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SEVEN GENERATIONS of CLYMERS IN BUCKS COUNTY

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SEVEN GENERATIONS of CLYMERS IN BUCKS COUNTY
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SEVEN GENERATIONS

OF CLYMERS

IN BUCKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

by Donna Null Basinger 2001

Valentine

Henry

Valentine

*Henry Sr.*

Henry Jr.

Eli

Mary Ella

(Historical fiction based on fact)

 

 

HENRY JOHNSON CLYMER

1788-1869

*Henry Sr.* Johnson Clymer was the first child born to Valentine Clemmer and Hannah Godshall Johnson. He entered this world in the low ceilinged one and one half story farmhouse on his father's farm in Towamencin Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania (near Kulpsville) on the last day of 1788. Tallow candles flickered in the lamp suspended from the ceiling in his parents' room. Earlier in the day a spinning wheel was active in the same room. The milk cupboard stood in this room where the family spent most of its hours in the winter months.

Four years earlier Philadelphia County was divided in two and the northern part became Montgomery County. The United States Constitution was six months old, New York was the temporary capital of the new nation, and George Washington had not yet been elected president, although it was certain that he would be!

But these World Changing events were not the focus of conversation in the Mennonite family of German speaking Valentine Clymer. New state and federal taxes and fines levied for refusal to serve in the state militia were the main topic of conversation with the men of his extended family. Purchasing a larger farm for his new family dominated the conversation with his wife Hannah.

Valentine was frustrated with the lack of good farming land at reasonable prices in Montgomery and Bucks Counties. Some friends and relatives planned to make the 300-mile journey by foot to the Niagara Peninsula of Canada when the weather got warmer. They had made a successful appeal for free land in Canada offered to people who had "suffered" for their British loyalties during the War.

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British loyalties? Because most Mennonites believed the Revolutionary War was a REBELLION by the American Colonies against his Majesty King George III of England, they did not support the cause of the colonists. Mennonites could not, in good conscience, support REBELLION against any God-ordained government unless the government required them to act contrary to the "Law of God", and the British government had not required them to bear arms or swear oaths. During the Revolutionary War their refusal to bear arms did not cause them as much trouble as their refusal to "swear" oaths and pay a war tax! In1778, ten years before Henry was born, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania demanded that everyone take the Test Oath disclaiming loyalty to the king of England. Most Mennonites, as a matter of conscience, refused to take the "Test". Christian Funk, son of Bishop Henry Funk, was excommunicated because he refused to take a stand against the "Test" . Funk also advocated the payment of war taxes to the Coloinial government once he was convinced the new government would honor their free exercise of religion.

In the early 1700's, when the Klemmers first arrived in Philadelphia and were naturalized, they were unwilling to "swear" loyalty to the king of England in an oath, but the British government accepted their "word". To take the ("Test") oath in 1778 to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania would be as clear a case of disobedience to Christ as taking the former oath! But the new government said their "word" was not good enough and threatened serious punishment, such as double taxation, fines, confiscation of property, and even expulsion from the state. The new government said that anyone refusing to take the "TEST" would no be allowed to buy or sell land, serve as a guardian, or even make a will! They still refused and some suffered severe consequences.Their refusal to take the "Test" in 1778 made them eligible in the eyes of Great Britain for free land in Canada after the war.

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Some of Valentine's friends talked about joining relatives in Ohio or the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Letters arrived montlhly from neighbors and relatives who had driven their Conestoga Wagons west and south on the primitive Philadelphia Wagon Road the previous spring. It was one of four roads in the country that crossed the Appalachian mountains, and beyond the mountains there were no roads, only trails.

Christian Clymer, Valentine's older brother, moved his family to Loudon County, Virginia and then Greene County, Pennsylvania. He wrote of bears, Indian attacks and good land at just a fraction of what it cost in Bucks County! Valentine and Hannah had no plans to move that far from family at a time when information, people, and goods could move no faster than the speed of a horse. Valentine's father and mother, Henrich and Maria, were growing older and would not be around much longer. Visiting with them after Sunday worship in the nearby Franconia Meetinghouse was too precious to forego.

Henry was the namesake of his grandfather Henrich Clemmer and was three years old when his grandfather died in 1791. Messengers rode horseback through the countryside to notify friends and relatives of the funeral. On the morning of the funeral the poplar coffin, stained and varnished, was placed on straw in the homespun-linen covered market wagon. Four horses pulled the large wagon. Surrounding the coffin on four chairs sat Henry's father and uncles. A procession followed the wagon to the cemetery beside the log Franconia Meetinghouse and the four men who rode in the wagon dug the grave, served as pallbearers, and filled in the grave. Henry remembered the view from the hill overlooking creeks, farms, valleys, and highlands and the line of people on the hill to view the lifeless body of his grandfather before the coffin was lowered in the ground, feet facing East. It was a cold wintry day with occasional gusts of wind. He was a young man before he truly understood the life changes his grandfather Henrich Clemmer experienced.

Occasionally Valentine recounted to Henry the stories told to him by his father of the 6 -week journey down the Rhine River to Rotterdam, the months of delay in Holland waiting for a ship to cross the ocean, and the 7 - week journey across the Atlantic Ocean to Pennsylvania. Henrich Klemmer was seasick most of the time and bothered by rats, sour beer, worms in the drinking water, and fighting among fellow passengers! His sleeping and sitting area was 2' by 6'. The meat, fish, and butter were so heavily salted and smelled so terrible that Henrich could barely swallow. He was always thirsty and either too hot or too cold! The chests his father and brothers put in the cargo area of the ship were opened by others and valuables were stolen. Henrich recalled his father Valentine and the other Mennonite Bishops sitting together and studying their German Bibles and the one map they had of William Penn's Colony.

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In 1717 three ships of Palatine Mennonites arrived in Philadelphia. Henrich Clemmer traveled with his father, Bishop Valentine Klemmer, his nephew, Valentine Hunsicker and other friends and relatives. (Dielman Kolb Jr., Bishop Henry Funk, Hans Detweiler, Bishop Benjamin Landis, John Landis, Henry Ruth, and Bishops Brechbill and Burkhalter were also part of the group. The latter two settled in Lancaster County.) Bishop Klemmer established the Swamp Mennonite Church in (Milford) Bucks County shortly after his arrival in Pennsylvania. Tradition says he lived in Germantown a few years and was a weaver before settling in "Grooten Schwamb". In the summer of 1720 Henrich used his skills as a stone mason to help build the Skippack Mennonite Meetinghouse in Philadelphia County (now Montgomery). Henrich's nephew, Valentine Hunsicker assisted him. It was the second Mennonite meetinghouse built in the New World! Under the gambrel roof of the large brown sandstone building were open hand-hewn joists. The meetinghouse had leaded windows and a special schoolroom for schoolmaster Christopher Dock. Backless benches filled the main room and at least two stoves kept the worshipers warm. There was a stable outside for horses. Valentine Hunsicker was an early settler in Skippack Township and Henrich Clemmer was one of the first settlers in Franconia Township, both townships now in Montgomery County.

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Not long after the funeral of his grandfather, Henry moved to a new home in New Britain Township, Bucks County. In the spring of 1790 Valentine Clymer was extremely fortunate to purchase 10 acres of desirable land in New Britain Township from a Bucks County couple, Christian and Elizabeth (Beidler) Schwartz, who had no children. The following spring Henry's family placed their belongings in the same covered market wagon used for the funeral and traveled to their new three story stone home. Each fall, on a Saturday, Henry's family traveled back to the old Meetinghouse in Franconia for the Harvest-Home service to commemorate the ingathering of the crops. But on most Sundays his mother and father and younger sisters attended worship at the nearby Line Lexington Meetinghouse where David Ruth was the preacher and Jacob Gross was the bishop for the district.

The stone meetinghouse at Line Lexington was free of all ornamentation. A 6-plate stove sat in the middle of the Meetinghouse and helped those sitting nearby to stay warm in the winter months. But Valentine sat with the men of the congregation far from the warmth of the stove! After hanging his hat on the long row of pegs above the benches, he sat with the other men on elevated seats surrounding the women. Backs were recently added to the benches at Line Lexington and Hannah was grateful for that luxury. The bishops and ministers sat behind a long table facing the congregation and stood to speak. There was no pulpit as in other denominations. On the top of the table was a Bible printed by Christopher Sauer in Germantown fifty years earlier. A heavy pewter basin was used by the bishop to baptize adults who had reached an age to understand their action. Henry was married before he chose to undergo baptism and become a member of the church. Bishop Jacob Gross poured water on his head while Deacon Mark Fretz held the basin. One of Henry's cousin requested to be baptized out doors in a stream. In that case Bishop Gross wore boots and poured water over the kneeling applicant's bowed head just as he did to Henry inside. Immersion was something only the Dunkers (German Baptists) practiced and was never considered a Biblical imperative by Mennonites. Once baptized, Henry sat with his father.

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In 1744 Bishop Henry Funk 's book MIRROR OF BAPTISM was printed by Christopher Sauer in Germantown. It was the first book written by a Mennonite in the New World. A mile down the Indian Creek from Bishop Funk's mill was a Dunker preacher who insisted that baptism by immersion (Dunking) was the only valid form of Christian baptism. Bishop Funk warned against requiring any certain form of baptism in his 94 page book, defended the Mennonite form of pouring water on the head (affusion) as well as other forms, and clearly articulated the Anabaptist tradition of baptizing believing adults. Christopher Sauer, most likely a "Dunker", printed the book but kept his name off the title page!

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One Sunday each spring Valentine and Hannah left early in the morning without Henry or his sisters to attend the yearly communion service. Usually an elderly relative who could not sit for the three-hour service stayed with them. Communion Sunday never came as a surprise to Henry because a day of serious self-examination at the Meetinghouse always preceded the celebration of the Lord's Supper. That meant his father dressed for church two days in a row, Saturday and Sunday! The bishop preached as he handed the bread and the pewter cup with homemade wine to each baptized member. Valentine, seated with the men, and Hannah, seated with the women, held the bread in their hands until all were served. The congregation then ate the bread in unison. When it was time to pray all knelt on the hard floor and faced the backs of the benches.

When Henry was a young boy December 25th was no different than any other work day unless it fell on a Sunday. Then it was just like any other Sunday of worshiping at the Meetinghouse and visiting. There were no Christmas trees or Christmas celebrations in Mennonite homes. Easter Sunday was no different than any other Sunday at the Meetinghouse. Mennonites, as well as other Protestant denominations, did not observe special "Holy" days. Henry 's family, like all other Mennonite families in the early 1800's, never celebrated birthdays. Some of Henry's friends belonged to nearby Lutheran or Reformed congregations and they had many curious ways to celebrate their "Holy" days.

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Line Lexington, at the intersection of Bethlehem and County Line Roads, was by far the largest town in the area. It was an important stage coach stop on the route from Philadelphia to the Lehigh Valley. Before the railroads superseded stagecoaches, the coaches in both directions stopped at Line Lexington to receive fresh relays of horses, and allow the passengers to stop for dinner. The village of New Britain, which was the center of the township, was a crossroads (the intersection of Old North Wales and Almshouse Roads) with one house and Ephraim Thomas's pottery works. The first post office in the township opened in 1829. Chalfont was called Barndtville because the village tavern keeper's name was Barndt. James Barndt bought the tavern in 1815 and also operated a store. When William Stevens opened a post office in his store on the south side of the west branch of the Neshaminy in 1845 he did not want to promote the name of his competitor on the other side of the creek so he named the post office Whitehallville. Squire Boone and his wife Sarah Morgan lived in Chalfont before the birth of their famous son Daniel Boone in 1737. In 1869 the North Penn Railroad named the station in Whitehallville "Chalfont" after the city in St. Giles, England where William Penn found his wife Gulielma. John Milton lived there to escape the Black Plague that ravaged London in 1665 and it was in Chalfont, England that he finished writing PARADISE LOST .

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A few times every year the family climbed into the market wagon to visit Grandmother Jansen (Johnson) in Towamencin, near Henry's birthplace. Her maiden name was Mary Custer Gaetschalck (Godshall) and her grandfather was the first Mennonite bishop in America. Grandfather Jansen, Mary's husband, died before Henry was born but there were many aunts, uncles and great aunts and uncles delighted to tell tales for hours around the hearth. At least three spinning wheels operated in the dimly lit room as one of Henry's great uncles took the daadi-schtul, or grandfather's chair. Henry knew his uncle would eventually begin a tale about the days when Washington's officers stayed at the Jansen farm following the Battle of Germantown.

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Dutch-speaking Jacob Gaetschalck arrived with his family in 1701 with a certificate of good standing from the old Mennonite congregation in Goch, north of Krefeld near the Dutch border. Within a year of his arrival Jacob was made a bishop in the Germantown congregation although he was unable to preach a sermon. For many years he could only read his sermons. In 1708 he officiated at the first baptism and first communion held by Mennonites in America! Jacob was a turner (woodworker) by trade and his stone home was on 50 acres on the southeast side of Penn St. in Germantown until he purchased land next to his son Gaedstschalck Gaedtschalks in Towamencin in 1714. Some of his land in Towamencin betweeen the Skippack Creek and Kulpsville became the cemetery for the Towamencin Mennonite Meetinghouse. He and his wife are buried there and the marker reads

"In memory of Bishop Jacob Gottshall 1670-1763 Born in Goch Germany, ordained a bishop in the

Germantown Mennonite Church in 1702 and also served the Skippack and Towamencin

congregations. He performed the first baptism and conducted the first communion service in the

American church in 1708. The Skippack alms audits were signed by him from 1745-1757. He

owned a farm of 120 acres which included this church site. Undoubtedly, he is buried here but no

marker remains, therefore this marker is erected in memory of this energetic leader."

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Washington's troops camped at Skippack before the battle and literally ate the countryside out of house and home. The defeat at Germantown on October 4, 1777 lowered the moral of the troops to a new depth. Villagers and country folk lined the Old Forty Foot Road near Skippack to greet the discouraged soldiers on their return from battle. By October 7th the first of the officers arrived at the Jansen farm and ten-year-old Hannah was the one to ring the dinner bell at two in the afternoon to summon her father from the barn.

It had rained for two days and the men found repair work in the barn to avoid the remarkable mud in the fields. Jan Jansen looked puzzled as he came from the barn in the middle of the afternoon but then he saw the officers on their horses. His next reaction was a gripping fear that they had come with news about his son-in-law who was serving in a local Militia.The officer carried a letter from General Washington and Hannah was amused to hear her father speak English to the gentleman. Jan then walked in the house to explain to his wife that a rumor of bountiful provisions at the Towamencin Meetinghouse had proved untrue.

"The men are cold and wet and many are injured." He paused to think before giving directions. "The officers will sleep in the children's room and the troops will camp in the back field. The barn can be used for the wounded." Hannah was sent running to the neighboring farm with the news and to solicit food for the hungry men.

At this point in the story Henry's great uncle always stopped and pointed to a writing desk in the corner. "Have I told you how that desk came to be?" Henry knew this was his cue to shake his head "No" and just wait for the rest of the story. "Your grandfather hurriedly ordered Jacob Hagey, the cabinetmaker, to make one for the use of the officers. It arrived in two days and the officers were pleased!"

Henry's grandmother spoke about caring for the sick and wounded and always told the sad story about the soldier that collapsed and died at the end of George Delp's lane a day after the troops departed for Valley Forge. George carried the body out to the graveyard on his property and buried him next to the bones of his father-in-law, author and miller, Bishop Henry Funk. Hannah always said that the two weeks the officers lived in her house were about the most exciting ten days a girl of ten could ever imagine. She will never forget the day that General Washington came to the house on his white horse to meet with his officers. He then rode through the neighborhood for the entertainment of the little boys!

Hannah liked to recount to Henry the story of the hungry American soldiers who were fortunate enough to come across a wedding in the summer of 1777 in Franconia. Henry Rosenberger's family was just sitting down to a feast to celebrate the marriage of their daughter Magdalena to John Swartley. Barbara and Henry quickly made room at the table, as much out of fear as hospitality. The soldiers toasted the couple, ate as though they would never see a decent meal again, and left the Rosenberger farm without taking a thing!

When Henry started school there were no bridges over creeks and rivers. All streams were crossed at fords or ferries. Travel was by foot or horseback. As a teenager he rode horseback to the subscription school at Line Lexington that convened a few months each winter. He carried his lunch in a wicker basket with a folding pewter cup to be used at the pump. German speaking bachelors, not necessarily Mennonite, were hired by interested parents to instruct the children in reading, writing, ciphering, singing, scripture and morals. Hannah and Valentine paid two dollars per quarter or three cents a day for Henry's instruction. At the beginning of the year they paid one dollar for his school supplies schoolbooks, a copybook, an inkstand, a pencil and a slate.

Aunt Mary, Hannah's sister, married a grandson of the beloved schoolmaster Christopher Dock. They had a piece of fractur that Christopher Dock had made for a student as a reward for good work. His love for children and understanding of how they learn was well known. Christopher Dock prayed every night that whatever injustice and neglect had been his is forgiven and that he might do his very best for each child the next day. He introduced the blackboard and wrote the first treatise on education in America in 1750. He believed in rewarding the student for good work instead of beating a child for poor work.

When it gets this far (the mastery of the ABC's) its father must give it a penny and its mother cook for it two eggs, because of its industry; and a similar reward is due

to it when it goes into words, and so forth. But when it begins to read I owe it a token, if it has learned industriously and in the time fixed, and on the next day when this child come to school it receives a ticket, on which is written the line --`industrious' --one penny.

Henry's schoolmaster introduced a new hymnbook one-day, The Little Spiritual Harp of the Children of Zion. He explained that it was the first American and Franconian Mennonite hymnbook published and warned that no one was to touch his copy! Hymns written by Christopher Dock were in the hymnbook---not the music, only the words. The tunes to the hymns were learned and practiced at evening singing schools, one of the few social events during the week that teenagers could attend. One of Henry's friends brought his family's zither, a long narrow instrument with anywhere from three to a dozen strings. Henry's friend placed it on his lap and pressed down on one or two strings with a series of frets while strumming or bowing the rest in an accompanying drone. He also brought the zither along to spelling bees. A Welsh visitor saw it one day and called it a "dulcimer."

Occasionally the springless white-topped farm wagon or Conestoga wagon, used to deliver farm produce to Philadelphia, was used for personal travel, but generally Mennonites considered vehicles an "unnecessary convenience". It was not unusual for farmers to walk to Philadelphia to carry their produce to market or to walk twenty miles to visit a friend. Henry loved horseback riding and was thrilled when an errand for his father required a ride on his horse. The only farm machinery was the wagon and the plow. Henry spent the off seasons (when there was no sowing or harvesting to do) taking care of the cows, learning to drive the horses, repairing wagons, farm tools and equipment, and erecting and painting buildings.

When he was very young he helped his father prepare the flax for spinning. The flax patch was harvested in July. The plants were retted (rotted) for six weeks before breaking with a flax break to crush the woody portion of the stalk and expose the linen fibers. Scutching with a wooden knife and board rid the fiber of the chaff. Then the scutched flax was hetcheled in the attic to further separate the fibers. The linen was twisted into stricks and hung from the attic ceiling so the mice would not get it. His mother worked in the gardens and the fields in the spring and summer and spent long winter evenings spinning the flax into linen thread and the wool into yarn. Flax was woven into linen, flax and wool into linsey-woolsey. On rarer occasions cotton and flax were woven into "fustian" and cotton and wool into "jeans". Henry's mother also spent time helping his sisters with their spinning and embroidering.

At noon each day Hannah rang the dinner bell. The noon meal was dinner and the evening meal was supper. The men left their work and came quickly for the main meal. They washed up at the watering trough at the pump with a bar of homemade soap and dried off with a rough towel or feed sack. A blessing was said before and after the meal.

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The news of the day was printed in a German newspaper in Germantown by Christopher Sauer, a preacher for the German Baptist Brethren, who established Germantown's first newspaper in 1739 and was the first to print Bibles in America in 1743. Every Mennonite home had a Bible and usually a songbook. Some Mennonite homes had copies of the MARTYRS' MIRROR, a collection of stories of early Christians and Anabaptists in Europe who gave their lives for their faith. It was compiled by a Dutch man and translated into German at the Ephrata Cloisters. Bishops Henrich Funk and Deilman Kolb (both men emigrated with Henry's grandfather and great grandfather) carefully proofread the translation before it became the largest book published in the American colonies. Henry's family also had a copy of a German devotional book that was brought to America by an immigrant ancestor.

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HENRY KULP CLYMER

1812-1865

 

Henry married Elizabeth Meyer Kulp before he turned 22. "Betsy", kindhearted and lively but somewhat sharp spoken, was three years younger than Henry. Her great grandfather was Dielman Kolb who emigrated in 1717 with Henry's grandfather and great grandfather! Betsy's maternal grandfather was the Rev. Peter Meyer, a Mennonite minister in Switzerland in the first half of the eighteenth century. Peter Meyer bought a farm of 120 acres in Pleasant Valley, Bucks County and was one of the early ministers in the Springfield Mennonite Meetinghouse. Betsy's mother grew up on the farm in Pleasant Valley and worshiped at the Springfield meetinghouse.

 

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The Rev.Peter Meyer fled with his family to the home of friends in Kerbach, Germany when fierce persecution broke out against Anabaptist groups who taught Non Resistance. As European countries competed for power on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and needed young men to fight in the wars, pacifists, such as Mennonite Peter Meyer, were hated by their Calvinist (Reformed) neighbors who sent sons off to fight and die in wars in Europe and America ( i.e.The French and Indian War). Peter heard good reports about the Mennonite Communities in Pennsylvania and, with his older sister and brother-in-law, made plans to emmigrate before the year was out. Their widowed mother and three younger brothers joined them. Henry Meyer, the youngest brother, was only eight years old when the family crossed the Atlantic Ocean about 1741 and nearly caused the death of his mother when he fell overboard into the Atlantic Ocean! A sailor responded to the screams of Henry's playmates and jumped in to rescue him. Brother Jacob settled in Saucon Township and became a minister at the Saucon Mennonite Meetinghouse. The Rev. Peter Meyer and brothers William and Henry settled in Springfield Township, Bucks County.

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Shortly after the marriage of Henry Johnson Clymer to Betsy Meyer Kulp, weaver and farmer John Geil was ordained to the ministry at Line Lexington. First an appeal was made at the Sunday worship service to cast votes for a man to fill the office of preacher at Line Lexington. Henry rode his horse to the farm of Deacon Mark Fretz to make a "personal report" and cast his vote for farmer and weaver John Geil. John Geil was ten years older than Henry and married to Elizabeth, daughter of Mark Fretz! The next Sunday Mark Fretz read the names of the four qualified brethren who received votes and announced that an ordination service would be held in three days. If John had been the only man to receive votes, he would be ordained without the use of of the "lot".

A large crowd was expected at the ordination service, including all the bishops of the five Bishop Districts of the Franconia Conference. Fortunately, the enlargement of the meetinghouse at Line Lexington was now complete with seats for twice as many people! Henry's younger brother Valentine volunteered to be one of the many hostlers needed to care for the large number of horses. Henry's relatives from Franconia attended as well as many of the ordained men from all over the conference. The bishops, preachers, deacons and many laymen greeted eachother with the "kiss of charity" as they arrived at least an hour before the service. The service began with singing led by "Vorsingers" or choristers. There were no choirs or musical instruments in a Mennonite service. After one or two hymns in German, the ministers and bishops entered through the back door in single file and sat behind the long table/pulpit. A minister then rose and "lined" a hymn. According to Joel Alderfer "This simply meant that he would intone or chant a hymn two lines at a time. The hymn would then be led by the vorsinger and sung by the congregation. This continued until the hymn was completed." A sermon, appropriate to the occasion and always in German, followed.

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Joel D. Alderfer writes, " After the main sermon was preached, the minister would invite the other ordained men to give testimony to what was said or he would "grant further liberty". This meant that all the ordained present could affirm or correct what was said by the preacher at the main sermon. Usually affirmations would be given by the ministers but occasionally a correction was made to something that was said. This process of giving testimony, could take a half hour or more. Often, testimony was just a short phrase that glossed over everything said in the sermon. A deacon or minster might say, "I can say Yea and Amen to all that I have heard" or "I can say Yea and Amen to the teaching of the beloved brother" or "What can we say that hasn't already been said" or he might say in German "Ich Kann ja und amen sagen su die Lahre die liebe Bruder."

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John Geil and the three men who received votes sat on the front bench of the "men's side". Elizabeth Fretz Geil and the other three wives were on the front bench on the "women's side" After the sermon the bishop gave four copies of the ZION'S HARP hymnbooks and four slips of paper to several of the visting ministers who slipped briefly into a side room. Three slips were blank but the fourth had the words

"Proverbs1633. The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord"

The men then returned to the room and handed the four hymnbooks, each containing one of the slips of paper, to the bishop. He rearranged them and set them before him on the table. Anticipating the long prayer that usually followed, Hannah and Betsy rearranged their skirts and knelt on the floor with the other women. Valentine and Henry joined the men on their knees as the bishop began a prayer asking God to make evident His will concerning which of the four men He had chosen to be the new minister. As soon as the prayer ended each man in the lot went forward to select a hymn book and place it in the bishop's hands. The tension mounted as the bishop opened each book and read the slip of paper. The slip on which the verse was written was the "lot" and the man on whom the lot fell was John Geil! The bishops gathered around John and ordained him with the laying on of hands. After the congregation recited the Lord's Prayer on their knees a bishop, with folded hands, pronounced the benediction over a seated audience. His final words, "Depart in peace", dismissed the congretation.

Henry Kulp Clymer (Henry Jr.), Henry and Betsy's second son, arrived on August 15, 1812; two months after President Monroe asked Congress to declare war on Great Britain. The President cited, as the principal points of irreconcilability with the British, their policy of impressing seamen, their disregard of normal trading relationships between sovereign powers, and evidence that they were encouraging the Indians to warlike acts. Once again the men in the Franconia Conference knew they would be forced to pay fines for their refusal to serve in the militia.

After the war ended there was an economic depression that lasted into the 1820's. This depression impacted the price of real estate as well as the number of families willing to hire a teacher for the school at the Line Lexington Meetinghouse. By 1816, the year Henry Sr. bought the John Harris property in New Britain for a very good price, Betsy had already given birth to three children. She was happy to move to their new home on the Limekiln Pike, a mile south of Chalfont and just before the State Road.

Henry Jr. attended school whenever a teacher was present. English was taught as a second language. During this time he especially enjoyed listening to the sermons of John Geil. His preaching was not the usual chanting of Scripture, but "was logical, largely explanatory and abounded with historical facts." He used wonderful illustrations and moved easily through the Scriptures. John Geil was slender and six feet tall. He had only six weeks of formal schooling, but an "extraordinary retentive memory" for the contents of the books he read in German and English.

On occasions when Grandfather Valentine and Grandmother Hannah came to visit, Henry's parents invited the Geil family as well. John Geil smoked a clay pipe and always arrived dressed in his frock coat ...without a lapel... singing a tune. He often made visits to Northampton County to preach and had wonderful stories to tell about the people he met. Grandfather Valentine's older sister Ann had married John Geil's father before Valentine was even born. Jacob Geil was more like an uncle to Grandfather Valentine than a brother-in-law because Ann was already twenty when he was born! Jacob and Ann Geil's first two children were Valentine's age and the two men told humorous stories about the pranks they played at the Clemmer homestead (on the corner of Allentown Rd. and Lower Rd. in Franconia Township). Henry Jr. had visited this farm on a few occasions and could visualize the setting for the pranks!

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After Ann (Clymer) Geil died, Jacob Geil moved to Virginia with his two children and remarried a few more times. John was born in 1780 and as a teenager was apprenticed to a tannery in Virginia, a job he hated! When his father died in 1802 he ran away from the tannery and traveled all the way by foot to Pennsylvania! A few years later he married Elizabeth Fretz and was ordained to the ministry at Line Lexington. He served for 42 years. Oliver Morris of the state legislature greatly admired him and John Fretz Funk wrote a biography of John Geil, BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF PREACHER JOHN GEIL in 1897.

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In the summer of 1832 some of the friends of nineteen year old Henry Jr. told him of an amazing sight they had witnessed on the their market routes to Philadelphia. They stood with a crowd of 30,000 people to watch nine train cars travel from the Delaware River to Germantown. A horse pulled each car! Someday, they speculated, a train might come all the way to New Britain!

The summer of 1833 Grandfather Valentine died and was buried in the Line Lexington Meetinghouse Cemetery. The Rev. John Geil gave a memorable sermon and Bishop John Hunsicker was there and eager to tell all who would listen about the recent books he had read. Shortly before he died in 1847 Bishop Hunsicker withdrew from the Franconia Conference and began a new Conference with preacher John Oberholtzer. Grandmother Hannah told Henry Jr. about the day that Great Grandfather Henrich Clemmer was buried in the cemetery at Franconia. Henry Sr. listened intently and actually remembered that cold winter day in 1791 when he was only three.

 

 

HENRY KULP CLYMER

1812-1865

and

MARY HALDEMAN BENNER

1818-1891

 

In 1837 Henry Jr. had saved up enough money to buy a farm and ask the woman he loved to marry him. He bought a farm in Warrington Township near Tradesville and married Mary Haldeman Benner of Hatfield on February 18, 1837. John Benner Clymer was born on the Warrington farm in 1838. In 1841 Eli Benner Clymer was born and within 12 months the first locomotives (without horses!) roared through the area changing life in the isolated German speaking enclaves forever! When Eli was 5 years old a newspaper told of the first Telegraph line between Philadelphia and Norristown. "This wonderful instrument has a velocity infinitely much more rapid than thought itself."

The Common School System, with its English based curriculum, was adopted by the state of Pennsylvania in 1834 but slowly and reluctantly adopted by the German-speaking Mennonites, especially in Montgomery County. Warrington Township in Bucks County was eager to establish fine schools and Mary and Henry's children benefitted from regular attendance at public schools from first through eighth grades. They attended the County Line School and were the first generation of Clymers to receive their education in English! Many years later Eli and Magdelena were quite forward thinking when they encouraged and paid for "higher" educations for all of their children.

It was inevitable that preachers would soon preach in English as well! The Rev. John Geil was eager and ready to take that step. He also was anxious to buy a carriage for personal travel instead of using his rough market wagon! Since many Mennonites were opposed to personal travel vehicles he waited several decades before purchasing one so as not to offend "some weaker brother's conscience." When it came to preaching in English he was more willing to offend some!

Henry and Mary were the third generation to attend worship services with their growing family (eventually 9 children) at Line Lexington Meetinghouse or, on special occasions, the Meetinghouse in Doylestown. But another phenomena swept the country about the time that Eli was born that would impact future generations of Clymers as greatly as the locomotive and telegraph!

A Religious Revival swept the nation that continued right up to the Civil War. The effects of the revival aggravated existing divisions within the congregations of Montgomery and Bucks County Mennonite congregations. The Rev. John Geil told stories of a similar revival a hundred years earlier that created major divisions in the Presbyterian churches in the colonies.

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In April of 1740 the twenty-five year old Anglican preacher George Whitefield revisited the area in the midst of the "Great Awakening", a religious revival sweeping both sides of the Atlantic. Geil told stories he heard over the years of five thousand people turning up in old Mr. Tennent's meeting-house yard (Neshaminy Presbyterian Church) to hear Whitefield's sermon. "When word was brought that the popular evangelist was preaching in the vicinity, farmers dropped their implements in the fields, and rode their horses to a lather to hear him. So great was the range of his voice that Benjamin Franklin decided to measure it, and concluded that 30,000 people could hear him speak from an outdoor stage." Later that same evening Mr. Whitefield rode his horse about twelve miles to Towamencin and preached to a few thousand people, including Henry and Mary's great grandparents, who had assembled at the Wegner farm. Mr. Whitefield spent the night, arose early in the morning to pray and sing with his German speaking "brothers in Christ", and then rode off for his next out door meeting.

In September of 1840 ten days of evangelistic services were held very near Mr. Tennent's Meetinghouse and famous "Log College" in a wooded grove belonging to Jacob Cassel in Montgomery County. The meetings took place a few miles south of Pleasantville and very near Henry and Mary's farm. The Rev. Charles H. Ewing, an evangelist for the Reformed Church, led the "camp meetings". When the weather made it impractical to meet outdoors the worshipers assembled in the barn of Frederick W. Hoover, a member of Boehm's Reformed Church in Blue Bell. There were a number of conversions during the ten days of meetings and a small steadfast group met at the Hoover home at the end of September to organize a new church. The Reformed denomination was chosen and the first service was held at the County Line School.

Within a year volunteers built a brick structure, fifty-one feet by sixty feet, on two-acres of land donated by John Dunlap on the Whitehall Turnpike (Limekiln Pike). Years later the children of Eli Clymer and Magdalena Detweiler Clymer walked across their cornfield to attend Sunday School at this church, the Pleasantville Reformed Church (present site of Weir Family Reunions)! The Clymer family watched the construction of the present stone church with great eagerness in 1898 and attended every Sunday. Eli and Magdalena traveled by carriage once a month to Line Lexington when a minister was present.

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In1856 Henry and Mary took their eight children (John, Eli, Anna, Valentine, Daniel, Kate, Henry, and Mary) by carriage to watch the first locomotive chug through Whitehallville (Chalfont). Mary was very pregnant with her tenth child, Amanda, who was born at the end of the summer. Sadly, Amanda was the second of Mary's children who did not survive infancy. Mary's last child, Abraham, was born in 1858. In 1862 eight year old Mary died. Within two years new villages sprang up along the railroad tracks. One town became Souderton. The Souders' barn was torn down to make way for the railroad tracks. Another town was Lansdale, named for the engineer of the new railroad. Whitehallville grew quickly and became Chalfont, extending north almost to the Swartley and Detweiler farms on either side of the Bethlehem Road near Newville.

 

THE CIVIL WAR

 

When Eli Clymer was twenty and working as a farmhand he made a practice of reading the newspapers published in Doylestown; Der Morgenstern, the German newspaper and the Bucks County Intelligencer. Lincoln was elected president in the 1860 election and it seemed like a new state seceded from the union each week. John Ruth is his book Maintaining the Right Fellowship describes a scene that Eli read about

An excited crowd gathered in front of the courthouse in Norristown on Monday evening April 15, 1861. A well-known local judge orated fervently to them of an insult to their country's flag. Southern states which had been withdrawing from the "Union" had now gone beyond the tolerable. The "Rebels" had fired on and taken captive the Federal soldiers guarding Fort Sumter in South Carolina. President Lincoln, inaugurated less than six weeks earlier, had immediately called for the rusty state militias to muster 75,000 men. In a three-month term, they would teach the Rebels a lesson. Governor Curtin of Pennsylvania had passed on the order to his militia. With the North from Philadelphia to Chicago aflame with outrage, it was time, urged Judge Daniel Smyser, to throw away the scabbard.

The crowd applauded, a band struck up "Yankee Doodle," and other speakers took turns, several offering large monetary gifts to the Montgomery County militia. Then a handsome lawyer in his mid-twenties, soon to run successfully for the office of district attorney, stepped forward and pledged to march in defense of the Union on two days' notice. It was a grandson of the Mennonite bishop John Hunsicker of Skippack, an alumnus of Freeland Seminary and Union College. "I follow," shouted Charles Hunsicker, "the fortunes of the flag." The newspaper picked up the speech approvingly "It is not time to talk; we want men-we want money. I shall go wherever called out by the Governor, and will not return unless honorably."

Friends of Eli's, including a grandson of Preacher John Geil, signed up and left for the battlefield. Henry Jr., Eli's father, hoped the preachers and "Mennonite General Conference" would strongly teach and preach Nonresistance to his sons and nephews. For the first time he questioned whether he had made the right decision to send them to English public schools instead of German speaking conscription schools where they would gain a greater appreciation of their pacifist heritage. Others at Line Lexington reminded each other that one hundred and twenty years ago, when war had threatened their great grandparents, the Mennonite leaders had arranged the translation and printing of their nonresistant story, The Martyr's Mirror. Henry and Mary expressed disappointment that no such preparation was made in this case!

But sons John, Eli, Valentine, and Daniel did not need any extraordinary efforts to convince them that their obedience to Christ involved non-resistance. John Fretz Funk, a young man who grew up at Line Lexington returned from his job in Chicago at Christmas one year and spent hours talking with and "teaching" the young men at church. The Clymer brothers had great admiration and respect for John. John told them about his evangelistic work in Sunday Schools in Chicago with an amazing young man by the name of Dwight L. Moody. Moody was not a Mennonite but also believed that Christians should never go into battle. John later wrote a sixteen-page pamphlet, Warfare. Its Evils, Our Duty. Many copies circulated at Line Lexington. John Funk later founded the newspaper Herald of Truth which was published in English and German.

In August of 1862 President Lincoln called for 300,000 volunteers and for a draft of 300,000 additional men through the state militias. Every Sunday that fall the Rev. John Geil called for contributions by the congregations to pay for Abraham M. Clemmer of Franconia and Bishop Jacob Kulp of Plains to travel to Harrisburg to propose to Governor Curtin "that the brethren who are caught by the draft be released, that they not be compelled to go, yet that they not be released from paying a fine." Henry Ruth explains how they got out of military service

All men from eighteen to forty-five were now being "enrolled". There was an allowance, rather lenient by later standards, for exemptions, which could be claimed for health, family, and certain occupational reasons. More important for the Mennonites, one could claim exemption for reasons of conscience, though sentiment in the neighborhood made it clear that some price would have to be paid so that the conscientious would bear an equal share of the burdens of the crisis. To claim an exemption, the potential draftee had to appear before a justice of the peace, be sworn or affirmed, and state his case. He could also avoid military service by finding a ''substitute" to go in his place, making whatever financial payment the substitute would settle for. Among those who would be automatically exempted were mail carriers, schoolteachers, and ministers.

Henry and Mary were shocked to hear that a middle-aged neighbor and member of the Line Lexington Congregation did not resist the draft! Jacob Shutt Overholt refused to hire a substitute because he could not bear facing the death of a young man hired in his place! After a few months at an army camp Jacob returned to his family. After the worship service on Sunday he stood outside and told a crowd of church members the amazing story of his discharge. One day he was busy working in the army camp when the President of the United States came by and struck up a conversation. Upon learning that Jacob was forty-six years old, in poor (health, and had a family of twelve children back home, President Lincoln wrote a note offering an honorable discharge! Jacob held up the note for all to see.

John Benner Clymer married Sarah Moyer in 1863 and Anna Benner Clymer married Joseph Lapp in 1864. The Lapps moved to Grandfather Henry Clymer's farm to help out for a few years. They stayed for twenty! And their daughter Susan began housekeeping with her husband William Texter on the same farm in 1895. The farm was sold in 1915 after remaining in the Clymer family for nearly 100 years.

The next generation of Clymers was "on the way" when dinner bells and church bells rang out the news of Lee's surrender the first week of April 1865. The bells were silent five days later when the shock of Lincoln's assassination reached Henry Clymer's farm. Eli took his copy of the Der Morgenstern to Jacob Shutt Overholt's farm. Jacob was in the last stages of a fatal illness and wept when his son brought the paper into his bedroom. On the way home Eli stopped at the Detweiler farm, just north of Chalfont, to visit Magdalena Bergey Detweiler, his future bride.

 

ELI BENNER CLYMER

1841-1918

and MAGDALENA BERGEY DETWEILER

1844-1934

 

Magdalena and Eli grew up together at Line Lexington Mennonite Church. As teenagers they attended evening singing school where they learned to read music and how to sing. She was a great granddaughter of miller and author Bishop Henry Funk. Her mother, Hannah Souder Bergey, always made a detour to the mill along the Indian Creek whenever they visited Franconia to show Magdelena where Hannah's mother grew up. Magdalenas parents had copies of the books that he authored as well as the MARTYRS' MIRROR, the largest book published in the American colonies.

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Preachers Henry Funk and Dielman Kolb traveled the bridle paths and forded the streams between Skippack and the Ephrata Cloisters (60 miles) many times in 1748 and 1749 to supervise the translation of the MARTYRS' MIRROR from Dutch to German and proofread each of the fifteen hundred pages! Bishop Jacob Gotshalk had arranged with the Ephrata Cloister in 1745 to have them translate and print Thielman J. Van Bragt's 1660 Blütige Schau-platz oder Martyrer Spiegel(The Bloody Theatre or Martyr's Mirror ), a history of religious persecutions of Christians opposed to infant baptism and war. The Mennonite elders wanted the generation born on American soil to understand the sacrifices their ancestors had made to witness to their beliefs, especially their commitment to nonresistance.

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Eli was very impressed to know that Magdalena had read MIRROR OF BAPTISM (the first book by a Mennonite author in America) and RESTITUTION OR AN EXPLANATION OF SEVERAL CHIEF POINTS OF LAW. The latter book, an exposition of how the law has been fulfilled in Christ and how it will reach its perfect consummation at the Second Coming of Christ, was published by Bishop Funk's children after his death. It was the largest book written by a Mennonite in the first 200 years of the American Mennonite life and it was the first book to be reprinted in Europe. Henry Funk wrote both books in German and occasionally the Rev. John Geil quoted from the books in his sermons or private discussions. Henry Funk received his education in Europe before immigrating to the colonies in 1717. University educations were non existent in the Franconia Mennonite community after Henry Funk's generation died. In fact, Eli's sister Kate was excommunicated from the church when she chose to marry Ephraim Kratz in 1873, a young Mennonite man excommunicated because he attended West Chester Normal School! Bishop Henry Funk would would have found such a reason for excommunication incomprehensible!

John Geil at eighty-seven preached a memorable sermon that Sunday in1865 on Lincoln's untimely death. He reminded his congregation that many of their great grandfathers had issued the first American protest against slavery in 1688, at a time when the rest of the world took slavery for granted. The document signed by Daniel Francis Pastorius, Gerrit Hendricks, and Derik and Abraham Op den Graef was presented to the Quaker meeting 175 years before Lincoln offered the Emancipation Proclamation. It was to their credit that Mennonites NEVER owned slaves because, in their words, slavery is

A terror, or fearful thing, that men should be handled (as slaves) in Pennsylvania...How fearful and faint-hearted are many at sea when they see a strange vessel, being afraid it should be a Turk, and they should be taken, and sold for slaves in Turkey. Now, what is THIS better done, than Turks do?

Eli took Magdalena home to the Detweiler farm north of Chalfont in his buggy. Amanda and Abraham, his younger brother and sister, were required to accompany them. Men and women were never allowed to sit next to each other in church and a single man and woman never rode together unaccompanied in a buggy. As Amanda and Abraham giggled and teased the couple, Eli and Magdelena discussed their May wedding and wondered if John Geil would even feel well enough to attend. Magdelena discussed a few of her Homeopathic mixtures that she might offer to the ailing minister. They were thankful to begin their married life with the evils of war and slavery in the past. As they turned into the Detweiler lane Eli noticed a family gathering across the road at John Moyer Swartley's farm. He admired the "bank barn" and fields and the general appearance of the place. Soon he hoped to own a farm and determined there and then to work hard to make his farm look as handsome! One day he and Magdalena might host a family gathering on their own farm....

John Geil was ill the day of Eli and Magdalena's wedding, May 6, 1865. Some guests from the wedding stopped at the Geil farm just north of Chalfont to visit the elderly minister. The newlyweds traveled from the farm Eli rented to Line Lexington Mennonite Church two weeks later for the funeral of Eli's father, Henry Kulp Clymer. Eli's paternal grandparents, Henry Sr. and Betsy (Kulp) Clymer, rode to the funeral of their son in the Lapps' new carriage. For some years now Henry and Betsy had lived in a smaller house on the farm. First , their son Valentine took over the farming chores and now the Lapps managed things.

Two visiting preachers from the Shenandoah Valley had conducted meetings at Line Lexington all week and they attended the funeral and gathering as well. Eli's grandparents enjoyed catching up with the news of their many friends and relatives who had moved to Virginia and Ohio. Another topic of conversation at the gathering that day was the upcoming trial of Lincolns assassin, John Wilkes Booth, and the arrest of Jefferson Davis, a possible co-conspirator.

Six months later the Clymer family gathered again at the very same place to bury Eli's grandmother, Betsy Kulp Clymer. Although she died on January 7, 1866, one day after John Geil died, her funeral was held a few weeks before hers. A few inches of snow covered the gentle hills of New Britain Township the morning of the Grandmother Clymer's funeral. Mourners arrived by sleigh and during the service a thoughtful person removed the sleigh bells from the horses.

John Geil's funeral was delayed for two weeks to give friends and relatives time to travel from Lancaster, western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and even Canada. The extraordinary quality of his life was captured on his gravestone in an original verse in German

Here rests the pastor true, within this tomb,

From Menno's small scattered flock,

Until the Lord recalls him once again,

Unto Himself, from out the dust of earth.

He led, through grief and difficulty,

The sheep unto the better fount of life--

Unite him, Jesus, with his flock beloved,

Where the Transfiguration blazes bright.

 

Eli's extended family gathered around the freshly made grave of Eli's grandmother as buggies left the church yard for the funeral meal at a nearby farm. Many members of the Clymer family were part of the flock to which John Geil would be united! Magdalena, experiencing her first case of morning sickness, urged Eli to return home and forego the socializing.

 

MARY ELLA DETWEILER CLYMER

1866-1932

Mary Ella Clymer was born at the end of June 1866. Before a second daughter Adelaide arrived in the summer of 1869, Henry Clymer Sr. died. At this Clymer funeral it was 3 -year old Mary Ella who stood by the grave of her great grandfather at the Line Lexington Meetinghouse and watched the buggys from Bucks County and Montgomery County drive into the meetinghouse yard. The conversation that day centered around the newest resident of the White House, 46 year old President Ulysses S. Grant! His grandmother, Rebecca Weir, had grown up nearby at Weirs Corner and some remembered President Grant's mother, Hannah Weir Simpson, when she lived at Harp's Corner before the family moved to Ohio in 1818. Hannah attended school at County Line School and religous meetings on Sunday afternoons at the school. Someone at the funeral even remembered meeting Grant in 1853 when he visited Robert McKinstry in Warrington Township on his way home after a year a West Point!

The summer of 1869 Eli purchased the John Grove farm in Eureka. His brothers, Daniel and Abraham, owned farms nearby in Warrington Township, Bucks County and they all offered advice as to the improvements that Eli should make to his "new" farm. Eli was eager to begin an orchard and plant trees around the house as well as add some out buildings.

As soon as the earth thawed Magdalena began her garden. Eli turned the still moist earth for her and established the rows exactly as she directed. He then fertilized her garden with pig manure and lay long wooden rails between the rows to allow Magdelena to move through the garden without stepping on the soil. Perennial beds surrounded the four raised vegetable and flower patches. She planted peas by March 17th that year and every year thereafter! Onions, beets, roses, herbs, beans, and cabbage followed. Magdelena's favorite herb was Chonni Hossesack or "Johnnie Pantspocket". She prepared bergamot tea with this herb whenever anyone in the family "fought off" a cold.

Line Lexington was without a preacher on and off for a number of years and visiting preachers visited one Sunday a month. John Haldeman, Eli's uncle, was ordained a preacher at Line Lexington in 1869 and continued to preaching in German. Eli and Magdelena traveled to Line Lexington once a month and to the Meetinghouse on Lower State Road near Doylestown every other Sunday. Meanwhile the Pleasantville Church across their back field had a wonderful Sunday School program every Sunday of the year and the teaching and preaching and singing were in English! Eli and Magdalena allowed the children to attend Sunday School there once they were old enough to cross the field by themselves. These children were the first of six generations of Clymers NOT to join the Mennonite fellowship.

Eli and Magdelana had eight children, five girls and three boys. They all attended County Line School and Eli was the School Director for ten years. The positions of School Director and Road Commissioner were the only public offices that the Mennonite Church permitted its members to hold. Eli and Magdelena insisted that each of their children attain a "higher" education, either at the Doylestown Academy or West Chester Normal School. Mary Ella, their oldest child, attended the Doylestown Academy and taught school at County Line before she got married in 1886. Her teaching contract had the following stipulations

You will not marry during the term of your contract.

You are not to keep company with men.

You must be home between the hours of 8 P.M. and 6 A.M. unless attending school functions.

You may not ride in a carriage with any man unless he is your father or brother.

You must wear at least two petticoats.

To keep the schoolroom neat and clean, you must

Scrub the floor at least once a week with hot, soapy water

Clean the blackboards at least one a day

Start the fire at 7 A.M. so the room will be warm by 8 A.M.

 

Mary Ella was the oldest child and married William Moyer Swartley who grew up on the impressive farm with the "bank barn" across from the Detweilers, north of Chalfont. They had at least one common ancestor in the Rev. Peter Meyer who served the Springfield Mennonite congregation nearly 150 years earlier. Emma, the youngest daughter of Eli and Magdelena,was only 4 years old when her older sister married in 1886 and moved to the Swartley farm. The Swartleys attended Line Lexington Mennonite Church and, although Ella did not see him there every week, she saw him at every funeral, wedding, and special occasion. She also saw him every time she visited her Detweiler grandparents who lived on the farm across the road. He was six years older than Mary Ella and was the teenage boy who always lifted her down from the hay mow in his father's barn when she played there while visiting her Detweiler grandparents. In 1896 William's father, John Moyer Swartley, joined 25 others to petition Judge Harmon Yerkes to incorporate the village of Chalfont into a Borough. The petition was not granted until June 11, 1901.

In September 1889 the Clymer family joined every other family for miles around in welcoming the President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison, to the township. As Presbyterian laymen, President Harrison, Postmaster General John Wannamaker, and Governor Beaver of Pennsylvania traveled by landau from the Wannamaker mansion in Jenkintown nine miles up York Road to the Neshaminy Presbyterian Church. Mrs. Harrison followed in a "station wagonette" and watched as her expensive black dress slowly turned gray from the clouds of dust. The occasion was the 150th anniversary of Whitefield's first visit to William Tennent's Log College and Neshaminy Presbyterian Church. The distinguished guests came to honor the founder of both. Eli brought his family in the market wagon and Ella and William chose to go in their buggy with one year old Ethel. They were astonished at the size of the crowd that had assembled and just as astonished at the order maintained by the mounted police sent out from Philadelphia. Eli volunteered to carry visitors in his large wagon from the Johnsville Railroad Station to the church. The Reading Railroad provided special trains for the occasion and the crowd was estimated at nearly 25,000. A three-cot hospital tent was set up as well as numerous drinking-water stands and hitching posts for 2500 teams of horses!

As Eli drove the wagon home that evening on a road that had been ground to 2 inches of dust, he reflected on the "pride" he felt when introducing acquaintances to Ella and William and his new granddaughter. He remembered the dream of a family gathering at his own farm some day when he took note of the Swartley family gathering almost 25 years earlier! Soon he would have more grandchildren and then....

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