Friday, July 10, 2015

Harshbarger line: Peter Jacob Fehler died 1753

Peter Jacob Fehler is the last immigrant in the Harshbarger line to write about, unless of course, someone breaks down any of several brick walls in this line.  There is discouragingly little to write about the man, but we know enough about the life of the people he lived near to at least have an idea of how he lived.

We don't know where he came from, or when he immigrated, or even the year of his birth.  Many internet sources give his birthdate as 1708, with anywhere from Berks County to Adams County, Pa to Germany as the location.  Most Fehler families seem to have come from southern Germany or possibly Switzerland, but that is as much of a hint as we have at this point.  It is possible that he was part of the  emigration from Queen Anne's offer to assist the many Germans who were in danger of starvation at Rotterdam, since many familiar names are on the list of settlers who came through the Schoharie, N.Y. route.  It's possible that he took the more traditional route to Pennsylvania, from Rotterdam to Philadelphia, and we just haven't located his nameon a ship list  yet. 

We do know that he was in Oley Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania when he married Maria Otilia Weiler on May 2, 1732.  The record-keeping Rev. John Casper Stoever performed the ceremony, and he also baptized their children.  At least three children were born to the couple and there were some additional children identified as the children of Jacob, but it's not clear whether this was Peter Jacob or Jacob. 

The next we hear of Peter Jacob is his death, in 1753, in Tulpehocken Township, Berks County, Pa.  He had apparently moved there some time prior to 1742, when it would have been very much frontier area.  If he was born in 1708, then he lived only 45 years, but they would have been exciting years. Despite the hardships of immigration, learning to live in America, the threat of Indian hostilities, the wild animals such as wolves, bear, and panthers, and the constant fear of crop losses due to weather, Indians, or other causes, he persevered, married and raised a family, was faithful to his church, and left a legacy to his family, whether he owned property or not. 

There is much more I'd like to know about this German (?) immigrant, but I'm glad we have even these glimpses of him.  It should be considered an honor to descend from pioneer German immigrants.  It would be a privilege to learn more about him.

The line of descent is

Peter Jacob Fehler-Marie Otilia Weiler
Jacob Fehler-Anna Margaretha Lowenguth
John Jacob Fehler-Anna Eva Behney
Christina Elizabeth Fehler-John (Johannes) Harshbarger
George Harshbarger-Mary Kepler
Lewis Harshbarger-Catherine Mentzer
Emmanuel Harshbarger-Clara Harter
Grover Harshbarger-Goldie Withers
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendents