BRETHREN-L ArchivesArchiver > BRETHREN > 2008-07 > 1216307501
From: "Wayne Webb" <>
Subject: [BRE] John H. of mention in the 1798 Annual Meeting
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2008 11:11:41 -0400
Friend Merle has brought up, once again, a topic that intrigues me. His
seemingly innocuous statement about the John H. of Carolina mentioned in the
1798 Annual Meeting is one that has long puzzled me. While I have seen it
often mentioned there is not one instance where I have seen the statement
quantified by documented references. Many accepted historical writers,
seemingly all good researchers, have gone along with the party line and made
the statement: "This is probably Elder John Hendricks... he was
I beg to differ. The majority of our history, seldom having been placed
into the written word during the 18th Century, is from periodicals of the
late 19th Century. A good-sized portion of it was the writings of Abraham
Cassel, but there were others who were also writing from the memories of
their forefathers and materials in their collections.
One of these writers was Elder Isaac Price of Pennsylvania. While I do
not have a collection of his stories and articles I do have a reply to one.
And it most assuredly sheds new light on just who John H. may have been. I
would give the odds better than average that John Hendricks was not the
person of comment and that in his place we should consider John Hamm. The
reason that I believe it was John Hamm is based upon two men, Elder Isaac
Price of Pennsylvania and John Wolfe of Illinois, both from different
regions of the country, stating that it was John Hamm. I will allow John
Wolfe to speak in his own words from the 19th Century.
"...You stated, that in an early day there were three churches or
congregations organized in Kentucky and presided over by one "Ham,"
afterward the apostate Ham, that he became a heretic, that he practiced a
great many things that were contrary to the usages and order of the general
Brotherhood, and that Annual Meeting sent a committee to investigate the
matter. Ham refused to hear the committee and the consequence was, he, with
the most of his members, were expelled. But a few remained faithful, and in
the process of time pulled up stakes and settled in the Missouri territory,
and among the number that moved to Missouri was the late Eld. Geo. Wolfe.
"All the above narrative is a mistake except the churches organized in
Kentucky, and to rectify that mistake and try to give the case as often
heard them related to my father, is my object in referring to your article.
(When I use the word father, I mean the late Eld. Geo. Wolfe, as he was my
earthly father.) In the first place the apostate Ham never lived in
Kentucky, but resided in North Carolina. You gave a correct account, as I
often heard father tell, he was not an eye witness to the transactions but
got it from those that were present.
"But to return to the Kentucky churches. They were presided over by
three elders, namely Joseph Roland, Joseph Hostettler, and ----- Hawn. The
Kentucky churches were organized somewhere between the years 1800 and 1808.
In October 1808, my father moved from Logan Co., Kentucky, to what is now
Union Co., Ill. He never lived in Missouri, but there were brethren who had
settled in Missouri about the same time father moved to Illinois. Father
joined the church in the year 1812 in Union Co., Ill., about forty miles
north of the city of Cairo. It is situated at the mouth of the Ohio river.
He and my mother with six other brethren and their wives, were baptized at
the same time by old Elder John Henricks, of Kentucky, and among the number
baptized at that was his brother Jacob Wolf, father of Eld. Geo. Wolf of
California. That same season, father was elected to the ministry, and the
next Spring they sent to Kentucky for Elders, and Hostettler and Rowland
came, and father was ordained to the full ministry and eldership by
Hostettler. At that time, 1813, Hostettler and Hawn were in good standing
and in full fellowship with the churches. About the year 1815, they
commenced practicing heresies in their churches, about as the apostate Ham
"In the Spring 1816, there was a committee of elders sent to investigate
the matter. They were Samuel and John Leatherman of Virginia, father from
Illinois, and James Henricks from Missouri. The result was, Hostettler and
Hawn were cut off. Roland's members plead so hard for him, and he making
acknowledgement, was held in fellowship, though he was relieved from part of
his office, for the time being, but afterwards it was restored back to him
"I get this knowledge from a copy of the Minutes of that Council
meeting, which father preserved as long as he lived, but in the last few
years they have been destroyed or lost, I rather think the former, as they
burned a great many of his old papers a few years ago."
The remaining portion of this article from an 1882 issue of Brethren at
Work goes into a brief account of the later years of Elder George Wolfe and
mainly is a reply to statements made in the earlier article penned by Elder
Let us dissect portions of this article saving the Apostate Ham for the
last. We know, from other statements made by John Wolfe, that he has some
accounts of the early history of his family incorrect. It was from he that
the statement that his grandfather George Wolfe Sr. died in Kaskaskia,
Illinois originates. From the research of Judith Wilson and Penn Ann
Wardrop (Brethren Roots Vol. 38, No. 4) we now know that Elder George Wolfe
did not die in Illinois while on a preaching trip from Kentucky, but instead
died in St. Genevieve, Missouri near the house of a daughter. This is one
strike against John Wolfe.
Other statements made by John do seem to bear witness with work that
Friend Merle and others, has located over the years and which seem to agree
with accepted Brethren history. However while the "historians" have been
willing to accept John Hendricks as the expelled John H. of the 1798 meeting
I have not seen documentation to back this up. Not having access to the
writings of David Eller, but being aware of his documentary standards and
reliance on assumptions, I believe that an injustice may have been done to
the memory of Elder John Hendricks.
Since we seem to have one literary account by John Wolfe in reply to
another by Elder Price we should give account to their statements. I have
not been able to discover much about John Hamm. Or for that matter just
when or where he was born or died. I was able to ascertain that he was
likely a member of the Hamm family from Rowan county, North Carolina that is
intermarried with the Hendricks, Yontz(Yount?). John may, and that is a big
maybe, been the son of Jacob and Maria Catherine Keim Hamm. I remember
while working on the Wolfe article that it was extremely difficult to get
the correct John as there were several that were possibilities.
The main point is that in this Brethren at Work article we have an
account, in response to another account, that differs greatly with what is
now accepted Brethren history; "John Hendricks is John H. of 1798". Instead
we have a contemporarily written history identifying this Man of Mystery as
having been John Hamm. And it does seem that both Eld. Price and John Wolfe
detested this man who by 1882 would have been just a memory.
While the Brethren Encyclopedia has informative articles on both men
both articles are written from the perspective of sitting on the fence
making no statements other than that both men were possibly John H. It is
likely that it was John Hendricks who formed the Cape Girardeau, Missouri
and Union county, Illinois churches. However I believe that Elder George
Wolfe had a hand in this. This would have been Elder George Wolfe, the
father. Though Elder Wolfe died in Missouri in 1808 from experience I
generally back up the formal date of the organization of a church by several
years. Invariably I find an account in the published materials, newspapers,
that supports this theory.
Past Editor: Brethren Roots
----- Original Message -----
> Elder John Hendricks is probably the "J(ohn) H" who was banned by Annual
> Meeting, over the Universalist issure -in 1798. He immediately moved to
> the Drakes Creek Church. He was ordained elder by Elder Gaspar Roland.
> He and his family was planning a move to the Whitewater, Cape Girardeau,
> Missouri - in 1814, but he died in April, before the move. I do not
> have much information on his children.
|[BRE] John H. of mention in the 1798 Annual Meeting by "Wayne Webb" <>|