Shantz (Schantz, Shanz, Tschantz, Johns) family

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Shantz, a Swiss Mennonite family name, is mentioned among the Anabaptists as early as 1541 in the canton of Bern, Switzerland. In 1567 a Hans Tschantz of Kiesen, canton of Bern, was imprisoned for his faith. In the first part of the 18th century members of the family moved to the Bernese Jura district, as well as to Montbéliard and Alsace. In 1824 a Johannes Tschantz and his son Abraham left their Jura home and settled in the Sonnenberg district in Wayne County, Ohio, where some of their descendants still live.

As of 1959, the family name Shantz had only a few representatives left among Mennonites in Europe. The name was represented in Pennsylvania as early as 1737 when Jacob Schantz immigrated to Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Hans Tschantz was the third bishop in the colonial Mennonite settlement in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It is known that he was active ca. 1742; a cemetery plot donated by him remained named "Hans Tschantz cemetery." Since 1800 Shantz has also been a prominent family in the Mennonite Church (MC) in Ontario. The following is a small list of ordained men bearing the name Shantz who have served as bishops in the church: Henry Shantz (1864-77), who served the Detweiler congregation from 1842; Israel R. Shantz (1863-1910), who moved from Waterloo to Carstairs, Alberta ca. 1903; Moses H. Shantz (1884-1938) at Blenheim, Ontario, who for many years was also the moderator of the Ontario Conference (MC) and was for some time the president of the Mennonite Publication Board; Benjamin B. Shantz (b. 1880), who served at the Hagey congregation; Stanley D. Schantz (b. 1914), who served in Guernsey, Saskatchewan. Preachers included Merle Shantz, who served at the Wanner congregation, Ontario and Irwin Schantz, who served in Loman, Minnesota. Jacob Y. Shantz was a prominent layman (MC) in Kitchener, Ontario, joining the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church ca. 1875 when it was started. John Schantz (1774-1855) and his son Joseph (1814-81) were ministers in the Upper Milford, Pennsylvania congregation which joined the Oberholtzer group (the forerunner of the General Conference Mennonite Church [GCM]) in 1847. J. W. Schantz (1878-1916) was a GCM minister at Schwenksville, Pennsylvania and Zion at Souderton, Pennsylvania, 1907-1916.

An Amish branch of the family came to North America ca. 1768. Joseph Schantz (1749-1810), who changed his name to Johns, was in Somerset County, Pennsylvania by 1793, and in 1810 founded the city of Johnstown on his land. Some of his descendants moved to Elkhart County, Indiana, where Daniel J. Johns (1850-1942) was an outstanding leader, as were two of his sons, Ira and Otis. Ira S. Johns (1879-1956) was a preacher at the Clinton Frame congregation near Goshen and served for a long time as secretary of the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference (MC). Otis N. Johns was bishop of the Beech congregation near Louisville, Ohio, and long serving secretary of the Mennonite Publication Board. Joseph Schantz (1856-1934), a preacher at Ingolstadt, Bavaria, where his father and grandfather had been bishops in the Amish congregation, immigrated to the Midwest United States, finally locating in Wisner, Nebraska and serving the MC congregation there. Two brothers, Daniel and Andrew Schantz, also came with Joseph to the Midwest. Descendents of these three men scattered through Nebraska, Oklahoma and other Midwestern states. Other Amish Schantzes emigrated from Europe to Central Illinois, including Christian Schantz who settled in Tiskilwa ca. 1840, and Jacob Schantz who moved from Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany to Congerville, Illinois in 1847. Peter Schantz (1853-1924), a son of Jacob, was an outstanding leader in the Central Mennonite Conference.


Kauffman, Daniel. Mennonite Cyclopedic Dictionary. Scottdale, PA: Mennonite Publishing House, 1937.

Author(s) Harold S Bender
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bender, Harold S. "Shantz (Schantz, Shanz, Tschantz, Johns) family." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 21 May 2024.,_Shanz,_Tschantz,_Johns)_family&oldid=119606.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. (1959). Shantz (Schantz, Shanz, Tschantz, Johns) family. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 May 2024, from,_Shanz,_Tschantz,_Johns)_family&oldid=119606.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 510-511. All rights reserved.

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