William Gehman Essay

Colleen Luskin

Grade 7

Bethany Bible Fellowship Church, Hatfield, Pennsylvania

For my essay I am going to start out by telling you about William Gehman.

People would call him Father Gehman. They would call him “Father” because of his high rank that was held in church and in his community. He is also known as the founder of the Evangelical Mennonites who began in the 1850’s. It started in the small town of Zionsville which is a little bit south of Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Evangelical Mennonites later became the Mennonite Brethren in Christ which then became known as the Bible Fellowship Church. Gehman was a very popular person. His importance is best seen because many of his concerns and main points in the bible ministry continue today in parts of the Bible Fellowship Church. William’s parents were Sarah Schwartz and George Gehman. Together they had five children. Their second born was William. He was born on January 22, 1827. His secular or worldly job was a simple hard working farmer. In his job for Christ he was a preacher of the word of God. He enjoyed teaching both men and women, young and old about Jesus Christ, God’s son. His favorite thing was to win both men and women to Christ and help them live a life of enjoyment and to enjoy the blessings of God our Father. William Gehman was not a very difficult or complicated man. Gehman married a woman named Anna and together they had nine children. They were Alien, Frances, Hannah, Henry, Mary Ann, Menno, Sarah Ann and William George. William Gehman’s home was a regular, normal German house. They spoke German because Father Gehman (William Gehman) could speak both English (not too much, only to a certain point) and German since he was German. He spoke German in front of people and when with family or by himself. Father Gehman’s grandchildren said that people’s feelings were not shown physically. The Gehmans tended to be more restrained towards any signs of affection. But his grandchildren did not think that there was any lack of love in the family. On April 9, 1918, William caught a cold which rapidly formed into pneumonia. William Gehman died three days later in his home. It was April 12, 1918 and he had lived a strong and healthy life for most of the time. He lived to be exactly 91 years 2 months and 20 days old. Of course they held a funeral for him. The funeral services were located in his home and at his church. H. B. Musselman preached William’s funeral message from second Timothy chapter four, verses seven and eight. After the service was over William Gehman was brought back to the ground in the cemetery which was located behind his church which, when he was alive, he helped to found. Now I’m going to tell you about one of William’s sons named William George Gehman. He was born on September 17, 1874. People had nicknamed him “Daddy Gehman” which fit him nicely. Some people would call him Daddy Gehman while talking to him and others would call him Daddy Gehman when talking to others about him. He got his real name, William George Gehman from his dad and his grandfather. His first name William from his dad and his middle name George from his grandfather. When he was a little boy his family and friends would just call him Willy. Later on in his life when the Mennonite Brethren pastors were very protective of their names people would just call him W.G. People had different perspectives of him. Some people would say that he was “a character bigger than life” and others would say that he was “a narrow minded hypocrite who bent his own rules to suit his purposes.” There were many more different opinions of him but everybody seemed to agree that he was a leader. William was the last of the Gehman children to be born. When he was born his father was 47 and his mother was 44 years old. He liked his older brother Menno very much. He was 22 years older than William when William was born. William had a big delight in seeing Menno’s big hands at work in the fields and would often follow him out there to watch. His father was a Gehman and his mother was a Musselman. Those two names were names of leaders in Pennsylvania up until the 1940’s. For most of those years Gehman and Musselman were names of Presiding Elders. William lived in a farm outside of the town of Vera Cruz. The Gehman family moved a lot because Father Gehman would have to travel a lot to preach and guide meetings. William as a little boy would have to help with a part of the daily routines while their father was gone. He would just have to do the regular routines of a person at a farm. Not very much is known of how William came to be a Christian or a preacher. Since his father was a preacher that might have had some impact on him as an adult. AIso the fact that he was shown and heard the gospel message over and over as a child. Not even his children know about this topic. William wanted to be a teacher and in his day and age he did not even have to go to college. It was good for them to at least finish school. William attended the Orts School along with the Heist kids who were his favorite playmates. He graduated from the Emmaus High School. After he graduated he began to prepare for being a teacher. In order for him to qualify he would have to take a series of tests. The tests consisted of grammar, mental arithmetic, physical geography, political geography, physiology, history, civil government, written arithmetic, algebra and much more. Finally William George Gehman became a teacher. He taught at the school in Shimerville where he taught eight grades of students. It was in 1895 and he was only 21 years old. He was very prepared to lead many students whether they wanted to learn or not into the fun of learning. His teaching career did not last very long. Immediately after he stopped teaching he began his examination for the ministry. He had already taken the test of Discipline. His score was a perfect one-hundred percent. He kept on taking tests for the next three or so years. He continued to do very well. In the year of 1900 at the age of 26 William was elected vice presiding elder of the Lehigh Valley district and as a secretary. He was also one of the members of the General Conference. He was a member in this until he died. He chaired one of the Lehigh Valley Sunday School Convention. He helped to select which essays were to be printed from the Ministerial Convention. In 1901 he was vice presiding elder again. In 1903 he was a part of the committee of the Examination of Applicants For Annual Conference. He wasn’t even 30 years old but he was a great leader. Some time while he was in Spring City and Royersford circuit he met a girl named Emma Tyson Kinsell who he married. He was about 26 years old and she was about 25 years old. Their wedding was performed very quickly because back then they considered big church weddings very worldly. It was probably performed by Father William in their house. They soon had children. They were named Grace (1901), Mildred (1903), Valeria (1905) and Ethe1(1907). On March 19, 1889 Emma died. It was during childbirth. Something terrible went wrong and her and the child died. It would have been their fifth child and their first son. Emma was only 34 years, 6 months and 21 days old. They had a Funeral for her in Allentown M.B.C. Church. The funeral service was so crowded it was over flowing with people. William died on November 26, 1941 when he was 67 years, 2 months, and nine days old. In his obituary it said “Having lived and labored among us, and having profited by his example, we do and shall miss both the fragrance of his life and the example of his labors. We are the poorer for his having left us, but indeed, the richer for his having lived and served in our midst.

Essay Bibliography

1. Mildred Gehman Henry and Celia Heist Shelly. “William Gehman; His Life And His Times.” Online. Internet. January 19, 2002. http://bfchistory.org/files/gehmfath

2. Taylor, Richard E. “They Called Him Daddy Gehman.” November, 1989. Online. Internet. January 20, 2002. http://bfchistory.org/files/gehmwg

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