Thursday, 16 October 2014 06:11

Discussion #7 — Digital Projects #2

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Our Communion in Kentucky.

. . . I will give the particulars of our progress at present. Brethren G. V. Siber, W. Cassell, T. Crider, and John Smith came from Ohio on the 23rd of November, and on the 25th of the same month organized a church, calling it the Blue Spring Church of Kentucky. . .

It as been a busy week around here with some 70 hours since last Friday having been spent updating ministers and congregation while at the same time adding three newly found ministers, two congregations and discovering an oddity of one of the congregations that was heavily involved in the Old Older and Conservative split of 1881.

Looking for one item of interest I found something entirely different, leading me down the researching-in-depth path from which there is no return.  I loathe when this occurs, realizing it will lead me down other paths—eventually at times forgetting that which I was originally searching for.

On to other matters of a more important and immediate nature. Maintaining this site and the others on the domain, namely the German Baptist Brethren Almanacs, Annuals & Yearbooks site, the German Baptist Brethren Ministers & Congregations site, the Ashland University & Brethren Church Archives site, plus several other non-Brethren sites is costly.  And of course that includes this site, the German Baptist Brethren Books web site.  Additionally, our last professional level large format scanner has died thus it needs to be replaced.  IF you can help financially your three administrators would appreciate any assistance and it would be deeply appreciated.


I had stumbled upon the formation of the Allison Prairie congregation of Southeastern Illinois.  The article of 1920 differs slightly from published histories of the church so I began researching after typesetting it to the Ministers & Congregations site.  Since the 1920 article was written by a granddaughter of the founding minister, Ira Calvert (1820-1871), I give it some credence.

Yes, it has mistakes but it is a first hand account.  Updating the Allison Prairie article on the site, I took upon myself the task of updating Bro. Ira Calvert.  He interested me as he comes from the Southern District of Ohio.  I also added an interesting article on the La Motte Prairie congregation.

Updating Bro. Ira’s Brethren Encyclopedia, record I began exploring the men who preached his funeral.  One I already knew, Bro. Absalom Hyer (1814-1878), alias Hyre, also of Southern Ohio, the other was a new minister.  I added the citations for Absalom from “The Primitive Christian,” “The Brethren at Work” and “The Gospel Messenger,” updating his record.

In the obituary of Bro. Ira the other minister is listed as “P. Stoneberger.”  The surname is not recorded in the Brethren Encyclopedia.  Long story short, this is Philip Stoneburner Jr. (1815-1897) of the Solomon’s Creek (Bethany) congregation of Indiana.  Another new minister, he was the father of two other ministers, Elijah J. (1846-1908) and Levi (1856-ca. 1931).  Elijah was the father of a new-found minister, Levi J. (1873-1933).  Another relative was Jesse W. Stoneburner (1850-1909).  I was able to update each individual using various newspapers and almanacs, but, unfortunately, only one obituary was located.  I also updated Philip Jr.’s father, Philip Stoneburner Sr. (1786-1847).  So, one go-around with two new ministers and several updates.

Returning to the Allison Prairie congregation of Illinois, I discovered that the “Jesse P. Horning” mentioned in the Brethren Encyclopedia was incorrect.  Within congregational records of Southeastern Illinois he appears as “J. P. Horning.”  I actually wrote a nearly 2,000 word article, intending it to be published in an upcoming Brethren Life & Thought issue.  We’ll see.

After a two day foray involving the Horning family, all originally from the Berks county, Pennsylvania region, I updated and made corrections to Daniel L. Horning (1884-1964), John Price Horning (1827-1905) [the alluded to Jesse P. / J. P. Horning], Jonas Horning (1839-1925), Samuel Horning (1848-1933), Samuel H. Horning (1849-1933) and William W. Horning (1828-1915).  William E. and William W. Horning, as shown in the Brethren Encyclopedia, are the same individual. . .

While researching in an issue of “The Primitive Christian,” I stumbled upon an interesting write up concerning Eld. Isaac Karn (1767-1849), alias Karns, of the Northeastern and Southwestern Districts of Ohio.  He was later of Northern Indiana at the Eel River church.  It was interesting in that the article gives the age at death for both he and his wife, Elizabeth ‘Studebaker’ Karn, enabling a more accurate date of birth for each.  It also stated that at the time of the reunion there was ten children still alive.

No one ever knew of this—not even the thirty-two on Rootsweb’s World Connect, home of the copiers and bombardment advertisements.  The “Studebaker Family in America – 1736-1976” book lists only five.  No one has Isaac and Elizabeth’s correct natal dates and it is likely that it only appears in this one instance.

As if all the above was not convoluted enough, I found information for a short lived congregation in Kentucky, primarily in Scott and Owen counties, again, a new congregation.  Researching the newly installed minister, James A. Bond (1841-1924).  The congregation was called “Blue Spring Church of Kentucky” and it had three meeting houses.

Nothing being known of this congregation previously, I spent the better part of two days tracking down articles about it while at the same time researching the roots of the interrelated families of Bond and Fitzgerald.  This led me back to Barbour and Upshur counties in West Virginia.  In essence James A. Bond is either a cousin or brother to Thomas E. Bond (1844-1920).  A relation by marriage is John W. Fitzgerald (1839-1908).

While Bro. James A. Bond remained in Kentucky and Thomas E. Bond remained in West Virginia, such was not the case for John W. Fitzgerald.  He moved numerous times, serving at various congregations in the Southern Ohio district (where he joined the Brethren Church), then to Indiana where he founded at least one known Brethren Church congregation, before eventually moving to Southwestern Pennsylvania.

As would be expected, more was discovered.  A forgotten minister was James L. Fitzgerald (1843-1920), elected into whichever Brethren Church congregation was in the Barbour / Upshur county region of West Virginia.  He was a brother of John W. Fitzgerald.

The Bond and Fitzgerald families were early members of the Indian Branch, alias Indian Camp and Indian Rock, congregation of Barbour county, West Virginia.  Since I had located a county history with information on this church, I filled it in somewhat from an article printed in “The Primitive Christian.”

Since the Buckhannon congregation is not listed in the Brethren Encyclopedia, I added an article about it from a county history. Emmert Bittinger’s Allegheny Passage: Churches and Families–West Marva District–Church of the Brethren–1752-1990 was of assistance regarding both congregations.  His excellently written volume agreed in the main with the two congregation’s articles, differing only in minor details.

As before, I updated and/or created each of the ministers mentioned in this last passage.

I updated along the way some ten or so ministers and elders, but unfortunately lost the list due to a mid-night restart of my computer by Microsoft’s Update program.  The only one I can still recall was the locating of the election to the ministry of Bro. John W. Click (1853-1911) of Virginia which led to numerous almanac and newspaper updates, as well as his natal and death dates.

I did find an interesting tidbit about the Wolf Creek church of Southern Ohio.  I am referring to the German Baptist Brethren congregation, later the Church of the Brethren, not the Old German Baptist Brethren congregation.  Contrary to the general order of A. M., this church, in 1886, served the supper after single-mode feet-washing.  The following elders and ministers at this church, Samuel Garber (1818-1882), John A. Kimmel (1831-1898), Henry Garber (1842-1920), Conrad Brumbaugh (1809-1891), went with the Old Order faction in 1881.

It was at this congregation that the Old Order faction first met in 1868, culminating in the “Miami Valley Petition” of Nov. 25, 1879, at the Salem congregation.  This last was at the meeting-house that was within the bounds of what, in 1914, would become the Pitsburg congregation.  The church later was called the Ludlow church and the leader of this group was Eld. Samuel Garber, he having served as presiding elder of Wolf Creek from 1878 to 1881.

As I have been lead to understand, the Old German Baptist Brethren faction followed the time-tested supper after feet-washing while the Conservatives (German Baptist Brethren / Church of the Brethren) had the supper prior to feet-washing.  What was truly astounding though is that fully one-quarter of this German Baptist Brethren church used the double mode of feet-washing.  The congregation voted in favor of using single mode, changing from the double mode.

The church council, in which it clearly states:  “Then came the ‘tug of “war.”  One fourth of the church voted against changing from the double mode, however quite a number of these said that if the majority wanted the change they would accept it. . .  It was decided to have the supper on the table hereafter at feet-washing, which is not the general practice in the Miami Valley.”

The presiding elder, Jacob Garber (1821-1909), a brother of Eld. Samuel Garber, though present, wisely chose to abstain from the deliberations allowing the congregation to choose its own course.  Opening deliberations were on May 17th, tabled until May 29th, at which time it was determined that at the June 8th communion they would use the single mode of feet-washing and have the supper “on the table” at the time of it.  Elder Garber was a very wise man in his leadership, in permitting the church to decide how to observe the Holy Communion.  It was not uncommon at this time for some elders to rule with an iron hand.

Stated by the author, Bro. John C. Bright (1851-1919), is that “none of the twenty-two ministers in the adjoining churches were with us, though all live within a fine drive of the church.”  Bro. Bright did, however, mollify any possible aversions cast by his statement by mentioning the upcoming Annual Meeting as a possible cause for neighboring congregation’s ministers not attending.  It is doubtful that this many ministers would be needed in setting up A. M.  If you read between the lines, only one conclusion comes to mind. . .

The Annual Meeting of 1886 was held just south of the village of Pitsburg, Ohio, on the farm of Eld. Jesse Stutsman (1833-1926), within the bounds of what would later become the Pitsburg church.  At this time it was considered the Brush Creek church.  The history of the parent church being somewhat murky.  A. M. for 1886 began on Friday, June 11th and concluded on Thursday, June 17th.

As many have noticed while reading these blog entries, the links provided likely do not work.  Or at least those pointing to those sites under my control.  This is intentional.  It costs a lot of money during the year to finance my German Baptist Brethren Digital Archives project.  I do not feel that I should spend my time, money and effort to discover and record history so that others can “borrow” it for their own uses.  Those who support these same efforts, reap the benefits.

It is reminiscent to what has happened with the Brethren Digital Archives, for which I was the original impetus, which has now devolved to a point where companies in America, Great Britain and India have taken Brethren material created by the Brethren Digital Archives from Archive.Org—and are selling it on the Internet.  A course of events seemingly accepted by the committee.

But, in this one instance I feel that the Wolf Creek congregation article is so interesting when it comes to the turbulent opening of the 1880’s, I am going to unlock this particular article for a short term.  In the online version I have added to the paragraphs above, adding additional information so please take the time to peruse it.

A. Wayne Webb
Oct. 19, 2014

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A. Wayne Webb

A long time historian of the German Baptist Brethren church, and its more modern derivative bodies, Mr. Webb has moved on to become a recognized authority in digitally archiving manuscripts, both published works as well as singular documents.  He served as the Editor of Brethren Roots, 2002 to 2008, as published by The Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists.  To that end he has created and maintains a series of Internet web sites devoted to his passion, German Baptist Brethren history.

2 comments

  • Comment Link Angie Saturday, 29 November 2014 12:22 posted by Angie

    I am trying to find the Primitive Christian that you referred to Isaac Karn in. I have been trying to locate it on the Brethren Archives, can you help me?

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  • Comment Link bob bartley Saturday, 22 November 2014 18:56 posted by bob bartley

    I would really like a copy of discussion number 7. I tried to print it. no luck. tried to email to friend. no luck. can you please tell me how to get a copy of this discussion. Isaac karn was my 3rdgreatgrandfather and I am collecting any and all information I can on him. thank you !-

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