3. Reverend Frederick Flinchbaugh (1788-1866)

History and Biography of Reverend Frederick Flinchbaugh

Frederick Flinchbaugh was the youngest child of Martin Flinchbaugh and Barbara Pfister.  He was born December 24, 1788 in York County, PA.  Frederick married Mary Kindig who was born August 20, 1788 in York County, PA.

As you can tell by the title, Frederick became a Reverend in adulthood.  The following excerpt from the LANDMARK HISTORY OF THE UNITED BRETHREN CHURCH: Treating of the Early History of the Church in Cumberland, Lancaster, York & Lebanon Counties Hardcover – 1911 by Daniel Eberly details some of the life of Frederick Flinchbaugh:

Many of the fathers of this church (Zion United Brethren Church, now United Methodist Church, north of Felton) have gone to their long home and their remains lie buried in the adjoining graveyard, but their descendants are still with us and are filled with the same zeal and piety that made their fathers the heroes of their day. No one man among them all, however, stands forth so prominently as does Rev. Frederick Flinchbaugh, whose long and useful life merits more than a mere allusion. He worshiped at the Union Lutheran and German Reformed Church, located several miles east of Zion Church, and was a member of one of these congregations. He led the singing in this church for many years, and all who knew him called him a Christian, as Christians were rated in the neighborhood. Nor was he of a different opinion. He did try hard to be good. He enjoyed the confidence of his preacher and of his fellow church-members, as his life among them was above reproach.

But something happened and the Spirit of the Lord arrested him in his career. It was the custom in the community to have corn-husking parties, after the corn had been gathered in from the fields. On such occasions the neighbors were usually invited to spend an evening at the husking, and after a certain amount of work had been done, a great supper would be ready, when all the huskers would be invited to partake before leaving for their
homes. To such a husking Mr. Flinchbaugh went. He failed to get to the first table. While waiting for his turn a party in an adjoining room were making merry with a violin. He listened for a while, but he became uneasy, and moved by some impulse that seemed almost irresistable, he left and went home. He could not sleep that night. The music of that “fiddle” and the merry-making noises of the people w^ere in his ears all night. He arose in the morning with a feeling of sadness. And yet he could hardly tell why he was depressed. He had often been present before when such music and enjoyments were had. An arrow had pierced his heart, and he knew it not as of the Lord. Soon after this a violent disease broke out in his family, and in a short time carried two of his children to the grave. He now became greatly concerned for the salvation of his soul. For many years he had been
“fore-singer” (leader of song) in his church, was a member of it in good standing, but he had great unrest within. How to find rest he knew not, nor was there any one in all the neighborhood, not even his pastor, who could give him the proper counsel at this time. He earnestly sought God in prayer for direction and deliverance. After a long struggle he was led into the glorious liberty of the people of God. His conversion was clear and powerful. This was so new in his community, and to him so satisfying, that he felt a strong motive within him to tell his neighbors and friends about it. When by himself working in the fields he would tell the story of his salvation to imaginary audiences. Thus the spirit of God was gradually leading him into the Christian ministry. He began his work with the holding of prayer-meetings, where he took the liberty to read a portion of scripture and give an exhortation. Invitations for such services in the houses of his neighbors showed that his work was taking effect. His heart-stirring words on these occasions revealed the nature of the pent-up fires in his own heart. Having gained confidence in himself and God, he gave the gospel trumpet no uncertain sound. He knew everybody in the community. The evil ways and the godless lives of the people were no secret to him. He laid bare their wickedness, held up their sins before their eyes and exhorted them with all tenderness of heart and often with his eyes streaming with tears, to repent and turn to Christ for
salvation.

The results of these earnest and faithful efforts were soon apparent. The Haneys, the Strayers, the Stableys, the Smieghs, the Grimms, and many others were converted to God, and identified themselves with the revival movement. These prayer-meetings, which were an unexpected innovation on the settled methods of the neighborhood, were held form house to house, and the walking of a distance of from two to six miles to these gatherings was a matter only to be lightly considered. “Brother Flinchbaugh, taking his perforated lantern, with a stub of tallow-candle, would call everybody old and strong enough, to him, and then through woods, underbrush, over rocks and hills, would lead them to prayer-meeting, regardless of the toil in the summer or the cold of the winter. Such devotion can not fail to win. These meetings were attended with about the usual outward demonstrations of shoutings, clapping of hands and leaping for joy. Such a departure from the regular methods of worship as conducted in the church had the double effect of drawing the people to see and hear, as also of stirring up opposition.” The leaven of revival by this time pretty thoroughly permeated the community, so that many were not slow to
express a preference for the meetings held after this fashion than for the services in the church. This gave rise to warm discussion among the several adherents. During all this time Brother Flinchbaugh was still the leader of the singing in the church, in which he had worshiped from his youth. His revival services, in common with all reform movements, awakened active opposition. But he was one who could meet his neighbors in friendly discussion and prove by scripture that his views and practices harmonized with the Word of God. Being defeated in argument by the superior wisdom of Brother Flinchbaugh, they finally prevailed on the preacher to take the controversy into the pulpit, and silence these troublesome people. “Accordingly on a Sabbath morning, after the introductory services, the pastor arose and announced that in all probability he would preach longer this morning than usual, but they should have patience and hear him, as he had a special subject to bring before the congregation. He at once entered into the subject and began to denounce all revival effort, and especially the noise and shouting that was tolerated in such meetings. While he was striking out with vehemence Brother Flinchbaugh arose, and with his trumpet voice said to the preacher, ‘Ei der Heiland gebiet es jo’ (the Lord commanded it so)” The preacher seemed confused, stammered out a few words, and abruptly closed the services. The unusually long sermon ended in about ten or fifteen minutes. “

About this time it became apparent that to maintain their spiritual life they must sever their connection with the church of their early choice and identify themselves with such as encourage a change of heart and life. This was done about the year 1829, shortly after the first class in the county was organized, with which they became identified. What Rev. John Haney was to the Winterstown Church Rev. F. Flinchbaugh was to Stabley’s Church, especially in their early history.

Soon after Brother Flinchbaugh had connected himself with our church, the annual conference gave him license to preach. He traveled a few years as an itinerant, but served mostly in a local relation with great efficiency. It was no unusual thing for him to walk ten miles on a Sunday morning, preach and then walk home again. “And there were giants in those days,” and Brother Flinchbaugh was one of them. His most enduring monument is
erected in the hearts of a large number of grateful people, who under God owe their conversion directly or indirectly to him. Many of his descendants are still battling for the same religion and the same church. He died January 14, 1866, at a ripe and honored old age. His wife, Mary, died January 20, 1866. His memory is a precious legacy to the church he loved so well.

Based on the death certificate for Frederick Flinchbaugh (1818-1909), we know he is the son of Reverend Frederick and Mary Kindig.  Gibson’s 1886 History of York County verifies that Lydia is their daughter and Prowell’s 1907 History of York County mentions that Mary is their daughter.  However, census records indicate they had at least 3 other children born before 1820.  Based on circumstantial evidence, I believe me and my cousin Alan Laudermilch have identified one of those 3 other children.

The person we are almost certain is the son of Reverend Frederick and Mary Kindig is Henry K Flinchbaugh.  He was born August 29, 1807 in York County, PA and died October 20, 1873 in Lancaster County, PA.  He married Hannah Rathfon.  Census records indicate Reverend Frederick had a male under 10 in his household in 1810 and all the other Flinchbaugh males born before 1810 are accounted for in the other male Flinchbaugh households.   Henry is buried in a Methodist Cemetery and that is a significant detail because the Methodists were the English speaking version of the United Brethren church that Reverend Frederick converted to.  All the other Flinchbaughs during that time period were Lutheran.  There was a vast theological gap between the Lutheran and the Methodist/United Brethren churches  during the 1800s.  Finally, the middle initial K is quite unusual as many names don’t start with K, but when you apply the knowledge that a common naming convention during that time was to use the wife’s maiden name as a middle name for children, that K. middle name is quite possibly Kindig.

Census records also indicate that Frederick was probably the father of 4 daughters born between 1820 and 1830.  The 1830 census shows 2 females under 5 and 2 females ages 5-9.  The 1840 census shows 2 females 10-14 and 1 female 15-19 (it is unclear if the other female who should be 15-19 passed away or was already married and out of the household).  We know Lydia is one of the four daughters based on Gibson’s History of York County, but thanks to Jane Williams, who reached out to me, we know about a daughter named Eliza born in 1827.  Jane sent me a copy of a letter from 1968 from Esta Stabley (a great-granddaughter of Reverend Frederick Flinchbaugh) which states that she and her mother Mary Ellen Stabley (granddaughter of Reverend Frederick Flinchbaugh) gathered family history back in 1953.  This letter lists Mary Ellen’s mother as Eliza Flinchbaugh and her grandfather as Reverend Frederick.  Aside from birth, death or estate records that list parents and children, this type of family history is pretty solid evidence that Eliza was the daughter of Reverend Frederick.  While Mary Ellen was born 1 year after Reverend Frederick died and didn’t know him personally, Eliza was 39 years old when Reverend Frederick died and Mary Ellen was 30 years old when Eliza died, meaning Eliza was alive to know Reverend Frederick was her father and she lived long enough to easily pass that knowledge along to Mary Ellen.

Reverend Frederick almost certainly had other children reach adulthood, but we can’t be certain of who they might be.  Visit the Flinchbaugh Children of Unknown Parentage page to see who some of his possible children could be.

Reverend Frederick Flinchbaugh born December 24, 1788 in York County, PA, died January 14, 1866 in York County, PA and buried at Lebanon Lutheran Church in North Hopewell Twp, York County, PA.  He married Mary Kindig born August 20, 1788 in York County, PA, died Janaury 20, 1866 in York County, PA and buried at Lebanon Lutheran Church in North Hopewell Twp, York County, PA

Children of Reverend Frederick Flinchbaugh and his wife Mary Kindig:

  1. Henry K Flinchbaugh born August 29, 1807 in York County, PA, died October 20, 1873 in Lancaster County, PA and buried at Conestoga Methodist Cemetery in Lancaster County, PA.  He married Hannah Rathfon born May 7, 1811 in PA, died in 1879 and buried at Conestoga Methodist Cemetery in Lancaster County, PA.
  2. Frederick Flinchbaugh born February 18, 1818 in York County, PA, died January 30, 1909 in York, York County, PA and buried at Prospect Hill, Manchester Twp, York County, PA.  He married (first) Sarah Corpman.  Then he married (second) Mary Northland.  He then married (third) Louisa Feiser.
  3. Lydia Flinchbaugh born April 14, 1825 in York County, PA, died December 18, 1877 in York County, PA and buried at Stony Brook Mennonite Cemetery in Springettsbury Twp, York County, PA.  She married Eli Kindig born January 11, 1823 in York County, PA, died August 21, 1891 in York County, PA and buried at Stony Brook Mennonite Cemetery in Springettsbury Twp, York County, PA
  4. Eliza Flinchbaugh born April 11, 1827 in York County, PA and died November 5, 1897 in York County, PA.  She married George Stabley born January 27, 1821 in York County, PA, died May 5, 1892 in York County, PA and buried at Lebanon Lutheran Church in North Hopewell Twp, York County, PA
  5. Mary Flinchbaugh born March 1, 1832 in York County, PA, died February 28, 1891 in York County, PA and buried at Otterbein Cemetery in Spry, York County, PA.  She married William Wineka born April 25, 1825 in York County, PA, died March 15, 1901 in York County, PA and buried at Otterbein Cemetery in Spry, York County, PA

Back to Martin Flinchbaugh (1742-1802)

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