Brubacher, Jacob N. (1838-1913)

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Jacob N. Brubacher, leading Lancaster Mennonite Conference bishop in the last half of the 19th century, whose name became a household word in Mennonite Church (MC) homes in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. His 46 years as bishop in his district and 25 years as moderator of Lancaster Mennonite Conference gave him a large place in the counsels of the church and the affections of his people. He was born on a farm near Mount Joy, Pennsylvania on 25 July 1838, the son of Sem and Magdalena (Nissley) Brubacher, and died near the place of his birth, 9 October 1913. On 1 November 1857 he was married to Barbara Stauffer. They began farming on the farm where he was born.

Brubacher lived through the years when Sunday schools were first accepted in his conference, and in this he was a pioneer. In 1862 he took a carload of fat cattle to the Philadelphia market. Arriving too late to sell them, he remained over Sunday, and while there he attended an Episcopal Sunday school. He was so impressed with the import of this kind of instruction that he returned home and sought to enlist others to undertake this new type of work. A year later he opened the first Sunday school in the Lancaster Conference in the Pike schoolhouse near his home in June 1863. This did not have official church approval and so met considerable criticism. When he was ordained to the ministry in 1865 in his home congregation at Landisville he closed the school because of this criticism. But his efforts during these few years certainly helped to pave the way for the approval of Sunday schools by the conference in 1872. In 1876 Brubacher organized the first official Sunday school in the conference in his home congregation at Landisville and became its first superintendent.

On 25 December 1867 Brubacher was ordained bishop and during the 46 years he served as bishop he stamped his personality on his churches. He was a good executive. He never had more than a grade school education but he was well read and a good expositor of the Bible. He is well remembered by his practice of reading his text, then closing his Bible and proceeding with his message without opening his Bible again or using notes.

He was a lover of good singing. His comments on hymns and their singing were a worth-while contribution to the singing of the congregation. He devoted much time to visitation work; his visits were usually short. From this practice it became a common saying when someone made a short visit to call it a "Jacob's visit." He is known as the strong man of the conference. His keen intellect and good knowledge of the Word and his forceful personality made room for him. He was a strict disciplinarian. In the mid-20th century he was still quoted more often than any other man of the conference, and his influence was still felt in his bishop district and in his conference.

Brubacher was well known beyond the Lancaster Conference borders. God gave him a robust body and he used it to serve his Lord and his church far and wide. He assisted in the organization of Southwestern Pennsylvania Conference and also in the work of the Franklin County, Pennsylvania-Washington County, Maryland Conference.


Landis, Ira D. "The Life and Work of Jacob N. Brubacher." Mennonite Historical Bulletin 2 (April 1941): 1.

Author(s) Henry F Garber
Date Published 1953

Cite This Article

MLA style

Garber, Henry F. "Brubacher, Jacob N. (1838-1913)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 21 Jun 2021.,_Jacob_N._(1838-1913)&oldid=91252.

APA style

Garber, Henry F. (1953). Brubacher, Jacob N. (1838-1913). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 June 2021, from,_Jacob_N._(1838-1913)&oldid=91252.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 442. All rights reserved.

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