Our Immigrant Heritage: Bechtel

Written by Forrest Moyer on December 1, 2017

This series of posts highlights families descended from 18th-century Mennonite immigrants to eastern Pennsylvania, in connection with the MHC’s exhibit Opportunity & Conscience: Mennonite Immigration to Pennsylvania, on display through March 31, 2018. The stories reflect the enrichment brought to communities over centuries by the descendants of immigrants.

Hans Jacob, Hans George, and Abraham

A number of immigrants with the Swiss name Bechtel came to Pennsylvania in the colonial era. Two of these, Hans Jacob Bechtel (d. 1739) and Hans George Bechtel

Continue Reading


New acquisition: Bower family tree

Written by Forrest Moyer on October 5, 2017
Mennonite Heritage Center, Harleysville

Zach Bower, a social studies teacher at Dock Mennonite Academy, recently donated an unusual family heirloom to the Mennonite Heritage Center — a hand-drawn family tree compiled by his great-great-grandfather, Henry Stauffer Bower (1836-1909).

Gift of Zachary Aaron Bower (2017.30.1)

The tree, signed and dated 1897, traces many branches of the descendants of Mennonite immigrant Hans Bauer, a native of Switzerland who settled in Hereford Township, Berks County in 1734.

This chart was made in combination with a genealogy that Henry compiled,

Continue Reading


New acquisition: Scratch-decorated egg

Written by Forrest Moyer on April 12, 2017
Mennonite Heritage Center, Harleysville

Taking a break from immigrant family stories, this week we’re featuring a new acquisition related to the Easter holiday.

You may be familiar with the elaborate scratch-decorated eggs of the Lithuanian tradition; but did you know Pennsylvania Germans had a similar practice of scratch decoration? You can see many examples in a chapter on this topic in Alfred Shoemaker’s book Eastertide in Pennsylvania (1960). Often decorated eggs were made as presentation pieces or gifts from one friend to another at Easter.

This

Continue Reading