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


Excerpts from “The Life History of Susie Freed Heebner”

Written by Forrest Moyer on July 23, 2019

Republished from the MHEP Newsletter, May 1986. Mrs. Heebner’s full memoir is available in the MHC library.

This history is a reflection of Susie Freed Heebner (March 7, 1892-December 6, 1984) as she thought about things that happened throughout her lifetime. Susie always enjoyed writing things down. Over the years she kept diaries. Her son, Steward, suggested that she write this life history. He bought her the spiral-ringed notebook into which she recorded her remembrances. For him we are thankful;

Continue Reading


A window on Franconia Mennonite character

Written by Forrest Moyer on January 24, 2019

Two weeks ago I posted a story about hospitality as it was experienced in the 1820s in the wilderness of Ohio. Today I’m sharing another article from our Newsletter that touches on the theme of hospitality and the old culture of Franconia Mennonites.

In April 1985, John Ruth transcribed and commented on several notes from a journal of Henry R. Bergey (1843-1925). The article is rich in the color of life as it used to be among local Mennonites, and we’re

Continue Reading


Walking to Ohio in the 1820s

Written by Forrest Moyer on January 9, 2019

The following is a translation of a Pennsylvania Dutch story submitted to the Souderton Independent newspaper by local historian Henry Hagey and printed December 22, 1933. It appears to be a true story, collected by Hagey from deacon Jake Freed (1851-1929) of the Franconia Mennonite congregation. The story was told to him by one Martin Bechtel, presumably Martin G. Bechtel (1797-1890), buried at Blooming Glen.

While only the barest details flesh the story, it does give some idea of what traveling

Continue Reading


New acquisition: Macinskas home movies

Written by Forrest Moyer on August 7, 2018

Recently a set of local home movies by Peter Macinskas (1922-1969) was donated to the MHC by his son Dean Macinskas. The movies, mostly short clips (see examples below), provide an exceptional window into Vernfield and Lower Salford Township during the 1950s, especially his wife’s Price family and the Indian Creek Church of the Brethren.

Peter was the third generation of a Catholic family that immigrated to eastern Pennsylvania from Lithuania. He was born in 1922 and served in the 20th

Continue Reading


New acquisition: Elizabeth Ruth show towel

Written by Forrest Moyer on June 1, 2018

A beautiful show towel was donated to the MHC last year, bearing the name Elizabeth Ruth and date 1836. Towels like this were made for display, not use, by young women in preparation for decorating their homes after marriage. At the bottom of this towel is a fine drawn-work panel featuring peacocks (or geese), hearts and a pot of flowers.

Gift of Beulah Hendricks Rittenhouse (2017.44.1)

The maker of the towel, Elizabeth Ruth (1819-1888), had an unusual story. She

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


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

Continue Reading


Our Immigrant Heritage: Musselman

Written by Forrest Moyer on February 19, 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.

Immigrant brothers Jacob and Samuel

Most people with the surname Musselman in eastern Pennsylvania are descended from Jacob Musselman, an immigrant who settled in Milford Township, Bucks County circa 1730. His brother Samuel also

Continue Reading


Our Immigrant Heritage: Clemmer

Written by Forrest Moyer on January 26, 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.

Immigrant Bishop Felte

There were several Mennonite men named Clemmer, presumably brothers, who settled in Pennsylvania in the early 1700s – Jacob, Christian, Henry and John (Hans), and possibly John Jacob – along with

Continue Reading