Wednesday, 09 October 2013 22:02

The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XII, No. 3 (Jan., 1905), page 314

Written by  A. Wayne Webb
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The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XII, No. 3 (Jan., 1905), page 314 [Click for larger image]The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XII, No. 3 (Jan., 1905), page 314

happy hereafter, but first must pass through punishment according to their Sins." Dr. Walker here has fallen into a mass of confusion that had doubtless bewildered other men before him, and that certainly has blinded hundreds to the truth since his day; and it is to make another effort, in behalf of justice and historical truth, to clear up this confusion, that I beg space for these lines. The facts in brief are these: The Ephrata Society, who were an offshoot of the Dnnker sect, were Sabbatarians and ascetics; yet they retained a few of the principles and practices of the parent body. Often, therefore, they were called Dunkers; often, on the other hand, through a similar lack of discrimination, the Dunkers were confused with the Slbbatarians, and, in consequence, charged with their ascetic practices and heretical doctrines. These misconceptions have clung to the subject with the characteristic persistency of error, from generation to generation, and even in our own day are by no means entirely dispelled. In the realm of fiction they have found a congenial atmosphere; and even in sober history they have taken deep root. Howe, the historian, whose book, Virginia: Its History and Antiquities, is eagerly sought after and highly prized by students and librarians of to-day, wrote a hundred years after Dr. Walker; yet he follows the same wrong path. Indeed, he gets far further into the maze of error, and he is probably still leading multitudes after him. In his sketch of Botetourt county (page 203), he says: "At the small village of Amsterdam, 5 miles s. of Fincastle, there is a large brick church, lately built by the Dunkards The Dunkers at Amsterdam are descendants of Germans who emigrated to Pennsylvania. The following, regarding the tenets and practices of this sect, is from a published account: " 'The Tunkers are a denomination of Seventh-Day Baptists, which took its rise in the year 1724. [The Tunker sect originated in Germany in 1708. Beissel, who afterwards founded the monastic sect, was baptized by a Tunker bishop, near Philadelphia, in 1724.] It was founded by a German, who, weary of the world, retired to an agreeable solitude within sixty miles of Philadelphia, for the more free exercise of religious contemplation. Curiosity attracted followers, and his simple and engaging manners made them proselytes. They soon settled a little colony, called Ephrata, in allusion to the Hebrews, who used to sing psalms on the border of the river Euphrates. This denomination seem to have obtained their name from their baptizing their new converts by plunging. [The terms Tunker and Dunker did arise from the mode of baptizing by immersion, or dipping, frem Ger. tunken, to dip.] * * They use trine immersion, with laying on the hands and prayer, even when the person baptized is in the water. [This is true of the Dun

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