The Complete Amish Mennonites in Tazewell County


Historical Background and

Stücker/ Stecker/Staker




PART TWO (coming soon) contains supplemental genealogies of families such as Stucker, Farny,

Roth, Zimmerman, Ropp, Fischer, Bachman, Mosiman, Schrock, Salzman, Belsley,

Schertz, Engel, Vercler, Gerber, and Garber.

PART THREE (coming soon) contains photos, maps, and illustrations relevant to the texts.


The Complete Amish Mennonites in Tazewell County

Copyright © 2005 Joseph Peter Staker, all rights reserved; originally published at Silverdale, Washington State, USA

 July 2003; revised July 2004 and completed March 2005.  Permission is given to reproduce up to 150 lines without a

formal request; see the PART TWO final page acknowledgement for information about the author including a contact address.



Swiss Anabaptists  --  The Stückers of Eriz  --  Swiss Generations  --  The Thirty Years War --  The Amish Division  --  Migration from Switzerland  --  Early Emigration from Europe  --  Ulrich Stücker and Catharina Schad  --  Adrian Anthoni Stücker and Marie Müller  --  Joseph Stecker and Barbe Farny  --  Belgrade Farm  --  Illiteracy  --  Military Service and the Napoleonic Wars  --  Joseph Staker and Frena Roth  --  Europe to North America  --  Christian Augspurger in Butler County  --  Mennonites in Ontario  --  Butler County Prospers  --  Marriage  --  Stecker to Staker  --  Settling Illinois  --  Lincoln and the Underground Railroad  --  Homes and Farms  --  Church Life  --  Life in Tazewell County  --  Christian Staker and Magdalena Ropp  --  Moses Staker and Anna Maria Fischer        --  Generations Twelve and Thirteen     Background:  More on the Ninth Generation Family  --  Other Children of Josephe and Barbe  -- 

Christian  --  Anna  --  John  --  Barbe  --  Catherine  --  Nicholas




This genealogy follows one family as it evolved over 350 years, from the Stückers of Canton Bern in the Swiss Confederation into the Stakers of Tazewell County, Illinois.

The first two recorded generations of Stückers can be found in church documents created at Hilterfingen, a tiny village on the northeast shore of Lake Thun in Bern. 

The third generation could be found in nearby Eriz.  'Eriz' is a general term that describes the valley of the Zulg River (Zulgtal) and surrounding slopes.  Because there was no church in Eriz, many of the their birth, death, and marriage entries are found at Steffisburg, a larger community six miles to the west and downstream on the Zulg River.  Steffisburg was the wellspring of the Amish Mennonite movement.  At least two dozen surnames found there in 1580 could also be found in Tazewell County, Illinois 300 years later. 

Records were also kept at Schwarzenegg after a church was established there in 1693.

In the 1740s, Ulrich Stücker left Eriz to live in Murei bei Bern, a suburb of the city of Bern.  His son Adrian Anthoni Stücker became the first in the family's direct line of descent to leave the Swiss Confederation.  He may have passed through the Principality of Salm and the Palatinate, or joined Amish Mennonites who considered settling in Moravia but eventually migrated to the Palatinate.  In 1802 his son Josephe married and settled in the area of Grostenquin, Moselle in the region of Lorraine, France.  They were probably not representative of a large and prosperous family that, on the whole, chose to assimilate into the Protestant Reformed Church of Switzerland.

Josephe married Barbe Farny on Belgrade Farm at Bistroff, a farming village near Grostenquin.  During the Napoleonic wars they farmed at Tragny, Moselle, then at Bening in Harprich, Moselle, where their family records were kept under the names 'Stecker' and 'Stéker'.  Three of Josephe's sons (John, Joseph, and Nicholas)  went to America in the early 1830s.   In 1835 they took part in an historic church vote in Butler County, Ohio that divided Amish Mennonite orthodox 'hooks and eyes' from Mennonite progressive 'buttons.'  They chose buttons and education. 

Josephe finally joined his sons in America in 1838, accompanying his daughter Anna and her husband.  Stepson Christian Farny/Stecker/Staker followed in 1848.

The first American official to write the name 'Staker' may have viewed immigration documents with the spelling 'Stéker'.  The name was spelled that way in Harprich, the last location in Moselle where family birth records were maintained before emigration from Europe.  Two brothers appeared as 'Staker' for the first time on the Butler County pages of the 1840 Federal Census (by 1847, four brothers and one sister lived in Butler County).

'Staker' is more than just a phonetic equivalent of 'Stéker.'  The Hamilton, Ohio municipal clerk who first used that spelling was probably familiar with 'Staker' as a name that could be found in abundance in the United Kingdom, where it describes an occupation in a tannery.  And the Hessian members of the family's congregation in Butler County would have thought of 'Staker' as a name found in their former homeland.  (The Utah Staker family associated with the Church of Latter Day Saints is descended from a farmer who immigrated to New York from Hesse-Cassel before the Revolutionary War; the Stakers of Scioto County, Ohio are descendants of an 1856 immigrant from Hesse-Cassel). 

In some instances the transitional spelling 'Stecker' was retained.  Josephe's son Joseph Stecker (1808-1872) was illiterate.  His name appears on an 1854 land deed as 'Joseph Stecker' over his 'x'.  The older version 'Stecker' can also be found on the gravestone of his wife Frena.  Several of the children of his younger brother Nicholas (1815-1876) also retained the 'Stecker' spelling long after their father's naturalization.  The spelling 'Steker' is also found in America, but only twice – once on the 1860 census of Morton, where Joseph Staker (1844-1874) may have resurrected it to evade conscription; and once on the grave of infant Rufus Staker (1889-1889) at the Evangelical Mennonite Cemetery in Groveland.  

We have attempted to write this text from an objective historical perspective that may not be agreeable to all readers.   In some instances this means the inclusion of families that are not directly related to the Stakers.  Their stories are necessary to understand the forces that drove a population from one continent to another. 

Our perspective may also conflict with biographies written in the 'family album' style of the late 1800s and early 1900s -- the notion that all every family came to America to find their own land, seek religious freedom, and endure hardships to succeed through thrift and industry.   Once European politics are taken into account, it becomes obvious that 'push' was just as much a factor as 'pull' when the decision was made to emigrate.

These notes include background information and a number of items that may or may not be relevant to the Illinois family.  Some references have been used more than others.  For convenience, "A Genealogical Study of the Nicolaus and Veronica (Zimmerman) Roth Family, 1934-1954" by Ruth C. Roth (1926-1999) is simply called the 'Roth-Zimmerman Genealogy.'   My family had a partial set of these notes, and I viewed the complete set at Conrad Grebel College Library in Waterloo, Ontario.  The "Zimmerman Genealogy" is a separate set of notes compiled by Elias Zimmerman and provided by John Stalter of Washington, Ill.   Documents held by my father are called the "Staker Genealogy."

The church buildings that kept the original marriage and christening records in Hilterfingen, Steffisburg, and Schwarzenegg still exist.  Fortunately, their documents have also been preserved on microfilm and are accessible through family history centers of the Church of Latter Day Saints.  Their help made this project possible.



Swiss Anabaptists



efore 1353, Bern was the largest in a group of independent city-states.  Its name was derived from the dialect equivalent of 'bear,' the animal that appears on its crest.

Bern remained relatively detached from European squabbles.  Instead of following the dictates of a foreign prince, each village ran its own affairs.  Citizens who were freemen were even allowed to voice their interpretations of religious matters at public meetings, as long as their ideas fell relatively close to the mainstream. 

In 1353, Bern combined with other loose states to form the Swiss Confederation of cantons under the protection of the Holy Roman Empire. 

By 1499, the stability of the Confederation had allowed it to become relatively more prosperous than the remainder of Europe.  It pulled away from the Holy Roman Empire, and its army occupied territory as far as Milan.  However, Swiss Confederation troops were badly routed when they went up against a combined French and Venetian force in 1513.  Within two years, the Confederation had backed off its new policies of expansionism and declared permanent neutrality.

It was inevitable that the Protestant Reformation in Europe would find a foothold in a place that already provided a relative degree of security, prosperity, and religious tolerance.

In 1518, Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531) of Zürich became a public voice for citizens who resented the power of the Roman Catholic Church.  Although he was the leading priest in the Great Church of Zürich, he protested against the unique authority of Rome and the rituals that had evolved there.   Delivering sermons in the open, speaking the Swiss-German dialect rather than Latin, he stated the new belief that no one should practice something that was not explicitly stated in the Bible.  

Zwingli's appeal to the public rested on two points.   He felt that forgiveness of sins was possible without money changing hands, through "salvation by grace through faith alone."   He also denounced the hiring out of Swiss citizens as mercenary soldiers for Rome.  He felt the soldiers returned to their homes disillusioned and corrupted by outside influences.   In 1522, foreign services and military pensions were forbidden in Zürich.

At first, Zwingli also stated that it was important to baptize at an age sufficient to imply belief and consent.  However, as he gained popular support, he backed away from that position.  By the close of 1522, he had come full circle to the defense of infant baptism. 

Some of his student followers agreed with his original points, but saw his retreat on the issue of baptism as a concession to the Zürich City Council.  They felt that infant baptism was simply a political device that prevented new residents from slipping past tax collectors.  In time, they also came to see Zwingli's ideas for a reformed church as a thinly veiled transfer of power from the church to the growing upper middle class of small business owners.

A few of the students secretly broke away from Zwingli to form their own group.  While Zwingli accepted the Zürich City Council as a religious authority, the students believed in separating politics and theology.  They tried to heed the Biblical admonition to "…Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2).

On Jan. 21, 1525, the dissenters secretly re-baptized each other.  Not only did they believe that religious choice could be the informed decision of an adult, but more dangerously, they showed that religion matters could be separated from the state.  They became known as Wiedertäufer or Anabaptists.  Anabaptismus means 'second baptism.'  The Anabaptists of medieval Switzerland and the Rhine Valley actually called themselves Brüder ('Brethren').

By 1526, Zwingli's reformed concepts were officially adopted by the Zürich City Council.  They skirted the issue of adult baptism by prohibiting public discussion.

While church reform was still being discussed in Bern, the peasants of Northern Germany revolted and demanded land reforms.  Unfortunately, many of them stated Anabaptist beliefs before being indiscriminately slaughtered.  The uprising made Zürich and Bern authorities even more wary of Anabaptist practices.   Soon Anabaptists were being beaten, imprisoned, tortured, branded, exiled into slavery, or put to death by drowning.  Others were forced to swear an oath to leave the region and never return under penalty of death.

Despite this, Anabaptism continued to attract new believers.   In January 1528, Anabaptists from Zürich were granted a temporary amnesty to debate Roman Catholic priests and Zwingli reformers in Canton Bern.  However, the following month, Bern also adopted Zwingli's Protestant Reformed principles.

Once the Protestant Reformed Church took hold in Bern, many of the Anabaptists debaters of 1528 were imprisoned or executed.  With the exception of Solothurn, both Catholic and Protestant authorities in surrounding city-states drowned Anabaptists in a manner that parodied adult baptism.  In 1529, German Emperor Charles V ordered that unrepentant Anabaptists be burned at the stake, while those who recanted could be executed by sword.

Because they were dispersed over a wide area with little communication, the Anabaptists soon splintered into a variety of groups.  One Dutch extremist element believed the world was coming to an end.  At first, they proposed that Strasbourg would be the site of the 'New Jerusalem' and the resurrection of Christ.  When they became the majority in the city of Münster in the Duchy of Westphalia in 1534, they forced their religious views on the Catholic minority there.  They also threatened to kill anyone who refused to be re-baptized before their 'second coming' deadline.  In a rare show of unity, Catholics and Protestants cooperated to storm the city and burn many at the stake. 

Following the death of his brother in the insurrection, Dutch Catholic priest Menno Simons denounced both the radicals and their suppressors.  He left the Catholic Church and worked among moderate Anabaptists to encourage unity.  But his 'Mennonites' found themselves on a tenuous middle ground between what was left of the radical Anabaptists, the emerging Protestant Reformed Church, the indignant Roman Catholic Church, and neighboring city-states of Middle Europe. 

Partly as a means of self-preservation, the Mennonites came to stress the avoidance of anyone who espoused violence in any form, regardless of political outlook.  Menno Simons wrote that, "The regenerated do not go to war, nor engage in strife...They are the children of peace who have beaten their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and know of no war...Spears and swords of iron we leave to those who, alas, consider human blood and swine's blood of well-nigh equal value."

The Anabaptists refused to serve in government or swear oaths of any kind, including oaths of fealty to their governments.  The refusal to swear a loyalty oath was more objectionable to governing officials than other religious differences.  Some saw the refusal as open treason.  It had always been a common understanding that every able man would join in the defense of the Swiss Confederation if it were attacked.  That policy is reflected in modern, neutral Switzerland, the only country in the world where every able-bodied man is a reserve member of the armed forces.

Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575), Zwingli's successor as leading priest at Zürich, criticized the movement in 1566: "We condemn the Anabaptists who -- as they deny that a Christian man should bear the office of a magistrate -- deny also that any man can justly be put to death by the magistrate; or that the magistrate may make war; or that oaths should be administered by the magistrate; and such like things...for he that opposes himself against the magistrate, does provoke the wrath of God.  We condemn therefore all condemners of magistrates, rebels, enemies of the commonwealth, seditious villains -- and, in a word, all such as do either openly or closely refuse to perform those duties which they owe."  In Bern, officials who shared Bullinger's views deputized municipal Anabaptist hunters called Täuferjager and offered significant rewards for captures. 

Nevertheless, the number of Swiss peasant families who professed the Anabaptist doctrine continued to grow.   The passage I John 2:15-16 was cited to justify their isolation:  ""Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." 

Christoffel Froschauer of Zürich created a Bible with vernacular German text as early as 1536.  Anabaptists were prohibited from possessing the heavy volumes, and often kept them in secret places.  Froschauer Bibles tended to be passed down through generations because of their fine woodcut engravings.  They accumulated birth, marriage, and death notations over the years.  The first edition of the heavy hymnal Auss Bundt (Ausbund in America) was published in Bern in 1564.  In 1632, the tenets of the Anabaptist faith were formalized in a statement of faith, The Dortrecht Confesssion.   In 1660, stories of persecution were recorded in a 1,200-page text with engravings.  The extensive account was later translated into German and published in Pennsylvania as The  Martyrs Mirror.[1]  These four items became the foundations for a religious community that sought to live "in the world, but not of the world."


The Stückers of Eriz


The present-day Stakers are descendants of Stücker millers and farmers who lived in the area above Lake Thun in Canton Bern.  They were sustained by wheat fields, dairy farms, vineyards, distilleries, and cheese making.  Although serfdom still existed in Europe in the 1500s, the area was populated only by freemen.

Lake Thun communities were on the most traveled Christian pilgrimage route in Europe, the Way of St. James.  The route was a 500-mile trail from Roncevalles, France to a burial site at Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain.  The local segment passes from the city of Thun along the eastern shore of Lake Thun to what is now Beatenberg.  Tens of thousands of travelers must have passed through the communities each summer in the 16th and 17th centuries. 

The Joder Newsletter cites Document K-893 of March 9, 1580, which has recently been moved to the canton archives at Bern.  The deed describes land in a valley between Steffisburg and neighboring Diessbach.   "The brothers Caspar and Nicolaus Joder, sons of the deceased Caspar Joder, bought, together with the families Stücker, Steinmann, Blank, Roth, and Zimmerman related to them by marriage, a large part of the March of Farni and jointly exploited it."  The 'march' or valley of Farni is now the location of the village of Fahrni.

The Anabaptists around Lake Thun met in secret after dark in barns and remote homes.  They certainly resented the Protestant Reformed Church, but they were still obliged to function in their state system during the day.  This meant they had to register their newborn children at the nearest church.  Before 1628, Bernese citizens were required to baptize their children within three days of birth in a city, and eight days in the countryside.  After 1628, the limits became eight and 14 days.  A child who was not registered might lose inheritance rights and be taken from its natural parents as an orphan ward of the state.

Stories that Anabaptists could be identified simply by asking – since they were morally committed to telling the truth – are unrealistic.  It is also unlikely that every child of an Anabaptist was christened at a Protestant Reformed church in the absence of its parents, a point some authors have tried to make.  Anabaptists in Steffisburg, Schwarzenegg, and Eriz were tacitly accepted by their neighbors, who were as likely as not to be near relations.

Even Protestant Reformed pastors who were sympathetic to their Anabaptist neighbors were obligated to perform christenings at the infant registration.   Their parish baptismal records were kept in a Täufrödel or registration book. Most of the entries also contain the names of three or four witnesses.  The surname found most often in Stücker witness entries was Farni.  Many of the witnesses at Stücker christenings were later listed as Anabaptists in a Täufer Urbar, the parish record of those who failed to baptize their children or attend Protestant Reformed services.

A handful of the earliest Stücker christening records can be found in Hilterfingen, which is located on the northeast shore of Lake Thun.  The local church has stood on the same spot since the 14th century.  It has been extensively rebuilt twice, but maintains many of the same decorations and relics it held in the 1500s.

However, for the most part, Stücker families could be found in Eriz after 1580.   'Eriz' describes not only a small village, but also an area of the Oberland mountainous region ascending to the east and south.  Most homes could be found in Zulgtal (the valley of the Zulg River), which is reached by a single road from the community of Schwarzenegg.  Thierry Stucker has traveled there, and describes Eriz as "a dead-end valley with little traffic; the village is actually spread out because the valley is very steep.  It is a typical Swiss valley configuration, that is, when the slopes are steep no one lives at the bottom, but the houses are constructed midway down the slopes along the entire length of the valley."

To this day Eriz does not have a church, and no records were kept there.  The present population is 520 residents, and there is no evidence that it could have sustained a much larger population in the past.

Eriz is only a 10-mile walking distance from Hilterfingen, but the communities of Thun, Steffisburg, and Schwarzenegg lie between them.  Eriz, Schwarzenegg, and Steffisburg are still connected by a road running along the Zulg River, which flows from the mountains above Eriz.  The Zulg is a sluggish stream for most of the year, but in the spring, the snowmelt causes it to overflow its banks with water that is heavy with silt and gravel.  After passing through Steffisburg, it joins the much larger Aare River, which flows north to the city of Bern.  In the 1500s and 1600s, the flow through Steffisburg was strong enough to sustain dozens of small mills.  

The Eriz family had christenings performed at Steffisburg until 1693.  All large communities had a Chorgericht, a consistitory court that enforced religious doctrine in the community.  It was an open secret that the one in Steffisburg was unusually tolerant.   A tableau on painted wood called the Mosestafel, installed in the Steffisburg church as it was being rebuilt in 1682, displays the names and coat of arms boards (Wappentafel) of prominent citizens along its borders.  Almost all of the individuals represented headed families that had Anabaptist members: [2]


BOTTOM (left to right):  Hans Jenni, Ulrich Stücker, Jost Joder, Mathÿs Zoug, Petter Blanck, Jacob Schneitter, Peter Farni, Peter Carli, and Christen Güngerich.

LEFT (bottom to top):  Peter Linder, Peter Meijer, Caspar Joder, Niclaus Gerber, Vinzentz Staütz, Hans Rügsegger, Christen Imhoff[3], Hans Blanck, and Mathÿs Berger.

RIGHT (bottom to top):  Hans Staüfer, Petter Gerber, Peter Stägman, Hans Leman, Ulrich Farni, Christen Spring, Andres Müre, and two empty spaces.


It is likely that this was the Ulrich Stücker who was born in 1654 and married Christina Reusser.  His family coat of arms appears as a simple letter 'S' over three white boxes.  The boxes are arranged with one behind the other two.  It has been suggested that they represent building blocks, indicating that Ulrich was a stonemason, but it is more likely that they represent three houses or barns. 

In Steffisburg's Täufrödel 1557-1698, we found dozens of surnames that were later associated with Amish Mennonite families.  Steffisburg and Schwarzenegg records before 1750 mention Abersold (later Ebersole), Augspurger, Bachman, Bälzli (later Belsley), Baumgartner, Brönniman (later Brenneman), Bürcki (later Birckey), Büler and Bühler, Bÿler (later Beiler), Eby, Ehrismann, Eichacher (later also Eyacker), Eicher, Erb, Eÿemann and Eiman (later Eymann), Frÿ (later Frey), Furer, Garber, Galli, Gerber and Guerber, Gerig, Glücki, Graber, Güngrich (later Gungerich and Gingerich), Gÿger (later Geiger), Haslibacher, Heisser (later Hieser and Heiser) , Hirschi (later Hirchy and Hershey), Hügbegger and Habegger (later Habecker), Janni (later Jantzi), Joder, Kauffman, Kneubül, Kolb, Krayenbühl (later Krehbiel and Graybill), Krebs, Kropf, Küntzi (later Kinsinger), Küppfers,  Kupferschmid, Lauber, Leeman (later Lehmann), Losenegger, Lorentz, Mürer (later Maurer), Mosimann, Moser, Mosler, Müller, Neuenschwander, Ösh (later Oesch and Eash), Oswald, Pfister, Plank and Blank, Räber, Reutiger (later Reidiger and Rediger), Rüsser/Reusser/Riesser (later Risser, Reese, and Reeser), Röthlisberger, Rott and Roth, Rop/Ropp/Rupp, Rübi/Rüby, Rüchti, Rüpper (later Ripper), Salzman (later Saltzman), Schad (later Shade), Schiffman, Schürch (later Sherk and Schirk), Schwÿzer (later Schweitzer and Suisse, and Sweitzer in Tazewell County), Slappach (later Schlabach), Spring and Springer, Stägmann, Stalder, Stähli, Stetter and Hochstetter (later Hochstettler), Stouffer/Stauffer, Stücki (later Stuckey), Stutzman, Trachsel, Tschabold, Treÿers (later Troyer and Dreyer), Tshanz (later Schantz), Ulrich, Ummel, Wenger, Wittmer, Witwer, Wüthrich, Zeender and Zehnder (later Zender and Cender), Zimmerman, and Züge/Zougg/Zaugg (later Zug and Zook).  The most common name by far is Farni, the name of the valley between Steffisburg and Diessbach.  (At least a third of these surnames, all found within a 12-mile area of the Swiss Oberland in the 1580s, were represented in Tazewell County, Ill. three centuries later).

On Oct. 8, 1693, a reformed church was established at Schwarzenegg (between Steffisburg and Eriz) under Pastor Johannes Herzog. The Evangelisch-Reformierte Kirche, Schwarzenegg bei Thun served a parish that included Eriz, Horrenbach, Oberlangenegg, and Unterlangenegg.  There may have been more than one reason for the establishment of a new church.  Two years earlier, the pastor at Steffisburg had begun to keep notations in his records indicating which children had Anabaptist parents; Pastor Herzog of Schwarzenegg was more discrete.

We had opportunities to view photocopies of 16th, 17th, and 18th century records at Church of Latter Day Saints family history centers, and then compare our interpretation to a monograph by genealogist Julius Billeter (1869-1957) called The Stuecker (Stücker) Family of Eriz, Bern, Switzerland.  It can be viewed as item 9 on FHL microfilm 417544 .

In much of the following information, we have given the date of christening as the date of birth.   This may not always be precisely accurate.  The spellings are given as found, and events occurred in the Steffisburg-Schwarzenegg-Eriz area unless otherwise noted.  In the early christenings, a number of children appear to have been named after witnesses; in later generations, they were often named for uncles and aunts.


Swiss Generations


The church at Hilterfingen began to keep records in 1528.  Its parish also included the villages Oberhofen and Langenschachen, farther down the east shore of Lake Thun.

An unusual name that appears several times in Stücker entries is 'Batt' or 'Bat.' The Latin beatus means blessed with luck.  Batt/Bat was a nickname for St. Beatus, a figure in the mythology of the Lake Thun area.   He was a Celtic pilgrim traveling to Rome in the 6th century.  He used prayer to expel a dragon from a cave above the lake, then made the cave his permanent home.  He worked similar miracles and used his influence to convert Druids in the area to Christianity until he was 90.  Before the Reformation, and particularly in the plague year 1439, the site of his cave dwelling above the southeast shore of Lake Thun (now Beatenberg) was the most significant destination for Way of St. James pilgrims as they passed through the Swiss Confederation.  Goethe, Lord Byron, and Wagner visited the cave, and its underground museum and restaurant are now patronized by tourists lodging at nearby Interlaken.

The lineal descent to the Stakers of Ohio and Illinois may begin with Gilg[4] (also found as Gilgen) Stücker of Hilterfingen and his wife Anna.  Their names can be found on a partially illegible Hilterfingen christening entry from January 1534, and the Hilterfingen christening entry of daughter Anna on March 24, 1535.[5]

Gilg may have had three children.  The first would be Maritz, who may have been the child born in January 1534.  The birth entry crosses a water stain that obliterates the child's name. However, it is clear that the parents were Gilgen Stücker and Anna, and witnesses were Batt Furer and Willim im Hoffer.  The second child was Anna; no more is known about her.  The third may be a son Gilg or Gilgen, who was married in Steffisburg in 1574 -- more on him a little later.  

Our main genealogy line starts with FIRST GENERATION:  MARITZ STÜCKER.  After Maritz, it is possible to demonstrate a direct link between every generation except the second, shown in birth documents listing the parents.

Maritz's first wife was Dichtla Eichacher.[6]  Their marriage was entered into church records at Steffisburg on July 7, 1558.  Her family name was well known.  Minister Conrad Eichacher of Steffisburg had been put on trial as an Anabaptist in August of 1529.  He was released on Oct. 18, after admitting that he had made errors.  However, he was arrested again on Dec. 30 and re-tried.  The following February, he was put to death by drowning in the Aare River at the city of Bern.  The event became one of the stories of The Martyrs Mirror.[7] 

On March 25, 1568, Maritz married a second time to 16-year-old Verena Rupp at Hilterfingen (her name is also found as Ferena and Freni).  She was born in Hilterfingen on March 28, 1552; her parents were Jacob Rupp and Elisabet Jeger.  They appear on a number of other documents as witnesses.  Maritz appeared as a christening witness for Anna Farny, daughter of Hann Farny at Hilterfingen on July 13, 1568 (other witnesses were Anna Bützer and Grida Müller).  Verena appeared as a witness at the christening of Johannes, son of Caspar Müller, in Hilterfingen on July 7, 1572 (the other witness was Christian Farni), and at the christening of Anna, daughter of Uli Stutzmann and Madleni in Hilterfingen on Dec. 7, 1572 (the other witness was Hann Zimmerman and Fredrick am Stutz).

The children of Maritz Stücker include:


1.       SECOND GENERATION: BATT "zum Bach"  (living next to the brook) was presumably born 1558-64 to Dichtla Eichacher.   He had a son by Anna on Nov. 8, 1584.  Curiously, the name of the mother was not written into the principal register entry but added later in the upper left-hand corner.  He married Elsbeth 'Elsi' Kammerman of Langnau in Steffisburg on Nov. 28, 1588.  She is found in a Kammerman genealogy as Elsa Kammerman, born March 19, 1564 in Bowil, the daughter of Hans Kammerman and Appolonia Blumer.  Batt and Elsi had two children together, Anni and Peter. 

2.       Ulrich, christened on Aug. 5, 1565 at Hilterfingen [mother Dichtla Eichacher].   Peter Mosler[8] was the only witness.  Ulrich married Verena Linder in Steffisburg on Jan. 13, 1595 (he is called 'Uli' on that Steffisburg entry).

3.       Christian, christened at Hilterfingen on July 1, 1571 [mother Ferena Rupp].  Witnesses were Petter Losenegger and Barbli Murer.

4.       Barbli, christened at Hilterfingen on May 24, 1573 [mother Ferena Rupp].  Witnesses included Uli Farny, Ben Weybal of Stamburg, and Carrin Wyrich.

5.       Johann, christened at Hilterfingen on April 10, 1575 [mother Ferena Rupp].  Witnesses were Hanns Stutzmann and Madleni Stutzmann. 


The children of Ulrich, Christian, and Johann are not found on Steffisburg records.  Their descendants may account for a number of Steffisburg entries that cannot be 'attached' to the main line of descent.[9]

The three children of Batt Stücker (Batt, Anni, and Peter) can be described with more detail. The fathers that lead toward the present day family in the United States are descended from Batt.  Their names are boldfaced and underlined.


1.     THIRD GENERATION: BATT (also found as Bat) was born Nov. 8, 1584 to mother 'Anna.'  Witnesses were Üly Rittschart, Andreas Hertig, and Wolffgang Oswald.  He married Margareth Rupp.  Their children[10] include:

a.        Peter was born about 1610.  He married Leni Büler (also found as Madlen or Magdalena), born about 1611. Their children:

1)       Michel, born Aug. 4, 1633.  Witnesses were Hans Ösh, Michel Büler and Margreth Leeman.

2)       Madlen, born Sept. 21, 1634.  Witnesses were Christian Stägmann, Anni Bützer, and Babi Oesh.

3)       Christen, born Jan. 17, 1636.  Witnesses included Hans Kolb and Uli Farny.

4)       Barbli or Barbara, born April 16, 1637.

5)       Beat, born Jan. 5, 1640.  Peter Moser was a christening witness.

6)       Elsbeth, born Aug. 15, 1641.  Witnesses were Martsÿ Kropf, Barbli Erb, and Anna Müller.

b.     Hans, born Nov. 15, 1613.  Witnesses were Michel Farni, Joseph Tschantz, and Christina Haberstock. He married Verena 'Freni'  Spring (born 1622) on Feb. 13, 1648, and died at Hilterfingen on Jan. 20, 1664.  Their children include:

1)       Barbara, born Feb. 13, 1648.  Witnesses were Jacob Rupp, Anna Zougg, and Verena Zimmerman.

2)       Verena, born Feb. 25, 1655.  Witnesses included Barbara Strubar and Barbara Maÿer.

3)       Hans, born Feb. 22, 1657.  He married Katharina Witwer in Eriz on Oct. 4, 1678.  She was born in Schangnau about 1657 and died July 28, 1700.  Their children include:

a)      Anna, born Nov. 17, 1678.  Witnesses were Ulrich Gerber, Elsbeth Egli, and Verena Stauffer.  She died as an infant.

b)      Anna, born Aug. 28, 1681.  Witnesses were Hans Farni, Cathrin Farni, and Elsbeth Roth.  She died as an infant.  

c)       Peter, born April 8, 1683.  Witnesses were Hans Farni, Abraham Kauffman, and Verena Stauffer.  He died before 1697.

d)      Anna, born March 16, 1684.  Witnesses were Peter Bichsel, Barbara Farni, and Barbara Gerber.

e)      Christian, born Jan. 1, 1687.  Witnesses were Ulrich Stücker, Hans Farni, and Elsbeth Farni.

f)       Cathrin, born Jan. 18, 1691.  Witnesses were Abraham Farni, Cathrin Im Hooff, and Cathrina Stagman.

g)      Peter, born Feb. 7, 1697.  Witnesses included Hans Fahrni and Barbara Schiffman.

4)      Elsbet. Unlike the others, she was christened at Hilterfingen on May 12, 1661.  Witnesses were Adam Ruchti, Anna Stauffer, and Anna Sadler.

5)      Christina, born Jan. 24, 1664.  Witnesses included Uli Bützer, Freni Schwaar, and Maria Wenger.

c.       FOURTH GENERATION: BALTI  (found often as 'Balthasar' and at least once as 'Bat,' but both 'Balti' and 'Balthi' appear on his birth entry).   He was born Nov. 19, 1620.  Witnesses included Christian Farni, Hansli Farni, and Christina Farni.   He married first wife Maria Margreth Brunner (also found as Berner on the original documents) on Nov. 10, 1643, and they had two children.  He married second wife Magdalena 'Leni' Gerber on June 6, 1651.  She was born in Steffisburg on March 20, 1631; her parents were Niklaus Gerber (born Dec. 24, 1607 in Steffisburg) and Anna Müller (born 1605 in Steffisburg).  Balti's children include:

1)      Peter, born Dec. 8, 1644 [mother Maria Margreth Brunner].  Witnesses were Peter Zoug, Hans Eichacher, and Barblÿ Farni.

2)      Elsbeth, born Nov. 14, 1647 [mother Maria Margreth Brunner].  Witnesses were Peter Brugner, Elsbeth Obliger, and Veronica Hodel.

3)      Niclaus, born July 27, 1651 [mother Leni Gerber]. Witnesses were Hans Guerber, Michal Im Hof the younger, and Margret Farni.

4)      Barbara, born July 25, 1652 [mother Leni Gerber].  Witnesses were Caspar Joder, Barbara Hüber, and Barbara Farni.  She married Jacob Stucki, who was born Dec. 28, 1645 in Diessbach; his parents were Adam Stucki and Barbli Künzi.  Their marriage is known from the christening entry for a son, Christen, registered in Steffisburg on July 8, 1683.  Witnesses were Ulrich Stücker, Christen Farni, and Elsbeth Roth.

5)      Ulli or Ulrich, born July 6, 1656 [mother Leni Gerber]. He married Christina Reusser on April 28, 1682.  She was born Feb. 21, 1658 in Steffisburg and died April 12, 1703; her parents were Christian Reusser and Barbli Kupferschmid. 

a)       Christen, born Aug. 3, 1684.  Witnesses included Christian Osch and Jacob Stähli. 

b)      Hans (later found as Johannes), born May 29, 1687.  Witnesses were Hans Farni, Peter Aeschliman, and Elsbeth Roth.  He married Barbara Kohler of Nidau on May 10, 1715.

1.       Maria Elisabeth, born Oct. 11, 1716 at Lausanne, record entered at Schwarzenegg.

2.       Maria Catharina, born Oct. 6, 1720 at Lausanne, record entered at Schwarzenegg.  Witnesses included Niclaus Gerber of Bern and Maria Hadorn.

3.       Maria Magdalena, born July 12, 1722.

4.       Susanne, born July 12, 1722.

c)       Elsbeth, born Oct. 28, 1688.  Witnesss were Michel Farni, Elsbeth Farni, and Elsbeth Aeschliman.

6)     Balthasar, born Feb. 7, 1658 [mother Leni Gerber].  Witnesses were Hans Farni, Christen Eÿcher, and Barbara Berchtold.   He married first wife Barbara Kropf in Steffisburg on Sept. 21, 1677.  They had three children.  He married Magdalena Kneubühl on June 6, 1684, and they had three more children.  Balthasar died in 1689 before the birth of his sixth child, who was also named Balthasar.  His children include:

a)      Christian, born March 23, 1679, with witnesses Ulrich Stücker, Christian Spring, and Barbara Brönniman.

b)      Madlena, born Dec. 4, 1681, with witnesses Jacob Stucki, Anna Blüm, and Elsbeth Bühler.  She married Ulrich Beutler on Feb. 1, 1709, then Niklaus Wyss on May 17, 1726.

c)       Barbara, born Feb. 24, 1684, with witnesses Andreas Matthÿs, Christina im Hooff, and Anna Fuss.

d)      Peter, born Jan. 25, 1685.  Witnesses were Ulrich Gerber, Jacob Kurtz, and Elsbeth Gurtner.

e)      Anna, born Jan. 30, 1687. Witnesses included Christian Raüsser and Anna Stauffer.  She married Benedikt Hofer on Jan. 23, 1711, then Hans Müller of Eriz at Schwarzenegg on Aug. 26, 1718.  Their children recorded at Schwarzenegg included Christian, born June 29, 1719; Catharina, 1720; Anna, 1722; and Jacob, 1727.  Witnesses at Jacob's christening included Uli Farni, Jacob Rüpp, and Madlen Eÿcher.

f)       Balthasar, born Sept. 22, 1689.  His Steffisburg christening record indicates that his father Balthasar had recently died.  Witnesses were Anthoni Kropf, Hans Schnitter, and Anna Schlappach.

7)      Hans, born May 22, 1659 in Steffisburg [mother Leni Gerber].  Witnesses were Hans Müller, Hans Schnieder, and Babÿ Eichacher.

8)      FIFTH GENERATION: PETER, born Aug. 5, 1660 [mother Leni Gerber].  Witnesses were Peter Farni, Hans Blanck, and Leni Gerber.[11]  On Sept. 9, 1687, he married Anna Schlappach, the daughter of Johannes Schlappach.  She was christened in Steffisburg Sept. 2, 1660.  Peter died June 14, 1750.  Their children were all born in Eriz. 

a)     Barbara, born Sept. 3, 1693.  Witnesses were Hans Fahrni, Barbara Reüsser, and Barbara Haslibacher. She died April 27, 1709. 

After 1693, Stücker records were no longer kept at Steffisburg but in Schwarzenegg, coinciding with the establishment of a new church there.

b)    Christian, born Aug. 15, 1697. Witnesses were Uli Stücker, Christian Imhoof, and Barbara Gerber.  He married Marie Tschantz of Sigriswil in Schwarzenegg on April 1720, and died Aug. 27, 1754. 

                    1.       Anna, born Oct. 1, 1719.

c)     Peter, born May 12, 1700.  Witnesses were Hans Eymann, Peter Roth, and Christian Fahrni. He married Margareth Schüppach (also found as Margarita Shüpach), who was born about 1702.  Their children were listed together on one page in Schwarzenegg christening records, indicating they were born and christened elsewhere.

1.     Magdalena, born Jan. 9, 1726. Witnesses included Daniel Bourguel and Magdaleine Bienze of Eggiswil.  She married Samuel Känel on May 3, 1750.

2.     Isabelle Marguerite, born Jan. 21, 1732.  Witnesses included Caspar Farni, and Isabeau the daughter of David Crible (Krehbiel?).

3.     Samuel, born Feb. 6, 1734.  Witnesses were Samuel Bonhote, Madeleine Letrurel, and Jean Jacques Chatelain.  He married Magdalena Kruechi.

a.        Elisabeth, born Dec. 29, 1765, married Benedikt Marti on Jan. 9, 1784.

d)      Magdalena, born Dec. 11, 1701.  Witnesses were Uli Gerber, Magdalena Blanck, and Barbara Gerber.  She married Peter Schenk on June 8, 1736. 

e)      Anna, born Aug. 5, 1703.  Witnesses included Balti Gerber, Anna Eichacher, and Anna Glücki.  The father's name was mistakenly given as 'Christian' on the record.

f)       Catharina, born March 11, 1708.  Witnesses were Christian Sigenthaler, Barbara Ochsenbein, and Barbara Räusser.

g)      Johannes, born March 3, 1709.  The names of the christening witnesses are illegible, but it is clear that they were not family names normally found in Schwarzenegg.  He married Barbara Bachmann of Diessbach on Oct. 24, 1745.

1.    Anna, born Dec. 31, 1745, married Johann Kaspar Vogel on Sept. 21, 1767, then Niklaus Moser on Nov. 5, 1783.

2.    Elsbeth, born May 5, 1748, died Dec. 18, 1758.

3.    Barbara, born July 16, 1752.

4.    Hans, born Oct. 26, 1755, married Barbara Schindler of Bolligen on June 30, 1779.  She died Jan. 19, 1824.

a.       Barbara, born Jan. 30, 1780.  She married Abraham Gerber on April 27, 1804.

b.      Christian, born July 29, 1781.  He died before 1788.

c.       Magdalena, born Jan. 17, 1783, died Feb. 14, 1783.

d.      Hans, born June 6, 1784, he married Elsbeth Zaugg on Oct. 24, 1806, then Salome Neuenschwander on March 2, 1822.

e.       Peter, born Oct. 1, 1786, died Nov. 26, 1856.  He married Barbara Friedli on Feb. 25, 1817, then Anna Strahm on May 23, 1820.

f.       Christian, born April 9, 1788, died in Eriz Aug. 7, 1864.  He married Elisabeth Kropf on Nov. 25, 1814, then Anna Blatter on Jan. 4, 1822.

g.      Magdalena, born Jan. 10, 1790 and died Jan. 8, 1825.

h.      Benedikt, born Feb. 3, 1792 and died Jan. 21, 1849.  He married Anna Müller on April 2, 1813 (born July 28, 1793, died April 2, 1813), then Anna Gruenig on Dec. 21, 1846.  His children include Samuel (born March 20, 1817); Friedrich (born April 19, 1826); Christian (born June 23, 1822, married Margreth Baumann in 1853); Anna Barbara (born July 18, 1819, died June 1, 1836); Elisabeth (born Aug. 15, 1824, died Feb. 26, 1825); and Johann (born Nov. 20, 1814, died June 5, 1880, married Anna Scheuner).

i.       David, born July 16, 1796 and died May 15, 1867.  He married Anna Megerth in 1852.

h)      SIXTH GENERATION: ULRICH, born April 26, 1711. Witnesses were Christen Stücker, Christen Stückli, and Barbara Ashliman.   (More on Ulrich and his children later).

9)      [Illegible, possibly Anna], born Aug. 20, 1662 [mother Leni Gerber].  Witnesses were Hans Rupp, Anni Glücki, and Babÿ Bürgi.

10)    Madlen, born Nov. 8, 1663 [mother Leni Gerber].  Witnesses included Uli Habegger, Peter Biyler, and Freni Erhard.  

11)    An entry appears for March 19, 1665, where the name place is simply left blank [mother Leni Gerber].  Witnesses were Uli Rupp, Peter Stücker, and Elsi Schneider.

12)    Niclaus, born Nov. 10, 1667 [mother Leni Gerber].  Witnesses were Niclaus Gerber, Michel Tschabold, and Elsi Roth.

13)    Christen, born Nov. 14, 1669 [mother Leni Gerber].  Witnesses were Christen Jenni junior, Michel Kropf, and Catÿ Im Hoof. He married Barbli Fuchser on Jan. 23, 1696.

1.       Anna, born May 16, 1697.  Witnesses were Claus Gerber, Anna Witwer, and Anna Fuchser.

2.       Barbara, born Oct. 9, 1698.  Witnesses were Peter Stuzmann, Verena Gerber, and Anna Rupp.

3.       Ulricus, born Feb. 15, 1700.  Witnesses were Hans Fahrni, Michel Tschabold, and Magdalena Brandtli.  He married Salome Buchser of Bätterkinden, born about 1708.

a.       Margreth, born July 19, 1733.  She married Christian Büchler on July 2, 1762, then Daniel Schläfli on May 2, 1779.

b.      Beat Ludwig, born Jan. 19, 1738.

4.       Catharina, born March 25, 1701.  Witnesses were Hans Blüm, Catherine Fahrni, and Barbara Bilang (Blanck?).

5.       Verena, born Jan. 14, 1703.  Witnesses were Jacob Fahrni, Verena Fahrni, and Catharina Fahrni.

6.       Christian, born Sept. 14, 1704.  Witnesses were Christian Fahrni, Christen Fahrni, and Catharina Fahrni.

7.       Peter, born May 16, 1706. Witnesses were Peter Fahrni, Hanns Fahrni, and Barbara Witwer.  He married Elsbeth Röthlisberger, who died Dec. 1, 1780.

a.       Katharina, born Aug. 15, 1728, died Aug. 24, 1764.  She married Christian Fahrni on May 17, 1756.

b.      David, born March 4, 1731, died March 16, 1795.  He married Elsbeth Siegenthaler of Langnau on June 17, 1768.

c.       Peter, born Dec. 27, 1733, died July 24, 1820.  On Jan. 23, 1767, he married Magdalena Siegenthaler of Langnau.  She was born in 1743 and died Jan. 23, 1767.  Their children include:  Johannes, born in Langnau Aug. 14, 1767; David, born in Eriz (as were all that follow) Jan. 22, 1769, died July 26, 1769; Peter, born Feb. 9, 1772, died April 29, 1772; Peter, born May 2, 1773, married Susannah Krebs on June 10, 1803, died Dec. 21, 1864; Elsbeth, born Nov. 13, 1774, married Hans Foli on Feb. 11, 1800; Christian, born Jan. 23, 1774; Magdalena, born Sept. 6, 1776, married Melchior Krebs on April 19, 1807; David, born June 5, 1778, died June 27, 1778; David, born Sept. 30, 1779, married Anna Fankhauser on March 6, 1807, died Feb. 10, 1850; Barbara, born Feb. 1, 1782, married Christian Gerber on June 28, 1805; and Katharina, born July 13, 1787, married Christian Nydegger on Oct. 23, 1806, died March 26, 1854.

d.      Anna, born Aug. 19, 1736, died Jan. 28, 1795.  She married Hans Wenger on March 21, 1760.

e.       Barbara, born Feb. 1, 1739, married Heinrich Rohrer in Steffisburg on July 11, 1762.

f.       Johann, born March 25, 1741, married Marie Schopfer of Gsteig.  She was born about 1748 and died on April 14, 1811.

g.      Magdalena, born June 24, 1742, married Hans Pfister on Aug. 18, 1776.

h.      Christian was born Oct. 18, 1744.

i.       Elsbeth, born Aug. 20, 1747, married Hans Wüthrich.

j.        Ulrich was born Jan. 30, 1750.

8.       Magdalena, born July 31, 1707.  Witnesses were Benedict Rüby, Barbara Stücker, and Magdalena [illegible].

9.       Katharina, born March 3, 1709.  Witnesses were Hans Rupp, Anna Fahrni, and Barbara Witwer.  She died May 28, 1771.

14)    Anna, born March 10, 1672 [mother Leni Gerber]. Witnesses were Peter Janni, Anna Brönniman, and Madlena Galli.

d.        Uli, born Feb. 4, 1622.  Witnesses were Michel Farni, Uli Farni, and Anni Glücki.  He died as an infant.

e.        Uli, born June 2, 1626.  Witnesses were Uli Farni, Hans Schnyder, and Madlen Kropf.  He also died as an infant.

f.         Uli was born April 18, 1632.  Witnesses included Uli Farni and Hans Farni.  He married Anna Müller on Nov. 27, 1657 in Eriz.


2.        Anni, born Dec. 3, 1592 [mother Elsi Kammerman]. Witnesses were Batt Kolb, Lucia Küntzi, and Margareth Müller.  She may be the Anna Stücker who married Hans Schmid on Jan. 24, 1631 (a nearly illegible entry).


3.        Peter, born Feb. 9, 1595 in Eriz [mother Elsi Kammerman]. Witnesses included Peter Furer and Jagi Küntzi.  He married Elsi Glücki on Nov. 2, 1622. 

a.       Hans was born about 1623 in Eriz, and married Barbara Glettig on Nov. 1, 1650.

1)      Mathis, born Feb. 29, 1652.  Witnesses were Hans Glettig, Mathis Zoug, and Madlen Farni.

2)      Johannes, born March 16, 1656.  He married Anna Erhart on Dec. 6, 1678.

a)      Elsbeth, born May 11, 1679.  Witnesses were Ulrich Stücker, Elsbeth Roth, and Anna Blatter.  She died May 24, 1700.

b)      Peter, born Nov. 28, 1680.  Witnesses were Abraham Bühler, Hans Blüm, and Anna Blanck.

c)       Hans, born Jan. 22, 1682.  Witnesses were Christian Farni, Peter Stücker, and Anna Tschimmer.

d)      Magdalena, born Feb. 25, 1683.  Witnesses were Uli Stücker, Catharina Jantzi, and Christina Rupp.

e)      Ulrich, born Oct. 26, 1684.  Witnesses were Ulrich Farni, Peter Stücker, and Barbara Gerber.

f)       Hans, born Nov. 29, 1685.  Witnesses were Hans Farni, Bendicht Stagman, and Elsbeth Mürri.

g)      Christina, born July 24, 1687.  Witnesses were Peter Sigenthaler, Christina Farni, and Elsbeth Räber.

h)      Kathrin, born July 28, 1689.  Witnesses were Michel Farni, Katharin Farni, and Cathrin Stagman.

i)       Christen or Christian, born June 28, 1691.  Witnesses were Christen Gerber, Jacob Stähli, and Margreth Räber.  He married Catharina 'Cathÿ' Gÿger on Dec. 6, 1715; she died June 12, 1766.

1.       Anna, born Jan. 4, 1716.  Witnesses were Hans Fahrny, Anna Fahrny, and Anna Gerber.  She married Christian Lehman, and died Nov. 17, 1797. 

2.       Christen, born May 26, 1720.  Witnesses were Christoffel Maÿer, Hans Tschabold, and Barbara Marti.

3.       Catharina, born July 20, 1721.  Witnesses included Peter Fahrni of Horrenbach and Catharina Stücker.  She died June 15, 1727.

4.       Maria, born Aug. 29, 1723.  Witnesses were Hans Gÿger, Anna Gÿger, and Maria Spring.

5.       Barbara, born April 28, 1726.

6.       Magdalena, born May 22, 1729, married Ulrich Fahrni on June 13, 1755.

j)       Anna, born March 12, 1693.  Witnesses were Michel Zimmerman, Magdalena Wyss, and Anna Blum.

k)      Nicolaus, born in January 1696.  Witnesses were Niclaus Ashliman, Hans Eÿmann, and Anna Bühler.

3)      Verena, born Sept. 20, 1657.  Witnesses were Christen Glucki, Verena Root, and Barbara Rousser.

4)      Babÿ, born April 8, 1659.  Witnesses were Uli Farni, Barbli Farni, and Barbli Leeman.

b.       Hÿtti, born Jan. 9, 1625.  Witnesses were Bat Geurtner, Christina Meilli, and Anna Stutzman.

c.        Christen, born Jan. 28, 1626. Witnesses were Abraham Rüsser, Christian Moser, and Cathrin Büler.

d.       Peter, born Oct. 14, 1627. Witnesses included Uli Farni and Hans Farni.  He married Elsbeth Hirsig on Oct. 31, 1653. However, he was the father of a child born to Verena Melli -- Christian Stücker, born June 21, 1689.


There is also an early Stücker who falls between generations.   He may be a son of Gilg or Gilgen Stücker and younger brother to Maritz.  His name is also found as both Gilg and Gilgen. His traces pick up in Steffisburg records with his marriage to Barblÿ Steinmann on Feb. 13, 1575.   On March 25, 1582, he was a witness at the christening of Christen Zimmerman, son of Hans Zimmerman and Anni Losenegger; other witnesses were Hans Zougg and Anni Farni.  On May 7, 1599, Gilg married second wife Anni Sparen.  The children of Gilg and Barblÿ Steinmann, all christened in Steffisburg, are listed below.


a.       Hans, born on July 1, 1576.  Witnesses included Hans Eÿeman and Caspar Joder.

b.      Lucia, born Aug. 17, 1578.  Lucia Küntzi was a witness. 

c.       Christini (birth record) or Christina (marriage record), born Aug. 28, 1580.  Witnesses were Christi Farni, Christina Farni, and Anni Zimmerman.  She married Hans Schwaar on Aug. 9, 1602. 

1)      Conrad Schwaar, born in 1607.  Witnesses were Stephan Farni, Nicklaus Abersold, and Nicklaus Schwaar.  He died before 1612.

2)      Barbli Schwaar, born in April 1608.  Witnesses were Hans Schenk, Margreth Büchler,  and Elsbeth Bürrki.

3)      Cunrad Schwaar, born Oct. 15, 1612.  Witnesses were Christian Gerber, Michel Altshauss, and Barbli Raüsch.

d.      Gilgen, born Aug. 25, 1583.  Witnesses were Hans Mürer, Hans Roth, and Elsi Stutzmann.

e.       'N.' is the only name given on a christening record from June 29, 1589; witnesses were Jagi Küntzi, Brigida Stücker, and Anni Im Hof.  The entry followed a christening for Niklaus, the child of Uli Rufinacht and Barbli Küpffers; that child may have been named for witness Niklaus Bachman.  It is possible that the 'N.' was shorthand for a second Niklaus born on the same day, but it is also possible that it was a very early example of the German notation for 'unknown.'


Today the church records of Steffisburg parish are kept at a Civil Registry Office (Ger. Zivilstandsamt).   It is possible that more information on the family could be found in the minutes of the church consistory 'morals' court (Ger. Chorgerichtsmanuale).

It is possible that the Stückers of Eriz were related to the Stuckers of Grosshöchstetten, a village located about 15 miles to the northwest.  At least one intermarriage can be proven – but the names Stücker (with an umlaut) and Stucker (without an umlaut) were spelled precisely, indicating that the families valued the distinction.  

The Grosshöchstetten family stems from Hans Stucker, born about 1560, and Margrit Schindler, born about 1564.  They had three sons named Christen (born in 1582), Niclaus (about 1584), and Hans (1589).  Later generations moved downriver to Upper Alsace, where their name could be found in Maseveaux, Rammersmatt, and other communities surrounding the Doller Valley.  Stuckers later emigrated to Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Ohio.  There is no reason to think that the Grosshöchstetten families did not follow the Protestant Reformed Church.  More information on this family is given in Genealogy Two.

The next three sections titled The Thirty Years War, The Amish Division, and Migration from Switzerland will explain in part the scarcity of Amish Mennonite records in the years leading up to 1802.


The Thirty Years War


The horrendous Thirty Years War, which began in 1618, decimated entire villages in the regions surrounding the north-flowing Rhine River.   Up to 8 million people may have died from battle, disease, or starvation, reducing the population of the German states by 40 percent.

Although the Swiss Confederation remained neutral, many Swiss peasants hired out as mercenaries for the warring armies.  They must have returned to their homes with gruesome stories that could only have reinforced Anabaptist beliefs.

The brief periods of peace that followed the Thirty Years War reversed the fortunes of the Swiss Anabaptists.  The Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 recognized Swiss neutrality, and the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 stabilized Middle Europe.  European landowners anxious to increase their income now welcomed Swiss farmers.  Rather than facing persecution, Anabaptists were solicited as settlers by princes and dukes who desperately needed a labor force to cultivate their properties.

The increasingly conservative council of Bern eventually saw the window of opportunity to rid themselves of Anabaptists.[12]   In 1670, they passed a mandate requiring every citizen to swear an oath of allegiance.  Seizure of property, loss of inheritance rights, and exile were written into the fine details.  The provisions also created heavy fines for those who concealed Anabaptists or permitted prayer meetings on their property.

The following year, six Anabaptist men were marched to Italy to serve two-year sentences as oarsmen on Venetian galleys.  Forced slavery had a symbolic value, as it was the same sentence the French government had imposed on Huguenots following the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.

Some surnames that are now identified with Amish Mennonite families appear for the first time in Steffisburg records during 1670-71.   This may mean that families with unchristened children now felt an urgency about having them officially registered, or that families with Anabaptist leanings were moving to Steffisburg from less tolerant areas.  

The Stücker family may have withdrawn higher into the slopes above Eriz.   Not one Stücker child was christened in Steffisburg between 1670 and November 1678, though Balthasar and Uli Stücker appeared occasionally as witnesses.   The entries resumed when Hans Stücker and Katharina Wittwer brought in their daughter Anna on Nov. 17, 1678.  Their entry mentions that Katharina was from Schangnau, a small village about 12 miles northeast of Eriz at a higher elevation.  Its inaccessibility (one road in) and proximity to the Bern-Luzerne boundary (two miles) made authorities suspect that it was a haven for unrepentant Anabaptists.  The Joder, Nafziger, and Hirschi families also had connections to the remote village.[13]

Many Anabaptists chose to travel down the north-flowing Rhine River to Alsace, which at that time was not yet a part of France but tended to follow its dictates.[14]  Alsace was especially desirable because its municipalities permitted Anabaptists to obtain exemption from military conscription by making payments. 

Ste. Marie-aux-Mines (Ger. Markirch) on the Leber River became a popular destination.  It not only offered employment in the weaving and dying industry, but promised a degree of religious tolerance as well.  The German-speaking Protestant Dukes of Rappolstein governed one bank of the Leber, while the French-speaking Roman Catholic Dukes of Lorraine governed the other.  They invited Anabaptists to cultivate the nearby Vosges Mountains to provide more food for transient workers. The larger families leased land on estates that had been razed during the Thirty Years War. 

Many Anabaptist families moved even farther north in 1671.  More than 700 Anabaptists chose to farm the estates of Prince Charles August, the Count of Nassau.  In 1684, groups left Bern and Solothurn to farm at the invitation of Prince Karl Ludwig of the Palatinate, aided by Dutch Mennonites who provided funds for food and clothing.


The Amish Division


In Bern the word Halbtäufer  (halfway Anabaptist) described family members who believed in the Wiedertäufer religious principles and even attended meetings, but could not bring themselves to accept the personal risk of conversion from the state religion.  They may have feared the Täufer Kammer, a council authorized by the government of Bern 1659-1743 to enforce laws against Anabaptists.

The expression Treuherzige described someone who sympathized and gave aid.  This took a variety of forms.  On March 21, 1692, the Free Court of Steffisburg surrendered three prominent citizens to Bern authorities: Jost Joder of Steffisburg, an elder judge of the town's Chorgericht; Peter Roth of Langenegg, farming at Farni; and Hans von Farni of Eriz, farming at Horrenbach.   Apparently the three non-Anabaptists were suspected of shielding their relatives.  They were put up in the most expensive establishment in the city of Bern for six months at their own expense, but refused to yield to pressure.  

Devout Anabaptists accepted the aid of the Treuherziger, who were often family members.  However,  they became increasingly wary of fellow Brethren who exploited their generosity and trust.

 Tailor Jacob Amman (1644-before 1730) was born in the village of Erlenbach, located about 12 miles southwest of Steffisburg, in the mountains on the opposite side of Lake Thun.  However, in 1655 his family moved to Oberhofen in the parish of Hilterfingen, and he formed his religious principles there.   As a church elder his visits to congregations in Alsace convinced him that Christian tolerance – carried to its extreme – resulted in gradual small concessions that would ultimately dilute faith and resolve. He came to stress the Meidung, a Dutch Mennonite custom that called for the excommunication and shunning of those who strayed, and avoidance of those born outside the faith.

In 1693, Amman met with other elders and ministers at the home of elder Niklaus Moser in Fridersmatt, about 10 miles north of Eriz.  During heated discussions Amman brought up the tolerant policies of Elder Hans Reist.  Reist had permitted an unrepentant liar to worship with his congregation.   Amman cited 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, "Your glorying is not good.  Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven…Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."  1 Corinthians 5:11 says, "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat."

Reist took the phrases as metaphors excluding sinners from the bread of communion.  Although he refused communion to some, he still allowed them to attend his services. Amman understood the passages to mean that sinners should be shunned at all times.

When Amman suggested that Reist himself should be expelled from the group, the roomful of elders divided.  Some of them saw this as a prideful display of temper.  Others applauded it as a long-awaited return to the 'old ways.'  Amman's companion, elder Peter Zimmerman, brought the meeting to an abrupt close with the words, "There you have it."  Amman, Zimmerman, and their companions refused to shake hands with the more moderate elders as they departed.[15]

Over time the 'Strict Anabaptists' took on his name and became known as Amish, Amish Mennonites, or Old Order Amish.  They chose to prove their piety by following conservative rituals of dress and worship.  They also avoided exchanges with the general community, heeding the Biblical admonition to "…Come out from among them, and be ye separate…"  (2 Corinthians 6:17). 


Migration from Switzerland


The Amish division followed two years of famine caused by poor harvests in Switzerland.  Fortunately Amman's followers found several receptive Anabaptist congregations to the north in Alsace.

Jacob Amman moved to join other strict Anabaptists in Ste. Marie-aux-Mines in 1694, and many Steffisburg and Diessbach families followed him.  He appeared before magistrates on Feb. 27, 1696, declaring that his followers would not join uniformed services.  He is identified as a resident by petitions he signed there in 1696, 1704 and 1708. 

Amman later regretted his harshness.  He excommunicated himself from his own followers in a bid to reunite with the general church, but his offer was scornfully declined.  No record of his death has been located, but it is thought to have occurred in La Petite Lièpvre (Ger. Leberau) near Ste. Marie-aux-Mines before 1730.  (For more on Jacob Amman see Genealogy Five, AN AMMAN-RUPP CONNECTION).

The Bernese who followed Amman lived quietly, but Alsace was an unstable entity.  In 1712 the trend toward religious tolerance was abruptly reversed when King Louis XIV of France issued an edict limiting the number of Anabaptists who could remain in his territories.   The majority of the Anabaptists in Alsace hastily migrated in three directions.

Some moved northwest into Lorraine (Ger. Lothringen).  The Duchy of Zweibrücken, over the nearby French-German border in the Rhineland Palatinate, maintained large tracts of land in Lorraine.  The Duchy did not follow French edicts, and welcomed farmers who could cultivate Lorraine's forested areas.[16]  Christian Güngerich had become the first Amish Mennonite leaseholder in 1711.  The families that moved from Lower Alsace to Lorraine in this period kept family ties intact by continuing to intermarry.   In 1730, they were enticed with offers of land and began to move farther north into the Palatinate and Darmstadt.  A few of these settlers returned to Alsace after restrictions there were reversed in 1740.

Other Alsatian Amish Mennonites moved southwest into the territory of Montbéliard (Ger. Mömpelgart).  Although the territory is southwest of Alsace, it actually belonged to the Duke of Württemberg, which is east of Alsace.  All Montbéliard Amish Mennonites leased their farms from Duke Leopold Eberhard, who diligently protected their interests.  The farmers felt safe enough to begin keeping church records in 1750. 

Most Amish Mennonites in German-speaking locations were allowed to live in relative peace as long as they kept up crop yields and paid taxes, including special religious surcharges called Schutzgeld.   They continued to speak a Swiss-German dialect and practice traditional customs, although many would have spoken French as well.  They developed a reputation as hard-working farmers who shared ideas to improve their crop yields, introduced the cultivation of a type of clover for cattle feed, popularized the potato, and used mineral fertilizers and crop rotation.   Some larger families built and maintained mills and distilleries.  Almost all continued the Swiss practice of weaving linen from flax for extra income during winter months.

 A third alternative for Amish Mennonites leaving Ste. Marie-aux-Mines after 1712 was the Principality of Salm.  The tiny principality, surrounded by the territory of Lower Alsace, was a semi-independent entity that did not follow French or Alsatian dictates.  The hospitable Princes of Salm welcomed Anabaptist farmers, promising tolerance and relative safety.  In the Thirty Years War the princes of Salm had sided with Sweden.  They saw their principality destroyed by the French.  In the aftermath of war they were only too happy to rebuild as a haven for Huguenots and other Protestants who were fleeing from persecution in France and Switzerland.

If Stückers accompanied the families they knew in Canton Bern, it is likely that they traveled to this unique destination only eight miles north of Ste. Marie-aux-Mines.

Salm contained two villages of particular interest.  The seat of government was the village of Salm, because that was the location of the residence of the Princes.  However, municipal records were kept in nearby La Broque, site of the Priory of Vipucelles.  The two locations have since merged to become the modern city of Broque.

Many Anabaptist families maintained their only records in the frontispiece of an heirloom Bible.  Surnames kept in other handwritten records invariably mutated over time, and there are usually several spelling variations of any Amish name with more than one syllable.   Variations reflected the regional dialect in areas that took the families in, but it is also true that they often appeared for no other reason than their vague appearance in poorly handwritten documents.

The name 'Stücker' is not documented in the Principality of Salm, but 'Stequer' could be found there even before the expulsion of Amish Mennonites from Ste. Marie-aux-Mines.  In about 1702, Swiss farmer Michel 'Stequer' married Anne Paradis (or Deparadis) at Saint Blaise-le-Roche, a village located exactly halfway between Ste. Marie-aux-Mines and La Broque.  They lived the remainder of their lives in Vipucelles, La Broque.  In later generations their family name became Stequaire.  The presence of this family may be a red flag indicating that Amish Mennonites with a similar name were in the area.

Both Sides of the Ocean describes the Amish Mennonite church group formed in the village of Salm in 1712.  Benedict Schlatter became the first Amish Mennonite leaseholder in Salm in 1715.  He sold some of his properties to Bernese farmers Hans Jacob Farny[17], Christian Ruchty, and Hans Zimmerman in 1728.  Amish Mennonite settlers in the communities later included members of the Augsburger [Augspurger], Eimann, Gerber, Güngerich, Goldschmidt, Lehman, Moseman [Mosiman], Müller, Roqui [Rocke], Salzmann [Salzman], and Stoquit [Stucki or Stuckey] families.  Almost all of these families had emigrated from Steffisburg and Diessbach to the small villages around Ste. Marie-aux-Mines in the 1690s, and then to the Principality of Salm after 1712.[18]  Preachers named Salzmann, Güngerich, Gerber, and Ropp led the congregation.  Christian Gerber (1766-1854) represented the Salm congregation at the 1779 conference of ministers in Essingen (see Genealogy Ten, THE GERBERS OF METAMORA AND WASHINGTON).

Thierry Stucker of Geneva writes us that his ancestor, Christian Stücker (1707-1787), left Bern to settle in Günsbach, Upper Alsace.  In 1729 Christian married Catharina Rossin there, and their son Johan (1747-1794) was the first Stücker in Thierry's branch of the family to be born outside Switzerland.  All descendants of this branch remained in Günsbach up to the 20th century.[19]  The family dropped the umlaut pronunciation mark from their name on the eve of World War I.


Early Emigration from Europe


About 3,000 Swiss Mennonites caught 'the American fever' between 1717 and 1732.[20]  The first documented Amish colonists came to America on The Adventurer, which sailed from Rotterdam and arrived in Philadelphia on Oct. 2, 1727.  The first large organized group arrived in the port of Philadelphia to cultivate Penn's Woods in 1736.  They settled in Berks, Chester, and Lancaster Counties in Pennsylvania. 

Many Amish Mennonite adults boarded ships for America with a document called a Heimatschein hidden in their garments or tucked into the binding of the family Bible. 

In 1672, the Swiss had devised a plan to care for indigents and orphans.  They created the Heimat, or legal point of family origin.  On one specific day every family in the countryside was assigned a Heimat and charged an annual tax on their property.  Indigents were expected to turn to their Heimat community to seek assistance, and other communities were freed of obligation.

Since the Swiss recognize dual citizenship, even expatriates and their children could claim Heimatrecht, the right of communal citizenship.  All they had to do was return to the Heimat  community and see that their past annual property taxes were paid up.  Many Anabaptists who had not been legally exiled, particularly those in nearby Montbéliard and Alsace, continued to claim Heimatrecht by paternal descent.  Many returned after 1763 to obtain a certificate as a means of avoiding foreign military conscription.  There was a rush to obtain the certificates during the French Revolution. It also became necessary to maintain contact with family members or friends in Canton Bern who could update official registers with the names of new family members, in case they might return one day to claim a certificate.

Despite slow emigration, Amish Mennonites spread out throughout Europe.  Montbéliard was a prosperous Amish community.  The Ste. Marie-aux-Mines group had dispersed, and many families had migrated west into France or east into Baden and Württemberg.  By 1759, groups had begun to settle farther east in Southern Bavaria (Ger. Bayern) near Ingolstadt, Regensburg, and Munich.  But few Amish Mennonites were permitted to own land, and they lived under the constant threat that their leases would not be renewed.[21]  



Ulrich Stücker and Catharina Schad


Ulrich Stücker was the eighth and youngest child of Peter Stücker and Anna Schlappach.  He was born in Eriz on April 26, 1711. 

Ulrich married Catharina Schad on Aug. 26, 1735.  Catharina had been  christened in Oberbipp, a village about 15 miles northwest of Eriz, on Oct. 22, 1712.    The entry spells her name 'Catharin' and tells us that her parents were Mathÿs 'Schaad' and Babi am Wäg (later standardized as Am Weg) of Oberbipp.  Witnesses were Niclaus Schaad, Barbara Rÿff, and Cathrin an der Egg.  The index to the registry standardizes her name as 'Catharina' and her family as 'Schad.'   Over 180 Schads can be found in the Oberbipp Täufrödel 1692-1742.  (Schads can later be found in Tazewell County, related to the Ropp family).

The couple was the first in the family's direct lineal descent to live outside the area of Eriz.  Although they registered their first seven children in Schwarzenegg in 1752, the single-page collective birth record notes that they were living in Muri bei Bern, a suburb about four miles southeast of the city of Bern.[22]   The village was also home to Joder and Bürki families.

Each child was named after a christening witness:


1.       Charlotte Margaretha, born Nov. 10, 1738.  She was christened at the historic Protestant Reformed Münster Cathedral in Bern. Witnesses were Friderick of Muling, Margaretha (illegible), and Charlotte Wyss.  She married Christian Zehnder on March 5, 1758.

2.       David Sigmund, born Jan. 30, 1740.  Witnesses were David Säybold, Sigmund Wyss, and Peter Maÿ.

3.       Barbara, born Feb. 23, 1741.  Witnesses were Hans Farni, Barbra Burckli, and Anna Schaüd.  She married Durs Mollet on Feb. 10, 1772.

4.       Elisabeth, born July 29, 1742. Witnesses were Christian Blaser, Elsbeth Büchler, and Barbara Blaser.  She married Michel Buri on Oct. 3, 1764.

5.       Anna Maria, born Sept. 22, 1743.  Witnesses were Michel Müller, Anna Gerber, and Maria Cünrath.  She married Rudolf Tschabold on Oct. 22, 1789. 

6.       SEVENTH GENERATION: ADRIAN ANTHONI, born March 4, 1745.  Witnesses were Adrian Jenner, Anthoni Maÿ, and Rosina Impelsother (born Müller).

7.       Christian, born Oct. 28, 1752.  Witnesses were Christy Oesh of Eggiwil, Ülli Zimmerman of Langnau, and Cathrÿ Zaug of Eggiwil.


Following the death of Catharina, Ulrich married second wife Christina Krebs of Wichtrach (about 12 miles northwest of Eriz) on Nov. 12, 1768.   She was the widow of Christian Fahrni.  They had two children: Marie Katharina, born Aug. 6, 1757; and Maria, born in Muri bei Bern on April 30, 1769. 



Adrian Anthoni Stücker and Marie Müller


Adrian Anthoni Stücker was the sixth child of Ulrich Stücker and Catharina Schad.    He was born in Muri bei Bern on March 4, 1745.  He and his wife Marie Müller represent the earliest figures in this genealogy whose 'connection' to their children is supported by non-Swiss documentation.  The French equivalent of Adrian Anthoni's name, 'Antoine Stecker,' can be found on the marriage record of his son, registered at Bistroff, Lorraine in 1802.

Where did he spend the 57 years between his birth and the marriage of his son?  The marriage entry raises more questions than it answers.  On the document, 'Antoine' and Marie are listed as residents of "Marne en authricien," which translates to 'Marne in Austria/Austrian land,' and "Pays en Empire," or, 'a country in the empire.'[23]   The most likely possibility is Marnheim, near Sembach and Kaiserslautern, a community in the district (Ger. Kreis) of Kirchheimbolanden, in the province of Pfalz.  From Marnheim one might travel 72 miles on one road and come within a dozen miles of Bistroff. 

In the 18th century the estates surrounding Marnheim in the Palatinate were owned by the royal family of Austria, the Hapsburgs.  According to Herman Guth's Amish Mennonites in Germany, "Some of those [in the county of Falkenstein, north of Kaiserslautern] emigrating to America gave Austria as their place of origin, later creating erroneous impressions among their descendants." No less an authority than historian Dr. Neil Ann Stuckey Levine has agreed with the interpretation of 'Marne en Authricien' as Marnheim.   

If Adrian Anthoni Stücker passed through Marnheim, it is likely that he was employed on an estate leased under the name of another family.  The two large communal estates in Marnheim are Elberheimershof and Froschauerhof.   The Hauri, Güngerich, and Müller families leased the Froschauerhof through a number of terms after 1767.   Leaseholder Christian Güngerich represented the area at the Essingen ministers conference in 1779.   Living at the Froschauerhof would have put Adrian Antoni Stücker in proximity to the nearby Münsterhof estate in Driesen, home to Müllers, Kennels, and Krehbiels.   The next generations were closely linked to these and other families found nearby.  Marnheim genealogy records from the 18th and 19th centuries do not list Steckers, but show families that later figured in their lives in America including Brenneman, Albrecht, Bachmann, Burkey, Dettweiler, Eiman/Eymann, Eimer, Fischer, Imhof/Imhoff, Kinzinger/Kinsinger, Konrad/Conrad, Lehmann, and Lichti.  Amish Mennonite Roth and Rupp families could also be found in the Lower (Northern) Palatinate in this timeframe.

Palatine villagers lived a life of ups and downs they neither understood nor controlled.  A plague decimated Marnheim in 1666.  The troops of King Louis XIV used the Palatinate for maneuvers and transit, and in 1674 local families were expected to billet Marshall Turenne's troops.  In 1688–89, French soldiers swept through in a roundup of Protestants.  In 1707 Marshall Villars unexpectedly crossed the Rhine during the War of the Spanish Succession.  Up to 11,000 Palatines may have departed for North America via Rotterdam following the severe winters of 1708 and 1709.   Some parts of the area along the French border was fragmented into game preserves for royal families, or ignored as insignificant appendags to Nassau-Weilburg in the fading Holy Roman Empire. 

Many Palatines were sympathetic to the goals of the French Revolution.   After 1789, some of the remaining Anabaptists families farmed the terms of their leases, and then moved south into the new department of Moselle after Moselle, Meurthe, Meuse and Vosges were established in the northeast corner of France.  (For example, the Oyer family worked as farmhands for the Albrechts, then moved south into Moselle at the turn of the century).  Thirty-four towns including Marnheim and Zweibrücken opted to become French territory following a rigged referendum vote in 1793, and welcomed French occupation troops.  In 1797 all of the territory absorbed by France was formally organized into four new departments: Roer (capital Cologne), Rhine-et-Moselle (capital Coblenz), Sarre (capital Trier) and Mont-Tonnerre ('Thunder Mountain,' Ger. Donnersberg, with a capital at Mainz).    Marnheim was located in Mont-Tonnerre.[24]

To the French ear, 'Stücker' was 'Stecker' or 'Stéker,' and that was the way the family name was spelled after the move south to Lorraine.

Adrian Anthoni Stücker and Marie Müller had a son EIGHTH GENERATION: JOSEPH OR JOSEPHE STECKER, born in 1776.[25]



Josephe Stecker and Barbe Farny


Josephe Stecker (1776-?) actually wrote his own name 'Joseph.'  His signature can be seen below the birth record of his son, Joseph (1808-1872).  However, we have used the spelling 'Josephe' to distinguish between the father and son.  His wife Barbe's surname appeared as 'Farny' in Tragny, Bistroff, and Harprich records, but as 'Farni' in Bertring.


Josephe Stecker was born on March 19, 1776.  In adulthood he was described as a "meunier, manoeuvre, journalier" -- a miller, laborer, and jack-of-all-trades in the largely agricultural economy of Moselle. 

At the close of the 19th century, Josephe was employed at a mill in the village of Tragny, near the city of Metz.   He worked with Jean Albrech [possibly Johannes Albrecht] and Joseph Farny.  

Joseph Farny was well known as one of six Anabaptists who had been coerced into military service.  On Dec. 14, 1790, French Anabaptists were exempted from armed military service.   The following year they were also excused from the requirements to bear arms.  18-23 year old males were given opportunities to choose alternate service in the army digging trenches, providing transportation, or building fortifications.  On April 18, 1794 the district of Morhange drafted six Anabaptists to work on fortifications at Metz: Joseph Farny and Michel Engel of Bistroff, Jean Schmitt [Schmidt] of Linstroff (later known as 'John Smith' in Alexandria, Kentucky),[26] Christian Guerber of d'Arlange farm in Wuisse,[27] and Pierre and Joseph Chondy [Condi] of Destry.

Joseph Farny may have introduced Josephe Stecker to his sister, Barbe Farny.  She was born on Belgrade Farm at Bistroff, Lorraine (about 20 miles east of Tragny) on July 1, 1777.   She was the fourth child in the family of Christian Farny and Anna Hirchy/Hirschy (see Genealogy Three for more on their family).  

Barbe was also an unwed mother.  A Bistroff état civil record describes the birth of her son Christian at St. Avold, Moselle on Jan. 20, 1801.  The father is not identified, and the child is described as "naturelle."  The witness is her brother-in-law, Christian Jantzi, who is identified as the uncle of the infant.

May of 1802 was probably the peak of France's political good fortune, holding the false promise of a prolonged peace.  On March 25, 1801 the Peace of Amiens had been signed, promising concessions to Britain in return for peace; May 1-6, Toussaint-L'Ouverture was negotiating his own surrender; on May 8, the senate proposed to extend Napoleon's term of office for 10 years; and on May 10, the Conseil d'État held an extraordinary meeting to propose that Napoleon be made consul for life.  On May 12 the measure passed unanimously. 

On May 7, 1802, Josephe and Barbe were married on Belgrade Farm in Bistroff.  The marriage linked Josephe to both of his co-workers:  Jean Albrech [possibly Johannes Albrecht], born in 1778, married Barbe Coldabert; Barbe's sister Marguerite Coldabert married Joseph Farny, born in 1766; and Joseph's sister Barbe was now married to Josephe Stecker.

A National Library and Archives was established in France in 1790.  In 1792 the present system of état civil records and vital statistics was created, as France was divided into 90 departments.  One copy of each record was stored in the mayor's office, one at the seat of the department.  The archives of Lorraine are kept at Metz, while the archives of Lower Alsace are kept at Strasbourg.  Fortunately, a full-page reproduction of the marriage record of Josephe Stecker and Barbe Farny kept at Metz can be viewed in the Family History Library (FHL) collection of the Church of Latter Day Saints on microfilm 1860456.

Barbe's son Christian became the oldest brother of the siblings.  Though he was known as 'Farny' for many years,  'Christian Staker' appears on his gravestone.

État civil records show that Josephe and Barbe were also the parents of Anna, born in Tragny in 1803; Jean (later John), born in Tragny in 1805; NINTH GENERATION: JOSEPH STECKER/STAKER, born in Harprich (about three miles southwest of Grostenquin) in 1808; Barbe, born in Harprich in 1810; and Catherine, born in Harprich in 1811.  They were also presumably the parents of Nicholas, born in or near Harprich in 1814 (no birth record has been found).

The various birth records describe Josephe as an Anabaptist employed as a laborer or miller at the mill at Tragny, at Belgrade Farm in Bistroff, at Bening Commune in Harprich, and finally as a jack-of-all-trades in Bertring.   In Bertring the Steckers were the only families specifically noted as 'annabaptiste' in municipal records.


Belgrade Farm


Belgrade Farm[28] in Bistroff is significant to this account because it appears in records as the home of Josephe Stecker and Barbe Farny as early as 1802 and as late as 1831, when they presumably moved to nearby Bertring.  Other residents at Bistroff had the familiar names Blank, Ebersole/Abersole, Engel, Gerber, Güngerich, Hisser, Jantzi/Janzy, Fonkennel/Kennel/Kennelle, Moser, Maurer, Nafziger, Oesch, Risser, Schertz, Schrag/Schraque, Spengler, Springer/Sprunger, Stalter, and Zehr.

Bistroff is located only 10 miles below the border of the Rhineland Palatinate (Germany), adjacent to the larger community of Grostenquin. The village has also been known as Bistroff-au-Bischwald or by its German name, Bischdorf. 

The French Revolution of 1789 reorganized the countryside into communes, and Bistroff became its own commune in 1790, at the same time that Moselle became a department.  Bistroff became administratively subordinate to adjacent Grostenquin (Ger. Grosstänchen) in 1802.  Today Bistroff would be described as a village located in the Department of Moselle in the region of Lorraine.

Bistroff was also ideally located to ensure the prosperity of its tenants.  It sat between two markets for its horses and agricultural products:  residents of the city of Grostenquin, and travelers on the emigration route from the Palatinate to Le Havre.  The emigration route passed only a few fields to the north, through the tiny village of Freyming-Merlebach.  German travelers formed groups in Kaiserslautern, then traveled southwest to the border at Forbach, Moselle to pay tolls.  As they passed through Freyming-Merlebach they joined French travelers and continued on through Metz, Paris, and Rouen to Le Havre.   (Puttelange-aux-Lacs, the home of Anne Stecker's husband John Bachman, was also close to the main emigration route).     

The elder at Bistroff was Christian Gingerich [Güngerich] (1770-1825).  He married Magdalena Blank from la Chappelle farm at Linstroff and grew clover.  In 1809 he signed a petition to the French government asking for Anabaptist exemption from military service, which was denied.  Neither he nor his children emigrated.  However, his petition co-signer, Christian Engel (1764-1838), emigrated to America in 1833 and became elder at Metamora.  Engel was born at Gelucourt, but grew up in Bistroff: his father -- also named Christian --  was a laborer at Bischwald Mill.   The Engel family had come to Bistroff from the Dieuze Ponds area of Lorraine in 1775, and remained at Bischwald Mill until father Christian's death in 1794.   Many of the next generation later settled in Woodford County, Ill.

Two other families with connections to Belgrade Farm paralleled the Steckers' journey to America. 

Bistroff farmer Michael Salzman (1779-1861) was related to the Steckers by marriage, though the connection is obscure; his first wife Catherine was a Hirchy/Hirschi from St. Avold, and her mother was a Farny from the same area.[29]  This became a little move complicated later when Michael Salzman's daughter Jacobina married John, a son of Christian Farny/Stecker/Staker.   Salzman settled next to John Staker in Lemon Township,[30] Butler County, Ohio, where Michael died in 1861.

Joseph Schrag (spelled 'Schraque' and 'Schrack' in local records) was born on Belgrade Farm about 1773 and worked there as a miller.  His five children all emigrated and settled in either Butler or Tazewell Counties.  Oldest son and miller Johannes, born in 1801, married Catherine Elizabeth Salzman  at Blamont in 1826;  the marriage documents indicate that she was living on Belgrade Farm.  They passed through Lancaster County and Butler County (where they were neighbors to John Staker in Lemon Township) before settling permanently in Elm Grove, where they are buried in Railroad Cemetery.   Second son Pierre, born in 1802, married Magdalena Zimmerman (and later Magdalena Reidiger) and became the conservative 'hook-and-eye' minister of the Augspurger congregation in Butler County and another neighbor to John Staker.   Third son André, born in 1804, married Anna Oyer and settled in Washington.  First daughter Magdalena married Christian Schmidt/Smith and lived in what became Congerville before both succumbed to cholera in 1855.  And second daughter Barbara married Joseph 'Red Joe' Belsley,  who pioneered the Woodford and Tazewell Counties area, and settled at Deer Creek.  In America they were known as John, Peter, Andrew, Magdalena, and Barbara Schrock.[31]

Two nearby locations appear to have been associated with Belgrade Farm.  Several of those who labored on the farm also worked with the Hirschis in Oderfang Mill at St. Avold, 11 miles to the north.   Others worked on Brandelfing Farm [Ger. Brandelfingerhof] between Gros-Réderching and Rohrbach, 28 miles to the east.[32]

Just two weeks after discovering a few of the connections to the tiny village of Bistroff, we were surprised to find an Internet news item describing how 28 members of the American Zehr family had recently visited Belgrade Farm and walked through an old Anabaptist cemetery there.




Bernese Amish Mennonites found a niche in the economy of Lorraine as millers or meuniers.    The north-flowing river system in the Saare Basin held a number of locations that were suitable for development.  However, because the new arrivals held no citizenship rights (such as land ownership), they preferred to arrange renewable leases or simply provide the manpower for well-established community businesses.

Farmers typically brought corn or wheat to a mill in a tipcart drawn by one or two horses.  After turning over their grain, they could accept bulk flour at once at a low rate, or wait several days for their own grain to be ground.   Astute mill operators tried to increase the volume of their businesses by offering accomodations, or bartering for other farm produce.   

The occupation served Amish Mennonites well.  Their exchanges with local farmers tended to broaden their perspectives (Lorraine Anabaptists were typically more tolerant than those farther north).  It also provided a measure of security within the greater community.  Their extended relationships and the arrival of new families from Alsace and Bern provided young, single male laborers seeking incomes.  In turn, the laborers could move from mill to mill (or family grouping to family grouping) without significantly altering their job skills, language, and beliefs.

The inevitable exchanges with the greater community meant that many operators were forced to learn a second language (French) and the basics of mathematics. 

An Amish Mennonite child at Bistroff would have received little or no schooling.  In Mémoire de Mon Village, Bistroff au Bischwald, Michel Edouard Mann described the state of education after the French revolution of 1789:  "The Revolutionary Assembly of 1790 removed priest-teachers [Fr. curés] and schools, and in its haste to upset everything, forgot the education of its young citizens.  More than three years later, in October 1793, they decreed that they should be educated; the wish remained a dead letter.  The new masters of France had more urgent concerns, especially cutting off the heads of thousands and confiscating the goods and property of the old regime.   But within a few months they further decreed that every community with more than 400 residents should have a school.  Residents of outlying areas could travel to the larger communities.  A year later, only one school could be found in the area.   By 1796, there were three schools for the 32 communities surrounding Grostenquin.  One at Bistroff, one at Morhange, and one at Hellimer, with a promised subsidy of 500 livres per year.  The three cantonal schools were very little frequented during those turbulent times, but that may be due to the great distances involved.  Throughout the Middle Ages and right up to the Revolution, a very elementary form of education had been provided by the church.  But by 1789, hardly a third of the men knew how to write their names, and none of the women."  

The effect of impaired literacy on record keeping is obvious in the état civil system.   Often names can be found under two or three spellings in the text of a single important entry – then spelled correctly in the signature of an Amish Mennonite laborer, who one might assume would be illiterate.   They even assisted in record keeping in several smaller villages where oaths of loyalty were not required to hold office (for example, Joseph Vercler and Peter Engel created entries at tiny Hellocourt, Moselle).   


Military Service and the Napoleonic Wars


In Europe, the issue of Anabaptist resistance to military conscription was often avoided by payment of a special tax.  This was always a punishing amount, and a major point of contention.  Whenever neighboring countries went to war, there was a chance of being drafted to serve as 'loaned troops' in someone else's battles.

A portion of the French Civil Code passed March 18, 1803 dealt with nationality and civil rights.  It declared that the nation was described as a closed family.  French nationality was only a right of families that had lived in France for several generations.  (Droit de sol or jus soli, the legal concept that birth on French territory was grounds for legal nationality, was not accepted until 1889).   However, this did not mean that visitors could not be forced into their military services.   Napoleon set a precedent later that year with a campaign of persecution against nationless gypsies on French territory.  Children, women, and the aged were sent to poor houses for cheap labor; young men were give their choice of joining the army or navy.  

In nearby Hesse, a prince who had once invited Anabaptists to settle his lands eventually found favor with Napoleon.  He became 'His highness, Wilhelm the Elector' in 1803 and signed a treaty with the French in 1806.  He soon found it prudent to change his attitude about Anabaptist conscription for military service. Almost immediately groups from the Palatinate and Alsace-Lorraine joined Bavarian groups leaving for North America.  Ingolstadt and Munich settlements disappeared entirely because of emigration to Ontario and Illinois. 

In Moselle 1804-1815, young men drew lots from a hat in village squares to see who would serve seven year enlistments. 

The Steckers appear to have misstated names and ages during the years of the Napoleonic wars:


1802:  Josephe's age was given as 26 on his Bistroff marriage record, and his birth year as 1776 ("soixante et seize," or sixty and sixteen).

1803:  On the Tragny birth record of daughter Anna, Josephe's age was not given.

1805:  On the Grostenquin birth record of son Jean, Josephe's age was given as 38, indicating his birth year was 1767.  But the word trente (thirty) appears to have been written over another word beginning with the letter 'v' (as in vingt, or twenty), suggesting that after the document was written his age was increased by 10 years.

1808:  On the Harprich birth record of son Joseph, Josephe's age was given as 34 years, indicating a birth year of 1774.  In that year discussion of universal military conscription for Napoleon's campaigns encouraged another wave of Amish families to emigrate from Europe.  Amish Mennonites in Sarrebourg, Lorquin, and Dabo made a public statement that they would not bear arms.

1809:   Lorraine Amish Mennonites sent Christian Engel and Christian Güngerich to Paris to petition for exemption from military conscription.  They were ignored. Vienna and its coalition partner Britain attacked French ally Bavaria.

1810: On the Harprich birth record of daughter Barbe, Josephe's age was given as 48 years, indicating a 1762 birth year.  Josephe had aged 14 years since the last entry two years before.  Barbe Farny's name was given as 'Barbe Guerber.'

1811: The Harprich birth record of daughter Catherine gave Josephe's age as 49 years, indicating a birth year of 1762; Barbe Farny's name was given again as Barbe Guerber.  In that year a second group that included Joseph Hirschy took a petition to Paris, but their request was declined.


It is not known why Barbe Farny was recorded as 'Barbe Guerber' during these years – only that they were definitely the same person.  There is no entry indicating a death or divorce, or a remarriage by Josephe in 1809.  The name 'Barbe Guerber' appears as the parent on the 1811 birth record of Catherine Stecker, but the parent appears as 'Barbe Farny' on Catherine's 1831 death record.   Barbe Farny was clearly and accurately identified on the 1836 entry for her death.

We can think of four possible reasons for Barbe Farny's temporary name change to 'Guerber' in records kept at Harprich:


1)          The name change to 'Guerber' may have been a local interpretation.  There was a large Guerber family in Harprich, including the municipal clerk who recorded births, Thomas Guerber.  Perhaps the Steckers lived with them.

2)          Josephe Stecker and Barbe Farny's illiteracy may also have been a factor; his signature appears only on Harprich records, where it could have been written for him by the municipal recorder (their handwriting appears very similar in some cases).   Her name was signed with an 'x' throughout her life.

3)          The name change was simply a means of avoiding confusion in the municipal records.  Harprich already had a Barbe Farny (1741-1806), who died in the same year that Josephe and Barbe's records shift from Bistroff and Tragny to Harprich.  It is possible that the older Barbe was an aunt to the younger (namesake) Barbe.[33]   

4)          Or, it may have been an attempt at deception, to conceal the whereabouts of male Farnys during a period of military conscription.




Joseph Stecker and Frena Roth


This genealogy will follow the line of the fourth child of Josephe Stecker and Barbe Farny.   Background on the remaining children of the ninth generation is given in following sections.

Fourth child Joseph Stecker was born about four miles to the southwest of Grostenquin, in the village of Harprich, Moselle on April 28, 1808.[34]   His état civil birth record describes his father Josephe as an Anabaptist laborer at the mill at Bening Commune in Harprich.   Older children were Christian,  who was born a Farny in 1801; Anna, born in 1803; and Jean/John, born in 1805.  Later children were Barbe, born in 1810, about whom no more is known; Catherine, born in 1811, who died before the others emigrated; and Nicholas, born in 1815.  

Joseph may have been the first to emigrate from Europe.  According to a single unreliable source, he emigrated in 1822 (but the period 1830-32 is much more likely). 


Europe to North America


Although the boundaries of Napoleon's empire reached their greatest point in 1810, the year also brought hardships to the region of Lorraine.  A naval blockade of the continent caused a nationwide industrial and commercial crisis, bringing a rash of local bankruptcies.  This coincided with a poor grain harvest.  By the following year the price of corn had doubled, and in two years it quadrupled.   By mid-1812, charity soup kitchens were doing a brisk business in Nancy.[35]

In 1813, the Grand Army retreated within France's borders.   More than 20,000 wounded were billeted at Metz, where typhus broke out; 9,000 soldiers and 1,000 civilians died there before the close of the year.  Napoleon's misfortunes encouraged Prussia and Austria to join in the war on the side of the allies.

In 1814 the allies crossed into Lorraine, and Cossacks occupied Nancy.  The borders of Lorraine contracted to their 'pre-war' state.  Napoleon went into exile, but returned briefly during the '100 days.'  This brought another invasion force across Lorraine.  This time the local residents were obligated to board and feed Hussard cavalrymen and their horses.  The last elements of the occupation did not depart until 1818.

Amish Mennonites in Europe typically leased portions of estates for terms from six to nine years. They developed a good reputation for improving the land they farmed; however, when a head of household died, this proved a temptation to the landowner who could adjust his new terms upward.   It was also the custom in many parts of France and Germany for those who did own their land to create a partible inheritance of family property, dividing the house and land among the children, so that farms became smaller with each generation.  Many family farms in the Rhine Valley had been reduced to 20 acres.  This was considered the minimum necessary to sustain a family. 

The promise of inexpensive land in North America was incentive to move.  In 1803, the American government took advantage of Napoleon's war debts by purchasing 828,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River for $15 million.  The Louisiana Territory doubled the size of the new country and eventually became 13 states.  The opening of new American territory and limits on the importation of slaves increased the need for cheap labor.

After the importation of African slaves was banned in Louisiana in 1807, the need for cheap labor became acute.  The buying and trading of indenture contracts became an accepted business practice.  After paying up to 30 tolls along the Rhine River on their way north to Bremen or Rotterdam, travelers often found it necessary to sign contracts for part or all of their trans-Atlantic fare.  Terms of service ranged from four to eight years.  Children served until they turned 21.  Supporters pointed out that about two-thirds of all Germans who emigrated to North America in colonial times had been redemptioners.  Abuses became so infamous that Louisiana passed laws in 1818 to protect their rights. 

Emigration from the German states was a direct reflection of the shift from a feudal economy to capitalism.   When serfs were released from their obligations and became free under the law, they often found that landowners no longer had use for large and inefficient workforces.  Day laborers poured into cities but found no work.      

In the early 1800s only about 500 Amish Mennonites emigrated; in the second phase, after the conscription issue became urgent, about 3,000 Amish had sailed the Atlantic.  But after the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars in 1815, restrictions on emigration eased in Europe. 

From the 1892 recollections of Christian Ropp:  "Mennonite immigration [to America] came in three waves.  Persecution, improved ships, William Penn's invitation, and Quaker help brought the first one.  Better conditions in Europe checked the flow between 1740 and 1815, when opposition to the new military draft brought the second wave.  This included the Ropps, Litwillers, Berkys, Roths, Schlegels, Farnis, Zehrs, Hiesers, Strubhars, Sommers, Gerbers, Schertz, Stakers, Stalters, Kaufmans, Engels, Waglers, Zimmermans, Richs, and Kinsingers.  Look over the Illinois list; they are almost all there.  Thousands went elsewhere.  Our state [Illinois] was new then.  The third wave began with the steamship and railroad.  Up to Napoleon's day, armies consisted of hired soldiers, with volunteers of plunderers, thieves, cutthroats, and every kind of worthless human riff-raff, making it easier for decent men to stay out.  But now [following the Congress of Vienna in 1815] the restored kingdoms copied Prussia's new draft, so Mennonites had to take it or go, with America the best door."

Émigrés to North America came from the entire length of the Rhine Valley after 1816, prodded by natural events.  The year 1816 was known in both Europe and North America as "the year without a summer."  Global atmospheric changes resulting from the explosion of Mt. Tambora in Indonesia caused three successive extended winters in 1816, 1817, and 1819, later called a "small Ice Age."[36]   They destroyed crops and caused widespread famine.  French veterans who had volunteered to serve under the Marquis de Lafayette in the American Revolutionary War had returned to their garrisons at Metz with stories about plentiful farmland and food.  And approximately 150,000 English, Prussian, Austrian and Russian troops occupying Lorraine between 1815 and 1818 made "la rue vers l'Eldorado Américane" even more attractive.  In addition, the economies of Lorraine and Alsace were strained by a financial panic in 1825. 

In Germany some farmers were forced to emigrate because of a shortage of land, but this was not true in Moselle, the home of the Steckers.  In fact, many farms were probably undermanned and underproductive because of three successive shocks: 1)  the losses of sons in the Napoleonic wars; 2) the subsequent need for farm labor to feed occupation troops; and 3) an exodus to regions that had mill and factory jobs (the fabric industry was evolving with the invention of mechanical looms). 

It was the threat of renewed military consciption that prompted a wholesale exodus from Moselle in the years 1830-34.   No one wanted to return to a time when males went off to the Russian Campaign and did not return, leaving family farms in dire straits.  So many families emigrated that the Lorraine region had insufficient manpower to both feed itself and  industrialize.  The local economy was set back for decades. 

Lorraine and Lower Alsace were canvassed by recruiters for land agents in America, who often promised fictitious jobs and disappeared with deposits.  Many Alsatian emigrants simply followed freight wagons to Paris, sold their livestock there, then followed freight wagons or sailed on flatboats down the Seine to reach Le Havre.  The English Channel port city is directly across from Portsmouth, England.  Both ports had established a regular trade with French-speaking New Orleans to exchange manufactured goods for raw cotton. 

 The difficulty of tracking these emigrées through ship passenger lists can be illustrated by the story of Joseph Vercler, as told by Derrick Babbs in the Apostolic Heritage History & Genealogy Newsletter.   He was born in 1807, the son of Joseph Vercler and Catherine Ringenberg, and lived in Hellocourt, Moselle.[37] 

Joseph was conscripted into the military at 21, and returned home on furlough after serving more than two years.  He hatched a plan to desert with the aid of a friendly gendarme.  Risking the death penalty, he shaved off his soldier's moustache, borrowed the passport of friend Joseph Gingerich, and walked 400 miles across Northern France in 10 days.   In Le Havre he met other Mennonites and boarded a ship bound for New York using the Gingerich passport.  He was at sea several days before his furlough expired.   Back home, the gendarme who had helped him escape now put on a public display of anger and scolded his pleased mother.   His mother and stepfather emigated in 1831.    (See Genealogy Nine, VERCLER OF HELLOCOURT).

It might be surprising to learn that many American families were established because of a fly whisk in Algeria.   The whisk gave many French Amish Mennonites an overwhelmingly urgent reason to emigrate between 1830 and 1834.   

Algeria was at one time the largest producer of wheat in the Mediterranean region.  During its revolutionary years,  the government of France imported large amounts of grain.   Even during the invasion of Egypt, the Emperor Napoleon fed his troops grain harvested along the Barbary Coast.   France sent representatives to negotiate payment with the Ottoman Empire's governor or dey in Algiers.  But negotiations dragged on for a dozen years.  In 1827, the dey reached the point of utter frustration.  During a heated discussion, he struck one French envoy with a fly swatter.  The French immediately announced a naval blockade. 

But the blockade meant to retaliate for the "fly whisk incident" was shown to be ineffective.  Three years later, Charles X was deeply embarrassed that Hussein Dey still ruled from a luxurious palace in Algiers.  In June 1830, he ordered an invasion of Algiers by 34,000 French troops. 

The French public initially applauded a three-day victory.  But when news reached Paris that the victorious troops were raping, looting, desecrating mosques, and destroying cemeteries, it was too much.  They began to see the action as a ploy to rally public opinion behind a reactionary regime.  Liberal opponents seized the opportunity to depose Charles X and his Bourbon Dynasty. 

A parliamentary commission soon determined that policy, behavior, and organization before and after the Algiers action had been failures.  However, it also conceded that the occupation of Algeria had to continue "for the sake of national prestige."  In 1834, France annexed the occupied territory as a colony, opting to rule 3 million Muslims by force.  The need for occupation troops lasted until 1962.  

Despite the necessity for more soldiers, the new administration of 'Citizen King' Louis Philippe d'Orléans was obligated to ease emigration restrictions to maintain political stability at home.   And the need for more soldiers meant it was time for Amish Mennonites to move on.   Even Heimatrecht, a claim to hereditary Swiss citizenship, was no longer a valid exemption from military conscription.  

Many voyagers unknowingly brought another danger aboard with them.

During the late winter and early spring of 1831-32, American newspapers followed the progress of the disease cholera from Paris to other parts of Europe.   Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by drinking unclean water or food containing the vibro cholerae bacillus.  The immediate symptoms are fever, diarrhea, and forceful vomiting that leads to severe dehydration.  The modernday remedy for cholera consists of antibiotics, constant attention, and care to replenish fluids with boiled water mixed with sugar and salts. 

Seaborne travelers were often obliged to drink rancid water and share slop buckets with infected companions.  Port cities became linking points for the epidemic.   It is thought that cholera spread from Europe to Quebec to Buffalo and along the small towns of the Erie Canal in just four months of 1832.  In June, cholera became so severe in New York City that roads leading to the countryside were clogged.   On the frontier, entire families were suddenly disabled and died together. 

It is probable that John, Joseph, and Nicholas Stecker arrived in North America between 1830 and 1834.   They may have arrived at an American port, but no passenger list has been found to support that, and it is also possible that they landed in Canada.   Ontario was a common transit point for many families that later settled in Butler County, Ohio.  This would seem logical, given the preponderance of the names Roth, Zimmerman, Rupp/Ropp, Jantzi, Fahrni, Zehr, and Nafziger in the area around Waterloo and Berlin (now called Kitchener).

It is also possible that they passed through communities containing distant relatives.  The National Archives hold a number of candidates who arrived in either Baltimore or Philadelphia.  Michael Stöcker came on the Britainia from Rotterdam on Sept. 21, 1731; Valentine Stucker, 19, who arrived in Philadelphia aboard the Winter Galley on Sept. 5, 1738; Christian Stucker, who arrived in Philadelphia from Cowes and Amsterdam on Oct. 25, 1738, aboard the Davy; Dewald Stecker in a group that included Zweibrücken, Nassau, Württemberg and Palatine passengers named Nafsker, Kauffman, Hochstatter, Farne, Rupp, and Seiler, on the Phoenix on Sept. 15, 1740; Joh. Lorentz Staueker, who arrived in Philadelphia from Rotterdam on the Restauration Oct. 9, 1747, with a group of Palatine passengers named Rupp, Beck, Guth, Miller, Scherch, and Mauerer; Johan Albert Stecker on the Two Brothers from Rotterdam to Philadelphia on Sept. 14, 1749; Johannes Georg Stöcker (also found as George Stecker or Stecher) at Halifax, Nova Scotia on Sept. 28, 1753; Henry Stecker, in a group of Roman Catholics and Mennonites from the Palatinate and Württemberg, on the Edinburgh from Rotterdam to Philadelphia on Sept. 30, 1754;  Michael Staiger, in a group of passengers from Württemberg that included Summer, Maurer, and Bender, on the Richard and Mary also on Sept. 30, 1754;  or Christian Stecker of Philadelphia County, who came on the Britannia from Rotterdam on Sept. 18, 1773.   On April 7, 1742, Rev. John Caspar Stoever married Barbara Stucker and Michael Mueller in Lancaster County, Pa.  John Stucker can be found on the tax list of Berks County, Pa. in 1767.

John Stecker/Staker and his wife Barbara Schertz immigrated in 1830 (according to her obituary), and their oldest daughter Elizabeth was born in Pennsylvania in 1831 (according to her entries in later censuses).  One possible stopping place on the way to Butler County, Ohio was the Lehigh Valley, about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia.  The valley holds the counties of Lehigh and Northampton.  It was settled after 1734 by Mennonites, Moravians, and German Protestants who felt it resembled the Palatinate they had left behind.  The names Staker, Steck, Stecker, Stocker, and Stucker can all be found at one time or another in Northampton County.  Some of the familiar families that settled there in the second half of the 18th century include Bachman, Gerber, Roth, and Zimmerman.  

If we were going to choose one immigration journey to represent the experiences they might have had, it would be the passage of the packet ship De Rham from Le Havre to New York City in 1830.   The majority of its passengers eventually settled in Butler County or Tazewell County, and many figured in the lives of Stakers.  Their journey was described in History of the Mennonites of Illinois, published in 1931 by the Mennonite Historical Society of Goshen, Indiana, and in the March 1992 issue of Illinois Mennonite Heritage.

Jean/Johannes Kennel (1781-1831) led the group.  He was born at Weitersweiler, lived at Driesen, and farmed at Herfingerhof estate, all in Kirchheimbolanden, a district of the Lower Palatinate.  He was married to Magdalena Nafziger (1791-1873) who was born in Germmingenschenh, Fränkisch-Crumbach, Hesse-Darmstadt.  She was the sister of preacher Peter Nafziger, the minister who later performed marriage ceremonies for Joseph Stecker/Staker and Frena Roth, and Nicholas Stecker/Staker and Magdalena Eimer.  They traveled directly to him in Butler County.

The passenger list also included the family of Jacob Nafziger (1798-1888) and Barbara Krehbiel (1796-1873);[38] Jean Christian Dettweiler (1791-1842) and Anna Hauter (1792-?), later of Panola, Ill.; servant Peter Guth/Good (1806-1886, later of Washington, Tazewell County); and blacksmith Jacob Unzicker (1808-1893),[39] later a Tremont resident and minister at Pleasant Grove Mennonite Church in Elm Grove. 

The group started from their homes in October 1830.  They moved in a covered wagon through France to the harbor at Le Havre, expecting to take the cotton ship Superior  to New Orleans and from there up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to Cincinnati.

When they reached the harbor the ship had gone.[40]   They would have been obliged to wait five or six weeks before another sailed for New Orleans, but they decided to take an earlier ship to New York City instead.   

The exact departure and arrival dates of De Rham's passage have been lost, but it is known that it stopped over in Boston, and took 76 days to reach New York Harbor.   "Once there, they bought horses, took their wagon from the ship, and started overland for Ohio.  When they reached Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a great snow fell, and by the time they reached Lancaster City they could go no further, as three feet of snow had fallen.[41]  The city officials opened the courthouse to give them shelter.  There were 30 in the party, all from the old country.  A settlement of Mennonites near the city heard of the Mennonites who were snowbound in the city, and came out with three sleds and took them into their settlement, where they stayed until spring."  They then sailed down the Ohio River, reaching Cincinnati in April 1831.[42] 

If the Steckers had sailed even four years later, it is possible that they would have ended up in New York State instead of Illinois. Many later Mennonite arrivals from Lorraine settled in the Adirondacks in Upstate New York.  In 1830, Joseph Kieffer of Folschviller[43] became a recruiter for land agent Leray de Chaumont (see Genealogy Three, FARNY).  He sailed to New York in 1831, then returned to Europe and made the trip again, arriving in New York in May 1834 on the ship Groton from Le Havre with Rev. Joseph Farny (later Farney; 1795-1873), Rev. Rudolf Vercler of Hellocourt (later Wirckler; 1792-1876, the uncle of Verclers in Woodford and Tazewell Counties) , Simon Hirschi (later Hirschey; 1790-1861) and others.  They settled in Castorland in the French Settlement, now called New Bremen. 

Lewis County became a transit point or final destination for many of the Amish Mennonite families from Grostenquin and its suburbs.  Modern family names in the area include Farney, Zehr, Nafziger, Jantzi, Gingerich and Moser.  The history of that community is preserved at the non-profit Mennonite Heritage Farm in Kirschnerville, Lewis County.

In 1835 New York became the first American home of Joseph Stecker/Staker's cousin Peter Zehr and his wife Barbara Roth, who was the older sister of Frena Roth. They moved on to Ontario in 1838 or 1839.  (See Genealogy Four, A ROTH-ZEHR-FARNY-STECKER CONNECTION).   The area they lived in became Croghan in 1841.   Croghan also became the permanent home of Joseph Stecker's sister-in-law Marie Jantzi and her husband Christian Nafziger. Her parents were Christian Jantzi and Anne Farny.  Marie was born April 4, 1796 in Bistroff and died Nov. 8, 1875 in Croghan.  Her husband Christian was born Sept. 2, 1796 at Schottenhof, Sarralbe, Moselle.  They married on May 14, 1817 in Bistroff.  A son Joseph Noftsier was born in Utica in 1834, and a son Christian Noftsier was born in Croghan in 1842.

Not all journeys reached their intended destinations.   Farmer Jean Farny left the Lower Alsace village of Obenheim with his wife and five children in 1831.  They joined a group of 800 travelers crossing Alsace to reach the port of Le Havre, intending to settle in New York State.   But in Le Havre they discovered that the group's agent had disappeared with their fares.   The French Ministry of War took advantage of their situation by placing them on ships bound not for Canada or the United States, but for Algeria.   The French-speaking Alsatian colonists populated Algiers and scratched an existence out of small farms in the surrounding desert.

Joseph was the first of the Stecker children to arrive in North America, if we accept flimsy evidence.  According to the Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois published in 1905, "…Joseph emigrated to America in 1822 and located in Cincinnati, Ohio where he engaged in the livery business for several years."  (Was the biographer confusing Cincinnati in Hamilton County with Hamilton in Butler County?  Or the year 1822 for the year 1832?).   The Historical Encyclopedia is filled with factual errors, and is the single source for the 1822 date.  All the circumstantial evidence points to an arrival in 1830-31.[44]

Still, it was not uncommon for Amish Mennonite parents to send their male children to America with friends or relatives.  Joseph would have been 14 years old in 1822.  The United States began to document the arrival of aliens on March 2, 1819.  An act of Congress required the captain or master of a vessel arriving at a port in the United States or any of its territories to submit a list of passengers to the collector of customs.  Some of these documents are now on microfilm at regional centers of the National Archives and Records Administration.  However, the majority have not been preserved.

Cincinnati had become a city in 1803. Hogs were brought to Cincinnati to be butchered and shipped in barrels to New Orleans.  Bavarian David Ziegler became the city's first mayor.  He had served under Washington at Valley Forge and commanded Fort Washington on the original site of the city. Steamboats were known as 'queens,' and Cincinnati was known as the 'Queen City of the West.'  Steamboat travel became popular on the Mississippi River after 1815.  In the first years, high-pressure steam engines were used because their compact size permitted more room on deck for cargo.  The engines shook the vessels violently and created loud bursts of noise.  Passengers were towed behind the stern-wheel steamers on 'safety barges.'  A lengthy tow rope lessened the shaking and the chance of injury from boiler explosions.[45]  Later, when larger steamboats with reliable engines were employed, immigrants slept on the decks for one-quarter the price of a first class fare.

Any city records that may have documented Joseph Stecker's presence in Cincinnati would have been destroyed by fires in 1849 and 1884.

It is possible that Joseph was an apprentice at a stable in the care of an Amish family.  The only educational method of the church was to learn by doing from an early age: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6).  The average age to begin this type of apprenticeship was 14.

Joseph's early occupation in Ohio was liveryman, according to History of Tazewell County. The liveryman was the period's version of a taxi driver.  In Henry Home's Historical Collections of Ohio, published in 1891, the Reverend Reed describes a trip on a fast mail coach on the roads around Cincinnati in 1834:  "...Jolted and jarred, as to threaten serious hat was so many times thrown from my head, and all my bruises bruised over again.  It was really an amusement to see us all laboring to keep our places."

It is probable that Martin Baum (1765-1831) would have played some indirect role in the arrival of Joseph Stecker.   Baum was one of the wealthiest and most influential of Cincinnati's early citizens.  He had been born in Alsace and studied medicine in Baltimore.  He came to Cincinnati in 1795, where he established the city's first bank and served a term as mayor.  After 1819, his port agents in Baltimore, New Orleans, and Philadelphia invited German immigrants to take free passage up the Mississippi to work in his sugar refinery and iron foundry.

The Baums built a house in 1820 but lived there only four years.   Baum suffered financial reversals in the panic of 1818-19, and the house was deeded to the Bank of the United States in 1825.  It is now called the Taft Museum of Art and is a national landmark museum. 

It is possible that Joseph came to Cincinnati as an apprentice for one of Baum's concerns.  In 1822, approximately 500 of the 9,600 residents of Cincinnati were German-born.  Before the end of the century, residents of German descent accounted for 60 percent of the population.  The growth was attributed mostly to the efforts of Martin Baum.


Christian Augspurger in Butler County


While it is merely possible that Martin Baum's enterprises may have impacted Joseph Stecker, it is absolutely certain that the milling and distilling businesses of pioneer settler Christian Augspurger and his neighbors had a profound influence on family fortunes.

Christian Augspurger (1782-1848) of Ste. Marie-aux-Mines had managed the Meinau Estate near Strasbourg 1809-17.  The 500-acre farm was considered one of the most productive in France.  Because his employer was Charles Louis Schulmeister, a general who directed courier and spy services for Napoleon, he came to know royalty and army generals.  They often showed interested in Augspurger's farming methods.  In 1814 he toured the former royal court and received the Fleur de Leuce medal of honor for agricultural advice he had offered to Marshall Bertrand.[46]

With the fall of Napoleon, Bertrand was sent into exile.  Schulmeister was forced to tour Europe make humiliating public apologies for his conduct during the wars, and his estates fell into disarray.

In 1817, Augspurger made his first trans-Atlantic voyage, taking his family to Pennsylvania.  From there he went on to scout for land in the Miami River Valley north of Cincinnati.  The following year he returned to Europe, but in 1819 he and his relatives sailed for America again with 35 Mennonite families.[47]  The five families that accompanied Christian to Butler County were headed by his younger brother Joseph, second cousin Jacob, Christian Sommer, John Miller, and John Gunden.

With his considerable resources Augspurger purchased land in Milford, where he built distilleries and stores, and later in Madison.

It is interesting to speculate on the resources that permitted Christian Augspurger to afford two trans-Atlantic journeys, purchase substantial acreage, and help his family members to lease nearby properties.   Over the years he owned over 2,000 acres, enough to leave 160-acre farms to each of his 12 children.   If he arrived in Ohio intending to create an American estate for Charles Schulmeister, those plans were thwarted when the new French government refused to permit Schulmeister to emigrate.  It is remotely possible that loot from Napoleon's campaigns ultimately financed the establishment of a pacifist community in Butler County.[48]


Mennonites in Ontario


Migration into Ontario had a direct effect on settlements in Ohio. 

Amish Mennonite Christian Nafziger (1776-1836) was born in the Palatinate and lived near Munich for many years.  He became a pioneer through a string of fortunate circumstances. 

After becoming convinced that he could not profit in Europe, he arrived in Amsterdam with only pocket change.  A banking agent lent him the fare to New Orleans, and he arrived there in January 1822.   After making his way up the Mississippi River to Cincinnati, he walked east to find Mennonites in Lancaster County and Philadelphia. There he was told about good farmland in Ontario.  In August 1822, he borrowed a horse and continued north to Ontario, where he found a Mennonite group that had resettled from Pennsylvania.  Soon he was negotiating with Governor Maitland for land rights, and an agreement was reached for the sale of blocks of properties at low prices.  Nafziger then sailed to England, where he was granted an audience with the Duke of York, younger brother of George IV.   He recounted the story of his journey to North America.  The Duke agreed to the land arrangement and slipped gold coins into Nafziger's hand.

Christian Nafziger's family and a number of relatives sailed from Amsterdam to New York on the Nimrod, arriving in August 1826.  From there they traveled on to Ontario and settled on the promised tract in Wilmot Township in Waterloo County.  (The nearby community of Waterloo is now the location of Conrad Grebel College, which holds the Mennonite Archives of Ontario).

The progress of settlement in Waterloo County was upset in 1828 when the Canadian government gave the 'German Block' to King's College (now the University of Toronto).  The school asked for retroactive rent payments, and offered to sell parcels of land at a high price.  Many settlers left and headed south to Butler County rather than pay steep prices for homes in the bitterly cold climate.

An Ontario Heritage Foundation commemorative plaque erected at Baden in the county of Waterloo reads: "In 1822 Christian Nafziger, an Amish Mennonite from Munich, Germany, came to Upper Canada to find land on which to settle some 70 German families. With the assistance of a group of Mennonites headed by Jacob Erb, who had settled nearby, a petition was made to the government for land here in present-day Wilmot Township.  Surveyed two years later by John Goessman, this "German Block" was peopled primarily by Amish from Europe.  In 1824-25 Bishop John Stoltzfus of Pennsylvania organized the first congregation and ordained as ministers John Brenneman and Joseph Goldschmidt.  Services were held in the homes of members until 1884 when a simple frame meeting house, which served until 1946, was erected near this site."

A number of family names that will figure in this genealogy (such as Zimmerman, Roth, and Ropp) passed through Ontario or settled there.


Butler County Prospers


By 1829, Christian Augspurger had become one of the wealthiest citizens of Butler County.  He appears on the 1830 census of Milford, but on April 11, 1830 he purchased 250 acres of land close to the Greater Miami River in Madison.  There he built a saw and gristmill, where many Mennonites came to work.  His impressive new stone and wood home, Chrisholm, became a landmark in the community.

Augspurger's distilleries turned out beer and whiskey, which could be barreled on site, then stored in barns or sent down river to New Orleans.  The liquor business became much more profitable than farming at a time when corn sold for less than 10 cents per bushel, and pork brought only two cents per pound.  The 50 cent-per-gallon price paid the daily wages of one worker. 

It has been estimated that three of every four Mennonite families that later settled in Illinois spent some time in Butler County.  In the Winter 2003 issue of Illinois Mennonite Heritage, Gordon Oyer points out that of the 253 Amish Mennonite ministers who attended Diener Versammlungen meetings in the mid-1800s, 126 were immigrants.  Of these, 44 had spend at least some time in Butler County.  Another 33 immigrated directly to Illinois, where they represented congregations likely to include others who had lived in Butler County.      

At about this time more and more Germans began to arrive.  In 1827, the city of Bremen, Germany arranged a trade and immigration treaty with the United States.  In 1830 a new transatlantic port was dredged out at nearby Bremerhaven. The movement was fueled by the book Account of a Journey to the Western States of North America, by Gottfried Duden.  The German writer bought land in Missouri in 1824. He praised the scenery and fertile soil, and repeatedly noted the absence of soldiers, clergy, and tax collectors.  Even the Duke of Württemberg visited Ohio and Illinois, writing Travels in North America 1822-1824 under the pen name Paul Wilhelm.

When Christian Nafziger returned to North America on the Nimrod in 1826, those sailing with him had included relative Peter Nafziger (1787-1885), who was to serve as a minister for the Wilmot congregation.  In 1828 Peter traveled from Canada to Butler County.  "He is said to have been a strong and forceful man, and of a determined disposition" (Grubb). [49] He later became a prominent elder, and was nicknamed 'Apostle Peter.'  Although Peter Nafziger undoubtedly brought some Hessian Amish with him when he moved south to Butler County, there were soon to be many more in the area.

In May of 1832, a number of comparatively well-to-do Mennonite families arrived in Bremen, Germany.  The expression '100 Hessian Mennonites' has been used to describe this group, which actually included several companions who were hired to assist on the journey, as well as a schoolteacher for the children. They were refugees from a campaign of harassment that had been initiated against Anabaptists in Hesse-Darmstadt and Kurhessen, but it is also possible that they sought to escape the pandemic cholera epidemic.  Family heads included Michael Jutzi [50] (1777-1840), Christian Jutzi (1788-1857), Daniel Brenneman (1804-1884), Johannes Holly, Peter Holly (1791-1854), Johannes Bender (1786-1833), and Catherine Gingrich. 

They chartered a two-masted brig (its name appears to be lost) and made preparations for the 77-day voyage to America.  Food was stocked, and chests were filled with clothing, bedding, cooking utensils, Dutch ovens, and books.  The Jutzi and Holly family brought pianos that later became the source of great controversy.  The ship departed Bremen on the Weser River on May 16.  Many onboard were sick, and one passenger died before the ship landed at Baltimore on July 31, 1832. 

In Baltimore, Christian and Michael Jutzi rented a house, where the group rested for 10 days.  On Aug. 10, they resumed their journey, heading over the Allegheny Mountains and by cart through Gettysburg, Chambersburg and Somerset on the first national highway before arriving at Wheeling in the Cumberland Gap on Aug. 25.   On the Ohio River they traveled south by boat and arrived in Cincinnati on Aug. 31.  They reloaded their stores onto a canal boat and traveled up the Miami River, arriving in Hamilton on Sept. 3.  

 The Jutzi, Holly, and Brenneman families rented houses in Hamilton to get through the first winter, where their children were tutored by the school teacher who had accompanied them from Europe.   Butler County records of deeds show that on Dec. 22, 1832, Peter Holly paid $3,500 for several land parcels including 214 acres and 194 acres along the Greater Miami River.  The same day Peter and Jacob Iutzi purchased 1,088 adjoining acres for $4,400.  Both paid "cash in hand." 

When Amish Mennonites moved from one place to another, it was customary to show a certificate of membership stating their good standing in the old congregation.  The '100 Hessian Mennonites' had no certificates to prove a connection to an established Amish Mennonite church. 

Immigrants arriving after 1817 were often more progressive than earlier settlers. The Hessians who arrived in 1832 were especially 'tolerant.'   Some of the men wore moustaches and buttons, occasionally danced, and seemed to be more considerate of dissenting opinions on questions of doctrine.  Their homes had rugs on the floors and curtains in the windows.   The conservative early settlers grew impatient with the 'prideful' newcomers. 

History of the Mennonites of Butler County, Ohio:   "The same year [1832] there was an immigration of Hessian Mennonites, who differed from those already here in that they had musical instruments and wore more modern clothing.  They were accepted into the congregation, but not having been connected with the Amish branch before they came to Butler County, and having come from a different German state, could not always accept the views of their brethren, who put much stress upon simplicity and plainness, as well as being strict in the use of discipline.  These differences caused so much strife that they could no longer worship together." 

On Jan. 25, 1835 elders and preachers met in the home of bishop Joseph Goldsmith [Goldschmidt][51]  of the Collinsville congregation.   Following a morning service they sat together to discuss points of dissension.  But internal differences proved too much to overcome. 

They decided to allow their congregation to divide amicably.  Over the next few weeks, families voted their consciences. 

At a meeting in the home of Joseph Augspurger on May 8, it was announced that roughly one-half of the church members had opted to remain in the strict Amish mother church with the Rev. Jacob Augspurger (Christian's second cousin) and Rev. Peter Schrock.  They became known as the 'hook and eye church,' or haftlers, emphasizing  simplicity and tradition. 

Many Alsatians chose to join with the new Hessian arrivals to form a 'button church,' the knöpflers.    The button church permitted freedom of dress and encouraged education.  Grubb's History of the Mennonites in Butler County places Steckers in Butler County as the liberal-conservative division occurs in 1835.  They opted for liberal dress and education: "The families which united with the new organization [knöpflers] were Holly, Naffzinger, Iutzi, Brennaman, Kennel, Gingrich, Sommer, Danner, Stecker, Burcky, Schert, Jordy, Conrad, and Lehman." [all spellings as found][52]

The event was so important to the future of so many families that the Iutzi family piano at the heart of the dispute has been displayed in the parlor of the Butler County Historical Society and Museum in Hamilton and at the restored Chrisholm. 

Elders of the Augspurger congregation included Peter Nafziger from 1830 until he moved to Illinois, with assistance from his son-in-law John Kistler;[53] Jacob Augspurger 1830-1846; and Peter Schrock until his death in 1887.   After the 1835 division the Hessian congregation was led by Nafziger and Kistler (who moved to Illinois in 1841), followed by Johannes Müller (1783-1859), who came to Ohio in 1845 and moved to Illinois about 1855; Peter Kennel; and Joseph Augspurger.

The original Chrisholm house burned to its foundation in 1873.  A second home was constructed on the site by Christian Augspurger's youngest son Samuel.  It is now the Chrisholm Historic Farmstead, a 17-acre park just east of Trenton, Ohio, and is the site of annual Augspurger reunions.[54]  Nearby is the Augspurger Memorial Cemetery, where Christian and his wife Catherine are buried.[55]




On April 17, 1838, Joseph Stecker married Frena Roth in Butler County.  Joseph was 30 and Frena, 19.   The ceremony would have been held in the home of the bride, following Amish Mennonite custom, and the legal documentation was a Record of Marriage entry at Hamilton (now the county seat of Butler County).   Peter Nafziger presided,[56] and had the register entry recorded on April 21.  The original registry book can be found at the Butler County Records Center in Hamilton.

Frena Roth was born on July 3, 1819.  She had migrated to America with her family as an 18-year-old in 1837.   (Genealogy Four holds much more information on her family, and also contains notes showing the bride and groom's families may have known each other in Europe, despite distant locations; Joseph's cousin Peter Zehr was married to Frena's older sister Barbara).

At the time of her birth Frena's father, Nikolaus Roth, was a tenant farmer in Mengen, Baden, which is located just north of Basel, Switzerland.  The village is situated between the Rhine River (the border of Germany and France) and Sulzberg.  He died in 1834.  In 1837, Frena's widowed mother Verena (Zimmerman) Roth left Europe with five of her seven children, including Frena.

A note of clarification on her name: in European common usage there are several names that are interchangeable with Frena, which are synonymous with Veronica: Frances, Ferenica, the German Veronika, and the French Veronique.  We use 'Frena' here because that is the name that appears on her family Bible entries and her marriage record.  She was also known as 'Fanny' later in life.

Jeff Miller of Draper, Utah, a descendant of Jean Bachmann/John Bachman and Anne Stecker/Anna Staker, offered information that may explain why Verena (Zimmerman) Roth and Frena (Roth) Staker were both called 'Veronica.'  According to him, it was a custom in the Müller and Zimmerman families for some daughters to assume the names of their mothers after their death.   Mother Verena died in 1878, while daughter Frena died in 1895.


Stecker to Staker


The mother of the emigrating Stecker family, Barbe Farny, died in Bertring on Dec. 9, 1836. The death entry gives her age as 61, and lists her parents as 'Christienne Farni' and 'Anne Hirchÿ.'  

Her death apparently spurred widower Josephe to join his prospering sons John, Joseph, and Nicholas in America.  The 62-year-old sailed from Le Havre on the ship Erie, arriving at the port of New York on May 25, 1838.[57]  The passenger list includes:


Joh. Bachmann                      38               Husband of Anna (Stecker) Bachman.

Anna Bachmann                   36               Josephe's daughter.

Barbara     "                           9                Josephe's grandchild; she later married Joseph Schertz.

Johann       "                           5                Josephe's grandchild; he later married Catherine Nafziger.

Joseph Stecker                        75               Josephe, born in 1776; actually 62 years of age.

Joseph Nafzigre [58]                 33              

Magdelina          "                 27

Christian            "                 4


The last indication of the presence of Josephe Stecker is a check on the 1840 census of Fairfield in Butler County.  Theage group '70-80' is checked off on the entry for his daughter's household.

The spelling 'Staker' appears for the first time on the Town of Hamilton, Fairfield Township pages of the 1840 census.   It clearly shows 'Joseph Staker' as the head of a household.  His age is marked in the '30-40' column (he would have been 32 years old).  Other members of his household are checked as '20-30' (Frena), '10-15' (probably 14-year-old Anna Roth) and 'under 5'  (possibly Joseph and Frena's first child Barbara, though she was not born until 1841).

The 1840 census is roughly in order by street addresses, so we can construct a brief list of Joseph and Frena's neighbors.   The names include Jacob Ebert, William Bebb, Paul Ruhle, and Benjamin Busey.   The entry immediately before Joseph's is Walter 'Yancy' (1817-1897), who as Walter C. Yancey enlisted as a private in Company K of the 45th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War and later served as a Methodist minister in Illinois and Iowa.  Coincidentally, a Jantzi family (pronounced 'Yancy') had lived with the Steckers on Belgrade Farm in Bistroff.

Another neighbor was John M. Milliken.   John M. and his father, Daniel, both figured in the fortunes of the Butler County Stakers.  According to A History and Cyclopaedia of Butler County, Ohio, Dr. Daniel Milliken was born in Ten Mile Creek, Washington County, Pa.  He brought his family to Butler County in 1804.  He served as a surgeon in the War of 1812, represented the county at the state legislature, became a major general in the state militia, and served three terms as associate judge at the Court of Common Please in Hamilton.  His name appears on the naturalization entries of Joseph and Nicholas (September 1840) and John Stecker/Staker (September 1842).   His son John M. Milliken not only lived near Joseph in 1840, but he also farmed in Fairfield, where the 1850 census shows that he employed oldest brother Christian's son John Staker as a laborer.

On Oct. 14, 1840  Joseph was naturalized at the Hamilton Courthouse.   His citizenship declaration states that he had filed a naturalization declaration of intent at the Hamilton Court of Common Pleas[59] in October 1838, that he had been a citizen of Germany, and that he had resided in the United States for the required five years.  His character witnesses were Augustus Breitenbach[60] and Conrad Schmidtman.[61]

Some time between June 1841 and September 1842, Joseph and Frena moved to a new home on a  farm in Madison (a township at the top of Butler County, carved out of Lemon) where he remained until 1854.  He apparently continued to run his livery business from there with brother-in-law John Bachman.  Bachman and Anna Stecker/Staker appear on the 1850 census as Joseph and Frena's next door neighbors. 

Frena's younger sister Anna was staying with Joseph and Frena in Madison as late as 1843.   Her granddaughter, Cecilia Ropp, told this story in the Roth-Zimmerman Genealogy: 


"My grandmama, Anna Roth, after coming to this country with her mother and family, made her home with her sister Fannie [Frena] Staker in Ohio.  Her brother-in-law Joseph Staker operated a livery barn.  It was the custom at that time for the young men of the community to gather there on Saturday evenings.  Joseph Staker noticed that Christian Gerber[62] and his brother were quite different from most of the other boys, because they saved their money and had no bad habits.  So, he told his sister-in-law that some day he would ask a young man to his home to take dinner and expected her to be very congenial.  Then one fair day, as Anna was doing the family washing beside the creek, her little niece (Barbara) came to call her and said, 'Mother wants you to come home as we are having company.'  So it did not take very many months till the young man married the young maiden, then 17 years old."


Joseph's family was listed as 'Staker' in the 1850 census of Madison: Joseph, farmer born in Germany, 42; Fanny [Frena] born in Germany, 32; Barbara, 10; Fanny, 8; Joseph, 6; Christian, 5; Lena, 3; and Catherine, 1.  All the children were born in Ohio.  The value of their farm was $2,377.

This was the last census that listed their birthplaces as Germany; from this year on they listed their homelands as 'France.'  The early choice of Germany may simply have reflected the Swiss-German dialect that they spoke, the fact that they lived in a part of the county populated extensively by German settlers, or confusion over political possession of Lorraine and Baden.  It might also be noted that the decision to list France as a homeland coincides with the introduction of literacy into the family.


Settling Illinois


Someone looking for an Amish Mennonite pioneer in the areas of Woodford and Tazewell Counties might single out the exploits of Joseph 'Red Joe' Belsley and John Engel. 

'Red Joe' was born at Hellocourt, Moselle March 8, 1802.   In 1828,  he emigrated from France taking "...a bag of flour, a sack of dried fruit, and belt in which gold coins were hidden."  He made his way to Ohio, where he found employment for two years, then resettled at Partridge Creek (in what was then part of Tazewell County but is now Woodford County) in the spring of 1831.   See Genealogy Nine, BELSLEY OF RHODES.   

John Engel was born at Lagarde, Moselle May 22, 1801.  He arrived in America in 1829.  Like many others to follow, he worked six months in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania before moving on to Butler County.  In the summer of 1830 he undertook an incredible 'walkabout' with friend Johannes Werey.   The two walked or rode flatboats on a journey from Hamilton to Lafayette, Indiana; down the Wabash River to within walking distance of the Illinois River; up the Illinois River to Fort Clark (now Peoria); from there to Springfield and Galena; then west to Keokuk, Iowa.  They arrived back in Hamilton Nov. 2, 1830.   He returned to Illinois in August 1831 to purchase land  at Partridge Creek with his half-brother Peter Engel.  See Chapter Nine, ENGEL OF BISTROFF.[63]

Although many Illinois political events probably went unnoticed by the Amish, they are deserving of mention.  The Indian Removal Act of 1830 initiated a drive to force Native Americans from the eastern United States.  In 1832, however, a leader named Black Hawk returned from Iowa to his birthplace near Rock Island, Ill., bringing 400 men and their families.  When the Sac and Fox tribes failed to support him, he prepared to sue for peace.  But his negotiator was murdered.  He made a successful attack on settlements, then retreated into Wisconsin.  An army of volunteers assisted by Sioux guides found his group and killed almost every one – men, women, and children.  Black Hawk himself escaped north to the Winnebagos, but they soon surrendered him.  After a year in federal prison he was returned to Iowa.  The war decimated the Native American population of Illinois, pushing the survivors into Iowa and removing the last obstacle to European settlement in the Old Northwest.

In 1832 the Hessian congregation at Butler County sent Christian Iutzi (1788-1857) and Peter Holly (1791-1854) to examine resettlement prospects in Illinois.  According to Steven Estes, they visited the state Oct. 2-Nov. 9.  However, it was two years before Christian Birkey became the first of the Hessian group in Butler County to resettle.  He settled at Partridge Creek in Woodford County, where elder Christian Engel had established a congregation the year before..  

In 1839, Joseph Smith founded the city of Nauvoo on the Mississippi River west of Peoria as a refuge for Mormon followers who had been harassed in Caldwell County, Mo.  Some Hessian Amish were attracted to the mix of religious piety and militancy.  Smith announced himself as a candidate for the presidency in 1844, and destroyed a press owned by dissenting Mormons.  The state governor had to visit Nauvoo to quell subsequent riots.  Smith and his brother 'Hyram the Prophet' were jailed later that year in anti-Mormon Carthage, Ill., then murdered by disguised militia members.  Elder Brigham Young began the Mormon pilgrimage to Salt Lake City in 1845.  

In 1836, President Andrew Jackson reformed the banking system.  Many banks had printed paper money in excess of their cash reserves.  The new measure ensured that land could only be bought with metal specie, not paper money.  The measure caused a national panic, and many farmers who lost their properties in Pennsylvania and Ohio moved farther west into Indiana and Illinois. The depression lasted until 1845.

 "The Mennonites did not come to Illinois in large groups.  Their coming, which was unsystematic, was not a colonization movement.  They did not come to establish the Mennonite faith on Illinois soil.  Instead their object was very practical, that is, to gain a livelihood from that soil.  First a few happened to come.  When these reported favorably, a few more decided to try out the land.  As the settlers preferred the creeks and the timberlands to the prairies, the first settlements were made on the banks of the Illinois River in the region of present-day Peoria." (Roth-Zimmerman Genealogy).  Peoria mirrored Cincinnati -- its major businesses were meat packing and whiskey.

Land in Central Illinois had been parceled into mile-square units by a 1787 ordinance.  Roads ran north-south and east-west along their boundaries.  The original owners often subdivided the 640-acre, mile-square lots into 160-acre quarter sections.  Townships were formed uniformly from six-by-six mile parcels with allowances for rivers as natural boundaries. 

Tazewell County, the future home of Joseph, his oldest brother Christian, and his younger brother Nicholas, was established in 1827 from a part of Sangamon County.  The first boundaries encompassed parts of present-day DeWitt, Livingston, Logan, Mason, McLean, and Woodford Counties. The reduced present day boundaries of Tazewell County were established in 1841, when land cost $6 per acre.

As early as 1850, the fastest growing and largest Amish community was in McLean County, next to Tazewell County.  The affordable farmland caught the attention of church leaders and groups from other settlements that were anxious to move west. By the mid-1850s the settlement consisted of five church districts, and Central Illinois held a total of eight – twice as many as Pennsylvania.

Frena Roth's brother Andrew had settled at Dillon Creek in 1846, followed by Daniel and Nicholas in 1848.  Their sister Anna (Roth) Gerber, who grew up in the household of Joseph Stecker/Staker and Frena Roth, settled in Elm Grove in 1852. 

Their journeys from Butler County to Tazewell County may have resembled the moves of the family of Daniel Brenneman (1804-1884) and Elizabeth Jutzi, two of the '100 Hessian Mennonites' party of 1932.  According to a Brenneman genealogy compiled by Augusta Iutzi Phillips, "They came to Illinois making the trip by water from Cincinnati, Ohio on the Ohio River to Cairo, Illinois, from there to the mouth of the Illinois River, and up this river to Pekin.  At this place they were met by friends with wagons...At this time there were no fences, roads, bridges or railroads on this vast prairie, one always taking the shortest route to their destination.  A few houses were scattered about the prairie, and these and a huge tree or cluster of trees served as guides to the traveler.  Streams were forded, and if a heavy rain came up while the traveler was across the stream, he had but to wait patiently until the swollen waters subsided ere he could return.  This was sometimes a matter of several days.  The nearest markets were Peoria, Pekin, and Atlanta [southeast of Tremont].  For their groceries, hardware, etc., they usually went to Tremont, where there was a general store and where they could obtain almost anything needed.  Game at that time was abundant, such as wild geese, ducks, chickens, partridges, and deer."   

Joseph Stecker/Staker, who had prospered in Butler County, may have taken a train on his first journey west to Tazewell County.  In May of 1853 the first Illinois Central Railroad train track reached Bloomington, followed by the Chicago and Alton Railroad in October. 

Joseph sold his Madison farm to neighbor Hannah Wolford and her son John on Feb. 28, 1854.   The 110 acres fetched $2,600.  Cash was paid, and the receipt was acknowledged before the deed was recorded in Butler County on March 1, 1854.  The sellers were listed as 'Joseph Stecker' and 'Frances Roth,' and they signed with an 'x', indicating they were illiterate. 

Joseph purchased four parcels of land in Morton totaling 160 acres on May 30, 1854.   Seller Joseph W. Campbell received $4,500 (an amount roughly comparable to $98,000 in today's currency).[64]     Although Joseph Stecker/Staker's oldest brother Christian does not appear on a Groveland census until 1860, he and wife Magdalina Gabriel may have departed East Hamilton/Fairfield and settled in Tazewell County in roughly the same time frame.  Their daughter Magdalena, the widow of Butler County tailor Lewis Shafer, married her second husband Benjamin Egley in Tazewell County on Feb. 7, 1856 (she was listed as 'Magdalen Shafer' on the marriage record).   Amish Mennonite bishop Michael Mosiman conducted the ceremony.  Another daughter, Susanne, married Groveland farmer John O'Brien on Oct. 1, 1857 in a ceremony conducted by a Methodist minister. 

The Financial Panic of 1857 affected the settlement of Central Illinois.  It began with the discovery that employees had embezzled the entire assets of the New York branch of the Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company.  Gold bullion from California miners was routed toward New York City to provide backing for promissory notes.  But when the SS Central America sank in a storm off North Carolina with 450 passengers and its estimated $15 million cargo,[65] Wall Street collapsed.  Eastern land speculators withdrew from their branch offices in Chicago, and land prices plummeted.  Anyone with hard coinage could purchase Central Illinois farmland at rock-bottom prices.

Amish Mennonite or Mennonite families in Tazewell and McLean Counties included Ackerman, Albrecht, Amstutz, Auer, Augspurger/Augsburger, Bachman, Beck, Belsley [Balzli], Birkey/Burky [Bürki], Brenneman, Diemer, Egli, Ehresman, Eichelberger, Eigsti, Eisele[Iseli], Farni/Forney [Fahrni], Engel, Esch/Oesch [Ösch], Eyer, Fry/Frye [Frÿ], Geiger, Gerber/Garber, Guth/Good, Gingerich [Güngerich], Gundy [von Gunden], Habecker [Habegger], Hauter, Hieser, Hochstetler/Hostetler [Hochstättler], Joder/Yoder, Kauffman, Kennel [von Gonl and Fonkennel], Kindig, King [König], Kinsinger/Kinzinger, Köller/Kohler, Imhoff, Letweiler/Litwiller [Lütwyler], Martin, Mast, Maurer, Miller [Müller], Moser, Mosiman [Mosimann], Myers, Naffziger/Nafziger/Noffzinger, Neuhauser, Orendorff, Oswald, Otto, Oyer, Plank [Blank], Ramseyer, Reidiger/Rediger [Reutiger], Risser/Reeser, Ritthaler, Rocke/Roggy[66], Ropp/Rupp, Roth, Rocher/Rusche, Saltzmann, Schad, Schertz, Schlabach, Schnur, Schrag/Schrock, Schwartzentruber/Schwartzentraub, Sweitzer [Schwyzer or Suisse], Slagel/Schlegel, Sloneker, Schmidt/Smith, Sommer, Spring/Springer, Stahley [Stäli], Stalter, Steinman, Strubhar, Stuckey [Stucki], Studer, Stutzman, Sutter, Troyer, Ueberrhein, Ulrich, Ummel, Unzicker, Vercler [Würgler], Wagler, Widmer, Yordy [Jordy], Zehr, Zimmerman, Zobrist, and Zook.


Lincoln and the Underground Railroad


In 1839, a Tazewell County resident bought a note of indenture on a young slave girl named Nance, then tried to collect her.  The owner refused to relinquish possession, and the case of Cromwell vs. Bailey ended up before the Circuit Court of Tazewell County.  There a judge found in favor of the note owner, estimating the girl's value to be $431. 

Lawyer Abraham Lincoln of Springfield appealed the decision in 1841.  He argued that the Tazewell County judge had misinterpreted the Ordinance of 1787, which prohibited slavery originating in Illinois.  He also made the point that under common law any person should be considered free unless it could be proven that the slavery had originated in another state.  The Supreme Court of Illinois held in Lincoln's favor.  Nance lived as a free resident of Pekin until her death in 1873.

As Tazewell County grew, its Mennonite farmers prospered and found themselves drawn into popular politics.  Inevitably this led to discussions for and against the abolition of slavery.  In the South, Biblical verse was quoted to justify slavery:  "And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand, he shall be sorely punished.  Not withstanding, if he [the servant] continue a day or two, he [the owner] shall not be punished for he is his money"  (Exodus 21:20-21).  

Nevertheless, Swiss Mennonites understood the issues of individual rights.  They recalled the experiences of Amish Mennonite freemen who lost their homes and families, and the persecution stories of The Martyrs Mirror.  Immigrants from Bernese families recalled that there were no serfs in the area of Steffisburg, only freemen. 

They were also aware that the first protest against slavery in the New World had been made in Germantown near Philadelphia in 1688, when four Dutch Quakers from Mennonite families drafted a protest statement based on Christian principles.  The historic protest took the form of a petition and a pamphlet, The Resolution of the Germantown Mennonites.  A few of the questions posed were: Why does the color of a person's skin become the dividing line to decide who can be enslaved? Aren't we to 'Do unto others as we would have them do unto us'?  What is the difference between someone who robs property from a man, and someone who robs the man himself?  If we purchase a slave who is stolen from his home and family, aren't we purchasing stolen property for our own profit?  The pamphlet also pointed out that many owners committed adultery with the slaves, or sold their own children. 

The most important Illinois political event in that period was the Dred Scott Decision by the Federal Court.  The court denied rights of freedom to a slave who had lived in the free state of Illinois.  Slavery was forbidden in the northern states, but Scott had been forcibly returned to his home in Missouri, a slave state.  In 1850 the Fugitive Slave Act made the federal government responsible for the apprehension of escaped slaves trying to reach Canada through northern free states.

The Underground Railroad in Illinois existed to conceal slaves as they fled from the South to cross Lake Michigan into Canada.   The first stations in Tazewell County were often the homes of Josiah Matthews of Elm Grove or lawyer John Albert Jones of Tremont.  The History of Tazewell County published in 1879 describes how federal marshals captured a mother and children as they rode in a wagon from Jones's home north toward the farm of Uriah Crosby in Morton.  The father and son on foot were picked up by John Roberts, who was Joseph Staker and Frena Roth's next door-neighbor in Morton.[67]   He took them by horseback to Peoria Lake to escape their pursuers.  They eventually reached Canada, but the mother and children were returned to Southern plantations.

From History of Tazewell County published in 1879: 


"In those exciting days of the Underground Railroad, old Father Dickey and Owen Lovejoy,[68] strong anti-slavery men, made an appointment to speak at Washington [above Morton]. On the notice of the meeting being announced, the pro-slavery men took forcible and armed possession of the church to be occupied by these speakers, and determined, at all hazards, to prevent the meeting from being held there. A prominent man of conservative views on the slavery question advised the anti-slavery men not to attempt to hold the meeting as they were determined to do, as the mob, he said, were frenzied with liquor, and he feared the consequences. So they concluded to go to Pleasant Grove Church, Groveland [actually, just across the town boundary in Elm Grove],[69] where they addressed one of the most enthusiastic anti-slavery meetings ever held in this part of the state.  Owen Lovejoy was the operator of the day. The mob was determined to follow and break up that meeting also, but was deterred by being told that as the anti-slavery men were on their own ground they would fight, and doubtless blood would be shed."[70]


Abraham Lincoln, who had come from Kentucky in 1830, began his political career in Central Illinois.  He was elected to the state legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives.  In 1854 he spoke in Morton on the Kansas-Nebraska Act and its impact on the issue of slavery. Hessian Amish had been supporters of the Democrats, but became supporters of the Illinois Republican Party after its founding in Bloomington in 1854.  Many Amish Mennonites were personally familiar with the Springfield lawyer, who represented Lorraine Amishmen Peter Fahrni (1797 or 1798[71]-1873) and Christian Fahrni (1800-1882) of Farnisville (now Mackinaw) after Peter's distillery business ran into debt in the Financial Panic of 1857.  Although most of the delaying motions were put forward by another lawyer, Lincoln appeared at least once on their behalf to stall collection of the debts by a St. Louis banker.[72]

According to Carl Sandburg, writing in Abraham Lincoln,: The Prairie Years, Lincoln had more than a personal interest in the German-speaking population.  He enjoyed visiting German-speaking communities, carried a German grammar, and even took evening language classes.  But he also possessed a hidden partnership in the Illinois Staats-Anzeiger, a German-language newspaper published in Springfield and distributed throughout South and Central Illinois.  


Homes and Farms


In 1858, Joseph's younger brother Nicholas and his wife Magdalena Eimer moved to Tremont, below Morton in Tazewell County.  They bought a 101-acre farm from Christian Bechler and his second wife Jacobina on Feb. 4, 1859.  Their land was registered under 'Staker.' 

In Morton, Joseph and Frena built a house at what is now 1000 West Jefferson Avenue.

The 1860 census of Tremont lists Joseph's younger brother Nicholas 'Soker' (this is amended to 'Saker' on the next page), age 44, of France; his wife Malinda [Magdalena], age 40, born in France; and children born in Ohio including John, 17; Barbara, 13; Anna, 11; Magdalena, 9; Sophia, 7 (Sophia does not appear on Lena Lehman's list of family members, so we cannot assume this is their child); Nicholas, 5; and Christian, 2.  Joseph, 16, and Fannie, 4, are missing from the sequence.  The farm is appraised at $4,000, and personal property at $1,000. Just as family names and ages in Moselle became 'flexible' on documentation during the Napoleonic wars (recall the father aging substantially and the mother's changed surname during the war years), the family name suffers on the eve of the Civil War.  The 1860 census of Morton lists Joseph 'Stickler,'  age 53, of France; his wife Frances [Frena] of France, 40; Barbara, 19; Francis [Fannie], 16; Joseph 'Steker,' 15; Christian, 14; Magdalena, 12; Kate [Catherine], 10; and Anna, 9.   This census also shows Verena (Zimmerman) Roth, Frena's mother, listed as 70-year-old 'Frances Roth' in the household of Daniel Roth and his wife Catherine Ropp.

Only the 60-year-old oldest brother has his name spelled correctly.  The 1860 census of Groveland shows Joseph's oldest brother 'Christ' [Christian] Staker, 60, and Magdalina [Gabriel], 56, both from France.


Church Life


In Tazewell County, Joseph, Frena, Nicholas, and Magdalena belonged to the Dillon Creek meeting or congregation.  Before church buildings were available, the Amish Mennonites traditionally met as prayer groups in households. 


"They were slow to give up the meetings in the home, evidently believing that this would strengthen both their religious and social ties and keep their people nearer together, and it did.  Their church ways and plain apparel had the same end.  The outer sign strengthened the inner bond and through the wide-brimmed hat, the bonnet, the cap and apron, the acquaintance of the incoming stranger quickly grew into confident friendship.  And so when the church was to meet in some home it would be only human for the folks living there to say, 'Come over Sunday, we are going to have der versamlung at our house.'  This is more than a church house can say…"  (Roth-Zimmerman Genealogy)


Every church had an elder (or bishop) who ordained church officers, gave communion twice a year, and acted as final authority in disputes; one or more preachers (ministers), who delivered sermons, interpreted scripture, and presided at weddings and funerals; and one or more deacons, who arranged the details of services, provided for the poor, and ministered to those who were unable to leave their homes for services. "The old church had three or four ministers, always.  The head was the bishop, der Villiegediener.[73]  The word diener is to serve.  The second was the preacher, Diener zum Buch, serve with the book.  They said, der Prediger, the preacher.  I think this was Mr. [Daniel] Roth's job.  Then the deacons, Armen Diener, poor servers.  There were mighty few poor who needed help in his day.  All of those men were expected to do some preaching even when they had no preparation whatsoever."


"For several years after the first pioneers arrived, the various settlements in Woodford and Tazewell counties formed but one congregation, and all-day services were held on alternate Sundays in private houses in each locality in turn.  A lunch was served at noon.  It was not an uncommon thing for members to drive 15 or 20 miles to attend church.  As the colony grew, separate congregations were organized in the several centers of the settlement." (Roth-Zimmerman Genealogy)


"Worship on Sunday was often held in houses as there were not many church buildings. Usually the whole family would attend. Since houses generally were small, they looked forward to having a good day so their beds and a few other articles of furniture could be put outside to make room for benches to be erected. Sometimes if the weather was fair, services were held outdoors under shade trees. They were not the most convenient seats to be used for sometimes two hours of service while two or three ministers would preach to them. But people had a desire to hear the Word of God. People would travel for many miles, usually in a lumber wagon and sometimes in a spring wagon, as they had no buggies. Often they put chairs on the wagon in order to be as comfortable as possible…Discipline was held in high esteem, and members were cautioned to abstain from worldly pleasures and amusements. After the services were ended dinner was served consisting of bread, butter, molasses and sometimes apple butter, coffeecake, raised doughnuts and coffee cooked in a wash boiler.  Sometimes after the meal was finished, the dishes washed, the young folks would gather together and sing spiritual songs, while the older folks would discuss various religious topics. After enjoying themselves thus for several hours they departed for their respective homes."  (An account by Elizabeth Albrecht from the Zimmerman Genealogy)


Older sister Anna lived in Danvers with her husband John Bachman.   She worshipped with the South Danvers congregation, a Hessian Amish group that met in homes.

Hessian Amish had first arrived in Illinois in 1837.   In 1853 the group in South Danvers was invited to worship in a real meetinghouse called the Rock Creek Church.  The elder there was Jonathan 'Yony' Yoder, a strong-willed, conservative bishop.  He led a number of Old Order families from Lancaster and Mifflin Counties in Pennsylvania, including Kauffmans, Lantzes, and Joders.  They still dressed in a plain manner. 

By making small concessions the two groups managed to coexist peacefully for six years.  But Yoder's antipathy toward the 'tolerant' leanings of Hessian preacher John Michael Kistler (1810-1876)[74] kept them apart, and Yoder actually banned Kistler from taking communion over the issue of conservative dress.  The two congregations could not reach agreement until after Yoder's death in 1869.  They merged into the North Danvers Mennonite Church, and became the first church of the Central Conference of Mennonites under Joseph Stuckey (1826-1902).

Peter Nafziger's followers later accepted Stuckey as their minister.  His was born near Saverne, Lower Alsace on July 12, 1826.  He came with his parents via Le Havre and New Orleans[75] to Fairfield, Butler County in 1834.  There he received a very limited formal education and was baptized into the Amish Mennonite church at 18.  His first wife was Barbara Roth (March 1, 1821-April 27, 1881), the daughter of Christian Roth and Barbara Goldschmidt.  Joseph and Barbara can be found on the 1850 census of Fairfield, living near the farm of his parents Peter and Elizabeth Stuckey; his neighbors included John Stecker/Staker and Barbara Schertz, and John M. Milliken, the prosperous farmer who employed John's son as a laborer.  Following Barbara's death he married her sister, Magdalena (Roth) Habecker (February 1823-May 17, 1904).  

The Stuckeys moved to Peoria in October 1850, where his family found work and accumulated savings.  He moved again to the Rock Creek area near Congerville in 1858, buying 40 acres at $3 an acre.  The Stuckeys appear on the 1860 census of Danvers.  Stuckey was ordained as a minister April 8, 1860, and as a bishop April 26, 1864, presiding over the North Danvers Church.   One biography[76] estimated that he performed 1,328 baptisms, conducted 256 marriage ceremonies, and ordained 18 bishops.  

Stuckey was also an early subscriber to the Mennonite Herald of Truth, which was first published in Chicago in 1864.  He contributed articles to the newspaper and traveled widely through the Midwest, becoming extremely popular as the leader of Amish Mennonites who tolerated 'liberal' trends.  William B. Weaver:  "The Amish men of the east still wore hooks and eyes on their coats and vests, and did not 'shingle' their hair, nor did they wear neckties.  In some of the western congregations, especially in the Stuckey Church, men began to wear buttons, shingle their hair, and the younger men began to wear neckties.  These were some of the general causes for the separation of Rev. Stuckey's congregation from the Amish conferences."


Life in Tazewell County


Joseph's nearest neighbors who were also natives of Moselle were John Sweitzer and his wife Mary Engel.  Born Jean Suisse in Diane-Capelle, Moselle on Sept. 29, 1807, John was the son of  Jean Suisse (Sr.), a cultivator born about 1773, and Veronique Neyhaüser, born about 1773.  They lived in Imling, Moselle when he married Marie Engel there on Sept. 22, 1828.  She was born on Jambrot farm in Lagarde, Moselle Dec. 1, 1807, the daughter of Christian Engel (later the elder at Metamora) and Barbe Brunner.   They sailed from Le Havre in the spring of 1831, arriving in Baltimore some time before June 30.  (The name of the ship is know known, but a passenger list was found in a quarterly abstract of records covering April, May and June 1831.  The same ship brought Schertzes, Neuhausers, Rogis, Salzmans, and Zimmermans who later settled in Tazewell and Woodford Counties).[77]  They lived  in Pennsylvania before continuing on to Illinois in 1833.  The family can be found living in District 56, Woodford County on the 1850 census, and in Morton on the 1860 census.   John died in 1885, and Mary died in 1888;  they are buried in Glendale Cemetery at Washington.

Just over 100 men from Morton served in infantry, cavalry, and artillery regiments of the Union Army during the Civil War, and 19 died.  Joseph, the son of Christian Staker and Magdelina Gabriel of Groveland, enlisted in Pekin in 1861 and served as a teamster/wagon driver at the sieges of Corinth and Vicksburg, and campaigns at Ft. Donnelson, Ft. Blakely, and Shilo. 

In January 1864 the first English newspaper for all Mennonite branches, the Herald of Truth or Herold der Wahrheit was published in Chicago.

In 1865, Illinois became the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, and the Peoria, Pekin, and Jacksonville Railroad connected Pekin to main lines.

The third Amish General Conference (Diener-Versammlung) was held May 20-23, 1866 in Danvers.   The Sutter barn where it was held has been reconstructed on the grounds of the Mennonite Historical Center in Metamora. 

In 1868 bishop Michael Mosiman of Groveland and minister Nicholas Roth of Morton led the Busche Gemeinde congregation into alignment with the Egly Amish.  Joseph Staker and Frena Roth were members of this congregation; their children who married all chose partners from the Busche Gemeinde congregation. 

The 1870 census of Morton lists Joseph Staker, 61, farmer born in France; Frances [Frena], 50, born in France; Lena, 15; Catherine, 21; and Matilda, 8.  Their farm was appraised at $7,000, and personal property at $500.

The 1870 census of Tremont lists Nicholas Staker, 53, farmer born in France; Malinda [Magdalena], 50, born in France; Malinda [Magdalena], 18, born in Ohio; Nicholas, 16, born in Ohio; Fannie, 12, born in Ohio; Christian, 10, born in Illinois; and Andrew, 4, born in Illinois.  Mary, 8, is missing from the sequence.  The farm was appraised at $6,000, and personal property at $1,500.

Joseph died at the age of 63 on April 3, 1872.   (The age given in his obituary and the birth date on his headstone suggest he was born in 1810, but this does not match his 1808 Moselle birth record).  His obituary was published two months later in Herald of Truth:   "On the 3rd of April, in Tazewell Co., Ill., of dropsy of the heart, Joseph Stecker, aged 62 yrs.  Services at the house by Jacob Unzicker and A. Rupp, and at the grave by Joseph Stuckey."  

In 1872 the Egly Amish of the Busche Gemeinde were still meeting in homes, and had no common burial ground.   Joseph was buried on land adjacent to Nicholas Roth's farm, now called the Roberts Cemetery.  His headstone says only, "Joseph Staker died Apr. 2, 1872, aged 62 years."  A hand pointing upward is carved into the stone.   Adjacent graves include those of his mother-in-law, Verena (Zimmerman) Roth (her gravestone says 'Veronica Roth'); his oldest son Joseph (1844-1874); and daughter Fanny (Staker) Roth, who died in 1897.

Joseph's son Christian was appointed executor of his estate, which included a claim against the Illinois Midland Railroad for $900.   His petition to the clerk of the county court included the statement that, "Said deceased left surviving Fanny [Frena] Staker as his widow, and Barbara, Fanny, Joseph, Christian, Lena, Katie, Anna, and Tilda Staker his children."

After Joseph's death, Frena's daughters Katharine ('Kate') and Matilda ('Tilly') lived with her.  The 1880 census of Morton lists the household as Fanny, 60; Kate Staker, 29; and Matilda Staker, 18.

On March 21, 1874, Joseph and Frena's oldest son, Joseph, died three days after being kicked by a horse. 

On July 28, 1876, Joseph (Sr.)'s younger brother Nicholas died in  Tremont.

Starting in 1877, all the large Amish congregations in Central Illinois chose to change in the liberal 'Stuckey direction' and joined the Central Conference of Mennonites. Within Joseph Stuckey's lifetime his followers dropped their conservative dress.

The last Amish Mennonite  general ministers conference (Diener Versammlung) convened near Eureka in 1878.  A few months later, bishop Michael Mosiman and minister Nicholas Roth created the Egly Amish Church of Groveland.  In 1879, the members of the Dillon Creek meeting constructed the Pleasant Grove Amish Mennonite Church in Elm Grove.

Peter Nafziger died in 1885 at his home in Congerville. Over the years he had enhanced his reputation as 'Apostle Peter' by twice walking from Illinois to New Orleans.  (New Orleans had an Amish congregation from the arrival of bishop Christopher Maurer in 1846 until his death in 1872.)

Frena died on Apr. 20, 1895, and was buried in the Groveland Evangelical Mennonite Cemetery.  The name on her gravestone is 'Veronika Stecker.'  It may seem odd that Frena was buried at a distance from Roberts Cemetery (where husband Joseph and mother Verena are buried), but it probably would not have seemed unusual to European Amish Mennonites.  Since souls would be reunited in the afterlife, they considered the location of the earthly remains a formality.  

After Frena's death the house at 1000 West Jefferson Avenue in Morton was purchased at auction by William Schock (1872-1954) and his wife Minnie Stieglitz (1882-1956).   According to Pearl Staker, many possessions were mistakenly left in the house, and Schock relatives carried them away before they could be retrieved.

The wooden house was torn down after the turn of the century and replaced by the brick house that stands there today.  William's son Levi lived in the house built by his father, where we had the opportunity to talk with him in the summer of 2001.  He passed away in December 2002.  Nothing remains of the original farm structures except a barn erected in 1888.  Levi noted that it was constructed with a huge 16-inch center beam.  Nicholas Roth's house, which would have been across the road and about 200 yards to the northwest, was demolished in the 1950s. 

Joseph Stuckey died in 1902 and was buried with his wife Barbara Roth at the Imhoff Mennonite Cemetery in Danvers, near the grave of Peter Nafziger.  The family headstone spells his name 'Stuckey,' but his smaller headstone reads, '"Joseph Stucky, bishop, N. Danvers Menn. Church.  Prominent leader -- organizer of Menn. churches, father of Central Conference of Mennonites."[78]

Magdalena (Eimer) Staker, the widow of Nicholas, died March 14, 1907 in Tremont.  She is buried in Pleasant Grove Cemetery.

The children of Joseph Stecker/Staker and Frena (Roth) Staker include:


1.       Barbara Staker was born on Jan. 26, 1841 in Hamilton, Ohio and died Jan. 26, 1918.  On March 12, 1868 she married Andrew Roth (1844-1911), the oldest         child of Nicholas Roth and Katharina/Catherine Habecker.  The ceremony was performed by bishop Michael Mosiman.  Since Nicholas was Frena      Roth's older  brother, this was a marriage of cousins as well as next-door neighbors. She had children named Benjamin, Moses, and Veronica.  The      couple lived in Groveland Center, just north of the farm of her brother  Christian.

2.       Frances 'Fanny' Staker was born April 20, 1842 in Hamilton, and died March 6, 1897.  On March   8, 1868 Fanny married Christian Roth (1833-1897); the   ceremony was performed by Nicholas Roth.  Tazewell County marriage documents call him 'Christian Rod.' According to his death certificate at the       Illinois Department of Public Health, he was born to parents Jean Roth and Marie Zimmerman.[79]  Christian reported for military service as a private at           Peoria on Sept. 2, 1861 in Company B, 66th Infantry Regiment of Illinois; he reenlisted on Dec. 25, 1863; and mustered out July 7, 1865 at Camp Logan, Kentucky.   He filed for a service-related disability on Feb. 12, 1886.  They had one child, Mathilda.  Mathilda is buried alongside her parents in Roberts           Cemetery in Morton, where her marker gives the dates Aug. 24, 1874-Dec. 15, 1957.

3.       Joseph Staker was born in Hamilton, Ohio in 1844.  He married Anna Mosiman (Sept. 23, 1848-Aug. 11, 1914) on Feb. 28, 1869.  The ceremony was     conducted by her father, bishop Michael     Mosiman of the Busche Gemeinde or Wesley City congregation.   He chose to make it the last wedding       ceremony he performed.  The 1870 census of Morton shows Joseph Staker, farmer, 25, born in Ohio; Anna [Mosiman], 22, born in Illinois; Eli [Elias],         seven months; and farm laborer John Engle born in Illinois, 15 (farm laborer Frederick Engle born in Switzerland, 25, worked for Christian Staker and        Magdalena Ropp at the same time).  Their           farm was valued at $1,000.  

The marriage was brief.  Joseph died on March 21, 1874, three days after being kicked by a horse.   He was buried in Roberts Cemetery next to his father, who had died two years before.[80] His personal property amounted to $2,500; Daniel Roth served as executor of his estate at the request of the widow Anna.

Anna was left to care for the children Elias, Moses, and Mary Anna.  On Feb. 8, 1879 she remarried to Henry Merchenthaler (1850-1900), a German-born farmer living in Morton.[81]  They had five more children in Morton (Joseph, Lydia, Sarah, Henry Jr. who died at four years of age, and a second Henry Jr.).  Although Henry accepted the three stepchildren as his own, they kept their 'Staker' names.  Anna made a point of bringing her first three children to visit their Staker cousins on holidays.  

The 1880 census of Morton lists the household as Henry 'Margindollar,' 30; Anna, 31; Elias Staker, 10, stepson; Moses Staker, 8, stepson; Mary Staker, 7, stepdaughter; Joseph 'Margindollar,' 3 months; and Alsatian farm laborer Andrew Fridinger, 20. 

Henry Merchenthaler died in 1900 and is buried in the Old Apostolic Cemetery.   Anna Mosiman died in 1914 and is buried in the Merchenthaler plot at the Apostolic Christian Cemetery in Morton.

The children of Joseph Staker and Anna Mosiman include:

a.       Elias, Dec. 25, 1869-June 30, 1930.  He is buried in the Apostolic Christian Cemetery.  He never married.

b.      Moses, Aug. 1872-Oct. 29, 1926.  He is buried in the Apostolic Christian Cemetery.  He married Katharine 'Katie' Belsley (1874-1932).  They had two children who died as infants.  The remaining children:

1)      Anna, 1908-1924.  She is buried with her parents at the Christian Apostolic Cemetery.

2)      Joseph (Dec. 15, 1909-April 19, 1993) married Mildred Baer and had two children in Morton.

3)      Lydia (Dec. 6, 1910-Nov. 9, 1997) married Clarence Zimmerman (1906-1953) and had four children in Tremont.

4)       Christian married LaVon Robertson.

5)       Samuel (Sept. 19, 1912-Feb. 19, 1998) married Clara Schurter and had three children.

c.       Mary Ann, born in January 1873.  She contracted tuberculosis and died on Dec. 30, 1905.  She is buried at the Old Apostolic Cemetery.


5.       Lena Staker, born Aug. 10, 1848 in Butler County, died Feb. 12, 1931.  On Dec. 16, 1870 she married Peter Schnur (Feb. 14, 1844-Aug. 16, 1889), a farmer      and superintendent of the Groveland Defenseless Mennonite (later Evangelical Mennonite) Church.   Peter came to America around 1860; his      naturalization documents filed at Pekin April 3, 1866 say he had been in the country six years.  His father was Peter Schnur (1811-1871) of Sichenhofen,    Darmstadt, who was naturalized at Pekin Aug. 1, 1868; he is buried in Zion Evangelical Cemetery at Groveland.  Peter and Lena       had seven children     including Sara Matilda, Lydia Catherine, John, Emma, Joseph Edward, Albert, and Fannie.

6.       Katharine 'Kate' Staker, born 1849 in Butler County, died Oct. 9, 1923; she was buried in the Evangelical Mennonite Cemetery as 'Aunt Kate.'  She lived    in Groveland and can be found on the 1920 census as 70-year-old 'Cathrine,' a guest in the Burkey household (Nicholas and her 58-year-old sister   Matilda).  From the Bloomington Pantagraph and Mennonite Weekly Review, Oct. 30, 1923:  "Funeral services for Miss Kate Staker, 74 year old resident of    Groveland, were held Friday afternoon at the home of her sister, Mrs. Nick Birkey and at the Mennonite church at 1:30 o'clock.    Miss Staker died on   Tuesday evening at the home of her sister, Mrs. Birkey.  She was a member of the Mennonite church.  She is survived by three sisters, Mrs. Lena Schmir      [Schnur], Groveland, Mrs. Anna Mosiman, Morton and Mrs. Nick Birkey."

7.       Anna Staker, born Sept. 26, 1851 (the date has also been found as July 27, 1850) in Hamilton, died May 14, 1943.  Joseph Stuckey presided at her marriage    to David Mosiman on Nov. 9, 1869.    David was born on Nov. 8, 1849, the son of bishop Michael Mosiman.  He died Jan. 23, 1909.  They had nine           children including Matilda, Samuel, Anna (twin), Katharine (twin), Caroline, Clara, Levi, Joseph Edward, and Leah.

8.       Matilda 'Tilly' Staker, born Sept. 9, 1861 in Morton, died April 9, 1938.  On Sept. 3, 1883 she married Nicholas Birkey (Sept. 9, 1860-April 24, 1944); his      parents were Henry Birkey and Magdalena Eigsti.  They lived across the street from Christian Staker and Magdalena Ropp, just below Groveland      Center; their children included Clara, Katie, Fannie Irene, Cora, Alvin Henry, Edna Barbara, and Owen Joseph who died in infancy.  They are buried at     Groveland Evangelical Mennonite Cemetery.



Christian Staker and Magdalena Ropp


Christian Staker was born Oct. 6, 1845 in Hamilton, Ohio, and died July 30, 1919.[82]

Christian was the first of Joseph's children to marry, choosing Magdalena 'Maggie' Ropp on Feb. 25, 1866 (the marriage certificate names 'Magdalina Rupp').   Uncle Andrew Ropp of the Pleasant Grove Mennonite Church performed the ceremony.  She was born near Pekin on April 13, 1847 and died in Groveland on Dec. 19, 1919.

The Rupp/Ropp family of Canton Bern already had a number of connections to the Stückers:  two Rupps who married Stückers appear in the direct lineal descent leading down to the Ohio and Illinois families.  The Ropps of Tazewell County came from Upper Alsace (Fr. Haut-Rhin) and included many well known Amish figures including two Illinois bishops (for more on the Ropp family see Genealogy Five).

Following their marriage, Christian and Magdelena farmed four miles southeast of Morton for a year.  The 1870 census of Morton shows Christian as a 24-year-old farmer, born in Ohio; his wife Magdalena, 23; Lydia, 3; Aaron, 1, and Swiss farm laborer Freidrich Engle, 25.  Their farm was appraised at $1,000.

On March 18, 1874, Christian's older brother Joseph (Jr.) was kicked while shoeing a horse, causing grave internal injuries.  Christian, the only remaining son, put financial matters in order by purchasing the family farm from his mother, dying brother, and sisters for $5,101.   The deed changed hands on March 20, and Joseph died the following day. 

Around that time Christian also constructed a brick house at the southwest corner of the family farm (now a dentist's office at 700 West Jefferson Street).  The 1880 census of Morton lists Christian, 33, farmer; Maggie, 31; Lydia, 18; Aaron, 11; Fannie, 9; Daniel, 6; Joseph, 4; Edward, 1; and Alsatian farm laborer Joseph Fridinger, 26. 

Shortly after the 1880 census, Christian obtained 334 acres southwest of the center of Groveland (this would given him more than half of Section 27, which contained 640 acres).   There he  created an extensive farm with several buildings.  He became a very successful farmer, served as school director for Groveland for many years, and faithfully attended meetings of the Defenseless Mennonite Church.  His home stood just below Groveland's center at 17727 Springfield Road, now the address of Earl Sauder.

The couple died only five months apart.  Christian suffered a stroke after visiting Magdalena in the hospital, where she was being treated for stomach cancer.  They are buried together in the Evangelical Mennonite Cemetery in Groveland. 

According to Pearl Staker, Christian and Magdalena left an estate worth $125,000 - about $1.33 million in today's dollars.


Morton News, July 31, 1919, under the headline 'Called to the eternal rest, Christian Staker died early Wednesday morning':   "After enjoying over seventy years in this world, living a true Christian life, the Power that guides and rules willed that his time should be no more, and at 4 o'clock Wednesday morning the Angel of Death quietly slipped into the midst of his loved ones and took with it Christian Staker to dwell in the Home that was his reward for his meritorious life on earth.  He suffered a stroke of paralysis several weeks ago and although his loved ones hoped that he would recover, it was not to be for heart failure developed, causing his death.  Mr. Staker is one of the well known farmers of Tazewell County.  He was a devoted Christian, uniting with the Defenseless Mennonite church at an early age and his footsteps never wandered from the path that he chose when uniting with the church.  But by following this path he found his way into Heaven.  He was one of the prominent members of the church, being actively engaged in furthering the word of God.  He was born in Butler County, Ohio, and was married in 1866 to Miss Magdaline Ropp, who with the following children survive to hold dear the memory of a kind and loving husband and father:  Mr.s Benj. Birkey of Elm Grove Township, Aaron Staker of Groveland, Fannie Staker at home, Daniel of Groveland, Jos. of Groveland, Edward at home, Samuel of Groveland, Ida at home, Moses

R. Staker of Aberdeen, S.D., Katharine at home, Reuben of Groveland and Harvey at home.  Rufus died in infancy.  He also leaves the following sisters: Mrs. Anna Mosiman of Morton, Mrs. Nick Birkey of

Groveland, Mrs. Lena Schnur and Miss Katharine Staker of Groveland.  The funeral will be held Friday afternoon at 1:30 o'clock from the residence and at 2:00 from the Defenseless Mennonite church of Groveland."


"Mrs. Chris Staker (nee Ropp) was born near Pekin, Illinois, April 13, 1847, and passed away December 19, 1919, at the age of 72 years, 8 months and 6 days.  She was united in marriage to Chris. Staker February 25, 1866.  She united with the Defenseless Mennonite Church at an early age and remained a faithful member.  She leaves to mourn her departure 8 sons and 4 daughters:  Edward, Fannie, Ida, Katie and Harvey at home; Mrs. Ben Birkey of Elm Grove, Aaron, Daniel, Joseph, Samuel and Reuben of Groveland, Moses of Aberdeen, South Dakota; also 1 sister, Mrs. Joe Roth of Morton; also 1 brother, Jacob Ropp of Gridley; 16 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.  Her husband preceded her home July 30; also Rufus, dying in infancy."


Children of Christian Staker and Magdalena Ropp include:


1.       Lydia, born Dec. 25, 1866, died Dec. 5, 1943.  On March 28, 1893 she married Benjamin Birkey (Dec. 24, 1860-July 14, 1939), a minister of the Defenseless         Mennonite Church of Groveland.  He was the son of John Birkey and Jacobina Hochstettler of Elm Grove.  They are buried in the Groveland Evangelical          Mennonite Cemetery.  Six children.

2.       Aaron, born March 12, 1869, died June 17, 1937.  On March 20, 1891 he married Catherine 'Kate' Wagler (Jan. 7, 1869-July 9, 1922).  She was the daughter       of Peter Wagler and Catherine Rediger.  They are buried at the Groveland Evangelical Mennonite Cemetery.  Six children.

3.       Fannie, born Sept. 2, 1871, died April 13, 1938.   She is buried at the Groveland Evangelical Mennonite Cemetery as 'Miss Fannie.'

4.       Daniel, born Dec. 30, 1873 (his birth date is given as December 1874 on the 1900 census of Groveland), died June 4, 1944; his obituary can be found in the       Metamora Herald, June 23, 1944.    He was a superintendent of the Defenseless Mennonite Church of Groveland. On March 23, 1897 he married Josephine   Gerber (December 1873-1953), the daughter of Peter Gerber and Barbara Bechler of Elm Grove, and they had three children. Daniel can be found as a 46-   year-old on the 1920 census of Groveland with 47-year-old wife     Josephine, 10-year-old Pearl, and 5-year-old Ethel.  Pearl and Ethel contributed   information to this genealogy.[83]   See Genealogy Ten, THE GERBERS OF ELM GROVE.

5.       Joseph, born Sept. 28, 1876, died Sept. 22, 1941.  On March 23, 1914 he married Clara Birky (June 7, 1887-1979).

6.       Edward R., born Nov. 28, 1878, died June 26, 1962.  On the 1920 census of Groveland he is listed as a head of household.  The household includes his 28- year-old brother Harvey, and sisters 48-year-old Fannie (given as 'Frances'), 36-year old Ida (given as 'Ada'), and 32-year-old Katharina.  Edward R. is           buried at Groveland Evangelical Mennonite Cemetery.

7.       Samuel, born June 24, 1880, died Oct. 15, 1971.  On March 10, 1909 he married Lucy Zimmerman   (1889-1931);[84] on May 8, 1936 he married Anna Birkey     (1887-1964).  She was the daughter of Christian Birkey and Elizabeth Roth.  Five children.   They are buried at the Groveland Evangelical Mennonite           Cemetery, where Lucy's marker says only 'Louise.'

8.       Ida May, born Oct. 22, 1882, died Jan. 1, 1922.  She is buried at the Groveland Evangelical Mennonite Cemetery.


10.     Katharine 'Katie', born May 6, 1887, died June 16, 1962.

11.     Reuben (twin), born May 26, 1889 in Groveland, died April 2, 1969 in Peoria. On Sept. 8, 1917 he married Cora Zimmerman (1896-1988).  She was the    daughter of Jacob Zimmerman and Etta Meinke.  He is listed as a 28-year-old on the 1920 census of Groveland.  Reuben Staker overcame a significant       handicap to become professionally and artistically productive.  After farming in Paxton for eight years, he returned to Groveland to manage a grain         elevator.   In 1926, when his second child was just two weeks old, he lost his right arm in an accident there.  He not only learned to write with his left    hand, but also developed a lifetime love of drawing and painting.  This became his full time vocation after he retired from teaching in 1954.  His four         children are Dana (1918), Ruth (1922-2000), Evelyn (1926), and Mary (1930).  Mary, now Mary (Staker)      Bowers, accumulated images of the family that         became the Staker Family History.  Pearl Staker suggests that Reuben's name was originally 'Rufus.'  After the death of his twin, the names were   switched.

12.     Rufus (twin), born May 26, 1889, died as an infant Sept. 16, 1889.  Oddly, the name on his gravestone is 'Rufus Steker,' a throwback to a spelling found    two generations before in Harprich,   Moselle.  Perhaps father Christian found the spelling on old papers and believed it to be his original family name.

12.     Harvey, born July 14, 1891, died Oct. 29, 1978.  On Feb. 2, 1921 he married Luella Litwiller (July 8, 1895-1985).   She was the daughter of Jonas Litwiller         and Katie Eigsti.  Their children include Weldon (1922-2002), Ada (1926), and Robert (1933-1999).   



Moses Staker and Anna Maria Fischer


Moses Roy Staker was born Oct. 30, 1884.  He earned a masters degree at the University of Chicago and became a professor of education at the South Dakota State Normal School.  He was also a professor of psychology and education at Illinois State University.

Moses married Anna Maria Fischer in Staunton on July 16, 1914.  Anna was born Nov. 18 or 28, 1891 in Staunton.  She attended a German School as a child, and the Staker Genealogy has a copy of a photo of her third grade class.  She taught elementary school and worked as an assistant for Illinois State University Health Services.  Later in life she was a member of national, state, and local retired teachers associations.  (For information on the Fischer family see Genealogy Six).

On April 3, 1917, in connection with spring elections, the residents of Groveland cast votes in a poll to express their opinion of the coming war.  Isolationists outvoted interventionists 10-1.   War was declared three days later.  Moses registered for the World War I draft in Brown County, South Dakota, though many of his generation did not.

Pearl Staker tells the story that one day Magdalena decided they had too much money lying around in the bank.  This prompted Christian to purchase farms in Amboy and Mendota, Lee County, Ill.   After their deaths in 1919, the two farms became part of their estate.  Moses took responsibility for one of the farms.  Apparently their worth was more than Moses' share of the estate, because Anna was still making payments on the land after her husband's early death.  The two farms were later cultivated by the Korn and Frickhoff families.

The family appears on the 1920 census of Aberdeen, South Dakota as Moses R., 35, professor at the South Dakota State Normal School; Anna, 28; and William, eight months.

Moses died of Bright's Disease resulting in kidney failure on March 6, 1928.  Classes at Illinois State University were cancelled on the day of his funeral.  From his obituary:


"For nearly four centuries his ancestors had belonged to that body of evangelical protestant Christians known as the Mennonites, a body that stressed the qualities of industry, sobriety, thrift, honesty, justice, piety, peace and brotherly-kindness, the sturdy virtues... They observed the delay, the technicalities, the miscarriage of justice that so frequently beset our courts of law, and settled their disputes at the church door or by arbitration... They saw the havoc wrought upon the innocent by war, often by war waged in the very name of religion, and they refused to bear arms, often seeking voluntary exile rather than obey the military demands of their rulers...From this sincere, gentle, peace-loving people our friend was descended, in their companionship he was reared, upon their teaching his spiritual life was nourished, and, although in later years he was allied with another branch of the Christian church, he always exemplified in a fine way the religious and moral principles in which he was cradled."


After the death of her husband, Anna continued to live in their house on South Fell Avenue in Normal, and attended a Methodist church.  She died Feb. 10, 1985 in Normal, and was buried with Moses at Park Hill Cemetery in Bloomington.




The two children of Moses Staker and Anna Maria Fischer were:


1.       Physicist William Paul Staker (April 9, 1919 in Normal-Dec. 22, 1989).  He married Jane Hamlin (born 1925) on Dec. 27, 1949.  They had a son and                       daughter. 

2.       Psychologist James Edward Staker Sr. (Jan. 20, 1923 in Normal-Feb. 26, 1991 in West Orange, N.J.).   He was a member of the First United Methodist                           Church, held the rank of captain in the Army during World War II, was director of educational services for the South Orange-Maplewood, N.J. Board of               Education 1956-1982, and taught at Rutgers College. He married twice: Virginia Osterhoudt (born 1923) on Feb. 22, 1944, and Joan Lennon. Virginia's                         children include three sons and a daughter.




More on the Ninth Generation Family




These notes have naturally evolved around Joseph Stecker/Staker (1808-1872), who may have been the first of his family to arrive in America.   But he had three brothers who also filed for naturalization at the courthouse in Hamilton, Ohio: Christian, John, and Nicholas.  An older sister, Anna, also came to America with their father Josephe and husband Jean Bachmann/John Bachman.  Another sister, Catherine, had died in Moselle at 19 years of age; and another, Barbe, is known only from her birth record.

A quick picture of the entire family of the ninth generation:


1.  CHRISTIAN (1801-1868) born in Bistroff, Moselle married Magdalena Gabriel (1800-1885), and lived in Bertring, Moselle  They later lived in Fairfield, Ohio, and Groveland, Ill.  Their children were Anne, 1825; John, 1828, who married Jacobina Salzman; Barbara, 1829, who married Bartholomew 'Bartley' Zook Jr.; Magdalena, 1832, who married Lewis Schafer and Benjamin Egley; Catherine, 1834, who married Samuel Garber; Susanne, 1836, who married John O'Brien (Jr., later called Sr. when he had a son with the same name); and Joseph, 1838, who married Mary Sophia Franks.


2.  ANNA (1803-1890) born in Tragny, Moselle married Jean/John Bachman (1800-1881) in Grostenquin.  She lived in Bistroff, Moselle; Madison, Ohio; and Danvers, McLean County.  Their children were Barbara, 1829, who married Joseph Schertz; John, 1833, who married Catherine Nafziger; Joseph, 1840; Veronica, 1842, who married Jacob Augspurger; and Lena, 1847, who married John R. Miller.


3.  JEAN/JOHN (1805-1864) born in Tragney, Moselle married Barbe/Barbara Schertz (1808-1886).  He lived in Bistroff, Moselle; Fairfield, Ohio; and Lemon, Ohio.  Their children were Elizabeth, 1831, who married Jacob Ehrisman; Barbara, 1834, who married John Feahl; Anna, 1836; Lena, 1841, who married Jacob Reidel; and Catherine, 1846, who married William Miller.


4.  JOSEPH (1808-1872) was born in Harprich, Moselle married Frena Roth (1819-1895) in Butler County.  He lived in Bistroff, Moselle; Madison, Ohio; and Morton, Tazewell County.  Their children were Barbara, 1841, who married Andrew Roth; Fanny, 1842, who married Christian Roth; Joseph, 1844, who married Anna Mosiman; Christian, 1845, who married Magdalena Ropp; Lena, 1848, who married Peter Schnur; Katharine, 1849; and Anna, 1851, who married David Mosiman.


5.  BARBE (1810-?) was born in Harprich, Moselle.   Nothing more is known about her.


6.  CATHERINE (1811-1831) was born in Harprich, Moselle.


7.  NICHOLAS (1815-1876) was probably born in Harprich, though the record has not been found.  He married Magdalena Eimer (1819-1907) in Butler County.  They lived in St. Clair, Ohio and Tremont, Tazewell County.  Their children were John, 1843, who married Mary Schertz; Joseph, 1844, who married Catherine Oyer; Barbara, 1847, who married Peter Zierlein; Anna, 1848, who married Peter W. Ropp; Magdalena, 1851, who married Andrew Burkey;   Nicholas (Jr.), 1853, who married Jacobina Roth; Fannie, 1856, who married Christian Albrecht; Christian, 1858, who married Lena Pfister; Mary, 1862, who married Henry Albrecht;  Josephine, 1865; and Andrew, 1866, who married Margaretha Ripper.



Generation Nine


(1801-1868 – oldest child of seven)

Christian was the illegitimate child of Barbe Farny.  He was born Jan. 21, 1801, well before her marriage to Josephe Stecker in 1802.   Josephe was not the father, as noted on Christian's marriage entry.
Tracing Christian's life presents an interesting puzzle, because his name appears in many variations: as Christian Farny on records of his 1801 Tragny birth and 1826 Grostenquin marriage; as Christian Farni (with 'Christian Stecker' written in the margins) on the 1836 and 1838 Bertring birth documents of daughter Susanne and son Joseph; as Christian Stecker on the 1825 Grostenquin birth record of his daughter Anne and his 1852 Hamilton, Ohio naturalization document; as Christopher Staker and Christ Staker on American census lists; and as Christian Staker on his Danvers, Ill. gravestone.

Magdalina Gabriel was born on Nov. 6, 1800[85] in Landrefing, the daughter of Anne Gabriel.  An entry for the marriage of Christian Farny and Magdalina Gabriel was made on June 3, 1826 in the Grostenquin état civil record.  The ceremony was performed by Joseph Farny.

The marriage document describes him by the name 'Christian Farny.'   Christian's parent is given as "Barbe Farny, the wife of Josephe Stecker."  It was signed 'Christian Stecker,' indicating that he was at least partially literate.   Barbe Farny signed her name with an 'x'.

In Moselle, Christian Stecker worked as a farmer and miller at Oderfang Mill in St. Avold, about 12 miles north of Grostenquin.  The abbey mill there had been used to grind corn and lead ores since the Middle Ages, and was probably the birthplace of Barbe Farny's father Christian.[86]  He also worked at Adelange, a village only a few miles west of Bistroff.  The couple was described as residents of Bertring on birth entries recorded in 1836 and 1838.  Many of the Bertring état civil  records describe them as Anabaptists; they were the only family in Bertring that was identified in this way.

The family emigrated from France in 1847.[87]   The year 1847 was unique for the entire Lorraine region – it was the third consecutive season that blight destroyed the potato crop, a main source of sustenance.  It was also the beginning of a worldwide influenza epidemic that did not begin to subside until the following year.   

Butler County Deeds Book 23 holds a deed transcript stating that Christian Staker purchased Lot 15 on High Street in East Hamilton for $750 on Nov. 19, 1849.   The sellers were Lewis D. Campbell (1811-1882) and his wife Jane H. Campbell.   Presumably they were eager to sell the house, because newly-elected Lewis would be moving to Washington, D.C. to take his seat as an anti-slavery U.S. Congressional representative from Ohio.   The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress lists his terms of office as 1849-58 and 1871-73.   (Was this 'political connection' an indication of John Staker's prominence as a businessman?  Also, note that Joseph Staker bought his Morton farm from a Campbell family seven years later). 

'Christopher Staker' first appears in American records as a 49-year-old laborer from Germany (probably because he spoke German) on the 1850 census of Fairfield Township in Butler County.[88]  The census shows that his wife 'Magdalena,' was 48; children included Barbara, 22; John, 21, a laborer; Magdalena, 18; Catherine, 16; Susan, 14; and Joseph, 12, all "born in Germany. "  Susan and Joseph are checked off as "having attended school in the past year."  The family is listed immediately before the family of brother John Staker, which is usually an indication that they were next door neighbors or lived in the same home.

On Sept. 19, 1850, Christian appeared in the Butler County Court of Common Pleas with his son John to submit a Declaration of Intention for naturalization.  It stated that he was a native of France, and that "the said Christian Stecker has one son a minor of the age of twelve years and nine months, who is a resident of the state of Ohio."  This son, John, also had a Declaration of Intention submitted and presumably became a citizen as an adult (in 1859, when he would have turned 21, he was living with his parents in Groveland).

 The Butler County Records Center also holds the Declaration of Citizenship for Christian 'Steckerr' dated Oct. 8, 1852.   It stated that he was a citizen of France who had resided in the United States for the required five years.  The double 'r' spelling may be an embellishment found in old German script, consistent with the forms of a German-language Bible, or it may reflect `the phonetic pronunciation of his name (recall 'Stequaire'). 

Christian and Magdalina moved to Groveland, presumably around 1856, the year of their daughter Magdalena's marriage to second husband Benjamin Egley.  They are found on the 1860 census as farmer Christ Staker, 60, and Magdalina, 56, both from France.  The ordering of their census entry indicates that they probably lived with daughter Susanne and son-in-law John O'Brien. 

Christian's gravestone at Stout's Grove Cemetery in Danvers says that he was "Christian Staker, died Feb. 26, 1868, age 66 years, 2 months."  Magdalina's gravestone says that she was  "Magdelina, his wife, died Dec. 25, 1885, age 79 years, 15 days."

Their children include:


1.       Anne, born illegitimate in the house of grandfather Josephe Staker in Bistroff on July 14, 1825. She died only 12 days later, on July 26.  Grostenquin état   civil records list her parents as Christian Stecker and  'Madeleine' Gabriel.

2.       John, born in 1828, died before 1870.   He married Jacobine (also known as Phebe or Bina) Salzman, who was born April 25,  1825 at Bistroff, and died    Feb. 8, 1921 at Gridley.  She was the daughter of Michael  Salzman/Saltzman (1779-1861) and his second wife Magdalena Eyman.[89]  History of the       Mennonites of Butler County, Ohio  lists a  marriage between Bina Salzman and John 'Stacker', but does not give a date.'   John can be found with his   father's family on the 1850 census of Fairfield, Ohio, but he can also be found earlier in the same census listed in the household of 45-year-old farmer         John M. Milliken from Pennsylvania, where he is described as a 23-year-old laborer from France.  He can also be found on the 1860 Lemon census as a         30-year-old day laborer from France, with his family listed as Phoebe, 26, born in Ohio; Hellen, 3, born in Illinois; and Andrew, 1, born in Ohio.       Andrew was actually born Oct. 1, 1856,  died March 16, 1862, and is buried in the Amish Mennonite corner of Mound Cemetery  in Monroe near his     uncle John Stecker/Staker and aunt Barbara Schertz; his headstone is decorated  with a carved lamb, and his parents are described as "John and Phebe."  An even earlier son is also buried in Mound Cemetery, as "John S., son of John and Phebe Stecker, born Dec. 8, 1853, died Oct. 21, 1859."

3.       Barbara, born July 7, 1829 in Bistroff.  The record of her birth was also kept at Grostenquin.  On Aug. 3, 1851 she married Bartholomew 'Bartley' Zook Jr. (born May 9, 1827-died Feb. 23, 1883); the ceremony was performed by Nicholas Augspurger. History of the Mennonites of Butler County, Ohio lists the     marriage between 'Bortle Cuke' and 'Barbara Stuker.'  Bartley was the son of Bartholomew and 'Barbary' Zook of St. Clair, Butler County, and he can be          found as a 23-year-old in their household on the 1850 census (where the family name is spelled 'Zugg').  The 1870 census of Danvers lists farmer   Bartholomew Zook, 43, born in France; Barbary, 40, born in France; Magdelina, 17; Susan, 15; Joseph, 14; John, 12; Christian, 8; Benjamin, 5; and Eli, 2.            The birthdates and places of the children indicate that the family moved from Ohio to Illinois in 1855-56. The 1880 census of Deer Creek lists farmer        Bartholomew Zook, 53; Barbara, 50; Joseph, 24;   Christ, 17; Benjamin, 14; and Eli, 12.   Four of their children were married by Joseph Stuckey.         According to Kaufmann, Zook is buried in the Stout's Grove Cemetery in Danvers but Barbara is not.

4.       Magdalena, born in 1831.  One of the supporting testimonials in younger brother Joseph's Civil War pension application package stated that he had           lived in Groveland where he had a sister, Magdalena, who had a son named Joseph Shafer (presumably from a first husband).  An infant grave at         Haines-Rankin Cemetery in South Pekin holds Joseph Shafer, who died May 14, 1855 at two months, 17 days of age.  When we look back at the 1850         census, we find that Magdalena, like her brother John, may have been listed twice – once with her father's family, and once as the wife of Fairfield         tailor Lewis Schafer.  She married second husband Benjamin Egley in Tazewell County on Feb. 7, 1856 (she is listed as 'Magdalen Shafer' on the           marriage record); the ceremony was performed by bishop Michael Mosiman.  Benjamin was born in Strasbourg on Aug. 27, 1830, the son of Johannes   Egli and Maria Geisert.  His original name may have been 'Bergman Egli,' the way it appears on his immigration passenger list.  On April 3, 1847 he      arrived in, and Magdalena, 48.  He gave the birthplace of his parents as Alsace, while she gave Lorraine for hers.   On the 1900 census of Deer Creek,           Benjamin 'Egly' is a 68-year-old farmer born in 1831 and Magdalena is his 68-year-old wife born in 1831;  their 15-year-old grandson Louis          Schaffer     lived with them.  That census also confirms that Benjamin and Magdalena both came to America in 1847.

5.       Catherine 'Kate', born in 1834, died July 15, 1893.  She married Samuel Garber in Tazewell County on June 27, 1858, in a ceremony conducted by Bishop Andrew Ropp.   He was born in Lancaster, County, Penn. to a Swiss father and Dutch Mennonite mother.[90]  Samuel and Catherine can be found on the           1860 census New York City on the Caspian from le Havre with half-brother Jacques/Jacob Egli (1810-1879) and brother Johannes/Jean/John Egli (1821-     1907).  He was naturalized at Pekin Feb. 1, 1856.  His family appears on the 1870 census of Deer Creek as Benjamin Egley, 40-year-old farmer born in   France; Magdalen, 38, born in France; and John, their son, a 19-year-old farm laborer.  On the 1880 census of Deer Creek they are listed as farmer   Benjamin Egley, 50, farmerof Sugar Creek, Logan County, Ill.  It describes Samuel as a 30-  year-old [incorrect age] farmer with $3,000 in land and $1,000          in personal property; Kate, 25, born in France; Joseph, 8; Mary, 6; Lydia, 3 months; and German farmhand Jake Miller, 30.  The 1880 census of Prairie           Creek, Logan County, Ill., has Samuel listed as a 56-year-old farmer born in Pennsylvania.  Catherine is listed as a 46-year-old born in France with both         parents born in France.  In 1880 they lived next door to oldest son Joseph, and nine more children live with them.   Catherine's Herald of Truth obituary        with spellings as found:  "Gerber – On the 15th of July, 1893, Catharine, maiden name Strecker, wife of Samuel Gerber, aged 59 years and 2 months.    Funeral services were held by John Egly and Chr. Nafzinger. The funeral was largely attended."  They were buried at Prairie Rest Cemetery in Delavan.        (See more on Samuel Garber in Genealogy Ten, THE GARBERS OF ELM GROVE).

6.       Susanne, born April 25, 1836 in Bertring, died Jan. 18, 1887 in Groveland.  Her birth entry takes pains to identify both her parents as Anabaptists, and         'annabaptiste' is also written under her name in the left margin. Susanne is not only listed with her family on the 1850 census of       Fairfield Township, but      may also be the 'Susan Stecker' listed elsewhere in the same records.            There she is described as a 15-year-old in the household of hotelkeeper Charles Snyder.  She married farmer John O'Brien[91] in Groveland on Oct. 1, 1857.  John O'Brien was born  in Indiana on Aug. 17, 1830, and died Aug. 29, 1897.  He was the son of John O'Brien of Nova Scotia, who had settled in Groveland in 1833. According to the Tazewell County marriage record, their marriage           ceremony was conducted by preacher Garrett G. Worthington (1797-1871).  The couple lived on a farm in Groveland, directly west from the Morton         farm where Joseph Staker and Frena (Roth) Staker settled in 1859.  The 1860 census of Groveland shows Susanne as a 24-year-old born in France in about         1836, married to 30-year-old farmer John O'Brien.  The census also shows she had one child born in Illinois: Magdalena, 6 months (Magdalena grew up    in Groveland and married Ralph McGinnes).  John O'Brien Sr. lived on a nearby farm.  The 1870       census gives O'Brien's age as 38 and her age as 32.       Along with five children, it indicates the presence of 74-year-old John O'Brien Sr. in their household.  It again lists her birthplace as France.  The    category for the birthplaces of her parents (who were not counted on the census) is written in as 'France.'  The 1880 census shows John as a 49-year-old    farmer; Susanna, 45, France; with five children all born in Illinois: Lena, 20; Mary, 18; Henry, 15; William, 13; and Ella, 11.  Susanne and John are buried       in the O'Brien Cemetery at Elm Grove Township.

7.       Joseph, born June 24, 1838 in Bertring.  His birth entry identifies him as 'Joseph Farni.'  He is listed on the 1860 census as a 22-year-old laborer from Bavaria on the farm of Benjamin Obner of Groveland.  His military records state that he lived in Groveland, married in Pekin, and served in the Civil War as a teamster (wagon driver), which was compatible with the roles of Mennonites in the Union Army. He enlisted as a private in Company F, 8th Regiment, Illinois Voluntary Infantry of the Federal Army at Pekin on July 9, 1861.  His military records describe him as "dark complexion, dark hair, blue eyes, 5-foot 5-inches, 130 pounds." The Union Army formed entire companies of German-speaking soldiers, and encouraged their recruitment.  In most instances they were trained and led by veterans of the failed German Revolution of 1848. The pay of a private in the Civil War was about $16 per month.  The Union Army company that Joseph was attached to as a private was formed from Tazewell County residents at Cairo, Ill. on July 25, 1861.  Ulysses S. Grant, a resident of Galena, Ill., commanded the Cairo District as a brigadier general.  The 8th Illinois Infantry Regiment had two terms of service.  The first term was three months, April 25, 1861-July 25, 1861.  The second term was three years: July 25, 1861-May 4, 1866.   Joseph served the three-year term.  The three-year troops had duty in the District of Cairo July 1861-February 1862, joined the Army of the Tennessee February 1862-April 1864, and engaged in battles or campaigns including Ft. Donelson, Shiloh, the siege of Corinth, operations against Vicksburg, and Ft. Blakeley.  Its companies ran from A to I.  F was Tazewell County, E and I were Peoria County, and K was McLean County. The regiment was finally ordered to Baton Rouge, Miss., where on May 4, 1866, it was mustered out and sent to Springfield, Ill.  Arriving at Springfield May 13th, it received its final pay and was honorably discharged.  He was honorably discharged July 9, 1864 at Vicksburg, Miss. and processed from the service July 30, 1864 at Springfield, Ill.  He is now listed on the Honor Roll of the Civil War for Groveland Township.  He married Mary Sophia Franks in Pekin on June 4, 1865.   She was born in Illinois, and is found on the 1850 census of Pekin as the 4-year-old daughter of Mary Jane Franks.  Justice of the Peace H.L. McKibben presided. Their family appears on the 1870 census of Pekin as Joseph Staker, 33, a farmer from Germany; Mary S., 23, born in Illinois; Alba, 4; and Magdalina, 2.   Sometime after 1870 Joseph and Mary moved to Lone Tree Precinct, Neb., where veterans were given a five-year waiver on the time it took to meet homesteading requirements.   The 1880 census lists farmer Joseph, 40, born in France with both parents born in France; and Mary, 33, born in Illinois, father born in Kentucky, mother born in Ohio (note that Mary had somehow aged five years more than might be expected).   Some time before 1890 the family moved to Beatrice, Neb.  There Joseph's eyesight began to fail.  In June 1892 he applied to have his $8 monthly pension increased because of his disability.  His Declaration for Invalid Pension described him as "suffering from a wound obtained in the war of rebellion, defective eye sight and sun stroke, which disability all occurred in the war of the rebellion."  The 1863 sunstroke that supposedly caused the problems may have occurred at Fort Monroe, Louisiana or Vicksburg, Miss., according to supporting testimonials.  On a medical recommendation form, his problems were described as 'catarrh and disease of the eyes.'  At least one doctor felt that the vision problems were structural, and not caused by clouding of the retina, and so unlikely to have been caused by any military experience.  The veteran was illiterate, and signed the application with an 'x.'  The 1900 census of Beatrice shows the family living at Ninth Street.  The heads of family appear as Joseph, 59, born January 1841 (three years younger than his military record shows him to be), and Mary Sophia, 55, born February 1845.  Joseph lists his date of immigration from France as 1847, which agrees with the dates given by his sisters at other locations.  His application for an increase in his military service pension is on file at the National Archives (#WC-597-814), and provided the source for much of this information.  He died June 17, 1905.  Their children include:

a.       Alba, born in Illinois on March 1, 1866, died Aug. 1, 1889; he is buried at Eller Cemetery in Marshall, Neb.

b.      Magdalina 'Maggie', born in Illinois on Aug. 20, 1868, died April 20, 1880 (note the spelling of her first name the same as her grandmother, Magdalina Gabriel).   Her name was written in as an 11-year-old on the 1880 census, then lined out.  She is buried at Eller Cemetery in Marshall, Neb.

c.       Mary, born in Illinois on Aug. 13, 1870.  She is found as a 15-year-old on the 1885 Nebraska census.

d.      David C., born in Lone Tree, Neb. in 1873.  He is found as a 12-year-old on the 1885 Nebraska census.  On May 20, 1893 he married Eva Shurtleff in Douglas, Neb.

e.       Nellie, born in Illinois in 1876.  She is found as a 9-year-old on the 1885 Nebraska census, but died or moved apart from the family before 1900.

f.       Wilbur C., born in Lone Tree, Neb. in February 1878. He is found as a 7-year-old on the 1885 Nebraska census; as a 22-year-old farm laborer on the 1900 census of Beatrice; and as a carpenter on the 1930 census of Beatrice.  He married in 1908.  The 1930 census indicates that he was 52; his wife Elvira was 44.  

g.      Roy, born in Lone Tree, Neb. in 1881 (known from the 1885 state census, but not found in 1900).  He is found as Le Roy Staker on the 1930 census of Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he worked as yardmaster on the steam railway.  That census also lists son Vernon, 22; son Thomas, 15; and daughter Wauneta, 17.

h.      Emma, found only as a 2-year-old on the 1885 Nebraska census.

i.       Charles L., Dec. 9, 1885-July 9, 1886, is buried at Eller Cemetery in Marshall, Neb.

j.        Joseph Allen, born in Nebraska in December 1887 (1900 census).  He married Grace Hanscom, born April 26, 1887 in West Chicago.

k.      Hazel Alpha, born in Beatrice, Neb. in March 1890.

l.        Blaine, born in Beatrice, Neb. on March 10, 1892 or in November 1891 (1900 census).


Generation Nine


(1803-1890 – second child)


Anna or Anne, the first child fathered by Josephe Stecker, was born to Barbe Farny on May 27, 1803, in Tragny, Moselle (Ger. Tranach) and lived to be the last of the immigrant generation. 

Our principal source of information on Anna is her état civil birth record, registered at Tragny.  On the half-page entry her name is spelled 'Anne Stéker,' and her parents are listed as 'Joseph Stéker,' miller of the mill at Tragny, and his wife Barbe Farny.  The record was signed by Joseph Beiqué, mayor of Tragny.

On March 12, 1831 Anna married Jean Bachmann[92] in Grostenquin, Moselle.  Bachmann was born June 3, 1800 in Puttelange-lès-Farschviller (Ger. Püttlingen, now Puttelange-aux-Lacs), Moselle, and was the son of Jean/Johannes Bachmann, born in Niedervisse (Ger. Niederwiesen), Lorraine in 1762, and Madeleine/Magdalena Nafziger, born in Lorentzen, Lorraine in 1778. [93]  

His birth entry may have been a joke among friends.  In the margin, where it ordinarily would give the name of the child, there is written "Jacob Naffzinger? Bien entendu Jacob Bachman," or, "Jacob Naffzinger? Of course Jacob Bachman."  Later the entry says that the child was named Jacob Bachman.  However, it is obvious that the child was given the first name of the father and both elderly witnesses who accompanied Jean Bachman to the municipal clerk -- Jean Naffzinger, 66 (the maternal grandfather), and Jean Zubert, 60.

The Bachmann family is well documented.  Hans Bachmann of Rechterswil, near Zurich, had been a companion of Jacob Amman.  The large family was expelled from the Alsace by Louis XIV, lived in the Palatinate, then moved south to Lorraine after the death of Louis XIV in 1739.  (For more on the Bachmann family see Genealogy Seven).

Anna's husband can be found as Jean Bachmann, the name on their 1831 marriage record, and John Bachman, the name recorded at his 1840 naturalization in Ohio and on the Fairfield Township pages of the 1840 census.  Several other variations of the spelling of his surname have also been found.

As previously noted, Anna Stecker and her husband came to America on the ship Erie  with their two oldest children and her elderly father Josephe.  They arrived at the port of New York on May 25, 1838.[94]

Jean Bachmann appeared for the first time as John 'Bachman' on the 1840 census of Fairfield Township.   A male checked off in the '70-80' age column for his household was presumably Josephe Stecker.

 He also filed a naturalization declaration of intent at the Hamilton Court House in September 1840 as John Bachman, in a group with John Stecker/Staker (the group is listed with John's information).[95]  His naturalization took place at Hamilton on Oct. 5, 1843; Christian Emeluth and Peter Salzman were witnesses.

While in Ohio the family took on the name Baughman to separate themselves from a nearby family with a reputation as 'hotheads.'   John would certainly have been aware that 'John Baughman' was also the name of a Methodist preacher who was well known in Butler County (the preacher can be found as one of the first entries on the 1830 census of Hamilton).

The Bachman/Baughmans appear as the next door neighbors of Joseph Staker and Frena Roth on the 1850 census of Madison, Butler County.  The census lists John 'Bohman,' 49, a farmer from Germany with personal property worth $2,600; wife Ann, 48; Barbara, 21; John, 18; Joseph, 10; Francis, 8; Malinda, 5; and Joseph Shertz or Shirtz, 34, from Germany.   (This may be the much younger Joseph Schertz of France who married oldest daughter Barbara).

They moved from Butler County to Danvers in about 1860.  There they joined the Hessian Amish worship group called the South Danvers congregation. The 1870 census of Danvers lists farmer John 'Boughman', 70, from France; Anna, 65, from France; and 'Lenia,' 22, born in Ohio. They can also be found on the last page of the 1880 census of Danvers as farmer John 'Bauchman,' 80, and Anna, 75, keeping house.  His birthplace is listed as France, while the birthplace of his parents is unknown.  Anna and her parents are listed as France. 

John died on Oct. 10, 1881.  Danvers Dispatch, Oct. 14, 1881:  "John Boughman died at his home in this place on Monday last, after an illness of less than a week.  He was eighty-one years of age.  The funeral services took place at the Baptist church on Wednesday, and were conducted by Rev. Jos. Stuckey, pastor of the church, of which the deceased was a member."[96]   Anna died Dec. 24, 1890.  

John and Anna are buried at the Stout's Grove Cemetery in Danvers, near their oldest daughter, her husband, and other Schertz family members.   Their stones are worn smooth, but county records give their inscriptions as "John Bachman, died Oct. 10, 1881, 81 years, 4 months, 7 days" and "Anna his wife, died Dec. 24, 1890, age 86 years."

The Hessian Amish worship group in Danvers later merged into the North Danvers Mennonite Church.  During the decade 1860-1870, ministers of the North Danvers Mennonite Church, an Amish Mennonite congregation, included Jonathan Yoder, Jonas Fry, Joseph Statler, John Strubhar, John Stahly, Christian Miller, and Joseph Stuckey. 

John and Anna's children include:


1.       Barbara Bachman was born June 10, 1829 and died Aug. 3, 1908.  She married Joseph Schertz (June 18, 1827-May 23, 1914), who was probably the son of     Joseph Schertz (Nov. 22, 1800-Nov. 22, 1885), with whom they are buried in Stout's Grove Cemetery in Danvers.[97]   The 1870 census of   Mackinaw shows        Joseph and Barbara with 10 children. 

2.     John Baughman was born March 2, 1833 and died Nov. 6, 1914. He married Catherine Nafziger (1836-   1914) on Jan. 14, 1859.  She was the daughter of Jacob Nafziger of Hochheim (now a district of Worms) and Barbara Krehbiel of Weitersweiler; her uncle (Jacob's brother) was preacher 'Apostle Peter' Nafziger.  According to Steve Estes the couple moved to Panola Township, Woodford County, Ill. in 1859 and first joined the Gridley Prairie congregation, an Amish Mennonite church in Waldo Township, Livingston County.  They can be found on the 1860 census of Dry Grove, McLean County.  In 1878 they became charter members of the Flanagan Mennonite Church, a Stuckey Amish congregation.  Their children include John (1859-1934), Joseph (1863-1942), Jacob (1861-1959), Anna (1865-1934), Daniel (1867-1960), Lena (born 1869), Alpha (1871-1958), Lydia (born 1875), Frank (1877-1957), Peter (born 1879), and Lew (1882-1960).  Gospel Herald:  " John Baughman --  Death came as a welcome release to Bro. John Baughman of Manson, Ia., Friday morning, Nov. 6, 1914, at the home of his son, Jacob N. Baughman.  The deceased was born in Sandburg, Germany [a location we have not been able to pinpoint], Mar. 2, 1833.  He came to America when 5 years old, locating in Butler Co., Ohio.  Later he moved to Woodford Co., Ill. Nineteen years ago he came to Manson, Ia., where he has since resided.  He was borne to the grave by six of his sons, from the home of his son, to the Mennonite Church, Sunday, Nov. 8, thence to Rose Hill Cemetery of this place. Bros. D. D. Zehr and Joseph Egli conducted the services.  Bro. Baughman was married to Catherine Noffziger in 1853. Sister Baughman preceded him to the spirit world just eight weeks before. Twelve children came to them, one of whom passed to the beyond when a child.  One sister, 11 children, 34 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren are left to mourn, but not as those who have no hope.  Bro. Baughman united with the Mennonite Church early in life and remained steadfast until the end. …  Bro. Baughman was a good neighbor and no one ever came to him for aid or comfort that did not receive more than was expected. Kindness was personified in our brother.  Peace to his ashes."   Gospel Herald:  "Catherine (Nafziger) Baughman --  Catherine Nafziger was born in Butler Co., Ohio, Jan. 9, 1836; died Sept. 11, 1914; aged 78 y. 8 m. 26 d. She was united in marriage to John Baughman Jan. 14, 1859.  To this union were born 3 girls and 9 boys, all but one survive her.  Lena died July 7, 1875.  The family resided in          central Illinois until 1896, when they moved to Manson, Ia., where they have resided since.  Besides the 11 children who survive her, are her aged husband, a twin sister, 33 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren, and many relatives and friends … Sister Baughman was a consistent member of the Mennonite Church since her girlhood and remained faithful until the end.  She was borne from her home to the last resting place in Rose Hill Cemetery by six of her sons Sept. 14, 1914. All except two of her children were present at the funeral. Funeral services were conducted by Peter Schantz of Normal, Ill.   Peace to her ashes."

3.     Joseph Baughman was born about March 1840 in Trenton or Middletown, Butler County.  According to his headstone at Elk Creek Cemetery in Astoria, Butler County, he died July 13, 1865, age 25 years, four months. 

4.     Veronica 'Francis' or 'Fannie' Bachman/Baughman was born about 1842.  On Nov. 2, 1865 she married Jacob C. Augspurger in Butler County, Ohio, in a ceremony conducted by Nicholas Augspurger.  He was born April 4, 1843 in Madison, Butler County and died Oct. 13, 1890 in Danvers. Jacob was the son of Jacob Augspurger (1813-1867) and Catherine Heiser (1814-1891), who were married in Madison on July 29, 1838.  The father Jacob also had a father named Jacob (1786-1846), who married Maria Schlabach (1799-1856) and was one of the first Mennonite preachers in Butler County before being chosen as an elder in 1830.   He was the preacher of the conservative 'hook and eye' group at the 1835 division in Butler County, and second cousin to Christian Augspurger of Chrisholm.  Catherine Heiser was the sister to Jacob and Joseph Heiser, who both settled in Elm Grove.  Veronica and Jacob C. are buried in the Stout's Grove Cemetery, where her gravestone gives only the letter 'F.'  They are buried with four of their children who died as infants.  Their children include Wilhelmine (1868-1871), Anna (1869, died at one month), Magdalena (1870-1877), Catherine (1875, died at two months), an unnamed infant (1877, died at 21 days), Jacob (1879, died at two months), Barbara (1880-1883), and Joseph (1882, died at three months).  Herald of Truth, 1890:  " Jacob Augspurger - On the 13th of October, near Danvers, McLean Co., Ill., of  brain fever, Jacob C. Auspurger, aged 47 Y., 6 M., 8 D. He was buried on the 15th in the presence of many friends and relatives. Services in Danvers by Pre. Annot in English and Jos. Stuckey in German, from Heb. 9: 27."

5.        Magdalena 'Lena' Baughman/Bachman was born Jan. 9, 1847 in Butler County.  She married John R. Miller on March 5, 1872.  They are listed on the 1880 census of Danvers as John R. Miller, 38, farmer from Ohio whose father was from Baden and mother from Prussia; Lena, 33, born in Ohio of French parents; Anna E., 7; John H., 3; and Fanny E., 1.  Lena died on April 10, 1883, and is buried in the Danvers Cemetery.  John R. Miller moved to Fremont, Nebraska after her death.  Their children include Anna (born 1873), John (1877-1913), Fanny (1877-1925), Ida (born 1880), and an unnamed infant (1881, died at two months).  Herald of Truth, May 1, 1883: " Lena Bachman -- April 10th, in California of consumption, Lena Bachman Miller, aged 36 years, 8 months and 1 day.  Born in Butler County, Ohio, and married to John R. Miller in 1872.  She leaves a deeply bereaved husband and four children.  The remains were brought to Danvers, Ill., where they were consigned to earth on the 18th of April, in the presence of many friends and relatives.  Sister Miller was a faithful member of the Mennonite Church.  Services were held in the English language by Preacher Langley and in the German language by Joseph Stuckey."


Generation Nine


(1805-1864 – third child)


Jean, the third child, was born April 27, 1805 in Tragny, Moselle.  The état civil birth record of 'Jean Stéker' says that he was the son of 'Joseph Stéker,' 38, the miller of the mill of Tragny, and his wife Barbe Farny.

Like his older brother Christian, it is often difficult to follow the details of John's life because his name appears in several forms.  He was recorded as 'John Stecker' on his naturalization form, land transactions and other documents; 'John Staker' on census records; 'Johannes Stecker' on his will; and finally 'John Steckerr' on his gravestone. 

He married Barbe/Barbara Schertz in 1830.   The Schertz family was so extensive that it turns up in almost every Lorraine community that held Amish Mennonites. Although Barbara's gravestone gives her birth date as Feb. 14, 1808, we are unable to identify her parents.  (This is double frustrating because we know that the John Schertz who lived next door to them in Lemon Township was her brother).

The obituary of Barbara Schertz states that she and John married and emigrated from Europe in 1830.  According to later census reports, their oldest daughter Elizabeth was born in Pennsylvania in 1831. 

The 1840 census lists John Staker as the head of a household in Fairfield Township.  His profession is checked off in the 'manufacturing and trades' column.