Saturday, July 12, 2014

Family History 7: German Baptist Brethren Heritage 2 (Wise)

Last week, I tried to follow the family of my father's mother's father back in time. It followed a course that led north to Elkhart, then east to Ohio and Pennsylvania. It crossed the Atlantic from the Rhineland of Germany back to the Bern area of Switzerland at the beginning of the Reformation.

It was a fairly straight religious arrow, starting with the Swiss Mennonites persecuted by Zwingli, through the Amish migration to north Germany, across with the Brethren to Pennsylvania, then across America as Old German Baptist Brethren.

I think I do have one significant qualification to make from last week. Although we have always referred to my grandmother's family as Dunkards, it seems more accurate to call them Old German Baptist Brethren, a slightly different group than the Dunkard Brethren. More on this topic below, but here's the accumulating data for now:
  • I had found last week that Daniel Miller had founded an Old German Baptist Brethren church in Ohio. 
  • In a conversation of my mother with Don Mohler, my Dad's cousin who turned 90 last week, he had always known his mother, Sarah's family as Old German Baptist.
  • I also drove through Flora, Indiana, last weekend taking my two youngest to Camp Tecumseh, and there was the white church where I attended my great uncle Calvin's funeral in the summer of 1995. It is an Old German Baptist Brethren church.
  • I've discovered this week that the Wise family I write about today were Old German Baptist as well, indeed, that there used to be an Old German Baptist church near the Wise cemetery.
Flora Old German Baptist Brethren Church
What was always funny to me about uncle Calvin is the fact that he didn't have a beard. One of the striking features of the "Dunkards" are their long beards, along with their black and white outfits with suspenders. We used to joke (forgive us) that the length of the beard was something like an indication of how godly a man was. So it was a source of some chuckling that Calvin didn't have a beard at all. I remember him with delight and his smile as being like my grandmother's.

The Wises
2. Amsey Miller, my grandmother's father, married Salome Wise in the year 1900 just east of Delphi, Indiana. She was 21 years old, as was he. When they were married, they moved onto her family's farm, just west of Camden, Indiana, in between Wise Cemetery and Deer Creek. I guess there used to be a bridge called Wise's Ford Bridge that crossed Deer Creek, probably where 300 W crosses the creek going south today.

The Wise family moved to that area in the 1820s from Ohio. The patriarch of the family was Samuel Wise, born in Pennsylvania in 1783 in the same Bedford County, Old German Baptist community where John B. Miller, Amsey's ancestor, was born in 1787.

One of the reason we have such good records of this Old German Baptist genealogy is how tightly knit these communities were. In fact, not only were the great grandfather of Amsey (John) and the great grandfather of Salome (Samuel) born in the same Pennsylvania community four years apart. But Samuel's mother (Elizabeth Ulrich, 1723-1815) was actually the aunt and namesake of John's mother (Elizabeth Ulrich, 1757-1834).

While the Miller family wound its way around a bit before finally settling in Carroll County, Indiana, Samuel Wise was one of the original settlers of the county. Born in 1783 in Pennsylvania, he was married in the area of Dayton, Ohio in 1807. And he claimed a homestead just north of Deer Creek from 1826 to 1830, some 1440 acres. Somewhat awkwardly, it would seem that Samuel and his wife Elizabeth were first cousins, their mothers being sisters (Mary and Catherine Cripe).

Samuel's property had orchards on it and a saw mill. He would die in 1841. Then his sons would continue to farm the land, including his son Leonard (1810-1889). Then Leonard's sons would farm the land, including his son Elias (1850-1929). Eli begat Salome, who begat my grandmother.

3. You can see the steady migration of these Brethren from Pennsylvania to Ohio to Indiana, like so many others at the time.  My father's family (Dutch and German) were moving in from the north, while my mother's family were moving in from the south, through North Carolina and Virginia (Welsh, English, and Scots-Irish).

So I've traced the Wise family from Pennsylvania to Indiana through Ohio. The families of the Brethren wives of these ancestors were on a similar trajectory. So take Eli Wise (1850-1929), the grandfather of my Grandma. He married Esther Wenrich (1852-1921) in 1876. Where was her family from? She was born in Ohio, and her father was from Pennsylvania.

OK, what about Eli's father, Leonard (1810-1889). Where was his wife from? His wife was Catherine (Kitty) Eyman (1816-1872), and they married in 1836.  Her grandfather was born in Pennsylvania in 1762 and her father married her mother in Ohio in 1814. Both her grandfather and father ended up in Carroll County, Indiana.

And now we get to the Dunkards and a fascinating (but unfortunately typical) story of American church history. My grandmother Esther was born of Salome who was born of Eli who was born of Leonard. Leonard married Kitty Eyman. Her father was an Old German Baptist Brethren preacher in Carroll County, Indiana, Peter Eyman.

It would seem that the Old German Baptists of Carroll County got into a bit of a disagreement in 1848. Eyman and another minister were questioning a candidate for baptism of their faith before baptism, while the standard practice was to do so afterwards. They were also practicing footwashing before the Lord's Supper rather than the standard practice of doing it afterwards. Other pastors in their area questioned their practices and a meeting was called.

In the end Peter organized a new church out of his home, a new Dunkard movement they called the "Church of God." So he was the founder of a group of new Dunkards.

4. All of these lines of German Baptists also came over from Germany in the early 1700s.
  • The line of Samuel Wise came over from the Rhineland of Germany in 1733. Frantz Weiss came over on the ship Elizabeth and landed in Maryland. He gave birth to Johannes Jacob that year in Pennsylvania, who gave birth to Samuel's father John in 1754. One naturalization record describes this line as "Moravian."
  • Samuel's mother's family also came from Germany (Mary Cripe), although they may have originated just west in France. What was Greib in German became Gripe/Cripe in the US. A lot of the German immigration in the early 1700s was a result of the French invasion of this western area of Germany in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14). The area was devastated.
  • I might add that one of the brothers of the Elizabeth Ulrich above, whose niece and daughters married into my line, was one Bishop Samuel Ullery, a bishop in the more mainstream Church of the Brethren in 1785 in Morrison's Cove, Pennsylvania (first pastor of that Brethren church).
  • If we return to the Eymans--remember the Peter Eyman who started the new Dunker's movement in Indiana in 1848--his father was also a German Baptist Brethren minister who fought in the Revolutionary War. And his father, Jacob Eymann, came over from the Rhineland in 1749. His grandfather, like the Millers, came from the Bern area of Switzerland.
Many details to iron out, so little time. So for now, we'll let the Brethren sleep.
Earlier posts:

2. The Revivalin' Twenties
In the Year 1920 (Dorsey Schenck)
From Quaker to Pilgrim (Harry Shepherd)
The Great Generation (my parents)

3. The Depression Thirties
North Carolina Flashback (Eli Shepherd)

4. Passing Generations
A Dunkard Heritage 1 (Amsy Miller)
A Dunkard Heritage 2 (Salome Wise)

7. The Divisive Sixties
Flashback to Jamestown (Champion Shelburn)


Glen Miller said...

'Hello Ken,

I am a cousin of your father via the Miller's. My wife and I facilitated the last couple of July 4th gatherings at Rossville.

Church denominational names, etc. can get confusing, especially in this digital era of easy generation of information. Let me humbly make some comments.

The "Old German Baptist Brethren Church" did not exist until 1881. Thus references involving the "Church of God", Daniel Miller, etc. do not apply to the
Old German Baptist name and to the Dunkard Brethren. Here's a brief history!

Prior to 1881 with minor exception the name would have been the "Fraternity of German Baptists" or "German Baptist".

In 1881 the "Old German Baptist Brethren Church"(commonly also identified as the Old Orders) split from the "German Baptist" (commonly also identified at that time as the Conservatives). Today there is a "New Conference - Old German Baptist Brethren" denomination.

In 1883 the "German Baptists" essentially disfellowshipped the progressive wing. The progressive wing became the "Brethren Church" (commonly also identified at the Ashland Brethren or the Progressives). Today they are not the most progressive of the 1708 Brethren groups.

In 1929 the "Dunkard Brethren" left the "Church of the Brethren".
The term "Dunkard Brethren" should only be used to reference the "Dunkard Brethren" denomination.

In 1939 the "Grace Brethren" left the "Brethren Church". Today there are additional Grace Brethren groups.

Your grandmother Ester's parents and siblings belonged to the "Old German Baptist Brethren".

The "Old German Baptist Brethren" did not, and do not, have weddings in their Meeting Houses.
And as you referenced later - your grandparents would not have been married in one of their Meeting Houses. Amsey's home congregation would have been the Lower Deer Creek congregation south of Camden.

The wearing of the beard was established in the 1800's for Ministers and Deacons.
And for laity to be considered to be in "full order" of the church.

The Daniel Miller of Ohio you referenced - I will assume he is the Daniel that established the Bear Creek congregation west of Dayton. I conversed with a descendant of his a week ago.

When "Deer Creek" is associated with our Wise's, it would reference the creek that flows thru Carroll County, not the town of Deer Creek.


4:19 AM


Ken Schenck said...

Thank you so much for those clarifications! Very helpful!

I had Wayne's land address and had hoped to send him these two articles to give feedback on, but I hadn't sent it yet.

Many thanks!

Glen Miller said...

A correction to my comments -

I indicated the Lower Deer Creek congregation to be south of Camden. The congregation south of Camden is the Deer Creek Old German Baptist congregation and is the congregation Amsey Miller would have attended. The Lower Deer Creek congregation south east of Camden is the German Baptist and later renamed Church of the Brethren congregation.

DaveWise said...

Very interesting! It also lines up with what I have found recently. My Wise family stems from the gang that "stayed behind" in Pa. I am 99% sure that our family comes from John Wise (1754-1821) and Mary Grieb. John Wise was the grandson of Frantz Wise (Weiss) and and the son of Jacob Weese who lived into his nineties and died in what is now West Virginia. Jacob apparently had one son in his first marriage (John Wise) and married again later and had a huge tribe of "Weeses" in W. Virginia. He was said to be an Indian fighter while his son John seemed to marry into the German Baptists (non -resistance). John Wise's oldest son John seemed to stay in Pa longer than his other brothers but eventually moved west to Ohio right before he died about 1843 or so. We seem to be from the stragglers left behind. Interestingly enough, one of the others who stayed in Pa until the 1850's was a Susan Wise, a great granddaughter of John and Mary. She and her husband left Pa and moved to Darke county Ohio where the Wises had been going for decades. Their sixth(?) child was named Phoebe Ann and would gain fame as Annie Oakley! She claimed English Quaker heritage but the evidence points to "Dunkards". If you had more information on the Wise family and their religious affliations, I would love to know. I am a pastor myself and wondered earnestly at times about my forefathers and whether they had a "living faith". Thanks for posting and blessings to you! Pastor Dave Wise