Elder John H Umstad Bio #2




"Mark the perfect man and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace. Psalm XXXVII, 37

"John Horning Umstad, a very eminent minister of the "Brethren," as they call themselves, usually known as Dunkers or German Baptists, was born in Upper Providence Township, Montgomery county, January 1st, 1802. He was not religiously brought up, but received a fair education, such as the common schools of the locality afforded. In 1829, when in his twenty-seventh year, he married Ann, daughter of Daniel and Francis Brower, and sister of Abraham, Christian, and Daniel R Brower. John H and Ann Umstad had born to them four children, one son (who died in infancy), and three daughters. One of these, Sarah, grown up, and a member of the society, died several years ago unmarried. The surviving children of Rev Mr Umstad and wife are Catharine B, intermarried with Louis Detrich, and Frances B, with Milton Davis, the latter of whom occupy the old homestead, situated near the Schuylkill, below Port Providence, in Upper Providence township. The children of Milton and Fanny B Davis are: Anna Clara, Sallie Kate, John U, Nathan D, Benjamin C, Jemima C, and Emma U. The children of Louis and Kate Detrich are: Anna Elizabeth, William Henry, John U, and Katie.

"The period from 1830 to 1840 was one of extensive revivals of religion all over this region of the country, in which all evangelical sects more or less participated. So in the fall of 1831 a great awakening commenced in the neighborhood where Mr Umstad lived, conducted by Brethren of the Dunker persuasion. He had a sister, Mrs Isabella Fitzwater, who already belonged to the church, but being of lively disposition, and fond of worldly enjoyments, Mr Umstad had not up to this time given religion any attention. His sister, however, was without doubt largely instrumental in bringing him within the influence of the revival. The result of a series of meetings was that the husband of Mrs Fitzwater, Mr Umstad, and also Rev Isaac Price, both since eminent as preachers, were converted and baptized. This was in the fall of 1831, and the inroad made upon the society of the neighborhood opened the way for the organization of a church in the locality. Accordingly, in 1834, Green Tree Church was built on land belonging to or adjoining Mr Umstad, and he and Isaac Price, who lived beyond the river, were ordained ministers. Of his labors and efficiency from this time forward, the memorialist, Mr Quinter, says:

"' Brother Umstad's labors in winning souls were very successful. He labored not only in the public ministry, but also much in private. He was instant in season and out of season. The cheerfulness of his Christianity, added to his natural vivacity, made him and agreeable companion, and when in private company with this friends he seldom failed to used the opportunity of recommending Christ to them, which was often done successfully. The anniversary of his birth occurring on New Year's day, it was his custom to observe that period in a devotional manner, and for many years after his conversion he had prayer meeting in his house on the first night of the new year. In his public preaching he was warm and pointed, and his direct appeals to sinners were often very strong.'

"He was blunt and outspoken even to eccentricity, but these qualities were but a spice to his exuberant honesty and kindness of heart. Soon after his baptism and union with the church he laid aside the fashionable attire he had hitherto worn, and conformed to the garb usual with his sect. He was very devoted to the general interests of the society of which he was a minister, but towards the close of his life became dull of hearing, which greatly hindered his usefulness in this respect. His health began to decline a few years before his death, and the winter preceding his departure he did not preach any, being so advised by his physician. As he lived close to the meetinghouse, however, he occasionally met with the church and delivered a short exhortation. He preached his last sermon to the people of his charge, to whom he had so long ministered, April 13th, 1873, and left home on the 15th to visit his daughter and her family at Baltimore, where he arrived on the 16th but little worse for his journey. On the following Sunday night, the 20th, he was taken with severe pains and a paralysis of the lower part of the body. The disease ran rapidly to a crisis, and he expired on the 27th, just a week after the attack. He died at the residence of his son-in-law, Louis Detrich, in that city, in the 72d year of his age, and after forty years devoted service in the ministry.

"His remains were conveyed to his home, and on Thursday, May 1st, he was interred in the cemetery of the church he had helped to found so many years before. At his funeral there were in attendance nearly twenty ministers and an immense throng of sympathizing friends and neighbors."

"*The material from which this Life is drawn is mainly gathered from a memoir of him by J Quinter, as published in the "Brethren's Almanac for 1875."


COMMENT - the word sect as used in this material means a legitimate branch of the Christian faith, and should not be confused with the work Sekt in German, found on other pages on this site, which means cult, although it is often mistranslated as sect.


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