Record of
The 1898 Plank Reunion
Wooster, Ohio

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[The following is transcribed from a photocopied typewritten document in my family's possession. Any missing bits or other issues are as they appear in the source--SD]


Sept. 28, 1898


Roster of the reunion and record of their origin.

How the founder of the family and his bride were brought to America in spite of themselves--Work they have wrought--the first Fanning Mill.

At the first reunion of the Plank Family, held at Wooster, Wednesday, at Highland Park to the report of the proceedings in yesterday's REPUBLICAN are added the following, to make the account complete for this connection so numerous hereabout and citizens of such worth:

Welcome Address

Swiftly the hours have passed away, and the time for the Plank Family Reunion is at hand. It gives us great pleasure to meet you and welcome you here to. Here, where our forefathers started in life, here amidst the scenes where the merry children played beneath the shade of the tall trees which today shelter us, or waded through the snow banks, and sped swiftly down those old hills on many, yes many, a cold winter morning.

Where are those boys and girls today? Scattered far and wide. While some have been called to their long, last home, we are here today, not to speak of those who were here then, but to bid those welcome who are today assembled in this grand old place. Welcome, dear friends, to our meeting. Happy are our eyes that behold your venerable faces, feeling that throughout this reunion there is not a bosom which does not beat with joy and gratitude.

Now, dear friends of this meeting, I know you will not expect me and I know it would not be your pleasure for me to detain you very long, because there is business of more importance than this. We are very glad to be with you today and it is a great gratification to me to have the privilege of welcoming you here. We have very high regard for the Plank family of this country, especially for those of Wayne County, where our forefathers lived. And so long as we may have any share in these reunions (for we hope to have more) you will always be cordially welcomed. We shall always be glad to see you. We trust and believe that this meeting may be one of interest and profit to you. I thank you for your attention and I have no doubt but that your deliberations here will be of benefit and pleasure to you as individuals and members of one grand family. Wishing you a pleasant time, we again say welcome, welcome to all.



Melchior Plank and his wife were the first family of Planks that came to America, A. D. l744. The Planks in the first place were natives of Germany being persecuted for their religious belief, they moved to Holland (Rotterdam), where Melchior Plank married. His wife's maiden name is unknown.

It may be of interest to most of us to know how they happened to come to America . They were kidnapped, as it were, soon after their marriage. He and his young wife accompanied some friends aboard a ship, who were moving to America. As the ship was not to leave until the next day (so the captain said), the captain prevailed on them to remain with their friends until morning, as they would probably not see each other again, and it would not cost anything to remain aboard the ship during the night. Some time during the night the ship sailed, and when they awoke in the morning, they were out of sight of land. Imagine the consternation of this young couple, stolen away from home, perhaps never to return, and not a cent of money, only the clothing they wore. We presume they had a good share of the grit that Planks usually possess, and decided to make the best of the situation. Right here, in behalf of the Plank family, I wish to thank the honorable sea captain for bringing your great ancestors to America, although he, being dead and gone many years, may not know it.

An old adage, says: "It is an ill wind that blows no one good." Upon arriving in America they were sold to a Mr. Morgan, of Berks County, Pennsylvania, to pay their passage and, by the way, Mr. Morgan proved to be a severe task master and afterward they were bought by sympathetic friends and kept until the debt was paid. By this act of kindness shown by strangers we must conclude that Melchior Plank and wife were upright and industrious. To Melchior Plank and wife were born six children, four sons and two daughters, namely Jacob, Christian, John, Barbara, Margaret, and Peter. Peter was a minister in the Amish church of Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. Jacob, Christian, and John married sisters name Yoder and the Marriage of the other is unknown to us.

Jacob Plank, being our grandfather, married Mary Yoder, who was born in 1771, and died at the age of 79 years. Jacob was born in Berks county. A. D. 1768, and died at the age of 83 years. Christian Plank born 1881: John, 1774 : Barbara ,1776, Margaret, 1779; Peter, 1783.

In course of time some of the Planks moved to Lancaster County, Pa., where Jacob was married, after which, with his wife and three small children, they moved to Mifflin County, Pa., where they raised a family of 12 children. John, Christian, Jacob, Barbara, David, Mary, Jeptha, Abraham, Sarah (being twin sister of Abraham), Salome and Rebecca. In the spring of 1821 he, with his family, three of the eldest sons being married, Viz., John, Christian, and Jacob, with their families moved to Wayne County, Ohio. They settled here in the little Applecreek valley and vicinity: here they bought lands and improved the same, built mills, shops, etc.
Jeptha Plank, born 1803, was married twice. First to Barbara Zook, three children were born to the first union. He married a second time to Fanny Kurtz. Six children were born to the second union. Of the first union two are living, and of the second union two are living and present today. Samuel Plank, the oldest son, is years old. Jeptha was a farmer and mechanic and an expert. He died in Wayne county at the age of 46 years.

Fanny Plank, born 1805, married to Peter Shrock. To them were born eight children, six of whom are living. In an early day, they, with their family, moved to Elkhart County, Indiana. Fanny Shrock is the only member of this family, living today. She Is in apparently good health at her home in Middleburg, Ind., at the age of 94 years.

Abraham Plank, born in 1807, was married twice. First to Nancy King. To them were born 14 children, eight of whom are living and present today. He was married a second time to Mrs____ and had no children. Abraham was a miller, throughout his business life. He died in Wayne County, Ohio, at the age of 76 years.

Sarah Plank, born in 1809, twin sister of Abraham, died an invalid at the age of 31 years.

Salome, born in 1809, married Abraham Erb, They raised a large family, number unknown. Some time in the fifties they moved to Kosciusko County, Ind. In the sixties, to Marion County, Iowa, where she died at about the age of 60 years.

Rebecca Plank, born 1811, married John Kurtz. Three children were born, and died in infancy. Rebecca lived and died in Wayne County, Ohio until about 46 years old.

About the year 1846, the Planks began to scatter for various ports or the West. Jeptha leading the van, and in company with two brothers-in-law moved to Lee county, Iowa, in what is now known in the West as a prairie schooner. That is the wagons in which they moved. After that other members followed the trail led by Jeptha, but to other parts of the West. Some to Indiana, others to Iowa and again others to Illinois. Later some to Missouri and Kansas and now at the present time we find the Planks and their descendants scattered from New York on the east to San Francisco on the West: from the Great Lakes on the north to the Gulf of Mexico on the south. One Is now represented in the Klondike gold regions. We find them representing every honorable occupation and profession. In schools, seminaries, ministry and halls of Congress. In music they stand well towards the head of the class. In the workshop, the mill, the counting rooms, mercantile business of the various kinds, on the farm and when nothing else, honest day laborers, but a professional bum we have been unable to find.

We find, through the integrity of Jacob Plank and sons, they were furnished money by a merchant in Cleveland, Ohio, to buy wheat, grind into flour and freight it to Cleveland with four to six-horse teams, hauling a load 10 to 12 barrels of flour. In the meantime this little valley was quite a manufacturing place, consisting of grist mills, blacksmith shops, etc., making all kinds of furniture, pumps, fanning mills, smith bellows, coffins, etc. The first fanning mill was invented and manufactured by Planks here in this valley and took the place of the old sheet for winnowing wheat.

John Plank, born 1792, married Elizabeth Shrock. They raised a family of 10 children, three sons and seven daughters. Two sons and two daughters are living today, the oldest son being Jeptha Plank, of Iowa, in his 80th year, hale and hearty. John Plank was a cabinet maker and a blacksmith. Here I wish to say that Uncle John was an expert at the forge and also at the bench and that was not all. He knew it, too. John was a model man. He was very regular in all of his habits, even to a shave on a Saturday afternoon except one time, by mistake, he shaved on Friday, thinking it was Saturday. He spent an hour or two each day in reading; had a place for everything and everything in its place, which appears to be trait in the Plank family. However there are exceptions to all rules. He and his wife moved to Iowa in 1859, accompanied by two of his daughters, one being married and having a family, where he spent the remainder of his days with his son Jeptha, who died in Davis County, Iowa. Here he died at the age of about 97 years. He was not known to be sick more than once in his life.

Christian Plank, born 1795, married Barbara Zook. To them was born seven children, four sons and three daughters. One son and one daughter are living. Jacob was a carpenter and cabinet maker by trade. He died here in Wayne county at the age of 61 years.

Barbara Plank, born 1797, married to Peter Miller. They raised a family of six children, three of whom are living and are present here today. Barbara died in Wayne county, Ohio 1874.

David Plank, born 1799 married Nancy Kurtz. Nine children were born. Five are living, three of whom are present today. A . K. Plank, his oldest son, is a about 75 years old, and is present today. David was a a farmer in Wayne county, Ohio and died at the age of 59 years.

Mary Plank, born 1801, married to Jonathan Zook. There were born unto them six children, all of whom are living. Mary died in Wayne County, Ohio at the age of __ years.

A Few Other High Lights of the Reunion
There were people represented from five States . Some came as far as 900 Miles. Those around Wooster came by carriage.
They held two program sessions during the day. The forenoon session was called to order by Sam Hartzler of Weilersville . Prayer was by David Garver. During the afternoon program, D. H. Plank, Garden City, Mo. presented a petition for signatures to be presented to President McKinley from the Plank family. It asked that the sale of liquor to soldiers be stopped on all government land and camps.

One of the pleasing features of the meeting was the singing that interspersed the deliberations. This was led by L. H. Plank of Wooster.
The Bible brought to this Country by Melchior Plank and his wife, who were the first of the families to cross the ocean and settled in Berks County, Pa., was on exhibition. It was a large German Family Bible and was one of the few of that date with marginal references.


September 21, 1898

To give us an idea of the number of Planks and descendants now living within the United States. Uncle John Plank had 77 grand children. His eldest daughter's descendants numbered in the seventies.

We hope and trust to have many reunions in the future and that vie may all meet in that great reunion where there is no parting; when messages are sent of one coming, there will be no waiting, but an abundant entrance into the Glory beyond.

D. H. Plank
Garden City, Mo.

[There follows a list of the persons in attendance at the reunion. --SD]

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