52 Documents in 52 Weeks #21: A Church Record in the Most Unexpected Place

Sometimes, serendipity strikes in the most unexpected ways. Way back when my genealogy buddy Nancy and I both lived in southern California (I can’t believe it was over 25 years ago!), we both were at home moms because we had young children. We only lived a few miles apart, both in Alta Loma, but instead of packing up children for car trips, Nancy and I spoke often on the telephone. Occasionally, we talked about kids, but we both loved to talk about genealogy.

At the time, I was hard at work tracking down my husband’s Whitmer family. They migrated after the Revolutionary War from Frederick County, Maryland through Virginia before settling permanently in Muhlenburg County, Kentucky.

I knew that the family had lived in Botetourt County, Virginia in the early 1800s, but then I found a Goodspeed biography about one of John Whitmer’s sons, Valentine, who had been born in 1786. I elatedly called Nancy because the article actually said he had been born in Rockingham County. The Whitmers were German and Nancy had been researching her husband’s Bender/Painter line, who were also German and had lived in Rockingham County.

My questions mainly had to do with wondering how many German church records were available for that time period in that county. Nancy pulled out her notes and papers on her Bender family research and shared a copy of the one single page of baptismal records she had from the Friedens Church. Henry Bender/Painter’s baptism was recorded on it (although it is a typed transcription of the fragile original records.

Here is the page she shared with me:

Heinrich Bender (Painter) with yellow arrow
Born 1 September, Baptized 3 December 1786

I was particularly excited to learn that Friedens Church is still active today, located in Mt. Crawford, Virginia.

Have you noticed anything else about this single page of baptismal records that Nancy had? If not, take another, closer look.

Hint: Look at the last entry on the page!

Nancy’s one page of records from this church also included the baptism of Valentine Whitmer, son of Johannes and Catherine Whitmer, born 26 October and baptized on Christmas Day, 25 December 1786.

Now what are the odds of that??? By the way, this story made the cut for Hank Jones’ book, Psychic Roots.

I guess the moral of this story is to be sure to ask your friends if they have any good genealogical records that you, too, might need. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.