Community News

The 1717 Migration of  the Lancaster County Swiss-German Mennonites

Boehm’s Chapel, 13 West Boehms Road, Willow Street, PA 17584

To commemorate the 300th anniversary of the arrival of Jacob Böhm, (the progenitor of the Boehm family) to present day Lancaster County, Darvin L. Martin will discuss the genetic background and the land records of local 1717 Mennonite families.  The presentation will begin at 3:00 PM, October 22nd in Boehm’s Chapel.

Since 2010, Martin has been exploring the DNA of Swiss-German Mennonite families and has used this data to reconstruct the ethnic origins of local Anabaptist families back into medieval Europe or beyond.

The influx of the seventy 1717 Mennonite families greatly changed the culture and ethnicity of Lancaster County.  Martin will discuss where these families settled within the confines of the townships in proximity to Boehm’s Chapel.

Among the surnames common to the area are, Baumgardner, Brackbill, Boehm, Brenneman, Eshleman, Good, Harnish, Herr, Hess, Huber, Keagey, Kendig, Kreider, Meili, Stehman, and Witmer.

While the event is free and open to the public, donations will be greatly appreciated.

“Julie Longacre: A Retrospective” Exhibit Opening at the Mennonite Heritage Center

The Mennonite Heritage Center, 565 Yoder Road, Harleysville, announces an exhibit of art work by popular artist Julie Longacre from August 19 – November 4, 2017. The exhibit; “Julie Longacre: A Retrospective” celebrates fifty years of her artistic career and showcases her work from her early landscapes through current paintings.  A reception with the artist will take place on Sunday, September 10 from 2:00-5:00 pm.

The exhibit is a unique opportunity to view Julie’s journey as an artist over time. Some of the artwork will be on loan from private collections and has never been exhibited. A number of the paintings are available for purchasing along with a selection of prints and cards.

Julie loved to draw as a child. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art and Education and taught third grade and then art until 1981 when she retired to paint full time.

Julie states that: “Some people at the end of a life-long profession have a plaque on the wall showing gratitude for their commitment, or wear an engraved watch to remind them of the time they spent with the firm. I don’t have a plaque nor a watch bearing my name. I have memories of the wonderful people I met along the way. They were the measure of my success. Had they not been attracted to my work, I would not have had the privilege to meet and interact with so many interesting people, listen to their stories and capture their memories on canvas.

We are the artists; we record history. Time doesn’t pass us by; we can make time stand still. Our compositions capture moments in time, express our ideas, our emotions, hopes and dreams for those who follow us.

The Mennonite Heritage Center is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 5 pm and Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm. For directions and information, see or call 215-256-3020.

Mennonite Immigration exhibit opens at the Mennonite Heritage Center

The Mennonite Heritage Center, 565 Yoder Road, Harleysville, announces a new exhibit: Opportunity & Conscience: Mennonite Immigration to Pennsylvania that will be on display from April 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018.

The exhibit commemorates the three hundredth anniversary of Palatine Germans arriving at the port of Philadelphia. The three ships carrying the Palatines included numerous Mennonite families and was the first large group of Mennonites to immigrate to Pennsylvania.

Opportunity & Conscience highlights the experience of 18th century Mennonite immigrants, their motivations and process of migration, and how they settled in eastern Pennsylvania. Between 1683 and 1775, at least 3,000 Mennonites arrived in Pennsylvania. They were part of a much larger story of European mass migrations to the mid-Atlantic colonies. The main causes for this migration were:

  • Continual religious war in the 17th century
  • Religious and economic oppression and restrictions
  • Burdensome taxation
  • Severe weather events and crop failures
  • The promise of religious toleration, land ownership and economic opportunity.

The exhibit includes a fascinating simulation of a passenger compartment on an 18th century immigrant ship, and a depiction of a sitting room in an early immigrant home, furnished with original artifacts of the 18th century. Enlargements of scenes and images from the period further illustrate the theme.

Another feature of the exhibit is a collection of stories of recent immigrants to the Delaware and Lehigh Valleys, some of whom have connected with local Mennonite churches. Many similarities can be observed between the motivation and experience of today’s immigrants and those of the 18th century from whom many Americans are descended.

Throughout the year, our blog at will feature stories and artifacts related to families descended from 18th century Mennonite immigrants. In addition, programs are planned on themes of immigration. To schedule guided group tours and for information about the exhibit, visit