Allen M. Fretz & J. Herbert Fretz Papers

Summary Information

Mennonite Heritage Center
Fretz, Allen M., 1853-1943
Fretz, J. Herbert, 1921-2013
Allen M. Fretz & J. Herbert Fretz papers
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1850-1950
Date [inclusive]
11.0 Linear feet [10 boxes]
Allen M. Fretz (1853-1943) was a minister and elder (bishop) in the Eastern District Conference of the General Conference Mennonite Church. He served various congregations, 1883-1943. He was secretary of the Eastern District Conference 1913-1927, was a founder of The Mennonite periodical, and was active on various Eastern District and General Conference committees. He was married three times, first to Sarah Leatherman (who died young), then to Anna Rittenhouse of Campden, Ontario (with whom he had six children), and finally to Amanda Fretz. J. Herbert Fretz (1921-2013), a grandson of Allen Fretz, was also a minister in the Eastern District Conference, as well as congregations in Freeman, SD and Goshen, IN. From 1968-1987 he was Coordinator of Church and Seminary Relations for Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, IN. In later years his research and collecting focused on congregational and genealogical history of Mennonites in eastern Pennsylvania, especially related to the 1847 division between the Eastern District and Franconia Conferences. His wife was Helen Habegger of Berne, IN; they had four children. The  Allen Fretz Papers include personal and ministerial papers, sermons, correspondence, clippings and scrapbooks. The  Herbert Fretz Papers are primarily a collection of historical material from the Fretz/Rittenhouse family, the Eastern District Conference, and the General Conference Mennonite Church, as well as personal papers, correspondence, and the diaries of Herbert's parents, Jacob R. and Mamie Rickert Fretz, 1900-1969. The  Allen & Herbert Fretz Photos include family and personal photos (mostly of Allen Fretz), photos from Zion and Deep Run West Mennonite Churches, the Eastern District Conference, and the General Conference Mennonite Church. The  Allen & Herbert Fretz Library comprises mostly 19th-century books, including Mennonite volumes dated 1763-1944, a number of which came from the Eastern District-related press at Milford Square, PA.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Mennonite Heritage Center 2010

565 Yoder Road
Harleysville, PA

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Eastern District Mennonite Conference.
  • General Conference Mennonite Church.

Family Name(s)

  • Fretz


  • Books
  • Broadsides
  • Clippings files
  • Correspondence
  • Deeds
  • Diaries
  • Family papers
  • Manuscripts
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sermons

Personal Name(s)

  • Fretz, Abraham James, 1849-1912
  • Fretz, Allen M., 1853-1943
  • Fretz, J. Herbert, 1921-2013
  • Fretz, Jacob R., 1886-1974
  • Fretz, Mary Emma "Mamie" Rickert, 1889-1957
  • Oberholtzer, John H, 1809-1895


  • Genealogy
  • Mennonite Church--Bishops

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

Papers about the collection--gift receipts, description of items 

1 1

Biographical information on Allen M. Fretz 

1 2

Series 1. Allen M. Fretz papers 

Subseries 1a. Personal and family papers 

Box Folder

Train tickets and miscellaneous papers 1885-1916 

1 3

Programs attended 

1 4

Non-ministerial writings and public addresses 

1 5

Legal-size non-ministerial writings (right side of box) 

1 6

Personal notebooks 

1 7

Financial notebooks and papers 

1 8

Allen Fretz property in Bedminster and Perkasie 

1 9

Hiram Gross property in Upper Gwynedd 

1 10

Memorial and postmortem papers 

1 11

Oversize personal and family papers 

10 1

Subseries 1b. Ministerial papers 

Box Folder

Sermon notes (funerals, war/peace, communion, baptism, Thanksgiving, special subjects, and unsorted) 

1 12-19

Early sermon notes and pastoral records (21 bound volumes, 1 bundle) 


Unsorted sermon notes (4 bound volumes, 9 bundles) 

Box Folder

Allen Fretz's 50th anniversary of ordination 1933 

1 20

250th anniversary of the founding of Germantown, PA 1933 

1 21

Writings for or about the General Conference Mennonite Church 

1 22

Writings for Eastern District Ministerial Conferences 

1 23
Box Volume

First two volumes of The Mennonite (bound) 1885-1887 

Biographical/Historical note

Allen Fretz was one of the first editors.

1 1-2
Box Folder

Church histories 

1 24

Sunday School writings 

1 25

Theological writings 

1 26

Writings in German 

1 27

Legal-size ministerial writings (right side of box) 

1 28

[Folders 29 and 30 removed] 

Box Folder

Licenses for marriages performed 1883-1940 

1 31-33

Seasonal postcards sent to Allen Fretz's congregations 1899-1939 

1 34

Miscellaneous ministerial papers 

1 35

[Folder 36 removed] 

Subseries 1c. Correspondence 

Box Folder

Godshall, Joseph R. (17 letters) 1897-1904 

Scope and Contents note

Regarding Godshall's mission orphanage in India, his involvement with the religion of John Alexander Dowie, and his move to Zion City, Illinois. Also includes letters to Fretz giving opinions of Dowie, including one from R. A. Torrey.

1 37

Kratz, Henry B. (5 letters, Deep Run West, letters of complaint) 1893 

1 38

Ringelman family, Geary, Oklahoma (6 letters) 1900-1939 

Scope and Contents note

Important and engaging letters--description of early Mennonite community in Geary; memories of Deep Run; poetry.

1 39

Smissen, Hillegonda C. van der (7 letters) 1923-1939 

Related Archival Materials note

See also Hillegonda's "Sketches of My Life" in box 10.

1 40

Combined correspondence (86 letters) 1884-1941 

Scope and Contents note

See separate inventory:

1 41-42

Correspondence from students at the Indian Training School, Carlisle, PA (2 letters) 1886 

Scope and Contents note

Edith Abner (1866-1890, buried at Peoria, Oklahoma) and Josephine Vetter (presumably 1864-1956, buried at Hiawatha, Kansas).

1 43

Correspondence regarding Rittenhouse genealogy book (13 letters) 1900-1910 

1 44

Family correspondence (16 letters) 1889-1942 

Scope and Contents note

Allen Fretz to Mahlon Fretz, from Clarence Center, NY, 1889; Abraham and William Leatherman, Pittsburgh, 1889, 1909, 1931 and 1932; Jacob R. Fretz (6 postcards), 1910 and 1935; Millard Fretz, 1917 and 1933; Kenneth and Kathryn Herman Fretz, 1942.

1 45

Family correspondence--J. Herbert Fretz to Allen M. Fretz while in college at Bluffton (7 letters) 1939-1943 

1 46

Wedding invitations 

1 47

Funeral announcements 

1 48

Subseries 1d. Clippings 

Box Folder

Clippings (mostly obituaries and articles about Fretz) 

1 49
Box Volume

Allen Fretz autobiographical scrapbook 

1 3

Scrapbooks (including "Daily Meditations", "Good Reading Matter", Mennonite history) (10 volumes) 

Box Folder

"Sketches of My Life" by Hillegonda van der Smissen, serialized in Mennonite Weekly Review, Oct 1935 (incomplete) [oversize] 

10 2

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Series 2. J. Herbert Fretz papers 

Subseries 2a. Personal papers 

Box Volume

Ministry scrapbook and pastoral record (Deep Run West) 1945-1953 

Scope and Contents note

Includes papers read at the 100th anniversary of Deep Run West congregation in 1949 and a sociological study of the congregation in 1950 by Jean Wismer and "M.H.W."

5 1

Bound set of the Eastern District Messenger (Herbert Fretz, editor) 1947-1953 

5 2
Box Folder

Personal papers and writings 

5 1

Hand-drawn maps of Eastern Pennsylvania and Swamp Mennonite communities 1947 

5 2

General correspondence (19 letters) 1940-2000 

Scope and Contents note

Includes biographical essays on Willis M. Hunsberger (1896-1940) by H. Welcome Detweiler and on Rev. Jacob S. Moyer (1842-1909) by son William G. Moyer.

5 3

Family correspondence (101 letters, many from parents Jacob R. and Mamie Rickert Fretz) 1939-1978 

5 4

Ely R. Fretz autobiographical essay (photocopy) 1973 

5 4A

Subseries 2b. Jacob & Mamie Rickert Fretz papers 

Scope and Contents note

Includes diaries of Jacob and Mamie Fretz, 1900-1969 (43 volumes), family Bible record, and a few other papers.


Subseries 2c. Collected historical material 

General note

See also museum objects 2013.48.3 (old Deep Run West meetinghouse key) and 2013.48.4 (Abraham J. Fretz initialed doorjamb).

Box Folder

Memorabilia, research and article on Rev. A. J. Fretz 

5 5

A. J. Fretz scrapbooks, late 19th-early 20th century (2 volumes) 


Kate Fretz autograph book 1860 

Box Folder

Conciliatory letter from Oberholtzer's Conference to Mennonites in Canada 1848 

8 1

Freeland Seminary and Female College at Perkiomen Bridge--catalogues 1853, 1854, 1862 

8 2

John H. Oberholtzer letter to ministers meeting at Philadelphia 1893 

8 3

Collected family Bible records (Fretz, Nash, Oberholtzer) 1784-1905 

8 4

Miscellaneous historic items (includes 25 cent paper money circa 1863 and German script letters 1863 and 1864) 

8 5

Collected historic material on EDC congregations and leaders 

8 6


8 7

Photocopies (fraktur, documents, broadsides, etc.) 

8 8

Broadsides (Eastern District and Oberholtzer related), 1849-1885 [oversize] 

Scope and Contents note

Excellent collection; see separate inventory:

10 3

Collected deeds and property papers, 1782-1925 [oversize] 

Scope and Contents note

Mostly Bucks County: Swartz, Myers, Bishop, Fretz, Frederick, Borneman, Daub, Fadeley. See separate inventory:

10 4

Oversize clippings 

10 5

Oversize photocopies 

10 6

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Series 3. Allen & Hebert Fretz photos 

Scope and Contents note

See item-level inventory:


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Series 4. Allen & Herbert Fretz library   [housed on rare book shelving]

Scope and Contents note

Mostly 19th-century books, including Mennonite volumes dated 1763-1944, a number of which came from the Eastern District-related press at Milford Square, PA. See separate inventory:

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