Updated: July 2005
MICHAEL and CATHERINE ZIEGLER
Michael Ziegler was born about 1684 in Germany and immigrated in 1709
to America, where he settled north of Philadelphia and became a Mennonite minister. (1)
Married a woman named Catherine.
She has been identified as the daughter of Andrew Shrager, who immigrated from Germany in 1709. (2)
born about 1711.
Gertrude, born about 1713. Married Isaac Kolb.
Christopher, born 1714.
Susana, born 1719. Married
Catherine, born 1725. Married David Allebach.
Michael, born 1727.
William, born 1728.
Married Heinrich Ruth.
Michael’s parents are unknown at this point. He originally was a Lutheran, who
probably lived in the Palatinate region of Germany.
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 and religious persecution 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)
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 Encyclopdeia." "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."
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
"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.
Strassburger mentions some of the provisions of Michael’s will, which was written Feb. 7, 1763, and probated Oct. 29,
1765. 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.’" 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) 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. (1)
Married Deborah Pawling, who probably was born in 1717. (2)
John, second son.
Andrew, third son, deceased when Christopher’s will was written.
Catharine, deceased when Christopher’s will was written. Wife of Benjamin Moyer.
Hannah, second daughter. Wife of Martin Lantes (Landis).
Elizabeth, third daughter. Wife of Samuel Bower.
fourth daughter. Wife of Jacob Weiss.
Barbara, fifth daughter. Wife of David Buckwalter.
Deborah, sixth daughter. Wife
of David Longenecker.
The Zieglers were almost certainly Mennonite since Christopher’s father was a Mennonite pastor
and he was buried at a Mennonite cemetery.
Tax records for Philadelphia County, which then encompassed the area where the
Zieglers lived, contain various forms of the name Christopher Ziegler. Most probably refer to the elder Christopher, rather
than the son. The references are: 1769, Christopher Zeigler, 170 acres in Upper Hanover Township, 3 horses, 5 cattle; 1774,
Christopher Zigler, 170 acres, 4 horses and 4 cattle; 1779, Christopher Seiglor and Christopher Zigler, both in Upper Hanover
Township; 1780, Christ’r Ziegler; 1781, Christopher Zeigler, weaver; 1782, Christ’r Zeigler; and 1783, Christ’r
Zeigler, with 170 acres, 2 horses, 4 cattle and 11 sheep. (4)
Revolutionary War records referring to militia service –
and non-service – probably refer to the younger Christopher since the father was almost certainly considered too old
to serve. 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, which was mandatory in Pennsylvania. Since Mennonites are officially pacifists, it is unusual to
see the name appear on the militia rosters. (5)
In his will, which was written Nov. 7, 1796, Christopher lists his residence
as Providence Township, Montgomery County, and "in an advanced Age But sound understanding and memory." It was proved April
Christopher died in 1804 and Deborah died around 1785.
(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 Strassburger Family and
Allied Families in Pennsylvania," by Ralph
B. Strassburger, pages 414-453. Birth year comes from "The Ziegler Family and Related Families in Pennsylvania," by Gertrude
Mohlin Ziegler, page 297. (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) "Pennsylvania
Archives," Series 3, Vol. 14, pages 60, 449, 730 and 732; Vol. 15, page 563; Vol. 16, pages 53, 256 and 714, respectively.
(5) "Pennsylvania Archives," Series 6, Vol. 1, page 767, and Series 3, Vol. 5, page 756, respectively.