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
Recently, a German Bible published in 1693 in Frankfurt was donated to the Mennonite Heritage Center by Henry A. Ziegler of near Bally, PA. An inscription on the second page indicates the Bible was purchased by Johann Wilhelm Geyer in 1752 in Frankfurt, Germany, and was brought by him to Pennsylvania that year. He wrote: “1752 den 24 May hab ich Wilhelm Geyer diese Bibel gekaufft im Franckfort am Mayn” [1752, the 24th of May, I, Wilhelm Geyer have purchased
The MHC recently acquired from a rare books dealer, a manuscript tunebook dated March 1872, compiled and decorated by schoolteacher Jacob W. Gross of New Britain Township, Bucks County. Gross made the booklet for Hannah Schaddinger, his student in the “Valley Park Deutsche Schule” (Valley Park German School) in Plumstead Township, Bucks County. Schaddinger (1858-1937) was the daughter of Henry & Mary Fretz Schaddinger of Plumstead Township, and later married John Z. Loux. The bookplate is clearly signed “Geschrieben den
In November, the MHC acquired a beautiful fraktur family register that tells the story of a unique and interesting family who bridged the Mennonite-Funkite-Brethren divide of the early 19th century.
The register (2017.65.1) is for the family of John and Elizabeth Hall Horning of Skippack Township, Montgomery County. It was made about 1785 and appears to be the work of schoolmaster Henry Brachtheiser, who made other pieces in the 1780s at Skippack and Salford.
The pages were originally longer, but were
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).
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,
Last year Alma Shelly of North Newton, Kansas donated several family Bible registers that belonged to her late sister-in-law, Griselda Gehman Shelly (1925-2014), wife of Mennonite minister and author Maynard Shelly. The registers document four generations of Griselda’s ancestors, a unique and gifted family of the Berks-Lehigh community.
Griselda Gehman was an only child, born in Newark, Delaware to parents of Pennsylvania Mennonite origin. Her grandfather, William Hiestand Gehman, had moved from Lehigh County, Pennsylvania to the state of Delaware, where
In 2016, the MHC received not one, but two collections of digital photos from local Mennonite cemeteries.
The first contains photos of all gravestones in the Deep Run Mennonite East Cemetery in Bedminster Township, Bucks County. The donor, Daryl W. Rice, shot the photos in 2015. He did an excellent job, selecting a time of day when the sun created the best light for reading inscriptions, and getting down to the level of the stones for a good angle.
Most 18th-century Mennonite
In 2016, two sets of beautiful 19th-century dishes were donated to the MHC.
The first is a full table setting of “flow blue” dishes, circa 1870, that belonged to Susan Godshall Frederick Rosenberger (1854-1932) of Souderton, PA. She married first, in about 1873, Benjamin H. Frederick (1852-1891) of Franconia Township; then Amos Rosenberger (1852-1924). Susan was a member of the Franconia Mennonite Church and is buried there with her first husband. The dishes may have been a wedding gift at their
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.
A recent addition to the Mennonite Heritage Center collections is a post card photo of the Mennonite Home for the Aged at Frederick, Montgomery County, circa 1905. Notice the American flag flying prominently from the cupola. In the early 20th century, before the World Wars, churches of the Eastern District Conference often displayed flags. The post card is a gift of MHC Trustee Emeritus Ray K. Hacker. The catalog record can be viewed here.
It joins other images in the Frederick