Ohio Biographies

Jacob Michael Kronmiller

The person of this sketch was born March 15, 1817, in the town of Nassig, Amt, Wertheim, Grosshersogtum Baden, Germany. His father's name was Jacob, who was a smith by trade, and with it he also managed the hotel business of his father. J. M. was at this time six or seven years old. His mother's maiden name was Schlesman. He was the youngest of three brothers. In his sixth year he began going to school, and did well in all studies except writing. His parents were Lutherans in faith, and in this faith reared up their children. He wrote in his day-book, "I remember the time when I found grace, about the eleventh year, but owing to the fact that I had no Bible instruction and edification in spiritual things, I became quite careless and lived about in the ordinary run of the world." Yet with this manner of living he believed himself to be living in the service of God. After he was out of school he became an apprentice in wagon-making, which trade he continued in until he entered the Gospel ministry.

In 1840, June 20, he, with his betrothed, Appolina Wiseman, emigrated from Germany to Rotterdam, and then across the Atlantic Ocean to Baltimore, Maryland, thence to Cincinatti (sic), Ohio. At this place our preachers preached. Like Paul's preaching to the Greeks, so the preaching of these Albright preachers seemed foolishness to him, and on that account he says, "I opposed them very hard until finally the power of the truth so thoroughly convinced me that I had no more rest, day and night, until I found peace and rest in the wounds of a crucified Savior." His penitential struggle was a hard one.

His wife, who was a Catholic, bitterly opposed him, and scolded him for such foolish ideas he now had. But finally she was moved to read up on the new birth, and read out of her own Catholic Bible the third chapter of John's Gospel, and was seized with conviction, and convinced of the error of her way, and sought pardon for her sins, and became soundly converted. He speaks of his experience thus, "The Lord gave me victory on the evening of November 1, 1843. Oh, what a joy I received, my pen cannot describe it." He was converted under the Labors of Revs. Aaron Jampert and Frederick Meyer.

Right from the conversion he felt a strong, inward desire for the salvation of his fellow men. He was soon thereafter elected as class leader, showing ability in leadership, and continued as such for eight years. In 1851 he took up the work of a colporteur and traveled for eighteen months for the "American Tract Union Society". On April 24, 1852, he received a license as preacher on probation at the Quarterly Conference of the Vandalia society: A. B. Schafer was presiding elder, and A. E. Dreisbach, pastor. But on account of "fear of men" he says he did not preach much. On June 2, 1853, he entered the active ministry in the Indiana Conference. The session was held in East Germantown, Wayne County, Indiana, and he was assigned to DeKalb Mission in northeastern Indiana and Northwestern Ohio.

His first year in the ministry resulted in only one conversion.  This greatly discouraged him, but the Lord strengthened and sustained him. His salary for this year was the meager sum of $76.68.

May 31, 1854, the Conference session was again held in East Germantown, and he was appointed to St. Mary's Circuit with H. Strickler as assistant. This field consisted of 18 to 20 appointments in Allen Huntington, Wabash, Wells, Adams Counties, Indiana, and east into Ohio. After the session he hurried home and moved his family from Bear Creek near Defiance, Ohio, to Fuhrman's settlement, 7 miles north west of Decatur, Indiana, arriving there June 16, well preserved.

Here he found a frame church and parsonage which at this time were few, and thence much appreciated. On this charge he says the Lord's work progressed slowly, the spirit of disunion was prevalent in some places, and being yet inexperienced he was afraid he could not manage affairs, but he took recourse to God for counsel, and not in vain. On his first round he was seized with chill-fever, so prevalent in those days, which made traveling very hard. He says, "That on his way home, in a forest where no one knew where he was, he could get no further; he dismounted his horse, stopped over night at Schnuerlein, and November 24 resumed his trip home, and met with another serious mishap between Willshire, Ohio, and Decatur, Indiana, where his horse slipped, dislocated a hind leg and had to be killed. The occurrence brought him into a severe temptation. The devil accused him that he was not called of God to preach the Gospel, or else this mishap would not have befallen him. But to his great consolation, Bishop John Seybert came just then into his charge, helped him in a meeting and through his sermon Kronmiller became so greatly encouraged that suddenly all temptation left him. But what was he now to do to fill his appointments without a horse, and no money to buy one? The Bishop advised him to start a list among his members for financial aid to buy another horse, which he did. But another disappointment met him when he traveled with his new horse from an appointment (Roudebush's) north of Fort Wayne, over very rough roads to L. Bustman's in Huntington County. He found the next morning, when he saddled his horse, that it was so stiff it could not walk. So he had to borrow a horse to make his rounds, and when he came back to Leininger's to preach a few days later, Bustman had his horse there for him. That night he put up his horse in Leininger's stable in which his own horses were. The next morning he found his horse badly kicked and bleeding profusely. Even the preacher's horse had a hard time, and was often mistreated by unfriendly brutes of its like. So he was obliged to walk 16 miles leading his horse, weakened by the loss of blood. He says "Oh! how the enemy tried to drive me from the field." All this occurred on one trip on his field.

March 5, he again was downhearted, having had frequent attacks of fever, was very poor and again this year received only $76.00 salary. A barrel of flower cost $10.00, but in spite of poverty he kept trusting in the Lord. On March 15, he desired and prayed for more holiness and a better consecration to God that he might better resist temptations and do more effectual work for God.

At the Conference session held at Ott's settlement, near Syracuse, Indiana in 1855, he was assigned to Fulton Circuit. At this session he was ordained deacon. He says regarding the ordination, "Oh, what an important hour this was for me. I shall never forget it." On Thursday following the Conference session he was already on the way to his new field which extended from five miles west of Plymouth to three miles south of Peru. (Sharpee's class) and from Barnheisels class, near Giliad, west to Rensselser, Jasper County, over nine counties. No record was kept of his experience for a while because it seemed to him his preaching was not as successful as that of other brethren, and he was willing to go through this world unnoticed.

At the session of 1856, held in Mt. Carmel, Ill., June 4, he was again returned to the Fulton Circuit. A water famine prevailed during this summer, crops were short, and of course, salary also. This year he had 19 appointments to five counties preached nearly every day, and met with a bodily rupture. The Conference sessions being changed to Fall, it made the year 16 months. On this field he was much hindered with fever among the people, but he won a goodly number of souls for Christ and the church.

At the session held at East Germantown, Ind., Sept. 2, 1857, he was ordained elder, and was assigned to Marshall Circuit in Illinois. This was a large field extending 75 miles westward to Vandalia, but was a good year, resulting in many conversions and accessions. No record is made from this time to 1873. From Marshall he was sent to Warrington Circuit in 1859, now Elberfeld. Then to Mt. Carmel in 1859, then back to Marshall in 1860, then to Montgomery Circuit, Ohio, his old home, in 1861. He says, "It went hard to go to my home." Here he stayed two years, then to Clay City Mission for two years, then to Olney, Ill. for two years, which proved to be his most successful years in the ministry; but he had also hard trials and conflicts to combat. In 1890 he was appointed to Carmi, which also was a very successful year, many being converted to Christ in Enterprise and Grayvill, then a part of Carmi charge.

He records that July 2, 1871, a prayer meeting was held three miles west of Carmi in a farm house, at which time 12 persons were gloriously converted. It was a happy time, and the building of a church in Carmi was a further result of this meeting. In the session of 1871, he was again stationed at Mt. Carmel. Some persons were converted. In 1872 and 1873 he served Huntinsburg Circuit. Here he had a few conversions, then in 1874-75, he again served Carmi with good success. In 1876 and 1877 he again served Warrington Circuit and built Tabor church. In 1878 he was assigned to Cincinnati, which charge he served 3 years, which were quite successful years with a net gain in membership of 55.

At the session held at West Salem in 1881 he was for a third time assigned to Mt. Carmel. February 14, 1882, his dear companion died. But he continued in the ministry, and at the session of 1882 he was again assigned to Cincinnati, This was a year of sore trials, but the Lord helped to bear the cross. In 1883 he returned. Success followed his efforts here each year. In 1884 Rockfort Mission was assigned to him. In April of this year he again entered matrimonial life with Mrs. Louise Spengeman, a widow, whose maiden name was Lohmeier. He found it hard to serve this mission.

In 1885, at the Conference Session held in Mt. Carmel, he located after serving the Gospel ministry 33 successive years. At this time, his bodily strength was considerably impaired. He was now 69 years old. He endured the hardships of a good soldier of Jesus Christ incident to a ministerial pioneer's life in the early history of the church. He was faithful to his trust, anxious for souls, fervent in spirit, abounding in personal work, zealous for God and the church. Thoroughly Evangelical, he fearlessly exposed sin and its effects.

He made Carmi his last stopping place on earth and here he spent the evening of his life. He died August 22, 1896. For eight years he gradually grew weaker and more helpless, and had to be cared for. But he never murmured, but patiently surrendered himself to God and his will. For seven years this man of God had to be fed as a child by his patient Christian Wife. (He had palsy. (W.R.B.) Victoriously he passed over into the promised land of rest. His body awaits the resurrection of the just in Carmi cemetery. G. Koch and I. H. Griesemer spoke at his funeral, and L. J. Ehrhardt, O. Markham, F. Danuner and J. A. Maier also took part, and other ministers served as pall bearers.

In the Civil War he took a Stand for the abolition of slavery, as did the church. He gave one son far the emancipation of the Negro slaves, who was killed in the army. (This son was John who was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg. WRB). He saw much sorrow in his own family life by reason of sickness and death. His wife and eight children preceded him in death. He is survived by his second wife, three sons and two daughters.


From INDIANA CONFERENCE VOL. I, Life Sketches of Deceased Ministers 1835-1915  Book pub. by Evangelical Assoc. 1915, Cleveland, Ohio, C. Hauser, Pub.