Hail, fellow descendants of John and Margaret Bart Stauffer. We are bound in a sacred unity by the ties of the blood, name, language, and a common moral heritage. We have known but little of our interesting family history, and most of us have hitherto been strangers to each other. I am deeply impressed with the importance of this, our first family gathering. This will prove a historic day to those who will come after us. For today we are to discharge a sacred obligation to the dead, and at the same time render a valuable service to the generations yet unborn.
The command “Honor thy father and thy mother” in spirit means, “Have a due feeling of reverence for all thy ancestors.”
A deep and abiding reverence for parents and ancestry was a part of the religion of the Hebrews, and accounts partly for the marvelous strength and endurance of that people and for the great service they have rendered the world.
For a strong grip on life is always indicated by a genuine feeling of interest in the past, aw well as by a sense of obligation to posterity.
To live in the highest sense is to know the past, to make the best use of the present hour, and to lay hold of the future by faith and hope.
All family names mean something. In many cases their roots are deeply inbedded in the rich soil of the past, out of which they have grown.
The name Stauffer happens to be a very old one and has an exceedingly interesting history. It is an official title whose use dates from the middle ages, and whose English equivalent is “cupbearer’, or “butler”. It is derived from the Teutonic word “staupa”, to pour. The same root in the noun form is “stauf”, which is the German word for cup. The name is formed by doubling the f, so as to make it easier to pronounce, and adding “er”, which is the regular German masculine suffix of nouns which designate the doing of anything. For example, Mueller is formed by adding “er” to Muehle, mill and doubling the I. The miller is the man who handles the mill. So the Stauffer was originally the man who handled the stauf, or wine cup; hence, the cupbearer.
This same root occurs in various languages, e.g., in “Hamlet”, Shakespeare makes the grave-digger command his helper to fetch him a “stoup of Liquor”. This is the English form of the same old Suabian word from which is derived the name Stauffer.
The office of cupbearer came into existence in very ancient
times. From Genesis we learn that the
chief cupbearer or butler of the king of
From Nehemiah I:II we see that the author of that book was a professional cupbearer for the Persian king, Artaxerxes, in Babylon.
Xenophon describes the graceful manner in which the cupbearers of the Median monarchs performed the duties of their office.
The cup was first washed in the king’s presence. Then a little wine was poured out oand drunk in order to give satisfactory proof what it had not been poisoned. Afterwards the cup was filled to the brim and politely handed to the king.
Whether the office descended in unbroken succession from ancient to medieval times, I am unable to say. But it certainly was in existence at a very remote age in Europe, for there is a record of a “Stauffer Von Thunan” who took part in a tournament in Magdeburg Germany as early as A.D. 938.
Stauffer was the name of the officer who handed the cup to the kings, dukes and nobles of old Suabia. The position was therefore one of great responsibility and of considerable dignity and honor. In addition to waiting on his superior, there was generally added the function of levying toll from all passing travelers and merchants, a part of which he kept for himself. The office corresponded nearly to our modern collectorship of customs, and must have been as eagerly sought after/
The name Stauffer was applied to the office of cupbearer
only throughout old Suabia, which does not appear in modern maps of Europe; but
which comprised what is now the grand-duchy of Baben and a part of
This territory, which possesses special interest to every
Stauffer, has as its western border the river Rhine, and includes the modern
It is probable that all the Stauffers in America or their ancestors are from old Suabia.
At present the name is very common in
David McNeeley Stauffer, editor of the “Engineering News”, of New York City, to whom I am under many obligations, writes; “when I was in Bern, Switzerland, several years ago, I found Stauffers almost as plentiful as Smiths in an American city.
Each Stauffer who served in a particular court, after the thirteenth century, when names began to descend from father to son, gave his name to his children, and thus became the founder of a Stauffer family. It follows that there must be a great many persons bearing the name whose ancestors were not in the least related.
Although, viewed in the light of its history, Stauffer is not the most appropriate name for a total abstainer or prohibitionist; yet, on the whole, we have great reason to be thankful that we have fared no worse. For Stauffer is a robust, euphonious name, and has withal the delicious flavor of antiquity.
Fortunately for us all it is neither too common for practical use, as are Smith and Jones; nor is there in it any suggestion of vulgarity; nor yet does it posses the serious disadvantage of being hard to spell and pronounce.
Having this traced the name back to old Suabia, it will be
necessary next to consider the questions, when and why did our ancestors leave
Europe and come to
They left their homes because they were persecuted on
account of their religion, and because that section of
For centuries it was the great misfortune of
So long as
Bismark, the man of “blood and iron” fame, and Von Noltke, rescued them from their humiliating condition by welding them into a great and powerful nation.
In 1689 this infamous French king laid waste the entire
Speaking of this cruel war, Zimmerman says: “four hundred thousand inhabitants of
In reply to the question why the inhabitants of these districts were treated in this inhuman manner, the French Catholic Duke de Crequi answered; “Heretics deserve extirpation by fire and sword as much as the Mohammedans do.”
But the sufferings of our forefathers because of the wars of
Louis XIV were but a small part of their tribulation and sorrow. There was the thirty year war and the seven
year war, of which I have not time to speak.
These long continued and cruel wars, the burdensome tax which they imposed, the constant demand for military service from the men, together with religious intolerance made life inexpressibly burdensome to the common people.
There would seem to be but little in such a country to call forth the spirit of patriotism.
The disposition to rove has never been a distinguishing trait of the German. He loves his native heath, and forsakes it only under the stress of causes and influences that are well-nigh irresistible. Such was the nature of the political conditions in the Fatherland during the latter part of the seventeenth and the first half of the eighteenth century. Oppressed and persecuted, or forefathers sighed and prayed for deliverance.
Fortunately, yes providentially,
William Penn, the son of an English admiral, was divinely inspired to render a noble service to the cause of civil and religious liberty at the particular period.
As a Quaker missionary he made three preaching tours to
The first Germans who accepted the invitation of Penn to settle in Pennsylvania were a colony of thirteen Mennonite families, who crossed the ocean in the ship “concord” in the fall of 1683, and who settled at Germantown, Pennsylvania.
And be it said to their everlasting honor that this humble company of Christians was the first religious body in the world to protest against human slavery. This they did as early as 1688.
The reason why the Mennonites were the first Germans that immigrated
In Germany and Switzerland at this time, only the Roman Catholic, the Lutheran and the Reformed Churches were tolerated by law. The adherents of the “sects’” as they were called were everywhere persecuted.
In Zurich in 1635 the magistrate undertook to compel all
Mennonites to enter the Reformed Church.
Mennonites originated in
There creed may be briefly be summed up as follows; regeneration necessary to church membership; non conformity to the world; nonresistance; refusal to participate in pities; opposition to a paid ministry, prejeditated sermons and infant baptism; and refusal to take the civil oath.
The hard political conditions prevailing at home, the civil and religious liberty offered by the New World, as well as the prospect of greatly improving their material condition, caused multitudes of the common people to emigrate to America. From 1682 to 1776 almost all the emigrants from Germany and Switzerland settled in Pennsylvania. The influx of foreigners from the Palatinate was so large, that the colonial government became alarmed, fearing that the vigorous English colony planted by Penn, would be completely Germanized.
In order to keep out any objectionable citizens, the
colonial government compelled all incoming foreigners from 1727 to 1776 to take
an oath of allegiance to the King of England and to the proprietor of
Fortunately the lists containing 30,000 names of males who
took this oath have been preserved for us.
By consulting them in the state library at
I found that from 1727 to 1776, twenty one persons bearing
our name arrived in
This latest arrival, namely Michael Stauffer, was the founder of our family; and is therefore, the one foreigner of all others whose decision to come to the new World as fraught with the greatest consequences to all of us who are his descendants.
Doubtless you are eager to know all about this historical character, who is of so great importance to us, and who has until now been entirely unknown to us.
I am sorry to say but little is know about him. Evidently he did not think that those who would come after him would care to know how he looked, what he said and did.
All that was positively known is that he sailed from
The conditions under which the voyage to
In order to reach the Dutch port from which most of these
emigrants sailed, it was necessary for them to pass through thirty or forty
custom houses on the
In order to give you some idea of the hardships suffered
during the voyage, I quote from Fisher’s excellent work, “The Making of
Pennsylvania.” “The condition in which
the immigrants reached
Another authority says, “Moreover, the drinking water is so
black, thick, and full of worms that it makes one shudder to look at it.” Saur says that in a single year 2000 German
immigrants lost their lives in crossing the
From these statements it is evident that only those of the
most rugged constitution could possibly survive the inexpressible horrors of
the ocean voyage. All others died on the
way, or after arriving at
If our unfortunate ancestors suffered such untold hardships,
in order to escape persecution in
This is where in this document I must stop. This particular document was handed down to my grandfather C.L. Stauffer. It was a very old typed manuscript, that was then handed down to my father Farnwell Stauffer, and which I found amongst other documents with the family bible. Later on I found a copied version from what appears to be a book entitled “Historical Address” Delivered by Reverend Henry Stauffer at the First Stauffer Reunion held near Middlebranch, Stark County, Ohio September 3, 1893.
There are many notations on this copy denoting a difference of opinion as to the person who was our descendant that first came to America. Reverend Henry Stauffer believed that person to be Michael whom records show did came over on the Crawford in 1772, captained by Charles Smith. According to the “Genealogy of John Wesley Stauffer 1846 – 1923 and Mary Jane Richardson Stauffer 1846 – 1912 and Their Family” by Charles Albert Stauffer, Christian Stauffer who came to America on the Vertuous Grace in 1737 is that descendent. I am inclined at this point in time to agree, unless my future endeavors at researching the Stauffer name proves to be another.