1830 Two Peters listed in Census Mispillion Kent Co DE
1840 Census Peter Minner Mispillion Kent Co DE
Probate admx Susan Minner
 [S88] DE Archives Probate File
 [S23] Delaware Historical Society Library Wilm, DE Card file
 [S23] Delaware Historical Society Library Wilm, DE Card file
 [S9] Tombstone Forest Cemetery, Middletown DE
 Voshell plot in back left of drive "1875-1963 Louie Voshell"
 [S23] Delaware Historical Society Library Wilm, DE Card file
Maria Elizabeth YINGLING
Anna Maria STERNER
__ | _ STEINSEIFER _______| | | | |__ | _father of John Daniel ,one of four sons STEINSEIFER _| | | | | __ | | | | |_____________________| | | | |__ | | |--John Daniel (Sr) STONESIFER | (1731 - 1813) | __ | | | _____________________| | | | | | |__ | | |______________________________________________________| | | __ | | |_____________________| | |__
His parent's names are not known. However, the name of Stonesifer is a very old one, and it is said to mean stone polisher. Some variations of its spelling are Steinseifer, Steinseiffert, Stonesifer, Stonecypher, and Stonecipher.
Recent information indicates that his father was twice married, and that John Daniel was the child of the 2nd marriage.
While he was quite young, his father moved to a home in nearby Eiserfeld, Germany, and it was here he grew up. This very old town is located about 70 miles east southeast of the famous old cathedral city of Cologne beside the Rhine River. Eiserfeld is thought to be the place where John Daniel's father was born -being one of four brothers. One of these 4 brothers is thought to be Johannes (John) Stonesifer who came to America in 1749.
The house John Daniel grew up in was apparently built about 1561 and existed until 1961 when it was taken down because of its age.
Our John Daniel Stonesifer came to America on the "Ship Halifax", captained by a Thomas Coatam. The ship had sailed from Rotterdam, Holland, the main port of emigration for Germans coming here, stopped off briefly in the English port of Cowes, and after a long sea voyage landed in Philadelphia on Friday, Sept 22, 1752.
Our ancestor signed the oath of allegiance to the British Crown in the State House (later Independence Hall) in Philadelphia as Johann Daniel Steinseiffer. He was 21 years old at the time. This information is from the 3-volume set of books by Strassburger and Hinke entitled "Pennsylvania German Pioneers".
John Daniel settled in the general area of Silver Run, not too far from Uniontown, Carroll Co., MD. but which in his day was Frederick Co. MD.
In the "History of Western Maryland" by J. Thomas Scharf, Vol. 2 Page 851, the author lists the names of some of the early pioneer settlers of the Uniontown area, and one of them is Stonesifer. It is our belief that he came to America because a half brother or cousin, Johannes Eberhart Steinseifer, was already living here.
John Daniel was supposed to have been an only child and it was handed down that he left a considerable fortune behind him in Germany when he came here. It is probable that he left his native land for the same reason so many others had done so - repeated wars in Europe which usually used Germany as a battle ground, leaving the people there helpless and hopeless.
Tradition credits him with being a schoolteacher, a good singer, and one who often officiated as preacher in the absence of a pastor by conducting catachetical classes, delivering funeral sermons, etc. He was a devoted member of the German Reformed church, and helped to establish St. Mary's Union Church in Silver Run where Lutheran and Reformed people worshiped together.
He was also a successful farmer in his time and accumulated considerable real estate. Eventually John Daniel's land holding totaled 403 acres.
No records seem to remain as to what part our Stonesifer family may have played at the time of the Revolutionary War. The likelihood that John Daniel himself would have joined the war effort is remote because he had recently acquired a large plantation and also had several young children to look after and provide for.
John Daniel and Maria became quite prosperous in their later years. This led to their often helping out children, close relatives, and neighbors when such persons needed a helping hand.
Despite some family setback, John Daniel continued to have a firm hand on family affairs. It was not until Jan 11, 1813 that he felt the need to write his will, at which time he did so, and signed it; apparently still vigorous for his age.
Addendum: After he signed he oath of allegiance to Britain, he came west to the Holtz-Schwamm area where the Hoffmans and Johannes Eberhardt Steinseifer were living. It is quite possible that he met his future wife here Anna Maria Sterner. And it was either near Holz-Schwamm or Silver Run that these two served as witnesses at the baptism of Johannes Everhardt's new son John Daniel who was obviously named for our John Daniel Stonesifer.
ADDITIONAL STONESIFER FAMILY BACKGROUND AND GENEALOGY LINES
After the main body of this manuscript had been completed, the author (Doyle F Wildasin) came into possession of new and valuable information regarding family background in Germany. Following considerable research into German political and religious history, he has written down this new information into its most likely form of sequence, and this material is presented below.
He was also able to finally determine the proper historical and genealogical connection of the Stonesifers who stem from the Boonsboro, Maryland area. This Stonesifer line had believed that they descend from John Daniel Stonesifer of Silver Run through his son John. Instead, they actually descend from a John Daniel Stonesifer of Boonsboro who was born near Uniontown, MD, and who also had a son John. John Daniel of Silver Run was born near Eiserfeld in Germany,, and he appears to have been a brother of Johannes Eberhardt Stonesifer, also born near Eiserfeld, Germany. Johannes Eberhardt Stonesifer was the father of John Daniel of Boonsboro. The interesting historical and genealogical story of the Stonesifers of Boonsboro along with the documented facts of proof follow the first section mentioned above.
OUR STONESIFER FAMILY BACKGROUND AND ASSOCIATED GERMANY HISTORY
Germany, at the time our family immigrant ancestors were living there, was composed of more than 300 states and principalities of varying size. These entities were directly of indirectly part of the "Holly Roman Empire of the German Nation" that was begun in the year 800 AD with the crowing of Charlemagne as Emperor by Pope Leo III. The empire lasted, in one form or another, till 1806 when it disintegrated under the military and political onslaughts of the Emperor of France - Napoleon Bonaparte.
One of these small states was the very old and historic principality of Nassau which was located some fifty miles east south-east of Cologne. Nassau had about 1,830 square miles of territory which was divided in half from east to west by the Lahn River. I was composed of five counties that were named Dillenburg, Siegen, Weilburg, Idstein, and Wiesbaden - each prefixed by the name Nassau. Of these five counties, Nassau-Siegen in which is a very old village named Eiserfeld has been the homeland of our Steinseifer family for several hundred years.
From at least 1128 AD the area was ruled by the Counts of Laurenburg whose family castle stood near the ancient town of Nassau beside the Lahn River. Then around 1160 the ruler at that time, Count Walram, took the title of Count of Nassau, and from that time on the ruling family was known as the noble House of Nassau. Walram died in 1198 and his son succeeded him as sole ruler. When he died in 1255 his two sons, Walram and Otto (and who were the grandsons of Walram I), agreed to divide the principality in half. Walram II took the three counties south of the Lahn River - Nassau-Weilburg, Nassau-Idstein, and Nassau-Wiesbaden. His brother, Otto I, took the two larger counties north of the river - Nassau-Dillenburg and Nassau Siegen, the homeland area of the Steinseifers.
Gradually both branches of the House of Nassau acquired other territories in Europe through marriage and inheritance. Walram II's descendants thus eventually acquired the rich Saarbrucken (Saar) region. Otto I's heirs did likewise, and one of the territories they acquired by inheritance was the small principality of Orange in southern France. This acquisition enabled William of Nassau-Dillenburg and Nassau-Siegen to become Prince of Orange-Nassau. In 1404, this northern branch also began acquiring large estates in the Low Countries. When the people of the Netherlands revolted against Spanish rule in the 1560's, one of their supporters was William of Orange-Nassau. In 1572, the Dutch provinces named him as their stadtholder (or governor), and he became famous as their leader. He was known as William the Silent, it is said, because he knew how and when to keep his mouth shut. William is considered to be the founder of the royal house of the Netherlands (Holland), and which is known as the House of Orange-Nassau. He and his royal descendants were staunch supporters of the Dutch people's acceptance of the Reformation, and of their creation of a national church called the Dutch Reformed Church. That Church continues strongly to this day and it is still supported by the royal House of Orange-Nassau. Only one thing kept our Steinseifers home territory of Nassau-Dillenburg and Nassau-Siegen from having an absentee ruler who lived in Holland - William the Silent had to renounce all claim to his lands east of the Rhine River. Thus his brother, Count John, became ruler of Nassau-Dillenburg and Nassau-Siegen instead. To compensated William for the lost territories he was given the principality of Luxembourg whose rulers down to the present day are descendants of the noble House of Orange-Nassau.
When the Reformation swept over Europe in the 1500's many of the states and principalities changed from Roman Catholicism to either Lutheran or Reformed (Calvinist) faiths. One of the areas of Germany which became strongly Reformed instead of Lutheran was the Wetterau District which extended east of the Rhine from Cologne to Frankfurt, and among the principalities there was Nassau. At first, Nassau and its neighboring states had accepted the Lutheran faith. However, the often excessively cruel treatment and persecution of fellow Protestants who preferred the Reformed (Calvinist) doctrines of theology over Lutheran beliefs, repelled the rulers of Nassau and the other Wetterau states so much that they and their people changed over to the German Reformed faith
In 1578 the people of Nassau-Dillenburg and Nassau-Siegen, led by their ruler, Count John, became members of the German Reformed faith. (In Holland, Count John's brother, William the Silent, and his people were known as the Dutch Reformed.) As readers probably know the Reformed faith followed the religious beliefs and teaching of Ulrich Zwingle and John Calvin of Switzerland as opposed to those of the other famous reformer - Martin Luther of Saxony. Perhaps it should also be mentioned here that Calvin was a native of France. His teaching eventually were accepted in his homeland by about 2 or more million people there who became famous in history as the French Huguenots. Reformed Church history indicates that the people of Nassau-Siegen were the first to be called German Reformed in all the Germany, and that it was also the first place where the Reformed faith became known as the German Reformed Church. So strong was the German Reformed Church in the entire Nassau area of the original five counties that the people became known for it throughout Germany. Even today there is a strong element of the German Reformed faith throughout old Nassau areas, including Eiserfeld and Nassau-Siegen. Today the little principality of Nassau and its five counties no longer exists - its territory is now divided among several states of present day West Siegen which is described as thickly wooded, rich in grain, fruit, vineyards, and mineral deposits- very similar to the was it was when our ancestors lived there. Today the very old town of Siegen is famous as the center of the Siegerland iron ore mining and metal working district, and the "Siegerland" area is part of the West German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Directly southwest of Siegen is the small and very old village of Eiserfeld where Steinseifer family members have lived for several hundred years. Today this village is practically a suburb of Siegen. A few miles northwest of Eiserfeld is the town of Seelbach where our John Daniel Stonesifer was born, and about 20 miles northwest of Eiserfeld is (or was) the town of Freudenberg- from which place a Tillman Steinseifer left in 1738 to emigrate to America, the first of our family to do so.
This historical and religious background of our Steinseifer homeland area in Germany would be of interest to many family readers. Undoubtedly the preceding material also seems completely unnecessary to readers in a work of this nature. However, since completing the main manuscript of this family history and genealogy,, new and important information has come to light which makes this "preceding material" essential to the material which follows.
Research indicates that 6 Steinseifer men (and apparently several of their sisters) came to America from the Nassau-Siegen and Eiserfeld region of Germany. Each of them has left proof in one or more documents of their being able to write, and each was very likely able to read also. In the case of our John Daniel Stonesifer of Silver Run he could do both, and he apparently taught all of his children to do likewise. This Stonesifer ability would appears to be a result of the Counts of Nassau being very interested in education. About the time, that Nassau changed from Lutheranism to the German Reformed faith (1578) the Counts established a general form of public education for their youth (boys and girls). A university was also established at Herborn near Dillenburg and another one at Franeker in Holland near their huge estates. Their brother, William the Silent established the University of Leyden, also in Holland.
Each of these immigrants Stonesifers was a member of the German Reformed Church. This church affiliation is documented in the records of various churches, and particularly in MD and PA. As was have previously indicated, the Steinseifers emigrated from one of the most staunchly German Reformed Church areas in Germany. The Bankert family name which is so closely related with the Stonesifer was also German Reformed, and this is also well documented. It is interesting to note that the Bankert name comes originally from the Amsterdam area of Holland, and thus they would have originally been Dutch Reformed people. As American and the years progressed, however, it was only natural that the descendants of later generations joined other denominations.
Each of these Steinseifer man (with the exception of our Uncle Johannes who was born about 1692 ) were in their teens to about 21 years old, and sooner or later would have been required to serve and average of 4 years in the German army. In one case, the oldest son of Uncle Johannes could not accompany his family to America because he was serving in the military at the time, and he had to come here later. Again, in the case of our John Daniel Stonesifer of Silver Run, family tradition has it that he gave up a considerable fortune in Germany in order to come to America to get away from the almost constant and terrible wars there. This would apply to the other also, and to thousands more of the German immigrants. Justification for this feeling will be given later.
Finally, each of these immigrant Steinseifer ancestors of outs had large families. In the case of Uncle Johannes, he brought seven of his eight children with him in 1749. The other five men were single when they arrived, but eventually they all married. These six immigrants Steinseifers had a combined number of 48 children that are known - of which 25 were boys and 23 were girls. The largest family had 14 children and the smallest had 7 children. The name most often given to the boys was John (also Johan and Johannes) with the second most used name that of Henry (or Heinrich). The name most often given to girls was Elizabeth and which was followed by Catharine. These figures do not include the children of Tillman Steinseifer as the writer had no knowledge of them other than that he had numerous descendants.
Some very interesting and important new material about our Steinseifer family was recently given to the writer by a cousin, Judith E Myers of Towson, MD and who is a 7th generation descendant of Henry Stonesifer, the 6th child of our John Daniel Stonesifer of Silver Run. In late May of 1983, she stopped off in Eiserfeld while on a trip to Germany. There she met and talked with several of today's Steinseifers, walked the streets of our home town, and came away with some new family information as follows:
-that our John Daniel Stonesifer of Silver Run was born in Seelback, Germany, a town a few miles northwest of Eiserfield. His father was a widower who, after his first wife died, remarried, and John Daniel was a child of this second marriage. Hence, it is almost a certainty that he had brothers and sisters. While John Daniel was still young, his father moved the family to a house in Eiserfeld where he grew up and then left (in 1752) to come to America. The house, built about 1561 was torn down in 1961 because of its age, and another house now occupies the site.
-that the Steinsifers had once worked for the ruling House of Nassau in some capacity which is no longer known.
-that she was shown a genealogy of names of Steinseifers from our John Daniel's time and back earlier, and that one of the early (or earliest) names was a "Christ Steinseifer" with a date of about 1639.
-that she saw 2 churches in Eiserfeld - one a Roman Catholic and the other a German Reformed.
-that the Steinseifers of Eiserfeld have the impression that the family originated from eastern Germany in the area of Poland, and very likely the region of Silesia.
-that when she was about to leave Eiserfeld on Wednesday, May 25, 1983, a Frau Mann (whose Mother is a Steinseifer) presented her with a picture of the old house in Eiserfeld where John Daniel Steinseifer of Silver Run grew up, and on the back of this picture the lady had written "The old Steinseifer Haus raised (razed ) in 1961, it was about 400 years old, older than Steinseifers are in Eiserfeld."
The most sobering thing about the preceding information is the general understanding or impression of the Steinseifers of Eiserfeld that the family has been living in the area for less than 400 years, and that originally they were possibly from the area of Poland and likely the place being Silesia. This writer, and others who have researched family histories, had learned that it is not wise to simply disregard old family traditions. In practically every case, eventually, there has been found to be a basic truth in it. Thus the writer has spent considerable time in researching the probabilities in the preceding statements, and with these results.
A study of Polish name structure gave no indication that the family name of Steinseifer was in any way derived form that language as the over-all manner of spelling and ending are very diffierent.
A study of the structure of the name Steinseifer was also then done in a number of German language sources and at no time was there any indication of origin other than German. The writer chose as his final authority a huge, classical, and very detailed work on the German language entitled "Dictionary of the German and English Language, compiled by the noted German scholar, G J Adler, from his own research and the earlier works of Hilbert, Flugel, Grieb, Heyse and others. This work was first published in 1848 by Appleton Co NY and the writer used the 7the revised edition which was published in 1869. In this work it stated on pages 598-599 that stein means stone or rock, and that a stein-schledfer is a stone-polisher. However, it also stated on page 567 that a seifer has to do with soap and soap-making and has also the added meaning of a place where ore is washed. I then stated that a seifer is a soaper and washer of ore. From these terms we obtain the work steinseifer of steinschleifer - meaning one who makes soap, washes ore, and polishes stone. This obviously refers to industrial work of an earlier time and somehow worked in conjunction.
Also in the Stonecypher Family Bulletin #1 issued in January of 1971, the origin of Steinseifer was given somewhat as done above but it did not allude to soap or get as technical as just given. The article said that there seemed to be much evidence which pointed to the name being a place name rather than a trade or occupational one, and that according to "some German authorities" the original name was Steinseifertdorfer. It is well-known that the history of family names shows that such names are usually derived from occupations or places. However, on page 138 of the dictionary previously mentioned, it states that a dorf is a village or hamlet. A dorfer means villages and hamlets, and not a villager. The word for villager is dorfner. Possibly the letter n was accidentally omitted from the original processing. This writer does not think that the original form of our family was Steinseifertdorfer, but rather steinseifer and /or steinschleifer as an occupational one and that such persons of the same occupation once very likely did live together in villages in early Germany and eventually became known as the Steinseifer family.
Perhaps research into how many places in Germany have (or had)the names of Steinseifert or Steinseifer, if any, and a study to find out if the family name of Steinseifer is found in numerous localities or just in the Nassau area of Germany would greatly assist in settling this most interesting problem.
A careful and detailed study of the political and religious history of Silesia gives great support to the impression that it could very well be the place of prior origin of our Steinseifer Family. The fact that the early members of our family were strongly Germany Reformed in faith, that they have been living in the Eiserfeld area for less than 400 years, and that the genealogical chart mention of an early "Christ(ian?) Steinseifer" with a date of about 1639 all can indicated a tie of the family to Silesia, and with certain known happenings in German history.
Silesia was a province of Poland for centuries. Then in the 1200's AD a fierce and barbaric tribe called Tartars (also Tatars) came from Asia, swept over Russia and then into Poland where they attacked Silesia, causing tremendous destruction to life and property. This was the famous Mongolian army of Genghis Khan know as the Golden Horde, and which was now led by the great Khan's grandson - Batu. Having conquered practically all of Asia that was worthwhile, they aim now was to take Europe. The Polish rulers called desperately for military help from the knights of the German province boarding Silesia to the west Bohemia, Saxony, and Brandenburg-Prussia. The Germany military responded, and the huge, combined might of the Polish and Germany military defeated the Tartars at the Battle of Leignitz in Silesia on April 9, 1241 and forced their withdrawal.
The rulers of Poland were so grateful for this help that they invited their neighboring German provinces to send in settlers, particularly farmers and craftsmen, to help in the restoration of Silesia. History records that great number of Germans responded, naturally settling in the areas of Silesia directly east or southeast of their home German province. As later events will explain, it would appear that the Steinseifers settled in the area of Liegnitz - some miles to the east of where Bohemia, Saxony, and Silesia had a common boundary. Whether the Steinseifers were German settlers from Bohemia or Saxony probably can never be determined exactly, but they would have been part of this event in history. Eventually Silesia became so germanized that in 1335 the Polish rulers transferred control of the province to Bohemia in return for Bohemia's renouncing any further claims on Polish territory. As a result of all this, Silesia became the eastern most province of Germany.
The impression of the Steinseifers of Eiserfeld that the family had come originally from the direction of Poland, and likely the area of Silesia, now would seem to have an historical basis of fact. Also, on would think that such an understanding would have been handed down from generation to generation, but the facts that brought it about would be lost after a long time.
As Silesia was completely Polish prior to the Battle of Liegnitz, there were few German people living there. In the huge influx of German settlers some years after the battle and which went on for many years, due to its location the area of Liegnitz was much more likely to have people settle there from Saxony than Bohemia. Thus, because of this historically recorded migration of German people, as well as events which occurred in this part of Germany at the time of the Reformation, the writer (Doyle F Wildasin) feels that even before our Steinseifer ancestors were in Silesia they had lived in Saxony.
For well over 200 years Silesia made general progress, and came to be noted for the mining of coal and iron ore as well as being a rich agricultural area. Liegnitz in particular became famous as a linen and tapestry-weaving center.
In the 1500's there occurred in Europe a religious movement which became known as the Reformation. At first aimed at reforming the Roman Catholic Church, it resulted in establishing the Protestant churches known as Lutheran and German Reformed. All of Germany felt the impact, including the eastern provinces. Bohemia developed a form of pietistic Reformed Calvinism which incorporated the beliefs of John Huss who had been burned at the stake for them in 1415; Saxony became fiercely Lutheran; Brandenburg-Prussia became mainly Lutheran - although the royal family embraced the Reformed faith; and Silesia was largely Lutheran with some areas of Bohemian Reformed people. Areas seemed to change to either Lutheran or Reformed in Silesia according to the change in religious faith of the people's original German homeland province.
The Counter-Reformation in the second half of the 1500's was a reform movement within the Roman Catholic Church in answer to the Protestant Reformation, and it succeeded in winning back many of the lost areas and people. However, even these recovered areas were said to have been honeycombed with sections that steadfastly remained either Lutheran or Reformed.
Saxony was considered to be the leading Lutheran state in Germany at this time. Its church leaders and people were so staunchly Lutheran that they even resented persons of any other religious faith living among them. This prejudice attitude developed into such aggressive behavior between 1570 - 1605 that a number of the German states and principalities whose rulers and people were Lutheran were so repelled by this kind of Christianity that they changed over to the Reformed Church and became staunch members of that faith. It is said that these actions in Saxony and several other places were perhaps the main reason that our Steinseifer hone area of Nassau became so strongly German Reformed.
About 1571 high Lutheran church leaders in Saxony began to question the privilege of freedom of educational and theological thought at their University of Wittenberg. By 1575 they charged that many highly placed persons, including Peucer, the head of the University, were guilty of a Crypto-Calvinist plot against the state and the Lutheran Church. Numerous persons of distinction either fled or were arrested. Some were banished from Saxony, and they sought refuge in Nassau where they told their story. Others were imprisoned, tortured, and put on the rack to gain information - and which resulted in some deaths. Two of these men's wives broke down because of this action against their husbands and one died form grief while the other committed suicide. It is said that such treatment in Saxony of fellow Protestants appears to be the only known case of its kind in Germany. The former head of the University of Wittenberg, Peucer, was imprisoned in Pleissenberg prison in Leipzig. After 12 years of confinement and during which time he was very badly treated, he was freed about 1587. This man was famous throughout Germany as a physician and at the time of his arrest, he was court physician to the royal house of Saxony. Many princes, including the Holy Roman Emperor, tried to secure his release over the years, but Saxony refused. After his release for prison, he went to live in the nearby Duchy of Anhalt where the people were then changing over the Reformed faith. As his services were frequently requested by many persons in high places, he often traveled to different parts of Germany practicing his trade - and one of the places he travel to was our Nassau.
During these years Saxony often had street riots over theological differences, the houses of persons found to be (or thought to be) Cryoto-Calvinists were plundered and if such persons thusly accused happened to die, they were even deprived of honorable burial, and their families were forced to use criminals' cemeteries.
In Saxony and some other parts of Germany at this time, the use of the term "Crypto-Calvinist' meant a person who was believed to be either a secret member of the Church or a supporter of the Reformed doctrines and beliefs of that faith as formulated by John Calvin of Switzerland.
In 1591, Chancellor Crell of Saxony and some others were accused of being Crypto-Calvinists and part of the previous story was repeated. Crell was accused of manipulating state policies to favor the spread of Crypto-Calvinism. He was then arrested and held in prison for 10 years. About 1601, he was brought to Dresden to be put to death. His terrible treatment in prison rendered him too sick to even walk, and so on the day appointed for his execution he was carried out on a chair to the scaffold and beheaded.
News of these events in Saxony soon became known throughout Germany, and it deepened the enmity between Lutheran and Reformed people. It also caused a number of states previously Lutheran to become Reformed. One of the first places to know of these things was the Duchy of Leignitz and its capital city of the same name some miles directly east of Saxony. This is the territory where our Steinseifer ancestors were most likely to have settled after coming to Silesia in the years of heavy German migration after 1241.
The Duke of Liegnitz, Joachim Frederick of the royal Polish house of Piast, was the high prince of Silesia, a prominent noble of eastern Germany, and a strong Lutheran. It is understood that he and the people of his Duchy, and of that entire northern area of Silesia, had followed the example of Saxony and became Lutheran in the early years of the Reformation. It is only logical to believe that the Steinseifers would have been a part of this historical event.
Two things then occurred which changed conditions in the Liegnitz area. The harsh treatment of fellow Protestants in Saxony offended many people, including Duke Joachim Frederick. Also, during this same period the Duke married the Princess Anna Maria of the Duchy of Anhalt. This Duchy was on the northwest border of Saxony, and was the place to which the famous physician, Peucer, had gone to live after his release from prison. The ruling house of Anhalt and its people, including Princess Anna Maria, had all become German Reformed by 1599, and their loyalty to their faith was almost as fierce as Saxony was to its Lutheranism. These things resulted in the conversion of Duke Joachim Frederick to the Reformed faith. After the Duke's death in the early 1600's his son, Duke John Christian of Brieg succeeded him, and between 1614-1619, he brought about the conversion of many of his people to the Reformed faith also. Even so, it is recorded, many of the people chose to remain Lutherans.
The Duchy and city of Liegnitz appear to have been perhaps the main place in Silesia which was important enough to change its faith from Lutheran to Reformed and defend itself for having done so. There are numerous small pockets of the Reformed people in some other areas of Silesia, but generally their names have not come down to us. One other known Reformed center was Breslau, the chief city of Silesia located about 37 miles east of Liegnitz on the west bank of the Oder River (and probably under the control of the Duke of Liegnitz). Breslau was the birthplace of Zacharias Ursinus, a noted leader of the Reformation, one of the writers of the Heidelberg Catechism, and for whom Ursinus College near the city of Philadelphia, PA is named. (Our John Daniel Stonesifer of Silver Run is said to have often acted as minister in the absence of one for the German Reformed congregation at Silver Run, and was said to be especially adept in the teaching of the Heidelberg Catechism to the youth of the Reformed people.)
As mentioned earlier, out Steinseifer ancestors were all staunch members of the German Reformed Church. Since it is believed that they came originally from Silesia to Nassau, a very strong center of the Reformed faith in Germany, it would not appear likely that they would have resettled there if they were not already staunchly Reformed people themselves. Thus it would seem most likely that they became Reformed in faith under the leadership of Duke John Christian of Liegnitz. Also, the Steinseifers say that they have lived in the Eiserfeld area for only about 400 years. This period of time would coincide exactly with a terrible war that now occurred in Germany, and would apparently explain why they left Silesia and went to Nassau.
From 1618 to 1648 there occurred a terrible conflict in Germany which later come to involve other European countries. This period is known in history as the Thirty Years' War, and it was fought mainly on German soil over political and religious issues between German Catholics and German Protestants, by later it came to involve a struggle over territorial control and also came to include France, Sweden, and Spain.
When it was over Germany was in ruins. Where more than 21 million people had lived in 1618 only about 12 1/2 million persons survived. In many parts of Germany 75% of the inhabitants were destroyed, 66% of the houses, 85% of the horses, and over 80% of the cattle. Thousands of villages had vanished from sight, and in Luther's home state of Saxony, it was said that huge packs of wolves roamed the countryside. The province of Silesia which was directly east of Saxony ( and where we believe our Stonesifer ancestors had been living) was repeatedly overrun by the contending armies with terrible destruction. In those days armies lived off of the area they were passing through, and so they took what they needed (or wanted) regardless of whether the area was considered friendly territory or not. The result was often little or nothing left for the local people, and in some places condition were so bad that history mentions there were well authenticated cases of cannibalism. Although pitched battles of major proportions were few, the loss of life was great. The cost in human lives and suffering caused by famine, disease, and the savage brutality of the marauding armies account heavily in the statistics give above. Throughout the war hundreds of thousands of people fled from one area to another- seeking safety. Thus it would seem that we can come to only one conclusion regarding this time in German history and our Steinseifer ancestors living in Silesia - they fled for safety to the Principality of Nassau sometime during the Thirty Years' War because it was a strong haven which was of their own Reformed faith and it also had occupational resources similar to those they left behind.
During the war, an especially horrible example of brutality occurred which caused deep feeling of revulsion throughout Europe. The German city of Magdeburg was captured on May 20, 1631 and completely destroyed by fire by the army of an Austrian general named Count Tilly. The thing which was so terrible was that after the inhabitants of the city had surrendered this army then killed practically every man, woman, and child found there - some 40.000 persons. Such and event of this magnitude had not happened since the Albigensian War of the 1200's in France, and did not happen again till the days of Hitler and Stalin in WWII.
After the war, a contemporary writer of the time wrote that "One may wander for ten miles and not see a human being, not an ox, not a sparrow." It has been said that Germany did not recover from the effects of this was for 2 centuries. Called by many writers "the most awfully destructive and demoralizing struggle in history", in some was the effects were never surpassed even by the terrible destruction in WW II ( After WW II the area of Silesia was returned to Poland.)
For some twenty years, Germany had relative peace. Then Louis XIV came to the throne of France with dreams of conquest and empire. From 1672-1678 occurred the War of the Protestant Netherlands in which he tried to make Holland a vassal state. He also attacked and devastated the German Palatinate so that the people there would not come to the aid of the Dutch. During this war, the region of Amsterdam suffered terribly. This area is believed to be the section of Holland where the Bankert name seems to originate. And our Steinseifer home area of Nassau-Siegen could not help but see the refugees and hear their stories. Louis XIV failed to achieve much success other than permanently seizing for France the small principality of Orange which till now had belonged to the House of Nassau.
Louise XIV next tried to acquire the Palatinate by various means which the other German states would not tolerate. Enraged by the being thus thwarted, and also because the Palatinate had given refugee to thousands of French Huguenots who had fled religious persecution in France, he is said to have given the order to "burn the Palatinate." The war of the Palatinate lasted from 1689- 1697. French troops are said to have leaped on the Palatinate like hyenas with fire and sword- crops were destroyed, fruit trees and vineyards were rooted out, over 1200 towns and villages were destroyed, and in the first winter of the war over 40,000 people were said to have been turned out into the cold with no shelter. Eventually the refugees numbered over 100,000 many of whom went to neighboring German states - including the countries of Nassau where the Steinseifers lived. When the war was finally over it was said that probably there were not many more than 200 farmers left in Palatinate. France had again achieved little but ill repute. In this war the Germans had called the French "huns." A complimentary term which the French returned to the Germans in WWI.
This War of the Palatinate has a personal family interest for us because the specific names of early relatives are known who were living there at the time. These persons were Christian Jungling (became Yingling), Christophel Banckert, and the girl he married, Anna Eva Shriver (?) Banchert. All three were born about 1685-90, and thus would have been children at the time of this war- but they would have experienced it in some manner. Christian Yingling came to America about 1710 and the Banckerts came here in 1728 with 4 children - all of whom were born in the Palatinate. Christian Yingling's son, John , married one of the Banckert's daughters, Margaret Elenora. John and Margaret Elenora Banckert Yingling had a number of children - one daughter, Maria Elizabeth, married our John Daniel Stonesifer of Silver Run, by formerly of Nassau-Siegen, and another daughter, Susanna, married Samuel Wildasin, formerly from Hesse-Cassel - a neighboring state of Nassau- Siegen. The Bankert's only son Jacob had many descendants whom married with descendants of Stonesifers, Yinglings, and Wildasins. Hence, our particular interest in this war.
In 1701-1714, Germany and Europe suffered through the War of the Spanish Succession. Then war came again in 1741-1747 with the War of the Austrian Succession. Later there were other wars.
Much of the strife in Germany, and Europe as a whole, resulted unintentionally from the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 which had ended the Thirty years' War. It had tried to make reasonable territorial settlements for all, but it only seemed to achieve the fragmentation of Germany into some 300 states of varying size. The Treaty had also tried to establish religious toleration between Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed people, but this was not realized.
Constant territorial claims by German states against each other, as well as foreign claims against Germany, brought war. Also, the rulers of each state or principality could either grant religious toleration or persecute disliked religious groups as they saw fit. Religious problems often resulted when one ruler died and his successor did not follow the same policies of his predecessor. This is what happened in the Palatinate with terrible suffering by the people, and these people eventually became the main source of those who emigrated to America. It also happened in the counties of Nassau-Siegen and Nassau-Dillenburg for quite some years during the middle 1700's and was a prime factor in the emigration of the Steinseifers to America. (A more detailed explanation of this recently discovered situation will be given in the next section under the biographical information of John Wilhelm Hoffman.)
The preceding material is based on presently known facts and the conditions in Germany during the time period involved as recorded in history. Terrible stories of the wars and the religious troubles would not help but be told down through the years from generation to generation. Then, beginning with the 1690's many persons who later came to America experienced such conditions for themselves. Thus, it is not to be wondered at that thousands of people of German background immigrated to America. Pennsylvania and Maryland received well over 100,000 of these people who sought two main things - freedom to worship as they chose and an escape from the conditions of constantly recurring wars.
This manuscript is meant to be a family history and genealogy of the descendants of several of these people. An now, from these more recently determined preceding material, we know the background as to why there were among these immigrants some people who were named Stonesifer, Yingling, and Bankert.
 [S14] "History and Genealogy of the Stonesifer Family of MD and PA"
 [S22] Tombstone
 age 82-8-9
Turner files: "History of Buchinghamshire by George Lipscomb esq. Lord 1847 Vol. 1 Page XXIV British Museum No 1533 'Vochell, of North Nareton' Names of those families whose pedigree are recorded in the visitation of Bucks made in the years 1575 and 1634 from the Harlion NSS."
Turner files: "Memorials of the Huguenots in America by Rev A Stapleton AMMS Carlisle PA 1901 p 43 'In West Dover settled the 3 brothers Daniel, James and William.' In a footnote Augustine and Peter came to NY 1700's."