Monday, September 29, 2014

Harshbarger line: John David Mertz, immigrant

Oh, this is a happy genealogy dance day!  While I was reviewing the meager information I had about John David, I was also googling him and I found there is a lot of new information about this man's ancestors that I had not yet found. In looking at some very exhaustive research done by Robert Mertz of Sarraguemines, Lorraine, France and shared online by another Mertz researcher, "Oakey" Mertz  I was able to add 8 new ancestors and a few collaterals to husband's family.  Wow!  These names go back to the 1600's in Switzerland, and then Alsace, France or Germany depending on the time period.  To see the full on line reports on these ancestors, go to, which is a wonderful website.  I am grateful to these two gentlemen for working so hard to find and publish these records, which help tell more of the family story. 

The ancestor I want to highlight today is John David Mertz, another immigrant.  He was born in 1689 or 1690 in Hangweiller, Germany, the son of Peter Mertz and Barbara Zimmerman.  He was one of 5 children of this couple. After Barbara died, his father married Susanna Braconnier, and there were four children from this family.  John David appears to be the oldest.  He married Veronica Schneider, daughter of Joseph Schneider, about 1714.  We don't know John David's occupation, but the village appears to be very small so it is likely that he farmed. Apparently he had the skills he needed to support a family in the New World, so he may have served in, or at least observed some of the trades as he grew up. As the oldest son, he would have received a double portion of whatever his father was able to leave as an inheritance.  His father died in 1728, and John David, Veronica, and three children emigrated in 1733.  I haven't seen any indication of how John David financed the trip, but perhaps he sold his land or trade tools or whatever his father had left him.

John David, aged 44, Veronica, aged 40, Johann Nicholas, age 18, Johan Peter aged 13 3/4 and Christina, aged 3 3/4 arrived in Philadelphia on the ship Richard and Elizabeth. (There was another son, Johannes, who was born in 1722. He did not make the trip and it is possible that he had died before the trip.)  David gave the oath of allegiance to King George II and his family would have then been allowed to leave the ship.  For five years, there is a gap in the records.  We know that in 1738 John David was able to buy 150 acres on Longswamp Creek in Berks County, Pa, and that the family stayed there for some generations. We can assume they all worked hard, and shared in the ups and downs of living on the frontier, with Indians who conducted raids and uncertain growing conditions for their crops.   

They were members of the Longswamp Reformed Church of Berks County, which at the time the church was founded meant the area families were not particularly kind to the Lutherans (they settled in a separate area, for the most part).  John David died in 1748, but the names of David and his sons Nicholas and Peter are listed as contributors to the first building.  Veronica lived until 1760 and died also in Longswamp Township, Berks County, Pa.  I've not located a burial location for either, but they are likely buried near or at the church they helped establish, and their gravestones are probably gone or not legible. 

This is still meager information, but it is more than I started with this morning, and I am grateful for it.  I'd like to know more about John David and Veronica and their lives, but I'm glad to have this much.  The line of descent is:

John David Mertz-Veronica Schneider
Johan Nicholas Mertz-Margaret
Elizabeth Mertz-Johann L Schollenberger
Peter Shollenberger-Susanna
Catherine Shollenberger-George Essig
Susannah Essig-Daniel Kemery
Adam Kemery-Nancy Fannie Buchtel
Della Kemery-William Withers
Goldie Withers-Grover Harshbarger
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendents