The article following is provided by that wonderful publication, the “Puslinch Pioneer”, which for over thirty years has been dedicated to coverage of Puslinch Township news and history, and yes, most amazingly, is produced entirely by volunteers, as a community service.  It is published ten times per year.  To assist with production costs, annual subscriptions of $25.00 are gratefully welcomed.  Please forward subscription requests, with remittances made payable to the “Puslinch Pioneer”, to the Puslinch Pioneer, R.R. #3, Guelph, Ontario, N1H 6H9.





The Crossroads Memorial Church


(from the Puslinch Pioneer, v. 10, issue 8, April 1986.)








This capsule history is based on an academic paper by the Rev. Leonard J. Chester, a former member of the congregation, and now Minister of the Bridlewood Church in Agincourt.  In 1974, a shorter article by Rev. Chester appeared in Evangelical Visitor, and he has kindly made this available for information as well.  Some of the early minute books of the church have been preserved, and I am grateful to Wayne Schiedel, formerly serving as Minister, for his contribution.


Crossroads Memorial Church is located on "the Lake Road" at the corner of Puslinch Sideroad 4, and has an active Brethren in Christ congregation.  Although the present brick church dates from 1874, settl­ers were here much earlier.  The original church was a community, or union church, shared by several small denominations in the area: German Baptists, Old Mennonites, Mennonite Brethren in Christ (now the Missionary Church), and Breth­ren in Christ (known as Tunkers or Dunkards in pioneer days, or as River Brethren in the U.S.).  All these groups were of Germanic ori­gin, emigrants to Upper Canada from the U.S. after the American Revolu­tion or later.


Nicholas Cober Sr. had brought his family to York County from Pennsylvania in about 1795.  Through land grants in 1833 and 1839, he and his sons owned 1,000 acres in Concession 3 of Puslinch.  Although Nicholas Sr. returned to York, his sons and daughters remained to home­stead in Puslinch.  Neils Peter Holm, a son-in-law, was ordained in 1846 as a River Brethren Minister.


Most early families had spent a generation living here without a resident minister or a church build­ing.  It was in 1868 when represen­tatives of several families and denominations drew up an agreement that would establish a union church.  A deed for one acre of land was conveyed from Jacob and Mary Cober to the newly formed Trustees: Cornelius Pannabecker (Mennonite Brethren in Christ), Nicholas Cober (Tunker), and Nicholas P. Cober (German Baptist).


Part of the stipulation in the giving of the deed by Jacob Cober was that the subsequent church would be for use and benefit of all denominations according to the Trustees’ wisdom.  The pattern of having the above three denominations represented as Trustees continued, with Old Mennonites also taking part.   Fourteen men of the community attended this inaugural meeting.


It was decided that the denomina­tion that contributed the most to the building of the church would have the first choice of appointing their meeting times.  By 1874, when construction was finally undertaken, the total cost of the land, construc­tion, and labour came to $602.81.  The men who did actual construction work were paid 87.5 cents per day. Later records show that the Mennonite Brethren in Christ used the church two Sundays per month, and the Tunkers and Mennonites the remaining Sundays.  Apparently the German Baptists used the church very little, or had the least numbers among the population.


Men and women were seated separat­ely in the church, and it seems that English was the language used, judging by the existing records.  Hymns were led with the aid of a tuning fork.  Sunday Schools, Singing Schools, District Meetings, and other uses kept the building busy.


The Tunkers, or Brethren in Christ, became the most active group eventu­ally, possibly due in part to their strong ties to other congregations in the Waterloo area.  After 1899, the Old Mennonites are no longer mention­ed in church records; after 1900 the Mennonite Brethren in Christ have disappeared.  The German Baptists probably dropped away in the early 1900’s; it is thought that adherents of these denominations eventually attended more active congregations elsewhere.


Peter Holm and John Wildfong were both Puslinch men who became Bishops of Waterloo District Brethren in Christ, Holm in 1870 and Wildfong later, until his death in 1912.


In about 1924 the church was closed, for several complicated and contributing factors, all of which are not historically clear.  The building fell into neglect and dis­repair for a long time.  Happily, in the 1950’s a resurgence of spirit was responsible for the again active church.  Most of the people involved in the re-birth of the church then were direct descendants of the old pioneers.


The first burial in the cemetery beside the church was that of Anna, daughter of Rev. Neils Peter Holm and his wife Susanna Cober in 1867, before it was an “official” cemetery. There are 56 known burials although headstones have since disappeared.  The stones you now see in the yard next to the church have been moved somewhat from their original sites, in a care and restoration project, after the years of neglect.  The last burial was in 1930, although the site was not “closed” for burials until 1969.



This article was contributed by Brenda Dougall Merriman.