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Michael Erb Wenger and Magdalena Nolt Musselman

Orange Beads

Michael Erb Wenger and Magdalena Nolt Musselman

This is perhaps my favorite picture, of all the pictures we have of David's ancestors. These are David's maternal great great grandparents, (on his grandfather's side of the family) Michael Erb Wenger and Magdalena Nolt Musselman.  It is difficult to determine when this picture was taken, but Michael and Magdalena were married
16 April 1863 in Lancaster County, PA.  Magdalena was born 1842 and Michael was born 1839, so my own "guesstimate" is 1870.  It has also been suggested that this was a wedding picture, so if that is the case, that would put the date closer to 1863.   Both Michael and Magdalena were of the Mennonite faith, but you will notice that they are not wearing the plain dress associated with the Mennonite people.  (For an example of what is considered plain dress, see article about David's parents,  Sherwood E. Ristenbatt and Mabel W. Wenger.)  It is my understanding, from speaking with one of David's aunts, that the plain dress did not come into being until about the turn of the century, circa 1900.  Around 1896 there was a devastating accident that involved some Mennonite young people riding in their buggy.  They crossed over a railroad track and were hit by the train.  After this there was a great revival in the Lancaster County, PA area, and it is during this time that plain dress came into being. 

So, in this picture, one will observe contemporary dress of the time period in question.  I believe that one of the things that endears this picture so much to me is the look on Michael's face. There is just something about his expression that says he is so proud to have this woman as his wife, be it the gleam in his eye, or that mouth that wants to erupt into a smile.   Also, I have numerous pictures of my own ancestors, and I rarely see any of them holding hands, so that also makes this picture seem special to me.  Indeed, the "fruit of their love" was 11 children, 9 of whom lived to adulthood.  Child number seven, namely Michael Musselman Wenger, was David's great grandfather.

Michael died in 1911, a very sudden death.  The story is told that one Sunday morning he had hitched up the horses to go to church, was sitting on the front porch while waiting for his wife to be ready, and simply died instantly.  No death record was found for Michael, so the cause of death is uncertain.  Magdalena died only 9 months later.  Both are buried at Groffdale Mennonite Cemetery in West Earl Township, Lancaster County, PA.

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