Johannes and Maria Eby Farm: 330 Snavely Mill Road. Lititz, PA
Above: Johannes and Maria Eby Farmhouse as seen on Google Earth Street View.
This historic Eby farmstead is a landmark in the story of early Mennonite emigration to Canada. Johannes Eby (1767-1845), who owned this farm, was an ardent supporter of Mennonite emigrants to Waterloo Township, Ontario, in the early 1800s. Mennonite historians remember this Eby farmhouse, here at the mill, as the site of an important meeting that helped rescue the fledgling Mennnonite settlement in Canada. Eby assisted in the formation of Canada's German Land Company, and the relocation of dozens of Lancaster County Mennonites to the Waterloo area in the 1803-25 period. Johannes' younger brother, Benjamin Eby, settled on a tract now located in the city of Kitchener, Ontario.
The stone portion of this farmhouse was constructed ca. 1791 for this Johannes Eby. Johannes was born and raised nearby, just across the Hammer Creek in the 1754 Eby Homestead, which was built by his grandparents. Johannes married Maria Witwer (1773-1856) in 1794. Johannes' father Christian Eby (1734-1807) had previously built a mill for Johannes, located across the road from Johannes and Maria's farmhouse. The house was built of stone, 2-1/2 stories in height. The three-bay frame addition was added sometime after 1815.
The 1815 Direct Tax indicated that Johannes owned 65 acres, with a two-story stone house measuring 32 by 28 feet, and a stone overshot barn measuring 60 by 35 feet. Johannes and Maria's son, Elias Eby (1806-1862), followed in his father's footsteps as owner of this farm and mill.
(Blue pin: the farmhouse. Yellow pin: the mill)
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Fraktur from the Eby Schoolhouse, Located on this Farm,
Drawn for Eby children living in this farmhouse, and one cousin:
In 1815, the 65-acre Eby farm was also home to a log schoolhouse, according to the Direct Tax of that year.
The Eby children and their neighbors didn't have far to walk to this privately-funded school. Today, several pieces of Eby fraktur survive which were created by a succession of schoolmasters who taught in this log schoolhouse.
Schoolmasters of this era often created reward drawings for good students. The youngest children received small drawings, while the oldest students would receive a Vorfschrift (handwriting sample). The schoolmaster also created fraktur bookplates for their students' books.
Identifying "The Eby Schoolhouse Artist"
For many year Clarke Hess researched an anonymous schoolmaster / fraktur artist who taught at the Eby schoolhouse on this farm. In 1991 Clarke named this teacher “The Eby Schoolhouse Artist” at an exhibit about Lancaster County and Ontario regional culture, which he co-curated in Canada.
A few years later, after extensive fraktur detective work, Clarke was able to identify this un-named schoolmaster as David Frey (1759-1841). The schoolmaster had signed a fraktur with his initials "D. F." After researching tax lists and other sources, Clarke was finally able to provide a name for this unidentified fraktur artist.
Studious Student Levi Eby receives three Fraktur Rewards of Merit,
Drawn by his Schoolmaster David Frey, "The Eby Schoolhouse Artist":
Apparently student Levi Eby (1810-1860) was a diligent student. Levi was a son of Johannes and Maria Eby, here on this Eby farm. Sometime ca. 1818 Levi received these three fraktur rewards of merit (above) from his schoolmaster David Frey. The schoolmaster inscribed Levi's name on the reverse side of these paper rewards. Levi's parents undoubtedly helped pay the salary of Schoolmaster David Frey, so hopefully these little drawings found favor with those Eby parents who were patronizing the school on their farm. (Levi Eby fraktur: private collection)
Fraktur Doves for Levi's Sister Anna Eby:
By Schoolmaster Jacob Andreas, at the Eby School on this Farm
(This schoolmaster later became a Mennonite preacher in Strasburg.)
Above: It looks like Levi Eby wasn't the only well-behaved student in this Eby family. Sometime ca. 1821 his younger sister Anna Eby (1815-1879) also received a fraktur reward of merit from her schoolmaster, here at the Eby schoolhouse. Her schoolmaster was Jacob Andreas (Andrews) (1797-1873). This schoolmaster also earned income as a weaver. Later, he was ordained a Mennonite preacher for the Strasburg district, Lancaster County. (Fraktur doves: Clarke Hess Collection)
Another Fraktur for Anna Eby by Schoolmaster Jacob Andreas, at the Eby Schoolhouse
Above: Anna Eby was a fortunate student to receive this Vorschrift (handwriting sample) from Schoolmaster Jacob Andreas. A large fraktur piece, such as this one, would have been commissioned by her parents or adult relatives. Schoolmaster Andreas was able to supplement his modest teacher's salary by selling fraktur drawings.
The smaller drawing of white doves, which Anna had received earlier, was probably a gift from the schoolmaster, who undoubtedly hoped that Anna's parents would be impressed with his drawing skills. The text in the fraktur's heading is an Old Testament verse, Proverbs 12:2, Wer fromm ist, der bekommt Trost. (Fraktur: Collection of Trish and Don Herr)
Who was the earlier, anonymous schoolmaster / fraktur artist here at the Eby Schoolhouse?
His name is unknown, but his fraktur drawings survive.:
Above: Fraktur likely made for Catherine Eby. She was the oldest sister of Levi and Anna Eby, whose fraktur are previously shown on this page.
Below: Susanna Eby's fraktur: She was the cousin and neighbor of these Eby siblings, Levi, Anna, and Catherine.
Above: Schoolmasters David Frey and Jacob Andreas were not the only teachers here at the log schoolhouse on the Eby farm. Another schoolmaster taught Eby students in this schoolhouse prior to those two schoolmasters. His fraktur is identifiable by distinctive floral borders that appear on his work. Two of his fraktur are above.
- Fraktur likely made for Catherine Eby (1795-1878). This Vorschrift (handwriting sample), from ca. 1810, descended to the present owner along with the birth record of Catherine's husband John Hostetter (1787-1854). The German-language text of the ornate heading is a Bible verse, John 5:39. It reads, Suchet in der Schrift... (Search in the Scriptures...) (Fraktur: Private collection)
- Fraktur made for Susanna Eby (1805-1882). Susanna was a cousin of Levi, Anna, and Catherine Eby, whose fraktur are also shown above. She was the daughter of Christian and Veronica (Hershey) Eby who lived at the 1754 Christian Eby house. Susanna married Henry Stauffer (1802-1891). This fraktur's text is English-language, which is highly unusual at this date, when fraktur was typically German-language. The fraktur is mounted in its original walnut frame. This frame is also unusual, as fraktur was seldom framed or displayed when it was created. This fraktur also is included on this website page for the Christian Eby Homestead. (Fraktur: Clarke Hess Collection)
Two more fraktur for two daughters of Johannes and Maria Eby, by this anonymous schoolmaster / fraktur artist,
Present location of these two fraktur is unknown.
In the 1990s two additional Eby fraktur appeared on the fraktur market. Both were owned by a Massachusetts antiques dealer. Both were drawn for sisters of the Eby siblings who are listed above, and both fraktur were in an 1812 New Testament, printed in Lancaster in German language. One bookplate was made for Rebecca Eby (1803-1852), and the other was made for Rebecca's younger sister Elizabeth Eby (1808-1876).
There are probably other unrecorded fraktur for Ebys who lived in this old stone farmhouse on the Eby farm. Johannes and Maria Eby had three children whose fraktur is not represented on this page. Those fraktur would tell their own tales about the Eby schoolhouse, here on the Eby farm by the mill on the Hammer Creek.
A Manuscript Family Record of Johannes and Maria Eby, of this Eby Farmhouse
Penned in German script by Johannes Eby:
(Most of the fraktur drawings, above, were made for the children listed on this paper.)
Johannes Eby, miller and father, wanted future generations to know the names and birth dates of his eight children. So sometime after 1815 he sat down with a feather quill and ink to write this page of his family's history. The information includes the date of his marriage to Maria Wittwer on July 1, 1794. The names and birth dates of their eight children are: Catharina (1795), Jonas (1799), Maria (1801), Rebecca (1803), Elias (1806), Elisabeth (1808), Levi (1810), and Anna (1815).
These children attended the Eby schoolhouse located on this farm, and their fraktur drawings are shown above. This family record was preserved in the family Bible of the studious student Levi Eby, along with Levi's three fraktur drawings, shown above. (Family record: Private collection)
Johannes Eby's 1840 Horse-Doctor Book:
Johannes Eby was a both a miller and a farmer, here on the farmstead by the Hammer Creek. In 1840 he purchased this veterinary book, which was the first American edition of this title, published in Philadelphia that same year. The book was first published in Latin and German in 1678 and was reprinted through the eighteenth century. Glued inside the front cover is a flyleaf from an earlier book of equine medicine, which Johannes had purchased in Lancaster in 1801. This book appears in Johannes' 1845 estate inventory where it is valued at $1.00, with the phrase "Winters Horse Farrier." (Book: Private collection)
Johannes Eby's 1826 County Tax Receipt,
For this Homestead and Farm :
Johannes and Maria Eby owed $11.29 cents for their 1826 Lancaster County taxes, according to this receipt. This property in Elizabeth Township was valued at $6,272.00. (Receipt: Private collection)