Updated January 2021
By Brian Bowers
MICHAEL and CATHERINE ZIEGLER
Michael Ziegler appears to have been born about 1684 in Germany. (1)
Married a woman named Catherine. She has been identified as the daughter of Andrew Shrager, who immigrated from Germany in 1709. (2)
Andrew Ziegler, born about 1711.
Gertrude Ziegler, born about 1713. Married Isaac Kolb.
Christopher Ziegler, born 1714.
Susana Ziegler, born 1719. Married Jacob Schumacher.
Catherine Ziegler, born 1725. Married David Allebach.
Michael Ziegler, born 1727.
William Ziegler, born 1728.
Barbara Ziegler. Married Heinrich Ruth.
Michael appears to have lived in the region that is now the state of Rheinland-Pfalz in western Germany. In the late seventeenth century, the region was torn by war and impoverished. Many residents – known as Palatines – left for better opportunities in other countries – including America.
In England, a Michael Zielger appears on “A list of all the poor Germans lately come over from the Palatinate into this kingdom taken in St. Catharine’s the sixth May, 1709.” He is listed as a 25-year-old cloth and linen weaver who was single and Lutheran.
The book “Maintaining the Right Fellowship,” by John L. Ruth, tells of early Mennonite settlement in America. Among the groups Ruth follows is one that consisted of about a dozen families who fled the economic troubles in the Palatinate. They ended up in Rotterdam, Netherlands, seeking funds for passage to America. As Ruth writes, “with them came also the illiterate twenty-five-year-old Lutheran weaver Michael Ziegler, who was soon to wed Andrew Shrager’s daughter Katharina, and later become a Mennonite minister.” (5)
These Mennonites were among thousands of Germans who flocked to the port city in the spring of 1709. Ships took the refugees to London where they were housed wherever possible while awaiting passage to the New World. Ruth believes that Michael Ziegler and Andrew Shrager were among those who gained passage to Pennsylvania just few months later.
The group settled in Skippack, which was in Perkiomen Township in what is now Montgomery County, Pa., but was then part of Philadelphia County.
At some point, Michael became a Mennonite and soon became a leader in the Skippack community. The first records that indicate Michael’s status are referred to in an item on the Skippack Mennonite Church in “The Mennonite Encyclopedia.” “In 1717 the wealthy Matthias van Bebber, Mennonite owner of the 6,000-acre tract on which the Mennonites settled, conveyed 100 acres to 7 Mennonite trustees named Sellen, Jansen, Ziegler, Custer, and three Kolb brothes, Henry, Martin, and Jacob. A meetinghouse was built here c1725, replaced in 1844 by a new one. … Claes Jensen and Michael Ziegler were preachers.” (5) This land was used for a school, a burial ground and a farm to support the community’s poor. (6)
Ruth continues the story: “In those busy years of clearing and building, not everything got done in proper sequential order. A ‘Declaration of Trust’ governing the use of the 100-acre Mennonite farm, school, and meetinghouse at Skippack was not drawn up until March 20, 1725. This was also the year when thirty-four men of the Bebber’s Town community appealed for the laying out of a township to be named Skippack. Half of these men were Mennonite. Three Frieds had now moved in, and the names of Hans Detwiler and Willem Weirman made their appearance on the list. Next to the name of prosperous minister Michael Ziegler was that of schoolteacher Christopher Duck, though before long he would buy a farm in Salford.
“Still another document on which Michael Ziegler needed to set his ‘mark’ involved the whole Pennsylvania Mennonite community. Gathering from ‘Canastoge’ as well as ‘Shipack,’ Germantown, ‘Great-Swamp,’ and ‘Manatany’ were sixteen ministers and bishops, to proclaim their loyalty to the Mennonite teaching as written in the 1632 Dortrecht ‘Christian Confession of the Faith of the harmless Christians, in the Netherlands known by the name of Mennonists.’ … From Skippack Bishop Jacob Gaetschalck seems to be the first to sign, followed by Henry Kolb and his brother Martin, Claes Jansen, and Michael Ziegler.” (7)
In early 1728, a bloody dispute between the Conestogas and Shawnees threatened to erupt into war between the two native American tribes. Residents of rural Philadelphia County responded by petitioning Gov. Patrick Gordon in May. The petition states: “We think It fit to address your Excellency for Relief, for your Excellency must knowe That we have Suffered and is like to sufer By the Ingians, they have fell upon ye Back Inhabitors about falkners Swamp, & near Coshapopin. Therefore, we the humbel Petitioners, With our poor Wives & Children Do humbly Beg of your Excellency To Take It into Consideration and Relieve us the Petitioners hereof, Whos Lives Lies At Stake With us and our poor Wives & Children that is more to us than Life. Therefore, We the humble Petitioners hereof, Do Desire An Answer from your Excellency by ye Bearer With Speed, so no more at present from your poor afflicted People Whose names are here Subscribed.” (7a) The “Pennsylvania Archives” does not include Michael’s name on the petition, which include a long list of names ending with “And numerous others.” However, others have linked him to the document and it’s reasonable to believe that a threat so close to his home would have prompted him to sign.
Ruth also describes how, for a number of years after immigration, the settlers failed to pay quitrents due on land obtained from the Penn family, the proprietors of Pennsylvania. James Steele was asked to gather the due payments in 1735. “But in all of Bebber’s Towns, where over half o the landowners were Mennonites, only Minister Michael Ziegler, it seems had paid. Taking a new initiative, agent Steele then wrote to Ziegler, asking him ‘to speak with the inhabitants of Bebbers Township and let them know that the Quitrents … must be forthwith paid … so that the [Penns] may be paid wt has been so long due to them.’ Ziegler, now prospering in his mid-forties and still signing papers with his ‘mark,’ seems to have held a reputation of trustworthiness. Steele wrote that the ‘best way’ to proceed would be for Bebber’s Town people ‘to meet and pay to thyself [or] any other that they might think fit.’ This seems to indicate that Michael had by now achieved a position of both spiritual and economic leadership in his neighborhood. But his neighbor, deacon Jacob Kolb, apparently also functioned as a collector of the quit rent.” (8)
A few years later, Michael Ziegler’s mark – MZ – appears in the 1738 audit of the alms in the record book of the Skippack Mennonite Church. (9)
“History of the Mennonite of the Franconia Conference” gives a brief rundown of the church-related records signed by Michael over the next few decades. He “signed (made his mark; he couldn’t write; while he wife could write – an unusual case in the eighteenth century) the first audit (1738) in the Skippack alms book. Served as treasurer, 1739-1741; 1753-1760. … A note in the book under date of August 27, 1761, speaks of the treasurer as, ‘Michael Ziegler den Alten.’” (10)
On Oct. 14, 1745, leaders of the Mennonite churches of southeastern Pennsylvania sent a letter to their brethren in Amsterdam, asking for aid in translating the book “Martyr’s Mirror” from Dutch into German. This was a key book for the Mennonites because it outlined the history of persecution of anabaptists and was seen as a way of fortifying the faith. Michael Ziegler was among the six signers of the letter. (11)
Many of the researchers cited here relied heavily on work originally done by Ralph B. Strassburger for “The Strassburger Family and Allied Families in Pennsylvania.” In addition to Michael’s church-related activities, Strassburger explored his property transactions in great detail. He notes that in 1734 Michael owned “as much as six hundred and fifty acres, which was located in Skippack, Salford and other townships adjacent or near by.” Following is a brief rundown:
+ On Feb. 14, 1718, Michael purchased his first tract of land, 100 acres on “‘Parkeawming Creek,’ in what was then called Bebber’s Township.” In 1734, he had the land resurveyed and received a patent from the proprietors’ land office for the tract on Aug. 6.
+ In 1722, Michael purchased 50 acres next to the original tract.
+ In 1727, he purchased another 100 acres in Skippack Township from Andrew Shrager on which to build a tannery. Michael and Catherine lived on this land.
+ In March 1727, the proprietary government granted Michael 450 acres in “Goshenhoppen” in New Hanover Township.
+ In 1734, Michael Ziegler is listed among 42 householders in “Parkiomen and Skippake,” where he with paying the proprietary tax on 100 acres. (12)
In addition to these transactions, Michael is listed as receiving a warrantee for 400 acres in Philadelphia County on March 10, 1732. It’s possible this is related to the 1727 grant noted above. (13)
Starting in 1745, Michael began conveying his property to his sons. Much of this land now lies within Upper Hanover Township, Montgomery County.
Finally, Strassburger mentions some of the provisions of Michael’s will, which was written Feb. 7, 1763. After providing for his family, Michael “left 9 pounds to be paid to the Elders of the ‘Congregation of my Township wherein I now reside for the use for the poor.’”
Michael died sometime before Oct. 29, 1765, when his will was proved. However, it appears that Michael actually died in 1764 because, as Strassburger states, “In 1764, before the will was probated, Valentine Hunsicker acknowledges on behalf of the congregation, ‘the receipt of nine pounds Pennsylvania money from Michael Ziegler in accordance with the last will and testament of his (Michael’s) father for the poor of the Schippacher Mennonite Congregation.”
(1) A Michael Ziegler, age 25, appears in “Lists of Germans from the Palatinate Who Came to England in 1709”in “Immigrants to the Middle Colonies,” edited by Michael Tepper, pages 84-123. It seems likely that this Michael was the make who later became a Mennonite leader in Pennsylvania since he is listed near others who eventually settled near him, including his suspected father-in-law. At this point, most of my information on Michael Ziegler is derived from secondary sources. I have tried to weigh their information against the primary sources that I have found so far to give what appears to be an accurate picture of this immigrant’s life. A key source for this family is “The Strassburger Family and Allied Families in Pennsylvania,” by Ralph B. Strassburger, who wrote a biographical sketch of Michael and other associated with the Ziegler family. He covers Michael’s family on pages 414-453. Additional information comes from “The Ziegler Family and Related Families in Pennsylvania,” by Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler, page 231. Perhaps the most interesting source is “Maintaining the Right Fellowship,” by John L. Ruth, which is mentioned in the text above. Very basic information is supplied in “The Mennonite Encyclopedia,” Vol. 4, O-Z supplement, page 1026. (2) First name is mentioned in “Collections of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania,” Vol. VI, page 1564, which contains abstracts of Philadelphia County wills. The link to Andrew Shrager come from “Maintaining the Right Fellowship,” by John L. Ruth, pages 86. Ruth appears to have checked the original sources very thoroughly and I don’t have a reason to doubt this identification. (3) Children’s names come from the will. Birth years and spouses are mentioned in “The Ziegler Family,” which I am seeking to confirm. Strassburger states that Andrew was born in 1707, which seems unlikely if Ruth’s account is accepted. (4) “Maintaining the Right Fellowship,” by John L. Ruth, pages 85-89. In his endnotes, Ruth cites as his source for the passenger list “Immigrants to the Middle Colonies,” edited by Michael Tepper, pages 84-123. The immigration information does not appear in Strassburger’s account of the family. Since most other sources rely heavily on his work, most lack this information, as well as the identification of Catherine as the daughter of Andrew Shrager. Strassburger mentions a brother, Melchoir, who immigrated with Michael. I am not certain where he obtained this information and it seems unlikely that they immigrated together – and it could be doubted that there is any actual link. (5) “The Mennonite Encyclopedia,” Vol. 4, supplement, page 536. Strassburger lists the trustees as Henry Sellen, Claus Jansen, Henry Kolb, Martin Kolb, Jacob Kolb, Michael Ziegler and Hermanus Kuster. (6) “Maintaining the Right Fellowship,” page 96. (7) “Maintaining the Right Fellowship,” page 102. (7a) ‘The Indian Wars of Pennsylvania,” by C. Hale Sipe, pages 92-95. The petition is in “Pennsylvania Archives,” Series 1, Vol. 1, page 213. (8) “Maintaining the Right Fellowship,” by John L. Ruth, pages 114-115. (9) “Reckenbuch 1738 of Skippack Mennonite Church,” a microfilm in the Montgomery County Historical Society in Norristown, Pa. (10) “History of the Mennonites of the Franconia Conference,” by J.C. Wenger, page 296. This entry includes quite a bit of discussion about Michael and his namesake son’s position in the church. I’ve eliminated it from the main narrative because it raises more questions than it answers. It states that Michael “Subscribed to the Dortrecht Confession of Faith at the 1725 conference. This would seem to indicate that he was a minister. … Served as treasurer, 1739-1741; 1753-1760. This would seem to indicate that he was a deacon. But it has usually been held that he was a preacher. … His son Michael (d. 1822) signed the Skippack alms audits about eight times from 1764 or 1775 to 1802. (Since others wrote his name for him it is difficult to ascertain when the father stopped ‘signing’ and the son began.) A note in the book under date of August 27, 1761, speaks of the treasurer as, ‘Michael Ziegler den Alten.’ Was Michael, Jr., perhaps a deacon?” (11) “The Strassburger Family and Allied Families of Pennsylvania, by Ralph Beaver Strassburger, 1922, pp. 391-413. (12) Also, “Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania,” Dec. 1898, Miscellany No. 2, Landholders of Philadelphia County, 1734, as listed on USGENWEB ftp://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/pa/philadelphia/ land/1734land.txt (13) “Pennsylvania Archives,” Series 3, Vol. 24, page 58.
CHRISTOPHER and DEBORAH ZIEGLER
Christopher Ziegler was born in 1714 to Michael and Catharine Zieger in what is now Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. (1)
Married Deborah Pawling about 1734. She was the daughter of John Pawling and Aaje DeWitt. Deborah may have been born in 1719. (2)
Michael Ziegler, eldest son.
John Ziegler, second son.
Andrew Ziegler, third son, deceased when Christopher’s will was written.
Christopher Ziegler, youngest son.
Catharine Ziegler, deceased when Christopher’s will was written. Wife of Benjamin Moyer.
Hannah Ziegler, second daughter. Wife of Martin Lantes (Landis).
Elizabeth Ziegler, third daughter. Wife of Samuel Bower.
Susannah Ziegler, fourth daughter. Wife of Jacob Weiss.
Barbara Ziegler, fifth daughter. Wife of David Buckwalter.
Deborah Ziegler, sixth daughter. Wife of David Longenecker.
Christopher’s father was a Mennonite preacher in what is now Skippack in Montgomery County. Until 1784, the are was part of Philadelphia County.
In 1745, Michael Zeigler distributed much of his property among his children. On Aug. 7 of that year, he sold Christopher a tract of 208 acres in Upper Hanover Township for 146 pounds in Pennsylvania currency. At the same time, Michael sold to his son Andrew another tract in Upper Hanover. Nine years later, Christopher purchased at least part of the property – covering 185 acres – for 226 pounds, 19 shillings and 6 pence. (4)
Records indicate that Christopher started off as a farmer but eventually became a weaver, following the career path that his father had taken. The 1745 deed mentions he was farmer in “the Township of Skipack and perkiome.” In 1780 and 1781, he is listed as a weaver in the tax list for Upper Hanover Township. However, the tax records also indicate that he continued to own a substantial farm. (5)
In 1769, Christopher Zeigler was taxed for 170 acres and a dwelling, 3 horses, 5 cows, 10 sheep. In 1774, Christopher Zigler owned 170 acres, 4 horses and 4 cattle. In 1779, he is listed as Christopher Zigler. In 1780, Christ’r Ziegler’s property had a valuation of 4,000 (all of the sums on the 1780 list are unusually high). In 1781, the property of Christopher Zeigler, weaver, held property with a valuation of 480 pounds. In 1782, as Christ’r Zeigler held property with a valuation of 480 pounds. And in 1783, Christ’r Zeigler, was taxed for 170 acres, 2 horses, 4 cattle and 11 sheep. (6)
During the 1750s and 1760s, Christopher is occasionally mentioned in the journals and papers of David Shutlze, a surveyor and legal advisor for many Germans who lived in what is now Montgomery and Northampton counties. One of the volumes of Shultze’s records says, “Ziegler was a close friend and neighbor of David’s.” One reference from March 1756 mentions that “This month a child of Abraham Moyer and one of Christopher Ziegler’s also died.” The name of the child is unknown. On March 2 and 3, 1768, Shultze was “At Christopher Ziegler’s. Surveyed for Samuel Bower and Michael Ziegler.” Christopher also contributed a recipe for one of the many folk remedies that are mentioned in Shultze’s journals. “Christopher Ziegler’s remedy for dysentery. He took some fine plaintain (wegerich) seed. A doctor in Germany is to have saved many people with this.” (7)
During the Revolutionary War, Christopher probably did not serve in Philadelphia County’s militia. It’s likely that his Mennonite beliefs would have led him to decline to serve. However, he was also older than the mandatory service age. Pennsylvania required service for all men age 18 to 53, and Christopher was over 60 when the war began.
Records referring to militia service – and non-service – probably refer to the younger Christopher. A Christophel Ziegler is listed as serving under Captain Benj’n Markley’s company of Philadelphia County militia when it mustered on May 8, 1780. However, other records show Christopher Zigler was fined 40 pounds for failing to muster for militia duty. (8)
In April 1786, Shultze notes that “Christopher Ziegler moved to Saucon on the 13th.” That August, Shultze helped Christopher write up a will. (9) It seems that Christopher – now age 72 – had decided to retire, and perhaps he moved in with one of his children who had moved to the Saucon area in Northampton County.
Catherine had already died by this point as the 1786 will mentions Christopher was a widower.
When Christopher wrote his will in 1786, he noted that he was “in an advanced age, But of Sound Mind, Understanding and Memory.” The will indicates that he was “of Upper Hanover Township,” which might indicate that he decided to return from Saucon. Christopher notes that he had already sold all of his real estate to his son Christopher, and “my Estate at present consists Chiefly in Some Cash outstanding Debts and a Small Quantity of household Goods, being all a personal Estate.” However, he bequeathed money to his surviving children and the heirs of those who had already died.
A decade later, Christopher wrote another will. In this document written on Nov. 7, 1796, he notes he is living in Providence Township, Montgomery County. Otherwise the text is very similar to that of the 1786 will, with a few deletions and alterations to reflect changes over the intervening decade. (10)
Christopher lived to be 90 years old, dying in 1814. He is buried in the Lower Skippack Mennonite Cemetery, Skippack Township, Montgomery County. (11)
(1) Father is identified in will of Michael Ziegler in “Collections of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania,” Vol. VI, page 1564, which contains abstracts of Philadelphia County wills. Birth and death years appear in “Lower Skippack Mennonite Cemetery,” page 26, a manuscript at the Montgomery County Historical Society in Norristown, Pa. (2) The wedding occurred after her father wrote his will in 1733, but before the birth of her oldest child in or before 1736. Deborah is identified as a daughter of John Pawling in his will in Philadelphia County Will Book E, page 243. In addition, she is listed as John Pawling’s daughter and Christopher Ziegler’s wife in a deed that lists John’s heirs, in Philadelphia County Deed Book G12, page 731-733. Her birth date was April 15, 1718, according to a listing at Findagrave.com, which contains a photo of a very weathered tombstone. She was born in 1717, according to “The Ziegler Family and Related Families in Pennsylvania,” by Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler, page 297. Also see “The Strassburger Family and Allied Families in Pennsylvania,” by Ralph B. Strassburger, pages 414-453. (3) The children, their birth order and spouses are listed in Montgomery County, Pa., Will Book 2, page 379. Birth years for some of the children, as listed in “The Ziegler Family,” are: Catherine, born 1736; Hannah, 1740; John, about 1745; Elizabeth, 1746; Andrew, born 1748; Barbara, 1758; Christopher, 1763; and Deborah, 1765. (4) The land transactions are described in Philadelphia County Deed Book H14, page 190, and page 193. (5) The 1780 tax list appears in “Pennsylvania, U.S., Tax and Exoneration, 1768-1801,” at Ancestry.com. The 1781 tax list appears in Pennsylvania Archives,” Series 3, Vol. 16, pages 53. (6) The Upper Hanover tax lists appears in “Pennsylvania Archives,” Series 3, Vol. 14, pages 60, 449 and 732; Vol. 15, page 563; Vol. 16, pages 53, 256 and 714. (7) The child’s death is mentioned in “The Journals and Papers of David Shultze,” Vol. 1, 1726-1760, translated and edited by Andrew S. Berky, Schwenkfelder Library, Pennsburg, Pa., 1952, page 175. The stay at Christopher’s is mentioned in “The Journals and Papers of David Shultze,” Vol. II, translated and edited by Andrews S. Berky, The Schwenkfelder Library, Pennsburg, Pa., 1953, page 15. The remedy for dysentery appers on page 55. (8) “Pennsylvania Archives,” Series 6, Vol. 1, page 767, and Series 3, Vol. 5, page 756, respectively. (9) The reference to the move appears in “The Journals and Papers of David Shultze,” Vol. II, page 183. The will is transcribed on pages 190-193. (10) The 1796 will – Christopher’s actually last will – is in Philadelphia County Will Book 2, page 379. (11) “Names and Dates of Burials in the Lower Skippack Mennonite Cemetery, Skippack Township, Montgomery County, Pa.,” page 26, which is available at “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records,” at Ancestry.com.