By: Laura Deyton
One of the very early settlers who moved into the Old Southwest Territory from Northern Maryland via the Valley of Virginia was a German Baptist Brethren (Tucker, Dunker, Dunkard) clergyman by the name of Henry Masters. Masters settled in the remote wilderness section of Northwest Burke County that became a part of Yancey County in 1833, and finally were immediate descendants of the wave of immigrants that fled Germany in search of religious and political freedom and better land in the New World. This was in the 1719-1729 era.
Henry Masters’ son, Henry II, was born in Burke County on 24 Nov., 1792. Like his father, he was a staunch Brethren, and became a Dunkard preacher. He is credited with organizing the Lower Brummett’s Creek congregation in cooperation with peter Peterson, and building the first Brethren church house there in abt. 1840.
Henry Masters II (1792 – 1879) in 1814 married Hannah Bowman (1793 – 1872), daughter of Elder Jacob Bowman, another Pennsylvania Dutchmen who moved via Franklin County, Virginia and East Tennessee, to Burke County in 1797.
Henry Masters and Hannah Bowman were the parents of eight daughters and two sons: Susannah b. 18 Sept. 1815, m. Thomas Burleson; Levina b. 9 Nov. 1817, m. Obadiah Edwards; Roseanna b. 30 Jan. 1820, m. Elhanan Griffiths; Nancy b. 6 June 1822, m. Solomon Evins; Jason b. 14 Nov. 1824, m. Jane Woody; Clarissa b. 27 Feb. 1827, m. Posey Griffith; Malinda b. 18 Apr., 1829, m. Garrett Bailey; Eliza, b. 22 Dec. 1830, m. John Street; Phoebe b. 4 Apr., 1832, m. Tom Bailey, and Jacob, b. 7 Jan. 1835, m. Cordelia Hughes.
The Bowmans and Masteres still taught their children to speak German. There is an amusing tradition in our family that Jason and his brothers, as boys, used to tease their mother to exasperation to get her to “bless them out” in German.
Another family tradition and historical fact is that visiting Dunkard preachers came in pairs and one would deliver the sermon in German, and the other would deliver it in English, because the older settlers still spoke in German and did not understand English very well.
Correction to last week’s Huffine article
Aseneth and Thomas Francis are buried at Edgemon Cemetery in Neigs Co., TN, instead of Roane Co., TN (Elaine Cantrell).