Historical Society Newsletter
The Bible Fellowship Church
Enclosed with this edition your will find your invitation to our next meeting to be held at Wallingford, Pennsylvania, on October 27, 2007, at 10:00AM. Be sure to fill out whatever you need to fill out to reserve a place for the meeting, renew your membership and offer a gift membership to someone you think might be interested in being part of our society. Our list of members seems to increase by a few each year which should delight those who love our story and want to keep it alive. I still run into people who have special interest in our history but know nothing about the Society and its meetings. Perhaps you will do someone a favor to enroll them in the society and allow them to enjoy learning about the people and events that have combined to make the Bible Fellowship Church what it is.
You will notice that we have increased our membership dues. Our financial accounts went down just a bit last year and it is our goal to increase them each year. The funds maintained by the Historical Society have been used to support our preservation work. What you pay for your dues is more than what you get. We are not trying to rip you off but rather using what you pay to increase the monies we have available. One of the projects we face in the uncertain future is the relocation of our archives to Fellowship Community. We will need funds for that relocation which we are accumulating as we are able. If you have concerns or questions, you will hear the financial report and have opportunity to ask questions at the annual meeting on October 27.
This edition is made up of some articles from LeRoy Wilcox and a smattering of other stories that I hope you find interesting.
The first is a follow up to our Gospel Herald list from Royal Kramer.
I finished reading the latest tidbits from the Historical Society history and one part of it caught my eye. It was at the very end, on age 19, where there is a list of all of the men who were a part of the Gospel Heralds.
The name Elwood Mann caught my eye since he is a first cousin of mine. His father, Walter Mann and my mother, Ruth (Mann) Kramer were brother and sister. To be honest, I never knew he was a member of the Gospel Heralds.
Maybe I can give you a little history behind the family. The Mann family was born and raised in Zion Hill, Pa, a few miles south of Coopersburg. My Uncle Walter, who was the oldest of the 12 children, for whatever reason I don't know but after he was married moved to North Plainfield,
NJ. All 12 children were brought up in the Calvary M.B. in C. church in Coopersburg. To the best of my knowledge, Uncle Walter, worked for a company involved with civil engineering. He was married to Margaret (Cressman) Mann. They had 3 children; Elwood, Edythe and Marilyn. After moving to New Jersey, the family joined the Christian Missionary Alliance church. I am assuming they did this because there was no M.B. in C. churches in the Plainfield area and wanting to stick with the same doctrine and teachings, the CMA church was the closest to the M.B. in C.
Elwood went on to theological seminary and became a CMA pastor. Living so far away from the Lehigh Valley area, I never really got to know this family that well. His sister, Edythe was married to Bernard Dunning and they became missionaries to Cambodia for many years until the Vietnam War became quite dangerous and they were advised to leave the country and return to the U.S. for the sake of their safety. After doing this, Bernard became a pastor of a Vietnamese church in Johnston, RI for a number of years until his death several years ago from cancer. Edythe then moved to Greenwood, SC to be close to her only child, Daryl. Marilyn is now living in Birmingham, AL and is a teacher at a Christian day school there. She has been widowed twice already. The last I heard of Elwood was that he was in a nursing home in the Niagara Falls, NY
area. He has had numerous heart problems over the years plus he is blind or nearly blind. His wife passed away back in 1985. To my knowledge, he has children living near him who look after him from time to time.
That is about all the info I can give you about Elwood at the present time.
May the Lord continue to bless you richly.
LeRoy Wilcox sends a couple of very informative articles.
THE FAMILY OF WILLIAM SCHWARTZ GEHMAN - by LeRoy Wilcox
William Schwartz* Gehman was born on January 27, 1827 in Hereford Township, not far from the Lehigh County line. His parents were Georg and Sarah nee Schwartz Gehman. She was the daughter of Daniel and Anna Elizabeth (nee Ruth) Schwartz of Berks County. Georg’s parents were Jacob and Anna Maria nee Fretz Gehman. Jacob’s father was Christian Gehman, as was his father. The name is Swiss, from the Bernese area, and means “happy”, or “joyful”. Georg and Sarah were the parents of seven children, William being the sixth. Sarah died in 1858 and Georg then moved to Reading to live with his son, George and his wife, Eliza, where he died in 1869. On April 1, 1827 William was baptized in the Zionsville Reformed Church, also known as the Zionsville Lutheran Church. Apparently the Reformed and Lutheran people shared the same building, as they did in other places.
At the age of 18 he learned the trade of a custom miller near Vera Cruz and after his apprenticeship he became a farm hand for two years. He fell in love with a young woman named Anna Musselman, only daughter of Jacob and Barbara nee Bechtel Musselman, and they were married on June 17, 1848. Jacob was the brother of David Musselman in whose farmhouse William Gehman met with David and five others to begin what became our Bible Fellowship Conference. Nine children were born to William and Anna Gehman. William moved to a farm and began preaching in October 1849. Much has been written about his ministry with a new group of Mennonites and his subsequent ouster, leading to the formation of our present Bible Fellowship Church.
The first child, Amanda, was born on June 9, 1850. She married George Lambert, son of David and Catherine nee Unangst Lambert. George was born on May 11, 1853 in Freemansburg, Northampton County and became quite a character. A farmer and coach maker, he became a Mennonite minister at the age of 25 and moved to Caledonia, in Kent County, MI. He later went to KS for a time and then returned to Emaus. Less than a year later he moved to a farm in Elkhart County, IN where he farmed, sold real estate, repaired carriages and ran a sawmill. At the age of 41 he left his family and traveled around the world. Returning to his family he wrote several books and was in great demand
as a speaker. He died on July 3, 1928 and was buried in Prairie Street Cemetery in Elkhart, IN as was Amanda, who died in 1933. A daughter, Rose, became a missionary to the Armenians in Turkey for several years, no doubt influenced for foreign missions by her father’s worldwide travels. After Rose returned from the field she married David G. Musselman, son of Abraham Musselman. They bought a ranch in TX where they raised rice and cattle and owned several oil wells. Rose also served as a postmistress. Born in Vera Cruz in Upper Milford Township, she died in Inez, TX in 1974.
The second child born to William and Anna was Menno. He worked on his father’s farm and was known for his large hands. Converted to Christ as a youth he was a faithful church member and served as a delegate to Annual Conference. He fell in love with a preacher’s daughter, Amelia Knauss, whose parents were John and Leah nee Weider Knauss. John was the son of Johannes and Maria nee Tool Knauss and Johannes was the great grandson of Ludwig Knauss, who came to America in 1773. John joined the church in 1882 and was quickly placed in Christian service, entering the ministry in 1883. Three years later he was ordained. He died in 1897 while still in the active ministry. In his younger days he was a noted violin player but later became discouraged and gave it up. Amelia was born in July 1857. Her mother died in February 1860 and Amelia acquired a step-mother in 1861 when her father married a widow named Caroline Drunkenmiller nee Hochstetter. Menno and Amelia were married on September 1, 1877.
On February 3, 1907 Menno and Amelia, with their adopted son, John Fidler, attended a funeral in Emaus for Amelia’s brother-in-law, Oscar Hinkle. After eating at the Hinkle home they started toward their own home. The night was cold and windy so they used the buggy top to help keep out the cold and also placed some hanging in the front of the buggy. They approached the railroad at Kemmerer’s Crossing but did not have a clear view of the tracks. Alas, a locomotive and caboose were also approaching the crossing. Just as the horse cleared the tracks the locomotive struck the buggy and smashed it into splinters, scattering the occupants. The horse, uninjured, strangely ran neighing after the engine until it stopped. The train crew quickly picked up the injured, unconscious people. Menno was bleeding from numerous scalp wounds, had a bad fracture on the back of the skull and also had a fracture of the right thigh. Amelia and John had numerous scalp wounds. Dr. Martin Backenstoe, of Emaus, was hurriedly summoned and after giving some emergency attention, advised their removal to the Allentown Hospital. Martin Backenstoe was a noted physician of Emaus and a nephew of Lucinda
Backenstoe, whose daughter married Francis Gehman. The year 1907 was long before the time of the emergency vehicles which we have today, with all their equipment and expertise. The injured were placed in the caboose and the locomotive took them to the Allentown Terminal Station where they were placed in an ambulance, no doubt horse-drawn, and transported to the hospital. The skull laceration had exposed Menno’s brain and he died less than two hours after admittance. The coroner investigated the fatal accident as it didn’t appear that the engineer or conductor had rung the bell or blown the whistle. The outcome of the investigation is not known. Amelia, seriously injured, was not expected to survive but after a long hospital stay was finally able to return home. Amelia later married Henry B. Schelly, whose sons John and Russell married Sarah and Cecelia Heist, daughters of Horace and Hannah (nee Gehman) Heist. Amelia lived until November 4, 1938.
The second daughter, Sarah Ann, married Aaron Hassler, a young man who had come from Lancaster County. His great-great grandfather, Christian Hassler, came to America from Switzerland on the ship ‘St. Andrew”. He settled in Rapho Township, Lancaster County where he married a woman named Elizabeth in 1753. Their first child, Michael, served in the Revolutionary War under Captain Patrick Hayes. In 1786 Michael married Susanna Dielman from Rapho Township and they had eight children. The fifth, Johannes, married Barbara Keiser in 1818 at the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Manheim, PA and they had ten children. The second child, John K., married Mary Witmer and they had five children, Aaron being the fourth. It is not known why Aaron chose to move to Upper Milford Township but I’m sure Sarah was glad he did. In 1920 he received $1,030 from the estate of William Gehman, a rather large amount in those days.
The second son was born on May 20, 1858 and was named Henry. Little is known about him except that he married a woman named Clara [Lorish]. By 1900 he was living in Allentown on Linden Street and was employed as a cabinet maker in a furniture factory. He died after 1910.
Anna was taking turns in bearing male and female offspring. The next one was named Mary Ann, born on January 27, 1861. She married David Taylor, born to Joseph and Marion Taylor in April 1858. The 1900 Census lists him as living in Quakertown and employed as a carpenter.
Still alternating, Anna gave birth on February 15, 1864 to Francis, who married Cora Jane Yeakel, the daughter of William and Lucinda (nee Backenstoe) Yeakel. William was descended from David Jackel, who came to Philadelphia in 1734. After his arrival he changed his surname to Yeakel, probably because of pronunciation differences. William and Lucinda were married in 1861 and Cora Jane was their first child, born on May 8, 1868. William is listed as an early lay leader of our Conference and served as treasurer of the Missionary Society in the 1870’s. Francis and Cora had five
children, William Alfred being the second. He began the Gehman Chrysler – Plymouth auto business which was carried on by his sons, William and Kermit. William married Joan Bray and was a leader in the Bethel church in Allentown. Kermit married Joyce Leibert, who became very active in the Cedar Crest Church. She served as Sunday School Superintendent and librarian as well as being the first Director of Girls’ Camping at Victory Valley.
The fourth child of Francis and Cora was Lucinda, no doubt named after her grandmother. She married Ezra Gackenbach, founder of a syrup business and son of Howard and Kate (nee Jacobs) Gackenbach. Ezra was a member of the Emmaus church and Howard was listed as a delegate to Annual Conference from the Walnutport church in 1911. Ezra’s son, Arden, met a young woman at Mizpah Grove in Allentown named Eleanor Gehret. She was from Bethlehem and was the daughter of Marvin Gehret who served as a Class Leader at the Ebenezer church. Marvin was the son of Adam Gehret, an early pastor at Ebenezer. He was also the brother of Timothy, who served as a pastor and District Superintendent in our Conference.
Arden and Eleanor were married on September 27, 1947. Eleanor played the piano and organ for our Bethlehem church for most of her adult years until her death in 2004. Arden took on many responsibilities at the Bethlehem church including serving as a delegate, Class Leader and Elder for many years. He still serves on the Finance Committee and helps with song leading.
Anna gave birth to Allen on September 30, 1866, breaking the pattern. He married Permelia Snyder in 1887, daughter of Jonas and Sarah Snyder, who farmed in Upper Milford Township. Allen and Anna had nine children, two of whom died young. In 1893 Allen bought a farm of about 85 acres on Swatara Creek, just west of Macungie. He began a dairy route in 1910, the wagon frequently pulled by a retired race horse. In 1914 he purchased the adjacent Charles Bauer farm of 140 acres. His oldest son, Paul, moved into the farmhouse and operated both farms as one. Allen upgraded his dairy cows, adding purebred Holsteins and also began adding steers. He discontinued dairy operations around 1926. He was a charter member of the church at Macungie and in 1902 took on responsibilities with our Conference, serving on the Board of Trustees and as Treasurer of Foreign Missions. Later he assumed additional duties as a member of the Finance Committee, Conference Treasurer and member of the Board of Trustees of the Home and Orphanage. He also served as a delegate to Annual Conference. In 1911 he became the president of the Laymen’s Benevolent Society and a member of the Board of the Gospel Workers’ Society. In 19212 he served on the Committee of Valuation of Church Properties. Allen continued his service as treasurer of Annual Conference until 1928. He was also on the Committee of Camp Meeting Equipage and Tabernacle Outfits. He stored the camp meeting tents on his farm for many years and also repaired and waterproofed them. Many baptisms were held on his farm. He died at home on July 31, 1943.
One of his sons, Timothy, born in 1911, married Alice Baus and they had four children. Timothy moved to Center Valley in 1926 to take charge of our Conference farm located there. He returned to Lower Macungie Township in 1929, buying the Schiffert farm of 129 acres. He began dairy farming in 1932, all the cows milked by hand until 1939, when he obtained mechanical milkers. Potatoes and grains were also grown. He was a member of the state Holstein Association, serving as president in 1948-49. He also served on the township School Board and on the Lehigh County Draft Board. He sold 140 acres to the Mack Truck Corporation in 1974 and he then moved into Macungie. His wife, Marie, died in 1982 and he later married Ida Cressman. He died on November 26, 1990 at Fellowship Manor.
His oldest son, Wiley, in 1971, was the champion corn grower in the state with a yield of 211 shelled bushels per acre. In 1975 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Pennsylvania Farmers’ Association. Timothy’s second daughter, Sarah, graduated from Berean Bible School and married a young preacher named Robert Johnson, who, from 1980 to 1985 was the pastor at our Bethlehem church. He died in 2001 and Sarah remarried.
Anna next gave birth to Hannah on May 9, 1869. She married Horace Heist, son of Edward and Sarah Heist. Edward was a miller in Upper Milford Township and was the son of John and Hannah Heist. Two daughters of Horace, Sarah and Cecelia, married two sons of Henry Schelly, who married Amelia after Menno Gehman was killed.
Switching back to a male child, she gave birth to William George on September 17, 1874. He was the last child to be born to Anna and William. His middle name came from his paternal grandfather. After graduating from Emaus High School he passed some tests which qualified him to teach. He became a teacher in the school at Shimersville in 1895 but after two years felt called to preach. He was recommended to the Annual Conference by the Quarterly Conference and was accepted. His first assignment was to the Emaus and Allentown circuit as an assistant to L.B. Taylor. The following year he was sent to the Royersford and Spring City circuit and in1899 he was ordained and sent to Lehighton and Weissport. He served at Mount Carmel from 1900 to 1902 and while serving there was faced with a dangerous situation. A strange news item appeared in the Town and Country newspaper on July 19, 1902: “Rev. W. G. GEHMAN, pastor, of the Mennonite Church of Mt. Carmel, suffering from small-pox, was removed to the emergency hospital. The pastor two weeks ago faced the terrors of the disease when he visited the hospital, at the request of one of his communicants, who was suffering from small-pox, and administered the last rites to the dying man. Although every precaution was taken, the Rev. GEHMAN was stricken. Rev. GEHMAN is the son of Rev. Wm. GEHMAN, of Vera Cruz.” The reporter apparently misunderstood William’s attempt to either bring assurance to the dying man or obtain a confession of faith. Smallpox was fatal to many people but he survived, apparently without great difficulty. In October 1902 he was sent to Bethlehem and in 1905 was elected Presiding Elder over the Easton District. He also became head of the Gospel Herald Society and became known as Daddy Gehman. Harold Shelly, in his book The Bible Fellowship Church, notes that William George steered the Conference away from Holiness teachings toward the Calvinist Confessional Orthodoxy.
He fell in love with a woman he met in Royersford by the name of Emma Kinsell. She was the daughter of Daniel and Emaline nee Tyson Kinsell and the first child of six, born on August 28, 1874. Our church in Royersford began in 1889. Prayer services were held in the home of Tilghman Smoyer but a church building was needed. Emaline Kinsell purchased a lot at 618 Walnut Street and donated it for a church building and a frame structure was erected. In September 1897 foundations were laid for a stone building, stones being quarried from the Kinsell farm. It is not known when Daniel died and Emaline was probably a widow at this time as Daniel is not listed in the 1900 Census.
Emma and William George were married in 1901 and became the parents of four girls, two of whom married preachers. The first daughter, Grace Irene, married Clarence Musselman, the son of Harvey B. Musselman, the Presiding Elder of the Allentown District. Clarence graduated from Bethlehem Business College and became a teacher there before becoming a noted businessman in Allentown. Clarence was a member of our Bethel Church in Allentown and served as their Sunday School superintendent for twenty years. He died of a heart attack in Allentown in 1951 and was buried in the Cedar Hill Memorial Park Cemetery. Grace died on May 3, 1982 in Kilgore, TX.
The second daughter, Mildred Henry, was born on November 30, 1903. She married Joseph B. Henry, the son of Charles and Etta Henry, on November 11, 1927. Born in Birdsboro, Berks County, he later moved to Bethlehem and was saved under the ministry of Charles Brunner. At the age of eighteen he became a pastor in our Conference, serving in Home Missions. In 1927 he was assigned to the West Philadelphia - Wissinoming circuit and opened up a new work in Roxborough. He was ordained in 1928. In October 1950 he became Associate General Secretary of the African Inland Mission and moved to Brooklyn, NY. He died there on April 6, 1962 and was buried in our cemetery at Zionsville. Mildred died in January 1997. Their son, Donald, pastored a church in Copiague, NY for several years.
The third child, Valeria Mae, was born on September 5, 1905 in Bethlehem. She married Paul E. Baer, who was born in Allentown in 1904, the son of Oscar and Amelia nee Buckley Baer. His father, Oscar, was an active member of our Allentown church. Paul served as a pastor for many years. When serving in Scranton he engaged in a successful radio ministry. Their son, Merle, served as a missionary for many years. Paul died in 1989 and Valeria in 2001. Both willed their bodies to science.
The last one was Ethel Marie, who married Harvey W. Hottel, son of Franklin M. Hottel, one of our Conference pastors who came for the Bethlehem church. They moved to Maryland where Harvey died in 1999 and Ethel ten years later.
Emma attempted to give birth to a fifth child in 1909 but died at 9 A.M. on the morning of March 19. William George thought about placing the children in different homes but then decided to keep the family together. Howard and Mary Shelly, newly –weds, agreed to move in and take care of the girls. In 1910, perhaps in August, he married the youngest of the Kinsell family, Elizabeth Tyson Kinsell. The other Presiding Elder, Harvey B. Musselman, performed the marriage in the Gehman home in Allentown. It was common in those days for a widower to marry a sister of his departed wife, especially if children were involved. Five more children were born to the Gehmans, Vivian, Alma, Beatrice, Wilbert and Clarence. Tragedy again struck the Gehman home when Beatrice, Alma’s twin, died only a month after birth. Vivian married Warren Guggenheim. Born in 1911 she died in 1997. Alma Kathryn married George Wells and lived from 1914 to 1977. Wilbert, born in 1913, married Jeanette Lauman and Clarence Harvey married Patricia Cleverly.
William George left Allentown not long after his marriage to Elizabeth, moving to 1503 Lehigh Street, just over the line into Palmer Township. This section became Wilson Township in 1914, named after the new president, Woodrow Wilson. The area continued to grow and Wilson Township became Wilson Boro in 1920. The family soon moved to a new house in Wilson Township. After only a few years he moved the family into Easton, at 1136 Northampton Street. Here he stayed until around 1940, when he moved to Palmer Township at 2651 Northampton Street, an area recently opened for houses.
Unlike the other Presiding Elder, Harvey B. Musselman, he liked to eat. Jill Davidson, in her paper on Harvey Musselman, stated, “H.B. was determined not to be overweight himself. He was always fit and trim. He did not want to be a big eater.” It seems that the Pennsylvania Dutch liked food high in cholesterol. Not much was known about heart disease in those days and William George became quite overweight. On November 26, 1941 the weather was nice and William decided to plant some trees in his yard but at 11:00 A.M. he suffered a heart attack and died suddenly. Funeral services were held at the Easton church on November 28 by the pastor, Timothy D. Gehret and at the Allentown church the next afternoon, by Harvey B. Musselman. William George had led a busy life, serving as a pastor and then as Presiding Elder of the Easton District and President of the Gospel Herald Society.
His widow, Elizabeth, continued to live in Palmer Township and later began to sell the Encyclopedia Britannica. Around 1975 she underwent an operation in the Allentown Hospital. She wasn’t a woman to remain idle and while recuperating sold encyclopedias to three of the doctors there. Quite health conscious, she ate lightly but well and seemed to favor fish for meat. She later moved into an apartment at Wilson Boro. Every day, rain or shine, she went for a walk. She then moved to our Home in Nazareth and after 1 ½ years moved to an assisted living facility near Harleysville. I was her pastor at the Easton church and new families began coming. Many of the original congregation did not welcome the new people. Elizabeth, however, was very friendly to them and even brought in some new people herself. Born on May 1, 1886, probably at the Kinsell homestead, she lived until October 4, 1980, dying at Grandview Hospital in Sellersville. She was 94 years old.
William Schwartz Gehman and many of his descendants made a definite contribution to God’s work in our Conference which today is called the Bible Fellowship Church. William George was the only son to preach but many descendants became active workers in the church. Two granddaughters married preachers and a great-grandson became a preacher for a time. Wives of descendants became active church workers. His dedication and service was not forgotten.
(* Some editorial comments from RET. Some debates are of the sort that can really fire you up. Some insist, as LeRoy shows, that William Gehman used the middle initial S. in his name. No one was more adamant than the late Bright Heist. It is true that it was a custom of the time to make a child’s middle name that of the mother’s maiden name. It is also true that the maiden name of Anna Gehman was Schwartz. While I cannot get roused up for this debate, I maintain that I have never seen a middle initial for William Gehman in any writing or set of minutes even though almost all of the names around his used middle initials. I would not suggest that he never used an initial. I am saying that I have never seen it in any printed record or document. )
THE MOYER FAMILY and EBENEZER CHURCH - by LeRoy Wilcox
Rev. Peter Meyer, together with his three brothers, William, Jacob, Henry, one sister (name not known) and their mother (a widow) came to America about 1741 or later. The family members were born and lived in Switzerland. They fled from the fatherland during the fierce persecution of the Mennonites by the Calvinists, or State (Reformed) church, to the Palatinate in Germany, were they remained with friends in the vicinity of Kerbach for about a year, after which they emigrated to America. The mother married a second husband by the name of Nickey Schaafroth, but had no children by this marriage. The sister was the oldest of the children. She married a man by the-name of Schatz (Schantz?) but also had no children. Peter was the oldest son and Henry the youngest. Peter, William and Henry settled in Springfield Township, Bucks County, and Jacob at Centre Valley, in Saucon Township, Lehigh County. They were all farmers and members of the Mennonite Church. Peter was a minister in Switzerland and was one of the early ministers of the Mennonite Church in Springfield. Jacob was also a minister, and preached in the Saucon Mennonite church.
Peter settled in Springfield Township near Pleasant Valley, where, on May 28, 1752, he purchased a farm consisting of 107 acres from Joseph Green. The old homestead was owned and occupied in 1896 by Abraham G. Moyer, a great-grandson. One of Peter’s sons, Jacob, married Magdalena Moyer, the daughter of Christian Meyer and Susanna nee Detweiler. A son, Jacob M. Moyer (note spelling differences), born in 1791, married Catherine Atherholt and they had a son, Peter A. Moyer. He married Margaret Detweiler whose sister Sarah married Abraham Fretz, the grandfather of William James Fretz, a former member of our Bethlehem church who became a preacher in our Conference. Peter and Margaret became the parents of Joseph Moyer who married Sarah Ann Landis on November 26, 1887. Sarah’s ancestor, Johannes Landis, married Ann Musselman, the daughter of Christian Musselman and Barbara nee Jau. Her brother, Michael, became the father of Jacob who had a son named Jacob who married Maria Basler. Jacob and Maria became the parents of Christian Musselman, who married Elizabeth Geissinger and they had a son David in whose farmhouse our Conference began.
Joseph and Sarah Moyer left the farm in Springfield Township and moved to Bethlehem, becoming associated with our Ebenezer church. They had two daughters and a son, named Ida, Hilda and Harold. Sarah Ann was expecting to give birth to a fourth child but died suddenly in the early morning of April 19, 1904 at her home on North High Street. The funeral was conducted by the pastor, William G. Gehman, and she was buried at the Springtown Mennonite Church Cemetery. Ida was only 13 and Hilda was only eight years of age. Ida Gertrude Moyer, born on August 3, 1888, married a member of the Bethlehem church named Franklin Musselman Hottel on March 2, 1906. He later entered the ministry and served as a pastor at Bethlehem. Ida died on August 26, 1981 at the age of 93. Her sister, Hilda Margaret, born in August 1895, married another Ebenezer member, Allen G. Woodring, the son of Richard Lewis Woodring, a former pastor at Ebenezer. Allen also became a pastor in our Conference.
Our church began meeting in the home of Jonathan and Sarah Moyer but no connection has been found with the Moyers mentioned above. Jonathan is listed in the1860 Census as the son of Thomas Moyer of N. Whitehall Township in Lehigh County. He was born on April 24, 1853 and in 1876 he married Sarah Dreisbach, whose nephew, Robert, became a pastor in our Conference and served at Ebenezer as an Assistant Pastor. Sarah, born on February 10, 1855 in Kreidersville, Allen Township, Northampton County, was the daughter of Daniel Dreisbach. He, with his family, went to Illinois in 1860 to work in a shoe factory and while awaiting the arrival of their belongings they stayed at the Dewitt Hotel in Clinton, Illinois. A man aspiring to become the president of the United States was also staying there. His name was Abraham Lincoln and he noticed the two Dreisbach girls, Sarah and Elmira, playing and conversing in a strange tongue. Curious, he inquired about this and was informed that they were speaking what was known as Pennsylvania German. He then held Sarah and Elmira on his lap and had them speak this strange tongue to him.
Daniel joined the Union Army after the Civil War began but was stricken with a disease and died at Memphis, TN, where he was buried. His wife took the family back to her father-in- law’s farm and later remarried. Sarah grew to adulthood and married Jonathan Moyer. They lived in Allentown but moved to Bethlehem around 1880 and attended a camp meeting at Chestnut Hill in 1883 with a friend named Adeline Ritter. Returning in 1884 they asked to become a church and were granted that request at camp meeting by Jonas Musselman, who became their pastor. Needing a place to meet they opened up their home on Main Street until larger quarters were needed. They later moved back to Allentown. A daughter, Mary, married Edwin Wieand from the Allentown area. Edwin’s nephew, Herbert, became an active member of the Bethlehem church, serving on the Official Board. Herbert’s son and wife continue to be faithful members at Ebenezer.
Jonathan died on August 31, 1932 and Sarah moved in with her daughter, Ada Hanion, in Allentown. When Ebenezer held their 50th Anniversary observance (of the opening of the Laurel Street Church) Sarah attended and received a prize and also had her photo in the newspaper. She died at the home of her daughter on January 3, 1940 at the age of 84. Harvey B. Musselman, the Presiding Elder, officiated at her funeral.
One Moyer family provided two pastors’ wives and the other family provided a man who, with his wife, hosted the first meetings of our Bethlehem church. We thank God for the Moyers.
Thanks LeRoy for your interest, your good work and your sharing.
A reprint from the 1915 Yearbook tells the story of our beginnings in Philadelphia (Page 34-35).
The other Church shown in this Journal is the new Church or Chapel located at 3362 Goodman Street, Phila., or practically Eleventh and Ontario Streets.
This Church was dedicated just a few weeks ago, September 5, 1915.
The beginning of our work in the city of Philadelphia dates from the fall of 1902, when C. H. Brunner was elected Missionary Presiding Elder and President of the Home Missionary Society.
The first service was held on October 23, 1902, by the President in a hall on the second floor of 2549 Germantown Ave., one person only, Brother James Weaver, being present. At the second service, Sunday afternoon, Mrs. S. S. Geil came with a few of her friends. In the evening Brother Geil himself ventured to come along, to stay no doubt, at least all these are there yet among the many.
About two weeks later the three-story building at 2310 Germantown Ave. was rented at forty-five dollars per month.
The first floor was a store room which was fitted out for a Mission Hall. The second floor flat was occupied by the President of the Society, and the third floor flat by the Missionaries.
Here services were held every Sunday afternoon and every night the year round except Monday nights, for a number of years, during which time many souls were saved and many were baptized, among whom was Miss E. G. Reiff who has for many years been an active and prominent member of the Gospel Worker Society, and Editor of the "Christian Life Missionary."
Here the "Home Missionary Society" was merged into the "Gospel Herald Society," which continued the Mission until 1906. In October, 1905, the Conference elected Brother W. G. Gehman President of the Gospel Herald Society.
On July 19, 1907, the property at 3362 Goodman Street, a lot 40 by 107 feet, containing a double frame dwelling, was purchased, remodeled and the first floor of the whole arranged for services while the Pastor occupied the one side of the second and third floors and the other side was rented.
Glorious meetings were held here, many were saved, the Sunday School increased until it was found absolutely necessary to build. Although a great and expensive undertaking the class and their enthusiastic Pastor purchased the
adjoining lot of 32 by 199 feet on January 7, 1914, giving them 72 feet front.
During the present summer they built a very serviceable, well- constructed brick Chapel 36 by 45 feet with a vestibule and ante-room 10 by 16 feet outside. The basement is specially arranged and equipped so that it can be used for Sunday School or Conference and Convention purposes. The original frame building has again been remodeled into a very commodious Parsonage with apartments for a Janitor's Home.
Sunday, September 5, 1915, was a great day for the Philadelphia Class; a day they had been working for and looking forward to for many years. On this day their new Church was dedicated to the glory and worship of God by Presiding Elder H. B. Musselman, who preached in the forenoon and afternoon and also had charge of the evening service, at which Pastor C. H. Brunner, of Allentown, preached. The Bethlehem Mixed Quartette sang a number of very appropriate selections.
The attendance was very large all day and in the evening the building was packed to the door and some were not able to get in.
The amount necessary to pay off all the remaining indebtedness was fully covered by cash and pledges. Much credit is due to the excellent management and hard work of the Pastor, F. M. Hottel, and his self-sacrificing Class, besides others who are not members, as well as to the labor of the Pastors preceding him who helped to bring the matter up to its present state. But, after all, we must say, "Hitherto the Lord hath helped us."
The Philadelphia Mission was supplied as follows:
October, 1902 to October, 1906, Gospel Herald Society.
October, 1906 to October, 1908, P. J. Musselman.
October, 1908 to October, 1911, J. G. Shireman.
October, 1911 to October, 1914, W. J. Fretz.
October, 1914 to date, F. M. Hottel.
More on Gospel Heralds - Richard Taylor
I have been seeking to learn as much as I can about the Gospel Heralds, who they were and what happened to them. My thanks to R. C. Reichenbach and Jack Dunn for the information they have sent me. They have helped me to expand the list of names which I have been trying to collect. (Brother Reichenbach graciously informed me that I had left him off the list even though he helped me gather it.) Some of the Heralds were in the Society for a few weeks or months. So it is hard to come up with a complete list.
One of the men who set me off on this chase for Heralds is J. T. Anderson. I had seen him in a number of pictures but never heard much about him. I set out to dig up what I could. What I found surprised and encouraged me.
John T. Anderson was born in April of 1885. If my research is correct, he was the child of Robert and Mary Anderson who were immigrants from Scotland in the early 1870's. They were married in 1877 and settled in Shamokin living at 709 Cameron Street. They had 10 children, 4 of which had died leaving them 6 living children in 1900 among whom was John. Robert gave his occupation as laborer in 1900 as did his 15 year old son, John. I know little more than that about the family.
In 1910, John was living in Sunbury and gave his occupation as that of Protestant missionary. John had become part of the Gospel Heralds by that time. The Shamokin work had begun just 3 years earlier. At the time of this writing, I know nothing of his testimony but assume that through a connection with the Shamokin Church he was called and entered the Heralds. On October 14, 1909, in the second meeting of the Annual Conference, the following was noted, “J. T. Anderson having passed the Examination on Discipline satisfactorily, expressed the nature of his call before the Conference, and was referred to the Committee on Applicants.” During that year, he began the Reading Course and its testing. He scored an average of 27 out of 100. Only one person did worse, G. F. Yost scored an average of 15.
In 1910, J. T. continued the Reading Course and received a score of 51 on his tests. The report on the Reading Course made a note. “G. F. Yost and J. T. Anderson were notified to appear at the examination at 7:30a.m., October 11, 1910, at the Reading Church, and did not appear until 7 p.m. on the above mentioned date, very greatly inconveniencing the Committee.” G. F. Yost also improved his score and matched Anderson with a score of 51.
In 1911, Anderson and Yost continued their quest as they pursued the Reading Course. Anderson scored 42 while Yost scored 41.
In the final year of their preparation, 1912, Anderson and Yost were nearly identical with averages of 52 for Anderson and 50 for Yost. The Reading Course report contained a recommendation with regard to them. “Whereas, G. F. Yost and J. T. Anderson have passed the Reading Course satisfactorily, therefore Resolved, That we recommend them to the Committee on Ordination.” At that year’s Annual Conference, the Committee on Ordination reported on the two men,
The names of G. F. Yost and J. T. Anderson have been handed to us as candidates for Ordination. We have learned that they have passed the Reading Course satisfactorily and that they have proven themselves efficient and loyal workers in the Gospel Herald Society with good moral character. They did not have the privilege, however, to prove their ability as pastors in the church according to the discipline and as they desire to have their ordination postponed, therefore,
Resolved, That their desire be granted. We also pray God's blessing upon their future lives and labors.
In 1913, G. F. Yost was ordained. However, not another word is given on J. T. Anderson.
Anderson continued to labor on in the Gospel Heralds. The 1920 Census shows him living at 136 Howard Street in Lancaster. He was married to Daisy and living with Elmer J. Rutman and his family. I was not able to locate him in the 1930 census though the Yearbook records show that he was still in the Gospel Heralds.
Anderson’s name continues on the list of Annual Conference Licensed Preachers until 1947. At that conference, notice was given, “Whereas, J. T. Anderson is not any longer in the active work and E. D. Rapp has chosen work in another church, therefore, Resolved, That their names be dropped from the roll of Probationers.” Jack Dunn recollects that Anderson was at the mission in Wilkes Barre which closed that year.
All of that would indicate that John T. Anderson served in the Gospel Heralds for 38 years. No one else even came close to serving that long. Obviously, there are large gaps in our information here. Why was Anderson not brought up again for ordination? Why was G. F. Yost approved while Anderson was passed over? I cannot answer the questions. Perhaps, someone who reads this can tell us more about J. T. Anderson.
Lest he be simply some sort of asterisk in our records, something could be said about a man who labors on for 38 years without ever receiving the recognition that he probably longed to have. Why did he continue when he was never able to move beyond the “probationer” status? Perhaps we have a very special man who gave meaning to the word faithful.
Don’t forget to sign for our meeting next month. I will be looking forward to seeing you in my hometown of Wallingford.
723 South Providence Road
Wallingford PA 19086
Telephone and Fax - 610-876-8725