Daniel Kolb Cassel.

History of the Mennonites : historically and biographically arranged from the time of the Reformation, more particularly from the time of their emigration to America .. online

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Online LibraryDaniel Kolb CasselHistory of the Mennonites : historically and biographically arranged from the time of the Reformation, more particularly from the time of their emigration to America .. → online text (page 1 of 27)
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. APR 23 1932










Entered according to Act of Congress in the Year 1887,


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.

Press of

Globe Printing House,








^PHIS volume, containing brief sketches of the Menno-
■*• nites in America, beginning with the first settlement
and organization at Germantown, Pa., is the result of re-
searches originally intended as sketches for the public
press, but at the earnest solicitation of many friends it is
now offered in its present form, as a memorial of the two
hundredth anniversary of their first organization in

A history of the Mennonites, and more especially of
those in America, is a task surrounded with many diffi-
culties. But few collections of their books exist in
America; in many of their churches no records have been
kept, or have been lost; and many old and valuable papers
and records that did exist, which would have been the
ordinary source of information, have been destroyed or
lost, not being regarded at the time of any value.

Material facts have been diligently sought after and
patient labor cheerfully bestowed upon the work ; events
and facts have been gathered, both from American and
European sources, in order to make it a valuable work
for the present and future generations. It is submitted



to a generous and intelligent people in the belief that it
will meet their approval.

Bancroft says of the Germans in America : " Neither
they nor their descendants have laid claim to all that is
their due." This is attributable partly to language, partly
to race instincts and hereditary tendencies. Quiet in their
tastes, deeply absorbed in the peaceful avocations of life,
undemonstrative to the verge of diffidence, without clan-
nish propensities, they have permitted their more aggres-
sive neighbors to deny them a proper place even on the
historic page.

At the close of the Thirty Years' War there ran through
Protestant Germany a broad line ; upon the one side of
that line stood the followers of Luther and Zwingli, of
Melancthon and Calvin — these were called the church
people ; upon the other side stood Menno Simons, Diet-
rich Philips, Casper Schwenkfeld, the Silesian Knight, and
"The Separatists" — these were called the sect people.
It was a line which divided persecution by new bound-
aries, and left the fagot and the stake in new hands, for
the Peace of Westphalia had thrown the guarantees of its
powerful protection only over one side of this Protest-
ant division. It was a line which in the New World,
though less discernible than in the Old, is only becoming
obliterated in the widening philanthropy of our own

"While the German Church people have some written


history in America, the sect people have yet very little of
their history written." — E. K. Martin.

Daniel Webster, in one of his speeches said, as if
to commend our kind of notices : " There is still wanting
a history which shall trace the Progress of Social Life.
We still need to learn how our ancestors, in their houses,
were fed, lodged and clothed, and what were their em-
ployments. We wish to see and know more of the changes
which took place from age to age in the homes of the
first settlers," etc.

We want a History of Firesides.

I have endeavored to some extent to cover this ground
— asjthe reader will find in the settlements of Germantown,
Lancaster, Ohio and Canada.

I believe the work to be as reliable as the nature of
things will permit.

Should the reader discover differences in dates or ages
of persons, lie will remember that where the month is
designated by a number, that March counts as the first
month, April the second, etc.

The days also differ from our reckoning. The im-
proved Gregorian Calendar was not adopted in Pennsyl-
vania till 1752, which accounts for the great discrepancy
in ancient dates.

I have also endeavored to retain the old or ancient
phraseology in my quotations, as well as the old mode of
spelling, especially names of places and persons, in order
not to destroy the original.


It is, therefore, in the hope of stimulating investigation
into the past life of this most interesting of all those sects,
who, during the last century or two, have landed upon
our shores, that these brief sketches of the Mennonites
have been given to the public.

Hoping that my efforts may be of some benefit to the
Mennonite Church and people in America.

The Author.


A large portion of the material composing this volume,
which more immediately concerns the Mennonite
Church in America, has to a considerable extent been de-
rived from original documents, some of which have never
been on historic pages before, and from the records of
churches wherever such existed, such as the records of
the Mennonite Church at Germantown, also that of Skip-
pack and others, as well as the writings of Dr. Ludwig
Keller, Royal Librarian at Miinster ; J. T. V. Braght's
Martyrs' Mirror, and Biographical Sketches, by S. W.
Pennypacker ; The Mennonites, by E. K. Martin ; B. Carl
Roosen, Dr. A. Eby and a number of others.

Special thanks for assistance and valuable information
furnished during my labors in compiling this work, rend-
ered in various ways, are due to Abraham Blosser, of
Virginia ; John F. Funk, of Elkhart, Ind. ; Sam'l Stauf-
fer, Berks Co., Pa. ; John B. Bechtel, Boyertown, Pa. ;
Jacob S. Moyer, Bucks Co., Pa. ; A. B. Shelly, Milford
Square, Bucks Co., Pa. ; Sam'l K. Cassel, Blooming Glen,
Pa.; A. H. Cassel, Harleysville, Pa.; Abel Horning,
Telford, Pa.; William S. Godshall, Schwenksville, Pa.;



Jacob C. Loux, Lansdalc, Pa. ; John C. Boorse, Esq.,
Kulpsville, Pa. ; Herman Godshall, Souderton, Pa. ; M.
S. Moyer, of Missouri ; George S. Nyce, of Frederick,
Pa. ; N. B. Grubb, Philadelphia ; John B. Tyson, Skip-
pack, Pa. ; Christian Schowalter, Primrose, Iowa; Hon.
Horatio Gates Jones, Roxborough, Phila. ; Welty and
Sprunger, Berne, Ind. ; and S. S. Haury, Cantonment,
Indian Territory. The author is also under many obliga-
tions to Prof. J. G. De Hoop Scheffer, of Amsterdam,
Holland, and many others. The collection of the material
for this volume has been a tedious and difficult work;
and though conscious that this work is in many respects
incomplete and deficient, the author is encouraged in its
publication by the fact that his researches in certain
periods of the American history of the Mennonite Church
have not proved unsuccessful. The book is now sent
forth with all its imperfections, hoping that it may help
to awaken the members of the Mennonite Church to a
consciousness of their precious historical inheritance.

There are, no doubt, many inaccuracies and omissions,
and the author will be grateful for such information as
may hereafter enable him to give a more complete record.



Menno Simons' Renunciation of the Church

of Rome ....... 9

Articles of Faith 25

General Adoption of the Articles of Faith 42
King Charles II and William Penn . . 46
Settlement of Germantown ... 49
Origin of the Sect of Mennonites . . 55
Arrival of Mennonites at Germantown . 64
Mennonite Meeting at Germantown . . 97
An Address. By S. W. Pennypacker . . 117
Report of the Indian Mission . . .126
Virginia. A Historical Sketch of the Early Men-
nonites in Virginia . . . . . 129
Trials and Afflictions of the Virginia Mennonites
During the Late Civil War . . . .134
Mennonites in West Virginia . . . 143
Christian Funk. The Schism among the Men-
nonites in 1777 . ' . . . . 150

4 contents.

Manitoba Mennonites . . . . 152
The Herrites (or Herrenleute) . . .154

Mennonites in Missouri . . . . 156
Early Settlement of the Mennonites in

Elkhart County, Indiana . . .159

Biographical Sketch of Jacob Christophel 165
First Amish Settlement in Elkhart County,

Indiana ^7

Mennonites in Colorado 168

Mennonites in New York State . . 169

Maryland 1 »j 1

Russian Settlements in the West . . 172
Russian Settlements in Nebraska . .173

Periodicals 175

Conferences 178

Mennonite Immigration to Pennsylvania 180

Christopher Dock 203

Der Blutige Schauplatz oder Martyrer

Spiegel 211

Settlement at Skippack 216

The Organization of the Mennonite Church

at Salford 221

Franconia 225


Kui.psvii.le. Mennonite Church at Towamencin,

Montgomery County, Pa. .... 228

Bartolet's Mennonite Meeting-house in Fred-
erick Township, Montgomery County, Pa. . 232
Gottsh all's, or Schwenksvieee . . . 234

Herstein's 236

rockhiel, or gehman's 237

Perkasie, or Hieetown 240

Deep Run Meeting-house .... 242

doylestown 247

Lexington 248

Historical Sketches of the Swamp Menno-
nite Church 249

Springfield and Saucon 256

Deep Run. A Brief Sketch of the Incorporated
Mennonite Church at Deep Run (New School),

in Bedminster, Bucks Count}', Pa. . . 258

Hereford ........ 260

Boyertown 262

Mennonite Congregation in Upper Milford,

Lehigh County 264

Philadelphia (New School) .... 267

o contents.

Chester County, Pa. .....

Cumberland County, Pa.
Northampton County Mennonites .
Bangor . . .

York County, Pa.

Meeting-houses in Juniata County, Pa.

Lebanon County, Pa.

Snyder, Juniata and Perry Counties, Pa.

Dauphin County, Pa

Franklin County, Pa.

Mennonite General Conference
Mennonites in Lancaster County .

Eby Family

Herr Family

Hershey Family

A Brief Sketch of the First Mennonite

Settlers in Pennsylvania . . . 300

The Swiss Mennonites in Ohio ... 303
A Sketch of the Mennonite Settlement in

Canada 309

Visit Among the Mennonites

A Visit Among Russian Mennonites

Mrs. Catharine Gable .


Jacob Funk, Mennonite Minister at Germantown,

from 1774 to 1816 337

The Keysers 34 2

Biography of the Kolbs in America . . 344

Cassel Family in America . . . . 35 l
Gerhard RoosEn. Mennonite Minister of the
Hamburg Altona Congregation. Born 161 2,

died 171 1 35 8

Biographical Sketch op the Rittenhouses 363

Emigration of the Stauffers to America . 367

Custom of Baptism in the Early Centuries 369
munsterites not connected with menno-

NITES _ 3 8x

Origin of the Munsterites .... 3%3
German Translation of the Bible by the

Waldenses 3 8 7

The Community and the Church . . 39°

Menno Simons' Memorial 39 *

Origin of the Old Evangelical Church . 395

Closing Chapter 399

First Impulse or Motive of the Cassels Emi-
grating to America .... 403

8 contents.

The; Mknnonite Shipbuilder .... 405
Extract from an Address delivered by Dr.

W. J. Mann 4° 6

An Interesting Address. By Matteo Bro-

chet, of Rome 409

The Mennonites and Temperance . . .411

Early Churches of Germantown . . 412
Old Germantown. Its Division into Lots. — The

Curious Names of the Original Settlers and

Something of their Holdings . . -414

Ephrata . . 420

Old Clock 421

Indian Contract and Deed to William Penn 422

Mennonites 425

Origin of New Year's Day, or First of

January 427

Undertakers for Funerals .... 429

First Mennonites Represented as Quakers 430

No Union of Church and State . . . 431

Habits of First Settlers 432

Obituary 433

Menno Simons' Renunciation of the
Church of Rome.

THE names of CEcolampadius, Luther, Zwinglius,
Melanchton, Bucer, Bullinger, Calvin and others,
whom God in His providence raised up as humble instru-
ments to reform to no small extent abuses which had
crept into the Church, are familiar to almost every ordi-
nary reader; while that of Menno Simons is little
known, although he was contemporary with Luther,
Zwinglius and others, and with some of whom he had
personal interviews — with Luther and Melanchton in
Wittemberg ; with Bullinger at Zurich ; and at Strasburg
with Bucer.

It has been a mooted question for many years whether
or not the Mennonites were descendants from the Wal-
denses, but the testimony of Dr. Ypeij, a professor of
theology at Groningen and a member of the Dutch
Reformed Church, in a book published by him in 1813,
ought to set the question forever at rest. The eminent
Doctor says in his excellent work that the Baptists, who
were formerly called Anabaptists and in latter times Men-
nonites, were the original Waldenses. Testimony of this
character from such high authority in the Dutch Re-
formed Church must carry conviction with it.

There is apparently no reason to question the antece-



dents of the Mennonites, but as misrepresentation has
always been more or less their bane, we suppose it will
so continue to be until the end of time, when, if not be-
fore, justice will assuredly be done them.

The name Mennonite came from Menno Simons,* a
native of Witmarsum, a small town about half-way be-
tween Bolsward and Harlingen, and the year of his birth
1492 ; he was reared as a Catholic. We find in his writ-
ings that he was appointed chaplain in Pingium, a small
town which he called his father's town, where he was
stationed as a priest and preached for two years, without
ever having read the Scripture, or touched it, for fear
he might be mislead.

In the third year (1527) he concluded to read the
Scripture and soon found that he was in error. He con-
tinued reading the Scripture daily, and was soon called
an evangelical preacher, but still, as he says, he loved the
world and the world loved him.

It occurred in the year 1531 that a very devout Chris-
tian named Sicke Schneider, a native of Switzerland, was
beheaded, being condemned by the Catholics as a heretic,
because he renewed his baptism. Menno Simons had
never heard of a second baptism, therefore it seemed to
him very strange. He then commenced to examine the
Scripture closely in regard to infant baptism, but, as he
says, he soon found that infant baptism had no founda-
tion in the Scripture.

Shortly after 1531 Menno Simons left Pingium and
was stationed in Witmarsum, his birthplace, as a Catholic

■'• < »r Symons, read Seemon


After remaining at the latter place about one year, the
first evangelical people teaching the doctrine of adult
baptism settled also in the neighborhood, and soon after,
the Miinsterites also made their appearance among them
and elected John Bockhold their king. A riot took place
and the Miinsterites were driven out, in 1534, by Count
Waldeck, its expelled bishop, and in February, 1535,
about 300 men, with their wives and children, entrenched
themselves in the so-called old cloister, near Witmarsum,
where on the 7th of April, 1535, they were overpowered;
many were taken prisoners, many were killed, women
were drowned. Menno Simons' own brother, Peter
Simons, also lost his life in this riot, and many of the quiet
and peaceable evangelical people who lived among them
suffered much.

All this took place while Menno Simons was yet in the
Catholic Church, but his teaching and his life became
quite changed. During this time he wrote a book against
the Miinsterites, shortly before he left the Catholic
Church. In that book he speaks of John Bockhold, of
Ley den, as yet living, and who was executed January 2 2d,


Menno Simons left the Catholic Church January 1 2th,
1 5 36 (see Berend Karl Roosen, p. 24). According to the
foregoing statement it is clearly shown that Menno
Simons never had any connection or anything common
with the Miinsterites, because he was yet in the Catholic

Menno renounced the Catholic faith January 12th,
1536, and shortly afterwards he was baptized at Leeu-
warden (see B. Karl Roosen, p. 25) by Johann Matthys
(see Gemeindebldtt fur Mouwnitcn, Bdnde 4 und $ y JaJirg.


After his severance from the Catholic Church he lived
retired, spent his time in reading and writing, until the
year 1537.

Ubbo Philipps, a brother of Dirk Philipps, was or-
dained to the ministry by Johann Matthys, says Berend
Karl Roosen, of Hamburg, Altojia, and Menno Simons was
ordained a minister by Ubbo Philipps in 1537, in the Old
Evangelical (Tmifgcsbmtcn, or Waldcnscr) Church, after-
wards called Mennonites.

Menno Simons' departure from the teachings of his
childhood naturally caused the greatest indignation in
Catholic circles, and from that time on he and his fol-
lowers were subjected to the basest persecution — a perse-
cution which has been transmitted through successive
generations and exists to-day, although not to such an

After Menno's ordination to the ministry in 1537, he
exercised an influence upon the remaining Miinsterites,
strong enough to cause them to renounce their warlike
attitude and become peaceable Christians. He tried to
persuade them to hold peace, even when he was yet a
Catholic priest.

The quiet Old Evangelical Baptists, who strongly re-
nounced every kind of warfare, called upon Menno in
1537, after he had renounced his office as Catholic priest,
and only after much deliberation and prayer he con-
sented to accept the call and become their bishop (see
B. K. Rooscn.p. jj), and, being a learned and eloquent
man, he accomplished a vast amount of good, the effect
of which is felt in Mennonite circles to-day. His un-
questioned piety and sincerity, together with his elo-
quence, swayed the multitudes and many thousands en-

Nach dem der Mennoniten Kirche in Hamburg und Altona gehorendem Bildnisse.


BORN 1492. DIED 1559.


listed in the good cause. In the year 1537 Menno Simons
commenced traveling throughout Northern Germany as
a teacher of the Scriptural truth. Everywhere he went
his life was endangered by indignant followers of the
faith he had renounced, but he was not dismayed, and
went on in his laudable effort to convert men to be be-
lievers in and followers of the teachings of Christ. He
founded many congregations in Europe, and labored
assiduously in his undertaking until death put an end to
his earthly career.

The exact date of Menno Simons' birth and death is
somewhat shrouded in mystery. Nearly all writers in
the home of Menno Simons have fixed 1496 as the year
of his birth, and 1561 as the year of his death. We find
in his foundation book, in late German editions, "that it
[the dawning of the new spiritual light] occurred in 1524,
in his twenty-eighth year," which would make the year
of his birth 1496; but the first Dutch collected edition to
which we have access does not contain any such date.
It appears, then, he never wrote this sentence ; it has evi-
dently been added by some writer or printer in later years.

E. K. Martin, Esq., of the Lancaster Bar, in his pam-
phlet called the " Mennonites," fixes the year of Menno's
birth in 1492.

Professor J. G. De Hoop Scheffer, who has charge of
the Mennonite archives at Amsterdam, in Holland, whom
we must acknowledge as good authority, and have no
reason to doubt has better facilities of ascertaining than
many others, also fixes the year of Menno's birth, A.D.
1492, and that of his death 1559, on the 13th of January.

Much could be written on this subject and explana-
tions given, but this must suffice. The good that Menno


Simons had done in life did not end at his death; it lived
after him. The seed he had sown took deep root in the
hearts of those he had taught, and although some writers
accuse his followers of degenerating after Menno's death,
they continued to labor on in the good cause. There is
no evidence to prove the theory that his followers became
lukewarm after his death. There has been a disposition
in some quarters to depreciate the work accomplished by
Menno Simons, and much of the credit that rightfully
belongs to him was given to Luther and Calvin and others
of his contemporaries. The time will come, however,
when the concession will be made that he did as much
towards the enlightenment of mankind as did those illus-
trious personages who shed such lustre on the history of
the Reformation.

The persecution of the Mennonites continued long after
the death of Menno Simons. They were compelled to
flee from one country to another. The band of followers
of the Mennonite doctrine was compelled to disperse.
Some of them went to Russia, others to Prussia, Poland,
Holland and Denmark, and others to America.

The alleged peculiarity of the faith of the Mennonites,
even after they came to America, was still the subject of un-
favorable comment and much ridicule. The Mennonites
do not parade their doctrine like other denominations,
and their form of religious worship is free from every
semblance of ostentation. They prefer not to let their
good works be seen of men. Nevertheless, having en-
dured the ridicule of those antagonistic to their manner
of worship as long as they could, they prepared a work
called Articles of Faith, which was executed and finished
in the United Churches in the city of Dortrecht, April


2 1 st, 1632, subscribed by delegates from all the churches
(see Articles of Faith, page 25). One feature of their
faith, and one to which they cling with most praiseworthy
tenacity, is this : They believe that the doctrine of Christ
forbids the resentment of wrongs and the showing of any
spirit of revenge. They believe their mission to be one
which will redound to the benefit of all men, and they are
assiduous in their efforts to that end. They never turn
a stranger from their door, but they do not give alms to
be seen of men. They are very careful in this respect.
If an enemy comes to them in distress, they help him.
What an example they set for many professing Christians!
One portion of their faith may possibly be termed pecu-
liar; yet when one looks at it in the right light, there is
nothing so objectionable in it. In forming marital rela-
tions, the Mennonites adhere to the doctrine that two
believers in the same faith should marry. This is a cus-
tom of the Church which is still strictly adhered to by
many. They base this portion of their belief upon the or-
dainment of God in the garden of Eden, when he insti-
tuted an honorable union between Adam and Eve. In
their code they cite many more Scriptural teachings which
carry them out in their belief that there should be no
marriage consummated except between two members of
the same Church.

The Mennonites do not believe in any great floiirish
of trumpets; so they seldom make known the number of
their communicants. In short, they believe in doing all
the good they can, but in a quiet way. In this they ob-
serve a simplicity worthy of emulation. Too many of
our churches make a great flourish, and ministers and
members speak glowingly of what ought to be done; but


they seldom find time to do it. On the other hand, the
Mennonites indulge in no braggadocia, and go around
quietly doing the work which they believe has been made
imperative on them by the command of the Master.

Descriptive of the trials and tribulations that the ear-
lier Mennonites underwent, nothing can be more beauti-
ful than the following, which is taken from an ably written
pamphlet on the " Mennonites," composed by E. K. Mar-
tin, Esq., a member of the Lancaster Bar: " A recent his-
torian says: 'The philologist who seeks to know some-
thing of the language of the primeval man of Europe,
finds amid the mountains of the Pyrenees the ^Basques,
who have preserved down to the present time the tongue
of their remote forefathers.'

"Whether we regard their personal history or the result
of their teaching, the Mennonites were the most interest-
ing people who came to America. There is scarcely a
family among them which cannot be traced to some an-

Online LibraryDaniel Kolb CasselHistory of the Mennonites : historically and biographically arranged from the time of the Reformation, more particularly from the time of their emigration to America .. → online text (page 1 of 27)