Eller Chronicles Nov 1989-p1

The Eller Chronicles



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Eller family history was made in Salisbury, N.C., July 20-23, 1989, when more than 160 Eller family descendants from 22 states and two foreign countries met in conference.

For descendants of so many different Eller family lines to meet was truly historic as was the meeting for the first time of many of the same family line. To have present an Eller descendant from W. Germany and to meet in historic Rowan County added greatly to the sense of "returning to one's roots," especially for those who descended from Jacob, Christian, and Melchoir Eller, mid-18th century immigrants of Rowan County. Inez Eller Smith of Oregon, a descendant of Jacob Eller, when standing on the grounds once owned by him, reported feeling "chill bumps and a sense of awe".

Some. who had exchanged letters for years, also met for the very first time. Adding to the excitement were new family history and new leads to follow in further research.

Everyone seemed to enjoy a truly happy and rewarding experience and went away with a greater feeling of kinship and a better knowledge of the number and diversity of U.S. and German Eller families.

All were lavish in their praise for the conference and many vowed to return home and work with greater effort to further the goals of the Association. Responses since the conference indicate that many have already begun work. Approximately 25 new members joined the EFA during and after the conference.

Also, those who worked so long and hard to bring the EFA into existence and hold such a conference felt that their labors were amply rewarded.

MINUTES OF THE CONFERENCE WITH COMMENTS: (Based in part on notes supplied by Lowell Eller of Salem, VA.)

Thursday, July 20: At the 6:00 P.M. social hour the process of matching faces with names and becoming acquainted began. Excitement continued to build and was quite evident as each person was recognized at the buffet dinner which followed. Whispered comments and exclamations were heard- "so that is our cousin Bill from Colorado;" "look at that lady over there. Doesn't she remind you of Aunt Susie?" Dr. John and Bonnie Eller said that Vance Eller looked just like John's father (despite the many generations since they shared a common ancestor).

The first meeting of the Board of Directors followed the meal.


1) By-Laws, as previously published in the Chronicles, were approved for submission to a final vote by the membership at the Saturday evening dinner.

2) The possibility of incorporation of the Association in order to gain tax exempt status was raised, but the matter was left for the new officers and board to take under advisement.

3) Gerald Eller spoke of the unique contributions made to Eller family history by James W. Hook and explained his plan for initiating the James W. Hook Memorial Award to honor Mr. Hook and a deserving member of the EFA who was deemed to have made a notable contribution to Eller Family Heritage.

4) The need to reprint or republish the James W. Hook book on George Michael Eller was discussed. Many spoke favorably about such a project.

5) The need for standing committees to develop policies and procedures for publicity, membership, research, and publication was mentioned, but no action was taken neither on this nor the suggestion for a Historian to maintain a conference scrap book.

(6) Lowell Eller, Chairman of the Nominating Committee recommended a slate of officers for the 1989-1991 term. The Board approved the slate for submission to a vote by members in attendance at the Saturday evening dinner.

Recommended were:

President: A. William Eller
Co-Vice-Presidents: Vernard and Phyllis Eller
Sec./Treas.: Charlotte Marshall.

FRIDAY, JULY 21: 9:00 A.M.,

Gerald Eller extended an official welcome and introduced Dr. Klaus Napp-Zinn, Professor of Botany at Koln University in W. Germany and an Eller descendant (his mother was an Eller).

Dr. Napp-Zinn presented a captivating program of color slides showing Eller men, women and children of Germany, some dating from the early 1600's. Also shown were Eller land- marks: houses, gravestones, shops, and the villages and towns where these were located. Speaking in perfect English, Dr. Napp-Zinn gave an absorbing account not only of the pictures but of the families involved and the historical and geographical setting as to time and place. His remarkable knowledge of the history of German religions and politics added much to his lecture. Thus began the process whereby Dr. Napp-Zinn was to make many friends during the next days. Many are already inquiring if he will be back for the 1991 conference. It is too early for a decision on that but he has promised to send copies of some of the slides for publication in the Chronicles. (Some of the slides were supplied by EFA member, Georg Eller, of Bingen, W. Germany who sent greetings to all in attendance.)

A relationship between Eller ancestors of Dr. Napp-Zinn, Georg Eller and those of the U.S. Ellers has not been established. However, the name of "Eller" is sufficient to claim cousinship. We hope Dr. Napp-Zinn and others from Germany will be able to attend the 1991 reunion.

After a coffee. break, Lowell and Sarah Eller of Salem, VA gave an interesting and illustrated talk about the Jacob and Magdalena Eller family of Roanoke County, VA. This was followed by a fine presentation on the Ellers of Nebraska and other mid-western states by Bill Eller of Lakewood, CO.


An address by Jo White Linn, nationally noted genealogist and lecturer from Salisbury, N.C., was enjoyed immediately after lunch. The full text of her address, prepared especially for the Eller Conference, is found in this issue.

Before adjournment four additional speakers were heard: Peggy Agner Troutman of Salisbury discussed aspects of the tangled genealogy of early Ellers of Rowan County; Dr. Byron H. Eller of Droville, CA gave a masterful lecture on the roles of North Carolina, and Ellers from North Carolina, in the Civil War; Joe C. Eller of Houston', TX entertained the group with an informal talk ' on the Ellers of Hillsdale, Macon Co., TN. Walton Eller spoke of his Texas and Eller roots, giving this graphic illustration of the flatness of the land in Texas, "Texas is so flat that if you lay a two-by-four on the ground it will back water up for a mile."

The process of sharing information and making new friends and acquaintances continued unabated. The conference room was open in the evening for informal meetings, socializing and picture making. Members of individual family lines met to take pictures and talk about common ancestors.

SATURDAY, July 22 (9 A.M) Joining the group for the first time were numerous Eller descendants from the surrounding areas of Rowan, Davidson and Wilkes Counties. The day was spent viewing and discussing the materials on display: pictures, wills, coats-of-arms, church records, books, exhibits, and many excellent genealogical research collections.A video show, prepared by Buddy Lovette and Talmadge Wiggins of Moravian Falls, N.C., on "Ellers and Eller Landmarks in Virginia and North Carolina," was shown throughout the day and proved to be a major attraction.

EBuddy Lovette reports that he plans to reshoot some of the footage after which he will begin editing the tapes. He expects to make them available for sale at some time in the future so watch for an announcement in the Chronicles.]

Approximately 108 Ellers and guests enjoyed an excellent sit-down dinner. Gerald Eller recognized Lowell Eller who introduced the speaker: Dr. Vernard Eller, a noted lecturer and writer, and Professor of Theology at LaVerne University in LaVerne CA. Vernard's talk was amusing and interesting. His remarks about Elias Eller, a founder of a mystical religious cult in mid-1700 Germany, are found in this issue.

After paying tribute again to the memory of James W. Hook and explaining the plan for initiating the James W. Hook Memorial Award, Gerald was interrupted by Lowell Eller (obviously a member of a secret group of plotters) who took the floor to present life-time EFA memberships and a copy of one of Vernard Eller's many published books to Gerald and Juanita "in recognition of the time, effort and expenses contributed in bringing the EFA through its first two years and to this first conference."


Upon regaining the floor and expressing thanks, Gerald recognized Lynn Eller for remarks about his relative, James W. Hook, whom Lynn had known and visited. Then Gerald read a proclamation in tribute to James W. Hook and to Charlotte Eller Marshall, the first recipient of the James W. Hook Memorial Award. The proclamation appears in this issue and a picture of the plaque, presented to Charlotte, is on the front cover. Her letter of thanks to the EFA appears on p. 104

Additional life-time EFA membership awards were made: Dr. K. Napp-Zinn and Georg Eller, both of W. Germany.

Appreciation certificates for help in organizing and presenting the Eller Family Conference were given to: Steven Eller and Jerri Eller Cathey (son and daughter of Gerald and Juanita Eller), Becky Hefner and Inez Eller Smith (cousin and sister of Charlotte Eller Marshall), Janine Eller Porter (co-founder and first Vice President of the EFA), Louise Eller (EFA German translator), A. William Eller, Peggy A. Troutman, Joe C. Eller, Walton Eller, Lowell & Sarah Eller, Byron Eller, Vernard & Phyllis Eller (all presenters and helpers at the Conference;) [Belated thanks goes to Vernard for making the attractive buttons; now to his many titles Vernard may add "button-maker"]. Certificates also went to Charlotte and Vance Eller (on-site coordinators); Buddy Lovette and Talmadge Wiggins (for video show); Lynn Eller (for assistance with the James W. Hook material);and Dr. John Eller (for the devotional service).

In a short business session the member-ship approved the By-Laws and the slate of officers for the 1989-1991 term. In recognizing new President Bill Eller, Gerald passed along these charges: the planning of the next Conference the question of incorporation of the EFA; and the reprinting of the James W. Hook 1957 book on George Michael Eller.

Bill Eller accepted his office with grace and the affirmation to do his best for the EFA. He said, "I am ready and willing to spend full-time, if need be, to see that the organization continues to thrive and grow". He mentioned his strong interest in the reprinting or republication of the James W. Hook book. [A bio-sketch of Bill Eller was published in Vol. III, No. 2, The Eller Chronicles.]

Just before adjournment came these announcements: Lowell Eller extended an invitation to all Ellers to attend the Jacob and Magdalena Eller Reunion in Salem Virginia in 1990. Additional details will appear in later Chronicles.

Charlotte Marshall asked for Eller family stories to be placed in the special Heritage Book that she intends to organize. All persons were reminded of the devotional services and barbecue scheduled for 11:00 A.M. on Sunday in the Dan Nicholas Park.

Bill Eller held a short Board Meeting following the meal. Several matters were discussed including the time and place of the 1991 conference but this was left to the new officers and the Board of Directors. It was agreed to prepare and circulate a questionnaire asking for evaluation and reactions to the Salisbury Conference. The questionnaire appears on p.138 and each member who attended the conference is urged to fill in and return the form to Bill Eller. Members who did not attend but have suggestions and ideas for the next conference are urged to write directly to Bill.


SUNDAY, July 23-. The Lord provided a beautiful final day for the Eller Conference. The group assembled at 11:00 P.M. in the amphitheater at Dan Nicholas Park for a devotional service led by Dr. John Eller of Arkansas, a part Cherokee Indian, an honorary chief in the Western Cherokee Nation, and a minister in the Assemblies of God. John, very proud of his Cherokee heritage, was dressed in full Cherokee regalia as he delivered his inspiring message. A bio-sketch on Dr. John Eller appears in this issue.

The final event was a delicious barbecue meal served by Charlotte and Vance Eller (and their children). We are indebted to Charlotte's brother,' Mr. Jake Fisher, famous in that area for his barbecue, who volunteered, when he first learned about the Eller Conference, to prepare a barbecue meal. His interest and help is most appreciated, and exemplifies the interest and help given by many people in Salisbury.

After singing "Happy Birthday" to Clifton Eller of Alaska on his 60th birthday, the people began to go their separate ways, exhilarated by the events of the past four days and with a feeling of renewed kinship and pride in the name of Eller.

............................ EDS.


Michael Dean Porter, age 23, son of Ronald Dean Porter and Janine Rae Eller Porter of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, died March 8, 1989 as the result of having an epileptic seizure in the bathtub.

He was born January 28, 1966 at Sacred Heart Hospital, Spokane, Washington. Because of his father's work in road construction, he lived in several towns in Northern Idaho, Eastern Washington, and once in Western Montana. In 1972 his parents moved to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho where Mike attended grades one through twelve, graduating from Coeur d'Alene High School in 1984. He was a member of he Canfield Jr. High School Honor Society. He enjoyed playing soccer, camping, fishing, and rock music.

In 1978, Mike was diagnosed as having epilepsy, but was determined not to let it dictate his life. The hardest thing for him to accept were the periods when he wasn't allowed to drive after his seizure.

Since graduating, he had several jobs as dishwasher at local restaurants, and for about 9 months, he worked at Keytronics in Spokane, Washington assembling computer keyboards. He was working at Perkins Restaurant at the time of his death.

Survivors include his parents in Coeur d'Alene; his only sister, Michele Rae; brother-in-law, Theodore Curtis Demery, Jr. and nephew, Todd Curtis Demery, in Aura, W. Germany where Ted is in the U.S. Army; maternal grandmother, Willetta Cecelia Carlson Eller of Nezperce, Idaho and several aunts, uncles and cousins.(Another Nephew, Jefferey Michael Demery, was born April 8, 1989 in Wurzburg, W. Germany, one month after Mike's death.)

Funeral services were held at p.m., Saturday, March 11, 1989 at the English Funeral Center in Coeur d'Alene, with the Reverend Rich Irish officiating. Burial was in the Forest Cemetery in Coeur d'Alene...... Janine Porter.

(See Picture of Mike and his family on page 104) (photo moved to here for online viewing)

The Porter Family

THE PORTER FAMILY (L-R) Michael Dean, Michele Ray, Tod Curtis, Theodore, Janine Eller Porter, Ronald Dean Porter



Greetings to Members of the EFA:

I am grateful to have been asked to be your president for the next two years and thank you for your confidence. It is a privilege and pleasure; be assured that I will certainly do all I can to promote and encourage participation in this fine association.

Our 1989 conference is now history but how the memories persist' I trust that those of you who attended were equally moved and will encourage other Ellers to join us and begin planning for our 1991 conference and share in this exciting and fascinating organization.

1991 seems a long way off but the time will go all too fast. Even now, a number of things are happening, ideas are being formulated by your board, your editor and others, creating an undercurrent of excitement that is beginning to evidence itself. We do in fact anticipate another unique happening in the summer of 1991.

Continue to supply us with your genealogies, historical classifications and especially your questions. As our association grows, new sources become available to fill in those time-line Saps. All this is what helps to keep our family association active and enthused. Also keep us advised of your personal special desires and needs.

As a personal goal, it is my hope and desire to develop stick graphs, similar to that on the next page, for display in 1991 for simple identification and association. If you have not already given it to me, I would appreciate your input- just names and spouses names.

I look forward to serving you,
A. William "Bill" Eller



[In order of states (alphabetical)]:

Eller, James Clifton & Paula Wasilla, AK

Eller, John and Bonnie Springdale, AR
Vaughn, Dorothy Eller N. Little Rock, AR

Eller, Byron HOroville, CA
Eller, Vernard & PhyllisLaVerne, CA

Eller, A. William & MadelynLakewood, CO

Eller, Steve WBradenton, FL

Cook, Carolyn FarmerLawrenceville, GA
Eller, HerbertAtlanta, GA
Eller, LynnAtlanta, GA
Newbold, Dorothy WBall Ground, GA

Napp-Zinn, KlausCologne, W. Germany

Eller, TedKnoxville, IA

Porter, Janine EllerCoeur d'Alene, ID

Eller, Billy ESicily, Italy

Stolte, BethelLudell, KS

Eller, Charles & BarbaraMoundsville, KY
Eller, Ralph N. & DorothyMoundsville, KY

Eller, MargaretBaton Rouge, LA

Schweers, LovetaSalisbury, MD

Eckerle, Ora Lee EllerSuttans Bav, MI.
Kiessel, Mary JeanSt. Joseph, MI

Agnet,, Mary EllerSalisbury, NC
Agne!,, HubertSalisbury, NC
Anderson, PollyDallas, NC
Artz, Eulla Mae EllerRockwell, NC
Barringet, SammvDenton, NC
Barrington, Judy BeanDenton, NC
Barringer, Mark & DanielDenton, NC
Bean, ChrisDenton, NC
Bean, JacobDenton, NC
Bean, Fred CDenton, NC
Bean, Joe DennyDenton, NC
Bean, LissieDenton, NC
Bean, NaomiDenton, NC
Bean, SharonDenton, NC
Beck, Patricia BSalisbury, NC
Bracken, Joy EllerMooresville, NC
Casey, Zandra EllerCurrituck, NC
Casey, Heather & JeremyCurrituck, NC
Cathey, TysonWinston-Salem, NC
Cathey, Jerri EllerWinstm-Salem, NC
Cathey, Joe EllerWinston-Salem, NC
Clayton, AndrewSalisbury, NC
Clayron, Melissa Eller Salisbury, NC
Clayton, Heather & JeremySalisbury, NC
Drye, Banks A Badin, NC
Drye, Margie E Badin, NC
Drye, Harry Winston-Salem, NC
Drye, Mattie E Winston-Salem, NC
Eiwen, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Raleigh, NC
Eller, Catherine M Ferguson, NC
Eller, Carl M Summerfield, NC
Eller, Clinton & Connie N. Wilkesboro, NC
Eller, Dewey Ashville, NC
Eller, Eddie D Salisbury, NC
Eller, J. Gerald & Juanita Whittier, NC
Eller, Kenneth R.& Dolly Catawba, NC
Eller, Larry N.Stokesdale, NC
Eller, Martha Salisbury, NC
Eller, Ned Salisbury, NC
Eller, R. Vance & Charlotte Salisbury, NC
Eller, Robert C Statesville, NC
Eller, Gwyn Statesville, NC
Eller, Steven Sylva, NC
Eller, Ted M Woodleaf, NC
Eller, William N. Stokesdale, NC
Eller, Yvonne N. Stokesdale, NC
Ellis, Patty Gastonia, NC
File, Cliff Salisbury, NC
File, Louise Salisbury, NC
File, Nancy Salisbury, NC
Godfrey, Marion Black Mtn., NC
Godfrey, Marjorie Eller Black Mtn., NC
Goodman, Henry & Ruth Rockingham, NC
Hobbs, Keith & Cindy Charlotte, NC
Hobbs, Vana & Rick Charlotte, NC
Jordan, Doris Eller Rockwell, NC
Kesler, Natalie Eller, Salisbury, NC
Lovette, Buddy Moravian Falls, NC
Maines, Zola Eller Rockwell, NC
Millsaps, Eva Artz., Salisbury, NC
Minton, V. Fave E Wilkesboro, NC
Reynolds, Jean Moravian Falls, NC
Robertson, Jim & Blanche, Weaverville, NC
Belle, Eveivn Ellet Rockwell, NC
Belle, Spencer C., Pr Rockwell, NC
Shaw, Angie Denton,. NC
Troutman, Peggy A Salisbury, NC
Walker, Jewel C. Eller Wilkesboro, NC
Winecoff, Jimmie Eller Rockwell, NC
Wood, Ethel Eller Salisbury, NC

Eller, Calvin Neal & Louise Beavercreek, OH
Stanley, John H Martins Ferry, OH
Stanley, Clarice Eller Martins Ferry, OH

Eller, Bill L. & Sylvia Milwaukie, OR
Marshall, Charlotte Eller Corvallis, OR
Smith, Inez Eller Cottage Groove, OR

Baldwin, Myrrel Greensburg, PA
Geissinger, Libby Eller Zionsville, PA
Geissinger, Larry Zionsville, PA
Geissinger, Amy Zionsville, PA
Beissinger, Krista Zionsville, PA
Beissinger, Laura Zionsville, PA
Geissinger, Anthony Zionsville, PA

Bu.ttry, Dorothy Eller Newberry, SC
Buttry, Brandy & Chris Poe Newberry, SC

Eller, Dan & Helen Hermitaqe, TN
Eller, Ed Dillard Granville, TN
Eller, Pat Granville, TN
Eller, Edward Granville, TN
Eller, Harold L. & Ruth Hermitage, TN
Garrett, Jeanice Lafayette, TN
Ligon, Lily Old Hickory, TN
Massey, Margaret Eller Nashville, TN
Pearce, Beverly Eller Jackson, TN
Street, Judy Eller Chattanooga, TN

Eller, Joe C Houston, TX
Eller, Walton G.& Nancy G Crowley, TX
Hefner, Becky Mineral Wells, TX

Eller, J. Burton Arlington, VA
Eller, Trae Arllngton, VA
Eller, Ashley Arlington, VA
Eller, Lowell & Sarah Salem, VA
Farmer, Gordon Galax, VA
Farmer, Odell Eller Galax VA
Hall, Mr. -and Mrs. Jack B Richmond, VA
Hall, Mrs. J. B Richmond, VA
Hall, Mr. and Mrs. Jack B Richmond, VA
Hall, Mrs. J. B Richmond, VA
Martindale, Ray & Miriam Roanoke, VA
Nepomucero, Mr. and Mrs. Jose Richmond, VA
Pitts, Clarine Eller Roanoke, VA
Spanqler, Wayne & Carol Vienna, VA
Wilson, Peggy Ann Jenkins Oakton, VA

Sperati, Carleton Parkersburg, WV
Sperati, Eloise Parkersburg, WV


Vol. III No. 3 The Eller Chronicles Aug. 1989
p. 48- 3rd line, 5th para.: Change "through his grandmother" to "through his mother"
p. 49- Last sent./para 1: Should read "other brothers of the two" (not three).
P. 59- Next to last para. Omit ref. to Elisabeth Brown.
p.60- The note in para.1 attributed to Peggy Troutman should be attributed to the McCubbins Coll., Rowan Public Lib., Salisbury, N.C.
p.60- Under John Helker II, add a 6th child, John; change child # I from "Conrad" to "Conrod"
p.63-Para. 1: Change "Kepler" to "Kesler"
p.67- Ist line of James W. Hook story: change "grandmother" to "mother"
ANSWER TO QUERY- WHO IS KARL ELLER? P. 43, Vol. III, No. 2 May 1989:
From EFA member, Calvin W. Evans of Phoenix, AZ came a nice letter saying that Karl Eller was a prominent business man in Phoenix and including news stories about him. We have contacted Karl and have received a picture and his permission to publish a story on him in a future issue......... EDS.

Juanita Eller and Son, Steven



WHEREAS, the ELLER FAMILY ASSOCIATION seeks through cooperative efforts to research and publish Eller Family genealogy and family history throughout the world, and

WHEREAS, JAMES WILLIAM HOOK was the first Eller descendant in America to publish results of his extensive research on his Eller ancestry, and in so doing performed a unique service that not only preserved a great body of Eller genealogy and family history but laid a sound base on which others might build, and which for us today provides a powerful inspiration and challenge to learn more of Ellers past and present and insure that future generations shall know the source of their genetic and cultural heritage that came through their Eller family connection, and

WHEREAS, a member of the ELLER FAMILY ASSOCIATION now follows in the footsteps of James W. Hook and has researched and published the genealogy and family history of her Eller family line, initiated and organized Eller family reunions, originated and advanced the first suggestion that an ELLER FAMILY ASSOCIATION be organized, displayed unbridled enthusiasm and energy in unceasing effort in recruiting others to this cause, served the Association in a variety of ways- by writing hundreds of letters which were mailed at her own expense, by managing the monies of the Association efficiently and honestly, by drafting the By-Laws, by recruiting a Board of Directors, and by serving as the Co-Chairman of the committee that planned the FIRST INTERNATIONAL ELLER FAMILY ASSOCIATION.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the ELLER FAMILY ASSOCIATION in session this the 22 day of July, 1989 in Salisbury, N.C. do herewith honor the memory of JAMES WILLIAM HOOK by establishing the JAMES WILLIAM HOOK MEMORIAL AWARD and presenting it to CHARLOTTE ELLER MARSHALL for her notable contributions to the ELLER FAMILY ASSOCIATION and its goals.

J. Gerald Eller, President
Eller Family Association


Corvallis, Oregon
31 July 1989

Dear Relatives and Friends,

What an unexpected honor to receive the J. W. Hook Memorial Award! I'm sure it was apparent I was totally unprepared for this. There were several people I felt were deserving and might be the recipient. As I was unprepared (and a bit shaken) I could not express my appreciation without tears, so I did not attempt a speech of thanks and acceptance.

I would like to thank Gerald and Juanita, who planned this award and proclamation, had the award made, and managed to keep all of it very quiet. I am truly honored they found me deserving. I shall always treasure the plaque and the proclamation.

To all of you who participated in the Conference and those who could not come to Salisbury, I owe thanks also. The idea of forming an ELLER FAMILY ASSOCIATION, publishing the newsletter and having group meetings such as this First Conference could not have been accomplished without the interest and participation of all of you.

May the future bring many such Conferences, each with the comradeship and caring family atmosphere that was shared by all those who came to'Salisbury.

Thank you, one and all.




Porter Family Photo moved to be with story



The One You Can Be Just as Happy
to Have Missed

In a recent issue of Chronicles, the listing of prominent Ellers in Germany included one ancient ELIAS ELLER. He wasn't given much attention--which is just as well. Elsewhere that same issue named a modern Elias Eller (who I don't think could be named after ancient Elias--and for whose sake I certainly hope not).

The ancient Elias died without surviving issue. So I don't think any of us can trace a relationship to him; and I don't see why any of us would want to. The Ellers, certainly have come to be known as religious people. And whether known to be or not, we are just as certainly a tolerant people (how would all our kids have ever become adults without our tolerating any amount of stuff?). Yet I don't think that any of us would be ready to tolerate Ancient Elias Eller's religion. Goodness knows, we ourselves may hold to a lot of goofy religion--but nothing that goofy.

I originally ran onto Ancient Elias while I was in graduate school--found his story in an antique, German-based encyclopedia of religion. This is about the only place he could be found. Yet, whether we like it or not, he might be the only Eller who will ever make it into a scholarly encyclopedia. Perhaps we should be grateful.

ELIAS ELLER spent his whole life between Ronsdorf and Elberfeld, Germany (Ronsdorf being a little village just five miles from Elberfeld). Eller was born right at the turn of the 18th century and died in 1750. [My theory is that the Ellers who emigrated to America from this area during this period were fleeing the reputation of Elias--so perhaps he, in his own way, did make a contribution to the spread of the family.]

As a lad, Eller went to Elberfeld to there become foreman in a factory owned by the rich widow Bolckhaus. With the passage of time, he came under the spell of the goofy religious ideas that were then "rampant in the district" [rampant ideas being the worst possible kind]. Yet with these, Eller [who regularly was found to make the best of what he had] first converted and then married his employer. [How many other Ellers would even have conceived as brilliant a scheme?]

Eller was soon holding meetings and attracting a following.-among whom was "a certain Anna van Buchel, the daughter of an Elberfeld baker, a girl of remarkable beauty." Eller instructed her on how to undergo ecstasies [Eller men always having been good teachers, in this regard as in others] and receive revelations from heaven. Before long Anna announced that 1730 had been made known to her as the year when the Lord would introduce his millennial reign.


Soon thereafter, "Eller's wife had died [too bad; but these things do happen, you know] and he soon married Anna van Buchel with whom he had maintained for some time illicit relations [if you had already guessed that, it shows you have a dirty mind] as he alleged, "to protect her innocence" [you see, Ellers always have a good explanation for what they do].

Eller eventually declared that "God had revealed to his wife that she was the mother of Zion who should give birth to the Savior of the World a second time" and thus introduce the end-time kingdom. Unfortunately, Annals first child was a girl [of all things]--though Eller explained the mishap as owing to the people's lack of faith [I know what he meant; I have found that people regularly fail to put as much faith in the Ellers as they ought].

On the second try, however, everybody got everything right: Anna gave birth to the boy Benjamin. "The child was reverenced in his cradle as the future great prophet and savior of the world, and Eller declared that his children were divinely begotten and consequently born without sin." [And of just how many Eller kids have their parents been able to say that?] Unfortunately, little Benny Eller died when barely a year old.

The third time is a charm; yet now the Ellers [or rather, the virginal mother] had another girl. Eller [with perhaps a note of exasperation] explained, "Yeah, but this little girl is going to do some real masculine deeds." She died at age two.

"In 1744 the mother of Zion died mysteriously, after giving birth to another daughter" [surely, enough is enough; it isn't as though Eller hadn't given her every opportunity to deliver the goods].

Through this time, Eller had encountered enough opposition that he moved his operation back to Ronsdorf, completely taking over the town. Consequently, the group became known as the "Ronsdorfers" [thank heavens we haven't had to live down the name "Ellerites"]. They started out with fifty houses, all facing east toward Zion (Eller's house, of course, where his wife was the Urim and Thummim). With the church thus being also the government of the town, "the most unlimited license held sway in connection with the rites of the sacraments or on birthdays, Eller justifying himself boldly by the transgressions of the patriarchs, David and Solomon." [You'll never find anyone more desirous of biblical justification than the Ellers.]


The basic beliefs of the group were kept secret from all but the inner circle; yet the primary tenets were these:

(1) The fullness of the Godhead dwells in Eller alone. [Let the people say, "Amen!" I don't see what anyone could possibly find objectionable in that!]

(2) Though the Bible is the work of God, the annunciation to the mother of Zion means that the new epoch necessitates a new revelation in a new Scripture--the secret booklet Hirtentsache (copies still extant in select libraries).

(3) Not only will the saints appear again on earth, but the Savior must be born again [and it makes one a bit proud to know that, this time around, his name will be called "Eller"]

(4) Eller is the counterpart of Abraham [my great grandfather was Abraham Eller; that proves!] but greater than he. The person of God the Father was incarnate in Abraham; the Son in Isaac; and the Holy Ghost in Sarah [to think, our Elias was the forerunner of today's feminist theology]; but in Eller is the fullness of the Godhead, "Hence, except through him there is no blessing or happiness from above, and those who do not follow him must face the wrath of God."

(5) Eller, circumsized by God, must bear sickness and pain for the sins of the world. [So that's why I'm always hurting so much!]

(6) Moses and Elijah were not prototypes only of Christ, but also of Eller--as were David and Solomon.

(7) The children of Eller are begotten directly of God. [Maybe so; but you wouldn't know it from watching my kids.]

[I propose that the first order of business for the Eller Family Association, in its forthcoming great reunion, is to look at the situation, decide whether we're going to give it a pass and just let things lie as Elias left them--or whether we really want to honor that family tradition by girding our loins, picking up the torch, and this time going over the top as Elect Ellers Exercising the Effluent Ecstasy of Earth. Who'll volunteer to be the new mother of Zion?]

by Vernard Eller


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