Saturday, January 19, 2013

Schwarzenau Brethren

Thanks to digging into my Dad's maternal line and laughing my head off at the antics of Dwight Schrute on The Office, I've lately been very fascinated with my Brethren roots.

According to Related Families of Botetourt Court, Virginia, my 6th generation great-grandmother, Mrs. Anna Eva AMMEN, (nee RANCK) "...became a Dunkard but Durst [her husband] refused to change his religion...Her Presbyterian parents considered she had committed a grave sin by becoming a Dunkard."

No doubt it was Eva's religious beliefs that influence her descendants.  Daughter, Barbara (my 5th generation great-grandmother) married Christian HARSHBARGER, also a Dunkard, and their daughter Catherine (my 4th generation great-grandmother) married John Jacob DEARDORFF, another Dunkard.  John and Catherine's son, David and wife Eva (née RONK- a relative of my 6th great-grandmother, Anna Ranck-Ammen), opened his home to Dunkard meetings in Cedar County, Missouri, before a church was built there. 

The Deardorff family has Dunkard roots going back nearly 300 years to Anthony Deardorff, who according to the Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri Vol. 2, was "...a German Dunkard minister, who left his native country on account of religious persecution, and immigrated to America in 1729..."  When my father, who was raised by his grandmother, told me that as a young boy he went to the Church of the Brethren, I was not very surprised.  But that is where my family connection to the Brethren ends (though I now wonder if my longing of a simpler way of life has been somehow imprinted in my DNA).

In the upcoming weeks, I will be researching my roots through The Church of the Brethren Network.  Besides learning more about my direct ancestors, I will be studying when the Brethren began to adopt modern technology and began to live life a bit differently than their Amish and Mennonite cousins in faith.  I am also very interested in how their religion influenced their cooking (my grandmother was an incredible cook, and I believe she learned to cook from her Deardorff mother).

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