Risser family

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Risser (Reeser, Reesor, Reusser, Rieser, Rüssor), an old Mennonite family stemming from Signau in the Emmental of Switzerland. In 1597 Daniel Reusser "is a disobedient Anabaptist" and a Rüsserin of Brienz returns to the church. Among the Swiss Mennonites who immigrated to the Netherlands in 1711 were Stephan Rüsser of Hilterfingen, a member of the Reformed Church, with his second wife and Michael Rüsser (1684/5-ca. 1759), a son of his first marriage. Michael, who was arrested for his faith in 1710, was at the time of his emigration a preacher. In the Netherlands, farming near Groningen, he became a preacher and soon after an elder of the Nieuwe Zwitsers. (See Swiss Mennonites in the Netherlands.) In 1680 the Anabaptist Hans Rüsser of Hartlisberg zu Thun was for years reported out of the country; his property had been seized by the church and "should he return he shall be punished with rods and sent away again as a hard wicked Anabaptist" (Bern Archives). In 1672 Babe Ruesser, over 80 years old, Hans Reuscher and his wife and son Daniel, and Hans Reysscher and his wife were among the refugees in the Palatinate. In 1702 a Kaspar Risser successfully eluded the "Täuferjäger."

"In 1715 and again in 1749 Hans Rüsser or Johannes Risser is found in the Palatinate as a hereditary leaseholder in Friedelsheim. In 1773 Abraham Risser or Rüsser is found in Erpolzheim (see Leiningen). A Johannes Risser was a preacher (from 1832) and elder (1833) at Sembach and another Johannes Risser was preacher in Friedelsheim; the former was in the middle of the 19th century one of the leaders in the Palatine-Hessian congregations, and the latter immigrated to America in 1832. In 1870-71 H. Risser was a teacher in the school at the Weierhof and preached occasionally in Altleiningen. The Mennonite Adressbuch of 1936 lists 27 Risser families in Germany.

Members of the Risser family are reported to have immigrated to America as early as 1712. At any rate, in 1737 a Peter Risser (died 1804 at the age of 91) emigrated from Switzerland and settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He enjoyed telling that he had emigrated in order to avoid being chosen by lot to the ministry; but immediately upon his arrival the lot fell upon him; thus it became clear to him that it is impossible to flee from the presence of God. He became an outstanding preacher and served a longer term in the ministry than any other Lancaster preacher before or after him. Eight children were born to him in America. His son Christian in 1774 married Fanny Reif(f) and settled near Markham, Ontario. His son Jacob married Mary Snyder and remained in the home community. They were the ancestors of all the Mennonite Rissers, Reesors, and Reesers of Lancaster, Dauphin, and Lebanon counties, Pennsylvania, and Markham, Ontario. Some of the original land is still in the family name. Among the descendants in the ministry were Jacob Risser, his son Martin E. Risser (died 1905), and his grandson John D. Risser (died 1952) in Washington County, Maryland, and Christian Risser (died 1826) and John Risser (died 1870) of the Risser congregation, Bishop Christian Risser (died 1910) and John Risser (died 1873) of the Hammer Creek congregation, Peter Risser (died 1864) of Chestnut Hill, Bishop Noah W. Risser (born 1877) of the Stauffer congregation, and Abram Risser of the Hernley congregation, all in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and Jacob and Martin Risser (died 1926) of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. In 1911 Christian B. Risser (or Reeser) (died 1923 at the age of 103) was an Amish preacher in Roanoke, Illinois. James Reusser is a minister (General Conference Mennonite Church) in the Salem Church near Dalton, Ohio. The family is also found in Kansas and Oklahoma.


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Cosco, Ethel Arlene. Christian Reeser, the Story of a Centenarian. 1952.

"Crous, Franz." Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 519 f.

Kauffman, Daniel. Mennonite Cyclopedic Dictionary. Scottdale, 1937.

Krehbiel, H. P. Mennonite Churches of North America. Berne, 1911.

Mennonite Quarterly Review XXX (1956): 148-53.

Müller, Ernst. Geschichte der Bernischen Täufer. Frauenfeld: Huber, 1895. Reprinted Nieuwkoop : B. de Graaf, 1972: 201, 310, 341.

Weaver, M. G. Mennonites of Lancaster County. Scottdale, 1931.

Wenger, J. C. History of the Mennonites of the Franconia Conference. Telford, 1937.

Author(s) Ira D Landis
Ernst Crous
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Landis, Ira D and Ernst Crous. "Risser family." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 6 Oct 2022. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Risser_family&oldid=146174.

APA style

Landis, Ira D and Ernst Crous. (1959). Risser family. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 6 October 2022, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Risser_family&oldid=146174.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 340-341. All rights reserved.

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