Alsace to America

When they arrived in Pennsylvania, they already had a place to go. Somehow, Hans Peter Sr. had arranged to buy 200 acres of land in Bethel Township, Lancaster County. Records show that he began payment March , 1740, almost a full year before they left for America. This brings new light to our previous notions of the first Wamplers.

First of all, they were not farmers, but linen weavers (leineweber- Swiss German ) – all of the men of the family stated this as their profession. Secondly, they were Lutheran or Reformed, not Brethren. The church to which they belonged was led by educated clergy, they were not pacifists, they supported public education and they certainly were not poor. Linen weavers were quite prosperous in the old country and were in great demand when they came to America. William Penn’s invitation was answered by several groups, for various reasons. Granddaddy Wampler believed that our ancestors came for religious reasons, that they had fled Germany because they were pacifist and didn’t want their sons in the German army. It was also his belief that they came to Pennsylvania to farm. While some of these reasons may have been true, there may be more involved. “A part of the immigration was driven by commerce and capitalism,” says John E. Wampler (Website- Tracks of Peter Wampler) some came as indentured servants and some came in response to many ads for “land and for jobs for linen weavers.” (ibid) which as we know was the Wampler occupation all the way back to Switzerland, then in Alsace. Linen weavers had plenty of work. Over 30,000 yards of linen were woven in Lancaster County alone in one year at that time.

The Wamplers also may have used the land they owned to grow their own flax for weaving. In reading about the linen weavers of all denominations of that time, I found that they were leaders in their communities and very philanthropic. A case in point – Andrew Carnegie and his family were linen weavers from Scotland. The Wamplers, from the beginning, immigrated from country to country, buying considerable tracts of land, leaving it and monies in their wills and continued this practice all the way down to Sunny Slope Farm. So as much as we’d like the romantic notion that our poor, farmer, Dunkard ancestors fled from religious persecution, the more likely scenario is that they were free men and well off, taking advantage of the opportunities in the new world. This is not to say that they weren’t deeply religious as well, and as we go forward in time, we will see how religion was of great importance, particularly in their involvement in the Brethren Church.

Life for our ancestors was most likely very difficult in the new world. These were linen weavers, not hearty pioneers and most of the 200 acres they had purchased was probably wooded and had to be cleared. They had to build their own buildings, learn a new language, and set up their linen weaving business all at the same time.

Hans Peter Wampfler was born in 1701 in Sparsbach, Alsace . Like his father, he became a linen weaver. He married Anna Veronica Lung of Zollingen about 1719. They lived in the village of Hinsingen but since there was not church there, the christening records of their seven children are in Keskastel and Atweiler nearby. It is in Keskastel that we find the record of the christening of Hans Peter Wampfler, Jr. – August 4, 1722. When Hans Peter Jr. was 18, he and his family embarked on a great adventure.

In the late 1600’s William Penn had traveled to Germany. There, he offered those farmers who were interested, land and religious freedom in Pennsylvania. At that time, the Province was British-ruled and only English was spoken. Immigrants had to swear allegiance to the British Crown and to the laws of Pennsylvania. Our ancestors spoke only Swiss/ German. Imagine the courage it must have taken to embark on such an adventure as this, with so many unknowns.

On May 3, 1741, Hans Peter Wampfler Sr., his wife Anna Veronica and their children boarded the ship “Lydia” for America. The journey was a difficult one, even before they boarded. The family had to travel by boat down the Rhine River to get to the port in Holland where they boarded their ship for America. This took 4-6 weeks. In Holland they had to wait again for 4-6 weeks, spending their money on food and lodging, and enduring frequent inspections and customs delays. From Holland they went to an English Port where they waited for favorable wind conditions before sailing 8-12 weeks to Philadelphia. The ships were crowded with inadequate food and water. There was little medical care and disease was common. Many on board died during the crossing. (FW)

Here, again, I must contradict Granddaddy’s story that “the mother died en route and was buried at sea.” Records indicate that, at the time of Hans Peter Sr.’s death in 1749, Veronica (his wife), Peter Jr. and Michael were summoned to make an inventory of “all goods, chattles rights and credits which were of the said deceased.” But I digress – back to the chronology of the immigration.

On September 29, almost five months after leaving their home in Germany, the family arrived in Philadelphia Harbor. The ship’s log shows three signatures of three male Wampfler males over the age of 16, as was the custom. At the Lancaster Historical Society, I saw a copy of these signatures. Wives, daughters and minors were not listed, but we assume that the entire family came. Since two of the infant daughters died previous to the trip, this would mean that besides Hans Peter Sr. – 40, Hans Peter Jr.- 18, Hans Michael -16, who were listed in the log, there were also three daughters, Anna Magdalena – 20, Anna Veronica- 15 and Anna Barbara -12 as well as Hans Peter’s wife, Anna Veronica. At the time of the crossing, for some reason, Hans Michael signed the log with an “X.” This does not necessarily mean that he couldn’t write. (At 16 he might just have been being

You are invited to a wonderful “Evening on the Hill” to support Bridgewater Retirement Community’s Resident Care Endowment Fund. Your evening will begin at 6:00 p.m. with an reception followed by dinner and dancing. Our music for the evening will be provided by the Charlottesville band The Jazz Invitation and wine from our wine sponsor Bluestone Vineyards will be available.

The Resident Care Endowment Fund support Bridgewater Home as it cares for our residents who have exhausted their resources.

Thank you to all our sponsors!

Band Sponsor

Lenhart Pettit

Wine Sponsor

Bluestone Vineyards

Table Sponsor

Bonnie Lou Wampler

Starlight Sponsor

Partner’s Excavating

Steve and Ruth Watson

The first Wampflers were from an area in Switzerland near what is now Bern. There are several very small villages, some of no more than two or three houses, that are in the Diemtig Valley and the first records of our family are found in a church in one of these villages called Zwischenfluh.

In Dr. Wampler’s book there is an aerial picture of the valley where the first Wampler’s lived and it is no wonder our ancestors continued their immigrations to mountains and valleys so like this one, first in Germany, then Pennsylvania and finally the Shenandoah Valley. The alps rise high on either side of a fertile valley, then come directly down to meet the earth. There are no foothills and the walls of rock are visible reaching straight upward from the valley. They look much like Chimney Rock near Ken and Margaret Smith’s in Broadway.

The first records that Dr. Wampler and his associates found were at a church in Diemtigen in 1559. Our ancestor, Hans (Johann and later of course, John) Wampfler was probably born around 1616 in Zwischenflue, Switzerland. Christening records seem to indicate that his parents were Heinrich and Verena (Herren) Wampfler. He and his wife Madlena Knutti were married there in 1647. Their five children’s christening records are found there – Christian, their third child, was christened on December 3, 1654. He was the first to leave Switzerland and settle in Alsace, Germany. Many Swiss/Germans in the late 1600’s moved to this area after the Thirty Years War. Christian Wampler settled in Sparsbach, Alsace. Dr. Wampler states that it “is meaningful to speak of our ancestors as being Alsatian” rather than either French or German.

Christian Wampfler was a linen weaver by trade. He and his wife (name unknown) had seven children. The fourth of these children was Hans Peter Wampfler, who was the first Wampler to come to America and our direct ancestor. That journey would be quite an adventure as we will see.

Thanks to Custom Transportation my wife and I, along with two friends, had our first luxury limousine experience. It is something that everyone should get to do at least once in a lifetime.

A few days ago I heard about an event at Bella Luna. Mikey from the Mashita Food Truck and another chef at Bella Luna were offering a collaborative dinner. My wife and I, along with two friends of mine who own Greenberry’s Coffee & Tea, thought it would be a nice evening out.

I thought it would be a lot of fun if we went together in a limousine. Custom Transportation has been providing limousine and shuttle service for my special events venue to the brides, grooms and bridal parties for a while now. So they were the first ones that came to mind. Their limos are beautiful, their drivers are courteous and their service is convenient.

I called Megan and she lined up a 7 to 8 passenger luxury black limousine and driver to arrive at our house at the perfect time. Kim arrived decked out in her black driver suit and helped us in to the black leather expanse of the limo. There was a lit bar with glasses & napkins, an incredible sound system, a phone to talk to the driver, all kinds of buttons to raise windows and open sunroofs that I just had to play with and twinkly lights in the roof that looked like stars. It was awesome!

She dropped us off at the door of the restaurant and we walked right in without worrying about parking. It was fun to see the heads turn and feel special! She gave me her cell number and said she would wait nearby for our call to be picked up.

After dinner we called her and she was at the door again to pick us up. We had a very relaxing and fun ride home without a care.

I highly recommend you consider renting a limo from Custom Transportation for your special events or even one of the more common nights to make it special.

Thanks to Megan, Kim and Custom Transportation for making our Event Special.

In Support of Mennonite Economic Development Associates and Bike to Grow, Everyday People will be in concert on April 17, 2015.

On Sunny Slope Farm, a renowned event venue located in the Shenandoah Valley, will host a fundraiser for MEDA—Mennonite Economic Development Associates. The event, which will be open to the public and take place on Friday April 17th from 5 – 10 p.m., will feature music, beer and wine tastings, door prizes and food trucks. Proceeds from the festival will support women farmers and entrepreneurs in Ghana through MEDA’s “Bike to GROW” volunteer initiative.

“MEDA is a great organization doing amazing things in the world,” says Harry Jarrett, owner of On Sunny Slope Farm. “I’m happy to help spread the word about the important work MEDA does to create business solutions to poverty.”

Jarrett founded On Sunny Slope Farm in 2013 and has since been featured as a recipient of the 2015 Couples’ Choice Award by A native of the Valley, Jarrett is a passionate supporter of MEDA’s mission and values. “Harry has a huge heart for others and an entrepreneurial spirit that really sets him apart. We are thrilled that Harry has offered his venue to help us further our mission,” says Ethan Eshbach, coordinator of engagement initiatives at MEDA. “This event will be a blast; it’s an awesome opportunity to have fun and help others at the same time.”

Ticket options for the event range from $15-$25 and are available at Tickets include concert, a meal and a raffle ticket.


Grand Prize: iPad Air 2 with Case

1st Runner-up iPad mini 3 with case

2nd Runner-up: iPod touch

About Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA)
MEDA is an international economic development organization whose mission is to create business solutions to poverty. Founded in 1953 by a group of Mennonite business professionals, we partner with the poor to start or grow small and medium-sized businesses in developing regions around the world. Our expertise includes a full range of economic development tools: financial services, improved technology, business training, better access to markets and equity investment. Our work most often focuses on women, youth and the rural poor. We believe that all people deserve the opportunity to earn a livelihood and that unleashing entrepreneurship is a powerful way to alleviate poverty.

About Bike to GROW

Sarah French and Mary Fehr are former MEDA interns from Canada. After their internship experiences in Nicaragua and Tanzania, Sarah and Mary felt compelled to support the work of MEDA, and specifically MEDA’s work with women entrepreneurs. That’s why in summer 2015, Sarah and Mary will bike across Canada—a distance of 8,710 km—to raise $150,000 for women in Ghana through MEDA’s GROW project. Their journey, entitled Bike to GROW, represents the struggles that women in developing nations experience on a daily basis.


Harrisonburg, Va – March 2, 2015

This Spring, On Sunny Slope Farm, one of Harrisonburg’s premier wedding and event venues—recently honored with the 2015 WeddingWire Couple’s Choice Award—will host Swing into Spring: Prepare for your Wedding | Enrich your Marriage four Thursdays in a row (April 16, 23, 30 and May 7) from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

As the name suggests, this event will offer attending couples the opportunity to prepare for their upcoming weddings as they take advantage of an informal bridal show, where they will meet and sample services from many of the Valley’s top wedding vendors while enjoying the venue’s picturesque panoramic views and many amenities.

Attendees will also enjoy presentations from licensed premarital coaches, who will lead them through the interactive Prepare/Enrich program, which boasts a significant increase in participating couples’ chances of marital happiness and longevity.

Brooke Driver, the owner, and head event and wedding coordinator behind North Star Events will also offer advice and lead attendees in exercises aimed at creating a truly personalized event that is a tailored celebration of a unique and beautiful marriage.

The evening out will end with a complimentary hour-long dance lesson and free dancing under the On Sunny Slope Farm tent. For more information, or to register, see our events page.