Friday, March 10, 2017

Harshbarger line: John Buchtel 1733-1809

We are fortunate to have a good amount of information about John.  He is also known as Johannes, but it seems that most of the records about him refer to him as John.  Henry Meyer in volume 8 of the Pennsylvania-German magazine does a wonderful job of telling John's story, making it easy for us to imagine him and proud for us to honor him.  I recommend that you get a copy of the magazine (it's on Google, at no cost) in order to get a full sense of the man and his family.  This is necessarily shortened. 

John was born in late 1732 or early 1733 in Linsenhofen, Wuerttemburg, Germany.  This alone makes him different from many of our ancestors, because he wasn't Swiss and may not have suffered religious persecution.  He and his family were Lutheran,  Well, actually he may have been a bit of a free thinker, but mostly he was Lutheran.  His family had lived in the little village for at least five generations, going back to Petrus Buchtel who was born there in 1610.  For references, it's near Stuttgart, Germany, and has a population of about 2500 people, but that's about all I've been able to find about it.  John's parents were Johannes and Lucia Ehhalt Buchtel, and he had a sister and quite probably other siblings.

John came to America in 1753, possibly because war seemed to be brewing at home.  He was single when he arrived here, and had little in the way of material goods.  He served an indentureship to pay off the cost of his passage, and married Catherine Seiler or Scheler, a neighbor who was also working to pay off her indenture.  They were married December23,1760 and first went to live in Snyder County.  Later they moved to Brush Valley, in what is now Centre county, and this is where they made their forever home. 

John and Catherine had at least 9 children, and all of the family members are considered to be pioneers of Centre County.  they had to clear their land while keeping an eye out for wolves, bears, and even panthers.  By 1792, the year they apparently moved to Brush Valley, the threat from the native Americans was pretty much over, but there were still many dangers to overcome.  John farmed and planted apple trees as well.  His grapevines were not as successful, and I don't understand the slang in the article that explains why.  It is apparent that the failure was not due to lack of work on John or the family's part.  John was also a cooper (made barrels, buckets, and pails) and a mechanic, and as the Valley filled up, or as travelers passed, his skills were much needed.  He seems to have been well educated, or self-educated, with particular interests in mathematics, astrology (common at this time period) and philosophy. As already stated, he was a Lutheran but not a regular church goer.  It is said that ministers went to him in order to learn. 

John several times mentioned that he would not die in his bed and that prediction came true one unnoted day in 1809.  He was standing in the doorway to his house, and fell down dead.  Some of the Buchtel children wanted to move on to Ohio, perhaps because they weren't given enough land to survive on in their father's will (that is just speculation on my past).  In 1812, all but two of the children, plus Catherine herself, set off for a new home near Uniontown, Stark County, Ohio, and Catherine died there in 1813.  The trip was probably quite difficult for her. 

There is a picture in the article of a home that Solomon Buchtel built in Brush Valley near Rebersburg.  It is probably not standing any longer, but it looks like it would have been a nice farm home at the time it was built. 

I admire John Buchtel and would like to learn more about him.  One thing I'm really curious about is where he got his education, and what his parents hoped that he would do with it.  Did they want him to become a pastor or a schoolteacher?  And what inspired him to continue his learning while he was so busy doing the back breaking work of farming and breaking in new land? 

The line of descent is:

John Buchtel-Catherine Seiler
Solomon Buchtel-Maria Margaretha Reber
Benjamin Buchtel-Barbara Burkholder Long
Fannie Buchtel-Adam Kemery
Della Kemery-William Withers
Goldie Withers-Grover Harshbarger
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendants