Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Beeks line: Henry (Heinrich) Harshbarger, Immigrant

I put the Heinrich in the title of this blog post so it would attract your attention.  That was his name when he was born in about 1740 in Eppstein, Germany, but by the time of his death in 1788 he had traveled to the New World, seen the Revolutionary War, and gone from Pennsylvania to the Shenandoah Valley.

I'm not sure who Henry's parents were.  Many sites list them as Christian and Caroline Funk Harshbarger but I think they were a little too young to be Jacob's parents.  A more likely candidate would be Jacob and Maria Catherine (maiden name unknown), who were born about 1698 and 1699 respectively.  This is not documented, or at least I don't have the documentation, so please be cautious about totally discarding Christian and Caroline or adding Jacob and Maria Catherine from or to your tree.  His parents really are unknown.

However, Eppstein, Germany is not unknown.  It is only a few miles from Wiesbaden, and the pictures on Google of the old part of the city show a typical medieval town, absolutely breathtaking in its beauty.  We don't know what kind of life Heinrich would have had there.  He is said to have been a Mennonite.  Eppstein became Protestant during the Reformation, but that doesn't mean the Mennonites were treated well.  Most areas of Germany relegated them to day labor type jobs, and taxed them heavily.  They were, for the most part, marginalized and they found leaving the area the only way they could practice their faith and build a better life for their families. Heinrich married Elizabeth Stauffer, daughter of Johannes Stauffer, who was born about 1740.  Judging from the birth dates of their children, the marriage probably took place in about 1764.  The Stauffer family was also Mennonite.

Heinrich didn't come to America until 1768, although Christian and two of his brothers, Jacob and Caspar, had arrived in 1749.  Perhaps Heinrich stayed behind to care for an ailing parent, or perhaps the family fortune had been used to send the three older brothers to Pennsylvania and it took a while for Heinrich to earn his own way.  He is believed to have settled first in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and then in Frederick County, Maryland, where he bought land in 1774 and sold it in 1785, before finally going to Shenandoah Valley, Virginia.  This was a common migration route for the Germans at the time. We don't know if he sold his land and moved, or if he moved and then sold his land.  It appears that Elizabeth may have died about 1782.  Henry married Barbara, the widow of Jacob Pence on December 30, 1785 in Shenandoah County.    .

He left a will that was written in German, and appears to omit his three oldest children (who may have received land or money earlier).  Barbara's will mentions Mary Harshbarger, who had married Henry's son Jacob in 1786.  They were step-siblings when they married.

So to the very rich Beeks heritage of early Massachusetts settlers, Welsh Quakers, early Dutch settlers, Scots-Irish, and French Huguenots, we now add German and (probably) Swiss Mennonites.  It's quite a family!

The line of descent is:

Henry Harshbarger-Elizabeth Stauffer
Jacob Harshbarger-Mary Pence
Elizabeth Harshbarger-Jacob Wise
Jackson Wise-Charity Botkin
Mary Wise-William Beeks
John Beeks-Elizabeth Wise
Wilbur Beeks-Cleo Aldridge
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger

Note:  As far as I can determine, the line of Cleveland Harshbarger and the line of Henry Harshbarger don't connect, at least as far back as 1650.  But since both families apparently come from the same small village in Switzerland, there is probably a connection back further than that.