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GARBER, Samuel A. 1832-1888


Posted By: Sheryl McClure (email)
Date: 5/20/2023 at 16:41:08

Samuel A. Garber was born in Cambria County, Pa., Jan. 1, 1832. His parents, John and Sarah Garber, were of German descent and members of the Church of the Brethren. In 1838 they emigrated to Iowa, coming by steamboat down the Ohio River and up the Mississippi. They settled in Jefferson County, near Libertyville, his father, John Garber, being the first elder in the Libertyville congregation and the first Brethren preacher ever ordained in Iowa. Samuel grew to manhood and was married in the spring of 1853 to Nancy A. Peebler, whose ancestors were members of the Brethren church in Switzerland shortly after the church was organized. They soon fled to Holland and later to America, to escape military duty.

Samuel and his wife united with the Church of the Brethren shortly after they were married, and in the spring of 1855 emigrated to Decatur County, Iowa, settling a few miles north of Leon in Center Township. He afterwards traded this farm for another, also in Center Township, where he lived until his death. He was elected to the ministry when the Decatur County church was organized
and being ordained a number of years later, he entered actively into the work, and during the rest of his life preached almost every Sunday. In addition to his regular appointments he was called to all parts of the Southern District of Iowa and North Missouri. Twenty-five years ago it would have been rare to meet a person in Decatur County who had never heard Sam Garber or Lewis Kob preach. The seed sown still remains, and there are many fruitful fields in this part of the country where they labored, waiting for the harvesters.

Bro. Garber always made a great effort to attend all the District Meetings, and held various offices in the District. It was thought by some that he was favorable to the Progressives when the church was divided. The following circumstance will show how he stood:

While the division was going on among the various congregations a sister from the Decatur County church wrote a letter to the Progressive Christian, complaining about conditions in the church, and a Progressive wrote to Bro. Garber, suggesting that it was about time for a division in Decatur County. His answer was: "The Scripture says, 'Beware of them that cause divisions.' " In a letter still preserved, which he wrote to his son only a few minutes before he was killed, he spoke of the church and deplored the fact that the local congregation was not prospering as it ought to do. On the 14th day of June, 1888, he, with his daughter Fannie, drove to Leon and on account of the threatening weather started for home early. They were overtaken by the storm two miles from town and he was killed by a stroke of lightning. He was 56 years, 6 months and 14 days of age. His wife died in 1910. Bro. Garber was a man of genial disposition. His education was limited to what was afforded by the country school in pioneer days of Iowa. He was a lover of music, and taught singing schools at different places. His work was accomplished by tireless energy rather than natural ability, and the joy of having done his duty was a greater reward than "filthy lucre."

--F. A. Garber.

"A History of the Church of the Brethren in Southern Iowa," compiled by Willis P. Rodabaugh and A. H. Brower; Brethren Publishing House, Elgin, Illinois, 1925


Decatur Biographies maintained by Constance McDaniel Hall.
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