Portrait of Elizabeth

At first about all we had for her was a name—Elizabeth Zug (Zhoog). We knew that she married into the Stauffer clan in 1780 near the end of the Revolutionary War. We also knew she and Abraham had ten children (some believe there were eleven, but we don’t believe evidence supports that) and that many years down the line Abraham moved much of the family to Canada. What we did know came to us from an amazing booklet that fell into our hands almost miraculously. It was prepared in Ontario for a hundred-year anniversary reunion of the descendants of Abraham and Elizabeth Stauffer who moved to Canada.[1]  

Beginning in February 2000, we acquired a much fuller picture. We now know about her parentage, including when her progenitors came over from Europe, about her siblings, her child-bearing history, when and how she died, and eventually even much about the world in which she grew up.  

If I calculate correctly, I am what is called her fifth great-granddaughter. That means I would have to put five “greats” in front of “grandmother” in speaking of her. I’m not going to do that because that would accentuate the distance between us. Truth is, I have come to know her much better than that.  


(See the mini family tree at bottom of this page) Elizabeth’s parents were Johannes Zug and Anna Heffelfinger. His parents, Ulrich Zug (1690-1747) and Barbara Bachman (1692-1759) were born in Heidelberg, Germany. They arrived in Philadelphia on September 27, 1727[2], and settled on a farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The family is highly documented on the Internet, but the records of their children are widely inconsistent. One source lists the first two born in Holland on the same day (i.e., twins) and the rest born on the family farm. Most sources, however, have the first four children born in Heidelberg, the rest in Pennsylvania. There is not even consistency in the number of children listed nor the order of their births, but it was most likely nine. All agree that Johannes was born July 11, 1731. That was seven months before George Washington would be born a couple hundred miles south in Virginia. Washington was to play a significant, though not personal, part in the family’s life many years later, but not the kind of part those in our generation might expect.  

Anna Heffelfinger[3] was born in Switzerland, July 9, 1729, to Martin Heffelfinger (1699-1741/42) and Anna Maria Gysen (1700-1740), the fourth of six children. The first child, Hans Jakob, died at age fourteen in November 1738. In the summer of 1740, the remaining family set out for America. Anna Maria died at sea, leaving Martin to arrive in the port city of Philadelphia[4] with “five motherless children”—Elizabeth, 15; Verena, 12; Anna, 11; Martin, 7; Johannes, 3[5]. Records tell us that Martin the father died a couple of years later and that Elizabeth was married to Peter Schweitzer “about 1741,” which may have been before her father died. This may suggest that it fell to Verena to see the young brothers through childhood, with the help of teenage Anna….? Or perhaps Elizabeth took them into her home? We can only speculate.  

Anna, in fact, did not marry until 1750 when she was 21. By then, brothers Martin and Johannes were 17 and 14. Anna and Johannes’s first recorded child was Barbara, born September 18, 1757. What about the seven years between 1750 and 1757? Perhaps other children were born who did not live; we know of other cases like that, but again, we can only speculate.

We have conflicting records of when Elizabeth was born. A couple of sources say 1752, which with parents married in 1750 would be possible and would make her their oldest child. Most records, however, list her as being born in 1759, with a sister Barbara born two years earlier. This fits well with later events in Elizabeth’s life. The Zugs went on to have ten children in all, four more girls and four boys. Elizabeth was fifteen when her youngest sister, Annie, was born in the midst of the American Revolution. She never knew any of her grandparents, but if the dates we have are correct, then surprisingly for those days, her parents, Anna and Johannes, lived to be 87 and 90[6]. By the time they died, the young American nation had had four or five presidents. 


The town of Lititz, lies just north of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It was founded as a community for the Moravians following extensive persecution for their faith in Europe. Eventually, they began migrating to America. Their most prominent leader, Count Zinzendorf, arrived from another Pennsylvania community in 1742. The city was given its name in 1756, after Lidice, Bohemia, where John Huss had founded the Moravian church three centuries earlier.  

For many years Lititz was a closed community, with only Moravians allowed to live there. Not until 1855 were non-Moravians allowed to own property there. It is likely that the Zug children, including Elizabeth, were growing up there during that time.  


In 1780, the year that Elizabeth was 21[7], she married Abraham Stauffer. The year before[8] his parents had given him 157 acres of lands, perhaps in anticipation of his marriage. As with most married women of her time, Elizabeth’s childbearing began almost immediately. She gave birth in 1781 (David), 1782 (Samuel, our ancestor), 1784 (John), 1786 (Susannah), twins in 1788 (Abraham & Elizabeth—note the parents’ names), and Esther in 1790. [9]

At that time, David was 9, Samuel 8, John 6, Susannah 4, and the twins 2. After Esther’s birth, Elizabeth enjoyed 4½ years without being pregnant and almost five without giving birth. In early 1796 when she was about 37, another son was born. He was given the name of Abraham’s father, Daniel, who had emigrated from Europe.   

It seems quite sure that the Stauffer family spoke German in their home. A grandson born in Canada in the middle of the next century is said to have been "one of the first ministers to preach fluently in English." That suggests that the entire clan retained German as their mother tongue for several generations after arriving in America.


Through the years the family, and apparently some of their friends, had been dealing with mixed emotions about the new American nation in which they were living. The Stauffer booklet tells us that many of them were not in sympathy with the Revolution that brought the colonies independence. Their loyalties remained with England because of “their experience as a nonresistant people and their sense of loyalty to the Crown which had given them a home.” Other sources[10] confirm that this perspective was common among the population in and around Philadelphia, where the Continental Congress met and where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Valley Forge was even closer to the communities of Lancaster and Lititz than Philadelphia. The fact that General George Washington commandeered the Brothers’ House in Lititz as a hospital for wounded soldiers could not have endeared the war effort to the hearts of its citizens.  

Abraham and Elizabeth came of age at the close of that War. Through the years did the two of them speak of the possibility of moving to Canada? It is possible, but it wasn't until the end of the century that a new community began to be opened for settlement in the areas beyond Niagara. Tragedy would come to the family before that became a possibility.  


About the time Daniel turned six, Elizabeth found herself pregnant again. By then they were in a brand new century, and she was past forty. Was she happy to learn she would have another child, or dismayed? Unlike many women in those days, she was fortunate not to have lost any of her babies in infancy. Now her older children were teenagers, the three oldest sons approaching adulthood. Esther, the youngest of the three sisters, was eleven.

How far was she into the pregnancy when she began to suspect she was carrying twins again? She had borne twins before and given birth three times since, but she had been younger. It is hard to believe, at least through our modern mental grid, that the thoughts of twins would not have generated at least a little concern. Only our imaginations can paint for us how the pregnancy progressed, especially in the later months. It is likely that an extra work load fell on 15-year-old Susannah and 13-year-old Elizabeth. 

It would not be surprising if Elizabeth did not carry the babies full term, both because they were twins and because of her age. August 15, 1802 dawned a momentous summer day in the life of that ancestral family. Two lives came into the world, and two lives were snuffed out. Both babies were boys, and they named them Jacob and Joseph. Joseph would live to be 79, but Jacob was either stillborn or died within hours of his birth. 

So did his mother. The pregnancy and birth turned out to be too much for Elizabeth. The shock and grief of the family can only be imagined.   

Hammer Creek Mennonite Cemetery where Elizabeth and baby Jacob may have been buried. When we visited in October 2005, a laborer was working on an inscription. He had a map of area cemeteries, and he showed us that this was not only the one closest to Lexington, where she is said to have died, but the only Mennonite cemetery anywhere in the area. We found quite a number of Stauffers, including an Elizabeth and a Jacob side by side, but the dates were fifty years too late. Many of the stones were too old to be legible.


Twenty-five years after the end of the Revolutionary War, the family’s disillusion with the young American republic apparently had not diminished. As the calendar pages of the new century began to fall away, word reached the Mennonites in Pennsylvania that a new area was opening up in Canada. It was rich in virgin forest and streams, and even a river. Before long, male family members were headed to Ontario to check out the reports, and many many came back ready to make the move.

Did his wife’s death have anything to do with Abraham's making a decision about Canada? It is hard to tell. The year after Elizabeth died, Abraham and a friend, John Erb, set out on a fact-finding trip to the country that was still loyal to the British and King George III. We don't imagine they would have started until at least the spring or perhaps summer of 1803 when weather would allow a trip north.

Meanwhile, three young sisters had been thrust into adult responsibilities while still in their teens. Susannah, Elizabeth, and Esther now had a house to run, a father and three or four strapping brothers to feed while they worked the farm, young Daniel to keep an eye on, and baby Joseph, at first undoubtedly tiny and fragile. One likes to think that Elizabeth had trained them well and that in the midst of their grief they took pride in carrying out their tasks and keeping the family going. 

A trip like the one Abraham and John Erb embarked on would have been a major undertaking. The distance was between 450 and 500 miles, which on foot or even with animals would take many weeks. They had to deal with a mountain range, three large rivers, and a swamp. In fact, the calendar read 1804 before they returned. See The Great Migration for amazing accounts of what the trip involved.

They liked what they found in Waterloo County, Ontario, and decided to make the move. By then, Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. President, was in his second term, and Lewis and Clark were preparing to set out for the Pacific. 

Preparations for such an uprooting and departure had to have been tremendous. One of the first issues was determining which family members would go. Some of the children were already adults, likely married and already settled in their own lives. We can visualize the family discussions, perhaps intense and emotional, that took place. David and John (23 and 20) chose to stay in Pennsylvania. [11] There is confusion in the records about whether the daughter who stayed in Pennsylvania and married someone named Helmuth was Elizabeth or Susannah. Whichever one it was, she likely stayed because she was already married. Indeed, one record gives a marriage date in 1804.

The migration to Canada was a major one, lasting as much as twenty years, and involving many families. The spouses of all the Stauffer offspring who made the move were also born in Pennsylvania, though we have no indications that they knew each other previous to the move. (See a discussion of this in Abraham Stauffer's Children.).


Abraham faced the task of moving two thirds of his family to Canada without his wife and life partner. Preparations took them until well into 1805. On August 17, two years after the deaths of Elizabeth and baby Jacob, Abraham conveyed to Abraham Zug[12] the 157-acre track of land he had received from his parents. Since it would seem that the family did not set out until after that date, it is likely they had to hurry against the onset of winter which in Ontario would come sooner and be even more severe than in Pennsylvania. 

They left behind four of their own, knowing they would likely never see each other again.
In today’s world with global travel at our fingertips, that is difficult to envision. They also left behind their grandparents Anna and Johannes (ages 76 and 74), numerous aunts and uncles and even more cousins, the baby son and brother they would never know, and their wife and mother, Elizabeth Zug Stauffer, 1759-1802[13].  

For more on the lives of those who went to Canada and how some of them eventually ended up in Michigan, see again Abraham Stauffer's Children. 

[1] Such reunions were still being held half way through the 20th century; we don’t know about more recently.

[2] We even know what ship they came on, the James Goodwill.

[3] We now have information on the Heffelfingers all the way back to Bartin, or Bartlin, born in 1565.

[4] Sept. 23 on the ship Friendship, Rotterdam, Holland, and last from Cowes, England, with Captain William Vittery

[5] Some of the records say that Johannes lived only five days, while another source gives him a wife and child. Indeed someone who read this web page confirmed for us that Johannes was an ancestor of hers, so he definitely lived more than five days!

[6] They outlived Elizabeth by 14 and 19 years; they also outlived two other adult children, son Christian and daughter Veronica.

[7] …assuming she was born in 1759.

[8] Source: an Internet Stauffer web page

[9] Some believe that Emanuel Stauffer, born October 4, 1791, was a child of Abraham and Elizabeth, but after looking at the evidence, we seriously doubt that. We have several reasons, the strongest of which is that no Emanuel is mentioned in Abraham's will. Anyone who wants to explore this further can contact me. 

[10] …including David McCullough’s 2002 biography of John Adams.

[11] Disappointingly, the Internet gives us little more than the Stauffer booklet did on the three who stayed in Pennsylvania, including except for Richard Davis, who gives us a whole family of children for John who died in Derry, PA, in 1850. 

[12] This could be a younger brother of Elizabeth’s, born in 1772.

[13] According to the information we have, Elizabeth’s family died in the following order: husband Abraham 1823; Esther 1836; Daniel 1846; John 1850 (in PA); son Abraham “about 1858”; Samuel 1859; Joseph 1880; David, Susannah, & Elizabeth – unknown.  


 David Stauffer 
 b. August 18,1781
 Martin Stauffer (??)
 b.1682 Switzerland
 d.1735 Wurtenberg, Germany
 Samuel Stauffer m. Esther Groh
 b. October 5, 1782 Lititz, PA
Aug 1, 1859 Waterloo, Ontario
 Daniel Stauffer
 b.1726 Switzerland or Germany
 d.1796 Lancaster Co., PA
 John Stauffer
 b. April 11, 1784
 d. January 22, 1850 Derry, PA
 Abraham Stauffer
 b.1755 Lancaster County, PA
 d.1823 Ontario, Canada
 Susannah Stauffer
 b. April 11,1786
 d.          Lancaster Co., PA
 Abraham Stauffer
 b. Aug 1, 1788
March 11, 1843 - Waterloo, Ontario
 Ulrich Zug
 b.1690 Heidleburg, Germany
 d.1747 Warwick (now Penn) 
 Elizabeth Stauffer
 b. Aug 1, 1788 Lititz, PA
 Johannes Zug
 b.1731 Farm, Pa
 d.1821 Warick  PA
Barbara Bachman
 b.1692 Germany
 d.1759 Penn
 Esther Stauffer
 b. Dec 18, 1790 Lititz, PA
 d. Aug 17, 1836 Ontario, Canada
 Elizabeth Zug
 b. 1759 Lititz, PA
Aug, 15 1802 Lititz, PA
Martin Heffelfinger
 b.1699 Dietgen, Switz
 d.1741 PA
 Emanuel Stauffer
 b. October 4, 1791
Lititz, PA
 d. After 1853 Canada
Anna Heffelfinger
 b.1729 Switzerland
 d.1816 Lebanon Co., PA
Anna Maria Gysin Or Gysen
 b.1700 Diegten, Switzerland
 d.1740 At Sea
 Daniel Stauffer
 b. Feb, 20, 1796
 d. July 22, 1846 Strasbourg, Ontario
 Jacob Stauffer
 b. Aug, 15, 1802, Lititz, PA
 d. Aug, 15, 1802, Lititz, PA
 Joseph Stauffer
 b. Aug 15, 1802, Lititz, PA
 d. Oct 13, 1880, Waterloo, Ontario     
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