Friday, April 7, 2017

Harshbarger line: Michael Birkle Immigrant, most likely

I know very little about Michael but he has a name and dates, and seems to have come to America so I'll write just a paragraph or two about him.  He is in the Harshbarger line and I'm coming to a close on Harshbarger ancestors unless I break down another brick wall at some point. 

Michael Birkle was born in 1676 in Hinterzarten, Breisgau-Hockschwarzwald, Baden, Germany.  This is in the southwest part of Germany, in what is known as the Black Forest, and is now an attraction for ski-jumpers.  In 1676, though, the thing that would be unusual in family history is that this was apparently a Catholic village, for Michael and his family were Catholics.  (Usually a village was either Catholic or Protestant, depending on the preference of the ruler of the time).  Michael's parents were Jacob and Maria Imberi Birkle. 

We know that on November 22, 1699, he married Anna Maria Willmann, daughter of Anton and Catharine Willmann.  They had about a dozen children: Franciska, Johan Jacob, Sgatha, Joseph, Catharina, Mathias, Gertrud, Christina, Maria Magdalena, Barbara, Michael, and possibly Maria (it's not clear whether Maria and Maria Magdalena could be the same person).  It looks like the last child was born in 1724, and so this would have been a busy household.  Records show that Michael Birkle came to the: New World, arriving on September 29, 1733 in Philadelphia aboard the ship "Mary". 

From there, it gets confusing.  Everyone agrees that he died on December 5, 1753 but some say he died in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania and some say he died in Hinterzarten.  So was it Michael the younger, born in 1702 who came to America, and not Michael Senior?  Or did our Michael come, and then return to his native village in his old age?  Were death records kept in both countries, with the record in Germany kept up by a priest even if the death occurred elsewhere?  I'm also showing that Maria Magdalena married in 1738 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and his wife Maria died in Lebanon County in 1760, which if true would tend to make me think Michael also died here..  Incidentally, the Lebanon County would be a modern term, for it wasn't formed until 1813.  Records of the time would all have shown Lancaster County as their residence.  Since Maria Magdalena arrived in 1733, presumably with her parents, I'm leaning more toward the "they never left" idea.

I'll keep looking for records in Pennsylvania that give evidence of Michael's life here, because there may be more to the story than I've been able to find so far.  In the meantime, we can think about the family religion and when it might have changed in the family.   

The line of descent is:

Michael Birkle-Anna Maria Willmann
Maria Magdalena Birkle-Andreas Kraemer
Daniel Kramer-Anna Maria Geise
Anna Maria Kramer-Andrew Kepler
Mary Kepler-George Harshbarger
Lewis Harshbarger-Catherine Mentzer
Emmanuel Harshbarger-Clara Ellen Harter
Grover Harshbarger-Goldie Withers
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendants