Seven Men

Sivvah Mennah, kfild mit em Heilicha Geisht


The Founding Fathers of the Bible Fellowship Church

            The title for this paper comes from Acts 6:3.  You remember the story.  The young church was in transition.  Factions began to form and tension was high.  The Hellenists, the progressive element, complained against the Hebraists, the more traditional element, that their folks were not being treated equitably.  The Twelve called the disciples into session and recommended that the brethren look for seven honest, reputable men who were filled with the Spirit, wise men whom they could put in charge of this business.  “Nau dann, leevi breedah, suchet eich sivvah Mennah, vo en goot zeichns henn, un kfild mit em Heilicha Geisht un veisheit, es si nohch sayna kenna ivvah dess ” (Di Apostelgeschichte 6: 3).  The seven founding fathers of our fellowship – William Gehman, William Shelly, David Henning, Henry Diehl, David Gehman, Joseph Schneider and Jacob Gottschall –  would have understood these words perfectly, better than if they were in English.  On the other hand, they probably would not catch a lot of what we say here today.  Language then is one essential difference between us and them, but is there more?

            It is not my intent to replicate “Deacon and Schreiber David Gehman, 1802 – 1881″ by his great, great granddaughter Ardis Grosjean Dreisbach, or “Father Gehman” by  Richard Taylor.  Little more need be said about William Gehman and his distant, older cousin David Gehman.  My purpose is simply to poke around the data once more.  Perhaps this will stir up fresh insights and illuminate the “spirit” that filled and fueled our seven founding fathers. 

Seven Men, Three Congregations, One Spirit

            Die Sivvah Mennah,  founding fathers of the Bible Fellowship Church were all Mennonites, affiliated or influenced by the “New” Mennonite movement led by John H. Oberholtzer of Milford Township, Bucks County.  His adherents would constitute the foundation of the General Conference Mennonite Church.  The seven included one bishop, three “preachers of the word” and three deacons. (Categories not long in use in the  new Evangelical Mennonite Fellowship.)  This reflected three levels of ordination in the Mennonite Church.  The seven came from three congregations in three counties in eastern Pennsylvania, Lehigh, Bucks, and Northampton.    Specifically (1) Upper Milford Township, near Old Zionsville, Lehigh County; (2) Richland and/or Haycock Township, near Quakertown, Bucks County; and (3) Mt. Bethel, Bangor in Northampton County.  Their new Evangelical Mennonite Fellowship (EMF) commenced with four preachers, William Gehman, William Shelly (former bishop), Henry Diehl and David Henning.  These were supported by three deacons, David Gehman, Joseph Schneider; Jacob Gottschall.   Observe:

Upper MilfordLehigh County

Preacher William Gehman

Deacon David Gehman

Flatland, Bucks County

Preacher William Shelly

 Preacher Henry Diehl

Deacon Joseph Schneider

BangorNorthampton County

Preacher David Henning

Deacon Jacob Gottschall

These were significant men of the first generation.  Another dynamic of the first generation would have been the fiery  Eusebius Hershey who first appears in the 1861 minutes.  Other new persons at the 1861 assembly were Abraham W. Stauffer, Jonas Musselman, Abraham Kauffman, and Abel Strawn.  Were all these preachers from the Upper Milford congregation?  Hershey was not.  He came from Centre County, Pa., a distance from the center of the EMF; his roots were in the United Brethren, a like-minded revivalist association.  Above all they were one in the spirit, animated by the Holy Spirit. 

The Year Eighteen Fifty-eight

            The year 1858 was decisive.  The story of the “prayer meeting” controversy in the Oberholtzer Mennonite fellowship has been rehearsed often.  The issue was not new, but in 1858 the decisive moment arrived and a new Fellowship was born.  The spirit of revival was burning across the United States.  At the same time, the States were on the edge of an awful civil war.  It might be said, “it was the worst of times; it was the best of times.”

            Indeed, the year 1858 was ominous for the America.  The States were on the precipice of war.   As an opponent of slavery, Abraham Lincoln was running for congress from Illinois against Stephen Douglas.  In a speech that summer he had argued that the Union could not endure half slave and half free. But Lincoln lost to Douglas.  In reflection he wrote,

I am glad I made the late race.  It gave me a hearing on the great and durable questions of the age which I could have made in no other way, and though I now sink out of view, and shall be forgotten, I believe I  have made some marks which will tell for the cause of civil liberty long after I am gone.[1]

Conditions in America were precarious, not benevolent, but Lincoln did not sink out of view; two years later he was elected president of the United States.

            Although the doings of the Seven in Upper Milford Township may pale in comparison with later accomplishments of Abraham Lincoln, it is unlikely that they expected much more than a fraternal fellowship of kindred Mennonite preachers to emerge from their gathering.  Did they believe they might make “some marks which will tell for the cause of the Gospel long after they were gone?”  They did see themselves as a “small branch” of a much larger entity, the Christian Church and a “small division”of a larger Mennonite fellowship.  The 1866 constitution of the Evangelical Mennonite Fellowship includes the following: 

            We as a small branch of the Christian Church, feel in duty bound to render obedience to the precepts of our Lord and Savior, who offered up his life out of love toward us, in order to redeem us from eternal death . .. we, as a small division of the Mennonite Society [Gemeinschaft] feel it is also our duty to organize a missionary society to contribute our mite [not might] to the great work of our Lord.[2] 

They saw themselves as Christians and as Mennonites, although they were doing their own thing.

The Year 1858 – Annus Mirabilis–  The year 1858 was also  the Annus Mirabilis according to historian Timothy Smith.[3]  Contagious revival fires were burning across the United States just as the nation was drifting into a dreadful civil war between the states.  Meanwhile, the nation was praying, perhaps as never before.  The news media had caught hold of the noon day meetings for prayer in downtown Manhattan.  Smith provides a good description of  the noontime interdenominational prayer meetings, begun by Jeremiah Lanphier, a neighborhood missionary of the Old Dutch Church on Fulton Street,  in September 1857. In 1858 they burned brightly in New York City and were spreading like a wildfire across the United States.  The New York Herald and the New York Tribune sensationalized these daily prayer meetings as they intensified.  One is reminded how William Randolf Hearst decided to hype young Billy Graham some 90 years later.  Soon newspapers across the country were running stories on these daily prayer meetings.  In Philadelphia prayer meetings were held in numerous halls which “finally gave way in the summer to those held for four months under a great tent” (Smith, 64).

            Surely even reclusive, conservative Pennsylvania Mennonites heard about these meetings or perhaps even ventured to sneak a peak.  As they sat around the kitchen table discussing the news in the outside world,  they doubtless wondered why so many people were going for such new measures not found in their Bibles or in their traditions.  Staid Mennonites could have thought here we go once again.  Eleven years before John Oberholtzer had led a movement to adapt new more structured ways.  The rolled collar and written minutes had not preserved unity.  Some in his group wanted more progress; some wanted to require foot washing.  And now they heard that a small group of New Mennonites even copied “the English” in these newfangled prayer meetings.  As a matter of fact, the New Mennonites led by John H. Oberholtzer were already frustrated with this tumultuous phenomenon. 

            What were these prayer meetings among the English like?  Smith tells us that “The mode of worship was the same in all meetings.  There was no ritual or prepared plan.  Any person present might prayexhortlead in song, or give a testimony as he felt ‘led,’ only keeping within five-minute time limit and avoiding controversial subjects like water baptism or slavery” (Smith 64, italics added).[4]  The format sounds awfully similar to prayer meetings among the M. B. in C. in past generations. 

Union Tabernacle or Moveable Tent-Church –  Eighteen fifty-eight was also a highwater mark for the Moveable Tent of Edwin Long.  Long worked in Philadelphia and no doubt brought the enthusiasm for prayer meetings to the Mennonite heartland of southeastern Pennsylvania.  Many preachers in the mainline denominations promoted the revival.  Mennonites historically have been shy over precepts and practices that suggest one is not a disciple of Jesus Christ without some memorable, heartfelt conversion experience.  In the main Mennonites had resisted the Pietistic “moves of the Spirit” that impacted and warmed the old Protestant denominations all around them.  As Smith comments,  “In the record of the climactic five months from February to June, two facts stand out.  Small towns and rural communities were as powerfully affected as the great cities; and support and participation came from major portions of every Protestant sect” (Smith, 67).  Surely Edwin Long was an apostle of this new enthusiasm. One has only to look at the list of those who preached in Long’s moveable tent to see a wide cross section of “every Protestant sect” (Long, 28).[5]  Jumping ahead three years to June 1861, one perceives this same spirit in the fourth semiannual conference of the Evangelical Mennonite Fellowship.  Present were preachers from the River Brethren, the German Reformed Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Evangelical Association (Verhandlungen, 27).  Long promoted prayer meetings in the Hosensack Valley, Lehigh County, and in upper Bucks County.

            Long describes a prayer meeting among German speaking folks in Quakertown about this time:

            After the story of the cross had been repeated a number of times to large crowds in the Tent, many were pricked in heart, and of their own accord followed the Superintendent to his dwelling in such numbers as to fill the house.  The tide of feeling continued to rise, until another house had to be opened, where two rooms were also well filled.  These meetings were not announced in the Tent, owing to the prejudice against prayer-meetings.  An eyewitness, speaking of them, says, ‘There were seen kneeling side by side a mother, son, and daughter, a young married woman, her husband, her mother, two brothers and two sisters; and in another house a father, mother, four adult sons, and a daughter, — constituting, with the exception of a little child, the entire family.  The scene in this German meeting was such a one as has been seldom witnessed.  Filling the front room, the back room, the entry, the staircase, the porch, and some of them standing out of doors, were more than a hundred persons, putting the earnest inquiry, ‘What must I do to be saved?’” (Long, 162-63, italics added).

Noteworthy is that Long characterized this as a prayer-meeting.  One of his adherents related this to the aforementioned urban prayer-meetings.   “Last winter or spring [1858]” he writes, “I had been reading about the daily prayer-meetings and the great revival in the city.  The thought entered my mind that was just what we wanted here.  But how was it to be commenced? . . . .   In these Tent-services here there was no money asked, nor were any requested to join any particular church; and God’s Spirit was evidently at work in the hearts of the people.  I could not help but think, ‘This is certainly answering prayer’” (Long, 169).

            So how does this relate to the Evangelical Mennonite Fellowship?   Long pitched his tent in Quakertown after he had been to the Hosensack Valley  – Upper Milford Township, Lehigh County.  He notes that apart from the Quaker meeting house, “There is no other place for worship in the village, and never before this summer had there been either a regular Sabbath-school or prayer-meeting held.”   Hear that, Sabbath school and prayer-meeting!  “The surrounding population is almost entirely German” he adds (Long, 160).  There were Mennonite meeting houses in the area surrounding Quakertown, but Long is right, at least about the Mennonites, there was no meeting-house in the village of Quakertown.  But there was another reason for Quakertown, “This village” he asserts “is the nearest point by railroad [from Philadelphia] to the Hosensack Valley, the residence of the people who so promptly furnished funds toward procuring the Tent.  (The railroad from Reading to Allentown passing through the Hosensack Valley arrived within a year.)  At the time they did this, a pledge was given that at an early period it should be brought to their vicinity also” (Long, 161-62).  One can only speculate that store owner David Gehman might have been one of those contributors. 

            In the Hosensack Valley Long observes, “Not being accustomed to prayer-meetings or night-meetings, I accepted of invitations to preach in their private dwellings” (Long, 80)   He preached there among the Mennonites and the Schwenkfelders among whom he found a kindred spirit, Jonas Yeakel Schultz.   He calls him “my beloved companion in the gospel both in the pulpit and in the Tent” who “was of great service in this revival among his friends and relatives” (Long, 81).  Without a doubt Long is referring to Schultz’s relatives and friends in the Hosensack Valley.  This same Jonas Schultz had his religious roots in the Schwenkfelder sect and later associated with the Evangelical Mennonites. 

            Long was also quite aware of the Evangelical Mennonites and the issues that led to their separation from the “New Mennonites.”   This he describes at some length.  After a brief introduction to the Mennonites and a note about their diverse schism, he writes, “But the most singular cause of division is a recent one in regard to prayer-meetings” (Long, 82).

            References to Long are also found in the Diary of John B. Gehman.  On the 4th of October 1857, he notes that “Rev. Long held a sermon here (Gehman, 17).  In the month of October 1858, two weeks after the founding of the Evangelical Mennonite fellowship, Gehman tells us that “Union Tabernacle Meeting opened at Greenville” (28).  The evenings of the 15th and the 17th he was at the tabernacle.  The latter evening he reports “About 4000 people”–  a serious number even if he inflated the number slightly.  Again he was at the tabernacle on the 24th and then on the 28th the “Union Tabernacle closed”(28).  Where is Greenville?  If he means “East Greenville,” since there is no Greenville in the area, the Union Tabernacle was less than ten miles south of his home and less than 15 miles west of Quakertown where Long also preached.   If only we knew more about these snippets.  If nothing more, they show that some folks among the Evangelical Mennonites followed Long.

            And so it was that after several years of fussing within the “New” Mennonite Fellowship that the Seven got together.  It was  Friday afternoon, September 24, 1858, that the seven co-conspirators gathered in a private home on a rural road  in Upper Milford Township, Lehigh County, PA..  The home belonged to David Musselman, uncle by marriage of William Gehman, whose insistence on continuing prayer-meetings had brought about a crisis among the young Oberholtzer Mennonites.[6]  The oldest member of the conspiracy was David Musselman’s neighbor Deacon David Gehman from Hosensack.[7]  We already know the others, preachers William Gehman, David Henning, William N. Shelly and Henry Diehl, and deacons Jacob Gottschall and Joseph Schneider.  

            One might contend that these Seven were up to no good.  Were they not insubordinate and unsubmissive to authority, the authority of the bishops’ council of the recently formed New Mennonites, the Oberholtzer Mennonites?   Of course, these “New” Mennonites were in like manner themselves  rebels, having strayed from the conservative path of the Franconia Conference.

            One had been actually been a bishop among the “New” Mennonites, but they had expelled him several months before this meeting.  Two were told to submit or they would be expelled at the November meeting.  They would not wait.  The two who were on the northern fringe were not yet members of the New Mennonite Conference; now for sure they would not be accepted. 

            If the brethren were excited about the prospects of their new fellowship, a shadow was cast over this meeting, the death of David Gehman’s last living son, fourteen year old David, Jr., that very day.[8] 

The Spirit of the Fellowship

            The Seven Founding Fathers were unwilling to be bound by human constraints.  The Spirit had blessed their prayer meetings and they would rather obey God than men.  The bishops had said that prayer meetings in good order were acceptable, but they could not find any place in the Bible where meetings solely for prayer were enjoined.  This was the Scriptural answer, but doubtless the enthusiasm and fiery spirit of the meetings was a more serious issue.  Once the seven were gone, the fire was under control.  The Evangelical Mennonites wanted freedom of the spirit, entire freedom.

            Entire freedom. – In the minutes of the first semiannual conference of the Evangelical Mennonite Fellowship, November 1, 1859, they decided, “Each child of the Lord, having proved himself such by his walk and conversation [behavior], shall have entire freedom to express himself according to the inspiration of the Holy Ghost” (Verhandlungen, 24).  How well this fits into the spirit of the times.  Freedom of Spirit is a theme that resonated in the era.  A Unitarian editor, after a sojourn in a Methodist camp meeting, known for outrageous “holy pandemonium,” observed, “how much more efficient is the Word when free from the restraints primness and formality in breaking up the fountains of the heart and convincing and converting souls” (Smith, 75.  Italics added).  Even the conservative National Congregational Council meeting in Boston in June 1865 called for “revivals of religion in our churches and colleges . . . deep and powerful in their effect” and “steeped in devout affection, and consecrated by the baptism and rich indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God” (Smith 75).  That June the EMF adopted a statement of faith that was not unlike those espoused by Mennonites since the seventeenth century.[9]  This Glaubenslehre contained an introduction that suggests departure from conventual Mennonite ways.  The following delineates their beginnings: “The number of those, that desired to attend such meetings, soon increased. Such, that now received the Word, felt repentance and sorrow on account of their sins, that were inwardly renewedborn again, and baptized with the Holy Spirit of God, and became willing according to the will of God to lay down a true confession before God and men, upon their true faith according to God’s ordinance, were baptized and added to the society” (Stones, 23, italics added).  Note the ordo.: 1.  received the Word, 2. felt repentance and sorrow on account of their sins, 3. were inwardly renewed, 4. born again, and 5. baptized with the Holy Spirit of God, 6. made a true confession before God and men, 7. were baptized.  After evidence of these they were then (8) added to the society.   

            The first in order “Received the Word” seems to refer to the preached word and the acceptance of it as the truth concerning their need of (2) repentance. 

            This also fits with the note in the first semiannual preachers conference of the EMF.   “Each child of the Lord, having proved himself such by his walk and conversation, shall have entire freedom to express himself according the inspiration of the Holy Ghost” (Verhandlungen, 24).  The whole statement is experiential.  They were concerned about holiness [personal walk and behavior] and the impulse of the Holy Spirit.

            Prayer meetings did not begin in 1858.  Nor did the controversy in the New Mennonite Conference.  There were movements promoting evangelism and the Methodist camp meetings which grew out of the Second Great Awakening (ca., 1800 to 1830s) stirring the fires of revival that continued to burn for decades.  In 1857 Baptist Henry Clay Fish published his Primitive Piety Revived, or the Aggressive Power of the Church.  A Premium Essay.   In his plea for a return to soul-winning piety he called for “a powerful revival” and “the descent of the Holy Ghost.  He exclaimed, “What can save our large cities but a powerful revival of religion. . . .  What one thing does this whole country so loudly call for, as the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the churches?” (In Smith, 49).  Wesleyans and Calvinists were influenced and involved in the revivals.  Smith relates that the Orthodox Puritan Recorder and the liberal Congregationalist both reported on the awakenings of the 1850s.  “Accounts of them in both papers differed from similar Methodist reports only in that here sinners were “hopefully converted’ instead of confident of ‘the witness of the Spirit’” (Smith, 51).  

            One can only speculate what the preachers of the EMF would have reported.  In 1857 Boston pastors invited the less urbane Charles G. Finney – later called the “Father of Modern revivalism” –  to conduct a six-week union campaign in historic Park Street Church.  Finney had developed the so-called “new measures” such as the “anxious bench” and “protracted meetings.”[10]  Many staid urbanite preachers were troubled by these measures and alleged excesses.  EMF preachers simply adopted Finney’s New Measures, especially Protracted Meetings.  No wonder the more conservative New Mennonites looked askance at the Seven “Evangelical Mennonites. When the Evangelical United Mennonites first developed their Reading Course, they included Finney’s Lectures in Revivals, among the required list of texts (Gospel Banner15 October 1882, 145).  Clearly Finney’ New Measures were being recommended.  Finney also subscribed to the doctrine of entire sanctification, [11]“That a soul entirely sanctified . . .does not and will not sin.”  While there may be no evidence that the Evangelical Mennonites preached this, they did rejoice in the presence of the Spirit in their midst.

            The secretary reported, “God’s Spirit permeated the meeting so that joyful visions were flowing” (Verhandlungen, 29).  Again he wrote, “On Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. an hour of testimony was held where the presence of God’s Spirit was felt.  Then Brother William Gehman preached in spirit and power” (Verhandlungen, 48).  And yet again, “The opening sermon was preached by Brother David Henning with the power of the Spirit and with blessing (Verhandlungen, 91).


            Whereas the 1867 articles of faith contain no definitive statement on Sanctification, the 1880 articles that the Pennsylvania brethren accepted do include a pronounced statement on the matter.  One may assume that by 1880 their understanding of sanctification had developed further along Wesleyan-holiness lines.  Thus they were willing to accept a new tenet of faith, “ARTICLE XII: OF SANCTIFICATION,” as a true reflection of their beliefs.  The following is that article:

            Sanctification necessarily follows justification and regeneration; for, by it, is implied a setting apart for the continual service of God, the individual, justified and regenerated; also a cleansing from inbred or original depravity; which is removed only by the application and cleansing process of Christ’s blood.  It is an instantaneous act of God, through the Holy Ghost, by faith, in the cleansing merits of Christ’s blood; and constitutes the believer holy: inasmuch, as it excludes depravity and all unrighteousness from the heart.  He, therefore, is perfect–perfectly saved–the will of God perfectly performed in the soul.

            By sanctification, or perfect love, is also implied a development, or perfection of those heaven-born principles, imparted to us, or imbibed in the heart in regeneration; and it is a state, which is not only the privilege of Christians to enjoy, but the duty of every child of God, to seek after and attain unto, which is evident from the word of God, as it is said: “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification” and again: “Be holy, for I am holy.” – Mat. 22:37, 38; Lev. 19:2, Heb. 12:14, 1 Cor. 1:30, and Eph. 1:4 (1880, 20-21).

Did the first generation of our Fellowship understand and accept the full implications of this article?  One can only speculate; however, there was not a tremendous abundance of theological sophistication among the brethren.  The next generation seems to have a greater grasp of doctrine and the article on sanctification was much debated for many years.  Within a generation the following phrase was removed: “inasmuch, as it excludes depravity and all unrighteousness from the heart.”  Likewise the second paragraph was replaced by another with somewhat different thoughts on “ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION.”  The BFC today has a much different understanding of sanctification.  But I digress.  The initial emphasis on the experience of sanctification, nonetheless, was in the direction of Article Twelve above.  That David Henning professed entire sanctification has been documented as will be noted below.  Speaking of David Henning, let’s go to his territory.

Mount Bethel, Bangor, Northampton County

            The story of Bangor – in a nutshell the deacon moved away; the congregation faded away;  the preacher passed away; and the church was given away.  So what can we say?  The ministry in this remote area of the fellowship seems to have been ineffectual.

            For the record, two preachers appear in the Mt. Bethel congregation, Bangor, Northampton County, Jacob Godshalk, who appears first as a deacon and later as a preacher, and Preacher David Henning. First the deacon.

            Jacob Godshalk –  Jacob Godshalk (1808/09-1881) was the son of Harmon Hendricks Godshalk who “was born August 25, 1767 in Bucks County, PA and died 1843 in Northampton County” (Descendants of Harmon Hendricks Godshalk, 1).  Harmon “moved to Northampton County in 1803 and purchased land from Michael Smith.”  He and his wife Catherine had five children. The fifth Jacob was born in Northampton County six or seven years later.[12] 

            Jacob “married (1) Magdalena Ackerman 1832, daughter of Jacob Ackerman and Margaret Kolb.  He married (2) Elizabeth Auracher 1844, daughter of Christian Auracher.”  From his two marriages he had ten children, Josiah, Rebecca, Catherine, Ann, Caroline, Mary Ann, Matilda, Fredericka, Clarissa, and Theodore (Descendants, 2).  Another document says “Jacob Godshalk was married 3 times and was supposed to have had 17 children in all.  There is no data on the 3rd wife” (Godshalk Family History, 1).  Additional children were: Lindohr, to which the chronicler adds “we used to call him Uncle Thede” [probably the same as Theodore], Brizilla  [“Dutch” for Priscilla], Christina, Tobias, Yrmandos, and Mano [sic] Simon.  Adding the last five, the total comes to 17.  One cannot help but speculate that if Jacob and all his children had remained in the area, the congregation in Bangor might not have faded away!

            The genealogist gives us a snapshot of Godshalk:

            Dad and Aunt Anna used to tell about Jacob Godshalk being such a great fisherman.  When he moved to St. Joseph County, Michigan, he bought a farm adjoining the St. Joe River just east and north of the present Three Rivers airport. . . .  He and his wife are supposed to have had $70,000.00 sewed in their clothing for safe keeping when they moved from Pennsylvania.  It was said he gave each of his 17 children $1,000.00 the day they married.  Farming must have been pretty good in those days.  They said he was a good manager and didn’t work too hard himself but spent his time fishing. (Godshalk family History, 2).

            So Jacob went fishing while others worked for him.  What can be learned about Jacob Godshalk from the minutes of the Evangelical Mennonites?[13]  We are already aware that he was one of the original seven.  At that time he was listed as a deacon, but by 1861 he is listed with the preachers.  Most other references to him indicate that he was “absent” or “not present”.  But on one occasion, November 1861, “Brother Jacob Gottschall urged the members on and closed the meeting with a hymn and prayer” (Verhandlungen, 28).  On another, June 1863, he simply “closed with prayer” (Verhandlungen, 33).  And then, two years later, there is the cryptic reference of June 5  “Absent: Jacob Gottschall (who has moved away)” [German,“der aus der Gegend gezogen”] (Verhandlungen, 45).  That he had moved out of the area sometime around1865 surely agrees with the story that subsequently he may be found fishing in Michigan.

            Mt. Bethel, Bangor, Northampton County was a northern frontier for Pennsylvania Mennonites in the early nineteenth century.  As early as 1798 there is a record of a Mennonite Church in the area. 

Another deed bears the date December 28, 1832.  Abraham Bickley of the township of Smithfield in the county of Northampton conveyed two acres of land in Lower Bethel Township to Herman Godshalk and Jacob Ackerman of the township[s] of Plainfield and Lower Mt. Bethel, “ . . . trustees of the Mennonist Society in Plainfield Upper and Lower Mount Bethel Township . . .” for a consideration of one dollar.  This is. . . . near the intersection of Broadway and South Fourth Street, Bangor, Pennsylvania.

            On this two-acre lot of land the Mennonites erected a brick meeting-house, twenty by twenty feet in 1822.  It was torn down many years ago, sometime between 1878 and 1928![14]

            Of particular interest is that one of the trustees named above was Herman Godshalk (1769-1843), father of Jacob Godshalk.  Jacob’s birthplace is listed as Plainfield Township (Family, 1). The other trustee was Jacob Ackerman, possibly the father of Jacobs first wife, Magdalena Ackerman.  In any case Jacob was truly a son of this church.

            David Henning –  According to Mennonite historian J.C. Wenger, “the only known resident pastor of the Mt Bethel congregation was David Henning (1806-1881).”  He continues, “But Henning was not able to build up his congregation.  The young people united with other denominations, chiefly the Lutherans, and the old members died.  By 1870 the only members remaining were David and Elizabeth Henning and a Mrs. George Warwick. . . .  Finally Henning urged the Lutherans to accept the property” (Wenger, 234).  On May 15, 1878, the deed was conveyed to the newly organized Lutheran Church.  The cemetery continued to be used; names found in it include, Ackerman, Auracher and Henning. 

            It is not that the Conference did not try to strengthen their fellow congregation in the area.  At Conference June 1872 a resolution was passed, “That attention shall be paid to see, that every official brother shall earnestly strive to carry out his important calling according to the contents of God’s Word in regard to the spreading of the Gospel to look for new preaching places so that the kingdom of Jesus will be spread and souls won for heaven and eternal life” (Verhandlungen, 72).  Although the resolution primarily focused on new places, it is clear that older areas were not to be overlooked.  Thus, the following resolution: “That William N. Shelly and Abraham Kauffman shall be in charge of holding special meetings in Mt. Bethel” (Verhandlungen, 72).  In spite of such efforts, the congregation continued to dwindle.  In Conference November 1873 the various congregations were organized, but Mt. Bethel was not even named (Verhandlungen, 81-82). 

            Henning had served as Chairman of the semiannual conferences eleven times between 1861 and 1878 and had traveled about preaching, but as a church builder he was not adept.  Year after year he reported from Bangor, e.g., “David Henning – preached 33 times, families visited 26, miles traveled 335, expenditures $5.35″ (Verhandlungen, 1879, 124).  This indicates that he preached less than two times a week, only visited one family a week,  and traveled about 12 miles per week.  And then came his  final assignment at the Second Annual Conference, March 7, 1881, “That David Henning shall remain in Bangor and Richmond, Northampton County, Pennsylvania and preach as heretofore”  (Verhandlungen, 130).  While others were being moved about, Conference simply allowed Henning to “preach as heretofore.”

            So what did happened to David Henning?  Daniel Cassel tells us,

            Minister David Henning of the above place [Bangor] died July 2d, 1881, from injuries received about six weeks before.  [The] Deceased had been preaching in Bucks County, and on his way home was thrown against the seat of a car while getting on the train at Bethlehem; he was injured internally and had been confined to his bed most of the time since the accident.   Father Henning was respected by the whole community, and his death, which was quiet and peaceful, was in keeping with his life.  He was seventy-five years of age and had been engaged in preaching for the past twenty-five years; he was the last of the Mennonites in this vicinity.[15] 

Henning’s funeral was conducted by William Gehman, Evangelical Mennonite, B.F. Apple, Lutheran and James M. Salmon, a Presbyterian, a truly ecumenical funeral (Cassel, 276). 

            The 1882 Annual Conference of the Pennsylvania Conference of the E.U.M. reports,

            Since it has pleased God to remove from our midst, by death, our aged and beloved brother, Elder David Henning, of Bangor, Northampton, County, Pennsylvania, during the Conference year, therefore RESOLVED: That we as a Conference and church members in general take it to heart, and especially his desire, expressed on his death bed, that his brethren in ministry (in particular) and the members in general, should redeem their time in leading godly lives.  He professed entire sanctification and had a desire to be “absent from the body, and present with the Lord.”  We wish the sister as a widow and the children of the deceased brother the “grace of God,’ so that they may also be ready to meet death – and that their latter end may be in peace” (Verhandlungen, 134.  M.A. Zyner, Secretary).

Henning appears to be a faithful preacher and well liked, but the demise of his congregation suggests a lack of impact.  There is no mention that his children were among the remaining members of the Bangor congregation either.  There is almost a hint that “the children of the deceased brother” may not be “ready to meet death . . . that their latter end may [not] be in peace.” 

            There is evidence that David Henning and other preachers connected with the Evangelical Mennonite fellowship preached at numerous places north of Allentown, e.g., Allen Township, Settlement.  As Henning traveled about preaching, perhaps to the neglect of his own congregation,  the flock at Bangor declined and eventually the meetinghouse was deeded to the Lutheran Church. One of the three original preaching points of the Evangelical Mennonite Fellowship was no more.  The conclusion of Wenger is appropriate, “The author wishes further research were possible” (Wenger, 235). 

            Let’s move southward to Bucks County to the Flatland.

Flatland Evangelical Mennonite Meetinghouse

            That there existed a meetinghouse claimed by the evangelical Mennonites for the very beginning of the Fellowship is not denied.  Where it was, when it began, and what happened to it is a puzzle.  We know that the very first semiannual preachers’ conference of the Evangelical Mennonite Society was held in the Evangelical Mennonite Meeting House in Haycock Township on the first Tuesday in November 1859.[16]  Eleven days later the newly built Evangelical Mennonite Church in Upper Milford was dedicated.

            Among the men from the Quakertown area was Deacon Joseph Schneider (1822-1889). The 1880 census reports that he was 58 years old.  His wife Maria was 56; they had two sons David, age twenty, and Lewis, age 25.[17]

            William N. Shelly – Another leader in the area was William Shelly (1814-1893) former bishop among the Oberholtzer Mennonites and preacher at the Flatland Mennonite Church.  He was among the bishops who rescinded the right to hold prayer meetings in 1856.  This permission had been first granted in 1853 at an Oberholtzer Mennonite preacher’s conference at which Daniel Hoch of Canada had been present.  For unspecified reasons Bishop Shelly changed his mind and sought to defend the prayer meetings and was excommunicated in May of 1858.  By way of introduction, William N. [Newcomer] Shelly was born October 8, 1814 in Milford Township, Bucks County, Pa.  He died in Allentown August 4, 1893, two months shy of 79 full years.  He was married three times.  First, 23 September 1838, he married Sarah Geissinger (6July1856, born 1821).  They had three children, Amanda, who married John L. Moyer, an insurance agent, Philip and third, Elizabeth who married William M. Landis.  After the death of Sarah, William married Mrs. Anna Taylor Weikel (24 December 1856), daughter of Henry Taylor.   They had a son Edwin who became a medical doctor.   Anna died in 1881 after which William married Julia Slough or Schlauch (b.1820), January 18, 1886.[18]

            Henry Diehl – The third member of the Bucks County trio was Heinrich or Henry Diehl.  We know very little about him.  We were told he and Abel Strawn built the Haycock meetinghouse.  We know that he was at the founding meeting.  The 1880 census tells us that he was 64 years old (born 1816). His wife Eleanora was also 64.  They had two children, Susanna, age 24, and Menno, age 21.  Diehl lists his occupation as a farmer. In 1873 he was assigned to Ironville with David Henning and S. Lambert; in1884 conference minutes list him as a “local Missionary.”

            Jonas Musselman – About the year 1868 Jonas Musselman, son of David Musselman, purchased a farm on the California Road north of Quakertown.[19]  He began to hold meetings in homes and halls and meeting houses in the area.  One of those in whose home he held meetings was Jacob Horn.  Musselman’s following grew.  Meanwhile, the numbers in the more remote Haycock meeting house declined.  The last semiannual preachers’ conference to be held in the Haycock meeting house was in June of 1869.  It seems the two groups decided to pool their resources.  Together they purchased a piece of land on Third Street in Quakertown near the new railroad station.  A charter was signed in 1872.[20]  The name at the top was Jonas Musselman; at the bottom was William N. Shelly.  The name of Henry Diehl [21] appeared near the top and the name of Joseph B. Taylor near the bottom.[22]  The name of Jacob Horn appears near the top with Henry M. Smith.  These two along with Jonas Musselman were the trustees of the new congregation.  Schneider remained with the church until his death, serving faithfully a delegates, deacon and steward.  Evidently Shelly and Diehl were also associated with the new congregation in the town of Quakertown, but not for long. 

Der Lebesversicherungsgesellschaft

            Now let’s talk about life insurance, Der Lebesversicherungsgesellschaft.  Probably every one of us has at least one life insurance policy.  But if you had such an iniquitous affiliation in 1878, you could not have been a member of the Evangelical Mennonite Fellowship.  The issue needs to be put into the proper historical perspective.  The first successful insurance company in America was in 1843.[23]   Mennonite historian Harold Bender states,

            At first practically all American Mennonites were radically opposed to life insurance, as were many other Christian denominations. The more conservative Mennonite groups . . . forbade their members all forms of life insurance from the beginning, usually making excommunication the penalty (Mennonite Encyclopedia, III, 343).

This ban was virtually nonexistent by the middle of the twentieth century.  Some of the arguments against life insurance are as follows:

It reflects trust in man rather than in God; it means becoming “unequally yoked together with unbelievers”; it is equivalent to merchandising in human life; it is putting a monetary price on human life, which is considered unscriptural since man is the “temple of the Holy Ghost.”  These objections were bolstered by a powerful practical argument, namely, that the commercial insurance companies did not really help the needy, but sought only to protect the healthy and rejected as poor risks the weak and ill who really needed protection.  Many Mennonites also objected to taking out life insurance because it was contrary to the spirit of genuine mutual aid and brotherhood.  Finally, the corrupt practices of many earlier life insurance companies; and truly the history of life insurance has been marked by many and large scandals, so much so that rigid legislative control was necessary to curb the greed of the fraudulent practices which appeared (ME, III, 343-44).

So it was a matter of trust.  Whom do you trust, a manmade company determined to make a profit or the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the Good Shepherd?

            The Semiannual Conference June 1878 discussed life insurance and resolved, “That we add to our doctrine the following: It shall not be allowed for preachers or members of our denomination [Fellowship, Gemeinschaft] to hold a life insurance policy.”  The German minutes read “daß es nicht erlaubt sei, für Prediger oder Gleider unserer Gemeinschaft in einer Lebensversicherunsgesellschaft zu stehen.”  This might also be translated  “That it not be allowed for preachers or members of our Fellowship to be in a life-insurance-society.”  

            This was followed by another resolution, “RESOLVED : That since some brethren hold life insurance policies, they shall have time until the next Conference (the first Monday in October 1878) to think about whether they will give up this life insurance [jene Gesellschaft, “that society”] or not.”  William N. Shelly and Henry Diehl did not submit to the Conference and leave off their “life-insurance-society.”  Four months later they were absent from the conference although Shelly sent in his report, “preached 19 times, families visited 33, miles traveled 269, [travel] expenses $3.25” (Verhandlungen, 118).   Resolution Eleven, October 1879 reads,

            It was resolved that the resolution made at the last Conference in Quakertown, Bucks County, shall continue in full force in regard to life insurance policies [Lebesversicherungs-gesellschaften] as an addition to our Doctrine of Faith [Glaubenslehre]. According to this resolution, those who had taken refuge in life insurance companies [Lebesversicherungs-gesellschaft] had time until this Conference to reconsider and leave the company or to forfeit membership in our denomination [Gemeinschaft] in the future.  Brother Winsch stood up publicly and said, with tears, he would leave his life insurance company and put his trust in God and God’s children.  However, the preachers, Brethren [Predigtbrüder] William N. Shelly and Henry Diehl from Quakertown, do not want to leave the life insurance company and do not want to submit to this resolution.  Consequently, in the future they shall not be considered members of our denomination [fellowship, Gemeinschaft] or conference [Conferenz] (Verhandlungen, 119).

Is it not ironic that the conference that passed the resolution that led to the exodus of Shelly and Diehl was assembled in their home town, Quakertown?  Now of the three original men from Quakertown among the seven founders of the EMS only Joseph B. Schneider [Taylor] remained. 

            As suggested above, many conservative people, especially nineteenth century Mennonites would have heartily sided with the Conference.   Daniel Brenneman of the Indiana Conference of the United Mennonites did.  Actually this may have been a factor that made the Pennsylvania Fellowship more attractive to him.  Listen to his editorial comment:

The Minutes of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference, held in Coopersburg, Lecha [Lehigh] County, Pa., Oct. 7th [1878], have been sent to us, in which we learn that two of their ministers, rather than withdraw their connection with and give up their interest in the life insurance company, they would yield their position and membership in the church.  Our own impression, is  that the sooner a church gets rid of ministers and members whose  attachment to life insurance companies, etc.[!] has a  stronger bearing upon them than the church they represent, the better it is.  We are glad to learn that our Evangelical Mennonite brethren show their integrity and “faith by their works” (Gospel Banner, November, 1878,1).

The Conference was willing to stand by its convictions even if it meant that two of its founding fathers would be cut off from the Fellowship they helped to create.  Soon the only active member of the original Seven Founding Fathers that remained was Father William Gehman.  Shortly he would become the first Presiding Elder of the Evangelical United Mennonites, Pennsylvania Conference.


            Seven men filled with the Holy Spirit, Aelteste, William Schelly, William Gehmann, Prediger des Wortes, David Henning, Heinrich Diehl, Vorsteher, David Gehmann, Joseph Schneider and Jacob Gottschall met September 24, 1858 and created the Evangelischen Mennoniten Gemeinschaft.   From the outset they desired entire freedom to follow the impulse of the Spirit.  The whole country was taken up with an unnamed awakening with a focus on prayer.  These prayer meetings consisted of prayer, exhortation, hymn-singing, and testimony.  The same expressions of worship flourished among the Evangelical Mennonites. A major influence on these men was the ministry of traveling preacher Edwin Long and His Union Tabernacle, or movable tent.

            The Seven continued to think of themselves as Mennonites, but their spirits were more in tune with the revival and holiness movements swirling around them.  Gradually they became more and more Wesleyan.

            Not every congregation prospered.  Mt. Bethel, Bangor just faded away.  Jacob Gottschall moved away very early in our story.  David Henning hung on, but appears to be less than dynamic.  The Haycock congregation needed renewal which came with the arrival of Jonas Musselman to the area.  Upper Milford flourished and provided the majority of the new preachers for the expanding Fellowship.  The oldest meeting house in Bangor was deeded to Lutherans and razed; the Haycock meeting house was dismantled and rebuilt in Quakertown; only the Upper Milford meetinghouse is still in use.

            As with all organizations issues arise that try men’s souls.  They had to face the new phenomena of life insurance.  Conservative Christians, Mennonites especially,  shied away from worldly entanglements.  To purchase life insurance indicated failure to trust the Lord and his children.  A choice has to be made.  William Shelly and Henry Diehl chose their life insurance over the Fellowship.  Within a few years David Henning passed away and Joseph Schneider ceased to be active in the Fellowship. Father William Gehman, the last surviving member of the original Seven Founding Fathers lived into the twentieth century.  He alone would see the Pennsylvania Conference begin its period of rapid growth.

Selected Bibliography of Writings Utilized or Relevant to the Subject

Brenneman, Daniel, et al eds.  Gospel Banner.

Buck, Leonard E., ed.  What Mean These Stones.  Coopersburg, PA: The Historical Committee, 1983.

Burgess, Stanley M., ed.  Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements.  Grand Rapids: Regency, Zondervan, 1988.

Cassel, Daniel K.  History of the Mennonites.  Philadelphia, ca. 1890.

Dreisbach, Ardis Grosjean.  Deacon and Schreiber David Gehman, 1802-1881.  Unpublished manuscript, 2005.

Gehman, John B.  Diary of John B. Gehman, Herford Township, Berks County, compiled by Wilmer L. Rerinford.  Elverson, PA: Olde Springfield Shoppe, n.d.

Glaubenslehre und Kirchenzucht-Ordnung der Evangel. Mennoniten  Gemeinschaft von Ost-Pennsylvanien mit beigefügter Constitution der Missions-Gesellschaft.  Skippacksville, PA: A.E. Dambly, 1866.  An English translation appeared in 1867 entitled, Doctrine of Faith and Church Discipline of the Evangelical Mennonite Society of East Pennsylvania with Subjoined Constitution of the Missionary Society.

Kraus, C. Norman. Evangelicalism and Anabaptism. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1979.

Long, Edwin M.  The Union Tabernacle; or Moveable Tent-Church: Showing in Its Rise and Success a New Department of Christian Enterprise.  Philadelphia: Parry & McMillan, 1859.

Mennonite Encyclopedia.  Scottdale, PA: Herald Press.

Musselman, William B., ed.  Gospel Worker Society Herald, also known as the Gospel Herald.

Proceedings of the Annual Conference(s) of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ. Various cities, PA: Published by Order of Annual Conference, 1896-1958.

Reid, Daniel, R. Linder, B. Shelly, H. Stout, eds.  Dictionary of Christianity in America.  Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1990.

Shelly, Harold P.  The Bible Fellowship Church: formerly Mennonite Brethren in Christ, Originally die Evangelische Mennoniten Gemeinschaft von Ost-Pennsylvanien.  Bethlehem, PA: The Historical Committee, 1992.                                                                                                                            

Smith, Timothy L. Revivalism and Social Reform: In Mid-Ninteenth-Century America.  New York and Nashville: Abingdon P, 1957.

Storms, Everek R.  History of the United Missionary Church.  Elkhart, IN: Bethel Publishing Co., 1958.

Taylor, Richard E. ed.  Verhandlungen (1859-1895): Proceedings of the Evangelical Mennonite Society also Known as the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Now Known as the Bible Fellowship Church.  Trans. Frank Litty.  Coopersburg, PA: The Historical Committee, 1989.

Taylor, Richard, ed..  Minutes of the General Conferences of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church 1879-1916. Wallingford, PA: The Historical Committee of the Bible Fellowship Church, n.d.

The Doctrines and Disciplines of the Evangelical United Mennonites of Canada and the United States.  Goshen, IN: The E. U. Mennonite Pub. Soc’y, 1880.

Unpublished papers and manuscripts.   Bible Fellowship Church Archives.  Wallingford, PA.

Verhandlungen, Ost-Pennsylvanien Conference.  Minutes of the East-Pennsylvania Conference of the Mennonite Church, General Conference.  (1847-1872)

Watson, Robert C.  Chronological and Background Charts of Church History.   Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986.

Wenger, John C.  History of the Mennonites of the Franconia Conference.  Telford, PA: Franconia Mennonite Historical Society, 1937.

Ziefle, Helmut W. Dictionary of Modern Theological German. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1982.


[1]Abraham Lincoln, November 18, 1858, “On his Future, after losing the 1858 Illinois Senatorial Election.  Accessed 2 Sept 2005.  Italics added.

[2]Doctrine of Faith, 1867, 45.  Italics added.   The German edition uses the phrase kleines Zweigleina little small-twig, and kleine Abtheilung der Mennonite-Gemeinschaft.  (Glaubenslehre, 1866)

[3]Timothy L. Smith, Revivalism and Social Reform in Mid-nineteenth-century America (New York and Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1957).  Much of the material in this section was gleaned from Smith.

[4]Baptism was off limits in the NYC prayer meetings.  In 1860 the Evangelical Mennonites discussed baptism and resolved to follow God’s Word and the teachings of Menno Simons on the question (Verhandlungen, 29).

[5]But it should be noted that only two Mennonites “Rev. Messrs. Gilman and Shelley” were on his list (Long, 28).  The writer is persuaded that these were indeed the renegade Mennonite preachers William Gehman and William N. Shelly.  Scribal error or proofreader failure, no doubt.

[6]David Musselman was the uncle of Anna, wife of William Gehman and the father of Abraham and Jonas.  Jonas married Lucy Brunner and had three sons who preached in the Fellowship that would arise from this clandestine meeting, namely W.B., H.B., and A.B. Musselman.  David’s brother Abraham was the father of Sarah Catherine, wife of CH. Brunner.  She would be one of the women preachers in the Fellowship. Consequently he was related to all the Presiding Elders up to 1945.  Could he have any idea that day what his extended family would become?

[7]David Gehman’s grandson was Charles Henry Brunner, who was to be the husband of David Musselman’s granddaughter Sarah Catherine Musselman.

[8]In the Diary of John B. Gehman, notes for September 1858 include the following: “21 …  David Gehman’s Jim [sic] fell from ‘ober ten’ (loft above the threshing floor) . . . . 24  D.B. Gehman died at 1 a.m.  25  D.B. Gehman’s funeral” (Gehman, 28).  David Gehman’s son Abraham Gehman lived only 17 years.  Other sons Johannes lived four hours, Heinrich 13 months, Elias 13 hours.  Twin daughter Sarah also lived only 13 hours.  Lydia lived seven years.  Only daughters Catherine and Rebecca lived to adulthood.  David and Sarah had a hard row to hoe.  Rebecca married Joel Brunner and became the mother of two sons and three daughters.  One of their sons was Charles Henry Brunner.  Their daughter Norah Gehman Brunner married Robert Dreisbach; they are the grandparents of Ardis Grosjean Dreisbach.

[9]Observe the following in November 1861: “RESOLVED: That each preacher and especially and each member of our society [Gemeinschaft / fellowship], shall make himself familiar with the doctrines [mit den Glaubenslehren] of the earlier Mennonites in order to take into consideration at the next conference [Conferenz] whether to have it printed in German and English” (Verhandlungen, 29).

[10]Garth Rosell opines, “His Lectures on Systematic Theology (1846) reflect his special brand of ‘arminianized Calvinism.’” “Charles Gradison Finney (1792-1875)” Dictionary of Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity P, 1990), 440.   Certainly his doctrine of sanctification smacks of perfectionism not unlike that of his Methodist contemporaries.  He had moved from traditional Puritan, Congregational Calvinism.   New Measures continued to make inroads into Calvinistic groups.  See Smith, 62.

[11]Charles G. Finney, Lectures on Systematic Theology, (Wittier, CA: Colporter Kemp, 1946, originally published in 1846), 406.

[12]Descendants says that Jacob Godshalk was born in 1809; Godshalk Family History says he was born 8 October 1808.  Both agree that he died February 15, 1881, St Joseph County, Michigan).

[13]Another part of the elusive Jacob G. is that there are several spellings for the name.  In the German Glaubenslehre (1866) it is Jacob Gottschall; in the English Doctrine of faith, it is Jacob Gottshall.  In the Verhandlungen one finds “Jacob Gottschall” (pp. 28, 43, 45, 49, 51), “J. Gottschall” (pp. 33, 55), and “J. Gottschalk” (p. 30).   The secretary for the last was A.W. Stauffer; otherwise, David Gehman.   But the geneologies use Godshalk..  Nevertheless, it seems safe to assume this is one and the same person.

[14]John C. Wenger,  History of the Mennonites of the Franconia Conference (Telford,  PA: Franconia Mennonite Historical Society, 1937) 234.

[15]Daniel K. Cassel, History of the Mennonites ( Philadelphia, n.d.), 270. 

[16]Semiannual conferences were also held in the Flatland Evangelical Mennonite meeting house, Nov. 1861, Oct. 1863, Nov. 1864, Nov. 1865, June 1867, June 1868, and June 1869.  This is nine of the first .  Three years later conference was held in Quakertown in Nov. 1872; William N. Shelly of Quakertown was the chairman.  The Mennonite Encyclopedia says Shelly left Flatland Mennonite in 1857 with his followers.

[17]  Also in the 1880 census is Lewis Taylor, who was 45 years of age, his wife Susanna (Gehman).  Their children were Annie, 16, Amandes, 14, and Charles, 12.   Lewis Taylor (1834-1911) was an advisory member of Conference in 1891.  Lewis Taylor was a younger brother of Joseph Schneider or so the writer was told by Raymond Musselman Taylor, son of Lewis Taylor’s son Charles.

[18]Information comes from Joyce Heist and census data.  Shelly traces his pedigree back to Abraham Shelly or Schelle who arrived in America about 1730..

[19]The bulk of the land was purchased from Joseph Schneider according to James Roth, “In the Heart of Quakertown . . .,” unpublished paper, November 4, 1989.

[20]The land in Haycock was to be sold in 1877 according to the minutes of the preachers’ conference. “This Conference, held November 12, 1877, unanimously agreed that the Brethren Henry V. Smith, William Hixon, and Milton Kauffman, as trustees in charge, shall be authorized to give a purchase deed for the Ruthen of land, which was bought May 21, 1850, from Jacob Ziegenfuss and his wife, hannah, in Haycock Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, as church ground.” (Verhandlungen111).

[21]On the 1872 Articles of Incorporation for the Evangelical Mennonite Church of Quakertown the following were listed on page two: Jonas Musselman D, Henry M. Smith, Jacob Horn [in his home Musselman began meetings], Henry Diehl D,  Henry G. Musselman, David S. Basler, Charles Frick D, John L. Moyer D, Joseph B. Taylor D, Augustus Seiple, William N. Shelly D. [what does the D mean?]  

            NB: Three of the original Seven are on the “Articles of Incorporation” viz., Henry Diehl, Joseph B. Taylor [Schneider], and William N. Shelly!  And all three are “D”.  Where do you suppose these men worshiped between 1858 and 1872?  They all attended the Semi-annual Preacher’s conference regularly.

[22]Joseph B. Taylor undoubtedly is the same as Joseph B. Schneider.  For documents appearing in the court house he would use his English name, Taylor; for the church where they spoke German he was Schneider, German for tailor. The name of Schneider is prominent in the story of the Quakertown congregation.  Quarterly Conference minutes have “Bruder Joseph Schneider” as Vorsteher (deacon), Verwalter (steward) and Delegaten (delegate to Annual Conference) in 1885.   In Quarterly Conference 11 November, David M. Taylor was elected delegate to Annual Conference (p. 143).  The minutes of the February, 1894 Annual Conference list David M. Taylor among the delegates (Verhandlungen226).

[23]For information on life insurance the writer is indebted to an article on life insurance by Harold S. Bender in the Mennonite Encyclopedia, III, 343-44.

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