Later Family Links by Asa W. CLIMENHAGA


By Asa W. Cli­men­haga (c1940)

Author photo from his book, "History of the Brethren in Christ Church. Nappanee, IN, 1942."
Author photo from his book, “His­tory of the Brethren in Christ Church. Nap­pa­nee, IN, 1942.”

This mem­ory book may be of some inter­est to a num­ber of peo­ple, but it will chiefly con­cern the chil­dren, grand­chil­dren, and great-grandchildren of Peter Mar­tin Cli­men­haga and Anna (Winger) Cli­men­haga. To cre­ate an inter­est beyond this would require a com­plete his­tory of the Cli­men­haga clan. Such an under­tak­ing should be spon­sored by the clan as a group. This work being an indi­vid­ual under­tak­ing is nec­es­sar­ily lim­ited. My read­ers out­side of this fam­ily cir­cle men­tioned are asked to keep the above in mind. If the above is for­got­ten this work may appear rather self­ish and unfair to the clan as a whole. This fam­ily cir­cle is, how­ever, inter­ested in the clan rela­tion­ship beyond that recorded here and hopes some­day a more com­plete his­tory will be written.

David Cli­men­haga, the father of Peter Mar­tin Cli­men­haga, had two broth­ers and one sis­ter. This fam­ily of four chil­dren were born to Mar­tin Cli­men­haga and Eliz­a­beth (Damude) Cli­men­haga. The first­born was Moses. The year of his birth was 1820. Anna was born in 1823, David in 1826, and Mar­tin Jr. in 1829.

The father of this fam­ily, Mar­tin Cli­men­haga, Sr., was a min­is­ter in the Brethren in Christ church. In those days sim­plic­ity was nec­es­sary and desired. Clothes and footwear were not plen­ti­ful. Mar­tin often preached bare­footed which was no dis­grace con­sid­er­ing the time and sim­plic­ity of the sit­u­a­tions. Every­thing else was in keep­ing. The preach­ing was not done in churches but in small gath­er­ings in sim­ple home sur­round­ings. When Mar­tin went to Fonthill where he obtained his wife, he drove oxen. He had to go by way of Lundy’s Lane, a dis­tance of almost thirty miles. The Damudes of Fonthill treated him with dried cher­ries instead of candy.

Aunt Lydia (Cli­men­haga) Say­lor, a sis­ter of Peter M. Cli­men­haga, wrote what Jacob Engle of Penn­syl­va­nia told her about Mar­tin Cli­men­haga when she vis­ited Penn­syl­va­nia at the age of eigh­teen. He said that years ago when he attended a love-feast at Markham, Ontario, an old man came in. He won­dered who he was. He walked right up and sat behind the desk with the min­is­ters. He was asked to speak, and Jacob Engle said he was a deeply spir­i­tual man filled with the Holy Spirit. His apparel was very plain, home­made of home­spun cloth. Jacob Engle said you never know a man by his clothers or his looks, for they do not tell what is in his heart.

The fam­ily of David Cli­men­haga and Abi­gail (Barn­hart) were ten in num­ber. The mother was born August 5, 1830. Her first­born was Peter Mar­tin born March 7, 1850. Ben­jamin was born August 19, 1851. The remain­der of the fam­ily and dates of birth are Esther Eliz­a­beth, Octo­ber 6, 1853; Susan­nah, August 7, 1855; Daniel, April 28, 1857; Elishe, June 7, 1859; Mary Ann, March 26, 1862; Sarah, Novem­ber 6, 1864; Car­o­line, Novem­ber 6, 1864.; and Lydia, Sep­tem­ber 6, 1868.

Many mem­o­ries linger con­cern­ing this fam­ily cir­cle. Only those con­cern­ing David and Peter will be recorded. David’s mother, never being phys­i­cally strong found it nec­es­sary to have a neigh­bor girl come into the home to help with the work. Abi­gail Barn­hart was there one day doing the wash­ing. David’s mother said to her if you stay and iron David’s Sun­day shirt he will take you home. She stayed and David took her home. She only lived one-half mile away so David took a round-about road to take Abi­gail home. On another occa­sion Abi­gail was sleigh rid­ing with a group of young peo­ple when David came dri­ving behind the sleigh in a new one-horse sleigh, which he built for him­self. Some of the group dared Abi­gail to leave the big sleigh and ask David for a ride. Being young and jolly she accepted the dare and David was glad to grant her request. Out of these events grew a courtship which ended in Abi­gail being mar­ried when eigh­teen years of age. In the lan­guage of the older days David became Abigail’s lad­die and Abi­gail became David’s lassie. In the lan­guage of l940, “The same old story, a boy and a girl in love.” David said she could not have been any bet­ter than she was so he saw no rea­son why he should have waited until she was older to get mar­ried. They lived together hap­pily and their affec­tions one for the other lasted until the end. David always wanted to live the longer so that he could see his wife through life. His desire was granted.

When David and Abi­gail were old in years and their chil­dren all had homes of their own they would help one another with the work. David spent some of his time in a cider mill. He had one of the old long beam-type cider presses. The com­mu­nity folks came for miles to have cider made. After the cider mak­ing sea­son was over, David’s time was spent help­ing Abi­gail with her house work, work­ing with the vine­gar he cured and sold, and mak­ing use­ful arti­cles for women and chil­dren. He made such things as lit­tle benches, stools, spool wag­ons, stir­ring ladles, and crutches. He gave these arti­cles to peo­ple in the com­mu­nity and vis­i­tors pass­ing through. Some of these home-made arti­cles reached far sec­tions even across the ocean. Another task which he took much inter­est in was braid­ing the best husk from the corn and after it was thor­oughly dry he unbraided it and divided it into nar­row strips. This he put in bedticks. He made these for his own use and for his children.

Toward the end of Abigail’s days she was not so well. David would get the meals and put away the things after the meal. He knew where the dishes belonged. For them every­thing had a place and every­thing was in the place planned for it. Arti­cles in cup­boards not often used were care­fully marked. Let­ters and papers pre­served were wrapped and marked so that any­one could tell the con­tent of the pack­age. Each key had a tag with infor­ma­tion writ­ten on it con­cern­ing the drawer or door it unlocked.

Peter Mar­tin Cli­men­haga grew up strong and ambi­tious to suc­ceed in life. He and his brother Ben­jamin when but lads climbed to the peak of the barn to see if they could see the Feni­ans who crossed the Nia­gara River from .the United States to take Canada and the sol­diers march­ing to meet them. These out­laws were a group who ral­lied under a leader with the idea they could con­quer Canada and rule it as a coun­try for them­selves. One huck­ster drove rapidly through the coun­try­side cry­ing the Feni­ans are com­ing, thou­sands are over and hun­dreds are com­ing every minute. These young lads could not see the raiders from the barn peak but they were not afraid as those were who left their homes dri­ving across the coun­try to get away from the enemy. The raiders were dri­ven back by the cit­i­zens and sol­diers and were held for some time in the river on flat­bot­tom boats until the United States read­mit­ted them again.

Peter started to walk when one year old exactly on the day. Soon after­wards he was lost and could not be found. His mother was in bed at the time so could not join in the hunt. She from her bed looked out of the win­dow into a nearby oats field. She saw the grain mov­ing and informed the rest. They went and looked and found lit­tle Peter crawl­ing through the oats field. To keep Peter from get­ting away his mother would lay him on his back. He was so fat that he could not get up alone from this posi­tion. A chair ped­dler came to the home and was show­ing his wares. Peter climbed on one of the chairs end claimed it so his par­ents decided to buy it for him. He started school at the age of seven. The school­house stood across the road from the present Post Office at Stevensville. He knew his let­ters before start­ing to school so the teacher had him teach­ing the let­ters to other chil­dren. His father thought this not advis­able so he kept him out of school awhile. He con­tin­ued in school a short time each win­ter until he was twenty years old. He was only twelve years of age when he started to plough. He was mar­ried when twenty-three years old. He started house­keep­ing on the farm near Stevensville where he still lives past ninety years of age in 1940.

Peter cried on the day of his wed­ding. He had made arrange­ments with a min­is­ter to marry them and right at the last the min­is­ter could not come. Another min­is­ter was found and the wed­ding day kept. The farm on which they started house­keep­ing was over sixty acres. Enough land was pur­chased later to make it about one hun­dred acres. The town of Stevensville was grow­ing at this time. When Peter was a boy the town did not have more than twenty homes.

The house on which most of his fam­ily were born and reared was built in 1880. Not count­ing his own work the house was built for about $1200. He bought the logs from Chris­t­ian Bit­ner for $4.50 a thou­sand in the log. He had the logs sawed for $3.00 a thou­sand at Dean’s sawmill. Chris­t­ian Bit­ner was to help mea­sure the logs after Peter had cut and hauled them from the marsh owned by Bit­ner. Bit­ner would not come to see them mea­sured. He said Peter can mea­sure them alone. The men who helped build the house were paid accord­ing to their skill. The boss received one dol­lar and fifty cents a day, the oth­ers received one dol­lar and twenty five cents and one dol­lar a day.

Peter was a care­ful financer and he with his faith­ful com­pan­ion as he called his wife reared their fam­ily of nine chil­dren and were always in a posi­tion to help oth­ers. One expe­ri­ence will throw light on his abil­ity to run a home suc­cess­fully. When a young man he sur­veyed land for his uncle Ben­jamin Baker. When Ben­jamin Baker was asked if the land was sur­veyed right he replied: “I think so for I had David Climenhaga’s lawyer to do it.” What he did he did well and this was espe­cially true of his farming.

A gen­eral pic­ture of the nor­mal home life can hardly be put in a few words. The ris­ing hour was about five A.M. in the sum­mer and about six A.M. in the win­ter. “Time to get up, boys” came the call each morn­ing from the foot of the stairs. Father’s word was law and the boys did the chores and milked the cows. The par­ents said “come” instead of “go.” Thus the chores were soon over and the large sta­ble of cows soon milked.

Before break­fast as reg­u­lar as the days rolled round the fam­ily met in a cir­cle for Bible read­ing, in which they all took part verse by verse, and kneel­ing prayer. Each meal was opened with grace and closed with thanks. Thresh­ing morn­ing or mar­ket morn­ing did not hin­der the wor­ship period. Tramps com­ing early in the morn­ing for a bit to eat from sleep­ing in some neighbor’s barn were made to join in the fam­ily wor­ship else not be fed. In case the phone would ring dur­ing fam­ily wor­ship some mem­ber of the fam­ily cir­cle would answer and softly whis­per “We are hav­ing wor­ship, please call later.”

The fam­ily gen­er­ally retired between eight and nine P.M. with the chil­dren in bed first. Father and Mother before retir­ing would kneel by their bed­side and pray audi­bly for each one of the children.

Father and Mother Cli­men­haga were con­verted in 1881 and became mem­bers of the Brethren in Christ Church. When Father men­tioned his con­cern in rela­tion to being a Chris­t­ian, Mother said she was also con­cerned and was just wait­ing for Father to men­tion it. It was not unusual for Mother Cli­men­haga to go about her work singing Gospel songs. While pump­ing water she was heard singing, “Some­one will enter the pearly gates, Shall you, shall I? Some­one will knock and will not be heard, Shall you, shall I?”

Turn­ing to Mother Climenhaga’s rela­tion­ship we find a fam­ily of ten chil­dren. Those are the chil­dren of Mr. and Mrs. Abra­ham Winger. John was born June 16, 1848; Henry Jan­u­ary 13, 1850; Anna, April 17, 1851; Eliz­a­beth, Sep­tem­ber 21, 1853; Rebecca, May 24, 1854; Jonas, August 24, 1857; Sarah, Sep­tem­ber 11, 1859; Abra­ham, August 5, 1861; Jacob, Sep­tem­ber 21, 1866. Moses was born between Abra­ham and Jacob, out did not grow to man­hood, dying when nine­teen months old.

The grand­par­ents of this fam­ily on the fathers side were John Sider and Anna (Cli­men­haga} Sider. The daugh­ter Mag­da­lene Sider mar­ried Abra­ham Winger. This Abra­ham Winger was the son of Henry Winger and his wife Eliz­a­beth (Neff) Winger. From this it is clear that Peter Mar­tin Cli­men­haga and his wife Anna (Winger) Cli­men­haga were cousins.

Abra­ham Winger, Sr., the father of the (ten) chil­dren men­tioned, was Over­seer of the Bertie dis­trict of the Brethren in Christ Church in Welland County. He was a sin­cere Chris­t­ian man and faith­fully served the church. At his death his son Jonas became Over­seer. Abraham’s wife died when about fifty years of age. Later in years he remar­ried some­what against the wishes of his chil­dren. It worked out in the end to be con­sid­ered a sat­is­fac­tory union by all concerned.

This fam­ily became quite scat­tered. Henry lived for a time in North­west Canada; Rebecca lived in Kansas; Abra­ham lived in North­west Canada and Jacob spent most of his adult days in Col­orado and the state of Wash­ing­ton. In Col­orado he was for a time a miner and later an engi­neer. The two in North­west Canada were tillers of the soil.

A cane used by Peter Mar­tin Climenhaga’s father David and a cane and pow­der horn used by Abra­ham Winger, the Over­seer or Bishop as now called, is in my pos­ses­sion. They are part of a museum of arti­cles used by mem­bers of the Brethren in Christ Church.

Asa W. Climenhaga”


This entry was posted in Barnhart, Climenhaga, Climenhage, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Later Family Links by Asa W. CLIMENHAGA

  1. I am David E. Cli­men­haga, son of John A. Cli­men­haga, grand­son of Peter M. Cli­men­haga, & great grand­son of David Cli­men­haga who mar­ried Abi­gail Barn­hart and for whom I am named. I remem­ber my grand­fa­ther quite well and grand­mother more slightly. My par­ents returned from nearly 9 years of mis­sion­ary work in South­ern Rhode­sia (Zim­babwe) Africa in Octo­ber 1929. I was 10 years old in June that year. We lived with my grand­par­ents in Stevensville for about 8 months. It was then that my grand­mother died from the result of a fall and hip frac­ture. She spent about 6 weeks, I think it was, in bed at home (no hos­pi­tal­iza­tion then) con­tracted pneu­mo­nia and expired. After her death grand­fa­ther, who died in early 1941, became senile. It was called senil­ity then and became quite dif­fi­cult to live with. There is much more I could say on the rea­son for grandmother’s fall, but I will let this suf­fice. I last saw grand­fa­ther in August 1940.

Please leave a Reply