Martin, Jonas H. (1839-1925)

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Jonas Hershey Martin, b. 15 January 1839, was one of seven children born to Jonas S. and Nancy (Hershey) Martin. He spent most of his life as a farmer in East Earl Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania as did his ancestors for several generations. In 1865 Jonas Martin married Sarah Witwer (1845-1889), and after her death he married Annie Wenger (1852-1927). Eleven children grew to maturity.

Martin embraced the Mennonite faith of his forebears and was baptized at 20 years of age in the Weaverland church. On 7 December 1875 his home church called him to the ministry, and six years later, on 3 May 1881, he was chosen as bishop of nine congregations. He served in the ministerial capacity for nearly 50 years until he passed away 3 July 1925 at the age of 86.

Jonas Martin is best remembered for his conservative position in his work as bishop. He opposed modern church practices, especially the introduction of Sunday schools. Two other issues he identified were Mennonite bishops officiating at the marriages of non-members, and the incorporation of the Kauffman Mennonite Church, allowing it to receive and administer property.

In the fall of 1893 he led his conservative followers out of the Lancaster Conference to found his own Weaverland Conference (often called the Martinites). Most of his followers were from north-east Lancaster County, although ripples of that division were felt over many counties as well as in all the major settlements of other states. His group merged with the Wisler groups of Ohio, Indiana, and Ontario. The Weaverland Conference, the Groffdale Conference, and the Reidenbach Mennonites all originate from the Martinites. The 1987 estimated total membership of these groups is 8,700. They are often known collectively as Old Order Mennonites.

Jonas Martin was a likeable and sociable man. He was remembered as an interesting speaker who held the attention of his audience. He often quoted scripture from memory, and stayed close to scripture in his preaching. Tradition holds that he knew the Dordrecht Confession of Faith by memory. The last five years of his life were frail ones, as he showed symptoms of a stroke. He is buried at the Weaverland Old Order Church cemetery.


Hoover, Amos B. The Jonas Martin Era : presented in a collection of essays, letters, and documents that shed light on the Mennonite churches during the 50 year ministry (1875-1925) of Bishop Jonas H. Martin. Denver, PA: the Author, 1982.

Hoover, Amos B. Pennsylvania Folklife (Winter 1983-84): 90-94.

Martin, Raymond S. and Elizabeth S. Martin. Bishop Jonas H. Martin, His Life and Genealogy. Baltimore : Gateway Press, 1985.

Weaver, Vernon E. "Jonas H. Martin (1839-1925)." The Historical Journal 21, no. 2 (October 2015): 4.

Author(s) Amos B. Hoover
Vernon E. Weaver
Date Published November 2018

Cite This Article

MLA style

Hoover, Amos B. and Vernon E. Weaver. "Martin, Jonas H. (1839-1925)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2018. Web. 23 Feb 2024.,_Jonas_H._(1839-1925)&oldid=177075.

APA style

Hoover, Amos B. and Vernon E. Weaver. (November 2018). Martin, Jonas H. (1839-1925). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 February 2024, from,_Jonas_H._(1839-1925)&oldid=177075.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 543. All rights reserved.

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