Reflections from the journal of Alma K. Ruth

Written by Forrest Moyer on April 24, 2019

Alma Ruth (1900-1975) was the daughter of bishop Joseph and Mary Kratz Ruth of Line Lexington. She was a long-time worker at the Diamond Street Mennonite Mission in Philadelphia. These memories were transcribed by John L. Ruth from a manuscript purchased at the auction of the property of Clarence Ruth, Alma’s nephew. The manuscript is now archived at the Mennonite Heritage Center, along with Alma’s scrapbooked memories of Philadelphia mission work (Hist. Mss. 518).

Alma Ruth (front left) with a group

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New acquisition: Joshua Histand and Enos Gehman papers

Written by Joel Alderfer on April 9, 2019

Last fall, Sarah Godshall Hunsberger, one of our members in Harrisonburg, Virginia, called to say that she had some old family papers and artifacts to give to us, but wanted to send them with someone from the Souderton area who might be traveling to the Harrisonburg area and back.  Eventually, through the Mennonite “network”, an old wooden box labeled “Keystone Watch Case Company” showed up at the front desk here at the Mennonite Heritage Center.   It was half filled with

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Influential Gross descendants

Written by Forrest Moyer on March 22, 2019

My last blog post introduced Jacob Gross, an early Mennonite bishop of Deep Run. He had many descendants, including myself, who lived in eastern Pennsylvania; but some of the most interesting characters lived elsewhere.

An affluent and influential branch of the family were descendants of Jacob Gross Jr. (1780-1865) of Canada. Like his father, Jacob was a Mennonite bishop who was progressive and evangelical. Unlike his father, the younger Jacob was eventually silenced and left the Mennonite Church to join

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Bishop Jacob Gross (1743-1810)

Written by Forrest Moyer on March 6, 2019

It’s been 15 years since I dove down the rabbit hole of genealogy. My interest continues to be piqued by my own ancestors, but has expanded to the stories of many others through my work at the Heritage Center and everyday conversations with folks from diverse backgrounds. The interesting characters among our ancestors are endless!

As a child, I knew that my grandmother Ruth was descended from an early American Mennonite bishop, Jacob Gross of Deep Run, Bucks County; but my

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New acquisition: Groundhog Lodge #2 records

Written by Joel Alderfer on February 22, 2019

The records, photos and some artifacts of Groundhog Lodge #2 “on the Skippack” were donated to the Mennonite Heritage Center last fall, after the group disbanded earlier in 2018. This Grundsow Lodsch, based in the Souderton-Harleysville area, started in 1937, held its first public Fersommling (gathering and banquet) in February 1938, held its 81st annual banquet in February 2018, and then decided to disband. It was the second of the lodges (or clubs) organized in the wider Groundhog Lodge movement

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Camp experiences of David H. Gehman, World War I

Written by Forrest Moyer on February 6, 2019

David Gehman (1894-1969) grew up near Bally, Pennsylvania. His father was Enos Gehman, whose teenage journal of a trip to Philadelphia was published on this blog.

David’s memoir of his experiences as a conscientious objector during World War I is found in the J.C. Clemens Papers at the MHC (Hist. Mss. 3). It was first published in the MHEP Newsletter in 1983. Gehman’s accompanying note was not included, but an excerpt reveals how he came to record his memories and

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A window on Franconia Mennonite character

Written by Forrest Moyer on January 24, 2019

Two weeks ago I posted a story about hospitality as it was experienced in the 1820s in the wilderness of Ohio. Today I’m sharing another article from our Newsletter that touches on the theme of hospitality and the old culture of Franconia Mennonites.

In April 1985, John Ruth transcribed and commented on several notes from a journal of Henry R. Bergey (1843-1925). The article is rich in the color of life as it used to be among local Mennonites, and we’re

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Walking to Ohio in the 1820s

Written by Forrest Moyer on January 9, 2019

The following is a translation of a Pennsylvania Dutch story submitted to the Souderton Independent newspaper by local historian Henry Hagey and printed December 22, 1933. It appears to be a true story, collected by Hagey from deacon Jake Freed (1851-1929) of the Franconia Mennonite congregation. The story was told to him by one Martin Bechtel, presumably Martin G. Bechtel (1797-1890), buried at Blooming Glen.

While only the barest details flesh the story, it does give some idea of what traveling

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New acquisition: Henry & Florence Keeler family photos

Written by Forrest Moyer on December 6, 2018

In 2017, shortly before her death, Ruth Keeler Longacre donated a photo album and other papers that belonged to her mother, Florence Moyer Keeler (1898-1992) of Towamencin Township. Florence’s husband Henry died in a farming accident many years ago in 1946, and Florence never remarried, continuing to live at her husband’s family home on Keeler Road with her four unmarried children, Paul, William, Ruth and Laverne. Son Curtis Keeler, who was married to Verna Long, lived in Telford. They were

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Mennonites and Alcohol

Written by Forrest Moyer on November 8, 2018

Recently the MHC participated in a pop-up exhibit at the Free Library of Philadelphia, called “Drinks in the Archives”. The event was part of Archives Month Philly, an annual month-long celebration of the rich archival resources in the Philadelphia region. The evening brought together sixteen archives and nine departments of the Free Library, to share items from their collections that relate to beverage creation and consumption.

Photos courtesy of Free Library of Philadelphia.

The Mennonite Heritage Center’s display focused on

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