What’s your “Stoltzfus score”?

That’s a question you probably never expected to be asked, not even in this column of quirky curiosities.

Paul Stoltzfus Kurtz (Stoltzfus score: 4) created this genealogical game while examining his ahnentafel (German for a numbering system listing direct ancestors) and considering the ahnentafel of others who have Stoltzfus scores far higher than his.

Kurtz is a member of the Nicholas Stoltzfus House Preservation Committee and publicist for the annual auction at the Nicholas Stoltzfus House in Berks County. Nicholas was an Amish pioneer and the first Stoltzfus to come to America. His son, Christian, moved to Leacock Township, Lancaster County.

The 12th annual auction will begin Saturday, May 10, at 7 a.m. when Ervan Stoltzfus releases a cage full of pigeons.

The Scribbler will return to the auction. First, more about the Stoltzfus score.

Kurtz calculates the score after examining the surnames of someone’s 16 great-great grandparents. The score includes both Stoltzfuses and Smuckers because Nicholas Stoltzfus married Barbara Smucker. (Smokers count, too.)

John F. Smucker, chairman of the Pequea Bruderschaft Library Board at Gordonville, tells Kurtz that he has a young relative with a Stoltzfus score of 11, meaning only five of his 16 great-great grandparents had other surnames. That would be one of the highest scores.

The Fisher brothers, 14-year-old Elmer Lee and 11-year-old Lavern, who ran in April’s Garden Spot Village Half Marathon with their father, Aaron Fisher, have respectable Stoltzfus scores of 6.

“The [Stoltzfus] score is something I happened upon,’’ explains Kurtz. “I know of no other such.’’

Stoltzfus scores are probably higher than most family scores, in large part because Stoltzfus is the most common Amish surname in eastern Pennsylvania.

“Often I find among the Amish the next generation has a higher Stoltzfus score than the previous as a result of marrying within this group,’’ Kurtz explains.

According to Kurtz’s calculations, there are nearly one million living Stoltzfus/Smucker/Smoker descendants.

Nicholas Stoltzfus left Zweibruchen, Germany, and crossed the Atlantic in 1766. He landed in Philadelphia and eventually settled in what has become known as the Nicholas Stoltzfus House along the banks of Tulpehocken Creek in Berks County, about 1770.

Stoltzfuses and others have spent years restoring the house at 1700 Tulpehocken Road, Wyomissing, and are completing restoration of the barn. The May 10 auction will help raise funds to maintain the effort. Quilts are a major feature. Other sale items will include tools, plants and crafts.

Drawings return to NYC

Francis Howse Cruess, a New York architect with Lancaster connections, designed many of New York City’s distinctive buildings and the Lancaster Theological Seminary.

Paul Montigny, who lives in Lancaster city, has owned Cruess’ architectural renderings, as well as his paintings of the Susquehanna River and other subjects, since purchasing them from Cruess’ daughter, Helen Rutter Cruess.

Now the architectural renderings have returned to the city where they were created. Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library at Columbia University has accepted the prints that Cruess drew for the New York City firm Starrett and Van Vleck from the early 1900s until about 1930.

The prints will become part of the Avery Drawings and Archives Collection of American architects of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The drawings include the Met Life Building, the American Stock Exchange, the Downtown Athletic Club, Saks Fifth Avenue and London Terrace apartments.

Mark Platts, president of the Susquehanna Gateway Heritage Area, headquartered at the Zimmerman Center at Long Level, York County, helped arrange the donation. The Zimmerman Center displays one of Cruess’ Susquehanna paintings.

Cruess moved to Lancaster in 1947, at the end of his life. His daughter, Helen, worked as an illustrator for the former Hager’s Department Store. She died in 1977.


The Scribbler welcomes comments and contributions at jbrubaker@lnpnews.com or 291-8781.

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