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TEDD E. MISHLER
325 Sand Creek Drive North * Chesterton, Indiana 46304
(219) 926.1245 * Email:
mish@niia.net

June 5, 1998

Mr. Robert Tibbetts
103 Asin Road
Baguio City 2600
Philippines

Dear Bob:

We are blood relatives, but one must go back eight (8) generations to find our common ancestor who was Joseph Mishler, born about 1680 in Switzerland.

Joseph was an Anabaptist and Anabaptists best define our family’s history.

Anabaptists were Dutch, German, French and Swiss nationals living along or near the Rhine River. The four regions that made up most of the Anabaptists were the Amish, the Mennonites, the Dunkards, and the Quakers.

Today there still are Dunkards, but most evolved into German Baptist, or what is commonly, presently called The Church of Brethren.

The common features of the Anabaptists were:

    1. They would not kill and believed it was important to be a peacemaker;
    2. They did not believe in baptizing children, but instead believed that one should not be baptized until one affirmatively demonstrated they were making an informed adult decision of their own;
    3. They would not bear arms;
    4. They would not take oaths.

The four Anabaptist religions did not always agree. For example, the Amish believed that the y should not ever build a church, but instead religious services should be held in different homesteads so that everyone in the community took their turn. The Amish also did not believe in evangelism; one had to be born in an Amish family before one could elect at adulthood to become Amish. The major exception was where small/young non-Amish children were adopted because they had been abandoned.

On the other hand, the Dunkards were very evangelistic and emphatically believed in building churches.

Quakers were not ardently evangelistic, but did believe in building churches.

Mennonites believed in building churches, and were only mildly evangelistic.

Most, if not all, Amish originated in Switzerland. Amish and Dunkards were very much alike, and back in 1620 to 1700 it would have been very difficult for an outsider to tell the difference between an Amish man and a Dunkard. Although the Amish were Swiss, they spoke German and back then the center of their culture was located in the area of the Swiss plateau – the center of which is Bern, Switzerland.

Many of the Mennonites also originated in Switzerland. The Swiss Mennonites of 1700 also looked very much like the Amish and Dunkards. Back then, if an outsider saw an Amish man, A Dunkard, and a Swiss Mennonite walking together, that outsider would not have noticed any difference! All three would have looked alike, just like a modern Amish man from Elkhart County, Indiana, who still today looks like he just came from the 1600s.

The Quakers started out as Dutch, but quickly that religion made it big in England and many English became Quakers.

Why did our ancestor come to America? Well, his religious beliefs were very unpopular and dangerous to the Swiss authorities (Who were Zwingli Protestants) who demanded uniform adherence to childhood baptism, taking oaths, and bearing arms.

It was so bad by 1700 that many Anabaptists' leaders were killed for their refusal to adhere to the Zwingli program. The authorities would kill them by tying a rope around their neck and throwing them in a swift river or nailing them alive to a tree and killing anyone who attempted to remove them before they died.

Therefore, the great migration started around 1690 and continued for many years. That migration should be called the Rhine River Escape because everyone fled north along the Rhine River. For example, I believe Joseph Mishler left Switzerland about 1710, but did not get to America until 1749. Where was he from 1710 to 1749? Wherever he though he and his loved ones would be safe.

We do not know all of the many places where he and his family lived during those 39 years, but we do know that his daughter Catherine Mishler was born in the Eutigen Pforzheim, Baden-Durlach area of Wurttemberg, Germany in 1730.

We also know that the area where she was born was not a safe area for Anabaptists to be prior to the late 1720s, and therefore, Joseph and his family was probably somewhere else from 1710 to 1729. The Anabaptists move as often as necessary. The French area of Alsace/Loraine might have been safe from 1710 to 1720, but not after. Or, the Palatinate (Southwest Germany) area might have been safe from 1715 to 1725, but not before 1715, or after 1725.

In order to provide a place where their people could freely practice their religion, in 1727, the Amish started a community at the Northkill Creek in what is now Berks County, Pennsylvania. Just by chance, the Dunkards also had a community in the same area on Northkill Creek! You can find the area by finding Shartlesville, Pennsylvania on a road map. The Amish stuck together and from 1727 to 1753 when they came to America they did not go anywhere but Northkill. Therefore, when they landed in Philadelphia on the ship Phoenix on September 15, 1749, the Mishlers went straight to Northkill.

The highly evangelistic Dunkards caused many, many Northkill Creek Amish to convert to Dunkardism. On the other hand, very few, if any, Dunkards became Amish.

Our ancestors who came to America in 1749 are as follows: Father (1680), Mother (1715), Catherine (1730), Jacob (1733), Joseph (1735), Veronica (1736), Elizabeth (1737), and Christina (1738).

When they landed, none of the children had chosen to become Amish yet, but the mom and dad (Joseph - 1680) were Amish. Ultimately, only four of the six children chose to become Amish, they were Joseph (1735), Veronica (1736), Elizabeth (1737), and Christina (1738).

Catherine (1730) became a Reformed Trinity Lutheran and Jacob (1733) became a Dunkard. You are decended from the Dunkard Jacob, whereas I am descended from the Amish man Joesph (1735).

As you can tell by now, I am not remotely a genealogist or even a historian. Instead I am only someone who has studied the human drama of a family trying to find a place to call home.

A genealogist demands proof of lineage, whereas I, if I believe I have good, logical circumstantial evidence, will presume lineage without any proof. For example, I don't know for a fact that your Joseph Mishler (1822) was in fact a member of our family. However, I have studied every Mishler who was on a ship list before 1822 and only one of those Mishlers had a Dunkard ancestor. Therefore, logically, Joseph Mishler (1822) must be one of ours.

There is more. The Moyers were also Swiss-Germans who originally were Amish! I have enclosed the names of the 179 original Amish pioneer families.

Note that both the Mischlers (the father Joseph Mishler signed his name to the ship list in perfect German script as Mischler) and the Moyers were one of the original Amish pioneers.

As you probably have also guessed, the Pennsylvania Dutch, or at least most of them, were not Dutch, or even German, but instead they were Swiss-Germans. Most of which descended from our tribe, which I call the tribe of the Large Noses who had immigrated out of Switzerland by way of the Rhine River Escape.

The Amish community on the Northkill Creek near Shartlesville, Pennsylvania no longer exists! It dried up in about 1880. Additionally, there are very few Amish left today. None in Europe, about 30,000 in the USA (mostly in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; Holmes County, Ohio; and Elkhart County, Indiana) and a couple thousand in Canada.

Likewise, there are few Dunkards left today - probably not more than a couple thousand. My Aunt Nelle (married to my Uncle Jess Mishler) was a Dunkard. She wore a special dress and bonnet until the day she died. To the best of my knowledge, neither her husband nor their children were Dunkards.

On the other hand, there are millions of Brethren and Mennonites today. Unlike the Amish and the Dunkards, the Brethren and the Mennonites evolved and now look like regular Americans. Don't let their looks mislead you however, because millions of devout Brethren and Mennonites still firmly believe that it is their duty to be peacemakers so they are far more kinder and more gentle than other, regular Americans.

Another characteristic of the Mishlers is that they almost always tried to live away from others. For 300 years - from 1620 to 1920 - everybody was afraid of Amish and Dunkards; therefore, others mistreated Amish and Dunkards so badly that the Mishlers always pushed the envelope to live at the edge of civilization. That is why the Amish chose Northkill Creek. In 1727, for the most part, the only people living at the foot of the Blue Mountains on Northkill Creek were Indians, Amish, and Dunkards.

The Fort Line was 30 miles back towards Philadelphia and normally no white man would dare live beyond the Fort Line - no white man other than Amish and Dunkards that is.

That pushing of the envelope to live on the edge was the Mishler practice for 150 years. For example, in 1775, because the Anabaptists believed that war was coming and their neighbors would force them to bear arms, take oaths and kill others, they pooled their money and purchased millions of acres of land in what is now Ontario, Canada. The area was as big as Northern Indiana and was settled only by Indians. For the most part, the Anabaptists had the area (Kitchner to Guelph to Toronto) all by themselves and no governmental officials resided in that area until 85 years later around 1860. One could spend a lifetime just studying the major Canadian Anabaptist leader whose name was Benjamin Eby. He was a Mennonite.

Like their ancestors who moved many, many times in Europe in order to be safe from 1690 to 1749, Mishlers also moved many, many times in America to feel safe or just to be on the edge of civilization.

For example, even though he and his family could have lived in Canada, I don't believe that your Joseph (1822) was born in Canada. I say that because the family branch, which he was logically from, was probably in Ohio in 1820s.

There are 234 family branches of the Mishler family and based on logic (not proof) I believe that your Joseph belongs to branch #17. The head of that branch was John Mishler, who was born in Pennsylvania in about 1796 and who married Elizabeth Bashler on June 10, 1821 in Ohio. Of course, I do not know for sure where John and Elizabeth and their son Joseph were in 1822, but I would guess Ohio. Why? John Mishler (1796) was a member of a Dunkard Family which was working very hard to build many churches in the Ohio Valley.

In fact, John's brother Joseph (1793) was an evangelist extra-ordinare. Joseph (1793) was called Hawk-nose. Like most members of our tribe, he had a large nose. He also had the rare ability to induce most everyone to commit himself or herself to do almost anything he requested. I would guess that he induced his uncles, brothers, sons, and nephews to start at least 100 churches in Ohio and Indiana.

Of course, that also means that your Joseph might have been born in Montreal, Canada. Maybe his father allowed The Hawk to talk him into going to Montreal to start a church.

I have never had the time to research on The Hawk, but I would strongly suggest that someone do so. Joseph The Hawk Mishler was born in 1793 and he died on April 16, 1867 and is buried in a Brethren Cemetery called Maple H in Springfield Township, Summit County, Ohio. He was born on April 8, 1793 in what is now York County, Pennsylvania, but which was Adams County when he was born.

Sometime around 1835, in order to start several Brethren Churches in the area, The Hawk and part of his greater family moved to Montgomery County, Ohio. His wife stayed in Montgomery County, Ohio, but The Hawk commuted back and forth to Summit County, Ohio.

After The Hawk died, his wife Mary Palmer Mishler and some of their children stayed in Montgomery County, Ohio. However, since the entire family was highly evangelistic, some stayed in Mogodore, Ohio to keep the Brethren churches there running well; some moved to Indiana; some to Illinois; and even some to Wisconsin.

For example, their daughter Susanna Mishler (1824) married a distant cousin Emanuel Mishler (1822) and they moved to Freeport, Stephenson County, Illinois. They had about nine (9) children (6 boys and 3 girls) and I have completely lost that family (as I have most of the families of branch #17). I think most of them went to Wisconsin and Minnesota. I hope you can help me find them. They were Dunkards in the 1800s.

The Dunkard Mishlers first came to Ohio about 1802 and it wasn't just Mishler branch #17 that came. Instead, fourteen (14) different Mishler family branches that were Dunkards came to Ohio.

Those 14 branches were 6, 9, and 12-23. As you can see, The Hawk had a lot of relatives to recruit! Again, these were all Dunkard Mishlers! I feel certain that your Joseph (1822) was descended from one of these family branches, I just don't know which; but again, I would guess branch #17 whose heads were John Mishler (1796) and Elizabeth Bashler (1800).

The Dunkard Mishlers (from 1802 to 1830) chose a triangular area in Ohio in which to settle. That area included four counties as follows: Portage, Summit, Wayne, and Stark.

The Amish Mishlers also settled in Ohio, but they chose a different area that included Holmes, Tuscarawas, and Stark Counties. There was some overlap in Stark County, but as now, most Amish Mishlers were in the Holmes County area.

Note that my great, great, grandfather Valentine Mishler (1779), who was Amish, was buried in Holmes County, Ohio, only about 40 miles from Stark County, Ohio, where your great, great, great grandfather Jacob (junior) Mishler (1760), who was a Dunkard, was buried.

I would guess that Joseph (1680) and his spouse had at least one million descendents. Want to help me find them? If you would like, I can send this very letter to you via email so that you may keep it in your electronic records. Please acknowledge the receipt of this letter either by email, phone, or snail mail.

I have many, many stories to tell -

 

Tedd E. Mishler
Your long lost cousin, many times removed

** I have descended from family branch #77