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 apparently a student in the Salford Meetinghouse School. The little songbook has twenty-two pages of manuscript texts and tunes of popular German-language hymns used by Protestant and Anabaptist groups of the period. The bookplate inscription, written in part German script and part English, reads: Elisabeth Berge gehöret dieses Notenbuchlein zu, Lower Salford Township. Dated May the 2nd im jahr Christi, anno 1798. (this hymn-tune booklet belongs to Elisabeth Bergey, Lower Salford Township. Dated May 2nd, in the year of Christ 1798).
Elizabeth Bergey (1786-1860) later married Jacob Tyson (1786-1863) of Skippack Township, and the tune booklet was passed down in their family for six generations, to their daughter Mary B. Tyson (1814-1887) who married John B. Johnson, to their daughter Matilda T. Johnson (1838-1923) who married Henry D. Kulp, to their daughter Mary J. Kulp (1863-1941) who married John C. Cole, to their daughter Susie K. Cole (1887-1969) who married Roy Wright, and eventually to their granddaughter Nan Burch (the donor).
A second piece is a school reward for an unnamed student, but dated May 23, 1817, and attributed to Schoolmaster Jacob Hummel, who taught in Lower Salford, Limerick and perhaps Skippack Townships.
Although there is no student name on the piece, it came out of the family of Henry D. and Matilda Johnson Kulp of Skippack Township, members of the Upper Skippack Mennonite congregation. It was also passed down in the Johnson-Kulp-Cole family to Nan Burch.
A third piece is a penmanship model of a hymn text, dated 1843, and attributed to Schoolmaster Henry G. Johnson (1806-1879) of Skippack Township. It also comes from the family of Henry D. and Matilda Johnson Kulp of Skippack Township – she was not closely related to Schoolmaster Johnson.
This was also passed down in the family to their granddaughter Susie K. Cole Wright (1887-1969) of Skippack Township, and eventually to her granddaughter Nan Burch.
Another donated piece attributed to Schoolmaster Henry G. Johnson, is an alphabet model in fraktur lettering, from about 1840. No name or date is on the piece, but it also comes from the family of Henry D. and Matilda Johnson Kulp (1838-1923) of Skippack Township.
Two other school rewards donated from this family are also attributed to Henry G. Johnson. They appear to be in the same style and colors as other similar pieces that we can clearly attribute to Johnson. One is a drawing of a goat with kid, and the other a fish crane. Neither are inscribed nor dated, but they come from the Johnson-Kulp family in Skippack Township and are probably from the 1840s.
two school rewards, attributed to Henry G. Johnson
The last piece is a family register lettered and signed in 1858 by calligrapher Isaac Z. Hunsicker, originally of Skippack, but who had moved to Berlin (Kitchener) Ontario by 1833. Hunsicker (1803-1870) had been a schoolmaster in Skippack and Lower Salford Townships in the late 1820s to early 1830s, and continued teaching after he moved to southern Ontario. He made this for Johannes (John) Kolb (1805-1882) and Susanna Detweiler Kolb of Skippack Township, while visiting on a trip back in eastern Pennsylvania. It records the birth of their two sons, Henrich and Wilhelm.
This was also passed down in the Kulp-Cole family to the donor, Nan Burch.
As a group, this is an interesting and significant collection of fraktur from several generations of one family. Our sincere thanks to Nan Weber Burch for deciding to donate these to the Mennonite Heritage Center!