THE STERNERS For years my notes on the Disbrows and the Sterners have been accumulating but I postponed throwing them to- gether into final shape, hoping that further information would come to light - and much did. But, after all, I am now all too swiftly approaching the Biblical three score years and ten (actually as I type these rescripts I am eighty one) and, while we are on the whole a long-lived lot, nevertheless the odds against my continuing survival keep increasing as each year passes. So I am now freez- ing these first two volumes into their final form. If any of you who follow me are interested, you will at least have some sort of foundation upon which to build. The record of the Sterners will be much scantier and more vague than that of the Disbrows - slim as that is - for when I first took up the task of discovering just who my father's people were, I had almost nothing to go on. In the case of the Disbrows, thanks to family legend, actual letters, and the voluminous spade-work of Willie Bamford, I had a comparative wealth of material to start with; here my task was largely one of tying it together into a coherent whole and sifting the true from the merely conjectural, the probable from the improbable. Not so with the Sterners. Here my only sources were some letters of Uncle Henry's (my father's brother) which you will see in the Appendix, the knowledge that his peo- ple were of German descent, and a multigraphed brochure that turned up among father's papers entitled Historical and Biographical Sketch of the Sterner Family, which interesting document sounds off as follows - "The distinguished name of Sterner is believed to be of German origin. Some authorities claim the name was taken from some parish in Germany bearing that name; while other experts on heraldry claim the name is a nick-name or an abbreviation of another surname. During the early 1
THE STERNERS periods surnames often derived their origins from some township, while others derived from parishes or hamlets. We believe the surname Sterner is a locality name......" "According to `Reistap's Armorial General', the Coat of Arms belonging to the Sterner family is as follows - `AZURE, A SIX POINTED STAR IN CENTER OF SHIELD GULES; IN CENTER OF STAR A MAN'S HEAD BUT FACE PPR. AND HAIR OR.'" All of which pompous verbosity sounds like nothing but the usual stuff handed out to those with no pedigree but who are willing to pay for one. Uncle Henry's genealogical information was little better; actually it was more misleading than helpful, as we shall soon see. As to the early German settlers, I knew that many of them had come over in the early 18th Century under con- tract to the Royal Navy to cut masts and produce pitch in the forests of New York. When their time was up, they rafted their possessions and their families down the Del- aware or the Susquehanna Rivers and settled along their banks in Pennsylvania, building a log cabin from the tim- bers of their raft at whatever spot struck their fancy. Others came at Penn's solicitation for religious reasons or merely for the land he offered them. All this world was new and theirs for the taking. The Penn Settlers came directly to the Port of Philadelphia, whence they journeyed up the Delaware, the Schuylkill, and the Lehigh. Actually it was the brochure that gave me the first real lead. In the first place it was so silly that it roused my ire. In the second it gave a list of all the Sterners appearing on the muster rolls of the Continen- tal Army and Militia Attest, which shows the following - 1 - Jacob Sterner: Capt. Baldy's Company. 2 & 3 - Pts. Christian & Henry Sterner: Berks Co. Militia. 4 & 5 - Pts. Dan'l & Michael Sterner: Berks Co. Militia. 2
THE STERNERS 6 - Drummer & Piper Michael Sterner in the Muster Roll of 7th Class 1st Bn. Northampton Co. Militia. 7 & 8 - Pts. Abraham & Nicholas Sterner: 1st Bn. County of Northampton. 9 - Pte. Christopher Sterner: Capt. Jos. Siegfried's Co. 10 - John Sterner: Capt. Jacob Clader's Company, 2nd Class, 3rd Battalion, Northampton Co. Militia. 11 - Sgt. Casper Sterner - Capt. John Roudebush's Co. 12 - Christopher Sterner - Capt. John Wagner's Co. 13 - George Sterner enlisted Jan. 13th 1776 in Capt. Thos. Craig's Company. So there we have at least thirteen Sterners who were on the Militia Rolls during the War. Who were they and whence did they come? In his letter of August 12th, 1926, Uncle Henry tells us that the neighbors used to tease him by saying - "Du bist 'n schwope" - translation - "you are a Swabian." When Caesar wrote that famous opening sentence of his Gallic Wars the first part of the Gaul he mentioned was the land of the Suevi - later to be known as Swabia in the English tongue. In the Middle Ages this area was known as the "Palatinate" or, more correctly, the "Upper Rhenish Palatinate," and Uncle Henry accepts that we did originally hail from there and I see no reason to doubt it. His only other contribution is a confusing state- ment in another letter in which he apparently forgets that his grandfather's name was Abraham and says it was John and that this John's father was also named John. However, the Northampton County records do say that a certain Theobald Sterner left his property to his three sons John, Casper, and Nicholas and that this oldest son also had a son John, Jr. It is unlikely that someone else, also named Sterner, had a son and grandson named John so it seems reasonable to suppose that Theobald is 3
THE STERNERS the father and grandfather of Uncle Henry's two Johns. So now let us get on with it and detail what little we know of the first American Sterner, Theobald. 4
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