Waterloo Region Generations
A record of the people of Waterloo Region, Ontario.

Rev. Charles Samuel Eby, D. D.[1]

Male 1845 - Yes, date unknown

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  • Name Charles Samuel Eby 
    Prefix Rev. 
    Suffix D. D. 
    Born 3 Nov 1845  Goderich, Huron Co., Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    Occupation 1874  Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    clergyman (Minister) 
    Eby ID Number 00031-2506 
    Died Yes, date unknown 
    Person ID I21358  Generations
    Last Modified 23 Jul 2020 

    Father Jonas Eby,   b. 3 Jan 1815, , Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1887, Kingsville, Essex Co., Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 71 years) 
    Mother Hannah Fessant,   b. 1810, , England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married Oct 1838  Guelph City, Wellington Co., Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Family ID F5217  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Ella Keppel,   b. Abt 1845, Of, Brooklyn, Cattaraugus, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married Jun 1871  [1
     1. Arthur Eby,   b. 6 Jan 1874, Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     2. Nellie Eby,   b. 1876,   d. Yes, date unknown
     3. Charles Albert Eby,   b. 1879,   d. Yes, date unknown
     4. Mary Eby,   b. 1881,   d. Yes, date unknown
     5. Winnifred M. Eby,   b. 1883, Of, Toronto, York Co., Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     6. Harold Eby,   b. 1889, Tokyo, Japan Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
    Last Modified 24 Jul 2020 
    Family ID F5220  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • "Following is a biographical sketch of Dr. Eby who is a missionary of the Canadian Methodist Church, at Tokyo, Japan:

      Charles S. Eby, fourth son of the late Jonas Eby, was born at Goderich, Ontario, November 3rd, 1845. The early years of his boyhood were spent in Elora where his parents moved before he had completed his second year. When only eleven years of age he was converted to God while attending a camp meeting on the old Peel circuit. He soon after joined the Wesleyan Methodist Church, and has always remained loyal and true to God and the church of his choice.

      When about fifteen years old he was apprenticed to a saddle and harness maker in Guelph, but his heart was not in his work; he took more interest in his Latin grammar which he kept tacked before him while at work at the bench. He remained there nearly two years; then thought there was no use spending any more time in a harness-maker's shop, as the ambition of his life was to study for the ministry, to which he felt called. He taught school for some time, a few miles from Guelph, and at the age of eighteen began to preach. The late Rev. Dr. Carroll, then chairman of the Guelph District, recommended him to the Conference, and he spent one year (the first year of his probation), on the Peel circuit. In the fall of 1865 he went to Victoria University, Cobourg, with the determination to go through a college course, and to work his own way along.

      Something seemed to draw him to the German work, and when he had been two years at Cobourg, Providence opened up a way for him to go to Germany to perfect himself in the German language. He attended the Theological University at Halle, and spent two years and a half there and in other parts of Europe. He made good use of the time in preparing himself for the mission work that lay before him. Before leaving Europe he preached in both German and French. In the latter part of 1870 he returned to Canada, much stronger in body and enjoying far better health than ever before.

      He again went to Cobourg to continue his studies, and the following May graduated with honors, and received the degree of B. A. In June he was ordained and received into full connection by the conference. The same month he was married to Miss Nellie Keppel, of Brooklyn, New York, and settled down at Preston, Ontario, as superintendent of the German Mission in connection with the Methodist Church. He spent five years in the German work, - three in Preston and two in Hamilton, Ontario. Then came a change. God had other work for him, and a great future lay before him in a far distant land. Just at this time (in 1876), a call came for two more men for the foreign mission--Japan. Consecrated, whole-hearted men were wanted. Bro. Eby was one of the men the conference chose for that important work.

      Always ready to obey the Saviour's command, and willing to go anywhere for Christ, he at once responded to the call. Preparations for the journey were immediately made, and in August of the same year he bade a long good-bye to friends, home and native land, and with his wife and two little children sailed for the islands of Japan. He threw his whole soul into his new work. It was not easy work. The Japanese language had to be learned, and many other difficulties overcome. His powers for learning languages are wonderful, and it was not long before he had mastered the Japanese, and could preach in that language as freely as in English. For several years he remained, doing a noble work for God, then his health failed and he was obliged to leave for a time and return to Canada.

      Early in the spring of 1885 he left Japan and did not return for nearly two years. He and his family were welcomed by their many friends in Canada and the United States. His visit and the change were of great benefit to him and, through the blessing of God, he soon regained his health. During his stay here the degree of D. D. was bestowed upon him by the Victoria University, Cobourg. He lectured and gave missionary addresses from one end of the Dominion to the other, and in some places in the United States.

      He was ready when the time came for him to return to Japan, and was anxious to get once more at the work he loved so well. Since his return his heart has been more than ever in the work. God is crowning his labors with success, and he is looking forward to a long term of usefulness in the Empire of Japan. He is a minister of superior ability, with strong mental powers and decided convictions. He is a master of his subject, and he pours out his heart with fervent eloquence, holding his audience with intense and absorbing interest. His rhetorical ability and literary skill will obtain him a hearing anywhere. He possesses a master mind, and his hearers feel that more than an ordinary man is addressing them. He has chosen a field where his superior powers will find ample scope in delivering and enforcing that gospel which has done so much for himself."


      Charles S. Eby, D. D. "was born November 3rd, 1845. He was married to Nellie Keppel in June, 1871. they have five children, namely Nellie, born in 1876; Charles Albert, born in 1879; Mary, born in 1881; Winnie, born in 1883; and Harold, born in 1889."

      Eby, Ezra E. (1895). A biographical history of Waterloo township and other townships of the county: being a history of the early settlers and their descendants, mostly all of Pennsylvania Dutch origin: as also much other unpublished historical information chiefly of a local character. Berlin [Kitchener, Ont.]: [s.n.].


      EBY, CHARLES SAMUEL, Methodist missionary, author, and publisher; b. 3 Nov. 1845 in Goderich, Upper Canada, son of Jonas Eby and Hannah Fessant; m. 15 June 1871 Ellie (Nellie) Keppel in Brooklyn (New York City), and they had three daughters and three sons; d. 20 Dec. 1925 in Saskatoon.

      Descended from Pennsylvania German stock, Charles Eby was converted when he was 11 at a camp meeting in Elora, Upper Canada, where his family had moved. At about 15 he began a two-year apprenticeship with a saddle and harness maker in Guelph while expanding his education. He then earned a teaching certificate, taught for a year near Guelph, and served as an exhorter in the local Wesleyan church.
      At age 19 Eby began preaching, and in 1865 the annual conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada permitted him to attend Victoria College in Cobourg as part of his probation for the ministry. After two years he travelled to Europe, where he studied German, French, and theology. He returned to Victoria in 1870 and graduated the following spring (dd 1886). Shortly thereafter he was ordained and married Ellie Keppel.

      Eby served the Methodist German missions at Preston (Cambridge) and Paris, Ont., from 1871 to 1874 and those in Hamilton from 1874 to 1876. He visited all the German missions in Ontario, and lectured widely on his European travels in order to raise money for this work. Considered an excellent lecturer and a rousing preacher, he staunchly supported traditional evangelism. He began publishing the biweekly Der Canadische Evangelist [Canadian Evangelist] (Preston) in 1872 and personally maintained the journal until 1875 despite financial losses. The magazine was never well received, however, and his financial and propaganda campaigns outside the regular mission channels disturbed many itinerants.

      In 1876 Eby was appointed to Japan, where the church had begun work in 1873 [see George Cochran*]. The mission authorities believed that his ardent zeal would spark a revival there as well as reawaken the Christian spirit in Canada. After learning basic Japanese, Eby opened a mission in K?fu in 1878. Although conversions were initially rare, he attracted large crowds through his sermons and his lectures on Western religion and culture. He also helped to train a native Japanese ministry in Tokyo.

      Strongly committed to evangelization, Eby considered that the real hindrance to Christian civilization came from the scepticism and secularism inherent in modern Western science and philosophy. For him, the best hope of success lay in attracting the brighter members of the samurai class by presenting Christianity as a logical ethical and moral system as well as a spiritual experience. In 1881-83 he published the Chrysanthemum (Yokohama), a monthly aimed at the Japanese intelligentsia but read mostly by the missionary community.
      In early 1883 Eby delivered in Tokyo a popular series of lectures on Western theology and philosophy which was published in both English (Christianity and humanity) and Japanese. He credited these lectures with increased tolerance of Christianity by the Japanese authorities, and also with helping to promote a spiritual revival and making the K?fu mission financially self-supporting. Another lecture in early 1884 appeared as The immediate Christianization of Japan: prospects, plans, results. On furlough in 1885-86, Eby undertook an exhausting North American tour to promote Methodist missions. In 1886 he presented an important lecture, published in Toronto as Methodism and the missionary problem, on the need to devote greater resources to overseas work. Before leaving Canada, he began a campaign for two projects that would dominate his remaining years in Japan.

      Eby believed that the best way to convert Japan was to establish a large educational and social-relief mission near the Tokyo Imperial University where special lectures on Christianity could be presented. After modifications to accommodate traditional evangelism, regular church services, and a greater role for native Japanese workers, the Central Tabernacle opened in January 1891. In addition to running it, Eby published Japan for Christ, a journal outlining its work. In his second undertaking Eby, recognizing that the Board of Missions in Canada could not afford new recruits, called for "a supplementary force of self-supporting missionaries who, would work in harmony with the mission, and teach to pay expenses." Fifteen men and one women were to work in Japan as part of this "light brigade" of Christian soldiers before it ceased operations in the early 1890s.

      Most of Eby's campaigns led to disputes. The Central Tabernacle spent more than one-eighth of the Japan mission budget, yet had little impact on the Japanese intelligentsia. Moreover, Eby proved to be a poor administrator, and his independent financial campaigns embarrassed the Board of Missions. Similarly, the board had no authority over the Self-Support Band, but feared it would have to pay the group's expenses if anything went wrong. Eby had little regard for the wishes of others, and his relations with the Canadian Methodist authorities and the highly nationalistic native Japanese church were often strained. After his return to Canada in 1893 because of exhaustion, the controversies surrounding the Japan mission that he and his supporters had aggravated reached a climax. In late 1895 Eby and others were removed from the work there.

      In 1896 Eby accepted an invitation to Homer Street Methodist Church in Vancouver, an institution with an active Japanese and Chinese membership. Three years later he moved to the similarly diverse Agnes Street Church in Toronto. Subsequently he held a variety of appointments, including Bracebridge (1903-5) and Kingston (1905-7). He then laboured for a year as secretary for eastern Asia of the International Reform Bureau, which opposed prostitution and the use of alcohol and opium. In 1908 he accepted a call from Zion Congregational Church in Toronto, and a year later he opened the People's Institute, a socialist church advocating brotherhood, social action, and peace. After his wife's death in 1912 he lived with a daughter in Saskatoon.

      Eby was a man of rare talents, undoubted skills, and restless energy. He had a profound impact on the founding and early progress of the Methodist mission in Japan and did much to encourage Canadian support for mission work. He also strongly promoted ecumenism in church affairs, and strove to have Japan recognized as an equal member of the community of nations. As his obituary noted, he was a refined scholar, an impassioned preacher, and a courageous missionary.

      Neil Semple

      Charles Samuel Eby's Christianity and humanity: a course of lectures delivered in Meiji kuaido, Tokio, Japan and The immediate Christianization of Japan: prospects, plans, results were published in Yokohama in 1883 and 1884 respectively. Among his other works are How shall we preach Christ? ([Yokohama, 1885]); Jikken Shingaku/Experimental theology or, the Methodist standard of preaching, which he had printed in Japanese (Tokyo, 1888); The Forward Movement in Japan: an address to the Methodist Church (Toronto, 1889); and The world problem and the divine solution (Toronto, 1914).
      UCC-C, Biog. file; Fonds 14/2/2, 78.083C; Fonds 14/2/4, 78.084C, 78.098C; Fonds 14/3/3, 78.092C. Christian Guardian, 1871-1908. G. H. Cornish, Cyclopædia of Methodism in Canada . . . (2v., Toronto and Halifax, 1881-1903). E. E. Eby and J. B. Snyder, A biographical history of early settlers and their descendants in Waterloo Township, with Supplement, ed. E. D. Weber (Kitchener, Ont., 1971). A. H. Ion, "Canadian missionaries in Meiji Japan: the Japan Mission of the Methodist Church of Canada (1873-1889)" (ma thesis, McGill Univ., Montreal, 1972). Methodist Church (Canada, Newfoundland, Bermuda), Missionary Soc., Annual report (Toronto), 1884-95; Woman's Missionary Soc., Annual report (Hamilton, Ont.; Toronto), 1884-96. Methodist Church of Canada, Missionary Soc., Annual report (Toronto), 1874-84. G. R. P. and Howard Norman, One hundred years in Japan, 1873-1973 (2v., typescript, UCC, Div. of World Outreach, [Toronto], 1981). Neil Semple, The Lord's dominion: the history of Canadian Methodism (Montreal and Kingston, Ont., 1996). Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada, Missionary Soc., Annual report (Toronto), 1871-74.

      Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online 2000 University of Toronto/Université Laval

  • Sources 
    1. [S3] Book - Vol I A Biographical History of Waterloo Township and other townships of the county : being a history of the early settlers and their descendants, mostly all of Pennsylvania Dutch origin..., 575.

    2. [S3] Book - Vol I A Biographical History of Waterloo Township and other townships of the county : being a history of the early settlers and their descendants, mostly all of Pennsylvania Dutch origin..., 574.

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 3 Nov 1845 - Goderich, Huron Co., Ontario Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsOccupation - clergyman (Minister) - 1874 - Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
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