Mifflin County Biographies
"History of the Juniata Valley and Its People, Vol. II" 1913

Joseph Hartzler Byler


Joseph Hartzler Byler, of Belleville, Pennsylvania, a Swiss by direct descent and a born and bred American in the truest sense of the word, comes from honorable people on both the paternal and the distaff side. Both the Byler and Hartzler families are reckoned among the most substantial in Pennsylvania, and have contributed their quota to the wealth, prosperity and upbuilding of the state.

Rev. John Byler, among the first of the name born in the United States, was of straight Swiss descent. The family lived for hundreds of years in an Alpine valley in the homes that they inherited from their sturdy progenitors. He was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, when that country was yet young. He moved to Mifflin county, Pennsylvania, and settled near Allensville, in Menno township. He died there and was the first adult male to be buried in the Amish Mennonite cemetery, near Allensville. He followed farming as an occupation and was a bishop of high standing in the Amish Mennonite church. He was one of the prominent men of his township and was known far and wide for the exceeding fairness of his judgment. He accumulated considerable property, among it being a farm now owned by Joseph Kanagy.

Joseph, son of Bishop John Byler, of the Amish Mennonite church, was born, reared and married in Allensville. He married Mary Lantz, a daughter of a neighbor of the same faith as himself. After their marriage he purchased the interest of the other heirs in his father's farm and lived there for some time. Later he bought a farm near Coldwater, Union township, and there he died at a good old age. He followed agriculture as a life pursuit, making it bring him good results. He lived a quiet, uneventful life, devoted to his faith and the Amish Mennonite church; a good neighbor, a staunch friend commanding the respect of all coming in contact with him. He was an active supporter of the Republican party, especially locally, though never holding office. Children: Elizabeth, Leah, John L., of whom further; Joseph, Benjamin, Solomon, Jonathan, David, Isaac, Eli, Mary and Samuel. David, Eli and Samuel live in Mifflin county, and Mary, the wife of David Blank, lives in Lancaster.

John L., son of Joseph and Mary (Lantz) Byler, was born in Mifflin county, in 1827. He married Elizabeth Hartzler, born in 1826, in Mifflin county, and lived after marriage for five years in Union county. John L. moved next to Mifflin county, where he purchased a small farm in Union township. He died here, October 23, 1866, at the age of thirty-nine, of creeping paralysis. Both he and his wife were members of the Amish Mennonite church, of that localitv. His wife married a second time, becoming the wife of Christian Zook, and after his death moved to Goshen, Indiana, where she makes her home with her daughter, Eri. Children: 1. Eli lives near Newton, Kansas, where he farms. 2. Eri, widow of Rufus Voder, makes her home at Goshen, Indiana. 3. Joseph Hartzler, of whom further. 4. Christian, lives in Champaign county, Ohio, a farmer and a minister of the Mennonite church. 5. Mary, married Joseph E. Hartzler, and lives in Cass county, Missouri. 6. Hannah, married Samuel Plank, now living in Goshen, Indiana. 7. John, in mercantile business in Newton, Kansas.

Joseph Hartzler, son of John L. and Elizabeth (Hartzler) Byler, was born August 7, 1853, in Kishacoquillas valley, Union township, Mifflin county, Pennsylvania. Like his forbears, he is of that hardy Swiss stock that long since has taken deep and permanent root in American soil. The family has flourished and grown strong in numbers, in importance and in this world's goods. He was educated in the public schools of the township and was reared in the free life of the farm. When quite a boy he went to live with an uncle at Allensville, where he attended the village school. Leaving school he selected farming as his occupation. After some years on the farm of his father-in-law, David J. Zook, he bought the Byler homestead of twenty-four acres, and there lived twenty years, doing general farming. For the past twenty-eight years he has been a minister of the Amish Mennonite church, having success in his ministerial work. He is held in high esteem by not only those of his own faith, but all those who know him. He is a devout man, but broad minded and kindly, and commands the respect and love of his associates. He is a Republican in politics, working in a quiet way for the ticket, but he has never aspired to office and has never held any. He married (first) January 3, 1878, Nancy Zook, a native of Mifflin county, daughter of David J. Zook. like himself a devout member of the Amish Mennonite church. She died March 7, 1907. Children: 1. Lydia A., married Jacob A. Hartzler. and died in June, 1909, leaving four children: Carrie, John. Maud and Anna L. 2. John Ira, lives in Toronto, Canada, where he has charge of a Mennonite mission church; married Amanda Froyer; three children: Harold, Orpha and John. 3. Carrie E., married John Yoder; lives near Belleville, Pennsylvania; children: Paul and Elma. 4. David, died in infancy. 5. Sadie, attends Bible school in Toronto, Canada. 6. Joseph, at home. 7. Titus, died aged four years. 8. Ida Ruth. 9. Naomi. He married (second) February 11, 1909, Mrs. Elizabeth Spicher, a native of Mifflin county, daughter of John Zook. In all of Mifflin county there is no one who is more highly respected than Mr. Byler, and his family stands for sobriety, honor and right living.

On the distaff side Mr. Byler descends from an honest, hard working, conscientious family of men and women. His maternal grandparents were Christian Hartzler and his wife, Elizabeth Kauffman, who were among the early settlers of Union township, where he lived and died on the farm that he owned for years. Both belonged to the Amish Mennonite church, and they were God-fearing, law-abiding citizens of Pennsylvania. Christian Hartzler was of direct Swiss descent, the family coming from near the line, which is largely German. His wife was of pure German extraction, and came from the large family of Kauffmans scattered the length and breadth of Germany. Their children were: Hannah, Nancy, Sarah, Samuel, Lydia, Elizabeth, Eri, who married Jacob Detweiler and makes her home in the south; Fannie and John.



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