Shirley Hornbeck's This and That Genealogy Tips on Religions

When a couple desired to obtain a marriage certificate, they made two appearances before both the Men's Meeting and the Women's Meeting prior to the marriage. Subsequent reports were made by the Committees appointed to attend the ceremony. Then, the report of the Committee so appointed reported at the next (following) Meeting that the marriage had been accomplished----within a month.

If a man and woman were members of different Monthly Meetings, they made their declaration where the woman was a member, the man being required to bring a certificate from his meeting that he was a member in good standing.

The Minutes contained a great deal of information, particularly during migrations. They related to memberships received and issued and various disciplinary actions taken against members. Thousands of such disciplinary measures are in the records. Unless the offending member repented, he was disowned, and no further records appear of him.

Lorenzo Dow was a great American preacher of the movement called The Second Great Awakening in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He was a traveling preacher of the late 1700's and early 1800's and his name appears often in the records of many states. He also is credited with inventing "camp meetings." It is reported that 20,000 children were named after this colorful preacher.

From the book Pioneers and Preachers Section: Emotional Religion and Frontier Sermons

Frontier life spawned some rather eccentric preachers, one of whom was Lorenzo Dow, known as "Crazy Dow." His odd behavior and extensive travels both in America and abroad brought him much publicity and fame. As a fortune teller; seer; miracle worker; professor of calamities, births, deaths, and illnesses; and interpreter of dreams; he was one of the most discussed and controversial preachers of his day. He could preach on virtually any subject and damned nearly everyone and everything. At times he shocked his congregations by preaching from obscene and sadistic portions of the Old Testament. Tall, slender and spare of frame, with sloping shoulders and just a hint of a stoop, Dow's physical appearance normally would have not seemed forbidding, except for the fact that his matted and unkempt hair hung almost to his waist; much of it hung down his back and on his shoulders, but some of it fell forward over his face and full beard. With a grave countenance and piercing eyes, he "glanced reproofs wherever he looked" and caused the hardest sinners to flinch. He was emaciated from lack of proper food and sleep, and he knew little about the benefits of a bath. He went hatless and shoeless, wearing torn and shabby clothes. Dow presented an odd sight even to the backwoodsmen. When he came in possession of any money, which was rare, he soon lost it to a swindler. When he bought a horse, it was usually a spavined, ill-looking brute, scarcely able to totter along the trails and roads. Trusting in God to send angels and ravens to feed him, he usually begged for food from door to door. Rumor said that when unable to find food, he ate grasshoppers. Dow had hidden powers of endurance. Dow's voice sounded more female that male, not loud but trenchant. He often dragged some of the syllables of his words to painful lengths making them disgusting and disagreeable to delicate ears. While preaching for several successive days at Pittstown, New York, some of the members of the congregation thought that he was either crazy or possessed of the devil.

After hearing the strange man preach, many people cursed and swore, partly because of what he said, but mostly because of his peculiar speech and odd demeanor. Most people detested him -- some believed he was saucy and deserved to be knocked down. Eccentric to the extreme, Dow eventually evolved techniques through trial and error that often made him a very effective preacher. One Sunday morning while Reverend Jacob Young was preaching at a camp meeting. Dow lay sick in a tent nearby. A the close of Young's sermon the sick minister rose from his bed and walked up to the pulpit. Standing there in a stooped position, looking over his right shoulder, his lack back to the congregation, he said, "There is a notable robber in this country, who has done a vast deal of mischief, and is still doing it; and, in order that the people may be on their guard, I intend to give you a full description of his character and the instrument by which he carried our his work." The congregation was often plagued by outlaws and became alarmed. Some people thought that Dow was referring to a Baptist minister who had been a Tory and a thief during the American revolution. This man had fled to escape punishment after the war to Spanish territory where he supposedly had become a respectable citizen. But, this was not so. Dow was only trying to grab the attention of the congregation. He turned his face toward the assembly and began talking slowly in a dark and mysterious manner, eventually giving the robber's name in Hebrew, in Greek, and in English.. The evil one was none other than the Devil. For the remainder of his sermon, Dow preached to a rapt audience and many conversions were gained.

In closing one sermon, Dow said, "If there is any gentleman in the congregation who has any objection to my sermon, let him come forward, take the stand and make it known." There were five Calvinist ministers in the congregation and Dow expected a rebuttal, but none came. After standing silently for a few moments, Dow continued, "Now, gentlemen, I am going to leave the country, and if you do not come forward and defend your doctrine while I am present, but attempt to contradict my sermon when I am gone, someone may compare you to the little dog that does not have the courage to bark at the traveler when he is opposite to the gate, but will run along and bark on his track after he is gone!" Dow closed the meeting with a prayer and left unceremoniously.

When Dow arrived at one camp meeting ground, several settlers moved toward him shouting in satisfaction that the "wild man" was coming. Dow did present a bizarre appearance. He wore a rapaulin hat cocked on his head, a tattered green military coatee without its shiny ornaments, and a pair of knee britches that did not conceal his knees. Dow was in a hurry and he was laden with a bundle of tracts and handbills. On each bill was printed in large letters the following words: "Hush! Hark! This afternoon at three o'clock, Lorenzo Dow will preach under the Federal Oaks." Dow rushed past one man without giving him a handbill He stopped abruptly and appeared to search the innermost recesses of his soul for guidance, after which he handed out the first tract. He passed several other people ignoring them as if they lived on another planet. He continued this unusual and scattered distribution until all his bills were gone.

Although Francis Asbury believed Dow demented, he widely never interfered with the miracle worker. In time, when Asbury believed that Dow was not exercising a good influence on the people east of the Appalachian Mountains, he sent him to the western frontier. In the thinly populated western areas, Dow gained unusual fame and became venerated as a prophet of the Lord. It did not take long for a preacher on the frontier to learn the importance of emotional release to the frontier people. The successful ministers were able to sway the behavior of the congregation in ways which today would appear unusual. Falling and jerking were common. Because the frontiersmen were themselves an odd lot by today's standards, some eccentric preachers were quite acceptable on the frontier. Unusual pulpit behavior and offbeat sermons often resulted. But, as the frontier disappeared and organized churches moved into an area, it gradually became less acceptable for ministers to move their congregations to such physical and emotional levels.

once called German Baptist Brethren, (nicknamed Dunkers), Mennonites and the Amish are all considered Pennsylvania Dutch. They are considered Low German, the Lutherans are High German. The Pennsylvania Dutch were those of German Ancestry in the Lancaster County region of SE Pennsylvania (including York, Berks and adjacent areas), who normally wear the Plain Garb, and speak the dialect, although some have changed in the past half century - (even to using computers) .

ANABAPTISTS from: Jennie Vertrees at
A group of people called the "brethren" at the time of Luther and Zwingli did not believe in immersion, but taught that baptism was symbolic of what had taken place inside each person baptized. On January 21, 1525, at the fountain which was in the square in Zuerich, Switzerland; George Blaurock, a former priest, asked another member of the "brethren", Conrad Grebel, to baptize him. It was not done by immersion, but Grebel then baptized a number of others. Later, this group decided immersion was the thing to do, so all were rebaptized by immersion this time. The idea of rebaptism drew criticism from Catholics and Protestants alike, who started calling these "rebaptizers", which is what anabaptist means. The first members of the order were mainly scholars and pacifists, but this changed drastically. Some of the names involved in the movement are Melchior Hoffman, Thomas Muentzer (who predated the movement), John Matthys and John of Leiden were some of the leaders. The movement eventually became Mennonite from its leader, Menno Simons. To find out who the Anabaptists are, read information about the Mennonites and Menno Simons. It is a long story in the 1500s, but is interesting and rather lengthy. What I have given you is merely a thumbnail sketch.

The Restoration Movement of the 19th century was led by several men. Thomas Campbell, an Irish-born Presbyterian who settled in Pennsylvania in 1807 (the father of Alexander Campbell) and Alexander Campbell, (also in Pennsylvania), Barton W. Stone, Baptist, in KY, and Walter Scott, Scottish immigrant in Pennsylvania were all leading proponents of this movement. However, A. Campbell became the best known. Alexander Campbell settled in the western panhandle of West Virginia and founded Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia.

The Campbellites were Anabaptists emphasizing the one "sacrament" of baptism (by emersion) as being sufficient for salvation. They also made the Eucharist (Lord's Supper) a central focus of their worship service insisting on observing this rite each Lord's day (Sunday). Their goal was to reject man's creeds. They advocated speaking only where the Bible speaks and being silent were the Bible is silent. The movement was intended to reform existing churches, but a belief that this was impossible led to the establishment of new groups of believers, often known only as Disciples or Christians.

Two groups eventually developed. One is the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) which is generally organized and has a national headquarters. The other is the churches of Christ. They are not nationally organized and meet as independent congregations. Alexander Campbell is rejected as a founder and is considered only as a restorer of the first century church. The term "Campbellite" was never used by the churches of Christ. It is generally considered an offensive term today and I believe it was also considered the same in the 19th century.

In Europe, saints' feast days are commonly celebrated instead of a person's actual chronological birthday (as we do in the U.S.). A child's parents may have selected a saint whose feast day fell on the day of birth or baptism, or may have waited several days beyond that date to pick the child's saintly namesake.

For information on Roman Catholic saints and their feast days, go to:

Methodism reached the 13 colonies [from England] in 1760.  By 1777 there were some 6,000 Methodists and by 1789 there were 15,000. 

John Wesley was conservative and loyalist in his politics and issued a public appeal to the colonies urging submission to the King, but religious zeal overcame this. John Wesley did not intend that the Methodists be an independent church. The Methodists were a group "within" the Church of England.  The Bishop of London had refused to ordain ministers for America, so two men John Wesley had appointed to superintend and ordain ministers, Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury, were soon called Bishops, and the Methodist Episcopal Church was founded.

Methodism grew rapidly as the population was starving for religion that was new, virile and hopeful. The Methodist preachers were men of the people, speaking the language of ordinary folk.  Growth was predominantly in the rural sections and on the frontier.  The circuit plan and the system of local and travelling preachers was admirably adapted to this type of work.  Under the district superintendents, were circuit riders with assigned areas to cover, some as much as 500 miles.  It had to be traversed by whatever conveyance was possible -- on horseback, by canoe or where these failed, on foot.  The circuit riders spoke wherever they could gain a hearing.  In log cabins, court houses, school houses, taverns or in the open air....  They preached and sang the love of God in Christ.  They desired above all things conversions.  In addition to the circuit riders there were local preachers, exhorters, quarterly meetings, which gathered the members from farms and villages for fellowship and camp meetings.

Evangelische simply means Evangelical. When Lutherisch/Lutheran is also present then it means Evangelical Lutheran. However, you should be careful because there are several types of Evangelical churches. In Germany, there was also an "evangelisch reformierter" which was Evangelical Reformed. So, many of these folks came to America and found a church that suited their beliefs or needs. In the very old days, you were of a certain faith because the ruling royal family of their area chose for typically political reasons one faith over the other.

The Evangelische church of Germany is not necessarily Lutheran. As a result of the Prussian Union, the Lutheran and Reformed/Calvinistic churches were forced to combine by Prussian King, Frederick William III.

"Distinctively Lutheran services were now simply forbidden and conscientious Lutherans, like Professor Dr. J. G. Scheibel of Breslau, removed from office and persecuted in various incredibly ferocious ways - despite Prussia's claims that it followed an enlightened policy of religion! Nobelmen and merchants were fined heavily for allowing Lutheran services on their properties. Lutherans had to meet secretly in forests, cellars and barns. Judas-money was paid for the betrayal of faithful pastors. Midwives had to report the birth of all Lutheran children. Lutheran baptisms were declared invalid, and babies were sometimes forcibly rebaptized in the official union-church under police compulsion. Faithful pastors were imprisoned. In one village the faithful Lutherans were attacked on Christmas Eve by a military force of five hundred men, who drove the weeping women away from the church with swords and bayonets, forced open the church-doors, and "installed" the union pastor with his union liturgy. The army refused to end the occupation till the protesting parishioners would start attending the union services."

"The Confessional Awakening...finally led thousands of Lutherans, from many walks of life, to emigrate to the New World, so that they and their children might be free to confess and practice their Biblical, Reformation faith without compromise."

"Only after the death of Frederick William III (1840) was the hitherto underground Lutheran church allowed to exist in Prussia as an independent body (1845)."

Kurt E. Marquart, Anatomy of an Explosion (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978) pp. 20, 21.

This would be better understood to be Lutheran if the complete American title would be used - Evangelical Lutheran. I came from an area in western PA where most of the Lutheran churches were careful to identify themselves as Ev. Lutheran.

The meaning of "Evangelische" is very important in Germanic genealogy research. In Germany since the early 1800s "Evangelische" has indicated "non-Catholic," or what Americans call "Protestant." Since the early 1800s there were two main streams of Christian faith: Evangelische and Katholisch. Later other smaller groups appear: Methodisch, Presbyterianisch, usw.

However, from the time of the Reformation until the early 1800s, there were two streams of "Evangelische:" Evangelische Lutheranische and Evangelische Reformierte, the former what we would call "Lutheran," and the latter designating "Reformed." "Reformed" indicated the Protestant stream with theological roots in the Swiss Reformation of Ulrich Zwingli in Zurich and John Calvin in Geneva. These distinctions were maintained by German immigrants to the USA after the two streams were forced by governmental authority to merge in Germany. No such pressure in the USA, so the separate streams remained intact well into the 20th century.

Though "friendly" with one another, the two streams must not be casually mushed together: they tried, without success, to reach common understanding, and the dividing issue was the nature of Christ's presence in Holy Communion. It is a development of major theological and ecclesiological significance that the major Lutheran body in the USA (the ELCA) and the major Reformed churches (Presbyterian, Reformed, United Church of Christ) reached common acceptance only this year (1998!), settling the theological dispute by mutual recognition, something Melanchthon (Lutheran) and the Reformed theologians didn't manage in the 16th century.

Western PA Lutherans identified their churches as Ev. Lutheran to distinguish them from Ev. Reformierte. My German ancestors from Wuerttemberg, from Hessen, and from Westffalen were definitely and decidedly Ev. Reformierte and they made it very clear that just because they spoke German and had German surnames they WERE NOT Lutheran! In the USA they were members of the Deutsche Ev. Reformierte Kirche -- which became the Evangelical and Reformed Church, which in the late 1950s merged into what is now the United Church of Christ.

So if you are searching for German church records in the USA, don't just look at Lutheran churches. Your ancestors may have been, like mine were, Reformierte. If so records will be in a current day United Church of Christ congregation, or at a UCC seminary - Lancaster PA in the east, Eden in St. Louis in the mid-west.

From: (Lyle G. Hartman):
One must distinguish between the meaning of the term in countries other than Germany and the meaning in Germany, and in particular, in Baden, Hohenzollern, and Wurttemberg in the 18th and 19th centuries.

I generally read "Evangelische" during this period to mean "Protestant". There were two state-supported religions, Evangelische and Katholische. Smaller towns were usually predominantly Catholic or Protestant. There were Catholic areas and Protestant areas.

Meyers Orts Lexikon (1895 version) usually included in the description of towns and cities the religious affiliation of the residents. Here are some examples:
Stuttgart: of 158,321 residents, "132,592 Evangelische, 22,297 Katholiken u. 3489 Juden"
Knittlingen: (1890) "2572 fast nur evang. Einwohner"
Konigsbronn: (1890) "1202 meist evang. Einwohner"

I can only speak from personal experience about what churches these people chose when they emigrated to the U.S. Many were farmers looking for opportunity, so located where cheap land was becoming available directly from the government. Many groups founded their own churches because there were none.

If you looked at the church records of a church founded by Germans in Brownsville, Minnesota in the 1850s, you'd swear you were looking at church records from Germany, with old script and the same terms.

Some of a party of 300 from Brienz, Canton Bern, ended up in Mormon Coulee, southwest of La Crosse, Wisconsin. They started their own church. It is now part of United Church of Christ. Many of them had been members of the "Evangelisch-Reformierte Kirche Brienz". Many of these churches eventually became part of UCC. Two descendants of Peter Schild from Brienz became ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church.

Many of the churches the immigrants joined or founded had titles like "German Evangelical", "Lutheran Evangelical", "German Reformed", etc. One can trace the history of some of the denominational origins and mergers by looking at the various web sites.

In northern Germany some of the parishes were Evangelische Lutheran, but I think it is a mistake to simply equate "Evangelische" with Lutheran. It simply means "Protestant". That is not to deny the Lutheran heritage of these churches.

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