The 1900 Plank Reunion
by David H. Plank, great grand son of Dr. David Heber Plank of
Friday August 31, 1900
“Great Family Reunion”
Third Annual Gathering of Plank Family
The third annual reunion of the Plank family was held at the home of
Isaac Schrock, about three miles south of Middlebury on Wednesday, Aug
29, 1900. The meeting was called to order by president Rev. W. H.
Schrock of Spencerville, Ind. At 10 o’clock. “All hail the power of
Jesus’ name” was sung and Rev. Kuhn led in prayer.
The secretary being absent, C. P. Yoder was appointed pro tem. The
president delivered the welcome address which was responded to by M. A.
Blough of Wooster, Ohio. Minutes of last meeting were read and
approved. David H. Plank of Garden City, Mo. then read the following
paper which is a continuation of the historical sketches furnished by
him at the two former reunions.
A Biographical Sketch of the Early Settlers of the Plank Family
To all akin greeting, in the name of Him, whom we should all reverence
and acknowledge as the creator of all good.
I will first go back to the 1899 gathering at Quimby Park, Wooster,
Ohio. The papers presented there by the Planks of Morgantown, Penn. do
not correspond with out former report of 1898. They seem to think the
kidnapping a mistake, but I can not believe the account being correct
from the simple fact that all the old members descendent of Melchor
Plank of Springfield, Mo. He is of the opinion that it was Melchor’s
father that was kidnapped, but let it be as it may, we certainly must
believe the history correct from the fact of so many witnesses and
their testimony corresponding as it does. I received a letter from J.
U. Plank of foresaid place, the grand-son of Isaac Plank of Indiana. He
stated in his letter that he often heard his grandfather Isaac, tell of
our ancestors coming to America.
The first account we have of Plank’s coming to America, (according to
Rupp’s history of emigrants) was about 1710, or near that time, was a
De la Plank from France. Then we have nothing more until 1747 or ‘49
and from this date till 1754, we find the names of some eight or ten
Blanks and but one Frederick Plank. We find the year 1745 almost a
blank in regard to emigrants to America, about six all told. We must
conclude that this was the year that our ancestors came to America. Our
calculations in first report, 1898, was 1744. We will designate our
great ancestors as branches, having had Jacob and John in previous
In 1899 we gave an account of the Jacob Plank branch of the Plank
family, that had settled in Holmes County, Ohio. In this report I will
give you the names of the Christian Plank branch of the Planks.
There were eight children in this family, names, and date of birth, and
to whom married, as give to me by the Rev. David Plank, of
Bellefontaine, Ohio. I am sure he is mistaken about the maiden name of
John Plank’s wife. It was Lantz instead of Yoder as was given in his
report, I was personally acquainted with the family.
John, born Aug. 3rd, 1793, married a Lantz. Martha, born Sept 25th,
1794 married Samuel Lantz. Christian born Nov 21st, 1795 married
Rebecca Lapp. Barbara, born Jan. 1st, 1797 not married. Isaac, born
Sept. 23rd, 1799 married Barbara Yoder. David, born Nov. 11th, 1803
married Phoebe Sommers. Samuel, born July 20th , 1808 married Julia
Hartzler and one named Joseph, that died young. The Rev. Davis was a
son of Samuel or Logan County, Ohio. John Plank moved to McLean County,
Illinois, in the latter years of the 40’s, perhaps ‘48 or ‘49.
Christian lived in Penn. for a number of years. After marriage, left
home on business, so stated but failed to return and think he was never
heard of afterwards leaving wife and children, and one being born after
his departure. John, being the oldest, who lived and died in Michigan.
Michael, in later years moved to Cass County, Mo. and died there. The
largest part of his family is still living there, the daughter living
in Michigan was still living at last accounts. Christian moved to
southern Michigan in his later years and died there. Isaac Plank
remained in Mifflin County, Pa. and died there at a ripe old age.
Martha Plank Lantz lived to a ripe age of 96 years and is said to have
had a remarkable memory and often talked about her grandfather and
grandmother being kidnapped. This as given by David Plank. Samuel Plank
moved to Logan County, Ohio having died there. His age was not given.
I will now turn to Peter Plank, the youngest of the great uncles. I
stated in our first paper of meeting one of his grandsons in Champaigne
County, Ill., which I did, and a brother of Dr. D. Heber Plank of
Morgantown, Pa. The Peter Plank refer to, then a bishop in the Amish
church, and grandfather to the Dr. D. Heber was not our great uncle.
Will give you what Jeptha Plank of Danes County, Iowa gave me in letter
a short time ago. Will quote his letter: “The Uncle Peter you refer to,
was not an Amish preacher, but belonged to the Drunkard denomination. I
remember of being at his house. Then I remember another set of Planks,
no relation I know of. This clears up the Peter Plank question in my
mind and that the Peter Plank referred to in previous articles, is of a
different branch of Planks. Not that we want to discard the
Pennsylvania Planks of Morgantown, but that the report given by our
ancestors is correct. I have failed to find any trace of the
descendants of Peter Plank thus far.
Of the two daughters of Malcom Plank, I as yet, know nothing of
certainty of the descendants. J. W. Plank of Springfield, Mo. informs
me that the Rev. J. K. Yoder of Wayne County, Oh. claims second
cousinship to the older members of the Planks now living, that being
the case, we can get trace of another branch of the Melchor Plank
descendents. I have a short historical sketch of John Plank of Sedalia,
Mo., as given to me by himself a few weeks ago. John Plank of Sedalia,
Mo. will be 73 years old in September next, hale and hearty. His
father, Adam Plank, lived to the age of 72. His grandfather, Adam,
moved to Perry County, Ohio in the fall of 1810. In the spring of the
same year he, in company with his little son, Adam, then thirteen years
of age, started for the then, far west, on horse back, in search for a
man named Hendricks that had moved to Ohio previous to this time, they
traveled to a settlement in Perry County and failing to find any trace
of the Hendricks, concluded to turn back, but the young Adam cried and
insisted on continuing the search for the Hendricks family and that
afternoon succeeded in finding them. I think the little Adam proved to
be the greater Adam of the two. The boy Adam and the son of the
Hendricks family were great chums, as the phrase goes in our day. The
father selected 160 acres of land in Perry County, and returned home,
he living in Maryland at that time, and the boy remained with the
Hendricks family. In the fall of the same year, accompanied by his
family, moved to his western home with his two brothers, Michael and
Andrew. The two brothers, not being satisfied went south into Mason
County, Ky., and were living there at the commencement of the Civil
War, their sympathy being with the south. The family of young Adam
Plank consisted of nine children, four sons and five daughters. John
lives in Sedalia, Mo. Daniel and Eliza in Burlington, Iowa. Andrew in
Columbus, Ohio and the daughters in Glen Ford, Ohio. In this family we
find the same mechanical and mil-right ingenuity that was a trait in
the Jacob Plank family.
Well, we have more Planks to account for. There is a large family of
Tennessee Planks, that settled in Crawford County, Mo. Namely Benedict
Plank, born in 1803, and died in Missouri in 1860. Was married to a
Miss Gallahan, a native of Tennessee. To the union were born three sons
and one daughter. His second marriage was to a Miss Gruble. This family
consisted of eight sons and one daughter and are all living in southern
Missouri, except Hiram, who is living in San Jose, Cal. To whom I am
indebt for this sketch. His family consists of four sons and six
daughters. He has failed to give the name of his grandfather. I see I
must cut this sketch short, but will state that the author of same,
Hiram Plank, is and has been a minister of the gospel for 40 years, and
is the author of several books, titled of last published in 1899 “The
New Jerusalem, or New Heaven and Earth.” I received a very nice letter
from him some time ago, stating that he was looking forward to the
great reunion where there would be no parting. I presume I have
detained you long enough and will close.
This was followed by a song. Miller of South West, In. made appropriate
remarks of family reunions and their benefit. This was followed by D.
J. Troyer opinion on the same line. A collection of $8.69 was taken
before noon to defray expenses.
The noon hours were improved in a social way by the friends greeting
each other and getting better acquainted as is always the case on such
happy occasions. While at the tables a count was made and about 350
were found to be present.
At 2 P.M. the meeting was again called to order by the president and
after singing, C. J. Plank Lima, Ind. Discussed the pioneer life of the
Planks in the following paper.
Life and Progress of Plank Pioneers
Melchor Plank and wife were born in Switzerland. Emigrated to America
about the year 1745. Were kidnapped and brought to New York and sold,
to pay freight charges, to a man near New York; afterwards taken to
Lancaster County, Pa, where they worked and paid up the balance of fare
charged against them. They then began their career of life. To them
were born in America four sons and two daughters, namely: John, Jacob,
Peter and Christian, Barbara and Margarit, all born in Lancaster
County, Pa. Melchor Plank died in about the year 1817. His widow died
several years later. His children were married in Penn.
As we are not able to give anything in the way of the life and progress
of our great grandfather, we will begin with his son Jacob, second
generation. His family consisted of six boys and six girls, namely:
John, Christian, Jacob, Jeptha, David and Abraham, Fannie, Magdalena,
Barbara, Rebecca and Saloma. One was invalid and died young, the
balance of the family all grew up to manhood and womanhood and all
raised large families with the exception of Rebecca’s family who all
died as infants.
Jacob Plank during his life in Pa, I think ran a cabinet shop, don’t
know that he farmed any. The old records in my possession show he
transacted considerable business in settling up estates, etc. In about
1820 he moved to Wayne County, Oh. with the younger members of his
family. Some were already married and followed their parents and
settled in Wayne County, Oh. John and Christian began their own life in
We find in old records that John and Christian had carried on business
in Pa. John was a carpenter and Christian a farm laborer until he moved
west. His landlord, after the expiration of his lease, made him a
present of a nice young horse for his faithfulness as a renter. By this
we see that he has already established a character. This can be said of
all pioneer Planks. In early life they commenced to build characters in
such a way that people had confidence in them; their words were just as
good as gold; their credit was good anywhere. They soon became popular
and were classed among the best citizens.
In starting out in life, we see by the old records that they worked at
farm work for $.25 a day, cradling and reaping at $.50 a day. Moved to
Wayne Co. in 1820 or ’21. Jacob entered a tract of land in the heavy
oak timber, Little Apple Creek ran thru the farm. He sold two eighty
acre tracts to his sons, Christian and David.
John, if I am not mistaken, went in partnership with his father in the
grist-milling business and later built a saw mill and also a cabinet
shop. People came from miles to get their furniture made and repaired.
They also made coffins. He employed mostly four men in his cabinet
shop. They would work from 5 o’clock A.M. to 9 o’clock at night. He was
very firm and yet just with his men.
Some years later Christian built a mill one half mile down the stream
on Apple Creek, seeing that the one mill could not do all the work that
came. Many years they were crowded with custom work, running day and
night, and in case of emergency would run on Sunday, but only in such
The pioneer Planks were men of more than ordinary talent. They were
natural mechanics; they could turn their hand to anything; they were
men of good judgment and they made good use of it. Among the early
pioneers were farmers, millers, cabinet makers, blacksmiths, mill rites
and also dentists. The people came from many miles to have their teeth
extracted. They soon became very popular on account of their great
skill. People could and would be accommodated in almost any line of
business. Yet they met with many difficulties as they had to deal with
all classes of people. Many obstacles were thrown in their pathway in
early life and they had to make many sacrifices in order to get along.
Their nearest market was Cleveland 50 mile north. As the roads were
usually in a horrible condition three or four would generally go
together, one man alone had no business on the road. They would often
mire down with their loads and have to pull each other out. Their teams
consisted of from four to six horses, with large covered wagons. It
would take from six to eight days to make the trip and get back. Some
years later a canal was built from Cleveland running south thru
Clinton, Fulton and Massilon which then became the market place. By
that time the country was more settled and had better roads. They
followed the milling business, buying wheat and manufacturing it into
flour, draws it up to the above named markets where it was either
shipped or sold at these markets.
In the early days of pioneer life they either tramped their wheat or
threshed it out with a flail. This was a tedious job and generally done
in winter. I remember of riding the horse’s for my father many a day
with coarse flax trousers until it would almost gald the horses back. I
was almost as glad to get off the horse as the horse was glad to get
rid of me. After the wheat was tramped out, separated from the straw,
it then had to be separated from the chaff. In quite early pioneer life
this was done by throwing the wheat and chaff up in a windy day and
then the wind would separate the chaff from the wheat. This, however
was before my time or at least I do not remember it. Seeing the need of
something better they invented a fanning mill to separate the wheat
from the chaff which proved to be a perfect success and was a great
improvement along this line. They afterward built and manufactured them
at John Plank’s shop. They were sold all over the country and were
called Plank’s mill.
In the early days they raised flax which they manufactured in fabrics,
from which they would make their own clothes, bedding, towels, grain
The good old mothers, how they labored until this flax was made ready
for the weaver. The men would break the flax, the women would stretch
it, get it ready to spin which they could do in the most skillful
manner, making their own linen thread that could not be excelled
anywhere. During the long winter evenings they would run their wheels
until 10 o’clock and at 5 in the morning the hum of the wheel could be
The men were in their shops or mills until a late hour at night. This
is only a part of the life of the old pioneers. The old pioneers were
not accustomed to loaf around country stores in the evenings, whittling
store boxes, devising plans by which they might find an easy job
somewhere or to dictate as to what they could do to make their task
In the early days of pioneer life wheat sold from $.40 to $.50 a bushel
and the farmer had to trade part of it out. They would exchange for
leather, fish, salt or whatever they had to have. Leather they had to
have to make harnesses, boots and shoes which were frequently
manufactured on the home farm. Boots and shoes were made out of heavy
cow-hide; one pair would last a year or more. This was also true as to
manufacturing of hats. They would take wool to the hatter and at the
same time take the boys along, have their measure taken and the hats
were made to fit their heads. Their hats were about as hard as a board.
The writer remembers quite well of these times. The hats were a little
hard on a person’s head but they could be worn.
The old pioneer mothers at that time wore plain straw hats, which they
made out of rye straw. They were made with a wide brim and a low crown.
These they used when riding horse back and would tie them down over
their heads, leaving front and hind ends open, making them into the
shape of a scoop. Nothing uncommon to see the women go horse back with
as many of the smaller children as could be placed on the horse.
It was customary at the time to have from one to three side saddles in
the family, depending on how many girls were in the family, as they
either had to go horse back or walk if they wanted to go away to church
or other places. They would frequently walk ten miles to church, if
they could not all go on horseback. Buggies and fine carriages they did
After many years of hard work they progressed a little farther; some
had carriages built in the shape of the moving wagon of today, sided up
on all sides, and the only way you could get into the carriages was to
get up behind the horses, and climb in on the front. There were no
springs under the box and they were made in the most simple manner.
In the early days of pioneer life they would help each other exchange
work in rolling logs, as the hired people at the time were scarce, and
not only that, but they had nothing to hire with. Consequently they
were obliged to assist each other each and every time they would be
logging for a week or more at a time, while the women would be
attending the log fires that were already burning. The only time the
men would have time to look after the log fires would be after they got
back. They were often out looking after their log fires until 2 o’clock
in the morning after a hard day’s work rolling logs.
We can see by this pioneer life was not an easy life. It was a hard
life along that line. Many times exposing themselves almost beyond
endurance, but like heroes they faced the battle as brave men and
women, and finally gained the victory. The mighty oak fell before them
to make ready for other products, which were of more use to them.
After many years of toil the succeeded in clearing up their farms,
improved them in the most skillful manner, built fine houses and barns
and all necessary out buildings. Their farms were among the best in the
country in the way of improvement and they were particular in their
work. Just so in the business they were prompt, did business in a
business way. As the old records show, they were honest in their
dealings, paying their honest debts. This was one of their first
principles - Honesty is the best policy.
Their education was very limited. The old pioneers could read, write
and understand arithmetic, this is about as far as they had advanced in
this line. Many of the good old mothers could not write their own name
and the only book they could read was the bible. This was about the
only book in school at the time, excepting their primary books. But as
they journeyed along in life they saw the necessity of a better
We find now the Plank men and women in all professions - doctors.
Lawyers, preachers, teachers, farmers, mechanics, merchants, R.R.
agents. In all vocations of life we find the Planks. They have become
very numerous. We find them in every state in the union. In this line
they have progressed very rapidly.
As to their religious work in the church, they were Christians true to
one another and true to their god beyond question, their characters
above reproach. They firmly believe in the church to be self
supporting, to take care of their aged brothers and sisters and able to
care for the poor for which purpose they would lay up alms. They attend
faithfully to their religious duties, very seldom were their seats
found empty in the church. As it was customary at the time to hold
their church services in houses, they would go from ten to twelve miles
with their families oft times on foot to church. They believed in
keeping sacred the Sabbath day and many other days no work was allowed
to be done.
Now in conclusion I would say as we have met here today as never
before, meeting each other face to face to form a better acquaintance
as children of the different Plank families, we just now think of our
ancestors the pioneers that have gone ahead and opened the way for us
to follow. What or where would we be today were it not for the old
pioneers who have opened the way for us. Just think of the many
hardships they had to under go and the many sacrifices they made for
you and I. Should we not feel to honor them altho their bodies lie
moldering in the grave, awaiting the first resurrection?
Now let us remember our pioneers and try to live a righteous life as we
firmly believe they did and at last when our work is done and our
reunions ended here on earth that we may be so unspeakably happy as to
meet one and all with our old pioneers fathers and mothers, brothers
and sisters, in grand reunion in the glorious mansions above where
parting will be no more.
Remarks followed by D.H. Plank, Rev. Eli Schrock, George and Isaac
Grady and Alex Miller. A double quartet sang “Don’t Forget the Old
Folks”. Rev. Kuhn made some happy remarks in speaking of all kinds of
Planks. Elmer Johns delivered a well prepared oration on “Future
Prospects of the Planks”.
At the election of officers Rev. Wm. Schrock was chosen president,
Andrew Mehl, vice pres., C. P. Yoder Sec’y, Elmer Johns, corresponding
sec’y, Isaac Schrock, treasurer. On motion the chair appointed D. J.
Troyer, G. G. Grady and C. J. Plank a committee to make arrangements
for the next gathering Simon Blough and Elmer H. Johns were appointed
music committee. The 3rd annual reunion was closed by singing and