Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lancaster. PA

On Wednesday Diane invited Sylvia and me 
to join her church and friends for a bus trip to Lancaster to see MOSES. 
The whole day was so much fun and the production was worth the expense of the trip.

Sylvia arranged to meet a friend from Virginia who now lives in
Lancaster. And she just happens to be a member of 
cousin Linda's church and part of Linda & Steve's small group. Remember, both Linda and Diane
were bridesmaids in our wedding!

I had heard of the Sight and Sound Theatre in Lancaster. Just recently a relative 
who lives nearby visited us and gave us the MOSES brochure because she thought it 
was worth the effort to see it. At that point I already had my tickets.
 In 2002 my mother took a bus trip from Raleigh to see the production of Noah. This is the letter I wrote to her in 2002.

May 9, 2002

Dear Mom,
As you sit in the bus and drive through Lancaster, I want you to know how your family history and Daddy's family history interconnects AND connects with the history of Lancaster. 
The obvious connection is the years you lived on Elm Avenue when Vickie and I were born.  But YOU KNOW ME, I want to take you back 250 years!
In 1711 a group of Mennonites built homes by the Pequea Creek in Lancaster.  They arrived from Europe in 1709 and were the first white settlers in the area. The city of Lancaster did not exist. Hans Herr, whose house still stands and is restored, was in this first group. Worship services were held in his home. On cold nights the Conestoga Indians came inside and slept by the fire. 
In 1714 Martin Kendig, who had settled in Lancaster with this group, was sent back to Europe to help other Mennonites emigrate to Pennsylvania. Your ancestors Valentine Klemmer, Henry Funk, and Hans Detweiler were in the group that resulted from Martin Kendig's efforts.  In 1717 they were among the 30 families who emigrated to Philadelphia. Martin Kendig returned to the Colonies before the families arrived to secure land for some of them near Conestoga.  An agent of William Penn accompanied them to Conestoga and referred to them as "long bearded Switzers."
The Mennonites with Zurich ancestry, like Bishops Benedict Breckbill, Uhrich Burkholder, and Christian Schenk moved immediately to the land secured for them in Conestoga. Christian Schenk was one of Daddy's ancestors as was his wife, a sister of Benedict Brechbill.
Your ancestors remained in Germantown a few years before settling in Bucks County, and Philadelphia (now Montgomery) County. Bishop Valentine Klemmer was a weaver in Germantown (Philadelphia) before he moved to Milford Township, Bucks County, PA. There was frequent visitation between the Mennonite Communities in Germantown, Skippack, and Conestoga. Two or three times a year the Conestoga Mennonites loaded up their market wagons with furs from the friendly Conestoga Indians, wheat, butter, and hemp to make the two day trip to Philadelphia. In Philadelphia these items were sold and loaded onto ships bound for Europe. The Mennonites then bought things they needed and loaded those items onto the wagon for the return trip.
The seventy mile ride to Philadelphia could be treacherous, especially in wet weather, when the wagon wheels made huge ruts in the road. On one trip Bishop Burkholder's son fell from the wagon and was killed when the wagon ran over him.  Another time brushfires destroyed some of the wagons traveling from Conestoga. Although there were inns between Lancaster and Philadelphia, the Mennonites usually slept in or beside  their large wagons.  In Germantown they probably found lodging with their Mennonite brethren and former "ship mates" like our ancestor Valentine Klemmer.
When our ancestors moved from Germantown to Bucks County, they still had contact with the Conestoga Mennonites. Tradition says that our ancestor, Bishop Valentine Klemmer, died in Lancaster while on church related business and was buried there, possibly in Mellinger's Cemetery (1918 Lincoln Highway East).  It is likely that Valentine worshiped with the Conestoga Mennonites, including Daddy's ancestor Christian Schenk, in the Hans Herr house. In 1727 Christian Herr and others from Conestoga traveled to Skippack (Montgomery County) to sign the Mennonite Confession of faith that had been translated into English. Valentine Klemmer also signed that document. The Skippack Meetinghouse had just been completed and they most likely met in it. Valentine's son Henrich (your ancestor) was a stone mason and helped to construct the meetinghouse at Skippack.
In 1748 the very important book THE MARYR'S MIRROR was translated from Dutch to German and reprinted at the Ephrata Cloister. It was the largest book printed in colonial America and contains several thousand stories of the early Christian and Anabaptist martyrs. Our ancestor Henry Funk and his best friend Dielman Kolb traveled the 60 miles between (now) Montgomery County and Ephrata many times to oversee the translation of this important book.  One of the original copies can be seen in the Hans Herr house and was owned by Hans Herr.
         I know your tour does not plan to visit the Hans Herr House. Linda and I visited it last year and I
         think it should be on every tour of Lancaster.
So, now you know that our ancestors walked this area before the city of Lancaster ever existed.

PS  Most unusual is the connection of Hans Herr to the Deacon family from Grayling, the village on the Yukon River where Jim and Peter conducted the Vacation Bible School. Dolly Deacon, Henry' Deacon's wife, had an Athabascan mother and a Pennsylvania father. The father's name is Harry Gochnauer. He probably came up to Alaska in one of the gold rushes and stayed. Not only did his grandparents live next to the Nulls in Lancaster County (one of his relatives married one of Granddad's relatives), but he was a direct descendant of Bishop Hans Herr. I told the Deacons I had visited their ancestor's house in Pennsylvania and they were not impressed.
Bishop Hans Herr lived in this house but his son Christian was the one who built it in 1719.

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