Burkholder (Borcholder, Borcholter, Borckholder, Borgholder, Borkholder, Burckhalter, Burckholder, Burgholder, Burgholdter, Burkhalter, Burkalter) family

Jump to navigation Jump to search

A Bernese Swiss Mennonite family name, there have been many Burkholder descendants in Europe and North America, including a large number of leaders in the Mennonite Church (MC). The name is said to have originated from a place in Switzerland called Burghalde. One of the earliest Mennonite leaders of this name was Hans Burkholder of Bern, a minister of the church who was born about 1617. He escaped from prison in 1658 and averted a forced deportation to Holland. In 1669 he was again in prison in Bern, and once more escaped. Two years later he with his wife and seven children were living in Kriegsheim in the Palatinate. Later the family located at Gerolsheim. His son Hans became a Mennonite minister at Gerolsheim in 1702, and was later ordained as an elder. He served faithfully for many decades and died in 1752. He was very active in corresponding with the Dutch Mennonites about the plight of his fellow Bernese exiles in the Palatinate. His son, Christian Burkholder, was also a minister, and like his father carried on correspondence with Johannes Deknatel and others in Holland. The name Burkholder was still found in Europe in the 20th century; in 1935, there was an Anna Borkholder listed as a member of the Durlach congregation in Baden, South Germany.

The Burkholders of North America are descendants of various immigrants. One of the earliest was a Hans Burkholder who had been ordained as an elder in Switzerland, and who settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1717. He is credited with having organized the Stone congregation near New Danville. His relation to the Burkholders listed above is not known. He died about 1745.

An Abraham Burkholder came to North America in 1717 and settled in York County, Pennsylvania, in an area that is now in Dauphin County. In 1732 an Ulrich Burkholder came to Lancaster County. A year later another Ulrich arrived, settling in Northampton County, and his descendants are now scattered throughout the West, many of them members of the Reformed Church.

In 1754 an Ulrich Burkholder made arrangements to migrate from Switzerland to North America, but died before leaving. His widow, Barbara, and six children came and settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The three sons were Ulrich, Christian, and Peter; all became Mennonite ministers.

Ulrich Junior (1737-1804) married Anna Musselman, daughter of John and Anna (Good) Musselman, of Brecknock Township. Ulrich was a minister of the Mennonite church in Brecknock Township. He was probably buried in the Mennonite cemetery which is now at the Pine Grove church in Bowmansville, but no legible stone exists. His youngest son was Christian Burkholder who moved to Ontario in the early 1800s. Christian's son Samuel located in Marion County, Kansas, and Samuel's son, Ezra Burkholder, was a banker, merchant, and landowner.

Ulrich Senior's son Christian Burkholder (1746-1809) became a minister in 1770 and a bishop in 1778, serving in the Groffdale congregation. He is the author of the Anrede an die Jugend (Address to Youth) (Ephrata, 1804), printed as Part IV of all American editions (German and English) of Roosen's Conversation on Christian Faith after 1837.

Christian's brother Peter (1743-1812) moved to the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, where his son, also named Peter Burkholder (1783-1846), became a minister (1805), bishop (1837), and an author of note; he edited the Twisck Confession of 33 Articles from the Martyrs' Mirror, wrote a book on baptism in 1816, another on predestination, and a third entitled, Nine Reflections on the Holy Scriptures. His son Martin Burkholder (1817-60) was ordained a minister in 1839 and succeeded his father as bishop following the latter's death in 1846. Another grandson of Peter who located in Virginia was John Burkholder (1838-1909) of Mahoning County, Ohio, ordained as minister in 1879 and as bishop in 1886. David Burkholder (1835-1923) of Nappanee, Indiana, ordained minister in 1880 and bishop in 1904, was another descendant of this same Peter Burkholder. There have been several Burkholder ministers among the Mennonites of Virginia.

Other church leaders bearing the name Burkholder include Joseph Burkholder (1803-1875), a descendant of the immigrant Ulrich of 1732. Joseph, of the Manor-Conestoga district of the Lancaster Conference, was ordained as minister in 1846 and as bishop in 1864. His grandson, Christian C. Burkholder (1865-1931), was a Brethren in Christ bishop and the president of Beulah College, Upland, California. Lewis J. Burkholder (1875-1949) of Markham, Ontario was minister of the Cedar Grove congregation (1896-1949), author of History of the Mennonites in Ontario (1935), and co-founder of the Ontario Mennonite Bible School. Oscar Burkholder (1886-1956) was a minister in Breslau, Ontario (1913-1954), a bishop (ordained in 1949), a teacher in the Ontario Mennonite Bible School (1920-1956), and the principal of the school (1948-1954). Among the 19th-century Bernese Swiss who settled in the Berne, Indiana and Bluffton, Ohio General Conference (GCM) communities, there were several Burkhalter families. Edward Burkhalter and Martha Burkhalter, missionaries in India, came from the Berne community, and Harold D. Burkholder, president of Grace Bible Institute, came from the Bluffton region. There have also been some Burkholders among the Old Order Amish, chiefly in northern Indiana, where there have been several ministers by this name, as well as a bishop, David O. Burkholder of Nappanee, Indiana.


Stauffer, Romaine. "Ulrich Burkholder." Find a Grave. 11 November 2014. Web. 29 July 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/138611508/ulrich-burkholder

Author(s) John C Wenger
Date Published July 2019

Cite This Article

MLA style

Wenger, John C. "Burkholder (Borcholder, Borcholter, Borckholder, Borgholder, Borkholder, Burckhalter, Burckholder, Burgholder, Burgholdter, Burkhalter, Burkalter) family." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. July 2019. Web. 23 Feb 2024. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Burkholder_(Borcholder,_Borcholter,_Borckholder,_Borgholder,_Borkholder,_Burckhalter,_Burckholder,_Burgholder,_Burgholdter,_Burkhalter,_Burkalter)_family&oldid=177015.

APA style

Wenger, John C. (July 2019). Burkholder (Borcholder, Borcholter, Borckholder, Borgholder, Borkholder, Burckhalter, Burckholder, Burgholder, Burgholdter, Burkhalter, Burkalter) family. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 February 2024, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Burkholder_(Borcholder,_Borcholter,_Borckholder,_Borgholder,_Borkholder,_Burckhalter,_Burckholder,_Burgholder,_Burgholdter,_Burkhalter,_Burkalter)_family&oldid=177015.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 475-476. All rights reserved.

©1996-2024 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.