52 Ancestors #32 Three Sisters: The Stucky-Pfaeffli Connection

Catharine (Katie) Stucky ,1857-1877

Mary (Maria) Stucky, 1858-1929

Matilda Stucky, 1861-1908

John Pfaeffli, 1846-

As I explored the family of Helen Stucky, my husband Kenneth Ross Badertscher’s grandmother, I bumped into an interesting combination of three sisters and one man.  Two of the sisters of Helen Stucky’s father, Frederick Stucky, were married to John Pfaeffli, and another sister may have been—well–in a relationship.

Ken is related to the sisters because they are 2nd great-aunts–sisters to his great grandfather.

Catherine and John

Catherine Stucky, the fifth child (third daughter) in the family of John and Elizabeth (Roth) Stucky, was seventeen when she married the 27-year-old John Pfaeffli in December 1874. It is clear that Catherine was already pregnant when she married, as she gave birth to their first daughter, Florence Lydia Stucky in July 1875.

John was born in Switzerland in July, 1846, and arrived in the United States in 1870. He apparently came by himself. I can imagine a young man, getting familiar with a new country, and perhaps on his own for the first time in his life.  [John’s father arrived in 1876 at the age of 63, accompanied by a 36 year old woman.  In 1880 he is living with his son son and is a widow.]

John is listed as a cheesemaker on various census reports, and would have had no problem getting a job when he arrived with one of the many Swiss cheese makers in the area of Holmes and Wayne Counties, Ohio. Additionally, there were other Pfaeffle families in the area. The Swiss community would have made him welcome.  Perhaps he took advantage of the hospitality of the John Stucky family.

So, by 1875, John Pfaeffli is married and is a father. In 1876, Catherine becomes pregnant again, and in March 1877, she gives birth to another daughter. However, Catherine dies in childbirth, leaving John with two little girls. The baby is named Katie in honor of the deceased Catherine.

Mary and John

As is common in that time, John wastes no time remarrying so that he has a mother for his two girls.  And, also, not uncommon is the fact that he keeps it in the family.  In 1858, John marries the sixth child (fourth daughter) in the Stucky family, Mary (sometimes written as Maria). Like her sister before her, Mary is only 17 when she marries. John is now 32. In November 1878, Mary gives birth to John’s first son, John Alexander.

The couple goes on to have three more children, Walter, Erma and Blanch, in addition to raising Florence (also known as Flora) and Katie from John’s marriage to Mary’s sister, Catherine.

[I was slightly confused by the 1880 census.  In the York Township, Tuscarawas County schedule, Katie Pfaeffle (3 years old) is shown living with her grandparents John and Elizabeth Stucky.  She is also shown in Walnut Creek, Holmes County, with John and Mary Pfaeffle.  Both censuses were recorded in the same month.  I can only assume that Katie lived with her grandparents after her mother died, but was in the process of relocating to the home of her father when the census taker made his rounds.]

So far, there is nothing terribly out of the ordinary in this story–unless you are surprised by the early age of marriage and a pregnancy before marriage.  Since Mary’s son was born the same year as her marriage, it is possible that was another one, but I have not yet tracked down the wedding date.

Matilda and John?

But another entry in that 1880 census revealed a really interesting story. Not only is Katie Pfaeffle is listed with her grandparents but there was also  a one-year-old Edward Pfaeffle.  The mother is not identified. I knew, of course that this could not be Catherine’s child.  Later census reports show an Edward Stucky of the correct age to match up, so I saw that either his name had been changed or the census taker had made a mistake.

About the same time, I first saw the Stucky family history which clarifies that Matilda, the 7th child (fifth daughter) of the John Stucky family is the mother of Edward “Stucky”. Matilda would have been eighteen years old.

Apparently the 1880 census entry was not a mistake.  I found a birth certificate for an Edward Albert “Bafley”, b. February 1879, mother Matilda and father John Bafley. To back that assumption up, his name is Edward Albert Stucky on his tombstone. With the misspelling of Pfaeffli in so many documents, it is not a stretch to assume that John Bafley is the same John Pfaffelie who had married Matilda’s two older sisters?

If so, he was a very busy guy.

  • October 1874: Catherine gets pregnant
  • December 1874: Catherine and John marry
  • July 1875: Catherine gives birth to Florence
  • March 1877: Catherine gives birth to Katie and Catherine dies.
  • About February 1878: Mary gets pregnant
  • About May 1878:  Matilda gets pregnant
  • Some time in 1878: John marries Mary
  • November 1878: John Alexander is born to John and Mary
  • February 1879: Edward “Bafley” is born to Matilda Stucky and John “Bafley”.

Wrong Conclusion About John Pfaffeli?

I do not want to be unfair to John Pfaffeli, so I have tried to think of alternative explanations.  Here are two possibilities I came up with:

1. There really was a John Bafley as the birth certificate says, and it was the 1880 census that had the name wrong.

2.  There certainly could be other John Pfafflis–although I have not easily found any. But it was common to reuse a name, especially a common one like John, and so Catherine and Mary’s husband might have had a cousin named John.

If any of the Pfaeffli family are reading this and want to refute any part of it, I welcome any evidence.

This whole series on my husband’s family started because of pictures of the Stucky family. Wouldn’t it be lovely to see a photograph of John Pfaeffli?  He certainly must have been attractive. At least he attracted the Stucky sisters.


So what happened to single mother Matilda ( a term much kinder than her age would have used) and her out of wedlock son, Edward?  Both lived out their lives with John Stucky, and his successor, the youngest son of the family, Simon. Edward’s name was always Stucky as far as anyone in the community knew.  He may have been adopted by his grandfather or his uncle, but he is listed as grandson or nephew to head of household. Neither Matilda nor Edward every married. Nor did Simon.  Matilda is described in the family history as keeping house for her father and brother.

Matilda died in 1908. Simon died in 1940 and when Edward died in 1946 he was buried beside his uncle, their names inscribed on the same stone.


How My Husband is Related

  • Ken Badertscher is the son of
  • Agnes Badertscher, who is the daughter of
  • Helen Stucky, who is the daughter of
  • Frederick Stucky, who is the son of
  • John Stucky, who is the father of
  • Catherine Stucky, Mary Stucky and Matilda Stucky

Notes on Research

  • Descendants of John Stucky and Elizabeth Roth From the Year 1831 to 1972, by Martha Stucky, Sugarcreek Ohio, 1972. This is a faded copy in purple ink.  The information was mostly gathered by contacting family members, although it seems the author also looked at some census reports. Although obviously a great deal of work went into the listing of descendants, there is no index of sources.
  • Census reports from 1870, York, Tuscarawas, Ohio; 1880, York, Tuscarawas, Ohio; 1880, Walnut Creek, Holmes, Ohio;1900, York, Tuscarawas, Ohio; 1900, Wayne, Tuscarawas, Ohio;  1920, York, Tuscarawas, Ohio; 1910, Franklin, Tuscarawas, Ohio; 1930, York, Tuscarawas, Ohio; 1940, York, Tuscarawas, Ohio.
  • Find A Grave.com
  • Ohio, Births and Christenings Index, 1800-1962, Ancestry.com, for births of Matilda Stucky and Edward (Bafley) Stucky.
  • U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Registration State: Ohio; Registration County: Tuscarawas; Roll: 1851247; Draft Board: 2 ,Edward Albert Stucky
  • Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-2007, Ancestry.com and Ohio Department of Health 2011 for Edward Albert Stucky, Simon Stucky, Mary Stucky.
  • New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Year: 1876; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 405; Line: 43; List Number: 878  for Ulrich Pfaeffle.
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