Genealogy and History
Part of the Genealogy Trails History Group
This is a special presentation transcribed and contributed to Genealogy Trails by Carrol Parrish.
We want to thank Carrol Parrish for this extraordinary work. It took months to get this transcribed and perfected.
For anyone who has ancestors belonging to the Church of the Brethren it will be a pure gold mine of information.
This is a very long and detailed report. Chapter Eight is the "every name list"
The WADDAMS GROVE CHURCH
A History of the Waddams Grove Congregation of the Church of the Brethren, in Stephenson and Jo Daviess Counties, Illinois, and adjoining counties of Wisconsin. Including an account of the Annual Meeting of 1856, Enoch Eby’s Mission to Denmark, in 1877, an d the Minutes of the first three District Meetings of Northern Illinois held at Waddams Grove, in 1862, 1871, and 1882.
Elgin, Illinois; Brethren Publishing House, 1910
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Waddams Grove Church
Ministers and Deacons
A List of the Members of the Church
The Annual Meeting of 1856
Enoch Eby and Daniel Fry’s Mission to Denmark in 1877
District Meeting Preceedings for 1862, 1871 and 1882
Every Name List
CHURCH Of The BRETHREN
P R E F A C E
This short history of the Waddams Grove congregation is but a beggarly gleaner in a field where death has gathered a bountiful harvest. If one could lift the veil and see the past: see the eleven brethren and sisters in 1846, coming all the way from the mountains of Pennsylvania (except one who came from Ohio) to make homes for themselves and families in Stephenson County, Ill., and to be enrolled as the charter members of the first Church of the Brethren in Stephenson County a few years later; see the first baptismal scene in April, 1849, and the hundreds of such scenes since; see the first love feast scene in 1849 and those since; see those elected to the responsible office of minister and deacon from time to time; see the spread of the people of God over Stephenson and Jo Daviess Counties, Ill., and southern Wisconsin during the years that followed; see the many excellent meetings held through all the years to the present; listen to the hundreds of sermons preached; witness the many seasons of rejoicing when sinners were being converted to God and righteousness, and of sorrowing when loved ones were taken away; and learn from the actors themselves at each state of development the story of the church’s gr owth, then the duty of recording it would be a rapturous pleasure.
But death has sealed the lips that could have spoken and stilled the hand that might have written. Fragments alone remain. These are scattered from the East to the West. Brother Allen Boyer, one of the number referred to above who made their way to Stephenson County, Ill., in 1846, and who was identified with the work of the church at this place from that date to the time of his death on November 15, 1906, had perhaps the best collection of these fragments. Brother Boyer was a man that recorded much of the happenings of every-day life. He was perhaps the best qualified person to assist in a history of the church.
Alas! Death has sealed his lips and stilled his hand. He cannot do the work. It fell upon others as a sacred duty to make actual what the pen of Brother Boyer and others, as well as the memories of many, made possible. In March, 1907, the matter of collecting these fragments of history together in a small volume was talked of between two brethren here, who presented the matter to the church for its consideration. The church at once decided to gather the history of the church and publish it for the benefit of coming generations as well as the present. The whole matter was turned over to a committee of three: Brethren Ezra Lutz and W. G. Eisenbise and Sister Emma Beshoar. The committee chose Brother Ezra Lutz chairman, and Bro. W. G. Eisenbise secretary. The task was undertaken. All the records of the work of the church that could be found were carefully searched. Private papers of individuals were searched, letters were written, tombstones were searched, and memory was asked to give up the facts impressed there. In fact every known field of inquiry was gone over as best the wisdom of the committee directed. To write the history of a religious movement, following it through all the years, is no ordinary task, though all the facts pertaining to the movement be easy of access. But when the material has to be taken from the forest, so to speak, and then reduced to shape, so as to make it an object of beauty, as well as the source of reliable information, the task becomes the more difficult.
Next to the Bible the most valuable possession of a church is a careful record of its own activities. It is to be regretted that more care has not been shown in preserving carefully a complete record of all the activities of the church. No complete record of the activities of the church was found from which to write. Much may be lost that at the time was recorded.
It has been said that perhaps no religious sect is so little understood and so persistently misrepresented as the Church of the Brethren. That the Waddams Grove Church to many who endeavor to state the truth but who fail to consult ultimate sources, is little understood and is persistently misrepresented by them, is no doubt true. Many do not understand us in name, in belief, and in history, and because they fail to consult the proper sources, misrepresent us. It is of course not necessary to notice the malicious misstatements of the prejudiced and the bigoted. We are often misrepresented and misunderstood because we have no record of our growth and work. We are not always consistent in our own practices, for the reason that we often do not know what our early practice was. Much confusion and many needless moves may have resulted from the absence of definite records as to what our forefathers did. However this may be, we need the fiber and strength that comes from a clear perspective into a well-known past.
The collecting of this material has been a labor of increasing interest. To find a new fact, to uncover a lost record, to gain an additional link in the chain of events has been the sustaining power in many a weary hour’s search. There will be found omissions due to the absence of facts and material, which the reader will much regret. We regret that it is not a complete history in its every detail. There may be matter in print or in manuscript form that should be entered in this book, but all the known available matter has been used.
It is not claimed for the history that it is in all matters precisely exact. Sixty-seven years of history could hardly be gathered and every item be precisely correct. Memory is not always to be depended on; we err in our memory of events sometimes. If, dear reader, you find an error, attribute it to the conditions under which this material was collected.
After three years’ labor on this history of the congregation at Wa
ddams Grove, Illinois, we send it forth with the prayer that it may quicken the love of
many for the church; that coming generations may know something of the past work of the
church, and that it may be the means, under God’s blessing, of doing some good fo
r the cause of the Master.
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