History of Christian Stauffer

Christian, a fugitive Anabaptist preacher, may have been part of a great "Taufer hunt" along with Uli Zaugg and Uli Neuhaus in 1644. They were all captured and placed in jail in Thun, where the authorities there were warned to keep these obstinate preachers out of the Emmenthal Valley. Christian Stauffer lived at Luchsmatt farm in his early married life and then probably at Glashutte, both in Eggiwil and located west of the Eggiwil village proper on the road to Rothenbach. He was exiled with his second wife from Glashutte farm in Eggiwil in the fall of 1671. He was living in Dirmstein, Germany, in December of 1671 and by January 1, 1672 in Ibersheim, Germany, where he probably died. His children were christened at Röthenbach, but were probably all born at Luchsmatt farm in Eggiwil which lies near the border of Eggiwil and Röthenbach parishes. The Emmenthal Valley was a hotbed of Anabaptist activity and their numbers were growing, which greatly alarmed the authorities in Bern. By 1671, Eggiwil had a large group of Anabaptists, numbering about 40 adults, which when you add in their children probably totaled over 100 people. On May 3, 1671, the magistrate of Signau received orders from Bern to seize the Anabaptists of Eggiwil and bring them to the prison in Bern, where they would then be led out of Switzerland. The village community of Eggiwil refused to permit this, probably because so many of them had relatives who were Anabaptists and also because many themselves had leanings toward the Mennonite faith. Shortly thereafter twelve of the wealthiest residents of Eggiwil were sent to the city of Bern as hostages until the Anabaptists agreed to be delivered to the Bern prison or to leave the land. They agreed to the latter. On October 16, 1671, the Reformed pastor of Eggiwil was able to report that the Anabaptists had left of their own accord. They were not allowed to take much and probably had some of their possessions and lands confiscated as an emigration tax, as well as having their citizenship taken away. They would become refugees without a county. According to Valentine Hutwohl, a Mennonite Minister in the Pfalz, on December 14, 1671, 450 Anabaptists from Bern had recently arrived in the Pfalz. "These are scattered among the fellow believers throughout the region over a twelve-mile territory. Among these you will find those who need canes, being 70, 80, and 90 years old. On the whole they need clothing sorely; they didn't take more along than what they had on their backs. With little bedding, we don't know how to keep them warm. Some amongst us have seven, eight or nine living with them. When you speak of their property, they sigh, wishing that they had their houses and farm land here as before. There are men who left their wives and children, and women, older as well as younger, who have left husbands and children; others who brought along some, leaving the rest with the husbands, also expectant mothers; also children who left father, mother, brothers and sisters behind". Included in the Hutwohl letter was a list of the Swiss refugees. Many were members of Christian Stauffer's family. All lived together, having 21 children. They had left large possessions in Switzerland. They had a large debt with a merchant. They brought along 100 Reichsthalers and were given 250 to pay the debt. They were living at Dirmstein.

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