Lydia Gross’s forgotten marriage

Written by Forrest Moyer on May 15, 2020

(Updated 9/17/2020)

The first part of this post, about Lydia Gross’s leadership in the Doylestown Mennonite Sewing Circle and proposed Women’s Missionary Society, was written by Mary Jane Hershey and published in the MHEP Newsletter in March 1996.

The rest of the post, written by myself, is about Lydia’s brief marriage to a tattooed ruffian named Henry Howlett, and how the marriage was intentionally forgotten by her Mennonite church and family. Though divorced, Lydia retained the respect of the church and became one of the earliest female leaders among local Mennonites.

Mary Jane Hershey wrote:

Among local “Old Mennonite” churches (Franconia Conference), Doylestown had the first sewing circle which began in 1908. Lydia M. Gross (1872-1938) and Mattie Detweiler learned of clothing needs and drove a team to the home of Preacher A. O. Histand asking for permission to start sewing circle work. He was quite enthusiastic about this new venture and announced the first meeting to the congregation. Beginning in 1908 the Doylestown circle supplied clothing and bedding to Mennonite missions in India and South America, and to the eastern Pennsylvania missions, the Eastern Mennonite Home and the Christ Home at Warminster.

Lydia Gross, circa 1920. Mennonite Heritage Center Collection.

Looking through the lists of women who served with the church-wide Mennonite Women’s Missionary Society the only person recorded from the Franconia Conference was Lydia Gross from Doylestown. She was elected to a two year term as district representative on August 30, 1917, at a meeting at Yellow Creek near Goshen, Indiana.

Lydia Gross was involved in the discussions beginning in 1915 concerning the Mennonite Women’s Missionary Society request to become an auxiliary to the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities. The appeal was rejected. Lydia Gross reported in November 1917 that although sewing circles and raising money for mission purposes was acceptable, the Franconia Conference leaders preferred that all money be channeled through the conference. Lydia wrote, “They do not approve of women having a separate board.” Later this Women’s Missionary Society was dissolved and all women’s activities came under the name of “sewing circles.”

This Lydia Gross from Doylestown was the only person born and raised in the Franconia Conference who served on the church-wide women’s organization until 1965 when another Doylestown woman, Marie Althouse Stoltzfus was appointed.

Forrest Moyer writes (2020):

Lydia Gross was a noteworthy woman from a devout family.

Her father Samuel Gross (1839-1895) was bishop of Doylestown, Deep Run and Blooming Glen Mennonite Churches. He must have been well-liked. Nearly 2,000 people attended his funeral. His father and grandfather (immigrant Jacob Gross), all his uncles on the Gross side, and several cousins, were ordained leaders.

At Doylestown Mennonite Church, Lydia’s uncle John served as deacon with her father, the bishop, in the 1890s, at the time of her marriage. Later her cousin Abram Gross became deacon at Doylestown and her brother Joseph preacher at Blooming Glen. In Nebraska, uncle Sam Lapp was deacon (married to aunt Sarah Gross, a midwife/home doctor who delivered over 1,200 babies). Four of the Lapp sons were ordained, and two were missionaries to India — so when Lydia sought to organize a sewing circle for mission support in 1908, she had a family connection to the work.

This is also a family (Lydia’s siblings) that produced leaders influential in the late 20th century — brothers Willard and Henry Swartley, Joy Swartley Sawatzky, Burton Yost and Marion Yost Whitermore.

All this to say that when Lydia married a non-Mennonite, tattooed Brit named Henry Howlett at the Doylestown Presbyterian parsonage in 1895, she was moving outside the box. I happened across this record a couple years ago while compiling a genealogy of the family.

(Click images to enlarge) Marriage application of Lydia Gross and Henry Howlett, July 5, 1895, with return signed by Presbyterian minister W. Hayes Moore, stating they were married the following day. Lydia’s occupation is listed as “seamstress” and Henry as “farm laborer,” both in Buckingham Township. We know from their divorce proceedings that Howlett worked for Lydia’s brother-in-law, William Swartley. Source:

Henry Howlett’s character

He was tattooed, you say?! Tattoos were popular in Victorian England: Not only sailors and convicts had them. Henry Howlett gave his occupation as “painter” upon arrival in New York harbor, August 20, 1894. According to the record, he had three pieces of baggage and intended to settle in Pennsylvania.

Henry Howlett arrival in New York, 1894. Source:

The English name Howlett was uncommon in Pennsylvania. Using, it is possible to tie together the record of Henry Howlett in Doylestown, PA, with other records based on his age (born about 1865) and parents’ names as given in his marriage record.

His tattoos are detailed in his prison record from Eastern State Penitentiary: “Minnie Green; Harriet Martin; English coat of arms; anchor on left forearm; ship, two English flags, sailor on right forearm; ring on little finger of right hand; anchor on left hand at base of thumb.”


Henry may have begun his working life as a sailor. An 1871 census record from London, England, lists him as the son of Henry Howlett, joiner, and Louisa, who had several boarders in their home, including a master sailor. Henry’s prison record states he left home at age 12; perhaps he was hired to a ship as cabin boy.

He became a convict after Lydia had him arrested for assault and battery on 16 Jul 1896, a year after their marriage. The year was a hellish experience for her, according to detailed testimony when she sued for divorce. He abused her incessantly and caused her to lose two pregnancies.

Howlett was sentenced to Bucks County Prison for one year, but tried to break jail after 11 months.

Fri, Jun 18, 1897 – Page 1 · The Allentown Leader (Allentown, Pennsylvania) ·

For this he was sent to Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia and served an additional year. His interesting prison record from Eastern State is below. Click the photo to enlarge. It’s also interesting to read about other prisoners, including “Chief American Horse,” a showman from Indian Territory.


I don’t know what ultimately happened to Henry, but it appears he worked as a hired man on farms in New Jersey (per 1900 and 1905 U.S. Census). He may have later returned to England or moved to Canada.

Lydia resumes maiden identity

In 1900, Lydia Gross was listed in the census as single, using her maiden name, living with her aunt Eliza Myers Hendricks in Perkasie, working as a cigar maker.


For the rest of her life, she was known as Miss Lydia Gross, and never married. When she died, the church buried her under her maiden name, and her obituary in the Gospel Herald stated: “She united with the Mennonite Church in her early years and remained faithful until death.” Her brother listed her as single (rather than divorced) on her death certificate.


Normally, in the Mennonite Church of that day, marriage was considered a permament bond, and a married woman was always called by her husband’s name. Members were not allowed to marry non-Mennonites (such as Mr. Howlett), or to remarry after divorce if their former spouse was still living.

Most likely, Lydia was not yet a baptized church member when she was married to Henry Howlett (see timeline below). And since the marriage was terribly abusive, and no children survived, the church and her family must have decided to ignore or forget that the marriage had ever happened.

The only place where reference to Lydia’s marriage appears after her divorce (that I’ve found so far), is in the U.S. Census, where in 1910 and 1920 she reported herself as divorced and in 1930 as widowed. Perhaps Henry Howlett died before 1930 and she had learned of his death. (Thanks to MHEP member Bette Male, who located Lydia in the 1910 and 1920 census.)

Timeline of events

A useful exercise in genealogy is to create a timeline of a subject’s personal and family life, allowing us to notice connections and context. Here I present a timeline of what I currently know about Lydia Gross’s life (updated 9/17/2020 with information from Lydia’s testimony in her divorce suit).

Circa 1861

Lydia’s uncle, John L. Gross, is ordained deacon at Doylestown Mennonite Church, to assist his uncle, Daniel Gross.

1866 November 13

Lydia’s father, Samuel G. Gross, at age 27 is ordained preacher at Doylestown, to succeed his deceased father. This was two generations in a row of brothers serving together as preacher and deacon in the congregation.

1872 March 3

Lydia is born to Samuel & Lydia Ann Myers Gross of Plumstead Township. Her father was also her pastor and bishop from birth.

1881 March 23

Lydia’s mother dies at age 36:
[Died] March 23, near Fountainville, Bucks Co., Pa., Lydia, wife of Samuel Gross, aged 36 years, 2 months and 24 days. She was buried on Sunday, the 27th, at Doylestown Meeting-house, whither she was followed by a large concourse of friends assembled to sympathize with a sorrowing husband and seven motherless children, the youngest about three years old. She suffered about eight months with an abcess of the hip and latterly also with scrofula. She bore her afflictions with fortitude and resignation. Peace to her ashes. (Herald of Truth, May 1881)

1883 November 1

Young widower Samuel Gross is elevated to the office of bishop in a service at Blooming Glen Mennonite Church.


A fight over buggy sheds and right-of-way at Blooming Glen erupts into a decade-long conflict in which bishop Samuel Gross silences and removes from office the deacon at Blooming Glen, David Fretz.

Fretz retaliates by suing Gross in court for defamation, seeking $5,000 damages. Papers from both sides, preserved at the Mennonite Heritage Center (Hist. Mss. Coll. #10), document what must have been a very stressful experience.

1887 January 22

Lydia’s only sister and oldest sibling, Christiana, is married to William Swartley.


Lydia’s older brothers Joseph and Christian are married.

The 1890 U.S. Census was largely destroyed, but we can assume Lydia was living at home, keeping house for her father and three younger brothers.

1891 May 19

Samuel Gross is served notice that Fretz is suing him for defamation. (MHC Hist. Mss. 10)

1891 October 1

Samuel inquires of the assembled Franconia Conference, what to do in case “a member” is taken into court or his property seized by the sheriff. “The advice was to remain quiet — still zu halten — until the matter is settled, then take it up with the bishop, the ministers and the deacons and brethren, etc.” (Preacher Jacob Mensch’s minutes of conference, translated by Raymond Hollenbach, MHC)

1893 December 21

The Perkasie Central News reports that Judge Yerkes prevailed on Fretz and Gross to settle amicably: “…The Court thought that both parties ought to yield whatever personal feeling they had in the matter for the general good of the Church.” Gross and Fretz were each to pay half of the court costs.

1894 January 10

David Fretz records in his diary: “John Miller was out collecting money for Sam Gross.” (MHC Hist. Mss. 10)

1894 May 3

At Franconia Conference assembly:
First, there was a speech that complaints were made that things were no longer being done according to the rules set forth by the conference, etc…and about bishop Samuel Gross that he had gone too far in his dispute with Fretz and that he should make an apology before the conference and in his congregation, etc. A certain minister and deacon were personally asked if they would be satisfied if he did so and answered yes. So bishop Samuel Gross made a request to the assemblage for patience and forgiveness where he had done wrong. (Mensch minutes)

1894 May 7

David Fretz’s diary: “Samuel Gross was arrested. They appeared before the Squire.”

Perkasie Central News reports on May 24:
SUIT FOR COSTS. A hearing was held before J. Evans Zorn, Esq., in the Arbitration room at the Court House [Doylestown], May 7, in a suit brought by David L. Fretz against Bishop Samuel L. [sic] Gross, to recover constables’ costs for the service of subpoenas in the suit in slander by Fretz against Gross, tried at a recent term of Court. Squire Zorns decided in favor of the defendant.

It appears Samuel Gross was forcibly brought to court to pay his share of costs from the settled Fretz lawsuit.

1894 June 21

Lydia writes a letter to cousin Sallie Gross while traveling in Ontario with brother Joseph and sister-in-law Maria: “…this evening I expect to go to [evangelical] Camp meeting. Joe’s are not going….” (William Gross family letters, Hist. Mss. 9, MHC)

1894 November 29

Lydia’s youngest brother, John, dies of diphtheria at age 16, “at the home of his father, Rev. Samuel Gross, in Buckingham” (John’s obituary).

1895 March

Lydia meets Henry Howlett while they are both working as hired help on the farm of her sister and brother-in-law, Christiana & William Swartley.

Circa June 1895

Lydia’s sister-in-law Ella Landis Gross leaves her husband Christian. This would have been a scandal for bishop Samuel’s family. Mennonites held firmly to biblical requirements for leadership: “An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe [or are trustworthy] and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.” Titus 1:6 (NIV)

The story is recounted by Ella’s son J. Winfield Fretz in his biography Simple Life Fretz (2016):
Mother’s first marriage had been a tragic one. She became pregnant at the age of eighteen as a result of a date rape. His name was Christian Gross, but he did not exhibit Christian traits. He was quite abusive to her — physically and verbally. In that day, pregnancy was considered a woman’s fault and it was a colossal scandal in the community. My mother had been used to love and kindness but this is not what she received from him. She lived with him for three years, during which she gave birth to two sons: Hiram and George. Mother left the marriage for good when she was pregnant with her third child (Alice). One day while her husband was at work, she placed the young George in a baby carriage, took Hiram’s hand in hers and pushed the carriage across ten miles of country roads back to her parents’ home. Both parents welcomed her back into their home.
The story goes that her husband came home, found her gone, became exceedingly angry, and drove to her parents’ house in a fit of rage. He stood outside their house bellowing, “She’s my wife! She is coming home with me now!” My Grandfather, Benjamin Landis, went out on the stoop, folded his arms across his chest and declared, “Nothing of the kind! Go home! She’s not going with you and that’s that!”
There were more words exchanged but Gross eventually went home and apparently did not bother them much after that. He tried to persuade others in the church to shun her and her family, but he was not successful at that because people in the community understood what kind of person he was. We don’t like to wish for such things but it happened that within a year’s time he accidentally stepped on a rusty nail and tied of tetanus.

1895 July 6

In this context of family grief and shame, Lydia chooses (for what reason?) to marry Henry Howlett on July 6, 1895. According to later testimony, no witnesses are present at the marriage ceremony, but family and friends are waiting back at Samuel Gross’ home to welcome the couple for a wedding supper. Lydia and Henry then reside with her father.

1895 August (about the 9th or 10th)

Henry Howlett strikes Lydia with his fists for the first time, saying that people were talking bad about her. “He was cross all night, did not sleep in the bed, and threatened to kill me.” He later admitted that he had not actually heard any bad rumors about her.

1895 August 13

Lydia’s father dies of a heart attack at age 56:
[Died] on the 13th of August 1895, in Buckingham, Bucks Co., Pa., Bishop Samuel Gross, aged 56 years, 5 months and some days. On the 17th his remains were interred in the Doylestown Mennonite burying ground. Bro. Gross had been apparently well within a short time of his death. On the 12th he attended harvest meeting and spoke very eloquently and appropriately on the occasion. On the day of his death he seemed as well as usual until he was attacked with heart failure, and died in a few minutes. Rev. Samuel Godshall spoke appropriate words at the house. Andrew Mack, Josiah Clemmer and Rev. Seipel [Reformed minister] spoke at the meeting house. Text, 1 Sam. 25:1. Bro. Gross had labored as minister of the Gospel for twenty-nine years, and as bishop thirteen years. He leaves 4 sons and 2 daughters to mourn his departure, his wife and 2 children had gone home before him. A large concourse of friends gathered at the funeral to pay their last respect to the deceased. There were probably never before as many people together at the Doylestown church as on this occasion [another obituary said “nearly 2,000 people”]. Peace to his ashes.
Oh! How we miss his admonitions,
Whene’er we meet to worship God;
His place is vacant in our church
As well as other paths he trod.
May God in mercy bless our meetings,
And may He this our loss replace,
With servants who with willing minds,
Shall preach the word of truth and grace.

(Herald of Truth, 1 Sep 1895)

The old Doylestown Mennonite meetinghouse where Lydia grew up listening to her father preach, and where hundreds crowded in for his funeral. Photo from the 1890s; courtesy of Bucks County Historical Society.

1895 September

After her father’s death, Lydia and Henry Howlett move to Line Lexington, where they share a house with two of her brothers, Christian (separated from his wife) and another (probably Henry Gross). Howlett works part time for Christian Gross.

1895 December 19

Lydia’s first child is born and dies at one day old. Henry forced her to work hard at laundry the day before, stating that he intended to make her “work off that kid.”

Early 1896

Lydia purchases, with her own money, a “town quarter lot” and house in Buckingham Township, just outside Doylestown. Henry wanted the deed made in his name, but the lawyers and Lydia refused to do so. On the way home to Line Lexington, Henry leaves her by the side of the road.

1896 March 31

Lydia and Henry Howlett move to her property near Doylestown. For the next few months, Henry abuses Lydia heavily. Later, in his divorce testimony, he said, “I don’t know what my object was in treating my wife that way. She was a good wife to me.”

1896 May 1

Lydia is pregnant again. She testified: “[Henry] used to say the child would be marked up from head to foot, he wouldn’t have the child, he would work it off. He threatened to give me something in tea or coffee to kill the child, to produce an abortion, and if he couldn’t do it that way he would kill it after it was born. About 6 weeks before his arrest, he kicked me in the back and said he would kill the child.”

1896 July (about the 12th)

Lydia finally tells her friends Mr. & Mrs. Hemmerly about the abuse and threats from her husband.

1896 July 15

Lydia swears out a warrant for assault and battery against Henry Howlett. He is arrested the following day and imprisoned.

1896 August

Lydia’s brother Isaac “gave his heart to Christ” and joins the Mennonite Church at Hespeler, Ontario (Isaac’s obituary).

1896 November 9

At least six months pregnant, Lydia sues for divorce, represented by her “next [male] friend,” brother Joseph M. Gross.

1896 November 13-December 3

John Coffman of Indiana conducts the first evangelistic meetings among Mennonites in the local area, preaching twice at Doylestown, and encouraging holiness of life: “…[I] appealed to the young people to stand by the doctrine of their fathers as taught by Christ and his apostles.”

1896 December 12

Lydia suffers a miscarriage or stillbirth. “The birth of my last child was a miscarriage. I have not been well since.”

The Doylestown Mennonite record book states “unknown” for the time of Lydia’s baptism and church membership. It may have been soon after the evangelistic meetings and the loss of her second child; or she may have waited to join church until after her divorce was finalized.

1897 March 6

Lydia Gross Howlett (with lawyer Robert Yardley), Edwin Hemmerly, Chistian M. Gross, and Henry J. Howlett give testimony at Doylestown before court examiner John L. DuBois Jr. These papers are archived at the Bucks County Historical Society.

1897 March 11

The divorce is granted.

1897 April 17

Lydia’s brother Henry is married to Emma Myers and joins the Lutheran Church the following year.

1897 June 16

Henry Howlett attempts to escape Bucks County Jail, and is moved to Eastern State Penitentiary on September 30.

1898 August 23

Henry Howlett is presumably released from prison.


Lydia appears in the U.S. census, living with her aunt Eliza Hendricks in Perkasie, under her maiden name, and employed as a cigar maker. Her marital status is single.

Lydia writes from aunt Eliza’s house on April 27, to widowed uncle William Gross, who must have requested her help for a couple weeks. He was probably ill with an infectious disease: “…I asked my boss about coming down to your place for a week or two. He says it is quite out of the question, that we were rushed with work at present. And the most is the disease. They claim that it is catching and I will not be allowed in the factory afterward for fear of spreading the disease….” She signs, “Lydia Gross”. (William Gross letters, Hist. Mss. 9, MHC)

Lydia later becomes a nurse.


Lydia’s cousin Mahlon Lapp is ordained at Roseland, Nebraska and sent to India as a Mennonite missionary. Lydia may have attended the ordination service.

She writes a spiritual letter from Ayr, Nebraska to William Gross on August 9:
Dear uncle and family,
Greeting to you in the name of Jesus. May his blessings rest upon you. Uncle Samuel’s [Lapp] received your letter some time ago and we were glad to hear from you. They, as well as I, are glad to hear from relatives and friends in Pa. I am well and enjoy my trip very much. I have been really blessed all along through my journey. I have not had any difficulty in traveling alone. I believe the Lord will take care of us if we go for a good purpose, if we only commit ourselves in his care.
I can now fully realize how you enjoyed your trip out here. You said it helped you so much spiritually. I find it just so. I enjoy visiting and the spiritual conversations so much. And it makes me feel sad to think that now the time is coming when I must bid goodbye to all this and the friends I have met. And when I get home it will not be so. There are so few with us that will talk scripture with you, and the people seem to think that one is weak minded. It seems to me that when a person has the love of God in his or her heart they are longing to hear and speak about him sometimes. It is so different here, even the young people seem to be so interested. They will sit for hours and talk about the bible and they enjoy it. I do not mean to say that they are so much better here than our people, but the young people are more active than with us. I have visited most of the brethren and sisters in the church….
We were to Hastings and Juniata last week. We also stopped at the insane asylum. That is a large institution. There are about 750 inmates there. They are all such that cannot be cured anymore. It made me wonder what each one’s trouble was if we could see into their hearts. But it is good that there is such a place for such people. They have good beds and plenty to eat and everything much nicer and better than we could give it to them….
We had a letter from Mahlon Lapp and wife. They are in Va. They have been well all through their journey. I will close with love to all….
Lydia M. Gross

1904 February 24

Lydia’s brother Isaac is married to Elizabeth Schiffler in Nebraska.


Cousin George Lapp is ordained and joins his brother Mahlon at the Mennonite mission in India.


Lydia, with Mattie Detweiler, seeks permission and organizes a sewing circle at Doylestown to provide clothing and bedding to Mennonite missions in India and other places.


Lydia appears in the U.S. census as hired help in the home of Samuel & Susie Histand on North Broad Street, Doylestown Township, who had eleven children under the age of 13 (they soon had four more!). Lydia’s marital status is given as divorced.

1917 August 30

At a meeting in Indiana, Lydia is elected to a two year term as Franconia district representative for a new church-wide Mennonite Women’s Missionary Society.

1917 November

Lydia reports that Franconia Conference leaders prefer that all money for missions be channeled through the conference: “They do not approve of women having a separate board.” (quoted by Mary Jane Hershey, MHEP Newsletter, March 1996)

1918 November 26

Lydia’s brother Joseph is ordained preacher for Blooming Glen Mennonite Church.


Lydia appears in the U.S. census as a nurse at the Eastern Mennonite Home in Franconia Township (Souderton). Marital status divorced. Her name is incorrectly recorded as “Lydia L. Ruth.”

Workers at Eastern Mennonite Home, circa 1920. Lydia Gross is the woman at front left. Mennonite Heritage Center Collection.

1921 May 15

Lydia’s brother Joseph dies of heart trouble at age 54:
Bro. Joseph M. Gross, son of the late Bishop Samuel and Lydia Gross, was born at Fountainville, Pa., died at Blooming Glen, Pa., May 15, 1921; aged 54 y. 10 m. 17 d. Bro. Gross had been suffering from [diabetes] for several years but was able to go about his duties until last winter, when heart trouble and dropsy set in. He sat in his chair day and night for about 4 months. He was married to Maria Moyer of Campden, Ont., in 1890. This union was blessed with 1 son and 2 daughters, all of whom survive. He also leaves 2 brothers and 2 sisters to mourn their loss. Bro. Gross was ordained a minister in November, 1918, and served faithfully as long as health permitted him to attend services. His last sermon was preached at Doylestown, Pa., Dec. 26. Although very weak he preached a powerful and very impressive sermon. Since then he had been confined to his chair most of the time. He suffered much but bore it patiently and showed by his suffering the power of Jesus. He often said Jesus was present with him and sometimes reached out his hand and said, “My Jesus, such a sweet face!” He calmly fell asleep without a struggle or warning. Altho he was helpless and very weak the last few weeks of his life we still hoped he might be restored and all that human aid could do was done for him, but God saw best to take him home. Funeral services were held on May 19, Brethren Frank Swartz and Peter Loux officiating at the house, and Brethren Warren Bean and Jonas Mininger at the Blooming Glen meeting house. Text, Psa. 61:2 – “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” The funeral was very largely attended. Peace to his ashes. — Sister.

(Gospel Herald, 9 Jun 1921)

1927 June 22

Lydia’s sister Christiana dies of heart failure at age 62:
Christina [Christiana] Swartley, daughter of the late Bishop Samuel and Lydia Gross, was born at Fountainville, Pa., Nov.7, 1864; died at her home in Bucks Co., Pa., June 22, 1927; aged 62 y. 7 m. 15 d. On Jan. 22, 1887, she was married to Wm. H. H. Swartley. This union was blessed with 9 children, 8 sons and 1 daughter. She is survived by her husband, 7 sons (Harvey, Mahlon, Henry, Jacob, [Alvin, Elias,] Raymond). 1 sister (Lydia Gross) 2 brothers (Isaac Gross, Henry Gross). A son, a daughter, and 2 grandchildren preceded her. She was a consistent member of the Doylestown, Pa., Mennonite Church 40 yrs. She will be greatly missed in her home, in the community, in the church, and the Sunday school of which she was a teacher for many years. She was stricken suddenly with a heart attack on the morning of June 4, and was critically ill for 18 days, when she peacefully fell asleep in Jesus. We have the assurance that our mother is now among the redeemed ones. It was her desire to go home. She already had a glimpse of heaven before she passed over. Funeral services were held June 27 at the house by Bro. Jacob Moyer and G. Kuns (of the Brethren Church) and at the Church by Bros. Mahlon Gross, Jos. Ruth, and Jonas Mininger. Text, I Cor. 2:9.
“The parting here was full of pain,
But we shall never part again
When we go home.
Although it was so hard to part,
Help us to say with all our hearts,
Thy will be done.” — Family.

(Gospel Herald, 21 Jul 1927)


Lydia appears in the U.S. census, working as a nurse and renting a room in the home of her second cousin, Isaiah Rickert, on “Mennonite Road” in Doylestown Township. Her marital status is given as widowed.

1938 July 4

Lydia dies of heart failure and nephritis at age 66:
Lydia M. Gross was born March 3, 1872; died at the Eastern Mennonite Home, Souderton, Pa., July 4, 1938; aged 65 y. 4 m. 1 d. She united with the Mennonite church in her early years and remained faithful until death. She chose her own text (Phil. 1:23), also the ministers who should preach her funeral sermon (Jacob Moyer at the home and Jacob C. Clemens at the Doylestown Mennonite Church), both using the above text. She also chose the hymns, “My Heavenly Home is Bright and Fair” and “Death shall not Destroy my Comfort.”
(Gospel Herald, 18 Aug 1938)

Lydia Gross may appear in additional church records in her later years. For this article, I relied on Mary Jane Hershey’s summary for that period of her life.