This wouldn't be very shocking, except that my grandparents are actually related to four of Christopher Ziegler's ten children through seven of his many great-grandchildren. Here's how it works:
- First there's Christopher's daughter Catherine Ziegler Moyer (1736-1786). Her grandson Benjamin Moyer is my grandpa's great-great-grandpa. And her granddaughter Sarah Moyer Boyer is my grandma's great-grandma.
- Then there's Christopher's daughter Hannah Ziegler Landis (1740-?) who is my grandpa's great-great-great-great-grandma.
- Next we have Christopher's son John Ziegler (1744-1776). His grandson Andrew Heistand Ziegler is my grandpa's great-great-grandpa. And his grandson Joseph Heistand Ziegler is my grandma's great-grandpa.
- And finally, Christopher's daughter Elizabeth Ziegler Bower (1746-1804). Her grandson George Bower Boyer is my grandma's great-great-grandpa. And her grandaughter Maria Boyer Moyer is my grandpa's great-great-grandma.
This line of the family has been well documented by Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler in her book "The Ziegler Family and Related Families in Pennsylvania" (published 1970, revised 1978). She explains that Christopher Ziegler's father Michael Ziegler was the first Ziegler in our line to immigrate to America:
- 1684. Michael Ziegler was born in 1684, probably in the Palatinate - a district of Germany west of the Rhine River. (There's a possibility he was born in Switzerland and moved to the Palatinate before emigrating from Europe.)
- 1709. Seeking freedom from religious persecution, he immigrated to America in September 1709. I think he arrived in Germantown or Philadelphia, but I don't know the exact ship information.
- 1717. Michael was one of seven trustees appointed by Matthias Van Bebber to build a meeting house and school in what are now Skippack and Perkiomen, PA.
- 1718. Michael purchased 100 acres for 25 pounds. He purchased 50 more acres in 1722.
- 1725. Michael was one of about 35 men who signed a petition that was sent to the Philadelphia Court asking that the township be laid out and surveyed.
- 1727. He purchased 100 more acres in 1727 for 100 pounds, and then 450 acres in the Goshenhoppen (Upper Hanover Township) in 1728.
- 1728. Michael was one of 75 signers of a petition requesting their Excellency for protection against the Indians.
- 1729. In 1729 or 1730, Michael Ziegler was naturalized and took an Oath of Allegiance to the Crown of Great Britain.
- 1742. In 1742 and then again in 1745, Michael and others sent letters to Holland warning that war (the French and Indian War of 1754 to 1763) was imminent and asking for advice.
- 1763. Michael made a will which is recorded in Will Book N, page 454 in Philadelphia and copied in Gertrude Ziegler's book.
- 1765. Michael Ziegler died in 1765. He and his wife Catherine were buried in the cemetery of the Lower Skippack Mennonite Church, but no markers remain today.
On my recent trip to the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center, I found a lot of information about Christopher Ziegler. I actually got to see and touch two copies of his will - one written in 1786 and one in 1796. (That means I was touching documents that are nearly as old as the Declaration of Independence of 1776!) The wills are transcribed in Gertrude Ziegler's book, but it was pretty cool to see the originals.
I wonder whether Christopher Ziegler spoke or wrote English. I'm pretty sure he spoke German at home because I'm pretty sure his son John Ziegler spoke German at home. And I'm pretty sure of that because John Ziegler's son Abraham wrote him two personal letters (which can be found at the Schwenkfelder Center) in German. Maybe they were all bilingual and Christopher wrote his will himself, but it is also possible that his will was translated and that this written document was prepared by a lawyer or government employee in Philadelphia. I wonder, then, when the Zieglers started speaking and writing English fluently, and when they started using English at home.