History of the Restoration Movement

Daniel Sommer


Young Preacher

Biographical Sketch On The Life Of Daniel Sommer

"Of late years I have said the time will come that we will so far from Bible Christianity we can well say, “We had a prophet among us, but did not know it.” So wrote J. D. Tant to Daniel Sommer twelve years ago. (J.D. Tant, “An Open Letter,” Apostolic Review, Vol. LXXXI, Nos. 49, 50, (December 7, 1937), p.5.)

The truculent Daniel Sommer was particularly adapt at making close friends and fierce enemies—only he preferred to call them “friendly friends” and “unfriendly friends,” never enemies. He found a martyr's satisfaction in thinking of himself as the "most hated" and "most loved" man in the "disciple brotherhood." Despite, however, the obloquy of his “unfriendly friends,” Daniel Sommer was unmoved in championing points of view which the brotherhood charitably at times called his "extremes." No matter how one may view the full effect of Sommer's work, it cannot be denied that before the year 1906, the enigmatic Daniel Sommer was a force with which to reckon. He has left his mark—whether for weal or woe will remain for the future to reveal.

The story of Sommer's life is an inspiring one. Although reared in almost absolute poverty, by sheer determination he became the protégé of Elder Ben Franklin and one of the most popular preachers in the brotherhood. He was “strong in the faith and robust mentally and physically” as W. B. F. Treat once described him. The appraisal is not overdrawn. Sommer had complete confidence in the word of God, and a child-like trust in God's leadings. It can hardly be denied that he was spiritually a giant. He loved the Bible and studied vigorously. He prayed constantly, and devoted himself earnestly to the work of God. Like Tolbert Fanning he was of an extreme independent term of mind, and took no man as an authority in religion. He freely challenged the great men. His series of twenty-five articles entitled “‘Disciples of Christ’ Challenged" which were run in the Apostolic Review in 1935 and 1936 show a refreshingly independent approach to the writings of Alexander Campbell.

Physically, Sommer was a giant. His excellent bodily condition enabled him to stretch his earthly life from the normal "three score and ten" to "four score and ten." His worn out frame yielded to death on February 14, 1940, and was laid to rest in Crown Hill Cemetery at Indianapolis.

A little over ninety years before, Daniel Sommer was born in St. Mary's County, in the state of Maryland. The exact date was January 11, 1850.

Sommer's parents were both German. His father, John Sommer, was a Hessian, and his mother, Magdalena Wyman was a Bavarian. Both had emigrated to America in 1835. They were married "at or near" Washington D. C. in 1840. John Sommer died a comparatively young man, at the age of forty-one. Daniel Sommer was only a child at the time, and consequently remembered little of his father. By trade, his father was a blacksmith. He worked hard, but unlike most Germans, saved little. Although not a drunkard, he did drink considerably, and consequently, too much of his money was lost in this way. When he died, he left his widow with no money and a large family. The future for the family looked dark.

Sommer learned that tribulation is a difficult but necessary school in which to learn patience and perseverance. When John Sommer moved his family near the village of Queen Ann in Prince George's County, Maryland around 1855, he contacted a severe cold in the process. The cold developed into pneumonia, causing his death. His penniless widow, burdened with a large family, went unselfishly to work. To earn money she sewed suits for the negro slaves owned by the rich plantation owners in the vicinity. Usually a slave was allowed two suits a year by his master, so naturally, they sought for the best seamstress to make the clothing to last the longest.

Queen Ann was a small village on the west bank of the Patuxent River, about thirty miles east of Washington D. C. There were no churches of any kind here, and scarcely anything else to give it the reputation of being a village. Here, Daniel Sommer spent some of his early years. The family lived in a log cabin, each did some kind of work. Young Daniel set his traps, and in the winter brought in the game from his traps. The family lived for many days at a time on wild rabbit and corn bread.

In the spring of 1859 Daniel was hired out to do his first work. He was only nine years old, and the law said a boy could not do public work under the age of ten. But his employer was a friend and conveniently lied about his age. Hoswell Marguder, his employer, was building roads through that section of Maryland, and hired Daniel for a very small salary to help in the construction. Young Daniel arose before daylight. put his breakfast and lunch in a sack, and walked several miles to be at the place of work on time. He would walk back again at night, and fall exhausted upon the floor of the log cabin, only to have the process repeated the next day. Off and on he worked at this job through the fall of 1861. When the war came, workers were scarce and work plentiful, so the boys below army age secured their full share. Although the war raged about him, Sommer lived in almost complete oblivion of it.

He entered school first at the age of seven. At first, he was slow to learn and received considerable "teasing" about it. Nevertheless, he managed to take full advantage of his opportunities and advanced very well. His school clays lasted only a few months each year for five years. He dropped out in the spring of 1862 to return to work. Until he entered Bethany College seven years later, he was never again inside of a school. Through the winter of 1862-63 he worked as a farm hand for four dollars a month and his board.

Up to the spring of 1863 Sommer had given very little thought to religion. His parents were nominally Lutherans. and had their children sprinkled by Lutheran ministers. But they gave no devoted time to practicing their religion. Although through young life, Sommer had picked up a few bad habits, common to boys of the world. He could curse a little, and in case of necessity found it easy to lie occasionally. Old fashioned thievery was out, but woe be to the person who left a penknife lying around without a guard. These habits, then as now, were hardly considered too bad for an irreligious boy who had never given serious thought about his responsibility to God.

In the spring of 1863 Miss Louisa V. Harwood, an adopted daughter of the store keeper in the village, decided to open a Sunday School in a private house and invite the children of the neighborhood. Sommer at first was but little interested but later changed his mind. The young teacher presented her lessons in an appealing manner so Sommer became interested. She encouraged the children to think about their soul's welfare and asked them to "repent and pray" to God. Sommer for one, took her seriously and began for the first time to pray. It was not long until he was living an entirely different life.

At the close of 1863 Sommer left the plantation of William Fielder Howell where he had been employed, to work for Oden Bowie. Here, Sommer had some unpleasant experiences, due in the main to the fact that Bowie expected too much out of the farm hands. He left this farm on January 1, 1865 and the next day hired out to a farmer by the name of Mullikin. Sommer's mother, meanwhile, lived in a tenant house on the farm.

Before the close of 1864 Sommer had grown careless about his religion, lapsing into indifference. About this time a revival meeting was conducted among the Methodists in McKendry Chapel. Sommer was solicited as a likely candidate to come forward, "get religion" and "join the church." He convinced them that he had religion already, and so was promptly admitted into the church. He began now to be regular in attending Bible classes at the Methodist Church.

During the winter of 1866, Sommer chopped wood for a living. It was during this time that he heard of a group of people called the disciples of Christ. He heard it rumored that these people had no knowledge of "heart-felt" religion, and had no experience in conversion. They simply took the attitude, he heard, that if they did certain things, God was obligated to save them. The whole affair was rumored to be a cold, legalistic type of religion, and of course, was arduously condemned. So, when Sommer had a day off from work, he went down to a creek to observe a baptism being conducted by D. S. Burnet, whom Sommer understood to be the preacher for the church in Baltimore, but who was now here in the country conducting an evangelistic meeting.

In the winter of 1866 Sommer moved into Hartford County, Maryland. Here he had his first real contact with the restoration. At the "Mountain Meeting House," also called the "Jerusalem Church," there was a preacher by the name of Calderwood, commonly described as a man "too lazy to work between meals." Talk of him—evidently not too praiseworthy—and of his teaching often became the topic of conversation in the community. When Sommer went to work for a man by the name of John Dallas Everitt, a member of the church, young Daniel was now placed directly in the line for some wholesome teaching. When he reminded Everitt that he had been baptized—sprinkled when he was a baby—young Sommer was promptly told he had not been baptized at all. Step by step, through discussion and research of the Scripture, Sommer was led. For a year the discussions continued and Sommer found his convictions slowly changing. Finally, in August of 1869 he was baptized by Elder T A. Crenshaw of Middletown, Pennsylvania.

The question of selecting a life's work now renewed itself in Sommer's mind. His father had selected him to be a blacksmith because of his hardy physical makeup. Later, one or another possible vocation suggested itself. Now that Sommer was converted, and was intensively interested in the Bible, he began to toss about in his mind the possibility of preaching the gospel. When he spoke to some of the elderly men in the congregation about it, they encouraged him, but suggested that he first needed more education. Bethany College was the closest of the schools connected with the brotherhood. Besides, it was the most illustrious. Alexander Campbell's memory hovered spirit-like around it. His son-in-law, W. K. Pendleton, was now its president. C. L. Loos, a highly-respected educator, was connected with the school. Robert Richardson, although growing old, was still there. Sommer, therefore, prepared to enter Bethany College.

He came to Bethany in the same state of poverty that had characterized his entire life. Consequently he worked hard to pay his way, and went greatly in debt besides. His educational background was very limited—not having put in over five years, and those were disconnected and under inadequate circumstances in country school houses. Sommer entered Bethany far below other students both in educational background and financial security, but no student ever entered with more determination. At first, he took Latin, Greek, and algebra, but dropped the algebra to take rhetoric.

The first disappointment that Sommer felt with the brotherhood came during his student days at Bethany. He noticed that there were two classes of disciples in the church. One class believed that the Bible was a revelation to the saint and sinner. The other believed it was only a revelation to the sinner. The rule with the latter class was that God gave a revelation to tell the sinner how to become a Christian, but beyond that, the rule was “love God and do as you please.” There were no laws governing the church, and in the final analysis, sincerity alone was sufficient. President W. K. Pendleton was a champion of this point of view.

“The smooth and compromising manner of President Pendleton,” wrote W. B. F. Treat, “had no charms for him” (Daniel Sommer). He reacted violently against this. Although C. L. Loos was less addicted to this type of thinking, he was still the friend of human societies outside the church to do the work of the church, and in this connection Sommer had his first serious trouble.

The lady members of the church in Bethany decided to raise some money to buy new curtains, and new carpet and to paint the building. C. L. Loos, an elder in the congregation, gave a talk before the congregation one evening favoring the plan. A Ladies' Mite Society was organized and the announcement made that the hat would be passed that each person might give his mite to this work. The Mite Society held frequent meetings, which in Sommer's opinion degenerated into something very worldly. It was the custom of the church to invite different preachers among the students to speak at the Sunday evening services at the church. When Sommer received his invitation, he chose the first Psalm as a text, and closed the discourse with a severe blast at the Mite Society. This blow staggered the Society and in a matter of few days it died peacefully, but the blast shook Sommer's popularity considerably around the school.

The Mite Society was the first deviation from apostolic principles that Sommer found in the church after becoming a Christian. He was proud of the fact that he had publicly attacked it, and that his flagellations against all unscriptural practices were never known to stop as long as he lived. Sommer wrote:

I denounced publicly the first deviation from apostolic simplicity that I found among “disciples,” and I have been acting on the same principle ever since. For a brief period I thought that “mutual teaching and exhortation” should be the order at the time of worship without what is called a “sermon.” But I soon learned that when any one imitating the apostle Paul as a preacher was present at such a meeting then that one should be used as Paul was at Troas. Then for a brief period I thought that we should not offend the objector to classifying children and others in order to teach them in the meeting house. But I soon learned the evil results of doing nothing special for children on Lord's Day, and thus I turned from my mistake on that question. (Daniel Sommer, “ ‘Disciples Of Christ’ Challenged —No.18,” Apostolic Review, Vol. LXXXI, Nos. 5,6 (February 2, 1937), p.8)

Sommer's self-appointed role as a critic of brotherhood activities cost him dearly in friends, and gave him a reputation not altogether too envious. It is seldom that an individual can voluntarily select the role of a critic but what he can become overbalanced in this department of his work, and go to an extreme. One can repose, however, in some felicity with the thought that it is better to have a watch dog that barks too much than one that barks not at all.

In the spring of 1871 Ben Franklin, editor of the American Christian Review, came to Wellsburgh, West Virginia to conduct an evangelistic meeting. Quite naturally, Sommer had heard of Franklin, as had nearly every member of the church. From what he had heard about Franklin, he rather liked him, but he wanted to go see him and be sure. He asked and secured permission to miss classes one day at the College and went to Wellsburg to be with Ben Franklin. It was a case of love at first sight, and the love was fully returned. The aging Ben Franklin took a liking to young Sommer, and Sommer in turn idolized Ben Franklin. To the day of his death, Sommer never ceased regarding Franklin as the quintessence of gospel preachers. Sommer could well recall that at this meeting he found Franklin broken-hearted. Franklin now lived in Cincinnati where the Central Christian Church was erecting its $140,000 meeting house and putting in it an $8,000 organ. This case of extravagance was unparalleled in restoration history. So thought Franklin. His spirit was low when he met Sommer and he poured out his heart to his young protégé, and Sommer drank it in at the same time­consciously or unconsciously—firmly resolving to duplicate this man's life in his own.

Sommer's stay at Bethany College covered less than three years. During the Christmas holidays of 1872, he went to a place called Dutch Fork in Maryland and conducted a meeting. He did not return to take the final examinations that year, and dropped out of school. On his occasional excursions into Maryland, Sommer, too, had had other interests in mind the nature of which was clearly revealed when on this return trip he married Miss Kate Way.

For a short time immediately following his marriage, Sommer preached for one of the churches in Baltimore. There were two congregations there. The Paca Street Church where D. S. Burnet had preached until his death, and the congregation for which Sommer now preached had long been divided. The Paca Street congregation now had a preacher, who, in Sommer's opinion, was somewhat less than a Christian as it respected his morals. Sommer's stay was somewhat shortened and occasioned by considerable inter-congregational animosity.

During the time he lived in Baltimore, however, Sommer made a fast friend of George Austen, one of the elders. Austen had succeeded in establishing congregations in the bordering territory, and was one of the leading men in the church in that day. He was a harsh critic of Sommer's at a time perhaps when Sommer needed this. After hearing Sommer twice on one Lord's Day, he wrote his young friend the following letter :

Your forenoon's discourse was only tolerable. At night I knew you had made a failure as soon as I heard your text. Your gesticulations were stiff and awkward: your intonations of voice were forced and unnatural; your outlines were only ordinary, and the filing-up was miserable. (Daniel Sommer, “‘Disciples of Christ’ Challenged—No. 22,” Vol. LXXXI, Nos. 13, 14 (March 30, 1937), p. 8.) Such harshness was far from pleasant, but Sommer profited by it.

After a brief stay in Baltimore, Sommer moved to Kelton, Pennsylvania where he preached for the next five or six years. This congregation was one that George Austen had established. In the absence of any documentary evidence, it is not unlikely that Austen played some part in the changing of the locations.

At Kelton, Sommer took the opportunity for constant growth. Little of any significance came from him before the brotherhood. In 1872 he wrote his first article for Ben Franklin which was published in the American Christian Review. Three years later a few short articles appeared. Then there is silence until the fall of 1878 when Sommer wrote for the Review. Aside from these occasional flings at writing, Sommer kept busy in evangelistic meetings, his unusual ability becoming more widely known. From November 8 to December 14, 1878, he was in a meeting at Reynoldsburg, Ohio. A. E. Sprague who heard him through the entire meeting wrote of him:

He is a young man not yet in the prime of life; his voice strong and clear; his enunciations exceedingly good; his knowledge of scripture rarely excelled; his energy untiring; his manner and address pleasing; all these, together with his exemplary walk, and great reverence for the word of God, makes him a man of no ordinary ability. (A. E. Sprague, “Daniel Sommer at Reynoldsburg, Ohio,” American Christian Review, Vol. XXII, No. 4 (January 27, 1880), p. 30.)

In the spring of 1879 while still living at Kelton, Sommer was bitten by a mad dog, which gave him hydrophobia. Two physicians attended him, dosing him heavily with lobelia.

He felt heavily the blow of Ben Franklin's death in the fall of 1878, for he and Franklin had corresponded frequently, and already Sommer had sent in a series of articles entitled, “Educating Preachers” which were aimed at the culpableness of Bethany College. When John F. Rowe took over the editorship of the Review, Sommer continued his writing for several months, but eventually dropped from the contributors.

While preaching in Kelton, in Chester County, Pennsylvania, Sommer had occasion to receive a high compliment from Ben Franklin. In April, 1878 Franklin wrote Sommer of a congregation needing a preacher. The particular place offered twice the salary Sommer was then receiving, and from every point of view was attractive. But Sommer declined, writing to Ben Franklin that he was needed at Kelton more than at the other congregation. Although Franklin regretted that Sommer would not make the move, he admired the spirit, and so wrote :

We like this letter, though it does not agree to what we had in view. It is in the spirit of the pioneers in our great work, and of the primitive men in the church. The question with Brother Sommer is not how much money he can make out of his fine gifts and the gospel, but how much he can do in the great work of saving men. (Ben Franklin, “The Right Idea,” American Christian Review, Vol. XXI, No. 20 (May 14, 1878), p. 156.)

In 1880 Sommer moved from Kelton, Pennsylvania to Reynoldsburg, Ohio, stopping by Columbus for a short time on the move. In 1883 he began editorial work on his own. Together with L. F. Bittle he started a small monthly paper called the Octograph. The name was coined by Bittle to denote the “writings of eight,” referring to the eight writers of the New Testament. The paper was thus to be thoroughly apostolic. Bittle is one of those little-known heroes of the restoration. For a few years, while the Review was published by Franklin, he flamed into brilliance before the brotherhood in his opposition to the "digressive" tendencies. Among Review readers, he was extremely popular.

In the fall of 1884 Sommer moved to Martel, Ohio, and the following spring, on to Richwood. At this latter place the church had only seventy-five members and was unable to support a preacher. Besides they were deeply in debt. Sommer agreed to preach for them temporarily for nothing. The congregation was, when Sommer came, using an organ, supporting the missionary societies, and selling pies at church festivals to raise money. Sommer, of course, pitched heavily into these. J. J. Moss, one of the liberal preachers, came by, conducted a meeting, and the result was an open division in the congregation.

As a preacher, however, Sommer was continuing to gain a great prominence. George W. Rice, after hearing him preach, said, "As an earnest and clear-headed gospel preacher he falls behind no one in the rank. For zeal, devotion and earnestness in preaching the gospel I place him next to Brother Franklin. (George W. Rice, “Why I Am Now on the Review,” Octographic Review, Vol. XXX, No. 24 (June 30, 1887), p. 1.)

On another occasion Rice said of Sommer's preaching:

It forcibly reminded me of the preaching of the pioneer days, when men were ready to spend and he spent in the restoration of the apostolic gospel and order of things. . .

He is so full of the gospel that he has thrown everything else overboard—knowing nothing else but Jesus Christ and him crucified. By doing this, he fills every person so full of the gospel that all innovations are given up and forgotten where he preaches. (George W. Rice, “Daniel Sommer as a Preacher,” Octographic Review, Vol. XXX, No. 43 (November 10, 1887), p. 8.)

Ben Franklin, too, had always high regard for young Sommer as a promising gospel preacher. Shortly before he died, Franklin conducted a meeting in Detroit. Speaking confidentially to O. M. Benedict of Sommer, Franklin said:

I consider Brother Sommer as one of the most promising young men in my whole acquaintance. God has given him a grand physique, a strong, grasping mind, a sharp pen, a fairly-ready tongue, and his heart is attuned to the grand principles of this great Restoration Movement. (O. M. Benedict, “To the Readers of the Review,” American Christian Review, Vol. XXX, No. 1 (January 6, 1887), p. 5.)

When Edwin Alden, owner of the American Christian Review, presented the paper for sale in the summer of 1886, Sommer was quick to take advantage of the opportunity to purchase it. The following spring the name was changed to Octographic Review. For the next seven years the paper was published first from Cincinnati, then from Richwood. All of the while, Sommer was casting about for a better location. Indianapolis immediately appealed to him due to its central location in the heart of the great brotherhood. But he was not adverse to moving it somewhere else. For a short time brethren in Missouri made a bid for it, but this did not materialize. Gradually Sommer became more and more in demand as a preacher in the state of Indiana, a fact which made Indianapolis seem more than ever like the best location from which to publish the Review. Early in 1894 then Sommer moved to this city. His office was at first at 66 1/2 North Pennsylvania Street, but in two or three months was moved to West Udell Street in north Indianapolis. The first issue of the Octographic Review to come from Indianapolis was dated March 20, 1894.

The church in Indianapolis had grown considerably since John O'Kane had conducted the first evangelistic meeting there in 1833. Out of O'Kane's effort had gradually developed what became known as the Central Christian Church. With the establishment of Northwestern Christian College in 1855 in the city, members of the church were attracted to the city. When, following the Civil War, the instruments of music began filling all the churches, brethren who opposed these found themselves forced to start their work all over again.

Taking the lead in this new birth was Dr. Joshua Webb. Born on August 13, 1809 in Columbiana County, Ohio, Webb was baptized by Elder William Schooley when he was only fifteen. At the age of twenty-one he began to preach. He spent his entire time preaching for the next seven years, and usually with marked success. At Beaver Creek in Maryland the whole Lutheran Church dissolved its denominational status and adopted the name, Christian. At this time the Lutherans, becoming alarmed, sent their favorite, S. K. Hoshour of Hagerstown, Maryland to confound Webb, but Webb succeeded in leading Hoshour to restoration principles. Webb's health broke and he ceased preaching. He studied medicine for three years, and practiced in Maryland and Ohio before coming to Indianapolis in 1865. He promptly became a member of the Central Church.

In 1878 after the Central Church had introduced the organ, Webb withdrew and began meeting with a few in what was called the Danish Church on South New Jersey Street. Shortly afterwards, Webb purchased a frame house from the Sixth Presbyterian Church, and had the building on the back of his lot behind his home on Mulberry Street. This congregation met three times every Sunday. The forenoon service consisted of short talks from the members—never any preaching. In the afternoon, they had Bible study, and of course, these were conducted without lesson leaves. At night, there was an evangelistic service.

When John F. Rowe visited Indianapolis in the fall of 1887 he found seven congregations, consisting of fifteen hundred members. The number included those using the organ. A new congregation had recently been established in West Indianapolis by Abram Plunkett. Wesley Davidson was one of the elders. The congregation had over a hundred members. It had not added any “innovation.” On Home Avenue the “Third Church” had recently been established. D. R. Vanbuskirk was a leading member here. The congregation had three hundred and fifty members. The next year, 1888, Z. T. Sweeney, who was then riding a high crest of popularity, spoke at the dedication of a new church building.

Rowe had made frequent excursions into Indianapolis. When he visited the city again in 1890, he found a new congregation meeting on Madison Avenue. Two years later he came back to the city and went with J. W. Perkins, J. Perry Elliott, H. I. Shick and B. N. Davis to the newly founded North Indianapolis congregation. Rowe preached in the forenoon and Perkins in the evening. The congregation had only twenty members, nearly all of whom were young married people.

When, therefore, Daniel Sommer moved to Indianapolis in 1894, he identified himself with this church in North Indianapolis, and until his death preached off and on for this congregation. Sommer's first major activity in Indianapolis was to announce a ten week's Bible Reading to begin in May, 1894 and close the last of July. The cost was to be about fifty dollars. A dozen young men or so came to the Bible Reading. In later years, he lost some of his ardor for these readings insisting that it gave young men the idea they were preachers long before they were ready to preach.

Sommer never distinguished himself as a religious debater although he did engage in several during his life. His first debate was held with a German Baptist in Ray County, Missouri. Before the discussion, Sommer wrote, “Debating will be new business to me and I have no idea that it will be enjoyable.” It did prove enjoyable, however, and Sommer found considerable satisfaction in this type of teaching.

It will not be needful to trace the life of Daniel Sommer through the years to his death in 1940. Much of this would be relatively modern history with which the average reader would already be acquainted. These facts of his life are given that cover the years of his life that relate especially to those covered in this volume. On some points of study with which this volume deals Daniel Sommer plays a prominent role.

Any estimate that one may place upon the life's work on Daniel Sommer will understandably be colored by the background of the biographer. We could wish in this matter as in all others to be true, honest, and charitably objective. That Daniel Sommer was a great preacher, possessing a great mind and heart, no person at all acquainted with his life can for a moment doubt. He was fearless, independent, and ambitious. Deploring as violently as he did the “digression” that swept the churches, it was hardly possible for him to look with any charity or much understanding upon anything, whatever it was, that played any part in causing this “departure.”

Sommer's experiences at Bethany College found him departing from school with absolute disgust at the idea that a preacher needed a college education. The trouble at the College of The Bible in Kentucky University found the two men Sommer admired most—Ben Franklin and Jacob Creath. Jr.—turning against Bible Colleges. Sommer was a young preacher; they were older preachers. Their turning against these colleges at a time when Sommer's heart was already chafing at the bitter memory of Bethany, helped form a conviction in Sommer's heart. Too, Sommer could never think of himself in any role except the successor of Elder Ben Franklin, whom he regarded as the greatest gospel preacher since apostolic times. Franklin in his latter years opposed colleges, and the man who wore his mantle would be likely to do the same.

That Sommer went to extremes at times, even he himself admitted. In championing for a short time the view that preaching had no place at the morning worship, he saw soon was an extreme and abandoned this course. For our part we are not willing that his extremes should blind us in seeing the real greatness in the man, nor shall our willingness to see his greatness stand as an obstacle to our seeing his extremes.

Sommer's point of view on issues that developed before 1906 will be discussed in other chapters.

Earl Irvin West, Search For The Ancient Order Vol. II, Chapter XIV, pages 292-305

Daniel Sommer At 80
compliments of Terry J. Gardner

Daniel Sommer At Age 80
mp3, by Terry J. Gardner

Scan Courtesy of Terry J. Gardner - 11.2013

Scan Courtesy of Terry J. Gardner - 11.2013

Early Letterhead of The Octographic Review

courtesy of Terry J. Gardner, 05.14.2014

Gathering Home
Second Wife Of Daniel Sommer

SOMMER- Funeral service was conducted from home of Mr. & Mrs. W.J. Williamson near Greenwood, for Mrs. Esther Letitia White Sommer, wife of Daniel Sommer, who passed away at the Williamson home, April 5. Mr. Williamson has charge of the funeral. Deceased was born in Ontario, Canada, Feb. 28, 1861, and at time of her death was 70 years, a month and 8 days old. She is survived by her husband. She married Daniel Sommer, July 8, 1928, at Buffalo, N.Y., and traveled with him, in his work as a minister, extensively along the Pacific coast. Mrs. Sommer’s health failed over a year ago, and in November, 1930, she and her husband came to the home of Mr. and Mrs. W.J. Williamson, near Greenwood, where they had since resided. In early life she united with the Church of Christ, and remained faithful.

The preceding brief obituary notice appeared in a secular paper at Pennsboro, W. Va. I add, that in earlier life she was an instructor of music, but that was interrupted by the deaths of her brother and mother. Her discipleship was of the highest order, and she was a valued friend of the Review.

—Her Sorrowing Husband

Apostolic Review, Vol. 75, Nos. 19-20 (12 May 1931): 12.

Note: Report by Terry J. Gardner, Friends Of The Restoration Facebook Group 03.15.2020: "Daniel Sommer's 2nd wife, Esther Letitia White (1861-1931) is forgotten and mostly lost to history. Daniel Sommer wrote of her that she "was a gentle-woman, a Bible student, and a disciple of the first order. She deserves a higher place in history than she will ever receive." Sommer apparently wanted to be buried by her but his family did not honor his wishes. They were married from 1927-1931. Sommer asked the Review office to include a photograph of Esther along with this obituary notice and they declined to do so. The citation for the printed obituary is "Gathering Home,"

Death Notice In Word And Work

Daniel Sommer

On Feb. 20 we received the following word from Allan Sommer: "Father died February 19; funeral February 21."

On Feb. 20 we sent the family, in response, the following note, which seems suitable for publication as a tribute here:

"We rejoice in all that the Lord accomplished by Daniel Sommer, but particularly in the mellowing, moderating influences of his later years.

"On the teaching of Prophecy, we saw almost 'eye to eye' with him, and he with us; and in his knowledge of these portions of scripture, he was a giant, beside whom most men today are but pygmies. Yes, he was a giant in many respects, and though we differed from him in his earlier attitudes, he has departed in our full respect and love."

-E. L. Jorgenson, Word And Work, March, 1940, page 70.

Directions To The Grave Of Daniel Sommer

Daniel Sommer is buried in the Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana. Traveling On I-65 North Out Of Downtown Indianapolis, Indiana Take The Dr. Martin Luther King Street Exit - Exit 117. (Note: If you cross White River, You Have Gone Too Far) Go North On Dr. Martin Luther King Street. Turn Right On West 32nd Street. Cemetery Will Be On Your Left. Go Until The Road Dead Ends Into Boulevard And Turn Left. There Will Be An Entrance To The Cemetery As You Cross The 34th Street Intersection. Turn Left Into The Cemetery. Go To The First Right, And Then The First Right Again. Follow The Road As It Curves Around To The Left (Section 39 Should Be On Your Left And Section 114 Should Be On Your Right.) You Will Come Into An Intersection At The North End Of Section 39. Look To Your Right For Section 41. Summer Will Be Buried In This Section. Click On The Crown Hill Cemetery Map Below.

GPS Coordinates
N39º 49.212' x W86º 09.864'
or D.d. 39.820134,-86.164401
Grave Facing West
Accuracy to 19ft.
Section 41, Lot 81

View Larger Map

Chester W. Sommer 1875-1950 - Son of Daniel and Katherine Sommer
Mary A. Sommer - 1883-1966 - Daughter-in-law of Daniel and Katherine Sommer

Daniel 1850-1940
Katharine Way 1850-1924

Crown Hill Cemetery Map

Daniel Sommer At Age 80 - mp3, by Terry J. Gardner

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