H. R. (Henry R.) Holsinger.

History of the Tunkers and the Brethren Church; embracing the Church of the Brethren, the Tunkers, the Seventh-Day German Baptist Church, the German Baptist Church, the Old German Baptists and the Brethren Church, including their origin, doctrine, biography and literature online

. (page 1 of 65)
Online LibraryH. R. (Henry R.) HolsingerHistory of the Tunkers and the Brethren Church; embracing the Church of the Brethren, the Tunkers, the Seventh-Day German Baptist Church, the German Baptist Church, the Old German Baptists and the Brethren Church, including their origin, doctrine, biography and literature → online text (page 1 of 65)
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Holsinger's History of the



The Brethren Church


The Church of the Brethren,

The Tunkers, The Seventh-Day German Baptist Church,

The German Baptist Church, The Old German

Baptists, and The Brethren Church




Editor of the Christian Family Cumtanion, first weekly paper pablithed

in the interests of the Tunkers

Lathrop, California


By Pacific Press Publishing Co., Oakland, Cal,


Reprinted 1962


L. W. Shultz,

North Manchester, Indiana.

To be had from
L. W. Shultz, North Manchester, Indiana.
The Brethren Publishing Company, Ashland, Ohio.
The Brethren Missionary Herald, Winona Lake, Indiana.
The Brethren Press, Elgin, Illinois.
Wagoner Brothers, Union Road, Clayton, Ohio.
$7 per copy, postpaid.

First read the preface. Then carefully peruse the glossary, and
you will be prepared with understanding to finish the book.





Forty-five years ago I became a member of the Church of the Brethren
as it was then known. Among those who did not belong to the same
denomination, the members were called "Dunkards," especially among
those who were not friendly to their cause. Besides these names I knew
no other. I was then in full harmony with the teachings of the church
as far as I knew, with a few exceptions. I was told that the gospel ol
Christ was our only creed and discipline. My father was a minister in
the church, and his father was a minister. Hence, I had every opportunity
of knowing the customs and practices as well as the sentiments of the
church, and can safely say that, taking all together, I was in harmony with
the average membership. With the gospel peculiarities of the church I
was in full sympathy. Among those may be enumerated Faith, Repent-
ance, Triune Immersion, Laying On of Hands, Feet-washing, Lord's
Supper, Communion, ^-nointing, Salutation, Anti-war, Anti-slavery, Non-
swearing, Non-conformity from all sinful fashions and customs. I set
out to serve the Lord in erood faith.

In a few things, however, I did not agree with the average member-
ship of that day. For instance, I never could see that education was a
dangerous thing, and had a great thirsting for more of it. I always pre-
ferred to hear a man preach who knew more than myself, which did not
require anything uncommon. I was never much afraid of Sunday-schools,
although I never had attended a Sunday-school regularly. I believed in
plainness of attire, but never accepted the uniformity theory. I worked
along without jarring with the congregations in which I lived or the
officers under whom I served for more than fifteen years.

After I entered the publishing business and began to advocate advanced
views, I came into contact with the dignitaries of the church, and met
with much opposition. I labored to have removed from the brotherhood
that which I believed to be error or superfluity. And I am happy to
believe that my labors were not altogether without success. But in course
of time certain leaders of the church determined that they would tolerate
improvements no longer. Accordingly they began to bring complaints
against me and my colleagues for introducing and advocating innovations,
and enacted decisions of annual meeting intended to circumscribe the
progressive element of the fraternity.

However, progressive sentiment had grown so rapidly that for several
years it seemed that conference itself was being controlled by that ele-
ment. When this was noticed by the conservative portion, they be?an
to threaten withdrawing from the body, imless their favorite traditions
were maintained. Progressive sentiment had advanced too far to permit
conference to make all the retractions that the conservatives demanded,




and hence the disruption of the body began to be boldly talked of, and
initiatory steps were taken. These threats and indications begat a third
party from among the ultra conservatives, with a disposition to expel the
progressive leaders from the body, thinking there were but few, and hop-
ing thus to restore peace and harmony to the body.

In this condition things remained for several years, sharp discussions
and bitter personalities being continued in the public prints and at the
conferences. Meanwhile the church had made rapid advancement, build-
ing high schools, establishing Sunday-schools, Sunday-school conventions,
and publishing Sunday-school literature, supporting the ministry, organ-
izing missionary boards, and adopting other progressive measures. This
discouraged the old order members, and they withdrew and organized a
separate denomination independent of annual meeting.

The annual meeting party then became more determined to free itself
from the progressives, but knowing they had no just cause for expelling
them, they manipulated the standing committee, and monopolized the
annual meeting in such a way as to expel them without a trial. As such
a course is contrary to all reason, justice, and Christianity, I hold that it
was not done in fact, and therefore, I still claim to be a member of the
Old Brethren Church which I joined forty-five years ago, having violated
none of its cardinal principles, but desire to remain faithful to its creed,
the gospel of Christ.

When first thinking of writing the history of the Brethren Church, in
response to the request of many friends, I had in mind simply a nar-
rative of the circumstances which led to the expulsion of the progressive
element of the Tunker fraternity, and the reorganization and development
of the Brethren Church. After mature consideration, it was found that
reference to the Tunkers would of itself create an inquiry in the minds
of many readers as to who they were and whence they came. The more
thought given to the subject, the more it appeared like tracing the pedigree
of a person or the lineage of a family. After pursuing this course of
study, the title was changed to "Holsinger's History of the Tunkers and
the Brethren Church." It also became evident that the Tunkers them-
selves must have had antecedents. That part of the work which is here
denominated Prehistoric Period, was found most difficult. Fortunately,
however, it is also least important. Doubtful things are always uncertain,
and are augmented by antiquity. "There is no past so long as books shall
live," and where there are no books, there is a past and a blank.

Much of my time has been devoted to the reading of German history.
Brother D. L. Miller, of the Gospel Messenger, kindly loaned me three
volumes of Max Goebel's Geschichte des Christlichen Lebens. While
I do not regret the perusal of the work I confess to be not much the
wiser, so far as Tunker history is concerned. Mr. Goebel, like myself,


knew nothing of the Tunkers of the first part of the eighteenth century,
except what he learned from others; and about all the advantage he had
over more recent writers is that he was in closer touch with time and
events. He makes frequent mention of the Taeufer, Taufsgesinnte,
Tunkers, Bunkers, Dompelaers, Pietisten, Wieder-taeufer; and some of
these may have been, and no doubt were, of the Schwarzenau Tunkers.
But only those who were so designated could positively be recognized
as belonging to our brotherhood.

A translation of some of the narratives related by Goebel would be
found interesting, but more entertaining than instructive.

He writes of the persecutions of certain Wieder-taeufer, by imprison-
ment and confiscation of property, and enters into detail of the sufferings
and privations they were required to endure. It is more than likely that
some of them were of our own people, but there is no method by way of
assurance of such fact, and, therefore, they are not used in this work.

A perusal of "Bilder aus 'der Deutch Pennsylvanischen Geschichte," by
Eswald Seidensticker, is of interest and instruction, especially in the line
of biography. His chapters on "Die Beiden Christoph Saur in German^
town," are replete with incidents in the lives of those two great men of
the church. I am indebted to him for the preparation of some of the
statements in this work. His chapter on Ephratah abounds in narratives
of the eccentricities of Conrad Beisel, the cloister, and the mystics. The
following is an excerpt from his preface, in regard to the Tunkers and
literature : "1st es nicht ein sehr bezeichnender Umstandt, dasz die ersten
deutschen Buch-drucker-pressen in Pennsylvanien von einetn Dunker in
Germantown und von den Sabbatharischen Mystikern in Ephratah errichtet

Translation.-r-Is it not a remarkable circumstance that the first German
book printing press in Pennsylvania was erected by the Tunkers in Ger-
mantown, and by the Sabbatical Mystics at Ephratah?

Brother L. A. Plate, foreman of the Gospel Messenger office, con-
tributed several volumes of Der Deutche Pioneer, which were profitably
perused. It is a useful periodical to the Tunker historian, and furnished
valuable material for the Biographical Department.

It is important to observe in this connection that all these authorities
received their information from the same source.

In the Vorwort of Seidensticker's book he makes the following acknowl-
edgment : "M einetn alt en Freunde, Herrn Abraham H. Cassel, einem
Nachkommen Ch. Saur's, verdanke ich die erste Anregung Zu meinen
Arbeiten und mannigfache Beihuelfe dabei."

Translation. ^To my old friend, Mr. Abraham H. Cassel, a descendant
of Christopher Saur, I acknowledge my obligations for the first impulse
to my work, as well as for much valuable assistance.


He also acknowledged that his articles on the two Christopher Saurs
are based on data furnished by the library of A. H. Cassel, of Harleys-
ville, Pennsylvania. It was also obvious that all important articles in the
Pioneer were contributed by this same modem historian, Seidensticker.
The case then appeared thus: If all information in regard to our history
comes from Brother Cassel, one may as well go to the fountain-head at
once. Accordingly, in the winter of 1897-98 I made a pilgrimage to Har-
leysville, accompanied by Bro. J. C. Cassel, of Philadelphia, as amanuensis
and cop3rist. A week was spent with the great Tunker antiquarian. We
had full access to the library and the constant, kindly assistance of the
librarian during the five days we spent in his family. Many valuable items
of history were gathered, and our brother also loaned me a number of
manuscript folios, which have been copied and returned.

John Calvin Harbaugh, of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, favored me with
a copy of the Chronicon Ephratense. translated into English by J. Max
Hark. Having previously read the German twice, the translation enabled
me to readily gather such facts as it contained. It is diflficult to say just
how much confidence should be given to the statements in this work.
That the authors were in position to know the truth whereof they wrote,
may not be denied. That they were in danger of being prejudiced is
equally true.

One brother admonished me to be careful to free myself of all prejudice
or preference, as to the parties in the church ; that their party meaning the
conservatives were very sensitive as to their method of church oolicy.
The item was scarcely necessary, as experience has taught me that fact.
Nevertheless, a sincere desire is cherished to appear grateful to friends
for their good intentions, and an earnest hc^e is held that profit has been

Having entered upon the work, it was discovered that much of the manu-
script had been duplicated, and that the labor and expense devoted to
copying and preserving were all lost; that we had in print almost the
entire history of the church during the first fifteen years of her existence,
and that the work to be performed would consist of committing, assim-
ilating, and rewriting, with such embellishment as would not darken the
statement of facts. This had not proceeded beyond the prehistoric
department when "A History of the Brethren," by M. G. Brumbaugh, of
the Pennsylvania University, appeared. The people described by Brum-
baugh being the same as those whose history is here related, I was hopeful
that it might assist me in my duties. Prompt application was made to
Brother Brumbaugh for permission to quote from his book. A generous
response was received that he would be willing to grant any reasonable
privilege, but inasmuch as most of the data was very rare, it would be
necessary to point out such portions of his work as were desired. When
reading the history, the discovery was made that the book was dedicated


to Abraham H. Cassel, whose collection of manuscripts made the volume
possible. As that was the case, I had no occasion to quote or copy there-
from. You who have occasion to compare the books will kindly bear in
remembrance the foregoing statements, and hold in mind that while this
book is being published several years later, the first part of it was written
or outlined at least two years earlier.

It does not often happen that an author has as many difficulties to sur-
moimt as in the writing of this book. At least ninety per cent was dic-
tated to an amanuensis, because the author could not write legibly, on
account of nervous afflictions, and even became almost speechless, making
the labor of dictating at all times difficult and frequently impossible. It
was discovered that speaking more distinctly could be done when in a
prostrate position, hence part of the dictation was given while lying abed.
Other difficulties of less importance, but equally hard to surmount, were
met, but through them all kind Providence has mercifully sustained me.
Though the labor has been difficult to one of my infirmities, yet I thank Ck>d
for a few more days in His service. The toil has also been lightened by the
hope that the present and future churches might find an interest in the
facts as here related, and which may also serve as data for future his-
torians. The recalling of revered names will at least be an inspiration to
many in whose memory they still live. The patriarchs are passing. A
record of their lives, though very brief, is well worth treasuring. I much
regfret my inability to do justice to all.

The illustrations in this work are a new feature of Timker literature,
and required much labor and many rebuffs to collect the subjects. I am
happy to be able to present a fair grroup of pictures, some of which will
be familiar to many; others will be tmknown, but I trust none the less

The inability to secure other desired photographs is regretted.

It had been intended to include in this work an autobiography of the
author, but when it was observed how frequently my name appeared in
every department of the work and how intricately my own history is
interwoven with that of my people, all inspiration to write on the subject
was lost. However, the following items are submitted, for which room
has been found in this department.

I was bom in Morrison's Cove, Pennsylvania, May 26, 1833. My
father and grandfather were Tunker preachers. My grandmother on my
father's side was Elizabeth Mack, daughter of William Mack, son of
Alexander Mack, Jr. Hence, I am a g^randson of a great-grandaughter
of one of the founders of the church. I was married June i, 1864, to
Susannah Shoop. We had two daughters, Mrs. P. G. Nowag, of Johns-
town, Pennsylvania, and Mrs. S. J. Holsinger, of Phc3enix, Arizona. On
the isth of July, 1901, all were yet living.

I was baptized into the Tunker Church early in the spring of 1855, at


Clover Creek, Pennsylvania, by Elder George Brumbaugh. I was elected
to the ministry Oct. 28, 1866 ; advanced to the second degree a few months
afterwards, and ordained to the eldership Oct. 21, 1880.

I began writing the "History of the Tunkers" early in the fall of 1898,
and completed it in July, 1901.

The remainder of my history, is it not written in the Chronicles of
the Church?

To the many friends who have kindly given assistance in the prepara-
tion of this volume I wish to gratefully acknowledge obligations.


January i, A.D. 190 1.

The author passed away March 12, 1905 and is buried at Berlin,


Introductory Title Page and Reverse Preface Outline of
Contents Glossary Key to I lustrations List of Authors
Quoted 1-24



Importance of German History The Waldenses The Baptists
The Pietists Futile Efforts at Organization Kingdom
of God Apostolic Succession 25-34



First Baptism The Pious Eight Early Indications of Progres-
sion 35-39



The Quaint Village The River Eider The Bridge Official
Record House Inscriptions 4044


mack's book translated.

Preface Introduction Outline History of the Church Forty
Pungent Questions and the Answers 45-ii7



Another Story of the Origin of the Tunkers Conrad Beisel's
View of Piety 1 18-120





Persecutions Krefeld Note ^Driven to America 121 -122



First Emigrants from Germany A Furious Storm at Sea First
Mission in America A Disappointment that Resulted in
Good Organization in America Beggarstown German-
town Important Ephrata Movement Snow Hill Nunnery
Early Churches 123-1 59

German Baptist Congregations 160-206



D. P. Sayler's Definition Mandatory Laws Election and Or-
dination of Officers Form of Worship Controversy on
Feet-washing Sayler's Report to the Ecumenical Council
Cassel's Reply Elder George Hoke's Theology Form of
Worship Tunker Love-feast Tunker Meeting-houses
God, the Progenitor of the Human Race 207-262



First Hymn-book Educational Early and Later Efforts





German Baptists Historical Missionary Financial Statisti-
cal Educational 273-294



Biographical 295-414



Historical, Congregational, and Biographical 415-469



Progressive Work Holsinger's Troubles Berlin Committee
Arnold Grove Schoolhouse No. 7 Dayton Convention
Ashland Convention Organization 470-551



Organization of Churches Literature Ashland College Pub-
lishing House 552-641



Biographical 642-758



Congregational Brethren Far Western Brethren Leedy Breth-
ren Oimanites Moravians River Brethren John A.
Bowman Brethren The Hnnites 759-773




Letters from Alexander Mack, John Hildebrand, Michael Pfautz,
Christopher Saur, Michael Frantz, John Price, Isaac Price,
Grabil Meyers, B. F. Moomaw 774-796



First American Bible A Tunker War Episode First German
Printing Press A Mother in Israel Indeed Sunday-school
Tickets Laying on of Hands Reputation of Early Tunkers
Encouragements The Little Tunkeress A Remarkable
Family 797-820


Instead of numerous foot-notes, scattered throughout the work, inter-
rupting the reader and breaking the pages, we have selected this depart-
ment. The reader who expects to finish the work will be greatly assisted
by thoroughly acquainting himself with its contents, especially with the
explanations of certain words and terms of frequent occurrence and of
peculiar signification. Having arranged these into a special department,
we shall aim to treat the various subjects with due consideration, and
more fully than is done in the foot-note system.

Annual meeting, big meeting, yearly meeting, are all synonymous, and
imply the general conference of the church. For many years it was known
only by the name "Big Meeting."

"Gross V ersammlung." It was almost universally so called in my
youthful days, and many years after it became an established annual affair.
See "History of Annual Meeting."

"At present" in this work implies at the close of the year 1900. The
term "now," and all similar expressions indicating time, imply the same

Avoidance. This is a term much used in early Tunker literature. As
used by them it would be S)Tionymous with the word "ban," and implying
somewhat more than the word excommunication, as used in the discussion
of ecclesiastical subjects generally; inasmuch as the ordinance of avoid-
ance, as practiced by the early churches, followed the excommunicated
person with severe execration after having been debarred from fellowship
with the church.

Ban. This word occurs in most of the modern languages of Europe,
and its primary signification appears to have been, "to make a signal"
(see banner), "to proclaim" or "publish." This meaning it retains in the
phrase bans or banns (q. v.) of marriage. In Germany, the acht, or han-
num, was a sentence of outlav^ry pronounced in the middle ages against
those who escaped from justice, or refused to submit to trial. We often
read of refractory princes, and even cities, being placed under the ban of
the empire. The following are the terms of banning used in an old
formula: "We declare thy wife a widow, and thy children orphans; we
restore all thy feudal tenures to the lord of the manor; thy private prop-
erty we give to thy children ; and we devote thy body and flesh to the
beasts of the forest and fowls of the air. In all ways and in every place
where others find peace and safety, thou shalt find none; and we banish
thee into the four roads of the world, in the devil's name." Besides these
sentences of outlawry, many other announcements were accompanied with
denunciations and imprecations. When a grant of land was made for



religious purpose, or when a charter of liberties was granted, the trans-
action was proclaimed in public with certain ceremonies, and curses were
denounced against any one who should violate the deed. Thus, banning,
or publishing, came to be associated with cursing ; and hence the origin of
the popular use of the word. It occurs in this sense in Shakespeare and
Milton, and other old writers.

Lining Hymns. This exercise was very common in the middle ages
of the history of the Tunkers. Although it originated through an enforced
condition of the people, in later years it was practiced as a sacred rule.
Hymn-books being scarce, the minister would read the first two lines of a
stanza, which the congregation would sing. Then the second two lines
were read and sung; and so on until the entire hymn had been finished.

Mode, Single and Double. These expressions are peculiar to the
Tunkers. Th%^ have reference to different methods of performing the act
of feet-washing. Those using the single mode each wash and wipe the
feet of one person only, and have the same rule performed to them. By
the double mode two persons are engaged in the same service, one wash-
ing and the other wiping the feet of the same person, and perform the
service to from six to twelve persons. Then they are relieved by two
other persons, who follow the same procedure. Reference will be made to
this subject quite frequently in this book.

Old Style New Style. The old style implies the old mode of reckon-
ing time, according to the Julian year of three hundred and sixty-five
and one-fourth days. The new style is the present, or Gregorian method,
by which the year has three hundred and sixty-five days five hours and
forty-nine minutes. There is now a difference of twelve days between old
style and new style. Thus, while the old was January i, the new is Janu-
ary 13. The change was effected for Great Britain and Ireland, including
the colonies of America, in the year 1751. It was enacted that eleven days
should be omitted after September 2, 1752, so that the ensuing day should
be September 14.

The change was made on the birthday of King George II, reigning
sovereign at that time. By this arrangement, September, 1752, had but
nineteen days instead of thirty. The author of this work had the pleasure
of handling a copy of Christopher Saur's almanac for that year, and it
was interesting to notice the short calendar of the September page.

Online LibraryH. R. (Henry R.) HolsingerHistory of the Tunkers and the Brethren Church; embracing the Church of the Brethren, the Tunkers, the Seventh-Day German Baptist Church, the German Baptist Church, the Old German Baptists and the Brethren Church, including their origin, doctrine, biography and literature → online text (page 1 of 65)