Bishop Christian Burkholder Addenda Next

Bishop Christian Burkholder and His Swiss Family
Romaine Stauffer
July 2011


Bishop Christian Burkholder and his Swiss Family (1) revises the story of Christian Burkhalter (B576), an early, well known, Mennonite bishop in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. These web pages show two of the key, primary sources for this revised story and two of the ancestral Burkhalter homes in Switzerland.

In 1754, when Bishop Christian was eight years old, he immigrated to Pennsylvania with his widowed mother and five siblings. For many years, he was believed to be the son of Christian Burkhalter of Gerolsheim, Germany and the grandson of Mennonite minister Hans Burkhalter. In 1759 this Christian of Gerolsheim, his wife Gertrude, and their four children, were listed among the six Mennonite families still living in Gerolsheim. Bishop Christian immigrated in 1754, and his father died before the immigration. Therefore, he cannot be a son of the Christian alive in Gerolsheim in 1759.

In 1980 Bishop Christian's Martyrs' Mirror was discovered after being lost for more than a century. He had written his family record in this book in his own hand, listing the names of his siblings and their birth years. In the 1990s the names and ages in this family record were matched with those in a 1745 census record found in Switzerland. (1 p18)

Matching these records on both sides of the Atlantic identifies this Swiss family from La Heutte as the one into which Bishop Christian was born.

The addenda on these web pages show the following:

- Photocopies of selected pages from the family record that Christian wrote in his Martyrs' Mirror, including the names and birth years of his siblings,

- A photocopy of the census record from 1745 in Switzerland that matches the names and ages of Christian's siblings in his Martyrs' Mirror,

- A photocopy of the birth records of Christian's father Ulrich and grandfather Benedict from the Evangelisch-Reformierte Kirche at Rüderswil,

- Photos of the Steinberg farm near the Rüderswil church, which was home to three generations of Burkhalters, Ulrich, Benedict, and Joseph.

- Photos of the Burkhalten farm near Rüegsbach, where the Burkhalter name originated, and the nearby Kirche Rüegsbach, with one of its stained glass windows containing the Burkhalter Coat of Arms.


1. Romaine Stauffer, "Bishop Christian Burkholder and His Swiss Family" in Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, 2011 Jul). See also the Addenda.

1a. Romaine Stauffer, "Bishop Christian Burkholder and His Swiss Family Addenda," (July 2011). Addenda for the original article in Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage (July 2011).

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