Gehman (Geeman, Geyman, Gayman, Gahman, Gauenian) family

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Gehman, a Bernese family name, is now represented in various districts of the Mennonite church in North America, especially in southeastern Pennsylvania in the Mennonite Church (MC) districts of Lancaster and Franconia, and in the Eastern District of the General Conference Mennonite Church (GCM). Most or all of these Gehmans are descended from the siblings Christian, Benedict, and Anna who arrived in Philadelphia on the ship Samuel on 11 August 1732. Christian purchased land in Berks County, Pennsylvania, while Benedict located in Lehigh County. The descendants of these pioneers are strongly represented in both the Lancaster and Franconia conferences. As of 1956, there had been about a dozen deacons and ministers by the name of Gehman in Lancaster, and thirteen in Franconia. The first Franconia preacher by the name of Gehman was Abraham Gehman (d. 1792) of the Rockhill congregation, a son of the immigrant Christian; both father and son are buried in the Rockhill cemetery. Preacher Abraham was in turn the father of Preacher Samuel Gehman (1767-1845). Daniel Gehman of Berks County (d. 1809) served in the Gehman congregation of the Lancaster Conference, first as a deacon as early as 1774, and after 1792 as a preacher. His great-great-grandson Moses Gehman, ordained in 1912, wrote frequently for the Gospel Herald, and for a generation was the senior minister in the Weaverland-Groffdale district, to which the Gehman congregation belongs.

When the Mennonites located at the "Twenty" in Lincoln County, Ontario, beginning about 1800, one of the settlers was named Gehman. A Christian Gayman (1825-98) in Selkirk, Ontario, was ordained as a preacher in 1862 and as bishop in 1875. After several years of tension he withdrew from the Mennonite Conference of Ontario in 1888 and served in the Old Order Mennonite Church when it was organized in 1889 in Ontario.

The Eastern District (General Conference Mennonite) had difficulty with a minister named William Gehman (1827-1918), ordained preacher in Upper Milford in 1849. After several years of tension on the issue of prayer meetings (promoted by Gehman), he and 23 others, mostly laity, were expelled in May 1857. Gehman's group, in which he served as an elder, took the name Evangelical Mennonites. This group eventually merged with other small Mennonite bodies to form the Mennonite Brethren in Christ (MBC, now known as United Missionary Church, except in Pennsylvania). William Gehman's son, William G. Gehman (1874-1941) of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, served as an MBC presiding elder from 1905-36.

Mennonites named Gehman have also been found in a few other states besides Pennsylvania, especially in Iowa. Ernest G. Gehman, formerly of the Franconia Conference, taught at Eastern Mennonite College in Virginia for many years. Although a Mennonite named Gehmann appears in a 1759 Palatinate census list (at Neidenfels), the name does not seem to have been prominent in European Mennonite circles.

Author(s) John C Wenger
Date Published 1956

Cite This Article

MLA style

Wenger, John C. "Gehman (Geeman, Geyman, Gayman, Gahman, Gauenian) family." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 23 Feb 2024.,_Geyman,_Gayman,_Gahman,_Gauenian)_family&oldid=177008.

APA style

Wenger, John C. (1956). Gehman (Geeman, Geyman, Gayman, Gahman, Gauenian) family. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 February 2024, from,_Geyman,_Gayman,_Gahman,_Gauenian)_family&oldid=177008.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 444. All rights reserved.

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