THE EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION
OF NORTH AMERICA
History of the United Evangelical Church
REV. A. STAPLETON, M. S.
Author of Natural History of the Bible.
The Lord has done great things for us,
whereof we are glad. — Psalms cxxvi.3.
Publishing House of the United Evangelical Church
Copyrighted in the year 1896
by the Board of Publication
United Evangelical Church.
"We take no note of time
But from its loss. To give it then a tongue
Is wise in man." — Young.
Almost a century has passed by since the ecclesiastical foundations of the
Evangelical Association were laid, and the hands that, under the Providence of
God, gathered the materials, have long since been folded in death. Yea, even
the immediate successors of our Church fathers are already growing old and fast
passing away. One by one the few remaining links are being broken, and soon
our aged Evangelical pilgrims, who in their youth came in contact with, and under
the influence of our early pioneers, will also have joined the triumphant Evan-
gelical host beyond the tide.
The Evangelical Association has come to her present position through many
severe trials and tribulations. No denomination originating in America has a
more interesting history than our Evangelical Zion.
Although several histories of the Association have been published, all excel-
lent in their way, it has nevertheless been felt for many years that one of the
most interesting phases of her history has been passed over too lightly by previous
authors. This deficiency the author of this work has endeavored to supply in
the first part of this volume, in the recovery of the names of early members and
preaching places, as well as incidents connected with the establishment of the
work by our early preachers.
The publication of this work is the consummation of a long and fondly
cherished desire of the author. There are many things connected with it which
to him seem providential. In early youth it was his good fortune to be a member
of several of the first classes of the Association, in which were still found some of
the original members, who had much to say about Albright and his co-laborers.
Many of these old people had very clear and distinct recollections of the stirring
scenes of the olden times. In course of time the knowledge thus gained was
reduced to notes, without any regard to their connection with the history of the
Association. The accumulation of so many interesting facts and incidents pertain-
ing to the olden time, naturally found expression in a desire for their preservation
in a permanent form.
A circumstance very remarkable and worthy of record, is the fact that so
many very aged people kept alive and cherished in their memories the knowledge
of facts pertaining to our early denominational history, in the hope of some day
iv AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION.
communicating it to the right person for publication. Some of these people
communicated important matters to their children, and in this way many of the
facts here recorded were preserved.
Our older preachers often expressed a desire that the names of the old
appointments and first members might be recovered for the benefit of posterity,
before all the sources of information should be forever closed. This desire the
author has endeavored to meet in the publication of this work, which was under-
taken, as he firmly believes, none too soon, seeing that most of the sources of
information from which materials of the first part were gathered, have passed
away since the work was commenced, and much of the matter could not again
be reproduced from the sources now at command.
There are doubtless some errors in this work, as may be expected in such a
vast mass of details, embracing many hundreds of names and dates. Yet the
author confidently believes that such errors are few in number. Neither pains
nor expense have been spared to secure accuracy. Records in the state and
county archives have been examined to ascertain facts, and to verify such as
The oldest living preachers of the Association co-operated with a zeal which
evinced their deep interest in the work. Among them may be mentioned father
Joseph M. Saylor, who entered the ministry in 1824, and was a contemporary
of some of the first preachers of the Association. He not only furnished a large
amount of material, but also reviewed a considerable portion of the copy pertain-
ing to the first circuits. Father Francis Hoffman, who entered the ministry
in 1826, also did considerable in the same line. To father Daniel Long (1835)
the author owes his first knowledge of Albright's work in Bedford county, and
other important matters, but while gathering fuller details for this work, he was
suddenly called to his eternal reward. Father Joseph Harlacher (1832) also
rendered valuable services. The recovery of the names of early preaching places
and members in Ohio is largely due to fathers Lewis Einsel (1836), Daniel
Swartz (1835), Abraham Loehner (1837), and Ch. Idleman. The latter
was one of the first converts in northwestern Ohio. The four last named brethren
traveled in Ohio when most of the appointments established by our first mission-
aries were still maintained. A great many other brethren, both ministerial and
lay, co-operated heartily in the preparation of this work, some going to great
pains to ascertain or verify facts. Without their help this work could never have
To the reader who is not a member of the Evangelical Association it may
seem strange that so much attention has been paid to the laity, and matters of
family history. This feature finds its explanation in the following grounds: The
author holds that men who were willing to come out from among the formal
churches and espouse the cause of Evangelical truth in the face of bitter perse-
cution, and opened their houses as preaching places, which often required great
sacrifices, deserve a wider recognition than has been hitherto accorded them.
Another reason is the fact that most of these old fathers became centers of
Evangelical influence. Their houses served as preaching places until churches
were built, and in many cases they provided for the maintenance of public worship
AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION. v
at their homes after their death. There are homesteads now in the Evangelical
Association where preaching appointments have been maintained ever since the
days of the founder of the Church; a period of almost one century.
A great many of the first families of the Association were among the most
prominent in their respective communities. This is contrary to a generally received
opinion. We have for many years been misrepresented in this respect, and the
reproach has been laid at our doors that our early members and adherents were
composed of the ignorant classes and gathered from the humbler walks of life.
From a careful study of this subject, we can assure the reader that this opinion
is an erroneous one, as the following chapters will abundantly show. It required
no small degree of moral courage for them to abandon the formal churches with
which they stood connected. Many of them were officers in these churches, and
cases were not infrequent in which their former pastors incited their parishioners
to violent measures to prevent them from receiving the “false prophets,” as our
first preachers were called.
In this connection it may be observed that most of the early conversions
were deep and powerful. This assertion must not be understood as implying
that conversions now are less genuine. The spiritual condition of the masses at
that time was at such a low ebb, and such erroneous opinions respecting the
character of experimental religion prevailed, that when people were thoroughly
converted to God, its immediate effects upon the individual, as well as those with
whom he came in contact, were far more powerful than at the present time.
The converts then were especially drawn to God in prayer. They sometimes
gave pledges to each other of special remembrance in prayer. When such per-
secution as they endured is prevalent, it requires special grace to remain faithful.
Although denounced by their formal pastors as heretics, and in many cases
disowned and disinherited by parents and relatives, they held out well, and their
inspiring examples still live among us to incite us to follow, as they did, the
footsteps of the Lord Jesus, and ever reminding us that
"By the thorn road, and none other,
Is the mount of vision won."
The preparation of the second and third parts of this book was less difficult,
as the sources of information were more accessible. The works of Orwig,
Raidabaugh, Breyfogel and Yeakel, and also the periodical literature of
the Church, were freely consulted. To the many friends who have rendered
valuable aid, and above all, to our dear Heavenly Father, who has blessed us with
health and the spirit of perseverance for the successful accomplishment of our
arduous but agreeable task, we give our most heartfelt thanks.
THE EVANGELICAL ANNALS.
Containing an Account of the Origin and Development
of the Evangelical Association Through the Labors of
REV. JACOB ALBRIGHT and His Co-Laborers. Also
an Account of the Early Preaching Places and of Prom-
8 [page 8 is blank]
THE EARLY DAYS.
The Pennsylvania Germans — The Immigration to America.
Their Spiritual Condition — Awakening Among Them.
Conversion of Jacob Albright, and beginning of his
The Pennsylvania Germans. The Evangelical Asso-
ciation, of North America owes its origin, under the providence
of God, to the labors of Rev. Jacob Albright and his co-laborers
amongthe Pennsylvania Germans. As our early preachers labored
exclusively among this people, and as they have a dialect, cus-
toms and traits of character peculiarly their own, a brief history
of them seems proper in this connection.
The Pennsylvania Germans were mostly emigrants from the
Palatinate, or Lower Rhinish provinces of Germany. Prior to
1702 very few Germans had settled in Pennsylvania. The first
settlement by them was made in 1683, when a small colony under
Pastorius founded Germantown, now a part of Philadelphia.
This was the beginning of one of the most remarkable emigrations
of modern times, chiefly because such a large proportion of the
emigrants represented a distinct division of the great Germanic
race. So large indeed was this proportion, that it absorbed and
assimilated in a great measure' all other racial elements with which
it came in contact, and thus were laid in America the foundations
of a new and distinct Germanic people, differing widely in many
respects from the typical native of the Fatherland.
In this we see the necessity for inquiring more minutely into
the circumstances which led to this remarkable development.
10 EVANGELICAL ASS0CIATI0N ANNALS.
The Huguenots. There is no more eventful period in
modern history than the close of the seventeenth century. Oct.
18, 1685, marked the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, by
Louis XIV. of France. In 1598 Henry IV. granted religious
tolerance to French Protestants who were called Huguenots, and
by its revocation Louis XIV. kindled anew the fires of persecu-
tion against them. He deprived them of all exercise of their
religion, and tore their children from them to be educated as
Catholics. He was very ambitious of the fame that would attach
to the extirpation of heresy from his dominions. Notwithstand-
ing his tyrannical decree against the emigration of his unhappy
subjects, and the strict guard on his borders, great multitudes
escaped the vigilance of his guards and spies, and in a few years
over half a million of the best and most intelligent people of the
nation had fled the country, many thousands of whom in course
of time found a congenial refuge on the shores of the New World,*
and many of their descendants were among the first to open their
doors to Albright and his co-laborers.
The Mennonites. About this same time the Mennonites were
also bitterly persecuted, especially in Switzerland, and thousands
fled to Holland and the Lower Rhine provinces, and later came
to Pennsylvania. The Mennonite emigration properly began in,
1709. In 1706, or 1707, the Mennonites of the Canton of Bern,
Switzerland, sent several agents to London to make arrangements
with William Penn for the settlement of a large number of their
people in his province.* Soon thereafter the envoys came direct
to Pennsylvania, and after considerable exploration selected a
very fine tract of 10,000 acres on the north side of Pequea Creek,
now in Strasburgh township, Lancaster county. The title was
perfected Oct. 10, 1710, and the land divided according to
previous arrangement the following April 27, 1711.*** In a few
decades thousands of these conscientious and peaceable people
had found homes in Pennsylvania.
The Palatinates. In 1688 Heidelberg was taken the sec-
ond time by the French Papists and laid in ashes. Like the
Phoenix of old it arose again from its ruins, only to be stormed
and destroyed again by the same inveterate enemy in 1693.
The panic-stricken inhabitants were compelled to flee from the
* Bancroft says the United States are full of monuments of this Huguenot
** Col. Records iii. p. 397.
*** Rupp's Hist, of Lancaster county, p. 75.
THE EARLY DAYS. 11
relentless foe in the darkness of the night. Manheim, Speyer
and Worms were also pillaged and partly destroyed, and the whole
region was laid waste and desolate by the wanton fury of the
The unfortunate inhabitants were, however, induced to rebuild
their ruined homes again under promise of religious freedom, and
immunity from taxes for a certain length of time. In this they
were cruelly deceived by their Elector, who doubtless acted on
the Papistical principle then prevalent, that promises made to
heretics should not be redeemed. Betrayed by their heartless
Elector, and despoiled by their old enemy, the French, they were
well nigh driven to despair.
Emigration to Pennsylvania. Queen Ann of England
issued a proclamation in 1708, inviting the persecuted, long-
suffering Palatinates to her dominion, and before the end of the
year nearly 12,000 of them were quartered in warehouses and
tents in London and vicinity. Stripped of all their earthly
possessions they were very poor, and were supported by the gov-
ernment and the munificent charity of the queen.
The presence of so many thousand indigent foreigners became
a serious burden to England, and plans were devised to transport
them to the Provinces. In the summer of 1710 about 3,000 who
had lived on the bounty of Queen Ann, were shipped to New
York. One large party, under Rev. Kocherthal, settled at
Schoharie, New York. Trouble, however, arose, and the Ger-
mans became dissatisfied, many gradually working their way to
Pennsylvania, and were the first Palatinates in the province.
Their dissatisfaction soon became known to their kindred in
Europe, and thereafter New York was shunned by them. In
1723 the proprietaries of New York invalidated the titles of the
Schoharie settlers and they came to Pennsylvania that same winter,
suffering incredible hardships in traveling through the wilderness.
In this company was the famous Conrad Weiser, afterwards
Colonial Indian agent and interpreter. This colony settled on
the Tolpehocken, fifteen miles northwest of Reading, Pa.
While the English emigration was comparatively insignifi-
cant, the Germans from the Lowlands and the war -scourged
Palatinate poured into the province at a rapid rate. James
Logan, provincial secretary, wrote the proprietor in 1717, "We
have of late a great number of Palatinates pouring in upon us
without any recommendation or notice, which gives the country
12 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.
some uneasiness, for foreigners do not so well among us as our
own English people." Two years later Jonathan Dickinson
wrote, "We are daily expecting ships from London which bring
over Palatinates in number six or seven thousand." In 1717
Gov. Keith appeared before the Colonial Council with a state-
ment that great numbers of foreigners from Germany, who were
strangers to the language and customs, were dispersing themselves
immediately after landing, "without producing certificates from
whence they came, or what they are," etc. This was considered
dangerous to the colony, and led to the adoption of a measure
which has preserved the names of upwards of 30,000 male emi-
grants, (Germans), as all males sixteen years old and upwards
were thereafter compelled to subscribe to an oath, or article of
allegiance to the English government and obedience to the Colo-
nial authorities. This was equivalent to the naturalization of the
present day. The lists containing these names are among the
most precious treasures in the archives of the Commonwealth.
In 1727 no less than six vessels arrived in Philadelphia, well
laden with Palatinates, followed in 1728 by three more vessels, and
the same number in 1729. The Palatine emigration, however,
was unprecedented from 1730 to 1740, as no less than sixty-five
ship-loads arrived. In 1730 the region west of the Susquehanna
river was opened to settlement, and what are now York and
Adams counties were soon filled up with Germans. Thousands
also mingled with the Scotch Irish in the fertile Cumberland
Valley, and many Palatine settlements were made in Maryland
and in the Shenandoah Valley, in Virginia, as far south as Shen-
andoah and Rockbridge counties. "When George Washington
and others were surveying lands in that part of Virginia in April,
1748, they were attended by a great company of people, men,
women and children, who followed them through the woods. They
would never speak English, but when spoken to would always
speak Dutch"* (German). In 1742 the Germans of Pennsylva-
nia were estimated to number 100, 000,** and in many sections
formed fully nine-tenths of the inhabitants. After the treaty of
lort Stanwix, Nov. 5, 1758, the rich and fertile valleys of the
west and northwest were penetrated by the Germans, and some
extensive settlements were made by them west of the main ridge
of the Allegheny mountains, prior to the war of the Revolution.
* Sparks' Washington, Vol. ii. 418.
** Horn's History of Lehigh Co., p. 23.
THE EARLY DAYS. 13
Their Language. The language spoken by the Pennsyl-
vania Germans is a slight variation of the soft and beautiful dialect
-still prevailing in the Palatinate (German "Pfaltz"). This dia-
lect in America retains its grammatical forms, but has acquired
some additional idiomatic features, and a curious intermixture'
of English words which have been adapted to it. As a dialect
it holds a place between High and Low German. By many it is
supposed that "Pennsylvania Dutch" is merely a corrupt German
and English. The reader will see that this is not the case. As
originally spoken it is one of the finest and softest dialects of the
great Teutonic tongue. Some fine works have been published in
this dialect, notably those of Rev. H. Harbaugh, Prof. Horn,
and Henry Fisher, Esq.
Their Religious Condition. The German emigration to
Pennsylvania, as already indicated, was mainly the result of relig-
ious intolerance in the Fatherland. The co-religionists generally
settled together. The Mennonites and Dunkards mostly located
in Lancaster county. The Schwenkfelders, most of whom arrived
in 1734,* settled in a section now embraced in Berks, Lehigh and
Montgomery counties. The Moravians, under the patronage of
Count Zinzendorf,** settled in the Lehigh Valley, in 1741, and
founded the towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth. The Lutherans
and Reformed, who were mostly Palatinates, and formed the bulk
of emigrants, spread themselves more generally over the country.
Strange as it may seem, the strong tide of religious feeling
which led to this influx of Germans seems to have subsided in a
great measure soon after their establishment here. Their new
surroundings may have contributed to this condition. It became
a hand-to-hand struggle for subsistence. For more than a quar-
ter of a century they had no pastors, and religious training was
wofully neglected. This statement has particular reference to
* They came in the ship St. Andrew, Sept. 12, 1734 (Col. Records iii. 568).
Among them were the Yeakels, Schuberts, Huebners, Kribels, Hoffmans.
** Nikolaus Ludwig (Count Von Zinzendorf). Born 1700, died 1760. A
'German nobleman of deep piety. He espoused the faith of the Moravians,
who were then reduced to a mere handful through the religious persecutions then
prevalent. He invited them to settle on his estates, which they did, and founded
the town of Herrnhut. Z. was made a minister and bishop of the reorganized
•church, and thereafter was its leader until his death. He established numerous
Moravian colonies. He was the author of more than one hundred works in
prose and poetry.
14 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.
Although there were some congregations formed as early as
1735, still the great mass of the people were strangers to the
sanctuary. In 1742 the noted Lutheran divine, Henry Melchior
Muhlenberg,* was sent from the Fatherland to look after the
spiritual interests of the Lutherans in Pennsylvania. He found
the spiritual condition of his countrymen most deplorable, and in
letters published in the Halliche Nachrichten, describes their con-
dition in a vivid manner. In 1746 Rev. Michael Schlatter,**
a Reformed minister from Switzerland, came to Pennsylvania
on a similar mission. His communications to the home church
convey the same sad story of spiritual decline. In 1752 there
were but sixteen Reformed congregations, having regular pastors,
in a Reformed population of thirty thousand souls.
The war of the Revolution likewise had a demoralizing effect
on the Pennsylvania Germans. Intemperance, especially, became
alarmingly prevalent among them. Their pastors seldom raised
a hand to stem this rising tide of evil. Many of the clergy con-
doned the use of ardent spirits and, alas, in many instances were
themselves openly intemperate. This was overlooked by their
people, who regarded it as only a "Fehler" (an infirmity) in
their preacher, about which it was best not to say anything.
Beginnings of Religious Revival. It is gratifying to
know that the darkness and spiritual ignorance of this period was
relieved by many burning and shining lights. Signs of promise
multiplied, and harbingers of better days everywhere appeared.
While we would not disparage the influence of the great Wesleyan
revival in England, and its spread in America through the preaching
of that man of God, George Whitefield, still it is a remarkable
•fact that many conversions of prominent men were brought about
spontaneously, a considerable number of the ministry and laity
in nearly all denominations professing conversion, and becoming-
* Heinrich Melchior Muhlenberg, D. D. Born at Einbeck, Germany,
1711, died 1787. A distinguished German divine. He was sent by the Univer-
sity of Halle to organize and promote the interests of the Lutheran Church in
America. He is justly regarded as the founder of the church in America. Several
of his sons became men of great distinction. Muhlenberg and his sons were
great patriots during the war of the Revolution.
** Rev. Michael Schlatter. Born in Switzerland 1716, died 1790. Edu-
cated at St. Gall. Sent by the synods of Holland 'to organize the Reformed
Church in Pennsylvania. In 1751 he went to Europe and secured six missionaries,
with whom he returned to Pennsylvania. He was a patriot in the war of the
Revolution, for which he was imprisoned by the British.
THE EARLY DAYS. 15
dissatisfied with the cold and formal worship of the times. This
was the state of affairs about the close of the Revolutionary War.
Among those who cried aloud and spared not, was the Men-
nonite preacher, Martin Boehm.* He was brought to see his
own unconverted state, and after experiencing God's saving grace
in his own heart, he became a strong advocate and forcible
expounder of experimental religion in his church. His fearless
denunciation of sin and his views on experimental religion were
so radical as to constitute a great gap between him and his corelig-
ionists. The spirit of toleration was then almost unknown, and
Boehm was excluded from the Mennonite Church. His influence,
however, was felt powerfully among the people of that denomi-
nation, and contributed in a marked degree to preparing the way
for the great success of later evangelists.
A well defined movement was also about this time noticeable
in the Reformed Church. William Otterbein,** one of the
prominent preachers of that church, began to preach Evangelical
repentance and conversion in a very forcible manner, and made
profound impressions. George Adam Guething, John G.
Phruemer, and Anthony Houtz, all of the Reformed Church,
became earnest preachers of repentance and conversion. The
two former associated themselves with Otterbein and Boehm,
and became prominent ministers of the United Brethren Church.
Mention should also be made of John Neidig, of Dauphin county,
Felix Licht, of Lebanon county, and Christian Newcomer.***
* Rev. Martin Boehm was born in Lancaster county, Pa. in 1725. He
became a Mennonite preacher in 1756. Five or six years later he was excluded
from that denomination, "for holding fellowship with other societies of a
different language." Thereafter he was an active co-worker in the Evangelical
movement of the times, and became one of the founders of the United Brethren
in Christ, of which church he was made a bishop in 1800. After a long life of
signal usefulness, he died in Shenandoah Valley, Va., in 1812.
** Philip William Otterbein. Born in Germany 1726, died in Baltimore,
Md., 1813. Was one of the Reformed missionaries sent by the Holland Synod to
America in 1752. Became pastor of a Reformed Church at Lancaster, Pa., and
later at Baltimore, Md. Many revivals and conversions followed his preaching.
He was associated with Martin Boehm, and through their labors the movement
which resulted in the formation of the United Brethren Church was brought about.
*** Rev. Christian Newcomer, whose name occurs prominently in this
work, was a son of Wolfgang Newcomer, and was born in Lancaster county,
Pa., 1749. He began to preach in 1787, and was a member of the first United
Brethren Conference in 1789. He was elected as bishop of that denomination
in 1818. He labored with great zeal in that capacity until March 12, 1830, when
he died at his home near Hagerstown, Md.
16 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.
Separation from the Old Churches. We have now out-
lined the beginning of the Reformation among the Pennsylvania
Germans. The churches for the most part being closed against
these men of God, they were compelled to preach in houses and
barns and on the streets. Hundreds of people opened their houses
as regular preaching places. There was, however, a strong aver-
sion on the part of many against leaving the old churches where
they had rendered their confirmation vows. Many of the laity
were excluded from the churches for following after or abetting
the so-called "heretics," but the churches soon discovered that
thereby they excluded their best, their fraying people, and were
glad enough to retain them if possible. Many of these preach-
ing places were open to all preachers who were approved and
converted 'men of God. Bishop Newcomer's journal reveals the
fact that he frequently preached at the houses of persons who
had connected themselves with Albright's society, and the same
is probably true of nearly all the "New Measure" preachers of
that day. Therefore it follows that because some prominent
member of the old churches opened his house as a regular preach-
ing place, we must not at once conclude that he left his church.
The converted people of the various churches often met as an
unorganized society — if such an expression is allowable — calling
themselves "Brethren." Later they became "The United Breth-
ren." Still later, when the number of those professing conversion
was considerable, it became quite common to speak of them as
a class, as "die bekehrte Lent" (the converted people), and the
adherents of the old churches as "die Kirche lent" (the church
While it is an undeniable fact that the spirit of sectarianism is
an evil in the Christian church, it is also true that the lack of
organization and administrative powers is an evil equally deplor-
able. At first view there is something noble in the thought of
coming out and standing aloof from a cold and dead church, and
seeking the genial warmth of true devotion burning on other altars,
but this spirit of independence and non-allegiance to church
organization is found to be an evil in practice. It weakens the
incentives to support the cause of the church, her ministry, her
ordinances and her work. This fact soon became apparent to
the many gospel workers of the various denominations who for
several years had labored independently of the denominations
with which they were formally connected. In 1789 a number
THE EARLY DAYS. 17
of them, under the leadership of Boehm, Otterbein, and others,
connected themselves together under the name of "The United
Brethren in Christ." It does not seem that a separate church
organization was at first contemplated, but the hostility of the
old church against this movement drew the converted ministry
and laity more closely together, which necessarily developed into
denominational organization. A large number, however, remained
independent of any organization.
A remarkable incident relating to this subject is worthy of
record. In the early ministry of John Seybert, (afterwards
bishop,) he had an extensive revival near the Black Oak Hill,
Lebanon county, Pa., at a meeting held at the house of Joseph
Kreider,* at which the noted Felix Licht, was present. Licht
had been a prominent Mennonite, but after his conversion he,
with many others, stood aloof from churches. Seybert urged
the converts to hold together, and showed the necessity and advan-
tages of organization. Licht astonished the assembly by arising
and contradicting the advice of Seybert and spoke against the
formation of a class, to which little attention was paid.
Rise of the Evangelical Association. In the religious
movements which we have outlined, the Evangelical Association
also took its rise. The establishment of our Zion was not the
result of disruption, or secession from any of the old denomina-
tions. Neither is it the result of a difference in faith or church
polity, but it represents, as its name indicates, a revival of the
evangelical or spiritual element, which existed only in the creeds,
but not in the practice of the German churches of that day.
Herein we see her standpoint and distinctive features as a church.
Should the Evangelical Association ever lose sight of the funda-
mental principles of her existence, namely, the conversion of
sinners to Christ and the building up of God's people in true
holiness of heart, then may it be truthfully said, there is no apol-
ogy for her existence. That such a stage should ever be reached,
may God forbid!
The Evangelical Association has no connection whatever with
any of the more recently established churches in America. Her
origin and development were entirely independent of them all.
Her's was a growth by accretion, brought about by instrumental-
ities of her own, which were blessed and owned of God in the
•Near Palmyra, Pa. He died in 1878, aged eighty-four years. His place
was for many years an important point.
18 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNAL8.
conversion of souls. We have already seen how for some time
the new measure preachers labored side by side without formal
organization, and with them the founder of the Evangelical Asso-
ciation. But in its organization and subsequent development
there does not seem to have been much material except that which
Jacob Albright and his co-laborers could properly call their own.
This of course has reference to the fruits of their labors. Most
of the members of the original classes were the spiritual children
of Albright and his assistants, as will appear to every candid
reader of the subsequent details of their labors in this work.
Conversion of Albright. In 1790 Jacob Albright, who
then lived in West Cocalico township, Lancaster county, Pa.,
lost several of his children by death. On the occasion of their
burial Rev. Anthony Hautz,* a Reformed minister already
referred to, officiated. The word spoken had the effect of bringing
Albright into a penitent condition. He failed, however, to find
peace, and after many months of prayerful seeking he was brought
to the verge of despair. Not very far from him lived a minister
named Adam Riegel, who, like many others of his day, stood
independent of the churches. To this man Albright went for
counsel and help after having been in the deepest spiritual distress
for over a year. The Sun of Righteousness then arose upon him
with healing in his wings, and he was converted in the house of
Riegel, in 1792, and together they subsequently enjoyed many
happy hours in Christian communion and devotion.
We have already noticed the aversion of the early German
converts to a separate church organization, a feeling in which
Albright did not share. He felt the need of a church home in
which he could serve God according to his new light and experi-
ence. He therefore united with the Methodist Episcopal Church,
a class of which had been established in his locality. This, on
the whole, maybe regarded as a fortunate circumstance, inasmuch
as he found not only congenial Christian fellowship, but also
opportunities for the free exercise of the gifts with which he was
* Rev. Anthony Hautz, a deeply spiritual Reformed minister and faithful
preacher of experimental religion was licensed as a Reformed preacher in 1787,
was a co-worker with the independent brethren, but never withdrew from his
church. Because he advocated the "New Measures” he came in conflict with
his conservative parishioners, and changed charges a number of times; finally he
removed, in 1804, to the state of New York. Here he died in Groton township,
Tompkins county, in 1830, at an advanced age.
THE EARLY DAYS. 19
naturally endowed. Although a German, so well did his Metho-
dist brethren think of Albright that they granted him license as
an exhorter. After laboring in this capacity for some time, he
felt the inward call to the holy ministry. The difficulties in the
way, however, seemed insurmountable. The church with which
he was connected was English in language, while the people with
whom his labors as a minister could be successful, were German.
After much fasting and prayer, he finally determined to enter the
gospel field as an independent evangelist, and labor among his
German countrymen, in the full belief that God had called him
to this work, and would open the way for him. Albright never
withdrew from the Methodist Church, neither was he excluded.
His membership simply lapsed when his sphere of usefulness was
enlarged from the exhorter to the itinerant preacher.
Beginning of Albright's Ministry. In 1796 Albright
started on his first evangelistic tour, which, as he himself says,
embraced, a portion of Maryland and Virginia and the interior of
Pennsylvania. The first definite account we have of his labors
refers to October of this same year, when he preached at the mar-
ket house at Shafferstown, Lebanon county, Pa., on the occasion
of the dedication of the new Reformed Church at that place.
It is exceedingly difficult to gain definite information of his early
labors, for the reason already advanced, that he doubtless preached
at many places where all godly ministers were alike welcome.
The first tangible results of his work, so far as we know, appear
in the eastern part of Berks county, near the Colebrookdale iron
works. Here he preached at Samuel Lieser's, and Abraham
and Joseph Buchwalter's. At Quakertown, Bucks county,
eighteen miles northeast of this, he preached at Peter Walter's
and Charles Bissey's. In Penn township, Schuylkill county,
he preached regularly at Leonhart Zimmerman's. In North-
ampton county, along the Blue mountains, he preached at the
houses of George Phillips and his sons, Conrad and Jacob, and
Jacob Reidy. In what is now Lebanon county, near Jonestown,
he preached at the house of Ludwig Zehring. At the foregoing
places he preached prior to 1800. The persons named, with their
families, were his first fruits in the ministry, and loved him as
their spiritual father. As the number of the converts through
his ministry increased, he clearly saw the necessity of organizing
them into classes. This he did in 1800, when his adherents num-
bered about twenty.
20 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.
The first class was formed on the Ridge, three miles east of
Quakertown, Bucks county, and consisted of Charles Bissey
and wife, and Peter Walter with his wife and family. Peter
Walter was the leader of the class. The second class was formed
about twenty miles southwest, at the Colebrookdale iron works,
in Berks county, and consisted of Samuel Liesser, his wife and
several children, Abraham Buchwalter and wife, and Joseph
Buchwalter and wife. Samuel Liesser was leader. The third
class was formed along the Blue mountains, in Hamilton town-
ship, Northampton county, and consisted of father George
Phillips and his two sons, Conrad and Jacob, and their wives,
Jacob Riedy and wife, Phillip Miller and wife, and Barbara
Hecht. Conrad Phillips was leader.
First Co-laborers of Albright. After laboring alone in
the vineyard for a period of about five years, the Lord gave his
servant, Jacob Albright, an assistant, in the person of John
Walter, son of Peter Walter, the first class-leader. This
young man entered the Evangelical work in 1802, and became
noted for his untiring zeal and powerful eloquence. From his
biography and the numerous references to him in this work, the
reader will perceive that he was a man of brilliant talents whose
oratorical powers have never been excelled in the history of the
Association. The following year, 1803, another young brother
entered the work. This was Abraham Liesser, son of father
Samuel Liesser, of Colebrookdale, Berks county. He was a
young man of mild and quiet disposition, zealously devoted to
the saving of souls, but does not seem to have possessed a strong
bodily constitution. In 1805 he broke down altogether and died
the same year. In 1804 Alexander Jemison, of Lancaster
county, entered the active work. The following year, however,
he located, after which but very little is known of him. In 1805
George Miller entered the itinerancy and eventually became
the leader of the Association. In 1806 the number was not
increased. In 1807 John Dreisbach, of Buffalo Valley, in Union
county, and Jacob Frey, of Middle Creek Valley, in (now)
Snyder county, entered the work. The former became in course
of time the leading man of the church. John Erb, of Conestoga,
Lancaster county, began to preach in Albright's time, was
received on trial in 1808, and became a very useful man* The
foregoing brethren entered the ministry under the supervision
of the founder of the church.
THE EARLY DAYS. 21
Of local preachers of this period it is doubtful whether all the
names of those who exercised the office, and were recognized as
such, can be definitely ascertained. Several of the names given
below do not appear on the records of the church, but of their
license as local preachers there is no doubt. In 1806 the office
of local preacher was established in the society. The first to be
received were the following: Charles Bissey, of Quakertown,
Bucks county; Jacob Phillips, of Northampton county, and
Solomon Miller, brother of Rev. George Miller. The great
revival on the new circuit, in 1806, almost doubled the mem-
bership of the society. The number of local preachers was also
increased as follows: In 1807 Christopher Spangler accom-
panied John Dreisbach to attend the first conference of the
church. Spangler, at this conference, received license to
preach,* and for half a century was a pillar in the church. John
Thomas, Jr., of Mifflin county (died in Wayne county, O., 1837),
whose license was given him by Albright.** Christian Wolf,
of Derrstown (now Lewisburg, Union county), who removed
to Seneca county, New York, 1807, and died 1833. Besides the
above, mention should also be made of Michael Maize and
Henry Niebel, of Dry Valley, Union county, and Matthias
Betz, of Millheim, Centre county. These brethren without doubt
began to preach in Albright's time, Niebel and Betz entering
the active work immediately after the founder's death (1808).
Biographies of nearly all the co-workers of Albright will be
found in subsequent chapters. They were men of untiring zeal,
and willing to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ
(II. Tim. ii. 3). Amid many privations and disappointments
they laid the foundations of our Evangelical Zion.
Pentecostal Meeting. The first meeting of Albright and
his adherents, of which we have any knowledge, was held when
he had but four male followers, of whom Charles Bissey*** was
one. The names of the others are not known. The place and
time of the meeting are also unknown, but the time must have
been soon after he began his ministry. The object was to seek
a closer union with God, and to pray together for the power of
* Letter of Dreisbach in "Chr. Botschafter," 1843, P. 189.
** Orwig's History of the Ev. Association, p. 219.
*** This fact was given in a historical address at the General Conference at
Allentown, Pa., in 1883, by Rev. Henry Stetzel, who had obtained his infor-
mation from Charles Bissey.
22 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.
the Holy Ghost. The Lord blessed them in a wonderful manner,
and the meeting no doubt proved a great encouragement to
Albright and his little band.
First General Assembly. After Albright had labored
in the gospel ministry about six years, it was felt necessary to give
a more definite and formal recognition of his call and work.
Hence a general Council Assembly was called, which met Nov. 3,
1803, at Samuel Liesser's.* Besides Albright and his two
assistants, John Walter and Abraham Liesser, there were pres-
ent the following brethren: Jacob Phillips, George Miller,
Carl Bissey, Conrad Phillips, John Brobst, Solomon W.
Frederici, Chr. Brobst, George Phillips, Michael Brobst,
Samuel Liesser, Peter Walter, Adam Miller, Jacob Riedy
and Solomon Miller. This assembly transacted the following
1. An ecclesiastical organization was effected by the adoption
of the Holy Scriptures as the guide and rule of faith.
2. Jabob Albright was declared to be a minister of the gos-
pel in the full sense of the term and recognized as their spiritual
father and teacher.
3. He was solemnly ordained as such by the laying on of hands;
4. And was given a license or commission, of which the fol-
lowing is a close translation:
"From the Elders and Brethren of His Society of Evangelical Friends.
We, the undersigned Evangelical and Christian friends, declare and recog-
nize Jacob Albright as a genuine (Wahrhaftigcn) Evangelical preacher, in
word and deed, and a believer in the Universal Christian Church and the commun-
ion of saints. This testify we as brethren and elders of his society (Gemeinde).
Given in the State of Pennsylvania Nov. 5, 1803.”
The document was signed by Albright's two colleagues,
Walter and Liesser, and the fourteen laymen mentioned.
Second Assembly. Some time between 1805 and 1807
another council was held in the house of George Becker, of the
Muehlbach. Of this meeting there is no record whatever; but that
it was held, is substantiated by the testimony of two daughters of
George Becker who were present, namely, Mrs. Gockley and
Mrs. Catharine Klinefelter, the wife of Rev. John Kline-
felter. Some time prior to their death they made definite
statements relative to the assembly, Mrs. Gockley especially
* This statement of the place is according to the testimony of John
THE EARLY DAYS. 23
having a vivid recollection of it. Mother Elizabeth Stump, a
daughter of Samuel Becker, in whose house the first conference
was held in 1807, related to the author that she frequently heard
her relatives, including her uncle, George Becker, speak of the
council at the house of the latter.
First Conference. The first regular conference was held
in November, 1807, at the house of Samuel Becker, on the
Muehlbach, Lebanon county, a few miles east of Shaeferstown.
With this conference the official history of the Association prop-
THE "OLD CIRCUIT."
An Account of the First Field of Labor, Commonly Called
"Schuylkill and Lancaster Circuit" — Its Preaching
Places and Classes as Established by Rev. Jacob Al-
bright and His Co-Laborers, with Copious Biographical
We have already in a previous chapter noted the beginning
of Jacob Albright's ministry. In this chapter we will seek to
give a description of the first field of labor, with an account of
its preaching places, and the noble families who, in the face of
great persecution, opened their homes to the founder of the
church and his co-laborers. In doing this it will, however, be
impossible to follow the work in the order of its establishment,
as that plan would necessitate a frequent recurrence to the same
locality. The number of preaching places on the old circuit,
prior to Albright's death (1808), was upwards of sixty. In
their enumeration We deem it proper to begin with the locality in
which the first class was organized.
Bucks County. On the rocky ridge, about three miles east
of Quakertown, Bucks county, Albright was received by Peter
Walter and Carl Bissey.
Peter Walter, who lived in Rockland township, three miles
east of Quakertown, was the father of a large family, nearly all
of whom were grown when Albright first visited them, and so far
as can be ascertained, Walter was one of the very first to asso-
ciate himself with Albright. In the year 1800, when Albright
decided to organize his spiritual children into classes, he began
THE EARLY DAYS. 25
here, and father Walter was made leader of the first class of the
Evangelical Association. In the year 1805 he and his entire
family removed to the Swatara Creek, near Jonestown (now),
Lebanon county. In that connection the reader will find a
further account of him and his family.
Carl Bissey, of Richland township, lived three miles north of
Walter, and was also one of the first adherents, and was promi-
nent in the early days of the society. He was present at the
council assembly of 1803, and became one of the first local
preachers of the church. In this capacity he rendered good
service until his death, Oct. 20, 1847, at the age of seventy-
Northampton County. Along the southern slope of the
Blue Mountains, in Hamilton township, Northampton county,
was organized the third class of the Evangelical Association in
the year 1800. The first to open their houses to Albright as
preaching places, prior to the organization of the class, were
father George Phillips and his sons, Conrad and Jacob, Jacob
Riedy and Adam Miller, all of whom were present at the Gen-
eral Assembly of 1803. The following were the members of the
class: Father George Phillips and wife, Conrad Phillips and
wife, Jacob Phillips and wife, Peter and Jacob Riedy and
their wives, Philip Miller and wife, Adam Miller and wife
and Barbara Hecht. Conrad Phillips was the class leader.
In the fall of 1802 Jacob Albright held the third general
meeting of the society at Conrad Phillips', and was assisted by
John Walter, his first fruits for the ministry. This meeting
was attended by George and Solomon Miller, who at this time
publicly identified themselves with the work of Albright, and
soon became very efficient instruments in the establishment and
promotion of the society.
Jacob Phillips became one of the first local preachers of the
society. He died in the prime of life, in 1809.
In 1811 Conrad Phillips removed to Dry Valley, in Union
county, where his house became a prominent preaching place.
Here he died in 1816, and his aged father, who had removed
with him, died in 1822.
Adam Miller was one of the first converts under Albright
Note. — Catharine Hecht died in 1808, leaving a bequest of $100 to the
society, which was the first it received. This was considered a large amount at
that time, and was added to the fund for the support of the preachers.
26 EVANGELICAL ASS0CIATION ANNALS.
in Northampton county. In the early part of the century he
removed to Crawford county, O., where he died in 1848, aged
Berks County. At the Colebrookdale iron works near the
eastern line of Berks county, Rev. Jacob Albright found some
open doors in the very beginning of his ministry, and here formed
his second class in 1800. The men who received him and opened
their houses as preaching places were the following: Samuel
Liesser, who with his family was converted through the labors
of Albright and became the leader of the class that bore his
name. His son Abraham became Albright's second assistant
in 1803. Father Liesser was widely known as a man of exem-
plary piety. At his house Albright held his first "general
meeting"* in June 1802. Brother Liesser died in the early part
of the century. His wife Anna died in 1838, at the ripe age of
Abraham** and Joseph Buchwalter and their families also
became adherents of Albright. They were Mennonites in faith
but became dissatisfied with the cold and formal worship of their
society, and cast their lot with the persecuted "converted peo-
ple." The Buchwalters were men of deep piety and sterling
worth, and quite prominent in the community. In 1820 they
removed to Ross county, O., where they were among the first to
receive the Evangelical preachers. John Buchwalter, a son
of Abraham, married to a sister of Rev. John Dreisbach, also
removed to Ross county in 1827, and his house was for years a
In Albany township, almost surrounded by the Blue Moun-
tains, lived a very wealthy man named Michael Brobst. He
was an iron master, and his furnace and two forges stood in the
very heart of the valley. His landed possessions comprised over
10,000 acres. About the year 1800 his daughters, Magdalena
and Maria, married George and Solomon Miller respectively.
* "General meetings" were meetings held at irregular intervals in various
'parts of the society. They usually began on Saturday, and continued over the
Sabbath. As the work became more established, these meetings gave way to
the "quarterly meetings."
** Abraham Buchwalter was born in Berks county, Pa., 1761, and died in
Ross county, O., 1837. Barbara, his wife, born 1764, died in Ross county, O.,
1868, aged 102 years. Their son John, who served 1812 in the ministry, born
1787, died 1872. His wife Susanna (Dreisbach) born 1793, died 1881. Joseph
Buchwalter, born 1767, died 1838.
THE EARLY DAYS. 27
The Millers, with their wives, were soon afterwards converted
through the labors of Jacob Albright, which greatly incensed
Mr. Brobst, who was a strict adherent of the old churches.
Soon after the conversion of the Millers the three sons of
Brobst were also converted. Circumstances point to father
Zimmerman's house as the place of their conversion. Their
names were John, Michael and Christian. They were all pres-
ent at the Gouncil Assembly of 1803, and their names are on the
instrument declaring Albright a gospel minister. Of Christian
nothing can be learned, and it is probable that he died prior to
his father. John and Michael lived on the estate and were con-
nected with the business of their father, and at his death inherited
the vast estate, but through circumstances not necessary to detail
here, lost their possessions in after years. The homes of John
,and Michael were regular preaching places for Albright and
his co-workers from 1803. The home of John is especially
worthy of note from the fact that here at a general meeting, held
on Easter day, 1808, Albright stationed his preachers for the
Northwest of Reading, along the Tulpehocken, Albright
and co-laborers found entrance at an early day. The home of
father Peter Dundore was the chief preaching place. A class
was formed here in 1806. In 1809 an extensive revival occurred
in this region and a considerable ingathering took place. Among
the converts at this time were George Lantz,w1io entered the min-
istry in 1820, and Lewis Henkey, who became a local preacher
in 1828. Later he removed to Summit county, O., where he
was an Evangelical pioneer, and where he died in 1873, aged
83 years. The Miesse family were also members on the Tulpe-
hocken, and later removed to Ohio, where.they became strong
supporters of the work, and some of the younger members later
About 1823 the Evangelical preachers were received by John
Tobias, Sr., and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, who lived on the
Tulpehocken, about six miles from Reading. A great revival
began here in this year, and many souls were converted at his
house, among whom were his sons, John, Jr., Benjamin, Peter,
Abraham, David, Samuel, Daniel and Henry, who in later
years became pillars in the church. In 1832 father Tobias
removed to a locality six miles north of Circleville, O., where
the family again received the preachers and were instrumental in
28 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.
the establishment of a church. Here father Tobias died Aug.
23, 1847, aged seventy-eight years, three months and fourteen
days. His last words were, "I know that my Redeemer liveth."
Mother Tobias survived a number of years. In course of time
most of the sons removed to Illinois. Samuel entered the min-
istry in 1826, preached many years in Pennsylvania and Illinois,
and died at Naperville, Ill., in 1890. Daniel entered the min-
istry in 1833 and died the following year while serving Wooster
circuit. David was a local preacher. Of grandsons the following
entered the ministry: Benjamin Franklin, son of Benjamin,
died in the ministry of the Ohio Conference; Simon A. and L.
B., sons of John Jr., entered the Illinois Conference, and J. H.,
a son of Peter, is a prominent member of the Kansas Conference.
In Bern township, along the southern slope of the Blue
Mountains, in Berks county, Albright and his associates gained
entrance prior to 1805, and a class was formed here about this
year. The preaching places were at father Levergood's, Val-
entine Brobst's, John Miller, Sr.'s (see Miller family), and
father Jacob Kline's. The latter resided about four miles west
of Shoemakersville. All the foregoing were men of means and
high standing in their respective communities. They had been
connected with the old churches, and when they opened their
houses as preaching places for the expounders of Evangelical
truth, they became the objects of ridicule and persecution, yet
they stood like pillars of light in that region of moral darkness.
Camp-meetings were held at father Levergood's at an early day.
In later times the families of Earnst and Loose became strong
pillars in this section.
Near the gap where the Schuylkill River forces its way through
the Blue Mountains, is the town of Hamburgh. Here Albright
was entertained by a merchant named Diehl. In 1801, when
passing through, he asked permission of Diehl to preach at his
house, but the latter said it was hardly a suitable time, as there
was a "frolic" in progress at the tavern not far away. A mill
stood in close proximity to the tavern, at the front of which was
a worn-out millstone. Albright obtained permission from the
proprietor to mount the stone and preach. A multitude soon
gathered, to whom he delivered a heart-searching address. As it
had the effect of breaking up the frolic, the tavern-keeper became
incensed at Albright and attempted to punish him with a whip.
George Miller, who a few years later was converted and became
THE EARLY DAYS. 29
a co-laborer with Albright, was at this time engaged in working
at the mill, and received impressions which came to an early
Some time later Albright and his co-laborers began to preach
in a small school-house in the town, but because of opposition the
work made but little progress for years.
A Wayside Meeting. In 1812 an officer who had died in
the war with England then in progress, was brought to his home
in Hamburg for interment. To this funeral, which was attended
with considerable demonstrations, Mrs. Saylor, of Orwigsburg,
came, accompanied by her son, Joseph M. Saylor, who was
then a boy of nine years of age. The town was full of people
who had come to witness the obsequies of the dead officer. The
attention of the mother and son was attracted by a crowd gath-
ered around a man who was holding a religious service on the
pavement. The mother drew near and with close attention lis-
tened for the first time to an Evangelical preacher, who was none
other than George Miller, who eleven years before had first
heard Albright preach from the millstone, a few hundred yards
away. Miller was at this time the chief man in the society.
An incident which impressed itself upon the mind of the little boy
was that of a man who took off his hat and reverently bowed his
head when Miller kneeled on the pavement in prayer, while all
the rest of the hearers kept on their hats and laughed and talked
in a disrespectful manner.
The Bertoletts. Near Friedensburg, in Oley township,
Berks county, is the old home of the Bertoletts. In 1726 Jean
Bertolett, a French Huguenot, of Chartien Duise, Switzerland,
with his wife Susanna and five children, was compelled to flee
from his home because of religious persecution. He settled in
Oley, Pa., and many of his descendants became members of the
Evangelical Association. In 1735 his son Abraham married
Esther DeTurk, through whom he came in possession of the
estate still owned by the Bertoletts at Friedensburg. In 1736
he built a stone house which is still standing, and is one of the
most interesting landmarks of the church. In course of time
Daniel Bertolett, a grandson of Abraham, came in possession
of the estate. He, like his ancestors, was noted for his inde-
pendence of thought and thrifty habits. When still young he
became dissatisfied with the dead formality of the churches, and
became an earnest inquirer after spiritual life, and through a
30 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.
providential circumstance became acquainted with the Evangel-
In 1809 a traveler stopped at the Bertolett home and asked
for dinner, which was cheerfully given him. He was young,
entertaining in his manners and made a favorable impression.
Soon after this he stopped again, this time feeding his horse.
Bertolett was naturally curious to know his name and business,
but not until the stranger had mounted his horse and was ready
to proceed on his journey did he ask him. The reply was, "I am
John Walter, and my business is to -preach the gospel to rich
and poor wherever doors are opened to receive me." He then
bade farewell and rode away. Bertolett stood awhile engaged
in thought concerning the strange visitor, when a voice seemed
to say to him, "Why did you not invite him to preach in your
house?" Following its promptings, he ran after the preacher
now disappearing in the distance and succeeded in stopping him.
The conversation on religious matters was resumed, with the
result that an appointment was made for Walter. This was the
beginning of a great work in that locality and the organization
of a strong class, the principal members of which were the Ber-
toletts, Clevers, Weidners, Yeakels and Hochs. For many
years Bertolett's house was a preaching place and he one of
the chief pillars of the church. A camp-meeting was held on his
land in 1814 and many years thereafter, besides many important
general meetings. He was one of the principal promoters of the
Book Establishment in 1816, and was elected by the conference
as one of the commission. He possessed fine poetical talent;
many of his hymns became familiar throughout the church, and
some are still to be found in our German hymn book. One of
his notable hymns begins with the lines:
"Die Wasserbaeche rauschen dar
Die Stern' am Himmtl leuchten klar,
Die kuehlen Winde weh'n."
Many of his productions were published in a separate volume.
In the conference records of 1820 is a resolution ordering the
publication of a volume of hymns written and translated by John
Dreisbach and Daniel Bertolett. In 1832 Bertolett was
licensed as a local preacher. He was severely plain in his habits,
so that many who did not understand him thought him peculiar.
In his house was posted a notice forbidding the use of tobacco
on his premises, which he considered a great evil. He was a:so
THE EARLY DAYS. 31
a prominent anti-slavery man. He died in 1868, at the age of
eighty-eight years, and his son Jacob, born in 1815, succeeded
to the ancestral estate. He was a local deacon of the church
and also a prominent man. He died in 1878.
Lehigh County. At Lynnville, Albright found entrance
to several families who opened their homes for preaching places.
His leading support here was George KUster, whose house
became a regular preaching place as early as 1800. He died in
the early part of the century, but his house continued as one of
the preaching places of the Schuylkill circuit as late as 1835. In
1842 the widow Maria Kuster died, aged eighty-three years.
Having no children, she bequeated the entire estate to the East
Pa. Conference, which in turn very generously transferred all the
proceeds of the estate, which were considerable, to the Charitable
Society of the Evangelical Association.
Near the present town of Macungie lived a liberal-minded
man named Philip Wescoe, who welcomed Albright to his
home, and permitted him to preach in his house. No immediate
results were apparent until 1834, when J. M. Savlor preached
to an assembly of over one thousand people in the orchard of
Mrs. Susan Mohr, near the old home of Wescoe. This was
the beginning of a great work.
Schuylkill County. In West Penn township lived that
eminent man of God, Leonard Zimmerman, and his wife Sophia.
He was a member and officer of the Reformed Church, and a
spiritually enlightened, pious man. About 1797 he turned his
back to the dead formality of his church and opened his house
as.a preaching place for the zealous evangelist Albright. For
this he was decried as a heretic and became the subject of sore
persecution. His former pastor did his utmost to keep him from
"falling from the faith," and urged him to close his door against
the "false prophets" and "deceivers." Zimmerman at this time
was well advanced in years. He was the father of a large family,
nearly all of whom were grown, and some were already heads of
families. The following is a list of his children, all of whom
became members of the church prior to Albright's death:
(1) John Zimmerman, Esq., for many years a justice of the
peace in Schuylkill county, and whose house was one of the early
preaching places; (2) Rev. Leonard Zimmerman; (3) Maria
and (4) Eve, married brothers, John D. and Michael Sev-
bert, respectively; (5) Catharine, married to John George
32 EVANGELICAL ASS0CIATION ANNALS.
Zehner. The Seyberts and Zehner lived in the North Branch
valley, in (now) Columbia and Luzerne counties, where Albright
and associates preached in their homes. (6) Susan, married
Conrad Biebelheimer; (7) Barbara, married H. Balliet,
and (8) Albertina, married Jacob Bochard. About 1806 the
three latter sons-in-law also emigrated to the same valley, and
received the Evangelical preachers. Bochard settled a short
distance above Danville, in (now) Montour county. After the
death of the parents (9) Margaret, the youngest, was cared for
by Rev. Solomon Miller, who in 1816 removed to New Berlin,
Pa., to take charge of the Printing Establishment of the society.
Here she met, and in 1818 married, George Miller, "the
printer." In the early history of the church father Zimmerman's
was one of the leading points of the connection. In the begin-
ning of the century Albright preached there a sermon of great
power from the words, "But who may abide the day of His
coming?" (Mal. iii. 2.) The whole assembly was melted under
its influence and many were converted, among whom was father
Zimmerman's son Leonard, who later became a minister. At
another meeting held here in 1802 George Miller, who became
so eminent and useful in the church, was fully confirmed in the
faith. Father Zimmerman's house was open to all godly preach-
ers, whether adherents of Albright or not. Father Peter
Beaver,* one of the first German Methodist preachers in Amer-
ica, frequently preached at Z.'s house, and often spoke of his
deep piety and his zeal for the work of the Lord. Father Zim-
merman was gathered home, like a shock of corn fully ripe (Job
v. 26), in the latter part of 1812, and his wife soon thereafter.
A great number of his descendants are members of the Evangelical
Association, some being useful ministers of the gospel.
In 1803 the first Evangelical class was formed in Schuylkill
county, and George Miller was appointed leader by Albright.
The Miller Family. Jacob Miller and his wife Eliza-
beth were highly respectable people of Pottstown, Pa., and
members of the Lutheran Church at that place. During the
Revolutionary War they removed to Alsace township, Berks
county, where Miller died in 1784. As their sons became
prominently identified with the society through the ministry of
Albright, a notice of them seems proper in this connection:
* Grandfather of ex-Governor James A. Beaver.
THE EARLY DAYS. 33
(1) John Miller and his wife Sabilla lived in Bern town-
ship, Berks county, and their house was one of the first preaching
places. John Miller never united with the society, but his wife
did. He died early in the century. She died at the home of
her son Solomon G., in Stoyestown, Somerset county, Pa., in
1850, at a very advanced age. John Miller, Jr., son of the
foregoing, entered the Evangelical ministry in 1822, traveled
seven years, broke down in health, and died near Shoemakers-
ville, Pa., in 1833. Solomon G. Miller, another son of John,
was a very talented man. He entered the ministry in 1829, trav-
eled a number of years, and later was employed at the Book
Establishment at New Berlin, Pa. He resided for some time at
Stoyestown, Pa., and still later removed to Kansas, where he
died, near Augusta, Nov. 19, 1883, aged seventy-six years.
(2) George Miller lived in Schuylkill county, where he, in
June 3, 1802, became a subject of saving grace, but some years
later removed across the mountain to Allemangel, near his father-
in-law. In 1805 he entered the active ministry. As his biogra-
phy appears elsewhere, a further notice of him in this connection
(3) Solomon Miller lived in Schuylkill county, near his
brother George. He was also converted in 1802, and his house
became a regular preaching place in the Autumn of that year.
On Easter day, 1803, Albright held his fourth general meeting
at his house. In the Fall of 1803 he attended the First Council,
and in 1807 the first annual conference, where he was licensed as
one of the first local preachers. In 1816 he removed to New
Berlin, Pa., to take charge of the newly established printing busi-
ness of the society. As he derived no income from this source,
he carried on his trade as a hatter. His good work for the church
was, however, soon cut short, as he died March 29, 1820, aged
forty-two -years, five months and twenty-two days. His body
reposes near that of his brother George.
(4) Frederick Miller in the early part of the century re-
moved to the upper end of Lehigh county, near the Blue
Note. — A few years after their conversion, George and Solomon Miller
removed from Schuylkill county to the head of Allemangel corner, near their
father-in-law Michael Brobst. Here George built a saw mill, and Solo-
mon erected a small hat factory, on the same premises. In 1809 the second
annual conference was held at their house, and in the Fall of 1810 the second
camp-meeting was held on the north bank of the mill dam, where there is a
beautiful spring. Still later they removed to New Berlin, as elsewhere noted;
34 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.
Mountains, where his house was for many years a preaching place.
He became quite wealthy, and being without issue, willed his
entire estate to the East Pa. Conference. This was the largest
bequest ever made to the church. The will, however, was con-
tested by other claimants, and after a very costly litigation the
conference saved about $10,000, which was very generously
turned over to the Charitable Society of the church. He died
in 1854, at a very advanced age.
In the vicinity of Orwigsburg, Schuylkill county, lived George
Orwig, who was a member of the Lutheran Church, and a highly
respectable citizen. He was liberal in his views and strongly
opposed to the dead and formal worship so prevalent in his
locality. He therefore opened his house as a preaching place
for Jacob Albright.* Although he never withdrew from the
church of his fathers, he was nevertheless a warm friend of the
Evangelical Association, and his children and grandchildren be-
came prominent members. Several of his sons having removed
to Buffalo Valley, Union county, he and his wife Magdalena
went thither to spend their last days with them, and there they
both died in 1841, each at the age of eighty-two years.
In Lower Mahantongo Valley lived John Haldeman, whose
house became a preaching place for Albright and his asso-
ciates. Probably nowhere else in Pennsylvania was there greater
spiritual darkness than in this region, and the work seemed fruit-
less. Brother Haldeman, however, did not become discour-
aged, although he stood almost alone for a quarter of a century
as a professor of experimental religion. His house was for many
years a noted stopping place for the preachers in their travels to
and fro. The precious seed of the gospel sown in this place was
not lost, however, as in course of time it came to a rich fruitage,
and a class was formed. John Seybert and others took up ap-
pointments in adjoining places, and a rich harvest of souls was
realized. One of the chief pillars in this valley for many years
was Henry Heppler. Many victorious camp-meetings were held
on his place, and the Evangelical work throughout that region
has continued to nourish to the present time.
* This statement is from his grandson, Bishop W. W. Orwig.
Note. — Father John Haldeman died 1842, aged seventy-four years. His
wife Salome in 1838, aged seventy-one years.
THE EARLY DAYS. 35
Lebanon County. For some unknown reason Albright
was specially interested in Shaefferstown and vicinity. This place
is situated about seven miles south-east of Lebanon, in one of the
finest agricultural regions of the State. It is especially noted as
the place of Albright's first labors, of which we have definite
knowledge. In October, 1796, the Reformed church here was
dedicated, and we find him addressing an overflow meeting from
a board pile at the entrance of the market house, in the public
square. A furious attack was made upon him by a godless mob,
and the result would doubtless have been serious to him had not
the arm of the Lord encircled him. At the critical moment when
a rush was about to be made upon him, a powerful man, named
Maize, who saw his danger, seized him, and carried him away,
as though he were a child. The cowardly mob well knew the
strength and courage of Maize, and made no further attempt to
harm him. A kind hearted man named Peter Mohr then took
him to his home and sheltered him. This perilous attempt to
preach Evangelical doctrine in this wicked place did not in the
least discourage him, but with true Christian heroism he fre-
quently returned, and the Lord not only opened doors for him,
but also hearts to receive the truth, and the precious seed thus
sown in tears and sorrow, came to a rich and glorious fruitage,
as will be observed. But before this result could be reached,
God's servant must pass through a still more fiery ordeal.
Albright's Terrible Persecution. In the Autumn of
1799 a fair was held at Shaefferstown, at which time he preached
to a large multitude by the wayside. On this occasion he was
attacked by a mob and shamefully abused. Bruised and bleed-
ing, and with garments almost torn from his body, he escaped
with his life to father Zentmyer's, who lived two miles distant,
and at whose home he had often found a warm welcome. Here
he lay for two weeks under the care of a physician.
Among Albright's hearers at the fair was George Becker,
who lived two miles east, at the Muehlbach. The word of truth
made an impression upon his heart, and some years later he was
converted, and became one of the strongest pillars the church has
ever had. (See Muehlbach.)
Near Shaefferstown lived Jacob Gleim, a man of sterling
worth and deep piety. Soon after Albright began his labors
here Brother G. opened his house for preaching, and it was for
many years a noted place. He died in 1837, at the age of
36 EVANGELICAL ASS0CIATION ANNALS.
seventy-one years. It is worthy of note that when Albright
was suffering from his last illness and was on his way home, as
he said, to die, he was brought from Lingelstown to brother
Gleim's. From there he resumed his journey, but was compelled
to stop at George Becker's, only two miles distant, where he
breathed his last.
Among the converts of Albright at Shaefferstown was Jacob
Bricker, who was, so far as we know, the first in the town to
open his house as a preaching place. He died in Lebanon,
in 1840, aged seventy-three years. Bishop Newcomer, of the
United Brethren Church, mentions in his journal the fact of
having preached in Bricker's house in 1823. John Grumbein
and family were also converted under the preaching of Albright,
and their house was a preaching place. (Father G. died in 1868,
aged ninety years.) A little later Jacob Bucks became a prom-
inent member. He was class leader for many years, and was the
father of Rev. H. Bucks, who entered the ministry in 1832.
The Muehlbach and Vicinity. In West Cocalico town-
ship, in the northeastern part of Lancaster, and near the line of
Lebanon county, is a locality known as "The Swamp," opening
in the direction of Shaefferstown, between the Muehlbach and
Chestnut Ridge. The Muhlbach is a few miles north and Shaef-
ferstown northwest. In this place Albright was received by
John Wenger,* who opened his house for the preachers of exper-
imental religion. On one occasion when Albright preached
here, the house was so thronged that the floor gave way, and
a disaster was narrowly averted. Some people regarded this
mishap as a sign of God's disfavor and thereafter kept aloof.
In the Spring or Summer of 1805 George Miller, Albright's
co-laborer, gained entrance a little farther north towards the
Muehlbach. In his autobiography he says, "One evening I
stopped with a man in Lancaster county named Lesher, and
was lovingly received. In the evening and morning I prayed
with them, and as I was about to take my departure, he asked
me whether I was not a Methodist preacher. I replied that I
was no Methodist. 'But,' said he, 'you are a preacher, and in
what connection do you stand?' I replied, 'I am an Evangelical
preacher, and preach the gospel to all who receive and hear me.'
* He was a brother to Jacob and Joseph, of State Line, Pa., which see, and
brother-in-law to father Philip Breidenstein, and Bishop H. Kummler.
THE EARLY DAYS. 37
'Tell me the truth,' said he, 'are you not a Methodist preacher?'
'You can depend upon it,' said I. 'I would like to hear you
preach, but the Methodists I would not receive, because they are
too boisterous. Or are you so loud too? At any rate, I will
give out an appointment for you and then we will see.'
"An appointment was given out, and the house was filled
with people. The Lord gave me grace to preach His Word with
feeling and power, so that nearly all were melted. Lesher desired
another appointment, and as I preached again others desired it
also, and the Lord so wrought that in a short time sinners began
to seek for pardon. As Lesher heard the noise he left the
assembly, but God worked powerfully so that many sinners were
converted, and also this old man with nearly his entire family
The Beckers and Lefflers Converted. Among the peo-
ple who came to the meetings at Lesher's were some from the
Muehlbach, about three miles distant, among whom was Cath-
arine, wife of Frederick Becker, a highly respected man, and
a brother of George and Samuel, of the Muehlbach. John
Leffler, married to Becker's sister Julianna, lived near Lesh-
er's, and also attended the meetings. Mrs. Becker was con-
verted and a little later her husband Frederick. This opened
the way for the introduction of the work.
Soon after his conversion Frederick Becker began to urge
his brothers, Samuel and George, to attend the meetings at the
Swamp. After much persuasion they agreed to do so, and went
together. The service made a deep impression upon them, and
on their return they discussed the propriety of having Albright
preach at the Muehlbach also. Samuel thought that inasmuch
as he was an officer in the Lutheran Church, it would not do for
him to open his house as a preaching place, but urged his brother
George to do so. George signified his willingness, but there
were domestic obstacles in the way, and the project was deferred.
Quite unexpectedly, however, whether in jest or earnest we can-
not say, the wife of George told him to have an appointment
made at their house. This was just what he desired, but she had
hitherto shown no disposition in favor of the work. An appoint-
ment was accordingly made, which was filled by Albright.
The wife, however, opposed a second meeting, but Albright
* Miller's Leben, page 83.
38 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.
persuaded her to permit another appointment, to which she finally
agreed. At the second meeting he was assisted by his collegues
John Walter and George Miller. The house was thronged
with people. Much opposition was manifested by the enemies
of the cause, and considerable damage was done about the prem-
ises. The meeting nevertheless was a glorious triumph, and
among the saved was George Becker. The precious seed
dropped into his heart by Albright at the Shaefferstown fair,
five years previous, at last matured in his salvation. Becker's
sister Julianna, and her husband John Leffler, from the Swamp,
were also present at this meeting. She was powerfully wrought
upon, and with contending emotions within her soul she stole
away ere the meeting closed and returned to her home, several
miles distant. When her husband returned he found his wife in
bed and the door securely barred. To his repeated calls to open
the door she paid no attention, whereupon he bowed down and
offered up a fervent prayer in her behalf. This induced her to
open the door, but she immediately returned to bed. She there
began to upbraid him for falling away from the faith of their
fathers. It was quite evident, however, that her heart had been
touched by the spirit of conviction, and she was in that condi-
tion in which the enemy of souls makes a last desperate effort to
hold his victim. Her husband then bowed down by the side of
a chest near the bed, and with tears began to pray for her salva-
tion. Soon the mighty power of God came down upon them,
and the woman cried out with a loud voice, "Der Teufel muss
weichen." (The devil must flee.) After a season of Jacob-like
wrestling the unseen One revealed His hidden name, and the
house resounded with shouts of joy and praise from the lips of
husband and wife.
Samuel Becker was still unconverted. Soon after the con-
version of Lefflers a prayer-meeting was appointed at their
house. When the time for the prayer-meeting came, Samuel
Becker's wife, who had been converted, said to her husband,
"Come, get ready, and let us go over to Leffler's to the prayer-
meeting." "No," said he, "I must go to church to-day or they
will throw me out of office, as I have missed church pretty often
of late." After much persuasion, however, she induced him
to accompany her. The meeting was one of great power, and
Becker resolved to seek the Lord in the salvation of his soul.
The friends joined in fervent supplications with him, and he was
THE EARLY DAYS. 39
soon overwhelmed with the power of saving grace. Springing to
his feet, with his streaming eyes turned heavenward, he repeated
that grand old hymn of Rothe, beginning,
"Ich habe nun den Grund gefunden
Der meinen Anker ewig haelt;
Wo anders als in Jesu Wunden;
Da lag er vor der Zeit der Welt,
Ein Grund der unbeweglich steht
Wann Erd und Himmel untergeht."*
Deacon Samuel Becker was now converted, and another
strong pillar added to Albright's little society. His conversion,
however, was the signal for abuse from his former co-religionists.
He had "fallen away from the faith," according to their notion,
and to ridicule him and disturb the meetings at his house was
considered just what he deserved. His father-in-law, who was a
man of considerable means, was especially hostile to him and
his wife, and finally announced to them that he had disinherited
them. Mrs. Becker said, "Dear father, you may do me all the
harm you can. You may throw me out of my inheritance, if you
will, but you cannot take from me my inheritance above, which
rests in God's hands, and is incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth
not away.” The aged father spent much of his time at her house,
but whenever there was preaching there, he left and remained
away until the service was over. His bitterness against the
Evangelical work never abated, and at his death it was found
that he had executed his cruel threat, and his dear daughter, who
had bestowed upon her aged father the tenderest care and affec-
tion, was cut off from her father's estate. In the light of eternity
this was of little moment to her, for she has for many years
enjoyed her more enduring substance in the City of God.
Becker Family History. Among the early German emi-
grants in Pennsylvania were a number of Baptists, who fled from
the religious intolerance of the Old World to seek homes in the
New, where they might serve God according to the dictates of
their consciences. At first they were somewhat scattered, but
Conrad Bissel having settled at the Muehlbach in 1721,** he
was in 1724 joined by others, and a society was organized. This
society chose one of their number named Peter Becker*** as
* See English translation in Evangelical Hymn Book, No. 324.
** Egle'S History of Lancaster county.
*** Becker was from Dilsheim, Germany.
40 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.
their official baptizer.* This was the ancestor of the Becker
family. In 1724 he baptized Bissel in the Pequea Creek,**
Bissel was a man of considerable intelligence, and changing his
views somewhat, he a few years later withdrew and founded the
famous Communistic Society at Ephrata. Becker's estate on
the Muehlbach was quite large, and a good portion of it has
remained in the hands of his descendants continuously to the
present time. Among the sons of the emigrant was John George,
to whom the estate descended.
John George Becker was the father of fifteen childen, nearly
all of whom became supporters of Albright and members of his
society, and multitudes of his decendants are to be found as hon-
ored members in almost every quarter of the church. He died
prior to 1800, aged ninety-two years. His aged companion, who
was his third wife, lived to see the Evangelical work established,
became a member of the Muehlbach class, and died in peace soon
afterwards. Of the children of John George Becker, several
of whom have already been mentioned, a brief reference can only
be given in this connection. John Jacob soon after his conver-
sion removed to Windsor township, York county, where he was a
pillar for many years. Michael lived on the Swatara, where he
received Albright and his colaborers. Frederick, (wife Eliza-
beth), Elizabeth, married to John Lesher, of Dauphin county.
Frederick Becker and his brother-in-law Lesher removed to
Seneca county, O. Julianna, wife of John Leffler, already
referred to; Christina, who became the wife of Rev. John
Walter, the first colaborer of Albright; Samuel and George,
of whom more will be found presently.
The Becker mansion is one of the most interesting land-
marks connected with the history of the church. It was erected
by John George Becker, and is a two story stone edifice of
large size. The body of the building is of limestone, but the
corners, windows, and doors are of fine red sandstone trimmings.
Over the door is neatly cut the legend, "G, 1767, B." The edi-
fice is in an excellent state of preservation. An abiding interest
attaches to it, because in it was held, in 1807, the first annual
conference of the Evangelical Association. Brother Samuel
Becker gained possession of the homestead, and it has been
•Rupp's History of Lancaster county, page 214.
** Ephrata Chronicles.
THE EARLY DAY8. 41
retained by his decendants ever since. He was killed in 1809
by accidentally falling under the wheel of his wagon, while on his
way to Reading. George Becker lived on the western end of
the estate. The old homestead was situated near a large spring,
which is the source of the stream known as the Muehlbach,
(Millcreek.) In this house Albright died in 1808. The an-
nual conference was held here in 1810 and 1811. The old home
has long since given way to a more modern edifice. George
Becker was blessed with a family of godly children, of whom
his eldest daughter Mary married Rev. John Erb, but died in
the bloom of life in 1814. Catharine in 1823 became the wife
of Rev. John Klinefelter, who was one of the leading men of
the church. Father George Becker died in 1855, at the age
of eighty-eight years, his wife Maria having preceded him many
The Muehlbach class was organized in 1805, John Leffler,
leader. Members: Father John Lesher and family, John Lef-
fler and wife Julianna, mother Julianna Becker, Frederick
Becker and wife Catharine, John Jacob Becker, Catharine
(Becker) Kissinger, Christina Becker, (afterwards Mrs. Rev.
J. Walter), Anna Yost, John A. Hake, and also Jacob Bricker,
Jacob Gleim, and John Grumbein, with their families, of Shaef-
Albright was buried in the private burying ground of George
Becker. In course of time it was enlarged, father John Kline-
felter donating considerable land for the purpose, and it is now
known as the Albright, or Evangelical cemetery. In the midst
Notes. — 1. Frederick Becker's son Abraham entered the ministry in
1822 and traveled five years. John Jacob was noted for his wonderful gift of
prayer, under which the hearts of many sinners melted like wax before the flame.
He died in Windsor township, York county, Pa.
2. John Adam Haake, whose remarkable conversion at Michael Becker's
in 1805 is elsewhere related. He was blind through the premature explosion of
a blast, which accident occurred before his conversion. He was a powerful
exhorter, and was accustomed to go to meetings in distant localities and wrought
much good. He died in 1851, aged seventy-five years. He is buried close by
Rev. Jacob Albright.
3. Anna Yost lived in a small house belonging to George Becker. She
was one of the first converts, and especially noted as a sweet singer. She was
Albright's nurse during his last illness at Becker's, and cheered him by
singing the sweet songs of Zion. Later she married Brother J. Snavely and
removed to Cornwall, Lebanon county, where she died in 1855.
42 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.
of it stands the Albright Memorial Church, built in memory of
the founder in 1850. The material is red sandstone. It is,
however, not as originally constructed. Because of faulty work
in its erection, it became necessary to rebuild the entire struc-
ture. The inscription on the marble slab above the entrance
reads as follows:
zum andenken des verewigten
Stifter der Evangelischen Gemeinschaft in Nerd Amerika,
im 50 ten Jahr der Gemeinschaft,
Ganz neu aufgebaut im Jahr 1860."
Translation. — "Albright Church, erected to the memory of the Sainted
Jacob Albright, founder of the Evangelical Association of North America, in
the 50th year of the Association, Anno. 1850. Rebuilt in the year 1860."
The Breitenstein Family. A few miles south-west of
Lebanon, Pa., lived Philip Breitenstein, a man in good cir-
cumstances and highly respected in his community. Albright
had became acquainted with him prior to the beginning of the
century, when he lived at Adamstown, Lancaster county. Late
in the Fall of 1805 he preached in his house for the first time.
The weather being unfavorable, his audience consisted of the
family and a pumpmaker, who was then doing some work for
Breitenstein. Although favorable to Albright, he did not
fully yield to the influence of the gospel. His wife was still less
inclined than her husband. She was not only indifferent, but
also in a measure opposed to Albright's pretensions as a min-
ister of the gospel. On the score of old acquaintance, and the
fact that he was welcomed by her brother, John Wengerd, near
Adamstown, it would seem she tolerated his services at their
house. But with the exception of the privilege of preaching there
occasionally, his work for the time being seemed in vain. Sev-
eral providential circumstances occurred by which the Lord
turned these otherwise excellent people to Himself, and raised
them up as pillars in His church. The following remarkable
account of Mrs. Breitenstein's conversion she related to her
pastor, J. M. Saylor, from whose lips the author received it:
The evening was drawing near, when a young man on horse-
back drew rein in front of Breitenstein's house. He inquired
THE EARLY DAY8. 43
whether they could tell him of the whereabouts of Jacob Al-
bright. The appearance of the young man and his inquiry at
once aroused the interest of Breitenstein, who asked' his name.
The young man replied, "I am John Walter, Albright's helper."
He was then kindly requested to remain for the night, an invita-
tion which he thankfully accepted. Mrs. B. at once proceeded
to prepare supper, and the young itinerant was invited to share
the repast. He was requested to ask the blessing at the table,
which he did in a unique manner. He made it the occasion for
praying specially for her who had prepared the meal. This was
something new to her, but it was of God. "The words of the
wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assem-
blies, which are given from one shepherd." (Eccles. xii. 11) It
was this remarkable prayer that led her to the Saviour, and like
Lydia her heart was opened "that she attended to the things
spoken of." (Acts xvi. 14.)
Brother B. still refused to receive Christ fully, but mark how
strange are the ways of Providence. Soon after the foregoing
incident (May 18, 1808) Albright was called to his rich reward,
and the same Walter who could lead souls to Christ by saying
grace at meals, preached such a sermon at the funeral of the
sainted founder of the church that the hearts of the hearers
melted like wax before the flame, and father Breitenstein was
led into "the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Jesus
Christ." (Rom. xv. 29.) From this time on he was a pillar in
the society. Many important general meetings and camp-meet-
ings were held on his place. Later he was licensed as a local
preacher, in which capacity he was signally useful. His son
John, who was also converted at an early day, entered the active
ministry in 1818.
After faithfully serving his day and generation father Breit-
enstein was gathered to the fathers above. His mortal remains
were deposited in the little family burying place on his farm. By
his side rests his beloved companion, and his distinguished son
Father B. was born in 1764, and died Jan. 22, 1838. His
wife Barbara died April 29, 1851, aged eighty-one years. Their
entire family were prominent members of the church. Their
daughter Catharine became the wife of Rev. J. C. Reisner.
Another daughter, Mary, converted in 1807, married Jacob
Middlekauff, of Hagerstown, Md., and their house was one of
44 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.
the most important preaching places of the old Franklin Circuit
for many years. She died in 1855, aged sixty-one years.
In May, 1811, the third camp-meeting of the Connection was
held on Breitenstein's place, and when it is remembered that
ministers and people came from all parts of the church, it will
be seen that an ordinary farm would be taxed to its utmost to
furnish pasturage for their horses. After considering the matter
B. found that he had no suitable field into which he could turn
the horses except a clover field on which he depended for that
season's crop. After much anxiety he referred the matter to the
Lord, praying that He would in some way provide. The time
for holding the camp-meeting arrived, and also people from all
parts of* the church, with a great number of horses, jaded and
hungry. What was to be done? There was no alternative and
brother B. opened the bars to his field of clover then in blossom.
The unconverted people now pointed to this act as proof that the
"false prophets" had completely turned Breitenstein's head,
and said the people would "eat him out of house and home."
Reader, mark the sequel. While the horses were feeding a whole
week in the best pasture they ever had, their owners were enjoy-
ing one of the best camp-meetings ever held. The second day
following the close of the camp and the departure of the people
a steady rain set in which continued several days. This caused
the downtrodden clover to grow afresh and produced the greatest
hay crop ever gathered from that field. The year in general was
a prosperous one to him, which brother B. regarded as a special
indication of God's favor because of his trust in Him.
Lebanon and Vicinity. Through the labors of Father Breit-
enstein and his son John the Evangelical work was established
in the vicinity of Lebanon. They were ever ready to secure new
preaching places for the preachers. Although Albright and his
co-laborers had preached in the town of Lebanon as early as 1805,
there was no visible fruit until the Breitensteins effected a reg-
A gracious revival resulted in 1826 under the labors of John
Seybert, afterwards the first bishop of the church. A strong class
was formed and our work has ever prospered at that place.
It is worthy of note that of the early converts three young
men, Henry Fisher, Elias Stoever and Jacob Burkett, became
prominent ministers. The former was one of our early publish-
ers, and editor of the Evangelical Messenger.
THE EARLY DAY8. 45
About three miles from Lebanon, and the same distance from
Breitenstein's, lived two brothers, Jacob and Henry Eby, both
highly respected farmers. The time and circumstances of their
conversion are unknown, but it is certain that in 1805 George
Miller preached at their houses, and beyond doubt the Founder
of the church often did likewise. Important general meetings
were held here at an early day, and conversions took place, but
no organization was effected. The members of this locality and
Breitenstein's constituted one class. Preaching was kept up
here for many years, and many camp-meetings were held on their
lands. Jacob Eby died in 1838, aged sixty-four, and Henry
died in 1863, in his eighty-second year.
Samuel Bien and wife were among the first converts in Leb-
anon county and are supposed to have been members of the
Breitenstein Class. Their house became a preaching place in
Albright's time, but we have not been able to ascertain, with
certainty, the locality of their residence. In the early part of
the century they removed to Warren county, Ohio, where they died
near Lebanon. Father Bien died in 1852, aged seventy-eight
years, and his companion soon afterwards.
During the year 1809 a general meeting was held at Henry
Eby's, attended by all the traveling preachers of the Association.
At this meeting George Miller, John Walter, and John Dreis-
bach were solemnly ordained as elders in accordance with a pre-
vious resolution of the conference. The meeting was an occasion
of great rejoicing. The brethren reconsecrated themselves to the
service of God, and the work of the ministry, and the consequence
was that great and unprecedented revivals took place on all the
charges soon afterwards.
Jonestown is situated about seven miles northeast of Lebanon,
near the Swatara Creek. Albright and his associates found
some open doors in this region, but also met with violent oppo-
sition. In Jonestown they preached in a small building in which
all denominations were permitted to hold services. Mother
"Ketty" Wingerd (noticed below) often related that she was
present at a meeting held here by the Old Brethren ("Die Alte
Brueder" — meaning Albright and his associates), when the
building was surrounded by a mob and an attack made upon the
worshipers, from which they escaped without injury only with
the greatest difficulty, and their deliverance was ever afterwards
ascribed to the providence of God. After several years of hard
46 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.
labor and great opposition, a class was formed in Jonestown and
vicinity by Rev. George Miller in 1805 ("Miller's Leben"
Among those who received Albright was Ludwig Zehring,
a man of wealth and influence who lived on the Swatara Creek,
a few miles east of Jonestown. He was a prominent member of
the Reformed Church, and made great sacrifices when he opened
his house to the Evangelical preachers. There seems but little
doubt that Albright visited him in the early part of the ministry,
as his daughter Catharine, already referred to, was converted
in 1799. She died in Jonestown in 1874, at the age of eighty-
eight years, having been connected with the church from its
infancy. Ludwig Zehring's house was a regular preaching
place as late as 1825.
Between Jonestown and Mt. Nebo ("Ono" post-office), and
about a mile east of the latter place, lived Adam Faber, whose
father Michael came from the Palatinate, Germany, in 1733.
Adam Faber was a highly respected member of the Reformed
Church and an officer in the same. He was led to see the spir-
itual darkness then prevailing in his own heart, and by the grace
of God, was led into the blissful experiences of salvation. His
house became a regular preaching place for Albright and his
associates, and continued to be one of the strongholds of the
church for many years. His son John, who lived on his father's
estate, also opened his house as a preaching place at an early
day. The first camp-meeting of the Association in this vicinity
was held on Faber's land in 1815, at which time the noted John
Walter (whose little farm adjoined Faber's) preached what
was probably his last sermon. Father Faber died in 1819 and
was laid to rest in the family burial ground by the wayside, on
the north side of the farm. (Rev. John Walter was buried in
the same graveyard.) His wife Anna Faber died in 1839, aged
eighty-two years, and was buried in the Reformed churchyard
The Walter Family. About three miles west of Jonestown,
Pa., lived Father Peter Walter, who with his wife Margaret,
was of the first to adhere to Albright in the beginning of his
ministry. We have already observed that he was the first class-
leader of the Association, and removed from Quakertown to
this locality in 1805. From the fact that this family was not
only one of the first, but also one of the most noted in the early
THE EARLY DAYS. 47
history of the society, a more extended account seems proper in
The family consisted of the following sons: Joseph, John,
Abraham and Peter; and daughters: Elisabeth, Magdalena,
Sarah Christina and Rebecca. Joseph, soon after his father's
removal here, was married to Mary Stine. Their house became
a regular preaching place in Albright's time, and became a noted
place for general meetings and camp-meetings. He died near
Mt. Nebo in 1857, aged seventy-nine years, his companion having
preceded him about ten years. John became Albright's first
co-worker, as will be seen in his biography. After his health
failed he purchased a small farm near his parental home where he
resided till his death. Abraham was a local preacher in the early
days, although his name does not appear in our history as such. He
lived at Linglestown and was class-leader there. Peter removed
to Ohio, where he died. Lena (Magdalena) was noted for her deep
piety, zeal and remarkable courage. Once when attending a gen-
eral meeting at Solomon Miller's, held by Albright and others
in 1804, she with other sisters was engaged in prayer, whenawicked
man named Brobst, father-in-law of Rev. George and Solomon
Miller, who was most bitterly opposed to the work, entered the
house and forced his way up stairs, where he drew a sword, and
in a terrible manner menaced the life of the worshipers. Lena
Walter arose and boldly withstood him, declaring that neither
he nor his sword should prevent her from loving and praising
her Lord, and that she was willing to die for Jesus' sake. With
one accord the worshipers then called on the Lord for help, and
the heart of the cruel old man relented and he withdrew, and
afterwards confessed to having wept and prayed on his way home.*
Lena afterwards was married to a man named Douglass, and
removed across the mountain into Dauphin county, and became
a member of the "Stroh" Class, in Fishing Creek Valley. Sarah
married a brother named Hockman, of Lancaster county. Chris-
tina married John Lesher, a son of Father John Lesher, who
first received our preachers in the Swamp, Lancaster county.
They removed to Seneca county, Ohio, where they were among
our first members. Mrs. Lesher died in 1838, aged forty-seven
years, and her husband the year following, aged fifty years.
Rebecca married a brother named Bader, and also moved to
Ohio. She died in Iowa in 1865, aged seventy-one years.
* Miller's "Leben und Wirken."
48 EVANGELICAL ASS0CIATION ANNALS.
A sad story remains to be told in this connection. About
1822 Abraham Walter conceived the idea of removing to Tur-
key Valley, in Juniata county, and persuaded his aged father
to remove thither with him. This was very unfortunate, as the
region is rough and unproductive, and was then a mere wilder-
ness. Despite the entreaty of his children he resolved to go, and
in his old days build up a new home in the forest. Here both
he and his aged companion soon found graves for their home.
Abraham also died here, so far as is known.
The following account we take from Orwig's history:
"It was in the month of August, 1808, when John Dreisbach returned
from a general meeting near the Muehlbach, accompanied by a young brother,
Andrew Wolf,* in order to fill an appointment that evening in Jonestown,**
but as he had been disturbed while preaching there before, on his way to said
general meeting, it was his intention to preach to the friends there without
giving public notice of it. From fear (not of the Jews, but of the heathen-like
Christians), the doors had been locked and the window shutters fastened inside
before the services commenced. After singing and prayer the sermon com-
menced, but as the exercises had in all probability been heard by some of the
adversaries, a mob gathered in a short time, and forcing the doors and shutters
open, they rushed with a dreadful noise and with still more dreadful impreca-
tions into the house and thus put a stop to the exercises. The preacher then
took a light and went among the crowd to restore order, but several ruffians
seized him and dragged him toward the door, at the same time treating him very
roughly, extinguishing all the lights in the house, and calling to their companions
who were outside, 'Boys, open the door; we have got him!' They replied,
'Give it to him; kill the priest!' The preacher was justly apprehensive of still
worse treatment if they should succeed in getting him out of the house, but how
to get out of their hands he knew not. Suddenly it flashed upon his mind, as if
God had revealed it to him, that if he would jerk himself up with all his might
and then suddenly fall down like a log, he might get out of their hands. He
did so and thus got rid of them, although he was still among the crowd in the
dark. Now as the ruffians were groping for him, they got hold of each other,
letting torrents of blows descend on one another, each fancying he was giving it
to the 'priest;' but while they were thus regaling each other to their heart's
content with blows and pushes, he managed to get out of the crowd and the mob
got out doors. Alarmed for the minister, some of the friends hastened out also,
but were seized and very much abused by the mob. The landlord, father P.
Walter, was so much hurt that the blood gushed from his mouth and nose. A
sister was knocked down and carried into the house for dead, and several more
friends were likewise very roughly dealt with."
As an agreeable sequel to the above, we may add that the
leaders of the mob, seven in number, were legally indicted the
* Brother Wolf was from Buffalo Valley, Union county, and soon thereafter
was married to Anna Dreisbach, sister of Rev. John Dreisbach. (See
** It was three miles west. — Author.
THE EARLY DAYS. 49
next day and heavily fined by the court when the case came to
trial. The fines were generously remitted by the brethren. One
of the jurors in the case was Philip Breitenstein, who after-
wards became a local preacher and a great pillar in the church,
as already noticed.
Lancaster County. Among the first in Lancaster county
to receive Albright was a widow named Elisabeth Thomas,
who resided in Manor township, near the confluence of the Big
and Little Conestoga. By a first marriage she had two sons,
Jacob and John Rippley, and by a second marriage Christian
and David Thomas, all of whom became men of great prominence
in the church.
Albright began his labors in this place in 1802 or 1803.
Souls were saved from time to time, and a class was formed in
1806 or 1807. During the latter year a considerable revival
occurred at Millerstown. Among the converts was John Erb,
who entered the ministry the following year.
In 1809 another gracious revival took place all along the
Conestoga and many prominent conversions occurred. Among
those who at this time became actively identified with the society
were John Rippley, and David and Christian Thomas. The
latter had some years previous opened his house at Millersville
as a preaching place for Albright. Some years later Jacob
Rippley also united with the society, and thereafter the Evangel-
ical work on the Conestoga made rapid progress. Christian
and David Thomas and John Rippley were licensed as preachers
soon after their conversion. John Rippley's was for many
Notes. — David Thomas entered the active ministry in 1815. Traveled
two years and thereafter served in a local capacity with great acceptance until
his death, which took place in 1874. His services to the church were important
and valuable. He was one of the delegates to the "Social Conference" in
1816. In 1818 he conducted the obsequies of Rev. John Waltek, Albright's
Christian Thomas was early licensed as a local preacher. Entered the
active work in 1832. Located next year. Died in 1851.
John Rippley, after serving the church many years as a local preacher, died
in 1851, aged seventy-seven years.
Jacob Rippley, at an early day, with others, removed to Erie county, Pa.,
where he opened his house to John Seybert, who was sent there as missionary
in 1833. He died in 1851, aged seventy-nine years. His wife Anna died in
1853, aged eighty-two years.
50 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.
years a noted place for meetings. An amusing incident occurred
here which we give, as serving to illustrate the ignorance of divine
things in that day. About 1810 John Walter preached here,
at which time he had among his hearers a man named Adam.
In the course of his sermon he remarked that it was absolutely
necessary that the "Old Adam" be driven out, referring, of
course, to the expulsion of the sinful nature. The individual
Adam, however, did not understand it in that sense, but took it
as a personal matter and left the assembly greatly offended. A
daughter of John Rippley married Michael Kneisley, who also
became a prominent member, and was for many years one of the
pillars of the work on the Conestoga.
A few miles distant from mother Thomas', at Conestoga
Centre, lived Philip Herrman, who was the first in this neigh-
borhood to open his house as a preaching place for Albright
and his co-laborers. His wife Barbara, however, was very much
opposed to it, and it was with difficulty that the appointments
were filled. On one occasion when Albright was preaching, she
blew out the lights. In the revival of 1809 she was converted,
and thereafter the preachers were doubly welcome. Herrman's
house was for many years a preaching place. He died near the
close of the first quarter of the century, and his wife died in
1849, aged eighty-three years.
The home of Henry Wertz and his wife Mary, near the
Herrman home, was also a preaching place of Albright and
Henry Mandebach and his wife Maria and David Williams
and his wife Magdalen a were among the first members in Manor
township, and their homes were, in all probability, preaching
places. David Williams removed with Rippley and others to
Fairview, Erie county, Pa.,' and were among the first members
there. Brother W. died in 1864, aged eighty years, his wife
having preceded him in 1860.
At Mt. Joy lived father Samuel Lehn and his wife Magda-
lena. They were converted under the ministry of Albright in
1804, and not long afterwards opened their house as a preaching
place, which was an important point for many years. He was
the father of Rev. Michael Lehn, who entered the ministry in
1839. Father Lehn died in 1854, aged eighty-two years. His
wife preceded him in 1847, aged seventy-five years. A class was
THE EARLY DAYS. 51
formed here between 1807 and 1809. The sainted John Seybert
served as leader of this class in 1810, as well as the Manheim
Class at the same time.
The first and principal preaching place here was at Herman
Long's. He was converted in the early days, probably on the
Conestoga, and some time prior to 1810 his house became a
regular preaching place. He was a man of deep piety and great
zeal for the cause of vital godliness.
At Manheim entrance was gained soon after Albright's
death. In 1809 a number of conversions took place under the
labors of John Dreisbach and M. Betz, among whom was David
Boyer. On the evening of April 5, 1810, as Brother Betz
preached his last sermon preparatory to going to conference, a
young man named John Seybert was brought under conviction.
Little did the yOung preacher think that his words would result
in the conversion of the future first bishop of the church. Brother
Boyer followed up the good impressions made by the preacher
upon the heart of Seybert, and he was soon thereafter (June 21),
as he expressed it, "converted deep into eternal life." He was
then living with Jacob Lehr who, with his entire family, was
soon converted through his instrumentality. This same insatia-
ble thirst for souls remained a predominant characteristic of
Seybert through his entire ministry. He was appointed leader
of both the Manheim and Mt. Joy classes (eight miles distant)
in this same year. One of the first and most important preach-
ing places at Manheim was at Catharine Krall's.
A few miles below Columbia, on the Susquehanna River, is
situated the town of Washington. Here lived a number of highly
respected people, who opened their houses as preaching places.
Among them may be named Father Andrew KAUFFMAN,and the
brothers Abraham, Christian and David Herr. The time
when the Evangelical preachers began their labors here cannot
ascertained with certainty, but it is quite probable that Albright
preached at Kauffman's, and Abraham, and Christian Herr's,
as they were connected with the revival movement already prior
Notes. — David Boyer was licensed as a local preacher soon after his con-
version. He was the father of a large family, all of whom became useful
members. He died in 1823. His family later removed to Dark county, Ohio,
where his widow died in 1852.
Father Lehr at an early day removed to Wayne county, Ohio, where his
house became a preaching place, and here he died in 1846, aged seventy years.
52 EVANGELICAL ASS0CIATION ANNALS.
to 1800, and all ministers who preached experimental religion
were welcome. That eminent servant of God, Christian New-
comer, (later bishop in the United Brethren Church) records in
his journal of 1801. "This day (October 20) came to Abraham
Herr's. (22) To-day I preached here from Jer.xlvi. 13. Bless
the Lord, conviction fastened on a few. We prayed with them
some time. At night I preached at Christian Herr's from Ps. viii.
5. The meeting continued until nearly daylight." An Evangelical
class was formed here about 1810, of which Father Kauffman
Dauphin County. About eight miles northeast of Harris-
burg Albright found entrance in the early years of his ministry.
A revival took place and a class was organized in 1806. The
principal members were Jacob Becker and family. Also the
Steins and Leonard Crtjm. The latter became class-leader, a
position which he filled for many years, and the class became
known as "Crum's Class." He died in 1869, aged eighty-three
years. His wife Anna died in 1877, aged eighty-three years.
As already noticed, Jacob Becker (also Baker) and family
were members of the Paxton Class in 1805. A little later John
Baker, a son, removed to the vicinity of Lingelstown, where he
opened his house as a preaching place. He was a personal friend
of Albright, and sometimes accompanied him to his neighboring
appointments. He was one of the first members of the Paxton
Class in 1805, and sometime after the class was established at
Linglestown, he was made leader. For many years he was a
strong pillar in the church. He died in 1868, aged eighty-four
years. His son, Rev. C. H. Baker, labored many years in the
itinerant ranks of the East Pa. Conference.
In Fishing Creek Valley, about five miles north of Crums,
beyond the mountain, Albright was received as early as 1800,
by Benjamin and,P. Stroh. The latter removed to Ohio at an
early day and was one of the first to receive our missionaries in
that State. Benjamin Stroh and his wife Mary became the
chief pillars of the work in Fishing Creek Valley, and many con-
versions took place in their house. In 1802 Albright baptized
their daughter Mary, of whom more will be said hereafter.
Father S. died in 1855, aged eighty-four years. Other members
Note. — Father Andrew Kauffman died 1837, aged eighty-one years.
David Here, died 1846, aged eighty-eight years.
THE EARLY DAYS. 53
in the vicinity were the Colliers, Hoffmans* and GiPPELS.**
About nine miles from Harrisburg, near the base of the Blue
Mountain, is the village of Lingelstown. Hare in the early days
lived Peter Raidabach, a deacon and chorister in the
church. He was a well informed, highly respected man. In the
beginning of 1808, during the prevalence of a snowstorm, a stranger
on horseback stopped before his door, and requested lodging for
the night, which was granted. This stranger was Jacob Albright,
seeking the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He soon made
known his character and requested permission to preach there
that night, which was also granted. Word was sent throughout
the neighborhood, and the house was filled with people, anxious
to hear what the strange preacher had to say. Albright preached
from the words, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
(I. John i. 9.) The preacher spoke with great power, and a
wonderful commotion was produced. The doctrine of the new
birth and heart purity was something new to the people, and
some contended with Albright during the service that his doc-
trine was heretical, as they had never heard their preacher
advance such ideas. Some, however, were convinced that the
doctrine was in accordance with God's Word and that they had
been following blind guides. After the people had dispersed,
Albright convinced his host and the remaining friends from the
Bible and the catechism that his doctrine was true. Another
appointment was made for him and he preached on Sunday
morning, after which he and Raidabach proceeded to Michael
Becker's, where he also preached, little dreaming of the con-
spiracy which Satan instigated to destroy the precious seed he
had sown. That same Sunday morning a large number of people
had met at their church and conspired to break up Albright's
work, and if possible rescue their highly-esteemed chorister from
* The Hoffmans removed to Crawford county, Ohio. Mrs. H. was
converted under Albright in 1801. She died in. 1863, aged seventy-eight years.
** George Gippel, a member of the above family, married Mary Ann Stroh.
In 1831 they removed ten miles north to Peter's Mountain, where they opened
their house as a preaching place. A class was formed here of which Bro. G.
became the leader, which position he held until 1852, when he and several other
families removed to Grandview, Iowa, and where they organized themselves into
a class. The first Evangelical church in Iowa was built by them. Bro. G. was
the first leader of this class, and remained in office until he died in 1856, aged
fifty eight years. His wife survived until 1891, aged eighty-eight years.
54 EVANGELICAL ASS0C1ATION ANNALS.
his influence. They proceeded to Raidabach's house to accom-
plish their purpose, but when they arrived Albright and Raida-
bach had already gone to Michael Becker's. When Albright
preached again, a little later, a number of evil disposed persons
gathered around the house, intent on mischief. At the close of
the service they rushed into the house to attack Albright and
his host. In the struggle which ensued they dragged Raidabach
out of the house. He had a number of sons who were fearless, as
well as muscular young men, and who rushed upon their father's
assailants. Bethinking themselves as to whether it would be
right, they cried out, "Vater, sollen wir drauf schlagen?"("Father,
shall we strike?") The father answered “No." Not in the least
daunted by this dreadful persecution, Raidabach still clung to
Albright, and soon after the foregoing occurrence it was deter-
mined to hold a General Meeting at his house. At this meeting
there were present Albright, Walter and Miller. The house
was crowded with people, many of whom were convinced of their
sinful state, while others were there to hinder, if possible, the
spread of the work. In the afternoon Walter preached with
wonderful power, so that during the sermon many cried out for
mercy, while some fled in terror as though from the presence of
God. The meeting was a great victory for the people of God,
Many found salvation in the blood of the Lamb. A strong class
was formed, of which Raidabach was made leader. A peculiar
interest attaches to this man from the fact that at his house
Albright held his lost public service. On Easter day, 1808, there
was a general meeting at John Brobst's in Berks county, where
Albright stationed the preachers for the ensuing year. (There
was no annual conference this year.) Eight days after this another
general meeting was held at Raidabach's, at which time Albright,
Miller and John Dreisbach were present Albright's health,
however, was so precarious that he was not able to preach. He
felt that his work was done, and arrangements were made to
remove him to his home. It was here he gave that admirable
advice which should find a place in the hearts of all Evangelical
preachers. As he gave the parting hand to his faithful co-laborers,
Miller and Dreisbach, he repeated the lines of a familiar hymn:
"Kampfe bis auf's Blut und Leben,
Dring hinein in Gottes Reich."
"Struggle even unto blood,
Press into the kingdom of God."
THE EARLY DAY8. 55
When advanced in years, Father Raidabach and his children,
who were then heads of families, removed to Medina county,
Ohio, where they again became pioneers in the establishment of
the church. Several of the sons were prominent members of the
church. Father R. died at Gillfort, Medina county, Ohio, in
1838, aged seventy-four years. His companion followed him
in 1841, aged eighty-four years.
The first one to open his house to Albright and his co-laborers
in lower Dauphin county, near Hanover, was Michael Becker,
a brother of ihe Beckers on the Muehlbach. This was sometime
in 1805, during which year a class was formed here by George
Miller, of which Becker became the leader.
As an illustration of the mighty power of God which often
accompanied the preaching of His word, we here append part of*
a letter written by Father John Fleisher and published in the
Esteemed Brethren in the Lord: I have felt for some time as though
I ought to write something for the Botschafter concerning God's work of years
ago, and since I am old and unable to write much more, I will relate some things
of the early days. Forty-three years ago (1805) Father Albright held a big.
meeting at Michael Becker's, two miles from Hanover, under some apple
trees. On this occasion I found Him in whose blood we have purification from
sin. On Sunday forenoon Brother Albright preached. After him John Walter
spoke so powerfully that a wonderful commotion took place among the audience.
There was a blind man present named H--- who was so deeply affected that
he cried "Fire! Fire!" believing that the world was burning. Another man,
then unconverted, sprang upon his horse and hastened to his people and told
them that the world was coming to an end and was even then burning. I did
hot know Brother Miller very well as I only once came to where he preached.
Still I know that God was with him. In course of time Brother Seybert came
to our place to preach the gospel. At this time he also wanted to go into Stone
Valley to preach. A certain man who was very much incensed against him, lay
in ambush with a gun to murder him. In all probability he would have accom-
plished his purpose, had not the Lord sent his servant by another way. Brother
Seybert preached at that place, and gave out another appointment, but before
he came again the audacious miscreant was in eternity* and the way to Stone
Valley was free and open. John Fleisher.**
Armttrong county, Pa., Nov. 8, 1848.
* Soon after his attempt to murder Brother S. the would-be assassin became
very ill. He felt that he could not make his peace with God without a confession
of his intended crime. This he made to his pastor. — Author.
** Father John Fleisher after an eventful life, died at Cussawago, Crawford
county, Pa., 1865, aged eighty-four years.
THE "NEW," OR NORTHUMBERLAND CIRCUIT.
Its Bounds and Appointments — Biographical Notes.
Shamokin. The region once embraced in the "new," or
Northumberland Circuit was at first known as Shamokin. It
derived its name from an Indian town which occupied the present
site of Sunbury, at the confluence of the North and West branches
of the Susquehanna River. For the protection of the frontiers
a strong fort was built there in 1756, in which the early settlers
often found a refuge during the dark days of the Revolution.
The name has been perpetuated in the beautiful city of Shamokin,
situated east of Sunbury. In 1772 the county of Northumberland
was erected, and comprised all the upper region of the Susque-
hanna River. The West Branch Valley properly begins at the
junction of the two branches and extends north to Williamsport,
thence west to Lock Haven, where the West Branch passes
through the mountains. The distance is over sixty miles. West-
ward from the river (West Branch) are many smaller valleys,
extending laterally from it as follows: West of Sunbury is Middle
Creek Valley, in Snyder county. A few miles north of Sunbury,
and opening on the river, is Dry Valley, in Union county. A
little north of this, and separated from it by the New Berlin
Mountain, is the fertile and lovely Buffalo Valley. Farther north
is White Deer Valley. West of Buffalo and White Deer are
Fenns, Brush and Sugar Valleys. The new or Northumberland
Circuit comprised not only the aforenamed valleys, but extended
up the North Branch as far as (now) Luzerne county, south
into Perry and Juniata counties and westward into Bedford and
Cambria counties, and had over fifty preaching places prior to
THE EARLY DAYS. 57
Albright's death— 1808. This region now comprises a large
part of the Central Pa. and a part of the Pittsburg Conferences.
Miller's Successful Work.
In 1806 this vast field, hundreds of miles in extent, was given
in charge of Rev. George Miller, who entered upon his work
in the beginning of June. Finding the field too extended, he
did not supply the western appointments, in Morrison's Cove,
Bedford county,* but exerted himself to the utmost to establish
firmly the work of the Lord in the valleys contiguous to the West
Branch, and revivals attended his labors everywhere. Over one
hundred souls were added to the church on this field alone, which
almost doubled the membership of the Association.
Six classes were formed on the charge this year, as follows:
New Berlin, in Dry Valley, Michael Maize, leader; the Thomas
Class, in Decatur township, Mifflin county, Fred. Herpster,
leader; the Dreisbach Class, in Buffalo Valley, Father Martin
Dreisbach, leader; the Lewisburg Class, Buffalo Valley, Chris-
tian Wolf, leader; the Millheim Class, in Penns Valley; the
Brush Valley Class, Christopher Spangler, leader. In a short
time thereafter several of the classes were divided. The members
of the Thomas Class, who lived in the vicinity of Adamsburg,
were formed into a separate class. The members near Middle-
burg were taken from the Dry Valley Class, about 1807, and,
were formed into Walter's Class, John Walter, leader, who
held that position until his death, in 1828. The Penns Valley
Class was also divided soon after its foundation, and the members
living at the eastern end of the valley were formed into a class.
Great Revival. In 1811 another general revival took place
on the circuit under the labors of John Erb and Leonard Zim-
merman, and more than one hundred souls were added to the
church. The meeting at Walter's was especially successful.
Many prominent people were converted there, and a new class
was formed soon after a few miles northeast, called Hummel's
Class. Organizations were also effected, as the outcome of this
revival, in Upper Penns Valley, Centre county (Dauberman's
Class, 1811,), White Deer and East Dry Valley, in Union county,
and Summer Hill, in Columbia county.
The Thomas Appointment. The earliest permanent ap-
pointments of Albright, west of the Susquehanna River, were in
* Miller's Leben, page 110.
58 EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION ANNALS.
Musser's Valley, situated partly in Mifflin and partly in Snyder
county, Pa. In this valley was the home of Father John Thomas
and wife Mary, about two miles northeast of the village of
Wagoner. In Decatur township, Mifflin county, Pa., Albright
gained entrance at the home of Father Thomas as early as 1800,
but several years passed before any visible fruits of his labors
appeared. Father Thomas at this time was well advanced in
years. His family consisted of ten adult children, all of whom,
as well as his sons and daughters-in-law and a number of grand-
children, became members of the society in Albright's time.
Father Thomas died in peace in 1813, at an advanced age.
The First Revival. In the Autumn of 1802 Albright
held his first general meeting west of the Susquehanna River at
the house of Father John Thomas. This was the second of his
ministry, the first having been held the previous June at Leeser's,
in Berks county. At this meeting he was assisted by his only
colleague, the youthful John Walter. The meeting was held
under some cherry trees near the house. A great mass of people
assembled there from all directions. The character of the meet-
ing was novel to the people and awakened great interest. It
continued from Saturday until Monday. On Sabbath morning
Albright preached from the words, "I Am the Light of the
World,” (John viii. 12), which made a deep impression. Walter
also preached with great effect. After this meeting they visited
many families and secured new preaching places. The following
Spring another meeting was held in the orchard, a stand having
been erected after the manner of modern bush-meetings. At
this meeting Walter preached an unusually powerful sermon,
from the words, "Who is she that looketh forth as the morning,