About 550,000 people reside in Lancaster County. A dominant surname among all of those people is Stoltzfus. Nearly 10,000 Stoltzfuses live in the Amish settlement of Lancaster County, which includes slivers of Chester and York counties.
Virtually all of these people descend from Nicholas and Anna Elizabeth Stoltzfus, who were the only Stoltzfuses to emigrate to America in 1766. They settled in Lancaster County, then moved to what has become known as the Stoltzfus Homestead along the Tulpehocken Creek in Wyomissing, Berks County.
One of their sons, Christian, moved back to Lancaster County in 1800. His house still stands just south of Leola on Stumptown Road. In the two centuries since he moved here, the Stoltzfus population has swelled to become more than 25 percent of all families in the 38,000-member Amish settlement.
Plus, there are Stoltzfuses (and Stoltzfooses) who live here but are no longer Amish.
These Stoltzfus facts are presented by way of recommending a new book, “German Lutherans to Pennsylvania Amish: The Stoltzfus Family Story,” by Nic Stoltzfus, a Floridian who has taken over as caretaker of the great old stone house Nicholas and Anna Elizabeth inhabited in Berks County.
Over the years, the Scribbler has read all or parts of what seems like 144 million family history books. Many are useful to their families. Others are of wider interest. But few are as charming as this book. Scores of photos taken in Germany and Berks County by Nic Stoltzfus’s father, Elam, add to the book’s interest and beauty.
Here are a few interesting items from the book:
Stoltzfus translates from the German as “proud-foot.” Proud-foot? The book explains that the strange construction may suggest “someone with a confident stride.” Those proud-striding Stoltzfuses!
Nicolas Stoltzfus’s Bible and wood travel chest are displayed at the Pequea Brudershchaft Library (popularly known as “the Amish library”) in Gordonville.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation planned to demolish the Nicholas Stoltzfus homestead for road construction. Petitioners kept the house from that fate. Then preservationists had to save the house from falling down. That effort — after years of restoration and benefit auctions — is essentially complete.
The Scribbler has attended a hymn sing in the Stoltzfus Homestead and toured the grounds. This is one of central Pennsylvania’s most impressive preserves.
The house and the family that spread out from there deserve and have received an equally impressive presentation on paper by Masthof Press in Morgantown. The book can be ordered through the Masthof website or by calling 610-286-0258.
“Es waare mol vier gleene Haaslin, un ihr Naeme waare Flopsy, Mopsy, Wollschwensli, un Peter.”
Thus begins “Die Schtori vum Peter Haas,” or “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” in Pennsylvania Dutch and English. Notice that three of the little rabbits bear the same names in English and “Dutch,” but Cotton-tail is Wollschwensli.
Masthof Press has just published an illustrated bilingual edition of Beatrix Potter’s tale.
It may be of interest to readers who do not know “Dutch” that naughty Peter Haas, following his encounter with Mr. McGregor, was spoon fed Camomiletee gekocht (chamomile tea) before his mother put him to bed.
Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail, meanwhile, enjoyed Brot un Millich (bread and milk) und Blaeckbeere grickt (blackberries). Poor Peter.
Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP staff, writes "The Scribbler'' column every Wednesday. He welcomes comments and contributions at firstname.lastname@example.org.