Grubb ............. \ 

3 " SaUC na ........ i C. H. A. van der Smissen I 3 

3 i.Schlppac ....... .... ... 

I C. H. A. van der bmissen J 

32. Schwenksville... " A. B. Shelly ..... ........... 4 

33. Springfield ..... " J. S. Moyer .................. 3 

34. Upper Milford .. " C. van der Smissen .......... 3 

35. West Swamp ---- " A. B. Shelly ................ ,7 

Total Votes ................................ 130 

Tenth General Conference. Held at Berne, Ind. 1884. 

- 332 - 

The Eleventh General Conference met on Novem 
ber 7, 1887, in the church of the West Swamp 
Congregation in Bucks County, Pa. At this session the 
number of churches represented was again thirty-five, 
but of these three were new ; two from Kansas, one from 
Ohio. The table opposite gives additional information. 

Various regulations, intended to assist the Conference 
in conducting its work more successfully, were introduced. 
Heretofore there had been no hesitation to place the 
same person on several standing committees. Experience 
had shown that this was detrimental to some lines of 
work ; for naturally each man would concentrate his 
chief efforts upon some particular line, to the neglect of 
others. Recognizing this, it was decided that the same 
person could serve on but one standing committee. The 
business committee formerly served only during the 
session. It was now made a standing committee, in order 
that they might prepare a program for the coming ses 
sion previous to the time of meeting. Experience had 
also taught that meetings proved more pleasant during 
seasons of moonshine, wherefore it was ordered that 
future meetings should always be appointed about the 
time of full moon. 

Repeatedly bequests had been offered to the Con 
ference, but as yet the Conference was not in position 
legally to receive and control such gifts. To meet the 
situation, the Conference created a Board of Trustees 
who should receive and control bequests, made to the 
several departments of the Conference. The first trustees 
were S. F. Sprunger, D. Goerz, Chr. Krehbiel, A. B. 
Shelly, C. H. A. van der Smissen, and N. B. Grubb. 

- 383 - 

CJmrch. State. Delegates. Votes. 

\. Canada ....... Canada ...... Jac. Krehbiel ................. i 

2. Salem ......... S.Dakota ---- Chr. Mueller ................. 5 

3. Summerfield . .Illinois ...... Chr. Auernheimer ............ 5 

/S. F. Sprunger. J. Welty, \ T . 

4. Berne ......... Indiana ...... ^ T . ~ " >U 

1 1. A. Sommer ............ ) 

5. Franklin ...... Iowa ........ Chr. Schowalter .............. i 

6. West Point.... " ........ " " .............. 2 

7. Zion .......... " ........ " " .............. 5 

8. Alexanderwohl. Kansas ...... H. Richert, H. Goerz .......... 16 

9. Ernmaus ...... (( ...... L. Sudermann ................ 4 

10. Gnadenberg . . . " ...... Jac. Toews ................... 6 

11. Halstead ...... " ...... Chr. Krehbiel, D. Goerz ...... 6 

12. Hoff nungsau . . " ...... D. Gaeddert .................. 9 

13. Hillsboro ..... " ...... H. Richert ................... 2 

14. Newton ....... " ...... Jac. Toews .................. 5 

15. Peabody ...... " ...... L. Sudermann ................ i 

16. Bethel ........ Missouri ..... P. P. Lehmann, M. S. Moyer.. 4 

17. Elkton ....... " ..... Chr. Gerber .................. i 

18. Clarence Center, New York. .Jac. Krehbiel . ................ i 

19. Niagara Falls.. " . " " ................. i 

20. Salem(Dalton) Ohio ........ A. A. Sommer ...... . ......... 2 

21. Wadsworth . . . . " ........ E. Hunsberger ................ 2 

22. Bartolet ....... Pennsylvania. W. S. Gottschall .............. i 

23. Baumansville.. " S. Ott ....... . ............... i 

24. Boyertown ---- f< A. H. Gottschall .............. 2 

{A. M. Fretz, A. M. Richert, 
A. F. Meyers, A. L. Fretz, 
H. B. Kratz, J. M. Fretz... 

26. East Swamp... " J. H. Oberholzer, A. B. Shelly. 4 

27. Flatland ...... " A. B. Shelly, A. Landis ....... 2 

28. Germantown .. " N. B. Grubb. ................. i 

29. Gottschall ..... " M. Gottschall, W. S. Gottschall. 5 

{C. v. d. Smissen, J. B. Funk, 
J.B. Lauer, H.G. Clemmer, 
J. H. Bechtel, J.Oberholzer, 

31. Philadelphia .. " N. B. Grubb .................. 6 

32. Saucona ....... A. M. Geissinger, W. J. Landes. 2 

, ^ 

, L 


Church. State. Delegates. Votes. 

33. Springfield .... Pennsylvania J. S. Men er 3 

fJ.S. Stauffer,M. B.Schantz l , 

34. Upper Mi ford. " \ ;, T f 3 

I W. M. Gehmann J 

/ A.B.ShellyJ.H.Oberholzer\ , 

35. West Swamp " f 7 

I Peter Sell J 

Total Votes 139 

Eleventh General Conference. Held at West Swamp, 
Pennsylvania. 1887. 

That the boundaries of the unification movement are 
widening out is more particularly noticed when sessions 
of the Conference are held in new sections. Farther 
north than southern Iowa no session had yet been held 
w r hen the Twelfth General Conference pushed beyond 
and met in Childstown, (now Ourtown) South Dakota, 
on October 1622, 1890. A large gain in membership 
was also made at this time. Five churches attended 
for the first time, four of which were from Kansas and 
one from Minnesota. The total number of churches in 
conference was forty-three. Nine churches in Switzer 
land also co-operated with this session in support of the 
conference mission. The unification movement, though 
slowly, was steadily gaining in numbers and in strength. 
Elsewhere will be found a table giving the representa 
tion and other particulars. 

It is commonly known that simplicity both in dress 
and mode of life is traditional with Mennonites, and that 
no small emphasis is placed on this requirement of sim 
plicity in some places. The Conference had taken no 
position with regard to this matter, it being regarded as 
a non-essential, but had left it to the conscience of each 
one to decide for himself in this matter. But the ques- 

Mennonite Church at Oiirtoivn, South Dakota. 

tion was now raised by newly admitted churches, whether 
the General Conference did not tolerate vanity and 
fashion too much. The Conference therefore expressed 
itself on this point as follows: "It is the aim of the 
Conference, basing upon the Bible, to exert its influence 
against all vanity and slavery to fashion, and all confer 
ence churches are hereby requested to cultivate sim 
plicity and modesty." 

Inquiry was also made at this session with regard 
to the confession of faith (creed) of the General Confer 
ence. The following answer was given : "The churches 
already connected with the General Conference, as also 
those that shall unite later, agree to adhere to the Word 
of God as the only true foundation of faith, and they 
agree to teach the fundamental doctrines of faith in ac 
cordance with the interpretation given by Menno Simon: 
namely, those doctrines concerning baptism upon confes- 



sion of faith, refusal of the oath, apostolical church dis 
cipline, and biblical non-resistance." The discussion 
over the confession .of faith awakened the Conference 
to the consciousness that it ought to have a constitution, 
which on the one hand should clearly set forth the 
tenets of faith held in common, and on the other hand 
should contain the business regulations of the Confer 
ence. A committee on constitution was therefore elected, 
composed of A. B. Shelly, Chr. Schowalter, D. Goerz 
and S. F. Sprunger, w r ho should draft a constitution and 
submit it at the next session of the Conference. 

At the time of this session the question was being 
gitated whether the World s Fair might be kept open 
on Sundays. The Conference by unanimous vote ex 
pressed itself as opposed to Sunday opening. 

The trustees reported, that they had found that it 
W 7 ould be necessary to be incorporated under state laws, 
in order to be enabled legally to receive and control be 
quests. Permission was therefore given to incorporate 
either the Conference or the Committee of Trustees. 

Church. Stale. Delegates. Votes. 

1. Stevensville .. .Canada Jeff. Lehman n 2 

( C. Kaufmann, Jos. Graber ; "| 

2. Childstown S.Dakota.... < C. Mueller, Jac. Mueller.. I 5 

^ Job. Graber J 

3. Loretta " C. Ewert, H. Unruh 3 

4. Summerfield . . Illinois C. H. A. van der Smissen 6 

{S.F. Sprunger, I. A. Sommer, \ 
J. Welty, C. S. Sprunger.. I 14 
Jeff. Lehmann ) 

6. Franklin Iowa C. Schowalter i 

7. West Point " " " 2 

5. Zion " " " 5 

9. Alexanderwohl. Kansas ILGoerz,P.Pankratz,H.Richert.iS 


1 1. 

I 4 . 


Bruderthal K 






Gnadenberg. . . 


Hoftnunp sau .. 


18. Hoffnungsfeld 

387 - 

Delegates. Votes. 

f Jac. Funk, J. W. Penner . . \ 

IW. J. Ewert J 5 

Job. Ratzlaff 5 

J. H. Wedel 6 

G. Harder 3 

A. B. Harms 5 

Chr. Krehbiel, D. Goerz 6 

C. Ramseyer 2 

D. Gaeddert, D. Unruh 9 

f Jac. Stucky, S. Krehbiel. . . "1 

1 Jac. Goerin P. Flickiner. / 




Pawnee Rock. . 


West Zion 


24 Mountain Lake. Minnesota. .. 

Goering, P. Flickinger. 

J. R. Toews 5 

J. Ratzlaff 2 

J. G. Graber, P. A. Graber 4 

W. Galle 4 

C. H. Regier i 

H. H. Regier, J. J. Balzer, ) 
N. F. Toews f 6 

25. Bethel Missouri ..... P. P. Lehmann 4 

26. Elkton " P. S. Lehmann i 

27. Clarence Center, New York. .Jeff. Lehmann 2 

28. Niagara Falls.. " .. " < : i 

29. Salem (Dalton)Ohio S. F. Sprunger 3 

30. Bartolet Pennsylvania. W. S. Gottschall i 

31. Baumannsville. l< ". u i 

32. Boyertown .... " " l< 2 

33. Deep Run u 

34. East Swamp... " 

35. Flatland 

36. Germantown . . " 

37. Gottschall - 

38. Hereford u 

39. Philadelphia . . 

40. Saucona " 

41. Springfield.... " 

42. Upper Milford. a 

43. West Swamp .. " 

A. M. Fretz 5 

A. B. Shelly 4 

" " 2 

N. B. Grubb t 

W. S. Gottschall 6 

A. S. Shelly 6 

N. B. Grubb 7 

A. B. Shelly 2 

J. S. Moyer 3 

A. S. Shelly 3 

A. B. Shelly 7 

Total Votes 182 




i . Langnau Switzerland 

Kleinthal " 

Sonnenberg " 

Courtebert (l 

Chaux d Abel " 

6. Neuenberg " 

7. Basel 

8. Delsbergthal " 


J. A. Sprunger. . 

I- J. B. Baer 

I I. A. Sommer. . . 


Twelfth General Conference. Held at Childstown 
(Ourtown), South Dakota. 1890. 

St. John" 1 s Mennonite Church, near Pandora and Bluff ton, Ohio, in which 
the General Conference met in 1893. 

The Thirteenth General Conference was held in the 
largest Mennonite congregation in the United States, 
namely at Bluffton, Ohio. Its sessions occurred Novem 
ber 19-26, 1893. Again there was a gain in the num 
ber of co-operating churches, the number participating 

at this session being fifty. Of these twelve were new, as 
follows : from Iowa two, Kansas five, Nebraska one, 
Ohio two, Pennsylvania one, Washington one. The 
table below gives further particulars. The matter of 
incorporation had gone forward, the trustees having in 
corporated the General Conference under the state laws 
of Kansas. The committee on constitution had also 
been at work and submitted a proposed constitution. 
After carefully considering it, the Conference concluded 
that this proposed constitution was not just what was 
wanted and needed, and therefore instructed the commit 
tee to prepare another. 

Church. State. Delegates. Votes. 

1 . Stevensville Canada J. Eberhard 2 

2. Loretta S. Dak.C. Ewert i 

(C. Kaufmann, Jac. Mueller,.^ 

3. Salem (Ourtown). " . < K. Ortmann, A. Graber ? 8 

Cj. Schwarz ) 

4. Summerfield .... Illinois. C. van der Smissen 6 

f S. F. Sprunger, I. A. Sommer, "1 

\ P. Sprunger. J. Welty I 

5. Berne Indiana ^ T , , . - , o \* 

i J. F. Lehmann, F. Sprunger . j 

C. Baumgartner J 

6. Emmanuel (Noble) Iowa . . . B. Eicher 4 

7. Franklin " ... C. Schowalter i 

8. Pulaski " . . .P. Roulet, C. Widmer 5 

9. Zion " ...C. Schowalter 5 

f H. Baumann, P. Balzer \ 

10. Alexanderwohl . . Kansas . \ p Schroeder / II 

n. Bethel College .. " D. Goerz i 

12. Bruderthal " W. J. Ewert, J. W. Penner 6 

13. Christian " Val. Krehbiel 6 

14. Emmaus " G. Harder 4 

15. Garden Twp " S. S. Baumgartner 2 

16. Gnadenberg " J. J. Voth 5 

17. Halstead (i C. Krehbiel, J. E. Schmitt 6 


Church. State, Delegates. 

18. Hillsboro Kansas. .J. S. Ilirschler 

u D. Gaeddert, A. Ratzkff 
" J. S. Hirschler 


19. Hoffnungsau u 

20. Johannisthal I... " 

21. " II.. u 

22. Newton " 

23. Pretty Prairie ... " 

24. Ransom u 

25. West Zion ) a 

(Moundrige) j 

26. Zion (Elbing) ... " 

27. Bethel Minn. 

J. Toews, J. R. Toews 

J. J. Flickinger 

Jac. Penner 

W. Galle, Jac. Rupp 5 

D. Goerz i 

J. J. Balzer 4 

P. P. Lehmann, M. S. Mover, 




"ID. Bucher, J. P. Welty J 





T> T TT " T T Tn*r\r\ 



Clarence Center 

.N. Y 

T TT Ko*-V- o rr\ 


3 1 - 

Niagara Falls . . 

.N. Y 



* * 

f B.Diller,A.Zurfluh,P.B. Hilty] 


Bluff ton 

. Ohio 

j P. P. Steiner, P. C. Suter, [_ 
" j P. Bixler, Jr., C. D. Amstutz, j" 


!_ C. S. Schumacher, Joh. Moser, J 


Salem (Dalton) . 


( J. Lehmann, D. Moser - 
" \J. H. Tchaartz, A. Welty .... j 




. . " 

II J Krehbiel 




...E. Hunsberger, H. Oberholzer. . . . 




P e n n 

W S Gottschall 



Baumannsville . 











Deep Run 


W G Moyer 



East Swamp . . . 


A B Shelly 


A T. 

FlaHand . 




42. Hereford u .. .A. S. Shelly, J. B. Funk 7 

43. Philadelphia " ...N. B. Grubb 10 

44. Saucona " . . . A. B. Shelly 2 

. " ...W. S. Gottschall 6 

. " ...W. G. Moyer 2 

, " ...A. B. Shelly 3 

, " ...M. B. Schantz 4 

. " ...A. B. Shelly 7 

Wash...J. B. Baer i 

Total Votes 244 

Thirteenth General Conference. HeldatBluffton, O. 1893. 

45. Schwenksville . . 

46. Souderton 

47. Springfield 

48. Upper Milford . , 

49. West Swamp 

50. Colfax 

The Fourteenth General Conference met in the 
second largest Mennonite congregation in the United 
States, namely in the Alexanderwohl church, situated 
about fourteen miles north of Newton, Kansas. The ses 
sions were held October 19 27, 1896. Another de 
cided increase in participating churches occurred. Nine 
churches were represented for the first time, as follows : 
from Kansas one, Minnesota one, Nebraska one, Ohio 
cne, Oklahoma four, Pennsylvania one. The total num 
ber of churches in conference was sixty. 

A new plan for a constitution was submitted at this 
session and subjected to a most careful consideration. 
In several respects views differed greatly. Two radic 
ally diverging tendencies in particular had ardent sup 
porters, and occasioned no little debate ; namely whether 
the Conference should be a purely advisory body, or 
whether it should also possess legislative power, and so 
constitute a higher authority. When first organized the 
Conference had resolved to be only an advisory body, 
and this principle was finally also faithfully adhered to 
in the new constitution. The discussion of the constitu 
tion occupied two and one half days. The final form it 
assumed gave general satisfaction to the delight of all. 
After its full adoption the constitution was declared in 
force, and all elections were conducted according to the 
new system. l The General Conference with this clearly 
defined system is now better prepared than ever for suc 
cessfully conducting her work, and with its loyal and 
increasing membership will undoubtedly develop still 

greater usefulness in the Master s service. 

# * 


1 See Appendix II. 



Mennonite CJmrch, Hereford, Pa. General Conference to meet here in 1899, 

Here then we bring this narrative to its conclusion. 
It is nearly forty years since the inception of the idea of 
a Mennonite Unification, and today we behold in beauti 
ful fruition what then was hoped and prayed for. Small, 
very small did this movement begin. But it was under 
taken from the best motives and with the highest aims, 
and the Lord has blest those devoted efforts, has multi 
plied the spirit of those first heroes, and has so guided 
this cause that, through its widening influence, unity and 
not factionalism is increasingly endorsed throughout the 
reviving Mennonite fraternity. Slow indeed has been the 
growth and progress. But it has been one steady for 
ward march until it has now become the leading organ 
ized movement among Mennonites in America ; and, 
stimulated by its example, Mennonites in all sections 


are gradually adopting its ideas until, may God grant it, 
all factional lines among the Mennonites shall disappear, 
and brethren everywhere will co-operate in the further 
ance of the Kingdom of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. 
May we not rejoice at the blessings already ours ! Shall 
we not take courage and press forward for still greater 
developments ! Shall we not gratefully acknowledge 
the guidance of Him who maketh a people of those 
"which in times past were no people !" 



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Salem (Ourtown) 

Summerfield. . . . 

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West Point 
Zion (Donnellso 

Alexanderwohl . . 

Bruderthal (Hills 


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..Joh. Gerbrand, II. 


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..D. Kirchhofer 
..II. J. Krehbiel.... 




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Johannisthal I 

Johannisthal II 


Pawnee Rock 

Pretty Prairie 

West Zion (Moundri 






Bethel (Mountain LE 

Salem (Butterfield) . 

Bethel (Tipton) 


Clarence Center 

Niagara Falls 


Salem (Dalton) .... 







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4 O1 


As founder of the General Conference, biograph 
ical facts concerning Daniel Krehbiel will be of in 
terest to every friend of that movement. He was born 
April 22, 1812, at Weierhof in upper Bavaria. His father, 
Jacob Krehbiel, was a prominent and influential member 
of the Mennonite church of that place. His mother s 
maiden name was Elizabeth Kapp. The usual edu 
cational advantages of that age were accorded him by his 
parents. His parents as well as the community in which 
he lived were godly people, and Daniel, when yet small, 
gave himself to God. His religious life deepened as he 
advanced in years, and at fourteen, upon his request, he 

was baptized. Nor did he ever waver from his faith or 
from a godly life in after years. He early displayed 
mechanical tastes, which increased with the years, and he 
finally determined to learn the saddler s trade. Accord 
ingly he became a saddler s apprentice and finished learn 
ing this trade in his nineteenth year. 

He was now nearly of age for military service, and 
as that government granted no immunity to Mennonites 
from military service, he determined to emigrate to 
the United States. It was on the first of July, 1832, 
a Sunday, that he parted from his home to go to Kinden- 
heim, where he was to meet with a company of emi 
grants. Being greatly beloved by the people of Weier- 
hof , many accompanied him to the Rissingerberg, where 
they bade him a sad farewell. 

In this country he made his first stopping place with 
relatives near Niagara Falls. Later he, for several years, 
worked at his trade in Buffalo, N. Y. , then at Ashland 
and Cleveland, Ohio. In 1836 he set up business for 
himself in Williamsville, New York, in the neighbor 
hood of which place he had relatives. On July 18, 1841, 
he married Mary Leisy, of Newburgh (near Cleveland, 
Ohio). He removed from Williamsville to Cleveland, 
Ohio, in 1846 ; a change which proved to his pecuniary 
advantage. However as there were only a few Menno 
nites in Cleveland, and these not organized into a church, 
he and his wife sadly missed the blessings which come 
from fellowship with those of kindred faith and spirit. 
Krehbiel sought to organize the Mennonites living there 
into a church, but all efforts in this direction failed. Un 
able to secure for himself and family church fellowship, 
he decided to remove to Iowa, where several of his broth- 


ers, lately immigrated from Germany, had settled. So 
in 1856 he removed to West Point, Iowa, united with 
the Mennonite church of that place, and so found what 
he had so much longed for. Nine miles from West Point 
was the Zion Mennonite church, of which his brother 
Jacob was pastor. Krehbiel observed that these churches, 
the same as all other Mennonite churches at that time, 
stood in no further ecclesiastical relation to each other 
than that both were Mennonite churches. Earnestly pon 
dering this situation, God put the thought into his heart 
that these two churches might make the beginning of a 
union of churches, and united, might do something in the 
way of mission work. Upon this thought he acted. He 
proposed the matter to others, and it found ready accept 
ance. A meeting of the two churches to consider this 
matter of union was called for the second day of Pente 
cost in the year 1859 in the Zion Church. After organ 
izing the meeting with John C. Krehbiel as chairman 
and Chr. Schowalter as secretary, Daniel Krehbiel in an 
elaborate speech presented his ideas with regard to union 
and co-operation for the benefit of the churches them 
selves, as well as for the carrying on of mission work 
beyond their own limits. The outcome of the meeting 
was the call for a General Conference in 1860, which 
resulted ultimately in the organization of the now so 
prosperous movement, known as the General Conference 
of the Mennonites of North America. Through his cor 
respondences, published in the Volksblatt, he did very 
much to help this work along while in this early stage 
of incipiency, and it is more than probable that his per 
sonal acquaintance and friendship with the editor of 
the "Christliche Volksblatt", J. H. Oberholzer, helped 


much to make the latter willing to attend the first 
meeting called for a conference. 

Krehbiel had moved to Iowa with the expectation 
of making his permanent residence there, but family 
circumstances arose, which compelled him in 1862 to re 
move again to Cleveland, Ohio, and here he resided till 
the close of his life. But his active connection with the 
conference movement was not discontinued. The Con 
ference of 1863 made him one of the building committee, 
in which he did faithful and useful service, on the one 
hand by his practical ideas as a business man, and on the 
other hand by stimulating the interest in the cause by 
pen and voice, and moving the church members to a 
willingness to supply the necessary funds for the realiza 
tion of the undertaking. He was himself filled with a 
deep devotion to the whole cause, and he was able by his 
writings to awaken in others a similar enthusiasm. He 
labored and gave for the cause, forgetful of self. 

When in 1872 the Conference undertook to carry on 
mission work, Daniel Krehbiel was elected its treasurer, 
and he was repeatedly re-elected until he resigned in 
1881. He discharged this duty with scrupulous accu 
racy, as these funds were to him sacred, being donated to 
the I,ord s cause. The debt on the conference school 
became so oppressive by 1876, that something must be 
done to relieve the strain. A general and large collec 
tion throughout all the churches was determined upon. 
As the school was at that time unpopular, it was fore 
seen that the task would be a delicate as well as difficult 
one. Few persons were qualified to perform it. But it 
was believed that it could be safely entrusted to Daniel 
Krehbiel. He, though reluctantly, undertook to do the 


work, not shrinking because of his advanced years, be 
lieving it his duty to sacrifice personal comforts and ease, 
when the good of the Lord s cause demanded it. In his 
kindly, persuasive, yet persistent and energetic way, he 
performed this task in such a manner as to deserve last 
ing gratitude from the Mennonite denomination. 

For a time he was seriously contemplating removal 
to Kansas, where in the midst of those extensive Menno 
nite settlements, he might pass his last days in congenial 
association with brethren of like faith, and be in daily 
touch with the broader movement of neighboring Men 
nonite churches, co-operating in mutual edification. 
With this idea in mind, he with his four daughters made 
a several months visit to the West in 1883. He was 
greatly pleased, yet the idea of removal was abandoned. 

By nature Krehbiel was of a happy, hopeful, op 
timistic disposition, kindly of heart and earnestly de 
sirous that the world might grow better and more like 
Christ. In his advancing years it was to him a source 
of constant delight to behold the gradual awakening 
among Mennonites, and it was his confident belief that 
this progress would steadily continue. With wistful 
eye he looked toward the future, desirous to see what good 
that held in store. At one time he wrote : "Sometimes, 
when I contemplate the awakening activities among 
Mennonites, the wish arises in me that the wheel of time 
might be turned back fifty years (that is so far as my 
own life is concerned), that I might see how things shall 
shape themselves during the next fifty years." 

Krehbiel was blessed with good health and a strong 
constitution, and retained his physical and mental vigor 
to the close of his life, although his last years were 

- 406 

spent in quiet retirement. When already past seventy- 
five he made his last journey, attending in 1887 the 
Western District Conference at Dalton, Ohio, and after 
wards the General Conference in Pennsylvania. On this 
journey he became ill. Under the loving care given him 
at his home he temporarily rallied from this attack, but 
after a short time he had a back-set, and on January 4, 
1888, he peacefully passed away. The founder of the 
General Conference has gone to his reward. Well may 
the grateful Mennonite denomination rise up and call 
him blessed. 



Great movements frequently owe much of their suc 
cess to the efforts and abilities of a single individual. 
This is true of the unification movement among Menno- 
nites in, America. This broad and deep movement was 
pioneered by J. H. Oberholzer, and no other man has 

4 8 - 

done as much as he to create and develop the spirit 
of unity in the Mennonite denomination. 

J. H. Oberholzer was born in Berks County, Pa., 
on January 10, 1809. His parents, Abraham and Susan 
(Hunsberger) Oberholzer, were farmers by occupation, 
and descendants of the early Mennonite settlers in Penn 
sylvania. They readily permitted their son to take ad 
vantage of the meager educational facilities the country 
then afforded. As he \vas fond of stud} 7 , he made rapid 
progress, and when but sixteen years old, he began him 
self to teach, and thereafter followed this profession for 
fifteen years. But the school year then was short and 
the pay small, which forced Oberholzer to follow some 
additional occupation. He determined to become lock 
smith and accordingly learned this trade. It was by 
this trade that he supported himself for about thirty 
years ; his ministerial services as well as his later jour 
nalistic enterprise being causes of expense rather than 
sources of income to him. He became very skillful in 
his trade and his locks found ready sale. In many 
dwellings erected at that time are still found some of the 
German locks manufactured by Oberholzer. 

While yet young he had united with the Swamp 
Mennonite church. He was in the prime of his life 
when in 1842 this church chose him as co-pastor to their 
aged minister, Samuel Musselmann. The latter lived 
but a few years after this and so the whole charge fell 
to Oberholzer. He entered upon this calling with all 
the fervency of his soul, and devoted himself to this 
work without receiving any pecuniary assistance, as was 
then the custom. He was a fluent and fascinating speaker 


and his popularity soon spread beyond his own church 
and denomination. 

Oberholzer s life throughout was marked by action. 
As teacher he had learned to appreciate the value of in 
struction and training. On entering upon the ministry, 
he began at once to employ pedagogical methods in his 
church work, by introducing catechetical instruction for 
young people applying for admission to the church, and 
later on succeeded in inducing other churches to do the 
same. To aid in this work he re-published a catechism 
formerly used in Canada. Later on this catechetical 
instruction, which was given on Sundays, was made 
more general, all children being taken in, and thus this 
work gradually developed into a Sunday school. As this 
was the first Sunday school in any Mennonite church in 
America, Oberholzer stands also as the pioneer in this 

In his efforts at upbuilding his church, he keenly 
felt the need of communication with and the help of 
others in the same work, especially such help as could 
be secured through a church periodical. He also clearly 
saw the potent influence for good, which such a paper 
could be made to exert if made the ally of the pulpit. 
But nothing of the kind then existed among Mennonites. 
Recognition of the want for Oberholzer meant the effort 
to satisfy it. Accordingly, with a sublime heroism, he 
purchased with his own hard earned and much needed 
money a printing press and set it up in his locksmith- 
shop. After learning how to set type, he undertook in 
addition to his ministerial and business duties to publish 
a paper. He did all the work himself. He was author, 
editor, compositor and printer. It required herculian 

4 TO 

efforts to accomplish all he had undertaken. Of this 
work he at one place says, that not infrequently he la 
bored whole nights in the printing office, without allowing 
himself any sleep, that he might supply the people with 
Christian literature. His paper, of which the first num 
ber appeared June 9, 1852, at Milford, Bucks County, 
Pennsylvania, he called "Religioeser Botschaf ter. ; As 
this is the first Mennonite church paper published in 
this country, credit is also due to Oberholzer for having 
led the way to Mennonite Journalism. He continued 
h is editorial work on this paper, though its name was 
later changed to "Christliches Volksblatt," until 1868. 
Soon after Oberholzer entered upon the ministry, 
he saw that the ministerial meetings, held by Mennonite 
ministers of that section, were barren of good results, 
largely because of lack of system and aim, and because no 
records were kept. In order to improve the situation, he 
drew up a constitution, and in 1847 submitted it for con 
sideration to a meeting of ministers, known as the Fran- 
conia Conference. This Conference, fearing this as an 
innovation, refused at two successive sessions even to 
consider the proposed constitution, and by a majority vote 
excluded Oberholzer, together with 16 other ministers, 
who had supported the plan, from their council, until 
they should recant. Recant they of course could not for 
they w r ere not guilty of an error. When Oberholzer 
and the others saw themselves thus excluded, they de 
termined to organize themselves under the rejected con 
stitution. This they did on October 28, 1847. Of this 
organization, now known as the Eastern District Con 
ference, Oberholzer continued for many years the lead 
ing spirit. He was permitted to see this work thoroughly 

established and greatly increased, so that it has become 
by far the most efficient element in Mennonite life of 
eastern Pennsylvania. 

When in 1872 Oberholzer resigned his position as 
Chairman of the Conference, a position he had held al 
most from the beginning, the following resolution was 
endorsed in the minutes of that meeting : "Dear brother 
Oberholzer ! For a long time you have been at the 
head of our conferences as its leader. Many sad trials 
was it your lot to encounter. Often has the enemy 
threatened, not only from the world without, but even 
from the Conference and the inner circle of brotherhood, 
and sought to drive you from your position and to im 
pugn your character. But by the grace of God you 
have, nothwithstanding all tricks of the enemy, remained 
calm and firm, and no harm has been permitted to come 
to you. 

"We, the Eastern Conference, recognize and appre 
ciate the blessings which God has showered upon us 
through you, and in gratitude we beseech the Lord richly 
to bless you." 

Oberholzer had at no time desired separation, and 
at all times, after being isolated, had sought to restore 
unity. In this direction he made a special effort in 1860, 
by publishing a little book, in which he gives a partial 
account of his life, gives reasons why his excommunica 
tion should not have occurred, and in a most Christian 
and loving spirit makes overtures for a restoration of 
fraternal relations. He wanted harmony and co-opera 
tion not division. It was about this time, 1859 to 1860, 
that the general conference movement, begun in Iowa, 
came to Oberholzer s attention. Quick to see good points, 


he recognized in that small beginning the principles 
upon which a broad unification could be effected. He 
promptly supported this movement through his paper, 
attended the next called meeting in 1860, and at once 
became the moving spirit, serving as its president for a 
number of years. Without his support it is not at all 
probable that the undertaking would have succeeded. 
Through him the Eastern Conference identified itself 
with the new movement and thus gave it strength. 
Through his paper the movement was brought to gen 
eral attention. By his skill as organizer it gained form 
and stability. 

In connection with this broader work Oberholzer 
supported all its early undertakings. The school at 
Wadsworth gained much from his personal influence as 
well as from his resourceful mind. When the Confer 
ence undertook to carry on Mission work, Oberholzer 
was made one of the first members of the Board, and con 
tinued in this position until 1881, and so helped to estab 
lish the mission among the Indians. He was at all times 
an ardent supporter of the mission causj and did much 
to cultivate a general interest in this woik. 

After Oberholzer had reached his sixty-fifth year, 
his strength began gradually to fail and he withdrew 
more and more from active work. But his deep interest 
in the cause, to which the strength of his life had been 
given, never ceased. He always kept well posted and 
was ever concerned for the welfare of every undertaking. 
When he had already attained the ripe age of seventy- 
five, he had the privilege of attending the session of the 
General Conference held in 1884 at Berne, Indiana. 
Three years later the conference session was held in his 

own church in Pennsylvania. This was the last session 
he attended, of the movement he had been chiefly instru 
mental in creating. It was a source of great satisfaction 
to him to see the spirit of fraternity so greatly increased, 
and the participation in the good cause so multiplied. 
He continued to speak more or less in public until his 
end, and as late as October 1894, when already past his 
eighty-fifth year, he spoke at an evening service in his 
home church. After this his strength rapidly failed, and 
on February 15, 1895, he peacefully passed away. In 
the presence of an immense concourse of people his re 
mains were interred five days later in the cemetery of the 
West Swamp Church. 

Though no great monument marks the spot where 
he lies, he has a monument more lasting in the cause, for 
which he gave the best years of his life, and a grateful 
denomination will increasingly appreciate his great and 
noble life. 


Daniel Hege, like so many of the earlier workers 
in the General Conference, came from South Germany. 
He was born December 26, 1826, at Klein Karlbach, 
Upper Palatinate, Germany. His parents were John 
and Margaret (Bergtholdt) Hege. His father was miller 
by trade. The ancestors came to Germany from Switzer 
land about the year 1700 A. D. 

Young Daniel began at six and attended the com 
mon schools until his fourteenth year, after which he 
spent a few years assisting his parents at home. When 
he had grown old enough for this, he was apprenticed 
to a merchant, but after a year or two he took up book 
binding and learnt this trade. 

At the age of twenty-one he was fortunate enough 
to escape conscription for the army, and now he promptly 
entered upon a long cherished course of education. For 
five years he had been hoping that he might gain an 
education, and had been making plans for it. He enter 
tained high aims and noble purposes. In 1849 he wrote 
to a friend : "For more than five years I have enter 
tained the wish to do something for my fellowmen. My 
end and aim is to become a competent teacher, and at 
the same time a minister of the Gospel, upon whose 
labors divine blessings may rest." With the uncer 
tainty of compulsory service in the army before him, he 
had deferred entering upon the cherished plans. But when 
he received word that he was free from military service, 
he immediately (1848) entered an academy at Schiers, 
Canton Graubunden, Switzerland. He entered upon the 
student s life with such zeal that his health broke down 
after ten months stay, and he was compelled to discon 
tinue his work for six months or more. After recovery 
he spent another year at the same institution and com 
pleted the course there. 

It was during this period that very many Menno- 
nites emigrated from South Germany to the United 
States. Hege likewise proposed to make this country 
his future home, and had to a large extent selected his 
work and prepared himself with this in view. Accord 
ingly after completing his work at Schiers he left for 
America in November 1851. After visiting with friends 
in Cleveland for a few weeks, he went to Cincinnati and 
spent the winter there. The next spring he went to In 
diana and there staid for some months with his brother 
John. In the fall of 1852 he entered the Evangelical 


Seminary at Marthasville, Mo., and for the three years 
following attended that institution, gaining thus a thor 
ough education. 

After completion of the course at Marthasville, he 
taught a private school near Bloomington, 111., during 
1855 to 1856. For some time during the latter year he 
also taught at West Point, Iowa. At this place he was 
ordained to the ministry October 12, 1856. During the 
winter, 1856 57 he was private instructor to three chil 
dren near Oscaloosa, Iowa. After this he again returned 
to West Point, where he taught and preached for several 
years. On July 19, 1857, ne was married to Barbara 
Lehmann. About the year 1859 the church at Summer- 
field, 111., gave him a call to become their pastor, which 
call he accepted and soon entered upon this work with 
great zeal and devotion. He soon succeeded in stimu 
lating the church to take interest in mission work and 
other large interests in the L,ord s Kingdom. 

In 1 86 1 Hege attended the session of the General 
Conference at Wadsworth. He was chosen secretary, 
and afterwards was selected as home missionary and so 
licitor for the proposed conference shool. In May of 
1862 he entered upon this special task, and for seven 
months pushed this work with great vigor and with re 
markable success, as told in detail in the narrative of 
this volume. Perhaps from too great a strain on his 
nervous system he was taken ill on his return from Iowa 
to Summerfield, and on December 30, 1862, was called 
to his reward. He labored with great devotion and un 
selfishness for the upbuilding of the Lord s Kingdom, 
and the fruits of his labors are still maturing to the good 
of his chosen denomination and the glory of God. 



Of those persons who participated in the formation 
of the General Conference but few remain. Of those 
who were leaders and to whom special duties were as 
signed, but one, Christian Schowalter, remains at the 
present writing. 

Christian Schowalter was born on November u, 
1828, at Assenheim, Bavaria, Germany. His parents 
were John and Magdalena (Hierstein) Schowalter. Their 
ancestry traces back to Switzerland, where they were 
identified with the baptistic (Mennonite) movement as 


4 i8 

early as the time of the reformation. During the heart 
less persecutions three brothers, John, Jacob, and Chris 
tian Schowalter, left Switzerland, and after much suffering 
settled near Weissenburg, Alsatia, and became tenants 
on the manor Schafbach, and later also the manor Gais- 
berg. To one of those brothers Christian Schowalter 
traces his decent. 

Schowalter s parents were only in moderate circum 
stances financially, but as their son Christian showed 
inclination to study, they gave him unusual educational 
advantages for those days. From his sixth to his four 
teenth year he attended the public schools, held eight 
months in the year. For a few years after this he was 
employed on his father s farm. In the spring of 1845, 
when in his seventeenth year, he was sent to the school 
at Beugen, where he studied for two years. After this 
he for three years attended a normal school at Schiers, 
graduating from this institution in July , 1 849. After having 
taught for one year at Deutschhof in Bavaria, he received 
a call from the Mennonite church at Haysville, Ohio, to 
come and teach their school. The call was accepted, 
and in the fall of 1850 Schowalter, now 22 years old, 
emigrated to America, together with a number of Men 
nonite families, there being seventy-two persons in all in 
the emigrating company. 

For three years Schowalter taught the school at 
Haysville. Receiving now an invitation from the Zion 
Mennonite Church near Donnellson in Lee County, la., 
to become their teacher, he accepted this call, and arrived 
at that place on June 8, 1853. In this same year he began 
his work as teacher of the parochial school, and with the 
exception of two years continued for thirty -six successive 


years in this position. At this place he became ac 
quainted with Rosina Heffner, with whom he was mar 
ried on October 25, 1855. 

When during 1858 and before, the matter of closer 
organization and co-operation between the neighboring 
Mennonites was agitated, Schowalter was among the 
promoters of this idea, and when in 1859 the agitation 
resulted in a preliminary meeting for union, Schowalter 
as teacher was naturally chosen as secretary of the meet 
ing. With the exception of one meeting, he has up to 
the present time served as secretary at every session of 
the General Conference, which grew out of that first 

In 1 86 1, John Krehbiel II., the pastor of the Zion 
church had died. In the selection of a successor Scho 
walter was chosen by lot. He began to preach on Christ 
mas of 1 86 1, and was ordained to the full ministry by 
David Ruth in the following year. From this time for 
ward he labored in the double capacity of teacher and 
minister. He always received more or less support from 
the church for his services ; but in order to make ends 
meet in the maintainance of his growing family, he found 
it necessary to do farming on a small scale. In his work 
with his congregation Schowalter may well "be called 
progressive. While yet only teacher, he had interested 
the young people of the church in music, and had by re 
gular drill raised the standard of music far above what 
was then common in this country. Later on he intro 
duced the Sunday school, and has from the first been an 
ardent worker in this form of Christian activity. When 
the Young People Societies appeared, he though now old 


himself, quickly saw the utility of this organization and 
opened the doors of his church to it. 

Being identified with the conference movement from 
the beginning, he has been an important factor in all its 
undertakings. After 1864 the institutional side of the 
conference school undertaking depended almost entirely 
upon him. He mapped out the course of instruction, 
and laid down the principles according to which the 
school should be conducted, and finally his companions 
on the school committee, prevailed upon him to accept 
the principalship of the school. He reluctantly accepted 
after still more reluctant consent by his church, and 
opened the school at Wadsworth, Ohio, on January 2, 

1868, and conducted it with good success until October 

1869. Upon severing his connections with the school, 
Schowalter made a trip to Germany with his family, and 
then returned to his charge in Iowa, which was very 
desirous that he should again take up the work among 

Schowalter was one of a committee appointed by the 
conference in 1871, to draw up a catechism for use in 
the conference churches. The other members of the 
committee requested Schowalter to do this work, and he 
consented. His work was found acceptable by the Con 
ference of 1 88 1. This catechism was published, and is 
now extensively used in German speaking Mennonite 

By a formerly existing rule of the Conference, the 
secretary of the Conference, by virtue of his office, was 
also a member of the Foreign Mission Board. Hence 
Schowalter has through all the missionary activity of the 
Conference been directly connected with the manage- 


ment of this enterprise, and has in various ways helped 
the cause along. While the Mission Board published 
the little mission paper "Nachrichten aus der Heiden- 
welt," Schowalter served as editor of the Children s 
Department of this paper, and succeeded in stimulating 
much enthusiasm among the little ones to help the 
mission work along by their mites. He is still connected 
with the Mission Board, and in the reorganization of the 
committee in 1896 was chosen its president. 

Schowalter has frequently written for the church 
periodicals, travelled much in the interest of union and 
co-operation, and by his humor, vivacity and kindli 
ness, as well as by his zealous spirit for God s cause, has 
contributed much to the general upbuilding of the uni 
fication movement among Mennonites in America. At 
the advanced age of seventy he is still one of the stalwart 
supporters of the cause he has been identified with from 
the beginning, and those, who have since come into the 
work, hope that he may still be with them when the 
good cause rounds out its semi-centennial. 


Andrew B. Shelly is the oldest child and only son 
of Joseph S. and Elizabeth (Bauer) Shelly. He was 
born in Milford Township, Bucks Co., Pa., on Septem 
ber 23, 1834. He is a descendant of Abraham Shelly, 
who with his two brothers immigrated to this country 


from Switzerland about the year 1700, and settled in the 
county already mentioned. This Abraham Shelly was 
the great-great-great-grandfather of Andrew B. Shelly 
on both his father s and mother s side. 

Very early in life the subject of this sketch mani 
fested a love for study, and being endowed by the Crea 
tor with an inquisitive and observing mind, he early ob 
tained a store of useful knowledge. At the age of seven 
he began attending the parochial school, conducted by 
the church to which his parents belonged. When later 
the parochial schools were superseded by the public 
schools, he attended these for serveral months during 
winter, the remainder of the year being spent at work 
on his father s farm. But farm work was not permitted 
to crowd out mental development, for the studies were 
privately kept up during the summer. This alternating 
between school in winter and farm work in summer con 
tinued until he was nineteen years old, when be began 
to teach. After having taught one term of about five 
months, he attended an academy for nine months, profit 
ing much by this. He afterwards again taught during 
several winters both in public and private schools, and 
worked on the farm during the summer season, until 
1863, when he dropped the teacher s profession and de 
voted himself exclusively to farming. He however 
never ceased studying, and even while busily engaged 
with farm work, he always kept some literary work un 
der way, and all his spare moments were devoted to read 
ing and study. 

In the spring of 1857 the church, of which he had 
become a member in 1854, organized a Sunday school 
and elected him superintendent. This was the first sun- 


day school in any Mennonite church in America. A. B. 
Shelly therefore has the honor of being the pioneer sun - 
day school superintendent among Mennonites. The 
Sunday school prospered and it still continues. At first 
it was held only during the summer months, but very 
soon it was held the year round. Shelly early intro 
duced weekly Teacher s Meetings with good results. 
To the position of superintendent he was annually re- 
elected for a number of years even after he had been 
called to the ministry. 

Being deeply imbued with the spirit of God, Shelly 
at a very early age felt an inward calling to the Gospel 
ministry, and believed that at some time thel^ord would 
call him into His service. This time arrived when, in 
the spring of 1864, the West Sw r amp Church, of which 
he had become a member ten years before, elected him 
as co-pastor to serve with J. H. Oberholzer, the elder of 
the church. On Good Friday, March 25, 1864, the or 
dination occurred, and two days later he preached his 
first sermon, taking as his text Luk. 24 : 26. Soon af 
terwards he was called upon to preach regularly every 
Sunday. His position as co-pastor he retained until Au 
gust 22, 1872, when he was ordained to the full ministry, 
and the care of the whole church was entrusted to him. 

Being thus closely associated with J. H. Oberholzer, 
he naturally became somewhat acquainted with the edi 
torial w r ork on the Christliche Volksblatt which Ober 
holzer carried on. Occasionally Shelly had written con 
tributions forthis paper, and for a short time during 1866, 
when the editor w r as away from home, he conducted the 
editorial work. In the following year he was elected 
editor of this paper. Upon his taking charge of the 

425 - 

paper its form was changed from a four to an eight page 
sheet, and for the name "Christliche Volksblatt" that 
of "Mennonitische Friedensbote" was substituted. For 
five successive years he w r as re-elected editor by the 
Mennonite Printing Union. When in 1871 the publica 
tion of the Friedensbote was transferred to the Eastern 
Mennonite Conference, Shelly was retained as editor. 
For ten years more he occupied this important position. 
After this, when in December 1881 the Friedensbote was 
merged into the Christliche Bundesbote, he served as 
editor of the Eastern Department of the latter until De 
cember 1884. The fifteen years during which Shelly 
served as editor, covered the most important part of 
the formative period of the unification movement among 
the Mennonites. Wisdom, prudence, foresight, firmness, 
self-control, unselfishness, were qualities called for by 
the situation, and these are all very happily combined in 
Shelly. By his many timely articles he has often turned 
the scale in favor of some worthy cause, and many a 
storm has been averted by the prudent course and temp 
ered tone of his paper. His is an invaluable service 
which he has been permitted by the grace of God to 
render to the Mennonite denomination. 

Being a careful observer, Shelly noticed that the 
growing generation was not in touch with the denomi 
national life, because of their inability to read German. 
He therefore advocated the establishment of an English 
church paper. Others soon united with him in promot 
ing this new project, until in October 1885, the Eastern 
Conference undertook to publish such a paper. Shelly 
was elected a member of the publication and editing 
committee. This position he still holds. His particular 


work is the editing of the Mission Department and 
Church News, and the management of the business of 
the paper. 

When yet a very young man, Shelly had advocated 
the formation of a General Conference, and under an as 
sumed name had written articles in the interest of such 
a movement. When therefore in 1860 the General Con 
ference was actually formed, he naturally took a deep in 
terest in it. What caused him to have special interest 
in this movement was that it from the beginning 
aimed to create a better educated ministry, to take more 
aggressive steps in regard to mission work, and to bring 
about a union of the scattered and divided members of the 
flock. The first General Conference which Shelly attended 
was that held at Wadsworth, O., in October 1866. The 
conference school was dedicated at this time, and he was 
one of the principal speakers. He has attended every 
session since. During the session of 1869 he served as a 
member of the business committee and at the next ses 
sion, held in 1872, he was chosen to the responsible po 
sition of president of the General Conference. This po 
sition he occupied by repeated re-election until 1896. 
The qualities which so well fitted him for the editorial 
work were also in evidence in the chair. By wisdom, 
kindness and firmness he was able to conduct the meet 
ings with dignity and dispatch to the satisfaction of all. 

By virtue of his office as president of the Conference, 
he became a member of the Foreign Mission Board. 
About 1889 he became secretary of the Board, which 
position he still holds. 

Shelly s connection with the General Conference 
and the Foreign Mission Board occasioned a number 

- 4 2 7 

of journeys to distant places. Besides the trips to the 
various sessions of the General Conference, he attended 
several special meetings of the Mission Board, held in the 
west, made two visits to the mission station in Okla 
homa, and in 1891 attended and assisted in organizing 
the Northern District Conference at Mountain Lake, 
Minnesota. Being always a friend and staunch sup 
porter of the educational interests among Mennonites, he 
was invited by the officers of the Bethel College Associa 
tion to officiate at the laying of the corner-stone of Bethel 
College, at Newton, Kansas. He accepted, and in Oc 
tober 1888, in the presence of a great multitude, per 
formed that ceremony. 

Although already past his sixty-third year, Shelly 
is still in robust health, and continues vigorously in the 
work to which the Lord has called him. Besides at- 
tending as its secretary to the voluminous correspond 
ence of the Mission Board, and performing the editorial 
work on the "Mennonite", he attends to the ministerial 
and pastoral duties of his charge, which is divided into 
three sections, situated at some distance from each 
other. Every Sunday he preaches in two, and often 
in all three of these, which necessitates a drive through 
the country of from six to twelve miles, and this he 
always does, braving all kinds of weather. Thus use 
ful at home and abroad, this faithful servant is still 
at work, a steadfast supporter of the cause he has 

- 428 - 


Prominent among those to whom the General 
Conference is indebted is Christian Krehbiel. He was 
born on October 18, 1832, at Weierhof, a small village 
romantically located at the foot of the Donnersberg in the 
Bavarian Palatinate. His parents, well to do farmers peo 
ple, were John and Katharine Krehbiel. The ancestry, like 
that of most Mennonites in southern Germany, traces 
back to Switzerland. Under pressure of persecution 
one Jost Krehbiel (Kraehenbuehel) left Switzerland 
about 1671 and settled in southern Germany. To him 
in the sixth generation Christian Krehbiel traces his des 
cent. Beginning with his sixth year, he attended the 
good schools of that section until his eleventh year, when 
his parents removed to Einhoffen in upper Bavaria, 25 

- 429 

miles from Munich. The school which he there attended 
for three years was very inferior. At fourteen attendance 
upon school ceased .except at a certain Sunday school, upon 
which attendance was required by law, until the seven 
teenth year. He was not a brilliant student at school. It 
was always hard for him to memorize, but that sort of 
exercise was then chiefly employed. But while literary 
training did not take so well with him, he nevertheless 
developed in mind by other educational influences. Chief 
among these was the educating conversations, which were 
carried on by the many visitors at the parental home, 
and to which he always was a most attentive listener. 
Religion, morals, travel and practical affairs, all formed 
topics of conversation and discussion, and no doubt the 
scope of thought and the knowledge of affairs which later 
characterized the man, trace their beginning to these 
early days of the then eagerly listening boy. 

After having lived in Bavaria for seven years, 
a brother, older than he, was drafted for military 
service. Being faithful adherants to the doctrine of non- 
resistance, the parents were anxious to shield their sons 
from military service. Accordingly they sold their farm 
at a great sacrifice, paid a thousand Gulden for the release 
of their son from service, and in the spring of 1851, left 
the old homestead for America. A number of families 
immigrated together. The company made a temporary 
stop of nine months near Haysville, Ashland County. 
Ohio. During the summer of that year Christian Kreh- 
biel worked on a farm. The place for ultimate settlement 
selected for the company was southeastern Iowa. To 
prepare somewhat for the coming of the families, Krehbiel, 
now nineteen years old, and another young man proceeded 


to Iowa in the fall of 1851. They went to Cincinnati, 
then a small village, there took steamboat and went down 
the Ohio river to Cairo, 111., then up the Mississippi to 
Keokuk, Iowa. It was during this trip that Krehbiel s 
independent activity began, when youth was changed 
to manhood. 

The place of settlement in Iowa was Lee County. 
A few families of Mennonites had then already settled 
here. Upon his arrival Krehbiel hired for a year to 
one of these at 100 dollars. The following spring his 
parents and the rest of the company followed. During 
several years succeeding, Krehbiel w r as engaged in reg 
ular frontier work, cutting down the primeval forest and 
opening the soil to tillage. It was hard work, and life 
was plain in the simple loghouse they themselves had 
built. The great sacrifices made to get away from 
Europe, and to deliver the sons from military service had 
reduced the family to slender means. But his active 
mind, associated with others equally active, did not suffer, 
and religious interest was kept up by a rapidly growing 
and live church. 

After six years he with his brothers had succeded 
in clearing the homestead for the parents. All Krehbiel 
had earned up to this time had gone to his parents. 
Only now that the parents were provided for did he be 
gin to look out for himself. On March 14, 1858, he was 
married to Susan A. Ruth, daughter of the minister 
David Ruth. For two years he now lived with his father- 
in-law. During the first year he was very sorely tried. 
He was taken with an eye trouble which necessitated his 
remaining in a dark room for several months, and for 
some time his sight was so poor that it was feared he 

would become permanently blind. The I^ord, however, 
granted recovery, his eyes suffering but slight permanent 
impairment. It was about this time that a settlement 
was begun by Mennonites from south Germany at Sum- 
merfield, 111. Believing that section to have climatic 
and other advantages over Iowa, Krehbiel removed to 
that place in March 1860. Here as in Iowa he followed 
farming as an occupation. During his nineteen years 
residence in that section he lived on four different farms. 
Beginning with almost nothing, by 1867 he, through in 
dustry, thrift and God s blessing had gained enough to 
own a nice farm, directly adjacent to the little village of 
Summerfield, on which he resided for twelve years. 

Krehbiel s life was, however, not destined to run 
the quiet course of a purely agricultural pursuit. In Sep 
tember of 1864 he was drafted to serve in the United 
States army. From this service he was personally 
relieved by hiring a substitute. Two months later, the 
pastor of the church, Daniel Hege, having died, he was 
elected to the ministry. This gave a new direction to 
his life and opened the door to a most active and varied 
career. At the General Conference, held at Summer- 
field in 1863, he had already been a participant as 
a lay-member. 1 He took part in the discussions, 

1 Krehbiel has been in intimate touch with the Conference 
movement from the time of its inception. He was himself a 
member of the Zion Church, where the preliminary meeting 
for the organization of a General Conference was held in 1859. 
Daniel Krehbiel, the founder of the Conference, was his 
uncle, as was also Jacob Krehbiel, the pastor of that church. 
John C. Krehbiel, pastor of the church at West Point, was 
his second cousin. David Ruth, his father-in-law, was co- 
pastor in the Zion Church, and finally his father was a deacon 
in this same church. 

- 432 

and it was at his suggestion that Ohio was selected as the 
place at which to locate the contemplated school of the 
Conference. By his election to the ministry he naturally 
came into more immediate relation to the General Con 
ference, and has since then been a participant in every 
session of that body. At the dedication services in 1866 
of the conference school at Wadsworth, he preached the 
first sermon with stirring effect. Three years later, 
when in 1869 the tension had arisen between the members 
of the faculty, it was through his intermediation that dis 
affection was averted, and to him was intrusted the deli 
cate task of personally visiting the Zion church in Iowa, 
and winning their consent to Schowalter s continuation 
at Wadsw r orth. 

The Western District Conference, which met for the 
first time in the Zion church, Iowa, in October 1868, was 
originated by Christian Krehbiel, he having first con 
ceived and proposed the idea, and agitated the matter 
until the conference was realized. For a number of 
years he served as home missionary of that body, and 
was always a leader in the work. It w r as about this 
time also that he originated the idea of a Mennonite 
colony, to be founded in the West, and for which he la 
bored for a number of years, until his hopes and efforts 
materialized in the settlement in Harvey and McPherson 
County, Kansas, with Halstead as headquarters ; he be 
ing leader of this entire movement. As early as 1870 he 
had been in correspondence with European Mennonites 
who contemplated immigration to America. In 1872 
four young men from Russia came to see him at Summer- 
field. Later other delegations came to consult with him, 
until he was in touch with all the leaders of the various 


immigrating churches, and Summerfield for several 
years became the first objective point for Mennonite im 
migrants to this country ; many families taking up 
temporary residence there until they could make final 
selection for settlement. He took hold of the immigra 
tion problem and devised plans for the most successful 
settlement in this country. It was through him that 
the Mennonite Board of Guardians was originated, and 
he as president formulated its plans and directed its 
activity. Through this committee great pecuniary savings 
were gained for the immigrants, much annoyance and 
hardship was averted, and many poor Mennonites, who 
would otherwise have been unable to come over, were 
enabled to come to this country. 

In 1871 missionary interest had been greatly stimu 
lated. Haury, student at the conference school and 
member of Krehbiel s church, had announced his inten 
tion to become missionary. However the expectation to 
carry on mission work through the Conference was almost 
defeated by Haury offering himself to the Amsterdam 
Mission Society. It was through Krehbiel that this was 
changed, that Haury offered himself as missionary to 
the Conference, and that the Conference entered upon an 
independent Mission enterprise, to the good of the Con 
ference itself and the blessing of the Indians. In 1872 
the Conference created the Foreign Mission Department. 
Krehbiel was elected a member of this Board, and the 
Board in organizing elected him to the presidency, in 
which capacity he served for twenty-four years, and 
planned and guided the actual mission work as carried 
on in the field. Living close to the mission field he 
often visited it, and he made it a point to be familiar with 


- 434 

all its details. Under his strong and wise guidance the 
work overcame all the many trials which beset it, and by 
his resourceful mind the constantly increasing demands 
as well as the ever varying situations were met. The 
conference mission under his guidance experienced a 
steady, rapid growth and never retrogressed, but every 
valuable position once gained was held, until the Men- 
nonite mission ranked as one of the best of all missions 
among the Indians in the United States. 

In March 1875 he had presided at the organization 
of the church at Halstead Kansas ; this church being an 
offspring of the church at Summerfield. In March, 1879, 
he removed with his family to this place and settled on a 
farm adjacent to the town. In the fall preceding, the 
church at Halstead, knowing of his intention to remove 
to this place, had elected him their pastor. He had as 
sisted in the organization of the Kansas Conference in 
1877, and residing now in this district he spent much of 
his time visiting among the churches and developing the 
spirit of co-operation. He was among those who pro 
moted the plan of a school for Kansas, and when the 
Kansas Conference decided to permanently carry on a 
school, it was through his influence that the Halstead 
church made her very liberal offer to furnish the build 
ings for the school. In connection with this school the 
Mission Board tried for two years to carry on an Indian 
Industrial school. When it proved only partially suc 
cessful, Krehbiel undertook to carry on this school him 
self, and accordingly established it on his farm in 1887, 
and conducted it until 1896. About one hundred and 
fifty different Indian children came under his personal 
influence and care during this time, many of whom are 


now among the most promising young men and women in 
the mission field. 

Foreseeing that the United States Government was 
about to make such changes as would make the indus 
trial school with the Indians impossible, he had in 1884 
interested some others and organized the Mennonite 
Orphan Aid Society. Of this society he is president, and 
the institution is located at his home, he being its super 
intendent. There are now seventeen orphan children in 
this home ; for many other children homes have been se 
cured in Christian families through the institution. 

Occasioned through these various labors, Krehbiel 
has travelled very much. To enumerate the various 
trips in so brief a sketch of an intensely active and busy 
life is impossible. Suffice it to say that he made over 
fifty extended journeys, all of which were made in 
the interest of the Conference or in behalf of others, and 
not for personal advantage ; all of course without com 

Though at this writing Krehbiel is past his sixty- 
fifth year, he still pursues his altruistic efforts with un 
abated vigor, his chief care at present being his pastor 
ate of the church at Halstead and the orphanage at 
Jiis home. 



Carl Justus van der Smissen was born July 14,. 
i8ir, near Altona, in Holstein, Germany. His parents 
were Jacob and Wilhelmine (Wiebe) van der Smissen. 
During the early years of his youth his parents resided in 
Hanerati and Friedrichstadt. By his pious mother he 
was early directed to his Saviour, and when very young 


lie gave his heart to him. Until his i5th year he re 
ceived instruction from a private teacher and from his 
father, who was a minister. In that year he entered an 
academy at Ratzeburg, where he studied for several 
years. After his return home he again received private 
instruction in the classic languages from a minister. 

In the year 1826 he, with his parents, removed to 
Danzig, in Prussia, to which place his father had re 
ceived a call as minister. It was about this time that 
the old and extensive business house of the van der 
Smissen family failed through depredations among their 
trading vessels at sea and destructive wars at home. 

This changed situation also affected the course of 
life of young Carl Justus. For lack of funds, attendance 
upon school had to cease for the present. He decided 
to learn a trade and, having chosen that of bookbinding, 
he served an apprenticeship of three and one half years. 
After having served his time, upon the advice of John 
Gossner of missionary fame, he journeyed to St. Peters 
burg, Russia, and there worked at his trade for a time. 
During his stay there he was socially in close touch with 
the friends of Gossner residing at that place. 

Upon his return to Danzig he was taken with an 
eyetrouble which prevented him from working at his 
trade. Upon medical advise he went to the mountains of 
Silesia. Here an uncle of his met him and began to 
urge that he should prepare for the ministry, in which 
case he would pay his board. At first van der Smissen 
declined, but his eyetrouble having later been healed 
and all his friends and relatives urging him, he accepted 
the offer of his uncle. Basel in Switzerland was the 
school selected by his uncle. This institution he entered 

- 438 - 

in 1832, and studied there for three years. After this 
he studied for two years at the University of Erlaugen. 
As the congregation at Friedrichstadt, Schleswig-Hol- 
stein, Germany, at this time had no minister, they elected 
van der Smissen. He accepted the call. On October 
15, 1837, h e was ordained to the ministry by his father 
at Neustadt, Godens. After having been married to Sa 
rah van der Smissen on December 27, 1837, he in the 
beginning of the following year entered upon his minis 
terial duties. 

Religious life was at low ebb when van der Smissen 
began his work there. For several years he labored 
faithfully to awaken more spirituality, and at last his 
labors were rewarded. A new spirit came among the 
people, though no striking conversions occurred at 
any time. This enjoyable condition was jarred and 
broken up by a war in 1848 to 1851, in which Fried 
richstadt formed a particularly prominent center of 
combat. In 1850 van der Smissen was compelled to 
flee with his family for safety. They went to Ham 
burg, leaving his family at Hamburg, van der Smis 
sen returned in the following year, and in the midst 
of the devastation, did what he could to care for the 
remnant of his scattered flock. After peace was estab 
lished, the family joined him again, and the work went 
on as before. But the spiritual interest manifested before 
the war could never be regained. 

In 1862 the twenty-fifth anniversary of his ministry 
as well as the silver wedding was celebrated. Five years 
later the call came from the General Conference for van 
der Smissen to become theological professor at Wads- 
worth. At first this call was declined, but when it was 

- 439 

repeated in the following year, and all his friends ad 
vised acceptance, he yielded believing it a call from 
God which demanded obedience from him. The immi 
gration to America occurred the same year, and in the 
last days of 1868 he with his family arrived at Wads- 
worth. For ten years he was connected with the Gen 
eral Conference school at Wadsworth, during which 
time he did the most important work of his life. The 
deep and lasting impressions for good which he made 
upon the students are still bearing abundant fruitage to 
the glory of God and the blessing of man. All that 
came in touch with him felt the nobility of his soul and 
were the better men because of it. 

In the spring of 1879 he removed to Haysville, Ash 
land Co., O., to his son, who was minister of the Salem 
church at that place. Not long after, the son resigned to 
take a charge elsewhere, and the Salem church called 
van der Smissen to the pastorate. 

When the General Conference organized its Foreign 
Mission Department van der Smissen was elected one of 
the original members, and the Board elected him as 
secretary. In this position he did very important and 
useful service, in developing the missionary spirit among 
the churches, as well as in directing the mission work 
into proper channels of activity. Of the mission paper, 
which the Conference for several years published, van 
der Smissen was the editor, and succeeded in making 
that little periodical do useful service to the mission 

In the year 1885, after seventeen years residence in 
America, he with his wife and daughter re-visited Europe, 
his former home and field of labor. Everywhere a most 


cordial reception was given him. To the man now 
weighed down with years it was a season of great re 
freshing once more to visit the places where the years 
of his youth and strength were spent, to meet once 
more the friends of his former days. His return to 
his charge at Haysville was made an occasion of happi 
ness by a special reception prepared by members of 
his flock. 

The fiftieth anniversary of his ministerial service was 
made the occasion of another season of gladness. From 
his friends beyond the ocean, as well as from those on 
this side, came many congratulatory letters. Surrounded 
by several members of his family, and receiving frequent 
visits from others, the last years of his life flowed quietly 
and contentedly aw r ay. In his pastoral work he remained 
active almost to the close of life, which occurred on 
May 29, 1890. The blessed influences, which he was 
permitted to exert, are still felt, and are quietly at work, 
lifting men and women to a higher standard of piety 
and closer to the heart of God. 


Kphraim Hunsberger was born November 18, 
1814, in Montgomery County, Pa. His father, Abra 
ham Hunsberger, was a teacher, and from him he re 
ceived his education, instruction being given in both 
German and English. He learned the trade of car 
riage making. December 25, 1838, he married Esther 
Bechtel. In 1849 he was chosen minister of the Here 
ford congregation by lot, and was ordained by J. H. 
Oberholzer. In 1852 he removed to Medina County, 
Ohio, where he organized a church which soon pros 
pered. Sunday school he organized in 1856. The 
General Conference met in Hunsberger s church in 
1 86 1. In 1863 the Conference decided to build a school, 
and Hunsberger was made one of the building com 
mittee. The committee selected a site at Wadsworth, 
and appointed Hunsberger as overseer. In 1866 the 
building was dedicated, and the conference elected 
Hunsberger to serve as President of the Board of Super 
visors of the school. 

Hunsberger had always preached in German. As 
time went on, the growing generation no longer learned 
the German, and so there arose a demand for English 
preaching. To meet this w r ant N. C. Hirschy was called 
in- 1872 to assist Hunsberger. With the years now 
weighing heavily upon him, Hunsberger has retired 
from active work, and is passing his last days quietly 
in a happy home circle. 



Henry Richert was born near Danzig, Prussia, 
on May 23, 1831. Before he was one year old, his 
parents emigrated to Russia and settled in the village 
Alexanderwohl, in the large Mennonite colony on the 
Molotschna river. His educational opportunities in 
early life were very limited. Later his father, though 
a man of small means, sent him for several years to 
the school at Lichtfeld. In 1851 he was elected teacher 
for the village of Nikolai. In 1859 he was chosen 
as assistant pastor. Spiritual life in this church was at 
low ebb at this time. Richert in a quiet, manly way set 
out to improve conditions. He met with many ob 
stacles and much opposition. But gradually conser 
vatism gave way and the church entered upon a course 
of progress. Music, education, mission, all of which were 
formerly opposed, were now given constantly increasing 
attention. One of the fruits of this progress was that 
Henry Dirks, a member of this church, offered himself 
for missionary services. 

The pay given to teachers was very small, and 
Richert, being poor, found it difficult to support his grow 
ing family. He was thankful therefore when in 1850 he 
was elected teacher for the school at Gnadenheim, the 
income here being about 500 Rubels annually. He con 
tinued teaching and preaching until 1874, during which 
time his beneficent influence upon church and com 
munity constantly increased, while his popularity as a 
minister and adviser spread into other churches. 


When the emigration to America began, he was one 
of the first to go, and in 1874 he settled with his family 
15 miles north of Newton, Kansas. Here he no longer 
taught, but supported himself by farming. However, 
he continued his labors as a minister of the Alexander- 
wohl congregation which had come over with him. 

Richert early discovered the General Conference to 
be the progressive movement among Mennonites in Ame 
rica, and he soon induced his congregation to unite with 
this organization. The Conference at once elected him 
a member of the Foreign Mission Board, and in this 
capacity he for many years was a wise and helpful 

When yet in the prime of strength and in the midst 
of an expanding lifework, his usefulness was suddenly 
interrupted in the fall of 1890, by a stroke of apoplexy. 
His left side was partially lamed. After some months he 
began gradually to regain strength, and for several years 
was again enabled to be about and share somewhat in 
the activities of life, when on October 12, 1895, a second 
stroke lamed his whole body, and four days later he 
quietly passed away. But the beneficent influence of 
his earnest life still rests as a benediction upon his con 
gregation, and denomination at large. 



Leonhard Sudertnann was born near Marienburg, in 
West Prussia, on April 21, 1821. His ancestry traces 
back to Holland. He received common school educa 
tion until his fourteenth year. For five years following 
he worked on a farm and in 1841 he removed to Berdi- 
ansk, Russia. In 1859 he was elected to the ministry 
and in 1865 was made a bishop. He felt intensely 
the great responsibility of preaching. For a number 
of years he wrote all his sermons, then committed them 
and delivered them from memory. He introduced a 
Sunday school in his church ; this being one of the first 
Sunday schools in Russia. 

When the decree of universal compulsory military 
service was issued, Sudermann was one of a delegation 
sent to the imperial government at St. Petersburg to 
learn how this law would affect the Mennonites. He 
was sent a second and third time in 1871. When it be 
came evident that the Mennonites would not be ex 
empted, emigration was agreed upon, and Sudermann 
was made one of a delegation of twelve to visit America. 
This tour was made in 1873. On their return trip across 
the ocean they were almost wrecked. In 1876 he emi 
grated to America, living first for six months in Sum- 
merfield. 111., and then settling in Butler County, Kan 
sas, where many of his members also settled and organ 
ized a church, of which Sudermann is still the pastor. 



Samuel Ferdinand Sprunger was born October 19, 
1848 at Muensterberg, Canton Bern, Switzerland. In 
1852 his parents, Abraham and Magdalena (Rufenacht) 
Sprunger, emigrated to America and settled on a farm, in 
the woods of Indiana, one mile south of the present vil 
lage of Berne. Here young Samuel spent the early years 
of his life, subject to the many hardships and privations 
of frontier life. Until his twelfth year he remained at 
home, after which he was hired out to others, as his 
father discontinued farming. Until his twentieth year 
his educational privileges were extremely limited, for he 
attended common schools for only five very short terms. 
Nevertheless his active and acquisitive mind was not 
prevented from progressing. Being naturally gifted, and 
taking much interest in religious matters, he came to be 
held in such esteem by his fellow church members, that 
they elected him as an assistant minister in their church 
at the early age of twenty. He, however, felt the need 
of special preparation for this sacred duty, and agreed to 
take up this work only on condition of first attending 
school for some time. Accordingly he entered the con 
ference school at Wadsworth, Ohio, in the fall of 1868, 
and there completed the three years theological course ; 
he being among the first graduates from that institution. 
After the completion of his studies he returned to Berne, 
and took up the work of the ministry to which he had 
already been ordained on August 23, 1868. To the full 
ministry he was ordained March 4, 1874 by Chr. Kreh- 

- 446 - 

biel. In 1872 he bad been married to Katherina Lugen- 
biehl. Because of progressive ideas which he advocated, 
a division occurred in the church, and for a time only a 
few members stood by him. But gradually others came 
to see that he was right. Slowly at first the number 
increased, but after about ten years the whole church 
was again united. Ever since the membership has been 
steadily increasing, until it now exceeds five hundred. 
Under his care the church has gradually developed into 
one of the most active and progressive congregations 
among Mennonites in America. 

Sprunger s activities have by no means been con 
fined to his own church. He has served on various 
committees of the General Conference, has had charge 
of the business of the publication for a number of years, 
has for a long time successfully edited the Bundes-Bote 
Kalender and the Lektionshefte and has been a leader 
in the work of the Middle District Conference, of which 
at the present time (1898) he is president. 

In 1891 he made a tour to Europe, visiting churches 
in Switzerland and South Germany, and attending in 
the latter country the Conference held at Sembach, be 
sides enjoying much that is noteworthy in various sec 
tions of Europe. 

The church, in which Sprunger preaches, is situated 
in the village of Berne, and his own residence is pleas 
antly located near the church. As one of God s faithful 
shepherds, he continues carefully to feed his flock. 



Prominent among the present workers of the Gen 
eral Conference is John B. Baer. He was born May 19, 
1854, near O Fallon, in St. Clair Co., Illinois. His 
parents were Christian and Katherine (Berger) Baer. 
A few years before the birth of their son they had immi 
grated to this country from Bavaria, South Germany ; 
their ancestors having come from Switzerland and settled 
there. When their son John was several years old, his 
parents removed to a farm near Summerfield, Ills., and 
united with the Mennonite congregation of that place. 
J. B. Baer enjoyed the great blessing of a thoroughly 
Christian home. His mother, who still lives, is deeply 
spiritual, of a poetic turn of mind ; many of her verses 
having been published in the Volksblatt, Friedensbote 
and Bundesbote. Growing up in this spiritual atmos 
phere, Baer early leaned toward things godly, and as 
the years passed away this state of mind and heart 
steadily deepened. 

Baer s educational advantages in early life were very 
limited. He began to attend school in his eighth year, 
and for several years attended the public school in winter, 
and the german parochial school in summer. Attend 
ance, however, was not regular, and usually the terms 
could not be attended in full, as his father needed him 
on the farm. At about his twelfth year attendance upon 
school ceased altogether, and for a number of years he 
worked hard on the farm. But in his eighteenth year 
conditions changed for the better. The conference school 
was now in successful operation, and he was permitted 


to attend this institution for one year, 1871 to 1872. 
That one year opened before his eyes the wide possibili 
ties of a life. Though he remained at home for several 
years following, his spiritual and mental development 
continued. He read all good literature he could obtain, 
and became an active and interested worker in church 
and Sunday school. Then for a few years he attended 
a college at Lebanon near his home. During these 
years there had been growing in him a desire to enter 
the Lord s service in some form of mission work. So 
when in 1879 Missionary Haury \vas about to make his 
trip to Alaska and was looking for a travelling com 
panion, Baer offered himself for missionary service to 
the Board and volunteered to accompany Haury at his 
own expense. The offer was accepted and Baer made 
the trip as related at another place. 

Upon his return from this adventurous journey, 
Baer resolved to further prepare himself for religious 
work. He accordingly studied at various institutions in 
the east, among which were Bloomfield, New Jersey and 
Union Theological Seminary at New York. From the 
latter institution he graduated in 1 887. The vacations dur 
ing these years he spent in missionary work. Several 
summers he worked as colporter for the American Tract 
Society in New York and Canada. He also worked for 
a time as city Missionary in the city of New York, and 
during the summer of 1885, he served as Home Mis 
sionary of the General Conference. On May 9, 1886, he 
was ordained to the ministry by A. B. Shelly. A few 
days later, on May 12, he was married to Jennie A. 

449 ~ 

Upon his chief work Baer entered when, in the 
spring of 1887, he accepted the call to become the per 
manent Home Missionary of the General Conference. 
In this capacity he is well and favorably known through 
out the co-operating Mennonite churches in the United 
States. With the exception of one year, during which 
he travelled in Europe, he has been constantly engaged 
in this work, and has again and again visited all the 
churches supporting the Conference undertakings, as 
well as many others. So assiduous has he been that he 
has several times broken down in health. Until 1894 
he had his home in Pennsylvania. In order to be 
more centrally located for the prosecution of his special 
work, he in that year removed to Bluffton, Ohio, and 
has since built a nice home at that place. But he is 
mostly away from home, busy in the churches North, 
South, East and West. Throughout the Mennonite de 
nomination the spiritualizing influence of his conse 
crated work is being felt, and undoubtedly will bear in 
creasing fruitage in years to come. 


450 - 

Nathaniel Bertolet Grubb, the subject of this sketch 
second son of Silas .and Elizabeth (Bertolet) Grubb, 
was born in Frederick Township, Montgomery County, 
Pennsylvania, July 6, 1850. On his father s side he 
is a direct descendant of the Grubb family of Menno- 
nites, many of whom suffered martyrdom in the early 
years of the seventeenth century ; some representatives 
afterwards drifting to England, thence to America, 
settling in Pennsylvania about the year 1700. On the 
mother s side the ancestors were French Hugenots 
and Moravians, who settled in this country about the 
beginning of the eighteenth century. 

Until his seventeenth year N. B. Grubb lived on 
a farm with his parents, and, when advanced enough 
in years, worked on the farm during the summer and 
attended the common schools during the short winter 
terms. When seventeen, he was apprenticed to a mil 
ling establishment at Schwenksville for the purpose of 
learning the miller s trade. At this work he was en 
gaged for about five years. After dropping his con 
nection with the mill, he set out to gain more of an 
education. Accordingly he entered Frederick Insti 
tute, then an academy and preparatory school for 
teachers, now the "Mennonite Home for the Aged." 
During the year 1872 he also studied at the confer 
ence school af Wadsworth, Ohio. For several years 
following he was employed in various ways ; part of 
the time as day laborer. 

In the Schwenksville congregation, of which he 
was a member, be had served as Sunday school super- 

intendent from 1869 to 1872. The church, being in 
need of an assistant pastor, and having recognized his 
fitness for religious work, elected him to this office in 
1872, and on June 30 of that year he was ordained by 
Moses H. Gottschall. Being possessed of an enter 
prising and progressive mind, he steadily advanced in 
power and usefelness. In 1877 he established a print 
ing house for book and job printing, and soon after 
began to edit and publish the "Schwenksville Item." 
In this work he continued for six years. In 1882 he 
received a call to become pastor of the First Menno- 
nite church of Philadelphia. He accepted the call, 
sold out his printing establishment, and since that time 
has devoted his whole energy to the building up of the 
church entrusted to his care. In 1884 the congre 
gation at Germantown also came under his care. 
On May 22 of this year he was ordained to the full 

There was at that time no English paper which 
he could use in promoting his church work. But he 
was fully aware that such a paper would be a great 
help. In accordance with his characteristic enter 
prise, he promptly began to formulate plans for such 
a paper, and was about to begin its publication when, 
upon the suggestion of several other ministers, the 
sphere of the paper was enlarged and the paper was 
made the representative of the Eastern Conference ; 
and under the name "The Mennonite" has since been 
published with increasing usefulness ; N. B. Grubb be 
ing for several years its editor. 

In time the demand for a local congregational 
paper again became pressing. So on January i, 1897, 


he began to publish the "Mennonite Endeavorer". 
This little paper now has a monthly circulation of 
about one thousand copies. 

To his courage and effort it is to a very great extent 
due that the establishment of the "Menonite Home", 
an institution for the care of the aged, was undertaken 
and realized. This institution is now free of debt and 
has in its care a number of old persons who are here 
well cared for. 

In addition to his regular pastoral work his activity 
reaches out into wider circles. He has for many years 
been a member of the Evangelical Alliance of Phila 
delphia, and since this work has expanded into the 
State Evangelical Alliance, he has served as recording 
secretary of the State Board. He is one of the two per 
sons who established the National Anti-Treating Society, 
of which he has served as treasurer since its organiza 
tion. This society has so greatly expanded in influence 
that its power has been felt in the Legislature of the 
state of Pennsylvania. To him it is due that the Gen 
eral Conference in 1896 adopted the temperance clause 
in its constitution. 

In his own congregation he is an untiring worker. 
Under his ministry the church has increased in mem 
bership from sixty-five to four hundred and thirty. His 
church work is thoroughly organized. The member 
ship, young and old, share in the work and activities of 
the church. In the General Conference he at present is a 
member of the Publication Board, and serves as president 
of that committee. His experience in printing and pub 
lishing has already proven of great benefit to this cause, 
and undoubtedly will continue to do so in the future. 



Henry H. Ewert was born April 12, 1855, at Ober 
Nassau near Thorn, West Prussia. His childhood and 
youth were spent at home with his pious parents, Wil 
liam and Anna (Jantz) Ewert, who did all they could to 
bring up their children well. The father, though a 
minister, supported his family by farming, and in this 
occupation his sou Henry was also early trained and 

With his sixth year H. H. Ewert s education was 
begun by his entrance in the village school. This school 
he attended until his twelfth year. From the twelfth to 
his fourteenth year he attended a more advanced institu 
tion in Thorn, and from which he graduated, ranking 
fourth. Instruction in this school was very thorough, in 
accordance with the well known high standard of Ger 
man schools. He would gladly have continued his 
studies had he been permitted. Altogether Ewert at 
tended school in Europe for eighty months. 

In 1874 the Ewert family emigrated to the United 
States, stopping for a brief period in Summerfield, Ills., 
and then settling in Marion County, Kansas. Ewert 
soon recognized the advantage of a knowledge of the 
English language. In order to learn this language he 
attended the public school at Marion, Kansas, for two 
winters, 1875 and 1876, whereupon he engaged a district 


school and taught for two years, while during the inter 
vals he attended the school at Marion. He had now 
gained a great liking for school work and concluded to 
equip himself for this profession, by taking a course at 
the State Normal school at Emporia, Kansas. From 
this institution he graduated in 1879. After a vacation 
trip to Colorado during the summer he entered the Des 
Moines Collegiate Institute at Des Moines, Iowa, in the 
fall of that year. Here, besides other branches, he 
studied Latin, Greek and French, while at the same 
time partly supporting himself by instructing in some of 
the elementary classes. At the close of the first year a 
permanent situation was offered him, but he declined and 
entered the Theological Seminary of the Evangelical 
Synod at Marthasville, Mo., thereto take a two years 
course for the purpose of fitting himself more specifically 
for work in the Mennonite denomination. After an at 
tendance of a few months at that place, a change was 
made in the faculty of which he and a few other stu 
dents did not approve. He w r ith two other students fol 
lowed Prof. E. Otto, who had lost his position, to Darm 
stadt, Ills., and continued his studies under him. 

Upon completion of his studies, Ewert returned to 
Kansas. It was at this time that the Kansas Conference 
determined to establish a school, undoubtedly prompted 
to no small degree by the opportunity of employing 
Ewert as instructor. Ewert was called and 1882 opened 
school about 10 miles north of Newton. The following 
year this school was located in a fine, new building at 
Halstead, Kansas, Ewert continuing its principal. The 
school flourished, so far as the institutional side is con 
cerned, under his competent and masterly management 

455 - 

and instruction, and much good was done which is still 
bearing abundant fruit. He continued in this work until 
1891, when he received a call to come to Manitoba and 
take charge of the educational interests of the Menonites 
in that largest settlement of Mennonites in America. 
He accepted this call and in the fall of 1891 took up the 
work there. 

In his new field of labor he settled in Gretna, where 
he established the Central Normal school (now Menno- 
nite Educational Institution), of which he is principal. 
In this institution he trains young men for teachers in 
the various districts. He holds also the position of 
school inspector, w r hich enables him to exert an elevat 
ing influence on the hundred schools of the extensive 
settlement. Already his excellent work there is show 
ing its good effects, and twenty- five years more of the 
same kind of systematic and thorough work will raise 
that whole section to a high state of intellectual and spir 
itual development. In 1884 the Kansas Conference li 
censed Kwert to preach and the following year he was 
ordained by Leonhard Sudermann. Though he fre 
quently preached, he never served as a minister of a 
church in Kansas. In Manitoba he is co-pastor of the 
Bergthal congregation. 

Ewert s activity was never confined to his special 
work in the institution. Soon after coming to Halstead, 
the Sunday school at that place elected him its superin 
tendent, and it was not long before he had built up a 
model Sunday school. Interested in this kind of work, 
it was through his agitation that the Annual Convention 
of the Mennonite Sunday schools of Kansas was organized. 
This organization is still doing excellent work. Through 


him also that useful organization, the Mennonite Teacher s 
Convention of Kansas, was founded, and the course of 
study for the Mennonite parochial schools of Kansas is 
his production. The Constitution of the present Western 
Conference was drafted by him. In Manitoba he has 
led in the introduction of Sunday schools, and Sunday 
school conventions, and other co-operative Christian 

With his wife (nee Lizzie K. Baer of Summerfield, 
Ills., with whom he was married in 1882), and his four 
boys he still lives in Gretna, Manitoba, zealously en 
gaged in his educational and spiritual labors, and honestly 
endeavoring to build up the Kingdom of God in the de 
nomination of his choice. 

457 " 


Anthony S. Shelly was born in Milford Township, 
Bucks County, Pa., on February 28, 1853. His parents 
were L,evi S. and Barbara Shelly. In Europe the an 
cestors lived in the Palatinate, Germany, but as early 
as 1750, A. D., the great-grandfather of A. S. Shelly s 
grandfather immigrated to America. Though Levi 
Shelly was a carpenter by trade, he lived on a farm, and 
here his son Anthony spent the first seventeen years of 
his life, working for the most part on the farm and se 
curing what education he could in the district school, 
which he attended for about four and one half months 
each year after he had reached the school age. 

When seventeen years old (1870) he entered the 
conference school at Wadsworth, Ohio, and spent 
one year there. Returning to his home, he taught 
in district schools for two winter terms, while during the 
summer he worked on the farm. In 1873 he entered 
the Millersville State Normal School, and completed the 
regular teacher s course in 1875. After teaching one 
year each in a district school and the borough schools of 
Muncy, Incoming County, Pa., he accepted a call 
to the English Department of the conference school at 
Wadsworth. Of this work he had charge for two years 
(1877 1879) and conducted it with marked success. 
Again returning to Pennsylvania he was for five years 
(1879 1884) principal of the borough schools of New- 

- 458 - 

town, Bucks Co. He then accepted a call to the Menno- 
nite Academy at Halstead, Kansas, where he taught for 
two years (1884 1886). Once more he returned to 
Pennsylvania and now engaged in the newspaper pub 
lishing business in partnership with U. S. Stauffer. In 
1890 he received a call from the Hereford and Upper 
Milford congregation to became their pastor. Accepting 
this call, he removed to Bally, Berks County, and entered 
upon this field of labor. Previous to this time he had a 
number of times conducted religious services at Hal- 
stead, Kans. , upon the request of the pastors there, and in 
the congregations of the Eastern Conference as evange 
list. In 1891 he was ordained to the full ministry by A. 
B. Shelly. His pastoral work has been successful. The 
congregations in his care have steadily multiplied in 
numbers as well as increased in activity. 

Besides his pastoral work Shelly has done and is 
doing other important work in the interest of the church. 
Since 1890 he serves as editor of the v Mennonite." In 
1896 he was made secretary of the Board of managers 
of the Mennonite Old Folks Home in Pennsylvania. 
Recognizing his fitness for the position, the General 
Conference elected him its president in 1896, his term of 
office continuing for three years. The next session of 
the General Conference (1899) is to be held in his 
church at Hereford. 



Carl Henry Anthony van der Smissen was born at 
Friedrichstadt, Silesia, Germany, on December 4, 1851. 
His father, Carl Justus van der Smissen, was for a num 
ber of years prominently connected with the conference 
school at Wadsworth, O. His mother s name is Sarah. 
She still survives and has her home with her son. 

Young van der Smissen s educational course was 
begun in his native town. Later he received private 
instruction from an able instructor by the name of Sass. 
He then studied at the grammar schools of Husum and 
Weilberg. When the Franco-Prussian war broke out, 
he, upon the advise of his parents, went to the school at 
Basel, Switzerland, where he studied for two years. 
During the year 1872 he studied at the University at 
Tuebingen, Germany. He also studied for one half 
year at Halle. After completing his studies, he travelled 
in France, northern Italy, Austria and Holland, and 
visited Mennonite settlements in Switzerland, Palatinate, 
Nassau, Prussia and Baden. 

In June of the year 1874 he came to America, and 
after a separation of more than six years, rejoined his 
parents. Not long after this he accepted a call from the 
Salem congregation near Ashland, Ohio, and in October 
of the same year was ordained to the full ministry by 
his father. In 1875 he began to preach also for the 
small congregation in Cleveland, Ohio. His father hav- 

ing now removed into the vicinity of the Salem congre 
gation, he during 1880 left the pastoral work to his 
father and went to Coshocton, Ohio, where for eight 
months he served as German teacher. 

In 1 88 1 he accepted a call from the Upper Milford 
congregation in Pennsylvania, to become its pastor. In 
1 885 he also accepted the pastorate of the Hereford con 
gregation and served both of these churches until the 
spring of 1890, when he accepted a call from the congre 
gation at Summerfield, Ills. At this place he is still 

In various ways van der Smissen has made himself 
useful beyond the sphere of his local pastoral work. He 
has repeatedly served as secretary of the Eastern and 
Middle District Conferences. Since 1893 he has acted 
as distributing agent for the Sewing Societies. For 
some time he was a member of the Mission Board. A 
specially valuable contribution to the denomination is 
his history of the Mennonite denomination, published in 
German in 1895. He is at present secretary of the 
General Conference, having been elected in 1896 to this 
responsible position. 

- 46 1 - 

H. R. VOTH. 

Henry R. Voth was born April 15, 1855, at Alexan- 
derwohl, near Berdjansk in the province of Taurien, 
South Russia. His parents, Cornelius and Helena Voth, 
emigrated to the United States in 1874 and settled in 
Marion County, Kansas, where the father, who was a 
cabinet maker by trade, engaged in farming. 

Whenin his seventh year, Voth began attending the 
parochial school and made rapid progress, his favorite 
studies being Bible History, Geography and Language. 
When fourteen years old, his common school course 
ended and for five years following he w r orked at the 
cabinet maker s trade for his father. In 1874 he came to 
America with his parents and assisted them in gaining 
a foot-hold in the new country. The following winter 
he clerked in a store in Newton, Kansas. For several 
summers following he was with his parents on the farm, 
while he taught during winter. Very early in his life 
he felt an inner calling to become a missionary. Before 
leaving Russia he had almost reached the point to offer 
himself to this service, but the removal to America tem 
porarily put this in the back-ground. But after a time 
he again felt the same promptings and he now made his 
purpose known to his minister, H. Richert. Through 
him his intentions were made known to the General 
Conference and in due course of time the Mission Board 

- 462 

received him as missionary candidate and sent him 
to Wadsworth, there to prepare himself for his special 

His preparation covered a period of five years 
(1877 1882), during which time he studied for two 
and one-half years at Wadsworth, Ohio, two years in 
the Evangelical Seminary at Marthasville, Mo., com 
pleting the course in that institution, and one year in 
the St. Louis Medical College. 

In 1882 he entered the active mission service, being 
soon placed in charge of the mission station at Darling 
ton, Okl. A few years later he was made superintendent 
of all the mission stations. In 1884 he married Barbara 
B. Baer, of Summerfield, Ills., who died in 1889. In 
1892 he married Martha Moser of Dalton, Ohio. To the 
Mission service he was ordained July 22, 1883, and to 
the full ministry on July 8, 1888. 

In 1891, after ten years active service in the Mis 
sion, he was granted leave of absence for six months. 
During this time he made an extended tour through 
western Europe, Russia, Greece, Turkey, Egypt and 
Italy. Upon his return the Mission Board placed him in 
charge of the new mission field in Arizona, then just un 
dertaken. In July of 1893 he entered upon this work 
and has since faithfully labored to lead the benighted 
Moki Indians to the light, which is in Jesus Christ. 



Isaac A. Sommer was born in the Sonnenberg 
settlement near Dalton, O., on January 17, 1851. His 
grandparents, who immigrated to America in 1819, 
had lived on the Sonnenberg, Canton Bern, Switzerland. 
His parents names were Abraham and Elizabeth. His 
father was a farmer by occupation. 

His early years Sommer spent at home on the farm, 
getting what education he could in the short sessions of 
the parochial and public shools. In his eighteenth year 
he attended the conference school at Wadsworth, Ohio. 
Then after teaching for several years, he again attended 
that institution in 1873, 74 and 76. For fifteen years 
(1869 1884) when not attending school, he taught 
school. In 1883, when missionary Haury was sick, he 
upon request of the Board temporarily assisted in the mis 
sion work at Cantonment, Oklahoma. In the spring, 
1884, he was employed by the Mennonite Publishing 
Company of Klkhard, Ind. , to serve on the editorial staff. 
In the fall of the same year the General Conference 
elected him as editor of the "Bundesbote", the official 
paper of that body. In this capacity he has since suc 
cessfully labored. Three years later (1887) he was also 
made editor of the German children s paper, the "Kin- 
derbote". Since serving as editor, Sommer lives with 
S. F. Sprunger at Berne, Ind. In 1878 he made a tour 
to Europe. He was ordained to the ministry in 1887 by 
S. F. Sprunger, and he now not infrequently preaches 
at Berne and elsewhere. 

- 464 - 

William S. Gottschall was born near Schwenksville 
in Montgomery County, Pa., on June 23, 1865. His 
parents were Moses and Mary (Shelly) Gottschall. His 
father, though a farmer by occupation, was for forty years 
a minister and bishop, having a number of churches under 
his supervision. W. S. Gottschall is a direct descendant 
of Jacob Gottschall, a Mennonite minister who came to 
this country in 1702. 

After attending common school until about his fif 
teenth year, Gottschall studied for two terms at Perkio- 
men Seminary and one term at Ursinus College. From 
his seveteenth to his twentieth year he taught in common 
schools. His father now being old and in need of assist 
ance, the church elected him co-pastor at the early age of 
nineteen years, and in November, 1884, he was ordained 
to the ministry. Two years later he was ordained to the 
full ministry. After his father s death in 1888 he suc 
ceeded him in office, thus becoming, when but twenty- 
three years old, bishop of the churches at Schwenksville, 
Bertolets, Deep Run, Boyertown, and Bowmansville. 
Some of these charges he has since turned over to others, 
but at the present writing is in charge of the congrega 
tions at Schwenksville, Bertolets, Pottstown, and Bow 
mansville. Realizing the need and advantage of a more 
advanced theological education, he studied for several 
years (1887 1889) at Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pa. 

Besides attending to his extensive pastorate, Gott 
schall has been actively connected with the larger work 
of the denomination carried on through the conferences. 
For five years he was secretary of the Eastern Conference. 
For three years he was a member of the Foreign Mission 
Board of the General Cenference. In 1896 the General 
Conference elected him a member of the Home Mission 
Committee in which he now serves as treasurer. 

465 - 


Benjamin Eicher was born in the Province of Al 
sace, Germany, March, 10, 1832. His father, John 
Eicher, was a native of Alsace, and his mother, Margaret 
Conrad Eicher, a native of Switzerland. His early ed 
ucation was in French and his schooling ended prior to 
his fourteenth year. In 1849, then a young man of 
seventeen, he emigrated to the United States and located 
in Wayne County, Ohio. He had borrowed forty dollars 
to pay for his passage ; but once in America, he soon 
returned the money. He attended English school in 
Ohio thirty-three days. In 1853 he removed to Wash 
ington County, Iowa, near Noble, where he resided the 
rest of his life. In December, 1855, he married Lydia 

On arriving in Iowa, Eicher bought seventy acres 
of land and engaged in farming, threshing and similar 
pursuits. He also taught in public schools for about 
fifteen years. In the fall of 1862 he was ordained a 
preacher in an Amish congregation. This congregation 
became independent of the Amish Conference in 1874. 
For eighteen years following his congregration stood 
aloof from all formal connection with sister churches, but 
upon the advise of Eicher, who realized the advantage 
of co-operation, the congregation united with the Gen 
eral Conference in 1893. In appropriate recognition of 
his abilities, Eicher was at once elected a member of the 
Foreign Mission Board. He was, however, not permit 
ted to labor much or long in this new field. For scarcely 
a month later he was stricken with heart failure and De 
cember 7, 1893, he passed away. Eicher was a man of 
great powers of mind as well as of a large heart, and his 
removal, when on the very threshhold of special useful 
ness to his denomination and in the larger spheres of 
the Lord s Kingdom, was everywhere felt as a great loss. 




Mannasses S. Moyer was born September 25, 1845, 
in Bucks County, Pa., and grew to young manhood on 
a farm. At seven he began attending a subscription 
school. Later he attended various schools for brief pe 
riods and for one year was also a student at Wadsworth. 
For a number of years he followed teaching as a profes 
sion. From the fall of 1871 till spring 1875 he taught in 
the conference shool at Wadsworth, O. He was ordained 
to the ministry in 1873, to serve the Wadsworth congre 
gation. Since 1869 Moyer has attended all sessions of 
the General Conference. He has been an active and use 
ful worker, and has travelled much as home missionary. 
For nine years he was a member of the Home Mission 
Committee. In 1896 he was elected a member of the 
Foreign Mission Board. Moyer s present home is near 
Tipton, Mo., where he is pastor of the Bethel con 

467 - 


Allen M. Fretz was born December 12, 1853, in 
Bucks County, Pa. His father, Ely Fretz, was a miller 
by trade. His mother s maiden name w r as Mary Moyer 
(or Myer). The ancestors of both parents had immi 
grated to this country from the Palatinate early in the 
eigteenth century. From his fifth to his twelfth year 
Fretz attended the ordinary English district school ; 
German he was taught at home. After that he worked 
on the farm until October 1869, when he entered the 
conference school at Wadsworth, O. This institution 
he attended for about six months. Later he also at 
tended for short terms at Normal schools in Pennsyl 
vania. For eleven terms he taught districts schools in 
Bucks County, Pa. Being called to the ministry by 
the Deep Run Church, he was ordained in 1883 by Mo 
ses Gottschall. In 1885 he was one of the projectors of 
the Mennonite" and was chosen one of its associate edi 
tors. The Sunday School and Young People s Depart- 
mentsjare now in his charge. For three years, 1887 1890, 
he was a member of the Mission Board. In 1893 the 
church at Souderton, Pa., requested him to become their 
pastor also. He accepted the call and, in order to be 
able to care better for his increased pastoral duties, re 
moved from his farm to the town of Souderton. He is 
active in his work, quick to introduce improved meth 
ods of work, and both churches in his care are in a 
nourishing condition. 



Jacob S. Moyer was born in Bucks Co. , Pa. , December 
29, 1842. His early education was very meager. He was 
reared on a farm, but later learned the cobler s trade. 
At the opening of the conference school in 1868 he was 
among the first to seek admission. He attended for three 
and one-half years, and was one of the first graduates. In 
1871 he accepted a call to the Deep Run congregation 
at Springfield, Pa., and was ordained to the ministry by 
J. H. Oberholzer. For one term he served on the Home 
Mission Committee and from 1884 to 1893 he was a mem 
ber of the Foreign Mission Board. 



Henry J. Krehbiel was born September 8, 1865, 
at Franklin, Lee County, Iowa. His parents were Jacob 
E. and Katherine (Ruth) Krehbiel. His father was for 
many years pastor of the congregation at Summerfield, 
111,, at which Henry J. grew to manhood. His first in 
struction Krehbiel received in German from D. F. Risser. 
Later he attended public school for a number of years. 
For some time he received private instruction in the 
classic languages from an evangelical minister. For two 
years he attended a college at Lebanon, 111. Then he 
taught for two years. After this he entered the Evan 
gelical Theological Seminary at St. Louis, from which 
institution he graduated in 1892. In the same year he 
received a call from the congregation at Trenton, Ohio, 
to become their pastor. This call he accepted and has 
since been carrying on a greatly blest work at that place. 
In 1893 he was elected a member of the Publication 
Board of the General Conference, and to this position he 
was re-elected in 1896. 


Noah Calvin Hirschy was born February 25, 1867, 
on a farm, one mile south of Berne, Ind. His parents 
were Philip and Mary Hirschy. Early in life he showed 
great interest in books and learning. When six years 
old, he began attending the neighboring district school. 
After he had grown up to young boyhood, his father 
proposed to keep him from school and put him to \vork 
on the farm. But the lad pleaded so persistently to be 
permitted to continue at school, that the father yielded. 
He thereafter continued in the country district school 
until his seventeenth year, after which, during the sum 
mer of 1885, he attended a Normal school. After this 
time he alternately taught and attended school for a 
number of years. During the summer of 1886 and 1887 
he attended the Normal school at Portland, Ind., then 
for several years he attended the Tri-State Normal Col 
lege at Angola, Indiana, graduating from this institution 
in 1891. During the year following he served as princi 
pal of the public schools at Berne, Indiana. 

During the year 1892 he received a call to become 
minister of the congregation at Wadsworth, Ohio, which 
call he accepted. While laboring zealously and with 
success for the upbuilding of the church, he here also 
continued studying, by attending the Normal School at 
Wadsworth. Continuing in the work of the ministry, he 
entered Oberlin College and Seminary in 1893 an d con 
tinued his work until he completed the collegiate course 
in 1897 an d the theological course in 1898. 

On May 6, 1894, he was ordained to the full min 
istry by Ephraim Hunsberger. Under his care the 
church at Wadsworth has recovered from its decadent 
condition and now it once more flourishes. In 1896 
Hirschy was chosen a member of the Home Mission 
Committee of the General Conference. 



John C. Krehbiel was born at I^ohnmuehl, Upper 
Bavaria, Germany, June 9, 1811. When twenty years 
old, he came to the United States, but one year later re 
turned. On April 12, 1837, ne was married to Anna 
Wohlgemuth and soon after again went to America, ac 
companied by his wife, and settled in Butler County, 
Ohio. After one year s residence at this place, he re 
moved to West Point, I^ee County, Iowa, where he la 
bored at his trade, that of cooper. The church at that 
place elected him minister in 1849. He was a good man 
and did much to promote the cause of unification. He 
was chairman of the preliminary meeting held 1859 for 
the organization of the General Conference. He died 
February 27, 1886. 


P. P. LEHflANN. 

Peter P. lyehmann was born in Wayne County, 
Ohio, on March 12, 1846. He received a meager edu 
cation in his early years, and afterwards learnt the cobb 
ler s trade. In 1871 the Bethel congregation at Tipton, 
Mo., to which place he had removed, gave him a call to 
become their pastor. As he felt insufficiently equipped 
for this work, he attended the school at Wads worth, 
Ohio, for one year (1872 1873), and then began his pas 
toral activity, in which he still continues. 



John J. Kliewer was born July 9, 1859, in South 
Russia, in the Molotschna colony. He attended the vil 
lage school and assisted on the farm until his fifteenth 
year, when his parents emigrated to the United States 
and settled in McPherson County, Kansas. In this 
country he taught and attended school for a few 
years. In 1884 he accepted a call as teacher to the Mission 
School at Cantonment, Oklahoma. In August 1888 he 
was ordained a missionary. The following year he built 
the mission station on the Washita river and engaged in 
mission work among the adult Arapahoe Indians. 

- 474 


Michael M. Horsch was born January 4, 1872, at 
Waldmannshofen in Wurtemberg, Germany. After pas 
sing through the common school course, he spent a few 
years with his father on the farm. When sixteen years 
old, he emigrated to the United States and located at 
Halstead, Kansas. He soon offered himself as candidate 
for missionary, and being received by the Board, was 
placed in the conference school at Halstead. In 1892 he 
completed the three years course, whereupon he entered 
the mission service. After serving in various capacities, 
the mission station atArapahoe, Oklahoma, was assigned 
to him, and at this post he is still active. 


1 Constitution of the (general 

2. dialogue between two 1?enn= 
sy Iranians. 



Adopted at a regular meeting of conference held in the Alexanderwohl 
church near Newton, Kansas, October ig 27, i8g6. 


"The General Conference of Mennonites of North 
America" is the name of a united body of Mennonite 
congregrations, whose origin dates back to May 28, 1860, 
when the first meeting of the Conference was held at 
West Point, Iowa, by the representatives of three congre 
gations. In the course of time other congregations from 
various states of the Union joined this conference in 
ever increasing numbers, a very important accession 
coming from the congregations that emigrated from Rus 
sia and other parts of Europe. Thus from a small begin 
ning there has grown, under the gracious guidance of 
God, a considerable and constantly increasing Church 

The General Conference owes its origin and its 
growth to a deeply felt need of a closer union of the in 
dividual congregations, with the object of promoting the 
"unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace/ of a firmer 
establishing in the common faith, and of rendering mut 
ual assistance in good works. In its meetings the con 
ference offers opportunity to consult and come to a mut- 

- 478 

ual understanding in questions concerning our mission 
work and the welfare of our church. The conference 
recognizes its work to be to assist in the building up of 
God s Kingdom, at home in such branches of work as 
itinerant preaching, evangelization, founding of new 
churches where needed, publication, deaconess- work, 
care of orphans, establishing of schools, care for the poor, 
etc. ; and abroad by the sending out of missionaries and 
establishing mission stations, schools , and churches 
among the heathen in this and other lands. 



This conference recognizes and acknowledges the 
Sacred Scripture of the Old and New Testament as the 
only and infallible rule of faith and life ; for other foun 
dation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus 
Christ (i. Cor. 3: n). In matters of faith it is there 
fore required of the congregations which unite with the 
conference that, accepting the above confession, they 
hold fast to the doctrine of salvation by grace through 
faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, baptism on confession of 
faith, the refusal of all oaths, the Christ taught doctrine 
of peace and non-resistance, and the practice of a scrip 
tural church discipline. 


All congregations of the Mennonite denomination 
which adhere to the above confession are invited to 
unite with the General Conference, and will be received 
into the conference on application in the manner as 
hereinafter set forth. 



It is the conviction of the General Conference that 
all secret societies without exception are in their tend 
ency in direct opposition to the letter and spirit of the 
Word of God. The apostolic admonition is : "Be not 
unequally yoked with unbelievers ; for what fellowship 
have righteousness and iniquity ? or what communion 
hath light with darkness? And what concord had Christ 
with Belial ? or what portion hath a believer with an 
unbeliever?" 2. Cor. 6 : 1415. Christians, as members 
of the body of Christ, can impossibly maintain such fel 
lowship with those who deny Christ and God, as the 
lodge requires of them in that they shall regard and treat 
one another as brothers, however widely their heart atti 
tude towards God and man would otherwise separate 
them. Therefore no congregation which tolerates among 
its members those belonging to secret societies shall be 
admitted into conference. Moreover conference asks 
of all congregations belonging to it that they shall ener 
getically testify against the lodge evil, and that such 
congregations, if there are any, in which lodge members 
may already be found, shall strive by all evangelical 
means to purge themselves of this element. 


Conference also recognizes the Bible teaching that 
a drunkard can not inherit the Kingdom of God, Gal. 
5: 21. A congregation that tolerates among its mem 
bers the drink evil, can not be regarded as Christian, 
and can therefore not be a congregation in this confer 
ence. Recognizing in the so-called saloons and all 
kinds of drink houses one of the greatest and most com- 

- 480 - 

mon evils in human society, these should in no wise be 
countenanced by our congregations and members of 
our conference. 

There shall at no time any rules or decisions be 
made or adopted which shall in any way contradict the 
principles of faith as set forth in this constitution. 


The General Conference is not a legislative, but an 
advisory body. Therefore no rule or decision may be 
passed prejudicial to the rights and independence of the 
individual congregations. 


When conference through its respective committees 
has occasion to call evangelists or missionaries, who are 
to be formally ordained to their respective offices, the 
ceremony can be performed in accordance with the form 
given in Handbook for Ministers, published by con 


(The charter is omitted here but will be found printed 
in the pamphlet form of the constitution.) 


i. The Election of Trustees. 

The nine trustees shall be elected for a term of nine 
years, and the terms of the respective members shall be 
so arranged that at every triennial meeting of conference 
one-third of the number only shall be elected. 

48 1 - 

2. Organization of Board of Trustees. 

After every election the Board of Trustees shall or 
ganize themselves by choosing from their number a 
President, Secretary and Treasurer. They may also 
elect or appoint of their number such committees as 
they may deem advisable for the performance of their 

j. Rights and Duties of Trustees. 

a. The Trustees have the right to receive bequests 
and donations, real and personal property, to dispose of 
and administer the same according to their best judg 
ment. They shall pay out all moneys in their hands ac 
cording to the direction of donors and the resolutions of 
conference. They shall be accountable to conference for 
all their transactions and shall at each meeting of con 
ference give a full report of all business done. 

b. All regulations adopted by the Board of Trustees 
shall be in accord with the constitution and decisions of 
conference, and shall be binding until the next meeting 
of conference when they will be subject to approval or 
change by conference. 

c. On questions as to the disposition to be made of 
money realized from bequests or donations received by 
the trustees and transferred to any of the standing boards 
or committees of conference for use in their special line 
of work, the trustees shall have the right to advise and 
vote with the board or committee in question. In cases 
where the trustees for special reasons delay to pay over 
such money to a board or committee claiming the same, 
such board or committee shall have the right to appeal 


482 - 

to the officers of conference, and where these can not or 
will not decide the matter then to the conference itself. 
d. It shall be the duty of the Board of Trustees to 
represent conference in a legal capacity, and of carrying 
into effect all decisions involving legal business trans 
actions in accordance with instructions of conference. 

i. Membership Rights. 

a. Any Mennonite congregation, of whatever branch 
of the Mennonite church, agreeing to and adopting the 
constitution, can become a member of this conference, 
provided that on the question of its admission, confer 
ence decides affirmatively by a majority vote. Such con 
gregation is then entitled to all the rights and privileges 
of membership and assumes all the duties of the same as 
defined by these by-laws. 

b. The privilege of participating in the delibera 
tions of conference, be it by individual persons, societies 
or corporations, shall also be decided upon by a majority 
vote of conference. 

c. Each congregation belonging to conference shall 
be entitled to one vote for every thirty of its communi 
cant members and an additional vote for a remaining 
fractional part of this number. 

d. Congregations that for any reason can not send 
delegates of their own to conference, may and should 
authorize brethren or delegates from other conference con 
gregations to represent them with their votes. 

e. Congregations that neglect to have themselves 
represented at three consecutive triennial conference 
meetings, without giving valid reasons for such neglect, 

and leaving the official inquiry for such reasons un 
answered, shall be regarded as having withdrawn from 
membership of conference, and the fact shall be properly 
entered on the minutes. Such congregations can how 
ever upon application be again received into conference 
in the regular manner. 

/. The right of participation in the deliberations 
and discussions, given to visitors of conference, does not 
include the right to vote. The right to vote given by 
conference to persons in attendance shall be limited to 
the sessions of the conference meeting at which it is 
granted, and extends only to questions relating to church 
work, and that are fully disposed of by a vote on them. 
Such right does not extend to the business concerns of 
conference which involve the rights and duties of mem 
bers, therefore not to the election of standing boards and 
committees, nor to measures which are carried into effect 
outside of conference meeting. 

2. Organisation and Election. 

a. Upon the convening of conference in regular or 
.special meeting, the delegates composing the conference 
shall present their credentials from the congregations 
they are to represent. These being received and duly 
recorded, and an order for the sessions having been 
adopted, the \vork of the conference shall proceed. 

b. The officers of conference, President, Vice-Presi- 
dent, and Secretary, shall be elected either at the begin 
ning or the close of each conference meeting and shall 
serve till their successors are elected and enter upon 
their duties. No person shall be eligible for the same 
office for more than two terms in succession. 

- 484 

c. The President shall preside at all the sessions of 
conference, shall appoint all temporary committees, and 
in cases of a tie vote on elections and resolutions shall 
give the deciding vote. 

d. The Vice-President shall in the absence of the 
President preside over the meetings and exercise all the 
rights and duties of the President. 

e. The Secretary shall have for safe keeping all 
minutes and papers belonging to conference and shall 
carry on the necessary official correspondence. 

/. A recording secretary shall be appointed by the 
President at each meeting of conference, who shall as 
sist the secretary in making a true record of the proceed 
ings and prepare them for publication. 

g. Neither the President nor Secretary shall at the 
same time be member of a standing board or committee, 
but shall in the interval between conference meetings 
stand independent of all boards and committees, so that 
these may in difficult cases apply to the officers for ad 
vise, and take them into consultation. 

/i. The Treasurer of the Board of Trustees shall also 
have charge of the treasury of conference for general 

3. Appeal. 

Personal or congregational difficulties which by their 
nature should come before a congregation or district 
conference and generally find their solution there, can 
come before the General Conference for consideration in 
the following manner : If the matter can not be settled 
in the congregation, and the advice of the District Con 
ference does not bring about a satisfactory solution, then, 

the District Conference having been duly notified, the 
matter can be appealed to the General Conference and 
may be taken up by the business committee. 

4, Meetings. 

a. The regular meetings of the General Conference 
shall be held triennially. Special meetings may be 
called by the officers whenever the representatives of at 
least ten conference congregations or one of the standing 
boards or committees request it. 

b. At the close of each meeting, conference shall 
decide upon the place for its next meeting. The fixing 
of the date for the meeting shall be left to the conference 

c. During the deliberations of conference the com 
mendable parliamentary rule shall be observed that every 
person desiring to speak shall rise and first address the 
presiding officer for recognition. While speaking he 
shall not be interrupted, that there may be but one 
speaking at a time. But the chairman shall at all times 
have the right to call a speaker to order if he occupies 
more time than is allotted to the subject or is otherwise 
out of order. 

5. Standing Boards, Committees, Etc. 

a. Conference shall chose from its own number, /. 
e. , from the delegates and members of conference con 
gregations, a Board of Home Missions, a Board of For 
eign Missions, and a Board of Publication, each to con 
sist of six members, and a Business Committee of three 
members. They shall be chosen for a term of three con 
ference periods or nine years, one-third of the number 

- 486 - 

of each board or committee to be elected at each tri 
ennial conference meeting. 

b. Bach board shall organize itself by chosing a 
President, Secretary and Treasurer. 

c. The Board of Home Missions shall arrange and 
conduct in accord with the directions of conference all 
work and undertakings of conference in the line of Home 
Missions for which no special committees have been con 
stituted. They shall appoint the necessary workers, such 
as itinerant preachers, evangelists, etc., and shall have 
charge of the funds contributed for home mission work. 

d. The Board of Foreign Missions shall appoint and 
send out missionaries and workers of the foreign mis 
sion field, conduct the work according to the instruc 
tions, decisions and regulations of conference, and have 
charge of the funds of the foreign mission treasury. 

e. The Board of Publication shall have in charge 
the publication of church periodicals, Sunday school and 
other publications, the conference book store and other 
departments connected therewith. The board shall em 
ploy the necessary workers, such as editors, business 
managers, etc. 

f. The business committee shall prior to every 
meeting of conference prepare a program for the same, 
which shall be published in the church papers three 
months before the convening of conference. During the 
meetings the committee shall arrange the subjects for 
consideration and place them in order before conference. 
All questions and subjects which it is desired to have 
brought before conference, are therefore to be presented 
to the business committee. The committee shall also in 


co-operation with the ministers of the local congregation, 
arrange for the services to be held in connection with 
the conference. 

g. Conference shall elect a statistical secretary, 
whose work it shall be to gather statistical reports on the 
number of ministers, church members, Sunday school 
pupils, amount of contributions for various purposes, 
etc., etc., and submit the same to conference. 

h. If in the course of time other boards or commit 
tees shall become necessary, conference can at any time 
create the same in the manner as above indicated. 

i. All standing boards and committees shall submit 
written reports at each regular meeting of conference. 
Furthermore all decisions and instructions to workers, 
as also the reports of the latter, shall be officially pre 
served and laid before conference whenever demanded. 

k. The election of officers of conference, trustees 
and standing committees and boards shall be by ballot. 
Temporary committees shallbe appointed by the President. 

/. The vote for officers shall be free without nomi 
nation ; for the boards and committees after a free 

m. Vacancies in the standing committees occurring 
between conference meetings shall be temporarily filled 
by appointment through conference officers. At the 
following meeting conference shall besides the regular 
election fill also these vancancies for the balance of the 
unexpired terms. 

n. No person shall be elected into more than one 
of the standing boards or committees. But the trustees 
being a purely business board, shall be eligible to any of 

- 488 

the standing boards. Likewise members of standing 
committees may be appointed on temporary commit 
tees, which serve only during the meeting of con 

o. The boards and committees shall always be 
elected in the same order in which their reports are 
called for at that meeting of conference. 

6. Duties and Rights of Conference Members. 

a. Each congregation belonging to the conference 
has besides the rights above defined, also the right of 
ownership in all the conference property. But all these 
rights cease when a congregation withdraws or is ex 
pelled from conference. 

b. Conference expects of all participating congrega 
tions that as far as possible they be represented at every 
meeting, and that they seek to further the interest of 
conference during and between the meetings. 

7. Treasuries. 

Conference has the following treasuries, and reserves 
to itself the right to increase or diminish the number ac 
cording to its needs: 

a. A general treasury to defray the expenses con 
nected with conference meetings and such other ex 
penses as can not properly be paid out of any of the 
other treasuries. This treasury is in charge of the 
treasurer of the Board of Trustees. 

b. A treasury for Home Missions which is in 
charge of the treasurer of the Home Mission Board. 

c. A treasury for Foreign Missions in charge of the 
treasurer of the Board of Foreign Missions. 

489 - 

d. A board may choose its treasurer from outside 
its own number, in which case the person so chosen shall 
be, by virtue of his office as treasurer, a full voting mem 
ber of the board. 

8. General Provisions. 

a. All resolutions and decisions of conference passed 
prior to the adoption of this constitution and which con 
flict in any way with any part of the constitution are 
hereby repealed. 

b. Conference can make amendments to this con 
stitution by a two-thirds vote in favor of any amendment. 
The proposition for an amendment must be put into the 
hands of the program committee at least three months 
prior to the meeting of conference at which it is to be 
voted on, and shall be published with the program of 
the conference. 

c. No amendment to the constitution shall be voted 
on at the same session at which it is for the first time 
brought up for discussion. 


Published in the Christliche Volksblatt, September $rd, 1862. Author 
probably John H. Oberholzer. 

A. Well, B., wie geht es als bei Dir ? 

B. O, so midling. 

A. Ich hab schun lang mol zu Dir kumma wolla, 
um mol mit Dir zu schwatza wega allerhand Sacha, wies 
alleweil in der Welt zugeht. 

B. Hi j a, da kummst Du mer just recht ; ich bin a 
so voll, dass ich schier net wes wu mer der Kop steht. 

A. Drum bin ich so friih den Morja zu Dir kumma, 
und hab gedenkt mer deta heit da ganza Dak d zu 
nemma, weil ich a schir ke Auskummas me wes ; un 
wammer alsomal n anner so sei Elend klagt dno werts 
em doch oft a bissel leichter. 

B. O ja, sell hab ich a schun oft auskfunna. 

A. Sin dei L,eit doch all ksund ? 

B. Ja, mer hatte wege Sellem nix zu klaga. Del 
vun da Buwa sin am pluga, und die annara sinn im 
Schwamm am meha, un mei Alti is just am Krumbeera 
schela fars Mittag, un die Mad sin noch a bissel am Ep- 
pelschnitza, bis d s Kras drucka wert ; dno wolla sie ans 
Recha. Ich hab just a mer do en alter Recha z recht 
macha wolla, far so bisle an der Fens rum zu recha, 
urn s Kras a helfa bissel ausnanner zu starra ; un die 
zwe Klena sin hinri in s Darnafeld a wenig Blackbera 
z hola far etlicha Bleckbeerabei. Ich gleich selli sort 
Bai schier bisli besser wie eniga annara Bai, das mer 
backa kann. O, ich hat jo shier vergessa zu froga, wie 
Dei Leit als a kumma. 

A. Well mer sin a ziemlich ksund, un sin a als a 
wenig an der Erwet. Mei Grosser is heit mit der Fuhr uf 

- 491 

den Racksberk kfara far a wenig Plattasteh zu hola far 
mei Hof z belega, s wert als friihjohrs un spotjahrs so 
dreckig um mei Haus rum. Mei Alti krumelt schier 
allamol als, wann sie so im Dreck rum dappa muss ; ich 
hab awer k denkt ich wol dem K krummel n End 
macha, un wol Plattasteh im Hof rum lega. 

B. O sell is gilt. Ich hab in meim Hof schun lang 
so Steh rum klegt, vorher, vvenn als manchmal ens hin 
kschlaga is, dann is mer allamol im Dreck gelega ; nan 
sterzt mer doch just uf die Steh. Paar fun da annara 
Buwa sin am Mist sprea. Mer muss ewa, denk ich doch 
nochamal Saa. Awer der Hund mocht s bal hola 
verleicht kumma die Siidlicha noch un verderwa em 
noch Alles ; mei Dicker is nunner ans Stoffels, gucka, 
was se alleweil im Stohr far Butter un Krumbeera gewa. 
Viel Gelt kammer ewa allaweil net macha, s holt alles 
net viel un was mer krikt, is schier lauter L,umpa Geld 
und no net viel dafun. Unser Kleni hot ebbes vun der 
Summer Kumplen kat, awer sis a wider besser. Mei Fra 
hot kment sie wot a mit kumma, euch mol zu b sucha, 
awer sie hot m Frank seihossa flicka miissa. Sie kummt 
awer a bald mol, denk ich. 

A. O darm geht es bei euch doch a noch so ziem- 
lich beim Alta. 

B. O ja ; awer doch melin ich als a bissel meh 
hinnerschisch als wie ferschisch. Verdiena kammer 
net viel, un s gheht bal alia paar Dak ener rum un 
schreibt Land un Leit, Kiih un Gaul un Alles uf ; uu 
wenn sie kaum iiberm Schwamm drowa sin, so kummt 
schun wider ener iiber den Berk runner, un frokt dich, 
ob du ihm net den Dax bezahla kennst ? 

A. Ja, sell is wohr ; un allgebot kummt als noch 


ener far ganz neua sache. Ks geht ewa alleweil n Mann 
fun weit hinna draus in unsra Kmena rum un schreibt 
Geld uf far a Schul. 

B. Was ! far a Schul ! ! Hemmar dann noch net 
Schula knunk ? Was far a Schul soil dann des nau gewa ? 
Vermuthlich sin widder so a paar Faullenzer ergets uf- 
ferstanna, die ebbes a bartiges uf Stella wolla, un uns 
dumma Baura s Geld ablausa wolla. Do wer ich awer, 
denk ich a mol, mei Geldsack zuschrauwa. 

A. Ewa grad des is ens fun da Sacha, wu ick kment 
hab, das mer amol minanner driwer schwetza wollta. 

B. Well mer kenna mal driwer schwetza, awer ich 
dehk s bat net viel. 

A. Host du dann uoch nix dafun gehort? 

B. Ne. Ich wes noch gar nix dafun. 

A. Dann will ich dir mol verzahla, was ich selbst 
den Mann hab hora saga. 

B. So, dann hast du den Mann selwer ksena. 

A. Ja ; un ich hab ihn a hora brediga. 

B. Ah - do is es a Brediger ; so, so, ich bin doch 
nau bissle kwunerich, awer Klawa hab ich mol frei- 
lich noch gar net an des ganz Ding. 

A. Awer wann ich Der verzahle soil, was der Mann 
vunera Schul (oder Lehranstalt, wie ers kesa hot), so 
muss ich viel weiter fan a afanga. 

B. Ich bin net wies I v eit gibt, die gar nix hora 
wolla, warm sie mahna es wehr ebes, wu sie net gleiche 
deta ; sell sin Leit, die dumm sin, un s argst is, sie wolla 
a net kscheit wera ; so bin ich awer net. Ich mehn mer 
sol immer schnell zu hora un langsam zu reden sein. 

A. Sell is ganz recht, so mahn ich a. 

B. Nau verzahl mer mol wega dem fromma Mann 


seiner Schul. Wan mer ebbes so zwischa nei beifallt, 
dan will ich Dich stoppa. 

A. Du wehst, unser Kmeschaft (ich mehn die 
Manista) hen sich, seit sie in Amerika wohna, schun 
oft vunnanner gerissa, awer noch nix dabei verdient, 
awer schun unvergleichlich viel dadurch an Glieder 

B. Sell is grad so, tin s hot mich schun oft 
g wunnert, wie sell kummt. 

A. Well ich denk ich kann ders saga. Ich hab 
vun etlicha Brediger in unsrer Kmeschaft hora saga, 
die schun lang in der Stille dra kschaft hen, urn aus- 
zufinna, wu der Fehler steckt. Di sin dra ganga tin 
hen for zwe Johr zuriick in Iowa a allgemene Zam- 
makunft von Brediger tin Glieder garufa un dart hen 
sie dno driwer gekonsidert, was mer thu sot, urn die 
Kmeschaft besser zu verehuige, weil sie in Amerika 
so viel Mehninga hen un so vun enanner abkschlossa 
do steha. 

B. Bist du kwis dafun, dass so n Zammakunft in 
Iowa kalta wara~is? 

A. O ja, do zweifel ich gar net dra, dann es hot 
mir en Mann es ksat, der mich noch nie net beloga 
hot ; der dabei war. 

B. So, so. Well, was weiter? 

A. Sie hen dno dart an sellara Zammakunft 
kmacht, dass im a Johr noch seller Zeit wider a Zam 
makunft in Ohio kalta werra sot. 

B. Hen sie dno dart noch a mol a Zammakunft 
kalta ? 

A. Ja, bischtir hen sie. 

B. Un was hen sie dart kmacht? 


A. Ei sie hen noch a mol alles, was sie an der ersta 
Zammakunft kmacht kat hen, iwerguckt un verbessert. 

B. Wie hot dan sell galaut, wu sie gamacht hen 
an sellara Zammakunft ? 

A. Des kann ich Dir nau net grad alles saga. 
Awer schreib en Brief an die Volksblattdruckerei, dart 
hen sie] alles gedruckt, dno kannst du sell alles lesa ; 
un im Krund war die Zammakunft in Ohio estimmig 
enig, dass die Maiiista-Brediger wera durchaweck zu 
schlecht gelernt, und dart kam es her, dass ener so 
wot, un der anner annister ; sell war enihau, denk 

ich, ihre Mening. 

* * 


B. Die anner Woch, wu mer beinanner wara, urn 
minnanner zu schwetza, hemmer, glab ich, ufkoert, 
wu die Ohio Zammakunft kment hat : Die Brediger 
wara dorchaweck zu schlecht klernt etc. 

A. Ja, ich wes noch, dart hemmer ufkort. Un 
sell is, denk ich, a ziemlich wohr ; vun wega w 7 eil 
mers mol net legla kann, dass als so ofters mol ener 
so un der anner anister ment, uu doch ment viel Zeit 
enjeder, er war kscheiter as wie die mensta annara. 

B. Sell is woll so, awer ich halt net viel uf die 
grosse Iteming, weil mer schun vun L,eit kort hot, 
die wega grosser Iteming narrisch warra wara. 

A. O sell is awer nix. Die Iteming macht Nie- 
mand narrisch, awer ich glab, dass sie die I/eit kschei 
ter macht, un ich glab, ich un Du brauchte net weit 
vun hem geh, um des auszufinna ; enihau ich mehn, wann 
ich un Du wenig meh Iteming hatta, a e bissel kscheiter 

B. Was ! mehnst Du ich war net kscheit? 


A. Hosch, hosch ! Sell hab ich net ksat, awer a 
bissel kscheiter kennta mer alia zwe sei. 

B. Dart geb ich wol uf dazu ; awer denkst Du 
dann die Iteming macht em kscheiter ? 

A. Ei was dann ? Ich hab doch kadenkt, so viel 
wiistu, dass des, wu mer not klernt hot, mer a net was. 

B. Ja freilich, wammers sella wek nemmt , awer 
ich mehn doch, s wehr net nothwennig. Guck mol uf 
meiner Bauerei rum un sehn mol, wie ich alles ufgfickst 
hab, dass gester der Jockel kmehnt hot, s wehr die 
schonst urns Stadtel rum. Un guck mol mei Gaul un 
Kiih un Sau ! Un wanns ans Geld macha geht, dann bin 
ich a bei der Heck., 

A. O well, des is all gut knunk, awer hatstu des 
all so ufficksa un mannetscha kenna, wann du es net 
serst klernt hatscht ? 

B. O, for des braucht s net viel Lerning. Ich hab 
just ksehna, wie mei Dade s kmacht hot, un so mach 
ichs a ; un ich wes, so is es recht. 

A. Un so mehnst Du dann, far all dass zu thu 
breigt mer net viel Iteming. 

B. O ne. Ich wu sst net warum. 

A. Siehst Du dann net ei, dass Du vun Kind a host 
afanga miissa, all sell, was uf der Bauerei vorgeht, zu 
lerna ? Hot net dei Dade Dir als ksat : So must s ma 
cha un so musts macha, un nau musts thu, so ists recht 
oder so ists letz ? 

B. Ja freilich ; awer sell war sei Pflicht, denk ich. 

A. Gell, wie Du a Kindwarst, host Du nix vun der 
Bauerei zu tenda verstanna? 

B. O ne, so wenig wie n Kchhaas. 

A. Nau siehst Du, dass Dei Dade Dichs erst hot 
lerna miissa. 

- 496 - 

B. O well nau dass mer doch so misserabel 
dumm sei kann ! Nau sehn ich erst, dass mei Bade mich 
vun Klenem uf hot studira un lerna macha. Ja, ja, nau 
kwis, wann ich nix klernt hat, war ich so dumm wie 
n Stuckel. Hm, ja- uii muss als noch alia Dak lerna. 

A. Nau hostu eisehna lerna, dass mer net amol recht 
baura kann, mitaus mer hot die Bauerei studirt. 

B. Ja, des sehe ich nau wol. 

A. Well, dann wolla mer nau wieder zuriick kumma 
un vun der Schul schwatza, serst awer vun unsra Brediger. 

B. Ja, was is awer viel von unsra Brediger zu 
schwatze? Ich inehn als, vun dena sol mer net viel saga. 

A. Freilich derf mer a vun de Brediger schwatza, 
awer mer sol immer acht gewa, was mer schwatzt. 

B. Ja, awer wammer vun ihna schwatza will, dann 
werd s doch net viel ausmacha, was mer vun ihna 
schwatzt, wann se net dabei sin. 

A. Ja, ja, do verloss Dich druf, des macht viel aus, 
was mer vun ihna hinna rum schwatzt. 

B. Du mehnst ewa, denk ich, dass wann sie s als 
ausfinna, dann detasie em als in ihra Brediga rum belza, 
un sell det mer dno doch hassa ; awer do braucht mer 
jo net viel drum gewa ; mer kanns jo zu em Ohr nei un 
zum annara raus geh lossa. 

A. Wann des Dei Mehning is, dann kummst Du 
mer just vor as wie n Bauer, der vunara Bauerei 
schwetza will, wu er nix davun versteht. Ich bin wol 
a dumm wega meina Pflichta gega die Brekiger, awer 
so viel wes ich doch, das mer net hinna ihna rum 
schwatza derf, was mer will. 

B. Ja, warum net? Die L,eit thuns ja doch, un a 
del ment mer, wie unkscheiter wie liewer. 


A. Ich wes es wol, dass es so is, wie Dusagst ; un 
mer wot es a noch so gelta lossa, wann es Heida wera 
un a Heida sei wotta, die es so macha ; awer vtin Leit, 
die Christa sei wolla un mene mer breicht nix drum zu 
gewa, was mer hinner seim Brediger rum schwatzt, tin 
dun es a, die sin so blind wie en Maulwarf un so schlecht 
wie en verreckter Keffer. 

B. Ja, awer wie soil mers denn macha, wammer n 
,,Nip" uf sie hot, un mak nix zu ihna selwer saga ? 

A. Hi, s Maul halta dat ich denka war am 
kscheitscha ; awer gelt, der wu die gross Herd Sau ins 
Wasser hot springa macha, der steht als hinna dra un 
pischpert dena Leit, wo so blind un schlecht sr.i, als so 
hemlich ins Ohr : ,,Geb m n Buff, geb m n Buff, 
weil er mer als uf der Kanzel so n schlechter Nama 
macht, un ich los ja doch de Leit de freia Willa, zu thu, 
was sie wolla. 

A. Wohl genunk, wenn er net en Liigner war ; un 
mei liewer B., geb acht, dass er dich net am Hals krikt 
un reisst dich nunner ins Schwartz Loch. 

B. Du machst mer halwer bang. Fun dena Sacha 
wes ich so wenig. Unser Brediger legt tins so wenig die 
Sacha aus. 

A. Drum sollta sie besser klernt w r erra. (gortf. folgt.) 

Volksblatt, October ist, 1862. 

"The dialogue between two Pennsylvanians, which appeared in 
the last two numbers has not met with approval with some of our 
respected readers. On this account the rest of the dialogue will 
not be published at least not in the style and dialect in which it 
has so far appeared. The writer of the dialogue had much of value 
to offer which he intended to present in this conversation be 
tween the two Pennsylvanians; but we do not wish to enter any 
thing in the columns of our paper which would prove unedifying 
to our esteemed readers." 






Aeschlemann, P. R 363 

Adams County, Ind 113 

Alaska ,..261,272 

Arapahoe Station 338 

Arizona 322 

Articles of Union for Gen 
eral Conference 55, 85 

Ashland, O-..IO4, 113, 123, 133 
At The Twenty, Can., 

H3> n7> 33 
Augspurger, Chr 256 


Baer, Daniel.. 169, 181, 206, 233 
Baer, John B., 271, 273,275,276 

34 6 >347-35 2 >3 62 - Bi g-P-447 

Baer, S. J 35^ 

Ball 274^279, 280, 282 

Balzer, Jac. J 350, 351 

Bauer, J. L 263 

Bauer, R. B 136 

Baumann, Isaac B 134, 138 

Baumann, B. B 133 

Baumann, Samuel B., 

99, 121, 133, 198 

Baumannsville Church 113 

Baur, Cornelius. 204 

Beer, Jacob 203 

Berne, Ind 18 

Bethel College .... 169, 370 375 
Blair, Waterloo Co., Can... 97 

Boyertown 1 17* 33 

Branche "3 


Brennemann, Daniel 156 

Brons, A 135 

Burlington, la 51 


Canada-Ohio Conference, 18, 2 1 
24, 45, 62, Si, 101, 147 
Canada-Ohio Home Mission 

Society 39 

Canada (Ontario) 100 

Cantonment, 291 , 292, 294, ff. 299 
304, 312, 327, 337 

Cassel, Daniel 6 

Chilkot 275 

Christliche Volksblatt, 17, 20 
28, 32, 35, 36, 42, 44, 45, 69 

Church Discipline 59 

Church Government 59 

Civil War 77 

Clarence Center, N. Y 1 13 

Clemmer, Christian 176, 233 

Cleveland Church . 35, 104, 113 
Conferences, District. .353 363 

Conference, Franconia 6 

Conference in Canada, 6. in 
Ohio, 6, in Pennsylvania 5 

Conference in Kansas 252 

Confession of Faith of Gen 
eral Conference, 59, 259 385 
Constitution of General Con 
ference. 55, 85, 386, 391, 475 

Cook s Inlet, Alaska 275 ff. 

Customs 57? 3 8 5 



Dague 267 

Darlington Station, 282, 284, 290 

293, 294, 299, 304, 311, 3 13 

3!S 34 2 

Debt on School, 125, 168 ff., 210 
^27, 243, 256 

Deep Run Church 113 

Detweiler, A. Z 38, 40, 41 

Dirks, Henry 198 

Dortrecht Confession 7, 23 

Drake, Hiram, 198, 215, 216, 232 

Duerksen, Cor 261 , 284, 289 

Dyk, Peter 203 

Dyke Mission Station 338 


Eastern District Conference, 

27,66,82,95, 112, 1 68, 170 ff. 

206,221, 237,355357 

East Swamp Church, 80, 113, 

H7; 133 

Education (see school), 3, 10 
45, 59, 60, 82, 92 ff., 350 


Eicher Ben]., Biography 465 

Eighth General Conference, 257 

Eleventh General Conf 382 

Ellenberger, Jacob 32 

European Mennonites, Cor 
respondence 28, 67 

Ewert, H. H., 350, 369, 370 

Biog. p 453 

Ewert, William 209 

Ewert, VV. J 3 6 7 

Excelsior Normal School . . .255 
Excommunication 57 


Factionalism, Rise of 5 

Fifth General Conf 150,161 

First General Conference, 53 

64 ff., 69, 72, 78 

Flatland Church 113 

Foreign Mission (see Mission 


Foot Washing 176 

Fourth General Conf... 126, 132 
Fourteenth General Conf. . .391 

Franklin Center 59 

Franklin Prairie 30, 70, 71 

Freedom of Conscience 59 

Fretz, Allen M 271, 348 

Biog. p 4 6 7 

Fretz, Eli 5 1 

Fritz, A 140, 144, 193 

Funk, A. E. . . . 263, 294, 344, 366 

Funk, Christian 24 

Funk, J. A 355.342 

Funk, J. F 151, 206, 380 

Funk, J. H 228,265 

Gaeddert, Dietrich, 259, 261, 348 

Galle, P. J 369 

Galle, William 182, 271 

Geary (see Red Hills).. 337, 34 1 

Geiger, Ulrich 85 

General Conference Sessions, 

First53,Second79,Third 115 

Fourth 132, Fifth 150, 161 

Sixth 152, 194, Seventh, 1. 225 

II. 241, Eighth 257, Ninth 376 

Tenth 379, Eleventh 382 

Twelfth 384, Thirteenth 388 

Fourteenth 391, Fifteenth 393 

General Conf., what it is ... 68 

Goerz, David, 204 ff., 228, 235 

253, 259, 262, 280, 345, 348 

350 ff., 362 ff., 371,382, 386 

Gottschall (Schwenksville).. 113 

Gottschall, Moses 121 

Gottschall, W. S 351 

Biog. p 4 6 4 

Great Swamp Church 113 

Grubb, N. B., 271, 367, 382 
Biog. p 45 




Halstead Church 205, 209 

Harder, Gustav 341 

Haury, G. A 306 

Haury, John 13^ 

Haury, Samuel S., 182 ff., 223 

234 ft ., 251, 261, 272 ff., 

290 ff., 309 

Hege, Daniel, Si, 84 ff., 93113 

122, Biog. p 414 

Hereford Church.. 113, 117, 133 

Heresy 57 

Herschy, Euselius 119 

Herschler, Christian 121 

Hirschler, Daniel B., 256, 315 

346, 367 

Hirschler, Daniel, Sr 119 

Hirschler, John S., 182, 259, 271 

Hirschler, Susan, L 280 

Hirschy, N. C.. 351, Biog. p. 470 

Hoch, Daniel, 18, 74 ff., 82, 85 

no ff., 115 

Hoch, Jacob 85, 152, 166 

Home and Foreign Mission 

Society, Can. & O., 39, 159 

Home Mission, 34, 59, 101, 196 

22 3, 259, 344-352 

Horsch, M. M.., 338,342 

Bi og- P 474 

Hunsberger, Eph., 40, 43, 51, 85 
IGI, 104, 1 17 ff., 133, 151, 155 
197, 223, 268 ...Biog. p. 441 

Hunsberger, Wm 85 

Hymnal 155, 174179 

Ihst, John L n 9 

Immigration, Mennonite, 2, 11 
200 209 
Indian Industrial School, 

306-309, 311 
Iowa Churches 148 


Jackson, Dr. , Sheldon 261 

Janzen, J 367 


Kansas Conference ... 252 

Kirchhofer, Jacob 2815 

Klemmer, Samuel, 130, 133, 151 

Kliewer, J. J., 309 ff., 315, 317 

3 2I ;335 ff v342, Biog. p. 473 

Kodiac Island 275, 277 ff . 

Kolb, Jacob G 125 

Kulp, Joseph 265 

Krehbiel, Christian, 128, 133 

I 5 I t J54, 1 5& ff., 181, 187 

197 ff., 223, 228, 233, 237, 250 

263,268,273, 280,290, 295 ff. 

307 ff., 323, 327, 329, 337 ff. 

34i; 345, 382, Biog. p... 4 2S 

Krehbiel, Daniel, 32, 33, 35, 42 

52,60, 72, 74, 94 ff., 120.123 

: 33, 146, 15; 228, 244, 256 

26 3; ff-, 34 1 , Biog. p .... 401 

Krehbiel, II. J., 367, Biog. p. 469 

Krehbiel, Jacob L, 32, 35, 54, 70 

71, 114 

Krehbiel, Jacob II 31, 54^ $5 

Krehbiel, Jacob III., 32, 33, 198 
213, 265 

Krehbiel, Jacob E 112 

Krehbiel, Jacob S., 317, 322 ff. 

330,335 ff.,34i 

Krehbiel, John C., 32, 53, 63 
in, 117, 119, 121, 130, 133, 

I 5 I > J 59> B iog. p 471 

Kruse, A. T 313 

Kruse, II. O 369, 371 


Landis, Daniel 85 

Langacker, Samuel 151 

Lehmann, J. F 367 

Lehmann, Michael, 85, 120, 123 
133, 151 



Lehmann,P.P., 271, Biog. p. 472 

Leisy, Jacob, 85, IIQ, 121, 133 

151, 184. 205, 300 

Leisy, Mary, 108, 112, 184, 203 


Leonhard, Maggie 311 

Loux, Enos 49, 51 


Manitoba Education in, 350, 375 

Mannhardt, J 28, 29 

Markham, Canada 113 

Mayer, Aaron S 180 

Mayer, Jacob M 85 

Mayer, Peter 151 

Mayer, Samuel 151 

Mayer, Wm. G 180 

McNelly, John 119 

Mennonitische Blaetter, 28, 36 

Mennonite Board of Guard 
ians 206 ff. 

Mennonite Council in East 

Pennsylvania 27 

Mennon. Executive Aid Co. ,206 
Mennonitische Friedensbote 18 
Menn. Periodical, origin of, 14 
Mennonite Printing Union, 17 
59, 89, 122, 179 

Menno Simon 95 

Menno Society 45 

Metuchen, N. J "3 

Miles, Indian Agent, 282, 284 
292, 293, 299 

Milford 14 

Milford Square 17, 59, 112 

Middle District Conference, 158 

Mission Society of Amster 
dam, 29, 185, 186, 1 88, 198, 222 

Mission Board, Pa 189 

Mission, Foreign, 25, 27, 59 

135, 184190, 198, 222, 234 

238241, 245, 248251, 260 

272 -343 


Molenaar, Isaac 134, 138 

Molenaar, John 138 

Moser, A. J 126, 270 

Moyer, M. S., 193, 217, 234, 271 
344, 346-348,349 ff.,Biog.p. 468 

Moyer, Wm. B 151 

Moyer, J. S., 176, 182, 220, 228 

261,271,345,351, Biog. p. 468 

Moyer, A. 133 


Neisz, Henry 85 

Neisz, Isaac > 265 

Neisz, Jonas 133, 136 

New Jersey 104 

Ninth General Conference- -378 

Non-Essentials i, 57 

Non-Resistance - 176 

Northern Conference 378 


Oberholzer, John H., 15 ft ., 20 ff. 

28; 35; 37, 40, 4 2 > 44, 49 ff - 
60, 63 ff., 82, 85, 89, 94, 109 
in, 114, 116, 119, 121, 128 

I3 1 , X 33; i37> I 5 l > Z 5 6 , l6 9 
172, 196, 198, 235, 364, 380 

Biog. p 47 

Oberholzer, W. H., 151, 198, 212 

- J 5 

Oklahoma opened 316 

Old Mennonites, 100, 156, 203 

Opposition to Gen l Conf. .. 75 

Ordinances 57 

Oskaloosa, Iowa 31 

Overholt, Anthony 198,265 


Pacific Coast Conference. . -362 

Palatinate 3 

Penn, William 2 

Penner III., J 35 1 

- 503 - 


Pennsylvania 2 

Pennsylvania churches, (East 

Conference) " 2 

Pennsylvania Mission Board . 189 

Peter, Jacob 2O 4 

Petter, Rudolph. . .321, 325, 337 

34 2 

Philadelphia 2 

Philadelphia Church, So, 113 
"7> r 33 

Polk City 49? 6 5 

Principles of Union for Gen 
eral Conference 58 

Publication, 14, 17, 59; 6, 89 ff. 

135-137; *79; 2 53; 2 6 T ; 3<H-367 


Quakers (Friends), 1,238,252, 302 


Red Hills (see Geary) 3 T 7 

Reformation l 

Religioeser Botschafter ... 14 

Richert, Henry, 241, 245; 28o > 2 9 

3H;345;3-4S,Biog.p....44 2 

Risser, Daniel F. . - 193, 2 O4 ; 2 34 

Risser, Jacob 133; I 5 l 

Roosen, B. C., 28, 29, 83, 1 14, 138 

Rosengerber, Jos. D "9 

Ruth, David, 54, 7; 7^ I1 7; IT 9 


Salem, Ohio Church 133 

Sa ucona Church "3 

Schantz, Joseph 7 6 

Schimmei, J. O 1 19, iSo 

Schimmel, L. O., 42, 50 ff., 85 
117, 119, 132 if., 151, J 55 
165, 196, 223, 232, 259, 379 

Schimmel, L. S 2 55 

Schmitt, John IS 1 

Schneider, D *33 


Schowalter, Christian, 32, 54, 70 
112, n6ff., I 3 i,i33ff.,i 3 8ff. 
144 ff., 149, I5 1 ; X 53; 59 
160 ff., 186, 198, 211, 229, 
232 ff., 246, 259,262,311,362 
365, 366, 386, Biog. p.- -417 

Schroeder, Joseph 49, 54 

Schultz, Jonas Y., 163, 169, 192 


Schultz, O. S... 294 

Schwenkfeldians : 357 

Schwenksville, 102, 113, n7; X 33 

Secret Societies 2 

Sell, Peter 33 

Seventh General Conf.,225, 241 
Shelly, A. B., 127, 130, 133, X 37 
151, 156, 176, 180, 196, 198 
210, 211225, 228, 233, 259 
262, 263, 270, 294, 299, 311 
312, 340, 362, 364, 365, 366 

382, 386, Biog. p V 22 

Shelly, A. S., 255, 257, 266, 271 
306, 250, 350 ff., 369 

Biog. p. 457 

Shelly Station (see Washita) 

Shelly, Ruben 85 

Shippach Church 113 

Sitka, Alaska 273 ft"., 2 79 ff - 

Sixth General Conference.. 194 
Sommer, I. A., 271, 362, 3 66 

Biog. p 463 

Sprunger, J. A 35 1 

Sprunger, S. F., 182, 223, 228 
259 ff., 263, 271, 344 ff-; 345 
366,382, 386, Biog. p.. -445 

Stauffer, Daniel 


Stauffer, J. High 

Stauffer, Mary 

Stauffer, Peter 


Sudermann, Hermann 

2 75; 


^ 6 

3 22 
34 1 



Sudermann, Leonhard, 209, 259 
348, Biog. p 444 

Summerfield Church, 70 ff., So ff. 

94, 98, in, 113, 115 ff., 133 

!33; 148, 17; 87 ff., 203 ff. 


Swamp Church 15 


Tenth General Conference. .379 
Third General Conference. . 115 

Thirteenth General Conf 388 

Thomas, Harrison 198 

Toews, J. R 350, 351 

Toews, N. F 350 

Tract Publication 45 

Twelfth General Conf 384 


Unification Idea appears 19 

Union Articles of 55 

Unification Preliminary 

meeting 30 

Upper Milford Church, 113, 117 


Van der Smissen, C. H. A., 
382, Biog. p -459 

Van der Smissen, C. J., 148, ff. 
154 ff., 159 ff., 185 ff., 198 

211, 229, 246, 254 ff., 297, 340 

Biog. p 436 

Van Steen, J 367 

Vogt, Gerhard 388 

Voth, A. S .....328, 338 

Voth, Barbara. 313 

Voth, H. R., 256, 271, 292, 294 ff. 

322 ff. ,327, 342, Biog. p, 461 


Wadsworth, O., 24, 38, 51, 62 

79; J 33 
Wadsworth Church, 79, So, 113 

H7; I2 3 

Waldenses i 

Washita Mission -.310, 337, 342 
Warkentin, Bernh., 202,206,209 

Wasser, David 180 

Waterloo, Canada, 38, So, 113 

"7; I2 3 

Wayne County, Ohio 113 

Wedel, C. H 289, 294,367 

Weierhof, Germany 30 

Weiss, H. L 330 

Wells County, Ind 112, 113 

Welty, Joel 367 

Western District Conf 361 

Western District (now Cen 
tral), 157, 170, 173, 174, 201 
20 4 , 2I 3 , 221, 2 5 2 

West Point . . . . 30, 53, 56, 70, 7 1 

West Point Church, 30, 65, 70 

So, in, 113, 117, 133 

West Swamp Church, So, 113 

H7; I2 3 
Western Publishing Co 253 


Yoder, P 136 


Zur Heimath 18, 253, 365 

Zion Church, 30, 31, 65, So, in 
113, 117, 133, 138,158- 



: xr. 

3rd line 

from above, omit the words "and which." 



i 3 th 



below, read "causes" for courses. 


2 5- 




above, read "cause" for course. 






" read "procedure" for proceedure. 






below, read "had" for have. 



4 th 



" read "sudden" for suddden. 






" read "our" for onr. 






above, read "procedure" for proceedure. 






" read "He" for Ha. 



1 5th 



" read "Conference" forConferemce. 






below, read "were" for was. 






" read "things" for thing. 



i 3 th 



above, read "easily" for casely. 






" read lt " " 



4 th 



below, read "1896" for 1859. 






above, read "agitated" for gitated.