Zion Evangelical Church Members List 1915 – Part 2

Yesterday, I posted the first four pages of the 1915 members list for Zion Evangelical Church in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario.

The mainly typed members list was compiled in July 1915 and contains more than 800 church members names, many also with home addresses listed.

Here are the remaining four pages of the eight-page list.

BERLIN Ont ZION EVANG Church members list 1915 p5

Zion Evangelical Church, Berlin, Ontario, members list, 1915, page 5

BERLIN Ont ZION EVANG Church members list 1915 p6

Zion Evangelical Church, Berlin, Ontario, members list, 1915, page 6

BERLIN Ont ZION EVANG Church members list 1915 p7

Zion Evangelical Church, Berlin, Ontario, members list, 1915, page 7

BERLIN Ont ZION EVANG Church members list 1915 p8

Zion Evangelical Church, Berlin, Ontario, members list, 1915, page 8

Zion Evangelical Church Members List 1915, Part 1

Zion Evangelical Church was established in Berlin, Upper Canada, now known as Kitchener, Ontario, during the 1830’s. The first pastor to serve the church was assigned in 1839, the church previously being served by ‘itinerant’ preachers primarily from New York state.

Unfortunately in 2015, the church closed it’s doors, no longer viable due to high operating costs and a dwindling membership. During one of my trips through the area, I had a chance to visit and tour the church while it was was being decommissioned. Graciously, I was provided with a copy of the 1915 church membership list, which stands as an excellent source of genealogical information for those with ancestors who lived in that area.

The membership list was completed in July 1915 and contains more than 800 names of church members, many with their home addresses included. The list is comprised of eight pages, most of which is typed but also including some hand-written notations and additions to the list.

BERLIN Ont ZION EVANG Church members list 1915 p1

Zion Evangelical Church, Berlin, Ontario, members list, 1915, page 1

BERLIN Ont ZION EVANG Church members list 1915 p4

Zion Evangelical Church, Berlin, Ontario, members list, 1915, page 2

BERLIN Ont ZION EVANG Church members list 1915 p2

Zion Evangelical Church, Berlin, Ontario, members list, 1915, page 3

BERLIN Ont ZION EVANG Church members list 1915 p4

Zion Evangelical Church, Berlin, Ontario, members list, 1915, page 4

The final four pages of the church members list will be published here tomorrow.

The Strange Case of Jacob Elias Wagner

One record. Just one.

Discovered yesterday, naming Jacob Elias Wagner as the son of Jacob Wagner and his wife Margaretha (Hailer) Wagner.

That one mention is in the 1855 New York State Census. The document records that Jacob Elias Wagner was enumerated, on 15 June 1855, as the son of Jacob Wagner, a clergyman, aged 30, born in Germany and his wife Margaret, aged 24 and born in Canada West. The census document also lists their daughter Catherine as a four year-old who had been born in Erie County, New York.

On that June day in 1855, the Wagner family was living in North District of the 10th Ward in Rochester, Monroe County, New York.

Other records show that Jacob, the clergyman, began to experience some health problems attributed at the time to his work as a preacher. Jacob had met his wife Margaret in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario, Canada while visiting the Hailer home in the course of his ministerial duties. They married in 1849. According to church records, Jacob had even served from 1852-1854 as the minister of the Zion Evangelical Church in Berlin, a church that he and his father-in-law Jacob Hailer had helped to establish.

Jacob had introduced his good friend from New York State Philip Ludwig ‘Louis’ Breithaupt to Margaret’s family. Louis married Margaret’s sister Catherine in 1853, during the time when Jacob was pastor of the Berlin church the Hailer family worshiped at.

And so it came to pass that Jacob entered into a partnership with his brother-in-law Louis to open and operate a tannery in Berlin (the original partnership agreement is archived in the University of Waterloo special collections).

Jacob gave up his role as clergyman and moved his family from upper state New York north to the town of Berlin in Canada West.

Multiple records give evidence to Margaret and Catherine moving with him as well as his son Louis Henry Wagner, born after the 1855 New York State Census was taken. The move took place likely sometime in late 1857. Jacob established the tannery in Berlin in early 1858 but died in April 1858 just two months after the business started. But it appears that there is nothing more to be found about little Jacob Elias Wagner.

The only possible clue an Ontario death registration for a Jacob Wagner, aged 16 years, 8 months and 19 days, born in Rochester, New York. This Jacob died on May 26, 1870 of as the result of accidental gun shot wound in Toronto. He was right age as Jacob Elias and but Jacob Elias was born according to the 1855 census record in Canada. Perhaps the death registration informant only knew that gun shot victim Jacob was from Rochester?

Well, another ancestor has been found, a great grand-uncle to my wife. And, another trip to the University of Waterloo Archives is in order to sift through the family papers again, now with a focus on mentions of Jacob Elias Wagner.

Zion Evangelical Church Follow-up And Church Records I Didn’t Expect To Find

In my last post, I recounted my wife Ellen’s family connection to Zion Evangelical Church, now Zion United Church, located in Kitchener, Ontario. Ellen’s paternal great grandfather, Rev. Louis Henry Wagner, and paternal great-great grandfather, Rev. Jacob Wagner, were both pastors of the church.

At the time of our visit to the church in late October, the church was closed and we learned that the church building had been sold to a Kitchener developer, the sale to be finalized in June 2015. One month later, we returned to Kitchener and visiting the church was on our priority list of things to do. Really, what we wanted was just a chance to take a photo of the church sanctuary and pulpit used by Ellen’s great grandfather. We were seeking a family keepsake; what we got was so much more!

Ellen (Wagner) Hadden standing in front of the sanctuary and pulpit where her great grandfather, Rev. Louis Henry Wagner, held Sunday services and preached at Zion Evangelical Church (now Zion United Church) in Kitchener, Ontario


We were greeted by the current church Pastor, secretary, and treasurer. After a warm welcome, we explained our interest in their church and they immediately pointed us to a collage they maintain of all the pastors in the church’s more than 170-year history. The collage (seen below) is located in a display case and includes photos of both of Ellen’s ancestors.

Collage of Ministers who have served Zion Evangelical/United Church in Kitchener, Ontario. Rev. Jacob Wagner is top row, fourth from the left, and Rev. Louis Wagner third row, fourth from the left (my apologies for the glare from a fluorescent ceiling fixture that partly obscures the top row of photos).


Unexpectedly, we were provided by the church treasurer with a private tour of every part of the church building, including an accounting of some of the church’s history.

As an added bonus, when our tour was wrapping up, we were shown a display of some church artifacts that had been found as the church begins it’s decommissioning. The church will be sending it’s records and artifacts to the United Church of Canada Archives and so what we were shown were some of the duplicate copies of church records from 1914-1915. 

Copies of the church’s annual reports listed all members of the congregation and the amounts of their financial contributions to the church and it’s missionary endeavours. The church congregation list, complete with the addresses of all the church’s members. Special church service programs such as that used in September 1954 to mark the centennial of Kitchener, complete with a church history and photos compiled by Ellen’s first cousin, three times removed Albert Liborius Breithaupt.

The cover of the Zion Evangelical Church service program celebrating 
the Centennial of the City of Kitchener in 1954


When we think of church records there is a tendency to restrict ourselves to baptisms, marriages, and funerals or burials. The records I saw, a couple of which I now possess, thanks to the good folks at Zion United Church, show the opportunity to have a different view into the church life experienced by our ancestors. What great finds!

Sadly, the final church service at Zion United Church will take place on June 7, 2015. We intend to be there.

The End Of An Era For A ‘Family’ Church

The end is drawing close.

Zion United Church, located at 32 Weber Street in Kitchener, Ontario, has been sold and will cease to function as Zion United Church in 2015.

Zion United Church (formerly Zion Evangelical Church), 32 Weber Street, Kitchener, Ontario (photo by Ian Hadden, 2014)


The Evangelical Association was basically a German Methodist church that eventually merged with the United Church of Canada. Sadly, the decline in the number of parishioners and attendance, down to 25% of what it was forty years ago, means that the church’s operating costs are much higher than it’s revenue. So, the church has been sold. Fortunately it’s exterior is protected under the Ontario Heritage Act.

For my wife’s Wagner ancestors, this church played a central role in their lives dating back more than 150 years. 

Third great grandfather Jacob Hailer was instrumental in helping to establish a church for what was then the Evangelical Association. He allowed his workshop to be used as the first church Sunday School. He also permitted the traveling Evangelical Association ministers to stay in his home when they visited the then village of Berlin, Canada West.

One of those itinerant ministers, Jacob Wagner married Jacob’s eldest daughter Margaret in 1849. Their eldest son, Louis Henry Wagner, my wife’s great grandfather, would follow in his father’s foot steps, become a minister, and eventually pastor of the Zion Evangelical Church.

Margaret’s sister, Catherine married Jacob’s best friend Louis Breithaupt in 1853 and, as their family grew to prominence in the growing community of Berlin, they too centered their lives around Zion Evangelical Church.

When Margaret died in 1918 (shortly after Berlin was re-named as Kitchener), her son Louis as church pastor used the church’s stationery to pen a poem in tribute to his mother.

Zion Evangelical Church stationery used by Rev. Louis Henry Wagner to author a tribute poem to his mother Margaret Hailer Wagner Bean on her death in 1918. (Note that the church address at the time was 10 Weber Street (now 32 Weber Street) and that the central steeple of the church is now missing)


The tribute poem for Margaret Hailer Wagner Bean of Rev. Louis Henry Wagner reads as follows:

Memories of Our Mother


Our Mother’s gone.
The fields, from which she gleaned
The fallen stock of golden grain
Have long since given their ripened store
To other hands. The orchard, bright in bloom,
And promise of a full supply,
Will yield its burdened bough to others
Will these too be as generous with their gifts
As she was want to be?
Or withholding much, impoverish but themselves?
Her home, where, through these many years
Of saddened widowhood,
She reigned serenely well,
— Her word was law,
Respected every wish —
That home, of daughters well brought up,
And sons much loved and honored true,
Will miss the mother’s smile.
Her gentle words of caution and of love
Will n’er be heard again.
Her voice is gone. Her hand,
So warm to welcome home,Will never give its kindly hold
To those she loved so well.

The stranger, made a noble friend,
Will miss her cordial help.
Her church has long since ceased
To see her in her wanted place;
But when the ring of bell will call to worship here,
Her memory still continues fresh and sweet
And long to come, when we
And here this house of God have passed away,
She still will linger on in hallowed thought.

Our Mother’s gone? No. Never.
Her disembodied spirit may linger near,
And still its good unfold.
Her smiles, her words, her loving deeds
Will never pass away.
She lives. Though to its place
We lay her washed frame, she lives.
Our Mother lives, and loves us still.
And when this sad requiem is o’er,
And each his weary way
To distant home we break,
The memory of our mother dear will linger.
Her soothing hand will still be laid on throbbing brow.
Her smile will cheer the lonely heart.