Friday, July 22, 2016

Harshbarger line: Tobias Miller 1731-1805

Tobias Miller.  I could pretty much end this post right there, because that is almost as much as I know about him.  There seem to have been several Tobias Miller's in this time period, one who stayed in Pennsylvania, one who went to North Carolina, and ours, who went to what became Franklin County, Va. There are probably others, too, but these are the three who are most frequently mixed up in the records or trees found on line.

It seems to be pretty well agreed that Tobias was born in 1731, either in Pennsylvania or in wherever his parents came from, which was probably somewhere in Germany.  I base that "probably" only on the suspected (several) names of his parents, which all seem to have a German background.  One set of possible parents would be Jacob and Magdalena (maiden name unknown).  Another would be Johann Michael and Susannah Agnes Berchtol.  If we go strictly from a majority standpoint, Johann Michael and Susannah Agnes would win.  However, I've seen no proof and I'm not willing to stick my neck out on this one.

So, Tobias was either born here or born there.  The first time I can really say "Yes, this is likely our guy" is on a 1770 tax list of Coventry Township, Chester County, Pa.  At the time, he had 2 cattle and 2 horses, no sheep and no slaves.  He owned 100 acres of land.  This was not a lot to have in raising a family but it was something.  It's unclear whether he was married at this time.  Usually if men were single they were called "inmates" but perhaps he was not included there because he owned land.  At any rate, in 1773 he married Barbara Brower in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and our family is descended from this marriage. (Tobias would have been 42 years old when he married Barbara, which is old for a first marriage, and another reason I bring up the possibility of an earlier marriage.)

Tobias and Barbara had moved to either Bedford or Henry County, Virginia, by 1786 because when the county of Franklin formed from those two counties in 1785, one of the first acts of the courts was to appoint Tobias to be the surveyor of a road from Little Creek to Maggotty Creek there.  This indicates that he had been there long enough to know the "lay of the land", so to speak, and also shows that he was in good health at the time.  I tried from maps to figure out where he would have lived and so far haven't narrowed it down any more than somewhere around Boone's Mill, north of Rocky Mount and south east of Roanoke.

I'm not sure how many children they may have had.  Mary and Hannah are pretty much agreed on; I've also seen John, Jacob, Tobias and Catherine listed, with no birth or death dates.  Presumably these children were born between 1773 and maybe 20 years later, so some were likely born in Chester County, Pa. and some in Virginia.

Tobias died in 1805, most likely in Franklin County, Va.  Some of his children moved on to Montgomery County, Ohio, very early in Ohio's history, and some say that Tobias died there.  It appears that Barbara died the same year, although none of this is documented.

I've found several items on internet trees that I don't think are correct.  This Tobias was not in Lancaster County, Pa in the 1790 and 1800 census reports.  This Tobias was not the one buried in Philadelphia.  This Tobias was probably not the one with an estate sale in 1822 in Hagerstown, Md., mentioning personal property items.  First, the distance in time and miles is great, and second, why would his personal property have been saved that long?

I would love to hear from other members in this family who have researched Tobias, to see what is actually documented, who actually belongs in this family, and what Tobias's story is.  Was he a participant in the Revolutionary War?  When did the family go to Virginia?  What church did the family attend?  Where is he buried?  Who were his parents?

Names without stories bother me!  So do people without parents. 

The line of descent is:

Tobias Miller-Barbara Brower
Mary Miller-Johan George Harter
George Harter-Elizabeth Geiger
John Harter-Mary Bennett
Clara Harter-Emmanuel Harshbarger
Grover Harshbarger-Goldie Withers
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendants

Update:  I located information showing that Mary Miller and George Harter were married by Jacob Miller.  In researching him, I find that Rev. Jacob was a Brethren or Dunkard Minister, and was a brother to our Tobias.  There is a legend that five Miller brothers went to Franklin County, Va., all pastors.  Tobias may not have been a pastor, though, because he didn't perform his daughter's wedding ceremony.  No one seems sure who the parents were of Jacob Miller, but he seems to have left a very large posterity.  No doubt they would also like to know the parentage of Jacob and Tobias!