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OBITUARIES OF REV. PAUL FREDERICK ZELLER
AND CHRISTINA BARBARA KOENER ZELLER

Paul and Christina Zeller's grave stoneChristina Barbara Koener Zeller

"Mother Christina B. Zeller, nee Kerner [sic], was born in Wurternberg [sic], Ger. Nov. 28, 1819, and died at her home in Mr. Cory, Ohio, Nov. 4th, 1896, aged 77 years lacking 24 days. She was married to Frederick Zeller in Germany, March 18, 1842 and the same year emigrated to this country and soon after settled in Hancock county. She was the mother of nine children. A son and daughter preceded her to the spirit world. Two sons and five daughters with the father, and minister of the gospel, in the Evangelical Association, but now of the Mennonite church, are left to mourn their loss. Prof. John Zeller, Sept. of the Findlay union schools, is her son.

Mother Zeller was a woman of fine physical form. She also had a superior mind in many respects. She had a fine discriminating mind, an excellent memory even in her old age, and excellent executive abilities. Her moral qualities were very good indeed. She was especially noted for kindness and large heartedness . She was a member of the Evangelical Association 51 years. In her young years she was very active in church work, especially as a minister's wife did she do excellent work.

She was sick six months and at times suffered much, but she never lost confidence in God, but longed to depart and be at home with her dear Saviour. The reading of the Holy Writ and song was her delight. She especially delighted in Prayer. Prayer was a source of comfort and rest in her hour of extreme suffering. She was visibly relieved for a time by the voice of prayer and song.

A large congregation assembled to show their love on the day of her burial. The service was conducted by S. Cocklin in English and by Rev. Moser, of the Mennonite Church, in German assisted by Rev. Kinney of the M.P. church. The Lord grant all a happy reunion in heaven."

Source: Bluffton News, Nov. 14, 1896, Author: S. Cocklin


Union Township’s Octogenarian
Pioneer, Passes Away

"Paul Frederick Zeller was born in Weiden, a village in Württemberg, Germany July 3, 1820. His boyhood days, until he reached the age of fourteen, were spent in attending the public schools and helping to do farm work. In 1841 he was joined in holy wedlock to Christina Barbara Kerner, and in February 1842, they took their wedding tour in a sailing vessel across the stormy Atlantic and after nearly three months, landed in New York City. From there they traveled via canal route in Stark County, Ohio to visit a brother, who had preceded them, and from this place in the same year, they located in Gilboa, Putnam county. Here Mr. Zeller found work, but the scarcity of money was so great that people could not pay for work done. He therefore, moved to the German Settlement the next year, in 1843, and located on John Diller’s farm in Riley township in the same county.

In 1845 he and his wife walked fifteen miles to a camp meeting in the Powell Settlement in Hancock county and were there gloriously converted to God and joined the Evangelical church, a few years after which he received license as an exhorter in the church.

Mr. Zeller, having worked as a day laborer in the German Settlement, wherever he found work to do, and by saving some of his meager earnings, purchased an 80 acre woodland in Union township, Hancock county, to which place he moved with his family in 1848. This place is only six or seven miles east from the German Settlement and Mr. Zeller has lived in close fellowship with these Swiss people all his life. Here he erected a log cabin and began life in the woods as on of the pioneers of Hancock county.

In 1857, having a profound and abiding conviction that he was called of God to preach the gospel to his German brethern, he was licensed as a regular minister and in 1858 he entered the conference of his church and the same year was sent to Michigan as a missionary to the then thinly settlements of the Germans. This missionary field was 180 miles from home, was traveled on horseback through dense forests and over untraversed roads, his field extending over 150 miles. During this, the first year of his ministry, he was at home but three times, and received for his services $73.

In 1860, after due examination, he was ordained as deacon and two years later as an elder in the conference. He was in the active ministry from this time, traveling German circuits in Ohio and Michigan until 1879 when he returned to his former home on the farm.
The German services in the Evangelical church were rapidly disappearing and the new generation, learning the English language, preferred preaching in English. Being only 59 years old, he felt that his labors as a minister were not yet completed and for the next ten years he spent part of his time as a local minister preaching for his former parishoners and for the German people when ever an opportunity presented itself. During this interval he preached frequently for the Mennonites, a German people from Switzerland, who had made large settlements in Putnam and Allen counties as early as 1836 - the same people with whom Rev. Zeller lived for some years in his early manhood.

Feeling that he could serve these people, who maintained their German language and their German worship, more effectively by becoming a member of their church, he was baptized into membership of their church at Berne, Indiana, May 26, 1889 and united with the Swiss Mennonite church in Putnam county and was received into their ministry as an elder to which office he had been formerly ordained in the Evangelical church. During these 13 years he has served these people as an elder in conjunction with Elder Moser. These two men for some time served these churches and preached in the largest country congregations in this section of Ohio and probably in the state. They are a very religious and church going people, their audiences generally numbering a thousand people.

Elder Zeller, though not a Swiss by birth, by his early, close and long association with them, and through the agency of his ministry among them, has rendered no small service in their social and religious progress and welfare. The rising generation owes a lasting debt of gratitude to these old heroes of the Gospel of glad tidings and great joy.

Mr. Zeller died at his home in Mt. Cory early Monday morning, September 7, 1903, aged 83 years, 2 months and 4 days. Funeral services were conducted at the Evangelical church at Mt. Cory on the afternoon of the following day. A large concourse of people being present among whom he was well known and highly respected. His remains were laid to rest in the Clymer cemetery.

Mr. Zeller’s wife died about seven years ago and they are survived by five daughters and two sons, Mrs. Sarah Ruggly, of Bluffton, Mrs. Callie Hughes [Caroline Hews], of Mt. Cory, Mrs. Susan Kemerer, of Findlay, Mrs. W. D. Kerr, of Dayton and Miss Hannah Zeller, who remained at home and cared for her parents in their declining years. The sons are John W. Zeller, superintendent of the Findlay schools, and Jacob Zeller, of Mt. Cory."

Source: Bluffton [OH] News, 9/17/1903



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