Monday, April 17, 2017

Fascinating Family History by Joan Hochstetler PLUS Giveaway!! Ends 4/24



Welcome Joan! I'm so excited to have Joan on my blog this week. Joan has a fascinating story of her family you won't want to miss. Read all the way through and find out how to enter to win a choice of
Northkill or The Return in either print or ebook format.

Thank you so much for inviting me to guest post on your blog, Debbie! I’d like to share a bit about my latest project, the Northkill Amish Series, coauthored with Bob Hostetler, which is closely based on the inspiring true story of my Amish ancestors passed down through family stories and preserved in private collections and in the Pennsylvania archives. Book 1, Northkill, published in 2014, and The Return, which completes our ancestors’ story, just released at the beginning of this month.

In 1738, along with other members of their church, twenty-six-year-old Jacob Hochstetler, his wife, whose name is unknown, and a young son and daughter, John and Barbara, undertook the arduous journey from their home in Europe to Britain’s American colonies. They were part of a tidal wave of German immigration stretching over the following century that included many Amish and Mennonites who sought sanctuary from religious persecution in Europe and the freedom to live and worship according to their Anabaptist beliefs, including the doctrine of nonresistance.

Their ship, Charming Nancy, arrived in Philadelphia on November 9. By early 1739 the family had settled with other members of their church who had come before them near Northkill Creek, for which their community was named. This settlement lay at the base of the Blue Mountain along the western frontier of the British colonies bordering Indian country in what became Berks County, Pennsylvania. They built a substantial log home and barn near a spring of fresh water, cleared the land for farming, and planted crops and fruit trees. The following year they helped to establish the first Amish church in America.

For eighteen years the settlement lived at peace with the Delaware Indians—the Lenni Lenape—who inhabited a large portion of Pennsylvania. Members of the tribe often visited and traded with the settlers in the Northkill area, and they were generally received with hospitality. Over time some even became believers in Christ through the work of Moravian missionaries along the borderlands. Peace was shattered in 1754, however, when France and England went to war over control of the territories west of the Appalachian Mountains. After the defeat of British General Edward Braddock by a combined French and Indian force in 1755, many of the native tribes allied with the French began to attack the border settlements in Pennsylvania and New York to drive white settlers out of their ancestral lands.

Between November 1756 and June 1757 a number of settlers in the Northkill area were killed and others were carried away as captives. But the summer of 1757 was comparatively quiet, although tension hung over the valley. Jacob and his wife, their sons Jacob, Joseph, Christian, and a young daughter were living at home. Barbara and John were by then married and lived on nearby farms. On the evening of September 19, 1757, the young people of the church gathered at the Hochstetler farm an apfelschnitzen, helping prepare apples for drying. Afterward they stayed to visit and play games until late. When their guests had finally gone, the family went to bed.



They were roused in the middle of the night when their dog set up a furious clamor. Alarmed, young Jacob was the first to the door. When he opened it, he was hit in the leg by a gunshot, but managed to bar the door before the attackers could force their way inside. It was a moonless night, and barricaded inside the dark house, the family could barely make out the shadows of a band of about fifteen Indians gathered near the outside bake oven, evidently conferring about what to do. Several guns and an ample supply of ammunition used for hunting were at hand in the house, but in spite of Joseph and Christian’s desperate pleas, in obedience to Jesus’ prohibition against killing, Jacob refused to allow them to take up arms against another human being even to defend their lives.

With dawn coming on, their attackers set fire to the house. The family was forced to take refuge in the cellar beneath their blazing home. When the fire threatened to burn through the floorboards, they staved off certain death by dousing the flames with the cider stored there. Choking on thick smoke and scorched by the conflagration above their heads, they endured until the light outside strengthened enough for them to see through a small window that the Indians were withdrawing into the woods. Flames and smoke made it impossible to stay in the cellar any longer, and the instant their attackers were out of sight, the parents and their children began to crawl out through the narrow window. The mother was a large woman, and it took considerable effort to drag her through the constricted opening. With his wounded leg, young Jacob also needed help to climb through. But at last everyone was free of the smoldering ruins.



Unknown to them, concealed among the trees, a young warrior known as Tom Lions had lingered in the orchard to gather some of the ripe peaches. He saw the family emerging from the cellar and immediately alerted the rest of his party. As the marauding band returned to surround his terrified family, Joseph outran two pursuers and hid behind a fallen tree on the hill above the house, unaware that one of the Indians had noted his hiding place. The Indians tomahawked and scalped young Jacob and his little sister. According to legend, some years earlier the mother had refused to give the Indians food and had driven them away. Evidently motivated by a desire for revenge, the Indians stabbed her through the heart with a butcher knife, a death they considered dishonorable. Christian was about to be tomahawked as well, but family tradition maintains that he was spared because of his bright blue eyes, along with his father, Jacob.


Dawn was just breaking when the oldest son, John, who lived on the adjoining farm, awakened to the horrifying sight of his parents’ home surrounded by Indians and consumed by flames. He hastily concealed his wife and young children in a dense thicket at a distance from their house, then watched helplessly from concealment as the Indians prepared to carry off his father and brothers. Outnumbered and alone, he could do nothing to save his family. Other neighbors gathered at the edge of the meadow surrounding the farm but were equally helpless to intervene against the armed Indian band.

Taking the father, Jacob, and Christian with them, the Indians returned to Joseph’s hiding place and took him prisoner as well. As they were being led away, Jacob received permission to pick as many ripe peaches as he could carry as provision for their journey. Then they were forced to a rapid march northwest across the mountains. When they came to an Indian village several days later, Jacob saw that they were going to be forced to run the gauntlet. Accompanied by his two boys, he approached the village chief and offered him the peaches he carried. The chief was so pleased by this gesture that he spared them from the cruel ordeal most captives were forced to undergo.

After a long, exhausting march of approximately 370 miles, the captives arrived at the French fort at Presque Isle near modern-day Erie, Pennsylvania. There they were separated and given to three different Indian clans in northwestern Pennsylvania. Before his sons were taken away from him, Jacob pleaded with them to remember the Lord’s Prayer even if they forgot their German language. Jacob was then taken to the Seneca village of Buckaloons. Custaloga, a Delaware chief who lived most of the time in Custaloga’s Town near present-day Meadville, Pennsylvania, took one of the boys. Where the other boy was taken is unknown.

According to oral tradition, Christian was initially adopted by an old Indian who died several years later, while Joseph was adopted into a family. Jacob became a slave of the Seneca, and although he pretended to be content, he never grew reconciled to the natives’ life. In early May, 1758, allowed to go hunting alone while the warriors were gone on raids, he managed to escape. Fervent prayers for guidance sustained him on an arduous journey through the wilderness until he finally came to the Susquehanna River. On the verge of starving, he built a raft and floated downstream, more dead than alive. When his raft passed Fort Augusta at Shamokin, he was spotted and pulled from the river by British soldiers. The commander, Colonel James Burd, took him to Camp Carlisle, a few miles south of Fort Harris, now Harrisburg, where the British commander, Colonel Henry Bouquet, interrogated him about the activities and locations of the French, then released him to find his way home.

At the end of the French and Indian War, the peace treaty with the Indian tribes specified the return of all white captives to their families. Little came of this agreement, however, and on August 13, 1762, Jacob petitioned the governor for the return of his sons. After considerable negotiation with Indian tribal leaders to secure the return of all the white captives, Joseph was returned to his father in 1763 or 1764. Christian did not return until the autumn of 1765 after Jacob again petitioned for his release.

As was common for white captives who were adopted into Indian families, both young men were initially reluctant to return to white society, especially Christian, who had been the youngest when captured, and who lived among the Indians the longest. Both married soon after their return, however, which helped them to reintegrate into the life of their Amish community. Joseph joined the Amish church, but tor the rest of his life he continued to visit his Indian family in order to hunt and join in their sports. Christian eventually converted and joined the Church of the Brethren, eventually becoming a minister in that denomination. Their families joined in a steady westward migration that spread Amish communities into the lands the captives had crossed and far beyond.



Has your family passed down stories about your ancestors that have inspired you? If so, please share a brief account.

Do you know what country your family originally came from? Please share if so!

Those who leave a comment on this post will be entered in a drawing for a copy of either Northkill or The Return in either print or ebook format. The contest will run for a week and the winner will be announced next Monday.

ABOUT JOAN:
J. M. Hochstetler is the daughter of Mennonite farmers and a lifelong student of history. She is also an author, editor, and publisher. Northkill, Book 1 of the Northkill Amish Series coauthored with Bob Hostetler, won Foreword Magazine’s 2014 INDYFAB Book of the Year Bronze Award for historical fiction. Book 2, The Return, released April 1, 2017. Her American Patriot Series is the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. One Holy Night, a contemporary retelling of the Christmas story, won the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year Award.

Links



Northkill website: http://www.northkill.com/
American Patriot Series website: http://www.theamericanpatriotseries.com/
Jacob Hochstetler Family Association website:  https://www.jhfa.net/the-massacre

31 comments:

  1. Wow! Now that's some history for you! I would LOVE to read those books. bcrug(at)myfairpoint(dot)net. I am a feedburner follower as well. I don't know where my family came from.

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    1. Good to see you here, Connie! Got you in the drawing. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  2. This is a fascinating family history and I would be thrilled to win either book. Thank you for sharing about Joan's family and this giveaway. I do know some of my family tree but I don't have any stories.
    Debbie, I follow you on Feedburner.
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Hi, Connie! Glad you stopped by, and good luck in the drawing!

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  3. Part of my family come from Germany. The best stories I have were my Swedish side. Lars Paul Esbjorn was a Lutheran pastor. The Swedish Lutheran church comes from him. Many of my relatives were pastors, down through my father and nephew. nlgriggs902atgmaildotcom

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    1. Nancy, love your family history! I'm sure your ancestors had some fascinating stories to tell. Thank you for sharing, and good luck in the drawing!

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  4. Looks like a very interesting book. Thanks for sharing it with us. Thanks also for the chance to win a copy.

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    1. I am a feedburner follower also iamabho (at) gmail ( DOT ) Com

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    2. Linda, thanks for stopping by and entering! Good luck in the drawing!

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  5. I'm a European mixture! German, English, Scottish, Irish, French, Spanish, Finnish

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    1. Wow, that's an interesting combination, Joan. Talk about conflicting personalities. lol! So glad you dropped by, and good luck in the drawing!

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  6. Both my husbands family and mine came over from Germany and their migration paralleled. We have researched and found records from when they came over from Europe. My husband put together computer files and gave them to our four children. It's nice to share a heritage. paulams49ATsbcglobalDOTnet

    Thankyou for sharing!

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    1. That is cool, Paula! I'm straight-line German descent on both sides too, though my family has been in this country since 1738. So glad you dropped by, and good luck in the drawing!

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  7. On my mother's side I am English and Irish, on my father's side Danish and German. My mother has chased up a lot of documentation from both sides. Migration papers, births, deaths, marriages etc. It's fascinating. We have a genuine English Lord in our family tree.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. Mary, you are blessed to have so much information on your ancestors! It's wonderful to have a family member who is diligent about researching genealogy and collecting documentation before it's lost. It is fascinating for sure. Thanks for stopping by and entering the drawing!

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  8. Wow, I'm really looking forward to reading these books. They sound so extremely interesting. Being adopted, I don't know where I am from or what I am. I plan on taking the AncestryDNA test sometime this year and hope to find out. I also hope that DNA test is true and not a fake.
    kmgervais(at)nycap(dot)rr(dot)com

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    1. Karen, I've heard good things about the DNA tests, and it sounds like they can tell you a whole lot about your ancestry, so good luck! I'm sure it'll be fascinating. Thanks for stopping by and good luck in the drawing!

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  9. My dad's ancestors were seven brothers that came from England. Thank you for the chance. Blessings
    leliamae54(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Seven brothers all immigrating together sounds like a fascinating story, Lucy! Thanks for stopping by and entering the drawing. Good luck!

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  10. Such an interesting family history! My mother's family was part of the later Amish-Mennonite immigration to the US in the early-1800s. They settled in Northern NY. My great-great-grandfather Christian Nafziger immigrated later, in the 1880s, after refusing to serve in Germany's military. He left behind his family and most everything he owned to create a new life in a strange country. He eventually became a bishop in the church and led our area churches for approximately 60 years with great strength of character.

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    1. What an amazing heritage, Mallori! The German migration to this country continued well into the 1800s, and my mother's ancestor on the Bontrager side came during that period too. Thank you for sharing, and good luck in the drawing!

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  11. No unfortunately my family did not pass down stories. My family immigrated from Germany. fishingjan{at}aol{dot}com

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    1. That's a shame, Jan, but I'll bet a good researcher who knows where the look could come up with all sorts of information about your ancestors. It takes a lot of work though, I know. Thanks for stopping by and entering the drawing!

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  12. The couple that started our family tree branch immigrated from Prussia (no idea the year). Our family has two different spellings of our last name. The story goes that when they came overseas to America, whoever was doing the recording of the family names spelled it like he heard it spoken (probably because of an accent) instead of how it was suppose to be spelled. Another story says that two brothers had an argument that caused a split and one of the brothers spelled the last name differently because of it. Not sure if anyone knows for sure which story is true :-)

    No family stories that I can recall being passed down besides these.

    teamob4 (at) gmail (dot) com

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    1. P.S. I'm also a feedburner follower!

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    2. That's pretty interesting, Trixi, and actually not unusual. We're not sure how our name was originally spelled either because our ancestor wasn't literate so officials had to guess at it. It ended up being spelled a number of different ways, and then some of the later generations anglicized it, which added more variations. If someone in your family was willing to do some genealogical snooping, they might be able to track down the truth. Thanks for entering the drawing, and good luck!

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  13. P.P.S. I should add, I have a cousin (2nd or 3rd) who does the genealogy for our family. She was the one that traced it down to the original couple who started out branch of the tree! She has massive amounts of family records, and I think she's part of something like Ancestory.com or somsimethung :-)

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    1. It really helps to have someone in the family who's dedicated to researching and maintaining your genealogy, Trixi. One of my cousins does that too, and we really appreciate her. It's a big job, but what a legacy for the descendents!

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  14. Please excuse the amount of typos! My Kindle is playing tricks with me today...ugh!

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  15. The winner of the drawing for a copy of The Return is.....Joan Arning! Congratulations, Joan!!! Please contact me at jmhochstetler [at] msn [dot] com and give me your mailing address so I can drop the book in the mail to you. :-)

    Thank you, everyone, for stopping by, sharing a bit your heritage, and entering the drawing!

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