Clinton V. Achenbach.

Sourcet: U.S. Passport application, 1915.

Achenbach, Clinton Victor (1875–1935)

By Milton Hook

×

Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: November 28, 2021

Clinton Achenbach was an American missionary who served during the early phases of Adventist work in the Spanish-speaking lands of Peru, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Heritage and Training

Clinton Achenbach, eldest child of William and Valeria (Strauss) Achenbach, was born at Mount Aetna, southeastern Pennsylvania on April 11, 1875. His siblings, all sisters, were Lillie (b. 1879), Carrie May (b. 1880), Bessie Elizabeth (b. 1882), Maggie (b. 1888) and Elsie Valeria (b. 1890).1 Clinton attended the local public school and was baptized in 1893 by James Shrock at Reading, Pennsylvania.

The next stage of Clinton’s education took place at South Lancaster Academy in Massachusetts, 1894-1895. He subsequently moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, where he was employed at Battle Creek Sanitarium before taking the nurses training course there from 1901 to 1903.2

In Battle Creek, Clinton met Minnie Elizabeth Branson, who had a similar background as a teacher and was also a nurse trainee in the Sanitarium.3 They married at Battle Creek on February 6, 1903.4

Medical, Canvassing, and Ministerial Work in the South

A call to medical evangelism in the Florida Conference was the start of a united career that would develop in the homeland and overseas mission fields. In Orlando, Florida, beginning in 1904, the Achenbachs, joined by Clinton’s younger sister, Maggie, pioneered an enterprise that combined hydrotherapy treatment rooms with a vegetarian café.5 This endeavor gave impetus to establishment, after they left, of Florida Sanitarium in 1908,6 later known as Florida Hospital, and most recently as AdventHealth Orlando.

In 1907 Achenbach began two years as missionary field agent in the Florida Conference, a role that placed him in charge of a team of canvassers. He urged American church members to escape the cold northern winters and spend the season selling books in Florida.7 Achenbach was given a licence to preach in 1909 and was ordained to gospel ministry by General Conference president Arthur G. Daniells in October 1910 at the Florida Conference camp meeting held in Leesburg. In 1912, Achenbach was elected president of the South Carolina Conference, a position he held for two years. In order to better equip himself for ministry, he studied at Washington Missionary College, Takoma Park, Maryland, during the 1914-1915 academic year.8

Medical Mission in Peru

In 1915 Clinton and Minnie received an appointment to join Ferdinand and Ana Stahl at the Lake Titicaca Indian Mission in the highlands of Peru. There was a certain romantic aura about this mission station for it was the home of the ancient Inca culture, remote and picturesque. The lake itself was the highest navigable body of water in the world. The extreme altitude of 12,500 feet or 3,800 meters made it a challenging environment in which to work because of the rarefied air.9 Clinton and Minnie departed from New Orleans on July 10, 1915, negotiating the relatively new Panama Canal and sailing down the coast to Callao and Mollendo.10 The landing was so steep that a chair had to be lowered and each passenger was hoisted by a derrick onto terra firma. They journeyed part way into the mountains to acclimatize at Arequipa and remained there for several months to learn something of the Spanish language before ascending further to Puno on Lake Titicaca.11

The mission station was located near Puno on the northwestern shore amid hundreds of grass-thatched homes of the indigenous people. It was established a decade earlier and enjoyed a good reputation. Soon after arrival Achenbach reported that Sabbath School attendance was approximately 700. The clinic that was conducted in a special building on site treated up to 20 patients each day. The clientele included Spanish nationals, priests, and Inca Indians who were known to travel long distances for medical treatment.12 Stahl was also a trained nurse. He and Achenbach united their efforts, at times performing surgical procedures such as the removal of a tumor on the eye or a gangrene foot.13 A small fee, a pittance in reality, was asked for each treatment. On some occasions Achenbach would travel several kilometers away from his headquarters to treat extreme cases.14

The good influence of the medical work generated requests from the nationals for mission outposts to be established. The first was in 1918 when a school for 85 students was opened at Titilaka on the lake foreshore south of Puno.15 In the same year the only child of Clinton and Minnie, Raquel, was born in Puno.16

Inter-American Missions

Health impairment made it necessary for Achenbach to return to the United States with his family in early 1920.17 While recuperating in the homeland he ministered in the Southeastern Union Conference for six months18 and then was appointed to be director of the Porto (Puerto) Rican Mission. During his three-year term (1920-1923) the number of churches grew from 10 to 15 and the baptized membership increased from 486 to 629 individuals.19 He nurtured five church schools and established a training school named Colegio Adventista located at Aibonito in the mountains. Another two church schools were conducted in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, then a fledgling territory within the Porto Rican Mission.20

From Puerto Rico Clinton transferred to be superintendent of the Venezuela Mission, a smaller entity of two churches and a membership of 84 believers.21 He continued in leadership roles in Spanish-speaking countries, next as superintendent of the Cuban Mission and then as superintendent of the Santo Domingo Mission.22 The latter region was particularly difficult for Seventh-day Adventists to make any progress. The earliest converts were imprisoned for their faith but the church schools conducted by Achenbach reduced prejudice. The civil government came to realize that the mission was beneficial and deserved a place in their society.23

Final Years

There followed a brief respite for Clinton and Minnie in the homeland, 1928, and then a return to Puerto Rico. After six more years of evangelistic and pastoral labor, poor health again compelled Achenbach to return to the United States in 1934. He suffered a stroke while attending the 1934 Autumn Council held in Battle Creek, Michigan, then a second stroke that ended his life on March 19, 1935, at age 59.24 He was laid to rest in the Washington National Cemetery, Maryland. Minnie remained in the area and enjoyed many more years, passing away in 1961. She rests in the same cemetery.25

Sources

“A paragraph from a letter . . . .” ARH, December 16, 1915.

Achenbach, [Clinton V.]. “Arriving in Peru.” ARH, November 18, 1915.

Achenbach, C. V. “Experiences at the Lake Titicaca Mission.” ARH, March 2, 1916.

Achenbach, C. V. “Porto Rico.” Adult Mission Quarterly, April-June 1923.

Annual Statistical Reports. General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Online Archives (GCA). http://documents.adventistarchives.org/.

“Clinton Victor Achenbach.” FamilySearch. Accessed November 11, 2021. https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/G9KW-9SK.

“Clinton Victor Achenbach.” Find A Grave. Memorial ID No. 80934092, November 24, 2011. Accessed November 11, 2021. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/80934092/clinton-victor-achenbach

Clinton V. Achenbach Biographical Information Blank. Secretariat Missionary Files, RG 21, Record 114873. General Conference Office of Seventh-day Adventists Archives, Silver Spring, MD (GCA).

“Distribution of Labor.” ARH, April 29, 1920.

Howell, John M. “Puno, Peru.” ARH, January 27, 1916.

“Leaving from New Orleans, July 10…” ARH, July 15, 1915.

Montgomery, O. “An Advance Move in the Lake Titicaca Mission.” ARH, January 23, 1919.

Parmele, R. W. “Maggie Achenbach.” ARH, March 31, 1910.

Parmele, R. W. “Wintering in Florida.” ARH, January 14, 1909.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbooks, 1909-1934. General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Online Archives (GCA). https://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/Forms/AllItems.aspx.

Spicer, W. A. “Elder Clinton V. Achenbach.” ARH, April 11, 1935.

Stevens, J. A. “Santo Domingo General Meeting.” ARH, March 17, 1927.

Notes

  1. “Clinton Victor Achenbach,” FamilySearch, accessed November 11, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/G9KW-9SK.

  2. Clinton V. Achenbach Biographical Information, March 26, 1916, Secretariat Missionary Files, RG 21, Record 114873, GCA. The United States Census, 1900, identifies Achenbach as an employee at Battle Creek Sanitarium and his vocation as “school teacher;” neither the particulars of his work at the sanitarium nor as a teacher at this time are made clear by other records; FamilySearch, accessed March 7, 2022, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M91P-RBP?treeref=G9KW-9SK.

  3. Achenbach Biographical Information Blank, March 26, 1916, Record 114873, GCA.

  4. “Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925,” FamilySearch, accessed November 11, 2021, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NQQH-YJY.

  5. R. W. Parmele, “Maggie Achenbach,” ARH, March 31, 1910, 23.

  6. W. A. Spicer, “Elder Clinton V. Achenbach,” ARH, April 11, 1935, 22.

  7. R. W. Parmele, “Wintering in Florida,” ARH, January 14, 1909, 18.

  8. Achenbach Biographical Information Blank, March 26, 1916, Record 114873, GCA.

  9. “Lake Titicaca,” NASA Earth Observatory, accessed March 7, 2022, https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/87027/lake-titicaca#:~:text=The%20lake%20lies%20on%20the,tourist%20attractions%20in%20South%20America.

  10. “Leaving from New Orleans, July 10…” ARH, July 15, 1915, 24.

  11. [Clinton V.] Achenbach, “Arriving in Peru,” ARH, November 18, 1915, 11.

  12. “A paragraph from a letter . . . ,” ARH, December 16, 1915, 24.

  13. John M. Howell, “Puno, Peru,” ARH, January 27, 1916, 12.

  14. C. V. Achenbach, “Experiences at the Lake Titicaca Mission,” ARH, March 2, 1916, 10-11.

  15. O. Montgomery, “An Advance Move in the Lake Titicaca Mission,” ARH, January 23, 1919, 12-14.

  16. “Raquel Achenbach,” in United States Census, 1930, FamilySearch, accessed March 7, 2022, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V6Z4-NHN?from=lynx1UIV8&treeref=G9KW-QGQ.

  17. Spicer, “Elder Clinton V. Achenbach.”

  18. “Distribution of Labor,” ARH, April 29, 1920, 15.

  19. Annual Statistical Report for 1920, 10, https://documents.adventistarchives.org/Statistics/ASR/ASR1920.pdf; and for 1923, 10, https://documents.adventistarchives.org/Statistics/ASR/ASR1923.pdf.

  20. C. V. Achenbach, “Porto Rico,” Adult Mission Quarterly, April-June 1923, 22-24.

  21. “Venezuela Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook for 1924, 184 (GCA).

  22. Spicer, “Elder Clinton V. Achenbach.”

  23. J.A. Stevens, “Santo Domingo General Meeting,” ARH, March 17, 1927, 20.

  24. Spicer, “Elder Clinton V. Achenbach.”

  25. “Clinton Victor Achenbach,” Find A Grave, Memorial ID No. 80934092, November 24, 2011, accessed November 11, 2021, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/80934092/clinton-victor-achenbach.

×

Hook, Milton. "Achenbach, Clinton Victor (1875–1935)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. November 28, 2021. Accessed September 25, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=B8SN.

Hook, Milton. "Achenbach, Clinton Victor (1875–1935)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. November 28, 2021. Date of access September 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=B8SN.

Hook, Milton (2021, November 28). Achenbach, Clinton Victor (1875–1935). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved September 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=B8SN.