The Stories of 5 Common Amish Family Names (Part 2)

Last week we looked at the histories of 5 common Amish family namesBeachy, Swartzentruber, Lapp, Hostetler, and Stoltzfus.

Let’s pick back up this week with five more. I used your suggestions from last week’s post comments to put together this week’s list. If there are other names you’d like to see, let us know in the comments here. I’ll do at least one more edition of these posts, possibly more.

These histories are excerpted from “Amish and Mennonite Family Names”, a series of articles by Amish writer Joseph Stoll, which ran in Family Life from December 1968 to March 1969. I’ve added some additional information below in italics where relevant.

Five Common Amish Family Names (Part 2)

1. Zook – The Zook family were originally from Signau in the Swiss canton of Bern. Caspar Zougck was one of the Anabaptist speakers at the Bern Debate of 1538. Uli Zougg, a preacher in the canton of Bern, was imprisoned in 1644.

Hans Zoug was a noted Anabaptist minister in Switzerland who endured much persecution. Three of his grandsons, the brothers Christian, Moritz, and Johannes Zug, arrived in Philadelphia in 1742, and became the ancestors of the many Zooks in our churches today.

Somerset County, PA

By 1942, two hundred years after their arrival in Philadelphia, these three brothers were believed to have had about 25,000 descendants. Many of these are Quakers, or belong to some other religious belief other than Amish or Mennonite.

It’s interesting to see how this name appeared in its various forms over time: Zougck – Zougg – Zoug – Zug – Zook. A member of a Zook family I am friends with once showed me a piece of paper tracing his family’s roots back around ten generations, to Mifflin County, PA. The earlier ancestors still used the Zug spelling (the first of whom I believe was one of the brothers mentioned above). 

2. Gingerich – A fairly common name in Germany, Gingerich first entered Anabaptist records in 1692 when Preacher Christian Guengerich escaped from the prison in Schwarzenegg, where he had been placed because of his religious beliefs.

In 1831 Johannes Gingerich (born 1781) and his family and his brother Daniel were given a letter or recommendation by a Hesse state official, who wished them happiness in America. A great-grandson, Pre. John C. Gingerich of Arthur, Ill., still has the original passports and some letters regarding this group.

In 1833 Daniel P. Güngerich of Waldeck brought his family to America, settling first in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, then going on to pioneer the new settlement near Kalona, Iowa. His son, S.D. Guengerich, was a well-known Amish writer. He helped found the “Herold der Wahrheit”, and compiled the Liedersammlung (G), a songbook in use today in some Amish communities.

3. Troyer – One of the very first Swiss Anabaptist martyrs was Hans Dreier, who was drowned in Bern on July 8, 1529, along with two other Anabaptists. When he was questioned before the court, he explained the points of his faith – he held fast to believers’ baptism, did not think it was right to swear oaths, did not believe true Christians would let others suffer want.

Jacob Treyer was an Anabaptist of Laufen, Switzerland. In 1529 he was put in neck irons and brought to the market place of Basel. There a crowd of spectators soon gathered. Jakob boldly spoke to them concerning repentance and the new life. However, when some time later he was sentenced to death by beheading, he cast himself at the feet of the judges and begged for mercy. Because he recanted, he was pardoned.

Beginning about 1733 some Treyers from Bern moved to Pennsylvania, settling in Berks County. These were all Amish. By 1752 the brothers Michael and Andreas Troyer were listed as members of the Northkill Amish congregation in Berks County.

In later years the Troyers spread westward, and today they are one of the most numerous Amish families. Bishop David A. Treyer of Holmes County was an influential Amish bishop during the second half of the nineteenth century. He wrote the booklet, “Hinterlassende Schriften”, which was first published in 1920.

John Troyer, who lived near Kokomo, Indiana, had an unusually large family, perhaps the largest of all time among the Amish or Mennonites. John was first married to Catherine Schrock who bore him twelve children. Following her death he married her cousin Caroline (Schrock) Kendall, a young widow with two children. John and Caroline in turn had seventeen additional children. This made a total of 31 children.

4. King – Among the early immigrant settlers were Christian and Samuel Koenig who migrated from Germany to eastern Pennsylvania in 1753.

The name was found in the Palatinate census lists as early as 1717, when Hans Koenig was registered in the district of Alzey.

Halifax County, VA

On Dec. 22, 1744, Jacob, Christian, and Samuel König arrived in Philadelphia from Rotterdam. Between 1732 and 1806, 38 persons bearing the name König arrived in Philadelphia. It is not known how many of these were Amish or Mennonite.

The name King is today found among the Amish mainly in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

I would add that the name is also found in Lancaster daughter settlements like Wayne and Parke Counties in Indiana or other Pennsylvania communities such as Dauphin County. It’s also found among Delaware Amish churches.

5. Lehman – An Anabaptist name originating in the Emmental, canton of Bern, Switzerland. The name means a person living on a gentle slope (Lehn). Near Langnau there is a farm named Lehn.

Wilhelm Lehman of the Emmental was imprisoned in October, 1566 because he refused to takethe oath of allegiance. He was sentenced to death by the sword, but after eleven anxious days of waiting for the execution, he recanted and was released.

Hans Lehman landed in Philadelphia on Sept. 27, 1727 and settled in Lancaster County.

Hans first settled in Lancaster County, but Amish Lehmans are today more commonly found in northern Indiana. Though the well-known retail store Lehman’s is associated with the Holmes/Wayne County community, there are few Amish Lehmans in that area today.

Read about the most common Amish first and last names here.

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    17 Comments

    1. jim boles

      How about Yoder?

      Could you do an outline of the Yoder name please?

      1. Sure. One of the most common names. I’ll include that in the next one.

    2. Terry from Wisconsin

      Your research is going well...

      Thanks much for all your time and knowledge to share with us all!

      Days Gone By

      The special book upon the shelf,
      Was made with many hands.
      Our ancestors who posed back then,
      All came from different lands.
      Their pictures were all tucked away,
      And rarely did we see,
      The importance of these treasures-
      The start of you and me.
      The history of our families,
      Now here in black and white.
      Preserved with special care and time,
      Each page is done just right.
      When time permits, we take it down,
      And think of days long past.
      Our hopes, our dreams, our heritage,
      All safe and made to last.

      Author unknown

      1. Thanks Terry, and thank you for that poem. I could see it appealing to Amish readers as well.

    3. Gaetano

      First names

      You publish the article, I believe it was you. Of the first names common among the Amish both of men and women. Do you have a link to that article if it was you?

      Thanks

      Guy

      1. Sure, here you go:

        https://amishamerica.com/10-common-amish-mens-names-and-10-rare-ones/
        https://amishamerica.com/10-common-amish-womens-names-and-10-rare-ones/

    4. Zook

      Thanks for the nod to the Zooks. I am a Zook who grew up in Mifflin County PA where Zook was a very common name. I knew about the three brothers migrating to US but good to see it again. I took some offense when Dr Seuss in his book “The Butter Battle Book” had warring parties named the Yooks and the Zooks who went to war over eating their bread with the butter side up or the butter side down!

      1. Slander by Seuss! I have a vague memory of that book, but forgot about the presence of Zooks in it. I guess they weren’t Amish Zooks if they chose to go to battle.

    5. MARTHA Maddox

      Last names

      I’m curious about the Martin and Fisher families in Richmond County, Va.

      1. There are both Amish and Mennonites living in Richmond County, VA. Martin is one of the most common Mennonite names, but not one you see among the Amish. Fisher is common among Lancaster County-associated Amish. There is a young Amish community in Richmond County, so that might be the Fishers you are seeing there, and the Martins from the Mennonite community. I am not sure how prevalent Fisher might be among Plain Mennonite groups.

        https://www.fredericksburg.com/news/local/two-northern-neck-changes-arrival-of-mennonite-and-amish-and/article_5c6be5e1-947d-56de-b5fe-c6cffe0983d4.html

        1. MArtha maddox

          Names

          Thank you for such a quick response. I love seeing this communities coming into RICHMOND County, try to support them as much as we can!!

    6. Romain Speisser

      Amish names in Alsace (France)

      Hello,
      I am waiting to see the names that Erik will have published, in function, I could speak about the amish/mennonite names of the families which lived in Alsace in France and which is the cradle of the amish movement.
      Sorry for my English, I am French. 😉
      Romain

    7. Lisa Swain

      Names

      Will you be covering the surnames Schrock or Stutzman?

    8. Brenda

      I am from the Johannes Gingerich line

      I have a Gingerich family history book that includes the letter that was written in order for Johannes Gingerich to come over to the United States. I forget where I am as far as genealogy goes in this line. I’m sure I could get out my book and find out.

      I would like to know more about the Graber last name. I don’t have much information on them, which is my mother’s maiden name.

      The generation before that includes Bontrager and Slaubaugh. That’s as much as I can remember of the top of my head.

      1. Brenda

        More family names

        I went to Sarasota, Florida and got information on the Graber line from my Aunt. Now I am looking for the Bontrager and Slaubaugh lines. And yes, that is how they spelled Slaubaugh. Thank you Erik.

    9. Cindy Jernee

      Zugs

      I have traced my ancestry back to one of the three brothers. (Johannes) Its so exciting to read about them on this site! Thanks for sharing that info!!!

    10. Barb Sash

      Amish names

      Love reading your information. Two other names that are in my families history are Frybarger and Yoder.