52 Ancestors Week 17: At Worship

+19 votes

imageReady for Week 17 of the 52 Ancestors challenge?

Please share with us a profile of an ancestor or relative who matches this week's theme:

At Worship

From Amy Johnson Crow:

Our ancestors' religious traditions can lead us to many discoveries. Have you used church/synagogue/meeting records? Do you have an ancestor who was in the clergy? Have you visited an ancestral church?


Share below!

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in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.9m points)

72 Answers

+24 votes

I've been ordained for 30-plus years, but I’m not my own ancestor.  cheeky  (I do qualify as the ancestress for my grandchildren, though!)

However, my first cousin three times removed was a Salvation Army officer, as was his wife (Mary McPhee ). He was later an ordained minister with the Free Church and was also a minister with the Presbyterian church.  She was ranked as Lieutenant before they married, but afterwards seems to have taken a back seat to his work for the church.

While not clergy, my daughter was church organist at the age of 12; and both my children have sung for services (with and without me), and my son plays at times for a church.

Some future genealogist might find mention of me in the church fellowship society's records, and also the records of the synod's larger fellowship groups, as president of various groups/sections; as well as in the church and/or parish minutes as a youth pastor/leader.


17 weeks /17, go me!

[Edited to add link to profile.]

by Melanie Paul G2G6 Pilot (343k points)
edited by Melanie Paul
That is really interesting Melanie, that you have been ordained for 30 years. I am an elder in the Presbyterian Church, and we work on a large project with the Salvation Army each year.

17 weeks, me too!  Go me also!

Melanie, I just clicked open WikiTree because I am having troubles connecting (or rather WikiTree is not communicating with me), and I found your response for Week 17.

I have already answered this question, but I have to tell you a funny story about being ordained. I was sent an e-mail a couple of months ago about being an ordained minister on-line.

A little background on myself - I have been a Christian since I was 12, and though we all sin, and fall short of the glory of God, I always found my way back.

So I thought this e-mail was quite funny, so I filled it out. Less than ten minutes later, I received another e-mail telling me that I was now an ordained minister and able to perform marriages in the State of Illinois.

For $40.00, they would send me the supplies for one marriage kit. For $29.99, they would send me my ordination papers, and on and on.

There were different amounts for business cards, robes, just everything you would need to become a pastor - at a price.

My goodness - I was amazed.  Now to make this even funnier, my ex sister-in-law actually took this seriously, paid for a marriage license and performed a marriage.

Now I am not sure if that marriage is legitimate, but as far as I am concerned, the Pastors that I have listened to (while some are much better than others) for certain did not receive their license from an e-mail.

An addenda to this - I think the work you are doing as a youth pastor/leader is one of the most important roles in society today. In our area, Youth Pastors are hard to come by, and they do not stay long. I am not sure if they get frustrated with the kids, the pay or both, but the ones that do stay make a lasting impression on the youth of our church. Thank you for the work that you do!

God Bless!
+20 votes

Paddock Household

by Leslie Ray Sears, III and Pamela Sears Cooper

In the 1880 Dennis (Cape Cod) Massachusetts census when Isaiah Hall, 1880 census enumerator, reached the house at the northwest corner of the Old King’s Highway and Bridge Street in East Dennis, (just a few miles away from our great-grandfather’s house) he recorded the following on page 14 of enumeration district 12  dwelling house (in the order of visitation) #160, family #170: Mary C Paddock, age 56, keeping house. In fact in the 1880 Atlas of Barnstable County, you can clearly see this house labeled as Mrs. M Paddock. The 1880 Atlas is a valuable resource when studying the census from the whole town point of view. Mary Crocker Paddock (1821-1892) was the daughter of Judah and Mary Crocker (Crowell) Paddock. Whether this entry listed Mary as a “Mrs.” in error or whether they were referring to her deceased mother who was also named Mary Crocker Paddock (1794-1868) is a mystery.  

   Living with Mary are Anna N Shaw, 33, boarder, clergyman b. England; Emma F Angell, 30, boarder, physician, b. NY; Ellen McLaughlin 20, servant, b. Ireland and John McLaughlin, 7mos., boarder.  It’s difficult to think of a 7 month old baby as a boarder but clearly his mother is employed by the owner to support the other boarders. Four women, all single.  Pam discovered this intriguing household during data entry for the 1880 Dennis tree and did some more digging. 

   It’s no wonder Emma is in the company of Reverend Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919) (another case where the enumerator wrote N instead of H or just our lacking ability to discern his penmanship). The minister appeared to be inviting all of her forward thinking friends to come preach and teach in East Dennis. We wonder if the local seafarers' wives made a particularly good audience since they must have been an independent lot. Anna had graduated from the Theology School of Boston University in 1878 at age 31. From 1878 to 1885 she was pastor at East Dennis, Mass. She was ordained by the Methodist Protestant Church on Oct. 12, 1880. 

Reverend Dr Shaw must have been quite a leader as she is described in Jim Coogan’s Barnstable Patriot article “The Woman Preacher Who Faced Down a Sea Captain” in the 24 Jun 2001 issue.  “Two factions in the East Dennis Methodist church were at each other and couldn’t get along.  She said ‘I will refuse admittance to any among you who bring personal criticism into your public prayers.’ One retired sea captain stood up angrily. ‘I have prayed in this heavenly way for 50 years before that gal was born," he pointed to Shaw. ‘And she can't dictate to me how I shall pray in the future.’

Shaw allowed him to continue. When he finished, she spoke directly to him. ‘Captain, If I came aboard your ship and refused to follow orders, would you not consider that an act of mutiny?’ The old man nodded in assent. ‘And would you not put me ashore in irons?’

Problems continued in the church until Reverend Shaw said she would resign and went home to that house on Bridge street to pack her bags.  The parishioners would have none of it.

Coogan continues “But before she could leave, a delegation of church goers surrounded her house. They were led by the same captain that she had earlier banished from the church. He had heard about the sermon and agreed that the young woman preacher was indeed correct in her assessment.

‘Its high time quarrelling and backbiting were stopped,’ he told the crowd. ‘I've come here to say that I'm with the gal. She got real spunk. Put me down for my original subscription and ten dollars extra!’”

   Anna attended Albion College, Michigan, just 30 miles from Olivet College, Michigan where Dr. Emma did her undergraduate work. Do you suppose this is the connection that resulted in their being boarders in the same house in East Dennis?  Or maybe it’s the fact that Anna attended Boston University School of Theology just six years before Dr. Emma.  They are only two years apart in age. Rev. Anna became the first woman to be ordained a Methodist Protestant minister in 1880.  Of course the church in East Dennis is no stranger to famous people.  Our grandmother attended that church when Peter Marshall, Jr was preaching there in the 60s. 

   That house is currently an antique shop.  Oh to be a fly on the wall at the dinner table in 1880.

by L. Ray Sears G2G6 Mach 4 (43.9k points)
Great story, Ray!
+19 votes

I'd like to have known an ancestor, the minister Jens Jenssen Staby the younger, who was in the 4th class-year in Trondheim School when his father (the minister at Lesja, Norway) was called to Øyer, and he was called home to take over the Lesja ministry.

The ministry had different challenges back then. Legend has it that Jens Jensen Staby the younger was in the pulpit when the governor of the area, Lars Gunnarson Hågå (~1570 - ~1650), came into the church in Dovre (then an annex church to Lesja) with a battle axe, struck it on the floor and shouted "Let it be known – the enemy has come into our land!" Immediately the men ran out to the porch, took up their weapons (which were not to be brought into the church) and gathered round the governor/sheriff in the churchyard.

by Jim Wiborg G2G6 Mach 4 (46.5k points)
+16 votes

This week, I talk briefly about how to use Italian records and Drouin/PDRH in your research. I also talk about my 4th great-grandfather, David Webster Stevens! He was a member of the clergy and I found that out rather recently. Check out the blog here: https://arlhaverhill.blogspot.com/2019/04/52-ancestors-week-17-at-worship.html

by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (545k points)
+15 votes

Here's my oldest documented y-DNA ancestor, Thomas Judde (~1490-dec)

He was a church warden at Winterbourne Gunner, Wiltshire, England.

We have a long history in the region. Recently had contact with a distant cousin who does the family genealogy and he tells me that we're probably descended from one John Judde (m. Gillian Mercer) who was Mayor of Salisbury in 1424.

by Rob Judd G2G6 Mach 9 (98.8k points)
edited by Rob Judd
+14 votes
I'm fortunate to have a few clergy in my history from the New England Colonies-

Rev. Joseph Hull https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Hull-132

Rev. John Smith https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Smith-6919

Rev. Samuel Stone https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Stone-351
by Eric McDaniel G2G6 Mach 4 (41.0k points)
+13 votes
I don't have any direct family that I know of being a pastor or anything but I have used lots of church records. Marriages, baptisms, and deaths are coming in handy on finding maiden names and children for family before 1880s.
by Christine Preston G2G6 Mach 5 (52.7k points)
+13 votes

#4 My paternal grandfather, Firman Joseph Robinson (1901-1991) Missouri - Iowa - Washington

In 1938 he was baptized as one of Jehovah's Witnesses in Tacoma, Washington in an old Baptist Church being used at the time as the first Kingdom Hall in Washington State along with Norman Larson. The building had it's own baptismal pool. This Kingdom Hall has been remodeled numerous times over the last sixty years. This is the same Kingdom Hall where Firman’s Memorial Service was held after his death on October 1, 1991. Max Larson, past president of WTBTS, visited before he entered the hospital.

Firman was an elder in the christian congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses in Tacoma, Raymond, and South Bend Washington.

by Azure Robinson G2G6 Pilot (283k points)
edited by Azure Robinson
+18 votes

I have quite a few ministers in my family tree going back to the puritans of New England.  However, my grand uncle "Ben" was the only one I knew personally.  He was a light.  One of the kindest people I have been blessed to know.  Curtis Benham Pruett  He was the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Bellingham, Washington.  

This is from his obituary. "He invited people to trust in God's love through Christ Jesus and enjoy changed lives. Ben and Marcia are best-known for being compassionate, loving friends and counselors to family and friends alike. His uncompromising ethics, loyalty to his pastoral calling, gentle humor and tender spirit made him truly a "people's pastor." "

by Caryl Ruckert G2G6 Pilot (193k points)
Thank You Caryl for sharing this wonderful photo and history
+13 votes
i want to jump in on the religion week, because i do have some somewhat famous clergy in my ancestry, along with many who followed them here.   I have Rev. John Mayo [Mayo-13] and Rev. Samuel Skelton [Skelton-105], Rev, Samuel Dudley [Dudley-50].  There is quite a list of these I should probably make; my mother was in Colonial Clergy, as she had an interest in this topic. I believe she had an undisclosed descent from Roger Williams, which is on a blocked line I hope to unblock someday.  Some of my best discoveries have been through religious records.  I have many Baptists who migrated from places with one Baptist church to another, and the only or best records I find of their journey are in the church.
by Carolyn Adams G2G6 Mach 7 (79.6k points)
edited by Carolyn Adams
+15 votes

My 3rd GGfather was Felix Bostic, of Indiana County, Pennsylvania. Born in Lancaster County, Pa, in 1808, Felix Bostic married Nancy Myers. They had eight children.

Before coming to this area, he was an indentured servant who ran away from his abusive boss. Eventually, he bought a large tract of land, now known as Bowdertown. He later sold off several parcels and donated one to the church in 1870. The church was originally named The Church of Bostics. A few years later it was renamed The Bowdertown Evangelical United Brethren Church. Later it became known as The United Methodist Church before it closed in 2012. At that time, it was bought, restored, and converted to a quilting and craft retreat. https://www.hemmedinn.com/our-history-1

by Lynn Bensy G2G6 Mach 2 (20.6k points)
edited by Lynn Bensy
What a wonderful story you know about your great grandfather. He certainly rose from humble beginnings. Thanks for sharing his accomplishments and the beautiful photo of the church.

Thanks, Alexis.  In 1849, felix bostic purchased this land and moved his family from lancaster county to the rolling hills of western pennsylvania. In that first year, he and his son, jacob, built the original farmhouse.  A few years later the barn and blacksmith shanty were erected and the family settled in to a good life here in the quiet countryside.  Later, he sold off some of the acreage, and donated some to build a church.  In 1891, tragedy struck when the farmhouse was destroyed by fire. With the help of friends, the family quickly rebuilt.  For more than 165 years, a member of the Bostic family lived on and loved this land.  It was sold  somewhat recently to a family who has made it into a bed&breakfast.  If/when I get back up there, I'm going to STAY there!  Check it out!

I want to go there too. I have never seen a sassafras tree, and I have family living in Punxsutawney.
+14 votes

Though I have some clergy in my Colonial New England background, my husband's family, has more recent people in religious orders.  His paternal aunt, Sr. Antonia, was a Catholic nun for over 75 years. Two of her brothers, Fr. Pat and Fr. Rock, were priests. Three of my husband's sisters became Sisters. One of them has now been a nun for over 50 years.

by Robin Shaules G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+13 votes

There are so many preachers in my maternal grandfather's line! And that tradition has carried on--there are/were at least three ordained ministers in my generation that I know of (my brother, who is deceased, and two of my cousins, one who is a missionary in Kenya and the other was formerly a missionary in Turkey but is currently a professor at a theological seminary.) The preacher-ancestor I'll single out to respond to this week's prompt is Travis Z. Hildreth, who was pastor of Old Tabernacle Methodist Church, Coffee County, Alabama for 40 years. He accepted no salary for his service to the church, instead he made his living farming.

by Nelda Spires G2G6 Pilot (443k points)
+14 votes

One of the reverends in our history is my husbands 3rd great grandfather Rev. George Hood.[[Hood-4656|George Hood]]. He was born in Topsfield Massachusetts in 1807. He married Martha Ann Bell, daughter of Rev. Samuel & Mary Snodgrass Bell. George taught vocal music and penmanship and directed choruses in many cities including Philadelphia and Richmond. He was the principal of a young ladies finishing school in Newark, DE. and later in Chester, PA. After this, he became a Presbyterian minister in New York and Minnesota. He wrote a book called A History of Music in New England

George is a descendant of Richard Hood who came from England prior to 1650 and settled at Nahant. He died in Lynn Massachusetts in 1695.

by Julie Novak G2G6 Mach 1 (10.4k points)
+14 votes

My Father was a lay preacher in St Catherine’s Anglican Church. Which reminds me, I have a pic of him all ‘garbed up’ somewhere, will have to hunt it out. And I need to write a proper bio!

by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+13 votes
My great grand aunt's husband, Marion Reece, and my great grand uncle, John Marshall Morris, https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Morris-18522 founded the the Followers of Christ church in Chanute, Kansas. They both made the Land Run for the Cherokee Strip in 1893. They continued establishing churches through the state of Oklahoma, and today there are many different sects that still hold to the name Followers of Christ. They hold on to their beliefs in faith healing, and most of the members absolutely will not see a doctor. I accidently asked one of my cousins who delivered her baby. She looked at me with a really mad expression and said her mother.
by Alexis Nelson G2G6 Pilot (575k points)
Great story, LOL.
+14 votes

High voltage Presbyterianism defined the Robe, Laughlin, and Frame families of Guernsey County, Ohio.  Josiah Robe of Guernsey County was an elder and the son of an elder; Josiah's son Rev. Robert Robe, my ggf, was a Presbyterian missionary to Oregon in 1851. 

The Presbyterian church at Washington (now called Old Washington), Ohio was founded in 1811 when a society was organized to select a location for a church.  David Frame, Josiah Robe, John Scott and John Laughlin chose the location.

"The building was about thirty feet square.  Between the rough unhewn logs mud was daubed.  The floor was made of puncheons and the roof of clapboards held in place by weight poles.  Seats were made of saplings split into halves, with four pins driven into them for legs.  As may be supposed, they were very uncomfortable.  The sermons of that day were long.  A son of David Frame, one of the elders, for his own personal comfort, smoothed one of the seats and attached a back.  Many were shocked at this ungodly act.  There was talk of his being summoned before the Presbytery, as here was a direct violation of that scriptural admonition, "Woe for those that were at ease in Zion."

From Stories of Guernsey County, Ohio (1943) by William G. Wolfe, pp. 380-381.  David Frame https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Frain-99 was my third great-grandfather.   

by Margaret Summitt G2G6 Pilot (200k points)
Love that phrase: high voltage Presbyterians. I had quite a few in my heritage in North Carolina!
I like that phase too Pip. We call ourselves the Frozen Chosen at the Presbyterian Church were I belong because of our traditional service.
+14 votes

Supposedly, my ggg-grandfather, Reuben Underwood, was the first Baptist preacher across the Catawba in Old Lincoln (now Gaston) County, North Carolina. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Underwood-4506 

Two second cousins of mine were Southern Baptist preachers. One of them performed the marriage of my parents and presided over my marriage, too. At my wedding, my Uncle Buddy Sheppard was my best man.

And... I’m a licensed Southern Baptist preacher who never finished seminary, so not ordained.

by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)
+12 votes

Church records have not proven useful for much of my more recent family history, but anything prior to the mid- to early-19th century tends to rely more heavily on town and church records. I feel like this can be a point that turns people away from research, too, as the digging becomes a bit deeper. 

I was not raised in a heavily religious home or near a religion that kept extensive records, so looking to church records is not a common thought for my research path. 

What first made me realize the usefulness of these church records was researching Charles Vajdak's history in Europe. I began to realize how extensive and helpful these old church records were. Even with a serious language barrier, with a bit of patience, I was able to tease out names and then seek out folks willing to translate the remainder of the document or entry for me to help me piece together the person's timeline. 

This was my first foray into international research and was a nice learning experience. 

by Patricia Ferdig G2G6 Mach 3 (34.0k points)
+11 votes
The brother-in-law of my 7xgreatgrandmother was an elder in the local church.
by Jelena Eckstädt G2G6 Pilot (979k points)

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