Old Machines At Oldest Mennonite Meetinghouse

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Frick traction engine demonstrated at Hans Herr House Heritage Day, 1987.
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A Frick thresher at the event, powered by the engine above.

The history of farm life from 1710 onward was recalled this past
summer at the Hans Herr House, oldest building in Lancaster County,
PA, and oldest Mennonite meetinghouse in North America.

Mennonites were farming the land in Lancaster County while it
was still part of Chester County. They formed the first permanent
settlement in this fertile area, and some of their descendants are
still active in agriculture.

Old machines were part of the action on Heritage Day in August,
1987. B. Snavely Garber, who lives near the Hans Herr House south
of Lancaster, had cut oats before the event using an old McCormick
binder. Farmers in Lancaster County were among McCormick’s
first customers when he was making his mechanical breakthroughs in
Virginia. Garber demonstrated the way the binder works to the
crowds attending Heritage Day.

A Frick traction engine, and a Frick thresher, were in their
full glory on Heritage Day. Frick machinery had a strong following
in Lancaster County because of the connection with Frick and the
Landis brothers, all Lancaster County natives who moved to
Waynesboro, PA to make engine history.

Steve Friesen, director of the Herr House museum, has made an
extensive study of Mennonite rural life under a grant from the
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. He works with member
committees and volunteers to prepare events such as Heritage

The day’s activities in 1987 were geared to show adults and
children alike what had been going on at the farm for over 270

Oxen pulled plows to demonstrate the pre-industrial manner in
which the soil was made ready to receive seed. Primitive tools and
implements were shown. A craftsman exhibited the way his father and
grandfather had carved hay forks from the branches of trees. Home
occupations and crafts of many kinds were shown, including butter
making, soap making, quilting and making of wheels for wagons.
Horses and gas engines were part of the day’s story.

The event is an annual observance, with different themes. For
further information, write to Steve Friesen, Hans Herr House, 1849
Hans Herr Drive, Willow Street, PA 17584.

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