Who Was the Father of Daniel Stauffer 1726-1803?
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.
Internet came our way, we have garnered a tremendous amount of information.
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
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
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 MYSTERY AND THE QUESTION
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
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
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?
STAUFFER? (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.
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.
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
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.
Was he ULRICH STAUFFER? (Davis)
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
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
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
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
Nicklaus (1554-1614) and Cathrinia (Trini) Leeman
All apparently lived in or near the beautiful Swiss
village of Eggiwill.