Biography of Charles Daniel Wendel


My father, Carl Wendel, was born Sept. 13, 1829[1] in Teschenmoschel, Byern.  He was the second son of Henry Wendel and his wife Christine Rottenstein Wendel.


On August 23, 1855 he was united in marriage with Maria Rau, who was born November 21, 1831.  She was the youngest child of Christian Gottlieb Rau and his wife, Dorothea Elizabeth.


To this union the following children were born: Maria Christina, born April 29, 1857, Henry Jacob born October 5, 1860, Emilie Catharine born October 2, 1863, Charles Daniel born September 9, 1866, Elizabeth Barbara born February 13, 1869 and Clara Matilda born September 7, 1872.


At the time of my birth, my parents were living in Hopewell Township, in Wabash County, Indiana, where father was clearing 40 acres of timber, which he had just purchased.  I was born in a one room log house, situated at the foot of a small hill, upon top of which, father had planted an orchard.  About six to eight rods east, was part of an old beaver dam which left a pond with many small fish of all kinds and colors, but too small for table use.  A little creek flowed from this pond into deeper pools where these beautiful fish could be seen.  Just across the creek from the east bank, just south of where the beavers built the dam were two majestic white oak trees, which afforded splendid shade for the cows when they came in after having their fill of good meadow grass.


Just west of the orchard, father had built a barn and he was preparing the logs for a new log house, which he later erected and where we found more comfortable quarters.  Father was a lover of nice horses and was reputed to have been a splendid judge of a horse.


I might state here that my parents belonged to the Lutheran Church and we children were baptized in that faith. After father's death, mother was converted and united with the Evangelical Church. Since it was only a mile from our home, we children attended there.


When I was nearing my sixth birthday, our cows strayed from the pasture and father and I walked several miles in search of them. I recall that when we returned home, father complained of having a headache. After lying down awhile, he arose and gathered some seed corn. The following day, he very little then took to his bed where in a few days, he passed away.  The doctor called it “brain fever.”


This was a hard blow for mother, with five small children who were unable to be of any help but there was never a word of complaint.  She arranged for a sale using the money derived there from for paying off debts, as far as it would go.  By careful planning, she managed to carry us through the long hard winter.


Neighbors farmed the tillable land until my oldest sister was married.  They moved in and farmed with mother until mother was remarried. I lived with this newly wedded union for one year, then made my home with my brotherlnlaw, who was one of the most consecrated and devout Christians, it was my privilege to associate with.  He had more to do with my conversion and my early Christian life than any other living person.


In the year 1884, Rev. J.A. Lewellen was sent to the LaGro Circuit of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  The Hopewell Church, which we attended was an appointment on this circuit.  In the regular revival of that year, he was assisted by a local preacher by the name of J.W. Markley.  This meeting continued for four weeks, without any results, save a few who came forward every year.  The Sunday nite service of the four weeks was announced. That nite was a great nite for 14 of us when we went to the altar and found our Savior.  62 of the conversions which had grown to 72, united with the church.  My brotherinlaw, was class leader and he at once started a prayer meeting every nite in which he drilled us young people into a most wonderful praying band. Out of this group came two preachers, teacher and other prominent citizens. I am proud to state that this church was the home church of Gene Stratton Porter, of world fame.   In childhood days, we attended the same school together.


(may be some missing lines from the original)


We developed such a strong Christian character during the winter months that a call to the ministry was evidenced and to this call I finally yielded.  The following year, I attended school at Depaws (sic) University at Greencastle, Indiana.  Here I was terribly discouraged, since I had no educational background upon which to build.


My first teacher paid no attention to children. As a consequence, other children and I were retained for two years in the primer class where we recited only the ABC's and Ab, 1b, etc. without getting further instruction. I had a very poor start and it placed me under a terrible handicap all of my life. I never saw the day when I could have passed a 5th grade examination. After spending a year at Greencastle, sitting in recitation rooms, never being able to make one

recitation in class session. However the sessions were beneficial and helpful even tho I had no other part than listening. I returned home during vacation and the following fall, my stepbrother and I borrowed some money and bought a run-down store at Rippers, Indiana and I like Jonah, going to Tarsas, felt much relieved that I was now able to break from the call to the ministry.  While we were able to build up a good business and prosperity was corning, here I backslid

and became very worldly but I never could quiet the call to the ministry, which constantly bothered me.


After nearly three years, I sold out my interest and returned home. During the winter in a meeting held by Rev. J.W.Wildermouth in the Evangelical Church at Urbana, Ind., I was reclaimed. A person had to watch for an opportunity to speak or pray, for in those meetings every one wanted, to be first and the leader would frequently admonish the stronger to give place to the weaker. These meetings continued until spring work opened when we had our regular service. By that time the young converts were so well established that the prayer and class meetings were their delight.


Not long after being reclaimed, I had another inward prompting or call to the ministry.  My friend, M(?) A. Wood had a similar call.  We went to a Methods School at DePaw (sic) University in Greencastle, Ind. We entered the Theological Seminary.  I can never tell how I got in with no education at all. I could stammer around in reading, hardly able to comprehend what I had read. I knew nothing of English.  Well I sat in classes during the year and received a small general idea of what was going on.  D. L. Speicher, a friend offered to furnish money for me to go to North Central College at Naperville, Ill.


My pastor, J. W. Wales, prevailed on me to take out a license to preach, to which I finally consented. At conference presided over by Bishop Bowman, in Bremen, Ind. I received my probation license.  I had refused to take work as I expected to go to school. This being the time of the division of the church, men were needed.[2]     


Bishop Bowman announced that he didn't have work in Indiana Conf. but would take the men not employed with him.  I asked him what he meant and he said “you are licensed and we have the say now.”  Thinking there was no other way I consented under the condition that they place me as junior preacher under an experienced man.  About one week later, I received a letter from Presiding Elder ?.[3] F. Yerger of the Des Moines, Iowa Conference.  Not knowing where I was going I packed my suitcase and started for my appointment, which was at Harlan, Iowa.


I arrived in Harlan on April 18, 1891. I had a boil on the back of my neck.  I carried an overcoat, two satchels, and a small package.  It turned out to be one of those first hot lazy days of spring and after an all nite on the train without sleep except for a few, little short naps between stations.  In my weary physical condition I walked six miles west of Harlan, going the north road which made a total of seven miles.  I was all perspiration and dust when I arrived at the ?[4]. W. Bittle home, where I was welcomed and kindly entertained. 


Never having preached and without any training this was all new to me. I was no encouragement to a discouraged and scattered people. This being Saturday Bro. Biddle took me 2 miles west and 2 miles south on Sunday to Queen’s Schoolhouse where I arranged to preach every two weeks in the evenings. 


I found 14 members on this field and spent my time "between McKegens and Bittles and the Swartz restaurant. The last six months of the year, I was nicely housed with the H.H.Luccke family.  They gave me most royal entertainment.


I preached as much as was possible and received $90 salary for the year.  I made out what little report I had and went to Conference at Creston, Iowa.  Bishop Bowman presided over the session. I was appointed to Kingsley Circuit of the Des Moines conference.


I left Harlan in the spring of 1892, April 15, arrived in Kingsley that same evening. I went at once to the home of Rev. J.F. Yeager where I was entertained for perhaps four weeks until I could buy furniture and furnish the parsonage, for setting up housekeeping awaiting the arrival of my sister, who was coming to live with me.  She remained with me until fall, when because of failing health

she returned to Indiana.  I lived alone in the parsonage but spent most or my [time] with the people. Here I had many interesting experiences. I served the Beulah appointment, 8 miles south of Kingsley, where we had a prosperous society and a packed house to preach to evenings and a fine audience Sunday mornings.


Morning Star was 11 miles east of Kingsley, where we had wonderful spiritual people. They did with their (end of page)


(5 pages are missing numbers 13, 14, 15 and 16)


Among the city churches. My pastorate was cut short here by sickness during my second year. We were not very successful as we had considerable loss during the first year but we were glad that the church went from third to second place in the city.  Because of a physical break down, we had to leave. The first six months of the first year, we stayed with my folks in Urbana, Ind. The last six months we stayed with my wife’s folks near LeMars, Ia. For the next two years we rented

a farm, when my health had been fully recovered, we accepted an appointment moving to Prescott, Iowa in March 1901.  This was a rundown field of two appointments.  A parsonage and church, 4 miles north of Prescott, Mount Etna 10 miles west and Mount Pisgah 14 miles west. At both. places they had told the Elder not to send a man on the fields.  Well he didn't send us but said we could take our choice of Red Oak or Prescott, so we chose Prescott. We served on this field over three years and had a number of souls saved at Mount Pisgah and a wonderful revival at Mount Etna. Took up an appointment north of Etna where we organized with a membership of 14, added a nice group of people to Mount Zion.  This was 3 years of hard driving, I recall that I drove 14 miles against a brisk wind when it was 14 degrees below zero.  I put the team in a barn and walked one and three fourths mile and preached to 14 people in a cold school house.


From Prescott we moved to Audubon, la. where we served a pastorate of 5 years.  Here we had some very good people but a little tightly bound to the Holiness tract.  In fact we were all a little strong, one tract people.  We had some wonderful meetings, a number of conversions and accessions.  We put a furnace under the church, put in pews, bought an organ and painted and papered the church twice.


I helped Mr. Conner work the Canada land deal a little.  Enough so, that we paid for a quarter section in Alberta.  It never made us any money but neither did we lose any.


We had a great many weddings and funerals,  We made many staunch friends in town and community.


From here we suffered a real disappointment when we were sent to Viola Center.  We moved and it was a place like Maxwell, where we received a very small salary but had an abundance of everything, with some left over at the end.


(The record of the following appointments, are missing:

Oak Park, Des Moines, Maxwell, Ia., Dumont, Story City, Van. Horne, Radcliffe, Green Mountain)


Frustrations and hardships of Second APP'T at AUDUBON


We were appointed to serve Audubon for the second time at the annual conference session held at Story City, la. in 1926.  Against our better judgement and at our protest, we arrived on April 15.  We found a very cordial welcome on the part of a small congregation. We were very kindly entertained at the Kopp home over the Sabbath and until we had the confusion in our home pretty well in order.


The field was in no way any better than we expected, in many ways it was much worse. They had just put a new roof on the parsonage, papered a few rooms and put some new filler on the floor.  The cellar, which isn't more than a hole under the house was in a most awful condition. Bro. Kopp carried out dirt and rubbish for more than a halt day and I spent almost a day, before we could put anything in.


The barn was needing repairs during my first pastorate, twenty years before.  It had not improved with age and was really unfit to put a car in or to store anything in. The doors were hanging on one hinge and flopping about and hanging down.


The church was in a dilapidated condition, paper was smoked until it was really black.  Plastering was off in places with loose ends of paper hanging down.  Other places there were water soaked spots. The floor was not only dusty but dirty, the pulpit carpet was simply black with dirt, piano was out of tune. Yet there were a few people who could jump up and say “I am saved, sanctified, cleaned up and ready to go to Heaven.”


The hole under the church where a furnace had been placed 20 years before and which was now entirely burnt out and beyond repair, had to be replaced.  An accumulation of two years old musty cobs, plus old musty carpet and clothing which had been used in a play, was cast into this catch all. No where in the church or basement could you touch anything without getting dirty.


The steps leading up the front entrance were not uniform, one step might be 13 inches and the next one 10 inches.  The spouting was so arranged that all the water coming from one half the roof fell in the center of the platform just in front of the main entrance, so if you went in or out while raining, you had to pass under or thru all this water.


I spoke about repairs and improvements but had no response.  The board of trustees were not in favor of doing anything.  I preached sermons intending to arouse their interest and bringing action.  The first sermon was when Elisha asked the citizens to bring salt in a new cruse for purifying the waters of Jericho.  The burden of the message was the necessity of a new cruse but the same old salt.  A new clean church but the same old gospel.  This was followed by other sermons. Every available opportunity was used to refuse the need for cleaning up and modernizing.  Then we followed with the excuses given to Habakkuk when the people said that the time hadn't arrived in which to build. They needed to clear debts, repair houses and vineyards. They did not deny the need but the time was not right.


This sermon brought fruit, for then on (sic) the officers swung over and began to talk improvement.  The Pres. of the board refused to act so he was asked to resign.  This done, one was elected to fill his place but the work was yet to be hindered.  One man on the board would do nothing until the money was in sight.  We made arrangements for a loan but he refused to do anything until we threatened to ask him to sign or resign.  He finally signed.  The work was begun by removing all the rubbish and dirt from under the church. A blue print was made showing the arrangement of the basement, placing the furnace room, kitchen, cloak room, toilets etc.


Mechanics were employed by the day to do the work.  A building or repair committee had been elected by the Board of Trustees.  This comm. acted but outside of one meeting, never had a session. There was perhaps 3 occasions aside from the one called meeting, that they met accidentally and decided to make a change.  There are no records aside those that the treasurer kept was made nor could they be induced to hold a meeting and record minutes. It seemed that each one wanted some idea of his own to be carried out and he was afraid it would be voted down (last line unreadable on copy)


These things were the beginning of discord and no end of trouble.  We have been speaking of the church but really the first promise was the tearing down of the old barn and building a garage and coal bin and a storage for boxes but sorry to report the old barn as a monument of wreckage, for we utterly failed in this project.  In fact, the contention became so tense regarding the barn that the Board even denied that they had ever promised to do anything with it. Among the many unpleasant things that happened, I mention the first one as I recall it. 


For years the people had a “church boss" and this man was Sec. of the Board.  Anyone who came here could, turn the world upside down but you can find no record of any meetings held, outside of here and there, where some new pastor attempted to start them out on a new system, perhaps a few such records might be found.  There were no records of regular meetings to be found. I knew this and was determined to see that records were kept.


We had held two trustee meetings and I could see that things were proceeding along the same old way. We met for the third trustee meeting with all members present.  The Pres. opened the meeting and called for any business which might legally come before the Board.  A business matter was presented.  At this time I called for the minutes of the previous meeting. There was no response.  I insisted that we had had two meetings and we should act upon the minutes, where upon the Sec. said "It you want minutes, write them" I replied "It I were Sec. I would.”  Then there was another pause.  When I further insisted, the Sec. asked if I were present at the previous meeting.  l answered "I was present" then he said “then you know what business was transacted, what more do you want to know"? I said that I wanted the minutes adopted. After a pause, the chairman said. "May we have the minutes"?  This meeting, being held in the home of the Sec. he went into an adjoining room where he leafed through a large Geography, the only place be had

to keep such records.  After perhaps five minutes search, he returned and said that he had them somewhere but couldn't find them but that he would read them at the next meeting. So the business meeting continued with out any minutes, being read. This seemed to be the beginning wedge for the continual controversy between the pastor and officials.


It seemed that every move on the part of the pastor was a challenge for more controversy and disagreement.  His suggestions and repeated askings for Comm. meetings, where repair matters might be talked over to a satisfactory conclusion were ignored.  We did try to win our way in to them but by demanding a reading of the minutes, we had aroused a spirit of antagonism that my kindliest suggestion brought nothing but sharp, stinging replies.


In the matter of placing a cold air duct, I asked why air could not be taken a different way than shown by the blueprint.  They replied that it could not that there would be friction.  I asked them to explain why there would be more friction one way or another.  They said that ii you think that way you don’t know anything. When the furnace man came to install the furnace, he installed it the

way I suggested because he siad [sic] that was the better way,


Again we were placing a beam. I was standing near and said "Men if you place this beam on the westside of the end of another beam resting on the wall at the same place, this beam would catch all the pieces whose ends were lapping just above but for one and that would strengthen all this space.  Whereupon I was informed that it didn't require any brains to see that it would only catch three of the joists. In a few days it became necessary to change the beam as l had suggested, where it caught all the joists but one as I suggested.  I reminded the man who had made the remark but he denied having said anything.


One evening the repair committee met by accident outside just where the outside entrance was to be placed and where the retaining wall was to be put in the next rooming. The comm. while there decided how the wall was to be placed.  In the morning early, one of the members of the comm. who wanted the wall in a different position, who would not argue his way before, was there before the mason came and had him start it his way so the wall was well advanced before the othe [sic] comm. members and I had arrived.  When I arrived I asked when the comm. had met and changed their plans.  I finally received my reply which was “I wasn’t needed there, they could run things by themselves.


I thought the Scriptures once said that it wasn't my nusiness[5] to "serve tables"' but to do the knee work and that's what I should be about.


One evening, it developed that it would he necessary to appoint a special committee to buy paper for papering the church. I called up one of the members who would be very ably qualified to serve on that comm. to serve on that comm..  Thinking by getting her with the consent of another woman it would make it easier for the Board it they knew they would or would not act. Then I called the second lady, who happened to be the wife of our "church boss".  She said that comm. had been appointed.  This made me question as to when that comm.. had been appointed, since I had been in touch with two members of the Board not more than three hours before and no committees had been appointed.  About ten o'clock the next morning I met one of the members of the Board and asked him when they had met and appointed the paper comm..  He denied any knowledge of such a comm. being appointed.  I pressed him hard for the truth but he insisted he knew nothing that it was all news to him.  At noon the same day, two of the Board called and told me that I should go and get a comm. and select the paper. I told them that I understood that a comm. had been appointed and I further question who had appointed the comm.  The church boss upon being pressed said "we, myself and this man".  The other man was the one, who at ten o'clock had so earnestly denied knowing anything about a comm. being appointed.  I like Moses lost my temper and instead of doing what Moses did and spoken to him instead of striking.  In a heated spirit, I addressed my church boss by saying, "You are so dogged bull headed that no one can work with you and if you can’t have your own way and can't get it any other way you would come over before breakfast and start piece of work so it would have to go your way.


The following Sunday morning he came to Sabbath School.  At the close of the school, just as I had seated myself in the pulpit chair, ready to start the service he came forward and laid a letter on the pulpit. I took it and read his resignation as Class Leader. This being near the expiration of his term, I paid no attention to it. After laying the letter on the pulpit, he left the church.


He kept coming to Sunday School but kept going home before preaching for over two months.  One Sunday morning, during this time the Supt. asked him to open the Sunday School with prayer.  All his prayer centered around himself.  When he prayed for his enemies, in the following language, "Oh Lord, remova (sic) from me, he, would take from me my spiritual life and would destroy my influence among my friends by gross misrepresentation.  For this prayer no apology was ever offered. When laying out the basement, he wanted in the worst way to have the furnace room enlarged.  To this, several of us objected, as on former occasions. I insisted that if the furnace room was extended six feet further, it would cut off that much of our auditorium.  He answered that there must be a place for ashes. The Pres. of the Board was present and he agreed that the basement was no place for ashes. The old hole under the church held a two year supply so it was quite natural to have a place to keep ashes. I still insisted in no uncertain tones that there would be no ashes in the basement as long as I was pastor. He asked, "What if the janitor doesn’t carry them out"?  I said, "if he doesn't, I will,"


We wasted the window ledge in the south window, a solid board wide enuf to be used for a shelf.  Our church boss was on hand to veto it and still he liked the idea, so he suggested a movable board. It was suggested there was no money so I offered to pay the extra but I could see that the movable plan was winning.  I became rebellious and perhaps manifest a spirit that wasn't brim full of meekness and submission and said "if the board is not put in as one piece I withdraw my offer to pay the extra". That being decided, the church boss, seeing what he had done softened, as to my opinion concerning the width of the serving table.  My ruffled condition, of a few minutes before, was still stirring and in a rather unchristian way, I said, "fix it yourself, for you are determined to have your own way anyhow, my opinions aren't worth a consideration".


I was now beginning to realize that a nervous condition was getting hold of me which left me unable to control myself, even befor this, I found it difficult to speak under self control in the presence of these self willed, stubborn [end of page]


The Pres. of the Trustee Board is one of the dirtiest tobacco chewers, I have ever met. I have met men who were careless about slobbering and letting juice run out of their mouths but this man would work around the building handling dirty boards and tools, then take the cud or tobacco out of his mouth, put it in his pants pocket, let it there for a half to an hour, take it out and hold it in his dirty hands, shake them as if he had nothing then after while would make an excuse etc; turn his back when he would put the cud back in his mouth, and chew it again. This he would repeat two or three times in a half day. How long this lasted, no one knew for no one ever saw him replace it with a new one.  The Supt. of the Sunday School was on the repair comm. He would suck on an old cigarette anywhere in the church and on his way to Sabbath School right up to the church door. To call on anyone or these men to pray in the service or to tell a touching story, would bring a fountain of crocodile tears and yet there were at least ten of these people who were not on speaking terms.  By speaking with them alone they would tell you that the church would never prosper until so and so were put out of the church.  Meet that party and that is just what he would say about the othe [sic] party. There were three families staying home because others had offended them.  At the least suspicion of offence, it was the excuse for staying at home.  An apology was not enough to bring them back.


I was put to a test with regard to my statement that there would be no ashes in the basement. Our church boss, who was janitor at the school house.  A part of the church had been rented for school purposes so he janitored the school  up until Friday and then janitored the church.  The first Sunday morning I waited until I was convinced that he wouldn't build the fire. The weather being chilly I went over and started the fire but I had to remove five wash boilers full of ashes first.  Everything was full.  The boiler, ash pan, fire pot and three boiler full piled on the floor where you had to step on them to get in.  This continued for five weeks.  When we had our quarterly Conf. meeting, they read a resolution they had written at a meeting which they held of which I knew nothing. They stated that a complaint had come to them from the school board (which had been reported to them by Mrs. Wendel) asking that they instruct the janitor to remove the ashes as her husband had been doing it.  I knew nothing of this report and was surprised when informed the the [sic] trustees.  This lead to the drafting of the resolution: That one C.D. Wendel, had by his own initiative without consulting the school board or trustees had removed ashes from the church basement.  Hereafter the ashes were to be left in the basement to be disposed of when and where ever the Board be pleased to dispose of them.  That two janitors would not work. Suffice it to say that in spite of my protest ashes are kept in the basement.


In all my ministry, I never met such a conceited, independent people, which account for the unprosperity of this society.


Unique Experiences


The first was raising some $2800 in Van Horne for repairs, every dollar came in with out solicitation.


Playing Between Elders


Presiding elders, who were my successors: D. Martz, Decature, Ind., Harlan Ramage, Van Horne, followed W. L. Bock, Van Horne, J. H. Yaggy, Des Moines, F. R. Blakely, Harlan, Stauffacher, Maxwell.


[The copy Wendel Thompson used in preparing this document was sent around to the family by Aunt Lois Dickinson in February 1992.  The most likely person to have the original is Pat Bowers.  Whether her copy has some of the missing pages noted in this document is unknown.)

[1] Name spelled “Karl” and birth date given as September 18, 1828 on German birth certificate.  Copy available.

[2] I wonder what this division was about. (Wendel Thompson)

[3] J.F. Yerger in Wendel History.

[4] J.W. Bittle in Wendel History.

[5] Probably meant “business”.