Tag Archives: Ken Badertscher

52 Ancestors – #46 Rudolph Manbeck. Where There’s a Will – Part II

Have you ever wanted to time travel and get to see how a particular ancestor lived? What he or she did for a living, or to help support the family? What kind of furniture did he/she have? What was most important to him/her?

Rudolph Manbeck 1740 or 1743 – 1794

Flax plant

Flax – vintage illustration, Linum usitatissimum L., Common flax or Linseed.

Well lucky me, I’ve just returned from a bit of time travel to the end of the 18th century where I visited my husband, Ken Badertscher’s 4th great-grandfather and  grandmother, Rudolph and Christina (Ziegler) Manbeck. My time travel vehicle is the will filed in the Tulpehocken Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania court by Rudolph Manbeck in January 1794 and probated in February 1794.

Unfortunately, my time travel machine would not take me all the way back to Germany where Rudolph and Christina were born, but I have more than enough information about their lives in Pennsylvania to keep Ken and his family busy for years.Rudolph arrived in America in 1765 with his father and his two sisters (and probably his mother). He settled in Berks County, Pennsylvania and attended the Altahala Evangelical Lutheran Church at Rehrersburg, Pennsylvania, a church founded in 1757 to serve German immigrants. In the 1950s Manbecks were still active members of the church.

What did I learn from the will and inventory of belongings?  I learned much about Rudolph and Christina’s life, but also got a lesson in vocabulary.

Rudolph was religious. His will starts with language that is familiar to readers of wills of the 17th through 19th centuries, in thanking God that he is still of sound mind although “at Present Sickly and Weakly in Body.” He admits to mortality “it is appointed for all Men once to die”. The first order of business is to “commend my Soul into the Hands of God who gave it, Hoping through the Merits of our Savior Jesus Christ to receive Remission of all my Sins and an Happy Admission into the Regions of Bliss and Immortality.”

Rudolph was a traditionalist.  I know that because he followed the assumed pattern of German primogeniture.  His land and accumulated buildings went to his oldest son, John, who was also tasked, along with Christina, Rudolph’s wife, of administering the will.  That does not mean that Rudolph six or seven (I’ll explain the “or” in a bit) other children were left with nothing.  In fact, John had to pay 300 pounds for the farm, doling it out to his siblings according to a formula spelled out by Rudolph. Which brings us to another trait.

Rudolph was the decision-maker

–perhaps even a bit of a control freak.  Besides the specific formula by which John is to pay back his siblings for the farm, 1/3 of the will contains details about what his wife is to inherit and how John is to keep his mother after Rudolph dies. A long paragraph specifies a grocery list of food stuff that she must get yearly from major items like Eight Bushels of good Wheat  to “half a Bushel good Salt, 1/4 li (superscript – latin abbreviation for pound) pepper, 1/4 li Alspices, 1/3 li Ginger” and more.

As though he does not trust John to have good sense to proper care for his mother, he instructs on the care of the cow she is to have.  She is to “Keep a Cow, Summer and Winter’s in provender like his own Cow’s and when said Cow dies or is old and unfit, then to find or give her a young one again from his Cows.”

I could also herar his preachy voice saying “John, you need to give your mother grain, but you also need to take it to the Mill and have it ground and then take the meal back to her.” The wording in the will is, “Eight Bushels of good Wheat, four Bushels of good Rye and to the same from time to time as she Need go into the Mill and fetch these Meal and Bran Home into her dwelling.”

John gets more instructions about Christina’s dwelling place, again with lots of detail. He is to share the farm house and give her the use of “Kitchen, Garrett, Cellar, Spring House, Bake-Oven with Free Egress and Regress and in Case they cannot live peaceable together, then he is to make new Room on the Spring House in good order with a pipe stove and fireplace in it….” One hopes that they lived peaceable.

Rudolph Manbeck

Rudolph Manbeck signature on will 1794

You can see from Rupert’s signature, that he was in bad shape physically. Although he was only in his early fifties, he probably had suffered a stroke. What a terrible blow that would be to the tough old soldier (he was in the militia and served in the Revolutionary War) and a man who was used to giving orders.

Rudolph was a farmer

His major crop was flax, which is a change from the many dairy farmers I have been writing about.  he owned only six horned cows and 7 swine according to the inventory. Oh, yes, and a hive of bees that he gave to one of his daughters.

Out of 63 lines of inventory, many listing two or even three items, 11 lines contained one or more items having to do with flax, plus there were other items that might have been used in growing it (like rakes and scythes) or in making cloth (like spinning wheels, baskets, etc.). The picture below shows two items that are listed–a spinning wheel and reel.

Spinning Wheel and Reel

“Charlene Parker, spinner, at Knott’s Berry Farm” by DTParker1000 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Charlene_Parker,_spinner,_at_Knott%27s_Berry_Farm.JPG#/media

I am still learning more about raising flax and what you do with it after you raise it, but here are the terms that I was unfamiliar with in the inventory of his property.

Flax Brakes: Tool to crush the stems and release the fibers.

Hackles: Combs that straighten the fibers.

Hatchels: Another term for Hackle

Towlinen: Coarse cloth made from shorter fibers of flax.

Riddles:  Sieves for sifting seed–there were specific Flax Riddles, I am told.

Culling Box: Another device for separating seed. Not necessarily specific to Flax.

Flaxen Yarn:  The long-fiber thread that would be made into linen

Tow Yarn: The short fiber thread that would be made into the inferiorTow.

This paragraph from Mother Earth on line, explains many of the terms and the process.

Processing the bundles of stems to extract the fibers for spinning is a complex task that requires simple but special tools, a lot of hard physical work, and a sense of timing and judgment that comes only from long experience. The first step, called retting, involves soaking or wetting the stems for a period of days or weeks to promote bacterial action, which separates the different layers of stem tissues and loosens the fibers. After retting, the stems are dried again, then crushed between the wooden blades of a tool called a break or brake, which breaks the woody core into short bits that fall away from the mass of fibers. Finally, the bundles are combed through metal-tined combs called hackles. The result: a smooth bundle of long, straight fibers called line flax and a pile of fluffy, tangled, shorter fibers called tow. The line flax is used to make crisp, glossy fabrics, and the tow is used for everyday goods.

And this web site has a series of pictures showing the whole operatoin.

Christina Spent a Lot of Time Spinning and Weaving

There were a total of 6 spinning wheels and a reel listed in the inventory. One was specified as a Woolwheel, so presumably the rest were used for flax. Christina must have woven the linen and the tow, also, because Rupert leaves her quantites of yarn–both the amount of flaxen yarn and the amount of tow yarn were increased from what was originally written. (The first amount scratched out or written over). Fifty pounds flaxen yarn and thirty pounds Tow yarn. Additionally, the inventor lists 54 pounds of flaxen yarn and 20 of Tow yarn. Although there is no loom mentioned in the will, she most certainly was going to weave that yarn.

If the family was not in the business of selling cloth, they surely must have used it in barter for other goods.

Rudolph was Frugal

When he made his will, Rudloph owed 37 pounds, 6 pence to others, but he had 110 pounds, 10 shillings and 10 pence in cash on hand, which is a healthy amount of money for the time.

In the roughly 32 years since he arrived in America, Rudolph had created a successful 70 acre farm, and with Christina raised 7 (or 8) children.

More Work to be Done

At the beginning of the will, Rudolph specifies a paltry ten pounds as the legacy in full of his “Son Leonard”, to be paid to him or his attorney two years after his decease, with interest.

I have no idea who Leonard is, when he was born, or why he does not get the equal share that “my six children–my four Sons, George, Nicholas, Jacob and Daniel and my two Daughters Christina and Catharine”–plus John, who gets the major portion, and is not counted in the list.

Was Leonard actually a son, or a step son? Or was he perhaps a god-son? Or was he the eldest who under the rule of primogenture had to get something no matter how estranged the father and son might be–so he gets a token. Or did he marry a rich woman, and Rudolph didn’t think he needed any more? And why did he have to wait two years? The most obvious reason would be that he was not yet “of age”.

I find records for John and for a Johannes Leonard.  The Johannes Leonard Manbeck had a son that he named John in September 1794–nearly nine months after Rudolph Manbeck died.The son John who inherited the farm, according to the history of the Grim family of Pennsylvania that includes some Manbecks, was born in 1766,  which is one year after Rudolph arrived in America.According to that same source, he married around 1790.

The other problem is that I cannot verify the information in the Grim family book. I have very little information on Christina.  Although the Grim Family book says that her maiden name is Ziegler, I have not been able to confirm that. I don’t know for sure if Christina and Rudolph married in Germany or in America.  There are hundreds of Christinas among the German immigrants, adding to the confusion.

So there is much work to be done. I probably will leave it to Ken’s sister to finish some day.

Meanwhile, I’ll follow this post next week with one on Rudolph’s father’s will. And I’ll talk a bit soon about Christina’s kitchen.

How Ken is Related

  • Kenneth R. Badertscher is the son of
  • Agnes Bair Badertscher, who is the daughter of
  • Adam Daniel Bair, who is the son of
  • Daniel Manbeck Bair, who is the son of
  • Elizabeth Manbeck Bair, who is the daughter  of
  • Jacob Manbeck, who is the son of
  • Rudolph Manbeck and Catharina Ziegler Manbeck

Notes on Research:

Estate Files, 1752-1915; Author: Berks County (Pennsylvania). Register of Wills; Probate Place: Berks, Pennsylvania Pennsylvania, Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993, Rudolph Manbeck, 1794. On line at Ancestry.com

Pennsylvania, Revolutionary War Battalions and Militia Index, 1775-1783, Vol. 2, pg 260 Rudolph Manbeck, Corporal. From Ancestry.com

Pennsylvania, Tax and Exoneration, 1768-1801, Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission; Records of the Office of the Comptroller General, RG-4; Tax & Exoneration Lists, 1762-1794; Microfilm Roll: 316, Rudolph Manbeck, 1781. From Ancestry.com

A historical booklet of Altahala Evangelical Lutheran Church, Rehrersburg, Berks County, Pennsylvania : published for the 200th anniversary, Sunday, June 23, 1957, Rehresburg, PA: Brossman, Schuyler C.,Church Council, 1957.  From Ancestry.com

Genealogy! Just Ask!  I received help on unfamiliar terms in will from this Facebook Page. Principally from Marlys Pearson, but many others chimed in as well.

 Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen or Medicinal Plants, Franz Eugen, 1887, Germany. This is the source of the beautiful vintage plant illustration of the flax plant. In the public domain. Found on the web site: Plant Curator.

52 Ancestors #39 The Germans are Coming – Bair

One thing that we KNEW about my husband’s ancestors–they were Swiss. 100% Swiss. I even said so in the first article I wrote about the Badertschers,  Swiss Immigrants Invade Ohio.

So the challenge to write about something “Unique” today had me floored.  I had several unique things I could find among my ancestors, but Ken’s? No way. Swiss Mennonites, immigrated within the 19th century, dairy farmers, large families. They were dependable.

And then I learned it was not true. He is NOT 100% Swiss. In fact, his mother’s maiden name, Bair, is not Swiss at all–it is German.  Even Ken’s sister did not know the shocking truth. And among his ancestors, that makes the Bairs unique.

Now you may want to quibble. The Swiss Badertschers and Stuckeys and Amstuz’s and Schneiter’s and Müllers and all the rest were German-speaking Swiss, so what’s the difference? For one thing, they thought of themselves as Swiss, not Geman. (Unlike, say, my Scots-Irish ancestors who moved to Ireland but always thought of themselves as Scottish.) But more importantly those census takers who recorded the language the Swiss immigrants spoke as German were wrong. They spoke Schweitzerdeutsch,which  is much more than a dialect. It is a separate language .  In fact, as that article I linked in the last sentence points out, speakers of Schweitzerdeutsch would have to go to school to learn German as a foreign language.

So, briefly, an introduction to the Bair who revealed to us that this branch of Ken’s family was unique and Ken is not 100% Swiss, and learn that there are other things that make them unique in Ken’s line. There is a long way to go on this research, And it isn’t helped by spellings of Bair, Baer, Bear and maybe even Beer. I have held it down to Bair below, although I suspect it was flexible in Germany, tending toward Baer and translated incorrectly as Bear in English. Here is what I know at the moment.

Adam Daniel Bair

Adam Daniel Bair
Jerusalem Cemetery outside of Stonecreek in Tuscarawas County, actual birth was1889.

Ken’s Grandmother Helen Stuckey (of purely Swiss roots) married a Bair.  The father of Adam Dale Bair and Agnes Bair Badertscher (Ken’s mother) was Adam Daniel Bair, born in 1889, Ohio.

The father of Adam Daniel Bair  was Daniel  Bair [Jr.], born in 1850 in Ohio.

Daniel M. Bair’s father was another Daniel Manbeck Bair [Sr.] 1802 in  Pennsylvania according to an 1860 census and in a family tree that looks very accurate so far.

But at the moment that is all the farther I can go with the Bairs.  Too many Daniel Bair/Bear/Baer and too many Abrahams , also. There are Daniel Bair/Bears in the Civil War, and one Abraham Bair that I’ve spotted in the War of 1812, but so far, no way to prove if they’re the right ones.

At least I know that Ken’s Bair generation did come from Germany since besides the probability of the Bairs immigrating from Germany, the family of Caroline LImbach, the wife of Daniel Bair Jr., are definitely from Bavaria, Germany. And the Manbeck line (mother of Daniel Manbeck) may prove to have German roots as well.

So we know that unlike the other lines we’ve been tracing, that only go back 2 or 3, this one reaches back at least 5 and perhaps more generations in this country. And besides–they are not all Swiss. How unusual in this family.

How Ken is Related

  • Kenneth Ross Badertscher is the son of
  • Agnes Badertscher who is the daughter of
  • Adam Dale Bair, who is the son of
  • Caroline Limbach and Daniel M. Bair. Caroline is the daughter of
  • Adam Limbach, from Bavaria
  • AND
  • Daniel M. Bair, is the son of
  • Daniel Manbeck Bair, who is the son of
  • Elizabeth Manbeck Bair

Notes on Research

  • United States Census, York Township, Tuscarawas County, Ohio,1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920.
  • Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-2007, Ancestry.com and the Ohio Department of Health (index list)
  • Web: Ohio, Find A Grave Index, 1787-2012

There was much more research, and more is ongoing, but you will get those references as I talk about individual people.

52 Ancestors #38 Kidron and Sonnenberg: Favorite Place of Swiss Mennonites

Last week, I got  a little sidetracked with maps of Tuscarawas County, Ohio and Switzerlands Bern region, to show how the ancestors of Kenneth Ross Badertscher‘s mother’s maternal line came from a small area in Switzerland, and clustered together in one area in Ohio when they came to America. It was their favorite place.

This week the challenge at 51 Ancestors is to talk about a “Favorite Place” and as I started looking at the maternal line of Ken’s father, I discovered the same kind of pattern as with his mother’s line, except that these people–The Amstutz, Baumgartner and Tschantz families in particular–settled around Kidron/Sonnenberg in Wayne County, Ohio. Kidron was the center of their favorite place.

Kidron Ohio

Kidron, Wayne County, Ohio on Google Maps–fields and forests.

Why?  Probably partly because it looked like the dairy country of Bern, Switzerland–minus the towering Alps in the background.

Wayne County Ohio

Farms in Wayne County, Ohio. Photo by Ken Badertscher.

Ohio Dairy Cattle

Kidron Ohio area dairy cattle. Photo by Ken Badertscher.

Amish Farm in Ohio

Haystacks on an Amish Farm in Wayne County, Ohio. Photo by Ken Badertscher.

Menno Simons

Menno Simons who gave his name to Mennonites

Despite the fact that most of Ken’s ancestors were dairy farmers, their principle reason for moving to America had less to do with rich pastures and scenery than with religion.  They were part of a reform movement of Anabaptists that was persecuted in Switzerland .  The last straw for the followers of Menno Simons, who believed in pacifism, came when the Swiss were instituted universal military service. These hard-working farmers with strong beliefs fled to protect their religion freedom. SImultaneously, an economic slowdown had men searching for work that would sustain large families, as we saw in the case of Anna and Samuel Schneiter.

If you want more information about the history of the Mennonite immigrants, I skimmed the history of the Mennonite immigrants in my article Swiss Immigrants Invade Wayne County, Ohio” . (A comment from a reader points out that the reason for the first Badertscher family to come to America was that their oldest son was of military conscription age.)  And although I generally steer clear of Wikipedia, I can recommend its coverage of the Mennonite church.

Abraham Amstutz

Abraham Amstutz, (One of many by that name). son of Johannes.

(One of many by that name).

In 1819, a small group founded the first Mennonite church in the area at Sonnenberg, named for a valley in Bern, Switzerland. Friends and family followed in 1821, and they formed the Sonnenberg Mennonite church.  Until 1834, they met in homes, and then built a log structure that served as church and school. As word went back to Switzerland, and as people saved money for passage, the communities continued to grow. A second community, Kidron, was named for the valley in Israel beside Jerusalem. Gradually, the communities merged as Kidron.

Meanwhile, they were clearing land, buying livestock and building log homes for their large families to live in. Ken’s paternal great grandparents lived in this house, which reminds me of homes we saw in Switzerland where the farmers lived upstairs over the quarters for their livestock, so the livestock could keep warm in the winter.

Swiss Immigrants Frederick and Mary Badertscher

Frederick Badertscher Sr and wife Mary. Photo From Ancestry.com

John Tschantz and his wife and their son Abraham and his wife were one of the first four families to arrive in Sonnenberg.  Their cabin survived (barely) and has been restored in Sonnenberg Village, maintained by the Kidron Historical Society. (I am working on the relationship to see if this family is in Ken’s direct line. Since there were many Tschantz families and many named Abraham, this may take a while.) Here’s the before and after.

Abraham Tschantz cabin

Abraham Tschantz cabin before restoration.


Abraham Tschantz cabin after restoration. Photos from the Sonnenberg Historical Society website.

On this land map that shows (in the bottom of the southern half of the township) the land of Ken’s 2nd grandfather Abraham C. Tschantz, there are many other names that are part of his lineage such as Amstutz, Badertscher, Baumgartner, Sommmers, Lehman, Moser. Other names Ken recognized as schoolmates for neighbors: Gerber, Hoffstetter, Steiner, Eckard, Ressler, and Wertz.

You can double click on the maps to see the names more clearly on your computer. This map from Ancestry. com is dated 1897. If you disagree because of your own family information, please do share that information with me!

Paint Township Wayne County Ohio

Northern half of Paint Township, Wayne County, showing Dalton where Ken went to school. His family moved from Dalton to the intersection of Rt 30 and Kidron Road. Red marks J. H. Tschantz, a great-great uncle.

Paint Township, Wayne County, Ohio

Southern half of Paint Township, showing location of Kidron and land of Abraham C. Tschantz, and many different Amstutz families clustered around Kidron.

The Mennonite families, and the Amish families that also clustered in this area prospered over the years, and you will find many of the same family names.  The Kidron Community Historical Society  provides a valuable resource for anyone seeking to know more about family history of these Swiss immigrants who landed in Wayne County, Ohio. So why did the first four families settle the small community of Sonnenberg? I don’t know. Perhaps they originally thought to settle in Pennsylvania, but it was becoming too crowded. Land would have been cheaper in the very new state of Ohio (statehood 1908).

Why was Kidron/Sonnenberg a favorite place of Swiss immigrants in the early to mid 19th century?  Because family was already there.

If you are traveling through the Amish/Mennonite Country of Ohio, two places to look for clues as to why Kidron was a favorite place of the Swiss Mennonites are the Kidron Genealogical Center and nearby Sonnenberg Village in Wayne County, and the Behalt Cyclorama in Holmes County–a vivid depiction of the history of the Mennonite and Amish religions.