Record of
The 1900 Plank Reunion
Middlebury, Indiana

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Go to Plank Reunions: 1898 1899 1900 1901

[Provided by David H. Plank, great grand son of Dr. David Heber Plank of Morgantown, Pa.--SD]

Middlebury Independent

Middlebury, Indiana

 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 reports.

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 Pa.

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 cases.

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 sacks, etc.

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 heard again.

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 more easy.

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 not have.

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 education.

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 prayer.