Stauffer Mystery: 
Who Was the Father of Daniel Stauffer 1726-1803?

For many decades, all we knew about the Stauffers was from family tradition, primarily related to Samuel who died in the "well." In the 1960s, I made contact with Earl and Ruth Stauffer in Sparta, Michigan (I don't remember how I found them). They were avid Stauffer descendants who had attended Stauffer reunions in Waterloo, Ontario. Earl was the son of George Stauffer, brother of my ggreat-grandfather Samuel.  Ruth shared with me all they knew, and I have several letters she wrote with information. Earl died not long after our first visit with them, but we continued our relationship with Ruth almost until she died in the late '80s.

That was about the time the booklet described below fell almost accidentally into our hands. It confirmed and expanded on what we had heard from Ruth. We learned more about the Stauffer persecutions in Europe and about Abraham Stauffer who married Elizabeth Zug, had ten children, and moved to Canada with six of them. Since the Internet came our way, we have garnered a tremendous amount of information. That information, however, doesn't always agree. 

We now have three primary sources for information on the Stauffers, in addition to general Internet sources:
    1.  The booklet on Stauffer history mentioned above, which came to us from a friend of my mother's in Cherokee Village, Arkansas (her married name was Stouffer, not a misspelling). Its title is A History of the Stauffer Families Who Came to Ontario. It did not contain her family's ancestors, but when it was established that it did contain ours, she gave the book to me. I will refer to it as the booklet
    The focus of the 32-page booklet is one particular Stauffer family, that of Abraham mentioned above. It details the children who went to Canada and the first generation born there. A few of their children were still alive at the time Ezra Eby was doing his research (see below). The booklet provides a newspaper report on the first Stauffer reunion held in 1904, and another section addresses the history of Stauffers in general back into the Middle Ages.

   2.  Richard Davis has done exhaustive work on the Anabaptists/Mennonites who went from Switzerland and Germany to escape persecution and eventually to America (Pennsylvania). He has visited the sites and countries in question and analyzed massive data on thousands of people. He has written several books on his findings and now hosts an internet site accessed by membership. His research takes the Stauffers back several generations before they emigrated to America.

   3.  At the end of the 19th Century, Ezra Eby, a Canadian descendant of one of the Pennsylvania Mennonite families, compiled detailed information on those who had migrated to Canada at the beginning of that century. Those records contain many of "our" Stauffers and those who married them, and they give priceless information about the migrations and the lives they built in Canada. These records begin a couple of generations and almost a century later than the arrival of our ancestors from Europe. Much of Eby's information is now available online.

Ships' lists are another resource that it seems would be helpful in figuring out these things, and Davis and other sources do provide us with them. However, ships listed only males above sixteen years of age--in other words, no children and no women. In the case of the Stauffers, where so many people had the same first names, coming to clear conclusions is often illusive.

Both Eby and Davis are used extensively as documentation on Ancestry and RootsWeb sites, and the booklet acknowledges that a good bit of its information came from Eby. In addition, we have gathered pieces of information from a variety of websites and other genealogists and some on the geography that goes with our Stauffer history. 

The question before us here is who was the grandfather of our ancestor Abraham Stauffer who emigrated to Canada? All sources agree that his father was Daniel Stauffer (1726-1803) and that Daniel is the one who came over from Europe, but we have three different versions of who Daniel's father was. Two of those have Daniel coming to America as a young teen, while the other has him coming over a decade later as a married man with a year-old child--Abraham. 

We cannot hope to solve the mystery here, and it is possible we will never know for sure. Greater minds than ours, with greater resources than we will ever have, have wrestled with it and come to differing conclusions. All we will attempt to do here is report and compare the various proposals on Daniel's ancestry. One thing for sure, we know a lot more now than we did a few years ago. (In the introduction to his extensive materials, Davis says that finding genealogical data on Mennonites in the 17th and 18th centuries is "nearly impossible" and that sometimes "a good educated guess will have to suffice.")

Speaking of Daniel, I once found 843 Daniel Stauffers on the Internet. No, they weren't all different men by that name--just many of them were the same man being reported in different family histories. But there were--and are--plenty of them.

Patriarch CHRISTIAN STAUFFER 1579-1671

A key figure in tracing the Stauffers from Switzerland is Christian Stauffer who was born in the village of Eggiwil (Eggy-ville), Switzerland, near Bern, in 1579. He seems to have been a patriarch of the Anabaptist movement and was one of those exiled in 1671. The Anabaptists were forced to flee Switzerland because of their faith. They lost all their possessions, their land, even their citizenship, and in some cases, for reasons that aren't clear (to me at least), many were forced to leave some of their children behind. Christian was 92 at the time and had some 78 living descendants, many of whom were exiled with him. He apparently died about six months later, being last mentioned living in Dirmstein, Bayern, Germany, in the spring of 1672. Davis says, "....most of the early Stauffer immigrants were descended from [him]." 

So who was our Daniel Stauffer's father?

(Eby and the Stauffer booklet)

Our first information came from the Stauffer booklet, which we now know was original with Eby. Eby calls Daniel's father Martin without any disclaimer, and he does not name his wife. In recounting the following story (original with Eby), the booklet says that historians had "linked" the Ontario Branch of the Stauffer family to the family in the account but acknowledges that the connection had not been documented. The story, in summary, goes like this.

Martin Stauffer of Switzerland was among the Anabaptists forced to flee religious persecution. He ended up in a place in Germany called Mückenhäuserhof, Wertenberg (in the Palatinate area). Family tradition had it that on his deathbed he urged his family to go to America--reportedly his wife and four sons, Christian, John, Matthias (see note below), and Daniel (some reports suggest that others sons had already gone on ahead). Not long after Martin's death, in 1736 or 1737, the four sons transported their aging mother in a hand-pulled cart 400 miles to the sea, from where they embarked for the colonies.   

Link to full story

One weakness in this story is that some 64 years passed between the 1671 exile and the end of Martin's life. That would suggest that he wasn't the one who fled persecution but his father. This fits the 3-Daniels theory below.

That family settled in the village of Lititz, north of Lancaster, PA, or in a small place nearby called Hammer Creek, where before long the mother died. If this is the family of our Daniel, then he came to America as a young teenager. Neither Eby nor the booklet makes any mention of the Christian Stauffer born in 1579.

It is impressive that the Hammer Creek area has survived with the same name for more than 250 years. A creek by that name still runs through the area, and a road bears the name. Quite a few Stauffers are buried in the cemetery across the street from the church, and the mother in the family mentioned by Eby may well have been buried there, but markers that old are no longer readable.

Eby's contribution to Daniel's history as the son of Martin is stated thus: "Daniel Stauffer, the youngest of the four sons, was born in 1726. He, after arriving at maturity, settled near Lititz, Lancaster County, where he had a family of several children. None of the names of his family were received save that of one son named Abraham." He gives no death date. (See Davis below, who gives more children and a death date.)

Eby has an interesting account about the brother Mathias, whom he lists as born in 1719. "On the journey from Philadelphia to Lancaster County, Mathias turned up missing from the group while passing through a forest. Some believed he made his way northeastward and settled either in Montgomery or Chester County, while others believed he was killed by Indians or died of starvation."  

Was he the second of three DANIEL STAUFFERS? (Internet sources)
The Internet has many families tracing their ancestry to Christian Stauffer, including our Daniel. According to many sites and lines, our Daniel was a third-generation Daniel, and his mother's name was Veronica. One Internet site gives Daniel #2 and Veronica as many as eleven children, but there are duplicate names and inconsistent dates and births. There is also a site that offers two sets of parents: Daniel and Veronica and Martin and Unnamed Mrs.

Christian Stauffer, mentioned above, and his first wife, Adelheid, had a large family. In the Daniel versions, Daniel #1 was one of Christian's younger children. He was born in1632, when Christian was past 50, and married Barbara Galli. Christian and Daniel were both Anabaptists who were exiled from Switzerland. Some sources say that Barbara was pregnant when they fled and gave birth without incident after arrival in Germany. Some report that the next Daniel, the one who married Veronica, was one of the children left behind but who later joined his father (and mother) in Germany.

So in this version, we have Daniel and Barbara Galli, parents of Daniel (and Veronica Schenk), parents of Daniel (and Susannah; no one has a last name for her), parents of Abraham who married Elizabeth Zug.


Davis from his extensive research comes up with an entirely different conclusion. He proposes that the father of our Daniel (grandfather of Abraham) was a Mennonite named Ulrich Stauffer and that he came to America in 1749 on the ship St. Andrew with his son, daughter-in-law, and year-old grandson. I say "proposes" because he says Daniel signed the ship list "next to Ulrich Stauffer, his probable father." He goes on to say he "may have settled with his son Daniel in Warwick Township but did not buy land." 

This Ulrich was born in 1688. He was also a descendant of Christian, but of a different son than the Daniel versions. Davis tells us that both Ulrich and Daniel were weavers and that both could sign their names.


If we compare the data we have, we find both consistencies and inconsistencies. The booklet gives Abraham's father, Daniel, four sons--Christian, John, Matthias, and Abraham, in that order. Davis gives him four children, but includes a daughter--Abraham, Daniel, Elizabeth, and Christian, in that order (Abraham having been born in Europe and the other three in Pennsylvania). Both the booklet and Davis say that Daniel's will was written in 1796, but only Davis tells us he died in 1803. Davis mentions some land transactions that are similar to other accounts but not exact.

There are Internet sites that give Martin as Daniel's father. They are consistent in this: If the father is listed as Martin, no wife is given, or she is simply called Mrs. Martin. If the father is Daniel, a wife is named, usually Veronica. One Internet site has all the following information consistent with other sources for a father named Martin: 1. father born in Switzerland, died in Mückenhäuserhof, Germany, in 1735. 2. wife died in Lititz, PA, about 1739, buried in Hammer Creek. 3. Sons named Christian (1711), John (1715), Matthias (1719) and Daniel (1726). 

Note: sources that give Martin as Daniel's father do not give parents for Martin. (Daniel and Barbara Galli had son named a Martin Stauffer, but he married someone named Helene, and other information about him does not fit.)

Ancestors of CHRISTIAN
From Davis we learn more about the Stauffers before they came to Pennsylvania. In addition to the persecutions that drove them from Switzerland, we learn of several earlier generations, beginning with Christian:

    Christian (1579-1672) and Adelheid Opplinger. When he was exiled, she had died and he was married to Asenath Frederick. 
    Nicklaus (1554-1614) and Cathrinia (Trini) Leeman
    Ulrich (b.1527)
    Nicklaus (b.1485)
    Peter Stauffer (b.1460)

All apparently lived in or near the beautiful Swiss village of Eggiwill.