Written by Joel Alderfer on March 25, 2020
As we experience and restructure our lives during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, it may be helpful to understand how our community in central Montgomery County, PA was impacted by the global Influenza Epidemic of 1918. Several diaries of local persons in the Mennonite Heritage Center collection offer some glimpses back to that time.
A little background
Some researchers believe that the influenza of 1918 originated on farms in western Kansas in the spring of that year. Most scientists and scholars now
Written by Forrest Moyer on March 18, 2020
This article was written by Joel Alderfer for the MHEP Newsletter in 1994, based on research done for the exhibit When This You See, Remember Me: The Experience of Mennonite Women.
Hanna Rittenhouse was born in Towamencin Township, Montgomery County, the youngest child of Jacob K. Rittenhouse (1838-1917), a township school director, and Elizabeth D. Clemmer Rittenhouse (1940-1922). She enjoyed her grade-school education and graduated from the eighth grade in 1895, for which she wrote the class history. About a year
Written by Forrest Moyer on March 11, 2020
Originally published in the MHEP Newsletter, May 1993, this rare letter details a family conflict over inheritance and possibly religion.
Elizabeth Oblinger was a sister of Christian Meyer/Moyer, early Mennonite deacon at Franconia, and sister-in-law of Henry Funk, the bishop. Here her husband, Nicholas, writes from far away — “beyond the Blue Mountain” (Palmerton, PA area) — to complain that Elizabeth has not received the inheritance due from her father’s estate. Nicholas wonders if perhaps the old father (Christian Moyer
Written by Forrest Moyer on February 11, 2020
Many of you know the story of the “Saucon Incident” during the American War for Independence — eleven men of the Saucon Mennonite congregation in Northampton County were imprisoned for refusing to pledge allegiance to Pennsylvania, and all their moveable property was sold on auction. If you don’t know the story, read it here. (The linked book, Sweet Land of Liberty by Francis S. Fox, is available in the MHC Library, along with John Ruth’s account of the incident in
Written by Forrest Moyer on January 10, 2020
Mahlon G. Moyer (1853-1939) was raised in a Mennonite family of New Britain Township, Bucks County. As a young man he moved to Philadelphia and became a telegraph operator; married and started a family. Later he settled in North Wales, where he lived the rest of his life.
Unwilling to join the conservative Mennonite Church of his parents, Mahlon was baptized in the Presbyterian Church at age 28. His great-grandson, Robert “Bob” Walters, returned to the Mennonites and served as
Written by Joel Alderfer on December 10, 2019
Earlier this year, Harold R. and Doneda Clemmer donated a small collection of folk art and a group of deeds and surveys from the family and homestead of his ancestors, Preacher Christian & Barbara Gehman Clemmer, of Hereford Township, Berks County. The Clemmers were members of the Hereford Mennonite congregation, in Bally, PA, where Christian was ordained a preacher in 1842.
We’ll feature some of the folk art and just a selection of the land-related documents from the recent donation in
Written by Forrest Moyer on November 6, 2019
John S. Coffman (1848-1899) of Elkhart, IN was one of the first evangelists to hold a series of meetings in Franconia Mennonite Conference, in November 1896. His tour lasted three weeks, during which he preached in all but one congregation in the conference. In his diary, he recorded impressions of the places and people he met, giving us a rare view of local Mennonite culture. The diary is archived at the Mennonite Church USA Archives in Elkhart and was published
Written by Forrest Moyer on October 16, 2019
On Sunday, October 27, 2019 at 7:00 p.m., the MHC is hosting a special Community Harvest Home program in the Nyce Barn on our campus. All are welcome! Please bring a nonperishable food item to share with the food bank at Keystone Opportunity Center. Click here for more information.
Director Sarah Heffner wrote the following background on Harvest Home for the MHEP Quarterly in 2004.
Harvest time was highly significant for southeastern Pennsylvanians in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and Harvest
Written by Forrest Moyer on August 22, 2019
In January 2018, the MHC received a surprise package in the mail from Lois Beun Callaghan of Santa Fe, NM, a descendant of John Meyer/Moyer (1799-1877) of Skippack Township. It contained several 19th century German newspapers with Meyer’s name on them — Der Morgenstern (Doylestown, PA), Der Neutralist (Skippack, PA), and Montgomery County Presse (Lansdale, PA) — and a separate file of hundreds of obituaries (and some marriage notices) clipped from these papers in the years 1844-1893. We’re thankful to
Written by Forrest Moyer on July 23, 2019
Republished from the MHEP Newsletter, May 1986. Mrs. Heebner’s full memoir is available in the MHC library.
This history is a reflection of Susie Freed Heebner (March 7, 1892-December 6, 1984) as she thought about things that happened throughout her lifetime. Susie always enjoyed writing things down. Over the years she kept diaries. Her son, Steward, suggested that she write this life history. He bought her the spiral-ringed notebook into which she recorded her remembrances. For him we are thankful;