FOLLIS Family Religions

Most of this page was written many years ago probably in the late 1990s so is in need of corrections, updates with new information as well as many links are obsolete and broken. I hope to update them eventually. God Sign

As I follow my families back in time there are changes in which religion a family practiced usually the religion of the wife. My grandmother FOLLIS' SCHNEIDER family were German Catholic. She died at age 32 and my grandfather died at 56. Our family incorrectly believed FOLLIS was Catholic since no one knew any different, similar to the related FALLIS families of St.Charles County, Missouri. My great-grandfather FOLLIS married a Methodist, the two previous generations married Church of the Brethren, and the first two Colonial FOLLIS generations may have been Quaker since they lived in Quaker areas of Virginia and New Jersey. Most of my ancestry is German Church of the Brethren with some families Methodist, German Lutheran and Quaker. My early Scots-Irish FOLLIS are assumed to be Protestant and the English families may have been the Church of England based on when they came over to America.

There is a comforting connection with our ancestors when you realize that when looking at the stars, moon or sun in the sky or reading through the Bible we are looking at the same things that our ancestors would have looked at. None have changed since our ancestors looked at them. The same cannot be said for some religious practices, the land where our ancestors lived or the society they lived in. Most of them would not recognize the religious practices of their churches, the clothing styles, their land or our social culture with all of the changes of our modern world.

Religion was very important in the lives of the early Colonists and pioneer settlers influencing who they married and where they lived. Genealogist warn not to use modern thoughts, interpretations and definitions of words to apply to the past. In today's news we often see the laws and monuments of this country used to justify political positions when religion is brought into the picture. Unlike the European countries my ancestor's came from, in America we have the right to change religion for any reason. A practice my ancestor's obviously followed.

Pledge of Allegiance

With modern social media we often see religous posting especially memes about whether reciting The Pledge of Allegiance is still done in schools. Assuming each generation has recited the pledge it is interesting to look at the history of The Pledge of Allegiance on or The Man Who Wrote the Pledge of Allegiance The schoolroom staple didn’t originally include “under God,” even though it was created by an ordained minister by Jeffrey Owen Jones published November 2003 on Using these pages to create a timeline:

  1. The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy, I will assume my grandparents recited the original version. In its original form it read: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
  2. In 1923, the words, "the Flag of the United States of America" were added. At this time it read: "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." So my parents recited a slightly different pledge than their parents.
  3. In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words "under God," creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Today it reads: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. So I would have recited a different pledge in school than either my parents or grandparents.
  4. So assuming each of the past 3 generations in my family recited the pledge, it would have slightly different words and a different meaning and emphasis depending on the religion each family practiced at the time - and each family did attend a different church than the previous generation. Way more complicated than I can try to explain here.
Wikimedia Jesus image

Most people don't realize this 1935 painting of the head of Jesus was by Warner Sallman published by the Messenger Corporation in nearby Auburn, DeKalb County, Indiana. It is often called the Face That's Everywhere. If you are not a believer in God or Jesus, then consider this August 21, 1964 New York Times newspaper quotation credited to James Duffecy: "A dead atheist is someone who’s all dressed up with no place to go.". If you don't believe in God or Jesus, then where will you be when you die?

In God We Trust

We see this phrase on our paper dollars and coins and assume this is the way it has always been. According to the United States Treasury this phrase became the National Motto July 30, 1956 when signed into law by President Eisenhower. It first appeared on one and two cent coins in 1864. There were a few minor interruptions until 1916. Since 1916 all coins have had the motto. Depending on the denomination the motto "In God We Trust" did not appear on paper currency until 1964-1966 due to costs of changing the printing processes. Just because something has always been a certain way during your lifetime, does not mean that is the way it has always been. Do not assume, do the research!

Old Order Anabaptists

Many of my Church of the Brethren ancestors lifestyle would have been similar to today's Old Order Brethren and Amish Mennonite's. Plain dress, wearing hats and bonnets, bearded husbands, women do not cut their hair and always wear dresses. Often misunderstood as rejecting modern living they actually reject anything that threatens to destroy the family. When you look at today's modern world is it any wonder they reject our lifestyle. A typical modern family rises in the morning at different times with everyone going in different directions. Latch key kids are the norm often leaving for school after their working parent(s), arriving home before their working parent(s), many households with children are not husband and wife or biological father and mother. Many families eat meals watching television, often not even in the same room, where the comments are often shut up I am trying to watch this TV show. Many families rarely if ever in the course of a week will sit at a table and actually have a conversation over a relaxing meal. Is it any wonder the Old Order Brethren and Amish reject electricity with television, telephones and music which separate the family rather than unite it?

A few years ago an in depth newspaper article pointed out that the Amish prefer a face to face conversation rather than using a telephone because they know your body language will show your truthfulness or lack of. That is why a handshake and your word means more than a piece of paper. Your word is your bond. Without trust and character you are nothing. It is easy to lie behind technology and confusing words on paper. It is difficult to lie looking in the eyes of your family and knowing the consequences. They do not baptize children, only willing adults into the church where your word is your bond. Break the bond by violating the teachings of the church and you are "shunned" for life. If your word is no good, then neither are you, and your existence is meaningless to the church and your family. Harsh, but is it any less harsh than our modern world?

The word Brethren comes from Matthew 23:8; "But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren."

In many of the Brethren obituaries they refer to anointing the sick with oil. This comes from James 5:14-15; "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

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Which Religion

In researching and using mailing lists a lot of confusion occurs differentiating the various Brethren named churches. Church of the Brethren were formerly the German Baptist Brethren which have split into many other Brethren denominations. The United Brethren were formerly German Methodist's who merged with the Methodist Church to become today's United Methodist Church. The term "Meeting House" was used in the 1700's and early 1800's for what is known today as a church. Meeting houses were often shared by different religions in rural areas in the days of one room log cabins as the meeting house was the only building large enough to hold several families for a meeting. Some early Pennsylvania German Baptist families can be found buried in Quaker meeting house graveyards. Quaker's rarely used tombstones so actual burial plots may be unknown.

You often hear religious arguments about whether true believers must take the Bible literally or as a general guide to life. The History Channel on television has some interesting episodes on how it was decided which books made it into the Bible around 1,000 A.D. and which books did not. I have to believe a lot of male centric thinking and political posturing excluded some valid books from our modern Bible's. It would be interesting to read what was actually left out and what were the arguments for doing so. While certainly no authority on the Bible, I know from taking German classes in high school and college that you cannot translate any language from one to the other on a word for word basis. Anyone who has seen a foreign language movie with English subtitles or a foreign language television show quickly learns jokes and subtitle nuances of the language are "lost in translation". Even the existence of the phrase "lost in translation" implies common knowledge something will be lost. Anyone who has read old books, newspapers and magazines from just 100 years ago can see how the language and its meanings have changed. With such a complex and ancient document like the Bible how can you possibly know the original words and their meanings? Unless you study Hebrew or Greek and read the original manuscripts, I am not sure how anyone can honestly say they are living their life by the words of the Bible. Which Bible, which translation, which version? There are many Bible version translators on the internet one is Blue Letter Bible which lets you search chapter and verse. The Bible is a guide to life certainly, a literal road map to daily living, who's to say? That is why the debate continues and new versions continue to appear as another "expert" decides they know the "truth".

With different religions in my ancestry indicating they emphasized different parts of different Bibles it is very confusing. The Brethren Encyclopedia has a two page spread showing how the original German Baptist have split over the centuries into many different denominations. My Whitley County, Indiana families mostly followed the change of the Blue River German Baptist to become Church of the Brethren. Great-great-grandfather Joseph ZEIGLER one of the church's 1852 founders stayed Old Order with the 1881 split. He may have preached to Old Order Brethren Baptist in neighboring Elkhart County before his death in 1894. Several of the Elkhart County Old Order churches and cemeteries are still active. Some of the splits may have been disagreements over things like whether to preach in German or English, as well as which parts of the Bible to emphasize. Some religions such as Amish Mennonite's do not keep records to prevent government interference of members or use tombstones such as early Quaker's who kept good records but did not believe in tombstones which is why tombstones will not be found for some families.

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I have not taken the time to study these sites in any depth. Some may be provocative.

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If you find research that adds to, or contradicts mine, please leave a Comment on my Follis Families in the United States Facebook page, or send me an Email.

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