Wistar Family: A Genealogy of the Descendants of Caspar Wistar, Emigrant in 1717

The book “Wistar Family: A Genealogy of the Descendants of Caspar Wistar, Emigrant in 1717” delves into the fascinating history of the Wistar family, tracing its roots back to Caspar Wistar, who was born on February 3, 1696, to Hans Caspar and Anna Catharina Wüster in Hilspach, near Heidelberg in the Electorate of the Rhenish Palatinate. Caspar’s father served as a huntsman or forester for the Prince Palatine, a position that was hereditary in their family.

Interestingly, Caspar Wistar could have inherited this comfortable position but chose a different path. Rejecting his inheritance and the opportunity to succeed his father, he decided to forge his own destiny in America. In preparation for his journey, he gave up his share of the patrimony to his sisters and asked his father to provide him with an outfit and pay for his passage.

Caspar arrived in Philadelphia on September 16, 1717, with only his clothing, a double-barreled gun, and a pistareen. His first job in America was harvesting apples, for which he was paid in kind. He then worked various jobs, including wheeling ashes for a soap and candle maker and making buttons from metal, wood, and horn. His name “Wistar” is first recorded in 1721 when he swore allegiance to King George, suggesting he adopted this spelling sometime after his arrival in America.

Caspar Wistar became a prominent figure in his community. He married Catherine, the daughter of Dirck Jansen of Germantown, on May 25, 1726. His enterprising spirit led him to notice sand in New Jersey similar to that used in Germany for glassmaking. Lacking sufficient funds, he borrowed capital and established America’s first glassworks around 1739 or 1740. This venture was later continued by his son Richard after Caspar’s death.

Caspar’s character and resilience were evident when he was nominated for a political office. His opponent, attempting to embarrass him, hired a man to wheel ashes near the polls on election day. Caspar responded by showing the man the correct way to wheel the ashes, an act that won him the election unanimously.

Caspar Wistar passed away on March 21, 1752, as a prosperous merchant, living on High Street (now Market Street) between Front and Third in Philadelphia. His will, made shortly before his death, bequeathed various tools, materials, and properties to his family, showing a well-established and respected man who contributed significantly to his community and laid the foundations for the generations of the Wistar family that followed​.

This manuscript has two supplements found in the rear of the pdf which contains corrections and additions to the genealogy and narrative material initially published. As with all data in which there are no sources given, readers are cautioned to find primary source documents which validate the material here, rather than solely rely on it for their own genealogy.



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