Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Beeks line: Anthony Hallman 1671-1759, Immigrant

One of the things I like most about researching ancestors is unexpected finds.  Who would have thought that the Beeks line would turn up what appears to be a Mennonite family?  Closer investigation indicates there may be a mystery to be solved here  This immigrant, and his wife, are said to be buried in the graveyard of the Mennonite Church at Skippack, Montgomery County, Pa., which was right next to his property.  However, the family attended the Lutheran church at Trappe, Pa.  So was this merely a burial of convenience, or is it possible that his wife was Mennonite?  Right now, we don't know because we don't know who his wife was. 

Let's start at the beginning. Anthony was born in 1671, in Klein Neidersheim, Palatinate, Germany.  This is just a little east and a little north of the Alsace-Lorraine region, and is in the general area where Mennonites settled.  But the village was small, and since these small villages were homogenous, we will, until proven otherwise, assume that Anthony, at least, was Lutheran.  He married Maria Salome last name unknown about 1702.  I've seen various guesses as to when he arrived in the New World, but I've seen nothing that seems to have documentation.  He may have been here as early as 1708 but most likely it was more like 1721, since children were born in Germany at least through 1718.   We also don't know whether the family travelled together to the New World or whether Anthony came over first.  He was naturalized in 1731, when laws were changed so that all persons had to swear fealty to the British king.  He was a blacksmith by trade, owned land and probably farmed it, at least initially, and later in life purchased a mill in Gwynedd. 

Anthony was one of the founders and part of the building committee of the Augustus Lutheran Church at Trappe (1743, when he was already 72 years old) and was still serving as church warden at the time of his death.  One of the doors to the building had his name inscribed above it, as "A. Heilmano."  He had purchased land in 1720, perhaps before he even laid eyes on it, and then purchased another tract in 1736.  He eventually sold the first tract to his son Henry. 

Anthony and Maria Salome had at least eight children together, before her death in 1746.  Anthony lived another 13 years, dying in 1759.  There may have been trouble in the Hallman family, for in his will he disinherited his son John, "for reasons best known to himself" and left bequests to his daughters and children, and son Henry.  Whether there was a split in the family or whether John had already received his bequest, we'll probably never know.

I think I'd have liked Anthony.  He was a hard worker, apparently thrifty but yet generous to his church, and raised a family in difficult times. 

The line of descent is:

Anthony Hallman-Maria Salome
Mary Salome Hallman-Johann Wilhelm Berkheimer
Johann Leonard Berkheimer-Maria Catharine Kerger
Magdalena Berkheimer-Samuel Goodnight
Catherine Goodnight-Jacob Dunham
Samuel G Dunham-Eliza M Reese
Margaret Catherine Dunham-Harvey Aldridge
Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendants