Betzner, Samuel (1738-1813)

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Samuel Betzner: pioneer and early Brethren in Christ (Tunker) leader, born in 1738 near the village of Meersburg, on Bodensee (Lake Constance) in the Duchy of Württemberg (Germany). The names of his parents are unknown; they are both said to have died before Samuel reached the age of four. Family lore says he was adopted by a wealthy neighbor family, but left for North America in 1753 when a natural heir was born to the family, eliminating the possibility for him to inherit. Betzner first settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. By 1768 he had married Maria Detweiler (1744-1806) of Lancaster County, daughter of Jacob Detweiler (ca. 1705-before 1781). They had at least five children -- Jacob, Samuel D., Elizabeth, Barbara, and John.

Although of Reformed Church background, Betzner married into a Mennonite family and probably became a member of that church. However, he was stirred by the renewal movements of the time, and became one of the eight signatories of the earliest Brethren in Christ confession that dates from about 1780. In 1793 Samuel and Maria moved to Franklin County, Pennsylvania where three of his children married (his oldest son, Jacob, had died, and one daughter married later in Canada). In 1799 his oldest living son, Samuel D. Betzner and daughter, Elizabeth Betzner Schoerg, and their families moved to Canada, wintering in the Niagara area before moving in 1800 to the Grand River district where Samuel D. Betzner bought land adjacent to the future site of the village of Blair and Joseph and Elizabeth Schoerg bought land on the opposite, east, side of the Grand River, where the Doon Memorial Tower is now located. Later in 1800 Samuel and Maria Betzner and the rest of their family also moved to the future Waterloo County, Samuel also settling on the east side of the Grand River, adjacent to their daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth and Joseph Schoerg.

The first worship services held in the Waterloo region were in Tunker Samuel Betzner's home under his leadership. Apparently services continued in his home for some years, though whether this was an organized congregation is uncertain. Descendants of Samuel Betzner were active both in the Tunker and Mennonite church communities. If Samuel was ordained, he would have been the second ordained Anabaptist leader in the Grand River area; Mennonite Deacon Jacob Bechtel had arrived some months earlier in the spring of 1800.

Maria Betzner died in 1806, Samuel followed her in death in 1813. They are both buried in the Doon Pioneer Tower cemetery, where the modern tombstone describes his as a "devout Christian." Although he was orphaned at a young age and undertook two major migrations, Samuel Betzner, with his wife, Maria, left a worthy heritage of determination and hard work.


Burdge, Edsel, and Samuel L. Horst. Building on the Gospel Foundation: The Mennonites of Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and Washington County, Maryland, 1730-1970. Studies in Anabaptist and Mennonite history, no. 42. Scottdale, Pa: Herald Press, 2004: 744, note 143.

Eby, Ezra E., Joseph Buchanan Snyder, and Eldon D. Weber. A Biographical History of Early Settlers and Their Descendants in Waterloo Township. Kitchener, Ont: Eldon D. Weber, 1971: #910.

Edworthy, Laura Betzner. The Betzner Family in Canada: Genealogical and Historical Records. S.l: s.n, 2000: 7.

Good, Edgar Reginald. Frontier Community to Urban Congregation: First Mennonite Church, Kitchener, Ontario. Kitchener, Ont: The Church, 1988: 13-16.

"The Hockman Clan." RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project. (accessed 31 March 2009)

Sider, E. Morris. The Brethren in Christ in Canada: Two Hundred Years of Tradition and Change. [Hamilton, Ontario, Canada]: Canadian Conference, Brethren in Christ Church, 1988: 13, 272-273, notes 35-38.

Wittlinger, Carlton O. Quest for Piety and Obedience: The Story of the Brethren in Christ. Nappanee, IN: Evangel Press, 1978: 18, 551-554.

Author(s) Samuel J Steiner
Date Published March 2009

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MLA style

Steiner, Samuel J. "Betzner, Samuel (1738-1813)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2009. Web. 9 Jul 2020.,_Samuel_(1738-1813)&oldid=164949.

APA style

Steiner, Samuel J. (March 2009). Betzner, Samuel (1738-1813). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 9 July 2020, from,_Samuel_(1738-1813)&oldid=164949.

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