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Notes for Benedict Brechtbühl and Verena Meister

1709 Benedicht Brechtbuhl described his imprisonment, at age 44, by authorities in Bern, Switzerland: It was in the year 1709, on the 12th of January, that the authorities sent seven provosts with a constable, early in the morning to my house, whereby we were greatly frightened, so that my wife and myself tried to hide ourselves. I concealed myself under a haystack. They searched my house in every noock and corner. Finally they came to the haystack, and thrust their swords into it, so that they struck me and were made aware that someone was hiding therein. ... They took me to the city of Berne ... and imprisoned us. [1][2][3]

1717 Three ships arrived in Philadelphia with Mennonite passengers. Benedict Brachbuhl has been named as being on one of the ships [4].

1718 Benedictus Brachbill was taxed 11 shillings, 3 pence, Conestogoe Rate in Pennsylvania. [5]

Here is an account of this family at the Conestoga settlement in Pennsylvania [6]:

With Bishop Burkholder and Preacher Brenneman came another minister Benedict Brackbill whose wife was Maria Herr [sic] a daughter of Hans Herr They with one son Ulrich Brackbill and two daughters arrived at Philadelphia August 24 1717 after having been on the ocean twelve weeks Their passage money cost $30.44 for each person He bought 250 acres of land extending north and south west of Strasburg borough and built his first home between the present site of the town and Bunker Hill which was near Brackbill's cemetery a part of which is now owned by Thaddeus Brackbill of Strasburg and was never out of the family name A part of the extreme northern part of this tract is now occupied by the Strasburg Mennonite meetinghouse and cemetery This tract of land cost him $186 66 which by his will written by his own hand January 29 1720 and recorded at West Chester he gave to his only son Ulrich It was appraised after his death at five hundred and thirty pounds He was a talented preacher and a fine singer His committee work in assisting his suffering brethren to escape from death and fire and to find new homes in this country proves that he was fearless in the face of many dangers when he knew that he was right with God The sad death of their first minister in this section of the young colony naturally cast a gloom over them He was a man of influence and power among the suffering exiles for many years in Switzerland and in Holland having been confined in a cold loathsome dungeon over a year before he came to America where he arrived with impaired health... Preacher Brackbill's voice of song and service in the church was however of short duration in his new home and the colony lost by an early death their beloved leader in the Strasburg congregation which was organized at his coming on April 27 1720 He was the first one of the colony's leaders to pass to his eternal reward in the new world his death was felt to be a great and lamentable loss He left an only son Ulrich Brackbill who was born in Europe in 1703 Like his father he was early chosen to the ministry and he served the Strasburg congregation and the other places of worship in the young colony very acceptably until the fall of 1739 when he lost his life through an accident to his team while he was on his way to the Philadelphia markets with products of his farm The only record of this tragic death left to us was copied from an old family Bible by historian ID Rupp in 1844 which was placed as an interesting footnote in his famous history on page 83 In 1739 October den 19ten Ulrich Breckbill ein Diener der Gemeinde ist auf der Philadelphia Strasse mit seinem Wagen plotzlich umgekommen Bishop Christian M Brackbill who was ordained to the oversight of all the congregations of the now much enlarged Pequea district on December 6 1910 is the sixth in line of descent from this first preacher bearing his name in America.

Records suggest that Benedict Brackbill, a Taufer (Anabaptist) of Trachselwald, was married to Verena Meister. [7] Archival records at stadtarchiv in Bern, Switzerland state that a Verena Meister, born about 1675, was the daughter of Ulrich Meister, perhaps the same person as Benedict Brackbill's wife. Some have incorrrectly named Maria Herr as the spouse of Benedict Brackbill, born 1665.

Verena Meister and Benedict Brechtbühl had children Magdalena, Ulrich, and Barbara. [8]

Benedict Brechtbühl, of Trachselwald, Bern, Switzerland, came to America in 1717. [9]


[1] Ira David Landis, The Lancaster Mennonite Conference: History and Background (1956), 42.

[2] F. R. Diffenderffer, "Letters of Mennonite Clergymen," Historical Papers and Addresses of the Lancaster County Historical Society 6 (1901), 41-42, at 41-42, [HathiTrust], [GoogleBooks].

[3] Ernst Müller, Geschichte der Bernischen Täufer: Nach den urkunden dargestellt (Frauenfeld: 1895), 273, Original German text, [GoogleBooks].

[4] Richard Warren Davis, "Swiss and German Mennonite Immigrants from the Palatine, 1704-1717," Mennonite Family History 13 (1994), 9-16, at 12, based on the tax record in 1718.

[5] William Henry Egle, Notes and Queries Historical Biographical and Genealogical Relating Chiefly to Interior Pennsylvania, Reprint First and Second Series in two Volumes, Vol. 2 (1895), 132, [GoogleBooks].

[6] Martin G. Weaver, Mennonites of Lancaster Conference (1931), 38.

[7] Theodore Herr, Genealogical Record of Rev. Hans Herr and his direct Lineal Descendants, Revised (1980), 788, [GoogleBooks].

[8] LaRue Olsen, "New Research of the Brechtbuhl Family in Switzerland," Mennonite Family History 27 (2008), 182-185, at 182.

[9] Leo Schlebert and Sandra Luebking, "Swiss Mennonite Family Names, an Annotated Checklist," Pennsylvania Folklife 26 (1977), 2-24, at 7, item 24, [Ursinis_College].

Citation: Robert and Janet Chevalley Wolfe, Janet and Robert Wolfe Genealogy, "Notes for Benedict Brechtbühl and Verena Meister"
Webpage: www.umich.edu/~bobwolfe/gen/mn/m11541x20007.htm
Email address: JanetRobertWolfeGenealogy@gmail.com
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