Lehman (Lehmann, Layman, Leemann, Leeman, Leaman) family

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Lehman, a Mennonite family name, originated in the Emmental, canton of Bern, Switzerland. The name means a person living on a gentle slope (Lehn). Near Langnau, the original home of most of the Mennonite Lehman families, there is a farm named Lehn, because of its topography. Wilhelm Lehman of Affterleen near Hassli in the Emmental is the earliest Anabaptist of this family of whom we have record. He was imprisoned in October 1566 because he refused to take the oath of allegiance. Both he and his wife testified to their faith when questioned. Wilhelm was sentenced to death by the sword. After eleven days of anxiously waiting for his execution he did take the oath and was pardoned. During the difficult times of the first two decades of the 18th century most of the Lehmans left their Emmental home. Some went to the Palatinate, others to Alsace or the Bishopric of Basel, and some to Pennsylvania. Felix Lehman, a peasant of Hirslanden-Zürich, Switzerland, was rebaptized by Heinrich Winckler as early as 1526.

The Dutch [[Naamlijst der tegenwoordig in dienst zijnde predikanten der Mennoniten in de Vereenigde Nederlanden|Naamlijst]] names Hans Lehmann, preacher from 1761, elder from 1772, and Peter Lehmann, preacher from 1750, both in Switzerland; Jacob Lehmann (d. ca. 1780), preacher of the Schafbusch congregation in Lower Alsace; Johannes Lehmann, preacher from 1745 until around 1780, and Ulrich Lehmann, preacher from 1783 until after 1802, both of the Freudenberg congregation in the duchy of Zweibrücken; and Johannes Lehmann, elder of the Heppenheim congregation (Palatinate) from 1782 until after 1802.

Hans Lehman landed in Philadelphia on Sept. 27, 1727, and settled near Lititz, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. His descendants have been numerous in Lancaster County and adjoining counties and have been represented in many of the Mennonite congregations in the eastern United States and Canada. Many of his descendants have served as leaders in the church.

As early as 1718 a Lehman family found its way to the Jura from the Emmental, settling near Münster. A short time later members of this family settled at Vion on the Sonnenberg, where descendants have continued to live. Hans Lehmann, a bishop in the Jura from 1772 on, journeyed with four other Jura bishops to the Palatinate in 1782 to bring peace to the divided church there.

In 1819 Peter Lehmann (1776-1843) came to North America to help form in Wayne, County, Ohio the first 19th-century Swiss Mennonite settlement in the United States, naming it Sonnenberg after the old home in the Jura. Two years later a bishop, Hans Lehman, came to join this settlement. In the following years many other members of the Lehman family came to this community. The family came to be found in the other Swiss Mennonite communities, especially Berne, IN, where, as of 1957, it was one of the most numerous families of that community.

Daniel Lehman (1742-1801) was the first General Conference Mennonite (GCM) minister and bishop in Franklin County, PA. Joseph S. Lehman (1847-1936) was business manager for the Mennonite Publishing Company in Elkhart, IN and also served as an evangelist. Peter Y. Lehman (1847-1925) was a minister and bishop at the Clinton Brick and Shore Mennonite Church (MC) congregations in Indiana. He was influential in the Indiana-Michigan Conference (MC). Peter S. Lehmann (1821-99) was a minister in Jura, Switzerland, who came with a large portion of his congregation to found Berne, IN in 1853. He later lived in Hickory County, Missouri, USA), where he pastored a small group of Swiss Mennonites (GCM). When this community dissolved he returned to the Berne community, where he spent his last days. A.H. Leaman (1878-1950) was a mission worker (MC) and evangelist in Chicago. Daniel N. Lehman (1852-1925) was a minister and bishop in the Millersville Mennonite Church (MC), Lancaster County, PA, and an energetic worker in the Lancaster Mennonite Conference (MC). The following three ministers were his sons. Christian K. Lehman (b. 1881) was a minister beginning in 1917 and a bishop from 1938 in the Millersville district of the Lancaster Conference (MC). Chester Kindig Lehman (1895-1980) was a minister (MC), dean of Eastern Mennonite College 1922-56, and the author of several books and pamphlets on the Christian faith. Daniel Webster Lehman (b. 1893) was a professor of education and psychology at Eastern Mennonite College beginning in 1921 and a bishop in the Virginia Conference (MC) from 1947. Japhet F. Lehman (1860-1932) of Berne, IN was a prominent layperson in the General Conference Mennonite Church, a leader in conference publication activities, and for 34 years manager of the Mennonite Book Concern of Berne. His son Gustav Adolf Lehman (b. 1886) taught music and directed choirs at Bluffton College and Colgate-Rochester Divinity School. Martin Clifford Lehman (b. 1883) was a minister (MC) and missionary to India for 24 years. J. Irvin Lehman (b. 1895) was a minister beginning in 1922 in the Marion, PA Mennonite Church (MC).

In 1940 there were still 55 persons in Mennonite families in Germany, all in the south, bearing the name Lehmann. They were found in the congregations of Dühren, Ernstweiler, Frankfurt, Friedelsheim, Kaiserslautern, Deutschhof, Kühbörncheshof, Möckmühl, Monsheim, and Sembach, with 23 of them in Ernstweiler.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 632.

Layman, Earl R. Lehman Ancestors in the Swiss Emmental before Emigration. Morgantown, Pa. : Masthof Press, 2008.

Muralt, Leonhard von and Walter Schmid. Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer in der Schweiz, I. Band: Zürich. Zürich: S. Hirzel, 1952: 134.

Naamlijst der tegenwoordig in dienst zijnde predikanten der Mennoniten in de vereenigde Nederlanden. Amsterdam, 1731, 1743, 1755, etc.

Author(s) Delbert L Gratz
Date Published 1957

Cite This Article

MLA style

Gratz, Delbert L. "Lehman (Lehmann, Layman, Leemann, Leeman, Leaman) family." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 29 May 2022. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Lehman_(Lehmann,_Layman,_Leemann,_Leeman,_Leaman)_family&oldid=145696.

APA style

Gratz, Delbert L. (1957). Lehman (Lehmann, Layman, Leemann, Leeman, Leaman) family. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 May 2022, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Lehman_(Lehmann,_Layman,_Leemann,_Leeman,_Leaman)_family&oldid=145696.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 314. All rights reserved.

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