Hostetler (Hostetter, Hochstetler, and many other variations)

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Hostetler is a family name occurring frequently among Mennonite Church (MC) Mennonites and Amish in North America. The earliest trace of the name appears in Switzerland, in the town of Guggisberg (canton of Bern) and the neighboring communities of Wahlern and Albligen. According to Christian Lerch, former State Archivist at Bern, all Anabaptist-Mennonites of this name came from this locality, but only a small proportion of the Hostettlers (as it is spelled currently in Switzerland) were Täufer (Anabaptists). The forms Hofstetter and Hostettler originated independently of each other, although the spellings appearing in early records are never consistent; it is a matter of speculation whether both come from the same root, i.e., "orchard." The first syllable of the name was written "Hoch" by those who went to Germany. The long-standing Hochstättlers of Münsterhof in the Palatinate and those in Regensburg in Bavaria trace their ancestry to Jakob, born at Lautenbacherhof near Strasbourg about 1765, and his father Isaak, who died at Neuhof near Strasbourg. Mennonites with this name have become extremely rare in Europe. They have lived chiefly in Bavaria near Regensburg. Two well-known Amish Mennonite preachers were Jacob Hochstättler of Münsterhof of Palatinate, and Peter Hochstetter (1814-1885) of Regensburg, Bavaria.

Jacob Hochstetler (1704-1776), an Amish Mennonite who boarded the English ship Harle at Rotterdam, came to Philadelphia in 1736 with 388 persons from the Palatinate and adjacent places, and settled north of Reading, PA. The family suffered severely from an Indigenous attack near North Northkill in Berks County, PA in 1757. The story is told in Harvey Hostetler's Descendants of Jacob Hochstetler. Jacob is the ancestor of most of the large number of Amish Mennonites and Amish bearing the name. Families bearing this name are scattered all the way from Pennsylvania to Oregon.

The Hostetters in the Lancaster Mennonite Conference district (MC) must descend from a different immigrant, not from the Jacob mentioned above. A congregation of this conference near Hanover in York County is called Hostetter's.

Among members of the family prominent in church life and work have been Bishop Jacob Hostetler (d. 1761) of the Hammer Creek district in Lancaster County; Bishop Jacob Hostetler (1745-1826) of the same conference, Manheim district; Bishop Jacob Hostetler (1774-1865), moderator of the Lancaster Conference; Bishop John Hostetler (1791-1866), of York County, PA; Bishop Oscar Hostetler (MC) of Lagrange County, IN; Amos Hostetler, minister in Topeka, IN, secretary of the Mennonite General Conference (MC) 1923-53; B. Charles Hostetter, minister in Harrisonburg, VA, evangelist and radio preacher; J.J. Hostetler, longtime city missionary (MC); Bishop John G. Hochstetler of Creston, MT (MC); Bishop Eli G. Hochstetler, Wolford, ND (MC); and Lester Hostetler, Freeman, SD, a minister in the General Conference Mennonite Church. Prominent in the Brethren in Christ Church was Bishop C.N. Hostetter, Jr., President of Messiah College, Grantham, PA; his father Bishop C.N. Hostetter, long-time president of the mission board; and his brother, Bishop Henry N. Hostetter, executive secretary of the mission board.


Two monumental genealogies were compiled by Harvey Hostetler: Descendants of Jacob Hochstetler. Elgin, IL, 1912, and Descendants of Barbara Hochstedler and Christian Stutzman. Scottdale, PA, 1938. Barbara was the youngest daughter of the 1736 immigrant Jacob.

See also Mrs. Amos Hostetler, Descendants of David J. Hochstetler. Nappanee, IN, 1953.

Author(s) John A Hostetler
Date Published 1956

Cite This Article

MLA style

Hostetler, John A. "Hostetler (Hostetter, Hochstetler, and many other variations)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 23 Feb 2024.,_Hochstetler,_and_many_other_variations)&oldid=177180.

APA style

Hostetler, John A. (1956). Hostetler (Hostetter, Hochstetler, and many other variations). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 February 2024, from,_Hochstetler,_and_many_other_variations)&oldid=177180.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 818. All rights reserved.

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