John Jacob Hochstetler, Jr.

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John Jacob Hochstetler, Jr.

Also Known As: "Hans"
Birthplace: Bern, Switzerland
Death: Died in Somerset, Pennsylvania, United States
Place of Burial: Summitt Mills, Somerset, PA, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Jacob Hochstedler Sr. and Anna Hochstetler
Husband of Anna Schrock and Catherine R. Hertzler
Father of Jacob Hochstetler; John Hochstetler; Veronica "Frany" Yoder; David Hochstetler; Joseph Hochstetler and 5 others
Brother of Barbara Ann Hochstedler; Jacob Hochstetler; Joseph Hochstetler; Christian Hochstetler; Vronnie Hochstetler and 2 others

Occupation: Farmer
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Jacob Hochstetler, Jr.

See the Media section for other photos.

(The following very interesting notes were written by John Lemuel Wissinger, profile manager):

Original tombstone reads: "1805 H H 11 APRIL" (HH for Hans Hochstetler).

Born ca. 1735 in Europe, probably along the Rhine, son of Jacob Hochstetler. Immigrated to the US with his parents in 1738 on the ship Charming Nancy and settled in Bern Twp., Berks Co., Pa. As a young married man, he witnessed an Indian attack on his parents' home, where his mother, sister and brother were killed and his father and two other brothers were taken prisoner.

John was married to Catherine (circa 1751 in Hamburg, Reading Co., PA), daughter of Amish Bishop Jacob Hertzler, and eventually removed to Somerset Co., Pa. Father of Jacob, John, Catherine, Joseph, David, Henry, Daniel and Jonathan Hochstetler, Freni Yoder and Anna Miller. Married secondly to Anna Christner, widow of Uli Schrock.

John was buried on his home farm, one mile southwest of Summit Mills, Pa. The farm was owned by Joel Hershberger shortly before 1934 when a survey of the cemetery was taken and is generally referred as the Bender Survey. It is also known as the historic Hochstetler/Yoder Cemetery. John is buried in Plot # 26 of this old Joel Hershberger Cemetery on the farm.

John's original tombstone was removed for safekeeping to the restored "Little House" (Grossdaddy Haus) on his home farm. When the house was destroyed by a tornado in 1998, the tombstone was recovered and saved. The present Memorial Marker was placed in 1978 by the late Paul V. Hostetler.

Photos from HHH Newsletter, Goshen, Indiana.

One of the few remaining tangible testimonies to our forefather Jacob Hostetler is a simple, wood framed, house that his oldest son John built as his retirement home on his farm in Summit Mills, Somerset County, PA around the year 1800. Unfortunately, a tornado in June of 1998 lifted the little house off its foundation, taking the off the roof and strewing it across the fields. Remaining was a twisted structure, tipped into the basement.


Hochstetler Family History This account is adapted from the historical introduction by William F. Hochstetler early in the 1900s, published in The Descendents of Jacob Hochstetler (copyright © 1977 by Eli J. Hochstetler), and from Our Flesh and Blood: A Documentary History of The Jacob Hochstetler Family During the French and Indian War Period 1757—1765, 2nd ed., compiled and edited by Beth Hostetler Mark (The Jacob Hochstetler Family Association, Inc., Elkhart, Ind., © 2003)

The Hochstetler family is thought to have originated near Schwarzenburg, Switzerland, perhaps in the fourteenth or fifteenth century. In the 1600s some members of the family joined the Anabaptist reform movement. Because of their adherence to the doctrines of believers’ baptism and non-resistance, Anabaptists suffered severe persecution, and beginning in the 1700s many of them immigrated to America to find religious freedom.

Jacob Hochstetler was born in 1712 in Echery near St. Marie-aux-Mines in Alsace, where his family had settled in the late 1600s. He was twenty-six years old when he arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 9, 1738, aboard the Charming Nancy. With him were his wife, whose name is unknown, a daughter, Barbara, and a son, John, who was then three years old, and from whom I am descended.

By 1739 the family had settled along the Northkill Creek on the eastern edge of the Blue Mountains in what is now Berks County, Pennsylvania, at that time the western frontier of the British colonies. They built a substantial log home and farm buildings near a spring of fresh water, cleared the land for farming, and planted several acres of fruit trees. They helped to establish the first Amish Mennonite church in America in the Northkill area the following year.

At this time the Delaware Indians, or Lenni Lenape, who inhabited a large portion of Pennsylvania, lived in peace with the white settlers. They often visited my ancestors’ homestead and others throughout the area and were generally received with hospitality. The Moravians maintained an active mission to the native peoples along the borderlands, and as a result many became Christians.

In 1754, however, the peace was shattered when France and England went to war over control of the territories west of the Appalachian Mountains. After the defeat of General Braddock by a combined French and Indian force in 1755, many of the native tribes allied with the French and began to attack the border settlements in Pennsylvania and New York to drive the white settlers out of their ancestral lands. Between November 1756 and June 1757 several families in the Northkill area were attacked, a number of settlers were killed, and others were carried away as captives.

That summer remained comparatively quiet, although a tense anxiety hung over the valley. Jacob and his wife, their sons Jacob, Joseph, Christian, and a young daughter were living in the home, while Barbara and John, who were by then married, lived on farms nearby. On the evening of September 19, 1757, the young people of the neighborhood gathered at the Hochstetler farm to help prepare apples for drying and afterward stayed for a social until late. When their guests had finally gone, the family went to bed. They had no sooner settled down to sleep than their dog set up a clamor that roused them. Alarmed, young Jacob opened the door to look outside and was staggered by a shot in the leg. Realizing that they were under attack, he managed to bar the door before the Indians could force their way inside.

It was a moonless night and, barricaded inside the dark house, the family members could see a band of about fifteen Indians standing near the outside bake oven, evidently conferring about what to do. There were several guns and an ample supply of ammunition in the house, but in spite of the desperate pleas of Joseph and Christian, their father refused to allow them to take up arms against another human being, even to defend their lives. Finally, near dawn, the Indians set fire to the house. With their attackers lurking outside, the family had no choice but to take refuge in the cellar beneath their blazing home. When the fire threatened to burn through the floorboards, they staved off certain death by spraying cider on the flames. Choking on the thick smoke and scorched by the conflagration above their heads, they somehow endured until the first light of the new day.

Through a small window, the strengthening light revealed the Indians filing off into the woods. Flames and smoke made it impossible to stay in the cellar any longer, and the instant their attackers were out of sight, the parents and their children began to crawl out through the narrow window. The mother was a large woman, and it took considerable effort to drag her through the constricted opening. With his wounded leg, young Jacob needed help to climb through. But at last everyone was free of the smoldering ruins. Concealed by the trees, however, a young warrior named Tom Lions had lingered in the orchard to gather some of the ripe peaches. Seeing the family emerging from the cellar, he immediately alerted the rest of his party.

As the marauding band returned to surround his terrified family, Joseph outran two pursuers and hid behind a large log on the hill above the house, unaware that one of the Indians had noted his hiding place. The Indians tomahawked and scalped young Jacob and his sister. Evidently motivated by a desire for revenge against the mother—possibly because some years earlier she had refused to give them food and had driven them away—the Indians stabbed her through the heart with a butcher knife, a death they considered dishonorable, before scalping her. Christian was about to be tomahawked as well, but according to family tradition, he was spared because of his bright blue eyes.

Dawn was just breaking when the oldest son, John, who lived on the adjoining farm, awakened to the horrifying sight of his parents’ homestead in flames and surrounded by Indians. He hastily concealed his wife and young son in a dense thicket well away from their house, then watched helplessly from a concealed location as the Indians put the barn and the other outbuildings to the torch. Outnumbered and alone, he could do nothing to save his family. Other neighbors ran to the edge of the meadow that surrounded the farm, but they also were helpless to intervene against the armed Indians.

After taking the elder Jacob and his son Christian captive, the Indians returned to Joseph’s hiding place and took him prisoner as well. As they were being led away, Jacob picked as many ripe peaches as he could carry and urged his sons to do the same. Then they were forced to a rapid march across the Blue Mountains. When they at last arrived at an Indian village, Jacob realized they would be forced to run the gauntlet. Accompanied by the two boys, he approached the chief and offered him the peaches they carried. The chief was so pleased by this gesture that he spared them from the cruel ordeal most captives were forced to undergo.

From there, Jacob and his sons were taken on another long, exhausing march to a French fort at Presque Isle, near Erie, Pennsylvania. French soldiers from the fort gave the three captives to Indians from three different villages in northwestern Pennsylvania. But before his sons were taken away from him, Jacob pleaded with them to remember the Lord’s Prayer even if they forgot their German language. Jacob was then taken to the Seneca village of Buckaloons. Custaloga, a Delaware chief who lived most of the time in Custaloga’s Town near present-day Meadville, Pennsylvania, took one of the boys. Where the other boy was taken is unknown. According to oral tradition, Christian was initially adopted by an old Indian who died several years later, while Joseph was adopted into a family.

Although he pretended to be content, Jacob never grew reconciled to the natives’ life, and his captors never fully trusted him. In early May, 1758, however, he was allowed to go hunting alone and managed to escape. An arduous journey and many prayers for guidance brought him to the Susquehanna. On the verge of starving, he built a raft and floated downstream, more dead than alive. When his raft passed Fort Augusta at present-day Shamokin, he was spotted and pulled from the river by British soldiers. Colonel James Burd took him on horseback to Carlisle, Pennslvania, where he was interrogated by Colonel Henry Bouquet about the activities and locations of the French. Released by the British, Jacob traveled to Fort Harris, now Harrisburg, and from there he was finally able to return home.

At the end of the French and Indian War, the peace treaty with the Indian tribes provided for the return of all white captives to their families. Little came of this agreement, however, and on August 13, 1762, Jacob petitioned the governor for the return of his sons. After considerable negotiations with Indian tribal leaders to secure the return of all the white captives, Joseph was returned to his father in 1763 or 1764. Christian did not return until late summer 1765. As was common for Whites who were adopted into Indian families, both were initially reluctant to return to white society. For the rest of his life Joseph continued to visit his Indian family to hunt and to join in their sports. Christian had the greatest difficulty reconciling to the ways of the Whites. Eventually, however, he married, was converted, and joined the Tunker Church (Church of the Brethren). In time he became a preacher.


There is a whole book about John Jacob Hochstetler - he was Amish born in Guiggisguage Switzerland - His wife was French. Lived in NorthKill, Berks, PA - Lancaster - moved to Ohio after massacre.
Possible Name Change to "Hostetler".
Age 3 when he came to this country with his father. Will dated March 15, 1805 and was registered APril 15, 1805. He moved from Berks County, PA to Somerset County about December 1784. Amish. He may have been the minister of the church there.


According to the Jonathan and Katie Miller Eash Family Genealogy (Wilbur Hostetler, 1978):

Immigrant 1738.

view all 17

John Jacob Hochstetler, Jr.'s Timeline

Bern, Switzerland
November 9, 1738
Age 5
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

came over on the "Charming Nancy" which docked in Philadelphia on Nov. 9, 1738.

The Charming Nancy, the Harle myth, the trip & historical comments...

The 1912 book entitled "Descendants of Jacob Hochstetler" indicates that our Jacob Hochstetler came to Philadelphia on a ship named the "Harle" in 1736, and that conclusion was based on the best information that the author and historian, Harvey Hostetler, had access to at that time. For over 50 years no one has ever questioned this presumption.

Then, in the 1970s Virgil Miller, who has conducted extensive Swiss and colonial family historical studies, raised some questions about this arrival. He considered the date and the ship questionable but since family historian Paul V. Hostetler (grandson of the 1912 historian and author) defended his grandfather's work, the matter was laid to rest. Ironically, it was this same Paul V. Hostetler who in the later 1970s discovered crucial data in Pennsylvania which proves there were TWO Jacob Hochstetlers who immigrated about the same time. This brought Virgil Miller's theory back to the drawing board and the ensuing investigation determined that he had been correct all along.
Evidence shows that the earlier one was not Amish, and the facts about his existence are supported by verifiable documents and records. He and his wife Eva had a completely different set of children than our Joseph, that are listed in black and white in the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, PA. These facts, when they came to light, immediately disqualified him as our ancestor.
So we had to come up with a better candidate. In the ship lists, another Jacob was found who better fit the facts, so we had to revise our records and dates to reflect that our ancestor was Amish, and was the one who came over on the "Charming Nancy" which docked in Philadelphia on Nov. 9, 1738. The 1738 ship list says our ancestor was 26 years old, thus was born in 1712 (The "Harle" Jacob was 32 years old in 1736, therefore born in 1704).
In order to better comprehend the difficulties that accompanied a voyage like our ancestors undertook, one needs to take a step back into the conditions of the times. The Mennonites, named for the 16th-century Dutchman named Menno Simons who was their founder, espoused an evangelical and severely simple religious outlook. They opposed infant baptism, insisted on the Bible as the only spiritual authority, tried to keep their marriages within the Mennonite community of faith, believed in pacifism, refused to take oaths, and dressed very plainly. The Mennonites came to be concentrated in the Jura Mountains and along the Rhine River in Switzerland and southern Germany. The Amish, named for the followers of Jakob Ammann, believed much as the Mennonites did but favored stricter rules on attire and employed firmer discipline - using shunning and excommunication if necessary. Both sects were often persecuted for their views, especially because the authorities regarded them as subversive to social order and potentially disloyal. From about the middle of the 17th century both Amish and Amish Mennonites were expelled from Switzerland or fled before they could be forced out.
William Penn, eager to populate (and sell) his large land holdings, enthusiastically recruited Swiss and German settlers from the Palatine. He made several trips there himself to drum up immigration to Pennsylvania. He could point to the Penn family's liberal views on religious tolerance, along with thousands of acres of fertile land that were available. So it was that thousands of Swiss and Germans came to America, some directly and some passing through the Netherlands. The peak came in the mid-1700s, when some 30,000 of these people arrived in Pennsylvania.
Most of the emigrants traveled down the Rhine to Rotterdam, a journey that would ordinarily be seven to nine days but probably took far longer because of various inspections and payments, then remained in Rotterdam for some weeks until passage to America could be arranged. This was an economic as well as physical ordeal for the emigrants, all the more because they had to leave much of their capital in escrow with the government back in Switzerland until they could prove they were successfully settled - and working - elsewhere and would not return home as paupers.
The entire journey lasted from the beginning of May to November. The Rhine boats went from Heilbronn to Holland, passing twenty-six custom houses and at each one of them the ship had to dock and be boarded so it could be examined. This initial trip took four, five and even six weeks. After arriving in Holland they were detained five to six weeks. At every stop the passengers had to spend more money to survive. The last stop before departure was a week or two in a port in England (Cowes in our case), where the captain received official clearance to take the passengers to America (still considered a British colony).
Then, depending on the winds, they began their real misery as they undertook their arduous ocean crossing. It took anywhere from eight to twelve weeks before reaching Philadelphia but never less than seven even with the best winds. Passengers were packed densely like herrings without proper food and water and were subject to all sorts of diseases such as dysentery, scurvy, typhoid and smallpox. It was not uncommon for many of the passengers to die of hunger and exposure in their crowded quarters, or to be cheated by the merchants who arranged for passage and provisions - or by the captains who were supposed to make those provisions available. Sometimes survivors were forced to pay the costs of passage for those who had died en route and when they could not come up with the funds, they were sold into indentured servitude.
The following passage was extracted from the Kreider & Gingerich book "Amish and Amish Mennonite Genealogies" by Hugh F. Gingerich and Rachel W. Kreider, 1986, Pequea Publishers, Gordonsville, PA: "Little is known about the journeys of the Amish people in their coming to America. According to Gottlieb Mittelberger, a German traveller, who came to America in 1750 and returned four years later, the journey was a frightful ordeal. He spoke of different customs houses along the Rhine River, each involving long delays and additional expense. In Rotterdam he observed that people were "packed into the big boats as closely as herring." He talked about the stench of fumes, dysentery, vomiting and scurvy. Filthy food and water were major problems, as were also lice, disease, and severe storms. Overcrowding gave way to stealing, cheating, cursing, and bitter arguments between children and parents, husbands and wives. Those who lacked the money to pay for their passage, including the sick, were held on board until their future labor was auctioned off to the highest bidder."
There were frequent stops the ship and its passengers had to pass through, and many times the passengers feared they would go down with the ship. After arriving in Philadelphia, there was another delay while a health officer visited the ship. If there was infectious disease found on board, the ship had to be removed one mile from the city until it was safe to unload passengers. It was after having survived these horrific conditions that our Jacob took his oath of allegiance to the government of America on November 9, 1738.
As an interesting side note, our ship "The Charming Nancy" is NOT the same ship that implicated General Benedict Arnold in pandering for private gain and brought about his conviction in 1781. THAT 130-ton Charming Nancy was built in 1752 for Charleston merchants Thomas Smith Sr. and Benjamin Smith and evidently borrowed the name of our ship for unknown reasons even though it is thought that the ships were exact replicas of each other.
Once in Pennsylvania, the settlers generally moved outwards from Philadelphia and began the process of putting down agricultural roots. The Amish and Amish Mennonites lived amongst one another but kept separate; both were in turn intermingled with Lutheran and Reformed neighbors, usually also of German and Swiss origin. Gradually the Susquehanna Valley northwest of Philadelphia filled up. Crossings of that great river were established at Harris's Ferry (now Harrisburg) and Wright's Ferry (now Columbia). When the newcomers reached the Juniata River, geography began to steer them first westward and then increasingly toward the southwest. Soon the Great Valley would be beckoning them on to Virginia and further south. Our Jacob and his family were amongst the first settlers to reach the Upper Bern Township of Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 1737. Their settlement became known as the "Northkill Settlement" and, set in a notch in the Blue Mountains, was on the very edge of the frontier. Following the infamous Indian massacre in 1757, many of those in the Northkill Settlement retreated. Some of them later returned but others moved further south to the eastern parts of Lancaster County.

It's important to take notice of the fact that Jacob and his family suffered these conditions because they would not renounce their particular method of worshipping their God. As conditions worsened, their faith grew, which was in great part responsible for their survival. It was Jacob's deep faith, built and tempered in these toughest of circumstances, that would not allow himself to defend his family even under hostile attack from Indians...

738 Charming Nancy

[List 65 A, B, C] Charming Nancy
Captain: Charles Stedman
From: Rotterdam
By Way of: Cowes
Arrival: Philadelphia, 9 Nov 1738

65 (male) persons over 15 years.

Name, Age

Place of Origin (Town, Province)


Remarks (USA, Spelling Variations, Occupation, Relationships, etc.)
Christman Gerber, 46
Maria Elisabetha, 21
Johan Christman, 18
Johannes, 17
Johan Jacob, 14
Eva Catharina, 11
Nicolaus, 9
Johan Adam, 5
Andreas, 6 mo. Niederbronn-les-Bains, Alsace-Lorraine Bur1992 Kerwer; to Berks Co.
Henrich Gerber
Anna Catharina
Possibly Joh. Jacob, 14 [page torn, possibly died on voyage]
Maria Catharina, 15
Anna Dorothea, 8
Benedict, 6 Niederbronn-les-Bains, Alsace-Lorraine Bur1992 [Died on voyage, possibly Charm. Nancy, 1738]
Jacob Ditrich, 40 Ditrek, Didrich
Hans Michael Rein, 24 Rehin, Reyn
Hans Georg Reisser, 26 Geisser
Hans Adam Didel, 30 Dittel
Mark Folhaver, 25 Fouler, Foulhaffer
Philip Mauer, 32 Maure
Jeremie Semer, 27 Zämer
Hans Jacob Kuntz, 42
Anna Margretha
Joh. Jacob, 19
Johan Bernhard, 14
Christina, 11
Maria Catharina, 8
Johann Georg, 4
Johannes, 1 Niederbronn-les-Bains, Alsace-Lorraine Bur1992 Huntz; to Berks Co.
Hans Jacob Kuntz, 21 Niederbronn-les-Bains, Alsace-Lorraine Bur1992 Huntz
Jurg Michael Kerbel, 32 Kermer, Kerber
Hans Jacob Berlin, 22
Georg Frederik Berlin, 18
Abraham Berlin, 16 Niederbronn-les-Bains, Alsace-Lorraine Bur1992 Barling; [Father Joh. Gerg possibly died on voyage] to York & Northampton Co, PA.
Johannes Fayt, 22 Vit
Leonard Schust, 20 Scheust, Just
Peter Kreitzer, 20 Scriver, Greutzer
Andreas Kreitzer, 24 Scriver, Greutzer
Everhard Müller, 19 Miller
Christophel Abel, 20 Knubel, Creble
Joseph David Trissler, 38 Dresser
Adreas Beyerle, 23 Rohrbach, Baden Bur1983 Lancaster Co.
Michael Klein, 22 Bur1983 Ship data not located; possibly prelist with brother Georg Klein. Age possibly incorrect.[See Joh. Georg Lkein for complete record]
Jurg Hatz, 38 Hatts
Peter Baldesberger, 16 Bursbeger
Christophel Trenkle, 48
Anna Margretha
Anna Margretha, 22
Anna Elisabetha, 18
Catharina Bargreatha, 15
Johann Michael, 1 Sinsheim, Baden Bur1983 Zingle, Drinkel; [Stephen Trenkle may be close relative]; to Lancaster Co. [First wife Susanna (Laux)]
Stephen Trenkle, 20 Zingle, Drinkel
Jacob Gorgh, 26 Corr, Corrt
Conradt Felt, 30 Fleck
Johan Adam Semen, 22 Ziman, Simon
Jacob Semen, 27 in sick house, Simon
Abraham Hostwert, 24 Hausswirth
Jacob Hostedler, 26 Howstetter
Abraham Kunzigh, 24 Kuntzy
Christian Miller, 25
Christian Bullman, 20 Pullman
Hans Fletiker, 16 Flidiger, Fürller
Nicholas Klaugh, 24 Kelaugh, Kluge
Hans Jacob Broser, 36
Jurg David Boos, 24 Botz,
Ludwig Glotz, 18 Loos
Hendrick Spries, 22
Hans Georg Holtz, 25 Bolt; Hults
Johann Michael Maurer, 18 Mouse
Johannes Sickmann, 40
Hans Georg Sickmann, 20
Johannes Sickmann, 18
Bernhard Sickmann, 16 Obergimpern, Baden Bur1983 Sigman, Sighman; to Lehigh Co.
Johann Peter Waltz, 19 Wols
Johann Balthes Knörtzer, 37
Maria Dorothea (Mayer)
Eva Barbara, 5
Johann Georg, 3
Christina, 2 Treschlkingen, Baden Bur1983 Kritzer; to York Co.
Johann Henrich Keppel, 22 Treschklingen, Baden Bur1983 Kepley, Köpley
Johann Ferdinand Dirtzibach, 33 Dörtzbach
Hans Georg Schink, 37 Schenk
Christophel Segman
Christian Miller, 26
Hendrick Kistner, 40 Keesner
Johann Stephen Guttman, 27 Goodman
Hans Jacob Schink, 32 Schunk, Schänk
Hans Hendrick Pohl, 23 Woll
Hans Jacob Müller, 43
Maria Magdalena
Johan Jacob, 17
Maria Barbara, 13
Maria Elisabetha, 10
Christoph, 8
Johannes, 5
Johan. Jacob, 4
Maria Magdalena, 6 mo. Niederbronn-les-Bains, Alsace-Lorraine Bur1992 Miller; to Berks Co.
Hans Georg Stobel 21
Margretha (Heberle)
Johan Georg, 19 Berwangen, Baden Bur1983 Stroball
Jacob Wannamaker, 24
Jacob Bauer, 20
Peter Butz, 20 Potts
Martin Oadt, 24 Oats
Peter Langenecker
Johan Jacob, 13
Maria Salome, 11
Catharina Barbara, 6 Niederbronn-les-Bains [Born in Acshen, Bern], Alsace-Lorraine Bur1992 [probably died on voyage]
This is an example of what the journey was like:

A diary attributed to Hans Jacob Kauffman, written in the margins of an almanac, provides poignant details of his voyage on the Charming Nancy. The translation is as follows:

The 28th of June while in Rotterdam getting ready to start my Zernbli died and was buried in Rotterdam. The 29th we got under sail and enjoyed one and a half days of favorable wind. The 7th of July, early in the morning, Hans Zimmerman’s son-in- law died.

We landed in England the 8th of July, remaining 9 days in port during which 5 children died. Went under sail the 17th of July. The 21 of July my own Lisbetli died. Several days before Michael’s Georgli had died.

On the 29th of July three children died. On the first of August my Hansli died and the Tuesday previous, 5 children died. On the 3rd
of August contrary winds beset the vessel and from the first to the 7th of the month 3 more children died. On the 8th of August,Shambien’s Lizzie died and on the 9th Hans Zimmerman’s Jacobli died. On the 19th, Christian Burgli’s Child died. Passed a ship on the 21st. A favorable wind sprang up. On the 28th Hans Gasi’s wife died. Passed a ship 13th of September. Landed in Philadelphia on the 18th and my wife and I left the ship on the 19th. A child was born to us on the 20th - died - wife recovered. A voyage of 83 days.

The number of deaths and the length of the Charming Nancy’s journey were not unusually great. In a heart-rending account of his 1750 voyage to America, a German craftsman named Gottlieb Mittelberger exposed the exploitation of the immigrants by those in charge and vividly detailed the unbearable conditions on the crowded vessel. In commenting on ship mortality, he said:

Children from one to seven years rarely survive the voyage; and many a time parents are compelled to see their children miserably suffer and die from hunger, thirst, and sickness, and then to see them cast into the water. I witnessed such misery in no less than thirty-two children in our ship, all of whom were thrown into the sea. The parents grieve all the more since their children find no resting-place in the earth, but are devoured by the monsters of the sea. It is a notable fact that children, who have not yet had the measles or small-pocks [sic], generally get them on board the ship, and most die of them. Often a father is separated by death from his wife and children, or mothers from their little children, or even both parents from their children; and sometimes whole families die in quick succession; so that often many dead persons lie in the berths beside the living ones, especially when contagious diseases have broken out on board the ship.

Mittelberger also commented on the tragic lot of the large number of redemptioners who sold their labor as indentured servants to pay for their passage. In most cases, the person had agreed to the arrangement voluntarily as the only means for getting to America. On other occasions, individuals were kidnapped by unscrupulous captains and sold to the highest bidder in the American port.

One such case was Ludwig (Lewis) Riehl, the ancestor of all Amish and Mennonite Riehls. According to oral tradition, around 1750, at age eight he was abducted, taken to America, and bound as an indentured servant to a cruel master until he reached the age of twenty-one. After suffering physical abuse and the indignity of sleeping with the hogs, he escaped and found a home with the Chester County Amish.

An indenture, dated 1767, bearing the name of John Melchoir [sic] Blankenburg, has been handed down in the Plank family. According to tradition, he was the same Melchoir [sic] Plank who died in Mifflin County around 1815. The story of the Planks’coming to America is as follows:

While living in Rotterdam, they boarded a ship to bid farewell to friends who were leaving for America. The ship captain assured them the anchor would not be lifted till morning so they spent the night with their friends. However the ship left during the night and the Planks awoke to the shocking reality that they had been kidnapped. Upon their arrival in Philadelphia. they were sold as indentured servants to pay for their passage.

In his writings C. Z. Mast identified five eastern Pennsylvania Amish congregations that existed in the Colonial Period: Northkill, Tulpehocken, Maidencreek, Conestoga, and Goshen. Recent research suggests that West Conestoga, Cocalico, and Compass should be added, bringing the total of Amish settlements that existed prior to the American Revolution to eight. Of these, only the one represented by the Conestoga Mennonite congregation near Morgantown has had a continuing existence.

From Mifflin County Amish and Mennonite Story 1791-1991 by S. Duane Kauffman, pp. 17-19. Published by the Mifflin County Mennonite Historical Society, 1991. Used with permission.

S. Duane Kauffman, Perkasie, Pa., is retired from teaching history at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School, and is helping prepare for the school's 50th anniversary celebration in July.

Photo: Johan Melchior Blankenberg indenture contract.

This Indenture Witnesseth, That Johan Melchior Blankenburg in Consideration Twenty two pds seven sixpence pd. by his master Jehson Cloud for his passage from Holland as also for other good Causes, He the said John hath bound and put him self, and by these Presents doth bind and put him self Servant to the said Jehson to serve him his Executors and Assigns, from the Day of the Date hereof, for and during the Term of Five Years thence next ensuing. During all which Term, the said Servant his said Master his Executors, or Assigns, faithfully
shall serve, and that honestly and obediently in all Things, as a good and dutiful Servant ought to [do].

AND the said Master his Executors and Assigns, during the Term, shall find [and] provide for the said Servant sufficient Meat, Drink, apparel Washing and Lodging, freedom Dues And for the true Performance hereof, both Parties bind themselves firmly unto each other by these Presents In Witness whereof they have hereunto interchangeably set their Hands and Seals, Dated the 27th Day of Nov. in the Eighth Year of his Majesty’s Reign; and in the Year of our Lord, one Thousand, seven Hundred and Sixty-Seven.

Signed, sealed and delivered in the Presence of his Mark X Johan Melchior Blankenburg

Age 17
Hamburg Banks, Pennsylvania, United States
January 1, 1752
Age 19
Northkill, Berks, Pennsylvania, United States
Age 20
Northkill, Berks, PA, USA
Age 23
September 19, 1757
Age 24
Northkill, Pennsylvania, United States

Northkill Amish Settlement
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The Northkill Amish Settlement was established in 1740 in Berks County, Pennsylvania. As the first identifiable Amish community in the new world,[1] it was the foundation of Amish settlement in the Americas.

[edit] Settlement

The first Amish began migrating to the United States in the 18th century, largely to avoid religious persecution and compulsory military service. The Northkill Creek watershed, in eastern Province of Pennsylvania, was opened for settlement in 1736 and that year Melchior Detweiler and Hans Seiber settled near Northkill.[2] Shortly thereafter many Amish began to move to Northkill with large groups settling in 1742 and 1749.

In 1742 the group was large enough to petition the Pennsylvania General Assembly for naturalization rights, allowing them to purchase land.[3] The group was strengthened in 1749 when bishop Jacob Hertzler[4] settled in Northkill and the settlement grew to nearly 200 families at its height.[5]

[edit] Hochstetler massacre

The Northkill settlement was on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the legal boundary of European settlement according to agreements with Native Americans. During the French and Indian War, local tribes under the command of three French scouts, attacked the Northkill settlement on September 19, 1757.[6] The Indians attacked the Jacob Hochstetler homestead and set the house afire. The Indians stood guard around the house and torched the Hochstetler home, so the family could not escape without risking their lives. As the fire worsened, the wounded Jacob (he had been shot during the initial attack) tried to help his wife (her name is unknown) crawl out the cellar window. She became stuck in her escape and was stabbed in the back and scalped.[7] Altogether over 200 people were murdered in Berks County, including three in the Hochstetler clan, and nearly every homestead was razed. All survivors were rounded up and taken prisoner, some of which were held until May 8, 1765, when a peace treaty between the natives and the British Army was agreed upon.

[edit] Decline

Northkill remained the largest Amish settlement into the 1780s and then declined as families moved on to areas of better farmland.[8]

[edit] Legacy

Although it existed for only a brief period, the Northkill settlement was fundamental in establishing the Amish in North America. The Northkill settlers included the progenitors of many widespread Amish families, such as the Yoders, Burkeys, Troyers,[9] Hostetlers,[10] and Hershbergers.[11]

Jacob Hochstetler is the subject of Harvey Hostetler's book The Descendants of Jacob Hochstetler. In addition to listing the hundreds upon hundreds of Americans who share Jacob as a common ancestor, this book provides a detailed history of the Amish religious persecution in Europe, American immigration at the time, the massacre of Hochstetler's family members, and the kidnapping and subsequent escape of Jacob and his sons.

[edit] Notes

1. ^ Nolt, p. 74.
2. ^ Nolt, p. 74.
3. ^ Smith, p. 371.
4. ^ Hertzler was the first recorded Amish bishop (or elder) in North America. Nolt, p. 79-80.
5. ^ Nolt, p. 75.
6. ^ Nolt, p. 84.
7. ^ Hochstetler
8. ^ Nolt, p. 86.
9. ^ Gingerich, Melvin (1958). "Troyer (Treyer, Treier, Dreier)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 2006-12-05, from
10. ^ Hostetler, John A. (1956). "Hostetler (Hostetter, Hochstetler, and many other variations)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 2006-12-05, from
11. ^ Hershberger, Guy F. (1956). "Hershberger (Hersberg, Hersberger, Herschberger, Hirschberger, Harshberger, Harshbarger)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 2006-12-05, from

June 24, 1762
Age 29
Northkill, Berks, Pennsylvania, United States
Age 31
Elk Lick Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania
June 30, 1768
Age 35
Hamburg Berks, Pennsylvania, United States