Ziegenfuss Family History

Note from Ray Parsons: These 5 chapters of Ziegenfus Family History were distributed at a Ziegenfus Family Reunion in Allentown, Pa about 1980. The stories were not published but were mimeographed sheets of paper. They were typed into this web site as originally found. If you note an error or have additional information, send e-mail to me (address at bottom of page). I felt the information could be useful to others looking for their Ziegenfus roots and thus put the stories on this web page in order to make them available to others.

Chapter One, written about 1972


by Rev. Dr. William J. Ziegenfus, 1700 Butler Pike, Apt 26C
Conshohocken, PA 19428
zman42@cavtel.net (2011)


Chapter One, " Our Voyage to Pennsylvania, 1738".

The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and the War of the League of Augsburg (1688-1697) brought large-scale destruction, starvation, and pestilence to the Palatinate. In 1688, Louis XIV of France sent a large army into the Reinish Palatinate to enforce a preposterous claim to that valuable territory of the Holy Roman Empire. The treaty of Ryswick (1697) granted Strasbourg and all of Alsace to France. Following this period of war, large numbers of the resident of the Palatinate decided to seek their destiny in America.

Among the thousands who immigrated to America was Hans Jacob Ziegenfuss and his family. Whatever his reason for leaving the Palatinate was, we are not certain. We do know that William Penn circulated many promotional tracts in many languages, describing the economic and governmental advantages of settling in Pennsylvania. A person could buy five thousand acres in Pa. for the low price of 100 pounds. Smaller plots could be rented for a penny an acre. Those who could not pay their passage and had to indenture themselves were promised 50 acres when their indenture was completed. Whatever his reason, Hans Jacob was one who came to Pennsylvania because of Penn's advertising campaign welcoming those who sought religious freedom, prospective large landholders; small farmers; indentured servants; and aspirants to leadership.

Though the decision to go to America was difficult to make, the actual voyage was even more difficult and downright uncomfortable. Early in May of 1738 Hans Jacob (44) his wife Amelia (30) and their seven children: Andrew (15), Kathryn (12), Hans Christopher (10), Hans Jacob Jr. (6), Anna Maria (5), Paul (4), and Haneriagh (3) set out for Pennsylvania. The Journey to Pennsylvania was made in 3 steps; First was the journey down the Rhine to Rotterdam, or some other port. The entire trip to Philadelphia lasted from the beginning of May until the end of October, a full half a year, amid such hardships as no one is able to describe adequately with their misery. On the Rhine, boats from Heilbronn to Holland had to pass by 26 customs houses, at all of which the ships are examined, when it suited the convenience of the custom officials. At each stop, ships with people were detained so long, that the passengers had to spend much money. The trip down the Rhine lasted anywhere from four to six weeks. When the ships arrived in Holland, they were detained there likewise five to six weeks. Because thing were very expensive there, the poor people had to spend nearly all they had during that time.

The second stage of the journey was from Rotterdam to one of the English ports. At Rotterdam, the family booked passage on the "Bilander Thistle" for Philadelphia. The ships Captain was, George Houston. The Thistle, like many other ships stopped at Cows, on the Isle of Wight in the English Channel. In England there was another delay of one or two weeks for both customs and favorable winds. From there, unless there is a good wind, must sail 8, 9, 10 or even 12 weeks before they reach Philadelphia. But even with the best wind, the voyage lasts seven weeks.

The third stage of the ocean voyage proper, was marked by much suffering and hardship. The passengers being packed densely, like herrings without proper food and water, were soon subject to all sorts of diseases, such as dysentery, scurvy, typhoid, and small pox. When at last the Delaware River was reached and Philadelphia came into sight, where all their miseries were to end, another delay occurred. A health officer visited the ship. If any persons with infectious diseases were discovered on the ship, it was ordered to remove one mile form the city. Apparently, the Ziegenfuss Family was most fortunate in its health and choice of ship. On October 28, 1738 Hans Jacob Ziegenfuss set foot on American soil and took the Oaths to the Government.

Among the other fortunate events concerning the Thistle, a list was made of the passengers' ages. The ages listed above are as of October 28, 1738. On the unfortunate side, the ships lists were written by Englishmen who lacked knowledge of German spellings and pronounciatioon. Even worse, Hans Jacob Ziegenfus never learned to write amd signed with an "x" next to which the English clerk wrote the sound his ears heard when asked "name?". Ziegenfus became "Seikefues or Seiefues" (........ Note insert by REP: The wife of Hans Jacob was reported by WJZ as "Anelies Seikefues age 30". The 30 may be a mis-read 39 since Larry C. Zickefoose later quoted Penn. Archives Series 2, Vol 17 as stating wife was Anna Eliza, age 39!! Note if you slur Anna Eliz in sounds like "Anelies" The witten Anelies is sometimes confused for "Amelia" What is correct is open to question!......)

We are lacking any details about the events that followed 1738. We may for all purposes assume that Hans Jacob, his wife and probably Andrew all served as indentured servants for about 7 years to pay for their passage. What we do know is that the family came to settle in what is now Springfield (Nackomixon) Township in Montgomery County. There Andrew bought from Henry Stover 51 acres. Purchase of land and a grist mill for 550 pounds. The records of Pa. Land Office, Pa. Archive, Series 3, Vol. 24 show that on Oct. 28th, 1746 Andrew took out a warrant for 100 acres in Bucks County. He was naturalized on September 23, 1767. The tract of land owned by him in Springfield was located along the Durham Township line along the public road from Durham to Springtown and Henry Houpt's land. Both he and Houpt had gristmill on the Durham Creek. The Springfield Tax List of 1779 gives the name Andrew Ziegenfuss, Andrew Jr. and George, assessed as single men. On August 2, 1775 Andrew became a private in the Springfield Township Militia under the command of Captain Anthony Lark,. In April 1782 he also enlisted in the Fourth Battalion of the Northampton County Militia.

By all accounts, Andrew had become well to do for his time. The Montgomery County Courthouse had on file his last will and testament, a portion of which reads:

"I will and bequeath to my wife, choice of the lower room in the house, a patch for a garden, firewood cut and hauled to the door, bed and bedding, a table, 4 chairs, 2 pots, and sundry other small articles that she may want to keep house with; three bushels of wheat, 7 bushels of rye, two bushels of buckwheat, three bushels of Indian corn; one barrel of cider 100 lbs of pork, 50 lbs of beef and a privilege of apples for the house use where there is fruit. The above is the yearly allowance as long as she lives ....

"She can dispose of the above at her death. The sum of 250 pounds shall be invested for her, she is to receive the interest during her natural life. The 250 pounds are to be divided equally among her children after her death. The following are names of the children: Andrew, Elizabeth, George, Jacob, Margaret, Peter, Michael, Barbary, Caty, and Mary. Executors: Jacob, Peter & Michael, Dated Springfield Township, Bucks Co. Feb. 16th, 1796."

The only other member of the original family about whom anything is known is Hans Christopher or "Stoffel" as he was generally called. He also settled in Nochamixom Township, Bucks County. The Land Office has record that he took out a warrant for 258 acres of land in 1774. The Nockamixom ta list of 1779 gives Stoffel an assessment for 140 acres. In the same year, George Segafoose is also assessed as a married man and Peter and Jacob as single men in Stoffel's house. The three men are doubtless Stoffel's sons.

In 1775 Stoffel was jailed for creating a public disturbance. His offense was not for treason. In the disturbance he broke a Captain Jamison's gun, but refused to pay for damages and was jailed until the damages, fines and costs were paid. Bucks County Courthouse in Doylestown records that Christopher Sigefus purchased land from George Desh in Nockamixon Township May 5, 1758. Another recorded land transaction on Nov. 1, 1801. On Sept. 10, 1802 he sold a tract of land to Paul H. Mallet, Provost in Hunterdon County, New Jersey for 309 lbs, 9 shillings, 4 pence silver. Sept. 13, 1802, Christopher sold a tract of 20 acres to Jacob Ziegenfus Jr. for a consideration of 20 pounds lawful money. The land was bounded by property owned by Henry Ziegenfus. In 1803 his name is again mentioned in a land transaction with Henry Roof.

Before closing this particular chapter, three other members of the family deserve separate mention. The first is a Johann Jacob Ziegenfus who arrived at the port of Philadelphia, Sept. 16, 1751 on the ship "Brothers". His signature is his own and his name is spelled correctly in comparison to the founding family. The second is a nameless Ziegenfuss who enlisted in the U. S. Army Sept. 20, 1783, age 22, height 5ft. 3in., complexion dark, born in Gothern, Germany, trade- potter. The third figure is Mathias Ziegenfus, whose exact relationship to the founding family is uncertain. His name appears in the 1790 census as married with 5 sons and 4 daughters and residing in Bucks County. His name also appears on the Bedminster Tax Lists for 1785 and 1786, assessed for 100 acres of land, 2 horses and two cows. I have preferred to think of him as probably the first Ziegenfus born in America, although there is no proof. All that is certain is that his origins are related to some part of the founding family.

The task of preparing a history of the family is larger than available time. In 1972, the second chapter will deal with migration of the family into the developing nation. Proper Credits belong to Strassburger-Hinke, 'Pennsylvania German Pioneers', the work of former historian Lloyd Ziegenfus, Gordon Ziegenfus, and the records of Bucks County and the Pennsylvania Archives.

For Ray Parsons' home page and related stories use your "BACK button".

Send mail to Ray Parsons by clicking here.