Abraham Raymer (Ramer): farmer and evangelist, was born in York County, Ontario, Canada, on 14 September 1814 to John Raymer (1783-1864) and Esther Hoover (1796-1866). They had moved from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA, to Markham in 1809. Abraham was the second child, and oldest son of a family of one girl and three boys. The family were members of Wideman Mennonite Church. Abraham was raised on the farm south of Box Grove (formerly Sparta), south-east of the village of Markham, and lived there his whole life. Abraham Raymer’s wife was Elizabeth Byer, who was born 17 August 1823 in Markham Township, the daughter of David Byer (1791-1844) and Anna Doner (1798-1865). Both of her parents were born in Pennsylvania, but ended their days in Markham. Abraham and Elizabeth were married on 17 March 1840 and raised a family of nine children, six girls and three boys. Abraham died on 13 February 1891, and Elizabeth on 23 February 1903. Both are buried in the Byer Cemetery in Markham Township.
Abraham Raymer was converted when he was 31, in about 1845. It is said he had been preaching in Mennonite Church of Canada meeting houses but then started to think of himself as unsaved and living in darkness without Christ. He experienced a change of heart, and started preaching in a revivalist style, leading to his rejection from the Mennonite Church of Canada meeting houses. The Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church later recorded Abraham Raymer as entering the ministry in 1848 and being ordained in 1855, probably through the New Mennonites. Raymer also operated a farm and a sawmill along the Rouge River.
Through the activity of Abraham Raymer and his fellow revivalists, several centers around York County became associated in "The New Mennonite Society of the County of York and Ontario [sic]." His name appears at the head of the list of members recorded in 1864. L. J. Burkholder says Raymer and Daniel Hoch of Vineland "exchanged visits freely" and that Christian Troyer of Vaughan "allied himself" with the Raymer brothers (Abraham and Joseph) and their followers. In 1855 Raymer and Troyer attended a Mennonite Conference at the Twenty (Vineland, Ontario area) but afterward traveled with Daniel Hoch to a protracted (revival) meeting at Bauman’s school house. The Markham men were not part of the May 1855 Conference in Blair, Ontario, that aligned the New Mennonites with the General Conference movement, but by 1859 they were cooperating when Abraham Raymer was allowed to take the position of bishop for Markham, though there is no record that Abraham ever did so. Under New Mennonite preaching plans, he remained in the Markham area.
People remembered that Abraham Raymer drove a coach on preaching tours that had an unfolding step that automatically lowered when the door was opened. Raymer would preach and conduct prayer meetings in any venue that welcomed him, such as the Steckley farm at Bethesda in Whitchurch Township, where John Steckley was converted about 1857, or the home of Mr Mapes of Box Grove, a tavern owner, which led to a revival and the end of the tavern. In 1879 he held a series of meetings in Uxbridge, leading to a new "class" for prayer and Bible study at Mount Carmel.
Raymer was not present at the various unions of Mennonite groups that formed the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church. He did attend the first United Mennonite regular General Conference at Dickson's Hill in 1876, but remained in Markham as a roving preacher without accepting a conference appointment, sometimes disturbing his fellow ministers, claiming that "the world was his field."
Abraham Raymer was the leading minister establishing the New Mennonite Society in York and Ontario Counties from the 1840s to 1875.
Burkholder, Lewis J. A Brief History of the Mennonites in Ontario. Kitchener, Ontario, Mennonite Conference in Ontario: 1935:190.
Burkholder, Paul. “Box Grove.” In Canadian-German Folklore. 6 (1977): 91-96.
Champion, Isabel, ed. Markham 1793-1900. 2nd ed. Markham, Canada: Markham Historical Society, 1989.
Huffman, Jasper A., ed. History of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church. New Carlisle, Ohio: The Bethel Pub. Co, 1920. Available in full electronic text at http://www.archive.org/details/historymennonit00huffgoog.
"New Mennonite Society of the County of York and Ontario [1864-1881]." Minutes. Dickson Hill, Box 1010. Missionary Church Historical Trust Archives, Emmanuel Bible College.
"Ramer." Herald of Truth 28 No 6 (15 March 1891): 92-93.
"Raymer." Gospel Banner (1 March 1891): 16.
"Raymer." WorldConnect Web. http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com 16 March 2014.
|Date Published||March 2014|
 Cite This Article
Fuller, Clare. "Raymer, Abraham (1814-1891)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2014. Web. 24 Feb 2017. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Raymer,_Abraham_(1814-1891)&oldid=135613.
Fuller, Clare. (March 2014). Raymer, Abraham (1814-1891). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 February 2017, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Raymer,_Abraham_(1814-1891)&oldid=135613.
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