They might spell it Stolfus, or Stoltzfoss, the original Stoltzfus, or even closer to Steltzenfuss, which means wooden leg. Yet by all calculations, however the surname is spelled, Nicholas Stoltzfus, who immigrated to Pennsylvania’s Americana Region in 1771, is the ancestor of nearly one million descendants in the area! The timeless name dates back to 400 A.D. in Saxony, Germany.
Stoltzfus and his family were likely one of the last to join the Amish and Mennonite families who had been coming to the region since 1740, forced to leave Germany because of their faith. Nicholas wasn’t always Amish, he was born in 1719 while his father was a Lutheran minister who died when he was five. His mother remained, moved to an Amish Area and Nicholas eventually went to work on an Amish farm. While at the farm, he fell in love with Katharina Bermann, one of the Amish daughters, but was not allowed to marry her, because the Amish were not accepted by the German government. Finally, love prevailed and he was allowed to marry under one condition, that he and his family leave Germany for good.
Nicholas and his wife, son Christian, and daughter Barbara, arrived in Philadelphia in 1766. Then, they first settled in Lancaster County before moving to Berks. Living until nearly age 60, Stoltzfus proved to be as resilient as his home. When the Narrow Fabric Textile Company purchased the land, the Nicholas Stoltzfus house sits on in 1924, it became part of the Country Meadows venture owner by the Leader family. By 1977, it was boarded up, overgrown and scheduled for demolition. In 2000, the Leader family agreed to help with preservation of the historically important first house built along the Tulpehocken.
Fortunately today, after the successful efforts of the many people absolutely committed to its preservation, you can visit the restored Nicholas Stoltzfus House, still standing proudly on the banks of the Creek. It has recently been joined by a barn reconstructed on the original foundations. Locals regularly celebrate the heritage of this courageous man who followed his faith to America and to the region, ultimately giving life to a big part of the region’s population.