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

Continue Reading


A Journey to Philadelphia, 1870

Written by Forrest Moyer on September 18, 2018

“…we went up in the steeple of the State house, where we have seen the greatest part of the city….”

Photo above: View southeast from the State House, 1867. Scrapbooks. Free Library of Philadelphia.

This account of a trip (mostly pleasure, a little business) from rural Berks-Montgomery County to the city of Philadelphia was written by 15-year-old Enos Gehman in 1871. Over a hundred years later it was published in the MHEP Newsletter April 1978, and is now republished here, with photos

Continue Reading


A Pioneer of Gospel Broadcasting: William G. Detweiler

Written by Forrest Moyer on July 11, 2018

Republished from the MHEP Newsletter April 1977. Author unknown; if anyone can identify the author, please contact MHC archivist Forrest Moyer at moyerf@mhep.org.

Editor’s note (1977): In the July issue (Vol. 3, No.4) of the MHEP Newsletter, several acquisitions from Mrs. Detweiler Stolzfus [Anna Landes Detweiler Stoltzfus] were noted. Among them was the following biography of William G. Detweiler, founder of The Calvary Hour in 1936. The title page from the biography is missing so that we do not know who

Continue Reading


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


A New Chapter of the Pennsylvania Mennonite Story

Written by Steve Diehl on September 5, 2017

For three years, Beny Krisbianto faced the fierce opposition of close-knit, deeply entrenched neighbors, difficulties with four contractors, and the intransigence of City Hall.  One contractor told him to stop trying to build his church for recently arrived Indonesians in South Philly.  Now people ask him in amazement, “How is it that you have a relationship with the mayor?”  Mayor Kenney recently visited, and the city council held a meeting in the new church.  Neighbors who once opposed him invited

Continue Reading


Our Immigrant Heritage: Hunsberger

Written by Forrest Moyer on August 30, 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.

Hunsberger roots of Franconia and Souderton

Brothers Ulrich, Jacob, and John (Hans) Hunsberger were some of the first settlers in the area that became Franconia Township. They each at one time owned parts of

Continue Reading


New acquisition: Gehman-Hiestand family registers

Written by Forrest Moyer on July 12, 2017

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

Continue Reading


First Mennonite Church, Philadelphia added to city historic register

Written by Forrest Moyer on May 15, 2017

Former MHC intern Dan Sigmans, who grew up in Bucks County, now lives and works in Philadelphia. Recently he helped with a successful application to add the old First Mennonite Church building at 513 Diamond Street (built in 1881) to the city’s Register of Historic Places. I asked him a few questions about the process and the historic site. You can view the full application here. It was approved March 10th.

How did you get involved with the application process?

On one

Continue Reading


Our Immigrant Heritage: Cassel

Written by Forrest Moyer on May 10, 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.

Viewing comets in Kriegsheim

Hupert Cassel, an immigrant bachelor who came to Pennsylvania in 1717, and his brothers Yellis and John, who came ten years later, were from a pious Mennonite family of Kriegsheim,

Continue Reading


Opportunity and Conscience: Mennonite Immigration the theme of Heritage Banquet

Written by Steve Diehl on May 4, 2017

The 2017 Heritage Banquet was held on Friday, April 28th at the Heritage Center

“Let us walk again the pilgrim path.”

With these words from the invocation of Steve Kriss, Executive Minister of the Franconia Conference, 80 guests headed down that path.  One storyteller was Friedrick Alldörfer, whose passage was across the Atlantic in 1733.  Friedrick was portrayed by Heritage Center historian Joel Alderfer, an actual descendant.  He hosted guests in the cross-section of his ship, the focal

Continue Reading