of the North Manchester Historical Society, Inc.

Volume XXIII Number 4 November 2006

Sarah Righter Major (1808-1884)

Joan Deeter

Joan as Sarah Major addressed the crowd at the dedication of the State Marker commemorating the Brethren Annual Conferences held in North Manchester.

We know her by her preaching. Even though we know little of the actual content of the preaching of Sarah Righter Major (1808-1884), we know her name at all because she preached. The preaching of 70 year old Sarah at Zion Lutheran Church in North Manchester during the Annual Meeting of 1878 got enough attention from people here to gather an overflowing crowd. And a 1929 News Journal article about the occasion suggested it was the first time a woman had preached in this town. But by that time Sarah had been preaching for over 50 years.

Probably the seed for her preaching came through the preaching of Harriet Livermore, at that time a Quaker, in Sarah's Philadelphia congregation in 1826. As a result of that sermon, Sarah was baptized on November 12, 1826. And almost immediately, although barely 18, had the conviction that God was calling her to preach.

Elder Peter Keyser garners a great deal of credit in what took place. Not only was he one of the few in Philadelphia who invited the itinerant Livermore to preach in his church, but he offered support to Sarah when, with her father's encouragement, she shared her call. He was elder of the Germantown and Philadelphia congregations for 47 years, following Alexander Mack, Jr. He gave Sarah opportunities to preach and, from the records we have, appeared to do nothing to dampen her spirit. That tells us something about her personal gifts and his openness.

But there are other more specific witnesses. A letter from Sophia Lightner in the Brethren Historical Library and Archives in Elgin, Illinois describes Sarah's preaching more than forty times on one trip. She names New Windsor, Woodbury, Uniontown, the poor house, in Creagerstown, New Market, and Fredrick Town. She also says that at a particular meeting at John Roop's she preached for over 2 hours. Descriptively she reports:

"in different meeting houses, in private homes by day and by night, she [Sarah] was declaring the Word of God to a dying world with all the fervency I ever heard a mortal express. She looks weak and pale. One would think it would hardly be possible that she had the strength to speak that she had, but none, but God can support her."

Abraham Harley Cassel (1820-1908), a noted Pennsylvania German Brethren, who collected historical Brethren materials, was converted through his personal knowledge of Sarah as well as listening to her preach. He said that it was because of one of her sermons that he was willing to forsake all for Christ when he was 18 years old. He reported that Sarah "had a very ready command of language to express every shade of feeling. In biblical knowledge, especially in the prophetic portion, she was almost an oracle. I have heard many sermons, but never any that surpassed hers." [Frye, Nancy Kettering, An Uncommon Woman, 1997, reprinted by Brethren Press, 1999. Best available summary of available information on Sarah Righter Major.]

Sarah left no written manuscripts. Probably never used one. But these reports, her popularity as a speaker, as well as the frequently quoted classic comment of Elder James H. Tracy from Indiana speak volumes. Tracy spoke as a member of the committee sent by the 1834 Annual Meeting to consider if Sarah should be stopped and said that "I could not give my voice to silence someone who can out preach me."

Historically it is interesting that prominent Brethren Henry R. Holsinger shared a platform with Sarah. He confesses having been prejudiced against her before that occasion and not happy to be there with her. Yet after hearing her he reports he was embarrassed by those feelings and deeply impressed.

Throughout her life Sarah remained confident God had called her. Perhaps because she knew it was essential to her acceptance, she was seen as humble and patient as she waited to be asked, yet she never gave an inch on the authenticity of her call. And when she was invited by a congregation to pray rather than preach, some of her prayers were an hour in length according to some sources.

The one extant piece of writing broadly attested as authentically from her hand is a defense of her call. It is an 1835 letter to Jacob Sala, an Ohio publisher. The letter specifies Philadelphia and is signed simply Sarah. The text is included in Kettering's book. That letter confirms Sarah's simple eloquence and skillful use of biblical materials to make her point. She deals with the biblical texts still cited to attack women in ministry as well as the role of Paul. With somewhat different language patterns it would sound like it came from the 21th century.

For 15 years Sarah traveled and preached as a single woman. According to my sources she married Thomas Major, on April 16, 1843 (Frye has March 10, 1842), in a ceremony performed by Elder Peter Keyser. In 1841 Sarah's father, John Righter, and Thomas Major had both been elected to the Brethren ministry. As far as any of us know, that kind of official action was never taken regarding Sarah. However, another elder, who like Peter Keyser had an open mind, left at Philadelphia a list he made in 1865 of all the ministers from 1793 until 1865. There were 23 names on the list. Alexander Mack, Jr.'s name was first on the list and Sarah's was 18th, between the name of her father and her husband. Fox added a note to the end of the list saying he had heard all of these preach.

After their marriage, Tom and Sarah moved west, eventually settling in Highland County in southeast of Dayton, Ohio. They had three children who survived. The family Bible, also located in the Elgin archives, has ambiguous entries about three other infants preceding them. The dates given make it impossible for all three of them to be Sarah's. Frye suggests one was adopted. Two of these died: one was stillborn. Thomas Elwood, Samuel, and Annie Mary were born later and survived.

Tom farmed and did woodworking. We don't know what roles Sarah had in the family, but probably that carried by most women of her generation. We do know she was active in ministry with husband Tom. He built the Lexington church, but they also went regularly to Twin and Fall Creek. In addition there were invitations elsewhere. The Elgin Archives contain a personal recollection supplied by Edward Frantz, one-time editor of the Brethren periodical The Gospel Messenger, dated April 28, 1942. It recalls a Sunday in his boyhood in about 1880 when Tom and Sarah came to the Donnels Creek Church, his home congregation.

He says it was common knowledge that Sarah was a better preacher than Tom, but there were a number in opposition. [In 1840 the Ännual Meeting decided that two shouldn't be able to block her preaching, unless one was an elder.] Frantz doesn't say how many were against, only that the younger set was unanimous in wishing to hear her. There was a council outside the church and the decision was made that Tom would preach and Sarah pray. He recalls his disappointment and the eloquence and fervor of her prayer.

There was much more to Sarah than her sermons. She and Tom were part of the underground railroad, helping released slaves get to the north. That was illegal. And in Tom and Sarah's case they also provided great assistance after some of those slaves arrived. That was especially true in the relationship to Samuel Weir, a former slave who became a Brethren minister. Sarah evidently helped him learn to read. The Brethren sent him to start a church among his own people. He labored in his church at Frankfort, Ohio from 1849 until 1865 before he had his first convert and until 1872 before the Brethren gave him authority to baptize and perform weddings. The Majors continued to provide both assistance and friendship.

Tom and Sarah had progressive viewpoints on a number of issues including education. They were supportive of James Quinter's efforts in that area and in publishing. It isn't surprising that he authored the Messenger article about her following her death.

I suspect Sarah would make many of us uncomfortable if she came to preach in one of our churches today. She was passionate and confrontative. She did not hesitate to address sensitive issues. Cassel's comments about her use of prophetic texts suggests she would not hesitate to name modern connections with what she read there. Even though I've spent many years attempting to bring her to life, I might be eager for her to finish. Which one of us would want to listen for two hours?

Still she made her mark and blazed a trail along with many others that remain unknown. I celebrate their courage and skill. Without the courage they would never have stepped forward. Without the skill no one would have listened or invited. And ministry might remain a role only open to men.

The Care Givers of Long Ago

Northern Indiana Ambulance Service

Larry R. Freels

I had the opportunity to grow up in rural Indiana during the wonderful era of the fifties and sixties. My father operated a small gasoline station in the community where I spent many happy and carefree hours as a child. Our town is a small one where news travels quickly when something catastrophic happens in the area. Many of these tales were of gravely ill community patriarchs and horrific vehicular crashes which had required ambulance transportation. What better place than a neighborhood filling station to hear, savor and share these stories.

It must be understood that the funeral directors had plenty to do, but they still offered to provide their communities with emergency ambulance service. The truth is that they were the only ones around with a vehicle long enough that the person could be transported, comfortably, in a supine position. During the fifties there were two funeral-home-based ambulance services in town. The Burgess Funeral Home had one vehicle that was used as ambulance and hearse both. For the day, it was an older vehicle, with red light mounted on the front bumper to warn drivers of its "speedy" advance.

The Bender Funeral Home had two matched combination hearse-ambulances that were switched after a year's use. The later was the prominent firm in the community and traded vehicles every two years. Both firms "always" used Cadillacs either gray or black in color. It was 1966 when Bendeer's got the first ambulance with a top-mounted, revolving beacon. One firm's owner said that he did not want a siren on his vehicles because it gave the drivers the "bighead!" The DeLaughter Mortuary brought the first medically oriented ambulance service to North Manchester (with a siren, even!) in 1968. LifeMed Ambulance Service now provides our area with emergency service.

As the sleek cars, with white side-walled tires and red spotlight came for fuel I remember looking and dreaming that I might be one of those who drove them. There was never a spot of dust on the shining vehicles. The drivers wore dark, two piece suits and spoke with slow, distinct speech. There was an aura of awe and respect that is hard to describe.

This was during the time before EMS training and vehicle requirements; thus the combination hearse-ambulance. General Motors Corporation held the trump card in the production of these prestigious automobiles. Cadillac was at the top of the list for use in northern Indiana followed by Buick and Oldsmobile. A fair number were produced on Pontiac and Chevrolet chassis as well. Many Buick professional cars were made right here in Indiana by the National Coach Company at Knightstown. This type of luxurious vehicles continued to be produced until 1984 when the last "Caddy" was put into service. Federal EMS regulations had gone into effect mandating the use of truck-type ambulances. An elderly funeral director who ceased running ambulance service was quoted as staunchly stating, "From where I come from, we haul cattle in trucks; we haul people in Cadillacs!"

I am very excited about the path that EMS has taken thus far. Every year there are new trends in care and in vehicles that make our care even better.

For more than thirty-five years I have been proud to drive these "prides of professionalism" in a number of different venues. My EMS career began in a 1964 Cadillac Combination and has continued through a 1975 Cadillac combo. The first van type ambulance that I served in was a 1974 Dodge Medicruiser. Other units have included Chevrolet and Ford Type I, II and III vehicles. Presently, Ford Marque Type III units are being used in our community.

When I no longer worked in the funeral industry, my interest in the professional vehicles continued. I was fortunate to find, and be able to purchase, a 1965 Buick Combination in 2000. This car was recently traded for a 1982 Buick hearse which has been modified as a "coroner's response/removal car." My family, friends and I enjoy taking "the '82" to nearby parades and Professional Car Society get-togethers.

From Remembering North Manchester Indiana in the 1930's & 1940's (cont.)

by R. Ned Brooks and Donald L. Jefferson

801 West Main St. - The DeWitt Automobile factory had a two-story factory here in 1908. After the auto factory failed, Baldwin Tool Works moved in, and removed the top floor

Priser Auto Sales first advertised at this address on April 25, 1935. Priser advertised as an Oldsmobile dealer, which they also did at their 205 North Walnut Street address. The last ad we found for Priser Oldsmobile was in October of 1935; a different dealer advertised the Olds brand in 1936. On October 21, 1937, Priser advertised Plymouth-Desoto for the first time here.

Originally, the dealership was located in a long, narrow building at this address. A News Journal article stated that Kenton Priser and Fred Ward later built an addition on the west wide for a show room, enclosed new vehicle storage and an expanded body shop.

Mr. Priser's father, David Priser, owned this building and operated a soft water business in one end of the building. According to an ad dated November 13, 1939, the Goodyear Service Store, managed by W. G. Ramey, moved here. All car dealers fell on hard times during the World War II years, 1941 to 1945, when no cars were manufactured.

Just before World War II, Robert E. Huffine acquired Laketon Tool Works and moved it into the west end of this building on April 11, 1942. Huffine had a war contract to produce military parts, which were rejected as defective. Mr. Huffine later was able to collect from the government, after proving that the plans he was given were defective. Meanwhile, the Arnolt Corporation, from Warsaw, took over Laketon Tool Works and continued to produce war material here, but later moved the machinery across the street to 812 West Main Street for storage. After the war, the dealership again sold cars and eventually changed owners.

811 West Main St. - In the 1920s and early 1930s, Herman Harrison Martin owned the filling station at this address and operated as Polk Oil Company. Then Vic Heeter operated the filling station and advertised in the 1934 college annual as V. V. Heeter, Ohio Oil Co. and Linco Gas, using the abbreviation for gasoline. Carl Johnson later operated a Marathon Service Station and advertised in the News Journal at this address in 1941 and 1942. The residents knew him better as Lank Johnson.

901 West Main St. - Tillie Swihart, Brice Sherburn's mother by a previous marriage, operated Tillie's Grocery and Sundries here in the 1930's. She had one gasoline pump out front and sold Conoco gasoline. The 1923 Phone book listed Swihart Grocery, Mrs. Samuel Swihart.

Russell "Sam," Amberg had a grand opening on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, July 15, 16 and 17, 1937, of "Sam's Restaurant" (as advertised in the July 15, 1937 New Journal). On January 29, 1944, Sam advertised at this location and, for the first time, he also advertised "Sams" at 106 Walnut Street - as he owned both restaurants at the time.

In 1947 and 1948, James Butterbaugh sold TV's at this location and advertised as Manchester Sales. After being at two different locations, Sam Amberg came bak to this address with a restaurant in the early 50s. Later the building was torn down.

Just beyond this address was a very small miniature golf course in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Golf equipment had to be picked up at Tillie's grocery. We speculate that Tillie's son, Brice Sherborn, owned the golf course.

903 West Main St. - The Bashore Feed Store, owned by C. I. Bashore, moved to this address and ran an ad on February 18, 1946. A December 9, 1948 News Journal article reported Mr. Bashore's death. The article also stated that he had sold his feed store to The Checkerboard Stores in 1947. Checkerboard Store was here the rest of our study and many years beyond.

1103 West Main St. - Erie Gardens, owned by Alice Hippensteel, advertised here in 1930. We believe that this garden supplied the flower shop she owned at the same time at 225 E Main St.

1209 West Main St. - Kenneth H. Renicker, known as Kenny, had a chicken farm south of his house at the end of Main St., across the street from the Weimer canning factory.


228 East Main St.- Uriah Raymer Howenstine started a monument works, called Alexandria Marble Co., at this address in the eartly 1900s. Raymer's son, Albert Filson Howenstine (much better known as Bert) took over the business and changed the name to Manchester Marble Co. The business continued well beyond 1950. Bert and his wife Mary (known as Becky) lived on the second floor at this address. A sandwich shop currently occupies this northwest corner of Main and Mill Streets. The information supplied for this address came from the former Patt Hickman Bowen, daughter of Fred and Pearl Hickman and the second wife of Albert Filson Howenstine.

226 East Main St. - The building here, which includes the next address, is the "Agriculture Block" and was built in 1886. Thomas M. Wetzel advertised general insurance here on January 13, 1930. He was then elected city clerk and moved his agency to city hall that same year. Russell Reahard opened a farm implement business, selling John Deere products, on March 9, 1937. Reahard moved to the west end of town on January l, 1940.

Alvin Bolinger, owner of Bolinger Farm Equipment advertised in the News Journal in 1940 at this address. He later moved to West Main Street and advertised at the new address on May ll, 1944.

Fred E. McClure and his wife Lona McClure bought this building on January 17, 1944 from Alvin Bollinger and moved their business from the southwest corner of Thorn and Beckley Streets. Fred McClure and Son (which carried the name even after Mr. McClure died) was originally a poultry supply and egg shipping business, and later expanded into hardware and a feed company. Son Fred M. McClure worked for his parents.

Lona McClure also operated the license bureau at this address for a number of years, but lost it due to a political change in 1948. A front-page article in the December 21, 1950 News Journal reported that she once again had the license bureau when the political tides turned back her way.

We were unable to find any businesses advertising at this address from 1931 to 1936. Perhaps the building was vacant, or Mr. Reahard moved in earlier than he advertised.

224 East Main St.- In 1915, Neander Brothers had an automobile sales agency here. The 1923 and 1924 phone books listed Earl P. Paul, owner of a furniture store and an undertaking business. Glass Show Case factory was here briefly in 1929. (For further information, see "Factories and Other Businesses) On May 22, 1930, Paul advertised a "close out sale." We believe that the sale was for furniture and that Paul continued as a funeral director for a while longer. Kugler's Furniture Exchange advertised on March 3, 1932 at this address and stated that they were at "Paul's Old Stand." On October 6, 1932, Kugler advertised a going out of business sale.

Harry Blaine Harting and his son Clayton Byron Harting announced the opening of their furniture store here on February 9, 1933. They went by Harry and Byron. They stayed at this address until April l, `1937 when they moved across the street. Manchester Double Dip advertised here under new management, October 21, 1937. After he sold North Manchester Hatchery, Herbert H. Baumgartner operated a furniture store at this address. He ran an ad for a "new store" with an opening date of Saturday, December 31, 1939. In 1942, Baumgartner started Manchester Hassock Manufacturing Company; he manufactured hassocks and sold them here. The News Journal reported on September 2, 1946 that the hassock company moved from this address to a new building on the southeast corner of Fifth and Beckley Streets.

The grand opening for Lewis and Lewis Firestone Store was on Friday November l, 1946. By 1947, Reif's Radio Service, owned by Jack Reif, also operated at the Firestone Store. Reif later moved his radio repair to another location across the Main Street Bridge. Two ads dated December 2, 1948 and December 8, 1949 showed this location changing hands again. Jones Home and Auto Supply continued to sell Firestone products. In an October 30, 1950 ad, Auto Supply continued to sell Firestone products. In an October 30, 1950 ad, Jones advertised a going out of business auction on Tuesday October 31, 1950. For identification purposes, many years later this was a Sears catalog center, but that too is gone.

222 East Main St. - J. W. Strauss was the owner of J. W. Strauss & Son, a feed store founded in 1919, but he had been in the business since he was a teenager. Later, his son D. Arden Strauss took over. Strauss also had a coal home delivery business, as all heat in the early part of our study came from coal furnaces. Before refrigerators were common household appliances, they also provided home ice delivery for iceboxes. The delivery business lasted into the late 1940s. Bob Clark was the friendly ice deliveryman during those years.

J.W. Strauss & Son occupied two storefronts, which accounts for the missing 220 East Main St. address. In the later part of our study period, Arden's son Donald Strauss entered the business. Donald eventually expanded the business to heights never dreamed of by his father and moved the operation to a large new building in the west part of town.

218 East Main St. - In the 1920s, Glen Heeter and Valle Weeks had a bakery at this address (before they built Peerless Bakery on Walnut Street). Hugh Neer had a grocery here. George Warner and son, Claude Warner, had a butcher shop called Warner's Meat Market, which was listed at this address in the 1923 phone book. They advertised in the early 1930s. Roy Ruse and Roy Fanning had a bakery in the back of the store. A December 24, 1934 ad announced that the Warner Meat Market went bankrupt. Then an ad dated November 23, 1936 showed Johnson and Huffman Bakery at this address. The bakery advertised through 1941, but never again showed an address. We speculate that they were at this address all that time and we find nobody else advertising here. Rollin L. Smith bought the building on September 18, 1945, moved his business from Walnut Street, and operated as Rollin Smith Sheet Metal into the 1950s.

to be continued

From an Inglenook cookbook

section titled Useful Information

 Bread and Butter Soup

1/2 cup bread crumbs or cubes

3 tsp butter

3/4 cup milk

1/4 tsp salt

Brown butter in saucepan; add bread and stir until all the bread is buttered and lightly browned.

Add milk and stir until the bread has absorbed most of the milk , then add salt.