Missed the Annual Meeting? View Those Talks Now

If you missed the annual meeting of the Casselman Historians, you can still view the five talks by clicking here (or going to the Photos/Audio/Video tab on the website) and scrolling down to the bottom of the page. They are:

  • David I Miller on International Relief Ministries and Casselman Valley Response before 1920
  • Phyllis Swartz on The Life of Alvin J. Miller – A Biographical Sketch
  • Kenton Yoder on Relief Work of Alvin J. Miller in France and Turkey 1919-1920
  • Lowell Bender on Opening the Door to Russia – 1921
  • Kenneth Sensenig on MCC Relief and Reconstruction Work in Russia 1921-1925

The audio didn’t come through on the video recordings, so I matched up the audio that was recorded separately to the existing video, which leaves some synchronization differences but hopefully won’t be too distracting.

MCC in 1920 and Alvin J. Miller

Alvin J. Miller

Casselman Historians Annual Meeting (Friday & Saturday, Sept. 20 & 21, 2019) This is a free public meeting—all are welcome!

Click the Next Meeting tab above for the schedule and beginning times.

Topic: One-hundred years ago, the Amish and Mennonite people of America responded to drastic international events. The aftermath of World War I called for relief and reconstruction in Europe. In Russia, the World War was followed by civil war and the Bolshevik Revolution with its social and economic upset, and severe famine. Mennonite organizations responded to those needs with programs of relief and reconstruction.

By 1920, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) was founded in an effort toward Mennonite unified effort and efficiency. With the MCC centennial year approaching, the Casselman Historians are planning to recognize that milestone next year. But this is the year to note early Casselman Valley involvements in relief efforts that preceded MCC, that related to the founding of MCC and the earliest program of MCC in Russia

A significant contribution from the Casselman Valley to the international relief effort of the period was the involvement of one of its sons, Alvin J. Miller (1883-1981). He was overseas from 1919 to 1927, and that without home furlough. These eight years were an intense part of his ninety-seven years. His work included interaction with persons and communities in dire need, as well as negotiations with top government officials.  His organizational umbrellas included the Society of Friends (Quaker), Red Cross, and, most extensively after its founding, MCC.


James W. Lowry and John L. Ruth to speak at September 2018 Historians meeting

“It was Pyrrhic victory,” wrote James W. Lowry. He was referring to the execution of Hans Landis in Zurich, Switzerland, in the year 1614. The state church meant to impress the citizens with its seriousness about eradicating Anabaptism from its territory. But it backfired – it was too much for the citizens. In addition, a Reformed man from Holland was present, saw the execution of the seventy-year-old man by beheading, went home to Holland, generated protests from himself, others of the Dutch Reformed, the Dutch Mennonites, and even involved the Dutch government.

The Swiss government in Zurich then changed its tactics. Though Hans Landis was the last to be executed there, persecution was accelerated in other ways – imprisonments, confiscation of property, and exile. Many Swiss Anabaptists (Swiss Brethren) emigrated to Germany, Holland, and Alsace (now in France). Having been forced to leave behind many of their possessions and finding themselves in a strange land, they suffered severe poverty.

The Dutch Mennonites and others not only protested the Swiss treatment of the Swiss Brethren, but also extended benevolence in response to their need. This resulted in a long series of letters between the Dutch and the Swiss. Those letters have been lying in the archives of Europe ever since. They have been available to scholars with credentials to gain access and linguistic ability to read those documents handwritten in early Dutch, German, and Latin and to decipher the writings with their varied penmanship and old vocabulary.

To the rescue: James W. Lowry. Three books2 with a combined total of more than 2,200 pages represent Lowry’s work transcribing and translating the documents. This set of three books contains nearly 325 documents extending from the years of 1608 to 1711.

Next Annual Meeting of the Casselman Historians

WHEN: September 14 & 15, 2018

Friday Evening
   7:00 – Business Meeting
   7:30 – Historical Program

   9:00 A.M. – Historical Program
   12:00 Noon – Lunch Served in Basement
Afternoon – Tour or other activity if announced

WHERE: At Maple Glen Mennonite Church, Grantsville, Md. (see Google map below)
SUBJECT: The Oppresssion of the Early Swiss Anabaptists and the Dutch Response of Aid.
GUEST SPEAKERs: James W. Lowry and John L. Ruth