Martin Boehm was born on November 30, 1725, the youngest child in the family.

His father, Jacob, had come to America ten years before, in 1715, emigrating from Holland. Jacob settled in Lancaster, Pa. He bought a 381-acre farm, built a house, and became the area’s first blacksmith. He also married a Mennonite girl named Barbara Kendig, who sometimes worked alongside him in the blacksmith shop.

Martin grew up embracing the Mennonite doctrines and practicing their ways. As an adult, he proved to be a successful farmer in his own right. He started with 181 acres from his father’s farm and kept buying additional land, ultimately ending up with 400 acres. At age 28, he married 19-year-old Eve Steiner, and they had eight children.

It was in 1756, when Martin was 31 years old (some accounts set the year at 1758), that he was chosen by lot to be a Mennonite minister. That set in motion events which led to his own conversion, his becoming an evangelist, and eventually, a Great Meeting in 1767 during which he met a German Reformed minister named William Otterbein. Thirty-three years later, Boehm and Otterbein would become the first two bishops of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.

Bishop Lloyd Eby (right) passed away on November 27, 1969. He had lived a full life–missionary in Sierra Leone, pastor, planter of many churches, and bishop for eight years (1949-1957).

After leaving the bishopric, Lloyd and Eula Eby went back to Sierra Leone for one more term (their third). Then, in 1962, they settled down to retirement in Fort Wayne, Ind., and faithfully attended Third Street (now Anchor) United Brethren Church. During this twilight years, he focused on prayer. Tim Hallman wrote about it in the chapter on Lloyd Eby in “United Brethren Bishops, Volume 2.”

Eby regularly prayed for over 500 missionaries and staff personnel around the world. He kept a notebook with a page for each of “his” missionaries–photo, country, description, needs, etc. Maps and calendars supplemented his praying, along with at least 50 mission publications which kept him updated on the broader world of missions.

Eby divided his prayer list into sections, and covered some of it each day. He said he would kneel until he got tired, then would get up and walk around or stand and pray.

Eula Eby kept her own missions prayer list. They received at least 25 letters a week from missionaries. They also sent out a newsletter titled, “Intercessory Fellowship for Missionaries,” and opened their home to missionaries passing through Fort Wayne.

Bishop Clarence Carlson said of Eby: “I know of no other person who prays as fervently and persistently as he does. Most of his time throughout the day is spent in prayer.”

Nettie Birdsall

Nettie Birdsall, a 26-year-old from Clare, Mich., went to Sierra Leone in December 1920 as a teacher and served two terms, up through November 22, 1926.

After concluding her United Brethren work in Sierra Leone, Nettie spent five years with a Protestant French faith mission in French Equatorial Africa (what are today the countries of Chad, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, the Congo, and Gabon). Then she served seven years in the Belgian Congo.

After those lengthy assignments, Nettie returned to the States. In 1948, she once again applied with the United Brethren mission board. They sent her to Sierra Leone in January 1949 for a third term, where she served at the Minnie Mull Home. However, a stubborn illness cut her term to 11 months, and she returned to the States in December 1949.

In July 1966, Nettie married John Swales of Lamont, Iowa. They had been students together, 1915-1918, while attending Huntington College. Nettie passed away February 3, 1970, and John died two years later.

Rev. Michael Long

Rev. Michael Long passed away on November 17, 1891, at age 77. He is considered one of the greatest soul-winners in the history of the United Brethren church, and is credited with being instrumental in the salvation of over 5000 people. Historian William Weekley wrote, “He lived for it, prayed for it, and put all else aside for it….It may fairly be questioned whether any one minister in the history of the denomination, [Christian] Newcomer excepted, has made a greater record as a soul-winner.”

Michael Long was born May 3, 1814, in eastern Ohio. He became a Christian, and a UB, at a young age. He was licensed to preach in 1836 by Sandusky Conference (northern Ohio) and was assigned to a circuit of churches—28 appointments which took 400 miles to cover (including nine crossings of the Auglaize River). He preached at each place once a month. At the time, there were no church buildings in the entire conference. Services were held in homes, barns, groves, and other places.

Long spent his entire ministry, nearly 60 years, in the Great Black Swamp of northwestern Ohio. The Black Swamp was tough on preachers. There were few roads and bridges, and many ways to get sick. Where horses couldn’t travel, preachers had to trudge through the swamp on foot.

Long was described as having a strong, “impressive” physique. His mighty voice was perfect for campmeetings, and he was a gifted singer, too. He was personable, cordial, with a “sunny disposition and a merry humor.”It was said that Long once preached three times a day for 30 days straight. He attended Sandusky Conference 56 years in a row, and never missed the opening prayer.

Long was a demonstrative speaker, and an extraordinary evangelist. His preaching, noted Weekley, “had that quality that broke down stubborn wills, melted the hardest hearts, and caused multitudes to repent of their sins and to accept Christ as Lord and Savior.”

Said one person who knew Long, “Entire communities were transformed by his noble Christian influence and the marvelous power of his ministry.”

William Weekley said many of the early United Brethren preachers were focused on evangelism, and neglected discipleship. Consequently, churches of other denominations picked up our new converts and trained them in Christian living. But Long was both an evangelist and an organizer. “The fruits of his great evangelistic campaigns were largely conserved to the denomination. This was the exception in those earlier days.”

In May 1864, Long traveled to Fort Ethan Allen in Virginia, where many soldiers from northern Ohio were stationed. He preached to them from 1 Chronicles 4:10, the Prayer of Jabez, which was quite appropriate: “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.”

Long and his wife Sarah were married in 1837 and had five children. All three sons became ministers. Sarah, three years younger than him, preceded him in death by two years.

Long was a close personal friend, and one-time neighbor, of President Rutherford B. Hayes (they were both buried in Fremont, Ohio). When Hayes learned of Long’s death, he said, “In the history of northwestern Ohio, the name of the Rev. Michael Long can never be disassociated from the very highest rank of moral and religious leadership. Nothing my friends might say of me when I am gone will be more truthful and honorable than what I can say of my friend Long—he was a devoted and successful minister of the Gospel.”

Philip William Otterbein. This painting was done in 1810, three years before Otterbein’s death.

William Otterbein, one of the founders of the United Brethren Church, died on November 17, 1813. He was 87 years old. He had been a minister for 65 years, and a bishop for 13 years. Martin Boehm, the other founder and bishop, had died a year-and-a-half before.

Since June, Otterbein’s health had been failing. He continued as pastor of what is now called Old Otterbein Church in Baltimore, and for the most part continued his ministerial responsibilities. But, as A. W. Drury wrote in his biography of Otterbein, “His fund of vitality was gone.”

By the time October arrived, Otterbein had stopped preaching. Rev. Frederick Schaffer, who had emerged from Otterbein’s ministry at his first pastorate, in Lancaster, Pa., filled the pulpit. Meanwhile, everyone around knew of Otterbein’s deterioration.

At the time, Otterbein was the only ordained United Brethren minister. UB ministers Christian Newcomer and James Hoffman came to Baltimore at the beginning of October with the request that Otterbein ordain them, so they could then ordain others in an unbroken chain from Otterbein to…well, to the present. That happened on Saturday, October 2, during a ceremony in Otterbein’s home. He also used the occasion to ordain Frederick Schaffer. The next day, both Newcomer and Hoffman preached at Old Otterbein Church, and Schaffer joined them in administering communion to the congregation. Newcomer and Hoffman left town the next day.

For the next six weeks, Otterbein’s health continued to decline. He finally passed away at 10:00 pm on Wednesday, November 17. His final words were recorded as, “The conflict is over and past. I begin to feel an unspeakable fullness of love and peace divine. Lay my head upon my pillow and be still.”

The funeral was held on Saturday morning. It was quite an ecumenical event—a true tribute to William Otterbein, who wasn’t very concerned about denominational labels. Most of Baltimore’s ministers attended. A Lutheran minister, with whom Otterbein had labored for 27 years in Baltimore (and the son of Otterbein’s neighbor at his Tulpehocken pastorate), preached in German. Then a Methodist minister spoke in English. An Episcopal minister led the graveside ceremony in the church yard. Curiously, no United Brethren ministers participated in the funeral services. Newcomer and Hoffman had engagements in Pennsylvania.

Otterbein didn’t have many possessions to pass on. He willed $50 to Miss Elizabeth Drucks, a woman “now living in my family…as a testimony of my esteem for her.” Everything else he willed to “my friend Elizabeth Schwope, as a small but the only compensation in my power for her faithful services and uncommon attention to me for many years past.”

His most important legacy, as Drury points out, was the nearly 100 ministers who had been raised up under his influence, and who were now preaching the Gospel in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio—the core of a movement which, within 40 years, would spread from coast to coast.

During the last year of his life, Otterbein became concerned about whether or not the United Brethren movement would survive. He summoned two UB ministers, Christian Newcomer and Jacob Baulus, and they talked about the state of the church. They apparently relieved his concerns. Before Newcomer and Baulus left, Otterbein told them,”The Lord has been pleased graciously to satisfy me fully that the work will abide.”

Over 30 historical posters were displayed at the US National Conference in July. They were developed for this year’s 250th anniversary of the United Brethren Church. They cover a range of subjects–bishops, missionaries, mission work, higher education, the Civil War, General Conferences, and more.

People inquired about being able to make their own copies of some of these posters, to be used in their churches.

All of these posters can now be downloaded from the UB website. You can then take the high-resolution PDFs to a place like FedEx/Kinkos or FastSigns for quality printing on posterboard. Or, for a really nice look, get them printed on canvas (the website easycanvasprints.com does good work for a decent price).

The posters are designed in one of three sizes: 12×18, 18×24, or 24×36.

On this page, you can:

  • View thumbnails and descriptions of each poster.
  • View a larger version of the thumbnails.
  • Download the high-resolution PDF of each poster.

James Hott

Only one part of the United Brethren denomination was located in the Confederacy: Virginia Conference, which included the states of Virginia and Maryland. The conference’s churches were divided, since Maryland was part of the Union and Virginia lay in the South.

According to Anthony Blair, three UB ministers in Virginia were arrested for not pledging loyalty to the Confederacy, and Bishop Jacob Markwood scooted out of Virginia with a reward on his head.

James Hott was born in Virginia on November 15, 1844. Both parents had been United Brethren since their youth, his father was a UB minister, and the extended family included six ministers. So it’s not surprising that James became a Christian at age 13 and immediately sensed God’s call to the ministry. He was licensed to preach at age 17, and the next year, in 1862, joined Virginia Conference.

By then, the Civil War had started. His first assignment included churches on both sides of the lines, and during the course of the war, those lines changed about 20 times. One day the area would be swarming with Union troops, the next with Confederates.

Confederate conscription officers frequently arrested Hott, seeing only an able-bodied young man. But the Confederacy exempted ministers from military service, so once he proved that he was a minister, they always let him go.

Nevertheless, it was a harrowing three years. He could hear canon and musket fire, close or distant, and regularly approached pickett posts with soldiers — sometimes Blue, sometimes Gray — leveling rifles at him. Opportunistic marauders took advantage of anyone they encountered. But he weathered the war years well. He even crossed into Maryland in 1864 to be ordained, and a couple months later got married.

Hott continued pastoring until 1873, when he began nearly 30 years in denominational positions. He was editor of the denominational paper, The Religious Telescope, from 1877-1889, and was then elected bishop of the “liberal” United Brethren church, taking the place of Milton Wright, who had departed in the division of 1889. Bishop James Hott died in 1902, a year into his fourth term as bishop.

Ruby Crum, RN

Ruby Crum, RN, passed away November 15, 1971, in Sierra Leone.

Ruby was a member of the UB church in Peoria, Ill. She went to Sierra Leone in 1967 to become a nurse at Mattru Hospital. During her second term, as she prepared to return to the States, she contracted infectious hepatitis and pulmonary edema. Dr. Sylvester Pratt and the other nurses gave her every medicine and treatment they could, but were unable to save her.

Harold Mason, bishop 1921-1925

Harold Mason was born on November 9, 1888, in Kunkle, Ohio. When elected bishop in 1921 at age 32, he was the second-youngest bishop ever elected (Jacob John Glossbrenner was four months younger when elected in 1845). Mason served just four years as bishop, and spent the rest of his life in academia, including seven years as president of Huntington College—arguably, saving the college.

The information which follows is from the chapter about Harold Mason in “United Brethren Bishops, 1889-1997.” The chapter was written by Mason’s oldest son, Robert.

Harold’s father ran a general store until 1892, when he became a United Brethren minister. So Harold mostly grew up as a preacher’s kid. In 1904, at age 15, Harold entered the Central College (now Huntington University) Academy to finish high school, and in 1907 graduated with a bachelor’s degree.

North Ohio Conference assigned him to what was called the Ransom Circuit in rural Hillsdale County, Mich. Harold met a girl named Alta, who would become his wife. However, he resigned in defeat during that first year–it’s unclear what happened, even to Robert—and took a teaching job at a Free Methodist school near Rochester, New York. In that community, he experienced healing. He moved back to Michigan and married Alta on December 25, 1909.

They both taught in public schools until 1911, when Harold sensed God pulling him back into the ministry. He served the UB church in Adrian, Mich., and then the Etna Avenue congregation in Huntington, Ind. Then, in 1913, he was given a plum assignment—the UB church in Blissfield, Mich., one of the conference’s most prominent congregations. During the next five years, the church grew and completed building projects. Sons Robert and Wendell were born there. It was a good situation.

In 1918, the conference moved him (back then, they didn’t ask if you wanted to move) to the small congregation in Montpelier, Ohio. There, again, the church prospered under his leadership, and people across the denomination noticed.

In 1921, Harold Mason was elected bishop, largely on the basis of eight years as a successful pastor (he hadn’t taken the usual paths of being a conference superintendent or denominational official). He was assigned to the Pacific district. Making the rounds of his churches in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California required a journey of up to 6000 miles, most of it by train. But in year three, he moved the family to Ann Arbor, Mich., cut back his church traveling, and enrolled in graduate school at the University of Michigan. He graduated in 1924 with a Masters in English and Philosophy, headed west to conduct his annual conferences, and in the fall began teaching philosophy at Adrian College. When his term as bishop ended in 1925, he became Academic Dean at Adrian College. He was obviously drawn to higher education.

Harold Mason during his latter years at Asbury.

Mason was superintendent of schools in Blissfield, Mich., 1929-1932. Then he was asked to become president of Huntington College. The school was on the verge of closing in those early days of the Depression. Mason agreed to come (at half the salary he was getting in Blissfield), and he kept the college alive for the next seven years.

In 1939, Mason left to pastor the flagship Free Methodist church in Winona Lake, Ind., while also pursuing a doctorate at Indiana University. In 1943, he began five years as Professor of Christian Education at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary (Chicago, Ill.). He finished his career in 1961 after 12 years as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Christian Education at Asbury Theological Seminary (Wilmore, Kent.).

It was an interesting life. Professionally, he gave about 20 years to the United Brethren denomination, and about 30 years to non-UB educational work. He died on June 2, 1964, in Winona Lake, Ind.

Moy Ling and family.

Oliver A. Howard — renowned Civil War general (Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Atlanta), Medal of Honor winner, head of the post-war Freedman’s Bureau, advocate for freed slaves, founder of Howard University—was born on November 8, 1830. The West Point grad became popularly known as “the Christian general” because his decisions were strongly influenced by his faith.

General Oliver Howard lost his right arm in an early Civil War battle.

He was never United Brethren. Probably never attended a UB church. So why is he included here? Read on.

After negotiating the surrender of Apache chief Cochise in 1872, Howard was sent to the Northwest in 1874 to subdue the Nez Perce Indians.

Howard’s daughter lived in Portland, and a young Chinese immigrant named Moy Ling was attached to the family in some way, probably as a worker. General Howard talked about Moy Ling in his autobiography.

“I had not been in the city of Portland long before the active people in the different churches combined to form a union mission with a view to doing something for the Chinamen, who had already come in large numbers to that part of the Pacific Coast.

“In my family, there was a young Chinaman of slender build, very dignified, and apparently independent. His name was Moy Yu Ling. One day I gave him a Bible printed in Chinese. He read it quietly without remark, but soon he joined the mission, became deeply interested, and united with one of the churches, and for over 25 years has been a consistent Christian and a local missionary to his own people in Portland.

“A little later, he opened up a store filled with Chinese goods of various descriptions. As a merchant and as a Christian teacher, for he continued in both capacities, he has been remarkably successful. His children speak good English, and we always say when we meet them: ‘What a beautiful family!’ The last time I was in Portland, every child remembered me, took me by the hand, and called me by name.”

By 1882, the school Moy Ling had begun in 1876 was more than he could handle. The United Brethren church agreed to assume ownership. That served as our bridge to opening ministry in China—twice, as it turned out.

Moy Ling’s school stayed with the “liberal” branch after the division of 1889. When they gave up the school in 1898, our group took charge. Twenty years later, Moy Ling’s contacts led us to Dr. Y. T. Chiu, and we again launched ministry in Canton, China—a ministry which later led us to Hong Kong…and Macau…and Myanmar…and Thailand.

And it all started with a Civil War general giving a Bible to a Chinese immigrant.