52 Ancestors Week 23 - Going to the Chapel

+16 votes

AJC - Maybe "going to the chapel" make you think of weddings. Perhaps you have a member of the clergy in your family tree. Is there a particular church that features prominently? Chapel or Church as a surname?


in The Tree House by Robynne Lozier G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
retagged by Robynne Lozier
hmm, lets out a whole lot of folks descended from Catholics, whether practicing now or not.  It would always be collateral family, not direct ancestry.  (At least officially)
23. My 2nd wedding was memorable! My 3 sons and I were kitted in full Scots clobber including our kilts WITH NO UNDERWEAR and held at Gold Reef City in Johannesburg. Fabulous!!

18 Answers

+17 votes
Best answer

Where to start! I have a gazillion preachers on my mother's side of the family. The first that I know of was Bishop Johannes Steiner (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Steiner-68 ), my 7-greats grandfather. He was an Anabaptist preacher in Bern, Switzerland. Because of persecution of the Anabaptists, he fled, with his family, to Germany. He spent some time in the German Palatinate, where he was known as a Mennonite preacher (the German equivalent of the Swiss Anabaptists). There was a schism in the church, and he wound up moving first to the Netherlands, and then immigrated to Pennsylvania.

Another branch of my mother's family has several preachers. The fist that I know of being Rev. Christian Winebrenner (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Winebrenner-49 ). He was my great-great-great-great-great grandfather. He was born in York county, Penn., but moved with his family as a teen to Hagerstown, Maryland, where his parents bought a farm. He was raised in the German Reformed Church. As an adult, he moved back to Pennsylvania, buying an acre near Martinsburg in Morrison's Cove, Woodbury Twp., Bedford county, Penn. in 1809, for the purpose of building a church. Rev. Christian Winebrenner's church was referred to simply as The Congregation at Christian Winebrenner's, and I have been unable to find any affiliation. It may have been German Reformed, or it may not have been.

Christian Winebrenner's son, and (my 5-greats uncle) Christian Winebrenner, Jr. (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Winebrenner-137 ), son of the above Christian Winebrenner, was also a minister in the German Reformed Church at Clover Creek, near Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, between 1829 and 1843. This implies that his father's congregation, may, indeed, have been German Reformed.

Christian Sr.'s nephew, my cousin 5 times removed, John Winebrenner, was also a minister (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Winebrenner-126) He was born near Hagerstown, Maryland, and ordained in the German Reformed Church (through an apprenticeship). His biography, which is based on his own memoirs as well as church documents, mention that his family had some slaves in Maryland. As an adult, he moved back to Pennsylvania and became an abolitionist. He had a congregation in Cumberland county, PA: Friedens Kirche, a German Reformed chuch. He was too radical, however, for the German Reformed church. As well as being an abolitionist, he held prayer meetings late into the night, and allowed women to speak in the church. He spoke out against the unscrupulous ways of the wealthier members of the congregation. He was locked out of the church, and took the opportunity to start his own church, the Church of God, around 1830, which still exists today. There is quite a lengthy biography of him available through the Church of God.

Above: Rev. Peter Winebrenner, Noble county, Indiana, Christian Church, Eel River Conference, circuit rider.

Rev. Christian Winebrenner Sr. (above) had a grandson, Peter Winebrenner, (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Winebrenner-45 ) (my great great grandfather) who also became a minister. His father, David, had moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio, gotten married, had kids, and moved to Indiana in 1937. His family was among the first to move to Wolflake, Noble county, Indiana. Peter was ordained as a minister in the Christian Church (also called Disciples of Christ), Eel River Conference, and was a circuit rider for Noble and parts of neighboring counties, preaching in the various churches there, conducting marriages, funeral services, etc. I have xeroxes of a collection of diaries he wrote, and I will add some excerpts from them to this when I have time.

Peter Winebrenner's grandson, my grandfather's brother, George Stoner (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Stoner-1102 ), was also ordained in the Christian Church, but was not a practicing preacher. He would occasionally preach as a guest or substitute. George and my grandfather, Peter Stoner (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Stoner-632 ), along with their brother-in-law, Henry Secrist (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Secrist-125 ) , built the first Christian Church building at Lincoln, Kansas, around 1905, which is still standing today.


First Christian Church, Lincoln, Kansas, around 1905.

by Alison Gardner G2G6 Mach 8 (85.0k points)
edited by Alison Gardner
What a heritage, Alison! Excellent research!
+8 votes
Mine is Reverend Richard Henry Jordan. His profile is https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Jordan-13111. Richard was born in 1821. He passed away in 1893.
He is the son of [[Jordan-13139|Ashael Jordan]]and [[Anonymous-2598|Grisally Anonymous]]

In 1870 Census of Rhea County, Rev. Richard Henry Jordan was listed living in the area of Smith's Cross Roads. His parents both are from South Carolina. Sometime before 1821 the Jordan family moved to Habbersham County, Georgia and by 1830, they migrated into Bledsoe County, Tennessee, where his parents died between 1871 and 1879.

In 1880 Rev. Richard Henry Jordan was living in Meigs County, Tennessee and by 1890 he made his home  in Hamilton County, Tennessee. Rev. Jordan, a Baptist Circuit Rider Minister for 41 years was born July 17, 1821 in Habbersham County, and died September 18, 1893, in what was James County, but is now Hamilton County. His death occured at the Salem Church, reportedly after preaching to large congregation. His last sermon was taken from St. John the 12th Chapter.
by Living Barnett G2G6 Pilot (505k points)
edited by Living Barnett
+16 votes
Yes, I can give you chapel.

I used to joke that I came from a long line of pirates and Baptist ministers. After working on my family tree, I know that there are no actual pirates (maybe a few suspicious characters), but I could make a book of the clergy, including deacons and missionaries.

It was while researching one of the suspicious characters that I came across a marriage certificate that stated my ancestor was wed in the ''Church of the Presbyterian Strangers". Like some of the other stories about this ancestor, I thought it was a work of fiction.

It turns out he was married in the first Presbyterian church in Boston, founded by Scotch-Irish immigrants in the 1720's. Many of the congregation were so poor that their passage to the New World was donated, and they didn't have the resources to start businesses or even build homes, let alone a church. Someone's employer donated an old barn so they could have a place of worship, which they called the Long Lane Meeting House.  

They were seen as dirty and foreign, and regarded with suspicion by many people of Boston. Shortly after they began to use the space, they found derogatory graffiti carved into a beam of the structure, which read "Church of the Presbyterian Strangers".  Rather than being intimidated, they adopted the moniker as their formal name, and used it with pride for about 60 years.

I've now found two other Nova Scotian ancestors who are connected to that same church.  I'm no longer surprised by the name, but its still the most interesting church I've found so far, and I look forward to paying a visit to its modern descendant, near the Public Garden. I'm told its one of the jewels of Boston.
by Laurie Giffin G2G6 Pilot (105k points)
What a great story! Fantastic find.
Hard to imagine.  Such a shinning example of true American fortitude.  How fortunate we all are these are the kind of people who came to America!
Jim Webb, in his book “Born Fighting,” mentions this very situation. The descendants of the early Puritans didn’t accept their co-religionists, Presbyterians from Ulster. Laurie, your story is the first real example I’ve seen of this. Thanks for sharing it.
Fascinating story.  Thanks for sharing it.
+13 votes

I don't have any preachers or pastors in my family - although my father was a lay preacher, a deacon and a missionary for the NZ Baptist Society for several years.

As a family, of both Scottish and English descent, my Thompson family (for an as yet still unknown reason) chose to join the local Baptist church instead of the local Presbyterian church - which was closer to their home in Dunedin, New Zealand. The Baptist church was several blocks away. The Pressie church was in the very next street!

This new church, (Baptist) was the Mornington Baptist church, a small red brick church that has now closed down. On Google maps it is still standing, but the image is dated 2012.

My grandparents, my parents and my older sister were all married at Mornington Baptist church so the line, Going to the chapel and we're gonna to get married, is certainly true for my family. 

Will try and find an image to show you.

I posted a picture to my grandfathers profile.


by Robynne Lozier G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
edited by Robynne Lozier
Robynne, do you know when this church was built? Great pic!
+12 votes

The most complete records I have ever found are from a tiny town called Wroot in Lincolnshire, UK. There were 455 people living there in the 2011 census. One of my mom's lines goes back to the 1500's in the area, and it's all documented in the Parish records. Because the towns there are so small, every thing they did seems to be documented. A lot of religion happening there too. The Wesleyan Methodists began there. Also what must have been half the town immigrated to Salt Lake City to be part of the Church of LDS. Hooray! You know there are lots of records for the Mormons. I guess the main person mentioned would be 1st cousin, 5 x removed  [[Edward Maw|Maw39]] Here is my blog post - http://www.libbyonthelabel.ca/2018/06/52-ancestors-week-23-going-to-chapel.html#.Wxc77rFC8DI.link

by Libby Park G2G6 Mach 1 (18.6k points)
Now there's an unusual story!
Truly a great story! Thanks for sharing it!
+11 votes

In Britain, there is a clear distinction between "Church" (= Church of England) and "Chapel" (= the various dissenting or nonconforming branches of Protestantism, including Methodists, Unitarians, and Congregationalists).

My father's father's branch of the family was definitely "Chapel" (with some branches going back to the time of the Great Puritan Migration).

My 3rd great grandfather,  Rev John Gunn (abt. 1784 - 1836), https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Gunn-2793 , was born in Wick Scotland.  While living in Edinburgh, attending school and working for a bookseller ,  he was attracted to "The Tabernacle" of Mr Haldane.  He moved to London (still in the book business, but, after a few years, he trained at Homerton College to become a Congregational minister.  From 1816 to his death in 1836 he was the Congregational minister in Chard, Somerset, growing the congregation to the  largest, wealthiest and most successful in town.

After his death in 1836, an memorial obelisk was raised by public subscription.  In addition to the basic details of Rev John and his family, it says

"In memory of 

the Rev: John GUNN 

who, to a faithful discharge of pastoral duties

during a period of twenty years 

united a special and affectionate attention to 

the young of his flock

By them was the present tablet erected

to record on marble 

a sense of gratitude yet more deeply

engraven on the heart

This beloved Minister, and man of God

fell asleep in Jesus

 April 9th. 1836 

 aged 47."


by Janet Gunn G2G6 Pilot (161k points)
I think yours must be the most heartwarming memorial to be cherished I've ever heard of!
I agree, Teresa! Would that we should be remembered like that,
+11 votes

There are so many to pick from!

In the spirit of the challenge, I decided to look at my brick wall great grandmother. The only clue I have for her a history that mentions she and her brother as early church members, so I did some research to create a profile for the Reverend Nathaniel Salisbury (or Salsbury).
If there is no chapel, let the church come to you.... Nathaniel was converted in 1816 and became a preacher on the Methodist Episcopal circuit. He preached in Syracuse, New York before the city/village was even formed. From there, he became an elder in the Northern New York Methodist Episcopal conference. See his biography here https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Salisbury-1659. Some excerpts:
  • In 1811 Henry Cook moved from Pompey to Camillus, near Ionia, when his farm was all a wilderness...there was no religious society in Ionia, or anywhere nearer than Elbridge, where one was formed in 1808; none at Camillus, Marcellus, Jordan, or Syracuse, except at Salina where one was formed in 1800. Mr. Cook established prayer meetings at once, and solicited the services of ministers on the Cayuga and Scipio circuits, who occasionally preached in the log house and formed a society...In 1816, a four days' meeting was appointed at Mr. Cook's barn, and attended with so much interest that it was lengthened sometime longer, resulting in a great awakening and many conversions, not only at Ionia, but Marcellus and other places shared in the good work. Two well-known ministers in Onondaga county were converted at that meeting, Nathaniel Salsbury, who became a flaming herald of the cross in those days, both as pastor and presiding elder was one
  • The deceased joined the Genesee Conference in 1822, and was stationed at Marcellus; he had, however, been licensed to preach a year or two before this. In 1823 he supplied Marcellus and Manlius. He rode a circuit from 50 to 100 miles in those early days, and walked 12 miles on the Sabbath between the forenoon and afternoon services. Between this time and 1840, he preached at LeRoy, Watertown, Oswego, and Rome. In 1832 he was delegated to the general conference. In 1840 he was made presiding elder of the Watertown district, and afterward held the same position in Gouverneur, Adams, Oswego, and Syracuse districts. In 1864, he was stationed in this city, being pastor of the Embargo Street Church. He was superannuated in 1865, and remained so up to the time of his death.
There must also be some honorable mention for Deacon George Cornish, an nth great uncle. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Cornish-762 He had two wives, and 4 daughters each. His will suggests there may have been some discord in his household, as it specifies exactly which rooms, staircase, and portion of the yard each of the groups of 4 daughters inherit access to, and will disown the daughters if they reach out to one of his wife's relatives for any help.
by Kay Knight G2G6 Pilot (607k points)
What a will!! Fascinating, Kay!!
+11 votes
I’m late in this one, but....

Some ancestors were founding members to three of the Seven Sisters, Presbyterian churches organized in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina: from south to north, Steele Creek, Paw Creek, and Hopewell, all three along the River (Catawba, that is).  All three cemeteries are chock full of ancestors and relatives.

My more immediate family attended First Baptist, Mt. Holly, Gaston County, for four generations. My parents were married there in 1951 (two other aunt, too).

When my wife and I were figuring out where we wanted to get married (we were living elsewhere at the time), FBC, Mt. Holly was centrally located, so we got married there. We asked my parents’ officiant, the Rev. John Sherman Farrar, to marry us. He was the grandson of my grandfather’s eldest sister, thus my second cousin. My uncle, the Rev. Thomas Arlen Sheppard, my dad’s brother, was my best man.

As soon as the service was over, we drove over to a nursing home in Gastonia to see my dad who was already in the late stages of Alzheimer’s. We knew there’d be no response, but it was to ensure that he wasn’t forgotten in the midst of our celebration.

John Farrar’s brother, Charles William Farrar, was also a Baptist minister and a dear friend, too. Our ancestor, Reuben Underwood, was said to have been the first Baptist preacher to have crossed the River.

FBC, Mt. Holly, had a terrible fire a couple of years ago that destroyed much of the sanctuary. Fortunately, the walls were saved and they are rebuilding.

I’m proud of my family’s involvement in the formation and continuance of these and many other churches. It’s a spiritual and cultural legacy I treasure.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.7m points)
You certainly should be proud of such a legacy!  Truly inspiring.
Thanks, Cheryl!
+12 votes
I have a couple of ministers in the family but I find it more interesting to mention Thomas Montgomery, who , along with his wife and a few others were the first members who helped build a Presbyterian church and membership in their pioneer settlement in the Western Reserve of Ohio.

Then there is Isaac Wright Collins who also helped build a Presbyterian church and membership in Crawford co Pennsylvania.

Another interesting thing about this is that Thomas' daughter Eliza, married Isaacs son Henry .and went to live with him in Pennsylvania.
by Gloria Lange G2G6 Mach 1 (14.1k points)
A great heritage for you, Gloria. Appreciate you sharing it!
+9 votes
I am not participating in the 52 weekly challenge but thought this is an interesting answer to how our locals handled a situation in the early 1800s.
Three groups put together and built a church and each denomination got to use it in proportion to the financial input to build it.  Thus, the Baptists got 50% and the Unitarians got  25% and the Methodist-Episcopalians got 25%.
Eventually the Baptists pulled out and built their own church about 1880s, which blew down in 2010 under a heavy snow load.  The other church was dismantalled in 1920s after being discontinued by lack of membership.
by Beulah Cramer G2G6 Pilot (572k points)
That’s interesting Beulah. I read quite a few histories and newspaper articles to glean information for Nathaniel Salsbury (above). In the early 1800s, they met at schools, homes, barns, taverns. By 1830 to 1850 quite a few churches were built.
Yes, I read the name.  In the 1950s our Baptist minister's husband was the
head of the Methodists in the Watertown area.  Mr. Potter
This was common enough, multiple denominations using the same building. The PCUSA has a provision in their Book of Order for this exact situation. Sad about the old church collapsing.
+10 votes
Not the Chapel, but the Parsonage.

Growing up as a child in Momence, IL. USA, I started going to the First Baptist Church of Momence when I was about 6 years old.

In 1961 I was baptized in the church.

I went to all of the activities the church sponsored, including Vacation Bible School. I was also active in the Church Choir.

During Vacation Bible School, we could often be found running in and out of the parsonage. As I grew older and became active in the Choir, had practice in the parsonage.

In 1975 our church was sold and turned into a bank.  The parsonage was moved across town.  I moved out of state and was living in California. I returned to Illinois in 1987 and married my current husband. Much to my surprise, my husband's sister owned my beloved parsonage.

A year into our marriage, and much to my surprise, my sister-in-law found herself in a bad financial situation and had to sell the parsonage. We were renting an apartment, and when I heard that, I told my husband that we had to buy it.

He was very reluctant, but knew how badly I wanted it.  We purchased it, and on our move-in date, my grandmother came over and asked us if we were really going to move it, it looked so bad.

Well, 30 years later, back to the original house it was in 1914, and we are very happy in our house.
by Cheryl Hess G2G Astronaut (1.8m points)
edited by Cheryl Hess
That is a really great story, Cheryl. I would just die to be able to buy my grandparents home, built 1901, still standing.
Thank you Pip. I am sure you would love your grandparents home.  Is it far from where you live?  If it is still standing, there is always the possibility that you CAN live in it. I would be thrilled for you if that dream came true.
+9 votes
by Sara Rice G2G6 Mach 1 (14.9k points)
Sara, a very well done profile and a great story!
You've really got a humdinger of a story in your profile!  An excellent example of how to make one's ancestors come alive.

I had a look at the profile and checked out the newpaper clipping.  The comment says Date: "Thursday, August 9, 1894 Paper: New York Herald (New York, New York) Issue: 21171 Page: 6 This entire product and/or portions thereof are copyrighted by NewsBank and/or the American Antiquarian Society. 2004.Source: GenealogyBank.com" 

I do not understand copyright law it is true.  I thought things published before 1923 were copyright free or does this only apply to photographs?  If someone can come along in 2004 and copyright something originally written and published in 1894 by someone else,  I think I'd like to copyright Hamlet or Macbeth or As You Like It.

+9 votes

When Mianda Richardson and George Washington Wilkinson were married in 1842, it was probably in someone's home by a Justice of the Peace rather than in a chapel.  Michigan had only become a state 5 years before in 1837.

Mianda's family had come from New York state sometime before April of 1838 when her sister Elizabeth died at age 13 and was buried at Novi, Oakland County, Michigan.  Pioneer live was not easy.  Another sister died in 1839 at age 26 and a brother at age 19 in 1849 also buried at Novi.

Mianda and George endured and lived to the ages of 87 and 98 dying five months apart in 1914.  At that time they had been married for 72 years.

by Jill Perry G2G6 Mach 4 (45.3k points)

72 years! That must have been True Love!

+8 votes

How about going to the revival ? Might have been in a church or chapel but most likely was in a tent.  My great grandfather, James Oliver Boswell Atkinson, was a Methodist revival preacher in the late 1800's and early 1900's in Alabama and Florida.   

He also was one of the pioneer settlers in Bay County, Florida. He and Mazie moved there sometime after the 1900 census. He had numerous businesses in Panama City, including a shoe shop (J. B. Atkinson's Shoe Shop) where he worked as a cobbler, a grocery store,[7], and a plumbing, heating and electrical contractor business (J. B. Atkinson, Inc.) in Panama City and Lynn Haven, Florida.


by Carolyn Martin G2G6 Pilot (286k points)
Another great profile.  I'm so inspired!
As a kid, a Baptist in the South, I attended a revival where the preacher screamed so loud he blew out the sound system. Said it was fine, he didn’t need it. That was true!
Thanks, Teresa!
I imagine that was quite exciting, Pip!
And scary! I was sure I was bound for hell. At least according to the revival preacher.
+7 votes

On my mom's side of the family, there are several 'non-conformist' preachers-Rev. Ralph Partridge, Rev. William Eddy, and Rev. Ralph Furness, the last of whom was making waves from the pulpit when he was in his eighties, leading to his eventual suspension. (Source: Matthew Reynolds's Godly Reformers and Their Opponents in Early Modern England)  I'm sure quite a few people here are descendants of Rev. Partridge.  John Abbot Goodwin wrote the following in his The Pilgrim Republic: An Historical Review of the Colony of New Plymouth: "...the church settled Ralph Partridge, a learned Cambridge scholar whom Laud had ejected from his English pulpit and "hunted like a partridge over the mountains.""  It's inspiring to see how devoted these men were to their faith and how willing they were to take a stand for it.

The most important preacher in my family was much closer in time than these Puritan ministers-my great-grandmother lost her mother before she was two years old and her father was unable to care for the four children and could only keep one, sending the others to various placements.  One of my great-grandmother's distant cousins, a traveling minister named Albert French, took her in and raised her as his own daughter.

by K. Anonymous G2G6 Pilot (147k points)
+6 votes

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Penny-1003 Charles Penny.

He is my 5th Great Grandfather.

He married twice:and had 12 children so he made 14 trips to church for those events alone!

Husband of Margaret (Bruce) Penny — married 28 Dec 1773 (to before 24 Dec 1789) in Rathen, Aberdeenshire, Scotlandmap

Husband of Barbara (Morrice) Penny — married 24 Dec 1789 in Rathen, Aberdeenshire, Scotlandmap

Father of Anne PennyWilliam PennyAnne Penny IIJohn PennyJean (Penny) MurisonJames PennyChristian Penny I,Christian (Penny) WyllieHelen PennyMary PennyJean Penny II and Barbara Penny [add child]

by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (839k points)
+7 votes

Initially, I thought I'd go with Mom & Dad, who married in June 1950. But I have lots of clergy, and one story in particular is a favorite.

Edward Spencer Martin, my dad's grandfather, was a lay preacher (pretty sure at Crawford Methodist Church in Vicksburg). Dad asked him once about where the wives for Adam & Eve's sons came from. The reply (as told to me by my Dad): Well, he cackled, shook his finger at me, and said "that's a good question sonny!"

Neatly side-stepping the question.

by Liz Shifflett G2G6 Pilot (639k points)
+3 votes
One story from my Lillard side goes back to Captain John Lillard, an early settler of Kentucky.  He was visited by a family member who was a preacher, during a period of Native American attacks against the settlers, and one night the two of them patrolled around the farm keeping an eye out for potential trouble.  As daylight approached, the preacher suggested they kneel down, and close their eyes in prayer to thank God for their deliverance.  Captain John responded, "We'd a damned sight better keep our eyes open."
by Anneliese Kennedy G2G6 Mach 1 (18.2k points)

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