Religion in Family History
In my post First Amish Settlements I wrote about where the Amish first settled in America.
The first settlement was at Northkill in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The settlement began in 1738 and quickly grew to about 150 to 200 people. Quite a few of my Amish ancestors were part of this settlement. Later that same year another settlement was started in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
John A. Hostetler in his book Amish Society records that Bishop Jacob Hertzler was also a member of the Northkill settlement. Jacob Hertzler is considered the first Amish bishop in America. However, Bishop Hertzler did not come to American until 1749, so in a footnote Hostetler contends that he may not have been the first bishop since no one would have been able to perform marriages or conduct communion services for more than a decade after the settlement started.
Steven M. Nolt in A History of the Amish also mentions that there is no firm record of a bishop in America before Hertzler. He does mention that there were ministers and deacons who served the settlement before that time. Most likely if there were no bishops before Hertzler the ministers would have performed the duties of a bishop.
Jacob Hertzler was born in about 1703 in Switzerland so was in his mid 40’s when he immigrated aboard the ship St. Andrew. The ship landed at Philadelphia after sailing from Rotterdam. Hertzler and his family soon joined the settlement at Northkill.
Jacob Hertzler is my 7th great-grandfather. His daughter Catherine, who was born in about 1733 in Berne, Switzerland, married John Hochstetler who was the oldest son of Jacob Hochstetler.
As I look back through my Amish family lines there are several ministers and bishops among my ancestors. They all helped build my religious heritage.
Click on the link for more posts in this series: Religion in Family History