John Kline, a Civil War Martyr

John Kline was a man full of God's love who wanted to share it with everyone he met and traveled over 100,000 miles doing just that in Virginia. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1797 to German parents and grew up in the Dunkard way of life and beliefs. His family moved to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia when he was a young boy. In 1818 he married Anna Wampler and bought a farm near his boyhood home. He helped to establish the Linville Creek congregation by giving them land on the edge of his farm to build a church house. He became one of the leading ministers in the congregation and was later made an elder. John Kline was a good business man and did well in life, but his main concern was taking care of his fellow man's spiritual and physical well-being. The congregations of Virginia were just beginning to spread out into the wilderness areas. Many of these small groups of Dunkards were too spread apart to establish church houses and did not have ministers. John Kline, over a period of thirty years, made it his ministry to visit these small congregations and preach. He also became known as an excellent doctor who used herbs and other plants for medicine. He believed that it was important to heal the soul as well as the body. He also became known as a skilled surgeon and per-formed many operations during his travels. Many of the early churches did not keep very good records of what was happening in their congregations, but not John Kline, he kept a diary of his travels. We have learned from his diaries that his favorite horse was called Nell and together she and John Kline traveled over 30,000 miles. During these travels he often officiated at love feasts and held many council meetings, plus preached almost every day. The annual meeting was a time for John Kline to share in a different way. He served for many years on the Standing Committee and was moderator of the annual meeting four times. Once he even went to the White House to talk to President Fillmore.

During the Civil War he spent much time defending the rights and beliefs of the Brethren. He made repeated visits to Richmond until he was able to get an Exemption Bill passed in 1862. This bill allowed those Brethren who had been drafted into the war to pay a fine which would free them from the obligation to fight in the Civil War. As the war continued John Kline would travel back and forth between the North and South lines often being stopped by the soldiers who thought he was a spy. At times he would even be arrested by the federal officers and questioned. They had a hard time believing that he could be a friend to all people. One day on a trip to the blacksmith shop he was killed by a soldier. He lived each day as if it was his last and has become a real role model for all those who hear his remarkable life's story.