Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The Couser Family Faith and Ministry

According to the “History Of The Couser Family” document, dated September 27, 1898, the Couser family in Ireland was initially part of a religious sect referred to as “The Seceders”. This religious group was originally composed of Irish and Scottish Presbyterians that became fragmented, resulting in a branch called the Seceders. In 1840 the Synod of Ulster merged with the Secession Synod forming the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland.

In the 1840’s, the William Couser family in Ireland were members of the Presbyterian faith, attending services at The Cremore Presbyterian Church, near Poyntzpass, County Armagh, Ireland, under Pastor Alexander Strain, who served as minister from 1831-1881.

Ellen Couser, William’s daughter born 1821, stated the family spent the entire day of the Sabbath at The Cremore Church, with the reading of the Psalm and catechism class in the morning, followed by an afternoon sermon and finally Sabbath School, returning home around sunset.

Following the Couser immigration to America, Thomas Couser was a member of the United Presbyterian Church of Tranquility.

Joseph Andrew Richie Couser (JARC)

David Gray Couser, Joseph A. R. Couser, JARC
left to right: Van B. Wright, David Gray Couser, Joseph A. R. Couser

JARC, the youngest surviving child of Thomas Couser and Rachel Orr Burns Couser, was born October 6, 1861 in Adams Co., Ohio. JARC and his siblings were raised in the strict tenets of the Presbyterian faith of his parents. JARC developed an early interest and skill in singing and song. At the age of 14, he led in song the congregation of the May Hill Church of the Brethren in Bratton Township, Adams County. By age 16, he became a member of the Brethren faith. At age 17, JARC taught his first term of singing school and then for 50 years he taught church music in many churches over the Southern Ohio Brethren district, he was known as “The Sweet Singer of the Hills.”

In 1898, he was elected to the ministry of the Church of the Brethren and in 1918 to the eldership of the church. He served faithfully in these capacities, especially during his years of residence in the hills of Adams County. Here he went from little church to little church preaching and singing folks into the kingdom. Even though JARC and his family resided in the territory of the Beaver Creek Church, they held their membership in the East Dayton Church. JARC passed August 19, 1943 at his residence of 5018 Wilmington Ave., Beavertown, OH. He was interred at the May Hill Cemetery, Bratton Township, Adams Co., Ohio.

Ernest Friend Couser

Ernest Friend Couser, Mabel Mote Couser
Ernest Friend & Mabel Mote Couser

Ernest Friend Couser, the seventh child of JARC and Phoebe Ann Post Couser, was born on September 4, 1899 in Adams Co., Ohio. He graduated from Manchester Academy in 1918 and Manchester College in 1926 with an A.B. degree. He also spent 18 weeks at Bethany Biblical Academy. He married Mabel Esther Mote on June 3, 1922. His wife Mabel Couser was an ordained minister of the Church of the Brethren in 1938 and assisted Ernest Friend at churches in Beaver Creek and Bradford, Ohio. Ernest Friend Couser taught school for over 40 years in the Van Buran, Fairmont and Kettering School Districts. He was an ordained pastor of the Beavercreek Church of the Brethren for 11½ years. After retiring, he also served at the Spring Valley Friends Church for 3 years. For the 3½ years that preceded his death, Ernest Friend and his wife resided at the Church of the Brethren Retirement Home in Greenville, Ohio. Ernest Friend Couser passed on May 9, 1978 in Greenville, Darke Co., Ohio and was interred at Bellbrook Cemetery, Bellbrook, Greene Co., Ohio. His wife Mabel passed on December 31, 1996.

Jacob Wilbur Couser

Jacob Wilbur Couser, the youngest and eighth child of JARC and his wife Phoebe Ann Post
Jacob Wilbur Couser, Miranda Couser
Jacob Wilber & Mary Couser
Couser, was born on July 8, 1904 in May Hill, Adams Co., Ohio. He graduated from Bellbrook High School in 1923 and married Mary Catherine Miranda on September 22, 1928. Jacob W. Couser and his wife Mary were elected to the Church of the Brethren Ministry at the same time, March 1943, by the East Dayton Church. Jacob W. was ordained an elder in 1949. Mary received a permanent license in 1944. Jacob was the teacher of the young married people’s class at East Dayton Church for fifteen years and for three years the Superintendent of the Sunday School. In 1944 the Mission Board of Southern Ohio asked Jacob and Mary to take over the work in the southern field, including Bethany, May Hill, Strait Creek, and Marble Furnace churches. Both Jacob and Mary ministered in music and the Word of God. Mary was a very talented pianist and vocalist. They were often requested to sing at church services, revivals, and funerals. In 1955, they felt led, by the Lord, to establish a Grace Brethren Church. Land for the new building, was donated and located in the village of Sinking Spring, Ohio. Many volunteers participated in the construction of the church. The cornerstone was laid in 1960, however, services were held in the basement until the sanctuary was complete. The dedication for the Grace Brethren Church was on May 29, 1966. Just a few weeks later, on July 9, 1966, Reverend Jacob W. Couser was called, by his Lord and Savior, to his Heavenly home. He died at his residence in Sinking Spring, Highland Co., Ohio and is interred at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Brushcreek Township, Highland Co., Ohio.

David Gray Couser

David Gray Couser
David Gray Couser, 
also above
David Gray Couser was the 7th son of Thomas Couser, born on February 22, 1853 in Adams Co., Ohio. David G. Couser taught at schools in rural Adams Co., Ohio following his basic early education. In 1881, he enrolled at Mount Norris College, which initially was a Methodist school and later became affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, and attended for three years. Previously, David G. Couser married Emma J. Yarger on December 30, 1880. The Cousers moved to Frankfort, KY, but later moved to a farm near Lincoln, NE in 1886. Throughout his active life, David Gray Couser was united with the Church of the Brethren, and became a pastor in Lincoln, NE. David Gray Couser passed at the home of his daughter, Mrs. W.O. Thomas, near Corning, NE, on May 6, 1927. David Gray Couser is interred at Wyuka Cemetery, Lincoln, Lancaster County, NE.

Alta Aaron Couser

Alta Aaron Couser was the third child of John Burns Couser and Rachel Alice Guthrie Couser.
Alta Aaron Couser
Alta Aaron Couser
He was born on his father’s farm near Zearing, Story Co., IA on March 3, 1879. 

He graduated from the college at Le Mars, IA. At that time, the college was taken over by the United  Evangelical Church, and renamed Western Union College. Alta Aaron married Grace Craft on July 3, 1901 in Zearing, Story Co., Iowa. Alta A. Couser was an ordained minister of the Evangelical Church of Iowa, and traveled the state of Iowa as the District Superintendent of the Evangelical Church. He became a presiding elder of both Cedar Rapids and Des Moines conferences of his church. At the time of his passing, he was pastor of the Evangelical Church at Fort Dodge, IA. He died at the age of 49 on June 22, 1928 at his home in Fort Dodge, IA. Alta Aaron was interred at the Zearing Cemetery in Zearing, Story Co., IA.

Alta A. Couser was survived by his wife, his son Chester Wendell Couser of Fort Dodge, IA, his mother, and three brothers, Arthur Pearle Couser and Thomas Grant Couser of Zearing, IA and Herbert Henry Couser of Litchfield, Minnesota.

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