"Our Visit to Northern Illinois

Church of the Brethren

On November 16th we left our home to meet engagements made for a general visit to the churches comprising the Northern District of Illinois. We arrived at Freeport, in Stephenson county, about 3 o'clock on Saturday morning the 18th. Here we were met by bro. Enoch Eby, who took us to the House of sister Emmert. Her husband, John Emmert, is doing business in Chicago. Having traveled the last two nights, we were somewhat weary, and we enjoyed a few hours sleep very much in the house of sister Emmert. We were made very comfortable here. We took dinner with bro.Michael Lawver, in Freeport. After dinner, bro. Eby took us into his neighborhood, the Rock Grove branch of the Wadam's Grove Congregation. Here our meeting commenced. But the weather turning very cold on Saturday morning, and a snow storm occurring at night, the weater was quite unfavorable for meeting. There were three appointments in the school house in the district in which bro. Eby lives, and two appointments in a school house a little farther from his residence, in the edge of the State of Wisconsin. Considering the cold and stormy weather, the meetings were attended, and, upon the whole, were pleasant seasons of devotion. But bro. Eby felt disappointed, as he looked for a number of persons to attend the meetings who, in consequence of the unfavorable state of the weather, were prevented from attending. While we were with the brethren of the Rock Grove branch, we mad ethe house of bro. Eby our general stopping place. We found his family a very pleasant one to be in, and felt much at home while there. Several of his children that are at home are members of the church. Bro. Eby performs a considerable amount of ministerial labor, and labors successfully.

From Rock Grove we were taken by bro. Eby to Wadam's Grove. Here the Annual Meeting in 1856 was held. The brethren have now a comfortable meeting house near the farm on which the Annual Meeting as held. Here we held four meetings which were well attended. Our visit here and farther acquaintance with the brethren in this branch we were kindly entertained; among these were the families of bro. Wetzel and bro. Boyer. These brethren are ministers of the Work; and so are brethren Myers and Lutz. With the latter we took dinner. Our last meeting in the Wadam's Grove church was in Lena. This is a thriving town on the Illinois Central Railroad, 13 miles north of Freeport. Several of the members of Wadam's Grove church live here. There is also at present the residence of elder Daniel Fry, though he is the elder of the Yellow Creek church. To the last mentioned church we went from Lena. Here we held three meetings in the meeting-house. These meetings were well attended and pleasant seasons. Brethren Masters and Fowler labor with bro. Fry in the ministry. In this church there are several of the family of brother Jacob Studebaker, who lived on Wills' Creek, in Bedford county PA. With these we had formed an acquaintance while they lived on Wills' Creek, as we formerly preached there. We were happy now to renew and increase our acquaintance with these dear friends.

Brethren Benjamin Miller and David Buterbaugh of the Cherry Grove church met us at Yellow Creek, and took us to the Cherry Grove church. Here we had six meetings in the meeting house, and one in the town of Shannon, and one in Lanark - towns on the Western Union Railroad. The congregations here were good, and the meetings seemed to be attended with interest. Brethren Bollinger and Martin are elders in this church, and they have others to assist them in the ministry. Here lived our beloved bro. Isaac Shumaker. His death occurred while we were in Carroll county. We took dinner with him on Friday. He was at our meeting at Arnold's Grove on Saturday morning, and opened the meeting. On Monday about noon he died, having attended to his stock in the morning. His death was sudden, owing probably to a disease of the heart under which he was laboring. His death, being so sudden, and he so well known, produced, it was said, quite a shock in the community. It was a severe affliction upon his family. But they, no doubt, had the sympathy of many Christian friends and the grace of God to suport them in their affliction. We were at Hickory Grove when bro. Schumaker's death occurred, and a request was sent us to attend the funeral; but the brethren did not seem willing for us to leave the meetings, and we did not go. As we had long been acquainted with bro. Schumaker and his family, we regretted the existence of circumstances which prevented us from attending his funeral.

While we were in Shannon, we called to see our dear brother Sprogle. As he is well known to many of our readers, we allude to his case. and we do it with sorrow. He is laboring under a disordered mind. He knows but very little. He scarcely knows his own children. He is yet tolerably submissive, and most of the time pleasant, but there are times when he gives his friends a great deal of trouble. His bodily health is tolerably good, and he moves about the house with much life and animation. He is now seventy-two years old. He has taken no part in the ministry, I think, for a couple of years. There were three or four of us called to see him, and he conceived the idea that there was to be meeting in his house, and it seemed to give him pleasure. How very sorry we felt that he could not recognize us, as we have been so long acquainted with each other. Bro. Sprogle, in his prime, was an entertaining and useful preacher, and very good company, being a ready talker. But his mind has lost its power, and we contemplated his case with peculiar feelings.

"Thy ways, O God, are in the sea;
Thy paths I cannot trace,
Nor comprehend the mystery
Of thine unbounded grace.

Here the dark vails of flesh and sense
My captive soul surround;
Mysterious deeps of Providence
My inward thoughts confound

Brother Sprogle and his wife live iwth their son, Dr. Samuel Sprogle. Our brother in his affliction has apparently all the care and attention that kindness can administer. Sister Sprogle, though upwards of eighty years old, is remarkably well and active for a woman of her age. And though her labor is confining and very trying, she seemed to perform it cheerfully, and expressed herself glad that the Lord had given her strength to attend to her husband. She seemed very happy that we called to see them. Brother and sister Sprogle should have, and we hope they will have, the sympathy and prayers of their brethren and sisters.

From Cherry Grove we were taken to Arnold's Grove. This is one of the oldest churches in the Northern District of Illinois. It was a large congregation until the Cherry Grove and Hickory Grove churches were separated from it. Brother John Emmert is the elder of this church. There are other brethren in the ministry who assist him. Here we had five meetings, but the weather was stormy and cold. The meetings, however, were tolerably well attended. We had a pleasant visit to this church.

We next went to Hickory Grove. Here we had five meetings. Our interview with the brethren here was pleasant. With some of them we had formed an acquaintance in E. Pennsylvania. Brethren Rittenhouse and Sisler are the elders. From Hickory Grove we went to the Milledgeville church. This is a large church. Many of the brethren here came from Somerset county, PA. We were acquainted with a number of them while they resided there, and it was very pleasant to meet with them again, and to renew our acquaintance formed many years ago. Here we had several meetings, and there was considerable interest manifested. Brethren J. Hanger, H. Meyers and M. Meyers are the elders of this church. There are other active young brethren in the ministry. Our next appointments were at Rock Creek, in Whiteside County. This is properly a part of the Milledgeville congregation. Several of the brethren of the Rock Creek church came from Montgomery county PA. With some of these we enjoyed Christian fellowship many years ago. The elder here is bro. Samuel Haldeman, was one of our pupils when we taught school at Lumberville PA. From Hickory Grove we returned again to Milledgeville church, on our way to the West Branch church, in Ogle county and had an evening meeting. The congregation was large and attentive. In the West Branch church we had several meetings, which were well attended. There was also one appointment in the town of Haldane. Brother michael Emmert is the elder of the West Branch church. Our next appointments were in the congregation in which elder David Price resides. Here we had several meetings, which were well attended, and considerable interest was manifested. The Pine Creek church was next visited. Here there were several meetings, and they were pleasant seasons of Christian devotion. Bro David Miller is the elder of this church. Our last meeting in Ogle county was in the town of Polo. We then went into Lee county. This is one of the largest churches in Northern Illinois. Bro. Daniel Diedorf is the oldest elder. Here we had several interesting meetings; and here our labors in Illinois closed.

The time we spent in Northern Illinois was over five weeks. With the exception of three or four days, we preached twice every day. The journey, in consideration fo the number of meetings held, was one of labor, but, nevertheless, it was one of much pleasure to us. It was very pleasant to us, and also apparently to others, to meet those dear Christian friends again whom we had formerly met and become acquainted with, adn to rejoice together in "hope of the glory of God." And it was pleasant, also, to met and become acquainted with others who "have obtained like precious faith with us," and who are pressing "toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Several were added to the church by baptism; adn there were some who had left the church restored to the fold of the heavenly shepherd. There are some thirteen congregations in the Northern District of Illinois and arrangements had been made to visit all but one. The length of time we allowed the brethren to occupy, gave to each church about three days. It would have been well could the meetings in some places have continued a longer time, as the interest was encouraging when the meetings closed. But we tried to sow the seed of gospel trugh, and hope tha tothers may reap the harvest and experience th truth of the saying, "one soweth and another reapeth."

As remarked above, there are some thirteen churches in the Norther District, and some of these are large churches. The Brethren began to settle in this part of the State in about 1845, and consequently in about twenty five years, these churches have grown up. Thus has "the word of the Lord increased, and the number of the disciples multiplied" in Northern Illinois. And may the good work continue to advance. We found the churches generally in peace, and generally prospering.

Upon the whole, our visit was a very pleasant one. Our meetings were seasons of Christian consolation to us, and the friends were remarkably kind to us. All was done that Christian love could do to render us comfortable. We found the houses and families of our dear friends with whom we stopped a temporary home for us, and felt much at home while there. We should be pleased to mention the names of many brethren and sisters whose Christian kindness we so literally enjoyed, and the names of others with whom we formed a pleasant acquaintance, and with whom we enjoyed Christian fellowship; but this would make our notice of our journey too long. We, however, assure such that they are not forgotten. We are thankful to our friends in whose kindness we so liberally shared; and, above all, to the Lord who protected us and our family, and brought us again together.


Contributed by Carol Parrish
Taken from the Gospel Visitor (Church of the Brethren periodical) Feb., 1872, XXII No. 2, pgs. 58-61
Newspapers of the German Baptist Brethren


Illinois - "Our Way"

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