Clues to the Identity of Daniel Haston's Mother

A Centuries-Old Mystery

The family of Henrich Hiestand has been thoroughly researched for many years, but the identity of his wife has never been conclusively determined.  However, if you dig very deeply into Henrich Hiestand family research you will find that there has been no lack of wholly undocumented speculations as to her family name.  

What We Know

  • When Daniel’s father (Henrich/Henry Hiestand) arrived from Germany in Pennsylvania in about 1727, he was single.
  • By approximately 1733 or so, Henry was married.  Barbara, his firstborn child was born in about 1734 in Lancaster County, PA.  And Jacob was born a couple or so years later.
  • Henry’s wife bore at least eight children, five boys and three girls.  She may have given birth to others, but these eight we know survived into adulthood.
  • Land records inform us of the Mennonite families that were living around Henry Hiestand in Hempfield Township of Lancaster County.
  • There is no marriage record or other reliable document that tells us who Henry Hiestand married.
  • Consequently, we can not say for certain who was the mother of Daniel Hiestand/Haston and his siblings.
  • Henry’s wife (Daniel’s mother) died on January 12, 1777, in what was then Shenandoah County, VA, as per a family record in Peter Hiestand’s Bible.  Peter, an older brother of Daniel, was born in about 1738 and was approximately 10 or 12 years older than Daniel.

Clues to the Possible Identity of Daniel's Mother

I certainly can NOT say for sure who Henry’s wife / Daniel’s mother was.  But I think there is enough evidence to hypothesize who she may have been, at least the identity of her maiden surname.

There is a common Hiestand family tradition that Henry married a Kauffman (Coffman) in about 1732. For example, when introducing Henry Hiestand in his 2002 book, Hiestand of Virginia, David B. Trimble wrote: “…married ____ (Kauffman?) about 1732.” That guess is plausible due to Henry’s proximity to the Coffmans, especially John Coffman, in East Hempfield Township of Lancaster County. And the Hiestand family’s later interactions with and nearness to Kauffmans from the same Kauffman/Coffman family in Virginia may add support to the Hiestand-Coffman marriage theory. If so, Daniel Haston’s mother was a Coffman. But some other family names have been hypothesized.

There is no known-to-me documentation to prove or disprove that theory.  The two-volume 1937 set of books on the Kauffman family by Charles Fahs Kauffman does not mention a marriage between Henry Hiestand and a member of the Coffman/Kauffman family.[i]  So apparently Charles Fahs Kauffman was not aware of a marriage involving Henry Hiestand and a Coffman woman, even though he did record numerous other connections between Hiestands and Coffmans. 

[i] Kauffman, Charles Fahs. A Genealogy and History of the Kauffman-Coffman Families of North America, 1584 to 1937, Parts One and Two; including Brief Outlines of Allied Swiss and Palatine Families Who Were among the Pioneer Settlers in Lancaster and York Counties of Pennsylvania from 1717 On; Viz., Becker, Baer, Correll, Erisman, Fahs, Kuntz, Kneisley, Hershey, Hiestand, Meyers, Musselman, Neff, Martin, Ruby, Snavely, Shenk, Shirk, Sprenkle, Witmer, and Others. (York, PA: printed by the author, 1940).

Due to the limitations of mtDNA (female DNA) to pinpoint ancestral connections, at this time genetic research is not helpful in identifying the family background of Henry’s wife.

Coffman/Kauffman family records suggest that John Coffman was born about 1700 and died in 1755,[i] so he and Henry Hiestand were close to the same age (1704, Henry’s birth year).  If Henry married a Hempfield or Manor Township Coffman, she would not have been John Coffman’s daughter, but perhaps a sister or other close relative.

[i] Kauffman, 481.

The Hempfield Township John Coffman of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania was a brother of Martin Kauffman, a Mennonite minister who moved to what is now Page County, Virginia,[i] and lived near the Henry Hiestand family.*  In a later chapter, you will see that Henry Hiestand’s family had some significant connections to John Coffman’s minister brother, Martin Kauffman, and Martin’s son and grandson, both also named Martin Kauffman.

*Seven miles down the winding South Fork of the Shenandoah River or about five miles over land northeast from Martin Kauffman to Henry Hiestand.
[i] Ellen Coffman, “The Genetic Genealogy of Some Mennonite and Amish Kauffman-Coffman Families,” Mennonite Family History, XXV, no. 4 (October 206), 203.

Isaac C. Haston – Jesse C. Haston

One early Mennonite tradition may offer a clue to the identity of Henry Hiestand’s wife.  The letter “C” was the middle initial for at least two of Daniel Haston’s children, Isaac and Jesse, the only two whose middle initials I am aware of.  One prolific 20th Century Mennonite author and seminary professor, John C. Wenger,[i] wrote:

It should be noted that the bride’s surname was always preserved in the form of the middle name of every child.  For example, Jacob Funk married Susanna Fretz and they were the parents of John F. Funk.  There was simply no question as to what the middle initial of the children would be; the bride’s surname settled that.[ii]

[i] J. Denny Weaver, “John C. Wenger (1910-1995),” Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online, accessed October 21, 2023,,_John_C._(1910-1995).
[ii] Wenger, 28.

When Daniel’s father, Henry Hiestand, married, he was living among several Coffman families.  Think about it.

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