Caspar Wistar's Role In
Assisting Henrich Hiestand
Wistar (1696-1752) and Henrich Hiestand's backgrounds were alike
in several ways. Caspar was eight years older than Henrich
Hiestand and arrived in Philadelphia at age 21 on September 16,
1717, probably about ten years before Henrich's arrival.
Both were single young German-speaking immigrants when they
arrived. Caspar grew up in the Neckar River valley in
Germany, in a small village of Waldhilsbach of the east side of
the Rhine River, southeast of Heidelberg. Henrich was from
the small farming village of Ibersheim, on the west side of the
Rhine River, about 45 miles northwest of Waldhilsbach.
So, both were Palatine Rhinelanders.
But there were some things about their
backgrounds in the Palatinate and their fortunes in America that
were quite different. Caspar's father was a forester for
the Elector of the Palatinate and he grew up in a mixed-religion
home--his father was Lutheran and his mother was a member of the
Reformed Church into which Caspar was baptized. Henrich's
family were exiled from Switzerland because of their unwavering
commitment to the Anabaptist/Mennonite faith. And they
were farmers working the land around Ibersheim under
restrictions not imposed on families of other faiths.
In Philadelphia, Caspar learned the business
of making buttons and soon ventured into the business of real
estate investing. By the time Henrich Hiestand arrived in
Philadelphia, Caspar had already become a relatively wealthy
man. But not forgetting his roots, he assisted many
German-speaking immigrants with loans and land sales. His
German ethnicity and bilingual language skills, profited him
greatly. But, even as he gained wealth from these
connections to German immigrants flooding into Philadelphia, at
the same time he also provided them services that were helpful
to, and appreciated by, them.
In Rosalind Beiler's research on Caspar
Wistar, she discovered some information about Henrich Hiestand's
early years in America that is of great interest to those of us
who claim Henrich Hiestand as our immigrant ancestor.
What we learn or confirm from these two books:
Heinrich Hiestand's family lived in
Ibersheimer Hoff in the Palatinate (Southwest Germany near the city
Heinrich was definitely living in
Pennsylvania in and before 1733.
Heinrich did not come to America with
a lot of money.
Heinrich did have access to some
financial resources back in Germany.
For some reason or reasons, it took
Caspar Wistar nine years to collect the payment for Heinrich's debt.
If the nine years extended from 1733
to 1742, then Heinrich paid his debt to Wistar at about the same
time he was preparing to sell his Lancaster County, PA land in order
to move to Virginia.
Some Questions About Caspar Wistar's Financial
See Rosalind Beiler's
Did Henrich purchase his Hempfield
Township land from Caspar Wistar?
Note: A map showing Wistar's land holdings in Pennsylvania does not
indicate the he owned land in the area of Hempfield Township.
Source: Page 117 of Immigrant and Entrepreneur
by Rosalind Beiler (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State
University Press, 2008).
Kent Hiestand's Comments About the Wistar
|August 18, 2015
We corresponded some years ago about the Wistar letters. I
obtained photocopies but there is no concrete or direct link
to who Henrich's relatives were.
In 1733 he was supposed to get the money from Peter Obmann
who was one of the 1683 Ibersheimer Erbbeständers (lease
holders) and probably
the brother-in-law of Conrad Hiestand another 1683
Ibersheimer Erbbeständer. The go between was Jacob Schnebeli
residing in Mannheim and the son of the Mennonite "Diener"
(Preacher) Hans Jacob Schnebeli of Ibersheim who signed the
1709 letter to Amsterdam along with a Heinrich Hiestand of
The later Wistar letters (1742) refer to getting the money
from a Jacob Hiestand and a man named Forrer (married into
Hiestands), but again no relationship mentioned.
was spelled Henrich and not Heinrich in the Wistar letter
just like the signature on his will and on the 1728
Comments About the Wistar Correspondence
|January 22, 2017
The money Wistar
loaned Hiestand would have been too much for ship passage.
It was 131 Gulden and 2 Kopfstuck. I haven't checked to
see exactly how much this was at the time but my sense is
that it more likely would have been for a land purchase.
Regarding land purchases - you should definitely go to the
PA state archives, where they have microfilm copies of all
of PA's county deeds. It's pretty easy to find abstracts as
well - so you should be able to track down Henrich
Hiestand's purchase. If I recall correctly, they (abstracts
of deeds) were published by a genealogical society for
Lancaster County. I'm not sure if he purchased land from
Wistar. It would take me some time to go back through my
records to see if that was the case. I read all of Wistar's
deeds while at either the PA state archives or the
Historical Society of Pennsylvania (there are literally
hundreds of them!). But, sadly, they are in a dos-based
database that is no longer easily accessible. The joys of
I've glanced briefly at your website - you have clearly done
a lot of research! I have also gone back to Wistar's
letters. There is not much information in there regarding
this money. It's all in German. The first mention is in
1733 and the last in 1742. Wistar's
business partner in Neckargemuend does receive the money
just before Easter in 1742. Whether it ever made it
to Wistar and, if so, in what form, is impossible to know as
the letters do not continue beyond that year. It's all very
sketchy as we don't have complete sets of correspondence. I
don't have any records that tell me how Wistar loaned him
money (whether it was cash or for land). I never found
accounts for Wistar. And Hoeltzer doesn't say how he was
paid (though Wistar does ask Hoeltzer to let him know if he
gets paid in silver or gold). In Wistar's letters to
Hoeltzer, Peter Obman, in Ibersheimer Hoff, is holding the
money for Henrich Hiestand (in PA). By the time Hoeltzer
writes back in 1742, he reports (in February) that he hasn't
received the money from Jacob Hiestand in Ibersheimer Hoff.
He also mentions Forer at Ibersheimer Hoff - but includes no
first name. When he writes in May 1742 that he received the
money, Hoeltzer tells Wistar that he had to pay a bond in
order to collect the debt. He refers again to Forer and
Hiestand. He also
mentions that they are Mennonites and are very distrustful.
That's really all that I can glean from these letters!
Sorry, they are all about business.
Hope this is helpful,
Rosalind J. Beiler, Ph.D.
University of Central Florida
Dept. of History
12790 Aquarius Agora Dr., Suite 551
Orlando FL 32816-1350