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THE ORIGINS OF THE OLEY VALLEY YODERS
by Dr. Don Yoder
In the summer of 1950 I taught at the summer school of Columbia University and earned enough money to make my first trip to Europe. It was a pilgrimage which took me to the old homelands of the European Yoders-- the Palatinate, whence they emigrated, and Switzerland their original home. Included was my first visit to Steffisburg in Canton Bern, which I was able later to identify as the birthplace of my first American Yoder ancestor, Hans Yoder (1672-1742) of the Oley Valley.
I had always been interested in the history of my family, since those happy childhood summers which I spent on my Grandmother Yoder's Schuylkill County farm, in the Hegins Valley, which my father owned for a decade. There all was Pennsylvania Dutch, but with a strong underlay of High German. There were German books and Taufscheins and old deeds and other papers from the past. My father and his brothers and sisters were interested in history, and they treasured a sketch of the family written by their cousin who was editor of the Shamokin Times that traced it to the Oley Valley in Berks County, Pennsylvania, to Hans and Yost Yoder the emigrant brothers who were the first Yoders to come to Penn's Woods.
When I became interested in our family's origins, my father encouraged me. When I was a boy my father bought me a wonderful book, Annals of the Oley Valley (Reading, 1926), by the Reverend F.C. Croll,D.D., a Lutheran minister and local historian. This book had a chapter on the Oley Yoders (pp.81-84) which I read and reread. (Eventually I corrected the few mistakes the good pastor had made; for example, he skipped a generation in his tree of the Hans Yoder descendants.)
North of grandmother's farm was the Mahantongo Valley. Many times my father took me there to visit the older cousins, who talked Dutch and brought out their old family papers. We read and copied the German inscriptions in the churchyard of the St.Jacob's (Howerter's) Lutheran and Reformed Union Church, where most of my Schuylkill County ancestors were buried-- Yoders and Heplers,Maurers, Beisels, Reinerts, Wagners, Herings, and Steins.
In 1935, when I was fourteen, my father and I made a pilgrimage to the Oley Valley, to visit the Yoders and the Yoder farms. On the way home we visited Womelsdorf and called upon Pastor Croll, who was then retired, a charming and gracious old man. He gave me copies of other books which he had written and encouraged me in my interest in Pennsylvania History.
Another link in the chain was my father's distant cousin, Lynn Emerson Yoder of Fairmont, West Virginia, a Schuylkill County Yoder by birth, who was at that time working on a history of the Yoder families of Berks And Schuylkill Counties. In 1936, following my own "discovery" of the Oley Valley roots, I initiated a correspondence with him and began to exchange data. He kindly allowed me to copy his Yoder tree which he had worked out, and gave me a photostat copy of the Yoder Ghost Story Of 1743. More about that later.
And of course we attended the Yoder Reunions. The Reunion had begun, before my time, in Schuylkill County, and eventually included all Pennsylvania Yoders. It alternated between Hershey, Sunbury, and Lewistown. Through it we got acquainted with the genial presidents Joseph W. Yoder, and formed friendships with some of the red-bearded Amish Yoders of the Kishacoquillas Valley.
Finally, when I discovered the resources of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, I came to value the manuscript volume entitled 'Fragments of the Past: Historical Sketches of Oley and Vicinity' (1860). This charming local history, full of Yoder reminiscences, was by Dr. Peter G. Bertolet (1822-1865), who interviewed old Yoder kinfolk. His grandmother was Maria (Yoder) Bertolet and her grandfather was Yost Yoder the emigrant.
Up until then no one had located the European origins of our family. It was always remembered that they were originally Swiss, and like many Pennsylvania German pioneer families, had stopped off for a time in the Palatinate before coming across the Atlantic. On my first visit to the Berks County Courthouse at Reading I came across that curious German deed of January 31, 1771, dated at Neustadt in the Palatinate, whereby Johannes Jotter, eldest son of Nicolaus Jotter, a brother of Hans and Yost who had remained in Europe, transferred his rights to some land in Pennsylvania to his first cousin, Johannes Jotter (Hans Yoder,Jr.) of Oley. (I will present a full analysis of this document in a subsequent article., This Palatinate Johannes Jotter lived at Mussbach, now part of Neustadt. So on my first visit to the Palatinate in 1950, Dr. Fritz Braun, Director of the Heimatstelle Pfalz in Kaiserslautern, took me to Mussbach. Alas, there were no Yoders or Yoder records there. But on that visit I achieved a taste for the excellent local wine with the intriguing name of "Mussbacher Eselshaut--a taste which I have never lost.
Fritz Braun also introduced me in 1950 to Karl Joder of Oggersheim, Emil Joder of Neumuhle near Albersweiler, and Herbert Jotter of Ludwigshafen. Herbert presented me with an eighteenth-century pewter plate from the Palatinate Joder family, which I still have and treasure. Most of all, I value the association with Karl Joder (1906-1984), who had already begun at that time to research the Palatinate Joder lineage and who has contributed so much to the family's genealogy.
The Yoders of Canton Bern
Our Yoder family first made its appearance in European history in Canton Bern, Switzerland. Soon after its publication in 1940 I located Robert Oehler's two-volume first edition of the Familiennamenbuch der Schweiz, now enlarged into six volumes. According to this source there were two Bernese communities where the Yoders had their citizenship rights (Heimatrecht) before 1800. These were Muri near Bern, now a part of Bern, and Steffisburg, near Thun on the Lake of Thun on the edge of the Bernese Oberland.
On my 1950 visit to Switzerland I went to the Bernese State Archives to meet archivist Christian Lerch. During our conversations he made the shrewd sociological observation that Steffisburg rather than Muri would be the place to look for emigration. Muri was well-to-do and not an emigration producer. Steffisburg in the mountains was the center of an area that produced not only emigration but sectarian religion. In the seventeenth century it had been a "Tauferek", and Anabaptist seedbed where sectarian religion struggled against the official church. This accounts for the fact that some of the Bernese Yoders became Mennonite and Amish, although the main trunk of the family remained Reformed.
From Bern I visited Steffisburg and went through some of the church records which were then still in the private home of the Gemeinschreiber or town clerk. I remember sitting at a pleasant dining room table and having the old vellum bound records brought for my uee. Today the church records of Steffisburg parish are in the Zivilstandsamt (Civil Registry Office) in an ultra modern, fireproof bank and office building.
For many summers after that year I returned to Steffisburg, and finally copied all the Joder references in the church registers, and all those of related families, beginning when the registers themselves were opened in the 1550s. The Joder baptisms, marriages, and deaths from the actual church registers are available in Karl Joder's transcripts, but I have additional materials culled from the long series of church consistory minutes (Chorgerichtsmanuale) which are not yet published. It was this source, in fact, which enabled me to determine which branches of the family split off as Taufer (Mennonites) from the main trunk which remained Reformed. I also copied all the Joder data in Muri and most of the parishes adjoining Steffisburg, which eventually should be published.
In brief, this is what I have been able to put together on Hans and Yost Yoder, their immediate ancestry in Switzerland, and their settlement in Pennsylvania.
Hans Yoder (1672-1742), First Yoder in America
Putting together the fact that Hans Yoder of the Oley Valley had a brother Yost who joined him in America and a brother Nicolaus who remained in Europe, I was able to determine that Hans Yoder (1672-1742) was born on the Ortbuhl Farm,at Steffisburg, Canton Bern, Switzerland, March 10,1672, and died in Pennsylvania in 1742. He was the oldest son and firstborn child of Adam Joder and his wife Barbara Ochsenbein of Steffisburg. The Ochsenbeins were a family with origins in what is now Canton Solothurn. Some Of them moved to Burgdorf and elsewhere in the Bernese territories in the late Middle Ages and during the Reformation. In the fifteenth century some of them were city officials and clergymen in Solothurn itself and Landvogte or district governors with their seat at Schloss Dorneck.
Adam Joder was born at Steffisburg September 22, 1650. He had a twin brother, Hans Joder, for whom Hans Yoder of Oley was named. Adam Joder was the son of Nicolaus and Anna (Trachsel) Joder of the Ortbuhl Farm. Nicolaus Joder (1609-1680) was the son Of Casper and Margaretha (Hennig) Joder of Steffisburg. This was the Casper Joder who served briefly as Statthalter of Steffisburg and the Freigericht Steffisburg, 1611-1612. The Statthalter was, like a Landvogt, a district governor and representative of the cantonal government of Bern. For Nicolaus Joder see my article, "The Kung-Gnaegi Connection," in Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, VI: l(January 1983), 2-6.
Hans Yoder was twice married. His first wife was named Veronica "Iselmyn". At least that is the way her name was spelled in the records of the oldest Reformed Church in Pennsylvania. This is the church that Hans Yoder joined on his arrival in 1709/1710, the Dutch Reformed congregation at Whitemarsh, north of Philadelphia. I have checked the original record book written in Holland Dutch, now in the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, and the transcription is as above given. This presents a problem. Is "Iselmyn" a Holland Dutchman's way of spelling the Emmenthal name "Eschelmann", or what is more likely, the Thun-Steffisburg name "Huselmann"? I have not yet been able to solve this problem, or to find the place or date of this marriage. All we know is that Hans and Veronica were married as early as 1699/1700, the birthdate of their son Hans Yoder, Jr-(1700-1779). The source for the name "Iselmyn" is William J. Hinke,ed.,"Church Record of Neshaminy and Bensalem, Bucks County,1710-1738," Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society,I:l (May 1901),111-134. For the actual citation, see the reference to the second marriage, below.
When did Hans Yoder leave Switzerland? Again the year is not known, but he does turn up in the Palatinate in 1708-1709, in the village of Schwetzingen, not far from Mannheim and Heidelberg. Schwetzingen centers around the summer residence of the Electors of the Palatinate, the great Schloss which is still standing amidst its formal gardens. With Hans Yoder's knowledge of farming and milling he probably was hired to work in some capacity for the Elector. Unfortunately the Schwetzingen council minutes (Ratsprotokolle) for this period are missing.
Our knowledge of his residence in Schwetzingen comes from the Reformed Church Registers of the town. As some of my readers know, there is extensive research going on at present into the backgrounds of the "1709ers",the Palatine emigrante of 1709, sponsored by Hank Jones of Universal City, California. His European researcher, Karla Mittelstaedt-Kubaseck, whom I know personally, attended a lecture I gave at a conference in the Palatinate in 1974. I asked her to be on the lookout for any reference she might locate to Hans or Yost Yoder, Some time later she wrote me that in going through the Schwetzingen Reformed Church Register, on deposit in the Baden Church Archives at Karlsruhe, she found Hans Yoder in Schwetzingen in the years 1708-1709. Hans and Veronica Yoder had a daughter Anna Regina, baptized January 27, 1708, with Jacob Korner, schoolmaster, and his wife Rachel as sponsors. In connection with this entry the pastor later added that "this family went to the Island of Pennsylvania,March 1, 1709". Like many Europeans of time, the pastor probably thought that Pennsylvania was just another of those West Indian Islands.
By May 6,1709, Hans Yoder was in London, with hundreds of refugee Palatines, preserved in the British Library , Hans Joder's name (misspelled as "Fodder" when the lists were published in 1909) appears among the "First Arrivals" (Yoders are always on time!). His age was given as 38, his occupation that of "husbandman" (farmer), and his religion Reformed. Accompanying him were his wife, two sons aged 9 and 4, and a daughter aged one year. The source of this information is the article, "Lists of Germans from the Palatinate who came to England in 1709," in The New York Genealogical and Biographical Register, XLI (1909).
These lists are the key to Hans Yoder's early movements, settlements, and personal relationships in Pennsylvania. With his name in the London Lists appear the names of John LeDee and Philip Kuhlwein. This is significant, since Hans Yoder's second wife, who he married in Pennsylvania April 29,1711, was Anna Rosina LeDee, daughter of Jean LeDee, usually spelled LeDez. Philip Kuhlewein (1683-1737) became Hans Yoder's brother-in-law in in marrying another daughter of Jean LeDez. Both LeDez Kuhlewein settled in Oley with Hans Yoder, in fact preceded him there.
Hans Yoder must not have been as "poor" as some of his Palatine countrymen in London. Most of them were shipped by Queen Anne either to County Limerick in Ireland, or to the Hudson Valley in New York to make naval stores for the British government. Hans Yoder, along with Jean LeDez, Philip Kuhlewein, Hans Jacob Fullweiler, Gerhard Clemens and a few others listed, managed to come directly to Philadelphia, where they became founders of Pennsylvania Dutch rather than of New York Palatine families.
Where did Hans Yoder first settle? On January 14,1711, he purchased a tract of 275 acres along the Schuylkill River in Coventry Township, Chester County, some where opposite the present Fottstown. He purchased this land from John Henry Kerson (Rersten) who later appears in Oley as well. On the same date, January 14,1711, an adjoining tract was bought from Kerson (Kersten) by Hans Jacob Fullweiler (1682-1715), who also appears in the London Lists. The purchase of adjoining tracts on the same day implies some relationship between the two men. (Could Fullweiler's wife Barbara have been Hans Yoder's sister Barbara, born at Steffisburg in 1676? If so she would have been six years older than her husband, improbable in those days but in no case impossible.) Fullweiler died in 1715, and on June 28, 1718 his widow, now the wife of Martin "Meyleen" (Mylin) of Straburg, Lancaster County, sold the Fullweiler property to Jacob Buckholtz. Yes there is also a Buckholtz in the London Lists. It all ties together.
On March 25,1714, Hans Yoder received his warrant from William Penn for land along the upper Manatawny Creek in the Oley Valley. This included most of the land around what is now called Pleasantville but for many years was known as "Yotterschdettle" (Yodertown). Hence on March 19,1717,"John Joader" and his wife Rosina sold his Schuylkill Valley farm to Henry Parker. These transfers of title to the Coventry tracts are recited in two lengthy deeds in the Philadelphia Archives, recorded in Deed Book G-8, pp. 130-131, both recorded August 28,1746.
The LeDez Connection and Matthias Baumann
The marriage of Hans Yoder and Anna Rosina LeDee was performed by Paulus van Vlecq, Dutch Reformed pastor, at Whitemarsh, the church of which Hans Yoder was a member from the beginning of the church record in 1710. The record reads: "Johannes Jodder, widower of Fronica Iselmyn, and Anna Rosina LeeDee".
The LeDez family was Huguenot. Since Jean LeDez's deed to his Oley property, refers to him as coming from Eppstein in the Palatinate, I went one year to Eppstein, a smallish Palatine town on the Rhine plain near Frankenthal. In the Frankenthal Archives I went through the records of the French Reformed Church at Frankenthal, of which the LeDez family were members. I found the birth of Jean LeDez, June 7,1663, son of Daniel and Marie (Louys) LeDez of Flomersheim. However, there was no birth record for his daughter Rosina. I finally located her birth and baptismal record, in the Reformed Church records of the town of Weinheim on the Bergstrasse, across the Rhine from Frankenthal, whither the family had fled in 1689 when the French invaded the Palatinate.
Anna Rosina LeDez was baptized March 16,1692, in the Reformed Church at Weinheim, daughter of Jean LeDez and his wife Rachel Bertram. (On the same page was the baptism of Johannes Tempelmann, who became a pioneer Reformed minister in Pennsylvania.) Rosina had a brother Johannes (Jean) baptized July 23,1696, also at Weinheim. Her mother, Rachel (Bertram) LeDez, died at Weinheim August 30,1698, aged 36 years. In these entries Jean LeDez is listed as farmer (Hofbauer) on the Schmittburg Hof, a farm within the parish limits of the town church. After his wife's death Jean LeDez returned to Eppstein/ Frankenthal, where he served as toll collector for the Palatine government until leaving for Pennsylvania in 1709.
Jean LeDez evidently settled in Oley as early as the autumn of 1709. Here he was joined by his friend Isaac deTurk of Frankenthal who had come to New York colony in 1708. Many years ago my cousin John Joseph Stoudt showed me the original patent from William Penn to "John ledee", for 330 acres of land "at or near a Place called by the Indians Oley". The land adjoined Isaac deTurk's tract and was granted, for 38 pounds, to John ledee, who is described as "late of Epstein in ye Palatinate of the Rine but now of this Province". The document is dated 1712. On the third day of the third month, called May,1714, Jean le dee, as he signed his name, sold 110 acres of this tract to Matthias Bowman Of Oley, Planter. Witnesses at the signing were John Henry Kirsten and Isaac deTurk.
Philip Kuhlewein (1683-1737),Jean LeDez's son-in-law and Hans Yoder's brother-in-law has been traced to the village Of Lambsheim, not far from Frankenthal. His connections are equally important for Pennsylvania history, and I have outlined them in the article,"Emigration Materiels from Lambsheim in the Palatinate", by Heinrich Pembe, translated and edited by Don Yoder, in Pennsylvania Folklife,XXIII:2 (Winter 1973-1974),40-48. Philip Kuhlewein was the son of Hans Theobald Kuhlewein and his wife Dorthea of Lambshein. He was a member of the Reformed Church, but joined the pietist movement led by Matthaus (Matthias) Baumann of Lambshein. For this reason he was arrested in 1706, along with many other townsmen, and forced to clean the town ditches as penalty. Matthias Baumann was Philip Kuhlewein's brother-in-law, married to Philip's sister Catharina Kuhlewein. The Baumanns followed the Kuhleweins to Pennsylvania in 1714, settling near them in the Oley Valley. By 1719 another brother-in-law, Abraham Zimmermann, who had married Veronica Kuhlewein, emigrated, settling in Maxatawny, north of Oley. These details and more about this family are available in my book, Rhineland Emigrants (Baltimore,1981).
The will of Philip "Kalwine", of Oley, husbandman, was proved April 7,1737 and recorded in Book E, page 363. He mentions his wife Mary and his father-in-law John "Ladee,"whom he names as his executors. Witnesses were John Bowman, Arnoldt Euffnagel, and Conrad Cooke.
Matthias Baumann continued his religious activities in Pennsylvania, where his followers were called "die Neugeborenen" or "Newborn".They are frequently mentioned in reports of early Pennsylvania religion. His teachings evidently stirred up the entire Oley Valley and reached far beyond its confines. The Chronicon Ephratense or Chronicle of the Ephrata Community, published in 1786, in dealing with the Newborn movement, makes the judgment that Baumann "is said otherwise to have been an upright man, and not to have loved the world inordinately; but Kuehlenwein, Jotter, and other followers of his were insatiable in their love of the world". This statement comes out of a period of intense religious rivalry, and it is hard to know today what actually was meant. For the statement and context see Chrinicon Ephratense: A History of the Community of Seventh Day Baptists at Ephrata, translated by J. Max Hark, D.D. (Lancaster, 1889),ppl6-18.
Matthias Baumann made his will February 27,1727, leaving his property to his wife and his daughter Sarah. On May 29,1730 his widow Catharina, who married Johann Peter Enderes (Andrew), sold her share of the property to Samuel Hoch (High) of Oley, who married the daughter Sarah. For facsimile reproductions of will and deed, see John Joseph Stoudt, Sunbonnets and Shoofly Pies: A Pennsylvania Dutch Cultural History (South Brunswick and New York,1973), pp.l87-188.
After Baumann's death the Yoder families of Oley identified themselves formally with the Oley Reformed Church which they, with John Lescher, Casper Griesemer, Gabriel Boyer and others, joined in founding in 1734-1736.
Hans Yoder Makes his Will
Hans Yoder,Sr., made his will June 17,1739. It was proved January 14,1742, at Philadelphia, and recorded in Will Book F. page 268. The document gives his name as "John Jodder of Philadelphia County,yeoman". He mentions two children, his sons John and Daniel, and Daniel's wife Barbara. He names his wife Anna Rosina and his son John executors. The witnesses to the will were Abraham Esshman, Abraham Levanb and Samuel Guldin. Hans Yoder signed his name in German: Hans Joder.
The Samuel Guldin who witnessed the will was probably the Samuel Guldin,Jr., born in Bern, Switzerland in 1693 while his father was clergyman at the Minster,The canton's principal church. The Reverend Samuel Guldin Sr.,(1664-1745) was the first minister to come to Pennsylvania representing what became the German (rather than the Dutch) Reformed Church. He arrived on the Maria Hope in 1710. Like the lay preacher Matthias Baumann, Guldin had tangled with the state church over his own pietistic leanings. He lived in Roxbury but since his son Samuel moved to Oley in 1718, he may also have known Hans Yoder.
These Oley connections with the Canton Bern could be Multiplied. I will mention one more. On a farm adjoining Hans Yoder's lived the David Kauffmann family, who were related to the Yoders in some way not known, for Hans Yoder was executor of the Kauffmann estates. It is significant that some of the Lancaster County Kauffmann families had their origins in Steffisburg, and it is possible that these Oley Kauffmanns were Steffisburgers as well.
The Yoder properties in the Oley Valley and elsewhere often contained mills - grist mills, sawmills, flaxmills, even papermills. Hans Yoder,Jr. (1700-1779) built and operated what was later known as the Griesemer Mill. From 1744-1750 he was an owner and operator of the Oley forge, until he sold out his share to his son-in-law Col. John Lecher (1711-1794), later of revolutionary fame, and one of the leading citizens of Berks County. Col.Lesher's son-in-law, John Pott,Jr.(1759-1827) laid out Pottsville in what is now Schuylkill County, where he operated the Greenwood Furnace and Forge. Many of the Oley Yoders joined in this migration into Schuylkill County, but that is another story.
I have always been impressed with the mechanical and practical talents shared by so many of our Yoder forefathers, their love of machinery, construction, and mathematics. (My own father is remembered in the world of American railroading for his book Locomotive Valves and Valve Gears,New York,1917.) These tendencies must run in the family. When I first visited Steffisburg in 1950 I found that most of the mills in the parish were run by the Yoders since the sixteenth century. Hans and Yost Yoder's father, Adam Joder, operated the fulling mill at the Schnittweier Bad, on the mountain north of Steffisburg.
Yost Yoder the Frontierman
Yost Yoder, brother of Hans, was baptized October 5 , 1679, at Steffisburg. Less documentation is available on his trail in Europe than his brother's, but he too probably went to the Palatinate. He did not come to America with Hans Yoder in 1709/1710, since his name does not appear in the London Lists of Palatines in 1709. He probably came over before 1720, and of course settled in the Oley Valleys near his brother. The maiden name of his wife Elizabeth has not yet turned up. But he had a son Hans also, called "Yost-Hannes" to distinguish him from his first cousin, Hans Yoder,Jr., and a daughter Elizabeth, who in 1744 was written up in a book of ghost stories published by Christopher Sauer in Germantown.
Yost Yoder is remembered in Pennsylvania legend as a mighty hunter and trapper. He is said to have made hunting excursions in and even beyond the Blue Mountain in what was then Indian country and is now Schuylkill County. Friendly Indians still lived in the Oley Valley when the first Yoders arrived. Peter G. Bertolet recorded from the older members of the Yoder family many stories about the relationships between the white and the red man. Several of the second-generation Yoders in Oley in fact learned and could talk the Delaware Indian language.
Some of Yost's family were rough and ready frontier types as well. An old by-word in Oley was "like YostNannes"-i.e.,rough and uncouth.
Yost Yoder made his will May 29,1741. It was proved January 14,1742.(Evidently the executors of his and his brother's wills made a joint trip to Philadelphia to settle the courthouse business.) Yost is described in the will as "Jost Jodder of Philadelphia County, husbandman". He mentions his wife Elizabeth and his son John. He names his wife and Gabriel Boyer executors. Abraham Eshman and John Jodder (which one?) witnessed the document. Yost Yoder made his mark instead of signing his name. The will is on record in the Philadelphia Archives, Will Book F. page 267.
The Yoder ghost story, as related by Elizabeth Yoder, Yost's daughter, in 1743, tells how her father's spirit returned to visit her. It seems that like most ghosts, he had a message for his daughter which he was unable to give her before his death. It was to "scorn and despise not the Frenchman," i.e.:Dr. George deBenneville (1703-1793), who was the pioneer preacher of the Universalist gospel in America. He lived in Germantown but also had a base in Oley. On being asked by his daughter where he was, Yost Yoder's ghost answered that he was "at a good place," and his beloved brother (Hans) was there too. This story appeared in a bestseller volume of ghost appearances, with religious commentary, published by Christopher Sauer in Germantown in 1744. It was reprinted in 1748,1755, and 1792.
According to Dr. Peter G. Bertolet's history of Oley, Elizabeth Yoder, Yost's daughter, married Lazarus Weidner. If this is the case, that makes me a descendant of Yost Yoder as well as of Hans, since Lazarus Weidner's daughter Maria Weidner (1755-1841) was the second wife of my ancestor George Yoder,Sr. (1752-1833), son of Samuel Yoder and grandson of Hans Yoder,Jr. This makes me a double Yoder.
And if Karl Joder's information is correct on the marriage of one of my mother's ancestors, Michael Dentlinger (Denlinger), a 1717 Mennonite emigrant to Lancaster County, to Veronica Joder of Rotenhof near Albersweiler in the Palatinate, then I am, for better or for worse, a triple Yoder. The Denlinger-Yoder is cited unfortunately without documentation, in the otherwise completely documented article by Ralph E.Denlinger, "The Denlinger Family" in Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, III:3 (July 1980),10-16; On my last visit with Karl Joder in Oggersheim in November 1983, I asked him what documentation he had for the marriage, which evidently took place in the Palatinate, but unfortunately he had lost or mislaid it. I hope it turns up'
The Oley Yoders and the Later Migration
Hans and Yost Yoder were of course not the only Yoders to come to colonial Pennsylvania. They were the first to come, with Hans leading the procession in 1709/1710, and founding the Reformed branch of the family in America. The second wave of Yoder migration brought the Mennonite Yoders to Bucks, Montgomery and Lehigh Counties, about 1720. (See Kenneth Hottle's excellent article on "Hans Joder of Great Swamp", in Mennonite Family History,II:4 (October 1983),144-146, 161. (reprinted in the Yoder Newsletter I:3,Apr.84).
The third migration brought the Amish Yoders"Strong Jacob", "Dick Christel" and the others- in 1742 and later. The readers of this newsletter and of several Mennonite historical and genealogical periodicals are well informed on this migration.
I am certain that all these early Yoder emigrants were aware of their relationship to the other branches, an awareness that we have had to rebuild in our century. Peter Bertolet's history of Oley claims that they were related, and he was much closer than we to the emigrants. It is significant that the Amish Yoders came to Berks County following the Reformed branch. Bern Township, where they settled, is not far from Oley, and some of the Oley Yoders had lands in Bern Township. And the founder of the North Carolina Yoder clan, Conrad Yoder, who arrived at Philadelphia in 1751, first settled in Oley among his Yoder cousins and then went south to Lincoln County, North Carolina. There is a history of the North Carolina Yoders written by Dr. Fred Roy Yoder, whom I had the pleasure some years ago of showing through the Oley Valley.
In conclusion, let me say that I have always been interested in the fact that the Yoders- with all their talents, virtues, and faults- are and always have been a typical Pennsylvania German family. The three branches--Reformed, Mennonite, and Amish- all trace back to the same roots in Steffisburg, Canton Bern. While there were in other Swiss Cantons Joder families that appear to be unrelated to the Steffisburg clan, all the Pennsylvania Yoders can claim a relationship to each other. Using the Pennsylvania German word, we can say that we all belong to the same Freindschaft.
Dr.Don Yoder - A Professor of Folklife Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Yoder is an internationally recognized authority on the Pennsylvania Germans. He serves as a consultant to the Smithsonian Institute and the Library of Congress and was cofounder in 1950 of the Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Festival. His published books include American Folklife, Songs along Mahantongo, Rhineland Emigrants, and Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Festival. His published books include: American Folklife, Songs Along the Mahantongo, Rhineland Immigrants, and Pennsylvania Spirituals.
CHRISTIAN AND MARIE YODER, IMMIGRANTS OF 1828
By Mary Helen Yoder Wade
Christian Yoder is shown as YA3 in the 1850 census records of foreign-born Yoders reported in the last issue of the Yoder Newsletter. Their son Christian married Catherine Becker and son Jonathan married Anna Swartz. Until 1984 the facts about this family were rather sparse. It was known that Christian and Mary (Marie, Maria) raised their two sons in Green Township, Wayne County, OH. Christian died 6 Sep 1850 and was buried at the Paradise Cemetery, Green Township. By the time Maria died, the Oak Grove Mennonite Cemetery was being used. Her grave stone reads: Maria wife of Christian Yoder-born 25 Nov 1790 and died 9 Apr 1882-aged 91 years 4 months and 14 days".
Family tradition stated that to this union four children were born, two of whom died in France, the country origin of this family.
This past year these facts were sent to Helene Widmer of Belfort, France to ask if she could locate any information about this family. Miss Widmer, with really no clue where to begin, found the records in the Danjoutin Archives. It was quite a surprise that the information was so near her home and that the records were so informative:
22 Dec 1822 Marriage: Christ Joder (26 yrs. old) born in Charmois--son of Christ Joder and Elizabeth Lehman (weavers), and Marie Joder (33 yrs. old) born in Belfort-daughter of Jacques Joder and Marianne Guesmann (farmers in Belfort)
Another record stated:
Born in Danjoutin of Christ and Marie Joder: Joseph born 1824-died 1826; Catherine born 1825-died age 8 mo.; Christ born 23 Sep 1827.(1.)
The 1850 Census record states that both Christ and Jonathan were born in Ohio, but from this record Christ was born in France--Jonathan , at two years younger, was probably born in Ohio as the family was known to have immigrated in 1828.
Little Christ of C. J. grew up to take over the farming on the land he and his brother helped to clear for cultivation. He was the keeper of many bees and became known as "Bee Christ Yoder". He was married to Catherine Becker who had been born 18 Aug 1829 on a canal boat near Canal Fulton OH. It is thought that she could have been born while her parents were immigrating to Stark Co., OH. She died 29 March 1901 and C. J. on 6 Apr 1909. They were laid to rest in the Oak Grove Mennonite Cemetery. C. J. and Catherine were the parents of twelve children, two of whom died in infancy. The others married and had families.
Earlier records at Belfort show that Maria's father Jacques, a farmer and then 38 year old widower of Marianne Guesmann, married in 1802 to Anne Graber (age 20). Jacques is shown as having been the son of Christian Joder and Anne Hochstetler, farmers in Bavilliers. (2.)
1. Family tradition has this date as 2 Sep 1827...possibly the French date is of baptism
2. From other records from Miss Widmer (ED. notes We certainly appreciate the continued efforts by this team: Mary Helen Wade, RR#1-21604 Freeport Rd., Sterling IL 61081. The records of Montbeliard show a Christ Joder m. a "Leisi" Lehman on Feb. 1, 1778. This Christian was the son of "Christ de Sochaus" and Leisi the daughter of Simon of the "Schetzen". Will be interesting to see if they can be confirmed as the paternal grandparents of Bee Christ!)
MORE OLD WORLD LINKS IDENTIFIED
Joseph Ioder of Bureau County IL:
From Kenneth L. Yoder of Grantsville MD comes some information in German assembled by Karl Joder and his fellow researcher, Otmar Jotter which identifies the origin of Joseph Ioder of Bureau Co., IL (see YNL#4, Foreign Born Yoders of 1850 Census, "YI"). These data are synopsized as follows:
"Joseph Ioder, the husband of Barbara Albrecht, was born in 1805 -the son of Joseph Joder and Mary-Catherin Germann of Harmersbergerhof. Joseph Sr. was the uncle of Christian Joder, the Amish minister of Horbacherhof.
"On 20 Apr. 1836, Joseph Jr. and his wife departed with the entire Albrecht family for America. They arrived in New York in July of 1836. They had friends named Burkey in Hennepin IL. From New York they travelled up the Hudson and then by way of the Erie Canal to Chicago. From there they travelled by ox team west and settled in Arispie Township, Bureau Co."
Michael Yoder of Fulton Co., OH:
The data contributed by subscriber Thomas A. Yoder of Toledo, along with incomplete Alsatian Yoder records at hand, have resulted in the possible identification of origin of his great-great-grandfather Michael Yoder, a settler in Fulton Co. OH.
According to Tom's information, Michael Yoder (1825-1873) came to this country from Alsace in 1854. His wife Francis (nee Roth) (1821-1897) and daughter Anna (1853-1927) joined him in 1856 in German Township. Francis' parents were Christian and Mary Roth who also settled in Fulton Co. Anna later married John R. Yoder, a son of Joseph Yoder of another Alsatian immigrant line who settled in Allen Co., IN.
Portions of the Joder records from Montbeliard, Alsace, show the following: May 8, 1849-Michael Joder, son of Joseph of Montbeliard, married Frena Roth, daughter of Christ of Brognard. March 8, 1851-died the infant of Michael Joder of Dasle.
The ages, names and dates involved make it a logical, if not fully provable, inference that this may have been the same family. Michael is not too common a name among what limited Alsatian Joder records we have on hand.
We are indeed pleased to have an informative and enlightening article submitted by Dr. Don Yoder of Devon PA. We hope to have more material from him in the future.
YODER IN JAPANESE
A name card submitted by Mrs. O. B. Yoder of Saugatuck MI demonstrates how the Yoder name is spelled in Japanese. That portion of the card (over) is boxed. In Japanese it is pronounced "Yo-Da" ...like the alien creature in the "Star Wars" movie saga. That wise and lovable little being might make an appropriate mascot for the Yoder family. What do you think?
GROUND-BREAKING EFFORT'! YODER CENSUS AVAILABLE'" A mammoth undertaking by Mrs. Dorothy Coffman, 30 Grouse Road,Malvern,PA. 19355!! All Yoder names, inc.variant spellings from the Pa. census records of 1790,1800,1810,1820 & 1830--family records have been painstakingly extracted by Mrs. Coffman. She offers to share a copy (Over 60 pps) for her cost of photocopying and mailing.Send $7.50 to the address above. This product is one we recommend highly for the serious researcher, and would encourage donations of copies to relevant public/private libraries so all may benefit.- your Editors
TOBIAS YODER BIBLE RECORD
Jacob A. Schrock of Topeka IN provided the following family record from a Bible owned by Monroe J. Yoder. It identifies the family of Tobias Yoder, son of Christian Yoder who married Judith Gindelsperger, and shows some data not recorded in published histories of this line:
Ich Tobias Jodter und mein Weib Maria Schwartzentruber haben geheirat den 8 Jenner im Jahr 1837. Ich Tobias Jodter bin geboren im Jahr 1818 den 12 Nowember. Dezember ten 1853 is mein Weib gestorben. September den 25 1837 ist uns eine Tochter geboren und si heiszt Judith Jodter. Hornung den 22 ten 1839 ist uns since Tochter geboren und si Heiszt Elizabeth Jodter. September den 25 ten 1842 ist uns eine Sohn geboren und er heiszt Walintein Jodter. Hornung den 15 ten 1847 ist ein Sohn geboren and er heiszt Aaron Jodter. October den 15 ten 1847 ist uns ein Sohn geboren und er heiszt Moses Jodter. September den 10, 1850 ist uns ein Sohn geboren, er heiszt Jermia Jodter.
This family Bible was handed down through the family of Valentine (Felty) Yoder.
The YNL will publish Yoder-related inquiries or exchange at no charge. Please limit to 30 words, but provide all dates, names, places in supporting data. We will check our records and try to help you. Address them to: Chris Yoder, The Yoder Newsletter, 203 Lakeshire Road, Battle Creek MI 42015
Who were the ancestors of Howard Christian Yoder, b 4/24/1867 at Gap PA, d. 2/15/1928 in Phila. PA, m Anna Blaise. Reply to H. A. Yoder, Jr., 1009 New Hampshire Rd., Washington DC 20037.
Who was Barbara Yoder (?widow), b. Prussia 1783, d Johnson Co., IA 1873?. Probably lived in Mifflin Co. PA from ?? to 1846. Her dau., Johanna Emde (b. Prussia 1809) m. John Knepp. Reply to: Carolyn Nafziger, RR#1, Box 43, Minier IL 61759
Who Was JACOB YIDER, Earl Township, Hancock Co.,OH????? Will signed July 25,l848;Jacob Miller and John Swank witnesses. Mentions wife Mary, son Michael, and daughters Christina, Mary, Esterman, Elizabeth, Mahala & Catharine. Reply to: Chris Yoder,203 Lakeshire Rd., Battle Creek, MI 49015.
Please note corrected query from issue #4: Would like to exc. info on the following lines Joseph Yoder (d. ca 1928, Goshen IN) son Isaac (1825-1905) and Susan Mishler Yoder. Isaac s/o Joseph (17881852) and Elizabeth Speicher Yoder. Joseph s/o Jacob (1760-1829) and Elizabeth Yoder Yoder. Jacob s/o Christian (1728-1810) Yoder. Elizabeth d/o Yost Yoder. MARGARET KWADRAT, 11676 Post Mills Lane, Reston VA 22090. (the above corrected query was a typographical error by YNL. Sorry, above correction is OK.
Do you know who the children of David Yoder, 1763-1850, and Barbara Livengood were? Reply to: N. Dee Gray, 165 Lora Lane, Fillmore CA 93015
Seek children's name and ancestry of George Yoder, b. 2-4-1800-d. 6-26-1850, m. Hannah Antriam, 1823. Both buried at Hills Church, Berks Co., PA near Oley Valley. Benjamin Yoder, one of their children was my ancestor. Believed to be descendant of Hans or Yost. Reply to Glenn F. Yoder, 502 Washington St., East, Greenville PA 18041
Need info on parents of Daniel Yoder, b ca 1808 PA m. Nancy Durbin. Was in Greene Co. PA 1850. Known children James m Barbara Griffith; Elizabeth m Samuel Oliver; John m ? Whitlatch; Zachariah m Lucinda Otto; George m Hannah Hinerman; Phebe (corrected from Mary m Jesse Hinerman; and Nancy. Reply to Maxine Jones,975 Garden St., Warren OH 44485.
YODER: A Yoder family lived at Canton KS, attended Spring Valley Mennonite Church from 1880-1900. Names ares Joseph and Lydia. Children: Harvey, 1880-1900; Ira 1881-1900; Charles, Edd, Oliver, Francis, Clarence, Minnie and Malissa. Where did they come from and where did they move? Reply to Lizzie Mae (Yoder) Selzer, RR#1, Box 176, Canton KS 67428.
Interested in the following info on Joseph A. Yoder. Dau. m. out of Amish faith to Upton in Nappanee IN area. Their dau Sylvia Lunt now may be in California. Request any of their ancestors, etc. Reply to Janice Yoder Hatchman, 1406 South Eighth Ave., Arcadia CA 91006
Would seek info of parents of Katherine Yoder, b ca 1812 France, d June 7, 1883, Archbold OH. m Peter Stuckey who d June 26, 1892, Archbold OH. Info on bros and sis of Katherine would help. Willing to exchange info. Reply to Roy C. Pressler 1107 West Third, North Platte NE 69101.
Would like info on descendants of Maryann Yoder, b. 1888, m. Adam Miller of Emmatown IN. Maryann was dau. of Andrew and Sarah (Hershberger) Yoder. Alton Yoder, 11038 C. R. 46, RR#1, Ligonier IN 46567
Shown below is the last will and testamony of Henry Yoder (1756-1829) and married Catherine Detweiler (1756-1847).
(Small photocopy of will here)
Explanation from YNL:
Henry Yoder Of Elklick Township,Somerset Co., Pa.,was the son of Yost Yoder of Lancaster and later Mifflin Co. by his first wife (name not known.Yost's second wife was Mary Siever). In his will dated 6 April 1829, Henry names son Yost Yoder and Henry Hershberger as Executors to Make equal distribution" among his ten heirs. This includes portions to the children of daughters Elizabeth and Mary in Ohio, who both died prior to their father, Daniel Miller and Henry Hochstetler both served as witnesses to the document. We'd again take the opportunity to thank Jacob Schrock of Topeka,IN for contributing this item to the newsletter.
The first Mahlon T. Yoder family first reunion was held over Easter weekend, 1984 at Camp Menno Haven Tiskilwa IL. 1985 reunion to be on October 18-20, 1985 at the same place.
Conrad Yoder descendants will meet for their 35th annual reunion at the Zion Lutheran Church, RR81, Hickory NC on the second Sunday, August 11, 1985.
Note to reunions to be held...In order that we may make notice of your reunion, we should get the information for each spring issue. Several that were received arrived too late to be put in.
Neal D. Wilfong, Secretary of the Conrad Yoder Reunion suggested an idea you might use for your next reunion. This is it: "Arrange articles by date in a 3-ring pressure-sensitive photo album and watch family members enjoy 'catching up' on all the news. I've saved clippings for many years on family happenings (births, deaths, marriages, happy occasions, etc.). Primarily my clippings deal with fellow kinsmen, but occasionally I might include articles about others (not blood relation), but with the same surname. This year I displayed my Yoder notebook at the reunion. A number of people stopped to examine its contents."
CHRISTIAN J. ("Bee Christ") YODER REUNION
A reunion of the Christian J. Yoder Family will be held Sunday, July 14, 1985 at the Fellowship Hall of the Oak Grove Mennonite Church at Smithville OH. This reunion was held annually from 1921 through 1977. For a number of years it was rotated among Wayne, Stark and Logan Counties in Ohio. At the Yoder reunion held in Bluffton OH on July 11, 1982 it was decided to meet every three years. Christian's father was also named Christian and his wife Marie and he were immigrants from Alsace, France... coming to the Orville area in 1828. Descendants are encouraged to update all family records and bring them to the reunion or mail them to: Richard & Rosalie Yoder, 259 Lake Drive, Dalton OH 44618.
(NOTE: See related article on Yoder origins)
At the Simon Peter Yoder/Mary Metzler Yoder reunion in Harrisburg PA, August 1984, I presented some of the Metzler family history in the form of brief skits...a "roving reporter" listened in on conversations, or interviewed couples from 100, 150, 200, and 250 years ago, highlighting some interesting facts...This made the family history come to life and all generations at the reunion stayed awake! A suggestion for reunion planners. Mabel V. Brunk, Charlottesville VA.
The Christian Jotter seal shown in Issue No. 4 ( Oct. 84) of the Newsletter was indicated there, and also in Mennonite Family History" (April '84), as being of a Christian Yoder who emigrated to America in 1742. Data received from Otmar Jotter of Grunstadt, West Germany, reveals that this seal appeared on a document dated several decades later. Those of us who are descended from Christian Jotter, im. 1742, are naturally disappointed at this turn of facts.
Yoder Family History sheets are continuing to be received. So far 112 individuals have submitted their Yoder ancestry. The largest family represented is that of Schweitzer" Christian Yoder (ca Feb 1728-Nov 20 1816) whose second wife was Barbara Hooley. The individual with the greatest number of distinct Yoder lines was Mrs. Paula Anderson of St. Louis Park MN. One reader Janet (Mrs. Gary) Oyer of Kalama WA has both 18th century Amish and l9th century Alsatian Yoder ancestors.
We hope to start a series on the St. Joder Chapel near Grafenort Switzerland. Also to print the Family Register of Bishop Christian Yoder As (1758-1838) and wife, Madlena O,Troyer.
CHRISTIAN YODER homestead- John Mark Slabaugh of Uniontown,OH, is working on a project to produce a settlement map of the early Berks Co.,Pa. Amish. The final product will show the original homesteads super-imposed over the present day US Geological Survey map and will be available for sale to all. The property above belonged to Christian Yoder (c17001775)(YR2) who came to Philadelphia on the Francis and Elizabeth, Sep.21,1742. It lays SW of Shartlesville along a creek bed and straddles the line between Upper Bern and Centre Townships. The middle portion, patented as "Contentment", was deeded to son "Schweitzer"Christian Yoder (Feb.1728-Nov.20,1816) on Nov.10, 1760. "Schweitzer" Christian sold the property in 1775 and moved with his family to Somerset County,Pa. in the spring of 1776. We hope to run more of John Marks excellent Yoder maps in future editions. Those interested in his effort: contact him at: 2658 Edison St, Uniontown,Oh. 44685
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