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 Joel Alderfer on March 25, 2020
As we experience and restructure our lives during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, it may be helpful to understand how our community in central Montgomery County, PA was impacted by the global Influenza Epidemic of 1918. Several diaries of local persons in the Mennonite Heritage Center collection offer some glimpses back to that time.
A little background
Some researchers believe that the influenza of 1918 originated on farms in western Kansas in the spring of that year. Most scientists and scholars now
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 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
Written by Forrest Moyer on June 6, 2019
Mennonites, like other Protestants, do not typically venerate special or powerful “saints” canonized by the Roman church, but occasionally, Mennonites and other Pennsylvania Germans would appeal to saints in medieval prayers associated with folk healing. Saint Mary, the mother of Jesus, was especially present in these prayers.
In 1830, a local Mennonite created a beautiful piece of fraktur titled “Die Mutter Jesus [The Mother of Jesus].” The Mennonite Heritage Center has exhibited this piece in the past, and happily we were
Written by Joel Alderfer on February 22, 2019
The records, photos and some artifacts of Groundhog Lodge #2 “on the Skippack” were donated to the Mennonite Heritage Center last fall, after the group disbanded earlier in 2018. This Grundsow Lodsch, based in the Souderton-Harleysville area, started in 1937, held its first public Fersommling (gathering and banquet) in February 1938, held its 81st annual banquet in February 2018, and then decided to disband. It was the second of the lodges (or clubs) organized in the wider Groundhog Lodge movement
Written by Forrest Moyer on October 4, 2018
This article was first published in the MHEP Newsletter in June 1978. Photos are from Willoughby Moyer’s booklet on the Bean family (1975), unless otherwise noted.
Anna W. Kulp was born October 7, 1865 near Harmony Square, later known as Creamery, in Skippack Township. Her parents were Isaac K. Kulp (1822-1892) and Susanna H. Williams (1823-1871). When she was six years old, her mother died, and young “Annie” went to live with Isaac K. Gottshall and his wife, Sarah B. Kulp,
Written by Forrest Moyer on May 16, 2018
In February 1979, the MHEP Newsletter published notes from a talk by Mennonite pastor Gerald Studer on the topic of “powwowing”—In German, Braucherei—a combination of faith healing and folk medicine. This ancient practice brought by Pennsylvania Germans from Europe has been preserved in pockets of the American countryside to the present day. Opinions have varied in the Pa. German community about the effectiveness and propriety of powwowing. Individuals from all religious groups—Lutheran, Reformed, Mennonite, Brethren, Evangelical, etc.—made use of powwow
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 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.
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