Mellinger, Martin (1752-1842)

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Martin Möllinger/Mellinger: Mennonite deacon and farmer; born 28 December 1752 at Ruchheim, near Mannheim, in the German Palatinate. Married Barbara Baer (d. 1805). They had one child, a son, who died in 1801. Martin later married widow Maria Basler Denlinger (1761-1826). Martin died 28 October 1842 in East Lampeter Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA.

Orphaned at a young age, Martin and three of his siblings left their Rhine Valley home around Easter 1772 and made their way to Pennsylvania, landing in Philadelphia on 16 October, and settling in Lancaster County. Martin’s wife Barbara was a Pennsylvania native and the couple received her family’s farm, adjacent to the 1767 Lampeter Mennonite meetinghouse. In 1790 Martin was ordained deacon for the congregation there. In the years that followed, his home’s proximity to the meetinghouse gave rise to its colloquial designation as “the church at Mellinger’s” and, eventually, Mellinger Mennonite Church.

In 1803-1804 Mellinger played a central role in the planning, publication, and distribution of Ein Unpartheyisches Gesang-Buch, one of the first two Mennonites hymnals created in North America. He also urged Lancaster Mennonites to incorporate feetwashing into their communion services, which some began doing in the 1810s. Mellinger was known as a man of deep piety, good humor, and open-mindedness. He collected and read the novels of J. H. Jung-Stilling and by 1821 he was receiving European periodicals promoting foreign mission work.

Recognized for his leadership and wisdom, Mellinger often accompanied Lancaster Mennonite bishops on visits to distant communities to baptize, serve communion, and mediate conflicts. At one point, Mellinger reported that he had been in 40 congregations, and as his career stretched on, he visited many more. His correspondence described trips to Skippack (north of Philadelphia), western Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Ontario. At age 80, he was still making trips of up to two weeks on horseback.

Details of Mellinger’s life and his church work are recorded in his correspondence with his relatives in Germany, especially his cousin Peter Weber of Kindenheim, and with his European kin who immigrated to Ohio in the 1830s.


Bender, Harold S., trans. and ed. “The Correspondence of Martin Mellinger: Translations of the Correspondence of Martin Mellinger with Relatives in the Rhenish Palatinate, 1807–1839.” Mennonite Quarterly Review 5 (Jan. 1931): 42–64.

Nolt, Steven M. Mellinger Mennonite Church: 300 Years of Faithfulness and Mission, 1717-2017. Morgantown, PA: Masthof Press, 2017.

Yoder, Don, trans. and ed. “From the Palatinate to Frontier Ohio: The Risser Letters (1832–1833).” Mennonite Quarterly Review 30 (Jan. 1956): 44–64.

Martin Mellinger correspondence, both originals and copies, are housed at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society and in the Mennonite Church USA Archives in Elkhart, Indiana.

Original Mennonite Encyclopedia Article

By Harold S. Bender and Wilmer Swope. Copied by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 567 & Vol. 4, p. 1146. All rights reserved.

Martin Mellinger, a prominent deacon for 52 years in the Mellinger Mennonite Church just east of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, named after him. Mellinger was born at Ruchheim, Palatinate, Germany, became an orphan at 10, landed in America 16 October 1772, and was ordained deacon in 1790. He also served the Swiss immigrants who settled near Wooster, Ohio. His correspondence with his cousin Peter Weber of Kindenheim, Palatinate, Germany, published in the Mennonite Quarterly Review 5 (1931) 42-64, contains much valuable historical information.

Author(s) Steven M Nolt
Date Published September 2019

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Nolt, Steven M. "Mellinger, Martin (1752-1842)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. September 2019. Web. 28 Jan 2021.,_Martin_(1752-1842)&oldid=164499.

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Nolt, Steven M. (September 2019). Mellinger, Martin (1752-1842). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 28 January 2021, from,_Martin_(1752-1842)&oldid=164499.

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