Eicher, Benjamin (1832-1893)
Benjamin Eicher, a Mennonite (General Conference Mennonite) bishop of the congregation near Noble, Washington County, Iowa, was born in Alsace, 10 March 1832. In 1849 he came to America and located in Wayne County, Ohio. Four years later he moved to Washington County, Iowa, where he lived the remainder of his life. He was married to Lydia Sommer in 1855. One of his children was Congressman and Judge E. C. Eicher. In 1862 Eicher was ordained minister of the newly organized Amish congregation in Washington County. On 28 October 1866 he was ordained bishop by Bishop Joseph Stuckey of Illinois. Although Eicher had served as a secretary of the Amish conference (Diener-Versammlung) in 1866, by the time of the conference in Iowa in 1874 it was clear that he and his church were no longer in harmony with the Amish conference and so after that meeting his congregation followed an independent course. Finally in 1892 the Eicher congregation, known since 1937 as the Eicher Emmanuel Mennonite Church, became a member of the Middle District Mennonite Conference (General Conference Mennonite) and in the following year a member of the General Conference Mennonite Church. Eicher at once was elected a member of the Foreign Mission Board, although his death on 7 December 1893 cut short his period of service on that board.
Living on a farm, Eicher engaged in farming and threshing. He also taught school for about 15 years. At one time he was urged to become county superintendent of schools but he refused to become a candidate for the position. In 1890 his name was before the Democratic Convention as a candidate for Congress, "but by his express direction to his friends it was withdrawn, otherwise he would have been nominated and elected."
Eicher was a man of striking personality whose mind was keen and penetrating. He was a student all his life and kept pace with the progress of scientific and religious thought. Although he had pronounced convictions, he was charitable toward those who disagreed with him. His biographer declared, "There was behind all his acts and utterances, great or small, an intense earnestness, a force of conviction, a moral courage, and an inflexible will—and all gave distinct character to the man . . . ."
"Biography of Benjamin Eicher." Mennonite Year Book and Almanac for 1896.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 168. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Gingerich, Melvin. "Eicher, Benjamin (1832-1893)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 20 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/E471.html.
APA style: Gingerich, Melvin. (1956). Eicher, Benjamin (1832-1893). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/E471.html.