The Historical Society of the Bible Fellowship Church
The holidays have ended again. You are either sad to see them go or somewhat relieved that they are over. I tend to get weary of the commercialism of the holidays and the schedule that calls for parties and time in the mall. I don’t get weary of being with family and friends and enjoying the quiet parts of the Christmas celebration. At any rate, it is January, a new year, and time to move on. Moving on means getting ready for cold, snow and sniffles. I hope the rest of this publication will provide some moments with a cup of hot tea (or chocolate, if you prefer) and some enjoyment of things past.
Before I move on, we need to do one more blast of Christmas. I received the following from Tom Shorb, a member of the society and one of the pastors at Coopersburg. Tom received the clipping from Irene Mutchler, a now deceased sister of the Stroudsburg congregation, who said it had been clipped by her parents when she was a child. For your information, J. G. (John George) Shireman was the pastor of the Stroudsburg Mennonite Brethren in Christ (Now Bible Fellowship Church) from 1914 to 1918.
A Real Christmas
Stroudsburg, Dec. 26, 1916
Have you ever had it brought forcibly home to you what Christmas means, why we celebrate it? I had that experience this Christmas morning. I have been at sea on Christmas day and heard the skipper tell the old story of the birth of the Christ Child in far away Bethlehem. I have heard the same glad tidings in the far frozen North; on the palm decked shore of the sunny South; in the rugged hills of the golden West, and in the spruce-clad hills of way down East. Have heard in sermon, story, song and rhyme, and under different conditions. From the lips of clergymen, speakers, children and once heard a tramp repeat it the way he heard it from his mother, before he started on the primrose path. Of course I believed it; didn’t my mother tell me about it? Since I have been able to understand have I not known it? But, as I said before, I have never had it so forcibly as it was at 2:45 this Christmas morning when I was awakened from my slumber by some of the most beautiful singing I have heard in a long while, telling of the birth of the child who was to be our Saviour.
I thought of the words, “Hark! I hear the Herald Angels sing!” Could it be them?
Yes: it was the Heralds of a modern time, but with the same spirit and the same glad tidings, being Rev. Shireman and his band of loyal followers spreading peace on earth good will toward men. Hats off to the Mennonites! Surely they have the proper spirit!
Wm. J. Staples,
North Eighth Street, Boro.
If you were part of the Fleetwood Church during the holidays of 1917, you would have received a New Year’s greeting from the family of B. Bryan Musselman as did G. C. Hartline Thanks to Norman and Verletta Reed for the following.
Included with this document from the Reeds was a membership certificate.
Royal Kramer has collected some the materials of the Mann family which he has passed on to me. Royal is a descendant of the Mann family through his mother, Ruth Mildred Mann. Among the articles he sent were the reminiscences of Beulah Ellen Mann (born - January 9, 1908; died January 3, 1995). Beulah was a Gospel Worker and missionary. I thought you might enjoy some of her memories.
I was born January 9, 1908 at Zion Hill in a little house beside the red brick, one room school house. I don't remember much about living there but I do remember the day we moved up on "the hill" in a house owned by Tobias Reichenbach, We all liked Mr. Reichenbach but not his son, Harvy. He didn't seem to like us either. He and his wife had no children - not even one! I remember when we paid six dollars rent for the house, a truck patch, a garden, and a large yard.
The place had lots of trees - All kinds of apples, a few pears, sweet and sour cherries, a black cherry tree with poison ivy growing all around the lower part of the trunk, and a quince tree.
There was a big red barn with a loft often filled with hay. Here we would climb up on the rafter and jump down into the hay or roll in it down toward the loft door. One day Carrie was on the rafter on her knees andsaid, "Now I lay me down to sleep with a bushel of peanuts at my feet. If I should die before I wake, you know I died of bellyache.” Then she left herself fall into the hay and knocked out her breath. She was scared. I doubt that she ever said that again but she didn't forget it!
There was a lot of grass beside the barn where we set up the croquet game and spend many happy hours. The back yard by the house was bare of grass and was a good place to play hop scotch - usually in bare feet. It's better to play hop scotch in bare feet because you can wrap your toes around the stone and pull it back away from the line. Anyway Pop didn't like us kicking the soles off our shoes because he had to resole them himself. His shop was on the back porch.
We always had chickens in the barn. Once for a very short time we had a Billy goat, a Nanny goat named Jinny, and then along came baby Rosie. Someone made a shaft for our express wagon into which we hitched Billy but the fad didn't last long. I think Hilly belonged to Pius Greulich and had to go home.
The boys always had Homer pigeons and for a while, the kind that fly over the court house. To this day I like pigeons though many people can’t stand them.
One of the stalls in our barn was fitted out for a workshop with all kinds of tools that you see in antique places and cost a bundle of money, Here in this workshop we made our kites from whatever kind of lumber we could find around the place. We sawed, planed, stringed, newspapered, tailed, and flew. If we bowed the cross piece just right the kite didn't need a tail. If we bend the cross piece too much, it broke and we had to start all over. One year Charlie made a box kite. That was something quite different and I don't know where he got the idea. I can still see it flying in my mind’s eye.
We always had a swing of some kind - one rope, two ropes, or box, Three or four of us could get into the box swing, There were no seats. Standing room only, One year Pop made a hammock from barrel staves wired together. If we wanted a see-saw we went behind the barn to the old rail fence, pulled the top rail out and laid it across a lower rail. These rails weren't known for comfort but for fun. The reason we didn't have a tire swing was because there was only one Ford car on Zion Hill. There were no spare tires available.
We played outside until quite dark. There were no people coming around and snitching boys and girls those days. When Mom called us to come in we first had to go to the pump and wash our dirty feet in the ice cold well water. No dirty feet in our beds!
At night millions of stars shone and I used to think it was the light of Heaven shining through holes in the sky. Here in the city I miss seeing the stars. There were also thousands of lightening bugs - still my favorite bug but seldom seen anymore in Cleveland. I remember Helen Wolf visiting us - from Philadelphia~and a lightening bug got down in her blouse. She carried on something fierce. She was so frightened and we thought she was so foolish to be afraid of a harmless lightening bug.
One winter morning we woke up to see a blizzard raging outside, For some reason we weren't allowed to go downstairs. We kids were up there messing around for a looooooooong time. Finally Harold was called downstairs and when he came back he was wearing a big smile. As he dressed we quizzed him but he wouldn't tell us a thing. Someone asked if he got the gum boots he wanted. No. He didn't get the gumboots but he was real pleased about something. Finally we all were allowed to go down stairs and there we found that the doctor from Coopersburg had come through the awful snow storm and in his big black satchel had brought Dorothy Evelyn Mann, the twelfth.
We have been learning about some of the unsung leaders of our early days. Another one of the early leaders was Joseph L. Romig. In June, 1865, he was first mentioned at the Semi-annual Conference when at age 28 he was elected as the president of the Mission Society. He was listed among the preachers and helped with the preparation and publication of the first doctrinal statement. In June, 1867, he was ordained. Sadly, the following was recorded on June 1, 1869.
“Because it pleased God to call our dear official brother, Joseph L. Romig, from this sphere of work in his prime of life into eternity, we admit to feeling the loss but will gladly submit to the wise providence of God because it is his eternal gain.”
At his death he was but 31. His first wife, Elizabeth Gehman, daughter of Heinrich and Susanna Bechtel Gehman, had preceded him in death. He was remarried before his death to Anna Godshalk. He left two children, Horace, aged 5 and J. Oscar, age 3. In 1880 Horace, age 16, was living with preacher Abraham Kauffman and his wife, Annie, and Oscar, age 13, was living with Levi N. Shelly and his wife, Mary.
Joseph’s son Horace left some notes on his family. These notes are handwritten and give us a bit more of the background of this man taken at an early age.
Joseph L. Romig was born March 13, 1837 in Macungie Township, Lehigh Co. Pa. His father was Joseph Romig, his mother ---- nee Leeser, Romig. They lived at Maple Grove, Berks Co. Pa.
Joseph L. Romig was married to Elizabeth nee Gehman Romig, Oct. 13, 1860 in Upper Milford Township, Lehigh Co. Pa., Rev. Wm. Gehman officiating. He was a carpenter, school teacher and preacher; preached his first sermon in the Mennonite Church (no. 3) Aug. 27, 1865. Text Johannis 11:28. “Der Meister ist da und ruft dir.” From then on he preached until death.
They had four children:
1. A son born Dec. 20, 1861 in Hereford township Berks Co. Pa. This son died the day of his birth.
2. Hiob Romig, born March 11, 1863 in Upper Milford township, Lehigh Co. Pa. He died Mar. 30, 1863. (19 days old)
3. Henry Horace Romig, born March 22, 1864 in Upper Milford township (near Vera Cruz) Lehigh Co., Pa.
4. J. Oscar Romig,* born July 20, 1866 in Upper Milford, Lehigh Co. Pa. He died Sept. 23, 1937, at Hershey, Pa., and was buried in the Hershey Cemetery. (71 years old)
*He regularly wrote his name Oscar G. Romig (G for Gehman).
Joseph L. Romig’s wife Elizabeth, born June 28, 1834, died August 31, 1866 in Upper Milford township, Lehigh Co., Pa. She had lived a Christian life and died in the Lord. Text John 5, 24.
He married Anna Godshalk in 1867 or 1868. He died January 12, 1869 in the home 100 yards east of Dillinger Station, Perkiomen Railroad. Both he and his wife Elizabeth rest in the cemetery of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church along the Perkiomen Railroad between Dillinger Station and Zionsville Station.
Many who knew him well spoke highly to me, his son, of his character and ability. Many of his pupils referred to him as a good and beloved teacher.
He, with others, assisted Rev. Wm. Gehman in the organization of the Mennonite Church (no. 3) during the period before 1865. In this year, he served as secretary of the Committee that prepared the manuscript for the first “Glaubenslehr” (Articles of Faith) of this Mennonite Church. It was printed in 1866 by A. E. Dambly, Skippackville, Pa.
Joseph L. Romig, according to the testimony of his friends and neighbors led a Christian life however brief and those who knew him well believed without a doubt that he died happy in the Lord.
September 10, 1939, I, his only son left in this world, visited my cousin in Philadelphia, Mrs. A. L. Till, the daughter of James Romig, a brother of my father. She told me how her father used to tell her of my father’s great happiness in religion which he not only felt but expressed.
In my father’s day people were not as wise as now in the care of the body, etc. It was common then for people to try hard to excel each other in feats of strength. My father was a very strong man. Such who saw it told me that one day he carried a barrel of cider from one place to another. When he died he had enlargement of the heart. This fact made me believe that his sickness and death were caused by going too far in the application of his strength.
His second wife, born Apr. 18, 1839, died at Emaus Nov. 21, 1914, aged 75 years, 7 months, and 3 days. No issue from this marriage. She was a good stepmother, a devout Christian and often prayed for my brother Oscar and me.
She was buried in the same cemetery where my father and mother rest.
Henry Horace Romig was born March 22, 1864, near Vera Cruz Lehigh Co., Pa. When only a child he lost his parents. Was adopted by Alfred D. Romig and his wife Amanda, nee Boyer, Romig. When 16, attended Kutztown Normal School, taught school at Seizholtzville at 17, and graduated as valedictorian in 1883, in Schuylkill Seminary, Reading, Pa. Then taught school in Allentown, one term, after which he attended Haren’s College of Shorthand and Type writing, graduating Jan. 9th, 1885. Jan. 7, 1886, I was married to Alavesta Musselman. She died Nov. 19, 1886.
May 26m 1888, married Rosie E. Jacobs. She died February 8, 1937.
with first wife
Alavesta M. Romig, born Nov. 18, 1886.
With second wife
Joseph Valentine Romig, b. Feb 14, 1889, d. Dec. 9, 1923.
Paul Christian Romig, b. Nov. 28, 1890 - [Died 1950]
Earl James Romig, born Apr. 25, 1893 [Died 3/21/72]
Ruth Elizabeth Romig, b. Jan. 22, 1895 [Died 1/17/75]
Raymond Alper Romig, b. Nov. 22, 1896 [Died 1977]
Ellen Naomi Romig, b. Sept. 11, 1899
Walter William Romig, b. Feb. 1, 1903 [Died11/79]
For fuller history of Henry Horace Romig, see book To and Fro, also preaching records Vol. I - VI.
J. Oscar Romig was born July 20, 1866. The following month, August 31, 1866, his mother died. He was brought up by the Shelly’s at Dillinger Station, Levi and Henry, with their children, converted in his youth and attended Annville College. He learned the printing trade but soon after started to preach and preached for 39 years in the United Brethren Church. He died Sept. 23, 1937, at Hershey, Pa.
He was married to Alice Frey of Coopersburg, Pa., April 26, 1888.
For many years he was publicity agent in the east for the Church of the United Brethren of Christ announcing Conferences, Conventions and other meetings, and reporting their proceedings to Philadelphia and other leading newspapers. Also compiled much interesting history of the United Brethren Church, covering the time from its beginning here in the east up to recent years.
Alice Frey Romig, wife of J. Oscar Romig, was born at Coopersburg, Pa. in 1868. She was married in 1888. Shared with her husband the joys and trial of his ministerial life in the United Brethren Church for 39 years. She was a great worker in the home, very good housekeeper and cook. Died on Sunday evening Jan. 31, 1943. Buried at the side of her husband in Hershey Cemetery Feb. 4, 1943. Ruth and I attended the funeral.
[Note - I assume from a granddaughter]
Oscar and Alice had three children, all of which were raised in Hershey. Hattie, who died young and was buried on the Romig plot at Fairview Cemetery in Allentown: a daughter Florence who married, had children and lived in Ephrata, Pa. - and a son, Howard who married and had children. lost track of them many years ago (1979)
Alavesta M. Romig was born Nov. 18, 1886, at Quakertown, Pa. Her mother died the next day. The grandparents, John G. Musselman and wife took her and brought her up in Coopersburg, Pa. Later she married and lived in Allentown. She was married at Hershey, Pa., Sept. 1, 1914, my brother Oscar officiating, to Perry Biery. They lived in Allentown, Pa.
Perry Biery [born June 18, 1883] died Wednesday Oct. 21, 1942 at his home 720 Cedar St., Allentown, Pa. Buried in Fairview Cemetery. [Allie died ? 19, 1943.]
Rosie Ellen, Nee Jacobs, Romig, was born September 10th, 1865. Her parents were Christian Jacobs and his wife Elizabeth nee Geisweit, Jacobs. They live at Temple Berks Co., Pa. Where both of them died and were buried at Germants Church.
My wife Rosie and I were married May 26, 1888 in her father’s home at Temple. We started housekeeping the same day at Allentown, Pa. After I started to preach in 1891 we were stationed at different places; live at Phoenixville, Williamstown, Shenandoah, Madisonburg, New Columbia, Jarrettsville, Md., Millersville, Allentown again, Bethlehem, near So. Bethlehem at Moritz’s, and Allentown again. Here my wife died after a growing and prolonged sickness of eight years, February 8, 1937.
She was a good wife indeed, a wonderful mother and housekeeper and worker, most patient and helpful in my preaching career which often was very trying and hard, very slimly rewarded financially, yet not without many blessings, successes and joys.
We had seven children which we all brought up well and who, by their successful lives, were an honor to their parents.
Henry Gehman, my mother’s father, was born Jan. 26, 1799; died Sept. 12, 1870. Age 71 yr. 7 mo. 16 da. He is buried in cemetery of Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church near Zionsville Station.
Elizabeth Gehman, nee Bechtel, my mother’s mother, was born April 14, 1799; died Feb.21, 1887. Age 87 yr. 10 mo. 7 da. She is buried in the same cemetery as her husband.
Amanda, nee Boyer, Romig, my adopted mother, died suddenly January 6th, 1902, in the night between 11 and 12 o’clock at Allentown, Pa.
Jill Davidson introduced us to some of the laymen who have served in our church. I did a survey of the early minutes to identify some of the men who were serving and, when possible, to locate them in a community. The following list is the names of those early lay leaders and the year in which they appeared. They are identified as “Vorsteher” in the original which was translated deacon in the first Discipline.
William Gambler or Gamler (1873) - [Reading ?]
Charles Gehman (1865) [Lower Saucon]
David Gehman (1861) [Zionsville]
George Gigg (1875) [Wadsworth, Ohio]
Daniel Koch (1871) [Fleetwood]
Michael Landis (1871) [Coopersburg]
Francis Miller (1871) [Berks County?]
Hiram Parker (1874)
Jacob Ruch (1872) [Ironville]
Joseph Schneider (1861)
Aaron Unangst (1866) - [Lower Saucon]
William Yeakel (1879) [Upper Milford]
In 1882, the deacons were designated as delegates. Even today, the lay leaders of our congregations are known as delegates. The first list of delegates is as follows:
Marks D. Haws
We have been saddened by the homegoing of several people from the larger Bible Fellowship Family. Carolyn Barber, wife of Ken Barber, departed this life for her eternal home on December 12, 2004. Ken has served as pastor at Oley BFC and currently is leading in the new church in Long Neck, DE. I did not know Carolyn well but her reputation as a child of God was strong and powerful. She lived for over 50 years with the very painful effects of scleroderma. Her sweet temper and gracious nature were a powerful testimony of God’s sustaining power. As you think of Ken and the family, pray that they be comforted. I am including the obituary for her which was circulated through the churches.
Carolyn K. Barber of Long Neck Delaware was called home to be with The Lord on Sunday, December 12, 2004. Carolyn was at home and in the presence of Kenneth, her husband of 49 years, at the time of her passing.
“Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: ‘Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:30-31)
Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on March 23, 1935 to Ray and Irene Kline, Carolyn was a graduate of Meyers High School and attended Wilkes College. At Christmas in 1954 she became engaged to Kenneth Barber whom she subsequently married on August 27, 1955. Carolyn and Ken were to observe their 50th Wedding Anniversary in August 2005. For the first 15 years of their married life the Barbers served in the business world, and from 1970 Carolyn served alongside her husband in the Pastoral Ministry of five churches in New Jersey, Long Island, NY, Oley Pennsylvania and Long Neck Delaware.
Carolyn Barber was afflicted with scleroderma for almost fifty years, was hospitalized over thirty times and had numerous surgeries in her lifetime. In 2001 she underwent the amputation of her right leg and in 2004 had two amputations performed on her left leg.
After the death of her first son, Kenneth Frantz Barber, Jr., in September 1956, Carolyn came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as her Savior, and her love for, and dependence upon her Savior and Lord Jesus Christ always helped her to bear the pains, sorrows and bereavements associated with this disease. The Lord blessed Carolyn and Ken with a son Bradley Kenneth through adoption at the age of 5 days in 1956. A son Kenneth David died in infancy in 1961, and in 1964, the Lord blessed Carolyn and Ken with a daughter, Cathy Lynn through adoption. Carolyn has always had a strong, faithful and enduring love for her family, and has always had the strong support and encouragement of each member of her family.
Carolyn loved the Word of God, and always “treasured God’s Word in heart. Her favorite verse in the many times of trouble and pain was:
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? (Psalm 27:1)
Carolyn taught several women’s Bible Studies and further testified of her Savior through an extensive ministry in oil and watercolor painting which began with the hand painting of individual thank you cards and greeting cards for her personal use. Her personal ministry grew to encompass hand-painted cards, oil paintings and water colors which grace the walls of the homes of so many friends and neighbors.
Each painting or card that Carolyn painted was accompanied by a copy of her personal testimony giving all the praise to her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Carolyn was ever grateful to the Lord for the artistic talents that He gave her, and her paintings, oil and watercolor, have served to encourage and uplift so many.
Carolyn has always had the strong support and encouragement of her family. She has lived with her husband and family in eight different states in the United States, and in Brussels Belgium. Since 1998 she has permanently resided in the Pot Nets Creekside Community on Long Neck Road in Delaware with her husband Dr Kenneth Barber who is the founding Pastor of the New Life Bible Fellowship Church of Delmarva in the Long Neck area.
Carolyn was predeceased by her sons Kenneth Frantz Barber and Kenneth David Barber. She is survived by her husband of 49 years, Dr. Kenneth Barber; her son Bradley Barber and her daughter Cathy Weitzel both in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania; her loving daughter in law Grace Barber and loving son in law Steven Weitzel; and four grandchildren, Amanda and Rachel Barber and Paul and Alexandra Weitzel, who were the special delights of her life, and her brother Roger in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Our dear Polly Thomann likewise moved to her new home in the presence of the Lord. Polly is the wife of retired pastor Dave Thomann and was part of the Historical Society and Committee. She was a regular feature at our meetings and could be counted on for her quick wit and ready laugh. At her funeral, abundant testimony was given of her character and place in the ministry. I could not add a word. We are comforted that she is present with the Lord. We will miss her and certainly know that Dave misses her now. Pray for Dave’s adjustment as he presses on. I have printed the obituary for Polly that was circulated among the churches.
Pauline (Polly) G. Thomann, 84, went home to be with the Lord on
December 12 in Fellowship Manor. The wife of Pastor David E.
Thomann, they were married 63 years on December 6. Born in
Allentown on May 12, 1920, she was the daughter of the late P.
Ward and Edna Mae (Cressman) Musselman.
She attended Nyack Missionary College in Nyack, New York. She served faithfully as a pastor's wife with David E. in several of our denomination's churches including Nazareth, Northampton, Jersey City, Easton, Quakertown, Harleysville, and after their retirement, in Lancaster. She worked in the bookstore at Pinebrook Bible Conference when her husband was the director there from 1974 to 1982. She was a member of Faith Bible Fellowship in Lancaster where she
served as the treasurer of the Women's Missionary Society. She was loved by many throughout our churches and will be greatly missed.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by son, Pastor David A. Thomann and wife Patricia of Lancaster, daughter Elizabeth L. and husband Arthur Frable of St. Paul, Nebraska, and daughter Beverly Thomann, of Reading. She is also survived by a brother, Wilmer Musselman of Allentown, six grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren. She is predeceased by brothers John and Allen.
We have also received notice that Ralph Cole, a former member of the Historical Committee and current member of the society, died on New Year’s Eve. Ralph was a long time member and delegate of the Staten Island Church. If you had to describe Ralph in a word, I think the word would be faithful.
I need to draw this to a close. As always, we welcome any of your thoughts, questions or memories. One of the very good things about this presentation is that it gets stuff out of our minds and on to paper where everyone can enjoy it. I will be waiting for whatever you send.
723 South Providence Road
Wallingford Pa 19086
Telephone and Fax - 610-876-8725
Email - RETaylor@attglobal.net
A photo sampler follows. How many do you recognize? Let me know. No prizes. Just our admiration.