1548 FROSCHAUER GERMAN BIBLE
By Dennis Stoesz
This Bible was printed in 1548 by Christoph Froschauer in
Zurich, Switzerland. Bibles printed by Froschauer were popular
because of the clear type, pictorial decoration and popular language.
This particular Froschauer Bible is in quarto format and does
not include illustrations. It does contain family records and
quite a few handwritten notes by the Christner family and by
others who owned it through the years.
Family tradition holds that this Bible was brought from Switzerland
to the United States in 1769 by Veronica Shantz (1751-1833).
Veronica married John H. Christner (born 1732) in 1773, whom
she met in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Records of the births
of their nine children, starting with Christian who was born
in 1774, are found in the Bible. It is uncertain who all the
owners of the Bible have been in subsequent generations. One
family record indicates that the Bible was owned by Verda Brant
Herboldheimer who was a granddaughter of Rena Christner. Another
family story says the Bible was thrown into a fire at one point,
but that a girl rescued it. From notes in the Bible itself, we
know that Levi D. Christner (1897-1984) of Wolcottville, Indiana,
purchased it in 1930 for ten dollars. In 1971, he donated the
Bible and some personal papers to the Archives so they would
be safeguarded and available to the broader community. This material
was placed in a personal archives collection.
In spring 2000, Diane Christner, Newark, Delaware, and E.
Wayne Christner, Boardman, Ohio, became interested in the existence
of this Bible. E. Wayne Christner had done some research on the
Christner family and on the Bible, but wanted to learn more.
A decision was made at the archives to photograph parts of it
in order to make it more accessible to the public and to encourage
a fuller story to be written about it..
The eighty-seven photographs taken were placed in an album
and are arranged as they were taken, beginning at the front.
Special attention was paid to photographing title pages, and
any pages that had handwritten notes on them. Some notes were
dated as early as 1617. One note in 1698 indicates that Hanss
Jacob Gass received this Bible from his father-in-law, Martin
E. Wayne Christner was able to use these photographs to compile
further documentation on the Christner family and on the Bible.
Hopefully, people will continue to research the story of this
Bible and the family names contained in it. It may also tell
the broader story of the various Anabaptist, Amish, Mennonite
and other Christian churches from the sixteenth century through
to the present to which the owners of the Bible belonged.
The Archives recently transferred the 1548 Froschauer Bible,
the set of related photographs, and The Christners by
E. Wayne Christner (August 15, 2000) to the Mennonite Historical
Library, Goshen College, which houses selected family Bibles
and many genealogy books. Documentation for this article comes
from those sources mentioned above, from notes by Joe Springer,
curator at the Mennonite Historical Library, and from documents
found in the Levi D. Christner (1897-1984) archives collection.
Dennis Stoesz has served as archivist since 1989.
Mennonite Historical Bulletin, October 2000