Sunday, August 19, 2012

Church Record Sunday: The Ebenezer Society

אֶבֶן  הָעֶזֶר
(The word Ebenezer in Hebrew characters)

A while back, I was exchanging information with a fellow researcher on the Neamon family. This researcher related that John Henry Neamon immigrated to the United States from Germany in the year 1870 and settled in Ebenezer, New York. It was also said that he had a brother there. John Henry later moved to the town of Yorkshire in Cattaraugus County.

I did an internet search for “Ebenezer, New York” to see what I could find out where it was. To my surprise, I found that it was in Erie County near the town of West Seneca. The word Ebenezer, by the way, is Hebrew for “stone of help.”

According to over eight hundred Germans, known as the Community of True Inspiration (or Ebenezers), immigrated to America between April 1843 and October 1845. They purchased 5,000 acres of the Buffalo Creek Reservation (vacated by Indians) at $10.50 an acre. These immigrants established four hamlets - Middle Ebenezer, Upper Ebenezer, Lower Ebenezer and New Ebenezer. They formed their own governing body and had essentially a communal society where jobs, goods, food and services were given to the community for use by all.

Was John Henry Neamon and/or his brother a part of the Ebenezers? I wondered. As luck would have it, I was at the my local library not two days later searching for a book I had heard was a bestseller in recent years. I was surprised to learn that this particular book was located in the historical section. I had assumed that it was a work of fiction, but apparently it was a true account of events that happened in a town in Georgia. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it on the shelf. What I did find was almost uncanny in timing (I have mentioned other coincidences on this blog before). On the shelf was a book entitled The Ebenezer Society written by Frank J. Lankes in 1963.

I was unable to find anything in the book on anyone named Neamon, but it was interesting little book about the history of the society and how it worked. Back in Germany in 1826, Christian Metz prophesied of a place being prepared for them in “the wilderness.” Some of the names mentioned in the book were: Gottlieb Ackermann, John Beyer, John Fritz, Louis Froelich, George Heinemann, Fritz Jeck, Charles L. Meyer, Frederick Morshel, Joseph Prestele, Clemens Schnitzler, John Schoepflin, Jacob Sommer, Carl Trautmann, Martin Trautman, Peter Trautman, George A. Weber and Jacob Wittmer. The Community eventually relocated to Iowa and the new place was called Amana.

Home of Christian Metz, Ebenezer, NY

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