An old proverb says, “Variety is the spice of life.” That seems to ring true in looking back at any family’s ancestry, whether it be geographical origins, religion, or vocation. For example, my wife Susan was raised Lutheran, with both her mother and father members of the same parish, although attending different churches, in Jenner Township, Somerset County, PA. Most in our modern extended family have always associated any Anabaptist identity in that clan to Susan’s maternal grandmother, Annie Lee Krause, who left the Southern Somerset County Amish sect to marry a Lutheran. But, Susan’s paternal grandmother, Sara Jane Baer Miller, also had roots in the earliest Amish Mennonite and Dunker/Brethren communities in America. For this article, we will refer to that root as Jacob Stutzman, but there is now some question of whether that supposedly Amish/Brethren patriarch might have been, indeed, baptized a Lutheran under the name “Stoltzmann.” To “boot,” he may have been a tailor by trade, not a farmer as were most of the rest of his community. This article takes us back to that 16th century Swiss-German family, looking at the Swiss German naming customs, the origins, meanings, and varieties of the Stutzman name, and tracing it from Europe to America, ending in the Roof Garden of West-Central PA, today’s Somerset County. It won’t be a straight or smooth path, interestingly enough, but we’ll attempt to answer a few nagging genealogical questions, all the while honoring the variety of genealogical opinion.
Most American Stutzmans can trace their heritage back to as many as four generations of Jacob Stutzmans, who began with whom we call Hans Stutzmann, born as early as 1599, and ending with Jacob III who died in 1775. Carole Henson goes back a generation further with Peter Stutzmann (1570- ), born in Niedersimmental, an administrative district of Canton Bern, Switzerland, and married to Barbara Leichti in 1596. Their grandson was born a quarter century later, and we refer to him as Jacob, Sr. He was a farm manager, or “hofbestander,” in German. At this point, as a side note, we call your attention to the German Naming Customs, through which Christian male children within a family were all given the same biblical identifier as a first name but different middle or everyday names. In the case of the various Hans’, this was short for Hannes, which was short for Johannes, John in English, who was Jesus’ disciple. In our family line, then, the youngest Jacob, middle name, was followed by four generations of men named Christian, though from three different surnames: Christian Stutzman; Christian Miller, Sr. and Christian Miller, Jr.; and Christian Baer. By this time, many of the men named Christian took nicknames for easier identification. (See “The Many Christian Millers.”) Looking closely at the Vitals of each generation, you’ll see even more juniors and seniors using similar names.
As if this all isn’t confusing enough, another “bone of contention” arises with our third generation Hans (Johannes) Jacob, whom we refer to as Jr., when he marries the widow of a Johann Michael Miller (Mueller). She was named Anna Loysa (sometimes referred to as Elisabetha) Regina, and the marriage provided the Stutzmans with a long line of step-children named Miller. Future intermarriages and adoptions provide real controversy over similar names and dates between these two family names.
According to family researcher Dustin S. Stutzman, this Hans, Jr. might have actually been recorded somewhere along the line as a “Stoltzman,” born between 1660 and 1685 in Switzerland, and who earned his living as a tenant farmer. Henson believes his son, Jacob III, was a tailor by trade, born in Weilacher Hof, near Hardenberg, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. Yet his parents’ marriage record appears in the Lutheran Church Register of Kallstadt, Spiez, Bern, Switzerland. One or both probably came to America in 1727, registered as Jacob Stutzman on the ship Adventure Galley with wife and family. Remember that women and children were not registered.
Another tradition has it that a Jacob Stutzman’s wife and all but two sons died that same year, possibly at sea. Heartbroken, He may have left the youngsters with other immigrant families before returning to the Old Country, Johann (Hans) Jacob III (1705-1775) to Amish and Johann Christian to Lutherans. The return of the father to his homeland is unconfirmed, but there was a Hans Stutzman who died that same year in Spiez, Switzerland. Our family researcher admits that it is possible that our Johann Jacob, Jr. died at sea along with his wife, and that the Johann Jacob listed on the passenger list is another.
The Brethren Encyclopedia reports as many as three Johannes Jacob Stutzmans, all probably related in the Old World. The most notable sounds similar to the Lutheran “Stolzman” mentioned above, except that his parents were Christian and Magdalena Stutzman, and upon leaving Switzerland, he went to the Netherlands. After he came to Chester County, PA, he joined the Brethren and was known as a church leader in the colonies. The Encyclopedia has him associated with congregations in Northkill, Berks Co., Little Connewago, York Co., and Cononocheague, Washington Co. He married Hannah Krabill, but another source says he had a first marriage, to Magdelena Steck, that produced a son Christian of our line.
The second Jacob Stutzman mentioned in The Encyclopedia was born around 1727, the date the first Jacob came to America. Could he have been the son, a brother to Christian? Perhaps it was his mother, the earlier Jacob’s first wife, who died at sea. This Jacob went from Pennsylvania to Maryland to North Caroline to Indiana, leading Brethren congregations along the way. The third and final Jacob Stutzman was born half a century later in Franklin County, PA, married a Susannah Ulery, and settled in Conemaugh Township, where our Stutzmans lived. The Brethren couple raised eleven children.
So, Hans Jacob Stutzman III was possibly raised by the Berks County Amish, even though he may have been baptized Swiss Lutheran. The plain folk tradition continued when his granddaughter Veronica “Fanny” married Hannes/Hans Christian Miller, son of the famous “Indian John” Miller, and the couple settled near Berlin, the Bruderthal (today Brothersvalley Township), Somerset County, sometime after the 1784 Ft. Stanwix Treaty allowed this migration. Their granddaughter Elisabeth married Christian Baer, Jr. (1800-1862) of the township just north, Conemaugh, who was the last Amishman in Susan’s paternal line. His son Abraham (1834-1896), Susan’s great- great-grandfather, married a “Dunker” (German Baptist/Brethren) and converted to her faith. After that, four generations of Lutherans followed, mostly farmers, ending with Susan’s marrying a Presbyterian broadcaster and teacher, me, and us raising our children in the modern Methodist tradition (in this case, a former Evangelical United Brethren church – EUB).
If that early Stutzman was really “Stolzman,” we’re proud to report that in modern German, “stolz” is a noun meaning “pride.” The meaning of the name Stutzman in Medieval German wasn’t far removed. Actually spelled with an “A” and an umlaut and just sounding to English-speaking ears like a short “U,” “sta” meant “to stand.” The full occupational name meant “a man who set wood supports in a mine shaft.” So, it wasn’t so much a reference to the man standing, but the supports that stood and allowed the ceiling of the mine to stay in place for the safety of the workers. It’s not known if any of our Stutzmans ever worked in mines, but ironically, a descendant of Hans Jacob, John Baer, brother of Franklin Baer (1862-1916) was the first person killed in the Boswell, Jenner Township, mine in 1904.
The website HouseOfNames.com suggests similar origins of the family moniker, saying that in Southern Germany a “Stutz” was a steep cliff, so someone living near such was a “Stutz-man.” In Middle High German, a “Stutz” is a pushy person, possibly surviving the original meaning as a metaphor for one who “stands up like a cliff for what he believes.” Not so incidentally, I’m sure you’ve heard of the Stutz Motor Car Company, maker and seller of sports and luxury automobiles from 1911-1995. The most famous roadster was the Stutz Bearcat, with the world’s first multi-valve engine, practically a household name. True to his name, founder Henry Stutz had a falling out with major stockholders and was forced to sell the company, in this case to another German-American, none other than Western PA’s Charles Schwab, founder of Bethlehem Steel. Schwab married a woman from Somerset County and was an enormous benefactor to area colleges and universities. Today, the old Stutz factory in Indianapolis is a modern arts and business center, serving all of the mid-west as a reminder of a “proud” heritage.
The first recorded similar name was Helmannus dictus [called] Stuz, who lived in Lorch, Ruedesheim, Germany, in 1319. An early similar namesake to arrive in America, according to that same source, was Martin Stutzman in 1753, with a Jacob Stutzman coming in 1767. Now, that’s sometime after our Hans Jacob, mentioned above, who is listed as coming in 1727, but again, we have a variety of opinion from research sources.
The most common modern German spelling of our surname uses a short “U” and any memory of original references to mine props or cliffs have long been forgotten. That’s not to say their aren’t variations in the spelling and pronunciation, though. Stutzman today may be found as “Statsman,” “Steudsman,” “Stitsman,” “Stootsman,” “Stoutzman,” “Studsman,” “Stutesman,” or one of many others.
In conclusion, whatever the spelling or pronunciation, whenever the immigration, and wherever the eventual settlement or occupation, our Stutzman family has an interesting and varied heritage. We’re constantly finding new sources and ideas of how we came to be Americans and what Christian denomination we practice. Come to think of it, isn’t that variety what makes the United States a “melting pot”? I’m reminded, metaphorically at least, of another great German-American, near to whom some of my family is buried in the suburbs of nearby Pittsburgh. I’m sure you’ve heard of H.J. Heinz’ “57 varieties.”
“Jacob Stutzman.” The Brethren Encyclopedia. Elgin, IL: The Brethren Press, 1983. 1233.
“Stutzman Descendants” 29 December 2012
Stutzman, John Hale, Jr. Jacob Stutzman:His children & grandchildren.Baltimore: Gateway Press, Inc., 1982.
“Stitzel & Stutsman family-Brethren & Mennonite families: Information about Jacob Stutzman.” 22 Dec. 2012