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Beardshear, William Miller (07 November 1850–05 August 1902), United Brethren minister and college president, was born on a farm outside of Dayton, Ohio, the son of John Beardshear and Elizabeth Coleman, devout members of the United Brethren church. William enlisted in the 184th Ohio Infantry in 1864 and served in the Civil War until its conclusion in 1865....

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Boehler, Peter (31 December 1712–27 September 1775), Moravian pioneer in the American colonies, was born in Frankfurt on the Main, Germany, son of John Conrad Boehler, an innkeeper and later comptroller of the corn office, and Antoinette Elizabeth Hanf. Peter was sent to school at age four, commenced the study of Latin when he was eight, and soon thereafter entered the Gymnasium at Frankfurt. His family wanted him to study medicine, so he entered the University of Jena on 20 April 1731. On 16 June 1734 he matriculated at the University of Leipzig but soon returned to Jena, where he was given the title ...

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Boehm, Martin (30 November 1725–23 March 1812), Mennonite and United Brethren bishop, was born in Conestoga Township, Pennsylvania, the son of Jacob Boehm, an emigrant blacksmith and farmer from the Palatinate. His mother’s name is unknown. Boehm was self-taught and read widely in German and English literature. In 1753 he married Eve Steiner; they had eight children....

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Clewell, John Henry (19 September 1855–20 February 1922), Moravian clergyman and educator, was born in Salem, North Carolina, the son of John David Clewell and Dorothea Schultz. Following his primary education in Salem, Clewell entered Moravian College and Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he earned an A.B. in 1875 and a B.D. two years later. He pursued postgraduate study at Union Theological Seminary in New York City between 1878 and 1879. Moravian College awarded him a Ph.D. in 1900. In 1882 Clewell married Alice Cornelia Wolle, daughter of a prominent Moravian family in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; they had five children. Alice Clewell took an active role in her husband’s professional life, particularly during his tenure at Salem Female Academy in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The institution recognized her contributions through its construction of the Alice Clewell Memorial Dormitory....

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de Schweinitz, Edmund Alexander (20 March 1825–18 December 1887), leader of the Moravian church in America and first president of Moravian College and Theological Seminary, was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the son of Lewis de Schweinitz, a pastor and amateur botanist, and Louise Amalie Le Doux. De Schweinitz grew up in the Moravian village of Bethlehem during the period when its character as a closed religious community was crumbling. He studied classics and theology at Moravian schools in Nazareth and Bethlehem until 1844, when he spent several months at the University of Berlin. There he attended lectures in church history, a subject that would be the core of his academic writing. He taught briefly in Zeyst, Holland, before returning to the United States in 1847. From 1847 to 1850 he taught classics at his old school, Nazareth Hall. In 1850 he married Lydia de Tschirschky in Herrnhut, Germany; they had two sons and two daughters. Also in 1850 he was ordained and served in a number of short pastorates, including Dover, Ohio, and Lebanon, Philadelphia, and Lititz, Pennsylvania, before settling in Bethlehem. He was regarded as a good preacher with a scholarly and “ornate” style. He was also known to be formal and at times imperious as a pastor. These traits are evident in his published works....

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Grube, Bernhard Adam (24 June 1715–20 March 1808), Moravian missionary, was born in Walschleben near Erfurt, Thuringia, a German state. His parents’ names are unknown. He studied at the University of Jena and became a minister in the Renewed Moravian church in 1740. Before immigrating to North America, he was pastor of Moravian congregations in the Netherlands and also taught at a seminary in Lindheim....

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Jacobson, John Christian (08 April 1795–24 November 1870), Moravian church educator and administrator, was born Christian Jacobsen in Burkal, Denmark, the son of Jens Jacobsen and Anna Maria (maiden name unknown), home missionaries of the Moravian church. Jacobson was educated at the Moravian school in Christiansfeld, Denmark, where he developed musical interests that would remain an avocational pursuit throughout his life. He studied for the ministry at the Moravian school in Niesky, Germany. There he received an education stressing the classical languages and theology. In 1816 he emigrated to the United States. Immigration authorities gave him, upon his arrival in New York City, an additional first name and changed the spelling of his family name....

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Kephart, Ezekiel Boring (06 November 1834–24 January 1906), clergyman and college president, was born in Decatur Township, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, the son of Henry Kephart and Sarah Goss, pioneer farmers. Kephart was raised in a log cabin on a mountain farm. His early education consisted of the daily lessons of pioneer living as well as several months each winter in a schoolhouse two miles from his home. When Kephart was fourteen, he and his elder brother began their own lumber business. They cut trees and constructed large timber rafts, which they navigated on adventurous journeys down the Susquehanna River. At the age of seventeen Kephart made a religious commitment to the Christian faith that prompted his ministerial interests....

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Newcomer, Christian (01 February 1749–12 March 1830), carpenter and clergyman, was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the son of Wolfgang Newcomer, a carpenter, and Elizabeth Weller, a midwife. One of eight children, he was educated in a Mennonite elementary school and trained in carpentry and farming by his father, a German-speaking Swiss immigrant. These occupations supported him and his family in Pennsylvania and on the farm he purchased in 1775 at Frederick (later Washington) County, Maryland, near Hagerstown at Beaver Creek. He married Elizabeth Baer in 1770, and to this union four children were born....

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Peter, John Frederick (19 May 1746–13 July 1813), minister of the Moravian church (Unitas Fratrum), composer, and church record keeper, minister of the Moravian church (Unitas Fratrum), composer, and church record keeper, was born Johann Friedrich Peter in the Moravian settlement of Herrndijk, Holland, the son of Johann Friedrich Peter, the Moravian minister there, and Susanna Jacksch. Following Moravian custom, young Johann was sent to Moravian boarding schools in Haarlem and Zeist, Holland; Niesky and Gross Hennersdorf, Saxony; and the Moravian Seminary at Barby, Saxony, between the years 1750 and 1769. The school at Gross Hennersdorf and the seminary at Barby were well known for their excellent music programs. It is likely that Peter received his musical training there under composer Johann Daniel Grimm. Meanwhile, in 1760 his father was transferred by the church to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania....

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Reichel, Charles Gotthold (14 July 1751–18 April 1825), Moravian bishop and educator, was born in Hermsdorff, Silesia, the son of Carl Rudolph Reichel, a Lutheran minister, and Eleonore Sophie Müller. His parents, who were sympathetic to Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf and the Moravians, entrusted him to the Moravian boys’ school at Grosshennersdorf at the age of four. In 1764 he entered the Moravian ...

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Reichel, William Cornelius (09 May 1824–25 October 1876), Moravian educator and historian, was born in Salem, North Carolina, the son of Gotthold Benjamin Reichel, a principal of Salem Female Academy, and Henriette Friederike Vierling, a housemother. Belonging to a family of high standing in the Moravian church ( ...

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Schweinitz, Lewis David von (13 February 1780–08 February 1834), Moravian clergyman and botanist, was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the eldest son of Hans Christian Alexander von Schweinitz and Anna Dorothea Elisabeth de Watteville, who had come to Pennsylvania in 1770 from Saxony. The elder Schweinitz, who administered the property belonging to the church, was a baron from an ancient family in Silesia; his wife was the daughter of Baron (later Bishop) John de Watteville and granddaughter of ...

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Spangenberg, Augustus Gottlieb (15 July 1704–18 September 1792), bishop of the Moravian church and its founder and organizer in North America, was born in Klettenberg, Germany, the son of Georg Spangenberg, a Lutheran pastor, and Dorothea Katharina Nese. Although orphaned at the age of nine, Spangenberg received a good education. While he was studying law at the University of Jena in 1722, he came under the influence of various strains within German Pietism. This religious movement sought the renewal of the church through deepening the piety of every Christian and encouraging practical application of their faith. Spangenberg was fascinated by their focus on the Bible and emotional experiences and changed the subject of his studies to theology. After receiving his M.A. in 1729, he became an assistant teacher in theology. He was also a leading member of a circle of Pietist students who were greatly influenced by ...

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Watteville, Henrietta Benigna von (28 December 1725–11 May 1789), college founder and leader of the Moravian church, was born in Berthelsdorf, Saxony, Germany, the daughter of Nikolaus Ludwig, count von Zinzendorf, and Erdmuth Dorothea, countess von Zinzendorf. In 1727 she moved with her parents to Herrnhut, a religious village established by Moravian emigrants, shortly before the religious revival that led to the beginning of the Moravian church’s famous mission efforts. When her father was exiled from Saxony in 1736, she joined him in Wetteravia (in what later became Hessen). Religion was a vital part of her upbringing, and, like her father, she was religiously precocious. When she was only twelve years old, she was made the eldress of the young girls in Herrnhut. At fourteen, soon after joining the older girls’ band, she became an eldress for that group....

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Zeisberger, David (11 April 1721–17 November 1808), Moravian missionary, was born in Zauchtenthal, Bohemia, the son of David Zeisberger and Rosina (maiden name unknown), freeholders. Followers of the United Brethren (Moravian church), they moved in 1726 to Herrnhut, Saxony; in 1736 the parents went with the Moravians to Georgia. Zeisberger, after a brief indenture, joined them in 1737. The family moved to Pennsylvania in 1740, settling at Bethlehem in 1741. There Zeisberger began his study of American Indian languages in preparation for his vocation as a missionary....

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Zinzendorf, Nikolaus Ludwig von (26 May 1700–09 May 1760), Lutheran theologian and count, was born in Dresden, Saxony, the son of George Ludwig, Count von Zinzendorf, a privy counselor of the Saxon court, and Charlotte Justine von Gersdorf. Zinzendorf’s father died when Zinzendorf was only six weeks old, and in 1704 his mother married a Prussian field marshal. She left Zinzendorf in the care of her mother, the baroness von Gersdorf, in her castle, “Gross-Hennersdorf.” Philipp Jakob Spener, who in 1675 had inaugurated the Pietist movement with the publication of ...