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Free Mennonite Family History Articles

Discovering Ancestors Through a Photo

Posted by Daniel Mast on

by Willi FreseI was born in a  Mennonite village in Siberia (former colony of Barnaul). Up until attending school, I could only speak Mennonite Low German. I am married and we have two sons.    Our parents and grandparents have spoken very little about the origin of Germans in Russia. They only said that the Mennonites originally came from Holland to Prussia and then emigrated to Russia. This is due to the tragic past of the Germans in Russia, especially from the 1917 Revolution, World Wars I and II, until at least the mid-1950s. My generation has had a good life...

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Visiting the Archives in Bern, Switzerland

Posted by Lois Ann Mast on

Dr. Barbara Studer Immenhauser, Bern Archivist   The September 2019 “Hostettler Heritage Tour”    svisited the Staatsarchiv in Bern, Switzerland, to view original records pertaining to the Hostettler family. Dr. Barbara Studer Immenhauser, archivist at the  Staatsarchiv Bern, shared informative facts before introducing Hans Hostettler who has retired from serving at the Archives for years. He shared the following.   Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. My name is Hans Hostettler and my place of origin is Wahlern/Schwarzenburg. I am happy to tell you a little bit about the Hostettler families and their ancestors, who are very difficult to research. The Hostettler...

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Mennonites and Amish in the Atlantic Passage

Posted by Daniel Mast on

by Ervin Beck Genealogies often preserve narratives of family history and legends not to be found elsewhere in print.  The compilation presented here is of first immigrant ancestors’ stories of the Atlantic crossing—most of the accounts originating in oral tradition. The 52 short narratives in this article have been gleaned from 45 different genealogies in the Mennonite Historical Library at Goshen College. Hundreds more probably can be found and deserve attention.   Most of the persons cited in this article are Swiss-Alsatian Mennonites or Amish. However, it is often very difficult to know a person’s religious affiliation. But the stories...

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Serendipity or DNA? A curious Life Path

Posted by Daniel Mast on

by John H. Gindlesberger    This is a story of how the search for my family roots has, in some ways, come full circle. I grew up in Holmes County, Ohio—home to one of the largest Amish and Mennonite communities in America. It is an unusual place, however, in that Holmes County is roughly divided into two parts. The Amish and Mennonites live primarily in the eastern portion of the county, while the western portion, where I grew up, is mainly “English.” The Amish have always been seen in the grocery stores, in buggies on the highways, and in the...

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The Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Oberholtzers who Moved to Alverton, Pennsylvania

Posted by Daniel Mast on

by Rodney G. Cavanaugh     The Oberholtzer family originated before the 15th century in the Swiss village of Ober, about 30 miles south of Zurich. On March 2, 1661, Marx/Marcus Oberholtzer, son of Martin Oberholtzer, was hosting an evening Anabaptist church service at his home when they were “visited” by raiders, and the authorities fined the persons who were present. They were also told that they could no longer hold meetings, and if they were caught again, they would lose their homes.    Marcus (1683-1726) and Elizabeth Oberholtzer and their children left their European homeland bound for the “new world.” They...

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