156 year-old Sampler Surfaces and Escapes Auction Oblivion

Co-authored by Donna Schrock Birkey and Donald D. Kauffman
Originally published in the Fall 2003 issue (Vol. XXX, No. 3)
Illinois Mennonite Heritage Quarterly (http://www.imhgs.org)

(Used with permission of original publisher)

1. Introduction, description, present owner

Barbara Birki Sampler

Barbara Birki Sampler

A 10″ x 10″ unframed piece of embroidered linen fabric almost disappeared into “auction oblivion” recently in Pennsylvania. After being taken from Illinois to Pennsylvania sometime during the last six or seven years and languishing in a drawer until the end of 2002, this unique piece of cloth was prepared for auction by Priscilla and Katie, daughters of Ronald and Martha Stalter. Attending the auction was Cindy Grill, whose son, Josh, was to be married to Jessica Mendez, granddaughter of Ronald and Martha. Cindy is a collector of textiles and the cloth immediately caught her attention. It was a sampler with the name Barbara Birki and the year 1847 embroidered in colorful threads. She asked the Stalter family about the sampler and was told they didn’t know anything, except there were Birkys on Ron’s side of the family, so it must have come from them. It was in his lot when the belongings of his parents, Lee and Ruth Stalter, were divided among their children. Lee and Ruth had lived in Illinois, Cindy was told.

Once the sampler was rescued from the auction block, and since it was customary for needle workers to embroider their own name and the date on their samplers, Cindy naturally wanted to know more about Barbara Birki. She found no such name in Pennsylvania, but eventually came across the name on Canadian Don Kauffman’s Stalter website, and found it did have an Illinois connection. Don referred Cindy to Donna Birkey in Illinois, who had supplied him with information about his great-great grandmother, Barbara Birki. Barbara is a sister to two of Donna’s direct ancestors. Now there were two more people excited about the “found and rescued” sampler.

Barbara’s story begins with her father Christian Birki (Birky) of Kirshstackach, Bavaria, born in 1788, and buried in Tazewell Co., IL, with his second wife. He was of the ‘Big’ Birky family (in Illinois called the Sutter Birkys), and lived first in Odenstockah, then moved to Neukirchstock, near Munich, Germany. Barbara’s mother, Christian’s first wife, died leaving him with nine children. Since he had been thinking about immigrating, Christian advertised for a wife willing to be a mother to nine children and go with them to America. Elizabeth Stalter, daughter of Heinrich and Jacobine Stalter, accepted the challenge.

According to Hermann Guth’s research, at 62 years of age Christian applied to immigrate to Illinois on 13 Mar 1851, with his second wife Elizabeth Stalter, age 37. He had 10,000 fl of assets and his wife had an additional 2,225 fl. This was much more than most immigrants had. Traveling with them were Andreas 29, Anna 28, Elizabeth 23, Katharina 17, Veronika 15, born to his first wife, and, Jakobine 5, Heinrich 4, Jakob 3, and Helena 6 mo. born to his second wife. Christian noted to authorities that several older children were already in America.

At the time of his immigration Christian’s daughter, Barbara, was already in America. In 1849 Christian had given approval for Barbara to travel with his brother, Valentine. Guth tells us the immigration document reveals the following information: Barbara Birki, from Kirchstockach (unmarried, but with a child, Jacob, whose father was named as Thomas Luiderer from Putzbrunn) applied on 29 Feb 1849 for permission to immigrate to Illinois. Her father had given approval because she was to travel with his brother, Valentine Birki from Gern, who was the child’s guardian. The document indicated that three brothers/sisters were already in America. Barbara and her Uncle Valentine planned to travel via Mannheim-Le Havre-New York with ship agent Karl Dick from Augsburg. However, it was the ship list of the Minnesota, sailing from Liverpool, England to New York in 1849 that included Valentine Birki (b.1794), niece Barbara and her illegitimate son (we suppose the sampler she had stitched in 1847 was tucked into her trunk), Valentine’s daughter, Mary Burkey Birky (b.1833); and Daniel Zehr.

Since Barbara came to America with her Uncle Valentine and was listed as unmarried, it could be assumed that her marriage to Jacob Stalter took place after arriving in America and that her son Jacob took the Stalter name. However, this conflicts with Stalter information given to Don Kauffman, which claims they were married in Germany before coming to America. Jacob’s obituary gives their marriage date as 30 April 1849, as does a notation in his family Bible. However, Jacob is not listed as a passenger on the Minnesota arriving 21 June 1849. No doubt these incongruities will remain until the marriage document is found, either in Germany or the U.S. Sometime after their arrival in America Barbara and Jacob settled and lived in Livingston Co., IL. Jacob is buried in Waldo Cemetery and Barbara in Hopedale Cemetery. They had twelve children, one being Christian (1868-1953), the father of Levi (Lee) and grandfather of Ronald, who took the sampler to his home in Pennsylvania. This offers fairly substantial proof that the sampler was indeed stitched by Barbara Birki who married Jacob Stalter.

After 156 years, from Bavaria to Illinois to Pennsylvania, Barbara’s sampler will find a new home with Jessica and Josh Grill. Others of us (and there are many in Illinois, and in Alberta, Canada) who have a connection to the sampler will enjoy knowing that it is safe in family hands after evading “auction oblivion.”

2. Authentication of Sampler–Three Stalter Families

a. The Jacob and Barbara (Birki) Stalter Family – Ownership of the sampler must have passed from Barbara to her youngest son Christian – in Illinois:
Jacob N. Stalter b. 12 Sep 1823, born in Germany, oldest child of Jacob and Katherine Stalter–perhaps at Hemerton in Bavaria since his next sibling, Catherine, was born there; d. 8 Jun 1898 Livingston Co., IL. of palsey; buried Waldo Cemetery, Flanagan, IL.; He was a member of the Amish Church and stood in high esteem. Those speaking at his funeral were Christian Zimmerman, Stephen Stahly, Chr. Zimmerman, John P. Schmitt and Joseph Kinsinger. Father: Jakob Stalter (1798-1864); Mother: Katherine (1800-1847) Marriage: 30 Apr 1849, Germany; m. Barbara Birky b. 1824 Germany d. 31 Mar 1885, IL. Buried, Hopedale Cemetery, Hopedale, IL. Father: Christian Birki (1788-1866) Mother: Unknown.

1 M: Jacob b. Germany; m. Minnie Gingerich
2 F: Mary b. 22 Jul 1850, Tazewell Co., IL.; d. 11 Dec 1917 Gridley, IL; m. Joseph Stalter, m.5 Mar 1871
3 F: Elizabeth b. 13 Aug 1853, Tazewell Co., IL., d. 9 Jun 1916;m. Valentine Augstin, m. 24 Feb 1874
4 F: Kathrine b. 20 Mar 1855 Tazewell Co., IL.; d. 20 Dec 1918 Pontiac, IL.; m. Daniel Stalter, m. 2 Mar 1873 Nebraska Twsp., Livingston Co., IL.
5 F: Barbara b. 2 Feb 1857 Tremont, IL., d. 12 Mar 1947 Toluca, IL.; m. Christian Roggy, m. 23 Feb 1880
6 F: Fannie b. 17 Apr 1858, Morton, IL. d. 25 Mar 1943, Hopedale, IL.;m. Christian N Sutter, m. 28 Feb 1876
7 M: Joseph b. 7 Feb 1861, d. bef 1885; m. Ethyl Fosdick
8 M: Andrew b. 17 Dec 1865, d. bef 1885; m. Martha
9 M: Christian B. b. 14 Aug 1868, Tazewell Co., IL, d. 8 Feb 1953, Meadows, IL., m. Magdalena Birky, m. 20 Feb 1896, Pekin, IL.

b. The Christian B. Stalter Family – Ownership of the sampler must have passed from Christian B. to his youngest son Levi (Lee) – in Illinois:
Christian B Stalter; Father: Jacob N. Stalter (1823-1898) Mother: Barbara Birky (1824-1885); Marriage: 20 Feb 1896 Pekin, IL. Magdalena Birky b: 29 Nov 1871; d. 12 Jun 1948, Pontiac, IL.
1 M: Arthur J. Stalter
2 M: Ray Stalter
3 M: Lee Stalter b. 11 Dec 1902, Flanagan, IL; d. 24 Feb 1990 Eureka, IL; m. Ruth Neuhauser

c. The Levi (Lee) Stalter Family- Ownership of the sampler passed from Levi (Lee) to his oldest son Ronald – in Pennsylvania:
Levi Stalter; Father: Christian B. Stalter (1868-1953) Mother: Magdalena Birky (1871-1948) m. 29 Feb 1928, Ruth Neuhauser b. 17 Jan 1907 Eureka, IL. d. 7 May 1996 Eureka, IL.
1 M: Ronald Stalter, b. Illinois; spouse, Martha
2 M: James Stalter; spouse, Alta
3 M: John Stalter, b. 17 January 1943, Eureka, IL, d. 5 September 1987, Eureka, IL; spouse, Francis

The sampler sold at the auction of Ronald’s household effects in Pennsylvania in November 2002.

3. The Alberta, Canada Stalter Connection (Don Kauffman)

The Stalters of Alberta, Canada, descend from John Stalter (1812-1897) and Jacob Stalter (1823-1898). Family tradition said, in the past, that these two family heads were not related. But we now know that both John (1812) and Jacob (1823) were descendants of Johannes Stalter (c.1690) from the Zweibrücken region of western Germany.

a. About John Stalter (1812):
John Stalter immigrated to America in the mid-1850s and settled finally in Livingston Co., IL. He was b. 15 Sep 1812 Bavaria, Germany; d. 18 May 1897 Gridley, IL. m. Elizabeth Reidiger (she probably died before the family immigrated)
Children: (all born in Europe)
1 M: John b.1 Mar 1836
2 M: Jacob b.19 Jan 1838
3 M: Joseph b. 31 Mar 1840, m. Mary Stalter (daughter of Jacob Stalter)
4 F: Elizabeth b.15 Nov 1841
5 M: Daniel b. 14 Jul 1843, m. Kathrine Stalter (daughter of Jacob Stalter)
6 M: Christian
7 M: Jacob
8 F: Magdalena b. 31 Jul 1847
John outlived two other spouses: Jacobina Rediger, then Katherina Scherz.

b. About Daniel and Katie Stalter:
Daniel Stalter, s/o John (1812) Stalter (Don’s paternal Stalter line)
m. Katherine, d/o Jacob and Barbara (Birki) Stalter (Don’s maternal Stalter line). Daniel Stalter was instrumental in the beginning of Meadows Home, which was built on land he owned.
Daniel Stalter, b.14 Jul 1843, d. 2 Apr 1930 Flanagan, IL; m. Kathrine Stalter, b.20 Mar 1855, Tazewell Co., IL, d. 20 Dec 1918, Pontiac, IL.
1 M: Daniel D. b.17 Apr 1877; d. 12 Jan 1945; m. Lilly Alice Miller
2 M: Fannie (Twin)
3 F: Boy Infant (Twin)
4 M: John D. b. 7 Mar 1882; d. 6 Aug 1917 m. Ida Yoder
5 M: Simon D. b. 23 Apr 1884; d. 22 Nov 1970, Didsbury, Alberta, Canada, m (1) Emma Eda Stauffer, 5 Feb 1907, Milford, Nebraska; m (2) Lillian Hannah Sayer, 1 Nov 1960, Carstairs, Alberta, Canada
6 F: Mary b. 13 Aug 1886 d. 24 Mar 1908
7 F: Lydia b. 19 Jun 1889, d. 3 Nov 1919, IL. m. Debolt Reesor, 7 Dec 1910
8 F: Sarah b Feb 1891, d.5 Aug 1962 Lebanon, Oregon, m. Amos Roth
9 F: Lizzie
10__: infant

c. Daniel’s son Simon, of Chenoa, Illinois, married Emma Stauffer of Milford, Nebraska. They lived three years in Illinois and then moved to Alberta, Canada in November 1910. Simon and Emma returned to Illinois in 1923 and again lived near Chenoa for ten years, moving back to Alberta to stay in 1933.
Simon and Emma had nine children
1 F: Barbara Katie Stalter b. 7 Dec 1907 in Illinois, m. Menno Wideman
2 M: Chester Victor Stalter b. 2 Oct 1909 in Illinois, d. 11 Apr 1921 Tofield, Alberta, Canada, of diabetes (same year as insulin became available, but too late)
3 F: Lily Ellen Stalter b. 24 May 1911 in Alberta, d. 9 Oct 1975 in Alberta, m. Loyal Kauffman
4 M: Daniel Helmer Stalter b. 31 Mar 1913 in Alberta, d. 24 Apr 1994, in Ohio
5 M: Sterling Samuel Stalter b. 25 Feb 1915 in Alberta d. 2 Sep 1936 in Alberta of diphtheria
6 F: Viola Marie Stalter b. 28 Sep 1919 in Alberta, m.Harold Boettger
7 F: Clista Irene Stalter b. 2 May 1921 in Alberta, m. Norman L Weber
8 F: Alma Marcella Stalter b. 11 Feb 1925 in Illinois, m. Willard Burkholder
9 F: Doris Wilma Stalter b. 8 Dec 1926 in Illinois, m. Paul Burkholder
Their daughter Lily (Stalter) Kauffman is the mother of Don Kauffman. The
Stalter name “daughtered out” in Alberta with the death of Simon. (Five of Simon’s six daughters still live in Alberta.) Lily, if living, would also be very interested in the sampler so recently “discovered.”

4. The Illinois Connection (Donna Birkey)

Christian’s (1788) daughter Mary and son Andrew, siblings of Barbara, are both direct line ancestors of Donna Schrock Birkey.

a. About Mary Birky (1816)
Mary, Barbara’s sister, became the wife of Peter Yordy. She is the Maria Birky Yordy, of whom Myrna Slagell Park reports, “During pioneer days in Tazewell County, IL, Maria Birkey Yordy (1816-1903) cooked a mixture she called ‘pap’ given to sickly infants with feeding problems. This remedy supposedly saved some babies not expected to survive. The recipe was handed down within the family.”
Mary had a child, John, (by a first marriage) who came to America with his mother when he was seven years old. Peter Yordy evidently adopted John, as he used the Yordy name.
1M: John, b. 1838 France, d. 1906 Nebraska; m. Magdalena King
2M: Christian, b. 1848; m. Salome Slagel
3F: Mary, b. 1849, d. 1923; m. Daniel Orendorff
4F: Magdalene, b. 1851, d. 1854
5M: Jacob, b. 1853 Tazewell Co., IL, d. 1930 Flanagan, IL; m. Kathryn King
6F: Elizabeth, b. 1854, m. Christian Bachman
7M: Peter, b. 1856 Tazewell Co., IL, d. 1909 Woodford Co., IL
8F: Barbara, d. after 1930
9M: Joseph, b. 1857 Pekin, IL, d. 1925 Eureka, IL; m. Elizabeth Roeschley. Parents of Josephine Yordy who married Albert Schrock.

b. About Andrew Birkey (1830)
Andrew, Barbara’s brother, married Veronica Sutter, daughter of Johannes Sutter. Andrew and Veronica bought 80 acres of the Sutter land in Tazewell County in 1882 for $50 an acre. In 1891 they sold the land for $95 an acre and moved to Fisher. Andrew bought land in the same section where daughter Mary and her husband had purchased land and built a house. He donated one acre for cemetery purposes (the present East Bend Mennonite Cemetery) and it happened that he was the first to be buried there. Andrew was a devout Christian and a great disciplinarian according to his daughter Mary.
1F: Mary, b.1862 Morton, IL, d. 1954 Fisher, IL; m. John Schrock
2M: Andrew, b. 1864 IL, d. 1928 IL; m. Elisa Studer
3M: Peter, b. 1867, d. 1946; m. Sopia Knapp
4M: John, b. 1871; m. Stella May Covert
5M: Amos, b. 1880, d. 1914

b. About Mary Birky (1862)
Mary, a high spirited young lady, became the wife of quiet and reserved John Schrock. As an adult she never weighed 100 pounds at any time in her life, but she was a bundle of dynamite in her personality (see photo IMH Vol. XXIX, No. 4, Winter 2002). In many ways Mary was a very artistic and talented person, and had either a potion or a poultice for every ailment her grandchildren had. Mary and John had two children, Albert and Fannie, and were actively involved with the families of both, since Albert died young and Fannie was a busy pastor’s wife and mother of five children.
1M: Albert, b. 1886 Morton, IL, d. 1917 Fisher, IL; m. Josephine Yordy
2F: Fannie, b. 1889 Morton, IL, d. 1950 Fisher, IL; m. Joseph Heiser

The descending lines of Barbara’s siblings, Andrew and Mary, came together in Albert Schrock and Josephine Yordy, whose son, Orval, is the father of Donna Birkey.

5. Christian Birki’s immediate family

Barbara Birki’s father Christian was one of six children of Christian Birchi (born ca. 1760). (His brothers John and Andrew used the spelling Burkey in America.)
John, (b.1777) who once lived at Buscherhof, near to Lutterbacherhof in Alsace, emigrated in 1835. In America he lived with his wife in Putnam Co., IL, for some period of time with their five children. His wife is unknown, except that her first name was probably Solphonia. John died in Bureau Co., IL.
1M: Andrew, b. 1802 Wurthemberg, Germany, d. 1886 Milford, NE; m.
Magdalene Albrecht
2M: Christian (Jacob?)
3M: John, Jr., b 1812 Germany, d. 1890 Bureau Co., IL
4M: Joseph, b. 1816 Germany; d. 1887 Flanagan, IL; m. Anna
5F: Catherine, b. 1819 Germany, d. 1895; m. Peter Albrecht

Andrew, (b.1780) married an Ackerman, lived at one time at Lutterbacherhof, near Oermingen and Saar-Union in Alsace, France. The farm is secluded in the countryside. At many times Mennonite families lived on this farm–sometimes many families at once when persecution was heavy, according to Hermann Guth. Andrew and his family left Strasburg in 1837, boarded a sailing ship, and were on the ocean 51 days. The food and water were nearly exhausted when they finally landed in New York. They went overland to Butler Co., OH, and stayed for a while, then by covered wagon to Germantown, Woodford Co., IL, where they settled.
1M: John, b. 1804 France, d. 1863 Illinois; m. Magdalena Roggy
2F: Barbara, b. 1805
3F: Catherine, b. 1807 France
4M: Andrew, b. 1809, d. 1881; m. Barbara Oyer
5M: Joseph, b. 1811
6F: Marie b. 1813

Valentine, (b.1794), of the “Little Red” Birkys, married Elizabeth Unzicker. He lived in Gern, near Munich where his thirteen children were born. All of the children eventually immigrated to America. The year after his wife died, Valentine, with some of his family came to America. He died in Tazewell Co., IL, and is buried in Landis Cemetery.
1M: Jacob, b. 1813, d. 1887 Tazewell Co., IL; m. Veronica Gingerich
2M: Joseph, b. 1816, d. 1902 Milford, NE; m. Barbara Eigsti
3M: Christian, b. 1819, d. 1890 Milford, NE; m. Mary Stalter
4M: Valentine, b. 1821, d. 1901 Tiskilwa, IL; m. Elizabeth Springer
5M: Andrew, b. 1822, d.1892 Tazewell Co., IL; m. Catherine Litwiller
6F: Magdalena, b. 1824, d. 1897; m. Sinemaker
7F: Elisabeth, b. 1826, d. 1866 IL; m. Johannes Birky
8F: Catherine, b. 1829, d. 1870; m. Joseph Ropp
9M: Henry, b. 1831, d. 1918; m. Magdalena Eigsti
10F: Mary, b. 1833, d. 1908 Shickley, NE; m. Joseph Birky
11M: John, b. 1835, d. 1925; m. Jacobina Hochstettler
12F: Jacobene, b. 1838, d. 1914; m. Daniel Unzicker
13F: Barbara, b. 1840, d. 1934 US; m. Peter Hochstettler

Katherine, (b.1805) m. Jacob Roggy.
Mary, (nothing known about her).


U. S. Census records
Mennobits – http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~mennobit/
Hostetler, Eldon, “A Good Place to be From – the Milford (Nebraska) Mennonite Story” home published, 1997
Guth, Herman, “Amish Mennonites in Germany”, Masthof Press 1995
Guth, Herman, “The Kirschbacherhof Estate and the Stalters”, Mennonite Family History, Vol. 7, No. 3, July, 1988
Simon and Emma Stalter Family Bible, in possession of Doris Burkholder, Bluesky, Alberta
Kauffman, Donald, “Stalter Stories from Z to A (Zwiebrücken to Alberta)”, home published, 2002
“The Tofield Standard”, “The Tofield Mercury” – Tofield, Alberta, weekly newspapers 1907-1930
Taped Interview “Wilbert Stalter” in Meadows Nursing Home, Meadows, IL, 1978
Cemetery Records, Jeff Maurer, Sextant, Waldo Cemetery, IL, 1999
The Berkey Book, Rev. William Albert Berkey/Ruth Berkey Reichley, (Arlington, VA) 1984
Illinois Mennonite Heritage, Vol. XVII, No. 4, December 1990
The Past and Present of Woodford Co., Illinois (Chicago: W. LeBaron) 1878
Jacob Stalter Family Bible, in possession of Frances Stalter, Eureka, IL
Stalter family records kept by Remi Stalter, Germany
Schrock/Birky records in possession of Alta Heiser Detweiler
Schrock/Birky/Birkey/Yordy records in possession of Donna Schrock Birkey

Bio for Don Kauffman

Donald Kauffman, retired public school teacher and micro-computer consultant. Grew up near Tofield, Alberta, Canada; now lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Retirement projects include gardening and computers:
Webmaster and Manager of Mennobits Obituary Project (http://www.goshen.edu/mcarchives/MennObits/),
Webmaster for the Yoder Newsletter Archives Online (http://www.yodernewsletter.org/)
Kauffman family history online (“One Family/ Forefathers” – Kauffman, Yoder, Stalter, Stauffer)
http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~kauffman/ ). Stalter website – www.stalter.org
Family history email welcome – [email protected].


Sampler Photo- Priscilla Stalter Mendes

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