Lydia Gross update

Written by Forrest Moyer on September 17, 2020

In May, I wrote a post about Lydia Gross (1872-1938) of Doylestown, an early leader in the Mennonite sewing circle movement, and her “unknown” or forgotten marriage to a British man named Henry Howlett. At the time, I was unsure whether they ever officially divorced, and whether her marriage was known to her family and church. Since we were in the height of pandemic shutdown, I could not go to the Bucks County Historical Society to look for a divorce

Continue Reading


Allen Fretz, Shepherd of Souls (Part 2)

Written by Forrest Moyer on August 26, 2020

Allen M. Fretz (1853-1943) was a longtime pastor and outstanding leader among local progressive Mennonites. In 1997, the MHEP Quarterly published a sketch of his ministry, written by grandson J. Herbert Fretz (1921-2013). We publish it now for the internet audience in two parts. The text is slightly rearranged from the original publication, and headings have been added.

See Part 1 here

50th anniversary at Deep Run, 1933

On a beautiful autumn day in the midst of the Great Depression – October 18,

Continue Reading


Allen Fretz, Shepherd of Souls (Part 1)

Written by Forrest Moyer on August 12, 2020

Allen M. Fretz (1853-1943) was a longtime pastor and outstanding leader among progressive Mennonites locally. In 1997, the MHEP Quarterly published a sketch of his ministry, written by grandson J. Herbert Fretz (1921-2013). We publish it now for the internet audience in two parts. The text is slightly rearranged from the original publication, and headings have been added.

First love lost

It was early September, 1883, when 29-year-old Allen Myers Fretz and his companions from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, were visiting friends and

Continue Reading


New acquisition: Ethiopia memorabilia of Jacob & Mildred Clemens

Written by Joel Alderfer on July 9, 2020

Last year, the family of the late Jacob R. and Mildred Landes Clemens of Lansdale, PA, donated a travel trunk filled with cultural artifacts, memorabilia, photos and papers collected by their parents during two years of relief work in Ethiopia. Jacob and Mildred were sent as relief workers with Mennonite Central Committee to Nazareth, Ethiopia, from November 1946 through 1948.

Their trunk of memorabilia had been given to their daughter and son-in-law, Mary Ann and Brian Hagey, who recently gave it

Continue Reading


S. M. Grubb: “Why I Am a Mennonite”

Written by Forrest Moyer on June 18, 2020

Silas Manasses Grubb (1873-1938) was longtime pastor of Second Mennonite Church, Philadelphia, a congregation founded in 1894 as an outgrowth of First Mennonite, Philadelphia, where his father, N. B. Grubb, was pastor.

These were progressive congregations of the Eastern District of the General Conference Mennonite Church, and both father and son were educated and well-spoken. Both served as editors of The Mennonite, the denominational paper. Their congregations were filled with Mennonites who sought a modern city life rather than

Continue Reading


“Good adwise” on scrapple

Written by Forrest Moyer on June 10, 2020

Recently, a post about scrapple on the Pennsylvania Dutch At-Home Companion blog generated a lot of interest. This post contributes another primary source on scrapple, from Henry R. Bergey of Franconia Township, writing circa 1925.

Henry Ruth Bergey (1843-1925) was a farmer in ”Bergey Valley” along the Indian Creek in Franconia. This is the last entry in a manuscript notebook begun in 1924 when he was 80 years old. You can read more about Henry and his notebook in this post

Continue Reading


Branch Valley Characters (Part 2)

Written by Joel Alderfer on June 4, 2020

Traditionally, many communities have unusual personalities, or characters, who are remembered and immortalized by stories that are passed down long after their passing. They are people whose colorful lives may not be well documented in written history, but are often remembered in the oral tradition.

I wrote these bios for the MHEP Newsletter in 1995, based on stories collected from older folks, local historians, and my own research. We’re sharing them here in two parts (this week and next), adding a

Continue Reading


Branch Valley Characters (Part 1)

Written by Joel Alderfer on May 27, 2020

Traditionally, many communities have unusual personalities, or characters, who are remembered and immortalized by stories that are passed down long after their passing. They are people whose colorful lives may not be well documented in written history, but are often remembered in the oral tradition.

I wrote these bios for the MHEP Newsletter in 1995, based on stories collected from older folks, local historians, and my own research. We’re sharing them here in two parts (this week and next), adding a

Continue Reading


Lydia Gross’s forgotten marriage

Written by Forrest Moyer on May 15, 2020

(Updated 9/17/2020)

The first part of this post, about Lydia Gross’s leadership in the Doylestown Mennonite Sewing Circle and proposed Women’s Missionary Society, was written by Mary Jane Hershey and published in the MHEP Newsletter in March 1996.

The rest of the post, written by myself, is about Lydia’s brief marriage to a tattooed ruffian named Henry Howlett, and how the marriage was intentionally forgotten by her Mennonite church and family. Though divorced, Lydia retained the respect of the church and

Continue Reading


Henry Hagey, artist and chronicler of Franconia Township

Written by Joel Alderfer on May 6, 2020

Back in late March, we published on this blog, Flu Epidemic of 1918: accounts from local diaries, which included excerpts from the diary of Henry D. Hagey, painter-paperhanger, artist and historian of Elroy, Franconia Township, PA. In this post, I’ll expand on his story and feature a selection of photos and artifacts from his camera and hand, donated to the Mennonite Heritage Center by his relatives over the last three decades.

Some biography

The MHC has a few hard-bound copies of this

Continue Reading