Friday, February 26, 2016

Harshbarger line: Bernard Kepner 1673-1765, Long-lived immigrant

I sure wish I had the constitution and stamina of this man!  He must have been remarkable, to have survived his roots in war torn Baden.  It is quite possible that he lost family members in the Thirty Years War, although his immediate family's struggles would have been with the post-war recovery efforts.  Much of Baden was devastated by the war(s), although I haven't yet found anything specific to Sulzfeld, the town or village where he was born. 

His birth or christening date is given as January 30, 1673.  His parents were Johannes Bernhardt Kepner and Barbara.  His father was 50 years old when Bernard was born, and died when Bernard was just 7.  He likely had older brothers and sisters to take care of him, and we don't know when his mother died or remarried.  His sponsors were the nobleman Johann Bernhard Goler, Michael Hainlin, a citizen of Sulzfeld, and Ursula Volkmann, shepherdess.  (I am wondering what the significance of these identifications are.  Because the name of the child was Johann Bernhard, perhaps Mr. Goler was obliged to attend.  Michael Hainlin and Ursula Volkmann give more cause for wonder.  Who were they?  Was there a family relationship to either sponsor?  Was Ursula perhaps a sister to the unknown Barbara? 

On November 22, 1698, also in Sulzfeld, Bernard married Anna Barbara Schlagaman, who had been born December 28, 1672 to Johannes Bernhardt Kepner and Barbara.  The couple had at least seven children together, two of whom died young.  In about 1715, Bernard and possibly his family came to Pennsylvania.  This was fairly early in the German emigration, and hints that there was a strong motive, whether religious or economic, to come to the new land.  We don't know what he was doing for the next few years, but somehow he managed to not only provide for his family, but also to save enough money to buy land.  He purchased 100 acres of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia from Claus Braun on April 29, 1721, and he and his wife lived there for 24 years. They sold the land in 1745, when Bernard was 72 years old.  He likely had no family at home and perhaps it was getting to be too much for him to keep up the "old home place."  (By this time, on July 29,1740, Bernard had complied with recently passed laws that required him to be "naturalized", showing that he owed his allegiance to the British monarchs.)

Wherever he went after the sale of his farm, it wasn't far, as he is noted as a communicant (if I am reading the German correctly) at St Michael's Congregation in Philadelphia in 1758, when he was also noted as being 85 years of age.  This church is on Germantown Avenue, just a short distance from the land Bernard had owned.  He lived until October of 1765 (nearing his 93rd birthday), and is buried in the old cemetery at Saint Michael and Zion Lutheran Church.  The church is currently in the process of repairing their historic cemetery, and it is possible that during this process, his actual tombstone may be located, although it is also possible that it is gone forever. 

In my opinion, Bernard was brave and hardworking, proven by the fact that he survived the difficult early years in a strange land.  We know that he had strong religious convictions (which brings us back to wondering whether he left his homeland to escape the religious wars that were ongoing) and we know that he helped build Pennsylvania, simply by being there and living his life.  It would be wonderful to know more about him, both in Baden and in America, but this much is more than enough to make him a memorable ancestor. 

The line of descent is:

Bernard Kepner-Anna Barbara Schlagmann
Benedict Kepner-Maria Salome Weicker
Bernard Kepler-Maria Elizabeth Lindemuth
Andrew Kepler-Anna Maria Kramer
Mary Kepler-George Harshbarger
Lewis Harshbarger-Catherine Mentzer
Emanuel Harshbarger-Clara Harter
Grover Harshbarger-Goldie Withers
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendants

Further research:  I've learned that there are articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly of September 1973 and the Pennsylvania Genealogy Magazine Volume 20.  I'll be looking for these articles, hoping to find more about this family!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Beeks line: Thomas Bloomfield 1617-1684 Immigrant

There is a lot of information about Thomas Bloomfield.  Unfortunately, much of it is conflicting.  For instance, Find A Grave gives him the title of Colonel, and other sources say that is because he was a Colonel in Oliver Cromwell's Army.  Since Cromwell didn't raise an army until 1642 and since Thomas arrived in Newburyport, Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638, the facts don't add up.  Perhaps there was another Thomas Bloomfield who was a colonel in Oliver Cromwell's army, perhaps Thomas earned the title in Massachusetts or New Jersey, or perhaps there is nothing to the "colonel" Thomas Bloomfield at all.

He is widely stated to have been born in Woodbridge, Suffolk, England in 1617.  Woodbridge has a history going back 1100 years and a medieval church, St. Mary's, still stands there.  This would likely have been the church that the Bloomfields attended.  The Bloomfields may have been either "John William" or "John Thomas", and the wife may have been either Mary Withers or Elspeth.  Regardless, Thomas came to the New World in 1638, at the age of 21.  He either went directly to Newbury,or actually landed there, and stayed for at least 15 years and probably closer to 30 years.  By 1642, he had married Mary.  There seems to be quite a bit of confusion as to whether this was Mary Withers or Mary Waters and I haven't yet found information to clarify this, nor have I found an exact date of marriage. 

We do know that he was a carpenter.  Whether he worked on land or on ships isn't clear, and at this time period, he may well have been considered proficient to do both.  Thomas and Mary had 9 children together between 1642 and 1664, so Thomas must have worked hard to support his family.
The oldest daughter, Mary, married Jonathan Dunham in Haverhill, Essex County in 1660 so the Bloomfields must have still been in Newbury then.

by 1669 he was in the area of Woodbridge, New Jersey, where he received an early patent from Governor Carteret for about 326 acres.  He was made a freeholder there in 1670, which seems to have been some sort of a governing position, which required that the freeholder meet both residence and property ownership requirements.  He was also a representative from Woodbridge to the General Assembly in 1675, an assistant judge, and a coroner over the next few years, all indicating that he held positions of respect in his community.

Thomas wrote his will June 10, 1684 and died sometime before March 5, 1685/86. 

There is likely more information to be found about Thomas in some of the books about Woodbridge, and possibly in books about Newbury.  However, this is a start, enough to bring the name to the attention of the Beeks family, and to remind us all of the hard work and adjustments that our colonial ancestors made.  I think about Mary, who would have been roughly 50 years old when she left Massachusetts Bay Colony to go to New Jersey, and start over in a new place that was not settled yet.  What enabled these people to travel the ocean, settle down, and then in late middle age move yet again to another place that meant "starting over"?  I want to learn more about this couple!

The line of descent is:

Thomas Bloomfield-Mary Waters or Withers
Mary Bloomfield-Jonathan Dunham
Benjamin Dunham-Mary Rolph
Jonathan Dunham-Mary Smith
Samuel Dunham-Hannah Ruble
Jacob Dunham-Catherine Goodnight
Samuel G Dunham-Eliza Reese
Margaret Dunham-Harvey Aldridge
Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendants

Friday, February 19, 2016

Holbrook line: John Dennis 1587-1679 or 1652, Immigrant

It's going to be fun to write about a Virginia ancestor in the Holbrook line.  So many of this line were New England people that it's interesting when someone outside that geographic area pops up.  Of course, it's difficult, too, because I know far less about early Virginia history.  But I love a challenge, and good people who are also part of this family have done so much research it's almost a matter of just putting my slant on his life.

Just knowing that John Dennis went to Virginia instead of New England tells us a couple of things.  He was not a Puritan, and he may very well have come to Virginia for economic reasons.  He came here prior to 1634, for records are found in 1634 in which he was ordered to pay Mr. Obedience Robins 24 lbs tobacco, and Goodwife Haynie 166 pounds tobacco.  There was a John Dennis who was admitted to the Shareholders of the Virginia Company in 1621-22,  but we don't know that it was this John Dennis, or even a relation.  A John Dennis was transported in 1635 on the "Merchant's Hope" but it is unclear whether this was John Dennis son of the first immigrant, or whether the immigrant had returned to England for some reason and was now on his second voyage to the colony.  .

We don't know for sure who John Dennis Junior was, either.  It is believed that he was not the child of John Sr and his second wife, Barbary, but he may have been John Sr's son by an earlier wife, or possibly the result of an "indiscretion."

John Jr. died in 1652 and we find varying dates of John Sr's death, either in 1652, after John Jr.s death, or in 1678-79.  If John Senior died in 1652 then he was 65 when he died, which was a reasonable age to die in Virginia at that time period (many, many men died much younger than 65).  If he lived till 1678-1679, then he was over 90 years old, a venerable age indeed considering all the hardships that he would have endured.

It's not know how many children John Senior may have had, or whether John Junior may have been an only child.  We do know that he had land, 350 acres, on a branch of the great Wicocomoco River called Dennis Creek, bordering land of Thomas Gascoigne and William Spicer in Northumbrland County.  We can wonder if he had slaves, since, he was ordered to pay fines in tobacco.  We can wonder how he felt about the Lord, since not all Virginians worshipped on a regular basis.  And we can certainly wonder who his parents were, and what connection, if any, he had with "Sir Thomas Dennis", who was a member of the Virginia Company of Bicton and Holcombe.  We can also wonder what sort of relationship he had with the native Americans, and whether he was called upon to fight at any time.

I know there are Dennis researchers because I've found these bits and pieces on line, but I am responsible for the conclusions and questions I've written.  I'd love to hear from these folks, our distant cousins, about our common ancestor and their search for the details of his life.

Our line of descent is:

John Dennis-
John Dennis Jr-Barbary
Mary Dennis-Frances Garrett
Dennis Garrett-Barbara Stone
Johanna Garrett-John Cole
Sarah Cole-Charles Gorsuch
Hannah Gorsuch-Thomas Stansbury
Rachel Stansbury-Alexis Lemmon
Sarah Lemmon-Abraham Hetrick
Isaac Hetrick-Elizabeth Black
Mary Alice Hetrick-Louis Stanard
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants

Updated to correct date in title, and a spelling error

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Allen line: Francis Ball Immigrant, died 1648

I sure could use some help with this ancestor.  He is erroneously confused with a Frances Ball in Virginia, who was a female and apparently not of this family.  His birth date is given as anywhere from 1599 to 1624.  His parents are given as William Ball and Alice Waltham, and if the parentage is correct and the age of the parents is correct, 1599 would be a likely date, but 1609 and even 1619 are within the realm of possibilities.  The most frequent place of birth given is Wiltshire, England, with no parish that I can locate.  So I am left wondering...

Is his father the William Ball who died in New Haven, Connecticut in 1647?

Was Abigail Burt, who was born in 1623, his first wife?  If Francis was born in 1599, she would have been 24 years his junior, and there would have been plenty of time for an earlier marriage.  Francis Ball and Abigail Burt, daughter of Henry Burt and Eulalia March,  were married in August of 1644 in Springfield, where Francis had arrived about a year earlier. They lived in Springfield, where they had two sons, and where Francis purchased land from John Woodcocke, valued at 5 pounds. 

The most common fact I find about Francis Ball is that he drowned in the "Great River", known to us as the Connecticut River, on October 3, 1648.  So either he was a mariner, unlucky on that day, or he was not used to water and a storm or accident may have caused his death.  Of course, there are other possible explanations but these two seem the most likely to me.

Abigail married Benjamin Munn in April of 1649, and after his death, she married Thomas Stebbins, who is an Allen ancestor through his first wife, Hannah Wright.  Abigail died in 1707, three times widowed and about 84 years old.

I sure would like to know more about Francis Ball.  I'd like to pin down his birthdate and birthplace, to verify whether William and Alice were his parents.  I'd like to know if the marriage to Abigail was his first marriage.  And I'd like to know how he happened to drown.  If someone has this information, please contact me!

The line of descent is

Francis Ball-Abigail Burt
Samuel Ball-Mary Graves
Mary Ball-John Hitchcock
Samuel Hitchcock-Ruth Stebbins
Margaret Hitchcock-Samuel Falley
Samuel Falley-Ruth Root
Clarissa Falley-John Havens Starr
Harriet Starr-John Wilson Knott
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendants

Friday, February 12, 2016

Harshbarger line: Other names, other places

I don't usually write about ancestors across the ocean, but I want the Harshbarger family to at least know a little about their heritage over there.  The story is that the Harshbargers are "Pennsylvania Dutch" and in a sense that is true.  They came through Holland and settled first in Pennsylvania.  I love the stories of how they settled their land and then moved on, settled and then moved, and became part of the story of America. 

But to fully appreciate the American side of the story, we need to get beyond the "Pennsylvania Dutch" label and trace the family back.  Fortunately, parts of this line, from Christian Harshbarger and particularly Barbara Rupp, his wife, can be traced back for quite a few generations beyond their 1737 arrival in Philadelphia. 

Almost all of the families I've looked at end up back in Switzerland in the late 1400's and early 1500's, although there were a few in Germany.  Surnames that are to be found in this line include Schuepbach, Moschberger, Aschbacher, Schnider, Grossenbacker, Furstenberger, Zufrich, Wyss, Waffenacht, Grossglaus, Schonholtzer, Aeberhaard, Widmer, Gruetter and Wecker, of course with allowance for different spellings. 

Most of these families were from little villages in the canton of Bern.  Wikipedia tells us a little of the history of this land.  The Canton of Bern became Protestant in the 1520's, and there were religious wars with neighboring cantons who were Catholic.  Earlier, there were wars against the Hapsburg rulers of the area, and later, in 1653, while most of these families were still in Switzerland, there was a Peasant's revolt over economic matters.  I haven't researched individuals that seem to be ancestors, but it's a safe bet that some of the families were involved in the peasant's revolt in one way or another.  It would be another 100 years, more or less, before these families emigrated to Pennsylvania, although some spent a generation or two in Germany hoping for a better life there, at least to escape the religious persecution that Switzerland practiced against the Amish and Mennonite believers.

Even from what little I know of it, the story of these people is remarkable.  It's also remarkable that there are records for some of these families that go back to as far as the late 1400's.  While we can always wish for more, this is a record and a heritage to honor, and perhaps a reason to put Switzerland on our bucket lists!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Beeks line: Johann Gottfried Neimrich Immigrant, Revolutionary War soldier?

This will be a short post.  My hope is that by keeping this man's name alive, eventually someone will recognize the name and be able to provide additional facts so we can know more about this ancestor.  He is a bit of an anomaly in the Beeks line, because this is the first German family in the direct Beeks line.  He is a bit of an anomaly in the traditional German immigration pattern, because he came to America later than most of the Germans we have traced in the Harshbarger (also a few Allen and Holbrook) lines.  And he's a mystery because so little is known about him.

The one fact we think we know about Johann Gottfried Neimrich (later changed to Nimerick) is that he came to Pennsylvania sometime in 1773, on a ship from Rotterdam.  He was indentured to "Andrew Burkhard and His Assigns" for 4 years and 6 months, for the amount of 28 pounds and 17 shillings.  From this, we can guess that he was a young man, perhaps still in his teens, when he arrived in Philadelphia, because older men generally served only three years as indentured servants.  We can see that Burkhard is a German/Swiss name, and we can wonder if the two families knew each other "back in the old country."  Perhaps Burkhard is even some sort of relative, or perhaps the two met at the dock when Neimrich left his ship for the first time.

At some point Neimrich married Elizabeth, last name unknown, and they had at least three children together, Peter, Jacob, and Mary Elizabeth.  There were likely others, but until church records are found we won't know their names.  Mary Elizabeth is said to have been born in Virginia in 1787, so if this is correct the family may have moved from Philadelphia.

John G. Neimrich is twice mentioned in the Pennsylvania Archives as having participated in the Revolutionary War, and I think this is Johann Gottfried.  He is listed as being part of Von Ottendorff's Corps, in what was known as the "German Regiment," which apparently served from July 12, 1776 to January 1, 1781. He is also listed as being on the roll of Captain Bauer's Company No. 41 but dates are unclear.  These records are in Series 2 Volume XI, page 89 and Series 5, volume 3, page 903.  (Usually I don't mention sources in my posts, but I've not found these noted in any of the on-line information about our subject.  Perhaps I can help someone by pointing this out, and perhaps someone will contact me and say "This isn't our guy and here's why.")  Until I hear otherwise, or find new information, I tend to think this is Johann Gottfried, however, and if so, the Beeks family has another Revolutionary War veteran to thank!  

I would love to hear from others who are researching this man.  Surely someone knows his religion, his occupation, his origin (I did see one internet reference to Prussia, but no documentation), or/and his date of death.  All I can say for sure now is that he was probably born before 1760, and died after 1787.

The line of descent is:

Johann Gottfried Neimrich-Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth Nimerick-William Beeks
John Beeks-Polly Carter
William Beeks-Mary Wise
John Beeks-Elizabeth Wise
Wilbur Beeks-Cleo Aldridge
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendants

Friday, February 5, 2016

Holbrook line: John Whitaker 1660-1713

John may or may not be the immigrant ancestor in this line, because there is some discussion in the world of the internet as to whether he was or was not the son of Aaron Whitaker.  I tend to think "not proven" so we will start with John. 

It's not clear where John was born but it was probably somewhere in Warwickshire or Lancashire, England, although even that it's clear.  The first that is known of John is that he was a servant of Thomas Taylor's in Baltimore County.  Thomas had land surveyed in 1694, so if he served a typical four year period as an indentured servant, he would have been there at least by 1690,and possibly sooner. 

He was married by 1687, when the first of his 9 children were born.  His first wife's name was Catherine, and she was the mother of his children.  She may have died at or shortly after the birth of his last son, Isaac, in 1704.  When he died in 1713, his wife's name was Mary.  We don't know any more at present about either Catherine or Mary.  (It's so frustrating to me when we don't know about the women!!!) 

John eventually owned several parcels of land in Anne Arundel County, and presumably lived there.  There is what appears to me to be speculation (only) that the family was Quaker.  Certainly some of John's grandchildren were Quaker, but I've found nothing that makes me think that these Whitaker's were of that faith.  The children were all baptized at St. George's Parish.  If all the land that John owned was cultivated, then he probably had slaves but there is nothing in his will to indicate that.  We have to keep it in mind as a possibility, however. 

When he died, he left Whitaker's Ridge, 250 acres, to sons John and Charles, the rights to enlargement to sons Peter and Abraham, 150 acres of Whitaker's Ridge to son Isaac and unborn child, and names his wife and daughters Elizabeth, Hannah, and Sarah.  His estate excluding land was valued at just under 100 pounds.   (It doesn't appear that the unborn child survived.) 

That's what is known of ancestor John Whitaker.  I'd love to know more of his story, especially more about his occupation, presumed to be farming, and his religion.  I'd like to know if he had slaves or if he used indentured servants, or how he farmed that many acres.  And of course, I'd love to know who his parents were, and where his origins were in England. 

Our line of descent is:

John Whitaker-Catherine
Elizabeth Whitaker-Daniel Scott
Martha Scott-Daniel McComas
Martha McComas-Robert Amos
Robert Amos-Elizabeth Amos (yes, cousins)
Martha Amos-Peter Black
Elizabeth Black-Isaac Hetrick
Mary Alice Hetrick-Louis Stanard
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Allen line: Edward F Allen obituary index: What does it mean?

I located an index for the obituary for Edward F. Allen on Family Search.  I was supposed to be able to view the actual image but the link isn't working, which is a huge disappointment.  However, the index alone makes me ponder some unanswerable questions.

First, a little background:  The family story has always been that my grandfather was more or less kicked out of his home at the age of 13, (1881 or so) because his new step mother had several young children and there was no room for him in their home.  Presumably, young Ed was left to fend for himself, end of story.  Except, bit by bit, I'm finding information that makes me doubt that story.

For instance, it seems that he was with his brother, George R., in Montana for some period of time in the 1890's, before he became a school teacher in Soda Springs, Idaho  He emulated the man in that both became attorneys, and surely big brother had a bit of influence on him.  Secondly, his father's will in 1915 indicates that Ed owed him $200.  If there had been no contact, why did son owe his father that sum of money?

Now, I find the obituary index.  I don't know who provided the information for the obituary, but I suspect that Ed's oldest son Vernon may have written it, simply because he was the newspaperman of the family.  Still, whoever wrote it mentioned Ed's parents, George R. Allen and Nancy McCoy Allen, his widow and four surviving children, and Andrew Allen, brother, Mrs. Fanny Sweeney, sister, and Frank Nance, brother.  Maybe the obituary itself differentiates and lists Mrs. Fanny Sweeney as a half sister and Frank Nance as a step-brother, but maybe the family didn't consider them to be any differently than brother and sister. This sort of destroys the myth that there was no contact after Ed left home.  We just don't know the story.

So, I got curious.  I wanted to know more about Frank Nance, who was one of the children of Peter and Sarah Powell Nance.  He was born in 1876, the same year that his father died, and he must have been a person of drive and ambition.  I found his World War I draft card, when he was in Chelan, Washington, married to Mabel.  He had been there since at least 1909, when he was granted a degree by the state board of education.  His census information indicates that he had finished four years of college, but I'm not sure when or where that occurred.  At any rate, he was in Washington State for a period of at least 7 years.  By 1920, he and Mabel and his mother, Sarah F. Allen, were living in West Palm Beach, Florida.  (Sarah died there in 1923).  Frank was a real estate agent. 

I have so far not been able to determine whether he became wealthy or even well to do there, but a real estate agent and developer in West Palm Beach in those early years would probably not have starved.  It doesn't appear that he and Mabel had children; at least I haven't located a census showing children.  It's possible that children were born and died between the census years, of course.  Frank lived a very long life, dying in 1973 shortly before his 97th birthday.  His wife Mabel had died in 1966. 

With a brief outline of Frank's life, I next turned to Ed's half-sister, "Mrs. Fanny Sweeney."  Her name was Francis, but she was known in the family as Fannie.  She was born in 1883, and married Herbert E Petty in Jamison, Daviess County, Missouri, on September 4,1901.  I haven't yet found either divorce records or death records for Herbert, but Fanny married Willaim A. Sweany on May 5,1907 in Pattonsburg, Daviess County, Missouri, and lived until 1970.  Fanny and William had at least five children, and if the oldest daughter was theirs, that would make six.  Fanny outlived William by 20 years, dying in 1970, having apparently spent her entire live in Daviess County.

Andrew Allen, apparently the only one of Ed's full siblings to outlive him, is proving harder to trace down.  I haven't located anyone in the 1900 census in either Indiana or Missouri that seems a likely match, or for that matter, in the later censuses, either.  I'm still working on him.

So these are the new questions (lots!) and new answers (a few) just from looking at the index to my grandfather's obituary.  It was printed in the Salt Lake City Telegram 5 on July 11,1940.  I sure hope that link gets fixed so I can someday see the actual obituary.  Who knows what else it would tell me, or hint at?   

Also, I am extremely curious to know if my father knew of these relatives.  We don't recall their names every being mentioned in our home growing up, but that may or may not mean anything.  That is one question that will likely not be answered here on earth.  But here are their names, they were part of my grandfather's family, and it is worthwhile to know a little of their history.  

The line of descent is:

Edward F Allen-Edith Knott
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendants