The Ancestors of Peter Blosser (Blazer), Born
in Switzerland and Arrived in America in 1739
Mark R Blosser
Fifth Great-Grandson of Peter Blosser
by Mark R Blosser
This is my story of my Blosser Family. I started this project in earnest in 2005, with no clue as to where to begin, family history was not brought up or talked about when I was growing up.
My grand-mother Susie Elizabeth Rumsey Blosser kept old boxes of family photographs, odds and ends, letters, and a few obituaries, which had been kept in a closet for some 30 years. In that was the obituary for my
great-grandfather Amos Peter Blosser. In the obituary it stated his family came to Indiana from Ohio, near Youngstown, and originally from Virginia.
The internet was most helpful in going from there. I ran across the "Blosser's in America" by S. H. Blosser printed in 1903. It stated the first Blosser that came to America in his family was a Peter Blazer/Blosser that
arrived on a ship called "Betsy" (some refer to it as the "Snow Betsy", however I later found out that the"snow" was a type of ship), in 1739 and settled in York county area of Pennsylvania. He had a large family and
most moved to the Shenadoah valley area of Virginia.
Most of the early information I have found from various published family histories including Brenneman's, Wenger's, Huber/Hoover's, and two Blosser histories the above mentiond, and one by Eli Blosser. The Eli
Blosser history was published in the 1890's and even though my grandfather Asher Blosser was not listed, his sister Sadie and brother Dura were mentioned.
I have also gone to the Goshen, Indiana, Public Library and found several articles recounting the above mentioned migration of the Blosser family and Blosser's mentioned in the Early Pioneers of Elkhart county, Indiana.
I have been to every cemetery that my direct line of Blosser's are buried in, the lone exception being the immigrant Peter. Those cemeteries are located
Rockingham county, Virginia; Mahoning county, Ohio; Elkhart county, Indiana, and Pinellas county, Florida.
Even though I do not have actual documentation past my great-grandfather Amos Peter Blosser, I feel rather confidant that this information I have complied back to Peter the immigrant is correct and that this is my lineage
back to his birth in Switzerland in the early 1700's.
Speculation -What I have found in my research
I found three distinct Blosser familes in my research. Some have connected two (my line and another) back to Switzerland. The totally separate line I found is from Germany (and actually could still be related) and settled in the Donegal township area of Lancaster county,
and help to found the German Reformed Church there. I have not researched that line at all.
The other line besides mine, is also from Switzerland and also came to America in the early 1700's and settled in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. Some say that Abraham is a brother or father of my Peter the Immigrant, but they don't even agree what relationship there is if any. I have not found any proof of a connection and have not connected them together in this book. That line moved to the Hocking and Licking county areas of Ohio. Now, I have found some inter-marriages form the 1800's that do connect
the two Blosser lines from that point. They also married in the Beery family that my line has married into, those that I did find I have added in this book.
Observations and comments
The Blosser's and the Mennonite's in general were followers of Menno Sims, and were persecuted and imprisoned in Switzerland for their religious
beliefs. They are also called Anabaptists, against the baptism of infants, believeing that you could not profess your faith to God until you were old enough to do so around the age of 16 or older. The first Mennonite's that
fled to Pennsylvania in the early 1700's recieved land grants from William Penn who was sympathic to thier religious convictions and was very influental in getting the Mennonite's to settle.
The Mennonite's were happy in Pennsylvania until the beginning of the Revolutionary War. The state of Pennsylvania wanted to conscript all its citizens in to the Colonial forces, and due to their religious convictions the Mennonite's would not fight in a war. So, several forays were made by Mennonite leaders and preachers (including Peter the Immigrants son, Peter) into Virginia to see if favorable terms could be made. So, Virgina agreed that instead of serving in the war the Mennonite's could pay fines and avoid military service. That started a Mennonite migration to the
Shenandoah valley area of Virigina, where farmland was very rich and led to profitable farms for the Mennonite's. There is one documented case of Jacob Blosser (1758, son of Peter the Immigrant) who did enlist in the
Colonial forces and is registered with the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), he was excommunicated from the MennoniteChurch for his actions.
Again, another war, the Civil War/War Between the States, threatened the Mennonite's way of life. The Shenandoah valley with help of the Mennonite's and the rich farmland was called the "Bread Basket of the Confederacy". The valley was held by the Confederate's, invaded and held
by the Union forces, they retreated, reheld by the Confederates. This went on several times during the war.
In reading some of the obituaries, I could not imagine the feelings of the people both Mennonite and others that lived in that time. Not only were the Mennonite's against war but they were also vehemently against slavery.
The Confederate government originally allowed the Mennonite's to pay fines, but as the war went on and forces were depleted, enlistment was required.
Some Mennonites did serve and some are documented as serving in this book,most were assigned jobs in the Quartermaster corps in charge of provisions and care of horses and equipment. Some males fled north to
stay with other relatives that had moved north before the war. Some where caught and returned to and jailed on the top floor of the Harrisonbug, Virginia court house. The families of those that fled were not looked upon
in a favorable light. Some entire families packed up and moved north with the assistance of Union forces as they were withdrawing during the numerous trips into the valley.
At one point Union general Sheridan ordered the burning of all farms in the valley, but in the end only a few were burnt out. The people of the valley we ingenious in their ways of hiding food. Every time an army came by
they lost most of their livestock and grain stores, however false walls and floors saved them enough to feed themselves and their families. I bought a copy of a very informative book of this time in the valley called "War Torn Valley", by Joyce Miller, its even about a fictional Blosser family during that time. I obtained the book from Mastof Press. The movie "Shenandoah" is also a good movie to watch to see how the war moved families in different
ways. I saw Shenandoah years ago before I did this research, it means more now that I have done this research even though they were not Mennonite's its the same principle. On the same principle, the Gary Cooper
movie Friendly Persuasion is set in the Civil War and he is a Quaker trying to follow his religious convictions.
I could not find any Blosser's that owned slaves, however I did find a few Kagey's (Barbara Kagey was a great great great grandmother, married John Blosser), who did. One Kagey in the Kagey Relationsip in America was the only Kagey who owned a slave in Pennsylvania, and one in
Virgina freed his slave in his will.
My Blosser line left Virginia in the 1840's with John Blosser (1780) and settled in the Columbiana and Mahoning county areas of Ohio. It is my assumption that the 3 brothers left as they were some of the youngest and
would not inherit land. They moved with other Mennonite's to form new communities further west. In the 1850's, John's son Peter moved to Elkhart county and settled on government land in the Foraker/Yellow Creek area of that county. Peter's farm is still owned by a side of the Blosser family (Shelly). His son Amos Peter Blosser built a 3 story house on the bank of the Elkhart on the outskirts of Goshen in 1903 and moved the family there. His daughter Sadie and her husband Abraham Shelly kept
the farm. The farmland was sold off to a conglomerate, but the house is still occupied by a grandson of Sadie's.
After moving to Goshen, my great grandfather Amos opened up Blosser's Park, an Island in the middle of the Goshen dam on the Elkhart River. There is a postcard picture of the park in the picture section. It had a large
skating rink and a ferryman to take people out to the island and back. It is a regret of mine that even though we still owned the land when we visited my
grandparents, I never made it to the park. It was overgrown and in disrepair but I still would have like to stepped on the island. My father sold the land and park in the early 70's. Houses were built on the mainland but
the Island View Corporation was not able to get permission to build a bridge from the mainland to the Island so it is just sitting in the middle of the Elkhart River to this day.
Several points on place names. I have tried to be as specific as possible but I am sure their are some mistakes. Several boundaries have changed.
Before the Civil War, West Virginia existed only as a part (the western counties of) Virginia. In 1863 the State of West Virginia was formed. I have tried to list pre 1863 as Virginia (West Virginia), after 1863 as West
Virginia. It would be hard to find any records of this area before 1865, as they were destroyed or burned by Union forces. The same thing with several counties, Shenandoah, Page, Augusta, and Rockingham counties
have all had boundary changes, and several counties in West Virginia. In Ohio, Mahoning county was formed from parts of Columbiana county in 1843, some obituaries have stated born or died in Mahoning when it was really Columbiana at the time of the event.
In Europe, some obituaries state Germany however, Germany was not unified as a single country until 1871. Some of the obituaries were not more specific.
Alsac-Lorraine was owned and occupied at various time by both Germany and France.
There is a Blosser Road in Mahoning county, Ohio.
Blosser Municipal Airport, airport code is CNK, located in Concordia, Kansas, named for Charles H Blosser (in this tree), a former Mayor, and on land originally owned by Blosser relatives.
Blosser Lane Elementary School, Willts California -unknown if a relation
First female Mennonite Missionary to India was Annie Clemmer Funk (only related by marriage and not in this tree) she was returning to the States after receiving word her mother was not well, she was lost in the sinking of
the Titanic, April 15, 1912.
Eugene and Louella Gingerich Blosser were Mennonite Missionaries to China and were expelled as the Communists took control in 1951, they returned to the U. S. and then were stationed in Japan.
Orie Benjamin Gerig -was a Mennonite pacifist and served at Presidents Wilson's request with the League of Nations, and later joined the U.S. State Department and the United Nations. Be sure to read his history.
I have talked with several relatives online. Including Deb Blosser Wake, in Virginia; Lyle Blosser in Starke county, Ohio; Kevin Brunk now in Texas, and Bill Loucks.
I met a relative through marriage and is in this tree, Thelma Hoover Martin,lives near Wakarusa, Elkhart county, Indiana. She is a wonder with genealogy and is now heading some of the Mennonite Obituary Lazarus Project. She met me at the Old Yellow Creek Cemetery with a cemetery
book complied by another relative Jim Hermsen. With his book and her help, we found the 4 direct line relatives buried there. My great great grandparents Peter and Mary Ann Reed Blosser, and their daughter Susanna, and Mary Ann's mother Christena Wenger Reed. She then took
me to Bull Cemetery where Christena Wenger Reed's husband William S. Reed is buried, along with his second wife and a daughter by the second wife. Without Thelma or Jim's book I don't think I would have found any of
those graves. A special thanks to those listed.
The states where I have found Blossers in: Virginia, West Virgina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Tennesee, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Texas, Arizonia, Oregon, California, Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, and Florida, I am sure I have missed some. In Canada, I have found them in Ontario,and Alberta.
If you cannot find your relative check for a parent or sibling, or grand parents, then check to see if there is an obituary for them. Sometimes I just added an obituary and did not list each person listed as a child or
relative. At a certain point I had to stop adding names.
There were lots of intermarriages the most prevalent name in my history is not Blosser, but Wenger. The name on my Blosser side that goes back the farthest is Huber/Hoover that married a Wenger, then Christena Wenger
married William S Reed who's daughter Mary Ann Reed married Peter(1816) Blosser.
Other names that have pages of relatives are Christophel's, Martin's,Hoover's, Beery's, Kagey's, Weaver's, Good's, Brunk's, Culp's, Lehman's,
Hartman's Shirk's, Coffman's, Burkholder's and Heatwole's to name a few.
Some names have various spellings Huber/Hoover, Weaver/Weber, Bare/Bear/Behr, Kagey/Kagy/Keagy, Wenger/Winger, Layman/Lehman/Lahman. If you see a certain last name on one page and pages later run across the same last name they are probably related, but maybe not through the same line, but they have a common ancestor that may or may not be in this tree. As an example a Christophel on page 20 maybe related to a Christophel on page 85 but they would only show as related under a Christophel tree not the Blosser tree.
The Swiss Anabaptist Genealogical Society -their site was invaluable. It was a free site but now is a membership site. See: www.omii.org
The Mennonite Church USA -have posted all the obituaries that they have had access to in Mennonite publications since 1864. See: mcusa-archives.org
The Wenger Book, by Samuel S Wenger
A History of the Kagy Relationship in America 1715-1900 -by Franklin Keagy of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Harrisburg Publishing, 1899
The Descendants of Abraham Brenneman
The Huber/Hoover Family History
The Beery Family History -1976
Anyone else that I have forgotten to mention, thank you.
If I have used your material without your acknowledgement or permission, I am sorry. This is for personal use and to give to anyone who is looking for the lost ancestors. If you contact me and you are correct, I will remove the information, to the best of my ability. Let me know if you are looking for someone and I will be glad to see if I have them.
Mark R Blosser