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Ineptly designed and maintained by Daniel L. Loss

Welcome to the Loss/Lose family history page. This page is dedicated to the descendants of Jacob Looß who arrived in Philadelphia on the ship Edinburgh on October 2, 1753.


When I started my genealogical research I quickly found that the Loss name wasn't always spelled as it is today. Once I understood that my family name spelling was as much the result of arbitrary decisions as it was phonetic factors, my research became much more fruitful.

The origin of the family name, according to Markus Weidenbach of Genealogie GMX (a genealogy research site in Germany), stems from Nickolaus. He explained that this is a so-called Patronym (a surname which developed from a male first name). The popularity of this name explains why the name in its many varieties is spread throughout Germany. Over 300 different surnames developed from the first name Nikolaus, which can be very different depending upon the region: Nod, Nickel, Klaus, Claes, Claisen, Cloos, Claves, Laus, Loos etc. The development of the final surnames was a procedure, which took place in Germany between 1400 and 1700. Local name habits and settlement density played a large role. In the rural areas, where the settlements were far apart, the names developed very late while city citizens had firmly established surnames often before 1500. The surnames did not have anything to do with the social conditions, status, occupation, or physical description of the originator. There is a fairly even distribution of Looß in Germany but the highest density is in Saxony.

The first records of the Lose/Loss family in America, which were passenger lists, contained signitures that show that the original spelling of the family name (in German) to be Looß (the "ß" being equivalent to a double "S"). A German steward from Lufthansa Airlines told me, when shown the signiture, that the correct pronounciation is most similar to "LOWS" (the opposite of "highs") with the "O" drawn out. No less than nine different English renderings have been discovered between 1740 and 1880 (Loss, Lose, Los, Lohs, Loos, Loose, Loz, Losz, Loosz) but as our ancestors became literate in English the variations dwindled. The predominant spelling, in Central Pennsylvania, prior to the 20th century was 'Lose'. However, in Southeastern Pennsylvania 'Loos' was predominant.

In the late 19th century a movement, reportedly led by Ammon Loss (the son of Benjamin Loss) in the Susquehanna Valley, prompted a large number of family members to change the 'e' to an 's'. Why Ammon felt compelled to make this change and convince others to follow suit is not clearly known. Kenneth Loss, the son of John Loss, related that Ammon was convinced that "Lose" was similar to the German word for "mother pig" or "sow". Robert Loss of Middleburg also told me that his great-grandfather, William, was tired of the reference and went to court to legally change his name to 'Loss' sometime around 1873. While sitting at a small foodstand in Kutztown I struck up a conversation with an elderly gentleman who had been speaking Pennsylvania Dutch with a friend. I asked him about the meaning of lose and he confirmed that it did mean "mother pig". He also told me that while on a trip to that area of Germany that was formerly the Palatinate he had no difficulties speaking with the locals. Clearly the Palatinate dialect of German is Pennsylvania Dutch and the dialect has remained relatively unchanged throughout the centuries.

Whatever the spelling in the Census and tax records, Benjamin Loss (1827-1899) continued to use the "Looss" spelling. His family bible, which is currently in the possession of Charles Loss, Jr., contains the birth records of most of his children and the Old World spelling is used. Several entries do not use this spelling however. Charles Loss, Sr. had the entries translated by a professor of German at Elizabethtown University and this professor surmised that these entries were made by one of the older children. It may be that Ammon looked at his father's entries and simply dropped an 'o'. Who knows?

In Southeastern Pennsylvania a similar movement to change the family spelling resulted in 'Loose' becoming more widely used. Whatever the reasons, the movements created four distinct veins within the family name whose difference in spelling can be traced back a mere 120 or so years.

The story of the Lose/Loss family in North America begins across the Atlantic in the North Sea port of Rotterdam. Germany would not exist as a unified nation for another 130 years. In the century from 1700 to 1800 vast numbers of German speaking peoples would immigrate, largely as families, to North America and specifically Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania had gained popularity with Germans because of its liberal voting requirements, religious freedom, and reputation for rich farmland. Most of these people came from an area known as the Palatinate (known today by the Germans as Pfalz). The area had vague boundaries and at one point consisted of as many as 44 separate countries.

In the years following Luther's posting of his thesis Catholic authority in many German-speaking countries waned as Protestant numbers grew. The Catholic Church retaliated by waging open warfare against the Protestants. In 1685 the Edict of Nantes, a document that granted equality under the law to Protestants, was revoked. The Thirty Years War ensued, leaving most of the Protestant population in the Palatinate dead. After the war the Elector in control of the Palatinate promised religious freedom to Protestants encouraging large numbers to flood the area. Unfortunately, a Catholic Elector succeeded this Elector and the persecution was rekindled. This set the stage for the Great Palatinate migration that saw so many German-speaking peoples enter America. By the first census of the United States in 1790 fully one-third of all Pennsylvanians spoke German as their primary language. Many came as "free-willers" or "redemptioners"; terms used to describe a practice that was an 18th century form of indentured servitude. The immigrant would agree to work for a period of 3 to 6 years for the person who paid his fare upon his arrival in North America.

On October 2, 1753 the Edinburgh sailed into Philadelphia's port carrying Johannes Georg Looß, who was 38, and Jacob Looß, who was 24. With Johannes Georg were his wife Anna Margareta and at least two sons (Jacob and Conrad). It appears Jacob arrived single and later married Anna Barbara Uhrich on 2/6/1758. Johannes Georg moved into Bern Township, Berks County and quickly established himself. Tax records of the period do not show a Johannes Georg but a marker in the Salem Belleman Union Church cemetary indicates his descendants are buried in the old cemetary. Further investigation revealed that Johannes Georg went by "George" in tax and church records. Even his will never contained his true first name. Johannes died in Berks County in 1803. His son, Jacob, is buried at Belleman's cemetary, along with his wife and generations of Loos' that progress up to recent times. Both Jacob and Conrad served in the Continental Army during the War for Independance, Jacob as an eighth class and Conrad as a fourth class, under Captain Emerick. A third Loos, George, also served in the war but the identity of his parents remains unknown. This George later moved to Westmoreland County where he died around 1830. Enlistment for the War was done on yearly intervals and all three men had at least four services (indicating 4 years) associated with their names.

Jacob Loos, the son of Johannes Georg Loos, married Magdalina _______ in approximately 1764. There are records of at least one son and one daughter, Anna Margareth (2/12/1769), and Jacob (8/22/1774). Jacob was enumerated in the census of 1790 with a total of 13 persons in his household.

Johannes second son, Conrad (?-1802), had established a household with Christiana (his wife) by 1779 in Bern Township. He remained in Bern Township until his demise in 1802. He and Christiana had at least two daughters and a son. Anna Maria and Catharine were both Christened on May 10, 1778 while Jacob is listed in tax records as "Jacob Loos, of Conrad". Conrad was enumerated with two males under 16 and three females in the 1790 census.

Jacob Looß, of the Edinburgh (1729-178?), established himself in Tulpehocken Township in 1754 and remained there until at least 1778. He fought in the Revolution for Captain Emerick's company, even though he was in his late 40's when the war broke out. After his involvement in the war, Jacob moved to what is now Schyulkill County where he was buried in either North or South Manheim Township. Because he does not appear in any census records for the United States, one can only presume that he died prior to 1790. He and his wife Anna Barbara had at least one son, John (Johannes) George (born 5/11/1766) and two daughters, Maria Magdelena (born 3/15/1769) and Susanna (born 9/22/1771).

So by 1790 there are three Loos households with males under the age of sixteen, a significant fact since our ancestor, George, was born in 1785. Conrad and Jacob Loos, the sons of Johannes Georg, and John George Looß, who was the son of Jacob Looß of the Edinburgh.

In 1785 George Lose was born in Bern Township and would be counted as a head of household for the first time in Pinegrove Township, Berks County in 1810. By 1807 there were two George Lose's (Loos) living within Berks County. Since these men did not live in the same township, it is possible to determine which one is our George by following the disapperance of one in the tax records of Southeastern Pennsylvania and coordinating it with the appearance of a George Lose in the tax records in Central Pennsylvania. What we know for certain is that he was a tenant farmer who by 1826 had made his way to Union Township, Union County where he farmed 125 acres (according to Union County tax records). Sometime after 1830 he moved to Center Township in present day Snyder County where it appears he remained until his death in 1864.

To compound problems both George Loos' became taxpayers within two years of each other, making them of comparable age. The first George appears in 1805 as a single freeman in Bern Township and the second as a married man in 1807 in Manheim Township. The second George is living next door to John Loos, which is a strong indication of father-son relationship. A review of baptism records for St. Paul's (Summer Hill) Church shows that Johannes Loos and wife were the sponsors of George and Maria's daughter Rebecka. Rebecka is listed as the daughter of our George Lose in both church and orphan's court records in central Pennsylvania. Based on tax, church, and orphans court records, it is evident that Johannes, the son of Jacob Looß of the Edinburgh, is our ancestor.

With all this said, another question arises. What is the relationship between Johannes Georg Looß and Jacob Looß? There were only three Loos' to settle in Berks County, Pennsylvania and the fact that two of these men arrived upon the same ship, and settled in the same area of Berks County is far too large a coincidance to be ignored. I have no proof but suspect that Johannes George and Jacob were brothers. The answer to this question may never be found.

While Jacob came from the Palatinate it is obvious from our previous discussion of the Thirty Years War that the original Protestant population of the Palatinate was ahnillated. Jacob's ancestors must have come from another region of Germany into the Palatinate after the war was over. Johannes Georg has been reported by a Charles Loose to be the son of Johannes Christoffel Loos of Rheinplatz. There is no such place as Rheinplatz; however, there is a place named Rheinpfalz, which is evidently where he was actually from.

I have received several reports from various sources that Benjamin Loss was Jewish. Much of this stems from the belief that he possessed a Jewish bible. I confirmed the story with Maynard Tittle, however, there continues to be a lack of documentation. The bible was last known to be in the possession of one of the sons of Norman Loss and the belief that our ancestors may have been Jewish is prevalent within the William Loss family line. I had never heard of this story until January 1997 and, although I don't discount the possibility, am hesitant to declare this as fact until some form of documentation is found. Johannes, Benjamin's grandfather, was a deacon at St. Paul's (Summer Hill) Reformed Church, in the early 1800's putting the whole matter at question. We may still be descended from converted Jews, however, there is no doubt that any practice of Judiasm in the family ceased over 250 years ago.

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The descendants of Henry Allen Loss (1882-1960) will be holding their annual reunion on September 17th, 2005 at White Deer Park. We would love to hear from the descendants of Henry's sisters, Edith and Sallie, who married Baileys.