The Children of Abraham Stauffer - 1748-1823

Abraham Stauffer (1748-1823) and his wife Elizabeth Zug Stauffer (1759-1802) had ten children. The only one who did not live to maturity was the twin Jacob who died the day he was born--August 15, 1802; his mother Elizabeth died the same day. Six of the children went with Abraham when he emigrated to Canada in 1805, and we have plentiful records of their lives and descendants. The other three stayed in Pennsylvania, and we have little or no information on them.

Some records list these Stauffer children as being born in "Lititz, Lancaster," Pennsylvania, and others say "Warwick, Lancaster." Lititz is the town, and Warwick the township.

Looking at the next generation, we find Abraham's children produced 59 grandchildren that we know of, though close to a third of them were not born until after he died. All but ten were in Ontario. All but one of his children named their first daughter Elizabeth, apparently in honor of their mother. The one who didn't, Samuel, gave the name to his second daughter. He gave the first one the name of his grandmother Susannah. So Abraham had at least six granddaughters named Elizabeth! 

Abraham lived almost twenty years after the move to Canada, and if it is true that his first wife died in childbirth in 1802, then it is clear from his will that he remarried to another Elizabeth. None of his children died before he did. Esther was the first to die, at 46, and Daniel the second at 50, while Samuel lived to 77 and Joseph to 78. Joseph, the youngest and the surviving twin, was last to die and lived until 1880. We don't know when two of the three who stayed in Pennsylvania died, but if we can judge by the fact that they are mentioned in their father's will, they did not die until after 1823.

See Early Stauffers for a description of sources mentioned in the following.

David Stauffer (1781-?) and Susannah Long (?)  
The oldest son of Abraham and Elizabeth Stauffer did not make the move to Canada with the rest of the family, and we can find very little information on him. A few sites on the Internet give information about a David Stauffer with correct birth date and parents. Three give a name for his wife. None give information on children nor when or where he died. However, David, along with his brother and sister who did not go to Canada,  is included in a list of Abraham's children in his 1823 will, so it seems there must have been some communication over the years with those who stayed in Pennsylvania.

Samuel Stauffer (1782-1859) and Esther Groh (1786-1862)

Blenheim Mennonite Cemetery, Washington, Ontario

Abraham and Elizabeth's second son was our ancestor. He was 23 and still unmarried when they moved to Canada. His wife, Esther, seems to be where the chain of Esthers in our family originated. Their grandson Samuel named his daughter Esther. She was my great-grandmother, and my mother and I were both named after her. Two more generations have carried it on as a middle name. 

Esther's family was another of those involved in the migrations from Pennsylvania to Canada during the first decade of the 19th Century. Her father Michael made the trip first. He liked what he found so well that he bought six acres, cleared land for winter wheat, built a small cabin, and headed back for his family. On the return trip, they got as far as crossing the Niagara River when Michael became ill. One daughter stayed with him while the rest of the family pressed on. By the time they arrived, word reached them that Michael had died. That was in the fall of 1804. The Stauffers came a year later, and Samuel and Esther were married on her 20th birthday, December 5, 1806. 

Samuel and Esther had ten children in seventeen years. Five of them named a daughter Esther. Four of them ended up in Michigan, including their sixth child, our ancestor Abraham G. Stauffer (in addition, #1-Isaac to Gaines, #2-Susannah Kinzie to Kent County, and #9-Sallie Janzen to Caledonia). One son died unmarried at 30. There is a mystery about David, #7.  We are told he was adopted by "old Henry Erb" and died at 14. Why on earth they would have adopted out one of their children is a huge mystery. It couldn't have been Esther's health because she gave birth three more times and lived to 76. Samuel lived to 77. Believe it or not, just seven of their children produced 74 grandchildren! (But again, not all were born in their lifetimes.) 

John Stauffer (1784-1850) and Elizabeth Hohn (1780-1851)
The third son, John, also did not go to Canada. On him there is more information, especially if I interpret Richard Davis's numbering system correctly. According to Davis, John lived in Londonderry, Lebanon Co., and in Derry, Dauphin Co. Both counties are in Pennsylvania, but neither town is on my AAA atlas. A few sites on the Internet give information about him with correct birth date and parents. Some give a name for his wife and when or where he died, but no information on children. Davis, however, gives dates for his wife and a list of ten children, all born in Londonderry across a span of nineteen years and all growing to adulthood. John is listed in his father's 1823 will along with all Abraham's other children. He lived to be 66 and Elizabeth 71.

Susannah Stauffer (1786-?) and Christian Bomberger  (?)  
The fourth child was Susannah. As the first girl, it is likely she was initiated early into the skills and responsibilities of caring for a family. She was 19 when the family uprooted to go to Canada. Either Susannah or her sister Elizabeth stayed behind, and records disagree about which one it was. The Stauffer booklet and a copy of Abraham’s will indicate Susannah as the one who went. Whichever one it was (we're going with Susannah because of Abraham's will), we have surprisingly little information on her, including no wedding date nor when she died. 1 

She married a Christian Bomberger, and we have even less information on him.  The one thing we know for sure is that they had no children. That must have been a source of tremendous grief in that day and in the midst of so prolific a family clan. However, given that Susannah was 16 and the oldest sister when her mother died leaving a newborn, it is tempting to wonder if she might not have been heavily involved in raising her brother Joseph, the surviving twin.  

Abraham Stauffer (1788-1858) and Catherine Biehn (1785-1859)  
Elizabeth Stauffer's fifth pregnancy produced twins on August 1, 1888. They gave the babies their parents' names: Abraham and Elizabeth. At the time of the move to Canada, they would have been 17. (See Elizabeth, following)

On November 5, 1809, Abraham married Catherine Biehn, whose family was one of the first to make the move from Pennsylvania to Canada. (The Stauffer book gives her name as Elizabeth.) Abraham lived to 70 and Catherine to 84. They had seven children, with one dying in infancy, their son Abraham at age 20, and their youngest, Catherine, at 34. Even through only five children, they had 38 grandchildren. 

Their son John and a group of farmers in the district formed a company and erected a cheddar cheese factory on a corner of the farm in 1866. It was advertised in the Berliner Journal as the first cheese factory in Waterloo County. It was equipped to process the milk from 300 cows (Stauffer booklet). Their daughter Catherine married Joel Good, who lived until 1912 and was one of the patriarchs of the 1904 Stauffer reunion. But Catherine died after six children, possibly in childbirth. Joel would marry again, giving Abraham and Catherine's grandchildren a Scottish step-mother and nine more siblings!

Elizabeth Stauffer (1788-?) and ?? Helmuth 
Elizabeth was Abraham's twin. As mentioned, there is confusion in the records about whether the daughter who stayed in Pennsylvania and married someone named Helmuth was Elizabeth or Susannah. The Stauffer booklet and a copy of Abraham’s will say it was Elizabeth. Whichever it was, she undoubtedly stayed because she was already married—and perhaps pregnant. Indeed, one record gives her a marriage date in 1804, which would fit. She is listed in her father's will, so it seems there must have been some kind of communication between the family members over the years, and she must have still been alive.

Esther Stauffer (1790-1836) and George Clemens (1777-1863) 
Esther's story is told in another link on this website. Some records say she was born in December and an equal number say September. We can see on her headstone that it is December. Esther was married at barely 15, and after giving birth to 18 children, she died at age 46.

Daniel StauffER (1796-1846) and Susannah Kinzey (1798-1881)  

Daniel Stauffer, who was 9 years old when the family migrated to Canada. Kinsey Biehn Cemetery, Waterloo, Ontario

Esther was just past five when her younger brother Daniel was born in February of 1796. Daniel was six and a half when his mother died and nine when they moved to Canada. I wonder if he rode in the covered wagon or tried to walk with his big brothers Abraham and Samuel during that five-week journey. Maybe some of both. 

Already in the new community in Canada was a little girl whose family had come from another county in Pennsylvania three years earlier. It is tempting to imagine childhood romance, but there isn't much point because Daniel and Susannah did not marry until 1818 when she was 20 and he was 22. Daniel lived to 50, but Susannah lived to be 83.

They had nine children in 22 years, with three calendar years between each one, though one may have died in infancy. Their second child, Barbara, was one of the oldest present at the 1904 Stauffer reunion, and she lived to 91. A boy named Menno died at 16, and two daughters died in their 30s during child-bearing years; Judith at 37 already had nine children. The other four lived to be 78 to 86.

Abraham's will and the Stauffer booklet tell us that Daniel inherited his father's land and in turn passed it to his youngest son, Noah. Noah was a Mennonite minister, "one of the first ministers to preach fluently in the English language," and the one who dreamed up and hosted the 1904 Stauffer reunion on Abraham's original land.

Joseph Stauffer (1802-1880) and Rebecca Rosenberger (1801-1882)

Erb Street Mennonite Cemetery. Notice the inscription at the bottom of the headstone: Erected by the grandchildren in 1912.

We believe Abraham is buried in this cemetery (Weber Mennonite) south of Waterloo but were not able to find his grave. No stones as early as 1823 were readable.

The youngest child in the family was the surviving twin, who of course never knew his mother. His early care undoubtedly came from his teenage sisters. He was just three when they made the long, hard trip to Canada. The Rosenbergers, from Montgomery County, PA, were another one of the earliest families to go to Canada, when Rebecca was scarcely more than an infant. 

Compared to how much information we have on some of his siblings, we have surprisingly little on Joseph, not even a wedding date. Davis gives nothing but date of birth for either twin. Eby even confuses the twins. Our best information on Joseph's family is from the Stauffer booklet and Eby. Joseph and Rebecca had only five children. Only the youngest was a boy. We do know that his oldest child (Elizabeth, of course!) was born the year her grandfather Abraham died; she then died the same year her father died. His two youngest made it into the 20th century. Joseph lived to 78 and died in 1880, while Rebecca live two years longer and died at 81. Their son Levi inherited their property.

Hot Cider Across the Centuries
I wish that I could sit down with this Abraham Stauffer (I have two in my ancestral line) and chat with him over a mug of hot cider. I would start by asking him where he was born and who his paternal grandfather was—mysteries I may or may not yet be able to solve. I would see if I could get him to talk about his wife Elizabeth, the mother of his children. I might even wax bold and show him the write-up I did about her and see how close I came with my information, two hundred years after the facts. And I would certainly ask him about that tragic day in August 1802 when she gave birth to her second set of twins and then died along with one of them. I would ask him where he buried her because I would very much like to find her grave

I would like to hear Abraham tell me firsthand his reasons for taking such a big step as uprooting and moving to Canada when he was fifty-seven. Did his decision have anything to do with Elizabeth's death? How hard was it to leave three of his children behind? Was the five-week trip--traversing mountains, forests, rivers, and a swamp--a family adventure, a rewarding challenge? My guess is that in those days and under those circumstances, it was probably nothing more than an exceedingly difficult experience. I would express my sympathy for the fact that his brand new barn burned down in a forest fire only two months after he bought his property in Canada. 

Yes, Abraham could tell me many things I would love to know, but I could tell him some things, too. So would someone please refill our cider mugs? I might start by telling him that his namesake grandson, who was just nine when his Grandpa Abraham died, would at age 40 decide to leave Canada and head back to the United States, only this time westward to Michigan. I would tell him that eight generations down the line, many of his descendants still love his God and want to please Him. No, we don't have families of a dozen children any more, but we do still give many of them Bible names. I would love to tell him about his great-grandson Samuel dying in a cistern when he tried to save the life of another. And I imagine he would enjoy hearing about the large Bible belonging to that Samuel--the last in my line to die with the Stauffer name--and how it found its way back into the family, to me, almost a century after he died. 

Yes, I would love to visit with this ancestor who has become much more real to me through recent research and writing. But that visit, and many others, will have to wait until I am "gathered to my people" (Genesis 49:33). 

~~Check out the other Stauffer links and the pedigree chart on our Stauffer index page for more on people and events mentioned here.~~

1. A good reason for this lack of information may simply be that she and her husband left no descendants to pass information to Ezra Eby when he was researching the families at the end of the century.