Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

[Simple living & Plain dress @ Lancaster] The oldest Mennonite Family Home in North America - 1719 Hans Herr House Museum

The oldest homestead in Lancaster, PA was closed when we visited the site last time on Columbus day, 2011.  Since I love visiting old buildings that keeps long standing history, I was very disappointed. As it so happened, it was again during the (Canadian) Thanksgiving long weekend, i.e. Columbus day weekend in the States.

But, we carefully avoided Columbus day when we planned the visit to Hans Herr House. We had a sort of private guided tour as we arrived in (kind of ) early morning when there were not many visitors. 

Hans Herr house should rather be called Christian Herr house since it was Christian Herr, Hans' son, who actually built the house in 1719. 

(Emigration chest)
Hans Herr(1639-1725) was the first Mennonite bishop who emigrated to America, from Zürich, Switzerland, in 1709 with his and 8 other Mennonite families. Together, they purchased 10,000 acres of land in west frontier of Pennsylvania what is now Lancaster County. And subsequently, in the early 18th century, many Amish and Mennonites emigrated to Pennsylvania. 

That is how Lancaster became Amish region that has also formed the subgroup of Mennonite churches. 

It was great to see the old 18th(or late 17th) century style traditional German settlement well preserved. A typical German house would have wooden shutters to survive the harsh winter.

The Hans Herr house and museum, run by the Hans Herr House Foundation, includes the 1719 Hans Herr House, the Georgian-style 1835 Shaub House, the Victorian-style 1890s Huber House, barnsblacksmith shop, stone bake-oven, smoke house, and a collection of farm equipment. 

You can enter the 1719 Hans Herr house only when you follow a guided tour which was great since Henry, tour guide, was a Mennonite himself and made explanation and elaboration sound very realistic. He didn't just stated historic facts, but also shared his personal experiences of the childhood in a Mennonite family. Mennonites met, and still meet, at a Mennonite family home. 

Hans Herr house is the oldest Mennonite meetinghouse in the United States. 

You could see how they kept spoons of all the family members, how they stored the fresh food in the cool basement, and dried food near chimney. 

(Spoon hanger on the wall)

Christian Herr family built this house without using a nail! They made the holes and pinned the wood and wooden blocks with shallow sticks. 

Isn't it amazing? 

 The smokehouse was removed from another homestead site and re-installed on Hans Herr house site. 

They still use this smokehouse where they hang meat over the hanger(?) and smokes the meat. 

  They also use outdoor break/stone oven to bake bread. 

I had a short apprentice at 19th century-style bakery where they baked bread in a huge brick oven. 

If you didn't see my apprentice, you can see it at my post: [Upper Canada Village] Bakery Apprentice at the 19th Century Bakery  . :) 

You can also see the old-time toilet as well. Unfortunately(?), it is not used any more.
1835 Shaub house can be seen only from outside, but you can look around 1890s Huber House where you pay for your visit and buy souvenirs.

Reverend Hans Herr had six sons and as of 1908, the number of lineal descendants of Hans Herr reached 50,000. 

Considering the fact that an Amish couple has 6-10 kids on average, it's not so surprising that they multiplied that quickly. Herr descendants are now estimated to number 100,000 people!
Before the settlement of German and Swiss immigrants, Lancaster area was lived by native Indians and that's why Hans Herr Museum built a replica of Indian Long house. 

It was even more interesting to see a long house, even though it was only a replica, since Remi had been learning all about Native Indians and Aboriginal people at his social study class.

Unlike Amish people who have been consistently reluctant to adapt most, if not all, convenience of modern technology, Mennonite people have adapted most of technologies including but not limited to the electricity and cars. 

I would understand Mennonites better than Amish philosophy. 

Nonetheless, it's still fascinating to see Amish buggies run on the same road where the latest vehicle models. Amish women, young people ride scooters. 

Women often ride scooter on bare foot. I love the sights of Amish people in plain clothes live their own way in the middle of the modern society. I wrote about all these details in my 2011 posts about Amish country. You can see them here:

On our last day in Lancaster, we had a private buggy ride with a real Amish driver. We chose a 2-mile ride which took about 30 minutes during which I asked tons of questions. 

David rode through the Amish neighborhood where you can see laundry hung over the outdoor cloth lines. 

David, the driver & guide, said that they hung laundry from spring to winter, i.e. all year round! It's such a peacefully different sights you would fell you were somewhere and sometime else than 21st-century North America.

(Remi and Pablo were on the swings while waiting for our ride. Do you see me pushing Pablo's swing.Did't I hide well? :))

I've been in Lancaster twice. I have no doubt that I'd go back to the charming town for the third time.

(Remi and Pablo on Hans Herr Drive)

Mennonite - Amish County, Lancaster


Post a Comment