Mack, Alexander (1679-1735)

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Alexander, Mack, Sr., chief founder of the Church of the Brethren, eighth child of Johann Philipp and Christina Philbrunn Mack, was born 27 July 1679, in a mill on Bergstrasse in Schriesheim, near Heidelberg, then in the Palatinate (now Baden), Germany. He married Margaretha Kling, a daughter of Velten Kling, a councilor of Schriesheim, on 18 January 1701. The Macks had three sons and two daughters. The daughters died in Germany and one record says the mother also died there. The sons, John Valentine, Johannes, and Alexander, Jr., came to America with their father in 1729. Alexander Mack, Jr. (1712-1803), served the early Brethren church in Pennsylvania as minister for over 50 years.

Mack grew up in the Calvinist faith and was Reformed until about 1705, when he came to know some Baptists and Hochmann of Hohenau. With Hochmann he did some preaching along the Rhine and in Switzerland. In 1708 with seven others he founded at Schwarzenau, Wittgenstein, then in Hesse, the "Brüder Gemeinde," which was the beginning of the Church of the Brethren. He lived in Schriesheim until the fall of 1706, when he was expelled on account of his faith and fled with his family to Schwarzenau in Wittgenstein, where he lived until 1720. Then because of persecution he led most of the group from Schwarzenau to Westerveen, Dutch province of Friesland, a hamlet in the neighborhood of Surhuisterveen. Here they stayed 1720-1729, and from here went to Germantown, Pennsylvania, to join the group of Brethren who had emigrated from Krefeld to Germantown in 1719 under the leadership of Peter Becker. Mack died at Germantown on 31 January 1735, and was buried in Axe's burial ground at that place. In 1894 his remains were moved to the cemetery just behind the Germantown Church of the Brethren, 6611 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

During his stay in the Netherlands a few Dutch Mennonites, including some members of the de Koker family of Rotterdam, were won to ideas of Mack, who baptized them by immersion. This sympathy, however, seems to have been only temporary, for they did not join the Brethren emigration to the States.

Mack's writings consist largely of answers to questions about his faith. A Conversation between Father and Son, and Ground Searching Questions.


Ankrum, Freeman. Alexander Mack the Tunker and His Descendants. Scottdale, PA, 1943.

Brumbaugh, Martin G. A History of the German Baptist Brethren in Europe and America. Elgin, IL, 1906.

Brunn, H. "Alexander Mack, The Tunker." Schwarzenau Where the Brethren Began in Europe, L. W. Shultz, ed. Milford, IN, 1954.

Quinter, James. "Memoir of Alexander Mack, Senior." Brethren Encyclopedia. Columbiana, OH: Henry Kurtz, 1867: 7-14.

Author(s) Lawrence W Shultz
Date Published 1957

Cite This Article

MLA style

Shultz, Lawrence W. "Mack, Alexander (1679-1735)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 22 May 2024.,_Alexander_(1679-1735)&oldid=89189.

APA style

Shultz, Lawrence W. (1957). Mack, Alexander (1679-1735). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2024, from,_Alexander_(1679-1735)&oldid=89189.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 432. All rights reserved.

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