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From: "Dwayne Wrightsman" > Subject: [BRE] Transcription of 1988 Peter Hon article by Mabel Lucas andNancy Lucas Hampton Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2007 16:14:13 -0400
>From the "The Disciple" February 1988 page 17-19 (transcribed by Sears researcher, Pamela Stage)
(A picture of the tombstone of Peter Hon and the following caption : Mabel Lucas and her daughter, Nancy Lucas Hampton, look at the gravesite of Peter Hon in the East Union Cemetery.") (side note Mabel (Mrs. R. L. Lucas is a member of Madison Avenue Christian Church in Covington, Kentucky. Her daughter, Nancy Lucas Hampton, worked with her in developing this article. The photos are by her son-in-law, Dave Hampton.)
Title of article "Dunker" Disciple by Mabel Lucas and Nancy Lucas Hampton
After several miles of bumping along Kentucky routes 36 and 57 - and after turning around a few times - I finally decided to ask the residents of Carlisle for the location of East Union Church. I walked in quietly after the Sunday worship service had already started. One of the members handed me a bulletin which included a brief history of the Church. Scanning the first paragraph, I noticed a reference to Peter Hon, my great-great-grandfather.
As the minister spoke of mountain=top experiences I realized that I was right in the middle of my own exhilarating triumph-worshiping in the church where my great-great-grandfather preached during the middle 1800's.
I felt thankful for Peter Hon's life, for the continuation of his ministry, and for all the Disciples who had carried on the commission of Jesus Christ since the beginning of the Restoration Movement.
Peter Hon was a frontier Kentucky preacher of unusual power. he became one of the leaders of the Campbell-Stone movement, strong advocate for restoring "simple New Testament Christianity" as the guideline for faith and practice and as the basis of unity.
Peter Hon was the son of Jonas and Mary Hon, who settled in Nicholas County, Kentucky, sometime before 1787. Jonas was a Church of the Brethren preacher who, along with other of that tradition, organized a congregation shortly before 1800. The community was located along Hickson Creek, a branch of the Licking River.
Born on October 10, 1791, Peter Hon grew up in the German Baptist Church. This Church was part of the Brethren community which was popularity known as the "Dunker Church"-from the German word tunker, which means "Dipper" and refers to baptism by immersion. This immersion was performed three times face forward in a kneeling position.
The most significant event on the Dunker calendar was patterned after the meal Jesus ate with his Disciples in the upper room. This love feast included a fellowship mean, communion with bread and wine, and the washing of feet. The Dunkers believed in nonresistance and took no part in the American revolution. They spoke sang and preached in German and read from Bibles printed in that language. The Brethren adhered to severe dress codes, with the women appearing in bonnets and prayer coverings and the men sporting beards and broad brimmed hats. The congregation was segregated for worship, with woman and men sitting on opposite sides of the church. The Dunkers preferred isolation to integration with the mainstream of American society.
In 1808 Peter Hon married Elizabeth Clark, a Methodist, who was three years older than he. His ordination took place either in 1813 at the age of 22 or in 1819 when his name first appeared on county marriage records.
In 1814 the East Union congregation in Nicholas County built a meeting house. Peter was the minister under whose spiritual guidance the church achieved its greatest prominence with membership reaching 460. It was the largest Brethren congregation in the state of Kentucky. Under Peter Hon's leadership, the Dunkers began to lose some of their German parochialism.
My great-great-grandfather was in good standing with the Church of the Brethren until 1815 when he and Adam (Joseph) Hostetler began practicing heresy according to church norms. They were excommunicated from the Brethren community sometime between 1816 and 1820.
Several reasons have been suggested for their expulsion. The two men preferred single immersion over three-fold forward immersion. They objected to holding a fellowship meal with communion and footwashing; Peter felt this celebrated the Jewish Passover rather than the Last Supper. Also, both men participated in the Kentucky Indiana Association, which was a schism formed in an attempt to capture an independent frontier spirit. In addition, the heresy hunters accused Hon and Hostetler of concurring with the then popular idea of universalism, the final restoration of all souls from hell.
The merger of the dissident Brethren with the Disciples movement took place in two stages. First was the formation of an association of congregations in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana which was independent of the Annual Meeting. Then there followed contact between the leaders of the association and those of the Disciples movement. In 1827, John Wright, leader of a group of independent Baptist churches, suggested a merger of his group and the Dunkers. This marked the beginning of the second stage in the transition of the Brethren in to Disciples. At the association meeting in 1827 the Dunkers and the Baptists who had now come together agreed to call themselves just "Christians". After this date, the Brethren Association ceased to function as a separate group and its leaders became public advocated of the Restoration cause.
Peter Hon traveled extensively to urge full participation in the growing new movement. In a two-year span, from 1829 through 1830, Hon and Hostetler baptized some five hundred persons throughout Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. In 1831 my ancestor addressed the North Baptist Association, which voted to discontinue its constitution and meet as a body of "Christians only." By 1839, when the Disciples held their first state convention in Indianapolis with Barton W. Stone as featured speaker, the congregations with Dunker background were in complete accord with the Campbell-Stone philosophy.
In May 1843 this report appeared in Alexander Campbell's Millennial Harbinger. "I am 51 years of age, and living in the neighborhood where I have resided since I was 9 years old. I was raised in a plain manner, with a very limited education; have been a member of society about thirty-three years; and have been trying ever since, in my homely way, to warn sinners to flee the wrath to come. I have been able, through the blessings of the Lord, to gather together and plant some seven or eight churches, all of which are in a flourishing condition and walking in love."
This message was signed by Peter Hon, and below his words was this comment from Alexander Campbell himself: I am happy in having formed a personal acquaintance with the excellent brother Hon and having heard, from testimony of the most satisfactory character, a report of his Christian excellencies, I can candidly salute him as a brother and fellow-laborer in the Lord, and repose the utmost confidence in his statements."
In 1850 Peter Hon was instrumental in founding the Sugar Creek Church of Christ in Gallatin County, Kentucky, where his son Daniel, pastured for many years, This congregation still exists.
After Peter Hon's wife Elizabeth, died in 1865, he married Mary Ann Wright the following years. Elder Hon died on March 21, 1876, at the age of 85, leaving most of his $21,000 estate to his children and their heirs. I am appreciative of the help given me in researching this story by David B. Eller of the Brethren Press and by the Disciples of Christ Historical Society.
My great-great-grand-father's tombstone can be found in the East Union Cemetery which is adjacent to the original site of the East Union Church. The most recent church building, dedicated in 1982, stands on a near by hillside.
Peter Hon was a persuasive minister known for his zeal, piety, devotion and talent. He sought the truth for the love of it, willing to give up error. While Brethren historians may have forgotten his challenge to Dunker life and thought, Peter Hon died as a loved and respected Disciples pioneer.
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From: "Dwayne Wrightsman" > Subject: [BRE] Transcription of 1987 Peter Hon article by David Eller Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2007 16:03:53 -0400
** Peter Hon and the Kentucky Dunkards by David B. Eller
Controversy developed wherever Peter Hon was active. That his effective preaching made him one of the best-known Brethren leaders in the Ohio Valley in the 1830's and '40s. (article from Messenger May 1987 pgs 18-20, transcribed by Sears researcher, Pamela Stage)
The preacher had worked the camp meeting for all he was worth, and had stirred the people mightily. His exhortation had opened the Kentucky frontier folk to an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that had 30 or 40 of them pushing forward to be baptized.
As was his wont, the preacher let his converts choose their own mode of baptism. Some were dipped once backward, some once forward, some three times forward, and others had the water poured on them.
Finally there remained just one woman waiting on the bank.
"How do you desire to be baptized, Sister?" asked the preacher.
"Sprinkled, " she replied.
The preacher cupped water in his hands and started up the steep bank. The way was slick with mud from all the baptism traffic. His feet slipped, he threw out his hands to save himself, and the water was lost.
Nothing daunted by his mishap, the preacher rubbed his muddy hands on the woman's face and pronounced her baptized.
It is no wonder that Peter Hon was remembered as a colorful and down-to-earth preacher. And it is no wonder that a Brethren member in that throng on the Kentucky creek bank shouted out when he saw Hon apply the mud. "That is neither law nor gospel baptism!" And another brother reflected later, "I should think if there are any who desire to walk in the Lord's ways, blameless before him, they would accept of the form in the great commission."
Controversy developed over Brethren doctrine and practice wherever Peter Hon was active, and from that and his effective preaching he was one of the best known Brethren leaders in the Ohio Valley in the 1830s and '40s. From his home in the rural East Union section of Nicholas County, Ky., preaching trip took him into numerous communities in central Kentucky, southern Indiana and southern Ohio. Indeed, an 1830s traveler in Lexington inquiring about the "Dunkards" might well have been directed to Hon's congregation some 30 miles to the east near Sharpsburg.
Peter Hon's parents, Jonas and Mary Keithly Hon, migrated to Kentucky about 1785, settling with other Dunkers of Carolina background along the Hinkston Creek, near where the present-day counties of Bourbon, Nicholas, Montgomery, and Bath come together. A Church took form here at an early date, and a log meetinghouse was built on Somerset Creek (Nicholas County), shortly after 1819. Hon was born near here in 1791 and spent most of his life in this general vicinity. At 17 he married Elizabeth Clark, age 20, and they raised a family of 12 children.
Peter Hon may have been placed in the ministry as early as 1814, for in that year he accompanied Adam Hostetler, a Brethren minister from Shelby County, as far west as the Mississippi River on an itinerant preaching trip. In frontier Illinois they ordained George Wolfe, who would later become the well-known leader of the "Far Western Brethren" (See "George Wolfe: Giant in Illinois," May 1984). Neither Hostetler nor Hon remained in the traditional Brethren (German Baptist) fellowship long after Wolfe's ordination, but the story of what happened to them is far from clear. Apparently two councils were held in Kentucky over the matter between 1816 and 1826- one in Muhlenberg county and one at Hostetler's home in Shelby county.
Abraham Harley Cassel, 19th Brethren antiquary and book collector, believed that the Kentucky Brethren had become "too zealous in religious excitements." Cassel undoubtedly was referring to the influence of the "Second Great Awakening," which began in Bourbon County, Ky., in 1801. Thousands of people are believed to have camped out at the Cane Ridge Presbyterian meetinghouse, where they experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit almost beyond description. A wave of religious enthusiasm followed that shaped the course of Protestantism in the Ohio Valley for decades. Although the first Brethren in the area were probably still German-speaking sectarians, it is difficult to see how they could have escaped the effects of the awakening. The East Union community is located only a few miles southeast of Cane Ridge.
Other issues in the Hostettler-Hon controversy may have included plain dress and slavery. In any event, Hostetler was instrumental in organizing the Kentucky Brethren into their own "association" independent from the "old Brethren" in the East, and presumably, independent from the Annual Meeting, as well. This group was variously known as the "Kentucky Dunkards" or "Hostetler Brethren. " While there are no Annual Meeting minutes that record this division, it was the largest that the Brethren had yet experienced. By 1825 it came to include 15 or more congregations with 2,000 members and 24 "teachers" (ministers). These churches were in southern Indiana and central Kentucky.
This independent Brethren Association had not functioned long, however, before other forces brought about its dissolution. This was accomplished primarily through Joseph Hostetler, the "boy preacher" of Orange county, Ind., and a nephew of Adam Hostetler, Abraham Kern of Lawrence County, Ind; and Peter Hon- all native Kentuckians- with a little help from Alexander Campbell.
Campbell, surely one of the most famous preachers in the West, and his associates in the "Restoration" movement fervently wanted to restore the practices of the New Testament church. This included a call for unity of all Christians based on the Scriptures alone-discarding denominational ("party:") names and holding to a simple order of worship, weekly observance of the Lord's Supper, immersion baptism for the remission of sins, and local congregational policy with no over-arching church structures. These ideas, publicized through public debates, periodicals, pamphlets, and revival preaching spread the movement like wildfire in the Midwest during the 1820's and 1830's.
While a few Brethren in Pennsylvania and elsewhere may have been warmed by these proposals, the Hostetler Brethren were engulfed by the flame. Through personal correspondence with Joseph Hostetler. Campbell was able to convince him to abandon the Brethren ordinances of trine immersion and the traditional love feast. By 1828 the schismatic.
Brethren Association dissolved and joined with other Baptist groups in calling themselves "Christians." Eventually they became known as "Disciples of Christ" (popularly, "Campbellites").
Hon was among those in the Association who led in the change to single-immersion baptism. Presumably, he made this switch sometime in the early 1820s. Oddly enough, from 1821 to the early 1830s, the Brethren Annual Meeting actually permitted membership through single immersion! In any event, during the 1830's and 1840's. Hon's influence as an itinerant evangelist was the greatest. It is estimated that during his long ministry he led 3,000 souls through the baptismal waters.
By all accounts he was an unusually gifted homespun preacher. While clearly identified with the Restoration by 1830. Hon retained feetwashing and perhaps some other Brethren ordinances. His congregation increased dramatically to about 400 members (including slaves) but continued to be known as "Dunkards." a situation that one of Campbell's critics considered scandalous. Hon's itinerant ministry also took place primarily among former Brethren churches.
During a trip through Kentucky in 1840. Campbell met Hon, later calling him "an excellent brother" and saluting him as a "brother and fellow laborer in the Lord." A letter that Hon wrote to Campbell in 1843 mentions the plain manner in which he was raised, his quite limited education his "homely" zeal to warn singers to flee from the wrath to come."and his planting of seven or eight congregations. Included on his irregular circuit were the Corinth, Upper slate, and Antioch churches in eastern Montgomery County, the "old Log Union" church in Fleming county, and other preaching points in Nicholas and Bath counties as well.
In southern Ohio, Hon's followers were dubbed "Honites." A few families from the East Union settlement had moved to Highland county in the 1810's, which gave Hon an opportunity to visit Brethren in this area. According to tradition, he was at first welcomed by John Countryman of the Brush Creek congregation, but they later fell out over Hon's preaching that the Lord's supper should not be celebrated in the manner of the Jewish Passover. After Hon's adoption of single-mode immersion, his faction pulled away and organized the Union Church (1832), which grew rapidly. A second congregation was formed near Danville, which Hon also regularly visited. Union and Danville for many years were the largest Restoration churches in the county. Both observed feetwashing into the 1850's. By contrast, relatively little is known about Hon's activities from the early 1850's to his death in 1876. It was time in the Restoration movement when better educated clergy assumed leadership positions and implemented structures that made the Disciples appear more and more like yet another American denomination. The days of the fiery backwoods preacher typical of Hon's early years were numbered. Hon, then in his 60's, ceased annual visits to churches in southern Ohio.
>From about 1850 to 1852, Hon may have moved to near Napolean, Gallatin County, where he founded the Sugar Creek Christian Church. His son Daniel was pastor here for many years. By the was pastor here for many years. By the later 1850's, however. Hon was back in Montgomery County, where he resumed preaching among small rural churches that could not afford a pastor.
His wife died in 1865 and was buried in the old East Union Cemetery, where he would also be laid to rest 11 years later. Recognizing the need for companionship during his senior years. Hon contracted a marriage with Mary Ann Wright, of Bath County, in 1866. She was to receive no part of his estate, but $50 a year until his death, and one riding colt. he, on the other hand, claimed no part of her property.
Hon's will was drawn up in 1869. He apparently owned considerable property (the estate was valued at about $21,000) and during the difficult years after the Civil War he was comfortably settled. The will also provided: "to my old and faithful negro woman Margaret who has never left me since she was freed. the sum of Five Hundered dollars."
While Brethren have largely forgotten Peter Hon's challenge to the mode of baptism and love feast, his legacy lives on in the rural churches he organized and pastured, several of which are still active today. he died a "father in Israel," a well-loved pioneer preacher of the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church).
Side article "Peter Hon 'labors constantly' Sharpsburg, Ky., Aug 12, 1842: It affords me great pleasure to give you an account of a meeting held a the Union Meeting House, about four miles from this, usually known by the appellation of the Tunker Church. This church was established many years ago by the labors of one of the most pious, devoted, and talented among those pious and good brethren, the Tunkers. When brother Peter Hon first commenced his labors there, his zeal piety, and devotion soon induced many to turn to the Lord, who even then, according to the laws of these Brethren, were received into the church by being immersed three times, face foremost, in a kneeling posture. Brother Hon has continued his labors constantly from the first up to this time, and being one among a thousand of our race who seeks the truth for the love of it, he has always been willing to give up error for the sake of truth, and in love instruct his brethren who might differ with him. since the commencement of this reformation he has nobly abandoned and laid aside two of his immersions, and through love and truth persuaded all the church under his care to do the same. A more pious and godly people I have never known. It was truly a time of rejoicing making in all 251 that brother Hon has baptized (in different churches) within the last 9 or 10 weeks. Moses Ryan from the millennial Harbin
Peter married Elizabeth Clark, daughter of John Clark and Unknown, on 28 Feb 1808.14 Elizabeth was born on 25 Dec 1788,15 died on 24 Apr 1865 in Nicholas Co., Kentucky, and was buried in East Union Cemetery, Nicholas County, Kentucky.