Genealogy

Lancaster Happenings, part two

Notes from the recent Lancaster trip, part two: Normally I drive an old, wheezing-but-somehow-still running red truck.  It’s got, let’s see, around 275,000 miles?  But like an old faithful dog or a worn-but-still-comfy-recliner, we’ve been through a lot together, and it’s just hard to get rid of it.  Abe calls it ‘the squeaky truck’ in reference to the telltale noise it makes, by which he…

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…

History of Amish names: Stoltzfus

Thanks to substantial genealogical records, many Amish can trace their lineage back to the 1700’s and 1800’s, when significant waves of Amish immigration to North America occurred. One of the most common Amish names is Stoltzfus, found predominantly in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and its offshoot settlements.  The short-version history of the Stoltzfus name, courtesy of Family Life: “On Oct. 18, 1766 Nicholas Stoltzfus with his…

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Unusual Amish names

Millers, Yoders, Schrocks, Stoltzfuses.  These names are a dime a dozen in Amish America. Meet enough Amish people, and once in a while you’ll come across an unusual name, one that may sound non-Germanic or even a Germanic-sounding name that is simply uncommon. The Amish have welcomed a fair share of converts to the faith over the years.  Last names such as Jones, Jess, Chupp…

How I Got To Know The Amish

Update: below is the back-story of how I came to know the Amish. I’ve been long “retired” from selling books in Amish communities, but starting in 2004, this was my intro to Amish life. Over the next several years, I visited thousands of Amish homes in five states, including the four largest Amish settlements. Inspired by the experience, I started this website as a basic…

Genetic conditions among Amish

Siss im blut is PA Dutch for ‘it’s in the blood’.  It’s often given as a reason when Amish and Mennonites talk about genetic problems in their midst. Amish and Mennonites have taken a practical approach to an unfortunate situation:  a cramped gene pool causing numerous genetic disorders, often popping up with a frequency unseen outside their tight communities. Amish communities have accepted medical help…

The Amish church directory

I just picked up my 2002 Indiana Amish Directory for Elkhart, Lagrange, and Noble Counties, and flipped to a random page. Here are the last names of the Amish in the 40 households in the district I landed on, in order:   Bontrager, Bontrager, Bontrager, Bontrager, Bontrager, Bontrager, Bontrager, Bontreger, Bontreger, Eash, Gingerich, Hochstedler, Hostetler, Jones, Lambright, Lambright, Lambright, Lambright, Lambright, Lambright, Lehman, Miller, Miller, Miller,…