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The Lichti Family Tree

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Lichti (Liechty, Lichdi, Lichty, Leichty, Leighty, Leichti, Liechti) family name

A Mennonite family name, Lichti is likely derived from Lichtgut, a farm that gets much sun located at the end of a valley near Signau, in the Emmental, canton of Bern, Switzerland. The first known home of the family was near Landiswil in the Bowil district of the canton of Bern. The name appears in the earliest records of the area, dating back to the latter part of the 14th century. The earliest known Anabaptist in the family was Jacob Liechti, who was born about 1540 near Landiswil, where he was a farmer.

Georg Lichti was one of the leaders of the Swiss Brethren who left Switzerland for the Palatinate in 1671. He settled at Grossbockenheim. There was also an Ulrich Liechti (b. 1640), who settled on the Ibersheimerhof in 1676. These families have numerous descendants in Bavaria and the Palatinate. Branchweilerhof, near Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, Palatinate, has been the home of a large family, and the minister of the congregation was Adolf Lichti. Kurt Lichdi, owner of a large retail grocery chain in South Germany, was a minister in the Heilbronn (Württemberg) Mennonite Church. Steffen Lichti also came to the Palatinate from Switzerland soon after 1670.

Each migration of Mennonites from Switzerland has had representatives of the Liechti family in it. The Ulrich Liechti family settled in Montbéliard about 1710. Many of their descendants found their way to North America, settling especially in Wayne and Fulton counties, Ohio, near Berne, Indiana, and in eastern Iowa and Ontario. The first of the family to come to North America arrived about 1750 from France, settling in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. A Mennonite Church (MC) congregation named Lichty's is in the Weaverland District of the Lancaster Conference. Early in the 18th century some Liechtis found their way from the Emmental to the Jura, where they established homes for a century, many migrating to the Ohio and Indiana Swiss Mennonite settlements between the years of 1830 and 1875. The family has been especially numerous around Berne, Indiana. Abraham Lichti (Lichty), born in 1793 on the Branchweilerhof, near Neustadt, Palatinate, married Elisabeth Möllinger and farmed at Friedelsheim. He immigrated to the United States in 1883 and died in Cleveland, Ohio in the same year.

North American church leaders bearing the family name have included John C. Lichti (1869-1951), who served as minister in the General Conference Mennonite (GCM) Church from 1894 until 1948. He was for many years the pastor of the Deer Creek (GCM) and Medford (GCM) churches in Oklahoma, and was a longtime member of the Emergency Relief Board, serving for a time as secretary and as chairperson. J. A. Liechty (1864-1947) was minister of the Beech Mennonite Church (MC) in Louisville, Ohio, and Willard Leichty (b. 1906) was minister in the Sugar Creek Mennonite Church (MC) in Wayland, Iowa.

In 1940 Lichti was the seventh most numerous Mennonite family name in South Germany, with 94 representatives, 28 of them in the Branchweilerhof congregation and the rest scattered among Adelsheim, Heilbronn, Sinsheim, Augsburg, Durlach, Munich, and Weierhof.

In the early 18th century some members of the Lichti family emigrated from Switzerland to the Netherlands; as of 1957, their descendants, who spelled their name Leegte, were still found there. About 1900 Izaak Leegte, of Hoogkerg, was a member of the church board of the congregation at Den Horn, Dutch province of Groningen.