Wayne County Old Order Mennonites (Ohio, USA)
In the division of 1872 between the Mennonites who remained with the Ohio Mennonite Conference (Mennonite Church) and those who followed Jacob Wisler, two congregations of Wisler (Old Order) Mennonites were formed in Wayne County: Chester, northwest of Wooster, which worshiped in the meetinghouse in the center of Chester Township in Section 16, and which simply left the Ohio Conference as an entire congregation; and Orrville, which worshiped in two meetinghouses east of Orrville, viz., Chestnut Ridge in Section 32, and County Line in Section 36, which borders on Stark County.
In 1872 the leading ministers in the Chester congregation were Bishop John Shaum (1797-1882) and Preacher Peter Troxel (1804-95). The group built a new house of worship in 1873, but this was not an internal schismatic move, for the entire congregation became Wisler Mennonite. The division within the Wisler Conference in 1907 involved the Chester congregation, the progressive group becoming increasingly strong numerically in the following decades, while the Old Order group almost died out. The latter, known as the Eight Square congregation, had only 5 members in 1958, served by William H. Brubacher, 66, while the Wisler congregation numbered 50 members. The Wisler ministry consisted of Bishop Carl J. Good and Deacon Amos Martin.
The County Line meetinghouse was built in 1891 by the Wisler Mennonites who had withdrawn in 1872 from the Pleasant View (Mennonite Church [MC]) congregation. The Chestnut Ridge meetinghouse was built in 1908 by the Wisler Mennonites who had withdrawn in 1872 from the Martins Mennonite Church. Both Wisler groups had alternated in the use of old meetinghouses with the congregations from which they withdrew, until the building of the two Wisler houses of worship. The two groups of Wisler Mennonites at Orrville, however, composed but one congregation. The strong leader of this congregation was Bishop Henry Hursh (1839-1916), ordained preacher in 1873 and bishop in 1878. He led the progressive portion of the Ohio and Indiana Wisler Conference in 1907, while Bishop John W. Martin (1852-1940) of Elkhart County, Indiana, led the more conservative portion of the conference. Almost the entire Orrville congregation followed Hursh in the 1907 division. In 1953 Deacon Harry A. Landis and about 40 former members of the Orrville Wisler congregation affiliated themselves with the Virginia Mennonite Conference (MC), and were granted the ownership of the Chestnut Ridge meetinghouse by the Wisler congregation. Frank E. Nice of the Franconia Mennonite Conference was ordained preacher to serve the group. The remaining Orrville Wisler congregation worships in the County Line meetinghouse and has a membership of 160. It was served in 1958 by preachers Elmer Good, Cleophas Steiner, and Jacob Neuenschwander (who transferred as a preacher to the Wisler Mennonites in 1954 when his Sonnenberg congregation united with the Virginia Conference). By the late 1950s the tiny Old Order group of Wisler Mennonites in Wayne County had but three members, served by Daniel Brubaker (b. 1873), who was ordained in 1905.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 902-903. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Wenger, John C. "Wayne County Old Order Mennonites (Ohio, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 25 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/W413.html.
APA style: Wenger, John C. (1959). Wayne County Old Order Mennonites (Ohio, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/W413.html.