Historic local newspapers

Written by Forrest Moyer on April 1, 2020

Newspapers are a great source of genealogical information, not only obituaries and death notices, but also estate and marriage notices, and — the best part — anecdotes and news about ancestors and relatives. As more papers are digitized and made available online, this wealth of information is more accessible than ever.

The list below of local newspapers was begun in 1992 by Joel Alderfer to assist researchers at the Mennonite Heritage Center, and is limited to Pennsylvania German areas of Bucks

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The Flu Epidemic of 1918: accounts from local diaries

Written by Joel Alderfer on March 25, 2020

As we experience and restructure our lives during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, it may be helpful to understand how our community in central Montgomery County, PA was impacted by the global Influenza Epidemic of 1918. Several diaries of local persons in the Mennonite Heritage Center collection offer some glimpses back to that time.

A little background

Some researchers believe that the influenza of 1918 originated on farms in western Kansas in the spring of that year. Most scientists and scholars now

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Hanna Rittenhouse Clemens

Written by Forrest Moyer on March 18, 2020

This article was written by Joel Alderfer for the MHEP Newsletter in 1994, based on research done for the exhibit When This You See, Remember Me: The Experience of Mennonite Women.

Hanna Rittenhouse was born in Towamencin Township, Montgomery County, the youngest child of Jacob K. Rittenhouse (1838-1917), a township school director, and Elizabeth D. Clemmer Rittenhouse (1940-1922). She enjoyed her grade-school education and graduated from the eighth grade in 1895, for which she wrote the class history. About a year

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Moyer family inheritance letter, 1752

Written by Forrest Moyer on March 11, 2020

Originally published in the MHEP Newsletter, May 1993, this rare letter details a family conflict over inheritance and possibly religion.

Elizabeth Oblinger was a sister of Christian Meyer/Moyer, early Mennonite deacon at Franconia, and sister-in-law of Henry Funk, the bishop. Here her husband, Nicholas, writes from far away — “beyond the Blue Mountain” (Palmerton, PA area) — to complain that Elizabeth has not received the inheritance due from her father’s estate. Nicholas wonders if perhaps the old father (Christian Moyer

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New acquisition: Yoder-Shelly family Bible

Written by Forrest Moyer on February 11, 2020

Many of you know the story of the “Saucon Incident” during the American War for Independence — eleven men of the Saucon Mennonite congregation in Northampton County were imprisoned for refusing to pledge allegiance to Pennsylvania, and all their moveable property was sold on auction. If you don’t know the story, read it here. (The linked book, Sweet Land of Liberty by Francis S. Fox, is available in the MHC Library, along with John Ruth’s account of the incident in

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Selections from Mahlon Moyer’s “Parcemia”

Written by Forrest Moyer on January 10, 2020

Mahlon G. Moyer (1853-1939) was raised in a Mennonite family of New Britain Township, Bucks County. As a young man he moved to Philadelphia and became a telegraph operator; married and started a family. Later he settled in North Wales, where he lived the rest of his life.

Unwilling to join the conservative Mennonite Church of his parents, Mahlon was baptized in the Presbyterian Church at age 28. His great-grandson, Robert “Bob” Walters, returned to the Mennonites and served as

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New acquisition: Clemmer family folk art and documents

Written by Joel Alderfer on December 10, 2019

Earlier this year, Harold R. and Doneda Clemmer donated a small collection of folk art and a group of deeds and surveys from the family and homestead of his ancestors, Preacher Christian & Barbara Gehman Clemmer, of Hereford Township, Berks County. The Clemmers were members of the Hereford Mennonite congregation, in Bally, PA, where Christian was ordained a preacher in 1842.

We’ll feature some of the folk art and just a selection of the land-related documents from the recent donation in

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1896 preaching tour of John Coffman

Written by Forrest Moyer on November 6, 2019

John S. Coffman (1848-1899) of Elkhart, IN was one of the first evangelists to hold a series of meetings in Franconia Mennonite Conference, in November 1896. His tour lasted three weeks, during which he preached in all but one congregation in the conference. In his diary, he recorded impressions of the places and people he met, giving us a rare view of local Mennonite culture. The diary is archived at the Mennonite Church USA Archives in Elkhart and was published

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Gratitude for the Year’s Harvest

Written by Forrest Moyer on October 16, 2019

On Sunday, October 27, 2019 at 7:00 p.m., the MHC is hosting a special Community Harvest Home program in the Nyce Barn on our campus. All are welcome! Please bring a nonperishable food item to share with the food bank at Keystone Opportunity Center. Click here for more information.

Director Sarah Heffner wrote the following background on Harvest Home for the MHEP Quarterly in 2004.

Harvest time was highly significant for southeastern Pennsylvanians in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and Harvest

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New acquisition: 19th-Century Obituaries

Written by Forrest Moyer on August 22, 2019

In January 2018, the MHC received a surprise package in the mail from Lois Beun Callaghan of Santa Fe, NM, a descendant of John Meyer/Moyer (1799-1877) of Skippack Township. It contained several 19th century German newspapers with Meyer’s name on them — Der Morgenstern (Doylestown, PA), Der Neutralist (Skippack, PA), and Montgomery County Presse (Lansdale, PA) — and a separate file of hundreds of obituaries (and some marriage notices) clipped from these papers in the years 1844-1893. We’re thankful to

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