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

Continue Reading


New acquisition: Joshua Histand and Enos Gehman papers

Written by Joel Alderfer on April 9, 2019

Last fall, Sarah Godshall Hunsberger, one of our members in Harrisonburg, Virginia, called to say that she had some old family papers and artifacts to give to us, but wanted to send them with someone from the Souderton area who might be traveling to the Harrisonburg area and back.  Eventually, through the Mennonite “network”, an old wooden box labeled “Keystone Watch Case Company” showed up at the front desk here at the Mennonite Heritage Center.   It was half filled with

Continue Reading


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

Continue Reading


Autobiographical notes: J. C. Clemens

Written by Forrest Moyer on April 5, 2018

Jacob Cassel Clemens (1874-1965) was pastor of Plains Mennonite Church and a well-known evangelist in Mennonite circles. In 1979, the MHEP Newsletter published his autobiographical notes written in 1954. The manuscript is in his papers archived at the MHC (Hist. Mss. 3).

Clemens’ reflections on the first half of the 20th century, as he experienced it, are illuminating. They remind us how much has changed in the last century, but also that many of our ancestors’ experiences are similar to ours—love

Continue Reading


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

Continue Reading


Quilts and stories from the “Riot of Color” exhibit

Written by Joel Alderfer on January 25, 2017
Mary Loux quilt, Mennonite Heritage Center

Several quilts in our current “Riot of Color” exhibit have interesting family stories or anecdotes that add a human dimension to the artifacts.  We’ll feature a number of these stories in this post.  The exhibit includes thirty quilts, mainly from the Mennonite Heritage Center collection, selected for their color, condition and design content.

Wedding or Dowry Quilts

These are quilts that were made, according to the family stories, either as wedding gifts for a young couple or were

Continue Reading