Elder John Kline - Introduction

Entries of Genealogical Interest

Extracted From

Life and Labors of Elder John Kline, the Martyr Missionary

Collated from his Diary by Benjamin Funk

Published by the Brethren Publishing House, Elgin, Illinois (1900)


Extracted by Donald W. Nazelrod

Proofread by Loretta Nazelrod Brown



Elder John Kline was an Elder of the German Baptist Brethren Church, from Rockingham County, Virginia.  He began his ministry in February 1835, traveling on horseback through parts of Virginia (and what is now West Virginia), Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, and New York, until his untimely death in June 1864.  On these travels he preached, prayed, baptized, married, and buried members of the Brethren church.  He also assisted in land surveys, gave medical treatments, wrote wills and deeds, mediated business affairs, and ran a few errands.  More importantly, he kept a record of every day’s activity for those 29 years – where he spent the day and night, and how he spent the day and night.


After his death, his dairies – a collection of little pocket-sized books – were kept by a series of church elders.  Towards the end of the century, a group of these elders asked Benjamin Funk, a former schoolteacher and Brethren minister who had traveled with Kline, to take the diaries and prepare a book from them. This book was published by the Brethren Publishing House in 1900, and is the source of the information that follows.  The information given in the book can only represent a fraction of the genealogically interesting information that the dairies must have contained – 29 years multiplied by 365 days would equal 10,585 entries – many of which would have contained some sort of family information.  Unfortunately, it is believed that Funk, in some way, destroyed the original diaries after his book was published, so we will never know what was left out.


A slight knowledge of the Brethren faith will be helpful in using this index.  The Brethren, known during Elder Kline’s life as the German Baptist Brethren, were a plain people, much like the Amish, Mennonites and Dunkard Brethren of today.  In the early days of the church in America, even into the 19th Century, many congregations had no church building.  As Funk explains in the book (p. 38), “Brethren at this time had few houses of worship.  They consequently held meetings in the dwelling houses of Brethren; some of which had been constructed with an eye to that end.”

One example of this was the Garber House, at Beaver Dam, Maryland, which had hinged interior walls that would swing out of place, creating room for a larger congregation.  Consequently, the diary contains many entries for meetings that were held at Brethren homes, and sometimes at the homes of non-Brethren, or at a schoolhouse, or other public facility.  In clement weather, meetings were often held outside, in the open air.


Unlike the main stream religions of the time, the Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Presbyterians, the Brethren practiced only adult baptism.  Therefore, every person listed as being baptized was an adult, fully able to make the decision to be baptized on his or her own.  In addition, John Kline did not perform every baptism included in the book and the index.  He would have been present, he may have given the message, but he did not necessarily perform the actual baptism.


Some entries in the book are for burials, and some are for funerals.  The researcher should note the difference.  A burial infers that the body was being interred and had died within the last few days.  A funeral, while it may have included an internment, did not necessarily include one.  Because of the scarcity of ministers, and the difficulties of communication and travel, a minister could not always be on hand at the appropriate time to combine the funeral service and the burial of the deceased.  In these situations, the deceased was buried, and a funeral was held when a minister was in the area and could preach the funeral, making it resemble what we today refer to as a “Memorial Service.”  An example of this was the funeral of my great-great-great-grandfather. On page 19 and 20, reference is made to this service, given on 21 March 1835.  “The two brethren were called here to preach the funeral of old Brother Nazlerode… Brother Nazlerode had died sometime before.  The preaching was in the house where the old brother had lived.”  On page 479, the entry for 30 May 1864 reads in part “I then go to Brother John Judy’s, where I stay all night.  Leave appointment to preach his deceased wife’s funeral on Sunday, June 26.”  So although Mrs. Judy had died sometime before 30 May, her funeral service would not beheld until 26 June, when Kline would have the time, and again be in the area.


A great many entries indicate places where Kline would “dine,” “sup,” or “feed.”  Dining and supping represented the afternoon meal, probably the largest of the day, and the later evening meal.  Feed refers to having his faithful horse, Nell, fed.  It was considered an honor and a pleasure to be able to offer a meal or overnight accommodations to a traveling minister.  It was an honor not restricted to members of the Brethren Church.  Of the numerous families who fed and housed Elder Kline, not all of them were members of the Brethren Church.  However, if a person is referred to in the diary as a “Brother” or a “Sister”, that is a pretty firm indication that they were members of the church. 


Where at all possible, an attempt has been made to set a location for the events and persons listed in this index.  Frequently, the book, or the diary, is vague on the exact location of Brother Kline’s activities.  Since the diaries were not written with the thought of publication, Kline did not need to be exact in his entries.  Where the book gives a location for an event, it has been recorded.  When an inference of location can be drawn, that location has been entered in parentheses.  At times, not even an inference can be made, so no information has been given as to place.


A brief appendix follows this index that gives some further information on some of the place names mentioned in the diary.  Included is the mailing address for current Church of the Brethren churches in many of these places.


It is hoped that this index will prove useful in providing some insight into the lives of your ancestors.






A – D

I – M


E – H

N – R

T – Z


Appendix (Place Names) 



Copyright ©  2002  Donald W. Nazelrod



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