Lebanon Church History
The First organized Church of the Brethren on the Pacific Coast.
This history was written in 1909 by an unknown author.
In the year of 1850 three members crossed the plain with an Ox team from the state of Indiana, and located near each other in the eastern part of the Willamette Valley, Oregon, then a territory. Their names were, Benjamin Hardman, Sr., a deacon, Samuel Hardman and his wife, Mary.
In the years of 1853-4 twenty more members crossed the plains with ox teams. They came from different States, and also settled in the Willamette Valley. Their names were Joshua Hardman and his wife Anna; David Peebler (Deacon) and his wife, Susan; Philip Baltimore and his wife, Mary; Jacob Wigal (Deacon) and his wife, Nancy; Aaron Hardman and his wife, Annie; John Wigal and his wife, Catherine; John H. Ritter and his wife, Elizabeth; Daniel Leedy (minister) and his wife, Mary.
In those days it was a perilous trip to cross the plains, as nearly the whole way was infested with wild Indians; from the Missouri River to the Willamette River in Oregon. Sometimes along the Platte River would be seen a great herd of buffalo coming on a full run, and sometimes it was difficult to keep then from running over the emigrants wagons and teams. In those days, it took about five months to make the trip. Now, it is made in less than five days.
Here then in the Willamette Valley were twenty three members of the same faith, with one minister in the first degree and three deacons. What could they do? They were a long way from any of like faith. They met together and petition Annual Meeting for aid and advice; and it took that petition along while to reach it destination, as that Annual Meeting was held in Pennsylvania May 28-30, 1855. But after a long anxiety, the good news came. Bro. Daniel Leedy was granted the power to act in the second degree of the ministry, and the members the privileged to organize them selves into a church body;
In the summer of 1856 those twenty three members met at the house of Bro. Philip Baltimore, six miles north of Lebanon, and organized themselves into that they then designated as the South Santaam congregation. Then in the autumn of the same year they held their first love feast in Bro. Leedy’s barn. In those days the Brethren held their meeting in private house, school houses and barns.
Bro. Daniel Leedy, like most of our pioneer minister, had but a limited education; yet, he was earnest, energetic, making use if his body as well as his tongue while preaching. His teaching was new to the people, yet he baptized quite a number. The writer must relate one incidence that occurred at the home of old Bro. David Peebler. After preaching, a number of the members and a few neighbors assembled at Bro. Peebler’s for dinner; and among the number saw a young married lady, a member of the M. E. Church. She accused Bro. Leedy of using something while preaching, that was not in the Bible. Some of the members set themselves to looking it up; but for awhile, it seemed they would fail. (They had no concordances then as we have now) By and By, they found it. But the ladies’ reply was: it may be in you dunker Bibles, but it in not in mine. The supposition was, that she found it, for it was not long until Bro. Leedy was called to baptize her and her husband. Bro. Leedy had a faithful wife. One who took great delight on helping him to get ready to fill his appointment. Here is a few words of what one said at her death. “Sister Mary was a true companion to her husband, and shared with him the joys and sorrow of life, and was a faithful and exemplary member of the Brethren Church, ever ready to do her part.” Sister Leedy died August 26, 1878. Bro. Leedy died November 27, 1898.
In the year 1871, Bro. David Brower emigrated to Oregon, and became their first Elder. Bro. Brower was an able speaker, his sermons were instructive, and any one wishing to do so, could learn much from them. He died March 29, 1900, in the Rogue River Church, Oregon.
In a few years the work became so expanded that the members decided to change the name of the church to that of the Willamette Valley congregation.
In September, 1877, at a love feast held in Bro. John Leedy’s barn, they elected their first officers: Philip Baltimore Sr., Christopher Hardman and Frank Davidson as deacons. A. H. Baltimore was elected to the ministry, and before the meeting closed was advanced to the second degree.
They held their first district meeting June 18, 1880, at the barn of Bro. David Early, seven miles east of Salem. In August of the same year, Bro. M. M. Bashor was advanced to the full ministry. Bro. Bashor was an earnest speaker. On one occasion, when the writer was on the stand with him, he became so earnest that he brook down, and the writer had to take his place. Bro. Bashor died June 19, 1908, near Lewiston, Idaho.
June 13, 1881, the Willamette Valley church was divided. The North Santaam River and its parallel west was the dividing line. North of this line was designated as the Salem congregation; south, as the Lebanon congregation.
In the summer of 1883 they built their first house of worship, at a cost of $1.200. Bro. J. S. Flory preached the dedicatory sermon, at the request of Bro. Jacob Bahr, and his wife Nancy, the house was named Fairview.
May 7, 1885 they organized their first Sunday school, and chose H. H. Baltimore as their superintendent.
The names of he minister who resided here at different times, and who labored for the church, were Bro. David, Brower, Bro. M. M. Bashor and Bro. Joel Sherfy, Elders: Bro. Daniel Leedy, Bro. Peter Garman, Harrison Davis, Spurloe, Evans, Jacob Bahr and A. H. Baltimore, ministers in the first degree.
Bro. Philip Workman of Mohawk Valley church, was chosen Elder of the Lebanon church. Brother Workman died Feb. 5, 1909. This leaves the Lebanon church without an elder, or deacon. With a membership of about 20 and Aaron H. Baltimore in 1st degree of ministry.
Author Unknown (Maybe A. H. Baltimore)