The following memoir has been compiled by merging two independant translations of the source.
Short Biography of Abraham and Martha Bünninger (Bininger)
I was born Jan. 18, 1720 in Switzerland in the Canton Zürich, in a village called Backen Bülach; it belongs to a little village called Bülach; there I was baptized by a Reformed minister by the name of Caspar Burckhart. I was raised in the Reformed religion. My parents names were Abraham Bünninger and Verona born Utzinger. Six days before my birth my dear mother had an unfortunate blood letting, which caused her a fever sickness, so that I was born without her knowledge.
My dear mother first told me of the dear Saviour — that He had died for me. In my 8th or 9th year I knew that my Saviour was near to me, so that I often wept heartfelt tears. At that time the saying often came into my mind, "I will send you far away to the heathern."
In the year 1734 I went with my parents to South Carolina; on the journey in London I became somewhat acquainted with the first Brethren who went to Georgia, among them our dear Joseph (Spangenberg). On this journey I felt the first inclination and love to go to the Brethren. My dear mother died on this journey; she loved the Brethren, told me to join them when my father died.
In Carolina my father settled in Purisburg. In 1736 I went with my father to Fredericka in Georgia and worked with my father as a carpenter. In Nov. of this year my father died. Before his death he gave me his consent to join the Brethren. From Frederica I went with my brother to Purisburg. In the year 1737 I worked at a mill in old Ebenezer in Georgia. In the year 1738 Bro. Pahler and Schulyres came to Purisburg. Through Bro. Pahler's sermon I was awakened and restless about my sinful heart; I would have liked to tell the Brethren about it but was afraid to do it.
Near the end of 1739 I worked for Mr. Whitefield. At this time I resolved to go to the Brethren but was hindered by a broken arm.
In the year 1740 I went to Mr. Whitefield's Orphanage. In May with my brother to the siege of St. Augustine, a Spanish fort in Florida; at the end of this expedition I again went to Mr. Whitefield's Orphanage. In this year the dear Saviour led me to become acquainted with the dear Brother John Hagen.
In 1741, Sept. 4th, old style I left the Orphanage, went to Savannah and lived with Bro. Hagen in Bro. Brownfield's house. In the following December I accompanied Bro. Hagen to the congregation in Philadelphia.
In 1742 — Jan. 9th I joined the Brethren in Philadelphia and near the end of February David Zeisberger took me to Bethlehem. At the first Holy Communion I was permitted to attend as a spectator I became certain in my heart that we were a people of the Saviour.
The early period of my living with the Brethren was a great blessing to me and I got rid of all my fear and received a tender and blessed heart in the blood and wounds of the Saviour.
On July 22, 1742 Bro. David Nitschmann received me as a member of the congregation, Bro. Ludwig Zinzendorf delivering the address on the text for the day (Acts 2: 1, 2). My heart melted in tears before the Lamb. I felt that all was forgiven, washed away by his blood.
I do not remember the month and the day when I was for the first time permitted to receive the Holy Communion but I think it was in October 1742. In November I made a visit in the country and made arrangements for sermons by Brother Liscky.
The first use of the lot concerning me said the Saviour intended me for service among the negroes and to learn to know them I was to go to Brother Bechtel in Germantown, living with him — this was in the year 1743. In Jan. and Feb. I visited in Bethlehem and this negro appointment did not materialize, and I did not return to Germantown. (I had met a number of negroes.)
In this year I also became a member of the Hourly Intercession. In 1745 I was seriously ill; in February most of my work was as a carpenter in Bethlehem and Nazareth; was present also at the beginning of Gnadenthal (where the county home now stands) for more than a year, cutting boards by hand. In 1747 June to September, I served in Amos' Place.
On Oct. 16, 1746 I married my dear Martha, Brother Joseph (Spangenberg) delivering the address and prayed for us. Brother Martin Mack joined our hands.
Soon after the wedding we were sent by the congregation beyond the Susquehanna, where we kept school on the Catores in Leonard Gimel's house, also visited our Brethren and friends who live beyond the Susquehanna but in many things had to follow the instructions of Bro. Lischy.
In 1747, April we returned from the Susquehanna and remained in Bethlem for three weeks. Then we went to the boarding school for children in the Great Swamp (on Broad Mountain in Monroe and Carbou Counties in Pa.) in Joseph Mueller's house, and in June returned to Bethlehem.
On Sept. 10, 1747 the Saviour gave us a little son, Christian, baptized by Spangenberg. Twelve days later I returned to Susquehanna and remained alone for four weeks, then returned to Bethlehem, and took my dear Martha and Christian, just seven weeks old to the little Catores where we kept school this winter in the house of Bro. Peter Pingely, also visited our friends and members as formerly, but had no dealings with Lischy. This winter both Martha and Christian had measles, both very sick for about three weeks.
In 1748, April, we were again called to Bethlehem, and on June 7th were sent to the congregation at Tulphocken. We visited them and at the same time kept school where we visited. As long as I was there I kept meeting every Sunday in Michael Ried's house. Most of the time we stayed with Bro. and Sister Loscher. In Oct. we came with our Christian again to Bethlehem. Synod was held in Bethlehem on Oct. 12th. It was decided we again should go beyond the Susquehanna and take care of the little group there as formerly; we went there but school was kept at the visits like in Tulphocken. Most of the time we stayed with John Hechedorn's, there also kept Sunday meeting, but at the visits no song service.
In May 1749 we got to Bethlehem and soon thereafter to Macungy (now Emmaus) to the boarding school there — almost two months.
On the 16th of September I went alone to Pachgatgoch (2 miles southwest of Kent, Conn.) to our Brown Brethren to keep school for the children, visited busily and also the Indians at Wechquadnach (In Duchess County, New York and Conn.) Also kept services and quarter hour meetings.
On Jan. 29 the Saviour again gave us a little son, named Abraham baptized by Bra. Camerhof. Near the end of Feb. 1750 I again visited Bethlehem and remained til April, then again to Pachgatgoch, where the little group was in my care, and told them of the Lamb and his wounds, and visited often in Wechquadnach, Versterhook or Stockbridge.
In July there was an epidemic which also struck me, the Brethren and I also thought I would soon go to the Saviour. When I recovered I went to Bethlehem again for a visit and remained there until Oct. lst. Then to Pachgatgoch, but in November was called home, where I remained as carpenter till June 27, 1751, then to Pachgatgoch to keep school, several times visited Wechquadnach and once Stockbridge, told our old friend Aron, the Indian Chief shortly before his death of our Lamb and His atonement, who said he would live and die by that faith. I remained in Pachgatgoch till December 1751 then again to Bethlehem to my dear Brethren. In Pachgatgoch I built a little house in which the Brethren can now live. My manner of life was mostly like the Indians. The Lamb has blessed it for me.
Marginal note: Received with his wife at the first Synod, in January 1788 which was held in the Brethren's house. Ordained a Deacon May 25, 1756 by Bishop Spangenberg and Hehl. Died March 1811 at Salem, New York. (Camden Valley)
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