New acquisition: Henry & Florence Keeler family photos

Written by Forrest Moyer on December 6, 2018

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

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New acquisition: Elizabeth Ruth show towel

Written by Forrest Moyer on June 1, 2018

A beautiful show towel was donated to the MHC last year, bearing the name Elizabeth Ruth and date 1836. Towels like this were made for display, not use, by young women in preparation for decorating their homes after marriage. At the bottom of this towel is a fine drawn-work panel featuring peacocks (or geese), hearts and a pot of flowers.

Gift of Beulah Hendricks Rittenhouse (2017.44.1)

The maker of the towel, Elizabeth Ruth (1819-1888), had an unusual story. She

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Excerpts from “Powwowing: Folk Medicine or White Magic?”

Written by Forrest Moyer on May 16, 2018

In February 1979, the MHEP Newsletter published notes from a talk by Mennonite pastor Gerald Studer on the topic of “powwowing”—In German, Braucherei—a combination of faith healing and folk medicine. This ancient practice brought by Pennsylvania Germans from Europe has been preserved in pockets of the American countryside to the present day. Opinions have varied in the Pa. German community about the effectiveness and propriety of powwowing. Individuals from all religious groups—Lutheran, Reformed, Mennonite, Brethren, Evangelical, etc.—made use of powwow

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Autobiographical notes: J. C. Clemens

Written by Forrest Moyer on April 5, 2018

Jacob Cassel Clemens (1874-1965) was pastor of Plains Mennonite Church and a well-known evangelist in Mennonite circles. In 1979, the MHEP Newsletter published his autobiographical notes written in 1954. The manuscript is in his papers archived at the MHC (Hist. Mss. 3).

Clemens’ reflections on the first half of the 20th century, as he experienced it, are illuminating. They remind us how much has changed in the last century, but also that many of our ancestors’ experiences are similar to ours—love

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Our Immigrant Heritage: Derstine

Written by Forrest Moyer on October 23, 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.

European background

The Derstine family of eastern Pennsylvania (one branch uses the spelling Derstein) is descended from Michael Dierstein (1712-1777), an immigrant who came to Philadelphia with a group of Mennonites on the ship

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Our Immigrant Heritage: Alderfer

Written by Joel Alderfer on August 17, 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.

The Alderfer name is one of those unique to the Mennonite communities of Montgomery and Bucks Counties. The name was not found in other Mennonite settlements, except through later migration and intermarriage. However,

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Our Immigrant Heritage: Ruth

Written by Forrest Moyer on June 29, 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.

Henry and Magdalena

The immigrant ancestor of the Bucks-Mont Ruth family, whose name was Henry, came to Pennsylvania probably in the fall of 1717 and purchased 200 acres of land at Salford in February

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Our Immigrant Heritage: Allebach

Written by Forrest Moyer on June 21, 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.

A large pioneer family

Christian Allebach, a weaver, had three stepchildren when he and wife Margaret immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1719. The family came from Dühren, Germany, near Sinsheim in the Kraichgau, and likely

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“Going to meeting” at Souderton, 1883-1902

Written by Forrest Moyer on February 8, 2017
Mennonite Heritage Center, Harleysville

Souderton Mennonite Meetinghouse, circa 1910

Another article from the first year of the MHEP Newsletter  features entries from the diary of William S. Hemsing (1866-1940) about his experiences at Souderton Mennonite Church. The full diary, subtitled An Intimate Look at Souderton, Pennsylvania, was published by Union National Bank in 1987 and is available to purchase in the Mennonite Heritage Center library for $8.00.

William Souder Hemsing, later to be Burgess of Souderton, was a teenage teller in the Union National Bank of

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Glimpses of “Skippack” Mennonite Life, 1745-1760

Written by Forrest Moyer on January 11, 2017

Christopher Sower’s printing house, Germantown, Pa.

As announced, one feature of this blog will be the republishing of articles from past issues of the MHEP Newsletter and Quarterly. One of the first significant articles published in the Newsletter, when it began in 1975, was a translation by John Ruth of Mennonite-related material published in Christopher Sower’s German newspaper, 1745-1760. We present it here again for your enjoyment and education. Editor’s notes are original to the Ruth article.

Christopher Sower‘s newspaper, Pensylvanische Berichte

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