Blenheim Mennonite Church (New Dundee, ON)

Classification scheme: 

Title: Blenheim Mennonite Church fonds

Dates of creation: 1851-1975

Physical description: 55 cm of textual material; 25 cm of books; 4 cm of photographs

Administrative history: The congregation formally organized in 1839. Services were first held in a schoolhouse on the southwest corner of Lot 9, fourth concessions of Block A in Wilmot Township. The first building, erected just across the county line in Oxford County 1850. In 1887 the building was moved and veneered in brick. In 1901 a new building was erected.

Jacob Hallman is considered the founding leader of the group. The congregation originated through immigration from Pennsylvania. Other ministers have been Joseph Nahrgang, Isaiah Rosenberger, Moses H. Shantz, Moses N. Baer, Arnold Cressman, Vernon Leis and Gordon Bauman.

In 1900 Blenheim had 56 members; in 1925 61; in 1950 97; in 1965 74; in 1974 68. The congregation dissolved in 1975 when it merged with the Biehn Mennonite Church to form the Nith Valley Mennonite Church. It was a member of the Mennonite Conference of Ontario from 1839 under it merged with the Biehn Church. The language of worship was English; the transition from German occurred in the 1890s. The Sunday school was organized in 1885.

The congregation discontinued because of declining membership and financial burdens. It merged with Biehn Mennonite Church in 1975 to become Nith Valley Mennonite (see no. III-51). Currently the church building is used as a retreat center owned by the Mennonite Conference of Eastern Canada.

Custodial history: Accessions from the Blenheim congregation have been received at various undocumented times. See also the Biehn congregation's collection (III-5) for information during the years a joint church bulletin was published.

Notes: For further information see the Mennonite Encyclopedia, "Blenheim"; Canadian Mennonite (15 Sept. 1964), p. 1; Mennonite Reporter (3 Feb. 1975), p. 14, (3 Mar. 1975), p. 4; L.J. Burkholder, A brief history of the Mennonites in Ontario (1935), pp. 64-66; Lorna Bergey, "125 anniversary: Blenheim Mennonite congregation," (1964), 5 pp.; Lorna L. Bergey, "Mennonite change: the life history of the church, 1839-1974," Mennonite Life(December 1977); Kenneth Cressman, "The development of the Conservative Mennonite Church of Ontario," 1976, 70 pp.; Kenneth Cressman, "A descriptive analysis of the Conservative Mennonite Schisms in Ontario, 1956-1979," 1979, 92 p.

For photographs related to this congregation, see Hist.Mss.10 Mennonite Archival Image Database.

The original archival description was created by Sam Steiner in January 1998.

File list:

Series 1: Formal records

  1.     Marriage register, 1940-1974
  2.     Deacon's book (1895-1971), including members list, receipt for building 1851 meetinghouse, also 1853 receipt, list of donors to the 1901 meetinghouse, handwritten history of the Blenheim church, and minutes of congregational meetings and record of decisions especially regarding the leadership of the congregation.
  3.     List of members prepared by Moses H. Shantz, ca. 1918-1923
    3a. Membership records
    Note: Includes family record file cards, clergyman's records (for funerals) and notes of membership transfer. 
    3b. Membership lists, 1968-1975, predominant 1974
  4.     Church Board minutes, 1957-1958 (includes building committee minutes from 1965), 1958-1962, 1957-1965, 1966-1971
  5.     Church Council minutes, 1960-1963
  6.     Sunday school attendance record, 1901-1909
  7.     Sunday school attendance record, 1910-1919
  8.     Sunday school attendance and offering record, 1920-1964
  9.     Young People's Bible Meeting record, 1939-1947
  10.     Deacon's book (O. Cressman) listing offerings 1949-1957
  11.     Junior Sewing Circle minute book, 1936-1946
  12.     Blenheim Charity Circle minute book, 1942-1948
  13.     Blenheim Charity Circle minute book, 1949-1956
  14.     WMSA minute books, 1956-1962, 1962-1969, 1964-1970, 1970-1974
  15.     Agreement between Noah A. Shantz, Moses Baer and Irvin Bingeman and the Waterloo Trust and Savings Company, Jan. 9, 1930; Indenture between Omar Cressman and Josiah Baer, Clayton Cressman, Robert Shantz and Mary Ann Cressman, Aug. 17, 1961 (photocopy)
  16.     Budgets and annual financial statements, 1959-1974
  17.     Mennonite Youth Fellowship constitution, 1959 (together with Roseville)
  18.     Sunday school reorganization, 1956/57-1958/59, 1967/68-1971/72, 1973/74
  19.     Sunday school attendance and teacher's list, 1942-1953
  20.     Sunday school attendance summaries, 1965, 1967-1969, 1973-1974
  21. Congregational meetings
    Minutes, 1939-1967
    Reports, 1959-1974
    Note: Minutes and reports of some congregational meetings are also found in Series 1.4 and 1.5 (church board or council minutes)
  22. Mannheim-Blenheim Joint Council, 1966-1975 
    Note: Includes minutes of the Wilmot District Planning Committee and meetings re the decision to close Blenheim.

Series 2: Informal records

  1.  Historian's record book, 1960-1966
  2.  Lorna Bergey, "A brief history of the Blenheim Mennonite congregation," 1964; Lorna Bergey, "Blenheim congregation celebrates 125th anniversary," 1964;
    Gilbert Bergey, "History of the Blenheim congregation," 1939; 
    Mennonite Life (Dec. 1977; contains history of Blenheim Mennonite Church by Lorna Bergey);
    "Blenheim information requested by Alice Koch," / Lorna Bergey, 15 Jul 1997 
  3.  125th anniversary booklet, July 19, 1964
  4.  Closing celebrations of the Blenheim Mennonite congregation booklet, bulletin for Biehn/Blenheim Reunion at Nith Valley Mennonite Church, June 11, 2000
  5. Statement of account in connection with the amount advanced for the emigration of Mennonites under bond dated 26 of Nov. 1875 from Deputy Minister of Finance to Abraham Hallman, May 16th, 1881
  6.  Typescript copies of letter from Jacob Bock Feb. 14, 1840 and Nov. 17, 1842. Bock was first deacon of Blenheim Mennonite Church.
  7.  Typescript copies of silver wedding anniversary report for Rev. & Mrs. M.H. Shantz(1938); Obituary for David Bergey (1932); Silver anniversary for David H. Snyder (1937).
  8.  Miscellaneous programs from Blenheim, 1904, 1914-1961; Booklet presented to Tobias Bowman from Blenheim Sunday School, [19-?]
  9.  News clippings about persons from the Blenheim congregation, 1912-1975
  10.  Miscellaneous programs from other Mennonite congregations, 1903-1920
  11.  Photographs of persons from the Blenheim congregations with annotations by Lorna Bergey
  12.  Miscellaneous Sunday school award cards, 1904-1914
  13.  Linen towels used for foot washing services during late 1800s-1945
  14.  Photo in frame - John B. Snider and Lydia Bergey
  15. Miscellaneous programs of study, [19--]
  16. Correspondence re contributions for church buildings in North Woolwich and Berne, Michigan, 1896-1897

Series 3: Bulletins

  1.  Bulletins, 1957-1972 (copies of later years can also be seen in Mannheim collection at III- 16)

Series 4: Books

  1.     J.F. King, The singers joy (Orrville, Ohio : J.F. King, 1900)(New Dundee Choral Society book)(2 copies)
  2.     Alfred Beirly, The song triumph (Chicago : A. Beirly, 1892)(Owned by Marian Shantz; fraktur style name inscribed).
  3.     Martin D. Wenger, The philharmonia (Elkhart, Ind. : Mennonitische Verlags-handlung, 1875)
  4.     J.D. Brunk, Church and Sunday school hymnal (Scottdale, Pa. : Mennonite Pub. House, 1902)
  5.     Life songs (Scottdale, Pa. : Mennonite Pub. House, 1916), (Pages i-4 lacking)
  6.     Unpartheyisches Gesang-Buch (Lancaster, Pa. : Johann B䲬 1829)
  7.     Die Gemeinschaftliche Lieder-Sammlung (Berlin, Ont. : Boedecker u. Stuebing, 1883)
  8.     Die Gemeinschaftliche Lieder-Sammlung (Berlin, Canada : Boedecker u. Stuebing, 1857)
  9.     Clayton F. Derstine, The sheet music of heaven (spiritual song) : the mighty triumphs of sacred song, 2nd ed. (Scottdale, Pa. : Mennonite Pub. House, 1926)
  10.     S.F. Coffman, ed., Life songs number two (Scottdale, Pa. : Mennonite Pub. House, 1938)
  11.     W.H. Ruebush, J.H. Ruebush and J.S. Good, The practical music reader no. 2 (Dayton, Va. : Ruebush-Kieffer Co., n.d.)
  12.     William Paley, Horae Paulinae : or, the truth of the scripture history of St. Paul evinced (London : T. Nelson and Sons, 1880)(Sunday school prize book given to Moses B. Shantz at Blenheim Sunday school prior to 1900)
  13.     D.L. Moody, Heaven: where it is, its inhabitants, and how to get there, New rev. ed. (New York : Fleming H. Revell, 1887)(Sunday school prize book given to Ida Bergey for regular attendance in 1898)
  14.     John F. Funk, Confession of faith and minister's manual, 9th ed. (Scottdale, Pa. : Mennonite Pub. House, 1930)(Owned by Gilbert Bergey)
  15.     Benjamin Eby, Kurzgefasste Kirchen-Geschichte und Glaubenslehre der Taufgesinnten-Christen oder Mennoniten (Elkhart, Ind. : John F. Funk, 1868)
  16.     Hymns and tunes for public and private worship, and Sunday schools (Elkhart, Ind. : Mennonite Pub. Co., 1890)
  17.     A collection of Psalms and hymns suited to the various occasions of public worship and private devotion(Elkhart, Ind. : Mennonite Pub. Co., 1884)

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