The Preacher’s License

I admit that I had never seen one nor had I thought of looking for one – a Preacher’s License.

My wife Ellen’s paternal great great grandfather, Rev. Jacob Wagner (pictured left) had been a minister of the Evangelical Association and there are several records that provide evidence of this fact. His association with his brother-in-law Phillip Louis Breithaupt is well documented in local histories, family papers, and books on the Breithaupt leather business in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario, Canada.

Fortunately, Ellen’s uncle Gordon Wagner, when compiling a substantive family history in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, left behind a group of Jacob’s Preacher’s Licenses. Finding and holding these 150 plus year old occupational certificates provides a connection to the person and provides fact evidence I likely would not have thought to even look for. Pictured below is Jacob’s Preacher’s License from February 1848.

According to a compilation of Evangelical Association Annual General Conference proceedings, compiled by S. C. Breyfogel in 1888, Jacob was accepted by the church as a ‘Preacher on Trial’ or on probation i1847 at the Eighth Annual Session of the church held in Fayette, Seneca County, New York State. This conference was held between February 23 and March 3, 1847 under the leadership of Bishop Joseph Long. In addition to being accepted as a preacher, Jacob was appointed to the Buffalo, New York circuit.

The following year, in 1848, Jacob was appointed at the general session held at Allentown, Pennsylvania to the Waterloo circuit in the Canada district under the supervision of Presiding Elder M. Lehn. While ‘working’ the Waterloo circuit, Jacob, who was just 24 years of age, would visit and perhaps stay at the home of Jacob and Margaret (nee Riehl) Hailer. The Hailers were known to be very welcoming of their church’s visiting circuit preachers. In 1849, Jacob married the Hailer’s eldest daughter, Margaret, with whom he had three children.

Margaret was in fact pregnant with their third child when Jacob died suddenly in April 1858, shortly after Jacob and his brother-in-law Louis Breithaupt had formed a partnership and opened what would become a very successful tannery business. The third child, a boy was born 5 months after his father’s death, and was appropriately enough named, Jacob.

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