where there’s a will: unearthing my swiss mennonite heritage

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks, 2018; week 9 prompt:  Where There’s a Will.
Where There’s a Will:  Genealogy research piques my interest in history like nothing else:  it provides me the will to literally pore through the most otherwise “boring” material.

Bishop Hans HERR.  (Image, public domain.)

My present fascination?  The Swiss.  Specifically, the 16th-century period when Anabaptists were “rooted out” of Europe.

Where I previously thought I descended from just one Mennonite line — that of my 8th-Great-Gramp Bishop Hans HERR (either 16511, or, 1639,2 Switzerland–17253 Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Colony, America; buried Willow Street Mennonite Church Cemetery, Willow Street, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, United States of America4) — closer study reveals that I have in my ancestry a good number of interconnected Mennonite families.

I’ve only just begun to untangle all the connections, but the following helped me along greatly:

In an article in the October, 19195, National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Professor Oscar Kuhns wrote:

“From time to time single families and individuals had…sought refuge in the Palatinate, where Anabaptist communities had existed since 1527. In 1671, the first considerable emigration took place, when a party of seven hundred persons left their native land, and settled on the banks of the Rhine.5

“The movement…resulted in the settlement of Lancaster County [Pennsylvania],… … Of all [the Anabaptists’] doctrines, that of refusing to bear arms was the most obnoxious to the state, which depended on its citizens in times of aggression. It must be confessed that the Swiss Anabaptists were the most intractable of people. Exiled again and again, they persisted in returning to their native land.

“In 1711, however, the Mennonites of Berne were offered free transportation down the Rhine, permission to sell their property and to take their families with them, on condition, however, that they pledge themselves never to return to Switzerland. Their friends in Holland urged them to do this[*], and especially through the efforts of the Dutch ambassador in Switzerland, the exportation was finally carried out. About this time began the settlement of Lancaster County by Swiss Anabaptists, and undoubtedly many of the above were among them. …”
* [“The relations between the Anabaptists of Holland and Switzerland had always been close. The former had subscribed large sums of money to alleviate the sufferings of the exiled Swiss in the Palatinate, and a society had been formed for the purpose of affording systematic assistance to all their suffering fellow-believers.”]

In the archives of Amsterdam, we find a letter of thanks to Holland written by Martin Kundig, Hans Herr, Christian Herr, Martin Oberholtzer, Martin Meili and Jacob Muller. This letter was dated June 27, 1710, and states that they were about to start for the New World. October 23 of the same year, we find a patent for ten thousand acres of land on the Pequa Creek, Conostogue [sic; Conestoga, Pennsylvania] (later a part of Lancaster County, which was not organized till 1729) made out in the names of Hans Herr and Martin Kundig, who acted as agents for their countrymen. … Kundig and Herr seem to have been the leaders of this emigration.”5

Note, top of Quarterly page: ” ‘Without genealogy the study of history is lifeless.’ — John Fiske.” I couldn’t agree more… 🙂

Researching intensely for a couple of weeks, doing my best to accurately connect dots as I made a quick genealogy sketch of people connected to “my” Hans Herr, I then read Kuhn’s piece in the Quarterly again, the names in the 1710 letter now going ping ping ping in my head as I recognized one after another.

Martin KÜNDIG: aka KENDIG, it turned out (born about 1648 Switzerland–died 1725 Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Colony, America), is my 9th great-uncleson of my 9th great-grandfather John Jakob KENDIG, I (1620 Switzerland–1694 Switzerland) — and, husband of my 9th great-aunt Elizabeth (HERR) KENDIG (abt 1644 “of” Switzerland–abt 1674 Germany);

Hans HERR (1639 Switzerland–1725 Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Colony, America), of course, my 8th great-grandfather;

Christian HERR (1680 Switzerland–1749 Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Colony, America), my 7th great-granddaddy;

Martin OBERHOLTZER: I am still looking for direct connections there — I just haven’t found them yet;

Martin MEILI, I: aka MEYLIN (1665 Switzerland–1749 Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Colony, America), is the father-in-law of my 7th great-aunt Anna (HERR) MEYLIN (1711 Lancaster, Pennsylvania Colony, America–1787 Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA), daughter of my aforementioned 7th great-grandpapa Christian HERR; and,…

Jacob MÜLLER: I am pReTtTtY sure although not yet pOsItIvE that, he is Jakob MÜLLER (1663 Switzerland–1739 Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Colony, America) the father-in-law of my 1st cousin 8x removed Abraham HERR (1700 Switzerland–1785 Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Colonial America).

As I said, I’ve only just begun to unearth all my Swiss Mennonite ties, but I’m delighted with what I’ve thus far learned.  All these ancestors who stood up for religious freedom… Because this, boys & girls, is why we keep church & state separated in the U.S. of A.:  to thumb our nose at God, N-O — RATHER, to ENSURE that ALL citizens may WORSHIP AS they CHOOSE: no state-mandated churches.

Amen.  God bless.
1 “Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Mennonite Vital Records, 1750-2014,” “Hans Herr,” Ancestry.com, at both https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=60592&h=862303&ssrc=pt&tid=79831532&pid=34405383251&usePUB=true , &, https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=60592&h=862301&ssrc=pt&tid=79831532&pid=34405383251&usePUB=true , accessed Mar., 2018.
2 “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985,” “Rev Hans Herr,” Ancestry.com, at https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=2451&h=2021866676&ssrc=pt&tid=79831532&pid=34405383251&usePUB=true , accessed Mar., 2018.
3 “North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000,” Ancestry.com, specifically, Genealogical record of Reverend Hans Herr and his direct lineal descendants : From his Birth A.D. 1639 to the present time containing the names, etc. of 13223 persons, by Theodore W. Herr, published 1908, at https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/61157/46155_b289964-00016?pid=1494511&backurl=https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv%3D1%26dbid%3D61157%26h%3D1494511%26ssrc%3Dpt%26tid%3D79831532%26pid%3D34405383251%26usePUB%3Dtrue&ssrc=pt&treeid=79831532&personid=34405383251&hintid=&usePUB=true&usePUBJs=true , accessed Mar., 2018.
4 FindAGrave.com, “Rev Hans Herr Jr,” memorial number 6812531, at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/6812531/hans-herr , accessed Mar., 2018.8.
5 “Switzerland Plays A Part In The Founding Of The American Nation,” Professor Oscar Kuhns, Middletown, Connecticut, in the October, 1919, “National Genealogical Society Quarterly,” Volume VIII, Number 3; pages 33-34.  Online at https://books.google.com/books?id=BgjTAAAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA35&lpg=RA1-PA35&dq=%22SWITZERLAND+PLAYS+A+PART+IN+THE+FOUNDING+OF+THE+AMERICAN+NATION%22+By+Prof.+Oscar+Kuhns,+Middletown&source=bl&ots=_mphAVAPFU&sig=KblpK34vjggL_KQbG7qgpkK0ZrA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjd_YOjr-_ZAhUV92MKHQIqDrQQ6AEILDAA#v=onepage&q=%22SWITZERLAND%20PLAYS%20A%20PART%20IN%20THE%20FOUNDING%20OF%20THE%20AMERICAN%20NATION%22%20By%20Prof.%20Oscar%20Kuhns%2C%20Middletown&f=false , accessed Mar., 2018.



chauncey roscoe piety (52 Ancestors #6)

Theme, Week 6 (Feb. 5-11):  “so far away”

Say the phrase, “so far away,” and straight to my mind comes prolific composer Carole King’s song, “So Far Away,” the first few lines of the tune playing unbid in my head.

Just as quickly, one name comes to my mind when I think, “Composer,” of the kin in my own genealogy database:  collateral kinsman Chauncey Roscoe (C. R.) PIETY, a prolific hymn-writer and poet.

PIETY, C. R., hymn, Save Them If You Love Them-- hymnaryDOTorg


A 3rd cousin to me via my 4th Great-Grandfather Elisha BUCKNER (1777 NC-1826 IL), Rev. Chauncey R. PIETY (July 10, 1885 Walnut Prairie, Clark Co., IL-Apr., 1972 last residence Jacksonville, Morgan Co., IL; buried Center Ridge Cemetery, Sullivan, Sullivan Co., IN) grew up in Illinois and Indiana, the eldest child of farmer Chauncey Rose PIETY (1856-1924) & Katharine (Katie) BENNETT (1865-1948).

Chauncey Rose PIETY farmed his whole life except for an adventure “prospecting without his family for one winter in the west.  He did not like the outlook and returned to his family and located at West York, Illinois, for awhile, and then moved northwest of Graysville, Sullivan County, Indiana, where he lived until his death at the age of sixty-eight.”[1a]

Rev. Chauncey Roscoe PIETY’s grandfather, John D. (Early) PIETY (1831-1906), “had a conscientious bent for religion.  During his young manhood he heard some preaching by the ‘Campbellites’ or Disciples.  After much thought he decided that their teachings were right and that he wanted to join them.  Some of his kinsfolk in Knox County, Indiana, sent him word that they were having a revival and wanted him to come.  He told of how he rode horseback from his home some forty or fifty miles to attend these services, where he joined the church.  A little later a Christian Church was built at Prairie Creek, [where Early lived], which he attended.  He was always loyal to his church and always read the Christian Standard.”[1b]

That his grandpa Early’s “conscientious bent for religion” influenced grandson Chauncey Roscoe to go into the ministry, seems likely.

On Aug. 10, 1908, in Sullivan Co., IN, Chauncey Roscoe married Effie Myrtle FULLER (1884-1949; Center Ridge Cemetery), daughter of George Nelson FULLER & Sarah Elizabeth THORNE.[2]

By the 1910 U.S. Federal Census of IL, Crawford Co., Oblong, Chauncey Roscoe PIETY’s occupation is noted as “preacher.”  His Sept. 12, 1918, World War I Draft Registration Card shows the medium height & build, gray-eyed, brown-haired C. R.’s occupation as minister of a church in Scottsburg, IN.[3]  Throughout the 1920 U.S. Federal Census of IN, Starke Co., Knox; the 1925 IA State Census, Dallas Co., Waukee; 1930 U.S. Federal Census, IL, Carroll Co., Flora Town; and 1940 U.S. Federal of IL, McDonough Co., Blandinsville, C. R.’s occupation is listed as minister or pastor.[4]

The Antioch Christian Church of Cantrall, IL, also lists  C. R. PIETY among “Ministers who have served the church as pastors.”[5]

Per the Lincoln Christian College and Seminary website, Chauncey R. PIETY’s first song was published by Hackleman Music Company in 1914, but they neglect to give that first song’s name.

1917 “A LOT O LOVIN’ (POEMS),” CHAUNCEY R. PIETY. (Archive.org)

One of Rev. C. R. Piety’s poems, “A Song To The Sangamon” was featured in the April, 1915, issue of Munsey’s Magazine.[6]  The poem was also included in Rev. C.R.’s 1917 book of poetry, “A Lot O’ Lovin’.”


“Silvery Sangamon,
Moving in majesty
Through the rich prairies of fair Illiois;
Nature hath honour done,
Lining thee royally
With her green grasses and blossoms of joy.

“Great is thy dignity,
Striving not, brawling not,
Wending thy busy way earnestly on;
Peacefully passing by
Mansion and farmer’s cot,
Solemn in shadow and smiling in sun.

“Great is thy usefulness,
Bearing the water back
When overflowing it threatens the grain;
Bringing thy boon to us,
Giving what cities lack —
Blessing of Heaven, we bless thee again!

“Historic Sangamon,
River that Lincoln knew,
We and our works all are passing away;
Still thou art flowing on,
Doing thy duty true,
Blessing our Illinois day after day.”

C. R. Piety

SANGAMON RIVER — “Description: Image of the Sangamon River in Illinois, southwest of Decatur Illinois. Date: October 2005 Source: Author: Douglas Grohne Permission: WikiMedia Commons License”

Rev. C. R. & Katie had these five children:
Harl Ovid (1909-1980), married Helen C. VANDEVEER (1911-1994);
Kathryn Sarah (1912-1986), married John Claude CATRON (1909-1979);
Portia (1914- ), married Ivan Newton SEIEBERT (1908- );
Mildred Effie (1916-1986), married Walter H. MILES (1911-1983); &,
Pauline (1918-1988).

I would so like to see a photo of Rev. C. R., but search as I did across the vast net — and I’m a pretty good finder of what’s out there if I do say so myself 😉 — alas & alack I found zip.  Camera-shy man?…  So, if any Piety descendants read this and have an image of the good reverend to share, I would be delighted to see it.



1 MORGAN, Walter Piety, “A Partial History Of James Duncan PIETY   His Forebears And Descendants   1796-1948” (Unknown, 1948), at

-> 1a  http://interactive.ancestry.com/12263/dvm_GenMono001664-00036-0/69?backurl=http%3a%2f%2fsearch.ancestry.com%2fcgi-bin%2fsse.dll%3fgst%3d-6&ssrc=&backlabel=ReturnSearchResults&rc=1430,250,1650,289;2099,452,2343,506;2024,525,2201,582;1643,1413,1959,1468;1405,2610,1724,2666;1884,2609,2070,2666;954,2980,1273,3037;1270,2982,1499,3037;1497,2982,1681,3037;597,3214,787,3271;1740,3367,1968,3422;820,3512,1042,3566;653,3673,834,3728;1908,3826,2145,3881#?imageId=dvm_GenMono001664-00036-1 , accessed Feb., 2015.

-> 1b  http://interactive.ancestry.com/12263/dvm_GenMono001664-00036-0/69?backurl=http%3a%2f%2fsearch.ancestry.com%2fcgi-bin%2fsse.dll%3fgst%3d-6&ssrc=&backlabel=ReturnSearchResults&rc=1430,250,1650,289;2099,452,2343,506;2024,525,2201,582;1643,1413,1959,1468;1405,2610,1724,2666;1884,2609,2070,2666;954,2980,1273,3037;1270,2982,1499,3037;1497,2982,1681,3037;597,3214,787,3271;1740,3367,1968,3422;820,3512,1042,3566;653,3673,834,3728;1908,3826,2145,3881#?imageId=dvm_GenMono001664-00036-0 , accessed Feb., 2015.

2 “Indiana, Marriages, 1811-1959”, FamilySearch.org, “Chauncey Roscoe PIETY” & “Effie Myrtle FULLER” (i.) marriage license & (ii.) marriage record, original image at https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12122-67214-57?cc=1410397 , accessed Feb., 2015.

3 “U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” “Chauncy Roscoe PIETY,” original image at http://interactive.ancestry.com/6482/005250664_03526/431244?backurl=http%3a%2f%2fsearch.ancestry.com%2f%2fcgi-bin%2fsse.dll%3frank%3d1%26new%3d1%26tid%3d77176194%26tpid%3d38355429819%26ssrc%3dpt_t77176194_p38355429819%26MSAV%3d1%26msT%3d1%26gss%3dangs-g%26gsfn%3dChauncey%2bRoscoe%26gsln%3dPIETY%26msbdy%3d1885%26msbpn__ftp%3dWalnut%2bPrairie%252c%2bClark%2bCo.%252c%2bIL%252c%2bU.S.A.%26msddy%3d1972%26msdpn__ftp%3d%255blast%2bresidence%2bJacksonville%252c%2bMorgan%2bCo.%252c%2bIL%252c%2bU.S.A.%255d%26msgdy%3d1908%26msgpn__ftp%3dSullivan%2bCo.%252c%2bIN%252c%2bU.S.A.%252c%2bby%2bO.%2bB.%2bWhitaker%26msfng0%3dChauncey%2bRose%2b(C.%2bR.)%26msfns0%3dPIETY%26msmng0%3dKatharine%2bA.%26msmns0%3dBENNETT%26cpxt%3d1%26catBucket%3drstp%26uidh%3din4%26_83004003-n_xcl%3df%26cp%3d12%26mssng0%3dEffie%2bMyrtle%26mssns0%3dFULLER%26mscng0%3dPortia%26mscns0%3dPIETY%26mscng1%3dHarl%2bOvid%26mscns1%3dPIETY%26mscng2%3dKathryn%2bSarah%26mscns2%3dPIETY%26mscng3%3dPauline%26mscns3%3dPIETY%26mscng4%3dMildred%2bEffie%26mscns4%3dPIETY%26msbng0%3dMildred%26msbns0%3dPIETY%26msbng1%3dMartin%2bLeo%26msbns1%3dPIETY%26msbng2%3dPauline%2bAngeline%26msbns2%3dPIETY%26msbng3%3dSarah%2bE.%26msbns3%3dPIETY%26pcat%3dROOT_CATEGORY%26h%3d431244%26db%3dWW1draft%26indiv%3d1%26ml_rpos%3d13&ssrc=pt_t77176194_p38355429819&backlabel=ReturnRecord , accessed Feb., 2015.

4 Ancestry.com, accessed Feb., 2015:  1910, “C R P*Tis {C R Piety};” 1920, “Chauncey R Piety;” 1925, “Reverend C R Piety;” 1930, “Chuncey R Piety;” 1940, “Chauncey R Piety:”  quotes, as per Ancestry.com transcriptions.

5 “Morgan Area Genealogy,” at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ilmaga/sangamon/church/antioch/bulletin.html , accessed Feb., 2015.

6 “A Free Website for Periodicals, Books, and Videos,” Ron Unz, Chairman at http://www.unz.org/Author/PietyCR , accessed Feb., 2015.

SANGAMON RIVER Image:  https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Sangamon_County,_Illinois_Genealogy , accessed Feb., 2015.