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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.

Brethren on the Frontier

Written by Merle C. Rummel ~ Published April, 1998 ~ Last Updated, March, 2006 ©
This document may be reproduced, only if remaining intact, with full acknowledgement to the author.

Table of Contents ~ Brethren Pietism

Letter Iconhe Brethren were people of the soil, they liked good ground. Centering from that primary colonial metropolis, Philadelphia; and its German community: Germantown, they moved on the front edge of settlement and migration as the coastal colony expanded back into the interior, Berks and Lancaster Cos. They crossed the Susquehanna River and down to the Monocacy in Maryland. They were first into the large valleys beyond the mountains, first after the trappers and Indian traders. They were the first farmers. They moved north, up the Susquehanna, into the fertile mountain valleys of Northumberland Co. They went west into Morrison's Cove, the Juniata and Brother's Valley of the Pennsylvania Mts, and in Maryland into the Middletown Valley and on to the Conococheague. They went south, down through the Valley of Virginia, to the Yadkin and Catawba Valleys in the Carolinas, to the Holston and Clinch Valleys in Tennessee. Where there was good ground to farm, the Brethren were among the very first.

The Brethren came early to the Ohio Valley Frontier. The story can begin about 1770 in Kentucky and it moves to a climax about 1826 and 1827, with the action by the Elders of Annual Meeting against the "Brethren Association", and with the opening of the Old National Road.

Daniel Boone is not known to be Brethren. (His name is on the membership roll of a Baptist Church at Boone, Ashe County, NC. Whether this was originally our Baptist Brethren, lost in the 1798 ban by Annual Meeting is not known. It seems to be a Baptist Church, found there before the English Baptists had come to the mountains. At that time the Baptist Brethren were the common Baptist church.) Others of his family and neighbors followed Daniel Boone from the Yadkin in North Carolina to his settlement at Boonesboro in Kentucky. Many came down the Great Valley Road of Virginia or crossed the Blue Ridge from the Yadkin to Wythe or Lee Cos VA. Crossing from the Clinch to the Powell River Valleys, they came to the Cumberland Gap, an easy passage into Kaintuck. The Warrior's Path went due north, crossing the headwaters of the Kentucky River, headed for the Ohio River and Lake Eire, but few if any Brethren followed it. These early settlers went north on Boone's Wilderness Road, which was farther west, or Logan's Path, which headed northwest, till they came to the Blue Grass, to the several branches of the Kentucky River. Because of Indian incursions, they lived in fortified settlements, stretching from near Richmond, to Lexington and Frankfort. A possible Brethren settlement that refused to fortify –“They didn’t protect themselves, and everyone was killed.” (near Harrodsburg KY).

Other settlers followed the Hunters Trace west from Crab Orchard to the headwaters of the Green River (now KY 40) or they continued on down to the Cumberland River. Very few of these became the settlers of the Ohio River Valley, it was too far, there were too many good lands in between. They settled the Kaintuck, the dark and bloody ground, the Hunting Grounds of Indians north and south. Two of these were his brothers, Squire Boone and George Boone, both alleged Brethren Preachers (Baptist Brethren -long before we were the German Baptist Brethren). They established their own settlement at Boone's Station, down the Kentucky River toward Lexington. They were connected to the Tates Creek Church, founded about 1783, which drew other Brethren names in its membership. The Boone brothers eventually moved up to the Ohio River area, to Louisville, with George living the hermit Brethren type life in the Ohio River Hills in Kentucky, and Squire living across the River in Indiana.

Tates Creek was on the Kentucky River, centered between Richmond and Lexington, KY. Other Brethren known to be there were Tanner, Bowman, Horner, and Myers. A Michael Huffman lived near Lexington, and his descendants retain the family Berleburg Bible (a favorite Pietist Bible used extensively by early Brethren). Tates Creek was a "Brethren Association" church, that went Baptist. Possibly a part of Tates Creek, farther west near Wilmore KY, was a church on Short Creek, Elder Abraham Houser and Elder Jacob Rohrer, of Washington County, MD, came first to the Short Creek Church area, before Elder Houser and children of Elder Rohrer came to the Olive Branch Church in Clermont County, Ohio.

Later emigration came down the Ohio River from Western Pennsylvania by flatboats, but it was hazardous due to Indian depredations. These Brethren started on the Monongahela where Elder George Wolfe I is recorded to have been in the business of building flatboats (Wolfe and Sons) at Turtle Creek (just upstream from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania).

When General Wayne defeated the Ohio Indians in 1795 (Treaty of Greeneville), the dangers of the Ohio River route were reduced, and it opened the way for others to follow the old Shawnee War Path, (the Kanawha Way) from North Carolina and the lower Valley of Virginia, through the (West) Virginia mountains to below the "Falls of the Kanawha." There flatboats could come down the Kanawha River to Point Pleasant and down the Ohio. Others continued on the Trace by land into southern Ohio. Many more Brethren began coming west from the Old Frontier regions.

By 1790 there were Brethren Churches over many areas of Kentucky. In the east, near the Limestone landing (now Maysville, KY) were several churches: the Concord Church, the Log Union Church, the Shannon Church. Here the main trace up through Kentucky came past the Blue Licks (salt springs) to the Ohio River. Many Brethren names are found in this popular area. George Tarvin, David (Stover/?Stouder?), Francis Horner and Francis Myers were ministers there. These were "Brethren Association" churches; they went Disciples of Christ, following the Great Revival and Annual Meeting action of the 1820s.

The largest congregation was north of Boonesboro, toward Limestone. It was on Hinkston Creek, near Mount Sterling Kentucky. Jonas Hahn and his son Peter were here, as were the Coleglazer, Garver/Garber Hendricks, Keithley, Kern, Landess, Lantz, Moler, Ockerman, Ramsey, Rebelin, Rowland, Sears, Welty, West, Wyatt, Zimmerman families. This was a "Brethren Association" church, and went Disciples after 1826.

A little farther west, on the Shelby/Spencer County line, was the Beech Creek Church near Mount Eden, Kentucky. George Boone came to this church, but it is better known for the leadership of the "Brethren Association" that came from it: Elder Adam Hostetler; Adam Ribble; Jacob Henley; the Stutsmans, Hardman, Leatherman, Bower, Shock, Tanner, Snider, Miller. This was one of the "Brethren Association" churches and many of it went Disciples of Christ after 1826, but some stayed Baptist, and are associated with a local early Primitive Baptist Church. Many Brethren from this church crossed the Ohio River into Southern Indiana. They were in early churches in Clark, Harrison, Washington and Orange Counties.

Southeast of Louisville, KY, was the Elk Creek Church. It was near the Spencer County line, just north of the Salt River. The families here include: Bowman, Burkett, Carmen, Coffman, Countryman, Coy, Crist, Grable, Hendricks, Knepper, Miller, and Price. People didn't try to run the Falls, unless they just had to, because the Ohio River dropped 24 feet in 4 miles. Many of these travelers came from Maryland and Pennsylvania. The church went Baptist after 1826.

In western Kentucky, on branches of the Green River, there were two Brethren settlements, with several meeting houses in each. One was in the south, below Bowling Green in Simpson County, east of Franklin: the Drakes Creek Church. It was a center of the Carolina "Universalist Brethren" with Elder John Hendricks, Joseph Rowland, Jacob Keithley; other families include: Barnhart, Hamm, Hetzley, Hunsaker, Lowe, Martin, Smith, Yountz, and others. Daughter churches from here were the Davidson County Church at Nashville Tennessee, the Whitewater Church near Cape Girardeau Missouri, and the Union County Church in Illinois. Local remnants of this church went Primitive Baptist, after the 1820s.

The best known of the Kentucky Churches is the Muhlenberg County or Dutch Settlement Church, near Owensboro Kentucky. This is where George Wolfe came [Moore: "Some Brethren Pathfinders"]. Austin Cooper identifies a number of settlers here who came from Brothers Valley in western Pennsylvania. Prominent leaders here were the Rhoads family, Frances Stump was minister, families here were Danner, Dick, Eller, Graybill, Kimmel, Kittinger, Landis, Molar, Noffsinger, Shultz, Shaver, Studebaker, and Welty. The beginnings of "Far Western Brethren" of Illinois came from this church and the Drakes Creek Church. The local remnants of this church went Baptist.

Brethren from the Kentucky Churches kept moving on to new lands. They went to Southern Ohio, then Indiana and Illinois and Missouri, -then west to Iowa and the plains.

The first Brethren Church north of the Ohio River was the Obannon Baptist Brethren Church (now Stonelick), near Goshen Ohio, on the Indian Trail north from Bullskin Landing (1795). In eastern Ohio Territory, the land back from the River was not good farmland. It was Appalachia Hills, that crowded the River. David Horne travel 60 miles up the Muskingum River to the Forks of the Licking at the new Zane Trace, before he found land. John Countryman left the Massie Fort at Three Islands (now Manchester OH) and went 30 miles up the Ohio Brush Creek till he found farmland. It was at the Little Miami River, just before Cincinnati where the Brethren stopped at good farmland along the Indian Trace, the Obannon Church.

The Bullskin Landing was a goal for the Brethren migration down the Ohio River by flatboat. It was probably the best landing on the river, being a sunken valley back into the Ohio Hills. The major Indian Traces north, one going to Old Chillicothe on the east of Dayton, continuing on to Fort Detroit, left from there. Another went to the ford of the Great Miami at Franklin Ohio and up the west side of Dayton. The Bullskin Trace, the old Indian Road to Detroit, became the first State Road in Ohio.

To this area near Cincinnati came the Jacob Aukerman Family in 1789, to “Columbia” at the mouth of the Little Miami River. The 11 year old son was John, who was the first settler at Gratis, on the Kanawha Trace, 1804. The John Bowman family came near that same time. They settled north on the trace probably in now Warren Co OH, between Lebanon and Goshen OH. South of Goshen, came first David Miller, then his brother, Daniel. Daniel was put into the ministry there about 1798. The first minister was Elder John Garver, from Stony Creek in Brothers Valley PA, by way of Virginia, to North Carolina, to Kentucky. In 1805 he moved to the Donnels Creek Church, up the Indian Road. By tradition, the founding of the Obannon Baptist Church was 1795, Elder David Stouder. He seems to have come over from Kentucky, and by research, may be the David Stover near Limestone, probably from the Log Union Church. This was the beginnings of the Obannon Church, but these families weren't allowed to stay.

These were the Bounty Lands, claimed by Virginia as payment for service to their Veterans of the Revolution. Government survey of the lands began in 1802, and it did not matter to the Government or the surveyors if people already lived on these lands, if there were homes built and fields cleared. That the Dunker custom often included getting title from the Indians to homesteads gave them no claim to their lands in the eyes of the surveyor or state. Legally, they were squatters. There was no appeal for their claim to the land, all they could do was leave. They moved north, beyond the Bounty Lands, to the little Village of Dayton. Their move was easy, they went up the Indian Trace. From Little’s Bounty Lands Survey (1802) –we have been able to identify the adjoining farms of David and Daniel Miller – they were surveyed as cleared lands.

Now other Brethren families came to Bullskin Landing. These were the second line of Brethren, moving west from the Old Frontier lands in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia or Carolina, and some moved up from the churches in Kentucky. They used Bounty claims to get land, Bountys purchased back home, by self or through kin, from those who had no wish to leave for the west. The families at Obannon were mostly from Maryland and Pennsylvania: Binkley, Cripe, Grossnickle, Frey, Karns, Maugans, Miller, Moler, Pringle, Stouder; Elder John Garver and Frederick Weaver as ministers. Stonelick was a meeting house of the Obannon Congregation. This was good farmland, but it was a heavy clay and many Brethren soon moved north to better lands on the Great Miami headwaters near Dayton Ohio, where they remain strong today.

Another was the Olive Branch Church on Bullskin Landing (Elder Abraham Houser, Peter Shinkle and Stephen Bolender were ministers, other families: Rohrer, Hoover, Metzgar, Miller, Moyer and Replogle); and the Ten Mile Creek Church, nearer Cincinnati (Jacob Garver was minister, Bechelhymer/Behymer, Custer, Ulrey). The Olive Branch Church went Disciples after 1830, we have no trace on the Ten Mile Creek Church.

The Brush Creek Congregation, under John Countryman in Highland County, was the second church north of the Ohio River. It was just off the Zane Trace, miles back from the River. The expanding iron furnaces of that Highland County brought a huge Brethren migration (they could clear their farms, burn the trees as charcoal and sell to the furnaces – get paid to clear their land), but when the furnaces closed about 1834, the Brethren just as rapidly moved on, mostly to Indiana and Illinois. Peter Hahn did much evangelistic crusading among these Brethren, and drew two small Disciples congregations from the Brethren, both of whom have now disappeared.

Elder Jacob Miller came from southern Virginia to the Great Miami River area, at Dayton Ohio, in 1800. His children came on to the Four Mile Creek area on the old Delaware Indian Road, at the Ohio/Indiana State Line west of Dayton. The Four Mile Church was established in 1809. Pushing up the old Delaware Indian Road, the Brethren started the Nettle Creek Church, at Hagerstown IN, 1819, crossing the 10 Mile Treaty Line to good farmlands.

Indiana Territory was not settled until the Indians were removed. Then there was a sudden influx from the Brethren of Kentucky. The Olive Branch Church, north of Louisville, in Clark County Indiana was started in 1802. Adam Hostetler, who was banned by Annual Meeting Elders was a minister here. Other families were: Stutzman, Foutz, Sheets, Hutchenson, Henley, and Bower. This was a leader in the "Brethren Association" and went Disciples of Christ after 1826. These Brethren Families moved on into Indiana, with two churches starting in 1819: The Lost River Church and the White River Church.

The Lost River Church was the home of Joseph Hostetler, the "boy preacher" who was instrumental in the movement of the "Brethren Association" into the Campbellite Revival and becoming Disciples of Christ. He too was banned by Annual Meeting Elders. Other families here were: Leatherman, Sears, Hardman, Snider, Ribble, and Lewis. The church was north of Paoli in Orange County, Indiana. Its name was later changed to Liberty Church.

The White River Church was the home of Abraham Kern, another strong leader of the "Brethren Association". Its name was later changed to "Old Union". It was just west of Bedford, in Lawrence County, Indiana. Families here were: Bower, Keithley, Hartman, Ribelin, Sears, Sheets, Stutzman and Younger. This church too, became a Disciples church after 1826. Adam Kern, father of Abraham, lived a little north of the White River Church, in Monroe County, and was a Bishop in the Disciples church. Some of the Hendricks family from Drakes Creek seem to have come to this area, also. The Brethren continued on west on the Frontier into Illinois and Missouri, but this story belongs under the "Far Western Brethren".

Most of the settlers on the New Frontier were frontier folk from the Old Frontier, very few were from the Settled East. The River brought them from Old Fort Redstone (now Union and Brownsville PA), Brothers Valley and Washington Co PA in the west; from Penns Valley, Brush Valley and Northumberland Co PA in the north; from the Conococheague, Middletown Valley MD; from Morrison's Cove, Cambria Co and the Juniata Valley PA. The Kanawha Trace brought them from the Carolina settlements on the Yadkin; from Franklin and Floyd Cos and the lower Valley VA. These areas were the Old Frontier. It showed in the type of people who came, in their self reliance and independent thought. They didn't just accept being told something was true, they tried it out for themselves, and used it. They had to, or they died on the frontier. They were not stupid, while some were illiterate, most could read their Bible -maybe a Berleburg Bible, some read Greek. The Brethren knew what the Bible said, and lived it. They were definitely Brethren, and they took their Brethrenism with them, making a real Christian witness to their neighbors! (re: Elkanah Winchester, North Carolina -1803).

Brethren Pietism

Letter Iconhey were frontiersmen, as such, they were forced to think for themselves, to take what they knew, and make it fit life around them. It carried over to their religion. They believed, and lived, the Bible as they read it, it wasn't just "obey". Their Brethrenism was more the original Pietist heritage. They knew the "Brethren Traditions," they had grown up in them back East. But these weren't sacred; from the Bible itself some of the traditions were adapted to fit the particular situation or even dropped when they seemed inconsequential. This was no real change to these Frontier Brethren; they lived true Brethrenism, but it made some major differences in religious philosophy between the Frontier Brethren and the Annual Meeting Brethren of the east.

From the persecutions of the Revolution and following, the Eastern Brethren gained strength through gathering together, debating their crises and finding a united answer. This was the start of the Annual Meeting, of the Elders. In its deliberations it drew the Eastern Brethren back into their Anabaptist origins, as safer and more stable. The Frontier Brethren seem not to have even known about Annual Meeting, let alone its decisions, so they progressed in their own path, a different one.

Annual Meeting made a major issue out of Universalism, the whole church accepted the basic tenets of it. We called it "Eternal Restoration". The basic question considered: "How can a Loving God send people to Hell?" Many of the Brethren arrived at a type of Catholic belief in a "Purgatory", where you spent time in punishment for your sins. In the Carolinas, under Daniel Martin, Gaspar Rowland and John Hendricks, it was taken farther; that God ultimately restores everyone. Annual Meeting could not accept that. It condemned the belief and expelled "John H-----" as an example in 1798, and lost all the Brethren Churches in the Carolinas.

These Frontier Brethren of the Carolinas had moved west into Kentucky, Indiana, and Missouri. The Universalism issue centered on the Rowland and Hendricks families. (I do accept the premise that Annual Meeting's "John H" was certainly John Hendricks.) We find the belief in the western congregations, especially Drakes Creek Kentucky and the daughter churches at Union County, Illinois, Davidson County Tennessee and Whitewater Creek Missouri. But it was also an issue at the Four Mile Church in Indiana, and even one of the sons of Elder Jacob Miller (Tobias) became a Universalist Preacher. (We have some of the letters written by a Brethren Universalist son of the Miller family at Four Mile, to his non-accepting, traditional Brethren brother-in-law (also Miller) at South Bend Indiana) I wonder, if records become available, how many other early churches had problems with Universalism and lost members and kin to the movement.

Back in the summer of 1948, my dad, Elder Glenn I Rummel, was pastor of the Samson Hill Church of the Brethren, in the hills of Southern Indiana (near Shoals, Martin County), on the Louisville to Vincennes Road. My uncle, Rev. Floyd Brenneman from the Nettle Creek Church, Hagerstown, Indiana, came down and held a revival for us. Uncle Floyd brought one of mother's friends along, Bro Elmer Bowman, to lead singing. It was a little church, but on Sunday, we had visitors. They just seemed to keep coming in, until they nearly filled the back of the church. I remember them as wearing plain clothes, nothing fancy. But most of all, I remember that all the women had their hair in a bun on the back of their heads (like my mother), and the men had the flat black brimmed hats, similar to what the Old Order men wear. One elderly man said that: "His grandmother was raised a Dunker, and when they heard of Dunker services nearby, they just had to come." They were from Orange County, Indiana.

Today, I know that these Visitors were descendants of the Earliest Brethren who came into Indiana; from the “Boy Preacher” Joseph Hostetler's church on the Lost River. These Brethren churches started soon after 1800, they came from Brethren congregations in Kentucky. For years, they called themselves "Dunker Christians", then became part of the Disciples of Christ Church. None exist as Brethren today.

Abraham Kern said there were some 18 teachers in the Brethren Association! The Association included the southern Indiana churches; the Ohio River Kentucky Churches; and certainly churches in this area of the Ohio Frontier.

On December 17, 1811 was the worst earthquake to ever hit the United States. The Epicenter was at New Madrid MO, down in the toe, on the Mississippi River. The quakes increased over the next 2 months, as lands rose and dropped. It is estimated that the February shock would have been about a Richter Scale of 8.7 (a quicky: it's a 7 with 8 zeros after it -700,000,000 -twenty times stronger than the San Francisco Earthquake of 7.3). I've been there -the Mississippi River is about 1 1/4 mile wide -the back surge of the quake ran the Mississippi up stream for two hours. It changed the River channel radically, the Ox Bow Lakes of Tennessee are part of the old river channel. Around here, in Indiana and Ohio, forest giants fell -trees that had survived a huge wind storm only two years before. Records say that no Log Cabins were destroyed, but that the logs bounced and lost their chinking. It rang church bells in Philadelphia PA, and was felt on the west coast. (The New Madrid fault ends somewhere between my home at Boston IN and Eaton, OH! No, I don't have earthquake insurance.) Strong aftershocks continued for 2-3 months in 1812. Aftershocks were felt for over two years, and people thought that the world was coming to an end. They knew that they weren't ready! It wasn't Universalism, it wasn't Brethrenism or Methodism, it was plain simple Christianity. "Lord, I'm a Sinner! Forgive me, save me, take me to your Eternal Kingdom in Heaven!"

The Brethren have always been held in high esteem as Christian, and the Frontier Brethren were among the leaders in the Revival. Their neighbors were good Christian People, of all faiths. There was no pretense of demanding these be baptized by adult trine immersion and conform to Dunker Traditions, just Paul's admonition: "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved!"

Alexander Campbell became a major leader in the great revival (the Campbellites). He had a lot of Brethren ideas in his writings. He was from the Washington County area of Western Pennsylvania, where the Brethren were strong. He proclaimed an original Pietist position: "Lets get rid of all these Tenets that separate us and just be Christians!" "Lets live what the Bible says!" Barton Stone originally had a separate revival going (New Lights), but these soon combined. The Brethren of the Ohio Valley could easily be part of the Revival, especially since their Frontier Brethrenism was not rigidly Sectarian.

Things went Ok, until the situation suddenly changed when in 1827, the Old National Road opened up across Ohio to Richmond, Indiana. By the late 1830s, it reached to St. Louis and the Mississippi. Brethren families from Eastern Pennsylvania and Maryland came pouring west, to the good farmlands of Montgomery Co., Miami Co., Preble Co., Darke Co., to Indiana and Illinois. Records say: 100 families a day moved through Zanesville, OH! -and they were running smack into the Frontier Brethren who were already here -who held the same faith, but had some practices quite different to those of their Annual Meeting Brethren. Annual Meeting Brethren hit the Frontier Brethren, and -what do you do about the differences?

The Annual Meeting Elders, back east, rejected this Pietistic Radicalism. The Bush Arbor religion as too "excited!" There were some aspects about it that were not Brethren, at least not the Brethren back east. Those Frontier Brethren were violating Scriptural admonitions: they were sharing in bread-and-cup communion with people not of our Faith; they accepted people at their churches from other baptism, as visiting preachers and exhorters; they even practiced single-immersion baptism (although the Annual Meeting itself accepted single-immersion baptism in 1821 on the presentation of Joseph Hostetler). Abraham Cassel says they didn't abide by the Eastern Order of plain dress, and they were too worldly; that they were too zealous in worship, that some 1500 families were lost to the church. Dr. John S Flory says that the action was "not justifyable, that these were only a difference in the ways of doing things." His statement is true, but I feel he is not entirely correct, because by this time, these two branches of the Brethren had become quite different in faith and emphasis. It was our Pietist origins, against our Anabaptist traditions.

Some of the leading preachers here in the west were condemned, even expelled from the Church. As the Eastern Brethren saw it: these Frontier Brethren were ready to compromise on our "established traditions". We lost the "Brethren Association" Churches, mostly to the Campbellite Movement, the Disciples of Christ. It was a slow response, as if they didn't comprehend that they were no longer accepted as Brethren. The new churches began to form after 1830 -into the 1840s and 1850s. So the Association became the Disciples of Christ Church, and the Four Mile Church has the Concord Christian Church to the east in Preble County, Ohio, and the Hanna's Creek Christian Church to the west in Union County, Indiana, both taking kin of the Four Mile families. The White Oak (Hollartown) Church (Highland County, Ohio) saw a Christian Church built directly across the road, and it took eighty years, but the families slowly moved across the road until no Brethren were left, and the White Oak Church building burnt one night.

Not all the "Brethren Association" churches went New Light/ Campbellite. Tates Creek, near Lexington, KY stayed Baptist, as did Elk Creek near Louisville, KY (the Brethren didn't accept the name "GERMAN Baptist" until 1830. The Obannon Church is recorded as "Obannon Baptist Church".) They eventually became part of the Regular Baptists. [Is this what happened to the Baptist Church in Boone, Ashe County, NC, where Daniel Boone's name is on the role? Was it originally one of the lost German Baptist churches, because the Brethren were the only known Baptists there at that time Daniel lived there?!] There are indications that Squire Boone, brother of Daniel Boone, was likely a Dunker Minister put into the ministry by Elder John Hendricks of the "Dutchman's Creek" church, on the Yadkin River in North Carolina. He is called the first Baptist minister in Kentucky, before he moved to Southern Indiana (Harrison Co.). His brother, George Boone, a very early listed minister at the Tates Creek Baptist Church, is identified as put into the Brethren (Brethren Baptist) Ministry at Brothers Valley, Somerset Co PA.

The conflict was on symbols, the real issue seems to be "The Faith" and "Authority." These people of the Carolinas, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky weren't conforming to the "Eastern Annual Meeting Brethren" which was the majority. It was a conflict of our Pietist origins vs. our Anabaptist heritage. By the time we Brethren ran to the Anabaptists, they were a legalistic faith: "Do exactly what the Bible says to do! Obey all that Jesus has commanded us." Of course, the Church determined what that meant. But Pietists were different, their emphasis was to change people's lives to become as much as they could to what Christ was like. To live according to what the Bible said. It was called "Primitive Christianity" Was there really that much difference in the two positions? Yes, when it came down to practice!

This pushed the denomination into major decisions on how much we could accept: here were Brethren, at least Brethren kin, dropping important Brethren beliefs! Annual Meeting took the more rigid position, and the result was a conflict between independent thought and obedience. Annual Meeting demanded the return to traditional Brethren beliefs. For this reason, we lost the Brethren of the Carolinas (1798) over how far the belief in Universalism should be pursued, and the Brethren of Kentucky and southern Indiana (1820s) over the practices of communion and baptism. The Annual Meeting Brethren did finally reach a compromise with the Far Western Brethren in 1859.

But that decision was only a band-aid to the whole philosophy, and the basic problem. The compromise was unacceptable to many, and resulted in the split of the church in 1881-1882: The Church of the Brethren accepted it with its problems, the old German Baptist Brethren refused it, the Progressives or First Brethren accepted it, but that brought problems, and now there are the Grace Brethren.

We still face the same problem! What do we do about others who are good Christians with different beliefs, who admire our church and our witness of faith and want to worship with us?


Footnote: David Eller, The Brethren In The Western Ohio Valley, Ph.D, Dissertation, Miami University.

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