Waterloo Region Generations
A record of the people of Waterloo Region, Ontario.
Rev. Joseph Harlacher 

Rev. Joseph Harlacher

Male 1812 - 1893

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  • Prefix  Rev. 
    Birth  5 Aug 1812  near, Lewisburg, Union, Pennsylvania, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender  Male 
    Occupation  1840  Evangelical Gemeinshaft Association, Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Diary of Rev. John Harlacer
    Diary of Rev. John Harlacer
    Adam Piper originally shared this Ancestry Public membereTree
    Eby ID Number  Waterloo-122834 
    Died  15 Apr 1893  Naperville, DuPage, Illinois, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Buried  Naperville Cemetery, Naperville, DuPage, Illinois, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Person ID  I122834  Generations
    Last Modified  16 Apr 2019 

    Family  Esther "Hetty" Hoppel,   b. 15 May 1811, , , Pennsylvania, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 Aug 1884, , Illinois Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Adam Harlacher,   b. 1841, Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 23 Jul 1841, Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location
     2. Harlacher,   b. 1841, Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
    Family ID  F7115  Group Sheet

  • Notes 

      Rev. Joseph Harlacher - Nativity - Rough Experiences in the West - Sleeps on a Bran Bag Pillow - Preaches in a Bar-room - Remarkable Experiences in Canada - Charlotte Bieber - Preaches from a Wagon and Starts a Revival - A Terrible Retribution - Hanged in Effigy in Berlin - Confusion of His Enemies

      Rev. Joseph Harlacher.

      Present day preachers, domiciled in a fine parsonage by the side of the church, reveling in such luxuries as steam heat, electric light and telephones, can form no correct conception of the hardships of the pioneer preachers, by whose zeal and unwearied labors the comforts of the present day were made possible. A great many of our early preachers kept journals in which they recorded the progress of their work and the chief incidents of their life as they occurred.

      The following incidents were furnished by Rev. Joseph Harlacher* just prior to his death, and cast into narrative form by the author of this work. In addition to their entertaining nature they illustrate in a marked degree the guiding hand of Providence.

      *Rev. Joseph Harlacher was born near Lewisburg, Penna., in 1812. He entered the Eastern Conference in 1832 ; Founder of the Evangelical work in Buffalo, N. Y., Berlin, Canada, etc. ; Presiding Elder 1851; Died at Naperville, Illinois, 1893.


      In the early part of his ministry in the north-west, as Harlacher was traveling to a distant appointment, he was overtaken by night. It was winter, and the weather was cold and disagreeable.

      Upon arriving at a log cabin by the wayside he stopped and entered to seek shelter for the night. The man of the house was absent and the woman said she had no bed in which he could sleep.

      Upon noticing the fire blazing so cheerfully upon the open hearth, the weary itinerant said he would be very well satisfied to spend the night at the fire if only his horse could be sheltered. To this the woman consented. The horse was comfortably stabled and a frugal meal was served. .When the hour to retire arrived Harlacher lay down with all his garments on before the fire. As a substitute for his saddle-bags, the woman brought him a bag of bran for a pillow. On this humble bed the weary itinerant found refreshing slumber, and the following morning resumed his journey with cheerfulness.


      When traveling on the northern frontiers, Harlacher was compelled to put up one evening at an inn for a night's shelter.

      The place was very small and the only place the preacher had in which to spend the evening was the bar-room, full of rough, profane, drinking men. The sight of so much iniquity wrought powerfully upon the preacher, and he concluded to do a little missionary work, not only "in season," but "out of season," (2 Tim. 4: 2).

      With a prayer upon his lips he went to the landlord behind the bar who was dispensing intoxicating drinks to the crowd, and asked permission to read a portion of Scripture and make some comments thereon. Strange to say, the landlord said he had no objections. So Harlacher opened his saddle-bags, procured his Bible, selected a portion of Scripture suitable to the place, and occasion, and then proceeded to give an exposition of the same. He then exhorted the people to a life of sobriety and uprightness, and closed with a fervent prayer for all. There was no disturbance, but all gave good attention to the service. The next morning the preacher went on his way, happy in the thought that he had honored his Master in this peculiar manner.


      Joseph Harlacher served in 1840 and 1841, as one of the pioneer Evangelical preachers in Canada, and was the founder of some of the most flourishing churches in the Canada Conference.

      His work was attended by many exhibitions of Divine Providence, especially in the manner in which entrance was gained into localities hostile to the Evangelical work. Just previous to going to Canada, Harlacher had served Lake circuit, in New York. Among his spiritual children there was a young woman named Charlotte Jans, who married a man named Bieber. The couple located in the wilds of western Canada, far removed from the Church work.

      Thus far removed from the means of grace the woman's heart was filled with unutterable longing for the blessed seasons of grace she was wont to enjoy, and constantly prayed that through Divine Providence she might regain her lost privileges. Meanwhile her former pastor was assigned to the work in Canada, and lost no time in looking up his lost sheep.

      After much inquiry the "settlement" was found and Harlacher sought out the home of Charlotte's father-in-law, with whom she resided. His arrival filled her cup of joy to overflowing. Although it was late in the afternoon when he arrived, the young woman insisted that he preach there that night. The missionary pointed out the lateness of the hour in which to gather a congregation, but the young woman declared she would manage that part. She at once engaged several boys in the neighborhood who quickly spread the news of the appointment with the result that a goodly number of people assembled that night to whom Harlacher preached with good effect. A society was formed here soon afterwards.


      In traveling from one preaching place to another, Harlacher was obliged to pass through a place called Petersburg, noted for its godless character. He was determined to obtain an entrance into that stronghold of the devil somehow. Having a woods meeting near Hamburg in October (1841), he announced that in two weeks he would preach in Petersburg in front of J. Ernst's tavern. The news spread far and near, and at the appointed time a vast multitude, some of whom had come a distance of twenty miles, were present. A number of friends had come from Hamburg in a wagon, and Harlacher, having no other way of elevating himself above the masses, ascended this wagon and from it conducted the services. His text was "Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work "which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. (Acts 13, 41). Harlacher preached with mighty power and the hearts of many were melted like wax before the flame. A prominent citizen of the place who had climbed into the wagon in order to hear the sermon, announced at the conclusion of the same that Harlacher could preach in his house, an invitation which the preacher accepted. This was the beginning of a glorious work in that place. The man who first opened his house to Harlacher was Father Staebler, who with his entire household were of the first members here. God signally honored his noble deed by calling two of his sons to the holy ministry, who rose to honor and distinction in the Church.


      The preaching of Harlacher in this region provoked much discussion among the settlers who were nearly all European Germans, and looked upon the doctrine of experimental religion as an innovation. Soon after the sermon in front of Earnst's tavern, two men, one a Protestant and the other a Catholic, hotly discussed the sermon in a tavern. The Catholic held that Harlacher preached false doctrine when he said that people must be converted, and be cleansed from their sins. Said he, "man is a sinner, and will stay a sinner till he dies." The Protestant on the other hand defended Harlacher's preaching. Said he, "Harlacher preached good doctrine, and all he said is in the Bible." Said the Catholic, "That is not in the Bible. If you can find it there, then I will become blind!" The Protestant, to make good his argument, procured a Testament and turned to 1 John, first chapter, and seventh verse, and read, "But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin."

      Completely worsted the Catholic snatched the Testament from the reader's hand and flung it into the stove where it was consumed. The wanton and wicked conduct of the man met with a terrible punishment at the hands of his God, as soon thereafter, according to his own declaration, his eyesight began to fail, and continued until he was totally blind, and reduced to penury. As a sad sequel to his folly he was compelled to grope his way from door to door, and beg for the necessaries of life. Surely "God is not mocked." (Gal. vi : 7).


      While Harlacher's labors in Canada were attended with great success, on the other hand it met with violent opposition at the hands of his enemies. On September 25, 1841, the first Evangelical church in Canada was dedicated in the town of Berlin. In later years this place became a stronghold of the Church, and was honored as the seat of the General Conference in 1903.

      The enemies of Harlacher were deeply chagrined at his success, and upon the dedication of the church at Berlin, determined to show their contempt for him in a public manner. Some weeks after the dedication a number of his enemies erected a gallows on the main street near the centre of the town, on which they hung the effigy of a man stuffed with straw. On this they placed a placard bearing Harlacher's name, and many vile epithets pertaining to his work and character. On Sunday morning as the Evangelical people went to church they beheld their preacher hung in effigy. They then proceeded to cut down the false man which was taken away and burned by some boys. Harlacher was not present on Sunday, but the day following saw in the gallows, still standing, the proof of the hatred his plain preaching had inspired.

      Not content with this disgraceful deed his enemies now spread the report far and wide that Harlacher had actually hung himself. Newspapers were few, and mails were slow in those days, and a lie generally travels fast, hence we are not surprised that friends of Harlacher, upon hearing the report of his suicide, came from distant parts of his field of labor to Berlin to see for themselves. Notwithstanding all opposition, the Evangelical work in Canada moved on victoriously and resulted in the formation of one of the most prosperous conferences in the denomination.

      Flashlights on evangelical history; a volume of entertaining narratives, anecdotes and incidents, illustrative of the evangelical work founded by Rev. Jacob Albright in A.D. 1800; also evangelical daughters of song by Stapleton, A. (Ammon), 1850-1916



      Evangelical Association Evangelical Church Begun: c.1840 Closed: 1922

      Joseph Harlacher, an Evangelical missionary stationed at Berlin, is said to have preached to Hespeler Evangelicals as early as 1840. Early meetings were held in various places, including a schoolhouse, until the Evangelicals and New Connexion Methodists joined forces in 1847 to build a place of worship on the same site where the Methodists would eventually, in 1868, build a new church. This was at the corner of Queen Street and Hungerford Road. The Evangelical congregation worshipped, in German, in this union church until 1863 when they built their own church. (The site, at 31 Tannery Street, is now that of the Hespeler Missionary Church.) In 1874 the Rev. Stephen Morley became the first resident pastor and English-language services were begun in addition to those in German.


      In the year 1840, Joseph Harlacher, of East Pennsylvania, was sent as a missionary to Waterloo. On the thirteenth of May, 1840 Missionary Harlacher came for the first time to Puslinch and on the same evening he preached for the first time in the house of old father Bieber.

      Rev. Joseph Harlacher of the East Pennsylvania Conference was an old friend of Mrs. Nicholas Bieber, formerly Charlotte Yantz.

      On the first Sunday in October 1840, the first well-attended meeting was held in the home of John Calfas. On New Years Day 1841, the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was administered for the first time by J. M. Sindlinger and Joseph Harlacher and forty--five people joined the church. A series of meetings was held at the Calfas home.

      The Morriston Church (written by Marjorie Clark, 1980.)

      Puslinch Township - history - Morriston Church. (2017). Clarksoftomfad.ca. Retrieved 8 April 2017, from http://www.clarksoftomfad.ca/MorristonChurch.htm


  • Sources 
    1. [S2173] Find A Grave, Rev Joseph Harlacher (1812 - 1893) - Find A Grave Memorial. (2017). Findagrave.com. Retrieved 8 April 2017, from https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=39983275&ref=acom.

    2. [S244] News - ON, Waterloo, Kitchener - Deutsche Canadier (1841-1865) - Index to Births, Deaths and Marriages Announced in the Deutsche Canadier, Berlin, Canada West. originally indexed by Simone Nieuwolt and Sylvie Kuppek..organised by Rosemary Ambrose, 30 Jul 1841 Page 31.
      Died 23 Jul 1841 Adam, a twin son of preacher Joseph Harlacher in Berlin, died at age 2 months.

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBirth - 5 Aug 1812 - near, Lewisburg, Union, Pennsylvania, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsOccupation - minister - 1840 - Evangelical Gemeinshaft Association, Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 15 Apr 1893 - Naperville, DuPage, Illinois, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Naperville Cemetery, Naperville, DuPage, Illinois, United States Link to Google Earth
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