Brethren roots | Variations on Granddaddy Wampler’s Family Story
Granddaddy Wampler was a story teller.
He always began with “have I told you the one about…” and before you could say “yes,” if indeed you had heard it, he was off to the races. Most of Granddaddy’s stories were about people , which I think speaks well of where his interests and priorities lay. With all of his accomplishments, I don’t remember that he boasted about himself. (not a lot anyway) I had always supposed that the stories he told were true, truth as he knew it to be, but as I began searching for the Wampler ancestry I discovered several errors. (I know this is patently presumptuous – my apologies, Granddaddy)
Granddaddy seemed certain that the Wamplers had always belonged to the Church of the Brethren. In the paperback booklet he put together in 1970 he stated, “these Wamplers (the ones who came in 1741) were followers of Alexander Mack (founder of the Church of the Brethren).”
I discovered that the Brethren movement had already begun in the early 1700’s as a protest to the three recognized state religions in Germany – Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed – in particular, they were opposed to infant baptism. Alexander Mack was born in Germany in 1679 and was baptized and reared in the Reformed Church. In 1708 he was one of the first to receive adult baptism, which, at that time, was against the law. In 1729 he, and 60 other families, immigrated to America where others involved in the Brethren movement had come 10 years before.
It is documented that Hans Peter Wampler, Jr., our direct ancestor, came with his family to Pennsylvania in 1741. He had been christened in Alsace, Germany on August 4, 1722 at a Lutheran or Reformed church. Hans Peter Jr. was married at Hill Lutheran Church in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania in 1743 and he and his wife sponsored several infant baptisms there of friends and family. So when, exactly, did the Wamplers become involved in the Brethren Church?
Fred Wampler of Santa Fe, New Mexico has done extensive research on our Wampler ancestry. He descended from Hans Peter, Jr.’s brother Hans Michael. While I was in Salt Lake City, early in my research, I went to the Genealogy Library there and found his first book “Wampler Family History 1701-1980.” Later he published a second book “Wampfler (Wampler) The 1500’s-1700’s.” From these two well-documented and well-researched accounts, I learned some very interesting facts about our ancestors and give him full credit, as noted (FW), for his work that I use hereafter. In the past 15 years I have found other sources on my own – I have put together a intriguing and sometimes surprising picture of the Wamplers, complete with unsolved mysteries, Indian abductions, and several very strange wills.