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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

New acquisition: Joshua Histand and Enos Gehman papers

Written by Joel Alderfer on April 9, 2020

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

Camp experiences of David H. Gehman, World War I

Written by Forrest Moyer on February 6, 2020

David Gehman (1894-1969) grew up near Bally, Pennsylvania. His father was Enos Gehman, whose teenage journal of a trip to Philadelphia was published on this blog.

David’s memoir of his experiences as a conscientious objector during World War I is found in the J.C. Clemens Papers at the MHC (Hist. Mss. 3). It was first published in the MHEP Newsletter in 1983. Gehman’s accompanying note was not included, but an excerpt reveals how he came to record his memories and

A Journey to Philadelphia, 1870

Written by Forrest Moyer on September 18, 2020

“…we went up in the steeple of the State house, where we have seen the greatest part of the city….”

Photo above: View southeast from the State House, 1867. Scrapbooks. Free Library of Philadelphia.

This account of a trip (mostly pleasure, a little business) from rural Berks-Montgomery County to the city of Philadelphia was written by 15-year-old Enos Gehman in 1871. Over a hundred years later it was published in the MHEP Newsletter April 1978, and is now republished here, with photos

Our Immigrant Heritage: Gehman

Written by Forrest Moyer on January 19, 2020

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, 2020. The stories reflect the enrichment brought to communities over centuries by the descendants of immigrants.

Gehman is a name common among Mennonites of eastern Pennsylvania and Lancaster and the Bible Fellowship Church (formerly Mennonite Brethren in Christ). It is not, however, common among Swiss and German Mennonites

Our Immigrant Heritage: Bechtel

Written by Forrest Moyer on December 1, 2020

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, 2020. The stories reflect the enrichment brought to communities over centuries by the descendants of immigrants.

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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

Our Immigrant Heritage: Longacre

Written by Forrest Moyer on November 10, 2020

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, 2020. The stories reflect the enrichment brought to communities over centuries by the descendants of immigrants.

Early settlers on the Schuylkill

The roots of the Longacre family, and origin of their name, lie in the town of Langnau in Emmental, Bern, Switzerland. Originally Langenegger, many descendants in America spell the

Cynthia Yoder’s “Crazy Quilt”

Written by Forrest Moyer on July 6, 2020

A beautifully-written local memoir is now available on Kindle. If you’re interested in 20th-century Mennonite culture, this is a great read. You can purchase the book here.

Cynthia Yoder was a graduate student in New York City when she began to suffer from depression. Crazy Quilt follows her quest for meaning — a return to Berks County, PA, and visits with her grandparents, Henry and Elizabeth “Betts” Kulp Yoder. Enjoy the excerpts below.

…One night on the phone with my mother, I

“Going to meeting” at Souderton, 1883-1902

Written by Forrest Moyer on February 8, 2020

Souderton Mennonite Meetinghouse, circa 1910

Another article from the first year of the MHEP Newsletter features entries from the diary of William S. Hemsing (1866-1940) about his experiences at Souderton Mennonite Church. The full diary, subtitled An Intimate Look at Souderton, Pennsylvania, was published by Union National Bank in 1987 and is available to purchase in the Mennonite Heritage Center library for $8.00.

William Souder Hemsing, later to be Burgess of Souderton, was a teenage teller in the Union National Bank of

Quilts and stories from the “Riot of Color” exhibit

Written by Joel Alderfer on January 25, 2020

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

Address

565 Yoder Road
Harleysville, PA
19438-1020

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