Anna Barbara Willi Jacob was the founder of what is now the Zion United Methodist Church, Luckey. Johann Jacob and Anna were married in Switzerland in 1826, moved to the United States in 1848. Anna Barbara voyaged to America with her husband Johannes Jakob (in America “John Jacob”) and four small children. Accompanying Johannes and Anna on the voyage was Johannes’s sister Magdalena Jakob (in America “Martha” or “Margaret” “Jacob”). Magdalena was Johannes’ younger sister. Also on the trip came Magdalena’s husband Johann Lehmann (later Layman) and seven small children. They left siblings and family back in their homeland. Anna Barbara, Johann, Magdalena and Johann Lehmann and children were early residents of the Luckey area and all involved in the early days of Salem Evangelical Church. Johann was born on Nov. 12th, 1801 and died on Aug. 27th 1882. Anna was born Nov. 28th, 1810 and died Feb. 18th 1895. Anna and husband Johannes Jakob had four known children; Johannes Jakob B 3 Oct 1828, Anna Barbara Jakob B 13 May 1836; Elisabeth Jakob B 7 Oct 1840 and Samuel Jacobs B 21 Jul 1831. These four children were born in the area of Lauperswil Bern Switzerland before the family immigrated to the United States. Anna was a widow for twelve and a half years and was eighty-five years old when she passed. Two years before her death the congregation outgrew the Smith Schoolhouse and it was decided to build a new structure for $1500.
The Story of How & Why Anna Started a New Church
The Zion United Methodist Church, Luckey, Ohio, was founded in the early part of the year 1860. The origin of the parish can be traced to the Salem Lutheran Church two miles east of Luckey on Bradner Road, the first church in Troy Township. At that time, Salem Church’s membership consisted almost entirely of German speaking immigrants settled throughout Troy, Webster, and Freedom Townships. The area east of Luckey where Salem Church is located was settled by German speaking Swiss immigrants who cleared the heavily wooded land for farming. The area became known as “The Sweitz,” pronounced “switz”. (“Die Schweiz” is the German name for Switzerland). Accordingly, the church was and is yet commonly referred to as the Sweitz Church.
Early in the spring of 1860 the annual confirmation service was held. Among those confirmed was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Jacob. Due to a difference in belief, Mrs. Jacob (Anna Barbara Willi) found the occasion disturbing and spoke of it to her family upon their arrival home. She had previously heard of the wonderful meetings of the Isch Class at Moline (now Moline United Methodist Church) under the ministry of the Rev. Jacob Rosenberger. This pioneer minister was largely responsible for the mid-nineteenth century growth of the former Evangelical Association in this area, resulting in the founding of our parish, the Moline United Methodist Church, and the growth of the Perrysburg Grace United Methodist Church.
Mrs. Jacob decided to walk to Moline that afternoon, a journey of approximately ten miles. Upon arrival at the John Isch home, Mrs. Jacob found Mrs. Isch milking and joyfully singing church hymns. This fervent Christian joy deeply impressed Mrs. Jacob. She ate with the Isch family and that evening walked to the church with them. On the way Mrs. Isch explained that the pastor would issue an altar call at the close of his message and offered to accompany Mrs. Jacob to the altar if she wished her to do so. This annoyed Mrs. Jacob for she thought to herself that she certainly did not want to do anything like that and for the moment wished she had not come. But after the message, when the invitation was issued, she went to the altar by herself and experienced the spiritual rebirth described in St. John 3:3. Before returning home she stayed three days with the John Isch family. During the following winter, her husband, John, enjoyed a similar experience in a worship service at Woodville. Thereafter they occasionally journeyed to Moline to attend the services of the Isch Class.
In the spring of 1859, a meeting was held in the John Jacob home at which the Rev. Jacob Rosenberger, pastor of the Perrysburg Circuit of the Evangelical Association, was scheduled to speak. Later, a revival meeting was held at which a number of those in attendance experienced rebirth. Among these were Samuel Jacob and his wife Elizabeth, John Clauser, Anna Mary Jacob, John Layman, and Margaret Layman. Mrs. Jacob made the candles and her husband made the candleholders, which were suspended from the ceiling. The first meetings were held in the Smith School. Prayer meetings were also conducted in the homes. John Isch, then a lay preacher from the Isch Class, came on Sunday afternoons to conduct services at the school. It can definitely be concluded that the Jacob Class was formally organized and became associated with the Evangelical Association sometime between January 9, 1860 and June 23, 1860. The exact date has not yet been determined.
John Clauser was the first class leader and the Rev. Jacob Rosenberger became the first pastor. For many years the Jacob Class was an appointment on the Perrysburg Circuit of the Evangelical Association. The charter members of the parish were: Mr. and Mrs. John Jacob (Anna Barbara Willi), Mr. and Mrs. John Clauser, John Clauser, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Christian Brandt, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Jacob, Anna Mary Jacob and Mr. and Mrs. Peter Burkholder.