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.
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 ThirteenBackground:More on the Ninth Generation Family--Other Children of Josephe and Barbe--
This genealogy follows one family as it evolved
over 350 years, from the Stückers of CantonBern 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
generation could be found in nearby Eriz.'Eriz' is a general term that describes the valley of the ZulgRiver (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 ButlerCounty pages of the 1840 Federal
Census (by 1847, four brothers and one sister lived in ButlerCounty).
'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 ButlerCounty 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
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.
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 ConradGrebelCollege 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.
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
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
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).
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 RhineValley 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
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
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 TheMartyrs Mirror.These four items became the
foundations for a religious community that sought to live "in the world,
but not of the world."
The present-day Stakers are descendants
of Stücker millers and farmers who lived in the area above LakeThun 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.
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 LakeThun to what is now
Beatenberg.Tens of thousands of
travelers must have passed through the communities each summer in the 16th and
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 LakeThun 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
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 LakeThun.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 ZulgRiver), 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 ZulgRiver, 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 AareRiver, 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: 
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,
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).
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
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.
The church at Hilterfingen began to
keep records in 1528.Its parish also
included the villages Oberhofen and Langenschachen, farther down the east shore
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
LakeThun 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 (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.
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.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 AareRiver at the city of
Bern.The event became one of the stories of The Martyrs Mirror.
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
on Aug. 5, 1565 at Hilterfingen [mother Dichtla Eichacher].Peter Mosler
was the only witness.Ulrich married
Verena Linder in Steffisburg on Jan. 13, 1595 (he is called 'Uli' on that
christened at Hilterfingen on July 1, 1571 [mother
Ferena Rupp].Witnesses were Petter
Losenegger and Barbli Murer.
at Hilterfingen on May 24, 1573 [mother
Ferena Rupp].Witnesses included Uli
Farny, Ben Weybal of Stamburg, and Carrin Wyrich.
at Hilterfingen on April 10, 1575 [mother
Ferena Rupp].Witnesses were Hanns
Stutzmann and Madleni Stutzmann.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
11, 1716 at Lausanne,
record entered at Schwarzenegg.
6, 1720 at Lausanne,
record entered at Schwarzenegg.Witnesses included Niclaus Gerber of Bern and Maria
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, ChristianSpring, and
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
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.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
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
1.Magdalena, born Jan. 9, 1726. Witnesses included Daniel Bourguel and Magdaleine Bienze of
Eggiswil.She married Samuel Känel on May 3, 1750.
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
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
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
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
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.
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 MariaSpring.
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
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
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
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 DollerValley.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
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
The horrendous Thirty Years War, which
began in 1618, decimated entire villages in the regions surrounding the
north-flowing RhineRiver.Up to 8 million people may have died from
battle, disease, or starvation, reducing the population of the German states by
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.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.
Many Anabaptists chose to travel down
the north-flowing RhineRiver to Alsace, which at that
time was not yet a part of France but tended to
follow its dictates.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 LeberRiver 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 VosgesMountains 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 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
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).
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.
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.
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
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
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.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
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, 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.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
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.The family dropped the umlaut pronunciation mark from their name on the eve of World War
Emigration from Europe
Swiss Mennonites caught 'the American fever' between 1717 and 1732.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 LancasterCounties in Pennsylvania.
Amish Mennonite adults boarded ships for America with a document called a Heimatschein hidden in their garments or tucked into the binding of the
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
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 Heimatcommunity 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
(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
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 beenchristened 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 TazewellCounty, 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.The village was also home to Joder and Bürki
Each child was named after a christening witness:
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
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.'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
('ThunderMountain,' Ger. Donnersberg, with a capital at Mainz).Marnheim was located in Mont-Tonnerre.
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.
Stücker and Marie Müller had a son EIGHTH
GENERATION: JOSEPH OR JOSEPHE STECKER, born in 1776.
Josephe Stecker and Barbe Farny
(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.
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), Christian Guerber of d'Arlange
farm in Wuisse,
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
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.
Josephe and Barbe were married on Belgrade Farm in Bistroff.The marriage linked Josephe to both of his
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
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.This became a little move complicated later
when Michael Salzman's daughter Jacobina married John, a son of Christian
next to John Staker in LemonTownship,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 TazewellCounties.Oldest son and miller Johannes, born in 1801, married Catherine
Elizabeth Salzmanat Blamont in
1826;the marriage documents indicate that
she was living on Belgrade Farm.They
passed through LancasterCounty and ButlerCounty (where they were neighbors to John Staker
in LemonTownship) before settling permanently in Elm Grove,
where they are buried in RailroadCemetery.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 TazewellCounties area, and settled at Deer Creek.In America they were known as John, Peter, Andrew, Magdalena, and Barbara Schrock.
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.
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
Bernese Amish Mennonites found a niche in the
economy of Lorraine as millers or meuniers.The north-flowing river system in the SaareBasin 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
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
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 MonVillage, 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).
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
A portion of the French Civil Code passed March
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.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.
In 1813, the Grand Army retreated
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 RhineValley 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 LouisianaTerritory 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 RhineRiver 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
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
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 RhineValley 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."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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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).
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,
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.
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 possiblestopping place on the way to Butler County, Ohio was the LehighValley, 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 ButlerCounty or TazewellCounty, 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
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,
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 ButlerCounty.
The passenger list also included the family of
Jacob Nafziger (1798-1888) and Barbara Krehbiel (1796-1873); 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), 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 Superiorto New Orleans and from there
up the Mississippi and OhioRivers to Cincinnati.
When they reached the harbor the ship had gone.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 YorkHarbor."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 LancasterCity they could go no further, as
three feet of snow had fallen.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.
If the Steckers had sailed even four
years later, it is possible that they would have ended up in New YorkState instead of Illinois. Many later
Mennonite arrivals from Lorraine settled in the
Adirondacks in Upstate New York.In 1830, Joseph Kieffer of Folschviller 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.
LewisCounty 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, LewisCounty.
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
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
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
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 Alsacevillage 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 YorkState.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
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 HamiltonCounty with Hamilton in ButlerCounty?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.
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
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 FortWashington on the
original site of the city. Steamboats were known as 'queens,' and Cincinnati was known as
the 'QueenCity 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.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 HenryHome'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 mischief...my 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.
Augspurger in ButlerCounty
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.
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 RiverValley 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.The five families that accompanied Christian
to ButlerCounty 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 ButlerCounty.
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
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 LancasterCounty 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 WilmotTownship in WaterlooCounty.(The nearby community of Waterloo is now the
location of ConradGrebelCollege, which holds
the Mennonite Archives of Ontario).
The progress of settlement in WaterlooCounty 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 ButlerCounty 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 WilmotTownship.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
By 1829, Christian Augspurger
had become one of the wealthiest citizens of ButlerCounty.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
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 ButlerCounty.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 ButlerCounty.Another 33 immigrated directly to Illinois, where they represented
congregations likely to include others who had lived in ButlerCounty.
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
from Canada to ButlerCounty."He is said to have been a strong and
forceful man, and of a determined disposition" (Grubb).  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 ButlerCounty, 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  (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 WeserRiver 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.
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.ButlerCounty 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  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 ButlerCounty, 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."
25, 1835 elders and preachers met in the home of bishop Joseph Goldsmith
[Goldschmidt]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, emphasizingsimplicity 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 ButlerCounty 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
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
Elders of the Augspurger congregation
included Peter Nafziger from 1830 until he moved to Illinois, with assistance from his
son-in-law John Kistler;
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.Nearby is the AugspurgerMemorialCemetery, where Christian and his
wife Catherine are buried.
On April 17, 1838, Joseph Stecker married Frena Roth in ButlerCounty.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 ButlerCounty).Peter Nafziger presided, and had the register
entry recorded on April 21.The original
registry book can be found at the ButlerCountyRecordsCenter 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 RhineRiver (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.The passenger list includes:
Joh. Bachmann38Husband of Anna (Stecker) Bachman.
Anna Bachmann36Josephe's daughter.
9Josephe's grandchild; she
later married Joseph Schertz.
5Josephe's grandchild; he
later married Catherine Nafziger.
Joseph Stecker75Josephe, born in 1776; actually
62 years of age.
The last indication of the presence of
Josephe Stecker is a check on the 1840 census of Fairfield in ButlerCounty.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 ButlerCounty 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.
14, 1840Joseph 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 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 and Conrad Schmidtman.
Some time between June 1841 and
September 1842, Joseph and Frena moved to a new home on afarm 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
"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 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.
Someone looking for an Amish
Mennonite pioneer in the areas of Woodford and TazewellCounties might single
out the exploits of Joseph 'Red Joe' Belsley and John Engel.
'Red Joe' was born at
Hellocourt, MoselleMarch 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 TazewellCounty but is now WoodfordCounty) in the spring
of 1831.See Genealogy Nine, BELSLEY OF RHODES.
John Engel was born at Lagarde, MoselleMay 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 ButlerCounty.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 WabashRiver to within
walking distance of the Illinois River; up the Illinois River to FortClark (now Peoria); from there
to Springfield and Galena; then west to Keokuk, Iowa.They arrived back in HamiltonNov. 2, 1830.He returned to Illinois in August 1831
to purchase landat Partridge Creek with
his half-brother Peter Engel.See
Chapter Nine, ENGEL OF BISTROFF.
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
In 1832 the Hessian congregation
at ButlerCounty 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 ButlerCounty to resettle.He settled at Partridge Creek in WoodfordCounty, 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
TazewellCounty, the future
home of Joseph, his oldest brother Christian, and his younger brother Nicholas,
was established in 1827 from a part of SangamonCounty.The first boundaries encompassed parts of
present-day DeWitt, Livingston, Logan, Mason, McLean, and WoodfordCounties. The reduced
present day boundaries of TazewellCounty were
established in 1841, when land cost $6 per acre.
As early as 1850, the fastest growing
and largest Amish community was in McLeanCounty, next to TazewellCounty.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 DillonCreek 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 ButlerCounty, may have
taken a train on his first journey west to TazewellCounty.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 ButlerCounty 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).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 TazewellCounty 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, 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
In 1839, a TazewellCounty 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 CircuitCourtofTazewellCounty.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 TazewellCounty 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 TazewellCounty 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).
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
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 TazewellCounty 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.He took them by horseback to PeoriaLake to escape
their pursuers.They eventually reached Canada, but the
mother and children were returned to Southern plantations.
From History of TazewellCountypublished in 1879:
"In those exciting days of the Underground Railroad, old
Father Dickey and Owen Lovejoy,
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 PleasantGroveChurch,
Groveland [actually, just across the town boundary in Elm Grove],
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
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 1798-1873) 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.
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.
In 1858, Joseph's
younger brother Nicholas and his wife Magdalena Eimer moved to Tremont, below
Morton in TazewellCounty.They bought a 101-acre farm from Christian
Bechler and his second wife Jacobina on Feb. 4, 1859.Their land was registered under 'Staker.'
Joseph and Frena built a house at what is now 1000 West
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
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.
In TazewellCounty, Joseph,
Frena, Nicholas, and Magdalena belonged to
the DillonCreek meeting or
congregation.Before church buildings
were available, the Amish Mennonites traditionally met as prayer groups in
"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.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 .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
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 RockCreekChurch.The elder there was Jonathan 'Yony' Yoder, a
strong-willed, conservative bishop.He
led a number of Old Order families from Lancaster and MifflinCounties 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) 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 NorthDanversMennoniteChurch, and became
the first church of the Central Conference of Mennonites under Joseph Stuckey
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 to Fairfield, ButlerCounty 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 NorthDanversChurch.One biography estimated that he
performed 1,328 baptisms, conducted 256 marriage ceremonies, and ordained 18
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 StuckeyChurch, 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
Life in TazewellCounty
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 ofJean 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, MoselleDec.
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 WoodfordCounties).They livedin Pennsylvania before continuing on to Illinois in 1833.The family can be found living in District
56, WoodfordCounty on the 1850 census, and in
Morton on the 1860 census.John died in
1885, and Mary died in 1888;they are buried
in GlendaleCemetery 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
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 MennoniteHistoricalCenter in
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
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
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 RobertsCemetery.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 inTremont.
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
The last Amish Mennonitegeneral 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 DillonCreek meeting
constructed the PleasantGroveAmishMennoniteChurch 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 GrovelandEvangelicalMennoniteCemetery.The name on her gravestone is 'Veronika
Stecker.'It may seem odd that Frena was
buried at a distance from RobertsCemetery (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.
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.
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 ImhoffMennoniteCemetery 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."
Magdalena (Eimer) Staker, the widow of Nicholas, died March 14, 1907 in Tremont.She is buried in PleasantGroveCemetery.
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
ceremony was performed by bishop Michael Mosiman.Since Nicholas was Frena Roth's olderbrother, this was a marriage of cousins as
well as next-door neighbors. She had children named Benjamin, Moses, and
Veronica.The couple lived in GrovelandCenter, just
north of the farm of her brotherChristian.
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.TazewellCounty
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.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.
was born in Hamilton,
in 1844.He married Anna Mosiman (Sept.
23, 1848-Aug. 11, 1914) on Feb.
ceremony was conducted by her father,
bishop Michael Mosiman of the Busche Gemeinde or WesleyCity
congregation.He chose to make it the
last wedding ceremony he
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 RobertsCemetery next to his father, who had died two years before.
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.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 OldApostolicCemetery.Anna Mosiman died in
1914 and is buried in the Merchenthaler plot at the ApostolicChristianCemetery in Morton.
The children of Joseph Staker and Anna Mosiman include:
a.Elias, Dec. 25, 1869-June 30,
1930.He is buried in the ApostolicChristianCemetery.He never married.
b.Moses, Aug. 1872-Oct. 29, 1926.He is buried in the ApostolicChristianCemetery.He married Katharine 'Katie'
Belsley (1874-1932).They had two
children who died as infants.The
1)Anna, 1908-1924.She is buried with her parents at the ChristianApostolicCemetery.
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.
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 OldApostolicCemetery.
GENERATION:CHRISTIAN STAKER, 1845-1919.
5.Lena Staker, born Aug. 10, 1848 in ButlerCounty, 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 PekinAug. 1, 1868; he is buried
in ZionEvangelicalCemetery at Groveland.Peter and Lenahad seven children including
Sara Matilda, Lydia Catherine, John, Emma, Joseph Edward, Albert, and Fannie.
'Kate' Staker, born 1849 in ButlerCounty,
died Oct. 9, 1923;
she was buried in the EvangelicalMennoniteCemetery
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 GrovelandEvangelicalMennoniteCemetery.
Christian Staker and Magdalena Ropp
Christian Staker was born Oct. 6, 1845 in Hamilton, Ohio, and died July 30, 1919.
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 PleasantGroveMennoniteChurch 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.
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 hecreated 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 DefenselessMennoniteChurch.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 EvangelicalMennoniteCemetery in
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 TazewellCounty.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,
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
Mrs. Lena Schnur and Miss Katharine Staker of Groveland.The funeral will be held Friday afternoon at from the residence and at 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 DefenselessMennoniteChurch 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."
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 GrovelandEvangelicalMennoniteCemetery.Six children.
born Sept. 2, 1871, died April 13, 1938.She is buried at the Groveland Evangelical Mennonite Cemetery as 'Miss Fannie.'
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.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 GrovelandEvangelicalMennoniteCemetery.
born June 24, 1880, died Oct. 15, 1971.On March 10, 1909 he married Lucy
Zimmerman (1889-1931); 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.'
May, born Oct. 22, 1882, died Jan. 1, 1922.She is buried at the GrovelandEvangelicalMennoniteCemetery.
9.ELEVENTH GENERATION:MOSES ROY STAKER, 1884-1928.
'Katie',born May 6, 1887, died June 16, 1962.
(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
and Anna Maria Fischer
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 DakotaStateNormal School.He was also a professor of psychology and
education at IllinoisStateUniversity.
Moses married Anna Maria Fischer in Staunton on July 16, 1914.Anna was born Nov. 18 or 28, 1891 in Staunton.She attended a GermanSchool 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 IllinoisStateUniversity were cancelled
on the day of his funeral.From his
"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 ParkHillCemetery in Bloomington.
TWELVE AND THIRTEEN
The two children of Moses Staker and
Anna Maria Fischer were:
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.
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 RutgersCollege. 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
OTHER CHILDREN OF JOSEPHE STECKER
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,
MoselleThey 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, McLeanCounty.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 ButlerCounty.He lived in Bistroff, Moselle; Madison, Ohio; and Morton, TazewellCounty.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
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 ButlerCounty.They lived in St. Clair, Ohio and Tremont, TazewellCounty.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.
FARNY OR STECKER/STAKER
– 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 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.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 civilrecords describe them as Anabaptists; they
were the only family in Bertring that was identified in this way.
The family emigrated from France in 1847.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.
ButlerCounty 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
'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 FairfieldTownship in ButlerCounty.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 ButlerCountyRecordsCenter 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 GroveCemetery 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,
Their children include:
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'
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 MichaelSalzman/Saltzman (1779-1861) and his second
wife Magdalena Eyman.History
of the Mennonites of Butler County,
Ohiolists amarriage 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 MoundCemeteryin Monroe near his uncle John Stecker/Staker and aunt Barbara Schertz; his headstone
is decoratedwith a carved lamb, and his
parents are described as "John and Phebe."An even
earlier son is also buried in MoundCemetery, as "John
S., son of John and Phebe Stecker, born Dec.
8, 1853, died Oct. 21, 1859."
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, ButlerCounty, 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 GroveCemetery in Danvers but Barbara is
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-RankinCemetery 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 Fairfieldtailor Lewis Schafer.She married second husband Benjamin Egley in TazewellCounty 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.
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.
'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.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 PekinFeb. 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 PrairieRestCemetery in
Delavan.(See more on Samuel Garber in Genealogy Ten, THE GARBERS OF ELM GROVE).
born April 25, 1836 in Bertring, died Jan.
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 FairfieldTownship, 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 in Groveland on Oct.
1, 1857.John O'Brien was bornin Indiana on Aug.
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 TazewellCounty 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
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 ElmGroveTownship.
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 TazewellCounty 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 TazewellCounty, E and I were PeoriaCounty, and K was McLeanCounty. 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 GrovelandTownship.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 EllerCemetery 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 EllerCemetery 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, 1886, is buried at EllerCemetery 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).
(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
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
12, 1831 Anna married Jean Bachmann 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. 
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 FairfieldTownship 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 Eriewith their two oldest children and her elderly
father Josephe.They arrived at the port of New York on May 25, 1838.
Jean Bachmann appeared for the first
time as John 'Bachman' on the 1840 census of FairfieldTownship.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).His naturalization took place at Hamilton on Oct. 5, 1843; Christian Emeluth and Peter Salzman
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 ButlerCounty (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, ButlerCounty.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 ButlerCounty 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."Anna died Dec. 24, 1890.
John and Anna are buried at the Stout's
GroveCemetery 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 NorthDanversMennoniteChurch.During the decade 1860-1870, ministers of the
NorthDanversMennoniteChurch, 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 GroveCemetery in Danvers.The 1870 census of Mackinaw shows Joseph
and Barbara with 10 children.
2.John Baughman was born
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 PanolaTownship, Woodford
County, Ill. in 1859 and
first joined the Gridley Prairie congregation, an Amish Mennonite church in WaldoTownship, LivingstonCounty.They can be found on the
1860 census of Dry Grove, McLeanCounty.In 1878 they became charter members of the FlanaganMennoniteChurch, 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 MennoniteChurch,
Sunday, Nov. 8, thence to RoseHillCemetery 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 MennoniteChurch 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 MennoniteChurch since
her girlhood and remained faithful until the end.She was borne from her home to the last
resting place in RoseHillCemetery 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, ButlerCounty.According to his
headstone at ElkCreekCemetery in Astoria, ButlerCounty, 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
4, 1843 in Madison, ButlerCounty and
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 ButlerCounty before being chosen as an elder in 1830.He was the preacher of the conservative 'hook
and eye' group at the 1835 division in ButlerCounty, 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 GroveCemetery, 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., ofbrain 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."
Baughman/Bachman was born Jan. 9, 1847 in ButlerCounty.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 DanversCemetery.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 MennoniteChurch.Services were held in the English language by
Preacher Langley and in the German language by Joseph Stuckey."
JOHN STECKER/JOHN STAKER
(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
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 LemonTownship 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 FairfieldTownship.His profession is checked off in the 'manufacturing
and trades' column.
The ButlerCountyRecordsCenter in Hamilton, Ohio holds a naturalization
declaration of intent for John Stecker numbered '30' and dated September
1840.The three pages surrounding his
naturalization declaration of intent indicated that he came in a group.Other entries from the September 1840 term
include (with the spellings of names in capitals as found):
26.CHRISTIAN SPRINGER, 48, from
France; sons Joseph, 16; Peter, 13; Christian, 11; John, 6; and Andrew, 4.He appears on the 1830 census of Madison as a neighbor
of Christian Augspurger, and on the 1840 census of Fairfield as next door
neighbor to Christian Gerber.
27.PETER SPRINGER, 40, from
France; and a son Peter, 8.Presumably
he was Christian's younger brother.A
resident of Liberty