International Institute of Genealogical Studies


International Institute of Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

Colonial America Minority Sects

By Shannon Bennett, Student

Ah, Presbyterians, finally the module in US Religious Records Part 1 near and dear to my husband’s family .  I shouldn’t  leave out the Methodists though because that was one whole branch of my grandmother’s family.  Unfortunately, even though I found Module 6 fascinating, so far I don’t have any connections to the Amish or Mennonite sects.  From a historical perspective though (and culturally since I grew up in an area full of Amish and Mennonites) it was a great section to read.

Half-tone reproduction of drawing by G.W. Peters in "Among the Dunkers," Scribner's Nov. 1901. Library of Congress. LC-USZ62-54917

Half-tone reproduction of drawing by G.W. Peters in “Among the Dunkers,” Scribner’s Nov. 1901. Library of Congress. LC-USZ62-54917

Since I knew almost nothing about what the instructor called the “minority sects in colonial America” I was very excited to read Module 6.  Of course I know who the Mennonites and the Amish are.  I mean, anyone growing up in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and a few other adjacent states know who these people are.  Those communities always fascinated me growing up in a rural Indiana.

At this point I could go on and on about the horse drawn buggies on Main Street, watching the families work their farms as we drove by, or the Mennonite children I went to grade school with.  Even though I knew who they were and the basic premise behind why they looked different than myself, I didn’t really know why they were different.

Reading about those two sects as well as who the Moravians, Huguenots and Brethren were was enlightening.  The Huguenots were familiar to me from history classes and my Virginia research.  There was a colony of Huguenots at Manakin in Henrico County.

I couldn’t help but be moved by the way they overcame the forms of persecution inflicted on them.  It makes perfect sense that they would flee to the American colonies, particularly ones that tolerated other religious beliefs. While they may have started small here these communities grew and in some cases prospered into the 20th century.

An interesting fact I did not know was that the Moravian Church encouraged members to write memoirs about their life and church service.  If you have an ancestor who was a member you may have a wonderful document waiting for you!  According to the instructor these memoirs are similar to eulogies, and  were either written by the person or by the minister after the person had died.  Makes me want to have an ancestor in the Moravian Church!

Off to take my exam. See you online!

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