Bedford County , Pennsylvania
Ancestor Stories


" I just came across these papers I copied 23 July 1985 Bracken Library,
Delaware Room, Muncie, Indiana, Ball State University. They are from the
collection of Eugene S. Wierback." Doris O. Sink


Wills Creek by Rev. James A. Sell

In the southern part of Bedford County, are a number of narrow valleys
running north from the Potomac River where our brethren preached in the early years.
A few families by name of
Whipp came from West Virginia to about the then
center of Cumberland Valley, fifteen miles north of Cumberland, Maryland.
They were members of the Church. The
Livengoods from West Virginia visited
them and they had preaching in different homes. The work was not continued
long, but some of the families never united with any other church.

This Cumberland Valley is often confused with the larger Cumberland Valley
farther east. It is a pretty little valley, the second one east of the
Alleghany Mountain, part way the third full of beautiful springs and streams.
It is thirty miles long, extending from Bedford to Cumberland. The
stagecoach route to and from these towns passed through this valley to
Cumberland also the country north, called Buffalo Run and Milligan's Cove, a
little valley, only nine miles long. This is the location of the Wills'
Creek congregation. Like all the other older churches, no records are left
to consult.
Sister Emma Replogle {nee Miller, daughter of Jacob [Studebaker] Miller, the school man} is the only
surviving member. For seven generations on her mother's side, her people had gone in and out here.
The traditions that have come to her and have been preserved in her cultured mind, together
with her own personal knowledge now furnish the most reliable data that we can get.

It is supposed that as an organization Will's Creek antedates all others in
Bedford County. It seems as if George Adam
Martin visited the members living
here when he lived at Stoney Creek, Somerset County about 1762 to 1770.
Immediately after the Revolutionary War, Catherine
Miller with her three
sons, Elias, Peter and John came here from Maryland or Virginia. They took
up land in Milligan's Cove and became permanent settlers.

It is thought that Catherine
Miller was the first member of the church in
the Cove. Her sons built good houses and barns, planted large orchards and
had large well kept farms. They all united with the Church. Peter built a
large house and had the upstairs arranged for church and school purposes.
Long before they had school houses, their private houses were utilized for
that purpose.
Who did the preaching or taught their schools is not known. Jacob
Studebaker was the first minister known to have lived here. He bought
a large farm in 1812, a mile south of Sulphur Springs. He was a son of Jacob
and Mary [
Snider] Studebaker,who had settled in Snake Spring Valley about
1780. Jacob took land and bought other tracts, owning in all, about seven
hundred acres. He was a brother of the ancestors of the wagon manufacures
of South Bend, Indiana. Jacob Studebaker was a man of great influence and did
a great deal of preaching and served his day and generation well. He reared a
family of thirteen children.

Of the number of members composing this church nothing is known. From the
number of families and the size of the families, the number must have been
considerably large. In fact, there were no other church people there until
about 1820. This congregation never had a church building, but many of their
dwellings were arranged for both church and school purposes.

Studebaker Senior died 1847. This left the congregation with only one
minister, Andrew
Miller. He was a good man, loved and respected by all who
knew him. His oldest son, Jacob, who frequently assisted him in ministerial
work, was in 1850, called to fill that position. This is the Jacob Studebaker Miller
who started the school at Buffalo Mills in 1852, which places him among the
pioneers of educational work in the Brotherhood. His schoolhouse was also
used for religious services. Jacob
Miller , the son, died May 11,1853.
This was a hard stroke on the father and one from which he never fully recovered.
He died December 1855. His widow died in 1860.

This left the church without a minister. The preaching services were
supplied by the ministers from Clover Creek, Snake Spring Valley, Elk Lick,
Milford, Yellow Creek, Berlin, Quemahoning and Shade. This arrangement did
not long continue and it's interests were cared for by ministers from New
Enterprise. When the few remaining members died or moved away all services
were discontinued. It will be seen that this congregation lived about 100
years and came to an end by death and removal.

Sister Emma A.
Replogle, to whom I am indebted for the data of this sketch, is
the only surviving member. While visiting the scenes of her child hood and
the many places made sacred to thought and memory and seeing havoc wrought
by the ruthless hand of time especially in the church so dear to her heart,
very feelingly she wrote: " I looked all around. Looked up to the old house
and imagined how it looked as the friends gathered there at the meetings.
Then I thought: 'Does this end it all?" It does here, but there are workers
over many of the western states, the fruit of the work here. I thought of
the work in northern Illinois, of Brother Ellis
Studebaker of Kansas, and
Sister Hannah
Studebaker Eby of Washington State. But, too many are far away
from the parents or any kind of faith,"

The Will's Creek Church was unique. From the first, it's members were
interested in the education of their children and all through it's history
it was far in advance of most of the congregations of it's day. They went by
the name of Brethrn Church, not Dunkard. To this day people there use this term.


Note; The Jacob Studebaker Jr. wo died in 1847 during the GREAT PUMPKIN
FLOOD is believed buried near Bard, Bedford Co., Pa. His widow, Catherine,
moved to Carroll Co Ill soon after his death, joining all of her children
except 2 daughters, Hannah who Married Andrew
Miller and Anna who married
Cook, Sr. These two remained in Pa. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E.S.W. Aug. 16, 1971


Eugene S. Wierback has many papers of interest in his collection in the
Bracken Library. Most are dated 1930-1935. A note says the information on
Puterbaugh Studebaker had been deposited in the archives of the
Brethern Historical Library, Elgin, Illinois, The
Studebaker filed at SFNA
headquarters and numerous other libraries in Utah, Pennsylvania, Ohio and the Indiana
Historical Library, Indianapolis, Indiana........Eugene S. Wierbach - - July 15, 1971


"I hope someone finds this of interest and it may help them in their search."
Doris O. Sink
Thank you very much Doris!

For further information on the Studebaker Lineage - - - Studebaker

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Copyright © 1999 Tom Clabaugh