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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Bishop Jacob Gross (1743-1810)

Written by Forrest Moyer on March 6, 2019

It’s been 15 years since I dove down the rabbit hole of genealogy. My interest continues to be piqued by my own ancestors, but has expanded to the stories of many others through my work at the Heritage Center and everyday conversations with folks from diverse backgrounds. The interesting characters among our ancestors are endless!

As a child, I knew that my grandmother Ruth was descended from an early American Mennonite bishop, Jacob Gross of Deep Run, Bucks County; but my

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Our Immigrant Heritage: Fretz

Written by Forrest Moyer on March 20, 2018

This is the last in a series of posts highlighting families descended from 18th-century Mennonite immigrants to eastern Pennsylvania, in connection with the MHC’s exhibit Opportunity & Conscience: Mennonite Immigration to Pennsylvania, on display until March 31, 2018. The stories reflect the enrichment brought to communities over centuries by the descendants of immigrants.

Bedminster and Tinicum settlers

The American Mennonite Fretz family is descended from two immigrants, thought to be brothers, who came from near Mannheim, Germany, and settled in Bucks County,

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Our Immigrant Heritage: Landis/Landes

Written by Forrest Moyer on March 5, 2018

This series of posts highlights families descended from 18th-century Mennonite immigrants to eastern Pennsylvania, in connection with the MHC’s exhibit Opportunity & Conscience: Mennonite Immigration to Pennsylvania, on display through March 31, 2018. The stories reflect the enrichment brought to communities over centuries by the descendants of immigrants.

E-I-E-I-?

Old Abe Landis had a farm, E-I-E-I-O. How should he spell his name, with an “e” or an “i”?

The most common spelling of the name today is Landis, but not so in years

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New acquisition: Jacob Gross tunebook

Written by Joel Alderfer on February 2, 2018

The MHC recently acquired from a rare books dealer, a manuscript tunebook dated March 1872, compiled and decorated by schoolteacher Jacob W. Gross of New Britain Township, Bucks County.  Gross made the booklet for Hannah Schaddinger, his student in the “Valley Park Deutsche Schule” (Valley Park German School) in Plumstead Township, Bucks County.  Schaddinger (1858-1937) was the daughter of Henry & Mary Fretz Schaddinger of Plumstead Township, and later married John Z. Loux.  The bookplate is clearly signed “Geschrieben den

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Our Immigrant Heritage: Derstine

Written by Forrest Moyer on October 23, 2017

This series of posts highlights families descended from 18th-century Mennonite immigrants to eastern Pennsylvania, in connection with the MHC’s exhibit Opportunity & Conscience: Mennonite Immigration to Pennsylvania, on display through March 31, 2018. The stories reflect the enrichment brought to communities over centuries by the descendants of immigrants.

European background

The Derstine family of eastern Pennsylvania (one branch uses the spelling Derstein) is descended from Michael Dierstein (1712-1777), an immigrant who came to Philadelphia with a group of Mennonites on the ship

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New acquisition: Deep Run and Salford gravestone photos

Written by Forrest Moyer on June 14, 2017

In 2016, the MHC received not one, but two collections of digital photos from local Mennonite cemeteries.

The first contains photos of all gravestones in the Deep Run Mennonite East Cemetery in Bedminster Township, Bucks County. The donor, Daryl W. Rice, shot the photos in 2015. He did an excellent job, selecting a time of day when the sun created the best light for reading inscriptions, and getting down to the level of the stones for a good angle.

Most 18th-century Mennonite

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Our Immigrant Heritage: Detweiler

Written by Forrest Moyer on May 24, 2017
Mennonite Heritage Center, Harleysville

This series of posts highlights families descended from 18th-century Mennonite immigrants to eastern Pennsylvania, in connection with the MHC’s exhibit Opportunity & Conscience: Mennonite Immigration to Pennsylvania, on display through March 31, 2018. The stories reflect the enrichment brought to communities over centuries by the descendants of immigrants.

An old world devotional

John [Johannes] Detweiler (1721-1806) was born when his immigrant parents, Hans and Susanna, were in the first years of trying to carve out a life in the Skippack woods. They

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Our Immigrant Heritage: Hunsicker

Written by Forrest Moyer on April 26, 2017

This series of posts highlights families descended from 18th-century Mennonite immigrants to eastern Pennsylvania, in connection with the MHC’s exhibit Opportunity & Conscience: Mennonite Immigration to Pennsylvania, on display through March 31, 2018. The stories reflect enrichment brought to communities over centuries by the descendants of immigrants.

Immigrant Valentine Hunsicker

Valentine Hunsicker (1700-1770) — or “Felti” as he was called — came to Pennsylvania as a teenager with his maternal grandfather, Valentine Clemmer (Klemmer) around 1717. They settled in the “Great Swamp”,

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