The Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society has two databases of genealogical information which we are now pleased to make available online. Online access is restricted to members of the Historical Society and to patrons in our library. If you are not already logged in, click on one of the resources below and a login window will appear. Not a member? Join here.
Since 2008 volunteers and staff at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society have been compiling a database of genealogical information from various sources. As of February 2020, there are more than 130,000 names in this database, with more being added each week. The information initially was compiled from obituaries appearing in the Lancaster newspapers but there is a significant portion of records abstracted from genealogical articles which appeared in the Society’s quarterly, Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, including the Readers’ Ancestry feature.
The records in this database are not the same as those in the Genealogical Card File in the library. Over time there will likely be a growing overlap between the two resources. When persons submit new or revised genealogical information to the Society, that information is now being recorded in this genealogical database rather than in the card file as was previously the practice. If you have additions or corrections, please use the online form available here.
This database contains known descendants of Christian Schmucker (1775-1857, sometimes referred to as “Christian III”), a grandson of immigrant Christian Schmucker (d. 1782) and son of John Schmucker (1740-1809). Much of the original information was compiled by John R. Smucker (1932-2006). Supplemental work was completed by members of the SSSFA. The original binders and related family history documents are now housed in the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society Archives.
Surname Finding Aid for Canton Bern, Alsace, Germany, and Pennsylvania, 1549-1777, compiled by Bruce Fosnocht.
Originating out of research into the Binkley (Binggeli, Binckli, et al) family, this project grew to include transcriptions of every birth, marriage, and death entry in the earliest church books of the Wahlern and Guggisberg parishes in Canton Bern. It also includes data from tax/tithe lists, church court manuals, Pastor’s registers, and many published reports about the Anabaptist movement of the district Schwarzenburg. There are added entries for Binggelis and their associated surnames from the church books of every parish within about 25 km of Guggisberg and data on those Bincklis who moved from Canton Bern through Alsace and Germany. Click here for a detailed explanation of this project, including a listing of surnames included.
Kenneth Varden Leasa (1948-2009) was a former LMHS member, volunteer, Pennsylvania German dialect instructor, and researcher. Varden was a life-long learner, with a curious mind that compelled him, among other things, to gather family history stories and data from nearly everyone with whom he came in contact. He compiled a genealogical database of more than 100,000 names before his untimely death in 2009 after a battle with a brain tumor. This database, along with many of Varden’s other materials, was generously donated to LMHS in 2010-2011 by Varden’s wife Marie.
The histories of many Mennonite families are recorded in this database. Less relevant to LMHS, but revealing of Varden’s varied interests, are genealogies of some of the early Egyptian pharaohs. In many cases Varden included transcriptions of obituaries or other notes which reveal more personal information than names and dates alone can provide. When uncertain about an event or date, Varden would typically record this unanswered question along with the genealogical record, in the hope of future clarification. This database will be a closed collection, meaning that it will remain as Varden compiled it, with no further additions or corrections.