Troy's Genealogue

What's New?:


Family Histories:

KESTER (KÜSTER) Family History, Part I

October 2009
Much of the early Kester family history comes from "The Pound and Kester Families" by John Eddy Hunt, Chicago: Regan Printing House, 1904.

The Kester (Küster) family goes back 13 generations with their immigration from Germany about 325 years ago. It begins in the Mennonite community of Krefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, with Paul Küster1 and his wife, Gertrude Streyper. They and their three sons immigrated to America about 1685 and were among the first to settle Germantown, Pennsylvania, now absorbed by Philadelphia. Their migration, and the many Germans that followed, became known as the "Pennsylvania Dutch."

Origin of Kester
"The name of 'Kester' is derived from the German word 'Küster' or 'Kuester,' which is closely allied to the Holland family name of 'Köster.' The word 'Küster' is difficult to pronounce in English and probably for this reason has been changed by different American families to the form of 'Kester,' 'Koster,' 'Custer,' and other similar names."
• Excerpt from "The Pound and Kester Families" by John Eddy Hunt, 1904; page 301:

Paul's son, Johannes Küster2 joined the Religious Society of Friends ("Quakers") after arriving in Germantown. Two of his sons, Paul Kester3 and Hermanus Kester3 were Quakers. Paul married Ruth Kitchen and had at least four children before dying at an early age. Paul's3 eldest son, William Kester4, was raised by a Quaker family while his other children went to live with his brother Hermanus and his wife Anne (Large) Kester.

William4 later married his cousin, Hermanus'3 daughter, Elizabeth Kester,4 and may have been "cut off" from the Quaker church. They had one son, Paul Kester5, before Elizabeth died. William remarried to Elizabeth Lacock/Leacock and had three more children. They eventually moved to Allegany County in western Maryland by the 1780s and then to Nelson County, Kentucky, south of Louisville, in 1786. In 1795, William moved about 30 miles north to Elk Creek, now in Spencer County. There Elizabeth died and William remarried to Sarah (Martin Pound) Stigler in 1810.

Paul Kester5 married Ruhama Bonham and later moved north from Kentucky into Ohio, settling briefly at Middletown, Butler County, and later north into Preble County. He served during the War of 1812 and upon its conclusion, and while heading home, he was killed in April 1814.

Paul's son, John Bonham Kester, Sr.6, continued west to Vigo County, Indiana, by 1817, and later north to Montgomery County, Indiana around 1822. John served in the Black Hawk War (1831-1832) in Illinois, and a few years later pushed further west to Cedar Bluff, Cedar County, Iowa.

John's daughter, Sarah Ann Kester7, married David John Miller in Cedar County, Iowa, and started a family in neighboring Johnson County.

About 1860, Sarah's brother, James Layson Kester, moved to California and eventually settled in San Luis Obispo County in 1867. The following year, Sarah's son, Isaac Dennis Miller8, also moved to San Luis Obispo County. Sarah eventually followed.

Paul KÜSTER1 (1644-~1707)

1. Paul (Paulus) Küster1 was from Krefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia, near Düsseldorf, Germany, and reportedly born in 1644 in nearby Kaldenkirchen. He married Gertrude Streyper/Streper, of Kaldenkirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia, and had at least three sons in Krefeld:

11. Arnold Küster (1668) Dec 1739 -- 
12. Johannes Küster2 Dec 1670 <11 Oct 1708 (37)
13. Hermanus Küster 18 Oct 1681 1 Feb 1760 (78)
"Pennsylvania Dutch"
After William Penn established the colony of Pennsylvania as a refuge for persecuted Quakers and other religious groups in 1681, Francis Daniel Pastorius led a group of 13 Mennonite families from Krefeld, in the Rheinland-Pfalz (Lower Palatinate), across the Atlantic in 1683, and founded Germantown in Pennsylvania (now part of Philadelphia). The following influx of German immigrants from the Lower Palatinate and Oberpfalz of northeast Bavaria (Upper Palatinate) began after 1710. These populations of Germans (Deutschlanders), through corruption of English, became known as the "Pennsylvania Dutch".

The Küster family, Mennonites from Krefeld, probably immigrated to America about 1685. They were among the first settlers of Germantown, Pennsylvania, which has since been absorbed by Philadelphia.[Hunt 301]

Gertrude (Streyper) Küster "was a native of Kaldenkirchen, Germany. She was a sister of Wilhelm and Jan Streyper, and a cousin through her mother of Herman, Abraham and Dirck Op Den Graaf, the last two of whom, with others, signed the first written protest against slavery proclaimed in America."
• "The Pound and Kester Families," John Eddy Hunt, 1904. 302.

The Küsters flourished in Germantown. Paul was chosen as a committeeman for Germantown on December 2, 1700, and later was appointed as an overseer of fences in the municipality on January 5, 1706.[Hunt 301]

Paul purchased a 50 acres from Henry Bucholtz on December 4, 1704.[Hunt 301]

Paul Küster apparently died prior to January 28, 1707/8, the date that his will was executed by his sons "Arnolt Custer," "Hermanus Kusters," and "Johannes Kosters."[Hunt 302]

  • Hunt, John Eddy. The Pound and Kester Families. Chicago: Regan Printing House, 1904.

Arnold KÜSTER (1668-1739)

11. Arnold Küster was born about 1668 in Krefeld or Kaldenkirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia, near Düsseldorf, Germany, and likely the eldest of three brothers who immigrated with their parents from Krefeld about 1685. He married a woman named Elizabeth.[Hunt 302]

Arnold Küster reportedly died in December 1739.

Arnold's descendants settled on the surnames Custer and Custard.

  • Hunt, John Eddy. The Pound and Kester Families. Chicago: Regan Printing House, 1904.

Johannes KÜSTER2 (1670-1708)

12. Johannes Küster2 (or Koster) was born on December 10 or 12, 1670, probably in Krefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia, near Düsseldorf, Germany. He immigrated with his family about 1685 and settled in Germantown, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. He married Elizabeth Cassell (Kassell) on August 31, 1692, in the Quaker community at Abington, Montgomery County, Pennyslvania, north of Philadelphia. They raised at least six children:[Hunt 303]

121. John Koster (9 Aug) 1693 24 Mar 1760 (66)
122. Margaret Kester 13 Aug 1694 --  -- 
123. Rynier Kester 26 May 1696 >20 May 1762 (65)
124. Hermanus Kester2 2 Nov 1703 --  -- 
125. Paul Kester2 (1706) (1740s) -- 
126. Peter Kester --  --  -- 

Johannes' family were Mennonites from Krefeld, but Johannes became a member of the Religious Society of Friends ("Quakers") sometime after arriving in Germantown. Johannes was listed among the first 34 inhabitants on Germantown and was later naturalized by the Deputy Governor on March 7, 1691.[Hunt 303]

Elizabeth was the daughter of Johannes Cassell (Kassell), a weaver who immigrated to Germantown from Kresheim, Germany, in 1686.[Hunt 303] Kresheim is believed to have been near Krefeld.

By 1693, the Küster family had moved about 20 miles north along the Delaware River to Bristol in neighboring Bucks County, where their first son was born. They returned to Germantown by 1694 and for the most part stayed in Germantown despite purchasing land in Skippack, about 18 miles northwest in neighboring Montgomery County, in 1704. Johannes served as a constable in Germantown at various times between 1695 and 1706, and in 1707 became one of the Burgesses of Germantown. Johannes' will also noted that he had owned land in Springfield, Delaware County, about 12 miles southwest of Germantown.[Hunt 303-304]

Johannes' descendants hold that Johannes had also been a surveyor who helped survey the state of Pennsylvania and received land for payment of his services.[Hunt 304]

Surname Variations
Proceedings of Johannes will note a variety of spellings of his surname and that of his sons, including "Küster," "Kusters," "Kosters," "Custers," and "Custurs". These variants were even noted among their signatures.

Johannes Küster died in Germantown around October 11, 1708, the date that an inventory of his estate was signed. He was survived by is wife and children between the ages of about 2 and 15. His will noted that Johannes was a mason.[Hunt 304]

Elizabeth (Cassell) Küster was living in Germantown at the time of Johannes' death and is said to have died soon after her husband.[Hunt 302]

  • Hunt, John Eddy. The Pound and Kester Families. Chicago: Regan Printing House, 1904.

Hermanus KÜSTER (1681-1760)

13. Hermanus Küster was born on October 19, 1681, born in Krefeld or Kaldenkirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia, near Düsseldorf, Germany. He was christened in Kaldenkirchen on March 8, 1682. He immigrated with his family about 1685 and settled in Germantown, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. He married Isabella Conrad in 1706.[Hunt 302]

Hunt notes that, unlike the Kester descendants of Johannes, Hermanus' descendants mainly spelled their surname as "Custer."[Hunt 303]

  • Hunt, John Eddy. The Pound and Kester Families. Chicago: Regan Printing House, 1904.