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STANFORD, BISHOP W. M., was born in Rockland township, Venango county, Pa., March 15, 1846. Being a farmer’s son he was raised to hard work on the farm till he was twenty years of age, and got but from three to four months schooling in a year. When he was eighteen years of age he began teaching in the winter season for but $23 a month, teaching every winter thereafter till his twenty-fifth year. He made his money in the winter by teaching, and spent it in the summer attend mg school, first at Greensburg Seminary, Summit county, Ohio, from the spring of 1865 to the fall of 1866, and then at Mount Union College, Stark county, Ohio, until the spring of 1871, when he graduated in the scientific and commercial courses. The wages of his first winter's teaching not being sufficient to venture away from home to school, he worked for about three months on a railroad, digging and shoveling, to secure further funds. Having to furnish all his own money, it took great frugality to get through the summer's schooling on the funds made by his winter's teaching. He did his own cooking and house work in order to make ends meet. Being ambitious in his studies, he nearly always stood at the head of his classes, and was a most formidable antagonist to meet in debate.

Nearly one year before his graduation, on August 2, 1870, he was united in marriage with Miss Rosa A. Weimer, of the southern part of Stark county, Ohio, and then, with his wife, taught a graded school of two departments the following winter in Osnaburg, Ohio, and with the money thus made finished his collegiate course the next summer, and came out free of all debt. In the spring of 1872 he entered the Pittsburg [sic] Conference of the Evangelical Association, and was sent for his first year in the ministry as a missionary to Franklin, Venango county, Pa. Here he remained three years, having about sixty conversions a year as the fruits of his labors. His next two years were spent at Homeworth, Ohio, where, in connection with his pastorate, he pursued the study of Greek and German again in his alma mater. He next spent a most successful three years' pastorate in Pittsburgh, Pa.; thence for two years in Johnstown, Pa., and was then called to Cleveland, Ohio, as associate editor of the official English church organ, the Evangelical Messenger, his chief being Dr. H. B. Hartzler, afterwards one of Mr. D. L. Moody's co-workers in the great training schools at Northfield, Mass. He remained on this paper for over six years, during which time said paper attained the highest circulation it ever had, either before or since. In the memorable General Conference of 1887, in Buffalo, N. Y., which marked the beginning of a schism in said church, he, with his chief, being allied with the American spirited element of the church, as opposed to an ecclesiastical autocracy on the other side, and being at that time a little in the minority, were of necessity defeated. The next spring he again took a pastorate in Canton, Ohio, under the direction of his old conference. In about eighteen months he had gathered a harvest of over one hundred souls, when he was elected as editor and publisher of an independent church paper, known as the Evangelical, printed at Harrisburg, Pa., which paper he conducted most successfully during the stormy years of 1890 and 1891, when, at the Gencral Conference in Philadelphia, in the fall of 1891, he was elected to the Episcopacy, continuing until the special General Conference in the fall of 1894, held in Naperville, Ill., when he was re-elected to said office for a term of four years. This was the first General Conference of the American wing of the church, constituting about one-half of the whole of this country, and at which conference a new discipline was made and adopted, and a new name assumed, viz.: The United Evangelical Church.

During the course of his pastoral and editorial life, Bishop Stanford served six years as the secretary of his conference, and was sent for seven years as a delegate to the General Board of Missions. He was also a member of the General Conference of 1883, 1887, 1891 and 1894. When he once became convinced that a certain course was right, he never stopped to think of policy, but set his course without hesitation, leaving all results with God. And when he started out to do a thing he knew no such word as fail, and this is largely the secret of whatever success he has attained in life.

Bishop Stanford was one of four children, two boys and two girls, the other three all being married and following agricultural pursuits in Northwestern Pennsylvania. His father, Abraham Stanford, was born in 1817, was an industrious farmer of Scotch descent, and died in 1882. His mother was born of German parentage in 1826, and died in 1893. His mother's maiden name was Domer, being one of a family of nine children, three girls and six boys. Four of the boys were preachers; one, named Jacob, a member of the Church of God, attained to the assistant editorship of the official paper of his denomination, overworked himself, and died at the age of forty-one years. Two, named respectively George and John, were both leading men in the same church with Bishop Stanford, having both of them served for four consecutive terms of four years each as presiding elders, arid having been members of every successive General Conference from 1875 to 1891. Abraham Domer, D. D., after graduating at Allegheny College, Meadville, early in his life, started out as a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and attained also to the presiding eldership in his church, and thus forged to the front rank among his brethren. A little further out in relationship on his mother's side were many more preachers and men of prominence, one of whom, Rev. Samuel Domer, D. D., having been for many years pastor of the leading Lutheran congregation of Washington, D. C. Bishop Stanford comes of a long-lived race of people on both his father's and his mother's side, some of them back in the third generation living to the ripe ages of from ninety to one hundred years.

Mrs. Rosa A. Sanford, wife of the bishop, maiden name Weimer, was born in the southern part of Stark county, Ohio, March 3, 1845, of German parentage. Being a farmer's daughter, she, too, got but from three to four months’ schooling in a year, when, in 1863, at the age of seventeen, she attended a term of school at Greensburg Seminary, Summit county, Ohio, and in the following winter taught her first term. In 1864 she attended the spring and fall terms of Roanoke Academy, Huntingdon county, Ind. and in the winter of the same year taught the intermediate department of the same school. In the fall of 1865 she again attended at Greensburg, Ohio, and thereafter followed teaching until her marriage in the summer of 1870. She was one of a large family of children, several of whom attained to prominence in their specific vocations. Oliver Weimer, a brother, was a musician and vocalist, whose energy was greater than his body could bear, and so died at an early age, and Miss Katie Weimer, a younger sister, struggled with both health and other difficulties until she became a leading artist, and then died before she had time to reap the returns of her sacrifice and toil. Prof. Solomon Weimer, a younger brother, after a common school training, began his collegiate training at Mount Union College, Ohio, and finished it at Otterbein University, Westerville, Ohio. Afterwards, for some years, he taught in Navarre, Ohio, and then stepped up to one of the highest positions in the Central high schools of Cleveland, Ohio, where he is still a much esteemed and successful educator.

To Bishop and Mrs. Stanford there were born six children, two sons and four daughters. The eldest, Orpha Blanche Stanford, was born near Beach City, Ohio, April 26, 1871. After receiving a good common school education, she afterwards made a specialty of art and music, until she became a teacher of both, and on the 22d of May, 1895, was united in marriage with Mr. Frank S. Becker, teller of the leading bank in Lebanon, Pa. Mr. Becker has also been president of the school board of Lebanon for a number of years. The next is Vincent W., of whom a sketch appears elsewhere in this volume. The next in age is Abraham LeRoy Stanford, who was born in Homeworth, Ohio, November 27, 1876. Aside from a common school education, he attended several terms at Schuylkill Seminary, at Fredericksburg, Pa., where he showed marked proficiency in the line of mathematics. He afterwards went into training in Catasaqua, Pa., to become a machinist, in which work he shows marked adaptability. Being yet young in years, his life work is not clearly chosen, but he bids fair to be able to hoe his own row. Next comes Zella Corine Stanford, born in Pittsburgh, Pa., June 20, 1878; then Laura Eva Stanford, born in Johnstown, Pa., October 2, 1881, and lastly Mina Grace Stanford, born in Cleveland, Ohio, September 8, 1887. Zella and Laura have already finished the ward schools, and are both now attending the high school of Harrisburg, and stand among the best in their classes. Little Grace is fast on the same track in her studies, has an ambition to be at the head of her classes, and bids fair to overtake her older sisters by and by.

This family is also quite a musical family. Blanch uses the piano, Vincent the banjo, Roy the guitar and the mandolin, Zella the mandolin, Laura the piano, and Grace is an admirer of all. But of all the others, LeRoy seems to show the most natural adaptability for instrumental music.




Historical Review of Dauphin County

Transcribed by Becky Tuszynski for The Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project -

Date of Transcription: 18 July 2001

Copyright (c) 2001 - All Rights Reserved: Use, duplication or reproduction for profit or presentation by any person or organization is strictly prohibited.