Mennonite Church in the United States
History in the United States[edit | edit source]
- The name of Mennonite came from followers of the former Catholic Priest, Menno Simons, who, during the 16th century, embraced the Anabaptist beliefs and became a religious leader.
- Because of persecution, many fled to America in the late 1600's and settled in Pennsylvania.
- Among the Mennonites emerged a group who followed a Swiss Mennonite Bishop named Jakob Amman; these became known as the Amish or Amish Mennonites.
- Eventually more variations of the European Mennonites began immigrating to the United States. In the early 1800’s Mennonites settled in Ohio and Missouri with Mennonites from Russia settling in Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota in the 1870's.
- The Amish Mennonites settled mainly in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, with some groups in Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota.
- For a time there were two main Mennonite groups in North America; the Mennonite Church, with roots in Pennsylvania, and the General Conference Mennonite Church which was began in Iowa in 1860 and included many of the Russian immigrants.
- Eventually, these two groups united in 2002 and became the Mennonite Church USA.  
Mennonite Religion Family Tree[edit | edit source]
This Mennonite Religion Family Tree further diagrams different Mennonite branches.
Information in the Records[edit | edit source]
Some typical birth, marriage, and death records were kept more by Russian and German Mennonites. However, they are rare. In the absence of church records, other record types become important sources.
- Occasionally church leaders did keep notes on baptisms and marriages.
- Compiled cemetery and obituary collections are listed in the online records above.
- Newspaper announcements of births, marriages, and deaths
- Published family histories.
Directories[edit | edit source]
The Amish in several communities have published directories of their communities at regular intervals from the 1980s to the present. These volumes feature a wealth of information for each family, including husband’s name, wife’s maiden name, the names of each spouse’s parents, children’s names, dates of birth for each individual, children’s marriage partners, the family address, husband’s occupation, and notations of whether each child is living at home, married and living within the community, married and living in another Amish community, single and living outside the family home, or has left the Amish faith. The directories also include history of the communities and maps showing locations of Amish homesteads and schools.
Finding Records[edit | edit source]
Look for online records.[edit | edit source]
Many congregations did not keep records for fear of punishment. Other record types, anything available, should be searched in hopes of filling in gaps. Some records have been digitized and posted online, where they are easily searched. More are being added all the time. Partner websites such as Ancestry.com, FindMyPast, MyHeritage, and American Ancestors can be searched free-of-charge at any Family History Center.
Online databases are incomplete. This can lead to two common errors:
- Mennonite Immigrants, 1872-1904
The Index provides the following information:
• Given Name
• Estimated Birth Date
• Arrival Age
• Stated Occupation
• Individual RIN
• Spouse RIN
• Parent RIN
• Ship Name
• Ship Code
- Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Mennonite Vital Records, 1750-2014, ($), index, at Ancestry.com. Ancestry.com can be searched free of charge at a local Family History Center.
- MennObits Link: A research site for those interested in Amish and Mennonite families. This site contains obituaries from the Herald of Truth (1864-1908), the Gospel Witness (1905-1908), and the Gospel Herald (1908-1998), the weekly newspapers of the Mennonite Church (MC) in North America. In addition, obituaries from The Mennonite (1998- ) have been added, as well as a few from the Mennonite Weekly Review (MWR).
- Swiss Anabaptist Genealogical Association Databases
- Mennonite Library and Archives Databases
- Mennonitische Rundschau Obituaries Index: 1930-2001
- GRanDMA's Window
- Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online
- Mennonite Heritage Center Online Collections Database
- Menno Simons Historical Library Online Databases Vertical Files Index
- The Budget Newspaper Covers a few counties in Ohio
Look for digital copies of church records listed in the FamilySearch Catalog.[edit | edit source]
- There are many entries of Mennonite church records listed in the FamilySearch Catalog:
- Online church records can be listed in the FamilySearch Catalog state-wide, county-wide, or for a town.
- If you find a record that has not yet been digitized, see How do I request that a microfilm be digitized?
- Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations.
- To find records statewide records:
- a. Enter your state name in the "Place" search field of FamilySearch Catalog. You will see a list of topics and, at the top, the phrase "Places within United States, [STATE]".
- b. Click on "Church records" in the topic list. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
- To find county-wide records:
- c. From the original page, click on Places within United States, [STATE] and a list of counties will appear.
- d. Click on your county.
- e. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
- To find town records:
- f. From the list of counties, click on Places within United States, [STATE], [COUNTY] and a list of towns will appear.
- g. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
- h. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
- i. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. . The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.
Correspond with or visit the actual churches.[edit | edit source]
Some records are still held in the local churches. Contact the current minister to find out what records are still available.
- Make an appointment to look at the records. Or ask the minister of the church to make a copy of the record for you.
- To find church staff available, you might have to visit on Sunday.
- Ask for small searches at a time, such as one birth record or a specific marriage. Never ask for "everything on a family or surname".
- A donation ($25-$40) for their time and effort to help you would be appropriate.
- If the church has a website, you may be able to e-mail a message.
- See the Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters.
- Mennonite Church USA Find a Church.
- Pilgrim Mennonite Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ; Old Mennonite Conference Church Finder
- Church of God in Christ (Holdeman) Mennonite Church Use Contact Form to ask for locations.
- Reformed Mennonite Church Locations
- Beachy Amish Mennonite Church Request Form for Church Contact Information
- Conservative Amish Mennonite Conference Church List
- Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Conference Church List
- Fellowship of Evangelical Bible Churches Locations
Check the church records collections in archives and libraries.[edit | edit source]
Some church records have been deposited for preservation in government archives or in libraries. Watch for links to digitized, online records offered by the archives. Some archives provide research services for a fee. For others, if you cannot visit in person, you might hire a researcher.
Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies
400 South Jefferson
Hillsboro, KS 67063
Phone:(620) 947-3121 ext. 1211 or ext. 1212
Mennonite Church USA Archives
3145 Benham Ave, Suite 1
Elkhart, IN 46517
Some records for the Mennonite Church (MC), Mennonite Church USA, and Swiss Mennonite churches east of the Mississippi.
Menno Simons Historical Library
Eastern Mennonite University
1200 Park Road
Harrisonburg, Virginia 22802
- Website Has several online collections
Mennonite Heritage Center Historical Library and Archives
565 Yoder Road
Mennonite Historical Library
Harold and Wilma Good Library
1700 South Main Street
Goshen, Indiana 46526
Phone: (574) 535-7418
Fax: (574) 535-7438
- Website bibliographies, texts and images on topics related to the Radical Reformation, the Anabaptists, Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish and various related groups. Swiss and Amish emphasis. Has a large collection of published family histories for Swiss Mennonites and Amish families.
Mennonite Library and Archives
Bethel College Library
300 East 27th Street
North Newton, KS 67117-1716
- Website Russian emphasis.
Mennonite Library and Archives
Fresno Pacific University
1717 S. Chestnut Ave.
Fresno, CA 93702
Archivist Office Phone: 559-453-3437
Library Office Phone: 559-453-2225
- Genealogy Sources Holds records for most North American Mennonite Brethren churches that were founded before the 1970's.
Pacific Northwest Mennonite Historical Society Archives and Library
Ivan and Pearl Kropf Heritage Center
6030 South Whiskey Hill Road
Hubbard, OR 97032-9406
- Website Records of congregations and communities of the Pacific Northwest Mennonite Conference
Illinois Mennonite Historical & Genealogical Society Library
675 State Route 116
Metamora, IL 61548-7732
- Website Swiss-German Amish-Mennonite pioneers of 1830-1850 tp central and northern Illinois
Correspond with genealogical or historical societies.[edit | edit source]
Some church records have been given to historical societies. Also, historical societies may be able to tell you where the records are being held.
- Swiss Anabaptist Genealogical Association is dedicated to compiling and digitizing genealogical records of Swiss, German, French, Austrian and Eastern Immigrant families with Anabaptist roots, begun by families in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.
- Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society
- Mennonite Historical Society at Goshen College
- Pacific Northwest Mennonite Historical Society
- Illinois Mennonite Historical and Genealogical Society
Carefully compare any record you find to known facts about the ancestor[edit | edit source]
You will possibly find many different people with the same name as your ancestor, especially when a family stayed in a locality for several generations, and several children were named after the grandparents or aunts and uncles. Be prepared to find the correct church records by gathering in advance as many of these exact details about the ancestor as possible:
- name, including middle name and maiden name
- names of all spouses, including middle and maiden name
- exact or closely estimated dates of birth, marriage, and death
- names and approximate birthdates of children
- all known places of residence
- military service details
Carefully evaluate the church records you find to make sure you have really found records for your ancestor and not just a "near match". If one or more of the details do not line up, be careful about accepting the entry as your ancestor. There are guiding principles for deciding how to resolve discrepancies between records that are seemingly close. For more instruction in evaluating evidence, read the Wiki article, Evaluate the Evidence.