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The Weaver Way: Zürich → Pennsylvania → Ohio

Sharon (née Weaver) Vitter's line of Weaver ancestors originally hailed from the canton of Zürich in Switzerland, although we only know for sure that her 4th great grandfather Jacob Joachim Weaver Sr. Jacob was born in 1748 in Kyburg, Zürich, Switzerland and emigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1767 on the ship Sally out of Rotterdam.

We tentatively list Jacob's parents as Johann Heinrich Weaver and Anna Gertrude Sasse, but that assignment is highly speculative because Johann is said to have died in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1755, even though his son Jacob didn't emigrate until 12 years later in 1767. Several genealogists even have Johann as born in Virginia, in which case he is extremely unlikely to be Johann's father. In addition, if Johann and Anna were Jacob's parents, their names would be represented prominently in Jacob's offspring, which is not the case.

Dr. Wayne Weaver, author of Dust Between My Toes: An Amish Boy's Journey, shared the following in our guestbook:

I was with several of Leroy Beachy's European Amish Mennonite guided tours including the one to Kyberg, Switzerland. As a child I was familiar with The Martyr's Mirror. In it George Weber ["Weber" is German for "Weaver"], an old man from Kyberg, was put in Othanbaugh prison in Zurich, around 1639, for his Anabaptist faith. The first immigrant Webers from Switzerland were verly likely first or second generation descendents of his. They were likely Palatines caught in Louis the 14th wars against all the Reformed non-Catholic groups, maybe in the large refugee groups that were caught in London. Many of them ended up being helped to immigrate by Queen Ann of England. It appears likely our Jacob of 1767 was another generation or two after those first Webers earlier forced out of Switzerland.

When Jacob landed in America in 1767, he went to Weaverland (!) in Lancaster County in eastern Pennsylvania, where he met and married his wife Magdalena Oberholtzer. Jacob, Magdalena, and their young family ultimately settled 160 miles further west in what is now Somerset County, site of the 11 September 2001 crash of United Airlines flight 93. Although Mennonites were generally against violence and armed conflict, Jacob apparently served on behalf of his new land in the Revolutionary War in the Columbia County Militia and the 1st Batallion headed by Colonel James Johnston.

Jacob and Magdalena had a total of 11 children. After Magdalena died in 1791, Jacob married Elizabeth and ultimately passed away in 1820. Jacob and Magdalena are buried in Shetler Cemetery in Davidsville, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Their headstone, listing their children and Jacob's birthplace, is pictured below as well as in the rotating photos on the home page of this website:

Jacob Weaver Headstone Front and back of headstone of Jacob Weaver, immigrant from Zurich, buried in Shetler Cemetery (click on photo to zoom in on Shetler Cemetery on Google Maps).

Also buried at Shetler Cemetery are Sharon's 2nd cousin 4x removed David D. Yoder (1837–1914), his wife Maria (née Shetler) Yoder (1842–1906), their daughter Mary (née Yoder) Varns (1876–1919), and Maria's parents Christian Shetler (1804–1877) and Veronica (née Nisley) Shetler (1810–1889). Sharon's brother Donald Weaver and his wife Felicia (née Mickan) Jenkins Weaver filmed the following video tour of Shetler Cemetery on 17 June 2021; it shows the headstones just mentioned above:

A video tour of Shetler Cemetery, where Jacob Weaver's headstone is prominently displayed (click to play the video, and double-click to enlarge).

Weaverland in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where Jacob first went in his new country, was the home settlement of the extensive Weber/Weaver clan of Mennonites headed by Rev. Jageli Heinrich Weber (Jakob Henry Weaver), who emigrated there from Switzerland in the 1710–1717 time period. Weber (which is German for "Weaver") was the original name of the Weaver family. A big open question is whether Sharon's line of Weavers represented by Jacob is related to the Weber/Weaver family of Rev. Jageli Heinrich Weber. There are several roundabout connections of the two families through marriage after their arrivals in America, but we do not know of any blood relation. Our guess is that they are related through common ancestors back in the old country, but we don't yet know if and how.

One thing both lines of Weavers had in common was that they were Mennonites, and Mennonite families had lots and lots of children, so Sharon has many, many relatives! For example, consider Christian Kendig Weber/Weaver (1731–1820), who was one of Rev. Jageli Heinrich Weber's many sons. At the time of his death at the age of 88, Christian had a total of 309 living descendants: 17 children, 99 grandchildren, 188 great grandchildren, and five great great grandchildren! There's a history on the Relativity Research page of this website about Sharon's Kauffman ancestors and the Mennonite culture and how they were persecuted in the old country for their religious beliefs.

Some of our Jacob Weaver Sr.'s family didn't stay long in Pennsylvania. Three of his sons Jacob Jr., Peter (Sharon's 3rd great grandfather), and Samuel moved to Holmes County, Ohio and established farms circa 1814–1815. Their younger brother Michael went further west in Ohio, settling in Prebler. Some in subsequent generations moved on to Indiana, near Elkhart and Kokomo. For example, Peter's son David, who married Barbara Kauffman, sister of Sharon's 2rd great grandmother Catherine (née Kauffman) Yoder, settled in Nappanee in Elkhart County, Indiana.

Later generations continued moving west. For more details, see the history of Peter's grandson Martin Samuel Weaver, who established the Weaver Homestead in Marysville Township, Miami County, Kansas (about 39 miles SSW of Kansas City), where Sharon grew up.

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