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1536 Bachman Froschauer Bible

Mennonite Heritage Center, Harleysville, Pennsylvania

Link to Johann Jacob Schnebly

These digital images were made from purchased photographic prints and are of the original Bachman Froschauer Bible in the possession of the Mennonite Heritage Center, Harleysville, Pennsylvania. - Sue Phillips


Title Page
1696 Statement of Ownership by Johann Jacob Schnebly


Froschauer Bibles and Testaments

This term is used for the German Bibles and Testaments published by Christoph Froschauer. They were very popular because of the clear type, pictorial decoration, and popular language. The following Froschauer Bibles are known: 1524 to 1529 fol., 1527-1529 in 16 (in these two editions the separate parts appeared at intervals), 1530 in 8, 1531 fol., 1534 in 8, 1536 fol., 1538 in 8, 1540 fol., 1542 in 8, 1545 fol., 1545 in 8, 1550 in 8, 1552 in 8, 1553 fol., 1556 fol., 1560 in 8, 1561 in 8, 1565 fol., 1570 in 8, 1571 fol., 1580 fol., 1586 fol., 1589 in 4. Froschauer New Testaments appeared as follows: 1524 in 8, 1524 fol., 1525 in 8, undated in 16 (1528?), 1533 in 16, 1534 in 16 (?), 1535 Latin and German in 8, 1542 in 16, 1557 in 8, 1565 in 8, 1570 in 8, 1574 in 8, 1581 in 4.

The Froschauer Bibles and Testaments were originally reprints of Luther's translation, altered in word order and vocabulary, more rarely in the text itself. Until 1525 they have Swiss vocalization; e.g., Romans 12:20, So wirstu fiihrige kolen vff sin houpt samlen. In 1527 the New High German diphthongs, au, ei, and eu were adopted. Since the Prophets were still lacking in Luther's translation, the Zürich preachers in 1529 issued this part of the Old Testament in a special translation, based on the translation of Ludwig Haetzer and Hans Denck, which had been published in Worms in 1527, and which the Zürich preachers considered a faithful translation from the Hebrew. Thus it came about that in 1529 a complete translation of the entire Bible was printed by Froschauer several years before Luther's complete Bible appeared. From the continual revision of this combined Bible rose the actual "Zürich Bible," whose text deviated more and more from Luther's, without, however, losing all traces of its original dependence.

Fluri, Adolf. "Froschauer Bibles and Testaments." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 November 2007


Family record of George Bachman (1686-1753)
and Maria Schnebele (1698-1776)
Fraktur family record of George Bachman (1724-abt 1812)
and Esther Oberholtzer (1728-1812)


1536 Froschauer Bible

The Mennonite Historians recently acquired a rare 1536 Froschauer Bible with early manuscript, fraktur family records and signatures. Christopher Froschauer of Zurich was the printer of the Swiss Reformation. A close associate of Ulrich Zwingli and some of the early Swiss Anabaptist leaders, he printed many editions of the New Testament and Bible beginning in 1524 until his death in 1564. His nephew Christopher Froschauer II and heirs continued printing Bibles and other books until 1590.

The Froschauer version was the first complete vernacular German language edition of the Bible and so was highly prized among the Swiss Anabaptists. Several editions of the Bible, including the 1536 edition, had beautiful woodcut illustrations which made it very popular. For many years, the Swiss authorities banned the Anabaptists from owning the Froschauer Bible and New Testament, and therefore they hid it in their barns, haymows and houses.

This particular copy came from an unknown ancestor of the Anabaptist Schnebelli family who lived in the Zurich area. In the 1640's or 1650's, this family moved to the Alsace and from there down the Rhein River to the Iberscheimer Hof, just north of Worms in the Palatinate. In 1660, there was a preacher Jacob Schnebely at Baldenheim in the Alsace. In 1696, the Bible was owned by a preacher, Hans Jacob Schnebelli, of the Ibersheimer Hof who signed it:

"Disze biebel Gehert Dem Haans Jacob Schnebelli Auf dem Ibersheimer Hoff und Ist Mir zum deil worden von Meinem Schweer vatter zum (deill worden) [this crossed out] Anno 1696. Johann Jacob Schnebly." [this is an earlier signature]
"This Bible belongs to the Hans Jacob Schnebelli at the Ibersheimer Hof and was received from my father-in-law. Anno 1696. Johann Jacob Schnebly."

Hans Jacob Schnebelli appears to be the preacher who lived at Mannhaim and the Ibersheimer Hof and who assisted in the 1710 flight of Swiss Anabaptist refugees on their way down the Rhein River to the Palatinate.

In 1708, the Bible was owned by Matthias Schnebelli at the Ibersheimerhof, probably an unmarried son of Hans Jacob Schnebelli. Next to the title page of the second part, is found a very rare 1708 Palatine Fraktur bookplate with the inscription:

"Diese Biebel Gehehret dem Madteiss Schnebelli Auf dem Iversheimer Hoff, und sie ist im Lieb so geschrieben Im Jahr Christi 1708."
(This Bible belongs to the Matthias Schnebly at the Ibersheimerhof, and this is in love so written in the year of Christ, 1708.)

And so this made the piece even more unique, since it is one of the earliest pieces of Mennonite fraktur we have seen.

The father, preacher Hans Jacob Schnebelli, died by 1714 and his widow Elizabeth remarred Dielman Kolb (1691-1756) of Wolfsheim or Mannheim on St. Jacob's Day (July 25), 1714, as recorded in Dielman Kolb's family Bible. They migrated to Pennsylvania in the summer of 1717, and settled in (Lower) Salford Township, where Dielman became a preacher in the Skippack and Salford Mennonite congregations. It was this Dielman's father, Dielman Kolb Sr. (1648-1712), who was a preacher at Mannheim and who assisted with preacher Hans Jacob Schnebelli in the 1710 flight of Swiss Anabaptists. When the preacher Schnebelli died, his widow married the preacher Kolb's son.

In the meantime, the Bible found its way into the possession of Hans George Bachman (1686-1753) when he married Anna Maria [?] Schnebelli in 1715, probably at the Ibersheimerhof. In the "Mennonite census" lists, we find one Hans Bachman at the Ibersheimerhof in September, 1685. According to her gravestone, Maria was born in 1698 and died in 1776, and appears to have been the daughter of Hans Jacob Schnebelli, mentioned above. George and Maria Bachmann's oldest child, Henrish, was born in 1717, according to their family record which we find in the Bible. They may have immigrated to Pennsylvania in that year, along with Dielman and Elizagbeth Schnebeli Kolb and many other Palatine Mennonites who came at the same time. We do know they came by 1727 and settled in the Saucon area. George and Maria's second sons, Hans Jacob Bachmann (possibly named after his maternal grandfather), was born in 1720.

During the 1720's, the Bible settled with the Bachmann family in the Saucon Mennonite community in what is now Coopersburg, Lehigh County, where George acquired a tract of 300 acres by 1728. From 1717 to 1744, the births of George and Maria Bachmann's eleven children are recorded in the Bible as follows:

Our Son Henrich Bahmann, born 1717.
Our Son Hans Jacob Bachmann, born June 15, 1720.
Our Daughter Catarina Bachmann, born August 25, 1722.
Our Son Hans Gorg Bachmann, born November 30l 1724.
Our Son Christel (Christian) Bachmann, born May 19, 1727.
Our Daughter Mary Bachmann, born January 28, 1729.
Our Daughter Elisabeth Bachmann, born July 3, 1732.
Our Son Johannes Bachmann, born August 1, 1735.
Our Son Samuel Bachmann, born January 14, 1739.
Our Daughter Susanna Bachmann, born April 17, 1742.
Our Son Abraham Bachmann, born November 12, 1744.

[And one more birth, which must be a grandchild of Hans George Jr.]: Esther Oberholtzer born September 30, 1792, at 7 o'clock p.m., in the Sign of the Ram. [this record written in another hand]

George Bachmann, Sr. died in 1753, and was buried in the Saucon Mennonite cemetery. The Bible was passed on to this son Hans George Jr. (1724-1806). The elder Bachmann's gravestone, the oldest in the Saucon cemetery, refers to him as the "honorable" (ehrsame) George Bachmann, records his age, that he was married for 38 years, and that he had eleven children. His 1754 estate inventory lists: "Two Bibles and Sundry other books," valued at four pounds. The Bible was rebound sometime in the 18th century. His widow, Maria, lived another twenty-three years.

George Bachmann, Jr. was married in 1748 to Esther Oberholtzer (b.1728), the daughter of Jacob and Barbara Oberholtzer of Deep Run, Bucks County. The Bible records the birth of their eleven children (one son, ten daughters) from 1749 to 1774, and the death of their youngest daughter Rebecca in 1776. These family records are in a beautiful, full-page fraktur done in Bucks County by schoolmaster John Adam Eyer. Although the last entry in Eyer's hand is dated 1776, the fraktur could hardly have been made before 1779, as this is when he started his teaching career and fraktur work.

In August of 1778, it is thought that this old and highly prized Bible must have been taken or hidden during the confiscations and sheriff's auctions of twelve Mennonite households in the Saucon Congregation during the American Revolution. The twelve men had refused to take the Test Oath (of allegiance), were imprisoned at Easton, and had their estates confiscated by the over-zealous sheriff of Northampton County. In September, 1778, two of the wives, Esther Bachman and Eve Yoder, sent a petition to the Pennsylvania General Assembly asking for some relief and stated: "all their said personal Estate, even their Beds, Bedings, Linen, Bibles and Books were taken from them and sold by the Sheriff to the amount of about forty thousand pounds.´ This Bible could have been one of those confiscated Bibles. The story of intolerance in Pennsylvania is an important part of the Work and Hope exhibit at The Meeting House.

It was after this incident that the fraktur family records for George and Esther Bachman was made by John Adam Eyer. The Bible could have been returned to, or reclaimed by the family after the confiscations, or simply hidden during the whole affair. The fraktur was probably one of John Adam Eyer's earliest pieces and is a very fine example of his work. Its design is seimilar to the April, 1780, Abraham Landes Vorschrift Booklet Cover done by Eyer, now in the Free Library of Philadelphia Rare Books Department. Why would a Deep Run schoolmaster have made a fraktur record for a family from the Saucon Mennonite community? There is no evidence that Eyer taught at the Saucon school. The Esther Oberholtzer Bachmann's family was from the Deep Run community and would have known of John Adam Eyer.

A transcrption of the Bachmann family record follows:

Diese Bibel gehoret Johann George Bachmann, sie hat meinem Vatter George Bachmann gehort, und nach seinem Todte ist sie mir von allen Meinen geschwistern Ver-Ehret worden.

Anno 1724 den 30ten November, bin ich Joh. George Bachman, Laut Meiner Eltern Geburts-Register, Auf diese Welt gebohren worden. Und en 16ten November 1748-alter zeit-hab ich mich In den Heil. Ehestand begeben Mit Esther Oberholtzerin des Jacob Oberholtzers und seiner fr. Barbara Tochter. Sie ist auf diese Welt Gebohren worden den 16ten may 1728.

In Unserer Ehe hat uns der Herr mit Nachfolgenden kindern gesegnet:


This Bible belongs to Johann George Bachmann; it belonged to my Father George Bachmann, and after his death it was given to me by all of my brothers and sisters.

Anno 1724, the 30th of November, I Joh. George Bachmann, as is recorded on my parents [family] birth register, was born into this World. And on the 16th of November 1748 - old style - I entered into Holy Matrimony with Esther Oberholtzer, daughter of Jacob Oberholtzer and his wife Barbara. She was born into this world the 16th of May, 1728.

In our married life, the Lord blessed us with the following children:

Then follows the birth records of eleven children which we will abbreviate here:

Maria, born August 22, 1749.
Jacob, born October 15, 1750, at 4 o'clock p.m., in the Sign of the Maiden.
Barbara, born July 6, 1752, at 9 o'clock a.m., in the Sign of the Scales.
Rachel, born January 7, 1754, at 7 o'clock p.m., in the Sign of the Twins.
Esther, born March 8, 1756, at 1 o'clock p.m. in the Sign of the Twins
Anna, born October 14, 1758, at 10 o'clock p.m., in the Sign of the Fish.
Lidia, born October 14, 1761, at 8 o'clock a.m. in the Sign of the Steer.
Susanna, born January 9, 1763, at mid-day, in the Sign of the Scorpion.
Elisabeth, born April 22, 1765, at 8 o'clock a.m., in the Sign of the Twins.
Catarina, born March 5, 1770, at 10 o'clock p.m., in the Sign of the Crab.
Rebecca, born May 20, 1774, and died April 29, 1776.

Sometime after this fraktur record was made, possibly when George Bachman Jr. died in 1806, the Bible was passed on to his daughter Barbara, married to Isaac Stoudt. It was then passed down in the Stoudt family for more than a century to J. Kennedy Stout of Washington, D.C., who owned it in 1914. In that year, it was noticed by Historian John Baer Stoudt, of Northampton, Pa., and the family records found it in, were published in the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, Philadelphia, Pa. It again went unnoticed for many years. Somehow, it later came into the possession of Ferdinand and Matilda Kotzbeck Hetzel of Bristol, Bucks County, late German immigrants and unrelated to the Stouts, and finally to her grandson Paul Hetzel of Philadelphia, who was the last owner of the piece. Mr. Hetzel remembers his grandmother Matilda faithfully readying from the ancient Bible when he was a boy.

In December 1990, it was sold by the last owners at auction, after they tried to obtain more information about it from several Philadelphia area museums and libraries. With contributions made by several MHEP members, this organization purchased what is now the most significant piece in our collection.

1708 Palatine Fraktur bookplate with ownership inscription
by Matthias Schnebly of Ibersheimerhoff

Last Updated
March 4, 2024