Surname Spellings in Daniel Haston Family

One Family - Many H-Surname Spellings

Colonel Howard H. Hasting, Sr. – a 1950s–early 1980s Haston family researcher – opened his research report on the family of Daniel Haston with this question: What is the name of this family?  He then proceeded to reference several different ways our H-surname has been spelled in official records.  I often get a similar question–Why so many different spellings of our H-family name?

It started as Hiestand

If you have been following my articles on the Daniel Haston family, by now you know that our European ancestors were from Switzerland.  The very first known written record of the family name was Hiestand, in 1401.  In Europe, like with Haston in America, the surname was spelled in various ways from writer to writer.  You may remember reading the article where you saw that Heystandt was the way Hollander Mennonites spelled our family name.  Often our SWISS-German ancestors (even in Daniel Haston’s Virginia family) added a “t” to the end of the name: Hiestandt.  The Swiss language is a form of German and the harsh sounding “t” ending is very Germanic. 

Daniel's Family, from Hiestand to Haston

The name-changing “villains” were generally the English clerks.  Not understanding the German language, they frequently Anglicized names of their clients into spellings that made more sense to their English ears.  In my research of Daniel’s Hiestand family in northern Virginia, I saw this often.  Among their Mennonite friends, the name was consistently Hiestand (or Hiestandt).  But when clerks wrote the names, they commonly morphed them into Heaston and similar spellings.   I even found three occurrences where Virginia clerks spelled the names of Daniel’s brothers “Haston.”

One branch of Henry Hiestand’s family, descendants of Daniel’s brother Abraham, spells their name Hestand.  There’s even a Hestand community in Monroe County, KY. 

The farther away Daniel Haston moved from neighborhoods where there were lots of SWISS-German Mennonites, the spellings became Anglicized more commonly.  By the time our Daniel got to Knoxville, Tennessee it seems that his two oldest sons, David and Joseph, decided to standardize the spelling in an English-sounding way that they were happy with.  They (who were both English-literate) began to spell their names, David Haston and Joseph Haston.  I can’t say that they ALWAYS without exception spelled it that way, but they certainly did so in general.  But still, clerks were more familiar with the British Hasting and Hastings (etc.) so it took a while for them to get it.  Even today, I have acquaintances who still call me Wayne Hastings!

When Daniel’s family got to Middle Tennessee in about 1804, it took a few years before people there became accustomed to the H-a-s-t-o-n spelling.  David Haston was a Justice of the Peace both in White County and Van Buren County, after Van Buren was created out of White County in 1840.  Joseph was a constable.  They, and some of their children, were well-known enough that the Haston spelling finally stuck in those counties.

Westward Moves & Changing Names

Of the five sons of Daniel that we know a lot about, four of them adhered to the White and Van Buren County, TN Haston spelling.  David and Joseph remained in Middle TN and died there as Hastons.  Two of Daniel Haston’s sons moved west early, prior to 1820.  Jesse and Jeremiah both settled in Missouri and both of their families (to this day) continued to use the Tennessee “Haston” spelling.  But Isaac’s surname spelling changed from time to time and place to place, and person to person, tending toward Hastings or Hastin or Hasten.  I have found one example where Isaac tried to spell his name and couldn’t remember the last letter.  Apparently he had tried to memorize how to write it but forgot how to finish it.  My guess is that Jesse and Jeremiah were literate or, at least, knew how to write their names which helped perpetuate the Haston spelling from Tennessee down their lines–and Isaac couldn’t and didn’t.

It was Daniel’s grandchildren who moved west that were most responsible for the many variants of the H-surname so firmly entrenched among Daniel’s widespread family.  Let’s look at four or five of the main H-spellings and how they probably were adopted by Daniel’s descendants.


Col. Howard H. Hasting, Sr. explained why and how his branch of the family settled on the Hasting spelling.  Col. Hasting descended from Daniel through Joseph Haston.  

My father related to me after his branch of the family moved to [Yell County] Arkansas, about 1880, they held a “family meeting” and decided to spell the name “Hasting” thereafter, because they felt that was the correct spelling. As a result, the family in Arkansas, generally spells the name “Hasting,” but some add an “s” and some who came to Arkansas in later years or from other branches of the family still spell the name “Haston.”


With America’s history as a post-British colony, English names were common.  Virtually all of the early clerks in America were native English speakers, even the Scots-Irish.  

At least two of Daniel’s grandchildren, who lived near Daniel’s home place, knew that their grandfather was “Dutch,” meaning they knew he was a German language speaker.  But the great-grandkids seem to have been totally at a loss to identify their European roots.  So the lore began to spread through the family that “we are English” or “we are Scots-Irish.”  When some of them began trying to figure out where they came from, England or Ulster of Scotland were their first guesses.  And since the English Hastings name was well known and Haston was similar to Hastings, it was natural for them to think:  “Our name must have originally been Hasting or Hastings.”  Later, when some of them learned that there were Haston families in Scotland, some members of our family began to lean toward the Scots-Irish view of our descendency.  

A case in point: An English John Holloway Hastings family moved near the Isaac Haston family in Greene County, MO.  It seems that from that time on, most of Isaac’s family began gravitating toward the English surname spelling.


Some time after David Haston’s son, Daniel McCumskey Haston, moved to Missouri, his surname spelling was changed to “Hastain.”  The change seems to have been a conscious choice since the revised spelling has generally been passed down through his descendents in Missouri.  In Benton County, MO there is a community, now virtually unpopulated, named after this “Hastain” family.

For years it baffled me – and many others – why this Hastain spelling?  Then one day I sort of accidentally typed Hastain in (with a setting to include the United Kingdom) and – volia!  Try it!  There were MANY Hastains in the United Kingdom, especially in the 1800s.  I stopped counting at 100 Hastain names, but I was just getting started.

My guess:  Daniel McComisky Haston bumped to an Englishman with the name of Hastain who convinced him his family was spelling their names wrong.

Oh, by the way, other descendants of David Haston who settled in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and eastern Missouri generally kept the Haston spelling.

Hastin, Hasten, etc.

Frankly, I’m basically just guessing about how these two surname spellings came about. 

Hasten – May have just been a misspelling of Haston.

Hastin – In places where the Hasting or Hastings name tended to catch on, frequently the Hastin spelling showed up, often interchangeably with Hasting or Hastings.  For example, that was true of Isaac Haston’s family when they settled in Greene County, MO and Sonoma County, CA.  It wasn’t uncommon to see one member of the family spell the name Hastings and a sibling spell the name Hastin.  Both versions of the name have been passed on down through the sub-branches of the Isaac Haston family.

To make matters even more confusing, some branches of the English Hastings family (from North Carolina) eventually shortened their names to Hastin.  So a “Hastin” is not necessarily a descendant of Daniel Hiestand/Haston.

And There Were Others

There were other spellings, mostly misspelled variations of the above names.  But eventually, Haston, Hastings, Hastain, Hastin have become the most common names for branches of the Daniel Haston family.

09 – Our Ancestor Moves to the Shenandoah Valley, VA

Hiestands Move to the Shenandoah Valley in Northern Virginia

South Fork of the Shenandoah River. The photographer was standing on land once owned by Henry Hiestand.

Our Daniel Hiestand/Haston was probably born a quarter mile or less down river from this spot. He grew up here and no doubt learned to swim and fish in this river--the South Fork of the Shenandoah River--very near what is now the Bixler Bridge in Page County, VA. The photographer of this picture was standing on land once owned by Henry Hiestand.

Do you like to camp?  You can do that here for $50 per night.  

About 30 miles south into Virginia from Pennsylvania, the Massanutten Mountain which reaches an altitude of nearly 2,000 feet at several points emerges sharply east of Strasburg and west of Front Royal.  The Massanutten Mountain divides the Shenandoah Valley for 50 miles before ending just as sharply near Harrisonburg on the west and Elkton on the east.  

The Massanutten Mountain is an isolated wedge of mountain.

John Wayland, Shenandoah Valley Historian
Massanutten Mountain - Photo by Stephen Little

Massanutten Settlement

About the time Henrich Hiestand was arriving in America, some of his future Virginia neighbors were already beginning to settle near the Massanutten Creek on the lower part of the east slope of the Massanutten Mountain in what was then Spotsylvania County, Virginia.  Adam Mueller (Miller), Abraham Strickler, Mathias Selzer, Philip Lung (Long), Paul Lung (Long), Michael Rhinehart, Hans Rood (John Rhodes or Roads), Michael Kaufman—all from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania—had purchased land there from Jacob Stover in about 1729.  But, they were likely squatting on the land two or three years earlier.[i]  It was the first white settlement west of the Blue Ridge Mountain.

[i] Harry M. Strickler, Massanutten Settled by the Pennsylvania Pilgrim, 1726. (1924; reprinted, Markham, VA: Yesterday Books, 2009), 26-27.

While still attempting to secure a grant of 5,000 acres in the wilderness of Spotsylvania County, Swiss-German immigrant Jacob Stover (Stauffer) from the Lower Salford area near Skippack in eastern Pennsylvania sold tracts of his hoped-for grant to several incoming settlers from Lancaster County.

These 5,000 acres have since been known as the Massanutten Patent[i] or the Massanutten Tract, or the Massanutten Settlement.  This irregularly shaped tract began near Alma, Virginia on the south end and continued northerly about ten miles to the mouth of the Hawksbill Creek, which is about three miles north of what is now the town of Luray, spanning the South Fork Shenandoah River along the way.  Strickler noted that “the patent took in only the better river bottomlands and skipped the rough bluffs at the bends of the river.”[ii]  Later, when Lord Fairfax began selling his proprietary lands, he disallowed such a selective process by requiring that each tract had to be “laid out so that its breadth was no less than one-third of its depth.”[iii]

[i] “Jacob Stover’s Patent for 5,000 Acres,” Virginia Patent Book No. 15. (Richmond, VA: Land Office), 129.

[ii] Strickler, Massanutten Settled by the Pennsylvania Pilgrim, 1726, 121.

[iii] J. Ross Baughman, Some Ancestors of the Baughman Family in America. Edinburg, VA: Shenandoah History Publishers, 1994), 28.

A Book I Highly Recommend

In 1929, a group called the “Massanutten Society” erected a monument in the heart of the original Massanutten Tract to honor the earliest families of the Massanutten Settlement who planted their roots there about 200 years earlier.  The monument is located west of the White House Bridge on the west bound side of Highway 211, less than a mile from the river.  

Hiestands Join the Massanutten Settlement

When Henry purchased his South Fork Shenandoah River tract, he became the third (other than Jacob Stover) private owner of his chunk of the Massanutten Patent.  But he was probably the first white person to actually settle on this land.  Stover deeded parts of the 5,000 acres to six men in 1735 and 1737.  More than 40% of the acreage went to Ludwick Stone, 1100 acres on December 15, 1735 and another 1050 acres on November 24, 1737.  A few months later…

  1. Ludwick Stone sold the 1050 acres, in two separate tracts (800 acres and 205 acres), to…
  2. Philip Long for 100 pounds on March 1737, who then, six and a half years later, sold the “by estimation” 205 acres tract to…
  3. Henry Hiestand for 54 pounds, 16 shillings, 6 pence on September 22, 1743.[i]

[i] Orange County, Virginia Deed Book 7, 419-420.

But 800 acres plus 205 acres does not add up to 1050 acres for the second tract Long purchased from Stone, so why the discrepancy with the number of acres?  Surveys in those days were often quite inaccurate and this seems to be the case with this transaction.  When you plot the “metes and bounds” for Henry’s survey, it appears that he actually received about 310 acres, yet the survey says, “by estimation two hundred and five acres of land.”  Perhaps the fact there were nearly two miles of bending riverfront explains this large of a discrepancy.  It must have been quite difficult, in those days, to survey bending river frontage accurately.

Notice that the dog-legged east line is the Massanutten Patent Line, so the Hiestands were just inside the historic Massanutten Tract.

Was Henry’s newly purchased land in Virginia that much better than the Hempfield Township tract in Lancaster County?  The land surveyed for Henry in Pennsylvania was good land—rich and level.  The stream that ran across a corner of the Lancaster County property was probably an adequate water source, especially at the time Henry owned the rights to the land.  Although much of the Shenandoah River tract was hilly and the soil may have been quite thin in some places, there was about 1.8 miles of river frontage, with about 40 acres of very rich river bottom land, assuming the land has not changed too much in nearly 300 years.  Was the river frontage and the bottom land on the South Fork Shenandoah River worth that much?  Probably it was for a pioneering SWISS-German farmer.   

Although Henry later acquired other land in Virginia, one adjacent tract and a Massanutten mountain tract, this river front property was no doubt his home place from then on—the place where at least his three youngest children (including our Daniel Hiestand/Haston) were probably born.  This Shenandoah riverfront property had most everything a pioneer farmer would need or want:

  • Easy access to water, reliable year around—nearly two miles of frontage on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, an abundant supply for his animals, as well as his family, as well as a stream that was said to provide a plentiful supply of fish.

  • Plenty of land for pasture and woodlands, as well as sunny-side hills for orchards.

  • Limestone soil, with its enviable inherent soil conditioner, which Mennonite farmers highly valued.

  •  Several acres of rich river bottom land for crops, much of which may have already been cleared or easy to clear. 

 Today, approximately 40 acres of flat, rich-soil river bottomland exists along the river at the site of what was Henry’s homestead.  (And you can camp on it!)

Dr. Wayland’s following description of a German settler’s ideal land almost sounds like a description of Henry’s South Fork of the Shenandoah River acreage:

The German pioneers followed the chief watercourses of the Shenandoah Valley, and fixed their settlements for the most part on or near the fertile bottom lands along the larger streams.  In these localities the soil was most productive and most easily worked; and the lay of the land was generally most desirable.  At many places there would be a wide bottom on one side of the river, sweeping out in an almost level expanse for a mile or more, even though on the opposite side of the stream, at that particular point, there might be an abrupt bluff.  Frequently, too, there was but little timber to clear away on these broad levels.  Along the banks of the stream there were always trees of a larger or smaller growth; but it is quite probable that many of the best lowlands were still largely prairie.

Henry's Additional 264 of River Land

Henry did not yet have a warrant for this land, but on July 11, 1752, he had “264 acres on the south side of South Fork of Shannadoah” surveyed.  This acreage was adjacent to John Bumgarner and the “line of old Messnuttin Tract,” which was a border of Henry’s 205+ acres.  The deed for this new tract was entered on August 2, 1762 and that length of time was not uncommon for that era in that location.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it with others who might also enjoy it.

08 – Henry Hiestand Settles on Penn Family Land

08 - Henry Hiestand Settled on Land Acquired from William Penn's Sons

And who were Henry Hiestands parents? Exactly where did he live in Lancaster County, PA? Why did he owe so much money to Caspar Wistar?  Who were Jacob and John Hiestand who lived near him in PA?  And what about pioneer cowboy movie star Tom Mix?  And more!

Outline of the 226 acre tract Henry Hiestand settled on and had surveyed in Lancaster County, PA.

1728 - Henry in Western Lancaster Co, PA

In the previous article, you learned that in April 1728 Henry Hiestand signed a petition to become a naturalized citizen of Pennsylvania, a British colony.  That petition was signed south of Lancaster, PA in a community of Mennonite immigrants.  So in a year or less, Henry had apparently moved westward across the Pennsylvania colony to the area that was becoming predominantly settled by Deutsch-speaking Mennonites.  This suggests that he did not have to become an indentured servant to some Englishman in eastern PA.  He was probably helped get his start in America by a family he was already acquainted with back home in the Rhineland.

Henry's 226 Acres in Lancaster County, PA

On May 10, 1729, Lancaster County was created out of Chester County and was named for Lancashire, England.  Hempfield Township was one of the original townships, so-named because of the abundance of hemp raised in that area.  Hemp was a valuable product, used for making rope, canvas, burlap, linen, and other commonly used materials.  The lands currently in East Hempfield (created 1818), West Hempfield (created 1818), and Manor Townships (created 1759) were all parts of the original Hempfield Township.

Hempfield Township was largely settled by SWISS-German Mennonites.  “In the 1730s, at least fifty-five surveys for Mennonists totaled close to ten thousand acres.”[i]  Many of these families were associated with Hiestands back in the Palatinate of Germany, or even some in Canton Zurich of Switzerland—Neff, Strickler, Garber, Brubaker, Forrer, Gochenaur, Reiff, Hershey, Baughman, and others.

[i] Ruth, The Earth is the Lord’s, 240.

Henry Heestant had 226 acres surveyed in Hempfield Township on May 20, 1735.  This was step #3 in the process of purchasing land from William Penn’s sons.

Step 1 – Application
Step 2 – Warrant to conduct a survey
Step 3 – Survey
Step 4 – Return of survey
Step 5 – Patent – which was the first conveyance title land ownership.

Today, the beautiful Landisville Middle School campus, Landisville Primary Center, and Intermediate Center are located on property that Henry Hiestand settled.

Clue as to Henry's Hiestand's Mother's Family?

If you have been following this series carefully, you may recall that Henry Hiestand’s father (Daniel Haston’s grandfather) was most likely one of these three men:

Review: Article 05a – Our Hiestands (Heystandts) – Refugees on the North Sea 

And these were their wives:  (Heystandt is a variant spelling of Hiestand by Hollander friends.)

  1. Hans Jacob Hestandt (Heystandt) and Antie Beyers
  2. Hendrick Heistandt (Heystandt) and Barbara Mellingers
  3. Hans Hendrich Hestands (Heystandt) and Maria Gognouwers (Gochnauer)

One possible clue (among others) is that Joseph Goghanour (Gochnauer) purchased 403 acres adjacent to Henry Hiestand’s Hempfield Township land, his land was the only other land of the area that was surveyed on the same day as Henry’s 226 acres (May 20, 1735), his name appears five names above Henry’s on the 1728 Naturalization Petition, and he–like Henry–apparently also arrived in America prior to the fall of 1727 when passenger lists were required.  Perhaps they came to America together.

If I had to make an educated guess, I would say that Joseph Goghanour and our Henry Hiestand were cousins, possibly first cousins.  And I venture to guess (only a guess!) that we who are descendants of Henry Hiestand have some maternal-line Gochenour blood in us.

Why did Henry Hiestand owe Caspar Wistar such a large sum of money?

Caspar Wistar grew up in the Rhineland, not far from Henry Hiestand.  Caspar came to America in 1717 and became very wealthy.  He loaned money to other less-fortunate German-speaking immigrants, one of which was Henrich Hiestand.

Heinrich finally paid off his debt to Wistar at about the same time he was preparing to move to Virginia, about nine years after securing the loan.  If Heinrich never paid to finalize the purchase of the Hempfield Township tract and did not purchase the Virginia land until ten years after securing the loan from Wistar, what did Henry do with the 130 gulden, 2 Kopfstück (14 pounds sterling) that he borrowed from Caspar Wistar prior to 1733, which was finally paid to Wistar in early 1742?  Perhaps he got the loan with an intention to purchase the Hempfield Township land, but for some reason decided not to settle there and later applied the funds to purchase the purchase of 205 acres on the South Branch of the Shenandoah River in what was then Orange County, VA.  Or, perhaps he needed the money to pay the ship captain for his voyage to America.

Jacob & John Hiestand - Who Were They?

While Henrich Hiestand was just beginning to adjust to life in the New World, two other Hiestand men were crossing the Atlantic, en route to Philadelphia.  Jacob Hiestandt and Johannes Hiestandt arrived on the ship Friendship from Rotterdam by way of Cowes, England on October 16, 1727, and signed the Declaration of their Fidelity to King George II on that day. 

The name of Abraham Swartz (Swarts) appears immediately below the names of Jacob and Johannes Hiestandt on the passenger list.[i]  Abraham Swartz was the husband of Elizabeth Hiestand, who was the sister of Jacob and Johannes.  According to the Abraham Schwartz’ Bible record, Abraham and Elisabeth “were married by Hans Burkholder of Gerolsheim, Germany” (approximately 26 miles [16 km] southwest of Ibersheim).  She was born at Herrnsheim, the daughter of Heinrich Hystandt.” Elisabeth was Abraham’s second wife.  She died in what is now Montgomery County, Pennsylvania on November 5, 1727, about four weeks after she and Abraham reached their transatlantic destination.[ii] [iii] Like many transatlantic passengers, Elisabeth probably died because of an illness that began on the ship.  Montgomery County was formed out of Philadelphia County in 1784. 

[i] Ralph Beaver Strassburger, Pennsylvania German Pioneers, Volume II, Facsimile Signatures, 1727-1775, ed. William John Hinke. (1934; reprinted, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009), 16-17. 

[ii] Richard W. Davis, Hiestand, 5.

[iii] Ruth, Maintaining the Right Fellowships, 105.

Were Jacob and John Hiestand brothers of Henry?  Cousins, perhaps?  I am guessing they were cousins.  And a comparison of my DNA with a descendant of Jacob Hiestand seems to confirm my cousins theory–but, frankly, I don’t know for sure.

Jacob Hiestand

Based on a warrant issued by the Proprietaries of Pennsylvania (Penn family) on May 14, 1735, a 300 acres tract was surveyed for Jacob Heestant on April 8, 1736.  The survey was returned on June 30, 1740 which would indicate that the land and fees were paid in full at that time. 

Jacob Hiestand’s Land Today

Route 283 now runs diagonally east and west across what was Jacob Hiestand’s land.  Much of what is now Salunga-Landisville, PA was originally part of Jacob’s 300 acres.  And the Spooky Nook Sports complex (currently the largest indoor sports, events, and entertainment complex in America) is located on the land originally owned by Jacob Hiestand. 

John (Johannes) Hiestand

In 1719 William Penn had 16,000 acres of mostly flat, rich, and well-watered land surveyed that was probably originally set aside for Conestoga Indians to live and hunt.  This Manor of Conestoga was located on the east side of Susquehanna River in the southwest corner of the Hempfield Township.  See the 1730 map above.  The Conestoga Manor became Manor Township in 1759, four years before the vigilante “Paxton Boys” gang came down from Dauphin County to massacre remaining members of the Conestoga tribe in two separate attacks.  

John Hestont’s 150 acres was also originally in Hempfield Township.  But when Manor Township was formed out of Hempfield in 1759, the border of John’s tract became part of the northern border of Manor Township that separated Manor from Hempfield.  John’s home would have been approximately four and a half miles south from a spot between Henry and Jacob Hiestand’s tracts.

Tom Mix - His Mother was a Hiestand

Tom Mix (1880-1940) was the forerunner of movie and television western stars, such as Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, John Wayne, and many others.  He was the “king of the cowboys” during the 1920s.  His screen career spanned the periods of silent movies and “talkie” movies.

Tom’s mother, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Hiestand (descendant of Jacob Hiestand), was born in the Susquehanna River town of Marietta in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  She was a small woman of Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry.  Her mother’s name was Rebecca Smith, and her father’s name was John Hiestand.  Elizabeth was raised by her grandparents, Mary Feltenberger and Samuel Smith, who ran a tavern called the Halfway House, located midway between Marietta and Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania.  During the Civil War, when Elizabeth was about seven, she and her grandparents moved to Shiremantown, just west of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where Elizabeth was educated and spent most of her childhood.[i]

[i] Paul E. Mix, Tom Mix: A Heavily Illustrated Biography of the Western Star, with a Filmography. (Jefferson, NC: McFarland Company, 1995), 9.

Henry Hiestand Moves to the Shenandoah Valley of Northern Virginia

A warrant to accept the May 20, 1735 Henry Hiestand survey of the 226 acres was issued to John Coffman on June 8,1743.[i] And a patent for the tract was issued to John Coffman two weeks later, June 22, 1743.[ii]  Apparently, Henry (Henrich) did at least intend to purchase the land, but before a patent was issued for the land he sold or gave rights to the land to John Coffman who already owned land adjacent to, on the south side of, this tract.  

[i] “Lancaster County Warrant Register Page 34.” (On file: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission –
Pennsylvania State Archives, RG-17, Records of the Land Office, Warrant Registers, 1733-1957, series #17.88, page C-34).

[ii] “Patent to John Coffman.” (On file: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission –
Pennsylvania State Archives, RG-17, Records of the Land Office, Microfilm #17.142 – Patent Books, A and AA Series, 1684-1781; Patent Book A-8, page 277 to patent Book A-11, page 274).

Note: Regardless of what you might see in somebody’s genealogical records, the identification of Henry Hiestand’s wife (Daniel’s mother) is not known for sure.  There is speculation (no proof!) that she was a Coffman (Kauffman), related to this John Coffman.  There is a Kauffman Cemetery in Virginia–just a mile or so up-river from where Henry Hiestand settled in what is now Page County, VA.

Our Henry Hiestand only lived in Pennsylvania for 15 or 16 years, but there is much that we have learned about him from his time there—his earliest years in America.  In the 1730s and early 1740s, many Pennsylvania Mennonites began to move south into the back country of Virginia, the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.  For reasons not clearly known to us, Henry chose to join this movement and became a part of the Mennonite settlement, the 5,000 acres Massanutten Tract, near what is now Luray, VA.  But that’s the topic for the next article.

Is there somebody you'd like to share this article with?

07 – Our Hiestands Begin Life in America

07 - Henry Hiestand - His Earliest Years in America

William Penn's first visit to his American colony in 1682 paved the way for our Henrich Hiestand to settle there 45 years later. Image Source:

For Americans, an "immigrant ancestor" is an ancestor who emigrated from some other country, to come to and settle in America.  Henrich (Henry) Hiestand is the immigrant ancestor for all of us who trace our lineage back to him—the first immigrant in our Hiestand line.  Daniel Hiestand/Haston and his siblings were first-generation Americans, born in America as the children of their immigrant father, Henrich. 

According to the Bible record of his son Peter, our Henrich (Henry) Hiestand was born on October 8, 1704.[i]  Henrich’s grandson Joseph Hiestand (son of Henrich’s oldest son Jacob), stated that his “grandfather Hiestand was…a native of Germany, and emigrated to Lancaster County, PA in 1727.”[ii] This Joseph Hiestand was a nephew of our Daniel Hiestand/Haston. 

[i] “Peter Hiessandt, Sr.’s Bible.” 

[ii] Joseph Hiestand, quoted in John Powell, Authentic Genealogical Memorial History of Philip Powell, of Mifflin County, PA: And His Descendants and Others, Miscellaneous Items and Incidents of Interest, Volume 1. (1880 reprint; n.p., Andesite Press, 2017), 368. 

If Henrich Hiestand arrived in 1727, prior to his October 8 birthday, he would have been 22 years old at the time he landed in Philadelphia.  Another source says that he was single when he arrived.  So, we might assume that one motivating reason for his emigration to America was to secure land to own and farm in order to build a life for himself, the wife he hoped to find, and the family he dreamed about having. 

How Did Henry Pay for His Trip to America?

Many of the early immigrants to America were poor and not financially capable of paying for all of the fees at toll stops down the Rhine, the ship passages across the English Channel and Atlantic, as well as food and other necessities while they were in Holland and England.  Add to all of that, the unexpected costs related to corruption and theft.  Even if travelers thought they were financially prepared for the journey, often unexpected expenses impoverished them and forced them into debt.  Instead of turning them away, ship captains found another way to squeeze money out of these prisoners of debt.

One: Wealthy men met these ships at the docks in Philadelphia, eager to pay the debts of passengers if they would agree to work off their debts, as indentured servants, over a period of several (usually 3 to 6) years.

Like so many other Palatine (Palatine = people from the Palatinate of Germany) emigrants, Henrich may have been forced to indenture himself to some wealthy English Pennsylvanian who paid his debt to the captain and provided room and board for him until he could “redeem” himself by a few years of servitude.  But Henry appears in western Lancaster County, PA a year later among other Mennonite families, which suggests he was not in servitude. 

Two: Perhaps Henrich had enough money to pay all of his travel expenses and fees, as well as enough money to survive in America until he could find a job that would pay for his living expenses until he could purchase his own farm.  At age 22, that is unlikely unless he had gotten financial help from someone.

In the next article, you will learn that–for some reason–our immigrant ancestor borrowed a sizeable amount of money from a wealthy Philadelphian who arrived in Pennsylvania from the Rhineland of Germany ten years before our Henry.  Caspar Wistar had only nine pennies to his name when he arrived, but within 10 years he was quite a wealthy man.  Did Henry use this borrowed money to pay the expenses for his trip to America?

Hiestands Who Preceded Him to America

Just getting to America and paying for the journey was a major challenge.  But for many of the immigrants, becoming established—socially and financially—was equally difficult.  Some of them wandered through the streets of Philadelphia, begging for food and shelter, or a job so that they could work for their survival.  No doubt, many of them succumbed to poor health that developed during the voyage, starved to death, or died of exposure to harsh weather conditions.  What kind of situation did Henrich Hiestand find himself in when the ship he was on docked in Philadelphia?  We do not know for sure, but….  

Henrich may have had a friendly contact who had preceded him to America (relative or acquaintance from his homeland) who helped him get settled in Pennsylvania.  One of the cornerstones of Mennonite life was mutual aid, especially hospitality extended to fellow Mennonites in need.  “Newcomers to America could count on spending the first few weeks adjusting to their new homeland in eastern Pennsylvania at the tables of other Mennonites who were already well established.”[i]

[i] Roth, Stories: How Mennonites Came to Be. (Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press, 2006), 144.

Often Palatine immigrants were met at the port in Philadelphia by relatives or friends who had already traversed the Atlantic and established homes and sources of income here.  These contacts from “back home” generally provided temporary food and shelter and assistance in getting newly arrived immigrant loved ones settled in and established on their own.  But were there other Hiestand family members or friends of Henrich or his European family who could have met him when he arrived in America or provided him with temporary shelter and assistance? 

We do know that our Henrich Hiestand was not the first Hiestand to come to America.  There were at least two or three Hiestands and one daughter of a Hiestand who arrived some years before him.  And there were several other earlier emigrant families to Pennsylvania from the Rhineland, even Ibersheim and its surrounding villages, that undoubtedly were acquainted with Henrich’s family back home. 

Küngold (“Kinget”) Hiestand Stauffer and her husband Hans Stauffer landed in America more than 15 years ahead of Henrich.  Kinget (born January 1658 in Richterswil, Switzerland) married Michael Reiff, also of Richterswil.  Because of persecution, this young Anabaptist couple moved from Richterswil to the Palatinate in Germany, probably Ibersheim first and then the nearby-village of Mettenheim (or Metterheim), where Michael Reiff died.  One child, Anna (Anneli) Reiff, was born to Michael and Kinget (Küngold)  Hiestand Reiff before Michael died.  

After Michael Reiff’s death, Kinget Hiestand Reiff married Johannes “Hans” Stauffer, a 40-year-old bachelor,[i] in 1685 in Alsheim, Germany.  Ibersheim, Mettenheim, and Alsheim are all within a very few miles (or km) of each other, north of Worms, Germany on the west side of the Rhine River.  Hans and Kinget Hiestand Reiff Stauffer emigrated to America in 1710.

[i]James W. Lowry, Documents of Brotherly Love, Volume I. (Millersburg, OH: Ohio Amish Library, 2007), 403.

In 1702, Anna Reiff (daughter of Kinget Hiestand Reiff Stauffer and step-daughter of Hans Stauffer) married Gerhart Clemens from Nieder-Florsheim (20 km south of Alsheim), son of Jacob Clemens.[i] 

[i] Stauffer, “Hans Stauffer Note-books,” 99.

Kinget’s daughter and son-in-law, Anna and Gerhart Clemens, preceded Hans and Kinget to America by a year or so.  On January 10, 1709, the swift-flowing Rhine closed due to ice and remained closed for five weeks.  The 1708-1709 winter was the coldest winter in Europe in the past 500 years–Europe’s Deep Freeze of 1709.  And the War of Spanish Succession (1702-1714) was wreaking havoc on the Palatinate—life there was again becoming intolerable. 

And coincidentally, Queen Anne of England was circulating information throughout the Rhine Valley offering free transport to Palatines who would come to England to be sent to America as settlers of her expansive English colony.  In about March of 1709, Gerhart Clemens sold his possessions to his father and brother, preparing to travel to America.  Gerhart’s notebook indicates that by October 1709 he was in Pennsylvania.  

Gerhart and Anna Reist (Hiestand) Clemens first settled in the Skippack community (30 miles northwest of Philadelphia) in what is now Montgomery County, PA.  They later moved to Salford Township.  Wherever they went, it appears they were prominent members of the community.

Stone farmhouse on the original Clemens farm built by Gerhard and Anna's son Jacob Clemens (1703-1782). Jacob Clemens and Henry Hiestand were very closed to the same age. Source:

But there was another Hiestand (or two) known to have been in America prior to when our Henrich Hiestand arrived, if our Henrich arrived later than 1726.[i] 

[i] Ruth, Maintaining the Right Fellowship, 92.

On April 15, 1726 Abraham Hiestand sold a cow to Gerhart (Gerhard) Clemens in Lower Salford Township of what is now Montgomery County, PA (previously part of Philadelphia County).  From the account book of Gerhart Clemens: “I bought a cow of Abraham Heistand, April 15, 1726, for L3 ts.”[i]  How does he fit into the European Hiestand family?  We do not know–but he was a Hiestand and, no doubt, a relative of our Henry.

[i] Clemens, 5.

Prior to 1727, several ex-Ibersheim families had already settled in Pennsylvania, even as far into the wilderness as what became Lancaster County.  Such families as the Brubakers and Neffs were closely associated with the Hiestands in Ibersheim and other villages near there.  Henrich Hiestand’s extended family was interwoven with most of these families by marriage.  No doubt these families would have welcomed Henrich to join them as a farmhand until he could earn enough money to purchase his own farm. 

When Henry Hiestand arrived in Pennsylvania, there were friends and family members who probably took him in and allowed him time to transition to an independent life in America.

April 1728 - Mennonite Naturalizations

Beginning in September 1717, Palatine immigrants were required to declare their loyalty to the King of England soon after landing in Philadelphia.  Prior to that time, they were still officially subjects of the Emperor of Germany even though they were living in Pennsylvania.  As aliens they were deprived of some very important rights enjoyed by English-born Pennsylvanians.  Although they could purchase land, they were not allowed to sell land to others nor were their children allowed to inherit their land.  It doesn’t seem fair does it?

Attempts by Pennsylvania Mennonite leaders to become naturalized as British citzens in Pennsylvania were continually defeated or tabled in the Pennsylvania Assembly, largely because the Mennonites would not agree to make an “oath” of allegiance to the British Crown.  Making oaths violated their Christian convictions.  But finally the Pennsylvania Assembly agreed to allow Mennonites to make “declarations of allegiance” to the British Crown without calling them oaths.

On April 1 and 2, 1728, two Chester County justices traveled to the home of Martin Mylin near Conestoga Creek south of Lancaster, PA.  Mylin’s home was about 11 miles southeast of the tract that Henry Heestant had surveyed seven years later.  At that time, approximately 200 Mennonites formalized their declarations of allegiance:

“Wee … do Sincerely and Solemnly Declare before God and the Word that wee will be … faithful to King George the Second.”

The names of hannes (John) Hiestandt, henrich hiest, and jacob hiestandt were among the signatures added to the document of declarations of loyalty to the British Crown.[i]  There was some kind of defect in the document near the end of Henrich’s surname, thus it appears as “hiest_.”

[i] “Declarations for Naturalization Signed by Mennonites of Chester County, PA.” (On file: Archives of Chester County, PA, April 1, 1728).

After some further stalling by the Assembly, on March 29, 1735 “An Act for the Better Enabling Divers Inhabitants of the Province of Pennsylvania to Hold Lands and to Invest Them with the Privileges of Natural-Born Subjects of the Said Province” was passed.[i]  But, two factors limited the extent of the Mennonites’ benefit from the bill.  First, the bill only provided citizenship for immigrants who arrived in Pennsylvania between 1700 and 1718.  That eliminated about one-half of the signers, no doubt including Henrich Hiestand.  Second, when the German speaking pacifist signers learned the true nature of the English language “declaration” they had signed, most of them balked. 

[i] “Chapter 339″ of the Laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Volume I. (Philadelphia: John Bioren, 1810), 283.

The signers discovered that they had unwittingly agreed to take up arms to defend the Crown.  Nearly two decades later, the 1747 Act of Parliament finally provided Mennonites the freedoms they had desired for decades without the obligations that offended their consciences.[i]  When the Naturalization Bill was finally passed on February 14 of the 1729/30 meeting of the Assembly, most of the signers were not naturalized at that time, including some of the more prominent Mennonite leaders.[ii] 

[i] Garber, 551-560.

[ii] Garber, 557.

What about our Henrich Hiestand?  Was he ever officially naturalized as a subject of the British Crown, if not in 1728?  If so, when and where?  Well, we know he voted in an 1855 election in Virginia which supposedly required British citizenship.  And that’s all we know about his naturalization.

In the next article, you will see exactly where Henry Haston settled in Lancaster County, PA before moving south to his final settlement in Virginia…and much more.

Caney Fork of the Cumberland

Caney Fork of the Cumberland (The Book)

Daniel Haston settled on the south side of the Caney Fork River in what was then White County, TN.  The river holds lots of memories for those of us who grew up near there.  I certainly have enough personal stories to occupy you for a few hours and most of them are even true!  And there is a lot of history that happened along that sometimes lazysometimes torrent stream of water.  

Arthur Weir Crouch was a civil engineer for the TVA who walked up and down the banks of the Caney Fork surveying the high water marks of the river in preparation for the building of the Great Falls Dam at Rock Island, TN.  Mr. Crouch put much of what he learned about the river in a book in 1972.  His son, Edward W. Crouch, gave me (Wayne Haston) permission to publish his father’s book online.  It contains lots of facts and personal stories about Mr. Crouch’s experiences on the Caney Fork River, mostly above Rock Island – the area of the river where our early Hastons settled.

The entire book is available on the Heritage of Daniel Haston website.  It’s a book worth preserving.  It’s a book work reading, especially for those of you familiar with the river.

Balsam Range performing ‘Caney Fork River‘ in Studio B on September 25, 2015

06 – The Journey from Ibersheim to America

The Journey from Ibersheim to America

In early 1727, Henrich Hiestand probably boarded a barge in Worms, much like the one above, saying a “forever” goodbye to his Ibersheim family.

Of the Mennonites who emigrated from the Rhine lands, “only a small proportion—roughly 10 percent—journeyed overseas.  The vast majority relocated in eastern Europe.”[i]  Think about that—if Henrich Hiestand had gone east, instead of west to America, our Hiestand/Haston family might have been Prussians, Hungarians, Polish, or Russians!  But, fortunately for us, the lure of America drew him to Pennsylvania.

[i] Marianne S. Wokeck, Trade in Strangers: The Beginnings of Mass Migration to North America. (Philadelphia: The Pennsylvania State University, 1999), 8.

Henrich Hiestand was one of those immigrants from the Rhineland who disembarked in Philadelphia.  But we do not know what ship he traveled on or exactly when it arrived in the colony of Pennsylvania.  Nor do we know any other details regarding his journey to America, other than he left Europe, he survived the Atlantic passage, and he made it to America.  And here we are!

Reasons for Emigration

There were several compelling reasons why a person, especially a Mennonite, living in the Palatinate in the late 1600s to the mid-1700s would choose America over his or her relatively-recent German homeland.  Most Palatine emigrants were probably motivated by some combination of the following reasons. 

Political Peace and Stability

It is little wonder that some historians have referred to the Palatinate of the 18th century as “the Land of Wars.”[i]  Why did Rhinelanders flee the Palatinate during these years?  Perhaps a better question is why would any of them remain there, if given an opportunity to leave?

[i] Charles R. Haller, Across the Atlantic and Beyond: The Migration of German and Swiss Immigrants to America. (Westminster, MD: Heritage Books, 2008), 219.

Economic Prosperity

If political instability and war were the “push” behind the waves of Mennonite emigration from Europe, the “pull” was the promise, or at least hope, of economic prosperity.  Many of the industrious, but often impoverished, Mennonites were lured away to America in search of land, freedom from severe taxes, and an overall hope of living a financially secure life.

And available land for Mennonites in the Palatinate was becoming more and more scarce.  By the time our Henrich Hiestand became an adult, his only hope for sufficient land to support a family was to move far away.  The tenant land his grandfather inherited had already been subdivided several times to provide farmland for his father, uncles, and perhaps older brothers.  

Religious Freedom

Many Mennonites left Europe for America, at least partially, because of religious persecution.  Even though the types and degrees of persecution they experienced in the Palatinate were light compared to what they had endured in Switzerland, the religious toleration for Mennonites of the Palatinate was always limited.  They were forced to pay “protection fees” and lived under constraints not applied to Catholics, Calvinists, or members of the Reformed Church.  And the rules and limits of toleration changed, often for worse, with the empowerment of new rulers.  

William Penn had personally visited the Palatinate, probably even to the village of Ibersheim, with promises of true religious freedom in Penns Woods (Pennsylvania), the American colony his father had received as a grant from King Charles II of England.  

The Emigration Route to America

For the Rhinelanders headed to America, including our Henrich Hiestand, the journey from Ibersheim and other villages of the Palatinate was comprised of three phases.

Phase 1: Down the Rhine River to Rotterdam in Holland

Modern View of the Rhine River. Our ancestors traveled on crude barges. (Source:

The Rhine River has been called the “River of Destiny.”[i]  Hundreds of thousands of Swiss and Germans sought their destinies by floating down the Rhine on barges, from the mid-17th century until the mid-19th century. 

[i] Charles R. Haller, Across the Atlantic and Beyond: The Migration of German and Swiss Immigrants to America, 239.

Under good river conditions, the trip down the Rhine from Ibersheim to Rotterdam (approximately 375 miles or 600 km) could have taken only six or seven days of actual floating time, at about 2 ½ miles per hour.  But there were many toll stations (associated with toll castles) along the way.  Maybe as many two dozen or more toll stations were active in the early 1700s, from Worms to Rotterdam. [i]  The toll castles belonged to territorial lords or to their authorized vassals.   

[i] Charles R. Haller, Across the Atlantic and Beyond: The Migration of German and Swiss Immigrants to America, 242-245.Ibersheim

In addition to collecting tolls and searching the barges, the stops also delayed boats long enough to encourage (or coerce) passengers to spend money with the merchants of the castle.   Consequently, toll station stops probably extended the river trip from Worms to Rotterdam from taking a few days to taking a few weeks, perhaps a month or so.[i]

[i] Ralph Beaver Strassburger, Pennsylvania German Pioneers, xxxiii.

Phase 2: Across the North Sea and English Channel to an English Port

Prior to 1783, ships sailing through the English Channel were required by British navigation laws to stop in one of several English ports.  Only British-owned and operated ships were allowed to engage in business with the British colonies.[i]  There were multiple English ports, including London, from which European ships set sail. 

But, after the earlier phases of emigration, the most popular port for these journeys was the port of Cowes on the northern coast of the Isle of Wight.  One hundred and forty-two ships are recorded as having sailed from Rotterdam to Cowes.[ii] 

[i] Charles R. Haller, Across the Atlantic and Beyond: The Migration of German and Swiss Immigrants to America, 239.

[ii] Ralph Beaver Strassburger and William John Hinke, Pennsylvania German Pioneers, Volume I, 1727-1775, (1934 reprint; Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1966), xxxiv.

Phase 3: The Trans-Atlantic Journey

Most passenger ships sailed across the Atlantic in the mid-year season of late spring through early autumn, May through October.  If the weather and wind conditions were favorable, the journey could have taken as few as seven weeks, but eight to twelve weeks were more common.  Occasionally, extreme weather would blow a ship off course and the trip would be even longer.


Much has been written about the conditions that existed on these ships.  In some cases, the journey was relatively easy when weather was favorable and the ship’s captain and crew were decent people.  But many of these voyages were nightmarish.  


The Atlantic nightmares began when greedy ship captains overloaded their ships, packing passengers in sleeping quarters so tightly that they were barely able to move.  Often there was no room left for personal belongings and passengers were forced to leave their trunks of family heirlooms behind. 

Living conditions on many of the ships were deplorable:

  • Passenger ships were packed well beyond comfortable space.  Bunk space was commonly limited to six feet long and one one-half feet wide with very limited vertical space.
  • Food quantities were limited and when the journey took longer than expected, the amount of food was rationed to such small amounts that passengers were constantly hungry and some of them starved to death.
  • Food quality, which was never good from day one on the ships, only worsened throughout the voyage.  For example, biscuits became dirty, hard and crusty, and infested with worms.  Meat, even though heavily salted, spoiled.  In some cases, passengers were forced to resort to eating mice and rats.
  • Drinking water was limited, sometimes becoming dark and thick and full of worms.  Often passengers died of typhoid fever from drinking the water.
  • Lice infestations abounded, to the point that lice were sometimes so thick on the bodies of people that they were scraped off in swarms.
  • Extreme temperatures, both heat and cold, took the lives of many passengers.
  • There were no provisions for sanitation, so filth and stench from vomiting, sweat, urine and feces was unimaginable. 
  • Sometimes gales lasted for two or three days and nights and passengers tumbled over each other, both the sick and the well.
  • Impatience mounted and passengers cursed and fought each other, even their own loved ones.
  • Cheating and theft were commonplace.
  • Children and the elderly were often the first to die.  Many parents watched their children die and their bodies cast into the ocean.
  • Overall, the mortality rates on some of these ships were incredible.

There is no known record of which ship carried Henrich Hiestand to America or any extant reports of his experiences en route to Pennsylvania.  Whether he was one of the more fortunate travelers or one of the miserable survivors of a horrendous trip, we do not know.  IF he made it to America in 1727, prior to September 14, 1727 (when ships’ passenger lists were kept), then his early arrival in the shipping season would seem to indicate that the conditions of his journey might have been more favorable than most unless he traveled in the first few months of the year.  Fortunately for Henrich Hiestand and those of us who have descended from him, he did survive the trans-Atlantic passage. 

Arrival in Philadelphia

It was an exciting and joyous time, when a ship with German immigrants entered the Philadelphia harbor, but their drama was not over.  The authority for de-boarding was vested in Philadelphia health officials, as well as the captain of the ship. 

Passengers had to settle their debts with the ship’s captain.  If they could afford to pay, they were allowed to leave the ship as soon as their financial obligations were settled with the captain.  But many of them were unable to make the necessary payment.  Even if they did leave their homes with money, often their funds were depleted by the time they paid all of the customs fees and other expenses associated with the various required landings and delays from home to the Atlantic. 

Once researcher estimates that about half of the German-speaking immigrants were compelled to sell their services for several years as servants to wealthy masters in order to be released (into the custody of the master) from their ships.[i]  These indentured servants became known as “redemptioners” because they had to work to redeem their freedom. 

[i] Aaron Spencer Fogleman, Hopeful Journeys. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, Press, 1996), 73.

In the next article, you will learn about our Henrich Hiestand’s early years in America.

Mennonites Come to America

Old (1979) Video

05a – Our Hiestands (Heystandts) – Refugees on the North Sea

05a - Our Hiestands (Heystandts) - Refugees in Friedrichstadt on the North Sea

“Heystandt” was the way the Hollander-Dutch spelled our Hiestand name.

In 1689 Ibersheim and the entire Palatinate again became a hot war zone.  Five years after hereditary tenant rights were granted to the ten Mennonite families, French troops of Louis XIV invaded the Palatinate in 1688, launching the Nine Years War or the War of the Grand Alliance. 

Mennonites from Ibersheim and many other villages in the Rhineland were forced to seek refuge away from homes they had expended a great deal of effort to build and farms they had labored hard to reclaim from the devastation of the previous war.  Most, if not all, of them fled the area and some became refugees in the Netherlands. 

Hans Jacob Hiestand led a group of Palatine Mennonites to join a Dutch community in Friedrichstadt on the North Sea.  There they were able to rent farms and enjoy a fair measure of religious tolerance.  The parents of our Henrich Hiestand were very probably in this group.

05 – Where Henrich Hiestand Was Born – Ibersheim, Germany

05 - Ibersheim, Germany
German Home-Village of Our Hiestands

The village of Ibersheim (pronounced, Ibers-heim [“ib” as in “crib”]) is situated on what historically was an unprotected floodplain on the left bank (west side of) the Rhine River, just below (north of) a sharp northeastward bend in the river, about six miles (12 km) northeast of the center of Worms, Germany.  In earlier years, sometimes it was referred to as Ibersheimer Hof (farmstead). 

When the Swiss Mennonites entered the Palatinate after the Thirty Years War, most of them settled in villages.  Not only was there a greater chance of freedom from oppression in the villages, as compared to the cities, but the villages were where their superb farming and viticulture skills were needed.  If the post-war Palatinate was going to be restored, it would need to begin with the farms and the vineyards.  And no group was better prepared for that task than the Swiss Brethren who, for more than 100 years, had been forced to eke out a farm living on shallow-soil of small and steep-mountain farms, high in the Swiss Alps. 

There were many villages in the Rhineland where they were needed and welcomed.  But the village of Ibersheim (or Ibersheimerhof, as it was then called) stands out as a Palatinate village that became identified as a uniquely Swiss Mennonite community.

By 1672, it was already nicknamed “the Mennonistenhof,”[i] meaning “Mennonite Estate.”  It has been said that “of all the Mennonites worldwide, around 10% originate in this region.”[ii]

[i] John L. Ruth, Maintaining the Right Fellowship, 43.

[ii] Wikipedia contributors, “Ibersheim,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, accessed October 14, 2017,

1618-1648 Ibersheim in the Thirty Years War

As the previous article indicated, the area of the Palatinate in and around Ibersheim was laid desolate during the Thirty Years War.  Many residents of the region were slaughtered by the various armies that plundered the Rhine Valley and other inhabitants were forced to flee.

The former medieval parish village of Ibersheim and its surrounding fields was a ruined farm when the Thirty Years War ended.  And there were no tenants to work the farm, much less a system of management.  The farm included 2,000 acres, including five islands in the Rhine and Meadows on the east of the Rhine.[i]  But, this rich flood plain farm land lay desolate. 

[i] Gudrun, “Mennonites (Baptists) on the Ibersheimer Hof am Rhein Near Worms in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany,” trans. Google Translate, Mennonien in Deutschland (blog), December 4, 2013, accessed October 13, 2017,

Meanwhile, Swiss Mennonite refugees started trickling into Ibersheim in the 1650s. 

In 1661, “the people of Ibersheim got a special permit to be public subjects of the Electoral Palatinate,” and the Elector sent this message to officials in his administration regarding these Mennonite tenants: 

They should not be worried or harmed by us and our subjects because of their religion, but they are not allowed to hold public or secret meetings and conventions with others, who are not living in this court (farmstead) and they are not allowed to draw others near to them and to seduce them.[i] 

[i] “Mennonites at Ibersheim, Germany,” 84.

Two of the earliest Swiss Anabaptist refugees to settle in Ibersheim were Konrad and Kleiann Hiestand, brother and sister.  They were grandchildren of Heinrich and Anna Lutholt Hiestand from Richterswil in Canton Zürich, where Anna was on record as being an Anabaptist.  Konrad and Kleiann, who apparently had adopted their grandmother’s faith, left their Swiss home in 1657.  Kleiann married Jacob Brubacher, a neighbor she probably grew up with in Richterswil.  She and Jacob lived next door to Konrad’s family in Ibersheim.[i]   

[i] J. Ross Baughman, Apart from this World. (Edinburgh, VA: Shenandoah History Publishers, 1997), 72.

In 1683, nineteen years after the 1664 Concession, ten Mennonite men, who were heads of families in Ibersheim, were granted extraordinary rights not enjoyed elsewhere in the Palatinate.  They were granted rights to be “hereditary tenants.”  That meant they could pass on to their sons the tenant-rights they enjoyed for portions of the Ibersheim estate they were living on.  Konrad Hiestand was one of the specially privileged ten. 

  • Brubacher, Hans Jacob – from Hirzel, Horgen, in Canton Zürich
  • Dentlinger, Jacob – from Bernese Oberland (Highlands)
  • Forrer, Hans Jacob – from Hirzel, Horgen, Zürich
  • Gochenauer, Heinrich – from Fischenthal, Hinwil, Zürich
  • Hagmann, Ulrich – from Eidberg, Oberwinterthur, Zürich
  • Hiestand, Konrad – from Richterswil, Horgen, Zürich
  • Leitweiler, Hans – from Aarau, Aargau, and Zürich
  • Neff, Heinrich – from Vollenweid, Hausen, Zürich
  • Opmann, Peter – from Oberdiessbach, Bern-Mittelland
  • Reif, Heinrich – from Schönenberg, Horgen, Zürich

In 1685 Conrad Hiestandt, of Ibersheim, had five children and two stepchildren.  There was a Hennrich Hiestandt in Ibersheim who had ten children.

1693-1698, Refuge in Friedrichstadt on the North Sea

Friedrichstadt is located in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany’s northernmost state.

In 1689 Ibersheim and the entire Palatinate again became a hot war zone.  Five years after hereditary tenant rights were granted to the ten Mennonite families, French troops of Louis XIV invaded the Palatinate in 1688, launching the Nine Years War or the War of the Grand Alliance. 

Mennonites from Ibersheim and many other villages in the Rhineland were forced to seek refuge away from homes they had expended a great deal of effort to build and farms they had labored hard to reclaim from the devastation of the previous war.  Most, if not all, of them fled the area and some became refugees in the Netherlands. 

On June 18, 1690 “the ministers and elders in the Palatinate” wrote two nearly identical letters to Mennonites in Holland, asking for advice:

Since because of the destructive war here in the country, great ruin and damage has taken place, so that many people will have to leave the country because of lack of bread; and considering that a heartfelt comfort has been promised to us from you as our dear brethren, on the advice of ministers and elders, we have commissioned these men as fellow ministers and elders to make a journey to you people, namely Jonas Lohrer, Johan Schumacher, and Christian Plein, to consult with you about where each of us who cannot remain here in the country might be able to go to earn his bread.[i] 

[i] Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs, Letters on Toleration, 352.

Hans Jacob Hiestand was one of the 15 Mennonite church leaders who signed these letters.  On the advice of Mennonite leaders from Holland, three and a half years later Hans Jacob Hiestand led a group of Palatine Mennonites to join a Dutch community in Friedrichstadt on the North Sea.  There they were able to rent farms and enjoy a fair measure of religious tolerance.

In addition to a couple of Hiestand families and one single Hiestand woman, the October 13, 1693 group included other individuals or families known to have been connected to the Hiestands. 

Hanss Jacob Hestand, minister, with wife and child
Hanss Gochenauwer with wife and siblings
Hanss Jacob Bropacher (Brubacher) with wife and child
Hanss Strickler with wife
Hanss Cunrad Strickler
Jacob Strickler
Josep Gochenauwer
Hanss Jacob Forer
Hanss Heindrich Hestand
Maria Hestands
Maria Gochenauwer
Feronicka Gochenauwer
Barbera Mallinger
Jonas Melinger, brother of former, not yet a member of congregation[i]

[i] Sem C. Sutter, “Palatine Mennonites in Schleswig-Holstein, 1693-1698,” 19.

You can download this source article from the Books & Articles category of the Blog section of this site.
Mennonite Church in Friedrichstadt
Friedrchstadt Canal to North Sea

Return to Ibersheim

When the Treaty of Ryswick ended the War of the Grand Alliance (Nine Years War) on September 20, 1697, the Palatine refugees in Friedrichstadt must have been eager to return home, after four years in exile.  “A church letter signed April 9, 1698 (Old Style) by the ‘ministers, elders, and deacons of the so-called United Flemish, Frisian, and High German Mennonite congregation’ of the Netherlands lists twenty members leaving Friedrichstadt for the Palatinate.”  Among this group, were:

Hans Jakob Heÿstandt and his wife (Antie Beyers, married April 29, 1694)
Henderich Heÿstandt and his wife (Barbara Mellingers, married November 25, 1694)
Hanns Henderik Heÿstandt and his wife (Maria Gognouwers, married February 20, 1698)
Josep Kognauwer and his sisters, Leÿsbet and Katrÿna
Hanss Strechler and his wife, Antie[i]

The “Heÿstandt” spelling emerged because the main dialect of German the people spoke there was from the Netherlands.

[i] Sem C. Sutter, “Palatine Mennonites in Schleswig-Holstein, 1693-1698,” 19-20.

It is likely, that Jakob Heÿstandt or Henderich Heÿstandt or Hanns Henderik Heÿstandt was the father of our immigrant ancestor, Henrich Hiestand who was born in 1704.  In a later chapter, we will consider the evidence we currently have to determine the most probable parents of our Henrich. 

Wayne Haston

Hiestand Home in Ibersheim for 200+ Years

On a June 2018 tour visit to Ibersheim, our guide, himself a Hiestand descendant, showed us buildings that Hiestands lived in many years ago.

Mennonite Church in Ibersheim

Mennonite Church in Ibersheim

The original structure of the current church in Ibersheim was constructed in 1836 on the site of the old original meetinghouse.  Even before the new building was erected, in 1822 the Ibersheim congregation purchased an organ, a new addition to their worship services.  On February 11, 1866 two new bells were dedicated by the Ibersheim church, still the only Mennonite church in southern Germany to have a bell tower.  In 1891, the church was incorporated.  It is the only church in the village.[i]

[i] Abraham Braun, “Ibersheim (Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany).”

A "Walking Tour" Through Ibersheim

We have ordered copies of this beautiful booklet from the author in Germany–to make them available to you at what they cost us to purchase them in euros and ship them to the USA.

The booklets cost me $5.00 each.  For any donation to the Daniel Haston Family Association, I will send you a copy, postage paid.


The booklet is composed of 29 beautiful pages of photos and text to help you know more about the little village of Ibersheim where Daniel Hiestand/Haston’s father was born and grew up.  It’s a little book that you will want to read and preserve as a keepsake.

You can pay by check (made out to Wayne Haston) or cash and mail to:

Wayne Haston, 702 Winebary Circle, Lewisberry, PA 17339 – or PayPal ( 

04 – Swiss Anabaptists Flee to the Germany

04 - Our Swiss Ancestors Flee to Germany

(Source: The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) Paves the Way for Swiss Anabaptists to Find New Homes

Almost as soon as the Swiss Brethren (Anabaptists/Mennonites) began to teach and practice the Biblical principles they were learning from studying the New Testament (1525 A.D. and following), they encountered intense persecution from the Swiss government and the State (Reformed) Church of Switzerland. Men and women who associated with them were beaten, tortured, and imprisoned in dark, cold, damp dungeons and castle rooms. Many were executed by drowning or were burned at the stake. Many others died while in prison. Those who survived had their properties confiscated and were banished from Switzerland.

Their most convenient escape route from Switzerland was down the Rhine River to any place in Europe that would tolerate them.


Our Hiestand ancestors were among these sincere believers who were harshly treated and banished from their homeland because of their faith and allegiance to the simple teachings of the Bible.

Going down the Rhine River, many of the fleeing Swiss Mennonites stopped at Strasbourg, the capital of the French region Alsace.  


On the western (left) banks of the Rhine in eastern France, Alsace was a German-speaking area because its ownership and control shifted back and forth between the nation of France and German states.  In the early years of the Anabaptist movement, French authorities in Alsace were somewhat sympathetic to Anabaptists who were fleeing from Switzerland and other parts of Europe where they were suffering intense persecutions.  Strasbourg became a major hub for Anabaptism, for several decades.  It has been estimated that 2,000 Anabaptists were in Strasbourg in 1534, but that number likely was diminished by later persecution.  

The Palatinate

Further down the Rhine, the region known as the Palatinate [pronounced] also welcomed many of the Mennonites who sought refuge there.  In the following article, I will say more about the Palatinate.  But first, you need to know the historical context that made the Palatinate ripe for Mennonite settlements, including members of our Hiestand family.

The Thirty Years War (1618-1648)

(Source: Mark Beerdom, Pinterest) Armies pillaged villages of the Palatinate

From 1618-1648, western Europe was engaged in the “Thirty Years War”—a religious war that developed into a struggle for political power in Europe. The Palatinate was a very fertile region on both sides of the Rhine River in what is now Southwest Germany. It was centrally located between the main powers fighting in the war; thus it became the crossroads of warring armies and the site of many battles. As a result, the Palatinate was pillaged. Many of the (farming) inhabitants there were killed, starved, died of diseases spread by marauding armies, or fled to escape all of the above. When the Thirty Years War ended in 1648, the Elector Palatine (regional leader) welcomed the Mennonites to settle there in order to restore the farms that had become wastelands.  Their reputation as excellent farmers (which continues even today) was their ticket to finding places of refuge in the rich soil of the war-torn Rhineland.

That’s how the Swiss Brethren (Anabaptists/Mennonites) became residents of what we now call southwest Germany. They enjoyed more freedom there than they had in Switzerland, but their freedom was still quite limited as you shall see in the next article.

But peace in the Palatinate did not last long until another devastating war occurred in Europe, with the Rhineland of the Palatinate as a central battle zone.

War of the Grand Alliance (1688-1697)

The Nine Years War

(Source: War of the Grand Alliance (1688-1697) forced the Anabaptists to flee the Palatinate

Just as the Swiss Mennonite refugees were getting comfortably settled in the Palatinate and the farmlands had been restored to enviable productivity, France incited another war with a coalition of European nations.   

The War of the Grand Alliance (1688-1697)forced most of them to flee the Palatinate. Some returned to their homes on the Rhine River after that war, but some never returned. There are still Hiestands (very distant relatives of our family) that still live along the Rhine where their ancestors fled to in the 1500s or 1600s.
In the next article I will tell you about one special little village along the Rhine where our Daniel Haston’s father (Henrich/Henry Hiestand) grew up.  And we will see exactly where Henrich’s parents temporarily located in order to avoid being civilian casualties on the battlefield of the War of the Grand Alliance, the so-called Nine Years War.

Overview of Anabaptist History

Baughman Maps and Images

J. Ross Baughman's Maps and Images

Just one of 85 pages of maps and images from J. Ross Baughman's Books - Many or most of which Ross drew himself

Eighty-five Maps and Illustrations from the Origins of Swiss & Anabaptist Migrants: Collection of maps created by J. Ross Baughman for (and included in) his series of Swiss-American historical books.  (34.5 MB)

01-19-2021 Our Swiss Roots with Ross Baughman

Our Hiestand (Canton Zurich) Swiss Roots

Video of the January 19, 2021 “Swiss Roots of the Hiestand/Haston Family” Zoom discussion with J. Ross Baughman as the expert guest. The full two hours of the meeting, focusing on the area south of the Zurich Sea where our Hiestand ancestors came from, with information on their participation in the Anabaptist/Mennonite “radical revolution.”

Apart From This World

Free Book About Our Swiss Mennonite Roots:

Apart From This World

The Account of the Origins and Destinies of Various Swiss Mennonites

Apart From The World: Ross Baughman, author.  An account of the origins and destinies of various Swiss Mennonites who fled from their homelands in remote parts of Cantons Zurich, Aargau, and Bern – 1997; 237 pages. (82.0 MB)

03 – Our Mennonite Roots

03 - What Do You Know About Our Mennonite Roots?

Image from

Rev. Samuel Hiestand's parents, grandparents, and several generations before were all Mennonites.

"Samuel Hiestand" - Wikipedia

This Samuel Hiestand was our Daniel Haston’s nephew, son of Daniel’s oldest brother Jacob.

Huldrych (Ulrich) Zwingli

You know about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in Germany, but you may not know about Ulrich Zwingli, the Protestant Reformer in Switzerland, a contemporary with Luther.

Like Luther, Zwingli was a Catholic priest who began to study the New Testament in its original language of Greek and wanted to return the Church to the way it was in New Testament times. 

Each of these reformers espoused some of his own unique teachings, but there were some major reformation doctrines on which they all agreed:

  • Sola Scripture (by Scripture alone) – The final authority for Christian faith and life is the Bible, not the non-biblical teachings of the Church.
  • Sola Fide (by faith alone) and Sola Gratia (by grace alone) – We are justified before God by “grace through faith and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
  • Priesthood of all true believers – Jesus is the only true mediator or priest between us and God the Father.

Zwingli's Students Disappointed with Him

But some of Zwingli’s students, Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, and others thought that Zwingli wasn’t going far enough–especially since he still insisted that infants must be baptized for their salvation. And, Zwingli still believed that the State (ruling government) should control churches and force them to attend the official State Church. Grebel, Manz, and others in this group of young bright Greek and Hebrew scholars also opposed such things as the Catholic doctrine of mass, the sale of indulgences, celibacy of priests, the doctrine of purgatory, and images in the church building which Zwingli wasn’t willing to give up because of political pressures from the City Council of Zurich.

Conrad Grebel - son of a Zürich City Councilman
Feliz Manz - illegitimate son of a Catholic priest
George Blaurock - former Catholic priest

By January 1525, a former Catholic priest Jörg Cajakob (who became known as George Blaurock) had joined Grebel and Manz in Zürich.  Blaurock came from his home canton in southeastern Switzerland, and took up their cause with great, and even sometimes reckless, zeal.

These gifted young intellectuals were attracted to Zwingli and his study of the Greek New Testament, Greek being the original language in which the New Testament was written. 

By 1522 these young men had become zealous for reforming the Catholic Church, just as much as Zwingli was, but they desired to be more fully consistent with the teachings of the New Testament. 

In October of 1523, in the second of two disputations in Zürich between leaders of the reformed movement and the Roman church, Zwingli chose to leave it up to the city magistrates of Zürich to decide when to discontinue the Roman practice of mass, in favor of a simple memorial of death of Jesus.  Grebel, Manz, and others from Zwingli’s group of New Testament students were greatly disappointed—even outraged—that Zwingli appealed to the authority of the Council rather than obeying the authority of Scripture.  

Zwingli’s attempts to calm his former disciples failed and a disputation was scheduled for Zürich in January 1525 to try to settle the differences between Zwingli and Grebel, Manz, and their friends.  The Council proclaimed Zwingli to be the winner of the dispute and gave the young radicals three options: 1. conform, 2. leave Zürich, or 3. face imprisonment.

Then on the night of January 21, 1525 these young radicals took a very radical step in extending the reformation to its next level of consistency with the New Testament.  In a prayer meeting involving 15 men in the home of Felix Manz’s mother in the city of Zürich, George Blaurock

…stood up and besought Conrad Grebel for God’s sake to baptize him with the true Christian baptism upon his faith and knowledge.  And when he knelt down with such a request and desire, Conrad baptized him, since at that time there was no ordained minister to perform such a work.


After his baptism at the hands of Grebel, Blaurock proceeded to baptize all the others present.  The newly baptized then pledged themselves as true disciples of Christ to live lives separated from the world and to teach the gospel and hold the faith.[i]

From this time forward, adult baptism based upon a confession of faith in Jesus Christ became the central tenet of faith for the people known as Anabaptists (re-baptizers).  When these Anabaptists began to baptize other adult believers in the villages of Zürich and refuse to have their own children baptized as infants, Zwingli and the Zürich Council responded with harsh persecution.  To the Catholic Church and the Zwinglians, failure to baptize an infant was a serious offense because the salvation of the infant’s soul depended on it, in their thinking.  Also, refusal to do so was civil disobedience—rebellion against the State.  
[i] William R. Estep, The Anabaptist Story (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), 14.

The names “Swiss Brethren,” “Anabaptists,” and “Mennonites” are all used interchangeably in many articles and books dealing with the history of this group of religious non-conformists.  But, technically speaking while the three names all refer to the same religious sect, each name had a distinct origin.  Generally, today we refer to them as Mennonites.  

Anabaptists in Richterswil and Wädenswil​

Apparently, Richterswil and Wädenswil became a hotbed of Anabaptism sometime early in the movement.  Ten years after Blaurock baptized Grebel and the movement was launched, “a Zürich report in 1535 observed that Anabaptists were increasing in numbers and preaching at ‘Wädenswil and all along the lake.'”[i]  The area south of Lake Zürich became known as “The Mennonite Cradle in Zürich.”  
[i] Harold S. Bender, “Zürich (Switzerland).”

We do know that the Hiestand clan was one of the largest and more prominent families in Richterswil[i] and probably also in Wädenswil, but we do not know for sure how much they were affected in the 1500s by the Anabaptist contagion.  But, during the 1600s Hiestands definitely became an integral part of the Anabaptist movement.

[i] J. Ross Baughman, Apart from the World, 45.

300 Years of Persecution Begins

Unfortunately for the early Swiss Brethren, Conrad Grebel, often called the “Father of the Anabaptists,” died of the plague at the age of 28, within 20 months following the origin of the movement.  Felix Manz became the first martyr for the Anabaptist cause.  Because he was a citizen of Zürich, Manz was executed by drowning on January 5, 1527 in icy waters of the Limmat River in the city of Zürich.  To the Swiss authorities, execution by drowning was the “third baptism”—a mockery of Anabaptists’ re-baptisms. 

Martyrdom of Felix Manz

The people of Zurich crowded along both sides of the Limmat to follow the macabre scene playing out in the middle of the river. Felix Manz, his hands and feet bound, crouched down on the deck of the fisherman’s cottage and sang a full-throated rendition of the psalm “Into thine hand I commit my spirit.”

Regula Bochsler,

On the same day Manz was martyred, Blaurock who was not a Zürich citizen, was mercilessly beaten in Zürich and expelled from that city and canton.  On September 6, 1529, Blaurock was burned at the stake in what is now northern Italy.  Many other Anabaptists suffered horrendous physical torture, suffered long or died in prisons, were executed, or were forced to abandon their property and be exiled from their Swiss homeland.  That was just the beginning—the beginning of nearly 300 years of persecutions for Anabaptists in Switzerland.

The deaths and exiles of its early leaders certainly subdued the Anabaptist movement, especially in the city of Zürich, but the flame was not extinguished.  The fires of Anabaptism spread from Zürich to other cantons of Switzerland, such as Bern, as well as other parts of Europe.  And although the fire smoldered in the city of Zürich, it began to ignite in many of the villages within Canton Zürich, especially on the northeast of Lake Zürich around Grebel’s boyhood home, Grüningen, where he evangelized house-to-house for four months while avoiding the city of Zürich.[i]  “By 1727 there were thirty-eight congregations in the canton of Zürich alone.”[ii]

[i] William R. Estep, The Anabaptist Story, 39.

[ii] C. Henry Smith, The Mennonite Immigration to Pennsylvania. (Norristown, PA: Norristown Press, 1929), 14.

In the next article, we will see that eventually (almost) all Anabaptists were forced to flee Switzerland.  Some (but not all) Hiestand families were among the refugees who left all to follow Jesus according to their Christian convictions.

The Anabaptists

02 – Hastons Rooted in Switzerland

Our Haston Roots are in Switzerland

For many years, even the most diligent researchers in the extended Daniel Haston family would hit the so-called genealogical “brick wall” with appearances of Daniel in western North Carolina, prior to the formation of the state of Tennessee.  They could establish their family connections back to Daniel, but could not document a connection from him to the family he came from.  Nor could they prove his European ethnicity.  As we saw in the previous chapter, there were many attempts to leap over that brick wall based on family folklore.  Some of those leaps landed in England, some in Scotland or Ireland, some in Holland, and some in Germany.  Obviously, most of those leaps were blind and they landed in the wrong countries.  There is no doubt now–our Haston roots were deeply planted in Swiss soil.

Canton Zurich

The earliest documented evidence, available now, for the whereabouts of any of our Hiestand ancestors is a 1401 tax record in Zürich Switzerland.  So, we can say with confidence that the Hiestand family roots can be traced back to Switzerland, specifically Canton Zürich in Switzerland.  In case you are wondering, a canton is a territorial district of Switzerland, much like a state in the United States.  

The Swiss element among the Pennsylvania Germans is the largest of the ethnic components of the population.  It is particularly strong in Lancaster, Lebanon, and other counties where there are Mennonite and Amish settlements.  These descendants of the Swiss Anabaptists have given their character from Canton Bern are Stauffer, Schenk, Longenecker, Forney [Fahrni], Eby, [Aebi]; from Canton Zürich, Landis, Nissley [Nussli], Denlinger [Dandliker], Hiestand, and others.[i]

[i] Don Yoder, “Problems and Resources in Pennsylvania German Genealogical Research,” in Pennsylvania German Roots Across the Ocean, ed. Marion Egge (Philadelphia: Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, 2000), 9.

Wädenswil and Richterswil

The early Hiestand family was primarily, if not exclusively, a Canton Zürich family, concentrated in and around Wädenswil (pronounced “vey’-denz-veel) and Richterswil (pronounced  “RRrrihcht’-urz-veel”, with a rolled-R at the beginning), including the village and district of Horgen–on the southern shore of Lake Zürich about 10 miles east of the city of Zürich. 

According to one source, “Hiestand” (Hier Stehel) probably means “Stand here!”[i]  The origin of the Hiestand surname may be related to a significant event in the family’s experience.  We cannot be sure, but perhaps our ancestors were granted rights to a certain plot of land and were told to stand there—that was their land.  Or maybe they were just stubborn people who were known for taking a stand.  We do know from history of the Wädenswil-Richterswil area that the people there were known for being fiercely independent.  But maybe “Stand here!” was assigned because of another marker event in the history of our Swiss family, an event that eludes our knowledge of the facts or even our imagination. 

[i] Tobler-Meyer, Deutsche Familiennamen. (Zürich: Albert Muller’s Yerlag, 1894), 175.


According to the History of Wädenswil, written by Johann Heinrich Kagi and published in 1867, the village was nearly 1000 years old at the time of his writing.[i] 

But while the actual village of Wädenswil may have started at about the time Kagi mentioned, in his book Apart from this World, J. Ross Baughman describes multiple civilizations at the Wädenswil site, going back centuries into pre-historic eras.[ii]  Apparently, it was an attractive home site for the earliest pre-historic inhabitants who lived along the shore of Lake Zürich. 

[i] Johann Heinrich Kagi, History of Wädenswil (1867): cited in Oscar Kuhnz, “The Homeland of the First Settlers in Lancaster County,” (Lancaster, PA: Papers Read Before the Lancaster County Historical Society, XXI, no. 2, February, 1917): 24.

[ii] J. Ross Baughman, Apart from this World. (Edinburgh, VA: Shenandoah History Publishers, 1997), 5-9.

In the final centuries of the Middle Ages, Wädenswil became known for the Catholic Order of St. John and the “old” Wädenswil Castle, the ruins of which currently exist within the municipality of nearby Richterswil. 


One mile southeast of Wädenswil, along the shore, is Richterswil. 

Johann Georg Ritter von Zimmermann was an 18th Century Swiss-born philosopher, naturalist, and physician whose books made a great impact throughout Europe.  

His book Solitude was translated into almost European language and had great impact on European thought.  His visit to Richterswil in 1775, made a deep impression on him.  And it gives us a vivid mental picture of the village where some of our Swiss ancestors lived.

At the village of Richterswil, a few leagues from Zürich, in a situation still more delicious and serene…surrounded by every object the most smiling, beautiful, and sublime that Switzerland presents…. 

The village is situated on the borders of the Lake, at a place where two projecting points of land form a natural bay of nearly half a league.

The mountains extend themselves from the south to the west: the village of Richterswil, is situated at their feet upon the banks of the lake: deep forests of firs cover the summit, and the middle is filled with fruit trees, interspersed with rich fallows and fertile pasture, among which, at certain distances, a few houses are scattered.  The village itself is neat, the streets are paved, and the houses, built of stone, are painted on the outside.  Around the village are walks formed on the banks of the lake, or cut through shady forests to the hills; and on every side scenes, beautiful or sublime, strike they the eye while they ravish the heart of the admiring traveler. 

Every acre of this charming country is in the highest degree of cultivation and improvement.  No part of it has suffered to lie untilled; every hand is at work; and men, women, and children, from infancy to age, are all usefully employed.[i]


[i] M. Zimmermann, Solitude: Considered, With Respect to its Influence Upon the Mind and the Heart. (1825; reprinted,, 2015), 234-236.

The People of Wädenswil and Richterswil

The people of Richterswil and Wädenswil established quite a reputation for revolting against civic and religious authorities they deemed to be unjust.  In the following chapter, we will learn that the so-called “Radical Reformation,” the Anabaptist revolt against Ulrich Zwingli and the Swiss Reformed Church.  This religious revolt became deeply entrenched in Richterswil, Wädenswil, and surrounding villages, soon after the movement’s 1525 beginning.  But I will hold that story for the next chapter.

Life was hard in old-time Wädenswil and Richterswil, Switzerland!  Near-perpetual warfare, epidemics such as the Black Plague that wiped out a sizeable percentage of Europe’s population, extreme winters and famines, oppression of peasants by ruling authorities, and the unmerciful acts of religious persecution that we will see in the following chapter.  How is it that any of our ancestors survived?  As descendants of some of these Swiss villagers, we are fortunate to be alive.  Think of this: If just one of our direct-descent ancestors had died before our next generation ancestor had been born, we would never have been born.  Now, what are the odds that we are here?  Hmmm…

Flight over Richterswil at Sunrise

01 – In Search of Our European Roots

01 - In Search of Our European Roots

It looks like a hopeless task to trace back the family of Daniel, but let’s keep stumbling in the dark until we find something.

Col. Howard H. Hasting, Sr. (1979)

The desire of Daniel Haston’s descendants to know our European ethnicity did not begin with the genealogical interest that surged in the final decade of the 20th century, due to the availability of personal computers and internet access to repositories of family records and historical documents.  Research files and notes from Haston family researchers in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s reveal that their major quest was to know the European origin of Daniel Haston’s ancestors.

Who and what are we–English, Dutch from Holland, Irish, Scots, Scots-Irish, Germans, Swiss, SWISS-Germans?

Opinions about our ethnicity have varied greatly and sometimes been held tenaciously.  “My granddaddy told me…” oral histories within the various sub-branches of the Daniel Haston family have often become accepted as true, even without supporting historical evidence.  Even some of Daniel’s grandchildren, two or three generations removed from Daniel, varied in their opinions.  Surely, Daniel’s own children would have known their roots–especially the older ones, such as David and Joseph.  But apparently, there was not much interest in communicating and perpetuating knowledge of their family’s history from generation to generation.

So, descendants of Daniel Haston have – for many years – had different theories regarding our European roots. Some have claimed English roots; some Scots or Irish or Scots-Irish, some Hollander Dutch; others German or Swiss or SWISS-German (born in Switzerland but lived in Germany before coming to America). 


Some descendants of Daniel Haston have believed that Daniel and/or his ancestors were from England.  Sometimes, adherents of this English theory attempted to tie him to one of the English “Hastings” families that immigrated to America in the 1600s or 1700s and settled in Watertown, MA or Amelia County, VA or the Orange County area of NC.  Some were even so strongly convinced of English roots, they adopted and adhered to the “Hasting” or “Hastings” spelling of the surname.  But none of these claims cited solid documentation or other kinds of plausible evidence to support a connection to either of the English Hastings families in America or any other proof of English ancestry for Daniel Haston.


Those of us who bear the “Haston” surname, know the tendency for others to look right at “Haston” and pronounce it “Hastings” or to hear us clearly introduce our self as “Haston” and yet respond, “Hello, Mr. Hastings.”  That is probably due to the fact that the name Hasting or Hastings is much more common than our H-A-S-T-O-N surname. 


The “Haston” surname is known to be native to Scotland, leading some descendants of Daniel Haston to assume that we are Scots or Scots-Irish (also known as Ulster Scots).  For example, the late Dougal Haston of mountain climbing fame in the Alps and on Mount Everest, was born in Scotland.[i]  And to this day, the Haston name still exists in Scotland. 

[i] Dougal Haston, In High Places. (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2003).

Apparently, based only on the similarity of the surnames, many earlier Haston family researchers concluded, without any connecting documentation or other hard evidence, that Daniel Haston descended from John Haston of Edinburgh, Scotland, through his son Thomas Haston who married Polly Stacy, and through their son William Haston who married Allison Montgomery in 1735 in Amelia County, VA.  Thus, Daniel (according to these assumptions) was of Scottish descent.  Unfortunately, that view has continued to circulate, even though it is totally unsubstantiated. 


It might make sense to assume that Daniel Haston’s family was rooted in Scotland, IF we were not aware that Daniel’s real/original surname was not “Haston”


As a boy, growing up in White County, Tennessee (just a few miles from where Daniel Haston’s family settled very early in the 1800s), my mother told me that my paternal ancestors were Dutch.  I suppose she thought the same thing that I thought—that my Dad’s forefathers came from the Netherlands.  But when I began to research my Haston family’s roots I soon learned that “Dutch” does not necessarily mean Hollanders.  In 1995, soon after I moved to York County, Pennsylvania (immediately west of the Susquehanna River and “Amish and Mennonite County” in Lancaster County), I learned that “Dutch” is an Anglicization of “Deutsch,” which means “German” or German speakers.

Pleasant Austin – Grandson of Daniel Haston
A biographical sketch of Daniel’s grandson, Pleasant Austin (son of John Austin, Sr. and Catherine Haston Austin) says that his mother (Catherine) was thought to have been of Dutch descent.  Pleasant Austin was born on September 8, 1820, which was six years prior to Daniel’s death.  The Austins lived in the Lost Creek community, which is a north-eastern extension of the Hickory Valley community in White County.  Daniel’s home place was only about ten miles (down by the White’s Cave and through Big Bottom and around to Cummingsville) from where young Pleasant Austin lived.  So Pleasant Austin grew up close enough to his grandfather that he would have known him personally, and at the age six, should have had memories of interacting with Daniel.[i]


[i] Goodspeed, White County History of Tennessee. (1887; reprinted, Signal Mountain, TN: Mountain Press, 1990), 17.  This work was originally published about 13 years before Pleasant Austin died.  Pleasant Austin was 67 years old at the time of its publication.

William Carroll Haston, Sr. – Grandson of Daniel Haston
The classic “Dutch descent” quote, referring to Daniel Haston, is attributed to William Carroll Haston, Sr.  In a biographical sketch of William Carroll Haston, published in A Memorial and Biographical Record of the Cumberland Region (published in 1898), it is said of William Carroll Haston that: 


He was born here, March 2, 1829, and on the paternal side is of Dutch descent, his grandfather, Daniel Hastons [sic], being scarcely able to speak English.  At an early date, he [i.e. Daniel] came to Tennessee, locating in Van Buren County, near the spring now known as Haston’s Big Spring, where he purchased the land now owned by our subject.[i]  


[i] George A. Ogle, A Memorial and Biographical Record of the Cumberland Region. (1898; reprinted, Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1995), 272. 


William Carroll Haston, Sr. was the grandson of Daniel through David, as was Pleasant Austin, through Catherine.  The descendants closest to Daniel, to whom published statements exist regarding their ancestry, both point to a “Dutch” descent.   


"All evidence indicates that the statement as to the nationality of Daniel (in the William Carroll Haston bio) is correct, notwithstanding contrary statements by others.  This may account for the various spellings of the name--an effort to spell a Dutch name in English."

Col. Howard H. Hasting, Sr.

DNA Settles It

When I began researching my Haston family in 1999, I determined to remain neutral regarding the European roots of Daniel Haston until I, or someone else, found adequate proof to declare with certainty where our Haston forefathers came from in Europe.  Other than hearsay-based statements or circumstantial evidence, no evidence emerged to support the English or Scots/Irish/Scots-Irish views.  But evidence, even strong evidence, did gradually accumulate from my research to indicate that our Daniel Haston was, Daniel Hiestand, the son of the SWISS-German Henrich Hiestand. 


When, in October 2008, I received my paternal lineage DNA results, my DNA matched perfectly (on all 43 points!) the DNA of a Hiestand who is known to be a descendant of Henrich Hiestand through Henrich’s oldest son, Jacob.  Since that time, male descendants of all known sons of Daniel Haston who have living male-line descendants (David, Joseph, Isaac, Jesse, Jeremiah) have submitted DNA and the results have all been the same—perfect matches with this known descendant of Henrich Hiestand.  And, also since the earliest known match, our DNA has matched other known SWISS-German Hiestand men.

This DNA comparison chart was created a few years after DNA testing started to become popular for genealogical purposes.

The DNA (Y-DNA) of the six men at the top of the chart matched perfectly (43 of 43 markers).  The chart at the bottom of the image was from a different DNA company, but the DNA of this man perfectly (34 of 34 markers) with my DNA (Donald Wayne Haston).

Kent Douglas Hiestand is a known descendant of Henrich Hiestand, through Henrich’s oldest son Jacob.  Jacob Hiestand was the oldest brother of our Daniel Hiestand/Haston.

  • Donald Wayne Haston descended from Daniel Haston through Daniel’s son David.
  • Dwight E. Haston descended from Daniel Haston through Daniel’s son Joseph.
  • Frank Edward Hastings descended from Daniel Haston through Daniel’s son Isaac.
  • Nathan Heath Haston descended from Daniel Haston through Daniel’s son Jeremiah.
  • John Haston (man on the bottom chart) descended from Daniel Haston through Daniel’s son Jesse.
Who is Harry Hillman Hastain?  I think he is probably a descendant of one of David Haston’s sons who moved to Missouri–probably Daniel McComiskey Haston or David Maclin Haston.

The “Most Recent Common Ancestor” (MRCA) of these five men was our Daniel Hiestand/Haston.  But the MRCA they share with Kent Douglas Hiestand goes all the way back to Daniel and Jacob Hiestand’s father, Henrich Hiestand–and yet they are still a perfect Y-DNA match!  And we know that Henrich Hiestand, who lived and died in what is now Page County, VA, was from a Swiss Mennonite family that was forced to flee Switzerland and settle on the Rhineland of what is now SW Germany.  More about that later.

For the Swiss Anabaptist refugees who eventually ended up in America, their abode in Germany was short-lived, one or two or three generations in most cases.  They were really Swiss and not German—Swiss who were forced to emigrate from Switzerland and settled in Germany.  Therefore, I refer to them as SWISS-German.  

Wayne Haston

Book Project – Heritage of Daniel Haston

Book Progress Update - December 2020

1,029 Pages and 26 Chapters - December 2020

The work on this book actually began in the fall of 1999, when I started interacting with other people who were researching our Haston family history, visiting libraries, reading books, organizing a filing system, and developing

When I officially retired in 2017, the writing began.  I estimated that it would take five years to create the draft.  Here we are over three years later.

What's the Current Status?

At the end of 2019, I had completed 15 chapters covering 536 pages–those are only draft copies, not final.


This year I almost equaled what I accomplished in the first two-plus years–493 pages in 16 draft chapters!

This Time Last Year - Dec. 2019

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic for keeping me shut in.  Thanks for cancer in mid-year to remind me that life is uncertain and I have no idea how long I will have to finish this project.  And thanks to a supportive wife who believes in what I’m doing.

When Will the Book Be Published?

I hope to complete the full draft by mid-2021, a year earlier than I anticipated.

But each chapter needs some “cleaning up” and there are some holes yet to be filled in the text, requiring additional research.  As those developments occur, I’ll be handing the text off to a professional designer which will require “who knows how much time?” 


The "Reader's Digest" Version

I’m wise enough to know that only the die-hard genealogists and family history nuts (like me) are going to read 1,000 plus pages.  That’s unfortunate because I know how much “good stuff” is there to be read–especially by Daniel Hiestand/Haston descendants.


So, my plan is–Lord willing–to print a limited number of the full book (probably requiring two volumes).  I want to get it into as many libraries as possible–especially libraries where I know there are concentrations of our family members.  And I plan to print the full book for anyone who expresses an interest in purchasing it.


But if the Lord gives me good health and a clear mind, I plan to create a smaller version of the book, perhaps 200-250 or so pages.  Obviously, it will be an overview book and will not contain the many hundreds of footnotes in the full book.  I hope to write it in a simple, readable, narrative format as much as possible That version will probably be published before the full volume(s).  


Contents of the Book

The Heritage of Daniel Haston
Son of SWISS-German Mennonite Immigrant Henrich Hiestand


Four Units – 30 Chapters

Unit 1 – Roots

  1. Early Theories about Daniel’s European Roots
  2. Hiestands in Switzerland
  3. Anabaptists (Mennonites)
  4. Refugees to the Palatinate in Southwest Germany
  5. Village of Ibersheim (Near Worms, Germany)
  6. Emigration to America

Unit 2 – Henrich Hiestand and Family

  1. Henrich Hiestand in Pennsylvania (East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County)
  2. Henrich Hiestand Family in Virginia (what is now, Page County, VA)

Unit 3 – Daniel and Abraham

  1. Daniel Hiestand/Haston in Virginia
  2. Revolutionary War – Was Daniel a Rev War Veteran or Not?
  3. Early North Carolina Connections
  4. Hiestand Families in Early East Tennessee
  5. Hiestand Families in Early Kentucky
  6. Daniel Haston Family in Knox County, Tennessee
  7. McComesky-Roddy-Ryan-Haston Connections
  8. Daniel Haston in White County, Tennessee

Unit 4 – Daniel’s Children

  1. David – White County
  2. David – Van Buren County
  3. Montgomery Greenville Haston
  4. Joseph
  5. Lucinda – Wife of Jacob Mitchell
  6. Catherine – Wife of John Austin
  7. Isaac – Tennessee
  8. Isaac – Missouri
  9. Isaac – California
  10. Jesse
  11. Jeremiah MC
  12. Daniel, Jr.
  13. Elizabeth – Wife of James Roddy
  14. Mary-Polly & Peggy – Daniel’s Daughters?

Hastons – A Family of Pioneers

Hastons - A Family of Pioneers

Daniel Haston and his family were American pioneers, in the truest sense of the word. And we can’t begin to imagine how tough it was to be a pioneer in the wild wilderness of western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and the Caney Fork River valley in the decades just before and after 1800.


Daniel’s Hiestand (Henry Hiestand) family was among the earliest European settlers in the Shenandoah Valley of northern Virginia. And, like his father, Daniel was driven by a pioneer spirit.  He settled his young family in the part of western North Carolina that became Tennessee, more than a decade before the Volunteer State was born.  


Daniel moved his family to the outskirts of the little village of Knoxville when there were only a few houses and stores there.  The little town that grew up around General James White’s Fort was a “Dodge City” kind of settlement–with a jail but no church building in its earliest years.  Daniel’s family was living “south of the Holston (River), opposite Knoxville” when Tennessee became the 16th state in the USA on June 1, 1796.  The Daniel Haston family was truly one of the “first families of Tennessee.”

Join First Families of Tennessee

If you can trace your lineage back to our Daniel Haston who was living in “Tennessee” before it became Tennessee, and prove it with documentation, you qualify to join the First Families of Tennessee.

Hearing talk around Knoxville of a future treaty with the Cherokee Indians that would cede what we know as Middle Tennessee to the State of Tennessee, Daniel knew he had to make his move to get decent land in the Wilderness west of the Cumberland Plateau before greedy land speculators gobbled up all of the prime land.  So even before the Treaty of Tellico was signed, he and his family were squatters at the head of the Big Spring Branch of Cane Creek a few hundred yards before the creek emptied into the Caney Fork River of the trans-Cumberland Plateau wilderness.  


When the land became available for purchase, Daniel and some of his family and friends who moved with him were able to make preemption claims, based on occupant rights.  When a petition was circulated in the summer of 1806 to create White County, TN–Daniel’s name was added to that petition, as well as three others in his Big Spring Branch settlement of family and friends.  They were founders of White County, TN and some of them became founders of Van Buren County, TN in 1840.  

Join First Families of White County

If you can document your genealogical connection to Daniel Haston of White County, TN, you can join the First Families of White County, TN.

Some of Daniel’s children and grandchildren later followed their own pioneering dreams and moved west in pursuit of land, more land, good land, good land-cheap.  In many cases, wherever they went many of them were some of the first white settlers–in Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, California, Washington state, and elsewhere.

Tragic Death of Wm Carroll Haston, Jr.

A Step in the Dark Hurled Mr. Haston into Eternity

William Carroll Haston, Jr. was a great-grandson of Daniel Haston.   His father was William Carroll Haston, Sr. – youngest son of David Haston, Daniel’s oldest son.


William Carroll Haston, Jr. is buried in the Old Union Cemetery in White County, Tennessee.

Share this post.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print