Additional records of Bishop Warren Bean donated

Written by Joel Alderfer on January 12, 2024

By Joel D. Alderfer

Several months ago, additional records of Mennonite farmer and Bishop Warren G. Bean, of the Upper Skippack congregation, were donated by a great-grandson Brian Moyer. These records, including several early volumes of his diary and ministerial travel records, were added to the papers of Warren G. & Anna Bean already in the MHC collection, donated by several family members over the last 45 years.  In this article, I’ll highlight and transcribe examples of records selected from the

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From Sandy Ridge and Pine Run to Main Street and Cross Keys: The Photography of William Histand of Doylestown

Written by Joel Alderfer on January 20, 2023

For decades, we’ve known about some of the unusual photography of the late William L. Histand (1911-1994) of Doylestown, PA. In fact, over the years we’ve used several of his classic images of local Mennonite life from the 1930s and 1940s in various exhibits. I became acquainted with Bill in his later years when he visited at the Mennonite Heritage Center in the early 1990s and donated just a sampling of his photos to us. In the years since Bill

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Indian Creek Brethren in the mid-twentieth century: Photography of Peter P. Macinskas, Jr.

Written by Joel Alderfer on August 10, 2022

By Joel D. Alderfer

About five years ago, a collection of 35mm color slides, 2.5×2.5 inch color transparencies, and 8mm home movies taken by the late Peter Macinskas (1922-1969) of Vernfield, Pennsylvania, was donated to the Mennonite Heritage Center.  For the last several years, we did not have a scanner that could process slides, transparencies, or negatives.  That changed a couple months ago when we were able to purchase, thanks to a grant from Blooming Glen Mennonite Church, an Epson V850

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Recent Acquisition – Bergey-Johnson-Kulp family fraktur

Written by Joel Alderfer on January 19, 2022

In early 2020, Nan Weber Burch of Skippack, PA donated a significant group of related fraktur that had descended from her maternal grandmother’s ancestry in the Lower Salford-Skippack area.  These include pieces from the Bergey, Tyson, Johnson, and Kulp families.

The oldest piece is a notenbuchlein, or manuscript hymn booklet, with fraktur-style bookplate, dated May 2, 1798, and made by Schoolmaster Andreas Kolb for student Elizabeth Bergey of Lower Salford Township. She was the daughter of Christian & Mary Bergey and

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William A. Derstine: Mennonite entrepreneur and leader

Written by Joel Alderfer on August 17, 2021

Over the last two years, grandchildren of William A. Derstine (1888-1961), of near Sellersville, PA, and a member of the Rockhill Mennonite congregation, have donated a small but interesting collection of his correspondence and photographs.

Derstine was an entrepreneur who owned several automotive garages, as well as a farm; became a lay leader in the Rockhill congregation, the Franconia Mennonite Conference, and in wider Mennonite Church concerns; and was active in civic organizations in the Sellersville-Telford area. Perhaps his most important

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Early Mennonite Church Records

Written by Joel Alderfer on March 26, 2021

This article was published in the MHEP Newsletter in November 1995, and has been updated to include church records added to the collection since that time.

Researchers at the MHC Historical Library often ask, “Where are the early Mennonite church records?” or “What church records do you have?”

This is not a simple question. First of all, what does the researcher mean by church records? There are membership, baptismal, ministerial, burial records, alms records, property and land records.

I explain that generally,

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Henry and Maggie Mininger, respected builder and hidden artist

Written by Joel Alderfer on February 18, 2021

Last year, a descendant donated several artifacts and digital images of Henry and Maggie Mininger. As I documented these items, and began to research their lives, I became intrigued with their story. Maggie’s nearly hidden talent, expressed in adversity, is fascinating to consider.

Henry H. Mininger (1878-1957) was born and raised in Hatfield Township, Montgomery County, the son of Jonas J. and Annie Hackman Mininger, of the Plains Mennonite congregation. In 1899, he married Maggie Moyer (1879-1949), a daughter of David

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New acquisition: Royden & Betty Landes collection

Written by Joel Alderfer on October 15, 2020

In early July, soon after we re-opened the Heritage Center from COVID-19 closure, we received a collection of rare books, artifacts, manuscripts, and records from the estate of the late Royden A. and Betty Landis Landes, formerly of Lower Salford Township, donated by their son Richard L. Landes.

Along with a career in refrigeration, and his role as a minister at Lansdale Mennonite Church, Royden Landes had what I would call a general interest in genealogy and local history, and would

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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

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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

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