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Eberly News Blog

8 Apr

On Thursday, April 18, at 7 p.m. in 125 Brooks Hall, Jeff Bach, Ph.D., will discuss the earliest known white settlers in Preston County in his lecture, “The Hermits of the High-Lying, Wide-Stretching Alleghenies: Pennsylvania Dunkers in Preston County, West Virginia in the 1750s.”

The lecture provides background on the religious views and conflicts that propelled three brothers, Samuel, Israel and Gabriel Eckerlin, to settle along the Cheat River. They had been expelled from a Protestant monastic community of people who were pacifists and baptized by immersion.

Bach discusses details of the unique religious views of the Eckerlin brothers and their original community in Ephrata, Pa., which is now a museum. Illustrations will accompany the lecture. Evidence from recently discovered manuscript letters and treatises expands the story about the Eckerlins, their attempts to form a monastic community and the demise of their outpost in the Alleghenies in 1757.

This event is free and open to the public.

Bach, a native of Middletown, Ohio, is the director of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies and teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pa., in Lancaster County. He began at the Young Center in 2007 after teaching at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., for 13 years.

He earned his doctorate in religion from Duke University in 1997, concentrating on the history of Christianity. He has studied and written topics related to Radical Pietist groups in Europe and America, including the Ephrata Cloister in Pennsylvania.

Bach is the author of “Voices of the Turtledoves: The Sacred World of Ephrata” (Penn State Press, 2003) and collaborator with Michael Birkel, professor of religion at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., for “Genius of the Transcendent: Mystical Writings of Jakob Boehme” (Shambhala, 2010). He recently published “The Unchristian Negro Slave Trade: Brethren and Slavery,” in Brethren Life and Thought (Fall 2011).

For more information, contact Jane Donovan at 304-293-7739 or

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