History of the Emanuel M. E. Church near West Unity, Ohio
also in connection is the history of the Drum Family
by Mrs. B. M. Beach
(Stryker Advance Print, 1908)
Transcribed and submitted by Donna Neister Przecha, Dec 23, 2000
In the history of the Emanuel M. E. Church, many of the original Drum family and their companions, as well as their
children, have always played an active part, though the church today is unused, save for an occasional funeral service.
In 1842, in the log cabin home of John and Sarah Gares, the first German M. E. Missionary, found a welcome.
There he preached to the few scattered German families, that would gather in this humble home to hear the word of
God preached in their mother tongue.
The first missionary was E. Riemenschneider, who preached to them occasionally from 1842 to 1843. Following him
came John Bier, from 1843 to 1844. The latter preached only a few times, as they had to come from Perrysburg, and
had no less than ten appointments to search out in the dense wilderness, with the poorest excuse for bridges, and often
nothing but a poor ford, to cross the streams.
Truly, those were pioneers in German Methodism. From 1844 to 1847 came Christov
[sic], Hoefner who, in 1846,
organized the few into a class, with John B. Altman as their class leader.
Just who and how many members constituted that class, is not now obtainable, on account of lapse of time, and no
records thereof can be found. Among the first members were John and Sarah Gares, Jacob and Mary E. Gares, Joseph
and Salamina Nichter, Bonaparte Nichter and John B. Altman, and a few others.
In 1847 Julia A. Altman was added to the class. In 1848 Bonaparte Nichter married Margaret Billau. She joined the
class in 1848. In 1848 Adam Smith Sr., and his wife, Catharine, were also added to the class. In 1853 Adam Ruth
and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, were added to the class.
The first little frame church was built in 1851. Previous to the erection of this church, preaching services, prayer and
class meetings were held at the different homes, and it was not an infrequent occurrence for our parents to take their
children on their arms and walk out to old Mr. Gross’s on a Sunday morning, a distance (for some of them), of seven
miles, to prayer meeting. Couldn’t do it today, or, rather, wouldn’t do it. But this constituted the only variation, the
only opportunity of worship aside from the family prayer in their homes.
The first subscription to build the first little frame church was started on January 7th, 1851. The names of the subscribers
follows: Adam Smith, Jacob Gares, John Gares, Joseph Nichter, Bonaparte Nichter, John B. Altman, James Berryman,
M. W. Meacham, Abraham Gish, Moses Shoemaker, Joseph Shoemaker, Michael Gish, Daniel Cook, Peter Habel,
Joseph Pickle, D. B. Kimmel, John Bohner, S. W. Walker, Hugh Colbrath, George M. Gilbert, G. W. Finch, W. Bargahiser,
Jacob S. Brenner, John H. Kunkle, Jacob Petit. Total, $330.
The above sum built the first German M. E. Church, on the same place where now stands the brick church (the original
plat was obtained from Bonaparte Nichter) and was built by Joseph Wagstaff, and John Blair, who completed the church.
It was ceiled throughout, for wood was plenty, and out of one kind or other of soft wood were made the cradles for the
oldest of the children who came to bless those humble homes. "They were made like a trough."
Troughs were also made and used to gather the sap every spring. From the sap was made their year’s supply of sugar and
maple syrup. Those were the luxuries of our pioneer fathers and mothers.
John Gares in 1839 walked from Pennsylvania to Brady Township, Williams County, Ohio, and bought his farm, and walked
back to near Williamsport, Pa., again, and there was married to Sarah Drum, in Lycoming County, Pa.
These honest, stalwart, rugged, industrious pioneers began in this then dense wilderness to carve out homes from among these
almost insurmountable obstacles.
When a small plat of ground was cleared they would, in the springtime, plant their potatoes near the south side of the largest
stumps, and take the best of care of them (by frequent hoeing), so as to get their next season’s supply of potatoes.
Their first chairs were benches, split out of logs, and feet manufactured out of this same abundant supply, viz., wood. To
those pioneers so much was possible, with such an abundance of wood at hand.
Bonaparte Nichter and a few others would make the splint-bottom chairs, Adam Smith and Jacob Gares were wagon
makers by trade, and they made the high-wheeled wagons long since placed in retirement. Be it said of them, they were
the only middlemen between the tall oak in the forest and the men who later owned the wagons, for with their own hands
they felled the oak and made with their own hands every part of the wagon, save the few pieces of iron obtained from the
These wagons did service for many years for these fathers and mothers and their families, and when even the good old
ox team was hitched to them, made the convenient buggy for themselves and family to ride to church in, with rough boards
laid across the top of the box. Later came the spring seat, rudely constructed, but that, nevertheless, was the envy of the
In the spring of 1846 John B. Altman came from Summit County, Ohio, on foot (and a chance ride of a few miles), to
Williams County, Ohio, to pay the taxes on his and his brother Jacob’s 80 acre tracts of land, thinking the taxes would be
about the same as they had been for a year or two past. He arrived at Bryan about two o’clock p.m., went direct to pay
his taxes, and when his change was returned, he had eighty-two cents left!
Mr. Youse, the County Treasurer, at once noticed Mr. Altman’s stunned look and asked, "Is there anything wrong?"
Altman, scarcely able to control himself, said: "This is all the money I have and I am a stranger in these parts, and I am
very hungry, as I have eaten nothing since five o’clock this morning. I am also very tired, having walked fast to get here,
so as to get my taxes paid on time."
Mr. Youse looked him over, when Altman said, "I can work, if you can tell me where I can find work." Mr. Youse
took him to his home, and fed him and kept him all night, and next morning gave him an introductory letter to Mr. John
Miller, the former owner of the Swisher place. There he worked by the month until fall, when he went to his home in
Summit County, Ohio, and from there across the mountains to near Williamsport, Pa., with horse and buggy, to meet
his bride-to-be. There he married Julia Anna Drum, on Nov. 24, 1846.
In due time the little frame church became the pride of those industrious, frugal Germans, and with a preaching service
every three or four weeks, was the great event looked forward to, as the minister in those days would often come and
preach for them on their mid-week prayer meeting night. Never would they neglect mid-week prayer meeting or Sunday
forenoon prayer meeting, with Sabbath school at two p.m.
On prayer meeting night, or if it chanced to be a preaching service, all would quit work an hour earlier, so all could get
ready to attend prayer or preaching service.
The minister would also make it a point to stop each time with a different family, so as to give no offense. Each one
could know when their turn came to entertain the minister, as well as their turn at boarding the school teacher.
On his return trip he would call on as many of his members as possible, and never left a home without asking for the
family Bible, and would read therefrom and have prayer with the family, a practice long since obsolete among many
A friend said to the writer a few years ago: "Do you, or don’t you, miss the friendly calls of the German Methodist
ministers, and their never-failing prayer with the family before leaving?" She said, "We miss it very much."
Truth to tell, we are drifting a long way from our old time Methodism.
John Gares and his wife, Jacob Gares and his wife, Joseph Nichter and his wife, Bonaparte Nichter and his wife,
Julia Anna Drum Altman, were all converted under Gustav Haefner [sic]; Adam Smith, Sr., and his wife, and
Margaret (Billau) Nichter under the labors of Nicholaus Nupher. Adam Ruth, Sr., and his wife were converted
under the labors of Phillip Doerr.
The ministers that were on the Defiance Circuit from 1842 down to 1874
(when the circuit was divided), were as follows:
E. Reimenschneider, 1842-1843
John Bier, 1843-1844
Gustav Hoefner, 1844-1847
Nicholaus Nupher, 1847-1849
Charles Schelper, 1849-1850
John Ficken, 1850-1852
Peter B. Becker, 1852-1853
Phillip Doerr, 1853-1855
Friedrich Ruff, 1855-1857
John Schneider, 1857-1859
Charles Lurker, 1859-1860
Herman Herzer, 1860-1862
Jacob Braun, 1862-1864
William A. Boerns, 1864-1866
George A. Reuter, 1866-1868
Daniel Volz, 1868-1869
G. A. Militzer, 1869-1872
Louis Dunker and J. Kern, 1872-1874
The ministers that were on the Stryker Circuit.
Lars Christian, 1874-1876
John Lamprecht, 1876-1878
Gottlob Heeb, 1878-1880
Adam Weber, 1880-1882
Jacob Roser, 1882-1884
Elias Roser, 1884-1886
J. S. Sinclair, 1886-1888
Herman Rogatsky, 1888-1891
Henry Metzger, 1891-1892
J. J. Link, 1892-1893
W. Fishbach, 1893-1896
Henry Lehnert, 1896-1899
Henry W. Lenz, 1899-1901, when it was decided to let our old German Emanuel
M. E. Church pass over to the English M. E. Church.
Rev. Philpot very amicably filled the pulpit and was a good pastor from 1901 to 1905,
and Rev. Hill for one more year, when it was decided to have the members go to West Unity.
Services of all kinds, save an occasional funeral service, were abandoned in what had been to many of our parents and
their children, such a dear church home.
However, in the fall of 1906 the old Emanuel Church was re-roofed and made safe in every way, and repapered and
nicely repaired, and rededicated by Revs. Money, Hill and Stockton.
As we revisit the old church and in memory see the dear old faces in their accustomed places, we heave a sign and
tears unbidden fall. To us the familiar voices seem to re-echo within those sacred walls. As we recall their testimonies
and prayers and songs, they seem to reverberate and echo back the earnestness of lives well spent and worthy of emulation.
Do we, as descendants of those noble pioneers, fully appreciate the hardships they endured, the economy they practiced,
to leave not only a legacy in worldly goods, but the legacy of Christian lives, Christian examples, and an earnest solicitude
that their children and children’s children might continue to worship the God of their Fathers, and as they one by one
crossed the silent stream, would meet again on the shores of that beautiful city, whose builder and maker is God?
The first class leader was John B. Altman, who was also the first Sunday school superintendent. He was class leader
until the later fifties, when Adam Smith became class leader and remained class leader until in the nineties, when
Frederick Smith, his oldest son, became the class leader until the church was abandoned. I wonder how many of those
who attend our annual reunion stop to think and consider the changes that have been made since 1842, in sixty-six years?
As has been truly said by one interested, not a more rugged, industrious, hard working, patient, frugal, sel-sacrificing,
contented people can be found within the borders of this, our broad land, than was the privilege of the writer and her
generation to call fathers and mothers.
Today their children are standing up in the many congregations, not only in our own beloved state, but in many of
the states, and call those pioneers blessed, not only in memory, but their lives are to those of us who are left a
benediction. Will the changes in the coming sixty years, according to their advantages, have as much to show for the
uplift and betterment of mankind as did the past sixty years? We pray that, with the present resources at hand, God
in his mercy will lead them on to more noble work, to higher attainments, that in comparison will be as great an honor
to their day and age.
As we go back in review, many of us remember the log cabin homes of John and Jacob Gares, Adam Smith, Sr.,
Joseph Nichter, Bonaparte Nichter, Adam Ruth, Sr., George Altman and John B. Altman, John Bretthauer, John
Holly, Grandpa Fike. All were at one time, with their companions, members of this same German M. E. Church, who
so sacredly attended with their families every Sabbath day. When there was no preaching service, they were none the
less punctual at prayer and class meetings and Sabbath school. On Thursday evening they were just as punctual to
attend unless too sick or worn out to be able to get to the little frame church on the hill.
Within the walls of this same little church was heard the voice of no less a personage than that of the sainted Bishop
Long of the Evangelical Association, who never questioned when an opportunity offered, to preach the gospel of the
Son of God in its purity, embraced that opportunity nearest at hand to proclaim good tidings to all men, of whatever
creed or tongue. Those were the days when bishops traveled on horseback, glad to find a lodging place on the Sabbath
day among God’s worshiping people.
Many a grand, old fashioned revival was held within those walls. When the old frame church gave place to the present
brick structure in 1869, proud was the whole community of the new church, to the building of which one and all had
The conversions that followed the dedication of the brick church have already their many representatives on the other
shore; among them, Ella (Combs) Smith, Dora (Cook) Smith, Mary, Louise and Catharine (Gares) Drum, Elisabeth
(Drum) Money, David and Baltas Beach and many others are today awaiting the final coming Home of their loved
ones who are still on their journey. The deaths, as much as are now obtainable, of the first members of the first church,
are as follows:
Joseph Nichter died in 1861 [Joseph died Nov. 28, 1854]; Salamina Nichter died July 1, 1891; Peter Drum died
July 23, 1880; Catharine Drum died March 9, 1899; John Gares died May 29, 1890; Sarah Gares died Sept. 15, 1897;
Jacob Gares died Nov. 28, 1876; Mary E. Gares died Sept. 9, 1885; Adam Ruth, Sr., died May 15, 1890; Mary E. Ruth
died Nov. 1, 1890; Bonaparte Nichter died July 2, 1891; Margaret Nichter died April 8, 1900; John B. Altman died
Dec. 22, 1898; Julia A. Altman died March 21, 1902; John Bretthauer died May 21, 1883; Elisabeth Bretthauer died
June 25, 1904; Adam Drum died Oct. 7, 1900; Mary Drum died Feb. 16, 1908; Catharine Elisabeth Drum died
Oct. 28, 1861, she having also been a member of the first church for many years, and was our dear old Grandmother.
As we now take up the family history, eight of the honorary members, and four of them were members of the original
Drum family, were with us at our first reunion, also Mrs. Margeret Nichter, ten short years ago. Today the record reads,
"None of those dear ones are left."
On the picture that was taken at the first reunion, Aug. 10, 1898, there are twenty-three that have in those few short
years laid down this earthly warfare, and as we fall one by one, may we fall at our post and be reunited in that Home
Where no farewells are said,
And no tears are shed.
At our first reunion a short history was given of the Drum family, it being gathered from those who were still with us,
none being gifted with a better memory of the same than the youngest member of the Drum family, viz., Elisabeth Brethauer.
For many of us here present this history begins with our Great Grandfather, Sebastian Drum,one of three brothers born in
Nieder Alpen [sic - should be Niederalben], Prussia. Sebastian Drum and his wife, Catherine Neu were born in Nieder
Alpen, Prussia, and both died in February, 1814, in Nieder Alpen, of typhoid fever. Frederick Drum, being the third son
and the youngest of four children, was married to Elisabeth Bauer in Ulmet, Germany, May 5, 1807, in Kanton Kusel,
Frederick Drum died April 15, 1844, by drowning in the River Glan, in Bavaria.
Elisabeth, his wife, died Oct. 28, 1861, near West Unity, Williams County, O.
The children of Frederick Drum, Sr., thirteen in number, were: Barbara, Mary Elisabeth, Peter, Frederick, Sarah, John,
Catharine, Julia Anna, Philipene, Adam, Margaret, Jacob, Elisabeth. All of Frederick Drum’s children were born in
Bavaria, Germany. Barbara married Peter Schuch, in Ulmet, Germany. To them were born nine children, three of them
having died previous to their parents. At the first reunion there were six of their children living, but today only four are
living, to the best of our knowledge.
Barbara and her husband, with their five oldest children, emigrated to America in June, 1842, and landed in New York
in August. They made their home in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania where they lived and died.
Mary Elisabeth was born in June, 1810, and was married to Jacob Gares in Ulmeth [sic], Germany. To them were
born ten children. Only one of the ten is living. Mary Elisabeth and her husband, with their third but only living child,
emigrated to American in June, 1839, and arrived in New York in August. They journeyed from New York to Pennsylvania
by canal and any kind of conveyance that would bring them to their destination.
In December, 1839, they moved to Richland County, Ohio, by horse and wagon, lived there three years, then moved
to Williams County, Ohio, near West Unity, onto the farm where they lived until death called them Home. They moved
from Richland County by ox team and drove their cows.
Peter Drum was born in June, 1812, and emigrated to America in June, 1836, and landed in New York in August.
From there he went to Pennsylvania by canal and on foot. There he married Catharine Fisher. To them were born
nine children, four of whom are living. They lived in Pennsylvania until 1867, when they moved to Williams County,
Ohio, onto the farm now owned by their daughter and her son, viz., Elisabeth Maneval and William Maneval.
Frederick Drum, Jr., was born in May, 1814; emigrated to America in March, 1834, landed in New York in May,
going from there to Pennsylvania by canal and on foot. In Lycoming County, Pa., he married Lydia Bird. To them
were born thirteen children, six of whom are still living. He died in August, 1896.
Sarah was born May 9, 1816; emigrated to America in June, 1839; landed in New York in August. From New York
she went to Lycoming County, Pa., and there married John Gares, in December, 1839. Then they, in company with
her sister Mary and her husband (Jacob Gares), moved to Richland County, Ohio, lived there three years, when, again
in company, they moved to Williams County, Ohio, onto the farm now owned and occupied by her son, Jacob Gares.
To them were born four children, three of whom are now living. Sarah died Sept. 15, 1897.
John Drum was born May, 1818; emigrated to America Feb. 28, 1844; landed in New York in June, after being tossed
about on old Ocean’s waves in a Swedish sailing vessel for seventy-three days. He went from New York to Lycoming
County, Pa., and married Catharine Apple in June of the same year. To them were born ten children, eight of whom
are still living. He died in February, 1887, in Lycoming County, Pa.
Catharine was born March 21, 1820; was married to Adam Smith in Ulmeth [sic], Bavaria, Germany, in 1844.
Emigrated to America, with their two oldest children, in March, 1848; landed in New York in June. From New York
they came to Williams County, Ohio, by steamer and canal, and from Sandusky by wagon to the farm near West Unity,
Ohio, where they lived over fifty years. The farm is now owned and occupied by her third son, Jacob Smith. To them
were born six children, all of whom are now living. Catharine was the last member of the family to die and the last of
the third generation.
Julia Anna was born May 19, 1822; emigrated to America with her brother John, Feb. 28, 1844, and landed in New
York in June, on the Swedish sailing vessel Stockholm, after spending seventy-three days aboard ship, having narrowly
escaped being shipwrecked twice, one time among the glittering icebergs of the distant north, and another time running
into another vessel on account of the Swedish vessel not having her lights out; and through the heartlessness of a cruel
captain, suffering hunger and thirst, having given up all hope of ever seeing land again. From new York they went to
Lycoming County, Pa., by rail and canal and in any way to get to her brothers and sisters. She lived in Pennsylvania
until 1846, when she married John B. Altman, on November 24, 1846, and came from there to Ohio by team, and
suffered intense cold crossing the Alleghaneys [sic]. They often became alarmed at the queer places they had to pass,
where such signs as "Robbers’ Roost" and sign of a "black bear" and one a lion with blood streaming from his mouth,
and a sign of a huge rattlesnake, were the welcome to the places called "tavern." These they were told to avoid, as they
were really bad places.
In February, 1847, they came from Summit County, Ohio, to Williams County by team, and located on the farm that
was for more than fifty years known as the John Altman farm. Here they lived and died. Julia Ann died March 21, 1902.
To them were born three children, all of whom are living.
Philipene was born October 9, 1824, and died October 9, 1841.
Adam Drum was born March 10, 1827. At the death of his father he was only seventeen years old; but with the assistance
of his brother-in-law, Adam Smith, and his uncle, Peter Drum, he aided his mother in settling up his father’s and mother’s
estate. (Elizabeth Bauer had more money when she married Frederick Drum than he had.)
Great trouble having resulted from his older brother Fred having left Germany for American without serving his time in the
army or navy of Germany. At that time every young man arriving at the age of twenty-one had to serve his country a
certain number of years. If he failed to do so the government confiscated his share in the family estate. Consequently all
things of value were sealed with the government seal for seven weeks, causing them much anxiety and hardship; when
finally, with great urging, it was released, but with great loss to the estate.
Adam Drum, in company with his mother and his youngest sister, emigrated on April 19, 1845. They sailed from Havre
on the sailing vessel North Carolina, and landed in New York June 6, 1845.
From New York they went to Pennsylvania by rail and canal. In 1847 he accompanied his mother and sister to Ohio.
He returned to Pennsylvania on foot, walking the entire distance. However he stopped in Richland County to visit old
friends, thence to the Ohio river, continuing his lonely journey until lone day, footsore and weary, he came to his
brother’s house "for a rest."
In Lycoming County, Pa., he married Mary Beach on June 18, 1852. To them were born twelve children, eight of whom are living.
Adam Drum died October 7, 1900, on the farm he owned and occupied since his removal to Williams County, Ohio, in 1863.
Margaret was born in October, 1829, and died in Germany in May, 1836.
Jacob was born in November, 1831, and died in his infancy.
Elisabeth, the youngest of thirteen children, was born June 25, 1834, and emigrated to America in company of her mother
and her brother Adam, April 19, 1845. Sailed from Havre on the sailing vessel North Carolina, and landed in New York
June 6, 1845; from New York to Pennsylvania after two years, from there to Ohio 1847, with her mother and her brother.
Near West Unity, Ohio, she was married to John Bretthauer on December 30, 1849. She moved with him onto the farm
(then a dense forest), where, not unlike her other sisters, she helped to build a home for her children, and the privations
then endured to hew out a home out of the dense forest, with the hooting of the owl for her organ and the yelping of the
wolves for her midnight serenade. Truly, she, too, was one of our hard working pioneers.
To them were born two sons, who are still living.
Elisabeth died June 24, 1904, at Fayette, Ohio, at the home of her oldest son.
We have today with us many of the sixth generation, and one member of the seventh generation.
The homes that have been carved out of this then dense wilderness, many of us who are here today can look back over
the pages of years, and we must say, through the efforts of those stalwart, study pioneers, "Our own beloved parents being
truly worthy of being numbered among them."
The wilderness has given place to the productive fields, that yield an abundant fruitage and has been made to blossom as
the rose. The log cabin and log barn have long since given place to the beautiful homes that their children are justly proud
of, but not solely attributable to the children’s efforts and their sole good management. But we must thank the dear wasted
and emaciated forms that we laid away in the silent churchyard, for to them is much more praise due than to any of the
present generations represented here today.
Many are changes that have taken place in this Drum family since August 10, 1898. Many that day with us are today
at home, in the land of rest, where trouble, pain and death never enter. Naturally we ask, who will be missing at out [sic]
next reunion? May God in His mercy grant that, whoever it may be, that we will be prepared to say, "Welcome, Death,
thou end of fears. I am prepared to go to meet again in that sun-bright clime where reunions never end."
Mrs. B. M. Beach
Attached is the transcription of the "History of the Emanuel M. E. Church".
Great information if you happen to be from the Drum family.
There are several mentions of Gustav Hoefner. I think she wrote this out by
hand and it was transcribed because in one place it is Christov and another
Haefner. I have added a [sic] next to these spellings as I believe Gustav and
Hoefner are correct.
She also mentions Ulmet and Ulmeth. The first is correct so I have added [sic]
to the later. Neider Alpen is Niederalben on a modern map and I have added
She has the death date for Joseph Nichter as 1861 but I have added in
brackets and italics his correct death date which was 1854.
Other than that I have not made changes. My husband and I proofed the entire
document so I think it is reasonably correct.
The historical society also has a copy of the book but this will make it
available to everyone and it is easy to do a word search online to find people.
- Donna Neister Przecha, San Diego CA, [email protected]
NOTE: Donna is descended from the Nichter
and Ruch families and does NOT have any information on any other families.
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