and maintained by John E. Sharp
Riddle of Things Past":
The writer of Psalm 78 proposes
to speak of "dark things." Luther translates it as
"riddles of old things" (räterchen von alten
Riddles of old things are dark in two senses. Old things are
dim because of their distance from our time. Origins are hard,
if not impossible, to understand. And second, "The dark
places of the earth," to quote another Psalm, "are
filled with cruelty." Thus the past we probe to appreciate
God's great works is full of things to be regretted, things that
don't fit our present mores. Things, even in the Bible, that
we don't approve of. Things in our own past which do not please
The Book of Revelation shows us a writer puzzled by his own vision.
John tells us he "wept much" because there was no one
capable of opening a book that contained the meaning of history.
This weeping represents our existential need to understand the
riddle of human existence, the story of which we are characters.
In my own surveying of life in the two oldest American Mennonite
conferences, I've noted the persistent emotion of yearning for
access to the book of history. There is a wistfulness for and
relief in learning a person's story. While my most recent manuscript
has been incubating, I've gotten impatient letters from people
who say they need it so that they can place their own family
stories in context. I have often gone to funeral memorial meals,
simply to offer the healing balm of memory.
Without story, something within our hearts and communities starves.
Clifford Geertz, in a review of Jerome Bruner's recent The
Culture of Education, notes its conclusion that "Growing
up among narratives ... is the essential scene of education --
`We live in a sea of stories.' Learning how to swim in such a
sea, how to construct stories, understand stories, classify stories,
check out stories, see through stories, and use stories to find
out how things work or what they come to, is what the school,
and beyond the school the whole `culture of education,' is, at
base, all about. The heart of the matter is that `humans beings
make sense of the world by telling stories about it -- by using
the narrative mode for construing reality ...."1
In working on two conference histories, I've reflected on a paradox
in our eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite memory. On the one hand,
our people were full of history, and on the other most did little
or nothing to consciously record it. The record may be quickly
summarized. In 1727, within decades of their arrival, they had
placed a version of their history before the public in an appendix
to their Confession of Faith containing an essay of 1664 by the
Dutch Tieleman T. van Sittert. In this van Sittert argued that
the violent Münsterites had been an aberration from the
peaceful streams of Dutch Mennonites and Swiss Baptists, from
whom governments had less than nothing to fear.
By 1742, the parental longing of Pennsylvania Mennonites was
calling forth the publishing of a German translation of the Martyrs
Mirror. At the same time they reproduced in their hymnal
the 1645 Berichte of Jeremias Mangold, narrating the persecutions
of their great-grandparents in the Canton of Zurich. But alas,
when Morgan Edwards of Philadelphia published a history of Baptist-related
communions in Pennsylvania in 1770, he reported little "readiness"
among the Lancaster Mennonists to give him the statistics he
sought. They seemed suspicious, he observed, that if others had
information about them it might "be to their prejudice."2
In 1773 the Franconia bishops wrote that they had been too busy
to keep records -- all they had was a page from their first bishop,
who had died ten years earlier, taking them up to the year 1712
in Germantown. A Mennonite from Hamburg trying to piece together
a record of his clan's American diaspora did elicit from a woman
at Skippack -- Magdalena van Sinteren Kolb -- the first American
Mennonite genealogical roster. But for over a century thereafter
one finds very little surviving record-writing among Magdalena's
people in Pennsylvania.
There is certainly evidence of living oral tradition. In 1826
schoolteacher-historian-translator I. D. Rupp, of the Reformed
faith, was able to take notes on Lancaster Mennonite memories,
even though the stories were already somewhat shaky. A few years
later we find Deacon John Lederach of Salford (in the Franconia
Conference) telling German visitor Jacob Krehbiel that "the
documents dealing with the original American ordination [1698/1708]
at Germantown were still preserved in Germantown." The deacon
had often thought, he said, that he should ask for these papers,
to be kept for historical reasons "in one of our congregations
in Montgomery County."3
But it would be over a century before his descendants would take
the trouble to gather documents systematically.
In such correspondence as has survived one finds occasional intriguing
comments on concerns brought from the old country. As late as
the 1880's there were fragments of legend afloat in our community
about our memorable schoolteacher Christopher Dock, who had died
a century earlier. But the connections became so tenuous that
even an intelligent progressive like John H. Oberholtzer in 1849
knew little history. He did not know who his American pioneer
ancestor of 1732 was, nor even his own grandmother's first name.
He imagined that one reason there had been so little "Gelehrsamkeit"
(learning) among his American ancestors was that danger from
the "tomahawks" of "wild" Indians on the
frontier had made an orderly life difficult.4 He wrote in the vaguest of generalizations
about the "Franconia Conference," which he viewed as
formed just in the generation previous to his.
Benjamin Eby of Ontario, a native Lancaster Countian, did pull
together a survey of Mennonite history in 1841, and I. D. Rupp
tried to do the same a few years later in his Original History
of the Religious Denominations ... of the United States (1844).
But the Lancaster Conference's most intelligent leader, Bishop
Christian Herr, supplied to Rupp only a quite unoriginal and
hazy overview, with the Dordrecht Confession of Faith.
Controversies such as those of the Montgomery County "Funkites"
of 1777-1811, the Lancaster "Herrites" of 1812, and
the Groffdale community in the 1840's all left paper trails valuable
to historians. These survivals remind us of an issue of balance
which historians must deal with. It became personal for me in
the comment of an old mentor, Noah G. Good, after he had read
a version of my forthcoming manuscript, The Earth is the Lord's:
A Narrative History of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference.
"I get the impression," wrote Noah, "that so much
space is given to recording bitterness and quarrels because you
can get hold of that, and the quiet sober growth gets little
emphasis. Perhaps this is so natural that it cannot be avoided,
but I feel I get a distorted picture of tension. These things
are all so very true, much too true to be missed or avoided;
but are we missing something because it did not produce noise?"
Again: "This is church history. It needs to be told as it
was. [But] even at this long time afterwards we must be careful
not to rankle or stir up old sores. Is this what we want to say?"
My generation is not as afraid of examining "old sores"
as Good's. And I tend to go with what I consider the biblical
model, which has the advantage of letting the readers feel that
they are getting more than one side of the story. But I am very
much concerned with his question, "Is this what we want
to say?" One is always choosing what one wants to say about
In 1856 I. D. Rupp went through ship-records kept after 1727,
and published his Collection of Thirty Thousand Names
of Pennsylvania German pioneers. This was a helpful beginning,
but already so much had been forgotten that the names themselves
could hardly provide any "picture." By the time of
the Civil War, our people had effectively lost the story of their
great-grandparents' migration. Those few who still knew it were
not writing it.
In 1864, John L. Delp of Chalfont wrote plaintively to the new
Herald of Truth, "I have for some time been trying
to collect some of the early history of our Church in Pennsylvania
... but thus far I have met with rather ill success." Delp
hoped that others who were "better informed" might
"bring to light what appears to be so much in the dark in
In the same year miller Isaac Tyson of near Royersford mourned,
"My poor heart often feels sorry that so little is known
about our ancestors. All the old people are gone, and no one
is here anymore to give me the desired information. What might
have been handed down to the coming generation with ease is now
out of reach ...."6
Isaac then joined the "River Brethren" whose historians,
one notes, have precious little written record to deal with of
the origins of their own fellowship in the late 1770's.
In this vacuum, other voices spoke. The Reformed Mennonites certainly
did a better job of explaining their birth than did the larger
body of 19th Century Mennonites with their own story. But other
interpretations tended to confuse our own self-perception. In
my community J. K. Harley, the worldly son of a Brethren preacher
at Indian Creek, wrote a little history of Montgomery County
for the public schools, in which he set the meaning of our region
primarily in terms of what the American Revolution had done for
it. There was nothing at all about our people's spiritual life.7
Amusingly, when one looks with the eyes of a local at the actions
of General George Washington while he was staying at the home
of a Mennonite miller on our Perkiomen Creek, a revealing historical
irony emerges. One of the "dark things" historians
like to mention is that our Mennonite farmers were very loath
to sell their produce to Washington's Army for fear that its
paper Continental money would not reflect the full worth of their
butter and veal. Rather, they carried produce on their backs
to Philadelphia, where the occupying British Army had the King's
gold to buy provender. This is offered as an illustration of
a crassness unable to recognize the emerging noble dream of an
independent America. But if so, what about the instructions Washington
himself, while at Pennypacker's Mill, wrote home to a relative
in Virginia? When the agent would rent some real estate the General
owned, he was to make sure that any currency used would allow
the Father of his County to "really, and not nominally,
get what was intended as a rent."8
A century later, while Americans were inspiring themselves with
fables of "Washington praying at Valley Forge," came
the first stirrings among Mennonites to recover the memory of
their ancestry. But prolific genealogist A. J. Fretz, who began
his search in 1880, lamented that he "should have ... begun
years ago, while there were yet living those of the third generation,
who could have given more satisfactory information of the early
ancestors ... but which with their demise is forever lost. Already
the ancestral thread was lost to many who were unable to trace
their lineage farther than to the grandfather ...."9
Although in 1895 the story of our Bernese past was sympathetically
laid open by the Reformed Pastor Ernst Müller at Langnau,
using Dutch records,10
when A. D. Wenger of Lancaster came through Langnau five years
later he could not recognize the historical story spread around
him. Nor did M. G. Weaver use Müller's quite essential account
when he published his own history of Lancaster Mennonites in
1931. And strangely we of the 1990's have still not done our
homework on this, i.e., we have not systematically translated
the rich collection of correspondence involving our Swiss/Palatine
ancestors, still awaiting our mature attention in the Mennonite
Archives in Amsterdam. (Author's note: Since giving this talk,
I am happy to report that a significant initiative is under way
to correct this historic neglect.)
In 1906 young Illinois native C. Henry Smith, who had been teaching
at Goshen College and was researching his Ph.D. thesis (Mennonites
of America) for the University of Chicago, was bemused by
his experience of the Lancaster Mennonites. In a stay of several
weeks in what he called the "original nest of the Pennsylvania
Mennonites," the midwesterner found the scene to be "one
of the most charming as well as the most prosperous rural bits
in all America." With hardly a weed in the fields, the "substantial
stone houses and capacious red barns full of well-groomed horses
and well-fed cattle ... spelled thrift and industry in every
detail." But in the midst of "the charm of the landscape
and the fine hospitality of the people," Smith could find
"no records" to consult nor even gravestones for the
first settlers. He concluded somewhat understandably though prematurely
that "the Mennonites here ... were not much interested in
This seemed true again in 1910, as historians gathered at the
Willow Street Mennonite Meetinghouse to celebrate the Bicentennial
of the first white settlers' arrival in what had become Lancaster
County. The local Mennonites actually tried to distance themselves
from what they considered a worldly and inappropriately proud
observance. While "the religious meaning" of "our
200 years" was left to the oratory of secularized descendants,
the Mennonite leaders were occupied with concerns about the clothes
requirements for participating in communion. After the celebration,
they expressed "sorrow" at Conference that such a proud
"anniversary display & Celebration" had taken place
at one of their meetinghouses. "Such things," recorded
Bishop Benjamin Weaver, are "unbecoming for us. We hope
they may never be repeated on our church grounds any Place."12
But that same year of 1910 had seen the beginnings of two decades
of research on Lancaster Mennonite history by scrivener Martin
G. Weaver. By the time his Mennonites of the Lancaster Conference
appeared in 1931, the yearning for the lost story had grown quite
wistful. Bishop Noah H. Mack was pleased with what Weaver had
been able to construct around a core of brief congregational
sketches, but in his "Introduction" commented, "What
a volume of family history" our ancestors "could have
conveyed to us, but they are all silent, and the past gives us
no answer ...."13
Author Weaver himself confessed
to wondering how it was "that our fathers all passed so
quietly ... without telling us more about their trials, experiences,
and triumphs." It would have been "important and uplifting,"
he thought, to "know more about the privations and hardships
which tried their souls, and of their successful efforts in preserving
their faith so precious to them ...."14
A similar complaint was that of progressive Lancaster Mennonite
John Hershey Mellinger, writing in the 1940's. "I am unable
to learn anything," he wrote, "of the Mellinger ancestry
beyond my grandfather."15
The ancestor in question, born in 1790 in Manor Township and
farming in Strasburg Township after 1815, had apparently left
his descendants with no connection to family lore. A great language-change
stood like a Chinese Wall between his understanding and the quiet
era before the days of factories and higher education. No wonder
an author of a history of the Byerland congregation, "forced
... to condense her research to a ten day period," would
entitle her book Out of the Silent Past.16
Thus for most of two centuries our people lived without access
to even the outlines of the founding of their American communities.
That story lay obscured amidst vague and often misleading phrasings
like "bloody persecution," "the briny deep,"
"seven brothers who came across," "savage Indians,"
"primeval forests," and "a sheepskin from William
The way our own projected scrim patterns what we see in the past
is neatly illustrated in the "Wall of Memory" placed
in our Heritage Center at Harleysville several years ago. Stones
from here and there in our experience were supplied to a mason,
who mortared them into a pleasingly variegated formation. The
memory was solidly there. But was it? The granite block that
one of our first African American members had chiseled out was
now unrecognizable, since its corner had been knocked off to
fit a non-square slot. The bit of African petrified wood, in
the shape of its continent, had been flipped to fit another opening,
which made it resemble South America instead. And an Indian pestle
had been inserted the long way to fit a narrow opening, leaving
only the blunt end showing, so that the profile of its functioning
was invisible. Having been set to our pattern, those stones
of memory had no voice.
Part of the historian's work is to make one story out of many
stories. Although any human family needs this, in doing more
imposing than listening we design inauthentic family crests --
the American one-size-fits-all, mail-order family history that
can be bought when there is no real memory.
I live on the remnants of an old farm. No matter how much renovating
or cleaning up we do, the detritus of 160 years persists. Periodic
farm auctions, when everything was sold, have far from eradicated
all the evidence of what happened here. Load after load of old
iron has been hauled away, pile after pile of wood gone through
the Franklin stove: beam, brace, cornice, crate, dowel, jamb,
joist, lath, lintel, moulding, panel, plank, rafter, rung, shingle,
sill, stud, wainscot. What a susurrus of whispered voices from
the fireplace! Then there are initials and dates scratched in
wood or stone! Year after year they tell me about what my grandparents
knew, placing my life in the perspective of theirs.
I perceive differently when I walk from the modern addition
of our house to the older side, where I am transferred out of
the end of the 20th century into a more organic-feeling ambiance.
A dropped marble rolls on the old floor, the walls too are not
abstractly plumb. The plaster has hog's hair in it. The cellar-steps
are worn irregularly concave around the dense wood of knots,
forcing me to feel, especially if barefooted, with those who
descended and climbed here over five lifetimes.
In the old attic, I must walk with lowered head. Dark aureoles
on the floor mark the drip of smoked hams through winters that
never dreamed of supermarkets crammed with a gross array of pre-processed
delicacies from around the globe. Sometimes these darker rooms
give me the creeps. They challenge me seriously to transcend
my provincial absorption in the end of the 20th century. They
insist, if I will listen, that my time too is an interval, a
transition. My artifacts too are quickly replaced by sleeker,
more digital ones. When I stand with head necessarily bowed in
these humble spaces, I look at "history" and its contents
differently than when pecking at a keyboard to extract information
from an electronic databank.
I've mentioned the fear of worldliness that influenced the 1910
Lancaster County Bicentennial. Interestingly, when the Mennonites
themselves gathered again at Willow Street in 1960 for the 250th
anniversary, and could name the topics for themselves, the main
speaker chose to dwell on a historical review of "nonconformity."
The same man, Bishop J. Paul Graybill, tried very diligently
to stamp that interpretive principle on the thinking of a committee
that soon began to project a history to get beyond the bounded
1931 chronology of M. G. Weaver. Sitting on that committee was
Noah Good, who would outlive Graybill and bring his perspective
to bear on the new history.
After perusing my manuscript, Good expressed surprise. "As
our Publication Committee sat together many hours," he recalled,
"we saw the history as a rather serious thing in prospect.
We idealized many of the leaders as persons of serious and spiritual
character. You have been successful in ferreting out so many
amusing incidents that we never thought of when we first contemplated
this work." Good's choice of the word "amusing"
brought me a mild shock. Having tried so hard to get beyond the
former limitations of pious lists, had I fallen into a merely
entertaining mode? Had I spoken at so many congregational anniversaries
that the need to catch listeners' attention had moved me too
close to humor?
Good continued: "This does make the story more factual and
realistic. [But] is the leadership contest between John Mellinger
and his group and the rather staid and outmoded bishop body intended
to be amusing, or is it an illustration of God working in spite
of human hindrances? So often the human or amusing aspect is
highlighted more than the less tangible aspect of seeking God's
leading. I am rather sure this emphasis will capture the attention
of many readers. Will the reader be influenced for or against
the Conference and its work by reading this book? I would hope
that each serious reader would come away from this book with
deeper appreciation than before."
On that last note, I could not have been in more agreement. But
the difference of stance of two persons who love the Church of
Christ and its story, one born in 1904 and the other in 1930,
is definitely in play here. I devoutly hope that future readers
will appreciate Robert Frost's dictum that they must recognize
the inward seriousness of what may be said with outward humor.
Perhaps the most obvious force that turn things past into riddles
is the simple stark process of loss that leaves every community
with its horror stories. From my own old community, six decades
ago, many important materials went to the Bluffton College Library
hundreds of miles distant. In two swift visits there I found
uncatalogued John Oberholtzer manuscripts, N. B. Grubb correspondence,
and hymnals with forgotten inscriptions, but missed a set of
revealing Abraham Hunsicker letters to Oberholtzer which would
have thrown sharp light on the 1847 division I was trying to
interpret. In Lancaster County the crucial "Pequea"
Christian Herr family papers turned to mush in a barrel under
a leaky attic roof. The papers of John Shenk, Secretary of the
"Russian Committee," were thrown out, and those of
Treasurer Gabriel Bear were carelessly burned only weeks before
historians came looking for them. You can provide illustrations
from your own communities.
Yet in all our struggle with the riddles of our past, we find
it unexpectedly disclosing rich meaning. To quote T. S. Eliot,
"What the dead had no speech for, when living, / They can
tell you, being dead: the communication / Of the dead is tongued
with fire beyond the language of the living."17 And in a strange way time itself becomes
the historian's ally. For time is not only a distorting, but
a focusing lens. To change the metaphor, time sieves away a lot
of litter, thus letting us concentrate on a few themes, rather
than an incomprehensible clutter of data. The closer the period
we write about, the harder it is to see what is of lasting importance.
On the other hand, whatever evidence survives the rude wasting
of old time stakes a special claim to our attention.
Another paradox I've often reflected on is the way a parochial
community like mine, which has come only very late to its historical
self-interpretation, and is thus comparatively penalized by having
to scrounge its evidence from sparse, neglected sources, nevertheless
has an advantage. That is, where there has persisted an unusual
sense of spiritual family, even where records have been few,
they can be disproportionately gathered. Thus the forming of
many Mennonite archives across this country since 1950 has been
enhanced by an unusual awareness of where people have gotten
to. If you doubt this principle, I advise you to visit the Muddy
Creek Farm Library assembled by Old Order Mennonite farmer Amos
B. Hoover since the 1960's, and see what persistence and imagination
-- and love for the heritage -- have accomplished, out of all
Beyond this, of course, the copying/ digital revolution is now
erasing distance and unavailability, bringing us closer to our
forbears' thoughts as we move farther away from them in chronological
In the riddles of our past we find our own issues foreshadowed.
For example, the unresolved fracturing of Menno Simons' spiritual
family in the Netherlands is a commentary on our own multiple
groupings, all still claiming Menno's name. The repeated departures
from our own covenanted body toward other models of Christianity
are re-experienced today. The gradual, drawn out process of compromising
our forbears' blood-bought espousal of Christian nonresistance,
finds ever new occasion and form.
On another level, my old friend Warren Rohrer (recently deceased
Philadelphia artist with roots in Lancaster County), surprised
himself and those who appreciated his increasingly abstract painting,
by an atavistic tendency to imitate the gestures of his inexpressive
Mennonite ancestors. He had come to realize, he observed, that
his inarticulate forbears, in their repetitive stroking of the
earth or caressing of the fabric on their spinning wheels and
looms, were engaged in the same drama he was rediscovering. It
was this evocation of a wordless depth that powerfully draws
those who recognize it to Warren's subtly shaded canvases. As
he would stare at a plowed field until it glowed on his canvas,
so I have found that even the "quiet in the land" part
of our heritage yields meaning in proportion to the intensity
of the interpreter's attention.
The riddle of things past often turns out to be the familiar
but unexamined reality of the very moment from which we try to
look back. The more we reflect on the paradoxes of history, the
more recognizable the strangeness of our own moment becomes.
And the more deeply we muse, the more likely we are to see the
fundamental themes of history rising like those designs that
entertain our children -- configurations that emerge, depending
on how our eyes focus, from among the distracting welter of more
The Lion/Lamb of Revelation reappears in the horrific experience
of Rwanda, ironically the most Christianized of African countries.
Here, in the matrix of the East African Revival whose reflex
influenced Lancaster Mennonite spirituality, the first to be
killed were the most spiritual Christians. With the eye of faith,
the Lion of the Dark Past is revealed as really the Lamb, whose
sacrifice is rooted in Creation itself -- "the foundation
of the earth." For thoughts such as this the shallower word
"riddle" must give way to cosmic Mystery. Something
basic was indeed brought to Moses's people -- God "established
a testimony in Jacob." But something greater was established
when a Special Person emerged in that people's story. The life
and death and resurrection of this Person brings to focus the
stories of all tongues, tribes and nations. To see this, our
vision must be, as the writer of Hebrews put it, "mixed
Lesslie Newbigin has recently written that "The community
of the Christian church" is incomprehensible apart from
its story. Its two basic themes of creation and redemption are
presented in narrative form. It was actually the biblical narrative,
muses Newbiggin, that "made Europe a cultural entity distinct
from Asia, of which it was and is simply a peninsula."18
The church is shaped, Newbiggin holds, by the story it bears.
But do we know that story beyond superficiality?. Several years
ago my wife Roma composed a "fraktur" representation
of the vision in Revelation 5, based on a conception of the Flemish
artist Hans Memling in the 1590's. Most visitors to our dining
room, where it hangs, don't linger long over the depth meaning
of the Fraktur, centered as it is around a seven-honed Lamb in
a circle of singing elders. Having admired the intricacy of the
drawing, guests tend to ask less, "What does it mean?"
than "How long did it take you to make it?"
Similarly, sometimes after I tell a string of stories, hoping
with outward humor but inward seriousness to flesh out and make
palpable the fellowship of our forbears in the faith, listeners
ask not about the meaning of our dialogue with those forbears,
but "Where do you get all these stories?"
Another effect I muse on is how so often historians give us interpretations
of church life as a set of interweaving ideas built around a
very skimpy story line. On the Internet's "Mennolink,"
there is a stimulating flow of ideas, interpretation and debate,
but a fairly low quotient of story. When story does appear there,
it often has a bracing impact. Many of the interpretive patterns
on the "Link" have a resonance of the academy, where
schemata abound. In such a context a comment of Arnold Snyder,
a teacher himself, is wise: "It appears that the love of
Christ as revealed in His words and His life provides a heuristic
principle that survives the interpretive predilections of any
age." Just as insightfully he adds, "One lesson of
history is hard to miss: Christians should exercise a profound
dose of humility concerning what they claim to know, biblically
and spiritually. This humility needs to be exercised especially
in our relations with those who disagree with us."19
In other words, there is a humble stance of faith from which
even the dark riddles of the past can disclose spiritual meanings.
It was in 1990 at Harleysville that we built our new Mennonite
archives, a treasury of things both bright and dark: ledgers,
singing school books, hymns, deeds, letters and diaries. Here
one could commune with the past in the mood of poet Czeslaw Milosz:
"At Salem, by a spinning wheel, / I felt I, too, lived yesterday."20
As a volunteer community gathered one evening to landscape the
new grounds, I was touched by the sight of this circle of work
and hope, caring about what our fathers and mothers had told
us about God's doings among us. Of course here, in our storing
and cherishing the sayings of our heritage, we hadn't gotten
everything right. Our "Wall of Memory" already obscured
some of the very truth we were hoping to testify to. But it was
all done as an offering, a sign that we wanted to tell the story
that God's covenant had been known here for a quarter-millennium.
It was high time we did this. People moving in from every direction
were building around us in patterns reflecting no focused memory.
They too needed our story. Perhaps it would become spiritually
theirs, by adoption.
As we worked through lowering weather, the sun was setting behind
us over the Moyer homestead of 1717, soon to become a Wal-Mart.
How dark that home's history would become! But just then a rainbow
appeared. As my friends worked on, I walked backward for an overall
look at the scene, and sure enough, I could find a stance from
which our house of memory was serenely arched by a rainbow of
John L. Ruth presented this meditation at The Riddle of
Things Past Conference, Harrisonburg, Va., May 9, 1997.
Clifford Geertz, "Learning
With Bruner" (review article on Jerome Bruner's The Culture
of Education), The New York Review of Books, April
10, 1997, 24.
Morgan Edwards, Materials
Toward a History of the Baptist Denomination (Philadelphia:
Thomas Dobson, 1770), 97-98.
John C. Wenger, History
of the Mennonites of the Franconia Conference (Telford, PA:
Franconia Mennonite Historical Society, 1937), 91-92.
John H. Oberholtzer, "A
Letter of John H. Oberholtzer to Friends in Germany, 1849,"
John L. Delp, "Facts
relating to the early History of the Mennonites," Herald
of Truth, II (January 1865), 4-5.
Quoted in John L. Ruth, Maintaining
the Right Fellowship: A narrative account of life in the oldest
Mennonite community in North America (Herald Press: Scottdale,
PA, 1984), n.p., from Tyson's ms in the Library of the Mennonite
Historians of Eastern Pennsylvania, Harleysville, PA.
J. K. Harley, A History
and Geography of Montgomery County, PA (n.p.: author, 1882),
George Washington to John
Parke Custis, September 28, 1777, quoted in Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker,
"Pennypacker's Mills" (Part II), Bulletin of the
Historical Society of Montgomery County, XXII (Spring 1981),
Abraham J. Fretz, "Preface,"
A Brief History of John and Christian Fretz (Elkhart,
IN: Mennonite Publishing Co., 1890), p. 6.
Ernst Müller, Geschichte
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updated 7 September 1999