The Marstallers

Mrs. Ruth Fraser has contributed information of the Marstaller family history, and a little background is in order.

The Marstaller family, Wilhelm, Louisa Marstaller Fern, George & Anna Marstaller Eschstruth, and Frank (Franz) Marstaller, emmigrated to the U.S. in 1883 from Bremen, Germany.  Wilhelm and Emma, and Frank and Mary were later married here.  By previous arrangement they were met in New York City by representatives of the German Baptist Church of Washington County, Brenham, Texas, where many other German immigrants had chosen to settle.  In September of the next year William went to Reedville, Texas.  Frank with his wife Mary settled in nearby Kyle.  They emmigrated as Lutherans, but once settled in Texas, changed to the Baptist denomination.  The two Marstaller brothers, Frank with his wife Mary and Wilhelm with his wife Emma established themselves in Kyle, Texas and became very successful cotton farmers.

In the winter of 1893, Frank Sandford relinquished his commission as a Free Baptist minister and together with his wife moved in with his in-laws at their winter home in Honey Grove, Texas.  Frank's father-in-law was a millionaire cotton broker, with not only a winter home in Texas but an estate on the Hudson near Osining, New York.

On March 11, 1895 the Salem, Oregon newspaper published Anna Eschstruth's (Wilhelm's sister) obituary, where she had moved to from Texas in 1888.   It stated that..."Under the evangelistic work of Brother Kiefer in 1881 she found peace in the blood of Jesus and was baptised...".  Kiefer, who was at Shiloh as a student in the late 1890s, testified in the January 1897 issue of the Everlasting Gospel, that he had, in fact, done evangelistic work in Germany in 1881.  Kiefer was at that time a Freewill Baptist evangelist from Texas who made several trips back and forth from Texas to Germany sponsored by the Freewill Baptists.   Sublimity of Faith records that while Sandford sojourned with his in-laws at their winter home in Honey Grove during the winter of 1893, he also did evangelistic campaigning in Texas.   It is not improbable that the connection may have been first made at that time.  It is concievable if not likely Sandford made the link up with the Marstallers through Kiefer, or with Kiefer through the Marstallers at that time.

What is clear and indisputable is that Wilhelm and Sandford had communicated prior to January 18, 1904, when he wrote Wilhelm Marstaller the following letter,  encouraging him to sell their property in Texas and come to Shiloh.   We are sorry to report that only the first page of it has survived into the 21st century.  According to Shiloh membership roles, two of his older children, August and Martha,  had already arrived at Shiloh and had begun their training some 15 months earlier.  His son, August, maintained a close affiliation with the Kingdom all his life, and in his latter years, oversaw the Kingdom Bible School at Fairwood in Dublin, New Hampshire through the 1950s and 1960s.

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Three days before his letter was written, upon the advice of his attorney Henry E. Coolidge, the incorporation of the movement's assets into what is now known as The Kingdom took place.  The date of this letter is also five days prior to the  Leander Bartlett court hearing. 

Below are notes dictated by Emma Marstaller, Frank Marstaller's daughter, before her death.  Emma was at Shiloh from 1905 through the Scattering in 1920.  She was also Frank Sandford's personal cook between his release from prison in November of 1918 and the 'Scattering', in the spring of 1920.

"William (Wilhem) went to Maine with the Shiloites.  Frank died in Texas from typhoid fever, leaving his wife Mary in a state of shock for a month after her husband's death with seven children and knowing nothing about business.  William (already in Maine for almost a year, Ed.) suggested she come to Maine, and sent a man from Shiloh to sell her ranch.  The children's half of their father's estate was put in trust and some portion of hers was taken to buy her a home four miles from Shiloh. Unbeknownst to her, it was deeded to the Kingdom.  She had reserved $1000 to buy warm clothing for the children. 

At some point they came to her and said there was a desparate need, but she wouldn't give that money to them.  But when she went to the bank the next morning to get it after thinking about it, thay had already drawn it all out.   No one knows how.  There was little food and they almost starved.

When son Henry became of age, two pastors had come to get a letter and it told of his inheritance and they got it (his share of the trust Ed.) away from him.   He didn't have enough to buy a pair of pants, so they gave him $5.00.  Henry went to Boston and stayed several days, but didn't want to worry his mother so came back.   Charles and Otto (his brothers) finally got jobs to support their mother, and they were called deserters.  Charles finally bought the place, again, from Shiloh, for his mother, when he was married.  Henry later bought the place from Charles.  When Emma (their sister) got her  money, (trust, Ed.) they talked her out of it too.  She was placed in their school.  Aunt Mary's money was used to help buy the boat (Coronet) that they used to go around the world to preach the gospel in each port, their interpretation of the great commission.

Sandford the leader did time for disobeying marine law which caused the death of (six) his people.  When people did not have food, he called it the lack of faith.  He finally said he didn't know of the food lack as he was travelling so much, so finally said they could get jobs for support.  Many still give tithes and offerings.  He claimed to be Elijah, and attributed many scriptures referring to Christ, to himself.  Charlie and Otto, the twins, did not give their money."

                                                                                                                      Emma Marstaller's notes


According to Marstaller family records, the Frank Marstaller farm in Kyle Texas sold (in 1905 dollars) for $40,000. Correcting for inflation a similar value today (2001) would exceed $730k.  Half of the proceeds were put in trust for Frank's children, and half went to his widow.  The widow's portion was placed in the Lisbon Falls Branch of the Lewiston Trust Co. in behalf of Mary.   As the story above relates, when she went to retrieve some of the monies placed there in her behalf, the account was dry.  An interesting side note is that according to a History of the State of Maine published in the 1920's Frank Sandford's attorney, Henry E. Coolidge was also vice president of the Lisbon Falls Branch of the Lewiston Trust as well as a member of the Board of Directors.  We are not aware at this time whether or not his service to the bank occured during this same period, or if Coolidge had anything to do with the removal of the Marstaller funds.  Coolidge was deeded all of the Kingdom properties when Mr. Sandford went to prison in 1911, and they were held by the Coolidge family until the late 1920's when they were deeded back to The Kingdom by his estate.

It is interesting to note that the deal to purchase the Coronet for $10,000 by the Kingdom was sealed five days after the deed date for the purchase of the Mary Marstaller farm in March of 1905.




In his own words

Sometime in the early 1900’s

The first thing was my birth.  I was born in Walburg, Germany, a province of Hessennassan on the eighth of November 1866.  Six months after that the same night my mother told me my father had died.

            The next thing God revealed Himself to me as a Father.  I think I was seven years old, or not more than five or six.   I cam from the field one night along and I stood outside the village about three or four hundred yards, and I saw a man coming along with his little boy at his hand.  As soon as I saw that, such a longing came into my heart, and I wanted to see my father.  I began to cry, and I spoke out “I want to see my father.”  It came to me like an unseen hand touched my shoulder and said, “I AM your father.”

            The next thing that came to me was that God Himself revealed Himself to me as my Father.

            I started school at six years of age.  I went there till I was about ten years of age.  I could not learn a thing until I was ten years old.  My school teacher did his best---he spanked me good many times.   All I could read was just a few words – read just a few words like “the” and “a.”  I couldn’t read anything after I went four years to school.  That night my oldest brother, Frank, gave me a good whipping.    He was a harness maker and he saw the importance of my learning something.

            That night I went to bed.  There are three prayers in the Lutheran Church – one in morning, one at noon, and one at night.  I said my prayer at night that God would teach me how to read.  I don’t think it was four weeks after that when one morning, I was up soon and my mother was still in bed, and I went to her and I read her a whole chapter out of the Bible.

            The schoolteacher was so surprised that he came to my mother and asked her how it came that I could read.  I don’t think he found out, or anyone else.  I could not only read the German, but the Latin script.  God got the glory from it.  That was my first experience with my Father in heaven.

            When about fourteen years old the children in the Lutheran church have a religious form of teaching, called conformation, for four or five months.  I had that training about two or three weeks, and then I got sick, and through that sickness God worked something in my life.  I read the Bible and found out that act was not scriptural.  It was not in the Bible.  After I got up, I went to school again, and the minister’s teaching again.   I did not want to go there because it was not in the Bible.  One night I told my mother about it, and said, “I did not believe it was the right thing to do.”   She said I could go tell the minister himself.  The ceremony got through Easter, and it was the rule for every child to give the minister so many eggs, so I took my eggs, about twenty or so, and I told his wife I wanted to see him, but she did not want me to see him for he was not very well.  After a while, he called to my mother to know what it was I wanted.   My mother tried to force me to go, and I stuck to the scripture:  “It is better to obey God than man.”  So by and by, she left it, and the minister called me to go through the ceremony.  They prayed for me because I was a traitor, and after that, all of the young people that were trained with it  drew off from me, and one of them met me in the road, and spit in my face and called me a half-heathen.  But in spite of that, god gave me the light and I walked in it.

            Then the same year, I had such a longing  for God in my heart.  So I separated myself from the boys whom I was going with on Sundays when we go out and play ball and do all kinds of things, and stealing apples.  Sunday after Sunday I went out into the hay mow and read my Bible, with the tears running down, and I wanted God.  As I look back I see that God laid a foundation in my life.

            And then all of this time I didn’t know if god had forgiven my sins.   The people out there in Germany do not make it so plain as they do here.  I sought God and sought God, and I had a knowledge in my soul that my sins were forgiven.

            My mother was saved too, and next one of my sisters, and the next year we got baptized in the Baptist Church.  I think the Baptist Church there is different from the average church here.  They want real Christian members.  After they found out I wanted to be baptized, they watched my daily life to see if it is contrary from the Bible and to see if what I had is real Christianity.   As I look back, I don’t see any more Christian people than I saw in the church there, and I prayed a good deal for I was afraid I was not good enough to go into the church.  I became a member that new year.

            Right here in connection with this I would like to mention Dr. Keifer.   He was in Shiloh when John was born.  He helped me to get through to God, and God used him to lead me from Germany all the way to Shiloh.  He told me about Texas and helped me across.

            They wanted me to learn a trade, and I didn’t have anything special in my soul.  Humanity tried to help out God, and made a failure of it.  I was there three months and I got homesick and could not eat, and the doctor advised me to go home, and after a few months they thought I would come back.  But I got it in my soul that I wanted to go to America.  I was willing to come alone.  I was sixteen years of age.  After that God worked so that my brother broke up, and went to Texas, and by and by he gave me money enough to come.  So we finally landed down in Washington County, Texas.

            I had the wonderful protection of God from sixteen to twenty years of age.  I came to Texas a young man.  A man can have a pony and go anywhere he wants to on Sunday and get into bad fellowship.  In all that, the Lord protected me and shut me in to Himself.   I can say to the glory of God through these four or five years God kept me clean and holy.  I don’t know of any boys in Shiloh that were more clean and holy than I was between sixteen and twenty.  So God took me with His own hand and kept me truly as my own Father.

            I remember one Sunday I stayed home from meeting and two of my neighbor boys came and we went to the brook swimming.  I was trained up to keep Sunday holy, and after I came home, I was under conviction.   I did something which was not right.  That stuck to me, and that is the only thing I remember I did which was not right.

            About how the Lord brought my wife and I together…God Himself trained a girl for His son whom He was protecting.  I was in Washington County until I was twenty years of age.  Then I wanted to go westerly, and in the summer I went out there to see a family I had heard about.  There I met the Miss Heidenrich and the first look I got from her was something super-natural.   I stayed there a couple of days, and then I went home and committed it to God and prayed.  I liked to have my  own home, so I prayed and asked God if that was the young lady that He had for me that He would bring us together.  That was a new county where she lived, and lots of young men came in there, and she had plenty of chances, but God kept her for me.  And that is what I wanted to bring out here.  I never said anything to her or anybody till about eight or nine months after that next summer.  Then I spent one whole night in prayer, and when I was through, I knew I had it in the hands of God, and knew that God would have His will done.  Then I didn’t walk around with her as young people do.   The first thing I told her what was in my heart, and I wanted her to pray, then I wanted “yes” or “no”.  I always look back at that being the foundation.

            I did not have much trouble in bringing up my family as that foundation was laid there.  And that was a young girl that was trained by a man who prayed and believed God.  She was kept clean and holy and separate from the world, and she had prayed before I said anything to her.  What she wanted was a man that feared God.  There was plenty of chances for her to get what she wanted, but she wanted what God wanted.

            Then follows three or four years of God’s blessing on us and prosperity.  One thing special I would like to mention - A man sold a place to me on credit with one hundred dollars to pay over, and he had so much confidence in me he said I didn’t need any money.   He said I will give you all the time you want to pay for your farm.  Then I got the house done and I move in, and the Lord blessed me.  A lot of my neighbors kind of mocked me, and railed at me, and the reason for that was that I made two and one half times as much as they did, with one half the expense that first year, and I lived on my own farm.  All I could say, I was walking with God, and kept in step with Him and had God’s blessing on it.

            Then came a time when I tried to go my own way.  I was so anxious to get land and money.  The country is open and good land and I tried to go one hundred fifty miles west of there and take up land for two dollars an acre.  My prayer was always if it was not God’s plan He would not lead me there.  I lost a good deal of money and a couple of horses.  God brought me back home.  That was a good lesson to me.  Today I appreciate it more than then.

            After I sold out and bought another place, the Lord blessed me something wonderful every year till 1900 and then I made especially large crops.  I sold that year about five thousand dollars worth of cotton, besides other stuff.  My principal after that was different.

            I was seventeen years old in the first year in Texas.  Somebody asked me for some money for building a meeting house and I gave the twenty five cents, and I felt awful mean about it.  I want to bring that out to show how the Lord worked and rained me in on that line.  All through the years I had been running after money, so the Lord after that, began to work and I felt men I had such a spirit in me, and I began to give a little for the Lord here and there.   The Lord He met me a little more, and a little more, because I was willing to give something for missionary work.

            After awhile I read in the Bible about tithes.  I told the Lord I wanted to give Him tithes from now on.  I began to keep account of all I got.  Then I wanted to hive Him offerings so I did that.  God blessed me then, and kept on blessing.

            In 1902, I was cultivating in the fields one half mile long, and I thought over my blessings in the past years.  Every thing was paid for.  It was like the Lord put a question to me asking if I would give the whole crop this year for the Lord.   It was quite a test for me.  My land was running from one road this way and one road that way.  I was afraid to answer that question.  I said, “You will have to separate me from coveting after more land.”  And that is the way I left it, and promised Him to do it if it was His voice only He would have to take the coveting out of me for land.

            My brother, Frank, and I have meetings together, and I had the meeting the most of the time.  One Sunday I read about the rich young man that came to Jesus and asked Him what he should do to be saved.   Jesus told him the way, and he said I will do all of that.  He said, “Well, if you want to be perfect, sell everything that you have.  “When I got to that place where He said sell all you have, I could not go any further.  I stopped and looked at that scripture, and I could not go over that.  Now, Mrs. Marstaller was watching me, and she said something was going on, and she told me afterwards she could feel what was coming next.

            After a while the Lord asked me if I would sell every thing and give it to Him.  I said,  “Lord, what shall I do.  I can’t do anything but farm.”  So one day I told Mr. Sandford I was going to Shiloh.  I came up here and told Mr. Sandford about it, and he said:  “Well, we will trust the Lord about it”, and that was all he said.  That was the year before Mr. Sandford got the message about “Begin to possess” the wilderness .[it would have been in 1903, Ed.]

            Then by and by it came to me I was to go to Shiloh, so I called my wife into the other room.  Then we prayed about it, and I wrote to Mr. Sandford.  All through the winter, I said to God, I was afraid to stay down there in Texas any longer.   I said, “Lord, take me out of here.”  I sold my farm for the highest price that was ever sold down there, and people shook their shoulders.  Before I put a price on it, I asked God for it.  I felt it was the price God wanted me to ask, and I asked it.   Six weeks after I got the letter, everything was sold and I had the cash money.  I saw the hand of God on it from the beginning to the end.  My neighbor tried to sell his farm, but couldn’t.

            After this the Lord led me into deeper truths than ever before.  Dr. Keifer led me to receive the Holy Spirit and into the truth of Divine healing.

            This is one experience in divine healing.  One day one boy got sick, very sick.  We had never had a doctor in our family.  Then my wife said I had better get a doctor.  The boy was so sick we hardly knew him.  I said I am going to believe God to heal the boy.  I struggled and prayed God would do it.  The way I prayed, I said, “God, I believe You to save me from unbelief.”   Then my wife prayed a few words by the bed.   Then Carl (Charles, their son) looked up and knew me, and talked and was well from that time on, and I went to the meeting that night.