Stories from Local Research in October 24 Meeting

The Fall 2015 meeting of Michiana Anabaptist Historians will be held at First Mennonite Church in Middlebury, 203 E. Lawrence, on Saturday, October 24.  Registration and coffee will begin at 8:30, followed by a business session at 9 a.m. and presentations at 9:30 and 11 a.m. Non-members are invited to this public meeting, which will emphasize local historical research.

Rachel Nafziger Hartzler, vice-president of MAH, will discuss local church history sources and their interesting stories that she used in writing the history of Pleasant Oaks Mennonite Church in Middlebury, now merged with our host church, First Mennonite. The title of her presentation is “Searching for Stories and Strings: Uncovering the History of Mennonites in Middlebury.”

A photograph of Rachel and a review of her book, No Strings Attached: Boundary Lines in Pleasant Places appeared in the Spring 2014 MAH newsletter, which is also available on the MAH website.

Wanda Kauffman Hoffman, in “Cemeteries: Though Silent, They Speak,” will recount interesting discoveries she has made while doing research in local cemeteries for the Elkhart County Genealogical Society.  She says, “I’ve learned there’s more to cemeteries than just names and dates and will be sharing some examples through pictures and stories.”

An active member of the genealogy society, Wanda’s responsibility is to answer requests for information about deaths and burials in Elkhart County, which often requires her to visit cemetery grounds to establish facts. Wanda also volunteers for the Goshen Historical Society and the Elkhart County Historical Society and is past vice-president of Michiana Anabaptist Historians.

During the October 24 business meeting MAH members will elect president and treasurer. Both Ervin Beck, president, and Miriam Yutzy, treasurer, have served one of two allowed three-year terms in those offices. They have been nominated to serve second terms by a committee consisting of Wilmer Hollinger and Leonard Gross. Other nominations from the floor are welcome, if those nominees have agreed to serve.

Chester Weaver will report on a September 10 meeting that an ad hoc group from MAH participated in with Ervin Stutzman, Executive Secretary of MC-USA, regarding the future of the MC-USA Archives at Goshen College.

Student Historians to Report on Research at Spring Meeting

Two Goshen College history majors and directors of the historical library and church archives at Goshen College, will present programs at the Spring 2015 meeting of Michiana Anabaptist Historians at Goshen College on Saturday morning, March 21, in Newcomer Center.

Seth Miller, a senior from Wellman, Iowa, studying history and social research, will report on his study of the Mennonite Home Mission in Chicago, focusing on how its role was influenced by the community it served, especially in regard to a changing racial constituency. Mennonite churches in Michiana contributed funds, welcomed “fresh air” children in summers and sponsored visits to the mission by MYF and other groups. Some members of the mission church moved from Chicago to Elkhart County.

Micah Helmuth, a senior history and secondary education major from Goshen, will speak on another Mennonite congregation—the Woodlawn Amish-Mennonite church east of Goshen. He will analyze its evolution from the group’s Old Order Amish identity to Beachy Amish to today’s Amish-Mennonite affiliation. Some MAH members with roots in that congregation are Al Bontrager and Dan Beachy.

The second hour of the morning will be devoted to “Resources for Michiana Congregational and Family History on the Goshen College Campus.” Joe Springer, curator of the Mennonite Historical Library, will be joined by Colleen McFarland, director of the Archives of Mennonite Church USA, in calling attention to print and manuscript records in both research collections. Joe will also demonstrate the use of internet sources in studying family history.

The morning program will follow the regular schedule: 8:30 a.m., registration and coffee; 9:00, business meeting; 9:30, Seth Miller and Micah Helmuth; 10:30 break, with refreshments; 11:00, Joe Springer and Colleen McFarland. In addition, from noon to 12:30, the archives next door will be open for a quick tour and introduction to its services.

The meeting is free and open to the public.