Written by Joel Alderfer on March 26, 2021
This article was published in the MHEP Newsletter in November 1995, and has been updated to include church records added to the collection since that time.
Researchers at the MHC Historical Library often ask, “Where are the early Mennonite church records?” or “What church records do you have?”
This is not a simple question. First of all, what does the researcher mean by church records? There are membership, baptismal, ministerial, burial records, alms records, property and land records.
I explain that generally,
Written by Forrest Moyer on May 15, 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
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
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
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
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
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
Written by Joel Alderfer on January 25, 2017
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