Historians Collaborate in Phoenix, Arizona


Historians met at Mennonite Church USA Convention in Phoenix Arizona.  It’s clear there’s a new era of regional collaboration among Mennonite historians rather than the former centralization of historical resources in one place.  The Historian sat next to Jake Buhler, President of the Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan, Canada.  He shared stories about Russian Mennonites and in turn he heard stories of Swiss-South German Mennonites in Virginia.  Buhler and others publish the Saskatchewan Mennonite Historian periodical, similar in name and format to the Shenandoah Mennonite Historian of Virginia.

Jacob Geil, 1746-1794, born in Germany, died in Broadway, Virginia, tombstone 1913, photo in 2013

Jacob Geil only lived in the Shenandoah Valley for 11 years, buying a farm in the Broadway area in 1783, just after the Revolutionary War ended. His descendants in the Valley, though, are numerous. The farm where he is buried is being developed with houses and local historians will need to figure out what to do with Geil’s tombstone.  When the Historian visited the site on June 18, 2013, the weeds were tall all around, rabbits scampered away, a groundhog stood to investigate about ten feet away, and the corn was four feet tall.  Clearly something needs to be done with this marker.  But what?