Written by Joel Alderfer on August 17, 2021
Over the last two years, grandchildren of William A. Derstine (1888-1961), of near Sellersville, PA, and a member of the Rockhill Mennonite congregation, have donated a small but interesting collection of his correspondence and photographs.
Derstine was an entrepreneur who owned several automotive garages, as well as a farm; became a lay leader in the Rockhill congregation, the Franconia Mennonite Conference, and in wider Mennonite Church concerns; and was active in civic organizations in the Sellersville-Telford area. Perhaps his most important
Written by Forrest Moyer on June 24, 2021
Recently Mary Jane and Hiram Hershey donated several old deeds, including one for the farm where her grandfather Abraham Mensch grew up, in Skippack Township. The address today is 4030 Mensch Rd, Schwenksville, just outside Skippack village.
The deed is from 1803, many years before the Mensch family owned the property. Abraham Markley (1723-1800) purchased this farm of 100 acres in 1751. After he died with no will in 1800, his heirs sold the farm to brother-in-law Mathias Tyson. Each sibling
Written by Forrest Moyer on April 19, 2021
Recently, Univest Bank and Trust Co. donated an old wooden box of papers labeled “S. G. Schwenk, Schwenksville, Pa.” Presumably, it was found in the Schwenksville bank building when Union National Bank took ownership in 1962.
Inside the box were papers of the Schwenk family (for whom the borough was named) — Jacob Schwenk (1789-1852) who operated the store and post office there, his father Abraham Schwenk (1759-1843) of Skippack & Perkiomen Township, and Jacob’s sons, Abraham G. Schwenk (1826-1899)
Written by Joel Alderfer on February 18, 2021
Last year, a descendant donated several artifacts and digital images of Henry and Maggie Mininger. As I documented these items, and began to research their lives, I became intrigued with their story. Maggie’s nearly hidden talent, expressed in adversity, is fascinating to consider.
Henry H. Mininger (1878-1957) was born and raised in Hatfield Township, Montgomery County, the son of Jonas J. and Annie Hackman Mininger, of the Plains Mennonite congregation. In 1899, he married Maggie Moyer (1879-1949), a daughter of David
Written by Joel Alderfer on October 15, 2020
In early July, soon after we re-opened the Heritage Center from COVID-19 closure, we received a collection of rare books, artifacts, manuscripts, and records from the estate of the late Royden A. and Betty Landis Landes, formerly of Lower Salford Township, donated by their son Richard L. Landes.
Along with a career in refrigeration, and his role as a minister at Lansdale Mennonite Church, Royden Landes had what I would call a general interest in genealogy and local history, and would
Written by Joel Alderfer on July 9, 2020
Last year, the family of the late Jacob R. and Mildred Landes Clemens of Lansdale, PA, donated a travel trunk filled with cultural artifacts, memorabilia, photos and papers collected by their parents during two years of relief work in Ethiopia. Jacob and Mildred were sent as relief workers with Mennonite Central Committee to Nazareth, Ethiopia, from November 1946 through 1948.
Their trunk of memorabilia had been given to their daughter and son-in-law, Mary Ann and Brian Hagey, who recently gave it
Written by Joel Alderfer on April 8, 2020
Once in a great while in our collecting work at the Mennonite Heritage Center, we have the unusual opportunity to sort through and select from a multi-generational family collection in its native setting — the very homestead where the objects were either made or acquired, used, passed down and preserved. This is the scenario that developed after I received a phone call last May from the owner of a Moyer family homestead in Salford Township, Montgomery County, inviting me to
Written by Forrest Moyer on February 11, 2020
Many of you know the story of the “Saucon Incident” during the American War for Independence — eleven men of the Saucon Mennonite congregation in Northampton County were imprisoned for refusing to pledge allegiance to Pennsylvania, and all their moveable property was sold on auction. If you don’t know the story, read it here. (The linked book, Sweet Land of Liberty by Francis S. Fox, is available in the MHC Library, along with John Ruth’s account of the incident in
Written by Joel Alderfer on December 10, 2019
Earlier this year, Harold R. and Doneda Clemmer donated a small collection of folk art and a group of deeds and surveys from the family and homestead of his ancestors, Preacher Christian & Barbara Gehman Clemmer, of Hereford Township, Berks County. The Clemmers were members of the Hereford Mennonite congregation, in Bally, PA, where Christian was ordained a preacher in 1842.
We’ll feature some of the folk art and just a selection of the land-related documents from the recent donation in
Written by Forrest Moyer on August 22, 2019
In January 2018, the MHC received a surprise package in the mail from Lois Beun Callaghan of Santa Fe, NM, a descendant of John Meyer/Moyer (1799-1877) of Skippack Township. It contained several 19th century German newspapers with Meyer’s name on them — Der Morgenstern (Doylestown, PA), Der Neutralist (Skippack, PA), and Montgomery County Presse (Lansdale, PA) — and a separate file of hundreds of obituaries (and some marriage notices) clipped from these papers in the years 1844-1893. We’re thankful to