Oesch, Barbara Schultz (1803-1881)

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Barbara Schultz likely was born in 1803 in Alsace. Her father was Henry Schultz. Her mother's name is not known. By 1820, the family was probably living in Bavaria and perhaps on the cloister farm Rothsee, southeast of Weilheim, because in February of that year she was married there at the age of seventeen to John Oesch. Barbara and John and two children were still living at Rothsee when John obtained an inland pass to travel to Zweibrücken, Germany in February, 1823.

The trip to Zweibrücken was likely made in preparation for a more extended one to America. By December 1823, the family was at Probfeld on the Danube Marsh between Neuburg and Ingolstadt. Barbara gave birth there to her third child in December, and they named him John. He died May 2 the following year.

By 1 June 1824 the Oesch family, along with Barbara's widowed father and several of her unmarried siblings left from Neuburg on the Danube en route to Amsterdam. There they boarded the Brig Ospray, arriving in New York on 2 September 1824.

John and Barbara stopped in Pennsylvania to procure a yoke of oxen and a wagon to make the trip to Upper Canada. They lived in Waterloo Township for a few years until John was able to prepare a cabin and clearing on Snyder's Road where the village of Baden would eventually be founded.

Barbara gave birth to two children in Waterloo (1825 and 1827). By that time they were assessed for two cows besides the oxen they had brought from Pennsylvania. The cows provided much needed nourishment for her growing family. By 1828 Barbara and John and their four children were settled in Wilmot Township.

For the next two decades, Barbara's time and energy was consumed in bearing children and feeding and taking care of them. In February 1829, John was ordained a minister in the small but growing Amish Mennonite settlement in Wilmot, and in September of the same year he was ordained to the office of "full ministry" (bishop) to succeed Peter Nafziger who leaving for Butler County, Ohio. Thus, the responsibilities of a minister's wife were added to Barbara's life.

By 1847 Barbara had given birth to 17 children, three of whom did not survive childhood. John was anxious to find more land for his growing family which included eight sons. Once more the frontier was beckoning and John set out on foot along the Huron Road which passed through the southern part of Wilmot and went all the way to Goderich on Lake Huron. Canada Company lands were still available, and John found what was needed in Hay Township.

Early in 1849 the family (except the children already married) moved to Bayfield on Lake Huron, from where John and the older boys began clearing and building a homestead on what is now the Bronson Line, a short distance south of the hamlet of Blake. In March Barbara gave birth to her 18th child in Bayfield.

In March of 1850, life for Barbara and her family changed drastically with John's death. The older children continued to build up the homestead and arranged for several of them - sons and daughters - to procure lands for which their father had signed contracts. The children found marriage partners. Six of them chose to leave Canada for the western states. Two died premature deaths, leaving spouses and children. One daughter and her husband took over the homestead farm and Barbara continued to live with them.

In January of 1881 Barbara died rather suddenly at the age of 77 years. She had given birth to 18 children, raised 15 of them to adulthood and outlived her husband by at least 30 years. The obituary in the Herald of Truth stated, "The Amish church has lost a shining light." It will be up to our imaginations to interpret her "shining light."


Rich, Elaine Sommers. "Barbara Schultz Oesch," in Mennonite Women, A Story of God's Faithfulness, 1683-1983. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1983: 57-60. (Some of the historical details have been revised by Lorraine Roth since 1983.)

Roth, Lorraine. "An Introduction to the Amish Mennonite Individuals and Families who Immigrated to Canada: 'Esch / Oesch.'" Unpublished manuscript, Waterloo, ON, 2005.

Roth, Lorraine. John and Barbara (Schultz) Oesch Family History and Genealogy. 2 v. Kitchener, ON: Lorraine Roth, 1966.

"Sister Oesch." in Herald of Truth 18 (March 1881): 52.

Author(s) Lorraine Roth
Date Published November 2005

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MLA style

Roth, Lorraine. "Oesch, Barbara Schultz (1803-1881)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. November 2005. Web. 24 Mar 2019. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Oesch,_Barbara_Schultz_(1803-1881)&oldid=162237.

APA style

Roth, Lorraine. (November 2005). Oesch, Barbara Schultz (1803-1881). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 March 2019, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Oesch,_Barbara_Schultz_(1803-1881)&oldid=162237.

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