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3 1833 01577 5445 



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Vitz, Peter, 1825-1904, 

My life journey 



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I v,-as bcrr. Cctober 6^ 1325 in Rheidc, ?ro'.flnce Gladbac;.^ ur.cer the —-le of 
Easseldori in Bhine-Pr^ssia. Received holy bapoisn: The oa.~e yea;-, iij- Chris'er.sd ns-T.e 
is Pstar. My parenx,3 na.-es '.vere Gottfried and Mathilda Vit,:: . The -ether's ziaider. r^-e 
7/as C\ier.r.en. The fanily tree of iiv' ancestors I have not been able to learn. It i3 
understood that some vdth the nar.s Vit: cajns as fefugees (or becau.-e of persecution) 
into the region of siy birth. 

liy father died "fr.sr. I •.va:; 12 years old. I vras the eldest of U children. My devcut 
Tiother vras sick a n-ur.ber of years, ity only brother died at the age of 12, and after 
that ir.y niother also died. I still had th-e tvfo sister:^ and they continue to live at 
Hheidt . 

Since iny father -vorked in the silk 1-ciitting busi-ies>, my guardian felt I should 
learn the trade of ay father. But I had no desire for it, I had little support on 
p.cccunt of the early death of nij- father, and -z^j' situation v.-as like that of nary orphans 
--vho are in the -.Yorld Vrithcut a hc.te. Schooling and parental training, I could not 
receive like other crjil'Jren. I vf^s orphaned. Hc.-.vsver. the dpar God, F^.ther of orphans. 
has up to nc'.v held his faitr.ful hand over j.e, and the dear Jesus is still :ny real 
guardian. The prayers of my devout niother have also gone vd-th me into icy youth. In 
the year 131:1, after ha'/ing been instructed in the Heidelberg catechism, I vi-as ccn- 
fir.-ed by Rev. Merman '^e'cs and joined in -with the congregation in the Holy Commur^on. 
In the yeair 13i:5 I -.vas inducted as soldier in th^ Rrassian army. After 2 years serv'ice 
time I received my undetermiined (indefinite) release. In the year I3ii3 I was married. 
Mean-.vhile I v/as in a (school) Life e:cperi=nce -vrd.ch I could not understand and vras 
constantly led deeper. Then TOen our dear pastor remarked in one of cur mission hc-,rr 
sar'/ices: "In America is great need of evangelism"- "People traveled 5C0 miles to a Sync 
meeting a.nd pleaded for a preacher". Vfnen I heard trd.3 I said silently in my heart: 
"Lord can You use me? Then send me". The votj- was made,, cut in church matters as vrell 
as in earthly matters I had much that many people do r73^t have, I v.-as as if tied dov,- 
in earthly e:cperienc3 to the place v.here my cradle stood. Then in .13 5*3. • I along '.Tith 
T.-ife and ~.vo chilrjren started on the way to Amerirc-, '.ve traveled in ccm.pany v/ith Bro, 
Kluge and his people, fo-ur in all, as -.ve v/i-j-e eiglnt persons in all. Of these tr^ree 
are still living, namely ?-ev. Becker of the p-ablishing House in Cleveland and my son 
and I. Rev. IvLuge -.vas treas-urer many years of the liission House in vri scon sir.. In 
Germiany v/e -.vere active in the mi.ssion and youth orgari.zations. Since as a child I 
could not receive the schccl education like other crd-ldrenj 7 had to take up t±^?.z 
instr-ction later from, a tutor as a ycuth. 

Since I felt keenly tr-at I vfas an orphan, I became ve— ^ unccmmrunicative to other 
people, and this trait of character still is 7d.th m.e . As a result I fcrm.erly remained 

the question came up among m.y relatives and friends: '".Tny does Peter v/ant to go to the 
Vfestern Land?" I did hov.-ever not state the reason until four old gcdly-devout -.ev., 
thjres relatives and a grsy headed stranger called me in the garden a.nd asked me as 
under oath v/hy I v.'antcQ to go to America. Nc.t it •.ras up to m.e to state the reason - 
Frcm that time on they left me undisturbed and I prepared for the journey. Nov.- I came 
into a dif-'erent school (experience). It seemed hard for me to leave the fatherland 
and relatives. Also I had some md-sgi'/ings of spirit, so I asked my vrLfo thjree times 
the.-,veek of our departure if she had any objection to our journey. She ans-.-.-ered evor- 
question v/ith the statem.ont: "No". "'^Vo m.ust make the journay". '>^c^r. vre v.-ere on the^ 
ocean the thought came to m.e: "lord Jesus if you Yfero net traveli.-.g along, I vfou_d feel 
like turrJ.ng back". We vfere on ti-.e ocean about 9 -.veeks and lived through many storm.s.^ 
V/hGn 'we v.-ere about half-.vay across the ocean my youngest son died, just about a year old; 
and -.ve had to ccm_mit rd_m to the vi-aters of the ocean and leave him. behind. Upon m>' 
appeal to the captain to permit us to take the body -A-ith us to land he said he could 
not and ".vas not permd.ttad by ship rcg'jlations. Then he said. Don't you see the ocean 
is for us sailors an open grave? But eventually the ocean v,-ill also have to give back 
its dead again. Th.is Ic-.-ely statement cf the ncblj man served as a funeral address for 



.—/ child. Then the c::ptain saic : "_ v.l^l have tr.£:n .T.ake a casl-rei. for yccr child^ and 
the body shall be lov.-ercd in it". The lovely v;crd3 of the c^-pza.Ln, and that he v.'culd 
have a caskeo aS.de for the deceased, I shared with ircT v.-ife^then I added: "Vi'e rr:^sz 
abide by the ship regulations and i-ruist give up the little one. She sir-rendered her 
earnest and sorrovrLng heart to God. In conference v.lth the people aboard, it v.-as 
agreed the little one vras to b e Icv/ered that everdng at mealti.Tie. Tne word "Boatsrr.en" 
v.-as to indicaLe to -e v.-hen it v.-as to take place, "'e v/ere traveling in second cabin. 
The upper deck pilot stepped to the door ar.d called "Boatsnen". I alone knevf v.-hat the 
call indicated. After a fevf moments I '.vent on deck the ship, fcund. there the captain 
v.-ith several matresses before -.vhich stood the little casket . When I came they all re- 
moved their hat.3, lifted the casket over the side of the boat 'oy th° ropes ard lowered. 
him in the deep of the ocean. As they le^ go of the ropes, I yet sa->7 the little cas- 
ket, and I felt liks I had to grasp it. The ne:- ir.orning early I came on deck of the 
ship and looked for the casket. Naturally I could no-o see. it any more. Iiiy v/ife asked 
"Ho-.v are they going to proceed vcith the little one?" 3y that time, however, the little 
one vras far and deep behind us. I ans'.vered her: " Let us be content vc.t.h the words - 
the ocean also '«iil give up its dead '=ag:aia". '"i -izr.z to cc-™it. the little one to the 
ship people and to almighty God until vra shall one day see each other again in heavcno 
T>iereby she surrendered lo God and seemed to be saiiisfied and found peace. After '.ve 
had landed, v/e continued the "crip and arrived at Maritoivac, 7/isconsin v/here •.ve had 
lellovr immigranto. ify v/ife, usually well, complained of being sick. In V/'isconsin, 
v.'2 v,-ere received very friendly by our accuaintenccs. We had a chance to got a good 
rosv and medical care for my wife. Kc.vever, she daily becam.e weaker and died early 
in ?ebr-^ary IcOu. Neve I was orphaned again, with a small orphan boy en'oirely vrithcut 
relatives in America and felt forsaken, thirJdng "Icu have led vrif e and Qhild to their 
dea-h." Yet thi.3 thought left m.c when I remembered the words of the vq-.y, v.nich she 
spoke to me s.z the last;. ^Vhen s'm noticed v.-hat I wantedto say about the journey and 
tried -o poin- hopefully to her improvement she said: "I am reruming home. I accom- 
panied you -hus f-:.r and the dear Heavenly Father will provide for ycu". The-t, "he 
dear Heavenly Father has done. Mean'.vnile I felt alone like in my childhood and got 
to zr±r^: I should nov.- live alone v.ith m;,' chi'd decv.' in the primitive forest,, rut- v.v.ere 
ever I went or stood, always the question cam.e up: '"iTnat did you t ravel to America 1- o. '■ 
I had come here to szv:2 as tract distributor (celportuer) in the KingdcTi. of Christ, 
since I lacked the education for the ministrya In order to come to peace concc-rmng 
my life question, I investigated concerning a RefcrmiCd church school. Then 1 heard of 
Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio and that also they had s school of thcolog:.'. x 
vrrota to Professor E. V. Gerhart, that I desired to go to Tiffin at m^- ov/n e:cpcnso 
and see if I could not curJ.iry to enter the school, and r.grscd to lecve again if -i 
could noz be accepted. This brief statem.ont of Tiinc determined m.y v/holo futpure and 
ny life v/ork. I received reply that I might come. I obtained shelter for m.y smr.ll 
boy v.ith seme fam.ily and traveled to Tiffin. V."nen I beheld the school and obser-/ed 
the students I almost cried and thought ; "V/hat do you poor m.ortal -.vant here?" In the 
cveri.ng I looked up the beloved Proferror Gerhart. He took me into his room and v,-as 
very friendly. He did not ask many question. Kovrcvcr, he asked the question whetnor 
. I was acquainted vrLth the Heidelberg catechism- I replied I received instruction in^ 
it^ He gave m.s certain matter of advice and I remained :- Tiffin. I rented a rocm.j.n 
a private hcr.a and lived there a short time until vacation set in. I attendee inst-.ic- 
tion and gave tim.e to study and ?.t times I -rrorkcd until the cholera crr>o to Tii'in. 
Then I came into a diff-erent life-school for in the family -.vhere I stayed the sickness 
struck five persons to whom. I gave care - three died. A small ch.ild and I were s""^--^ 
on our feet and v;e attended the sick. So I had to deal vrith the living and the deac. 
Only the groat God -.vho decrees error life and death stood by ma in mj- difficult situa- 
tion and enabled me to go on (rem^ain erect). 

L'>y money gave out when I had spent two years in the Seminar;' and thie college, i 
paid all ~:y o-.vn expenses and also paid for the care of m^' cnild. I ini"ormcd the 



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Professor of rr.y situation, and the/ told r.a they -.vantad to help pro^/ide surocrt for ne , 
'c-dz I thcughw I v.-c'jld rr.^her qu:!.^ and zake over some cission field. Thay •..T.ntcd to 
reccr-T.ond to have me licensed "lo preach at. the meeting of Synod •.v'tr ch v.'as =,'cczz to 
~.eez in Tiffin. I thanked them for thiS; but I felt I was not c;u.aiified for a llcanse 
to preach. Then the breuhron gave serious consideration and statod I could r£m?j.n in 
the seminar;/. So I follov/od their advice. I recaived the license for the minis^— ' 
from Ohio Synod and later -as ordained by the Tiffin Cli=sscs in 1856 and -.vas sen" i.r.- 
mediatcly as missiona.ry to Adams CountYj Indiana. 

For my vacation time in 1355 I "■'^as, upon recomjr.enda~i,on of Z. V. Gerhartj sen^ to 
Toledo by the American Trtist, Society as colportuer (trS^-t- distributor). I v/as also to 
DG helpful to the m.ar.y immigrants v.ho v;ere travelin'g through the cit;,- at that time. I 
found there a world within a smaLL area.- I also t—^ed as much as I could to help along 
in our small mission ccng-egaticn in that city. 

In the year 1856 when I cama as missionary to Acams Ccuntyj Indiana I foind mostly 
the original forest. The people lived in log houses and occasionally yet one savr the 
TTolvGs. I found shelter in a log house for myself and bey. I sought to organiaa a 
congregation -vTich 13 members. One member vrho died donated three acres for a si~a for 
church and parsonage and also burial ground. I.fy salary v;as $150.00 most of v.-hich was 
contributed by five members. First a log house ".vas erected for me and the next year 
v;e built a lovely church. As I nov/ resided alone in the log house 'ivith ~y boy^ the co;j- 
gregation gave na the ad'/ice that it -170110 be -.veil for me to remarry. I asked them if 
they k-new of a helpmeet for me. They ans'.vared. No. Then I said, "I don't knov; one 
either". So lived on into the fall. Then I was given perm.ission to travel to Tiffir. 
because of a death. Then I v/ould like to return by '.vay of Toledo. It was r^ght v.tien 
the train started for Toledo. Deeply entrenched in thought, my eyes fell on a family 
v;ho had three children with them and her '.veil they v.-ere provided for in all things 
needed. I sorrov.-cd deeply at heart to think of my situation. I braced my arm on the 
v.'indov; and m.y head rested on my hand. Thr-n it was as if sc-s one spoke in :;// ear: 
"Before you get hcm.e you vdZJl be accompanied by a helpmeet". Now 7 r=ugned -"^ .tyself 
even through my tears.- In Toledo I had a friend vr^.th vmom I took lodging r-^.d planned 
to travel on vrith the nezct train. In the friend 'i^ home the first question v.-a.s : "Hcv.- 
are you managing vrith your child?". "You have responsibilities aid ycv.shou''.d rcmarr)'" 
I asked, olth vrhom, and they ansv.-ered they did not know. And I replied I did not knov.- 
either. After that I walked in the garden, and savr at the next neignbor a person 
stepping to the -.veil to dravr -.vater . I '.vent to my friend at once and asked '.'.'he that 
person '.-fas. He ?unsv.-ered shz -.vas the hired girl and a mem.ber of ths '■'■eformed Church. 
I said: "She is going to beccme my '.Tife". He started to laugh out loud, and yet I 
saw he v.'as serious as he looked in concern to me. Then I said: "I am not leavir.g on 
the n2:ct train. I m.ust vfait this out". I had never seen this person and had r.e'.'Er 
hscz-d of h&r. To-.v^jrds noon mj- friend said what I thought about it, and ho'.v t.nis '.vas 
going to go. I ans-.vered: "I don't knov;-'. He asked: "Snail ny wife ask her to come 
ever later?". I ans-.vared: "I '.-j-ould like that". About 2 o'clock in the afternoon the 
person cam.e into my friend's hom.e leading a child on each hand. Hy friend introd'uced 
mo and xher. absented himself. After I had presented my situation as man, father r.is- 
sionar:.' and my poverty, I asked hor if she could entrust herself to that kind of a 
man. She became '.vhite, red, and her face blushed and she made no ans^.-rer,. I told her 
I did not e:cpect an ans'.ver until she had looked to God and had thought it over. I 
vfould delay my journey yet one more day. Finally she left •.•/ith tt^ children to the 
place of her em.ploym.ent. Tae next day she returned and handc-d mc her baptism.al cer- 
tificate and confirmation certificate and an accompanying letter frcm her father and^ ^ 
she remarked: "These papers shcyi whore I come from and that I am free to pledge -yseii 
to you". V/q r.o-ff gave the information to the family '.vhere she worked, of our plans 
?r.d they released her from. scr-/ice in a friendly manner, Frcm the papers she gave me 
I sa'.v that she v.'as S'.TisSjOf the congregation at RupperJ-.'uegel in the Canton of Bern.. 
Her father, Benedicht Jacob was a school teacher in that neighborhood, No'.v it real-y 



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o?.T.3 to pcs3 vmat I laughed abcut t-.vc nigr.zs bcfors on the train. V'a v/crc r:.r.rricd by 
uh2 local pastor in the presence on an alder of z'r.z churen. This v/as in the Tall oi 
iSS^j and after that v;c proceedad to ~y ri.ssion charge and arranged cur log house 
like ir-i-grants. The next spring began the 'cuilding of the church, cr at least pre- 
parations vrere .tade. In the suruner v/e v.-ere visited by th.c missions agent. Pastor 
Zi:.-.ber, and he sav/- to it that vre obtained C'-lCO support fro.- the eastern riission beard. 

nissicn beard. Since the congregation nov." had a church and a pajrsanage I undertccr: to 
establish a church in the county scat to-.vn. Here in Decatur, Indiana the church v/as 
stUl v;cak, yet -.ve built a church, the very one in •.vhioli the congregation v/crships 
even today. Also I founded a congregation v;hj.ch now has been r.erged v.ith the one at 
Ne-x Villa, Vfells county, makir^ a pastorate. After 5 years, in the year 1861 :::/ 
strength failed r.e and I had to rest a aonth on the 'argent recjuest of ay physician. 
I gave .tiy position over to another preacher and lived in vdth one of ay elders. Then 
caae an earnest call from the broken dov.-n and deeply indebted congregation at Hunting- 
ton, Indiana. I ^vas afraid of this location, for I was acouainted v.lth the situation. 
Yet I felt ir.polled to go ?und continued in tho viar',: there for ten years. I could not 
even bring together 10 ae:.;bers in the begirj-J-ng necessar;,- to do of ficial business . 
The dear God, hov/evar, blessed us so that in 10 years v;e had one of the finest ch'urch 
properties consisting of church', parsonage and school and everything debt free. Then 
I said to the congregation: ^%'- v,-crk hero is completed" and -.Tith thar^ks of the ccngre- 
gaticn I left there in 1371. Tnen v.-e did not knov.- vfhsre -.to night go. At that tir.e I 
received a call frcr. the congregation at Lafayette, Indiana, ^Yhich I accepted. Here 
I found v,r.at power a president ccn have- ever his congregation in r.aking effective his 
ideas and their acceptance of sar.a. Tv.-o years I had to v,-ork Trith the ccnsisto".- to 
get tner. to see the position of the president. C^ir dear God, hov;ever , peraittei us 
to succeed in bringing the congregation under our (church) goverrjr.ent, ~n this congre- 
gation I experienced a v."onderful day "fr.cr. it '.ras possible for ae on O'.o Sunday "o re- 
ceive into r.cr.bership 23 adults 'oy profession of fa:th. After a lit,,^' •■.-ore than 6 
years, in 1377, I accepted a call to He:" Villa, \'iol' r. ccunty, Indiana. That v.-a? -;- 
old T.is5icn field v.-hich lay before r.e in Adaias a.nd 'i.'clls count;-. T'r.e-e I ccntin.eu 
6 years and I a.a. happy nov; that I cculd cor.e to their help, since v.-c nov.- have 5 ccn- 
gregaticns ?rd L nice parsonages there. Since I could not longer do the traveli.'.g, due 
to rheur.atisr. and neuralgia, I gave up the pastorate in the fall of 1355 in favor of 
-y son Otto, in agreement v.-ith the congregation. After Nev: year, I received a call 
fror. the"*vla3el" congregation in th^e neighborhood of Lake ilichigan in Sheboygan, V/is- 
consin, net far frcn the liission House, I thought a sr.all chrnrge r.dght 'oc good for 
ce and accepted the call. Hov.-over, by reason of the snov: ay suffering becaae 7,-orse 
and I had to retuir. to the accustoaed cliaatc. In the year 1336 v/e agrin aovod to 
Indiana.- Soor. I received c cell fror. wclphcs, Ohio. I ZiZCc-ptcd this csid I csr. serv- 
ing here nov.- for 5 years, ^Ve serve a saall v;eak ccngre gaticn. Ncvt in 1391 I entered 
ny 67th year and aa happy to have laid aside cost of ay •.vork. I oust be sincerely 
thankful to ay dear God, and Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Wo have 10 children 
and 16 grandchildren near arjd far. One grand child died. Three sons and tv.-c scns-in 
lav: arc preachers in cur church and one son is in the '.iissicn House as a student fcr 
the.ainistr:r. So I v;as pcraitted Sundays along v.ith five children to stand in holy 
places to declare Ch-ist the crucified as our Sa'/icur. E;<:cept the three youngest 
children, all are aarricd. 

Nov; I have vrritten dov.n part of the events of ay life as you requested of the 
things I had not spoken before or talked abcat. I hope, in the na.aa of God, that r.-y^ 
saviour vn.ll fulfill -^ uncoaplctcd v.-ork, so that the vrcok aay beccae strong, ^and tno 
^ f ooZ^sh be 'erought to 7d.sdca. For ae there is a lovely place in the te.-.iple of God, 
" to stop to the side of the publican and to pray in Jesus na-ac to God for Grace 

In Gcd's Ser-.-ica, 
Delpbos, 1391 Peter Vitz. 



The 3cgi:r.irs Bs.d 



Since ncny of r.y ?s crs v.-orc loso, I car.-.ot give all dates vrLt 
iccurccv. I did not kocp bocks in ihc -iutcr o: .t.y ofricial appc 
=r.d caj-. thereiiro not give sta::.i3^ics. 



'.osomza 



3orr. in 1S25 
Bao^i:ed 1325 
Confirr..3d iSiil 



Ir.}.-. '-. f'^ ^ 



iiarried I5ii3 to Saviila K. Toeros 

E-dgra-Gd to ilr.ari^a 1353 

V/if2 died in rebr-ary 135i: 

ZnzQz-cd Hsidelbcrg Collc.^o, Tiffinj Ohio ISSIt 

Licensadj crdaincd and sent out, as rissicna™- 185c 

Second .carriage to ^Inna il. Jacob in fall 165^ 

'A'cnt to Huntington 1861 

Lafayctta 1871 

Nsv; Villa 1877 • ■ 

Y^sccnsin 1551: 

Delphos 1656 

Y;i-itxc:n in Qelphcs, Ohio 1391. 



Peter ^;its, 



HECKMAN 

BINDERY INC. 

^^^ FEB 90