Our Kistler Cousins
A few weeks ago I was thinking of the Kistler family, which married into our Hagenbuch family through the patriarch Andreas Hagenbuch’s (b. 1715) daughter Christina (b. 1759). Christina’s mother was Andreas’ second wife, Anna Maria Margaretha Friedler. Christina married Jacob Kistler (b. 1751), probably in 1777. They had seven children, one of which was Michael Kistler (b. 1792). The Kistlers were a large family whose home church was the Jerusalem Union “Red” Church in Albany Township, Berks County near Stony Run in what is called the Kistler Valley. This area lies beside Lynn Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania where most of the Kistler family lived.
The Kistler family has been mentioned in a few other articles that Andrew and I have written, but we have never fleshed out some of the family’s details. Much of the information I have in my paper records was received in the 1980s from a cousin, Elaine Schwar, who died in 2015. Elaine was known in genealogical circles as an expert on Berks County families. She is a cousin to my Hagenbuch clan through my paternal grandmother’s Sechler family. And, she is related to the Kistlers. However, some of Elaine’s information about the Kistlers was never completed when she was in contact with me because of the lack of internet resources “back in the day.”
Today, I can look through my paper records and corroborate the Kistler family information against that which is found using the online tools Andrew and I use. Christina’s husband, Jacob Kistler, is the son of Johann George (b. 1720 in Germany) and wife Anna Dorothea (Levan) Kistler. They are buried at the Jerusalem Union “Red” Church Cemetery in Berks County which is about five miles from where Andreas Hagenbuch built a homestead in 1741 and where Christina (Hagenbuch) Kistler grew up. Christina (Hagenbuch) and Jacob Kistler are also buried at the Jerusalem Red Church cemetery.
As I began to research details about the Kistler family to add to our Hagenbuch genealogy, I found some interesting information. Jacob and Christina’s children are: Andreas Kistler (b. 1779 and most likely named for Andreas Hagenbuch); Philip Jacob Kistler (b. 1781 and most likely named for Andreas’ brother); Maria (Kistler) Happes (b. 1787); Daniel Kistler (b. 1790); Michael Kistler (b. 1792); and Johannes Kistler (b. 1802).
Michael Kistler (b. 1792) was most likely named for Christina’s older brother, Michael Hagenbuch (b. 1746), and he was married to Mary Magdalena Brobst. Michael and Mary Magdalena (Brobst) Kistler had 12 children. Most of the 12 children—all born in Lynn Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania—lived in the Kistler Valley area and are buried at the Jerusalem Red Church. Their son, Stephen (b. October 1814), married Esther Mosser in 1838.
I decided to follow Stephen and Esther’s line and found surprising results. According to the 1850 census, Stephen’s occupation was a “tanner and currier [sic],” and the family lived in Lehighton, Carbon County, Pennsylvania. The census lists their children as Charles (b. 1838), Rufus (b.1840), Wilson (b. 1845), and Alfred (b. 1849). Two additional children are listed in Findagrave and were born after 1850: Mary (b. 1851) and Michael (b. 1858). Stephen died in 1880 and Esther in 1877. They are buried in the Stroudsburg Cemetery, Monroe County, Pennsylvania.
Their son, Wilson P. Kistler, is the next line we will follow. As a recap, his line is: Andreas Hagenbuch (b. 1715) > Christina (Hagenbuch) Kistler (b. 1759) > Michael Kistler (b. 1792) > Stephen Kistler (b. 1814) > Wilson P. Kistler (b. 1845). Wilson married Henrietta Stauffer in 1867, and they had two children: Gertrude (b. 1868, m. Benjamin Fredericks) and Sedgewick (b. 1875, m. Bertha Kaul). Wilson was a tanner by trade and served in the Civil War, 27th Regiment Company H. In 1871 he and the family moved to Lock Haven, Clinton County, Pennsylvania. Along with the tannery he owned and operated there, he did business with other tanneries and was vice president of the First National Bank of Lock Haven. Wilson died in 1914 and Esther died in 1929. They are buried in the Highland Cemetery, Lock Haven.
Sedgewick Kistler owned and operated 13 tanneries “in the East,” according to his 1952 obituary. He was not only a well known businessman, but also was highly involved in the Democratic party. Sedgewick and Bertha Kaul married in 1906. Sedgewick and his wife Bertha both died in 1952 and are buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Elk County, Pennsylvania. They had one daughter, Gertrude. Gertrude Kistler was born in 1907 and, at the age of 12, came to an untimely death through drowning during a family trip to Yosemite, California.
According to a news article, in 1920 Sedgewick was attending a Democratic party convention in San Francisco. Sedgewick along with his wife Bertha, daughter Gertrude, a sister-in-law, and their chauffeur went sightseeing in Yosemite at Camp Curry, which is now one of the resort villages in the national park. Gertrude fell into the rushing waters of the Merced River (referred to incorrectly in the news article as the “Mercedes” River) and drowned. While trying to save her, the chauffeur also drowned.
We can only imagine the grief that the Kistler family experienced at the loss of their lovely, young daughter and the added sadness of having to transport the body back to Pennsylvania for burial. The photo of Gertrude attests to her innocent beauty as she looks out at us from 100 years ago. Gertrude was laid to rest in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Elk County, Pennsylvania which was where her mother’s family (the Kauls) were buried. By the way, the Kaul family were millionaires, making their fortune from the lumbering business.
This is just one family story that may seem minor but adds interest to our genealogical research. The Kistlers are a large family and more information about them will be shared in future articles. As with so many other allied families to the Hagenbuchs, their stories are important to our heritage.
Thank you for the great article. Elaine Schwar dubbed the convoluted early history of the Kistlers the “Kistler Confusion.” She (and others) discovered that much of the information on the John George Kistler grave marker is incorrect. I relate this story in my book Across the Blue Mountain, A Pennsylvania Family Saga and Memoir. (Amazon)
Hi Bruce let me ask you a question on one of the kistler’s i’m stumped on. My Jacob Kistler married a Christina (assuming but not 100% sure Everitt). His children’s baptism records show that the sponsors were Jacob Sr and Catherine (yes oddly Sr was used) and he himself is listed as “Jr”. That particular daughter was Judith born in 1906. Literally hundred’s of people on ancestry have Jacob being deceased at the same date, but I found a will that lists him (known for a fact because his daughter Judith and an earlier husband’s last name is listed as well) as passing away in 1827. Nobody can seem to help because they don’t have the same info as me and I’m just truly stuck. please help!!:)
Nadine. I found your Jacob. Unfortunately I have no date of death for him. I have dates for children Judith, Louisa, Maria Barbara, Jonas and Maria Anna. Let me know if you need particulars. I have a note for Jacob: “Lived at Levan Tannery.” My data is apparently from Russell Baver and/or Raymond Hollenbach. I have a note in the file: “Children mixed with others, taken out. Jonathan, Jacob, Judith”
Hi Bruce! Yes I got That as well, (and Judith, I meant 1806 not 1906 as I typed). She is my 4th great grandma. It just baffles me how so many can have so many errors and those carry on. But yes, his death I have as 1827 for a fact. I’m wondering what his wife’s last name was, and if she remarried…and where he may be buried at. I may have to go walk the church…again. Lol. I wonder what your note in the file, children mixed with others taken out, Jonathan, Jacob and Judith” means. My sources are the same for the other stuff, baver and hollenbach. By the way, I just got your book, it’s a good read so far! Thnx!!
Hello! Are the Kistlers in your family related to the Kistler Vineyards family in Sonoma County, CA? I am doing some research about Rosemont College. Thank you.
Liad….I don’t know if they are related or not. Kistler is not an uncommon name but if one does the research back to where the Kistler Vineyards Family came from, they may have started in Pennsylvania someplace.
I emailed them several years ago to see if I could establish a connection but got no reply.
Johannas George and his wife Dorethea came with 3 children ( think it was 3) on a British ship called the Townsend. They fled as Lutherans, as many did, from the Palinate region of Germany. The were not indentured servants. They left for PA from Holland. Ironically my brother in law’s Gary Frantz (now deceased) had his 7th generation grandfather Ludwig and his wife on the same ship. They arrived in what is Philadelphia in Oct 1737. I want to say the 17th. They settled in Faulkner Swamp which was just east of Valley Forge. Not long after that they moved to Berks County, Albany Township. The Kistler Homestead remains there in Kistler’s Valley. Johannas served under Captain Clark who served under Colonel George Washington. He drove the War Wagon. Five of his sons , including my 6th generation Grandfather served in the Muhlenberg Militia during the Rev War. After the war, one Kistler moved to Ohio. The GM plant in Lordstown was the Kistler farm of that descendant. The family sold the land to GM in the 1930s. I met a Darlene Kistler when at Youngstown State University. She was local and I met with her parents (1980) and discussed their side of the tree. Another Kistler followed many German and Dutch Americans down the Wilderness Road and into North Carolina. That Kistler married a Cherokee woman. Most of the Kistlers in the Chattoonga area are of his and her lineage. In North Carolina there also is a Kistler Valley, near Boone… many Kistlers live in that area. During the Civil War those Kistlers were in the NC Confederate Army. The army regiments of NC and AL teamed up to fight the Union army PA 52nd. This at Antietam and Gettysburg. The 52nd was at Cold Harbor too. But at Gettysburg they took more casulties then any other unit of either side. My maternal great grandfather Peter Haas was in the 52nd.
Side note: the first President of the Bern Republic (Switzerland) was Peter Kistler
In Switzerland, one Kistler became a cardinal in the Catholic Church. The Kistlers were also Swiss Guards and Knights. They went on the Crusades against the Muslim invasion of the Holy Land. The name Kistler was coined around 800 AD. In German/Swiss, “ler” means maker of… Kist or Kess meant fine chest or treasure chest. Chances are like many Swiss /German men back then they were skilled in woodcrafts. For sure many brought that skill to the colonies. Philly was always known for their wood crafts by German immigrants ( think Germantown,PA). Hope that helps?
In many years of researching Kistler family history, I have never seen any documentation that Johannes George (“John George”) Kistler lived at Faulkner Swamp or that he fought in the Revolution. If he had three children when he arrived in 1737 he was probably at the very least 20 years old. Thus, he would have been almost 60 when the Revolution began. If anyone can produce primary or secondary source documentation, I would love to see it.
There is circumstantial evidence that John George was not the man who arrived in 1737 but more likely his son, in other words one of the three children. Likewise there is circumstantial evidence that John George was an indentured servant and that he settled initially near New Jerusalem before coming to Albany Township. I outline this in my book Across the Blue Mountain (Amazon.)
I am interested in the Kistler woman who married Michael Happes, b 1781. I find her name listed as either Christina, Mary, Maria, or Magdalena b. 1787. Michael is buried at Zion’s Stone Church in West Penn Twp., PA. There is some indication that his wife is buried there, too. However, she does not have a tombstone. Do you have any insights to her correct name and death date?