History of Amish names: Hershberger

‘Hershberger’ is an Amish family name particularly common in Midwestern communities.  It is also found in other spelling variations, such as ‘Herschberger’ and occasionally ‘Harshberger’.  The following is a short history of the name from Family Life:

“This is a Swiss name and may have originally meant, “one who lives on Deer Mountain”.  The Hershberger family first came into Anabaptist circles in the canton of Basel, Switzerland.  There, in the year 1529, a large number of brethren were placed in prison, among them the Hershbergers of Thürnen and Läufelfingen.  One of them was Elspeth Hershberger, a midwife who influenced numerous parents not to have their children baptized.

Hans Hersberger, a miller, had taken part in a forbidden communion service, and on Jan. 12, 1530 he was sentenced to death.  The sentence was not carried out, however, for Hans and his wife were merely banished from the territory.  They soon came back and were once more captured and imprisoned.

In the summer of 1531 a Jackli Hersberger of Thurnen was arrested because he refused to take part in the military campaign in his community.  A few years later he had his tongue and two fingers cut off by the authorities for his failure to remain out of the territory after having been banished.

After that the Hershbergers were frequently listed in the court records as Anabaptists.  The family spread from Basel into th Palatinate and other areas.

On Sept. 9, 1749 the ship St. Andrew landed at Philadelphia with a large number of Amish and Mennonites on board.  Included in the passengers were Casper and Jacob Herschberger.  The ship Brothers on Sept. 30, 1754 had a Johannes Herschberger on the passenger list.

(Source:  Joseph Stoll, “Yesterdays and Years: Amish and Mennonite Family Names”, Family Life, January 1969)

See also:  ‘Hershberger’ at GAMEO

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    1. Jerry Smith

      I would like tp know hoe the name Amish and Smith came to be.
      thank you

    2. johann j fessler 1825

      hi my name is kenneth r fessler adesendent of john j fessler from baden germany and adesendent of willam fessler and lydia harshbarger im trying to find out more on the harshbarger her father was samuel harshbarger

    3. Katherine Stanka


      My grandfather was Orvie Harshbarger. I have mobility issues at the moment but have a lot of geneology info going back. Maybe I can email you later.

    4. Randy Miller


      My grandmother was Fannie Harshberger Miller of rural Elkhart County, Indiana.

      She was a member of Pleasant Grove Conservative Mennonite Church.

      She died in a house fire in 2003.

    5. Matthew Friend

      Looking for a Help with Hershberger Ancestors.

      Hi, I am trying to find out more information about my Hershberger Ancestors. I had a x4th Great Grandfather, John Hershberger (born 1793-1794) in PA. Some family trees online state his father was Christian Hershberger (born 1765 in Berns, berks, PA). Christian lived most of his life in Elk Lick, Somerset, Pennsylvania. Supposedly Christian’s father was Christian Hershberger Jr. (b. 1745).

      I can trace the genealogy back through John Hersberger (b. 1793-1794), but so far have not been able to find any sources to tie him to Christian Hershberger (b. 1765) as his father. The 1800, 1810,1820 census do have tick marks that indicated a male of the appropriate age.

      I’m looking for sources such as a good family genealogy or other sources that might show a connection in a more ‘solid’ way. Thank you in advance for any help 🙂

    6. James A Hershberger

      Christian Hershberger

      Matthew Friend Christian Hershberger according to this sight was my Great great great great great great grandfather, you can check out this sight by going Googling Saint Paul’s Reformed Church Cemetery location Cessna , Bedford county Pa. My fathers name was Ray Hershberger I typed it in and then researched it back all the way to Christian Hershberger, this is what I found: Christian Hershberger
      BIRTH 1710
      Basel, Basel-Stadt, Basel-Stadt, Switzerland
      DEATH 1770 (aged 59–60)
      Bernville, Berks County, Pennsylvania, USA
      Northkill Amish Burial Ground
      Berks County, Pennsylvania, USA

      Christian Hershberger
      BIRTH 1710
      Basel, Basel-Stadt, Basel-Stadt, Switzerland
      DEATH 1770 (aged 59–60)
      Bernville, Berks County, Pennsylvania, USA
      Northkill Amish Burial Ground
      Berks County, Pennsylvania, USA
      MEMORIAL ID 84641511 · View Source
      PHOTOS 1
      FLOWERS 10
      Chistian was the progenitor of the American Amish Hershbergers and was born about 1710 in either Basel, Switzerland or maybe in the Alsace, where the Amish went with Jakob Ammann when they were expelled in the 1690’s. Christian and his wife Barbara arrived in Philadelphia on the “Charming Nancy” on October 8, 1737 with two children, Peter and Anna. Peter was probably born in Elsasshausen, Alsace in 1736. Christian and his wife Barbara were members of the Northkill Amish and were probably buried in their Burial Ground on Bishop Jacob Hertzler’s farm, although we can’t read the tombstones.