Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Harshbarger line: Johann Kasper Schnerr 1732-1790 Immigrant

German immigrant, Lutheran, married to widow of a man killed by Indians, veteran of the French and Indian war and the Revolutionary War-what more can I say?  This is the stuff of which heroes are made, and unfortunately, sometimes their stories are lost.  I'd like to retell a little of his story here.

Johann Casper or Kasper Schnerr was born somewhere in Germany on April 21, 1732.  It is possible he is somehow related to Peter Ulrich Schneer who was born in Bern, Switzerland in 1649 and died in Lancaster County, Pa in 1739, but the connection hasn't been found yet.  So we know nothing of his early life, except that when he was about 21 years of age, he came to America on the ship Neputne.  Pennsylvania Archives gives the date of his arrival as September 24, 1754, and Rupp gives it as September 24, 1753, so take your pick.  He is found in the Pennsylvania Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index on Ancestry in Philadelphia in 1754, but I don't know what time of year the census was taken.  We do know for sure that he was in Philadelphia sometime in 1754, though.

Again, the next five years of his life are pretty much a blank.  He was apparently in Northampton County, Pennsylvania by 1759 or 1760, when he married Maria Magdalena Kunkle Sensinger.  Her husband had been killed about the year 1756 in one of the many Indian attacks that were a regular part of frontier life of the time, and Magdalena was left with four small children to raise.  Casper married her and raised the children right along with her, along with the several children the couple had together.  We know they had daughters Catherine, Juliana Margaretha, Anna Maria, and Elizabeth, and there may have been more.  With the four step children Casper had, this would have been quite a houseful, especially for since a young man.

Stan Follis reports on his wonderful website that Casper served in the French and Indian war. I haven't found the documentation for that yet, but since this was frontier country it is highly likely that, if nothing else, he stood guard duty.  It would be interesting to know whether he actually went out on one or more expeditions.  There is a memorial at the cemetery where Casper is buried that lists his name as a Revolutionary War soldier.  We also have one document, found on Fold 3, that states that Philip Deily made an affidavit that he had enlisted in the war of the Revolution on June 5, 1775, in Heidelberg Township, Northampton County, Pa under Captain Casper Schneer.  There must be other information somewhere, for a Captain would have been a respected man.  The 1775 date indicates possibly this was an Associator's group, but that is yet to be discovered.

We know that Casper and his wife were Lutheran because they had daughter Elizabeth baptized in 1768 at the Heidelberg Union Church in Heidelberg Township, in what is now Lehigh County, and the record was clearly in the Lutheran, not the Reformed church.  The two congregations kept separate records.

The last we know of Casper is his death.  He wrote his will in 1786, and died March 30, 1790, At the time of his death, he lived in Menallen Township, York County, Pa, which later became Adams County.  He was buried at Benders Church Cemetery,  at the church he had helped found, Benders Evangelical Lutheran Church.  His name is on the original Articles of the church.  We don't know when he moved from Northampton County to York County, or why, but presumably it had something to do with land acquisition.  It would be interesting to study the land records for these counties to trace his journey.

Once again, this is just a bare summary of a fascinating man who lived in fascinating times.  He took on a ready-made family and added to it, helped found a church, fought in the wars that led to the founding of our country, and lived a good life, as far as is now known.  His family should take pride in him!

The line of descent is:

Johann Casper Schnerr-Maria Magdalena Kunkel
Juliana Margareth Schnerr-Simon Essig
George Essig-Catherine Shollenberger
Susannah Essig-Daniel Kemery
Adam Kemery-Nancy Buchtel
Della Kemery-William H Withers
Goldie Withers-Grover Harshbarer
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendents