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published by the Yoder Family Newsletter, Goshen, Indiana

This data was translated in 1997 by Mr. Fred Haines from the collected German text of Karl Joder and Ottmar Jotter. The YNL wants to express it's deep appreciation to Mr. Haines for his translating AND typing skills and for his willingness to volunteer his time for the benefit of all Joder/Yoder descendants around the world (particularly those of us who speak English!).

[Translator's note: the name Schuetz is spelled with an umlaut over the 'u' rather than 'ue' in the original.]

Local News of Schwetzing

On the 300-year Jubilee of the German Emigration to America

Yodersville - a Schwetzinger Settlement

Johannes Jotter - called Yoder - was the first American from the Asparagus Town

A New Homeland found in 1713 in the Oley Valley

When celebrations of the 300-year jubilee of German emigration to America takes place this week, many may think that Schwetzing has no particular interest in them. Schwetzingen has, however, along with all its surrounding places, extremely personal, human relations to America and the Americans. Right up to the most recent past, Schwetzingers have frequently decided to try their luck in the New World. In the last century alone they emigrated in massive numbers, mostly poor people who had nothing to lose,whole families among them, from sucklings to grandfathers. Even in the glory days of Schwetzingen, when the Kurfursten (Prince Electors) held court here, they emigrated - if in somewhat smaller numbers. This year's festivities may make us realize once again the common experiences of the people over there and those here, and they may remind us that we, like it or not, have nowhere so many countrymen and relations as in North America. An example is the very first traveller to America from Schwetzingen:Johannes Jotter, called Yoder.

When Johannes Jotter left Schwetzingen in early spring 1709, he was not alone. With him were his wife Veronika, his little daughter Anna, one year old, and his brother Jost Jotter. In addition there were two other families of friends, Johannes and Maria Schuetz, with four daughters, and Christoph and Anna Mayer,with their four-year-old son and their daughter of three. They stated that they wanted to go to America. So it says in the church register of the Evangelist Congregation of Schwetzing:'moved anno 1709, the 1st of March, to the island of Pennsylvania.' Pennsylvania was the magic word that drove them on for four long years - for that's how long it took for them to reach the valley that finally became their new home. In between were fifteen torturous months of travel and almost three years of forced labor for the colonial masters of New York. There was much more in those years: doubt and refusal, illness and death.Johannes Schuetz lost his nerve halfway and turned back to his homeland. How many of the other participants, especially the children, fell victim to the rigors of the voyage is not known -nor how many others were born.

From the Hudson River Southward

The last great effort of the emigrants on this journey was their flight from indentured servitude in New York - they were the first who dared this step. Equipped with only the most necessary things, the solid little group made its way along narrow, hidden trails through the woods, from the Hudson River valley southward to Pennsylvania, the land of freedom. The trip was virtually another emigration. The goal which they so stubbornly pursued was called Oley. Oley meant 'kettle' in the language of the Indians.It was the name of a charming hollow (or kettle) ringed about with mountains, deep in the interior, eighty kilometres northwest of Germantown, the first German settlement in America. The men had previously scouted this place on several secret journeys. The Oley valley became their new homeland.

No Oley Without Jotter

The presence of the Schwetzingers in the then almost uninhabited Oley is documented by the citizen and rental lists of 1730. To be sure, Christoph Mayer does not appear in them, although his son Johann Jakob, described as a farmer, does. All trace of him was lost later. It was otherwise with the Jotters. The literature of that homeland reports extensively and with satisfaction on the farmers and hunters Johannes and Jost Jotter and their numerous children and grandchildren. Oley isn't even thinkable without the Jotters. To be sure, their name fared no better than that of most other immigrants from Germany: Jotter sounded too harsh for English ears, and they made it Joder (which is better anyway),and Joder finally became Yoder, and there it stuck. So they also named the settlement they founded Yodersville. The founding years 1713.

From Farmer to Bank Director

In the course of time Yodersville and even the home valley of Oley turned out to be too small for all the descendants. They too had to emigrate.

Today, nine generations later, Yoders are found not only everywhere in Pennsylvania but all over North America, in every city, in every state. More than a hundred families and individuals with the name Yoder live in Reading, the nearest city to the Oley valley. In Philadelphia there are another twenty-two and in Baltimore thirty-four more. They are found in all professions and occupations, from farmer to bank director and high school teacher - especially in the latter. The Yoders belong to the great old families of North America who helped to build up the country and of which they are so proud over there. Why shouldn't Schwetzingers also be proud of them? They have every reason to commit the name Yoder to memory so they will know with whom they are dealing the next time a Yoder turns up.

Moreover, the name Jotter (and Joder) is still alive in the region of the old Kurpfalz on the left [right?] bank of the Rhine. It is found especially in the Ludwigshafen-Frankenthalarea. Somewhere over there is probably the homeland of our emigrants before they came to Schwetzingen.

However, apart from the Yoders, the many other Schwetzingers and their descendants in America must not be forgotten. It is in fact astonishing how little the old relationships have been preserved.That it could be otherwise is proved by the people of Salzburg, driven out two hundred fifty years ago, now living in every country, who today still - or again - have a tight bond of friendship with their ancestral home - very much to the advantage of both sides.

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Yoder Newsletter - © Christopher K. Yoder, 1992, 1994