The Brethren Church in the progressive little City of Oak Hill is one of the spiritually vital and materially prosperous religious organizations of Fayette County and has as its pastor Rev. Freeman Ankrum, a young man of marked ability and fervent consecration to his high calling.
Mr. Ankrum was born at Glenford, Perry County, Ohio, April 18, 1890 and is a son of Armstrong L. and Lucinda (Mack) Ankrum, who now reside on their excellent dairy farm in Muskingum County, Ohio, Mrs. Ankrum being a lineal descendant of Rev. Alexander Mack, the honored American founder of the Church of the Brethren, the members of which have been more familiarly known as Dunkards. Rev. Alexander Mack was born, reared and educated in Germany and came to America in the year 1729, he having settled at Germantown, Pennsylvania, and having done a great work in founding and developing the Brethren Church, which now finds representation in the most diverse sections of the United States.
Armstrong L. Ankrum was born and reared in Guernsey County, Ohio, received the advantages of the public schools, and virtually his entire active career has been marked by close association with farm industry. In 1901 he purchased his present well-improved dairy farm in Muskingum County, not far distant from the City of Zanesville, and to the same gives his active supervision. His father was a pioneer settler in Eastern Ohio, and his mortal remains rest in a rural cemetery near Old Washington, Guernsey County.
Mrs. Lucinda (Mack) Ankrum was born and reared in Perry County, Ohio, received the advantages of Ashland College at Ashland, that state, and prior to her marriage was for several years a successful teacher in the schools of her native county. Both she and her husband are zealous members of the Brethren Church, and she is of the sixth generation in direct descent from Rev. Alexander Mack, previously mentioned, he having organized the Brethren Church in Germany in 1708, and having later become the founder of the Brethren, or Dunkard, Church at Germantown, Pennsylvania, the first Dunkard Church in America, and the place in Germantown where the church building was erected was used by patriot troops in the War of the Revolution for the accommodation of their horses, in providing bedding for which they partly relied upon the use of German Bibles from the church, the covers having been removed from the books for this service. Mr. Ankrum of this review has a large photograph of this ancient and historic church that was founded by his ancestor, and the building, one of exceptional beauty, has been improved by three additions within the more than three centuries of its existence. Rev. Alexander Mack died in 1735, and his grave is in the churchyard of the old Germantown church that he founded, where his body was taken from the Axes burial ground in 1894. Mr. Ankrum is the first born in a family of ten children. Earl, the second son, is identified with oil field industry in Ohio and resides at Gratiot, that state. He married Miss Eva Brookover and they have three sons. Virgil is a resident of Columbus, Ohio and is married. Ivan resides at Gratiot, Ohio. Ferol is the wife of Carl Fisher of Gratiot. Harold likewise resides at Gratiot, as does also Lulu, who is the wife of Harry Simms. Marling, Ralph and Denzel remain at the parental home near that village. Rev. Freeman Ankrum gained his early education in the public schools of Ohio, where he attended high school at Brownsville, Licking County, in 1907. At Ashland, that state, he was graduated from Ashland College as a member of the class of 1914 and with the degree Bachelor of Arts. He had been in the preceding year ordained a clergyman of the Brethren Church, and after his graduation from Ashland college he was for three years pastor of the Brethren Church at Hamlin, Kansas, and of that at Garwin, Iowa, four years. He then returned to Ohio, where he served two years as pastor of the church at Washington Court House, and in September, 1923, he assumed his present important pastorate at Oak Hill, West Virginia. here hi is doing a splendid work, and plans and specifications have been drawn for a new and modern church edifice to take the place of the present frame building. The campaign for the new church is nearing maturity and earnest and loyal cooperation is being given not only by the members of the church but also by leading business men and other appreciative citizens. The cost of the new church will be approximately $25,000, and the improvement is justified in every sense, as the present membership of the church is about 200 and the list of members is constantly growing. Dr. H. S. Duncan is chairman of the building committee, and his associate members are George Simpson, Lyman Pegram, J. A. McKinney, Lawrence Smith, Miss Lydia Hutchison and Mrs. Floyd Claypool. The finance committee has as its members J. A. Duncan (chairman), C. B. Wright, Marion Johnson, Mrs. J. A. Duncan and Mrs. George Simpson. The popular pastor of the church has, as a matter of course, leadership in this splendid movement, as in all other matters pertaining to the spiritual and material welfare of his parish. He is vice president of the Home Mission Board of the Brethren Church of America, and is a member of the committee of three in charge of all mountain missionary work of the church in the State of Kentucky, besides which he is member of the national executive committee of the Brethren Church and a member of the Maryland-Virginia District of the church organization. He is broad minded and public spirited as a citizen and in politics maintains an independent attitude.
In Washington, D.C., on the 16th of June, 1914, Rev. Mr. Ankrum was united in marriage with Miss Viola Myers, daughter of J.W. and Barbara (Wine) Myers, who still reside on their home farm near Forestville, Shenandoah County, Virginia, where their daughter Viola was born. Mrs. Ankrum attended Ashland College, Ohio, and prior to her marriage had been for some time in service as a practical nurse in the City of Washington, D.C. Her death occurred May 16, 1922, and her remains rest in Flat Rock Cemetery, Forestville, Virginia, near her childhood home. She is survived by three children, Paul Denzel, Laird Vernon and Genevieve, all of whom are attending the Oak Hill public schools.
At Fayetteville, West Virginia, on the 15th of June, 1925, was solemnized the marriage of Rev. Mr. Ankrum and Miss Esther McAvoy, daughter of J.W. and Alice (Sanger) McAvoy, her parents having their home on their fine farm estate near Fayetteville. Mrs. Ankrum was graduated from Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, Virginia, and she has been a successful and popular teacher in the public schools of Fayette County, including service in the high school at Fayetteville, the county seat. She is still actively engaged in pedagogic work as a teacher in the grade schools of Oak Hill, besides being zealous in the work of the church of which her husband is pastor and popular figure in the social and cultural circles of her home community.
West Virginia In History, Life, Literature and Industry, The Lewis Publishing Company 1928 - Volume 5