Friday, August 8, 2014

Harshbarger line: Matthias Bruder 1758-1828

Matthias Bruder, sometimes known as Brother or Brothers, was born shortly before September 2, 1759, when he was christened in the Lehigh Church, Lower Macungie Twp., Lehigh County, Pa.  His sponsors were Andreas Dressler and wife Maria Barbara, relationship as yet unknown.  The parents of Matthias, Matthias Bruder and Christina Emmert, had come to America in 1752 on the ship Duke of Wirtenburg.  He had two brothers, Heinrich (Henry) and Jacob, but if there were other siblings they have not yet been identified.

His family may actually have lived in Berks County, or at least near the border, because Matthias was enrolled in the Berks County Militia, 6th Battalion, Captain Baldy's Company by 1780, when he served about 30 days on active duty. I have not yet been able to determine what the service was. It is possible they were skirmishing with the British in New Jersey, or it is possible they were defending the border against Indians.  They also may have been doing duty at prisoner of war facilities.  Regardless, he would have joined the militia at age 18, and because there is no record of fines or absences, we can be confident that his record was a good one.  There is some evidence that he may have served in 1781, also. 

He was apparently married by 1779, to Christina Chestnutwood, whose parents are not known, when according to the records he must had had quintuplets (I'm joking; obviously either too many children are attributed to him or the birth dates on line are not correct).  More research needs to be done to straighten this out. By 1784, he is listed as having a three person family, with 100 acres, one horse, one cow, and two sheep.  This is not enough to be a full time farmer, and he was listed as being a weaver, which was a common occupation for the time.  Many men supported their families by this trade. 

By 1788, he had apparently sold his land and moved to Franklin County, Pa, where his son Jacob was christened at the Salem Reformed Church, Washington Township, on January 20, 1788.  He is listed there as Matthias Brothers in the 1790 census with two sons under the age of 16 and three daughters.
It looks like Matthias must have liked frontier life, for he moved at least every 10 years. In 1800, he was in Bedford County, Pa and his family had grown to 6 people under the age of 16, plus three between 16 and 25, plus himself and his wife.  In 1810, he was in Mahoning Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, still with 8 persons (4 male, 4 female) in his household, besides himself and his wife. For the record, the children that are attributed to this family are Catherine, Elizabeth, Esther, John, Magdalina, Barbara, Jonas, Sally, and Henry. 

Sometime between 1810 and 1820, the Brothers household moved for the last time, to Pike Township, Stark County, Ohio, which was a popular area for people of German background.  (There are statements on line that he was awarded 100 acres for his service in the War, but I am not able to verify this. If he was awarded the land in 1789, why did he wait so long to go to Ohio?) There were still 8 additional people in his household, the youngest between a male under the age of 10, and three people listed as being between 26 and 44.  It his possible that by now he had adult children living with him, who had children of their own, or other configurations are also possible.   Three persons are listed as being engaged in agriculture, so perhaps Matthias's eyes were no longer allowing him to weave.

He died on September 5, 1828 and is buried at the Chestnutwood Cemetery, East Sparta, Stark County, Ohio.  It appears to be a very small cemetery, with only a few stones showing in the pictures, but there is a plaque mounted there with the inscription: "Within this enclosure is the grave of Mathias Brothers, known as Mathias Bruder, Sixth Battalion, Berks County, Pa Militia. Born 1758 died September 5, 1828. Revolutionary War Soldier." 

I'd love to find out more about this first generation American, soldier for his country and provider for his family, with a vision that life was better to the West.  Besides the churches we've identified, where else did he worship? More research is needed to identify lands he may have owned, and taxes he may have paid.  There is likely more to the story than we know now, but this is a beginning.

The line of descent is:

Matthias Bruder-Christina Chestnutwood
Barbara Brothers-David Brown
Elizabeth Brown-William Cook
Barbara Cook-William Withers
William Withers-Della Kemery
Goldie Withers-Grover Harshbarger
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Harshbarger children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren