The Hochstetler Family

 

 

Almost every character in Northkill is based on a real person. Following are the members of the Hochstetler family, from whom the authors are descended, and their spouses. These are the main characters in the story. In Northkill the German spelling is used for the names of those who came to this country from Europe, while the English spelling is used for those born in Pennsylvania.

 

Jakob (Jacob) Hochstetler. Jakob was born in 1712 in Echery, near St. Marie-aux-Mines in the Alsace region of Europe between France and Germany. His father is thought to have been the Täuferlehrer, or Anabaptist minister, Jakob Hochstetler, who was a close associate of Jakob Ammann, the founder of the Amish sect.

 

Anna Hochstetler. The name of Jakob's wife is unknown. Family historian Virgil Miller suggested in an article in the JHFA Family Newsletter that she might have been named Anna since that is the only female name that appears in all the families of Jacob’s children. In another issue of the newsletter, the edtior, Daniel Hochstetler, speculated that she may have been the sister of Christian Berkey, who settled in Berks County in 1737. Early Amish Land Grants in Berks County, Pennsylvania, also lists a Jacob Berkey, whose land adjoined Christian’s as possibly being Christian’s older brother. Thus in Northkill Jakob's wife is named Anna, and Jakob and Christian Buerki (using the German spelling) appear as her brothers. She was killed in the Indian attack.

 

Johannes (John) Hochstetler. Johannes, Jakob's first son, was born in the St. Marie-aux-Mines region of the Alsace. Family tradition holds that he was around 3 years old when his parents brought him to this country.

 

Katherine (Katie) Hochstetler. Katie was the daughter of Jakob Hertzler, the bishop of the Northkill Amish Church, who immigrated from Europe with his family in 1749. She married Johannes c. 1751. 

 

Barbara Hochstetler Stutzman. It is uncertain whether Johannes or Barbara was the older of the 2 children who accompanied Jakob and his wife to this country. If she was older, Johannes would have married and had a child before she did, which is not as likely, so in our story we made her the younger of the two. She has just turned 17 and is preparing for her wedding to Christian Stutzman when Northkill begins in September 1752. At the time of the attack she lived with her family on a nearby farm.

 

Christian Stutzman. Christian is thought to have been the son of Magdalena (Maudlin) Stutzman. She may have been the widow of Christian Stutzman, who along with his wife was banished from Switzerland in 1711 for their Anabaptist faith. Jakob and Hans Stutzman, who warranted land near hers, were likely Christian's brothers; they also appear in Northkill. 

 

Jacob (Jake) Hochstetler. Some accounts place the birth of Jakob's second son in 1740. It’s reasonable to assume that he was born about a year after the family settled in the Northkill community, when the hardships of their journey were over. He would have been 17 at time of the attack, in which he was killed.

 

Joseph Hochstetler. Joseph was born in 1742. He would have been 15 at the time of the attack, when he was taken captive. This is consistent with the information Jakob gave in his petition to the governor to have his captured sons returned to him. Joseph came home in either 1763 or 1765.

 

Anna Blanck Hochstetler. Anna was the daughter of Hans and Magdalena Blanck (Eng. Blank), who immigrated to this country in 1750. She was born c. 1744. Joseph married her sometime after he returned from captivity among the Indians. Because they were with the Indians for so long, both he and Christian found it very difficult to re-assimilate into the Amish culture, and it was through their marriages that they became reconciled to their return. Although there is no definitive proof that Joseph and Anna knew each other before his capture, there is some evidence that their parents knew each other in the Alsace. That makes it plausible that they had at least met before the attack. In Book 2, The Return, Anna becomes a strong ally in Barbara and Johannes's quest to find her father and brothers and bring them home.

 

Christian Hochstetler. Christian was born in 1746, which would make him 11 at the time of the attack. He was taken captive by the war party along with his father and brother and probably returned home in late summer 1765. Soon after his return he married Barbara Rupp, an orphan girl and later became a preacher in the Dunkard Church.

 

Anna (Annali) Hochstetler. The age and name of Jakob's younger daughter are unknown, and we chose to name her after her mother. Some accounts make her older than Christian, but that seems unlikely for several reasons. No family tradition about her exists. The fact that her story is completely blank argues to us that she was very young at the time of the attack. Another strong argument for her being very young is that the war party killed her. Because of the brutal pace Indians typically set when they carried captives away, those who couldn’t keep up because they were wounded (as was Jacob, Jr.) or were unfit for the journey and of no value to them (as was Jacob, Sr.’s middle-aged wife) would be killed. If this daughter had been older than Christian, or even only a few years younger, she would more likely have been a valuable captive, who would be taken, as many young children captured in frontier raids were. But she was not, and it seems the most plausible that she was an infant or toddler at the time.

Copyright © 2015 by Sheaf House Publishers.

Contact Joan M. Shoup at jmshoup@gmail.com.