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Hans Herr (September 17, 1639October 11, 1725) was born in Zürichmarker, Switzerlandmarker, a descendant of the Knight, Hugo Herr. He joined the religious society. He was a bishop in the Mennonite faith.

When religious persecution became unendurable in Switzerland, many of his congregation emigrated with him to the Palatinate in Germanymarker, which was governed by a ruler who promised them protection and religious freedom. This was satisfactory until the Palatinate fell into the hands of other rulers, when the Mennonites were again subject to severe religious persecution.

When this occurred, a number of them visited William Penn in Londonmarker, in 1707, and arranged terms with him to colonize a portion of what is now Lancastermarker county near what was then the western frontier of Pennsylvaniamarker. In 1709, Hans Herr, John R. Bundely, Martin Meylin (Mylin), Martin Kendig, Jacob Miller, Hans Funk, Hans Graff (Groff), Martin Oberholtzer, Wendel Bowman and others bought 10,000 acres (40 km²) of land on the south side of Pequea creek. A warrant was issued for the land October 10, 1710, and it was surveyed October 23, 1710.

The tradition, which is no doubt true, is that these people held a conference as to what steps should be taken to inform their relatives and friends left behind in Europe of their opinions and expectations, and it was determined that Hans Herr, their revered minister, should return, explain the situation and the great advantages of emigration, and bring with him those he could induce to come. He returned with many more immigrants despite making the journey at 70 years old. He had six sons.

House and museum

The Hans Herr House, built by his son Christian Herr in 1719, is open to the public as a museum, and is the oldest Pennsylvania German settlement still in existence today. The house is located at 1849 Hans Herr Drive in Willow Street, Pennsylvaniamarker.

The museum complex includes the 1719 Hans Herr House, the Georgian-style 1835 Shaub House, the Victorian-style 1890s Huber House, several barns and outbuildings with animals, exhibit buildings, blacksmith shop, bake-oven, smoke house, and a collection of farm equipment. Exhibits focus on Mennonite history, colonial and Victorian era farm life, and the Herr family. The museum opened in 1974 and is administered by the Hans Herr House Foundation.


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