A Brush With Greatness and Fame
Romans 8:28…”And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV) “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
A Brush with Greatness and Fame - the Studebaker Family
Early years, before the division into church districts, “church” was held in homes/cabins every two weeks or maybe once per month, varying the locations: north, south, east, west.
Since the “Brethren” tended to live in “community-togetherness” in order to help each other this helped neighbors to help each other in the preparation for these large gatherings as well as in settling, clearing land, farming, building, etc. Remember the mode of travel was horse and a carrying vehicle. Slow was the norm by today’s standards. To get from Homerville in north Ashland County to Loudonville in south Ashland County was a very long trip. Plus you needed to have food, bedding, clothes, and supplies for the stay while you were traveling and away from home. People slept in barns and fields if they could not make it home. Many were 2-3 days journeys with one day between for church.
As more people moved westward to Ohio and Ashland County, the population grew. Remember the church did not keep written records at this time. So we do not really know who these people were. Many came from Pennsylvania, Maryland,
West Virginia, and other points east. The Brethren were looking for good land for farming (although Ohio was covered with large trees) and also were interested in spreading their faith westward.
Some had come from Europe to escape religious persecution caused by their belief in adult baptism and their rejection of the infant baptism practiced in Europe. They believed in reading and studying their faith beliefs together, while in Europe that was reserved for interpretation by the religious leaders and was to be accepted by the followers. They believed in following Christ’s teachings and practices. Such beliefs made them objects of ridicule - but William Penn had set up an area where these people who had been persecuted for their beliefs could feel safe (in Pennsylvania).
Some who were coming from Europe were skilled crafts-persons and brought their skills with them but promised their guilds not to share the secrets of the skills to others. One of those families was the Studebaker family (a German Baptist Brethren family) who were skilled at building wagons, doing the metal work and the woodwork in special ways, which hardened the metal so it was very durable and treating the wood so it was very long lasting. The Studebaker family settled near the Hagerstown, Maryland - Pennsylvania border where they found the materials needed for building their wagons. After living there a while and not having great success, they moved to Ashland, Ohio area, which they probably learned about through Brethren annual conference and meetings, They lived near some other fellow believers. Mr. Studebaker and neighbor, Mr. Myers decided to work together at building wagons with Mr. Studebaker doing the ironwork (blacksmithing). Mr. Myers, father of F.E. and P.A. of Myers Pump, did the woodwork (carpentry). Since these families were Brethren we can assume they were part of the community of Ashland County worshippers. We have no records of their actual names since written records were not kept, but they were German Baptist Brethren before they came and Brethren when they (the sons) moved on about fifteen years later to another GBB group at South Bend Indiana to do blacksmithing work there. Their work there became wagon building for the westward movement and then for the government’s use in controlling the “wild west”. This led to the making of non-horse drawn transportation and the building of Studebaker vehicles.
All the boys did not remain Brethren throughout their lifetime, but they remembered their heritage. One son left the business when they took the government contracts and went back to farming rather than work for the military and government, showing his belief in the peace stand of the believers. Another brother bought into the business after gold mining in California. When baptized into a church that practiced infant baptism, one brother asked to be “baptized the “German Baptist Brethren way” of in water, dipped three times forward” and it was done in that way. Their heritage and their skills were carried through the family training.
The Studebaker cabin/home and blacksmith shop when they lived in the Ashland area was located on what is now 250 east of Ashland at the top of the hill above the intersection with 89 where a stone monument with a plaque marks the location on the north side of the road yet today. Yes, it is believed that the Studebakers were a part of the German Baptist Brethren of Ashland County area and some of our ancestors had spiritual contacts with them in the years of 1835 To the 1850s.
So that was a “brush with greatness or fame” for this area.
Prayer: Help us to help each other Lord. To look out for each other. To serve each other. Father, may we all remember to work together, discuss together, to come with one understanding, to try to reach consensus in decisions, in serving You. Help us to be people who are willing to pray for the “will of God” in our lives. Amen.