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Little Known Hochstetler Related Facts and Oddities

Anabaptist Preacher Jacob Hochstetler at Ste.Marie-aux-Mines (Markirch) in 1720

By Erwin Hochstättler, Cologne, Germany


[Editor's note: This footnoted article by our distant European cousin indicates some of the tedious research he has done since the 1970s which helps connect our European and American families. It includes the variety in spellings of first and last names and names of cities in scattered primary French and German archival records. Markirch (German) and Ste. Marie-aux Mines (French) are the same city in Alsace which is now a part of France. The article was first sent to Contributing Editor Virgil Miller in Florida, who did some light editing in preparation for publication. See also Erwin's article in the Sept. 2005 issue. Our thanks to both Erwin and Virgil for their major contributions to our understanding of our common family history]


0n March 6, 1720 the "Täufercammer" in the region of Bern was informed that "Täuferlehrer" Jacob "Hofstetter", who was born at Winterkraut near Guggisberg and had been living in "Maria-Kirch" afterwards, was dismissed from prison after paying the costs (for his detention) and promising with handshake not to return to his country again, from which he was banished. He said he wanted to help some Anabaptist women to emigrate.'[1] The same day in 1720 these women were ordered to be sent to their banished husbands, and their children should be regarded as strangers, so that they would not be a financial burden to the local community.2[2] So one can suppose that in March 1720 Jacob Hochstettler, together with some Täufer women of Canton Oberhofen and their children, left Switzerland and went to Markirch.

Captivity Map

from Our Flesh and Blood: A Documentary History of the Jacob Hochstetler Family by Beth H. Marks 3rd Edition 2009

The compiler and author, Beth Hostetler Mark, is Instruction Coordinator at Murray Library of Messiah College, Grantham, Pennsylvania.  Her family and professional connections make her highly qualified to produce this outstanding work.  Beth’s sister, Karen Hostetler Deyhle, helped with layout and drew the excellent large map of Pennsylvania, together with place names, paths, notes and dates that summarize the captivity story.

Where is Ste. Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace?

Exerpted from J. Virgil Miller’s book “Both Sides of the Ocean”


The  first group of Swiss Anabaptists who could be called Amish on French territory are on a list of refugees from Canton Bern, Switzerland, at Ste. Marie-aux-Mines, Upper Alsace, in 1697. Alsace was a largely German- speaking area which France acquired during the course of the seventeenth century. So they were under French laws and the king was Louis XIV, who was known as a strong Catholic. The defeat of the Huguenots (French Protestants) caused them to be expelled by a law called the Edict of Nantes in 1685. For the time being, this did not apply to Alsace where the Protestants were protected by other treaties. Yet it did not look like a permanent sanctuary. The followers of Ammann knew that they were not tolerated in Canton Bern, and Alsace was still one of the safe havens. Jacob Ammann was there as the leader. 

The Legend of Tom Lions

As reported in the June 1997 Jacob Hochstetler Family Association "Family Newsletter"


The earliest mention of Tom Lions dates back to Sept. 19 and 20, l757, when the horrible massacre of the Jacob Hochstetler family occurred at their home in Berks County, Pa. Had it not been for this nefarious figure, the massacre and captivity might have been averted. Tom was an Indian brave, who flits in and out of our family history. He was known as Tom Lions, sometimes spelled Lyon. Tom Lions can be seen in the background, lurking in the shadows, and the Hochstetler story would not be complete without studying about him. Old Tom Lions lived among the people he had fought against, after warfare between the whites had ceased. There are many stories about him, some true and some surely not.

Roadside America Handout


This information is a synthesis from a handout for tourists that was passed out at "Roadside America", an indoor miniature village and tourist attraction located west of Shartlesville, Pa. Along Interstate 78 which stands on what was a part of the original farm of Jacob Hochstetler. It was prepared in the early 1960's but is no longer available. There were a few mistakes in this handout which were corrected in the June 1996 H/H/H Newsletter (available by reprint). There is also material from Damon Hostetler's 1990 publication "Descendants of Amos L. Hochstetler".

Insights into Jacob Hochstetler Sr. (the father of our immigrant forefather) and his connection to Jacob Amman, the founder of the Amish


[This letter from Elwin Hochstättler to J. Virgil Miller, in response to Virgil's questions, is based on Elwin's research of primary documents in Europe over several decades. Here Virgil translates and summarizes part of the Feb. 17, 2002 letter, and makes additional observations in the accompanying article. Some explanations are given in brackets. The personal pronoun "my" in the first line and elsewhere refers to Erwin, not Virgil. In reading this letter you will want to refer back to the map on page 3 of the March 2002 Newsletter. For Elwin's previous article on the European background of theimmigrant Jacob Hochstetler, see Newsletter, Sept. 1989, p. 3ff.] 


Click on any of the images to be taken to the reviews and purchase options

This is a picture of the 1794 Indenture which Daniel E Hochstetler examined--and then bought and brought home in May of 2014.  It is the contract of Jacob Kinsley for a 225-acre farm in Heidelberg Twp. in Dauphin Co, sold to Joseph Hochstedler in Heidelberg Twp. in Berks Co.  While he believes it is original and authentic it creates some new information of our ancestor not included in DJH, and leaves some questions unanswered.  We only knew he and Anna (Blank) lived in Heidelberg Twp, Berks Co., and then moved to what is now Juniata Co.  The name and boundary changes of that time make it difficult to determine where the original is recorded, or actually where this farm is located..


The document refers to trees and stones and neighbors and degrees and perches, and doesn't name any other reference points.  Daniel took the time to type out the entire document so it can be read better (seen to the right of this photo), and wrote up an essay of notes to explain how he got it from a Mr. Holst near St. Louis.

NOTE: The Horizontal form below exactly follows the lines and impagination the document.

Daniel E did remove the document from the frame, and the back indeed gave filing information but added no NEW information.  Specifically, he was looking for where this was filed and where the farm is located, neither of which were indicated.  The problem is that county and township boundaries have changed since 1794.  For one, there is no Heidelberg Township in today’s Dauphin Co. but there is in neighboring Lebanon Co. (as well as the original Heidelberg in Berks Co.)  He then had it re-framed with acid-free paper and museum-quality glass which keeps out UV rays, which added $175.00 to its value.  Dan is planning to write up a report eventually because he's done further research to answer the above questions, and now has some sense how this document changes our understanding of our ancestor. Stay tuned . . .

April 11, 1794

Jacob Kinsley, 225 acres deeded to:  Joseph Hochstedler

Heidelberg Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania


This Indenture Made the eleventh day of April

in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety four:  Between Jacob Kinsley of Heidelberg Township in the County of

Dauphin and Common Wealth of Pennsylvania Yeoman and Rebecca his wife of the one Part, And Joseph Hochstedler of Heidelberg Township in the

County of Berks Yeoman of the

other Part, Witnesseth that the

said Jacob Kinsley and Rebecca

his wife for and in Consideration

of the Sum of Nine hundred

Pounds in real specie of Gold or

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Hostetler Blind Family Musicians

Hostetler Blind Family Musicians on

"Catherine, Samuel (a.k.a. Jesse Samuel or, sometimes, Samuel Jesse), Bartholomew, and John were the children of Daniel Hostetler and Mary (Gibbons) Hostetler--who were first cousins. Despite being born blind, without eyes, all four were gifted musicians, and were quite renowned in the Fayette County area. There are rumours, too,--unsubstantiated--that they toured Europe as well. With the exception of Catherine (who lived into her fifties), they enjoyed long lives, and all four are buried with their parents at the Leckey (or Lecks) Cemetery between McClellandtown and Lamberton."

The family toured through several states (and possibly Europe) from around 1856 to 1907. A concertreview from July 8, 1972, shows at least one of the band members was well versed in playing corn cobs: "The eldest brother confined himself to the violin and there was a unanimous agreement that his skill in using this fine instrument was excellent. Some of his touches, for fineness, clearness, and easy rolling transition in the scale , were very effective. The brother who plays the violincello is a musical composer. His singing, playing, and composition of music are all fine. Some of this pieces have the merit of pleasing better on better acquaintance, and evidence no ordinary taste and skill. He plays the flute also. The leader plays and sings well. His voice is clear and sweet and uniform, but not emarkably strong, but it is not weak. The sister has a soft musical voice, and accompanies her brothers in the use alternately of a triangle, an accordion, and a pair of corn cobs. Few perhaps, have thought that music could be brought out of corn cobs. But let those who think they know all about what corn cobs are for, go and see and hear what use this blind musician can make of a pair of corn cobs she carries with her."

Ellis's History of Fayette County states "The Hostetlers buried in Leckey Cemetery are the celebrated blind family. There was nothing unusual about the marriage of Daniel Hostetler and Mary Gibbons except that they were first cousins. Time brought them eight children - five boys and three girls. Of these, two boys and a girl were absolutely eyeless, and a boy and a girl with but one eye each. Nature, to compensate for her parsimoniousness in withholding sight gave great musical talents, and from infancy these afflicted ones have been the wonder of the land.
They are first class composers, as well as excellent performers on the organ, violin and other instruments. Their names are John, born Jan 25, 1829, Catherine, Feb 15 1835, Bartholomew, April 21, 1845. (These three were born eyeless) Jesse Samuel, born Nov 12, 1842 and Mary Born in 1847 were born with one eye each. Jesse Samuel became totally blind in later years. John lived to the age of 82, Catherine 55, Bartholomew 63, Jesse Samuel 81, and Mary 63."

There is more information on this fascinating family, including their geneaology, at: where you can add new information as you discover it. We encourage everyone to participate!

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