Kistler Family History Page
Edited by Craig L. Kistler

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Kistler Lore

Coat of Arms History

The distinquished surname of Kistler (kister, kistner, kuster, kustner, kessler, kestler, etc.,) is an occupational name. The name is a shortening of Kistermacher or Chest Maker. The surname Kistler comes from the Latin word "custos" = meaning a guardian or keeper. According to the Kistler Coat of Arms, the first Kistler's were chestmakers. Orginally the name was that of a Guild rather than of a family. There are still many Kistler's in the upper Rhine regions of Switzerland and Germany. (Over 1,000 in Switzerland in 1999 - Craig Kistler) Scores of those who lived centuries ago are now honored as the progenitors of large relationships. it is therefore difficult for a family multiplying for 200 years in America to trace its European ancestry.

The Kistler Coat of Arms points to membership in the old German Hanseatic league. The Kistler Coat of Arms also points to the time of chivalry during the Holy Crusades (time 1000 to 1500).

General Family History

The first Peter Kistler and his son Peter kistler, the Priest.... Peter Kistler the First, was Chief magistrate of the city of Berne, Switzerland from 1440 to 1480 and was Chief Advisor until he died in 1489. His son, reverend peter kistler is spoken of in terms of priest, Abbott, Monsignor, Koeper of a large monestary, envoy, any ambassador......... A holy Crusade or Hanseatic League exploit. Thru any one of these , no doubt, our early Kistler's became land owners and so-called "burger". In this way it became possible for our first Kistler's to become land owners and free men reather than serf slaves. The old German Archives tell of the great-grandfather of Peter kistler the First, already being a land owner and paying trivute to his over-lord. this was in the early 1200 period, the time of King Rudoph, the first Ruler of the Hapsburg Dynasty.......................

The relation of the first King Rudoph to the early grand - parents of the Kistler's was likely that of loyal servants to the now elected king, in lieu of which services, he, King Rudolph, gave or sold a piece of land to these early Kistler's. the act of which lifted them out of the old state of feudal serf, into that of free holder, or burger class........... Therefore a dozen or more of the first born sons of these Kistler's were named "Rudolph" after their beloved King. the father of our American John George kistler was named Hans Rudolph, and his great-grandfather was named hans Jacob.............

The old Hanseatic League of Germany was a strong protection guild of special import. ........ The purpose of this league was to protect childhood, womanhood, and also to make trade, commerce and travel safer from attacks of theves and banditry, as well as to help the Church and State to recieve their taces and proper support. they were in other words a "Law Enforcement Organization" of those days..............

In those days it was considered as a mark of distinction and honor to be spoken of as a "Hans-mon"...... Our conclusion based upon the above historic fact is that name Hons-Jorj- Johannes Kistler, our first American forefather, was so-called because of his membership in the Hans league......... peter Kistler the first, as a Hans-mon led a part of the German Austrian Arms and was a banner carrier of the colors during his reign of forty years in Berne..........


Allemannisch (Alemannisch, Allemannic, Alemannic, Schwyzerdutsch, Alsatian = tribes of Austria)

Kistler's Religios following

The following information was sent to me by Thomas Kistler from Switzerland on March 19, 1999.

Our Swiss ancestors originally came from Reichenburg, Canton Schwyz. Canton is like a US-county, e.g. Dade county. In early 16th century, Switzerland went through a process called reformation. The Swiss reformers, Johannes Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli, were inspired by the famous German Martin Luther. Words like Renaissance and Humanism became very popular in the reformers’ vocabulary. Calvin and Zwingli were responsible that the dominant catholic church were divided in Catholics and Protestants. In the year 1531 there was a hefty confessions war. On October 11, 1531, 1000 people died in a battle called Kappel near Zurich. The reformers lost that battle and their leader Ulrich Zwingli was killed. With that victory the Catholics had good cards for the peace negotiations which took place on the government level in Bern. In the peace agreement, it had been decided that the former protestant region of Rapperswil, where Reichenburg lays, was hand over to the Catholics. Protestants were forced to leave. Among them our protestant ancestors. The Protestants Kistler moved to the Fricktal area. Fricktal lays between Baden and Basel. You still find lots of Protestant Kistler families in that area. The catholic families Kistler stayed in the Region of Reichenburg.

That is what I have been told by my old relatives. If you want to do a thorough investigation you should contact the communities of Reichenburg, Pfäffikon SZ and Rapperswil for the catholic tribe and Frick, Effingen and Bozen for the protestant tribe. In the archives of the cantons Aargau and Schwyz you will definitely find information.

Coat of Arms: #2 is what is believed to be the current and most widely known Kistler- Coat of Arms.

Sorry my dictionary could not translate all the German Language when I recieved my papers from Switzerland. Thus some of the unknown words. They just happen to be German Words, not English.

No. 1 - similarly on brabstein Peter more kistler unde more uber strike-stubbornly in the old; raben; more spater a talking coat of arms arose.
No. 2 - church-fixed of rich castle; in blue a golden katschen, uberhoht from three golden lilies. newer date is the gravestone coat of arms to rich castle;
No. 3 more geschafts traveler with the taschche

Barbara Kistler Ludlow wrote the following information in her genealogy book, "Johannes George Kistler & Family"

The kistlers, like thousands of other American families, descended from the Allemanni. it is supposed that the great Germanic races were the rear guard of the Aryan migrations into the West. the course which brought them out of Asia into Europe ran across Armenia, around the Black Sea to the northwest. Thence westward through what is now Russia, into the countries where they were destined to establish themselves. The began to appear between the Main and Danube about the beginning of the third centur. the franks called them the allemage. the name as well as the language of the ancient people of southwestern Germany , or the Palatinate, is still known as the allemanni.

The Allemanni occupied the palatinate until 496 A.D., when Clodwig, King of the fanks, defeated them in battle on the upper Rhine. Afterwards the settled in Swabia (Wurttemberg) and Switzerland. they were and still are among the best farmers in the world. In many districts they have cultivated the soil for 30 successive generations. They were also noted for their idomintable industry, keen wit, independence, and high degree of intelligence.

In Pennsylvania the springs that had determined the loaction of the Indian wigwams also attracted the early white settlers. After the settlers had erected their log cabins and cleared the land, they found to ther great discouragement that the soil was uproductive. So great were the privations they suffered here that the region, including what is now Kistler's Valley, became known as Allemaengel, which means "all wants". The fertile fields of Whitehall, 20 miles east, from which they had to bring their provisions on foot or horseback, were called Egypt.

By careful, intelligent cultivation, the Allemaengel of long alo has been converted into rich valleys, with their fine farms, abundant crops, spacious homes, large Swiss barns and all modern implements and appliances for the best possible results in soil production. Today ancient stone buildings are numberous and well preserved in the valley.

The early Kistler settlers suffered from depredations of the Indians during the French and Indian War. They aided in the defense of the lives of their neighbors and protection of property.

The Kistlers of Pennsylvania were members of the Lutheran Church. They attended the Jerusalem Church, which is not far from Kempton and near New Tropoli, which is in the southern end of Kistler's Valley.

Kistler in early records is spelled in a number of ways as (Kistler, Kester, Kisiler, Kiesler, Kesler, Kessler, Kishler, etc. The meaning of the name is box maker or chest maker. A chest appears on the Kistler Coat of Arms, which had its origin during the Holy Crusades. As noters, a well made chest was necessary in traveling and as a receptacle for the security of their records.

Mr. Brobst, (Brobst genealogist that has followed some of the Kistler tree due to Kistler's marrying many Brobst family members) has written, "The name may have been changed from Kustler ("u" with an umlaut) or Kuestler, to Kistler, due to the pronounciation of the name to the English clerks at immigration. It is noted that the 1745 petition to the Commonwealth's court in Philadelphia asking for a public road from maxawayny (Abraham Levan's mill) to Upper Hanover was signed by a Johannes Kustler and Jurg Kustler, both using the umlaut on the "u". However per Jan Binkly, one record in the staatsarchiv in Bern, Switzerland, shows his name as kistler."

The Kistlers were faithful adherents to the Catholic Church up to the time of the reformation, when those of the Canton Bern became Protestants. A number of them are still in the ministry of the Lutheran Church.

Hans or Hons was the title used by the german people indication the bearer belonging to an organization or league promoting law and order. They were often mounted and hooded and were officially knighted.

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