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To escape the intolerant Catholic rulers of the time, many Anabaptists (termed thus because they viewed baptism valid only when a conscious declaration of faith was made [therefore rejected infant baptism] and believed in the separation of church from state and in simplicity of life) took the long, arduous and treacherous journey from their homeland to a new land called America that offered religious freedom to anyone who lived there.

Jacob Hochstetler, Sr. was an Anabaptist preacher who is purported to have been born in Winterkraut, Switzerland which is a small hamlet of seven or so farms that is in the Swarzenburgerland area. The religious persecution of those who believed that it should be the conscious decision of an adult to be baptized (hence the name "Anabaptist") became so gruesome and widespread that the preacher and his wife decided to escape to Ste. Marie-aux-Mines in Alsace, France. It was there that his son, the eventual immigrant, Jacob Hochstetler (same name) was born. The family lived near and attended the church parish of Jacob Amman who was one of the founders of the Amish religion and its namesake.

At age 26, the younger Jacob Hochstetler, due to increased harassment and dangers as a result of his faith, decided to emigrate through Rotterdam to Philadelphia to take Willam Penn up on his offers of religious freedom and affordable land. Jacob arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 9, 1738 with his wife (name unknow even though there are several theories) and two small children on the ship "Charming Nancy". They spoke the language of the land they left which was very similar to an early form of "Pennsylvania Dutch". The young family settled in the Northkill area of what is now Berks County, Pennsylvania with others of their faith, called Amish Mennonites in the New World. Here, near Shartlesville, additional children were born. The economy of the Amish community was based on farming, and they tried to live peaceably with all people.

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