Re: The Church of the New Jerusalem in Philadelphia, PA
This article refers to a "New Jerusalem" that was to be established in Philadelphia. "The Leatherwood God" was the title given a man by the name of Joseph C. Dylks who was responsible for the creation of the "New Jerusalem" spoken of in this article. I don't know whether this is the same church, and I have nothing further on this one, but it may be of some help. There are the names of some of his followers and the story of his teachings within:
During the 1820's we know there was a great excitement about religion in the eastern part of the United States. This story takes place in 1828 in Leatherwood, Ohio which is in Guernsey County. Kirtland, Ohio where the Saints are located 3 years later lies not far to the north in the same state. The following is a condensed account of THE LEATHERWOOD GOD by R.H. Tanneyhill and was published in 1869. This account appears in the FOREACRE FAMILY OF GUERNSEY CO., OHIO by C.F. Fedorchak and S.D. Foraker.
THE LEATHERWOOD GOD Religious imposters have flourished in almost every portion of the historic period. Such an imposter was Joseph C. Dylks, whose advent, teachings and unhallowed pretensions form one of the most interesting and curious episodes in the history of the Ohio Valley.
About the middle of August, 1828, a camp meeting was held on the lands of one Casper Overley, two and a half miles northwest of the Salesville Temple, in the immediate vicinity of the M.E. chapel called Miller's Meeting House (Leatherwood Church). [note by Jerry Mower: Salesville was a town founded by George BRILL]. This meeting was held by the United Brethren Church and began on Wednesday and was to continue until Sunday. On Sunday afternoon, Reverend John Crum addressed a large congregation at the service, some persons having come from over twenty miles away. He was in the middle of his sermon when a tremendous voice shouted "Salvation" and was followed instantly by a sound, likened by all who heard it to the snort of a horse.
The minister and the congregation were taken by surprise and all eyes turned to see what had happened. There in the midst of the congregation was a stranger of odd appearance. No one had seen him come into the congregation and his manner of dress and personal appearance heightened the astonishment of the people. He was about 5'8" tall, with black eyes and jet-black hair, which was long and glossy and drawn back from his low forehead and hung in a mass over his shoulders. He was dressed in a black broadcloth suit, frock coat, white cravat and wore a yellow beaver hat, and appeared to be between the ages of forty-five and fifty. When we reflect that this was the day of linsey-wool hats, hunting shirts, and buckskins, and that there was not another male in the congregation in a broadcloth coat, we see at once how these considerations complicated the question of how he got into the congregation unnoticed.
When the congregation was dismissed, many sought the acquaintance of Dylks, and he was invited home to supper by Mr. Pulley. He stayed with the Pulleys for several days, and also visited in the community. He attended the various religious meetings and sometimes led at the services. He seemed to be a master of the Bible, quoting any portion of it necessary for the illustration of his subject. He began to declare himself to be a celestial being, bearing in his person a heavenly mission. He told certain members of the community that he had come into the camp meeting in his spiritual body, and then took on his corporeal body. He finally made the assertion that he was the Messiah come to set up the millienium and establish a kingdom that should never end. He also claimed that he would never die, and all who believed on him would never die, and that no one could harm him or touch a single hairof his head.
Conspicuous among the number led astray by the secret teaching of Dylks were MICHAEL BRILL, JOHN BRILL, and ROBERT MCCORMICK. Michael Brill and John Brill were brothers, and Robert McCormick was a son-in-law of John Brill. The Brills had come to Guernsey Co. from Loudoun Co. Va (they were the sons of Christopher Brill). Michael Brill's family at that time consisted of several daughters and one son. John Brill was his younger brother and he also had another brother, George Brill, Sr. who was not taken in by Dylks and his claims. [Note from Jerry Mower: Actually they came from Bedford Co., Pa but had previously lived in Loudoun Co., Va. and John was the oldest brother of the family.]
Robert McCormick was born in Ireland and he married Catharine Brill, daughter of John Brill. McCormick, had come to America in 1805-1806, landing in Philadelphia and was a school teacher. He was also a member and local preacher of the United Brethren Church. Michael and John Brill were also respected men in the community and leaders in the United Brethren Church.
The delusion of Dylks spread with a rapidity scarcely ever equaled in the history of religous fanaticism. Family was set against family, parent against child, husband against wife, neighbor against neighbor, dividing and conquering until the whole church membership of the community were overwhelmed by it, except GEORGE BRILL, SR. and JAMES FOREACRE. James Foreacre was also a son-in-law of John Brill and at this time, lived on John Brill's farm.
Christopher Brill, son of George Brill, Sr. also believed in Dylks, and he went to live with his uncle, Michael Brill, and tried on numerous occasions to convert his father, and his brother, George Brill, Jr. who was a minister in the United Brethren Church. He was unable to convert them, and they were unable to sway him away from his belief in Dylks. James Foreacre, son-in-law of John Brill and brother-in-law of Robert McCormick was deeply mortified by their course of action, and was determined to see if Dylks could not be frightened from the vicinity. Several weeks passed before Dylks and some of his "little flock" gathered at McCormick's, and James Foreacre, hearing of the meeting, got his brother, John to go with him to McCormick's to help arrest Dylks. Another man, Mr. Gifford, whose daughter, Mary, was also a believer of Dylks, also was bent on exposing Dylks, in order to save his daughter from this folly, Mr. Gifford and several other men set out on the same evening as the Foreacre party to perform the same task---discrediting Dylks.
The Foreacres went in the meeting first and tried to get Dylks, but were driven out by the "little flock". John Foreacre then cut a club and said, "I'll have Dylks or die in the attempt." The Gifford party had arrived by this time, and they entered by one door, and the Foreacres returned again through another, and the little flock was taken by surprise. Christopher Brill [son of George] took up a 3-legged stool and got ready to throw it, when he thought---"Why should I fight for a God?" Dylkes tried to hide in the corner, but Gifford seized him and tore out a considerable lock of his hair to carry to his daughter, Mary, to show her that Dylks' claims were unfounded. Dylks was carried before Squire James Frame, to be charged, but Frame informed the party that he had no law by which to try a God. They then took him to Washington, where Squire Omstot agreed with Squire Frame that there was not violation of any law, and that in "this country, every man has a right to worship what God he pleases."---Dylks finally escaped from the Foreacre party, and hid out in a wooded area on the lands of William St. Clair, who also was one of his believers. This was near the land of Michael Brill, and between these two men, Dylks was given food and comfort, and was able to remain in hiding.
Dylks still managed to hold some of his believers, and he told them that since his program had met with so much opposition, he was going to Philadelphia to establish a "New Jersualem". Michael Brill, Robert McCormick, and another believer, Reverend Davis, agreed to accompany Dylks to Philadelphia. The party split up before reaching Philadelphia, but were to meet later on there. Brill and McCormick went on together into Philadelphia, but never did meet up with Dylks or Davis. Finally footsore and moneyless, they made their way to Baltimore, where they were able to borrow money from the pledge of their tobacco crop, and went home by stage. Dylks was never seen again in the Guernsey County, Ohio community, although Davis did return to tell the followers that the New Jerusalem would be established. The firmness with which the followers of Dylks adhered to their faith was surprising for it is very doubtful indeed whether any of them ever yielded up his belief. Michael Brill died, still believing in Dylks, and McCormick lived for many years after the disappearance of Dylks, dressing much as Dylks did and wearing his hair so long that it hung below his shoulders. McCormick also died, still believing in Dylks.