Amish Church Decides To Found Orphanage

The June 6, 1912, edition of the Meyersdale Republican featured a short article about the second meeting of the newly developing Conservative Amish Mennonite Conference held in the Casselman River Valley near Grantsville, Maryland.  The article was written by newspaperwoman Sara Roberta Getty and contains an outsider’s perspective on the local Amish.

The Mennonite Encyclopedia Online says of this meeting:  “Attending were 16 ordained men from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, and Missouri. For the most part, those participating in this conference session represented congregations which, as the name of the conference indicates, felt that the established conferences of that day came short of certain Scriptural requirements, and that a more conservative emphasis was needed in the application of the Word of God than these afforded. On the other hand, it was felt that the Old Order Amish churches left certain things to be desired in the way of an aggressive church program.” [1]

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AMISH CHURCH DECIDES TO FOUND ORPHANAGE

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Interesting Proceedings of Amish Mennonite Church and Sunday School Convention Near Grantsville, Md. ----  All Discussions Conducted in German Dialect.

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Reported by Sara Roberta Getty.

The second annual convention of the progressive branch of the Amish Mennonite church was held near Grantsville, Md., on May 27th and 28th, followed by a Sunday school convention on the 29th and 30th.  The attending ministers included the following: Michael Zeler and Solomon Schwartzenduner of Michigan; Jonas Yoder and John Mast, from Mifflin county, Pa.; Jonas Troyer from Indiana; J.F. Schwartzendruber, G.A. Yoder, Joseph Miller and Joshua King from Ohio; John Zimmerman from Missouri, and J.S., D.J. and J.B. Miller from the Grantsville charge.

All matters pertaining to the church and its creed – of which there are eighteen articles, all faithfully adhered to were discussed in an able and interesting manner by the preachers.  The discussions of “Superstition” was both amusing and instructive.  Very helpful was the topic “Why do we go to church in disagreeable weather.”  Many other topics were under discussion.

The entire proceedings were conducted in the Pennsylvania German dialect and pure German.

The project of starting an orphans home was broached and approved, a committee being appointed to find a suitable location for the home and a competent married couple to put in charge.  The committee consists of John Hershberger, Sam B. Miller, Joseph Hershberger and Peter Shetler, all of Johnson county, Iowa; Joseph Gunder and Daniel Shetler of Huron county, Michigan; Noah Brennaman of Bittinger, Md., and C.W. Bender of Elk Lick, Pa.  These good men and true will take immediate steps for the furtherance of this worthy plan, and will appreciate any suggestions or information in that direction.

A church paper has been started at Scottsdale, Pa., the editor being E.C. Bontrager of Minnesota.  It is printed both in German and English.

The secretaries of the conference were Simon B. Miller and Jacob D. Gingerich, who will have the minutes of meetings printed in pamphlet form and ready for distribution at an early date.

The Amish Mennonite church was founded in Deutrich, Holland, about 1623 and has among its faithful adherents scores of noble men and women.  Many of the former are brilliant orators and successful business men.  Many a “perfect woman nobly planned” is to be found in the Amish settlements.  Quiet, unostentatious and unassuming, dressed always in a quaint garb of dark colors, yet always commanding respect by their calm, modest bearing, no thought of worldliness ever mars the peaceful serenity of their lives; their hearts are without guile, and their souls are filled with the peace which passeth all understanding, for their lives are spent in the even pursuance of their daily duties which brings its own reward.

May their tribe increase. [2]

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Accompanying the story was a photo of the “place where the Amish Mennonite Convention was held.”  This shows an old road that is no longer used after the development of modern roads.

Leo J. Beachy photo from the 1912 Meyersdale Republican Story

Leo J. Beachy photo taken after construction of the children's orphanage - later Goodwill Mennonite Home (upper right)

1904 topographical map showing road leading north from Grantsville, MD

Current aerial view of the location of the Maple Glen Meeting House photos and road (click on photo to enlarge)

Questions I have about this story include:  who were the  “J.S., D.J. and J.B. Miller from the Grantsville charge?”  What was the name of the road passing between the Yoder farm and the Maple Glen meeting house and when did it fall out of use?  What were the years the Maple Glen Meeting House photos were taken (thanks to Jim Yoder for providing the photos)?

END NOTES

[1] Miller, Ivan J. "Conservative Mennonite Conference." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. April 2012. Web. 2 Jul 2017. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Conservative_Mennonite_Conference&oldid=14796  The eighteen articles mentioned in Getty’s story refer to the Dordrecht Confession of Faith.

[2] The Republic (Meyersdale, Pennsylvania) 06 Jun 1912, Thu  • Page 1

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  1. David I Miller says:

    Having noted with appreciaion Keith Yoder’s entry of Sarah Roberta Getty’s report on the Conservative Amish Mennonite Conference meeting of 1912, I will attempt a response to his questions. Who were the J.S, D.J., and J. B. Miller of the Grantsville charge? The first and last of the three can be identified as Jacob S. Miller (1855-1915) and Jonas B. Miller (1870-1952). The second in the list is an obvious error, correctable as J. J. Miller, referring to Bishop Joel J. Miller. These three ministers lived within a mile of each other north of Grantsville. Dorsey Hotel Road did not exist in 1912, but following its present route, Joel lived on the first farm north of Grantsville, Jonas on the second farm just across the hill with a long lane to the right, and Jacob on the third farm at the sharp curve where the road descends toward the entrances to the Maple Glen church and the Goodwill Mennonite Home. What was the name of the road passing between the Yoder farm and the Maple Glen meeting house and when did it fall out of use? The road was known as the Sterner Hill Road, named after Solomon Sterner, erstwhile owner of the Cornucopia tract of land from Main Street (National Road) in Grantsville to a point 1/2 mile more or less north. The western boundary of Sterner’s Cornucopia was along that road. Sterner Hill Road originated at Main Street in Grantsville and followed the path of present-day Pennsylvania Ave, presumably so-called because it led to Pennsylvania. It joined present-day Dorsey Hotel Road at the curve near the former Lewis Tice/Milton E. Yoder residence. Some traffic continued on Sterner Hill Road for decades after Dorsey Hotel Road was built. (See the following articles in Casselman Chronicle, No. 1, 1977: Catherine J. Miller, “Cornucopia and Tracts Northward,” , p 5; Joanna Miller, The Casselman – A corner of Cornucopia,” pp 7-11; William Yoder, “My Uncle Simon,” pp 25, 26.) What were the years of the Maple Glen meeting house photos? The picture labelled “Miller Church,”taken from the Meyersdale Republican of 1912, obviously was taken at least that early. Perhaps that is the earliest date that can be stated with confidence. The six-string telephone lines suggest a full-fledged operation of the Springs Mutual Telephone Company sometime after 1900. The rather young orchard was planted by Daniel S. Beachy at least by 1895, a factor that accommodates a 1912 picture. One could conjecture that writer Sarah Roberta Getty prevailed on photograph Leo Beachy to provide a picture to accompany her article. (See Lucy Beachy, “Daniel S. and Amanda Miller Beachy,” Casselman Chronicle, No. 1, 1977, pp 27-29; William M. Yoder, “The Grantsville Telephone Exchange,” Casselman Chronicle, No. 2, 1976, pp 25-27. The picture labelled “The A.M. Childrens’ Home and Miller Church” must be dated no earlier than 1916, the year of construction of the Children’s Home building. It appears that the Sterner Road is in less regular use and the entrance to the church from Sterner Road appears less used. The board walk on the west (left) side, situated for the arrival of buggies from Sterner Hill Road, appears to be gone. The driveway on the extreme right of the pictures appears to rise from Dorsey Hotel Road. But the absence of plantings around the Home building speaks of a new building. A guess of circa 1920 as a date for the picture cannot be far astray. Further comments can be offered regarding Getty’s very interesting and informative article. Michael Zehr (not Zeler), and Solomon Schwartzendruber (not Schwartzenduner), and Joseph Gunden (not Gunder) are the correct spellings. Reference to discussions on superstition are of interest, since the official reports of the 1912 conference do not include that topic. According to the official Conference Report of 1912, Samuel (not Simon) B. Miller was one of the secretaries. He and Jacob D. Gingereich, who also served as secretary, were from Iowa. The church paper, Herold der Wahrheit, may have been printed in Scottdale, Pennsylvania, but was founded by a group of Amish Mennonite leaders of various states, especially Iowa, and was first edited by E. J. Bontreger who lived in Exeland, Wisconsin (not Montana.) The writer seems to connect the founding of the Amish Mennonite church with the origin of the Dortrecht Confession of Faith in Holland, rather than the development of the Amish movement in Switzerland and Alsace, France, in the late 1600s. But as noted by Keith Yoder, the article is of great interest in its presentation of the perspective of guest journalist. – David I. Miller, Editor, The Historian

  2. Keith Yoder says:

    David, thank you for taking the time to put together such detailed comments and pointing toward additional resources. I noted as well that numerous names were given with alternative spellings but transcribed them as printed. I had seen one reference to the road as Sterner Hill Road but another map I was looking at referred to it as Starner Hill. I also referred to the photographer as Leroy – it should have been Leo J. Beachy as you mention. Your observations about the photos and local history are much appreciated.

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