Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists: Elder John Kline
Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists


Elder John Kline

"The most significant martyr in the history of the Brethren" (Brethren Encyclopedia), Elder John Kline (1797-1864) is truly an inspiring hero to those of Brethren background.  Born on 17 June 1797 in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, his family moved to the Linville Creek area of Rockingham County, Virginia about 1811.  In 1818, he married Anna Wampler at her home a few miles from the Kline home.  Their only child did not live to maturity.  He became a prosperous farmer with his German and Brethren heritage, helping individuals in need and contributing to the church.  In 1825, he gave gift of land from his farm for the first Linville Creek church, where all following buildings were also erected.  He became a deacon in 1827, elected to the first degree of ministry in 1830, the second degree by 1826, and in 1848 was made elder.

He was a church leader, practiced medicine, traveled, and wrote.  During the 1850's, he was becoming a leader within the denomination, had learned the medical practice, and was traveling considerably visiting the Brethren, much of it on his horse, Nell.  It is estimated that he traveled approximately 100,000 miles ministering throughout the Brotherhood and aiding the sick.  He wrote a 16 page pamphlet in defending Brethren beliefs from an attack in a Mennonite publication,  then later a 74 page work when they responded to him.

At the 1861 Annual Meeting, Elder John Kline was elected  moderator, the highest elected office for the Brethren, and again in each of the next three years prior to his death.

In 1862, 1863, 1864, Kline crossed the lines to attend conference in the North.  He was able to received passes from both sides permitting his crossing military lines.  Both sides were suspicious of him since he gave medical aid to both Union and Confederate troops.  At one time, he was imprisoned two weeks suspected as a Union sympathizer.

On 15 June 1864, Elder John Kline was ambushed and killed near his home while returning from another visit.



For more information about Elder John Kline, see the Rockingham County Virginia RootsWeb site on an introduction to Elder John Kline and an online Funk's biography. Also, an excellent sketch and one of his sermons to better understand his life and how he is seen by many today can be found in a Brethren Revival Fellowship article. An online search will list many other references.


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