Like the name “Gollnick” and “Leming,” the name “Eisenbrey” can be spelled many different ways. Before I even knew to be looking for Eisenbrey, Igenbieg was the first name I found and then supposed that the transcriber misspelled the name and it should have been Isenberg. I had dead-ends in looking for either of those names. After finding the third spelling as Eisenbry, I was somewhat baffled until I found the name the next two times spelled Eisenbrey. Other spellings I found were Eisenbirg, Eisenbray, Eisenberry, Eisenberrgy, Eisenbury and Eysenbrey!
I started searching the Eisenbreys and found lots of family information. Elizabeth Eisenbrey was listed with her family on the 1850 Census in Solebury, Bucks, Pennsylvania. She married Charles Harvey on July 2, 1863, in Oakland County, Michigan. Her parents were John Stillwagon Eisenbrey and Sarah Lemke.
JOHN STILLWAGON EISENBREY
John Stillwagon Eisenbrey was born on December 7, 1807, to Henry and Sophia Eysenbrey in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and christened in St. John’s Lutheran Church on January 3, 1808 (FHL Film #1312442). His parents had 12 children.
John’s father, Henry Eisenbrey, was born in Pennsylvania, and his father, Johann Erhard Eisenbrey was born in Guendelbach, Germany, and emigrated to America. Johann’s will dated Sept. 14, 1793, and proven on Nov 17, 1793, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, shows that John was an Innkeeper and his wife was Catharine. His sons were Peter, Henry, John, George, Jacob, and Philip.
The following information about John S. Eisenbrey was found in the Pittsgrove (New Jersey) Baptist Church Records (FHL Film # 441469 Item 2, pages 23-36). It lists John S. Eisenbrey as their fourth pastor and says:
“He commenced his pastorate in October, 1837, and it continued until March 1842. He was born in Philadelphia, November 7th, 1807, was sprinkled in infancy and brought up strictly in the German Reformed or Lutheran faith. When nineteen years of age, was converted and embraced Christ as his Redeemer. Rev. Elisha Cushman baptized him on November 12th, 1826, and received him into the New Market Street Baptist Church. Soon afterward, he removed his membership to the Lambertville Church, New Jersey. Here he exercised his gifts with a view to the ministry, and was licensed to preach in October, 1836.
“In 1837 he came to Pittsgove, with a letter of introduction from Brother Levi G. Beck. He was heartily welcomed by the little church, consisting of only four males and twenty females. He preached for them a few times, and left to attend the association at Cohansey. In the course of a week, and after his return to his home in Philadelphia, Deacon John Coombs waited on him, with the earnest call of the church to become their pastor at an annual salary of one hundred dollars. The call, after consideration, having been accepted, on October 5th, 1837, two teams conveyed himself, his family and effects to Pittsgrove. At the call of the church, Brethren H. Smalley, William Bacon, William Sheppard and Samuel Huggins assembled in council and ordained Brother Eisenbrey on November 7th, 1837.
“He preached statedly twice on the Sabbath in the meeting house, morning and evening, whilst on Sabbath afternoons he preached alternately at Deerfield, Pennytown, Washington School House near Allowaystown, and at the parsonage. And sometimes he went out in the pine woods, to a distance of twenty miles, to preach at the solicitation of Brethren John and Thomas Dixon, residing there. During his ministry twenty four persons were added by baptism to the church, and others united with neighboring churches. He was a faithful, energetic pastor, and a zealous advocate of temperance. Through the efforts of his pious companion, female prayer meetings were established and sustained throughout his pastorate. Conjointly with his pastoral labors, he farmed the parsonage, taught the district school, and a class in music. He is now in the enjoyment of good health, living at Holly, Michigan where, as opportunity affords, he occasionally preaches.”
Another article was found concerning his ministry – this one in Plumstead, New Jersey:
“During the summer of 1849, the Plumstead believers met at the old River Hill schoolhouse, with Rev. John S. Eisenbrey preaching for them. The distance from Point Pleasant to Hilltown made it very inconvenient to enjoy church privileges, and soon a desire came to have a church nearer home. Sometime during the summer of 1849, they decided to form a congregation of their own, and on July 21, 1849, they requested that the Hilltown church grant them permission to do so.
“Accordingly, a council consisting of Rev. Joseph Matthias of Hilltown, Rev. Joseph Wright of Solebury, and Rev. Herman Lincoln of New Britain, met with the brethren at the River Hill schoolhouse on Saturday, September 1, 1849, to organize a church body. Rev. John. S. Eisenbrey was the minister. The name of this newly formed congregation became the ‘Plumstead Baptist Church.’ On the following Sunday, September 2, 1849, the church celebrated its first communion and received the first new members by letter of transfer.
“At the beginning of 1850, the little band of church members numbered 35 persons, were fairly well organized and in good working order. The meetings were held part of the time in the River Hill schoolhouse and part of the time at the school house at Smith’s Corner. During the winter of 1849-1850, a revival meeting was held and 2 persons were baptized, being the first to come into the congregation in this manner. Rev. Eisenbrey was pastor until September 1, 1850, when he resigned.”
On the 1850 Census in Solebury, Bucks, Pennsylvania, Stilwagon Eisenbry and Sarah are listed as parents with children Martin, Mary, Elizabeth, Catherine, Edwin and Samuel. Stilwagon is listed as a preacher. (Sarah’s maiden name was Lemke, found on a marriage record of one of her children.)
In addition to the 1850 Census, John Eisenbrey was found in the 1820 (in Philadelphia), 1830 (in Philadelphia), 1840 (in Pitts Grove, Salem, New Jersey), 1860 (in Colerain, Lancaster, Pennsylvania), 1870 (in Rose, Oakland, Michigan), and 1880 (in Rose, Oakland, Michigan) censuses. On the 1860 Census another son, William, age 10, is listed. Sarah died on September 7, 1858, in Colerain, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
John moved west and settled in Holly, Oakland, Michigan. He remarried to Sylvania Madden on May 14, 1863, in Springfield, Oakland, Michigan. She was 29 years younger than he. He was 62 and she was 33. They had two daughters: Sarah and Clara. Although she was so much younger than her husband, Sylvania died before he did. She was ill and passed away on September 11, 1886, and he died about 8 months later on May 14, 1887 at age 79½. The Milford Times, Saturday, May 28, 1887 records: “At length Rev. Eisenbrey has passed away after suffering untold agonies for some months. Less than one year ago he buried his wife and, consequently, his two young lady daughters have become orphaned, but not friendless. They have the sympathies of all in their bereavement. The old gentleman was an octogenarian, a man of sterling integrity, an earnest Christian worker, and he will be missed as since his sojourn among us he has made many friends.” They are buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery, near Holly, Michigan.