© 2020 by Roots & Wings Research, LLC

  • Kristin Wenger

Today’s News (#52Ancestors week 38: Unusual Source)


I am a morning person. I used to run in the predawn darkness, enjoying the peace of the “night sounds” emanating from the cornfields lining our rural roads. I loved the sense of oneness with God and his creation under a starry sky. A few years ago, an unseen pothole and icy conditions resulted in a nasty fall and broken ribs, so these days I’m playing it safe and waiting for the light of day before venturing out. My revised early morning routine involves a cup of coffee while I listen to my Bible app and then read the newspaper while waiting for sunrise.


Imagine my surprise two weeks ago when I opened the Saturday morning newspaper and learned something new about one of my 5x great grandfathers! Genealogists use historic newspapers for research frequently, but it is certainly unusual to use today’s news as a source.

This September 2018 newspaper article about Chiques Church of the Brethren

caught my attention. [1]


Eric’s youngest brother and his family attend this church, so I read the article with the intention to send it to them. Then I flipped to the continuation and this name jumped off the page at me.

John Westenberger Stern [2]


Of course, I never would have picked up on his name if I hadn’t already traced my family history. Because I descend through a line of almost all females with changing surnames, I’d never even heard of him prior to my research.


Chart showing my relationship to John W. Stern


I already knew that John and his wife were buried in the graveyard at Chiques Church.[3]

Gravestone of John W. Stern


I also had previously learned from the church website that Chiques was first called Stern’s. [5]

Brethren have been worshipping on the current site of the Chiques Church of the Brethren since 1856, when the Stern’s or Chiques Creek Meetinghouse was erected.

However, there were many Sterns in that region and I had not realized that the meetinghouse was named for my 5x great grandfather due to its location on his land.


Stern's Meetinghouse, predecessor of Chiques Church of the Brethren [5]


Amazingly enough, a 2018 newspaper article was the source that provided me with new information about my 5x great grandfather, reporting on a decision he made 162 years ago.


I then realized that John Stern’s daughter, Maria, and her husband William Nauman were merely following in her parents’ footsteps when they donated land for the building of a daughter church.


What a legacy of putting faith into action. Although John W. Stern has been dead for almost 130 years, his impact is still rippling through the generations.


I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. - 3 John 4

Check it out:


  • This 1864 map of Rapho Township shows the location of John W. Stern’s property and the German Baptist M.H. (meetinghouse). Look southwest of Mastersonville.


  • In 1882, three individuals were killed while working on the new building. [6] Can you find their names on the Rapho Township map in close proximity to the meeting house?

You can find this full book and much more in the Brethren Digital Archives.


Read more #52Ancestors stories


Sources:

[1] Earle Cornelius, “A Second Celebration: Chiques Church of the Brethren’s second 150th anniversary honors the establishment of an independent congregation,” LNP (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), 8 September 2018, page B1.


[2] Ibid, page B5.


[3] Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 14 September 2018), memorial page for John Stern (14 Jan 1806–6 Jun 1889), Find A Grave Memorial no. 63415505, citing Chiques Church of the Brethren Cemetery, Manheim, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Kimberly Burg Grim (contributor 47059302) .


[4] “History,” Chiques Church of the Brethren (https://www.chiquescob.org/history2/ : accessed 17 September 2018).


[5] Photographed from Earle Cornelius, “A Second Celebration: Chiques Church of the Brethren’s second 150th anniversary honors the establishment of an independent congregation,” LNP (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), 8 September 2018, page B1.


[6] Eastern District of PA (Church of the Brethren), History of the Church of the Brethren of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Lancaster, PA: The New Era Printing Company, 1915), 396; digital images, Internet Archive (https://archive.org/details/historyofchurcho00east : accessed 17 September 2018).