Saturday, March 08, 2008

Jacob Studebaker

One of the most prominent and respected members of the early church in Northern Indiana was Jacob Studebaker, who with his family came to Elkhart County in 1830 with the Daniel Cripes. He and Martin Weybright were the first Brethren ministers ordained in Northern Indiana.

In Old Testament times (Genesis 46), a venerable elder named Jacob led his people out of Beersheba into a place called Goshen. There, under his spiritual guidance and encouragement, they overcame the hardships of a generally hostile environment to become productive farmers and friends of neighboring tribesmen.

The Studebaker family has its own latter-day Jacob, who went with a band of believers into the wilderness of Northern Indiana, to a place they named Goshen, and there overcame the harshness of frontier life. Like his biblical namesake, he too lives on in history. Every one of the half dozen histories of Elkhart County, Indiana, make reference to his role, often at considerable length.
[The Studebaker Family in America]

Soon after coming to Indiana, the advanced age of Daniel Cripe "put the leadership responsibility on Jacob, and he performed that role for most of the following half-century. Children and step-children of the two men married, bringing the Cripe family at least peripherally into the Studebaker story."

Jacob was a farmer and preacher, and in addition owned a sawmill on the Elkhart River. He was known as a "good home carpenter," so when it became necessary for the commissioners of Elkhart County to build a Court House in Goshen, he was engaged to draw up a plan and build the structure. Jacob remembered a building in Dayton, Ohio, and walked through the forests and swamps to Dayton in order to copy this building. He then walked back to Goshen and with the help of his sons and step-sons created the building and many of the furnishings as well, from standing timber.

Source: A History of the West Goshen Church 1830-1980, by Dean L. Henry