Freeland Seminary (Collegeville, Pennsylvania, USA)

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Freeland Seminary, located near Collegeville, Pennsylvania, 27 miles northwest of Philadelphia, was established in 1848 by Abraham Hunsicker (1793-1872), who had been ordained as a minister of the Skippack Mennonite Church in January 1847. In October 1847 he with John Oberholtzer left the Mennonite Church (MC), Franconia Conference) to organize the Eastern Conference of Mennonites. When Abraham Hunsicker was elected as minister "he felt more than ever before the need of a provision for more and better knowledge and resolved before God to found a school that should afford to others means of obtaining that of which he was deprived." Therefore in 1848 he purchased 10 acres of land, erected a building, and established Freeland Seminary. The school opened 7 November 1848 with an enrollment of three, which grew to 79 during the year. The curriculum included the first two years of college. Henry A. Hunsicker, his son, who was the principal, stated, "The school flourished beyond expectation, though it received small patronage from the Mennonites whom it hoped to benefit." Among those who attended the school were John F. Funk and Warren Bean, later a bishop in the Franconia Conference. On 1 January 1850 Henry A. Hunsicker was ordained as minister by the Eastern Conference of Mennonites (General Conference Mennonite).

The Hunsickers and some of their followers pursued a more liberal policy than the Eastern Conference. The differences became so great that by 1851 Abraham Hunsicker, his son Henry A., and others were expelled from the group. In 1854 they established the Trinity Christian Society, an undenominational congregation. Gradually this group disintegrated, which ultimately affected Freeland Seminary.

After 17 years Freeland Seminary was leased to A. H. Fetterolf, and in 1869 a group of men organized a corporation and purchased the school, which then became known as Ursinus College. This corporation primarily served the Reformed Church. During the first 20 years of the existence of Freeland Seminary more than 3,000 young men received their education here.

Abraham Hunsicker was also the founder of "the Pennsylvania Female College."


Harder, M. S. "The Origin, Philosophy, and Development of Educa­tion Among the Mennonites." PhD Dissertation, University of Southern California, 1949: 274.

Hartzler, John E. Education Among the Mennonites of America. Danvers, 1925: 128-129.

Hunsicker, Henry A. A Genealogical History of the Hunsicker Family. Philadelphia, 1911.

Wenger, John C. History of the Mennonites of the Franconia Conference. Tel­ford, Pennsylvania, 1937.

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Date Published 1956

Cite This Article

MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius. "Freeland Seminary (Collegeville, Pennsylvania, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 10 Apr 2020.,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=100446.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius. (1956). Freeland Seminary (Collegeville, Pennsylvania, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 10 April 2020, from,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=100446.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 389. All rights reserved.

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