Off-42: A Driving Tour

Traveling along U.S Rt. 42, exploring the roots of the Mennonites and Brethren who settled in the Shenandoah Valley. A brochure giving driving directions and locations of each area is available at VBMHC CrossRoads or by request. More info here.

Historical Details provided by Dr. Emmert F. Bittinger

BROADWAY AREA


Linville Church

Linville Creek Church of the Brethren: The original frame building was erected on land donated by Elder John Kline in 1868. The present-day brick building houses a small but significant museum of Kline memorabilia. Kline's burial site is located in the old cemetery behind the present-day church.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin
John Kline House: This brick home was constructed in 1820 by Elder John Kline and doubled as a Brethren meeting place before a church was constructed. Of special interest are the hinged partitions that made the central living space available for Sunday meetings. Note also the Flemish bond pattern of the brick and some of the original locks and hinges.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin


photo Tunker House

Tunker House: This large, well-preserved brick house is also an example of the early style of homes with hinged partitions to accommodate groups for worship. At present it is a private residence.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin
Kline Assassination Marker: In 1864 Elder John Kline was waylaid and murdered on his return home from a pastoral trip to area churches. He was known as a strong anti-slavery and anti-war advocate who refused to be silenced. Contact the Linville Creek Church of the Brethren at 896-5001 for more information.

Photo Credit:
photo of Kline memorial

church photo

Trissels Mennonite Church: Mennonites began moving into the Rockingham County area shortly after the Revolutionary War. The first Trissels meetinghouse, built around 1822, was the first Mennonite church in the Valley. The original building was made of logs covered with weatherboarding.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin
Isaac Wenger House and Site of Mill: The home was built about 1848 by Isaac Coffman, a Mennonite, and purchased by Isaac Wenger. The farmhouse is a fine example of pre-Civil War rural architecture. It has 12 rooms and six chimneys. Wenger owned the mill immediately across what is now Route 42. It was burned in 1864 by Union troops and rebuilt after the war. It continued in use into the 1930s. The mill was razed in 1991 to make way for the expansion of the present highway. Isaac Wenger, a Mennonite, was active in the Unionist Underground Railroad. He kept and hid refugees and conscripts and helped them to connect with pilots who led them at night over the mountains to the South Branch Valley where they could find their way to Keyser and the B and O Railroad. His loyalty was recognized by General Sheridan who gave him protection papers. He did not vote for secession, but in order to avoid military service which was contrary to Mennonite practice, he had to hire a substitute and pay a fine to the Confederacy. Consequently, his claim was rejected by the Southern Claims Commission. Isaac Wenger homestead

homestead photo

Lincoln Homestead: This property was the home of John Lincoln, great-grandfather of President Abraham Lincoln, who moved here from Pennsylvania in 1768. The present house was built by John's son, Jacob Lincoln, about 1800, constructed as two separate buildings and later joined in 1874, giving it the present appearance. The Lincoln family cemetery is also on the property, which now belongs to a Mennonite family.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin
Lindale Mennonite Church and Cemetery: The old church was built in 1898 adjacent to the Brennemans Church cemetery, renamed Lindale Cemetery after the church was built. The cemetery has many old gravesites of original Mennonite settlers in the Valley. photo of church



Brenneman House: This was built by Abraham Brenneman or his son Christian around 1811. Abraham was a Mennonite church leader who moved here from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1775. Originally a brick structure, the house is now covered with stucco. Note the decorative cornice.
BrenemanTurner's Mill: This is one of the few mills in Rockingham County to survive Union Gen. Philip Sheridan's raid in 1864. It was built around 1804 by Abraham Brenneman of brick with a long mill race carrying water from the west fork of Linville Creek. It continued in operation until 1988. Much of the original equipment is still on site.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin


photo of church

Old Brennemans Cemetery and Mennonite Church: Over the knoll west from the mill is a small burial plot now referred to as Old Brennemans Cemetery. Beyond it, on the right side of the road, is the site of the first Brennemans Church, which was dismantled in 1920.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin
Greenmount Church of the Brethren: The current church dates to 1902, when it was rebuilt on the site of a stone meetinghouse that was constructed in 1859. Elder Benjamin Bowman, who moved to the area in 1792, was one of the founders of the church.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin




Bowman's Claim House: This was built in 1785 by Elder Benjamin Bowman in order to establish his claim to the land as an improvement. It stands adjacent to the foundation of the Bowman house and is well preserved and currently used as a leather shop.

Photo Credit: Emmert Bittinger
Peter Garber's House: Built by a Brethren elder, the house now belongs to a retired Mennonite leader, Laban Peachey.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin


Elder Daniel Miller Home: This home was the home of Elder Daniel Miller of the Greemount Church of the Brethren.

Photo Credit: Emmert F. Bittinger



SINGERS GLEN


photo of house photo of house

photo of historical marker

Joseph Funk House: Built in 1804 in what was then called Mountain Valley, the home was originally constructed of logs and weatherboarded. Funk, described as a pious and progressive Mennonite leader, was born in 1777 and moved to Rockingham County with his parents in 1786. In 1804 he married Elizabeth Rhodes. He held singing schools, patented the shaped notes system, established the first Mennonite printing house in Virginia, and produced the Harmonica Sacra hymnbook.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin

HARRISONBURG


Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community

Virginia Mennonite Conference Center
Eastern Mennonite University

Eastern Mennonite High School
World of Good Thrift Shop



Weavers Mennonite Church and Old Cemetery: The first meetinghouse on this site, built in 1827, was called Burkholders Church after Peter Burkholder, who was bishop and instrumental in its building. It was located on the hillside north of what is now Route 33, across from the present stone church. Union soldiers, during their 1864 raid through the Valley, commandeered the church for their use. This small weatherboard building was replaced in 1881. Weavers is the site of the first Mennonite revival meetings held in 1888 by John S. Coffman. The small walled-in cemetery east on Garbers Church Road, called the Burkholder-Shank Cemetery, first served as a Mennonite cemetery and holds many early gravesites.

Photo Credit: Emmert Bittinger
Michael and Elizabeth Miller House: This four-story brick home on Garbers Church Road was built by Michael Miller around 1784 and was sold to Peter Burkholder, a Mennonite minister and bishop, in 1811. Before the Weavers meetinghouse was built nearby, church services were held in the large fourth-story room. During the Civil War the house was commandeered for use as a Confederate hospital. Michael Miller is buried in the Burkholder-Shank Cemetery across Garbers Church Road. Today the house is a bed-and-breakfast. Photo Credit: Emmert F. Bittinger


Heatwole House
Gabe and Margaret Heatwole House: At one time the Heatwoles, a Mennonite family, owned some 3,000 acres of land around the base of Mole Hill. The house is located on the east side of the hill. Gabe was a successful farmer and self-trained doctor. During the Civil War his grandson, Manasses, hid under the house to escape conscription into the Confederate army. The old wine and food cellars where supplies were hidden from marauding soldiers are still intact. Gabe and Margaret were the parents of Abraham Heatwole.

Photo Credit: Emmert Bittinger
The Old Bowman Homestead, presently known as the Bibler House:This large and attractive two-story stone house has large porches on two levels. The home served several generations of Bowman families.

Photo Credit: Lori Lineweaver


Bibler House
Abraham and Magdalenah Heatwole House: The home of this Mennonite family is located in the Pleasant Valley area just beyond the Harrisonburg city limits. This home and spring house was a depot of the Unionist Underground Railroad. The house is notable for having several secure hiding places where conscripts and refugees could escape pursuit from the Confederates. Magdalenah helped her brother, John Rodes, escape conscription by driving him through Confederate lines in a conveyance, hidden under her blanket and skirts.

burkeholderhouse

Burkholder-Myers House: Built in 1854, this home of Mennonite Bishop Martin Burkholder was given to CrossRoads by the Daniel Myers Family. Shown here in its originial location, it was moved to the CrossRoads campus on Garbers Church Road in July, 2002.
Photo Credit: Norman Kraus
Garbers Church of the Brethren: Built in 1822 on land donated by Daniel Garber, this is the first Brethren meetinghouse built in Rockingham County. It has been in continuous use to the present. Garber, who was the founding elder of the congregation, was the son of the founder of the Flat Rock congregation.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin


John Wampler homestead

John Wampler Homestead: The John Wampler homestead was built on this site in 1870, with a log wash house built to the left. The orginal Wampler house is gone; Charlie Wampler, Sr., founder of the Wampler Poultry business in this area, raised his family in this home. It is now inhabited by family members.

Photo Credit: Emmert Bittinger

DAYTON



Dayton sign
The Town of Dayton: The town of Dayton was made famous by General Sheridan's order to burn all its homes and farm buildings when he heard that one of his officers, John Rodgers Meigs, had been killed in an apparent ambush. He was persuaded reluctantly to rescind the order when he learned that Meigs had been killed in a fair fight with military personnel, but not before some 20 or 30 outlying farm homes had been burned.

Photo Credit: Lori Lineweaver
Bowman Mill at Silver Lake: As the settlement at Dayton grew, the Brethren contributed in various ways to the economy. A mill has been situated on or near this site since before 1800. The present mill was rebuilt by Daniel Bowman following Gen. Sheridan's campaign of burning and destruction in 1864. It was in the ownership of various members of the Brethren Bowman family for nearly 150 years. At the present time, it has been restored by Cheryl Lyon and contains a fine pottery factory and shop.

Photo Credit: Emmert Bittinger

bowman Mill

Historical Society
Historical Society Heritage Center: The center is comprised of two fine buildings, one containing offices, bookshop, large meeting room, and an outstanding genealogical library. The white building on the left is the exhibit hall which contains permanent exhibits and special exhibits from time to time.

Photo Credit: Emmert Bittinger
Dayton Farmers Market

Photo Credit: Lori Lineweaver

Dayton Farmer's Market


Pleasant View Mennonite Church: This meetinghouse is the home of two Old Order Mennonite congregations who each hold worship services every other week. The frame structure is built on the 19th-century model of Mennonite meetinghouses, with separate entrances for men and women. Note the parking lot, which is not for automobiles but for horses and buggies.

Photo Credit: Emmert Bittinger
Bank Mennonite Church: This meetinghouse near Rushville, on the banks of Dry River, was built in 1849 on land donated by Gabriel Heatwole. The Bank and Weavers congregations were the first Mennonite churches to hold Sunday schools, beginning in about 1869. Bishop Samuel Coffman, who led this movement among the Mennonites of the Valley, is buried in the Bank cemetery.

Photo Credit: Emmert Bittinger

Bank Mennonite Church

BRIDGEWATER




Bridgewater Retirement Community
photo of museumBridgewater College and Reuel B. Pritchett Museum a general history museum, which includes artifacts, coinage, currency, weaponry, rare books, bottles and glassware, a cuneiform brick from 600 B.C. and missionary memorabilia from many countries. Location: In Cole Hall, Lower Level, Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, VA. Entrance off East College Street or from the ground floor of the Kline Campus Center. Open Monday-Friday, 1 to 5 p.m. Free admission.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin
photo of museum contents

original church

1878 Site of the first Brethren Meetinghouse: The original meetinghouse was a frame building, about 60 by 80 feet, at the northern edge of Bridgewater. The cemetery was located opposite to the church site. The church was built after Brethren moved into the town and established businesses. In 1915 the congregation moved to a lot purchased from Bridgewater College, and in 1998 moved to the hill east of the town.

Photo Credit: Emmert Bittinger (left) and Lori Lineweaver (below)

original site
Bridgewater Church of the Brethren: Location: From I-81: Take Exit 240 (Mt. Crawford). Turn west towards Bridgewater (if coming from south, turn left; if coming from north, turn right). Continue straight through the stoplight onto Route 257. As you come into Bridgewater, you will see the Bridgewater Church of the Brethren on your right. Just before the brick entrance gates to Bridgewater College, turn right onto College View Drive and bear to the right up the hill to the church.
From Route 42 (Main Street) in Bridgewater: In Bridgewater, turn east on Route 257 (Dinkle Ave.) at the stoplight (next to Hardee's). After 0.75 mile you will be able to see the Bridgewater Church of the Brethren on the hill to the left. Turn left onto College View Drive and bear to the right up the hill to the church.


Photo Credit: Dave Lineweaver
bwcob photo




FLAT ROCK AREA (southern Shenandoah County)


Flat Rock Church
Flat Rock Cemetery
Flat Rock Church of the Brethren: Brethren settlers first moved into this area beginning in the 1750s. Brethren preferred to meet for worship in their homes, and most congregations chose to continue this practice and did not build church houses until around the 1820s. The first church was built on Michael Wine's farm in 1841, near the quarry, giving origin to its name, and was replaced by the present structure of brick in 1906. The territory of the Flat Rock Congregation included Timberville, Stony Creek, Broadway, and Greenmount churches and their outpost meeting houses. The congregation was divided in the 1840s. Flat Rock Church became the mother congregation for expanding settlements in a tri-county area.

William Good, buried in Flat Rock Cemetery, was one of the founding families of the Flat Rock Congregation. He purchased land at Hudsons Crossroads in 1767, and shortly thereafter built in his yard a meeting house 18 by 18 feet square used by the Brethren who were rapidly settling in the area. This house became one of the regular meeting houses used in turn each month along with other homes such as Michael Wine, Johannes Garber, and Christian Myers. Goods Brethren neighbors at Hudsons Crossroads were Elder Johannes Glick, (formerly a Mennonite Bishop), and Elder John Glick, Jr., Henry Neff, Dr. John Henry Neff, Sr., and Jr., Jacob Baughman. These families had from 8 to 12 or more children and comprised a sizable grouping at Hudsons Cross Roads. By 1787, thirty-two Brethren families had moved into the Flat Rock territory.

Flat Rock Cemetery


Garber homestead Johannes Garber Homestead and Cemetery: Garber, a Brethren elder, settled at Flat Rock around 1775. He was one of the founders of Flat Rock Church. The original house is still in use. The Garber family cemetery is located in a field to the left. Johannes Garber, who married Barbara Miller, is regarded by many as the Brethren pioneer who organized the Flat Rock Congregation in the 1780s. He died in 1788. His neighbors were his son, Martin Garber, John Bowman, a Lutheran at Raders Church, Christian Frye, Jacob Good, son of William. Garber's land adjoined that of Michael Wine and Elder Christian Myers. Johannes Garber had seven sons, and six of them became prominent ministers in Virginia, Tennessee, and Ohio. Abraham was one of the founders of the Middle River Congregation in Augusta County, and Daniel founded the Garber Congregation near Dayton. Bridgewater and Greenmount were a part of the Garber Congregation.

Photo Credit: Emmert Bittinger



Myers homestead

Christian Myers Homestead: Myers, a Brethren elder, is the progenitor of most of the Myers families in the Valley. Elder Christian Myers moved to the area in 1787 and purchased land originally obtained by Peter Gartner who had purchased it from Lord Fairfax in 1750. It was soon sold to the Reader (Rader) brothers from whom Elder Myers bought it in 1792. His land joined that of Michael Wine to the east. Jacob Miller of 1748 was a neighbor on the west. Numerous marriages between the Millers, Wines, Garbers, Neffs, Bowmans, Goods, and Glicks occurred as time passed, creating a tightly knit congregation. The Myers tract contains remnants of six houses in various states of repair and decay. The original house of Peter Gartner is marked by a standing chimney and a pile of bricks. The house of Christian, Sr., stands just across Holmans creek by the spring. Beside it, the houses of Isaac and Peter stand in a sad state of decay. On the south side of the creek, Samuel's house still stands in good condition. Samuel's house had moving partitions and was regularly used before 1841 as a place for Brethren worship. The large brick house is lived in by the Zirkles, present owners of the property.

The home of Samuel Myers, son of Christian Myers (below), is still standing. Nearby are found the stone remains of the chimney of the original 1754 Christian Myers log cabin. The Myers family cemetery is found in a nearby field.

Photo Credits: Tom Sawin

Myers homestead


Myers homeMyers cemetery Myers cemetery


photo 
    house Jacob Miller Homestead: The Jacob Miller (of 1748) house is located on the west side of Holmans Creek and is approached from the road running north out of Moores Store.
This Jacob Miller was a son of Lodowich Miller of Frederick County, Maryland. He was a brother of Daniel Miller, who first settled at Flat Rock (this may be unconfirmed) but soon moved to the Greenmount Congregation in Rockingham County where he along with Christian Myers, Jr., and Benjamin Bowman, Sr.,and Jr., created a large and prosperous congregation. The Miller family is widely intermarried with families of Flat Rock, Greenmount, Broadway, Garbers, Bridgewater and Middle River. In 1975, there were 45 Miller names on the Bridgewater Church roll.

Photo Credit: Emmert Bittinger


Michael Wine Homestead: Michael Wine who married Susanna Miller, a daughter of Lodowich, came to Flat Rock ca. 1782. His home was a major center for Brethren meetings. His large two story house of logs was arranged so that the entire second floor could be used for meetings. The Brethren Annual Meetings of the denomination met in his home in 1794 and again ca. 1801 or 2. Michael is the ancestor of the Brethren Wine families of the Valley. His farm adjoined the land of Christian Myers and Johannes Garber. The land of the Flat Rock church came from Michael Wine farm.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin
photo Michael Wine house
photo Michael Wine Spring house



photo Moores Store Mill

Moore's Store Mill: Moore's Store Mill marks one of the oldest communities in the Shenandoah Valley.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin


Jacob Shaver House:West of Holman's Creek and near the Jacob Miller house, the Shaver two story house of brick is now abandoned. It was the home of an important Shaver Lutheran family whose ancestors are scattered through the valley, some of whom became Brethren. The historic bake oven that served this family has been moved to the historic Bushong house on the New Market Battlefield Park grounds. The Bushong house once had such a bake oven.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin
photo Jacob Shaver House



John Zigler Home: Located in Timberville beside the bridge over the Shenandoah River, the Zigler home and barn are reminiscent of Pennsylvania Dutch house and barn construction. The brick barn has traditional designs formed by gaps in the bricks of the ends of the barn. The ancient springhouse has a German style stone fireplace. The red brick house faces the street from the west side and remains in good condition. John Zigler, who married Elizabeth Kline, was one of the first Ziglers in the Shenandoah Valley. Elizabeth Kline was a relative of Elder John Kline. A descendant of this family, D. H. Zigler wrote the History of the Brethren in Virginia, first published in 1908 and reprinted in 1914. M. R. Zigler, of international fame as a pacifist spoksman, is also a descendant of this family.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin
photo Zigler house

photo Zigler spring house
photo Zigler barn


Baxter House

Baxter House: The Baxter house is located near the Lincoln homestead.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin
Elder Neff House:This 1847 house was the home of Elder Neff of the Flat Rock congregation.
When barns were being burned by Sheridan, this home was spared to be used as Sheridan's headquarters in this area.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin
photo of Neff house



Baughman House

Jacob Baughman Home: This stone house was the home of the Jacob Baughman family.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin


Daniel P. Wine Home Mr. and Mrs. Harry Layman now live in the P. Wine home.
Original mantels and cabinets are still visible. The carved staircase is being refurbished.

Photo Credit: Tom Sawin
photo Daniel Wine home

photo Daniel Wine home
photo Daniel Wine home