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Brethren Life

Have you ever wished that you could go back in time and experience life in a typical Brethren farming community? When life was at a much slower pace, without the vibration of noisy over crowded highways, and the word filth referred to something in a barnyard. Here is at least one opportunity to discover what simple family life was like during the 1840-1850's, in and around the small farming community of Boston, Indiana. For some this will be a chance to discover former ways of more simple living and for others it will be a refreshing trip down memory lane, because of stories that grandparents used to tell. Brethren church historian Merle C. Rummel has graciously permitted several chapters of his book, "Four Mile Community" to be place online, so that people in the modern world may discover what life was like in a more simple time, when people knew almost everyone in town. It was truly a time of sheltered existence for many, a time for cultivating a rich heritage of family experiences when the outside world - was still the outside world.

LAST UPDATED: 07/09/2020



Kentucky Frontier Brethren SWF

PowerPoint given by Merle C. Rummel ~ Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists, Annual Conference, 2010

Four Mile Church PDF

200th Anniversary given by Merle C. Rummel - 2009

Nancy Lybrook Journal PDF

Story of 1806 migration trip west from Virginia to Indiana Territory on Kanawha Trace (fictional)

Elizabeth Miller Journal PDF

Story of 1828 migration trip west from Pennsylvania to western Ohio on new Nation Road (fictional)


Brethren Community

The Dunkers

Brethren Farmer

Brethren Wife

Written by Merle C. Rummel ~ Published April, 1998 ~ Last Updated, November, 2009 ©


Ohio Brethren


The Frontier

Settlement Life

Written by Merle C. Rummel ~ Published April, 1998 ~ Last Updated, April, 1998 ©


Brethren Migrations ~ UPDATED : 02/19/20

Brethren Migration Roads PDF

Written by Merle C. Rummel ~ Published April, 1998 ~ Last Updated, August, 2016 ©


The Frontier Brethren

Brethren Pietism

Written by Merle C. Rummel ~ Published April, 1998 ~ Last Updated, March, 2006 ©


Brethren Journal

Written by Merle C. Rummel ~ Published April, 1998 ~ Last Updated, January, 1999 ©


A Historical Correction PDF ~ NEW : 07/09/20

Written by Merle C. Rummel ~ Published July, 2020 ~ Last Updated, July, 2020 ©


Merle C. Rummel was born on October 27, 1934, the son of Elder Glenn I. Rummel and Martha (Burns) Rummel, and lived on the home farm near Nappanee, Indiana, until the age of six, when his father accepted a pastorate at the Mineral Creek COB in Leeton Missouri. In 1948 the Rummel family moved to the Florence Church of the Brethren, Centreville MI, where Merle graduated from High School, and then attended Manchester College. He received an AB degree in Secondary Education; Social Studies/History, Physics, and General Science. He was an intercollegiate player of Table Tennis and active in the International Relations Club.

Merle was accepted for Brethren Volunteer Service to Puerto Rico, but was then asked to go instead to Bethany Biblical Seminary. Merle was ordained to the ministry in 1959 at the Flat Creek Mission, Manchester KY, and ordained Elder in 2009 at the Stonelick Church of the Brethren, Goshen OH. Merle holds an MDiv degree with emphasis in Bible and Church History. During summer pastorates in North Wilkesboro NC, Merle built the Friendship Church building and started the congregation. After seminary, he accepted the Fruitdale Church of the Brethren pastorate in southern Alabama. In 1961, Merle moved to New Windsor, Maryland, where he pastored the old Beaver Dam Church of the Brethren, and worked on the staff at the Brethren Service Center as carpenter and Spanish translator.

Due to sickness, he returned to his parents home, at Camp Woodland Altars, Peebles, Ohio, and taught at the Sinking Spring School on the Zane Trace. After regaining his health, Merle first drove the Trace weekly to Zanesville, Ohio, as pastor of the White Cottage Church of the Brethren, and taught at Glenford Elementary as the assistant principal. In 1968, Merle married Madelaine Olt, of Richmond, Indiana, a returned nurse, from the Nigerian mission field, and lived at Muncie, Indiana, where Merle accepted a position at Ball State University as a television engineer. Merle worked at the university for fifteen years, obtaining a masters degree in History and Physics, and later acquired an Indiana Secondary Teaching License-Life, plus an FCC 1st Class Commercial License -Life. A back injury on the job led him to a position as chief engineer of WKOI-TV, Channel 43, Trinity Broadcasting Network, Richmond, Indiana, where he also started teaching physics for the Indiana Vocational Technical College, and received a full-time professorship of physics, math and electronics. When the college changed it's requirements for doctorate degrees, Merle took a teaching position at the New Creations Center for Trouble Teens, teaching science and math in the high school, and Bible and Church History in the Bible College.

Merle retired in 1997 and became active in his hobbies: Brethren Church History Research (especially of the Ohio Valley), and Amateur Radio, W9LCE, as Moderator for the Microwave Forum at the Dayton, Ohio, HamVention. He accepted the pastorate at the Stonelick Church of the Brethren, Clermont County, Ohio, a meeting house of the old Obannon Baptist Church, founded 1795, and is now pastor of the Four Mile Church, Union County IN, south of Boston IN.

Merle has authored or co-authored several books: Three Sons of Steffan Petri; The Toney Family; The Virginia Colony (Four Mile Church in Indiana), The Frontier Brethren (research on the migration of early Brethren into Kentucky and along the Ohio River in southern Ohio and Indiana), and several articles of original research, among which are: the Kanawah Trace; the Elder Jacob Miller family. He is currently working on his own ancestry, the Brethren migrations to Elkhart Co IN from the Obannon, and from Upper Canada. Merle gave presentations on the Boone Family and on the Frontier Brethren to Annual Conferences, and also on the Brethren Migration Roads from Philadelphia to the Carolinas, Canada, Kentucky and the old Northwest Territory.

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