Introduction: Sadorus

Larry Pearce

Surely, the surname Sadorus has as many spellings as any we’ve encountered: Sartorius, Saddoris, Sadories, Sadtorius, Sadorius, Sartorus, Sartorii, Sedores, Sartorin, Sidorus, Saidrus, Sadarus, Saddors, Sadrus and more. These are Latinized versions of the German name “Schneider,” meaning “Tailor.” Ironically, our Elizabeth Mauer Sadorus’ (1798-1888) mother’s maiden name is believed to have been Taylor. It’s been noted that the five sons of our Somerset County William, Sr., each spelled his surname differently. What confusion for researchers. For this article, I will use the spellings as found in historical records, otherwise the more modern “Sadorus” will prevail. To add to the mystery, there are gaps between the possible German ancestors before the family arrived in America, which will be duly noted, but let’s begin back in Europe in the 17th century.

Matthias Sartorius was probably born in Sontra, Hessen-Kassel, around 1640. He graduated from the University of Marburg in 1664, was ordained, and was Pastor of the 
Wichmannshausen Lutheran Church in 1680 when he married Anna Juliana Von Boyneburg “genannt” (officially known as) Hohnstein, one one of the most powerful feudal families of that region. The Boyneburg-Hohnsteins go back to the 12th century and were seated at Reichensachen, west of Leipzig. He died in 1693. His widow died in 1703.

Nothing is known at this time of any connection between Matthias and John Bathasar Sartorius, who at the age of 27 arrived in Philadelphia in 1738 aboard the Winter Galley, that had sailed from Rotterdam. He was listed as a “Palatine import,” a reference to a resident of southwest Germany, which was the source of thousands of refugees trying to escape the almost continual warfare between France and Germany. John took the oath of allegiance to the King of England and became a citizen of the Colonies.

By 1779, William Sartorius, Sr. (c. 1750-1805) was paying taxes on Pennsylvania’s western frontier, in Woodbury Township, Bedford County, north of what was then Fort Raystown along the Forbes Road and the Juniata River and now the county seat. Records show that William went from owning 30 acres then to farming 100 acres in 1784. Life must have been good because in addition to having built large house, he payed taxes on horses, cows, and sheep. Like many other Western Pennsylvania pioneers in 1792, he owned a whiskey still, but records do not show him being fined as part of the famous Whiskey Rebellion, which many of his neighbors were. The new American President George Washington was quick to surpress the “Insurrection,” as it was called. Farmers had found that by converting grain to alcohol, it was easier to transport it to market, and taxes could be avoided. See more on the Vitals page for our William Sartorius, Sr.

In 1795, the western half of Bedford County was renamed Somerset County, and though these English names suggest otherwise, the predominant origin and language was German. We known that William, Sr.’s son William, Jr., lived in Quemahoning Township, Somerset County, west of Bedford over the Allegheny Mountain along the Forbes Road. The mail drop and church center for the region then was the village of Stoystown, and the baptismal records of the Lutheran church there contains the names of Sartorius parents, children, and witnesses as early as 1800. A William Sartorius had been a charter member of the new congregation just four years earlier. Which William we don’t know, because the centennial Federal Census lists two Williams. The father died in 1805 and may be buried in the Old Union Cemetery there. We know that son William, Jr. is there with other members of the family because of their tombstones.

Many of the Sartorius/Sadorus descendants moved west, some to other counties in Western Pennsylvania, others to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. The town of Sadorus, Illinois, is named for “Henry the Pioneer.” The state museum website says, “The history of the Sadorus family echoes the development of Champaign County, Illinois.” Henry’s sons in turn were called “The Pioneer Brothers.” The Henry is said to have aided the Mormons in their movement west. We don’t know if he was a convert. We do know that several of the Sadorus son served in the military during and after the War of 1812.

It’s interesting that a standard check of famous people with the surname of Sadorus or related spellings turned up almost nothing except for items related to the town of Sadorus, Illinois. Our research continues, but the Whiskey Rebellion excluded, the name and our family seems to have produced some virtuous, hard working Americans.

William, Jr., of Quemahoning and wife Catherine Mauer (1775-1861) birthed Elizabeth (1798-1888) who married Jacob T. Berkey, and they produced Susanna (1821-1888) who married Benjamin Bowman.  Our Miller family of Quemahoning Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania, were then a product of their daughter Susan S. Bowman (1857-1909) and Dibert A Miller (1855-1889).

The lesson of our Sadorus families is that a name, given or surname, could  evolve over time as it’s recorded and Anglisized various ways on government and church records, and dwelling places can change, especially in America where westward migrations occurred as young families sought more room and better lives for their off-spring.


“Ancestors of Shirley Jean Bowman.” 30 Jan. 2015. Internet

“The Sadorus Family.” Illinois State Museum. 21 Dec. 2016

Ralph B. Strassburger. “William Sartorius.” Pennsylvania German Pioneers, Vol I. in 
Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Vol 22 & 25.

Various Public Member Family Trees & other documents.

“Whiskey Rebellion.” 21 Dec. 2016

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