Category Archives: Ken Badertscher family

Johannes Amstutz: A family divided

At this time of year, we treasure gathering family together.  How sad, then, to contemplate a family  where the children were scattered among relatives due to the early deaths of their parents.

Johannes Amstutz (1771) and Anna Gerber

Last week, I wrote about my husband Ken’s 2nd Great Grandfather, Johannes Amstutz who was born in 1823.  In the long line of Johannes Amstutzes, Ken’s 2nd Great Grandfather was the one who first emigrated to America.  That immigrant’s grandfather, also a Johannes, was born to Johannes Am-Stutz (1735) and Elizabeth Neuenschwander of Lagnau, in the Emmenthaler valley of Switzerland.  The family probably lived  in La Sagne, between the French border and Lake Neuchatel,  when he married Anna Gerber.

We don’t know a lot about the couple, but according to the John Amstutz Family History by James O. Lehman, Anna Gerber came from Langnau, located in the Emmenthal, which is where Johannes (1771)’s mother came from. The couple lived in Moutier, north of Bern. They probably married about 1796.

Switzerland map

Amstutz 1771-1823 Switzerland locations

Their oldest son was born May 3, 1797, and named ( what else?) Johannes. Seven children followed in the next 17 years: Elisabetha, Christian, Nicklaus, Samuel, Michael, Anna and Katharina.

Shortly after Katharina was born both the father and mother died, just a few weeks apart.  The children, from the baby Katharina to 17-year-old Johannes were split up as they went to live with relatives.

Johannes (1797), the oldest of this unfortuante group of siblings, went to live with his mother’s father who lived in La Jaux (according to records), but Lehman notes that probably was “La Chaux-de-Fonds between the French border and Lake Neuchatel.”  There are a dozen towns called La Chaux in Switzerland, so it is difficult to pin down the exact location. La Chaux-de-Fonds is a city, rather than the rural small towns the Amstutz family generally lived in. Today La Chaux-de-Fonds is a UNESCO World Heritage City because of its long history of watch making.

Johannes only lived with his grandfather for four years before he got married and struck out on his own….our story for tomorrow.

(This week marks the wrap-up of the 52 Ancestors 2015 at Ancestors in Aprons.  Because I take time off over the holidays, I will be providing three Amstutz family stories in one week.)

How Ken is Related

Kenneth Ross Badertscher is the son of

Paul Badertscher, who is the son of

Ida Amstutz, who is the daughter of

Abraham Amstutz, who is the son of

Johannes Amstutz (1823), who is the son of

Johannes Amstutz (1797), who is the son of

Johannes Amstutz (1771), who is the son of

Johannes Am-Stutz (1735)

Notes on Research

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.


The Amstutz clan arrives in Sonnenberg

Thanks to a family history written by James O. Lehman about 1971, we have a vivid picture of the journey of my husband’s Amstutz family from Switzerland to Ohio. Ida Amstutz was Ken’s grandmother and her grandfather and father arrived in North America in 1871.

A little over 100 years later, Ken and I traveled to Switzerland with our two younger sons, Mike and Brent. We spent a few days in Sigriswil, the lovely village that the earlier Amstutz family had lived in.

John Amstutz (1823-1899)
Katharina Welty (Kattie) (1822-1902)

The elder immigrants were Johannes (John) Amstutz and Katharina (Catharine) Welty Amstutz. They married in Switzerland, and lived with her parents briefly before their first son, John L., was born.  Johannes had a prosperous dairy farm in Switzerland, but because he accumulated wealth, many people borrowed money from him.  When too few repaid their loans, the family fell on hard times and moved several times along the border with France, and then into France.

They had a total of five sons and three daughters, who received a smattering of education in the various places the family lived.  In France in 1869, a smallpox epidemic swept through the area and killed their two youngest girls.  Anna Lisi was 4 and Katherina was 8 years old. The family was in dire straits economically, and the sons, even twelve-year-old Jacob had to hire themselves out to other families to work.

Split apart by economic necessity, illness and deaths, they also had the worry of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. When France lost the war, the province of Alsace in which they lived was surrendered to Germany.  But by that time the family had decided to join other Mennonite families who had gone to America. They had to borrow money to make the journey, and because they had such a large family, decided that Daniel, who was 20, would stay in Switzerland and continue to make money to help the family. He could come later.  But at the last minute, the relative who loaned the money added enough so that Daniel could go also.

Johannes (48) and Katharina Welty Amstutz (49),  John L. (23),  Abraham (22), Daniel (20) and Benjamin (18), Jacob (15), Anna Maria (Maryann)(13) boarded the train in Basel to Frankfurt, Germany. They were hopeful that life would be better in America. And they were right.

Children of Johannes Amstutz (1823)

Standing: Benjamin, Jacob, Maryann; Seated: John L., Abraham and Daniel H.(circa 1895)

In John Amstutz Family History, James O. Lehman writes, “As the train rolled along the Amstutz family sang, “Vo meine Berge muess i scheide, wo’s gar so libli ist und schön.” (From my mountains I must depart where it is pleasing and beautiful.) ”  While this may strike you as just a little too “Sound of Music”, it is quite believable because the Swiss families were very musical and they passed down little stories like this about their immigration. The Amstutz family was known in Sonnenberg for their musical ability.

Travel was somewhat safer than it would have been a few years prior to the 1870s, because they would travel by steamship, and because America’s Civil War was over. (See my previous article on steamship travel for immigrants when I wrote about another of Ken’s Swiss ancestors with a similar experience).

Amstutz Family

Amstutz family listed on passenger list of Cimbria

S.S. Cimbria- Amstutz ship to America

S.S. Cimbria

The Amstutz family joined 200 immigrants, mostly from Switzerland and Germany on the S. S. Cimbria in Hamburg, German, after having spent a night in Frankfurt. The names are abbreviated, and some of the ages are off.

Name         Age   Occup.   Origin            Destination

  • Yon Amstutz, 48, Farmer, Switzerland, United States
  • Cath   ”             49                         ”                 “
  • Yon     ”             23                         ”                 “
  • Abe     ”             21                         ”                 “
  • Dan      ”            20                         ”                 “
  • Benj      ”           18                          ”                 “
  • Jacob    ”            15                          ”                “
  • Marianne ”          9                          ”                “

After just twelve days of mostly good weather, they arrived in New York City’s Harbor. Next they took a train from New York to Ohio and arrived in Sonnenburg.

On Sunday May 28, 1871 we arrived happily on the Sonnenberg, where relatives and acquaintances greeted us.  It was not hard for us to feel at home among these Swiss people who had gone on ahead.  Soon we all received places to work.  We 6 children with the parents made this region a permanent home. (Letter written by the son, John L. Amstutz.)
“Because of their recent arrival from Switzerland and to differentiate them from other Amstutz’s in the community they eventually had the nickname Schweitzer Stutz.” (from John Amstutz Family History

Abraham Amstutz would marry Elizabeth Tschantz, a fellow immigrant, and they would become the parents of Ida Amstutz Badertscher, Kenneth Badertscher’s grandmother.


Kenneth Ross Badertscher is the son of

Paul Theodore Badertscher, who is the son of

Ida Amstutz Badertscher, who is the daughter of

Abraham Amstutz, who is the son of

Johannes Amstutz (1823)

Notes on research

John Amstutz Family History by James O. Lehman, 1971. Most 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. I have confirmed some information as noted below.

United States Federal Census, 1880, Sugar Creek, Wayne County, Ohio

Find A, Johannes Amstutz (1873)

Photographs were shared on by various people.

In the Kitchen of Christina Manbeck

When I wrote about Rudolph Manbeck’s will, I mentioned his bequests to his wife Christina and the detailed list of items that his son John was to be sure Christina Manbeck had each year after Rudolph passed on.  I also talked about the family’s reliance on flax–growing and making linen cloth–but I skipped over most of Rudolph’s itemization of kitchen items which gives us an opportunity to talk about the German immigrant’s kitchen. (Although aprons are not mentioned, Christina surely must have been protecting her clothes and doing a lot of cooking.)

Rudolph and Christina are my husband Ken Badertscher’s 4th great grand-parents, and the first North American arrivals of the Manbeck clan, along with their parents.

Christina Manbeck 1745-1824

I have not proven to my satisfaction that Christina’s family name was Ziegler, but the birth date above assumes that is correct. It also assumes that she was born in Freudenstadt, Germany, and arrived in Pennsylvania as a child in 1752.

Although she grew up as a resident of the new world, and lived through the American Revolution, she lived the somewhat enclosed life of a German immigrant in a thoroughly German community, attending a German church where sermons were in German. It stands to reason that her cooking, therefore, would derive from her German background. That is borne out by the foods that her husband thinks it is important for her to have in her kitchen.

Christina Ziegler Manbeck

Christina Manbeck and John Manbeck signatures as executors on Rudolph Manbeck’s will.

Christina never learned to read and write, signing as executrix of Rudolph’s will with an “x” (above), although her husband was literate–witness the TEN books in the inventory of his goods, listed with other guy stuff like razor , musket and knives (below).

Rudolph Manbeck books

Rudolph Manbeck owned books – Inventory- Probate Records, 1794

In addition to general living, and the business of growing and using flax, here’s what Rudolph believed Christina needed in the way of foodstuff each year:

  • 8 bushels of wheat (ground into flour)
  • 4 bushels of rye (ground into flour)
  • 1 fat hog, at least 70 pounds, butchered
  • 40 pounds of beef, twice a year
  • a dairy cow with feed
  • 1/2 of the calves produced by that cow
  • Hens enough for however many eggs she needs,
  • half a bushel of salt
  • 1/4 pound pepper
  • 1/4 pound allspice
  • 1/3 pound ginger
  • However many apples, peaches and other fruit she needs to eat and to dry
  • 1 barrel of cider
  • 4 gallons of vinegar
  • 1 gallon of apple brandy
  • 10 pounds of tallow (rendered lard used for cooking, making soap and making candles)
  • as much firewood as she needs
  • 6 bushels potatoes.

There are several things I noticed right away.  Some time ago, I talked about the foods brought to America by German immigrants.   In case you don’t have time to read the article, it is worthwhile to repeat the main points, and see how they match up with the food in Christina’s kitchen.

I did not realize until I delved into the subject, that Germans brought SO MANY food ideas to America.  And I had never focused on the importance of balancing sweet and savory (sour) in recipes–despite my love of hot potato salad with its sugar and vinegar, the fact that I use brown sugar in sauerkraut and my love of mouth-watering sauerbraten.

Without the German immigrants, we would not have sauerkraut, potato pancakes,  sticky buns, apple butter, knockwurst, bratwurst and liverwurst and 3-bean salad.  How about some strudel or Black Forest Cake for dessert? We wouldn’t even have cream cheese!  Although some other nationalities made a creamy cheese, the one we principally use today in America was invented in Philadelphia by German dairy farmers.

In addition to the foods supplied by her son, Christina Manbeck will be able to grow vegetables and herbs in the 1/3 of the kitchen garden which shall be set aside for her and fertilized with manure.  She shall have the use of the kitchen and the kitchen furniture and wooden tubs (presumably for laundry). She shall also have “bushels” (bushel baskets) and ironware for her use.

Her husband appreciates that Christina needs certain spaces in order to keep house. Besides the kitchen, she shall have free access to the garret (attic), cellar (for storage of preserved foods), spring house (for water and for storing foods that need to be cool, such as butter and the bake oven.  If she and her son cannot coexist in the old family farmhouse, he must build her rooms onto the spring house including a fireplace and a pipe stove. (This was indeed a modern family, as many at this time had only a fireplace for cooking!)

So what did she make with wheat flour and rye flour and those spices? Certainly the good German rye bread.  I will use the spices in the Lebkucken coming up next week. Pepper, allspice, ginger, and vinegar all go into that German favorite Sauerbraten and the new German roast recipe I’ll be trying. Spices are so important that they get mentioned in the will, because as mentioned above, the Germans like sweet and sour and highly spiced foods.

Christina is going to use a LOT of allspice and ginger. She will have 4 oz every year. I have 1 to 2 ounces, and I don’t use nearly all that in a year. The Germans used other spices, like cloves, mustard seed, and anise, for instance, but perhaps they are too expensive to buy in such large quantities, and she would buy small amounts as needed.

But, Rudolph, did you forget sugar? Is that because the family used only honey?  There is a hive mentioned in the will which goes to a daughter. I hope that Catharine will share the honey with Christina!

And when I read the Inventory of goods, which is what will be sold– left over after Christina gets her share — I notice several things that surely she could have used. Why were these items not specified in the long, detailed list?

Candle molds and candle holders, pewter ware, utensils, earthenware pots and other earthenware surely would be useful. The Manbeck holdings include a quantity of corn, buckwheat and oats. Why is she not provided with those grains?

However, she does receive 50 shillings cash, presumably every year, so she can buy whatever she cannot share with son John.

I have really enjoyed visiting the 18th century kitchen of Christina Ziegler Manbeck. Rudolph appears to have thought about just about everything that his wife will need.


Here is my transcription of the whole section of the will devoted to Christina:

It is also my Will and I do Order that my Son John or his Heirs and Assigns, As a further Consideration for my Aforesaid Plantation or Tract of land, Shall give, deliver and make good yearly and every year unto my beloved Wife Christina, so long as she Lives and remains my Widow the following Articles that is to say—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, a fat Swine which shall weigh Seventy pounds and to Kill the same, forty pounds of good Beef, both in the fall or Killing time, to keep a Cow, Summer’s and Winter’s in provender like his own Cow’s and when said Cow gets dies or is old and unfit, then to find or give her a young one again from his Cows. But he shall have the old Cow and the one half parts of the Calfs her Cows always bring, from year to year twelve pounds Hatchled (?) Flax, twelve pounds Tow, four pounds good wool, So many New Shoes and to Mend the old ones as she has Need of, So many Hens of Fowls and Eggs for her to eat as she has Need for, half a Bushel good Salt, ¼ pepper,/1/4 Alspices, 1/3 Ginger. So many Apples and other Fruit for to Eat and make Dry Apples and Peaches, one Barrel good Cyder, four Gallons Vinegar, one gallon Apple Brandy, ten pounds Tallow, the one third part of the Garden were she pleases to have it and to Dung it when required, Six Bushels Potatoes, So much small Cut Fire wood fit for use to be delivered to her dwelling House as she has Need for, to have the Liberty to Live in the House as at Present Live in with with the use of the Kitchen, Garret, 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 for her to live in; and keep it in good Repairs, fifty shillings Cash in specie, and when she should get Old and Infirm or Sick, to give or find her good Attendance.

I give and bequeath unto my beloved Wife Christina a Bed with Bedstead, Chest, all the linen and linen furniture, fifty pounds Flaxen yarn, thirty pounds Tow yarn, Spinning Wheel, Reel, and C___ to do her choice, one chair take her choice, to have the Liberty to take so much of the Kitchen furniture and Wooden Tubs. Bushels and Iron Ware for her use as she has Occasion for and that then all the same shall be in full for my beloved Wife’s one-third part of my personal Estate and to have no further demand against the same.

How Ken is Related

  • Kenneth Ross 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

Research Notes

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

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

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.

History of the Grim family of Pennsylvania and its associated families : including the following: Merkle, Greenawalt, Fertig, Zechman, Schaeffer, Smith, Felver, Conde, Garner, Robbins, Long, Kisling, Schartel, Manbeck, Giltner, Schreiner, Dreher, Kircher and Moyer families. Long, William Gabriel, “The Manbecks”, M.E.G. Grim, J.L.G. Long, H.H. Grim, 1934. On line at images 134-136.