52 Ancestors –#52 What’s in a name – Amstutz

The VERY LAST, FINAL entry in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge!!

Okay, I know it is not the 52nd week of the year, but I’m working ahead so I can take two weeks off. For this final entry in the 52 weeks challenge, I chose to go back to the very first of Ken’s Amstutz ancestors to be mentioned in the John Amstutz Family History book by James O. Lehman. Since we don’t know much about that first in the line of ancestors named Johannes Amstutz, I’ll also take a look at the meaning of the name and the origin of the family.

Johannes Amstutz, 1673; Johannes Amstutz, 1705; and Johannes Amstutz, 1735

In the 17th century, the Amstutz family had its roots in beautiful Sigrisiwl, above Lake Thun in Bern Switzerland. The church records of Sigriswil only go back to 1671, and two years after they started recording births, we can read about Hans and Barbara Am-Stutz, who had one son, Johannes,born November 23, 1673. Hans would be Kenneth Ross Badertscher’s 9th great-grandfather (Our grandchildren’s 11th great-grandfather!)

Johannes (1673), Ken’s 8th great grandfather, married Verena Schroter in 1693. She was from an area north of Sigriswil, and that family probably lived in Sigriswil. Their children were Anna, Magdalena and Johannes (1705).

Johannes (1705), Ken’s 7th great-grandfather, married Susanna Duperret and they lived in the Alsace region, like Johannes (1823). Their children were Peter, Maria, Susanna, Johannes (1735), David and Ester.

Johannes (1735), Ken’s 6th great-grandfather, lived in Langnau, Switzerland in the Emmenthal Valley. (Ever hear of Emmenthal Swiss Cheese?)  He married Elizabeth Neuenschwander and the couple had three sons, Johannes (1771) (Ken’s 5th great-grandfather), Christian and Michael.  James Lehman notes that “The family probably lived for a while at La Sagne, Switzerland, several miles from the French border (between the border and Lake Neuchatel).”  He gives no documentation for that statement, however, as we have seen in the stories of  Johannes (1797) (4th great-grandfather), Johannes (1823) (3rd great-grandfather) and John L. (1848) (2nd great-grandfather), the family clustered in northwestern Bern, near the French border, with some even living in France for a time.

Sigriswil was the home of ten or more families named Amstutz, or Am-Stutz when Johannes (1673), that early entry in the chruch records, was born.  Lehman says that the name “Am Stutz or Amstutz means “on the steep” and first appears in the chronicles of the 14th century.”  Ancestry.com says: ” topographic name for someone living near or at the foot of a steep mountainside, German am Stutz ‘at the escarpment’.”

Members of the family moved north to the Jura Mountains and into Alsace, France in the 18th century. Lehman states that they probably were not Mennonites until they moved to the Jura and Alsace.

This information agrees with the online encyclopedia of all things Mennonite, in an article from 1953, so that may have been his source. Certainly the movement patterns of Ken’s Amtstutz ancestors follows the pattern described below–moving from Sigriswil into the Münster District although Ken’s family seemed to lag behind the general movement. See Johannes 1797 and Johannes 1823. However, when it comes to migrating to the United States, their travel in 1871 came near a peak of Amstutz families immigrating in 1881, when 16 Amstutz families went to the United States. According to Ancestry, 8 Amstutz families immigrated in 1871. An earlier wave, almost as high happened in 1854.

Note that the John Amstutz mentioned moving from Chatelet to Sonnenberg in 1819 is not Ken’s family, but an earlier Amstutz family who moved to Sonnenberg. Thus when Ken’s Johannes Amstutz and his son John L. Amstutz emigrated, they were following a well-trod path of Amstutz migration.

From Global Mennonite Encylopedia On Line
Article by Delbert L. Grz 1953

…It appears that no members of the Amstutz family were Anabaptists while living at Sigriswil. Members of the family figured in the migration from German-speaking Switzerland to French-speaking Switzerland. They settled in the district of Münster in the Bernese Jura in the first half of the 18th century. Here most of the family became Anabaptist. One Amstutz family has lived in the commune of Chatelat for more than 150 years. In 1743 members of the Amstutz family settled at Massevaux, Alsace. During the following three decades other members of this family located to the south in the commune of Florimont and across the French border in the district of Pruntrut, Switzerland. Another Amstutz family settled in the principality of Montbéliard. It is quite certain that none were Mennonites before arriving in these settlements but most of them joined after their arrival.

Most of the members of the Mennonite branch of the Amstutz family immigrated to America early in the 19th century. Some of the first of this family to immigrate were John B. Amstutz and his sister Anna in 1818, who settled in the Allen-Putnam counties, Ohio, continuity. Another John Amstutz left the commune of Chatelat near Münster in 1819 and became one of the early settlers of the Sonnenberg Mennonite settlement in Wayne County, Ohio.

The name Amstutz is one of the most frequent family names among the Swiss Mennonite settlements of Sonnenberg, Crown Hill in Wayne County, Ohio, and Bluffton-Pandora, Ohio.

 

Notes on Research
“Amstutz (am Stutz, Am Stutz, Stutz, Amstuz, Amstoutz) family. by Gratz, Delbert L. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 17 Dec 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Amstutz_(am_Stutz,_Am_Stutz,_Stutz,_Amstuz,_Amstoutz)_family&oldid=119451

John Amstutz Family History by James O. Lehman, 1971. All of the information in this story comes from the research and compilation of family stories and excerpts from family letters in this mimeographed, twelve page work. While this is a carefully researched and compiled family history, I have not been able to confirm facts with primary documents.

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