New acquisition: Will providing for indentured children of color

Written by Forrest Moyer on April 19, 2021

Recently, Univest Bank and Trust Co. donated an old wooden box of papers labeled “S. G. Schwenk, Schwenksville, Pa.” Presumably, it was found in the Schwenksville bank building when Union National Bank took ownership in 1962.

Inside the box were papers of the Schwenk family (for whom the borough was named) — Jacob Schwenk (1789-1852) who operated the store and post office there, his father Abraham Schwenk (1759-1843) of Skippack & Perkiomen Township, and Jacob’s sons, Abraham G. Schwenk (1826-1899)

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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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Paul Lederach recalls his ordination

Written by Forrest Moyer on January 21, 2021

Paul M. Lederach (1925-2014) was born in Norristown, PA, the oldest son of Mennonite mission workers. After high school, he studied at Goshen College, Eastern Baptist College and Southwestern Baptist Seminary. Paul was ordained a minister in the Franconia Mennonite Conference in 1944 and a bishop in 1949. From 1952 to 1978, he was associated with Mennonite Publishing House, Scottdale, PA, in several roles, and from 1978 to 1985 had an insurance business in Scottdale. Paul returned to the Franconia

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Ember Day Lore

Written by Forrest Moyer on December 10, 2020

Each of the four seasons has an Ember Day (image source: Wikipedia).

Several years ago, while transcribing a Bucks County Mennonite family register, I came across an unfamiliar phrase noting that Henry Angeny was born December 20, 1843 “auf den quatember [on the Quatember]”.

The Quatuor Tempora “Four Seasons” (called in German “Quatember”) were four groups of “Ember Days” or “Embertides” in the church year that were set aside seasonally for fasting and prayer. Early in Roman church practice they were instituted

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Things that people need

Written by Forrest Moyer on November 18, 2020

The following story about an important gift in 1995 to the Mennonite Historians of Eastern Pennsylvania was written by John L. Ruth and published in the MHEP Newsletter (July 1995).

Twenty-five years later, we continue to benefit from the generosity of Ernest and Lois Clemens, and many others who have supported MHEP over the decades. Will you consider a gift today toward the work of remembering Mennonite heritage and Anabaptist faith in this community? https://mhep.org/give-join/

Birds, trees, flowers, ferns, travel, geography

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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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Lydia Gross update

Written by Forrest Moyer on September 17, 2020

In May, I wrote a post about Lydia Gross (1872-1938) of Doylestown, an early leader in the Mennonite sewing circle movement, and her “unknown” or forgotten marriage to a British man named Henry Howlett. At the time, I was unsure whether they ever officially divorced, and whether her marriage was known to her family and church. Since we were in the height of pandemic shutdown, I could not go to the Bucks County Historical Society to look for a divorce

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Allen Fretz, Shepherd of Souls (Part 2)

Written by Forrest Moyer on August 26, 2020

Allen M. Fretz (1853-1943) was a longtime pastor and outstanding leader among local progressive Mennonites. In 1997, the MHEP Quarterly published a sketch of his ministry, written by grandson J. Herbert Fretz (1921-2013). We publish it now for the internet audience in two parts. The text is slightly rearranged from the original publication, and headings have been added.

See Part 1 here

50th anniversary at Deep Run, 1933

On a beautiful autumn day in the midst of the Great Depression – October 18,

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Allen Fretz, Shepherd of Souls (Part 1)

Written by Forrest Moyer on August 12, 2020

Allen M. Fretz (1853-1943) was a longtime pastor and outstanding leader among progressive Mennonites locally. In 1997, the MHEP Quarterly published a sketch of his ministry, written by grandson J. Herbert Fretz (1921-2013). We publish it now for the internet audience in two parts. The text is slightly rearranged from the original publication, and headings have been added.

First love lost

It was early September, 1883, when 29-year-old Allen Myers Fretz and his companions from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, were visiting friends and

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