Allen Fretz, Shepherd of Souls (Part 2)

Written by Forrest Moyer on August 26, 2020

Allen M. Fretz (1853-1943) was a longtime pastor and outstanding leader among local progressive Mennonites. In 1997, the MHEP Quarterly published a sketch of his ministry, written by grandson J. Herbert Fretz (1921-2013). We publish it now for the internet audience in two parts. The text is slightly rearranged from the original publication, and headings have been added.

See Part 1 here

50th anniversary at Deep Run, 1933

On a beautiful autumn day in the midst of the Great Depression – October 18,

Continue Reading


How we identify a fraktur artist

Written by Forrest Moyer on April 15, 2020

Schoolmasters who made fraktur for their students rarely signed their art. There are numerous artists who have yet to be identified or may never be known; but occasionally, evidence appears which allows historians and collectors to begin attributing artwork to a particular person.

This article, first published in the MHEP Newsletter January 1995 with the title “David Kulp, His Hand & Pen: The ‘Brown Leaf Artist’ Identified?”, describes a process of identification that may be considered typical. In this case, the

Continue Reading


Selections from Mahlon Moyer’s “Parcemia”

Written by Forrest Moyer on January 10, 2020

Mahlon G. Moyer (1853-1939) was raised in a Mennonite family of New Britain Township, Bucks County. As a young man he moved to Philadelphia and became a telegraph operator; married and started a family. Later he settled in North Wales, where he lived the rest of his life.

Unwilling to join the conservative Mennonite Church of his parents, Mahlon was baptized in the Presbyterian Church at age 28. His great-grandson, Robert “Bob” Walters, returned to the Mennonites and served as

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


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: 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


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


Our Immigrant Heritage: Bechtel

Written by Forrest Moyer on December 1, 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.

Hans Jacob, Hans George, and Abraham

A number of immigrants with the Swiss name Bechtel came to Pennsylvania in the colonial era. Two of these, Hans Jacob Bechtel (d. 1739) and Hans George Bechtel

Continue Reading


Our Immigrant Heritage: Hunsberger

Written by Forrest Moyer on August 30, 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.

Hunsberger roots of Franconia and Souderton

Brothers Ulrich, Jacob, and John (Hans) Hunsberger were some of the first settlers in the area that became Franconia Township. They each at one time owned parts of

Continue Reading


Our Immigrant Heritage: Alderfer

Written by Joel Alderfer on August 17, 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.

The Alderfer name is one of those unique to the Mennonite communities of Montgomery and Bucks Counties. The name was not found in other Mennonite settlements, except through later migration and intermarriage. However,

Continue Reading