Vanished Flamborough: The German Evangelical Church, Waterdown (Part 2)

Originally Published in Heritage Happenings, October 2006
These articles are reprinted as they were originally published. No attempt has been made to correct or update the content. If the topic interests you, we encourage you to do further research and/or reach out to us for any updates or corrections which may have been done since the original publication date.

The Evangelical Church originated in the United States, when Jacob Albright, a member of the Lutheran faith, left his church in 1794 and became associated with the Wesleyan Methodists. Appointed a minister in this church, Rev. Albright preached to his predominately German congregation in “the language of the Fatherland,” which resulted in friction and he was forced to resign. In 1807, he was elected a bishop of a new denomination, the Evangelical Association – the doctrine of the sect being almost identical to that of the Methodist Church.

Rev. John Yenney appears to have been minister of the German Evangelical congregation in Waterdown for almost 40 years, and possibly their only one. Born in Switzerland*, he came to Waterdown in 1864 and remained in the village until his death in 1901. During his years of service, he was listed variously as an Evangelival Minister, German Minister, Minister of the Evangelical Association and a Lutheran Minister. Rev. Yenney and his wife, Mary Ann and three of their 12 children are buried in the Union Cemetery, Waterdown.

Sourced from FindAGrave, uploaded by Rick Yenney
Sourced from FindAGrave, uploaded by Islington

No photograph showing the complete church building is known to exist, although one showing the roof-line and spire towering above the houses on John Street was donated to the Flamborough Archives by Mrs. Margaret Newell of Carlisle, after a request for any information about its existence was placed in the ‘Flamborough Review’. Mr. Arlie Sharp of Waterdown was able to describe the building during an interview with Prof. Don Woods, which resulted in a sketch of its appearance being made, and another few long-time residents came forward, recalling the church through stories told by their parents, but none could actually remember seeing the building.

Waterdown, c.1911.
The steeple of the church can just be seen in the background. The houses in the foreground are on John Street East, #33, #39, and #45.

In 1983, the final piece of evidence, which confirmed the existence of the little church occurred, when John Lillycrop of Kilbride presented the semi-circular date stone, inscribed Kirche der Ev. Geminschaft 1870, to the Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society for safe keeping. Interviewed by a reporter from the ‘Flamborough Review’, Mr. Lillycrop recalled that the simple wooden church was no longer in use by 1910 or 1911, when his father was asked to dismantle the building. He later received permission to use the lumber to build the house at 25 John Street East, into which the Lillycrop family moved in 1916.

Mr. Lillycropp with the Evangelical Church date stone. The stone is now housed in the Flamborough Archives.

The date stone from the church, which had been placed above the front doorway, was saved by the family and for years served as the bottom step at their back door. Many years later, after the family had sold the house and moved away, John Lillycrop remembered that the stone had been pushed under the steps before the family left. He returned and removed the stone, taking it to his own house in Kilbride and then donating it to the Heritage Society with the request that they preserve this small piece of Waterdown’s lost heritage.

Today the stone is [housed in the Flamborough Archives at the Waterdown branch of the Hamilton Public Library], 163 Dundas Street East, Waterdown and in the care of the Society’s Flamborough Archives.

* Editor’s Note:
Some more information as well as the photo of Rev. John Yenney has been shared on his memorial page on FindAGrave:
John D. was baptised Johann Janni of Uetendorf at Theirachern in Bern canton. His father was Johan Janni (John Yenney) and his mother was Susanna Rindisbacher. John D. immigrated to New York state with his parents & siblings in Dec 1835 ending up in Bleecker, Fulton county New York.
John D. became the Bleecker town clerk 1848-49 then took up the calling to the Evangelical Association ministry after 1850. He had a roving ministry across northern New York state from 1852 until 1859 when he moved with his wife and children to Ontario Canada before establishing an EA church in Waterdown.

© The Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society 2006, 2024.


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