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Free Mennonite Family History Articles

Grist Mills

Posted by Lois Ann Mast on

  Grist mills became essential to the early pioneer families even though they were not yet built for most of our immigrants. Flour and cornmeal was a needed ingredient in every home to make bread, and the work of hauling wheat and corn to the mill and back was much preferred over laboriously grinding one’s own grain.       Pennsylvania was well known as the breadbasket of the thirteen colonies with more mills than in any other state. Many of the early mills were built by our Mennonite and Amish ancestors—some pictured on this page. Most are no longer working today,...

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Using Journals to Learn About the Past

Posted by Lois Ann Mast on

Journals are an amazing source of information. I was recently amazed to read an old journal written in the 1860s by Christian K. Nissley who lived in East Donegal Twp., Lancaster Co., Pa.   Christian was a single man who was only 14 years old when his mother died, and then he died at the young age of 28. His journal is an amazing window into the Civil War time period. In reading his journal, one can easily describe him as self-educated as he wrote in beautiful German Script, but also could write in English.   Christian chose to join...

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Crossing the Atlantic Ocean compiled by S. Duane Kauffman

Posted by Daniel Mast on

    The Atlantic Ocean crossing was certainly very challenging for most of our immigrant ancestors. The desire to come to America must have been quite strong to cause our immigrants to take such huge risks. Not only were they leaving their homeland probably forever, they knew that some of their family members might die enroute.    A note thought to have been written by 1739 Immigrant Hans Lantz gives an ominous warning: “If you are in Germany, Switzerland, or Strasbourg, and have not the opportunity to follow our sect because of the government and you care for the salvation of your...

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An Illinois King Family History

Posted by Daniel Mast on

Sam and Anna B. (Claudon) King. John König/King was born in 1832 in Baden, Germany, and his wife Lydia (Troyer) King was born September 8, 1834, in Licking County, Ohio. (The word for “king” in German is “König.”) It was one of the families of Canton Bern, Switzerland, who traveled a familiar path to Alsace, Bavaria, and Illinois, over a 300-year span.John King and Lydia Troyer were married about 1854 in McLean County, Illinois. John King’s parents should be Christian (b. ca1804) and Phoebe (Barnet/Barnard) King. They came from Baden, Germany, to Ohio, and then in 1850 moved to Dry...

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The Augsburger Orphan Trail by Mary Ann Augsburger Kristiansen

Posted by Daniel Mast on

The Augsburger Orphan Trail: Seventeen Minor Children Lost From Two Generations by Mary Ann Augsburger Kristiansen Originally published in the April 2016 issue of Mennonite Family History Where does one start on this path? A good place to begin is in Sainte Marie-aux-Mines near the city of Strasbourg, Alsace (a province of France). Sainte Marie is a beautiful mining town in the mountains, named after a historical church. The year is 1839. It is a cold December day and a young Swiss Anabaptist woman is in a hospital giving birth to a baby. Her name is Magdalena. She was born...

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