Durr, John N. (1853-1934)
John N. Durr, the son of Jacob J. and Annie Johnson Durr, was born near Masontown, Fayette County, Pennsylvania on 3 September 1853, the fourth child in a family of six children. In the spring of 1855 the family moved across the Monongahela River into Greene County, Pennsylvania. On 17 February 1876, he married Malissa Jane Steele of Masontown, who transferred her church membership from the Methodist Church to the Mennonite Church, in which church she remained active until her death, 18 March 1889. To this marriage were born six daughters: Annie Frances, Sara Elizabeth, Mary Magdalene, Hannah Malissa, Katie Mae, Laura Jane. These six daughters were married to two bishops, three ministers, and a deacon. The family moved back to Fayette County about 1880. In August 1898 he moved from Masontown to Martinsburg, Pennsylvania. On 22 September 1898, he married Mary Susan Caufman of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. One son, who died in infancy, was born to this marriage. His second wife died 1 January 1929. On 30 December 1931, he married Sarah B. Gsell Leidig at Lake Charles, Louisiana, where they lived until her death in 1932. From 1932 until his death he lived with his daughter Hannah (Mrs. N. E. Miller) of Springs, Pennsylvania.
Durr was baptized 18 November 1871, and became a member of the Masontown Mennonite Church. His conversion took place at a series of revival meetings held at the Huston Schoolhouse by the Methodists during the fall of 1870. Following a three-week series of meetings in January 1872 he was ordained to the ministry in the Mennonite Church on 5 February 1872 by John F. Funk and Daniel Brenneman. On 26 November 1873 he was ordained by lot to the office of bishop by Jacob N. Brubacher. He is the youngest ever ordained to these two offices (aged 19 and 20) in the Mennonite Church (MC) as far as records show.
John N. Durr served as bishop in the Mennonite Church from the time of his ordination until his death, a period of 61 years. During this time he served for various lengths of time as bishop of the following churches: Masontown, Rockton, Scottdale, Schellsburg, Altoona, Martinsburg (Morrison's Cove). His longest term was at Martinsburg, 1899-1931. He assisted in the organization of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Mennonite Conference and was elected as its first moderator, serving 1876-1898. In the district conference he served on the following committees: Bible conference, missions, and Sunday school conference. He served as vice-president of the district conference mission board and was its representative on the local board of the Altoona Mennonite Mission 1918-1934.
He served as representative from the Southwestern Pennsylvania District Conference on the General Conference Committee and was elected as moderator of this committee from its first meeting in 1896 and served also as moderator of the preliminary General Conference held in 1897.
He died 17 November 1934, at Springs, Pennsylvania, and was buried in the Martinsburg Mennonite cemetery.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 111-112. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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To cite this page:
MLA style: Zook, Ellrose D. "Durr, John N. (1853-1934)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 18 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/durr_john_n._1853_1934.
APA style: Zook, Ellrose D. (1956). Durr, John N. (1853-1934). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/durr_john_n._1853_1934.