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History of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present online

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bui-g, Lewisberiy. These charges are served
by twelve pastors, and have a membership of
about 2,500, and church property valued at
about §75,000. There are thirty- four Sunday
schools in the county with a membership of
about 3,400.

Rev. Jacob Albright, the founder of the
association, frequently preached in this coun-
ty. Revs. John Walker and George Miller
were among the first clergymen who came
into the county. The late Rev. Adam Ettin-
ger for half a century devoted his whole at-
tention to church work in this county.


For the great work of assisting to revive
piety among the Germans in America, and
their descendants, Providence seems to have
prepared Philip Wilhelm Otterbein, who se-
lected Lancaster and York Counties, and the
City of Baltimore, to preach the gospel. He
was born in Dillenberg, Germany, June 4,
1726; was ordained a minister of the Re-
formed Church, at Herborn, in 1749, and sent
as a missionary to America, 1752. A beauti-
ful incident connected with his mission is
related as follows: Otterbein's brother, who
was also a minister, received a letter, accord-
ing to tradition, from County York, describ-
ing the great need of more gospel; pleading
for the people as sheep scattered in the
wilds of the new world without a shepherd.
He showed it to William and his mother,
whereupon the pious woman, taking her son
by the hand, said, with as much fervor as
the Spartan mother: "Go, my son, and the
Lord keep thee and bless thee; we may never
meet again, but go." Stirred by her self-
sacrificing words, he set sail for America.
He began his labors in Lancaster, and after-
ward came to York and preached here and in
the surrounding country. During this time
he adopted what he termed " New Measures,"
viz., prayer- meetings, class-meetings, open-
air meetings and the itineracy. He was a
fervid, earnest and devoted speaker, and
aroused the people by his preaching. In the
year 1765, he met Martin Boehm, a powerful
Mennonite preacher, at a large meeting in
Isaac Long's barn, in Lancaster county. At
the close of Boehm's sei-mon, Otterbein
rushed up to him and clasped him in his
arms, uttering in a loud voice: "We are
brethren." The congregation, composed of
different denominations, began to praise the
Lord. This circumstance gave rise to the
name of "United Brethren in Christ." He
went to Baltimore in 1774 and organized a
church; he erected a building soon after, which
is still standing, on the corner of Sharp and
Conway streets. He died in that city No-
vember 17, 1813, aged eighty-seven years.
At the time of his death he had as followers
100 ministers and 20,000 members. Now
there are in America 2,551 churches, 2,174
ministers and about 165,000 members. There
are five bishops, as follows: J. J. Glossbren-
ner, J. Weaver, J. Dickson, E. B. Kephart
and N. Cassel.

Rev. Mr. Otterbein, like Wesley, never dis-
connected himself from his mother church, yet
he is claimed as the founder of the Church
of the United Brethren in Christ in America,
as it was upon the doctrines and principles


he advocated that this church was estab-
lished. He was a man of eminent ability,
and became one of the most influential cler-
gymen in his adopted city. The first perma-
nent church organization of this denomina
tion in this county was effected in Windsor


An order of Baptists originated in Lan-
caster in 1S30 under the preaching of Rev.
John Winebrenner, a minister of the Ger-
man Reformed Church. This denomination
is Presbyterian in polity. Great earnestness
and zeal were the characteristics of the early
clergy of this denomination. In 1835, and
shortly after, a number of congregations were
formed in York County, chiefly in the upper
end, by Revs. Winebrenner, Maxwell, Ross,
Mulnix, Weishampel, Kiester, and others.
There are now about a dozen churches of this
denomination in the county, and they are lo-
cated in Newberry, Warrington, Monaghan,
Franklin, Warrington and Windsor Town-


The German Baptists, as a church body,
originated in Germany in the j'ear 1708,
during the great religious awakening of the
latter part of the seventeenth and the begin-
ning of the eighteenth centuries. They usu-
ally call themselves "Brethren," and their
church "the Brethren Church." Locally
they are generally called "Dunkers," from
the German word ''tunker," meaning to bap-
tize or dip. This last name originated in
Pennsj'lvania during their early history here.
They do not recognize the name Dunker as
appropriate to designate their church body.
The originators of this denomination in Ger-
many met and held meetings among them-
selves for social worship, but the embittered
clergy soon caused the secular authorities to
interfere. At this time, about 1695, a mild
and lenient count ruled over the province of
Wigenstein in north Prussia, where liberty
of conscience was granted. To this place,
although a poor, rough country, went many,
who were aroused by a religious awakening,
and who desired to consult among themselves
as to church discipline and ecclesiastical pol-
ity. This province was soon known as ''the
rendezvous of the Lord's people." Those
who collected there were first called Pietists,
and all worshiped together. They then com-
menced to call themselves Brethren. One of the
guiding points of their discipline was found
in the book of Matthew, which says: "'If thy
brother trespass against thee, go and tell him
his faults between thee and him alone." But,

to fulfill this injunction, they needed some
church order, and they began to seek for the
footsteps of the primitive Christians. The
mystery of water baptism appeared to them a
door of entrance into the true church which
they so earnestly sought, but they could not
at once agree as to form. Finally, in 1708,
eight of the most truth- loving of them agreed
to enter into "a covenant of good conscience
with God, by taking up all the command-
ments of Jesus Christ as an easy yoke, and
thus follow him as their faithful ghepherd."

Those eight persons were George Graby and
Lucas Vetter from Hesse- Cassel; Alexander
Mack, from Schriesheim and his wife Anna
Margaretta, Andrew Bonny, from Basle, Swit-
zerland, and his wife Johanna, and John Kip-
ping, from Wurtemburg, and his wife Johan-
na. These eight, now historic persons, "cove-
nanted and united as brethren and sisters of
Jesus Christ," and thus formed the nucleus
of a church of Christian believers. They
claimed, after careful investigation, that ac-
cording to the commands of Christ, the prim-
itive Christians "were planted into His death
by a threefold immersion in the water bath
of holy baptism, being in exact harmony with
the New Testament." Trine immersion
was considered by them the only correct form
of baptism. Being prepared for the ceremo-
ny of baptism, they went in solitude along
the little stream called Aeder, in Germany,
and he upon whom the labor had fallen bap-
tized the leading brother and he in turn bap-
tized the rest. This interesting ceremony
occurred at an early hour in the morning. In
a few years there were large congregations
gathei'ed in Swartznau in the Palatinate and
in Marienborn. Persecution soon followed
them. These unfortunate ones found refuge
under the King of Prussia. Among the
prominent workers in the church in Ger-
many about 1715, some of whose descendants
now live in York County were John Henry
Kalclesser, of Frankeuthal; Christian Liebe
(Leib), of Ebstein; Johanna Nass (Noss), of
Norten; Peter Becker, of Dillsheim; John
Henry Trout and several brothers; Heinrich
Holsapple and Stephen Koch of the Palati-

This religious body suffered great persecu-
tion in parts of the fatherland. Some fled
to Creyfeld. Prussia, from thence to Holland,
thence to the province of Friesland, in the
hope of finding an asylum of peace and
safety, but were everywhere disappointed until
they " turned their faces toward the land of
Peun. " Twenty families first emigrated,
with Elder Peter Becker at their head, in
1719, and settled in the vicinity of German-


town, Penn. In 1729 thirty more
came over under the leadership of the cele-
brated Alexander Mack, who himself was a
noted evangelist, and a descendant of the W al-
denses so well known to history. Settle-
ments of them were soon formed at Skippack,
Montgomery County, Oley in Berks, and
Conestoga in Lancaster; all under the care
of preachers Mack and Becker. In ] 723
the church held a first election in America
and chose Conrad Beissel a minister and
John Hildebrand a deacon, both to serve in
Lancaster County. In the language of an
old record, " Conrad Beissel got wise in his
own conceit, had an idea that Saturday was
the Lord's day, secured a number of fol-
lowers, and in 1729 organized at Ephrata the
German Seventh-day Baptists, " who were
afterward known as a distinct church body.
In 1732 Beissel organized a monastic society
at Ephrata. The churches at Ephrnta, at
Conestoga, and one in Chester County at-
tracted so many settlers that land became
high. So numerous members of the Brethren
Church, as early as 173G, began to emigrate
to what is now York County. Some went
down into Maryland. The first church in
this county by the Brethren was organized
in 1738, " twenty miles west from the town
of York, on the Little Conewago. " This
was in the vicinity of Hanover. The district
embraced by the church included a large
extent of territory east, north and north-
west of the site of the present town of Han-
over. It will thus be seen that the German
Baptists were among the very first to form
church organizations in York County. Among
the members of the first church were the
Banners, Eldrieks, Dierdorfs, Biglers, Studs-
mans, etc. Their first preacher was Daniel
Leatherman, Sr. He was followed by Nicholas
Martin, Jacob Moyer (Meyers), James Hen-
rich (Henry), etc. In 17-41 there was another
church organized in the limits of what was
then York County, " on the Great Conewago
about fourteen miles west from the new town
of Yoi-k." This was the same year York was
founded. Many of the members of the
church lived in the present territory of
Adams County, in the vicinity of the present
villages of Abbottstown and East Berlin.
Among the first members of this organization
were the Neagleys, Sowers, Sweigards, Nei-
fers, and most prominent were the Latschas.
Their first elder was George Adam Martin,
who was followed by Daniel Leatherman, Jr.
and Nicholas Martin. The two organiza-
tions already described were known as the
Conewago Churches.

There was another congregation organized

within the present area of Washington Town-
ship, "fifteen miles from the town of York,"
called the Bermudian Church. The first
constituents of this organization separated
from the Cloister Church, at Ephrate, Lan-
caster County, in 1735, and organized in
1758 in York County. Many of them were
Seventh-day Baptists. The church was con-
sidered an offspring of Ephrata, but for a
while they worshiped with the Brethren.
Some of the founders of it were: Philip
Gebel, Peter Beissel, Henry Lowman, Peter
Miller and George Adam Martin.

Some of the prominent persons who com-
posed its membership previous to 1770 were:
Frederick Renter and wife, Daniel Fahne-
stock and wife, Paul Troub and wife, Peter
Henry and wife, Dieti^ich Fahnestock and
wife, John Cook and wife, Peter Bender and
wife, Melchior Webber and wife, John Lehr
and wife, John Messerbach and wife, George
Reiss (Rice) and wife, George Neiss (Nace)
and wife, Benjamin Gebel (Gable) and wife,
Philip Beissel and wife, Baltzer Smith and
wife, widows Dorothy and Stauffer, several
families by the name of Frick: John Bentz,
wife, daughter and four sons; John Miller,
wife and two sons; Peter Beissel, wife, son
and two daughters. This list includes both
Seventh-day Baptists and Brethren. Later
in the history of this church the Seventh-
day Baptists or '• Sieben Tager," as they were
generally called, maintained a separate or-
ganization, but as a church, ceased to exist in
this county about 1820. Some of the mem-
bers about that time were Frederick Reider,
Jacob Kimmel, Michael Kimmel, John Meily,
Samuel, Daniel and Boreas Fahnestock and

The " Codorous Church was organized in
the township of Codorus, eleven miles south-
east of York in 1758." and soon after num-
bei'ed in its membership about forty families.
The fu-st elder of this church was Jacob
Danner, a son of Michael Danner, a promi-
nent man in the early history of the county
and one of the five commissioners appointed
to view and lay off York County in 1749.
Jacob Danner, Heinrich Danner and their
father were among the most intelligent of the
first German emigrants, west of the Sus-
quehanna, and figured very conspicuously in
their day. Jacob Danner was a poet of no
mean reputation about the year 1750. He
and Rev. Jacob Lischy, of York Reformed
Church, engaged in a vigorous religious con-
troversy. The manuscripts containing Dan-
ner's arguments were written in verse in his
native German language. This rare docu-
ment is now in the possession of the writer



of this article. Jacob Danner moved to
Frederick County, Md. The controversy
showed considerable ability on the part
of both clergymen.

Prominent among the first members of the
Codorns congregation in 1758 were Rudy
Yunt, Peter Brillharth, John Brillharth,
Henry Neff and wife. After Jacob Danner
went to Maryland, Henry Neff was called to
the ministry and remained pastor until after
1775. He was highly appreciated by his
people, and kept careful official records. Some
of the other members of this church before
1770 were Jacob Tilman. wife and daughter,
Jacob Spitlei-, wife and two daughters, Jacob
Neiswanger and wife. Anna Neiswanger, and
Elizabeth Seip, George Beary and wife, John
Harold and wife, William Spitler and wife.
Christian Eby, Wendell Baker and wife,
Michael Berkey and wife, George Etter and
son, Matthias Sitler and wife. Susanne

The celebrated Baptist preacher, Morgan
Edwards, of Philadelphia, visited his Dunker
brethren in York County in 1770 and after-
ward wrote an interesting report of their
prosperity here.

Being non-resistants in principle and in
church discipline, the first who emigrated
to York County had no difficulties with the In-
dians then here. During the Revolutionary
war most of them took the oath of allegiance.

" The annual conference was held first in
York County in 17811 on the great Conewago."'
The following named elders or bishops were
present: Daniel Leatherman, Martin Urner,
Jacob Danner, Heinrich Danner, John Funk,
Jacob Stall, Heinrich Neif. Conrad Brom-
bach, Daniel Utz. Andreas Eby. Samuel Ger-
ber, Herman Blasser, Jacob IBasehor, Abra-
ham Oberholtzer.

Some of these may have been visitors
from Lancaster County or Maryland.

The Dunkers or Brethren were so numer-
ous in York and Adams Counties that a second
meeting of the conference was held on the
premises of Isaac Latchaws in 1819, when
the' following named elders or bishops were
present: Benjamin Bauman, Samuel Arnold,
Daniel Stober (Stover), Daniel Gerber,
Christian Lang (Long), Jacob Mohler, John
Gerber, John Staufifer, Benjamin Eby, John
Trimmer, Jacob Preisz (Price), Daniel
Reichardt, Frederick Kline, Daniel Saylor,
the ancestor of D. P. Saylor, a prominent
minister of the church who recently died.
Nearly all these elders then lived in York
and Adams Counties.

The services in general down to about
1810 were held in private houses, barns and

schoolhouses. They now have plainly con-
structed but comfortable meeting-houses.
The following is a list of the names of some
prominent members of the Brethren Church,
who lived in York County before the year
1770 and belonged to the Conewago, Ber-
mudian and other congregations: Jacob
Moyer and wife, James Henrick and wife,
Hans Adam Sneider and wife, Barbara
Sneider, George Wine and wife, Daniel
Woods and wife, Henry Geing and wife,
Joseph Moyer and wife, Nicholas Housteter
and wife. Christian Housteter, Rudy Brown
and wife, Tobias Brother and wife, Jacob
Miller and wife, Michael Kouts and wife,
widow Powser and widow Moyer, Stephen
Peter, wife and daughter, Maud Powser,
George Peter, Heni-y Tanner or Danner and
wife, Michael Tanner and wife, John Moyer
and wife, Jacob Souder and wife, Henry
Hoeff and wife, Hesther Weise, Christian
Etter, John Peter Weaver, Barbara Bear,
John Swai'ts and wife, Liss Bearing, Great
Hymen, George Brown and wife, Peter Werds
or Wertz, John Heiner and wife, Peter
Fox and wife, Anthony Dierdorff and wife,
Nicholas Moyer and wife, Manasses Bruch and
wife, Michael Basserman and wife, David
Erhard and wife, Ann Mummard, Daniel
Baker and wife, Abraham Staufl'er and wife,
Heury Dierdorff and wife, John Burkholter
and wife, Christian Frey, Andrew Trimmer
and wife, Justus Reinsel and wife, Samuel
Arnold, Peter Dierdorff and wife, Barnet
Achenbach and wife, Mary Latche, Catherine
Studybaker, John Neagley and wife, Valen-
tine Beissel and wife, Mathias Bouser, Philip
Snell and wife, Adam Sower, wife and two
daughters, Adam Dick and wife, Moralis
Baker and wife, Henry Beissel and wife,
Henry Radibush and wife, George Waggoner
and wife, Rudolph Brown, Jacob Miller.
Nearly all of the congregations of this
denomination now have meeting- houses.
The county of York is at present divided into
three districts. The upper Codorus district
has within its limits four meeting-houses,
namely — Black Rock, in Manheim Township;
Jeflerson,near Jefferson Borough; Wildasin's,
four miles southeast of Hanover, and Beaver
Creek, near Abbottstown. The bishop or
elder of this district is Henry Hohf, of Black
Rock. The preachers are D. N. Bucher, of
Abbottstown; Joseph Price, of Black Rock;
Aaron Baugher, Jefferson; David B. Hohf,
Edwin Miller, of Black -Rock; Moses Murray
and David Hoff.

The lower Codorus district embraces the
region of country around York and Logan-
ville. In this district there are four meeting


houses, namely — Logansville, Herbst, near
Winterstown; "Dnion Meeting House, between
York and Logansville, and West York, built
quite lately in the borough.

The bishop or elder of this district is
Jacob Shamberger, who resides in Baltimore
County. The preachers are Jacob Aldinger,
Chi-istian Ness and Andrew Meyers.

The third district embraces the upper end
of the county and contains four meeting-
houses, namely: Bermudian, in Washington
Township; Walgemuth's, near Dillsburg,
Holzschwamm or Altland's near Bigmount in
Paradise Township and Union Chapel in

There is no bishop or elder to this district
at present. The preachers are John Raffens
berger, Samuel Kochenauer and Daniel Alt-
land. The membership of the German Bap-
tists in York County is now about one thous-
and families, all farmers. They are a quiet
unpretentious, industrious, well-to-do people,
and as citizens are honest, upright, kind and
just in all their relations, with their fellow- '
men. The annual meetings and love- feasts
are attended by hundreds and sometimes

The River Brethren, sometimes known
among themselves as "Brethren in Christ," is
a sect that originated along the Susquehanna
Eiver, in Conoy Township, Lancaster County
in 1786. and soon after a congregation was
formed in York County. The authentic his-
tory of this sect is rarely given. There have
been published accounts which claimed to
trace the origin to Germany in the year 1705.
This statement has been published time and
again in encyclopedias, but it is, neverthe-
less, inaccurate.

The name is sometimes confused with the
United Brethren (Moravians,) and the United
Brethren in Christ.

The lirst services which afterward led to
the organization of the River Brethren, were
held in the house of Jacob Engel, a Men-
nonite, who lived near Bainbridge, Lancaster
County, and who afterward became the first
bishop of the new church body. A temporary
organization was effected in 1776. It was
not then fully determined to form a new de-
nomination. In 1784 the celebrated evan-
gelist, Martin Boehm, conducted a noted re-
vival in Donegal Township. Among the many
who listened to the great preacher were six
men: Jacob Engel, above mentioned; Hans
(John) Engel, John Stern, Samuel Meigs
and C. R. Rupp, the other can not be given.

These men met together frequently for prayer
and to search the Scriptures. After many
meetings they concluded that trine immer-
sion was the only legal mode enjoined by the
scriptures. They then went to George Mil-
ler, a minister of the German Baptist (Dunker)
faith, and asked him- to baptize them, but
fold him they did not wish to join his church.
Upon that condition the right of baptism was
refused them by the Dunker minister. They
then in imitation of the Brethren, cast lots
along the shore of the Susquehanna, and one
of them drew the proper ticket; whereupon
he baptized the others, and one of them in
turn baptized him. From documents written
at the time and still in existence, the
facts herein given were obtained. This inter-
esting ceremony took place in 1786. Jacob
and John Engel and C. Rupp became the
first ministers of the denomination. This
sect has, ever since its origin, been entirely
distinct from the Dunkers Brethren. The sect
in 1880 had about eighty ministers, 100
congregations and 9,000 members in the
United States, mostly in southern Pennsyl-
vania, Ohio, Indiana and Kansas. Their
religious services were conducted originally
in the German language. At present Eng-
lish is much used. As a class these people
are strictly non-resistant, but upright and
honorable in the highest degree. There are
about 300 families of the sect in Lancaster
County and in York County.

They worship in union meeting-houses in
this county in the villages of Manchester,
Strinestown and Longstown regularly, and oc-
casionally other places. Services are very fre-
quently held in private houses. Their love
feasts, annually held, usually across the
river, are eventful occasions. George Armold,
of Longstown, is now their principal preacher,
living in York County. A number of vener-
able preachers of this sect have died in this
county. Bishop Engle, of Lancaster County,
makes periodical visits to the brethren in
this county and conducts religious services.

A division of the denomination call
themselves "Old School Brethren." Jacob
Keller, of Manchester, is elder or bishop of
them. Some of their preachers are David
E. Good, George Strickler, John Strickler
and Peter Williams. A number of ministers
from Lancaster County visit York County
regularly. The members of both divisions
of this sect live mostly in Manchester and
Hellam Townships, and are all prosperous
farmers and excellent people.




David Jameson was born in Edinburgh,
Scotland, about 1715, and graduated at the
medical school of the celebrated university
of that ancient city. He immigrated to
America about the year 1740, accompanied
by his friend and fellow-surgeon, Hugh
Mercer, afterward distinguished in his pro-
fession and as a general officer of the Revo-
lutionary Army. He landed at Charleston,
S. C, and, after a brief sojourn there, re-
moved to Pennsylvania ; resided for some
time at Shippensburg, and finally settled at
York, in that province, where his name and
fame yet linger, and where a number of his
descendants of the fourth and fifth genera-
tions still reside. He became an officer of
the provincial forces of Pennsylvania and
attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the
same, and of colonel in the militia of Penn-
sylvania, in the Revolutionary war.* He
also held, by executive appointment, civic
offices in the county of York. The only ones
of which any record is found are those of
justice of the peace, the appointments bear-
ing date October, 1754, and June, 1777 —
(Grlossbrenner's History of York County,
1834) — and a special commission to him and
his associate, Martin Eichelberger, Esq., to
try certain offenders.

During the French and Indian war (1756)
many murders and. depredations were com-
mitted by the Indians on the frontier of
Pennsylvania, extending to all the settle-
ments from Carlisle to Pittsburg. A road had
been opened from Carlisle through Cumber-
land County, which crossed the North Moun-
tain at a place since called Stra(w)sbm-g ;

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 80 of 218)