Ten Mile Church of the Brethren (COB) & South Pigeon Creek Dunkard Church_Life in 'Little Washington'_Washington County PA Genealogy and Family History

Life in Washington Co., PA "Little Washington" 
1700s to Present


The Ten Mile Church of the Brethren in Marianna, Washington Co., PA
and the daughter church, South Pigeon Creek Dunkard Church (now defunct)

Learning about the German Baptists, Church of the Brethren....

When I first started researching, I got a crash course in researching and in learning about the Church of the Brethren. My grandmother, Ruth Lane McGary, had attended Ten Mile Church of the Brethren as a small girl when her family lived nearby in Wylandville. Her father, Francis Edward "Frank" Lane, was a Deacon in the church. Frank's father was James Polk Lane and was also active in the church. He lived in the parsonage near the South Pigeon Creek church with his family. But our Lane family roots there began with James P.'s father, Daniel Lane, who was a preacher in the church, and further back with Daniel's father, John Lane, Sr. who was one of the early members who helped build the brick building in 1832 (which is still in use today). [Note: We don't know John Lane Sr.'s parents and it is quite possible they were also Brethren, possibly from York Co., PA).

There was a lot to learn about John Lane, Sr. and his family, and about the Church of the Brethren. At first, all my grandmother had was a copy of a Bible page which had two names: John Lane Sr., and below that, Daniel Lane. She assumed they were father and son, but had no proof. With research, I found records showing John Lane in a Frederick Co., MD Orphan's Court record dated 1794 at age 14, "with no parents in this State," where he is apprenticed to Martin Garver, a leader in the Brethren church in Frederick County. I also found a marriage record proving John Lane had married Catherine Baker January 23, 1805 in Frederick Co., MD. Then, I uncovered that they had at least 4 children: John Lane, Jr; Joseph Lane; Daniel Lane; and Mary A. Lane Flowers. We learned who each of these children married, and I researched the first 3 down to living descendants (I still need to find Mary A. Lane Flowers' descendants). I'll cover a little about these families on John Lane, Sr.'s page. Also, see the membership list in "COB Families" for John Lane, Sr.

German Baptists, Society of German Baptists, Dunkard, Dunker, Tunker....

I had even more to learn about the Church of the Brethren, who had formerly been called German Baptists. They were also known as the Society or Fraternity of German Baptists, and referred to as Dunkard, Dunker, and Tunker. Over time the names were solidified, with the adoption of "Church of the Brethren" coming after 1900.  One important note before I go further: Although The Church of the Brethren is often spoken about as "the Brethren," there is actually a whole separate denomination correctly known as "The Brethren." But, it is cumbersome to consistently refer to "The Church of the Brethren" in writings like on this website. So, when I speak of "the Brethren" here, I will always be speaking of members of "The Church of the Brethren" (often abbreviated as "COB"). Also, after the adoption of the name "Church of the Brethren," some congregations were still known as "Dunkard" such as South Pigeon Creek Dunkard Church (now torn down) and Cemetery. However, strictly speaking, there are now different denominational groups called "Dunkard," who have different beliefs and practices.

Brethren in Washington Co., PA by 1744....

Records are scarce for almost every Church of the Brethren, including for this SW PA church. Part of the earliest public records found in SW PA were actually written almost a 150 years after the Brethren came to this southwest area of Pennsylvania. Washington County histories (Beers, Crumrine, and Forrest, who all quoted from each other) and the Brethren histories, state that the Brethren were in the county from at least the 1760s. My research shows that some Brethren families were already in or close to Washington County by 1744, long before the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania "allowed" settlers to come, and when this heavily forested area was still under Indian attacks. In these first 150 years, the Brethren helped develop their community and their growing congregation, meeting in each other's homes and barns for worship, just as they had practiced in other areas of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia before migrating to Washington County.

Prior to 1832 the Brethren had no church building or cemetery. Some of the early members of the congregation are buried in the Friends-Quaker cemetery on the opposite side of Ten Mile Creek. The Ten Mile Cemetery was also a burial ground before the church was built in 1832.


Migrations among the Brethren to Washington County, like non-Brethren families, seems to have occurred in stages and ranged at least about every ten years or more frequently. I found a couple references to children of the Brethren being born about 1744 (or very near, meaning right across the river) in the county, but no one knows the exact date of migration for those families to the area. By 1790 though, migrations were once or more often in a decade, occurring (generally) in or after 1790, 1800 (approx 1803-04 and 1809), 1810, etc. up through the 1850s. But, during the same time of movement into the county, there was also westward migrations of some-to-all parts of or whole families to Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, as well as southward into Kentucky and the Carolinas. [If your Ten Mile COB family moved from Washington County to other States, I am very interested in learning the migrations of these folks into ~ and out of ~ Washington County, PA. I am very, very interested in learning about the Brethren families who moved on before 1838, whether it was one or several members of a family, or an entire family.] In their new home-States, the Brethren who moved may - or may not - have continued attending a Brethren church. This was often dependent on how close they lived to a church, and oftentimes, families had to chose another church family.

There were also whole families and parts of families who stayed behind in Washington County. There was no pattern, it seems, as to who stayed/who moved. In some families the oldest generation did not move, but in other families the oldest generation broke up housekeeping along with other family members who were moving. In some families all grown siblings moved together to west homes, while in other families only some siblings left while the others stayed. In my Lane family, the oldest generation, John Lane Sr., stayed in the county along with his third son, Rev. Daniel and wife Anna England Lane and fourth child, Mary A. Lane and husband Samuel Flowers stayed, while John Sr.'s oldest sons John Jr. and wife Susannah McClure and Joseph with wife Anna Dager moved west. All four siblings had children, some born in PA before the move and some born in their new State homes.  Sometimes those who stayed in Washington Co. continued in the Brethren church, and others switched to another denomination. Just like those who moved out of State, the "choice" of where to attend church was often dependent on availability and distance. And, although some persons had to attend church elsewhere, they were still buried in the original Brethren cemeteries of the County [e.g. Ten Mile Church of the Brethren and the South Pigeon Creek Dunkard Cemetery, a.k.a Tombaugh-Leatherman Cemetery].

Please go to COB Families to read about the development of Ten Mile Church of the Brethren, and the addition of South Pigeon Creek Dunkard Church (both served the same congregation).  There you will also find information about different families.

Links to help you learn more about Washington County Pennsylvania,
 the Church of the Brethren, and Brethren families of Washington County PA.

Index to Church of the Brethren files, especially in Washington County PA

Cemetery Precautions: Avoid Exposure to Poison Oak / Poison Ivy


This page was last updated on Saturday, December 05, 2015 02:10

Judith Ann Florian
Girard, Ohio 44420

Copyright Notice - Data / info. for individuals and surnames may be reproduced for personal family histories only, but not for any commercial use or sale. Please give credit to Judith Florian and Catherine L. Caldwell for newspaper items and original documents. You may use J. Florian's research conclusions if credit is given. No other data or images may be reproduced without permission. © 2005 to present, Judith Florian, Copyright All rights reserved.

Backgrounds by Marie. The background was chosen specifically to emphasize the matriarchal role of women in "the life" of children and families, and the resilience of all the women of southwestern Pennsylvania.