Some lines related to my Ehrstines

Turning to the maternal lines of my Ehrstine ancestors alternates between two different migration patterns from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to Montgomery County, Ohio. One comes by way of settling into western Pennsylvania in the decades before the Northwest Territories, including Ohio, opened to settlement. The other migrates by degrees along the Appalachian frontier into Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and/or Kentucky, before twisting north and west into Ohio. In either case, York County, Pennsylvania, just across the Susquehanna River from Lancaster, often has a role.

In many instances, the fleetness of their movement is rather astounding. Dunkers born in Colonial Lancaster and York counties are found buried as far west as Illinois or Missouri. In fact, the locale of the Ehrstine farms in Montgomery County, Ohio, can be seen as a funnel through which many Brethren families pass for a decade or so before moving northwest in a swath across Indiana or further west into Illinois, as John W. Ehrstine would do. In the process, one daughter may be see marrying and remaining behind as the rest of the family presses westward, leaving little or even no other trace.

The Ehrstine family’s connections with other Dunker/Brethren families are significant enough that the Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists’ Southern Ohio autumn workshop in 1991 included a tour of the Ehrstine Cemetery, as well as a lecture on the Shively family, which figures prominently in my great-grandmother Alice (McSherry) Hodson’s ancestry.

So closely intertwined are these families (and first-cousin marriages were not uncommon among the early Brethren), I suspect that the currently lost names of the first Peter Ehrstine’s wife, of any spouses for his daughters Magdalene and Barbara, of the surname of son John’s wife Anna, and of others may be uncovered by employing a three-part model examining the Great Swartaro and Codorus congregations in Colonial Pennsylvania and aligning those families with the earliest burials in Ehrstine Cemetery. For simplicity, I’ll call this theoretical model the SCE Project (Swataro/Codorus/Ehrstine). Initial investigations along this concept are encouraging, in finding much overlap between the Pennsylvania and Ohio surnames, but also much frustration in seeing how incomplete many of the early family charts become, fading off just where traditional naming patterns or some other bit suggests pay dirt.

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The Ohio connections and the earlier York and Lancaster origins can also be followed through various entries in The Brethren Encyclopedia (Philadelphia, Pa., and Oak Brook, Ill., 1983). While I’ll not attempt here to delineate the denomination’s Pennsylvania roots, the names here should eventually indicate how closely the community and its families are interwoven. For starters, under Clayton, OH, Happy Corner Church of the Brethren, is a photo of the Lower Stillwater Old Order German Baptist Brethren meetinghouse, which is on land believed to have been donated by the Ehrstine family. The congregation was established 1811 from a division of the growing Lower Miami congregation, which was presumably worshiping in members’ homes and barns The new congregation, however, apparently soon outgrew that option:

The first [Brethren] meetinghouse in the Miami Valley was a log structure built along the Salem Pike in 1818 by the Lower Stillwater congregation. Another frame house was built in 1828 on a tract donated by Adam Rodebaugh. The Upper House was established in a building near the current site in 1853. This building was destroyed by high winds in 1875 and was immediately replaced by a building which served the congregation until 1977.

The growth, in turn, led to the Bear Creek congregation – seven or eight miles west of Dayton – which included lower Madison Township, as well as the western half of Jefferson Township and eastern part of Jackson, and to the Wolf Creek congregation, which included northwest Montgomery County and southeast Preble County. Its members met in homes, barns, and outdoors until 1837, when a meetinghouse was erected near Brookville – perhaps 2½ miles southeast.

Salem Church of the Brethren, OH, located in Clay Twp., in Montgomery Co. In 1817 Salem was organized out of the northern part of the Lower Stillwater (Clayton, OH, Happy Corner) and Wolf Creek congregations. Emanuel Flory (d. 1849) was the first elder with John Studebaker (1781-1865) and Isaac Karns as ministers; there were fifty-two charter members in twenty-seven families. Charter families included the Albaughs, Arnolds, Bowers, Brumbaughs, Butterbaughs, Christians, Clopperts, Ellers, Florys, Harshbargers, Karns, Leedys, Michaels, Millers, Mishlers, Overholsers, Studebakers, and Warners. A brick meetinghouse, built in 1854, was replaced by a frame house in 1876 … the Old Order movement generated another Salem congregation nearby in 1881. …

 Salem Old German Baptist Brethren Church, OH, located two miles north of Clayton, Montgomery Co. Following the division of 1881, it had fifteen to twenty members without a minister. Early members were deacon Abraham Landis and Elder Noah Spitler. … Meetings were held in the barn of Abraham Landis until the meetinghouse was built in 1885. … Membership in 1980 was 169.

The later move of John W. Ehrstine to Illinois fits with Brethren migration:

Mulberry Grove, IL, Church of the Brethren. The Hurricane Creek congregation divided in 1875, and the northern part was organized as Mulberry Grove in 1876. The first meetinghouse had been built in 1874, four and one-half miles nw. of Mulberry Grove. William Elam was the first elder, and William Mahle the minister …

[Also:] Hurricane Creek Church of the Brethren, IL, located in Pleasant Mound in Bond Co. south of Mulberry Grove. It was organized in 1843 under the leadership of D.B. Sturgis and Jacob Moomaw. At the time of the organization, George Beanblossom was elected to the ministry. After Elder Sturgis moved to Indiana in 1863, William Elam became the elder. Worship services were held in homes, schoolhouses, and groves until a church building was constructed in 1874 about a mile south of Pleasant Mound. A second meetinghouse was built the same year near Mulberry Grove.  …

Hurricane Creek Old German Baptist Brethren Church, IL, located in Bond Co. It was organized with thirty-five members on Nov. 10, 1881, after a separation meeting on Oct. 15, 1881. Jacob Root was ordained an elder; other officials were Joshua Kessler and John Clear, ministers, and William Forney, elder … by 1887 the congregation was reported to have only twenty-five members.

This was near the National Road, which also passed not far from the Ehrstine homestead in Ohio. Interestingly, Hurricane Creek’s 1843 date makes it the earliest Illinois congregation shown on the Ohio Valley Brethren migration map. (Earlier Illinois congregations were settled from the south as families arrived from Kentucky.)

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Although many of the related lines share the Dunker faith, others come by way of other Pennsylvania Dutch denominations, mostly of the Anabaptist stream, which included Mennonites and Amish as well as the Brethren. Through them, we get a fuller picture of the German influence in the northwest corner of Montgomery County, Ohio, especially.

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PETER EHRSTINE’S (unknown/unknown) WIFE: This piece of the puzzle would be solved easily if we could find the Bible that Peter Ehrstine willed to his only known son, John. Without that, the best we can do is rely on traditional German naming patterns, which also becomes problematic in the absence of a complete list of their children.

For instance, if John Ehrstine is indeed the first-born son, rather than simply the only surviving son, we can assume that his grandfather was John Ehrstine (likely using the German Johannes or Hans).

The same would work for the older daughters, Esther and Magdalene, being named for their grandmothers. I believe the mother named her first daughter for her own mother.

Estimating that Peter Ehrstine and his wife were born between 1740 and 1750, we can then look for their parents in the 1710-1730 range of birth, or 1740-1750 marriage window.

As a result, looking for possible parents for Peter Ehrstine’s wife would have us seeking some clustering of Esther, Magdalena, Barbara, and/or Eva. A preliminary survey suggests this combination is not as common as one might expect.

Since Peter first shows up in the Great Swataro congregation, he may have connections among the approximately twenty families, or fourteen other surnames, reported there in 1770: Pffauts, Miller, Hammaker, Roemer, Buck, Eter, Metsegar, Thomas, Branser, Stohner, Reicker, Balshbach, Henry, and Cass.

Miller, of course, is a widespread surname, making it difficult to trace. Others, like Pffauts and Metsegar, are found under many variants, likewise creating difficulties. And all three of these surnames show up as Dunkers in early Montgomery County, Ohio.

Thus, through John Hanmacher/Hammacker’s wife, Maria Bollinger, we come upon the will of Rudolph Bollinger, filed in 1767. Survivors include daughters Magdalena, Anna, and Elizabeth, while Barbara (married to a Zug) is not mentioned. Rudolph was a member of the Conestoga Dunker congregation led by Peter Pfautz.

Johann Adam Hammacker (born 1740) married Eva Maria Licht.

John Buck/Buch married Eva Magdalena Geiger, born August 5, 1756.

These point back toward earlier generations, needing to be filled in.

The Stoner connection is especially intriguing. Two of the earliest burials in the Ehrstine Cemetery in Madison Township in Montgomery County are for Elizabeth Stoner, born circa 1785, and Barbara [Garber] Stoner, born circa 1791, wife of William Stoner.

From the naming patterns of the children of John and Anna Ehrstine, on one hand, and his sister and brother-in-law, Esther and James Patterson, on the other, I venture that Peter’s wife’s given name was Elizabeth, while Samuel and Rebecca may be the given names of the parents of John’s wife, Anna – or even the given name of John and Esther’s maternal grandfather.

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JOHN EHRSTINE’S WIFE ANNA (unknown): Here the locus shifts across the Susquehanna River, to the Codorus Brethren congregation in York County. The surnames reported in 1770 were Neff, Tilman, Spitler, Brilharth, Neiswanger, Harold, Yunt, Eby, Baker, Berkey, Ettor, Sitler, Weltner, and Tanner/Danner. In addition, the congregation grew rapidly, so that many families were added in the period that Peter Ehrstine’s five known children were marrying.

It is likely that John Ehrstine’s wife, Anna, comes from one of the families in this congregation. His oldest sister, Catherine, married another York County native, John Patterson, although I cannot tell if he had Brethren connections. At this point, the placement of Louis Mast, the husband of youngest daughter Eva, is unclear. This leaves us with Magdalene and Barbara.

The Spitlers are among the early Dunker settlers in Montgomery County, Ohio, and the Neiswanger and Danner surnames connect with later Ehrstine generations in Montgomery County.

One York puzzle has John Ehrstine, presumably the son of Peter, being namedone of two administrators (with Andrew Meyer) recorded June 7, 1808, for the will of Christian Meyer of Springfield Township in York County, Pennsylvania. The central question from my perspective is just what is John’s relationship in this matter? Are these his in-laws, cousins, aunts and uncles? How might this untangle the questions involving the given and surnames of his mother, or the surname of his wife?

Christian, son of Andrew Kauffman Meyer (1753-) and Magdalena Keller (1754-1815), is the grandson of Christian Meyer (1708-) and Elizabeth Kauffman, on one side, and Jacob Keller and UNKNOWN WIFE on the other. Since Magdalena is also the name of one of John Ehrstine’s sisters, there is a hint that this may be his aunt – this is, the sister of his father. Another possibility would have Christian or his wife, Anna “Nancy” Eby, be related to John Ehrstine’s first wife, Anna. The Meyer family is reported as Brethren in York County, with Christian’s grandfather being a Mennonite deacon in Lancaster County.

Whatever the case, it seems unlikely for John Ehrstine to be involved if he were not somehow related.

From the naming patterns of the children of John and Anna Ehrstine, on one hand, and his sister and brother-in-law, Esther and James Patterson, on the other, I have ventured that Peter’s wife’s given name was Elizabeth, while Samuel and Rebecca may be the given names of the parents of John’s wife, Anna – or even the given name of John and Esther’s maternal grandfather.

The application of naming patterns would be helped if we had lines from John and Esther’s sisters.

Looking at naming patterns would also have us considering Jacob Petry Sr., a pioneer Dunker minister in Preble County, Ohio, who was born among the Codorus congregation in 1767 and died in 1849. The surname of his wife, Magdalena, is unknown, although it is sometimes confused with that of their daughter-in-law, Magdalena Miller. In addition, he had a sister Anna, about whom nothing more is known.

They were the children of Stefan Petry, from Germany, and Anna DANNER.

Might this account for either Magdalena Ehrstine or John Ehrstine’s wife?

A 1790 York County will for a Peter Petry, mentions a daughter Anna, as well as her sister Magdalena and brother Henry. The executors are Henry Danner and George Petery (Petry).

A 1782 York will for Christian Brillhart (wife Anna) mentions a daughter Anna, as does one, 1784/1787, for a Braneman in Codorus.

However the lines might tease apart, the little we now have points to a number of close potential relationships in the Codorus fellowship.

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JOHN EHRSTINE’S WIFE (unknown): The John Ehrstine born 1802 is largely a mystery. Only the name of one daughter, Sarah, would point to a grandmother of that name – in this case, on her mother’s side.

Marcia Z. Behrens’ chart has a Mary Ehrstine born in 1805, who does not fit into the other tables as an Ehrstine descendent. She might fit as a wife, although this does not match the 1840 Census, with its suggestions of a wife being born between 1810 and 1820.

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Now, let’s consider some of the related lines alphabetically.

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BECHTEL: Jacob Hess (1727-1799) married Elizabeth BOECHTEL, daughter of Samuel Boechtel of Manheim Township in Lancaster County (Mennonite). Jacob became the presiding elder of the Codorus congregation and later moved to Maryland, where he helped establish the Lingamore (Locust Grove) church. He died 1799 in Brownsville, Frederick County.

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BURKHART: The ancestry of John Ehrstine’s second wife, Barbara Burkhardt Hyers, is presented in the Brethren Encyclopedia:

Jehu Burkhardt (Burket, Byrkett), 1738-1823, frontier minister, son of Ul(l)rich Burkhardt. Jehu was born in Lancaster County, Pa., and married Magdalena Kroll, daughter of Ulrich Kroll. Jehu and Magdalena moved to Maryland before 1768. Later, in 1775, relocated to Reedy Creek in Rowan (later Davidson) County, N.C., where he acquired a large quantity of land and operated a wagon service. Called to the ministry in 1789, he was recognized as an elder among the Brethren in 1801 and by 1802 as a bishop among the Moravians. In 1809 he moved to Lower Stillwater, Montgomery County, Ohio, where he died.

Other versions have him being born near Basel, Switzerland, to Jonathan Burket, the son of Emanuel. In these accounts, he came to the New World with his father, had nine children, and served in the Revolutionary War. The military service becomes questionable, considering his standing as an elder in a pacifist church.

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COOPER/COPPESS: John NEUSWANGER (ca 1729 – December 1, 1788?, Frederick Co. Virginia); married Magdalena COOPER or COPPESS. Nothing else is currently known.

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DANNER/TANNER: Sarah “Sally” DANNER, the wife of John HESS, was born in Virginia on March 5, 1811; she died June 9, 1882; and is buried with her husband in Newcomer Cemetery in Franklin Township, Darke County, Ohio. Their daughter. Caroline “Callie” Hess, married Jacob Ehrstine.

Discussion of possible Ehrstine spouses in the Codorus congregation has already introduced the Danner/Tanner surname in both genealogical and Brethren contexts. In looking for the parentage of Sarah, one observes how migratory some of the Dunker families were along the frontier.

Donald F. Durnbaugh, The Brethren in Colonial America, reports a Michael Danner (1706-circa 1781) as the progenitor of an influential Brethren family. He arrives from his native Palatinate in September 1727 and settles on a tract of two hundred acres just west of the Susquehanna River in 1734. He and three others were the first German households on land originally developed by the Quaker and later Brethren James Hendricks in present-day York County. In ensuing property disputes arising between deeds granted by Maryland and those granted by Pennsylvania, Michael was among those taken prisoner, twice, to Maryland in 1736, where he may have repurchased his lands. (When the Digges family, one of the major Maryland landholders in this dispute, finally quits challenging the Pennsylvania authorities in this matter, he sells a large portion to Patrick McSherry, another of my ancestors.)

Michael Danner and his wife, Anna BEND, have two sons who were influential in the migration of Brethren families into the South and then into the Midwest.

A thoroughly footnoted Person Sheet posted by vonbehren online has Michael Danner being born before May 7, 1696, in Baden, Mannheim, Germany, to Ulrich Tanner (1670-) and Chystina REITLICKERIN (1674-). Anna Bend was born before 1721, also in Baden. Michael Tanner, as head of household, arrives on the ship James Goodwell in 1727. Although he is described as a Dunker, both Michael and Anna are buried in the cemetery atBaer Mennonite Church at Hanover, Pennsylvania.

Their children, as reported by J. Bowders, drawing on Conewago settlement and gravestone records:

  1. Jacob (1727-1799) married Elizabeth BOECHTEL, daughter of Samuel Boechtel of Manheim Township in Lancaster County (Mennonite). Jacob became the presiding elder of the Codorus congregation and later moved to Maryland, where he helped establish the Lingamore (Locust Grove) church. He died 1799 in Brownsville, Frederick County.
  2. Catharine (-before 1790), married George WEHRLY.
  3. Anna (December 6, 1730-January 10, 1804), married Stefan PETRY (1729-1793). They are buried at Chestnut Grove Cemetery.
  4. Michael Jr. (-1782), married Susanna KEHR, whose family was Mennonite.
  5. Elizabeth (November 13, 1736-April 21, 1798), married Christian BEAR (June 10, 1733, April 17, 1795).
  6. Philip [1738?], married Markret (Margaret) MILLHEIM, daughter of George Millheim of Mannheim Township.
  7. Heinrich (February 12, 1742-February 5, 1814), married Elizabeth KEHR (September 28, 1744-June 17, 1828) (Mennonite). Henrich was a minister in the Codorus congregation.
  8. Maria (December 24, 1744-February 18, 1816), married first Heinrich WOLF (-1783) and second Daniel UTZ.

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Michael Danner was one of six surveyors who plotted, 1739-1740, the Monocacy Road, a route from Wright’s Ferry across the Susquehanna River to the Potomac River in Maryland that many Brethren families would follow, some moving on into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He was a large landholder, with at least four tracts, and is credited with giving Manheim Township its name.

Danner movement includes the Little Conewago congregation (now Black Rock Church of the Brethren), the first Dunker church west of the Susquehanna River, founded 1738, where Michael and Anna were members; Big Conewago (Upper Conewago), founded in 1741; Beaver Dam, 1747, in Maryland; Pipe Creek, 1751, in Maryland; 1756, Middletown Valley; 1758, Codorus; and Israel Creek/Lingmore (eventually known as Locust Grove Church) in Maryland, 1756.

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Son Jacob Tanner/Danner was the minister at the founding of the Codorus congregation in 1758, before moving to the Monocacy area of Maryland. Jacob and Henry Tanner and their wives are also recorded at the Little Conewago congregation in Hanover Township, York County.

The Monocacy congregation (Pipe Creek) originated about 1747 in Frederick County, Maryland.

Son Henry Danner was among the Brethren signing a 1758 document on church discipline; a 1794 letter from Sandbergen in Frederick County mentions “the dear brother Jacob Danner and his brother … dear Henry Danner … in Morrison’s Cove”; Jacob Donner received letters from Alexander Mack Jr., a sign of his standing in the church. Even so, Jacob Donner [Danner] met much opposition in the church in 1772, and so he could not be ordained at that time. A letter from Jacob Danner and his wife, Elizabeth, sent to Alexander Mack Jr. in 1789 has been preserved and is republished in Durnbaugh, who observes, “The son of [pioneer] Michael Danner, Danner was a hymnwriter and poet, and a well-known church leader.”

The annual Brethren meeting of 1787, held at Pipe Creek, included delegates Jacob Danner, of Pipe Creek and Beaver’s Dam, and Henrich Danner, of York County.

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Danners continue into the Shenandoah Valley. Among them are Philip Danner, son of Michael and Anna; Jacob Danner, grandson of Michael and Anna; and a Michael Danner, born in 1805 in Roanoke County, seven miles southwest of Salem, Virginia. (This Michael Danner buys land from Jacob Eller, whose line also winds up in Montgomery County, Ohio.)

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There are a Solomon Danner, born March 12, 1769, in Heidelberg Township, York County, to Jacob Danner and Elizabeth Bechtel, and a Solomon Danner, born to Samuel Danner and Anna STONER, August 26, 1796. Samuel, another son of Jacob and Elizabeth, married Anna Stoner in Maryland, and he died about 1817 in Brayton, Indiana. Their son Solomon married first SMITH and second SHAVER.

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Among the Virginia surety bonds for marriage are found:

Solomon Danner and Elizabeth HURK (HUSK) in 1801. “Solomon is son of Solomon Danner (German) who consents.” Teste: George Danner and Leonard Danner.

Leonard Danner and Caty HARMON, 1798. Consent signed by Johannes Danner and George Danner.

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From these dates, then, I suggest a line running from (1) Jacob and Elizabeth to (2) Solomon and (unknown) to (3) Solomon and Elizabeth.

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A Solomon Danner shows up in Montgomery County, Ohio, at estate sales in 1817, 1818, and 1820 (one in Madison Township, the other in Jefferson Township).

The 1820 Census for Madison Township shows Solomon Danner with a male age 26-45, another 18-26, and another 16-18. The household also includes a female over the age of 45 (his wife?),two females 10-16, and three females under age 10. At this time, Sarah Danner would have been about nine.

The 1830 Ohio Census reports a John Danner in Madison Township, Montgomery County, and a Joseph Danner in Harrison Township, Preble County.

I find none in the 1840 Ohio Census index.

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The movement of other Danner lines through Montgomery County is told in the 1879 History of Fulton County Illinois. That includes entries for a Jacob Danner born in 1859 [1839, considering the Census?] near Dayton, Ohio; his father, Jacob Danner, born 1800 in York County, Pennsylvania; and a David Danner, born around 1780, “also a native of the Keystone State.”

The entry continues, “His ancestry can be traced back for 200 years, when Switzerland was under German rule.[!] Mr. D. relates that his ancestry belonged to that class of Christians known as Dunkards. … David Danner was married to Mary Stambaugh, who bore him 6 children, Jacob being the oldest. … In 1833, he moved to Ohio, where for a time he became a distiller.”

Catherine Stambaugh died January 24, 1869. Their children were Solomon, Henry, Jacob, Sarah, and Caroline.

The clustering of given names here is interesting, considering that Jacob Ehrstine and Caroline (daughter of a Sarah Danner) name a son Henry. While it is possible that John Hess married this Danner line, I find it improbable considering the 1833 Danner arrival and 1833 birth of Caroline, especially noting that no mention of Virginia is told in this line.

Instead, I would have Sarah born to the Solomon Danner already in Madison Township, where she marries before he presumably moves further west.

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As an aside, we have an 1827 divorce of Abraham and Anne Danner in Greene County, Ohio. Whether they tie into this line is presently unknown.

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FLORA/FLORY: Another line with many Montgomery County, Ohio, connections; I include it for now, to differentiate from the Forney line below:

Flora (Flory) Family. This Huguenot family is presumed to have fled from Fleury, France, to the Palatinate, Germany. Joseph (d. 1741) and Mary Fleure, accompanied by six children, arrived in Philadelphia on Aug. 28, 1733, on the Hope. They settled in Rapho Twp., Lancaster Co., PA. Their sons became members of the Conestoga congregation; Joseph, Jr., in 1741, John in 1747, Jacob in 1748, and Abraham in 1756.

In 1759 Joseph, Jr., moved to Paxtang Twp. (later part of Dauphin Co.), while John stayed on the original farm …

Abraham lived in Brothersvalley, Somerset Co., PA, from 1796 to 1809, when he moved on to Montgomery Co., OH, following his three sons: Joseph (m. Elizabeth Beeghly), Emanuel (m. Sarah Kagy), and Henry (m. Anna Kagy). Another son, John (m. Catharine Garber), a minister, lived in Rockingham Co., VA, and daughter Susannah (m. John Beeghly) remained in Somerset Co., PA, in the Galdes congregation. Abraham and Emanuel were the first ministers in the northern part of Montgomery Co. Many members of Emanuel’s family stayed with the Old German Baptist Brethren after 1881. The Ohio and midwestern families generally spell their name Flory. …

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FORNEY: Katherine FORNEY, widow of John Forney, in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, married John (Daniel) Rasor 1782. Her maiden name may have been Meyle, Meyli, Meylin, Mylin or a similar variant of a common Mennonite and also Brethren name.

The Brethren Encyclopedia:

Fahrney (Forney) Family. Joseph Forney came from Lebanon Co., PA, to near Salisbury, Somerset Co., PA, in 1773. He had four sons: John, Abraham, Christian, and Peter. John Forney (1777-1846) married Susannah Beeghly. At the time of his death he was the only elder in the Conemaugh congregation.

Another line, including many physicians, comes by way of Maryland. Among them was Peter, a patent medicine genius who moved to Chicago in 1869 and was considered the wealthiest Brethren member of the time. The poet/critic Kenneth Rexroth has written of his own father’s employment for the company.

Instead of Katherine, however, the Early Marriage Evidence from the Court Records of Dauphin County [Pa.] (Including Lebanon County), 1785-1810, by Annette K. Burgert names Elizabeth FORNEY as the widow of John Forney, and gives her the maiden name of SHOWERS. There, her second husband’s surname is spelled RAZER. (Court listing: MB D-I:470).

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HARSHBARGER: This is a common name among the Amish, as well as the Mennonites and Brethren.

Barbara HARSHBARGER, daughter of Jacob Hershberger, married John (Daniel) Rasor in 1790 as his second wife. Barbara was born Aug. 4, 1757, perhaps in Germany.

Hershberger (Harshbarger) Family. This family was traditionally Mennonite or Amish; many became Brethren. Relationships among the following families is uncertain. John Hershberger emigrated from Germany in the 18th century and settled in Providence Twp., Bedford Co., PA. His son George married Maria Studebaker …

The Hershberger family was recorded in Brethren history in Virginia as early as 1780. John Hershberger of the Mill Creek congregation was a coworker with John Kline as an active evangelist. Henry Hershberger of Rockingham Co., VA, accompanied his sons-in-law Peter Filbrun and Daniel Arnold to Montgomery Co., OH, in 1830 …

Jacob HORSEBERGER – Lancaster Co., Pa., will filed 20 Dec. 1762 – names wife Catharina and land to son Isaac, who is to give a deed to heirs for burial ground if demanded; also sons Abraham and Joseph.

Executors Jacob Erb and Abraham Brubaker, witnesses John Bare, John Rush, and Peter Miller. Resided Cocalico Twp. (Erb, Brubaker, and Bare likely Mennonite – Miller possibly Ephrataite – that is, Seventh-Day German Baptist). Heirs named in deed book (L-1, pg. 12) (no date from correspondent), using name Hershberger:

  • Christian
  • Jacob
  • John
  • Joseph
  • Abraham
  • Isaac (no wives joined)
  • Christena w/o Daniel Reasor
  • Anna w/o Jacob Huber

The sons all signed in German script, Christina X her mark, and Anna, A her mark.

This appears to be another case of two first names – this time Christena and Barbara, where the German custom of dual names (the second being the one used for the individual) leads to confusion in America. That appears to go with John Daniel, which seems to be widely accepted in other circles. The correspondent had also been wondering about the following:

Joseph and Mary (Rasor) Rohrer, who wind up in Clay Township, Montgomery County, Ohio, living adjacent to our John Daniel Rasor. The correspondent had always thought John Daniel and this Mary were siblings. It doesn’t fit into the Rosser family Bible data, so maybe she’s a niece by one of his older brothers; she died Aug. 22, 1841 – children’s births range from 1788 onward.

From Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage: Magdalena Shenk, Feb. 27, 1760-Sept. 14, 1840. Aged three years when her father died. Jacob Erb (see executors, above) was appointed as her guardian. She married Henry Hershberger, son of John Hershberger and grandson of Jacob Hershberger of Cocalico Twp. [Lancaster Co., Pa.], who arrived on the ship St. Andrew in 1749 (“the banner year for Amish immigration”). Magdalena and Henry Hershberger had eleven children recorded in their family Bible. Their daughter Anna married Peter Brubaker, son of Daniel Brubaker.

Citations include Pastoral Records of the Rev. John Waldschmid, Cocalico Charge, Lancaster County for the marriage, and Bible records, Lebanon County Historical Society.

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HERR: Christian NEUSWANGER (ca 1703 – February 1738, near Winchester, Virginia), married Maria Magdalena HERR, by tradition the granddaughter of Mennonite immigrant Hans Herr. This Herr line probably came to America in 1717, and is discussed in some detail in Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, January 1992.

As one of the earliest Mennonite settlements in Lancaster County, the family homestead is being preserved as a living museum. The Willow Street attraction – with its 1719 Herr House, built by Christian Herr as a new dwelling for his wife ,Anna, and their family – has been featured in several articles in Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, including October 1987, October 1989, and January 1994.

The birth of Maria Magdalena Herr is variously reported as circa 1688, ca 1693, and circa 1703 in Switzerland or Germany. Her death is reported as circa 1792 near Winchester, Virginia, or Frederick, Maryland. After Christian’s death, she married Jost HITE at Winchester, Virginia.

Her father might be either Samuel (born 1667) or Henry Herr (1671), born in Switzerland to Hans Herr and his wife, Barbara Kundig; for now, I am unable to determine whether Samuel or Henry married or had children.

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HESS: Caroline Hess, who married Jacob Ehrstine (E1B10), was the daughter of John HESS and his wife, Sally [Sarah] DANNER. They are buried at Newcomer Cemetery in Franklin Township, Darke County.

According to the Brethren Encyclopedia entry, “Hess Family”:

Samuel Hess emigrated from Zurich, Switzerland, to Pequea Twp. in Lancaster Co., PA, in 1712. He was a descendant of Hans Jakob Hess, an Anabaptist minister, who, according to the Martyrs’ Mirror, suffered death from persecution in 1639. Samuel’s grandson John married Esther Hershey. Four generations later, descendants of this couple became Brethren at various points in E. Pennsylvania. Abram Hess married Caroline Myer from the Conestoga congregation and descendants of their thirteen children are Brethren, with several ordained ministers. There are other Brethren who trace their lineage to the martyr through different lines.

Other Brethren families are descendants of George Balser Hess who immigrated with his parents to N. America in 1751. He moved to Franklin Co., OH, in 1798; some of his children moved on to northern Indiana in 1829. Five of his grandchildren married into Brethren families in the mid-19th century: Daniel Hess (m. Esther Miller), Moses (m. Mary Beckner), Mary (m. Jacob Weybright), Martha (m. Samuel Rensberger), and Israel (m. Rosa Cripe). The Hess family name is numerically strong among the Old German Baptist Brethren.

*   *   *

Noel Lee Hess of Colorado picks up the line with Abraham Hess (1780-1866), and his wife, Eleanor, who arrive in Ohio between 1797 and 1806. He has them being original landowners in Randolph Township, Montgomery County, purchasing 80 acres in the southeast quarter of Section 29 in 1813 from the state, property now engulfed by Interstate 70 about a mile southeast of Clayton. Their route of migration is currently unknown.

Among their children are Henry, William, and John.

There is also a Mary Elizabeth Hess born about 1815 in Montgomery County, who married Absolem Hyer in November 1835. He was the stepson of John Ehrstine. A report has Absalem (note the fluidity of the spelling) and Elizabeth moved to the Solomon Wilds farm in Franklin Township, Darke County, where he farmed for about two year. They move again, 1856, to Burkett’s Mill near Ludlow Falls in Miami County and again in 1865 to Crawford County, Illinois, after Elizabeth’s death in 1859.

Abraham became an original landowner in Darke County, where he purchased land from the state in November 1832. He purchased more Darke County property in October 1837 from Samuel Och/Oaks. Both properties were along Painters Creek near Arcanum.

Three other Hess households are reported in the 1820 Census of Montgomery County, but their relationship, if any, has not been determined.

An Abram Hess, born circa 1770, Pennsylvania, is recorded in the 1860 Census in the household of Henry and Eliza Hess of Randolph Township, Montgomery County.

*   *   *

Of the three Hess brothers, William (1813-1868) was the youngest. He married, age 17, on August 9, 1830, Catherine Och, daughter of Samuel, who would sell land to Abraham Hess. Later that year, William and Catherine would be reported living with brother Henry Hess and his wife, Lavinia GROVE, and unmarried brother John Hess.  Sometime after that, William and Catherine and brother John moved to Franklin Township in Darke County, an area still known as Painters Creek.

*   *   *

John Hess was born around 1810 in Montgomery County. In October 1832, he married Sarah DANNER and they moved to Darke County.

Their six children were:

  1. Caroline (October 9, 1833; July 8, 1921), married Jacob EHRSTINE.
  2. William N. (1835), married May 11, 1855, Christina PENNY in Darke County.
  3. Sarah Jane (1836), married May 11, 1855, Francis A. PENNY (a dual wedding?)
  4. Henry (1839), married August 9, 1862, Mary Jane LONG in Darke County.
  5. Ellen Ann (1841), married first by 1869 Louis Appleton and second, September 20, 1878, John Stricker in Miami County.
  6. Rhoda (1849), married April 7, 1864, Christian POOCK in Darke County.

*   *   *

Two obituaries are informative:


January 15, 1886

John Hess, Sr., was buried here at the Newcomer Cemetery to-day, at the advanced age of seventy-five years, four months and eight days. Funeral services at the Painter Creek German Baptist Brethren Church by Revs. Tobias Kreider, William Cassel and George W. Wright. Mr. H. was one of the first settlers of Franklin township, first settling on the farm south of Painter Creek, now owned by Samuel Oldham; and also being among the first settlers who helped build the first school house that was built in Franklin township. His funeral was attended by a large concourse of friends.


On Thursday, the 14th inst., the people of this vicinity were shocked with sadness on having the news of the death of John Hess, who was one of the pioneers of Darke county, and whose age was 75 years, 4 months and 8 days. He was a native of Montgomery county, and in the early part of his life moved to this neighborhood where he has resided ever since. He was the survivor of a large family and enjoyed good health and physical strength. In his former days when game was abundant he took great delight in hunting. Although he made no profession of Christianity he was a good neighbor and generous to strangers. His death took place in Montgomery county. The funeral was held on Friday, the services being conducted by Revs. Kreider, Wright and Cassel from the German Baptist Church; interment in Newcomer Cemetery, where his wife preceded him over two years. Our subject leaves to mourn his loss, six children and quite a host of grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

The appearance of three Brethren ministers in John’s funeral indicates that although he had not formally joined the church, he had been within its fellowship and esteemed.

*   *   *

I cannot tell at this point whether “Abram” and “Abraham” are acceptable variants for the same given name, nor can I comfortably reconcile the Montgomery County pioneer still living in 1860 with the 1818 will.

Complicating the picture is the 1818 will in Montgomery County for Abraham Hess, naming wife Elizabeth. The 1830 Census has an Abraham Hess in Randolph Township, Montgomery County, and a widow Hess in the city of Dayton. Both are gone by 1840. A Henry Hess is also recorded, 1830, in Butler Township, Montgomery County.

Because of the Danners’ prominence in the Brethren movement, however, I feel it fair to assume that this Hess line was also strongly Anabaptist, rather than one of the Revolutionary War-era Hess lines that come to American shores as Prussian soldiers engaged by the English crown.

*   *   *

An “Early Fulton County Pennsylvania Hesses” Web site and another with corrections continued the discussion for the Abraham Hess (1780-1866), and his wife, Eleanor, that Noel Hess finds.

Here Abraham is the son of William Hess, who appears in 1783 in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, in what is now Fulton County.

William died in 1817. His wife is believed to be Margaret Hart, possibly from a Connecticut line by way of New Jersey.

Abraham and Eleanor [Stillwell?] Hess joined the Tonoloway Primitive Baptist Church in 1802 and then withdrew their membership from the Baptist church when they moved to Montgomery County, Ohio.

I am concerned by the breakdown in traditional naming patterns. If we were following strict German practice, Abraham and Eleanor would name their first son William and their second son after her father; instead, we have William coming third. For that matter, Abraham’s grandfather would have been John (with the caveats that John was indeed the eldest son of William and Margaret, and not just the oldest surviving son).

Admittedly, we have marriages with probable English lines – Hart and Stillwell are mentioned. How much does this represent a departure from Pennsylvania Dutch culture? The Connecticut route for the Harts supposedly comes by way of New Jersey – a line of argument I find more acceptable than, say, than by way of the Wyoming District of Pennsylvania (which Connecticut also claimed and largely settled).

The Baptist church angle also raises my eyebrows. Yes, I’ve read that the first German Baptist Brethren [Dunker] congregation in Ohio went Baptist after a few crucial years, but this identity – plus the possible military service mentioned on the Web site – is a stretch from where the family winds up. Maybe the Anabaptist roots were strong enough to pick up in Ohio.

All that said and done, I find myself leaning toward the John Hess, son of Mennonite bishop Hans Hess, as a possible lineage. The repetition of the Abraham/Abram, John, and Caroline in the naming of Samuel Hess’ descendants (in the Brethren Encyclopedia entry) suggests that direction, although I’m not sure the dates line up for us quite yet. As I mentioned, this thing is never finished.

*   *   *

I will also return to Hans (John) Hess, one of the earliest Mennonite settlers in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. (See “Community and Material Culture Among Lancaster Mennonites: Hans Hess from 1717 to 1733” by R. Martin Keen, Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, January 1990.) Among the six known sons of Hans and his wife, Magdalena, I find only Christian (1727-1794) is unmarried (he is buried at the Hans Hess cemetery in Willow Street, Lancaster County); son Samuel (1731-1788) and his family remain on the family farm; this leaves four other sons – Jacob (ca 1708/10-by 1762), John (ca 1710/13-1767), Abraham (ca 1719 or 1725-1792), and Michael (1715-by 1762). Naming patterns typically repeat their father’s name, John; Abraham, meanwhile, names one son Abram, while Michael names a son Abraham. Either of these known grandsons would be in the right age range to relocate to Montgomery County, Ohio, late in their life, leaving a widow and sons.

Honeyman: “The 1790 Census has Abraham Hess, 4-3-3, in Conestoga Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where Abraham was a taxable 1771 (60 acres under cultivation), 1772 (65 acres), 1773 (70 acres – see also listing for Abram, 70 acres). Lampeter Township lists Abra. 1771 (172 acres), 1772 (170), 1773 (160), 1779 (250), and 1782 (250).”

*   *   *

HYER: When John Ehrstine marries the widow of Isaac Hyer, her children become his stepchildren.

The appearance of Enoch Hyer as an elder in the conservative Lower Branch Church of Stillwater reflects the family’s place in the Brethren stream. There is also an Isaac Hyer Cemetery in Madison Township.

A Web site, translated from the French, presents this lineage:

  • Isaac Hyer, born about 1780 in Hardy County, West Virginia, and died July 31, 1820, in Montgomery County, Ohio.
  • His parents, Rudolph Heier (1728, 1802)and Nancy (unknown).
  • Rudolph’s parents, Leonard Heyer (-1772), born in Benken, Basaelland, Switzerland, died in Hampshire County, Virginia; married Clara Grace Luctzler (1705-).
  • Leonard’s parents, Anton Heyer (1662-) and Anna Elizabeth Ruflin.
  • Anton’s parents, Hans Heyer (1634-) and Margethe Lowe, daughter of Anton Lowe and Chrichona Muspach.
  • Hans’ parents, Anton Heyer (1588-) and Ursula Anna Rybing in Benken (Low Canton).
  • Anton’s parents, Hans Heyer (1550-) and Margareth Muspach.

Since these list birth years but not deaths, my hunch is that they are drawn from baptismal records. It was not uncommon for Anabaptists in this period to yield to state-church baptisms, which they considered ineffectual; thus, the line may have been Mennonite through this period.

*   *   *

MAST: The marriage of Peter Ehrstine’s youngest daughter to Louis Mast introduces a surname that has become especially common among the Amish. At present I have nothing more on Louis Mast than his mention in the will. A few collected bits do, however, sketch some possibilities.

A Jacob Maust was a 1737 immigrant.

A Hans George Mast, son of Johannes Mast and Anna Keller, married Magdalena Lietner on February 28, 1769; their children include a Barbara and Magdalena, making me wonder about possible earlier Ehrstine connections. (This, from an entry on Martin Keller, born 1706 and died 1772 in Cocalico Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; the Kellers show up in the Codorus Brethren congregation, which may give us another connection with the Ehrstines.)

The search for Louis Mast (or Lewis Maust) leads to an account of Amish settlers in Brothersvalley, Somerset County, Pennsylvania: “Much of the land immediately north of the present site of Berlin in Somerset County, Pa., was held by the Amish. They were actively supported by the Amish of eastern Pennsylvania. An old Amish Alms Book with records from 1768 of Berks County, Pa., lists that 11 pds. 6 pence was given to Christian Speicher, who then moved to the Brothersvalley region. This was nearly the entire amount in their treasury.” The narrative then names John Schrock, who “died in 1813 and was buried on the Lewis Maust farm near Berlin.” The narrative also mentions “what became the Tom Maust farm.”

From Somerset County, there is also a photo of Elizabeth Maust (May 5, 1818-September 22, 1896), in Plain garb. She was the wife of John Peck, whose religious affiliation was German Baptist Brethren.

Peter Ehrstine’s final location as Fairfield County, Ohio, has been something of a puzzle, considering that his son John was in Montgomery County, Ohio, and daughter Esther in Richland or Morrow County, Ohio. He appears to be following the custom of having the youngest child care for the parents, in exchange for inheriting the family farm (the earlier children would have already received their share in setting up their own households). A Pioneer People of Fairfield County places Mr. and Mrs. William Mast at the village of Thurston.

That volume also offers clues in one of the perplexing names on Peter’s will. Perhaps it was Gist or Goss (also Swiss), rather than Gads, or even Nicolas Bader (a Swiss native who arrives in Fairfield County in 1804).

*   *   *

MICHAEL: John Rasor’s wife, Hannah MICHAEL (1797 Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, -1875), is the daughter of Jacob and Mary (Myers) Michael.

Although the Brethren Encyclopedia lists number of Michael family members as ministers and elders, there is no family entry.

Jacob MICHAEL (November 29, 1772, Pennsylvania – Sept. 11, 1860, Clayton, Ohio), moved from Virginia to Clay Township, Ohio. Jacob and Mary (Myers) MICHAEL are considered pioneers of Clay Township; he settled first on Bear Creek, then around 1809 he settled on 640 acres at Salem in Clay Township – he sold 276 of those acres to John Rasor.

Jacob Michael and David Myers received a deed dated 1806, from the United States, for Sec 19, T3, R5, Montgomery County. Other transactions with the two also name Mary Michael and Mary Myers (1807). The closeness of this Michael/Myers line is also reflected in the fact that the 1806 entries also name John Michael and Nicolas Myers side-by-side with Jacob Michael and David Myers. The Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists Newsletter, Fall 1997, names them as Brethren pioneers to Montgomery County.

In 1811 Jacob Michael is reported as a taxable in Randolph Township, and again in 1814.

A David Michael witnesses an 1813 transaction; others mentioned in this period are Anthony, Barbara (or Barbary, an 1817 justice of the peace marriage to Jacob Keck), Catherine (1825 justice of the peace marriage to Joseph Bartmass), Elizabeth (1822 justice of the peace marriage to John Fetters), Fergus, Frederick (1819 justice of the peace marriage to Mary Sheets), George (1826 New Light marriage to Hannah Carter), Henry (an 1817 justice of the peace marriage to Nancy Iford), John (1820 justice of the peace marriage to Susanna Rice), Philip (1824 Baptist marriage to Esther Shank), Stephen, Solomon, and Susannah – but not enough to give any clear picture of their relationship.

Because of Jacob Michael’s 1772 birth in Pennsylvania, and Hannah’s subsequent 1797 birth in Lancaster County, I suspect that Jacob was one of the three males over age sixteen recorded in the household of Philip Michael in Warwick Township, Lancaster County. (Note a Philip among the early Montgomery County, Ohio, marriages – presumably, a grandson.)

Settling early in Frederick County, Maryland, was a Philip Jacob Michael, married to Anna Margaretta, and son John Michael, one of four males, married in 1797.

Early Pennsylvania arrivals include Philip Lorentz Michael, under age 16, from the Palatinate, 1731, aboard the Snow Louther; Philip Michael, from Hamburg, 1754, aboard the Adventure; and Philip Jacob Michael, in the Snow Neptune from Portugal, 1770.

Again, for now, I have difficulty tracing this line completely from Ohio to its entry in America.

*   *   *

MYERS: This common name, with its Moyers root and many variants, is especially difficult to trace: there are too many trees in the forest.

The Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists has Mary’s father as John Myers, born 1747 in America, married 1775 in York County, Pennsylvania, and died 1793 in Adams County, Pennsylvania. He married, if I’m connecting the chart right, Margaret Sherman, born 1750 Yorkshire, England, married 1775 in York County, Pennsylvania, and died 1825.

John was the son of Nicholas Myers, born December 6, 1715, in Germany and died January 24, 1787, in the United States. His wife was Anna Margaretha Albert, born July 20, 1727, in Germany and died 1787 in Pennsylvania.

The Brethren Encyclopedia includes this entry:

John Moyer, a Revolutionary soldier of Berks Co., PA, died there in 1794. His widow Margaret was the second wife of Martin Shuey, son of the 1732 immigrant Daniel Shuey. The thirteen children of John and Margaret Moyer were Christian, Henry (incorrectly called George), Michael, Anna (m. Jacob Lesh), Philip (m. Catharine Shuey), Elizabeth (m. Michael Frantz), John (m. Margaret Shuey), Jacob, Peter, Barbara (m. Jacob Klein), Margaret (m. Rudolph Hunsiker), Abraham, and Rudolph. At least the first four were pioneers in 1803 in Montgomery Co., OH, where they and their descendants were active in the Lower Miami congregation. Montgomery County pioneers David and Nicholas Myers/Moyer may also be connected with this family.

Mary MYERS (January 8, 1778 – September 28, 1849, Clayton, Ohio) was the wife of Jacob MICHAEL.

In addition to the Myers mentioned with MICHAEL, above, The Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists Newsletter, Fall 1997, names Michael Myers (with children Elizabeth, Moses, Michael, Mary, Manuel, Martin, and Margaret) in 1802, and Christian (with children John, Henry, Elizabeth Bowser, and Hannah) in 1803, as well as an Isaac MOYER marriage to Catharine Crowell in 1803, and Henry MOYER (with children Anna Bowser, Christina Bowman, John, Jacob, Peter, Daniel, Michael, Elizabeth Harter, and Jonathan) in 1804 as Brethren pioneers to Montgomery County.

The fact that Jacob Michael was reported in moves to Montgomery County in 1806 from Virginia, and his wife’s birth in 1778, suggests that her Myers line, too, was in Virginia at the time of their marriage.

*   *   *

MYLIN: With variants that include Meyle, Meyli, Meylin, and Mylin, this surname connects with both early Rasor and Binkley families.

*   *   *

NICEWONGER: This an ancient Swiss family name has more than eighty variant spellings in the United States. Even within a single generation in our line, a name may be found with three or four spellings. Complicating genealogical research on the NEUENSCHWANDER families is the arrival of multiple heads of households in Colonial Pennsylvania, resulting, I believe, in at least five major lines, not all of the Anabapsist. In their movement, they become easily confused, and reported family trees may be in error.

With that warning, I turn to one account, where the line runs thus:

John Swank’s wife, Susannah NICEWONGER (ca 1780 Virginia – ), is the daughter of John and Elizabeth Nicewonger.

John NISWONGER/NYSWONGER (circa 1760-1822, Ohio) married Elizabeth (unknown). They came to Ohio from Boutetort County, Virginia. (The Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists Newsletter, Fall 1997, names John Niswonger Jr. with children Mary Kepler, Jacob, Elizabeth Hansbarger, Samuel, John, George, Susannah, and David as 1805 Brethren pioneers to Montgomery County.)

His father, John NEUSWANGER (circa 1729-December 1, 1788?, Frederick County, Virginia), married Magdalena COOPER or COPPESS.

His father, Christian NEUSWANGER (circa 1703 – February 1738, near Winchester, Virginia), married Maria Magdalena HERR, by tradition the granddaughter of Mennonite immigrant Hans Herr (above). Christian arrived in America with his father and two brothers on Augist 23, 1728, aboard the Mortonhouse.

His father, Jacob NEUENSCHWANDER (circa 1670 near Thurm, Switzerland-), was imprisoned for Mennonite faith.

Jacob’s father is Wolfgang von NEUENSCHWANDER (circa 1645-1690).

*   *   *

Gale Edwin Spitler Honeyman presents more on this Nicewanger ancestry (NEUENSCHWANGER, NISWONGER, etc.), this time going from the earliest connection to the more recent ones.

[*] Wolfgang Neuenschwandger, ca. 1645 – 1690, believed killed because of his faith … also, Jacob Sr. exiled because of his faith, after having been imprisoned at Bern because of his faith, with Hans Herr, Martin Kindig, and others 1710 – date in question, because Herr and Kindig came to America in 1709; came on Mortonhouse – oath 23 Aug. 1728. Three sons: Jacob married Susannah Wright in Frederick Co., Va.; Christian, Abraham.

N1A. [*] Jacob Neuenschwander, born ca. 1670 Neuenschwander Castle near Thurm, Switzerland. According to one version, Jacob Sr. lived in Germantown, Pa., 1719 with sons [N1A1.] Jacob, 18; [N1A2.] Christian, 16; and perhaps [N1A3.] Abraham. (This may be at the York Historical Society.)

N1A2. [*] Christian Neiswander (ca. 1703 – 1738, near Winchester, Virginia); married in Pennsylvania to Maria Magdalena Herr, a granddaughter of emigrant Hans Herr, Sr. (he arrived in 1709). She married (2) in November 1741 a Johann Justus Heit (known as Jost Hite). Children by Christian:

N1A2A. [*] John Jacob (ca. 1720 – 7 May 1754) married 5 June 1738 Marie Gertrude Brumbock, who later married (2) Michael Wolfe. (Note Brethren Wolfe family in Botetourt County, Va.) By process of elimination, presumed son:

N1A2A1. [*] John Niswonger ( – 1822), who married an Elizabeth (unknown). John bought land in what became Clay Township, Montgomery County, in 1805; he did not occupy it for at least five years later. His will of 10 July 1821 was filed 3 June 1822, Montgomery County, Ohio, and named children:

  • N1A2A1A. Jacob – “I do not have a sheet on Jacob,” writes Gale Edwin Spitler Honeyman.
  • N1A2A1B. David – “I think David is the one found in Preble County with will dated 3 April 1844 filed 2 September 1844, m. (1) ?, (2) 14 June 1823 Eva (? – ?) Reese.”
  • N1A2A1C. Samuel – (15 May 1784 – 20 August 1866) married 10 September 1807 in Botetourt County, Virginia., Elinor “Ellen” Dillon (April 1786 – 22 May 1853); lived Clay Township., buried in Worman Cemetery.
  • N1A2A1D. John III – (15 January 1786 – 19 October 1850) married 23 September 1807 in Botetourt Co., Elizabeth Circle (7 May 1789 – 16 February 1867); lived Clay Twp.; buried at Worman Cemetery. (This is Honeyman’s line). They had a daughter, Rachel (19 September 1810 – 2 June 1878) who married 25 October 1830, Montgomery County, Jacob Michael (2 June 1810 – 12 July 1894), the son of Jacob and Mary (Myers); Clayton cemetery. Adds Honeyman: “Whose family I have no record and is desired.”
  • N1A2A1E. Barbara Ferrel
  • N1A2A1F. Elizabeth Harnsbarger (actually, Hansbarger) –(ca. 1782 – 18 March 1847, age 67); married, 30 January 1804, in Botetourt County a John Hansbarger III (ca. 1778 – 6 December 1854, age 76); lived in Clay Township and buried at Landis cemetery.
  • N1A2A1G. [*] Susannah – (1783, Virginia – April 7, 1857, Montgomery County, Ohio) married John Swank.
  • N1A2A1H. Elizabeth Stewart.

“Most of these were wed in Botetourt County, Virginiaa. No dates for other daughters.”

  • N1A2A1I. George – 11 August 1791 – 12 April 1835; married 20 January 1814 a Sarah Frana “Fanny” Rasor (7 March 1785 – 25 March 1875), daughter of Daniel Rasor, Sr.. Lived in Clay Twp; buried at Worman Cemetery.

(Honeyman expressed interest in John and Susannah (Niswonger) Swank’s children – he had solid lists for those of Samuel, John III, Samuel, and Elizabeth.)

N1A2A. Christian (ca. 1728 – 1794) married 21 May 1753 Catharine Hearsay (Hershey?). Several grandsons using Nyswonger lived in Darke County, Ohio.

N1A3A. John (ca. 1729 – 1 December 1788) married Magdalena Cooper/Coppess [Coppock?] in Frederick County, Virginia. (that is, Winchester). Children:

  • N1A3A1. John II married Elizabeth –
  • N1A3A2. Peter
  • N1A3A3. Solomon married 10 May 1787 in Frederick County, Va., an Elizabeth Kern; they moved to Wayne County, Ohio.
  • N1A3A4. Jeremiah
  • N1A3A5. Elizabeth, who may have married John Pitman  – otherwise, it was her sister,
  • N1A3A6. Rachel
  • N1A3A7. Rebecca, who married 10 August 1792 in Frederick County, Virginia, a John Marlow
  • N1A3A8. Leah (1766-1821) who married 23 May 1789 a John Williamson; they later moved to Highland County, Ohio.

N1A4A. Isaac ca. 1730

N1A5A. David ca. 1731

N1A6A. Abraham ca. (1733 – 8 March 1785) married Mary (1734 – 1803; she later married Lewis Stevens).

*   *   *

The NEUENSCHWANDER lines become so prolific that untangling them even in the first decades of Montgomery and Darke counties becomes difficult.

*   *   *

SHOWERS: I have nothing at this point.

* * *

STONER: With the marriage of Anna Stoner to Solomon Danner, August 26, 1796, comes a connection to the Greater Swataro congregation where Peter Ehrstine is first reported. Whether other connections will link to Henry Stoner’s family (assuming that this line goes back to that household) remains conjectural.

*   *   *

SWANK: This is another surname that has troubled researchers trying to connect it from Ohio to Colonial Pennsylvania. One of the initial problems arises from the fact that the spelling changed along the way. In one argument, the name went from SCHWEND or SCHWENK to SWANK in Maryland, which would make sense considering the number of Swanks who then show up in Virginia.

What is known is that David Rasor’s wife, Delilah (Elizabeth) Swank is the daughter of John SWANK born August 20, 1791, in Maryland or Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, who married, April 14, 1814, in Montgomery County, Ohio, Susannah (Barbara?) NICEWONGER, born 1793 in Virginia or Montgomery County, Ohio. John and Susanna Swank are buried in Landis Cemetery, Perry Township, Montgomery County, Ohio.

John’s brother, Jacob Swank, married Sarah Rasor, daughter of Daniel and (Barbara) Harshbarger Rasor. (The children of Jacob and Sarah (Rasor) Swank thus become first cousins to both David Rasor and his wife, Delilah.)

The “Maryland or Lancaster” notation is challenged by other reports naming John and Jacob as the sons of Peter Swank (July 28, 1763 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania-August 29, 1837 or 1839 in Montgomery County, Ohio) and Hannah Elizabeth Wiley (January 1770 in Pennsylvania-1828 ), who resided in Clermont County, Ohio, 1803, and Montgomery County, 1811. Peter and Hannah married in 1787.

The 1790 Census shows a Peter Swank in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, and a 1788 Peter Swank listed for military duty. Peter and Hannah apparently moved, 1791-1795, to Kentucky before moving again, 1801, to Ohio. Another son, Eli, was born in Clermont County, Ohio, 1810, and died in Darke County, Ohio, 1861.

Brethren genealogist Peter McGarry has Peter’s parents as Johannes “John” Schwenk, born 1729 in Germany, died August 5, 1804, in the United States. On February 7, 1758, in Pennsylvania, he married Eva Huber. She was born February 23, 1736, in Sachen, Germany,  and died February 23, 1829, in the United States. (I suspect one of those dates is in error.)

In following the family, migration from Cumberland County to Huntingdon County would be natural, although for our purposes, it would be away from the Maryland/Virginia nexus suggested in the surname spelling change. McGarry’s notes, however, have Peter’s wife Hannah dying in Virginia, but with a date much after the family’s settlement in Ohio.

The Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists Newsletter, Fall 1997, names Peter Swank (with children John, Elizabeth, George, Jacob, Sarah, Daniel, Catharrine, Henry, Mary, and Eli) as 1806 Brethren pioneers to Montgomery County.

John Swank is mentioned in a Brethren Encyclopedia entry under Brethren in Christ (Shoemakerites): “a 19th-century Brethren dissenting group that originated in 1834 in Westmoreland and Fayette Cos., PA …” and amplified thus:

In 1861 the Shoemaker Brethren joined with a group of River Brethren (Brethren in Christ) led by John Swank to form the Church of the Brethren in Christ. After the deaths of Shoemaker (1867) and Swank (1873), many members joined other churches, especially the Free Will Baptists. … After a time, however, many members were predominantly associated with and eventually absorbed by the Winebrennerian Churches of God (General Eldership). 

In addition, Jacob Swank, John Swank, and David Rasor (not my direct ancestor), are mentioned as denominational leaders in Ohio, 1861, with Rasor reported dying before a second general conference, October 1865.

*   *   *

Taking the line back to earlier roots remains tentative. Three brothers – Johann Adam, Jacob, and George, the sons of Hans Michael Swenck – arrive in Pennsylvania in 1739. The given names John and Jacob are suggestive of Peter Swank’s two sons in the Montgomery County migration as well.

A Peter SWINK is also reported in Derry Township, Dauphin County, in 1765; Cumberland may have been part of Dauphin at this time.

Other possibilities to note:

Shank (Shenk) Family. The origin of the name Shank and its variants is the Swiss-German Schenck. There seems to be no common ancestor for Brethren Shank families. The name is common among Mennonites and is found as early as 1710 in Pennsylvania. The 1744 Lancaster County will of Michael Schenck Sr., who immigrated to Philadelphia from Rotterdam and took the oath of allegiance October 16, 1727, names son Michael and his sister Barbara, wife of Ulrich Everly/Eberly. Barbara and her husband also inherited part of Anna (Schenck) Bare’s estate, a sister of Michael Schenck.

The April 1995 Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage places an Elizabeth Schenk, widow of Joseph Caugy, wedding, May 11, 1722, Johann Landis, grandson of the Caspar Landis who married Catherine Dannherr; this apparently was at Markirch (Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines) in the Vosges mountains of France. This would put the Schenks among the Swiss Anabaptist migrations.

*   *   *

WHITMAN: Again, because of Nancy Whitman’s marriage to the Pennsylvania Dutch family of Peter Ehrstine, we should not be surprised to find her surname has been anglicized. A search of early Montgomery County, Ohio, records finds only Nancy (who weds Peter Ehrstine) and a Tabitha (who weds George Ward in 1814) – possibly sisters – as Whitmans.

However, a John WEIDMAN shows up in records of 1804/1804; a John WAITMAN in 1810, 1812, and 1814; and a John WODEMAN in 1813 and 1814 – all presumably one of two individuals, with one John WAITMAN administering the estate of the other, John WODEMAN, 1814.

Also, there are a George WHITEMAN in 1814 and a George WITMAN, 1818 – again, presumably one person, possibly related to the John Weidman/Waitman/Wodeman just mentioned.

I have also considered whether the name might also be a variant of WITMER/WIDMER/WITTWER, another common Mennonite surname of antiquity, but am drawn  (see Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, January 1992, and query in October 2001 edition). The Witmer/Widmer name is also found among the Brethren in Montgomery County, Ohio.

The 1850 Census report that gives Nancy’s birth as December 5, 1795, in Tennessee points to one more Brethren migration through the South to Ohio. The 1798 will of George WIGHTMAN (signed George WEIDMAN) in Rowan County, North Carolina, would fit this pattern. It names wife Mary Wightman, son Jacob WEIGHTMAN, and daughters Mary, Elizabeth, and Reachel Weightman. It also places his farm “adjoining the Moravian line,” hinting at the mingling of Pennsylvania Dutch cultures. The will, of course, reflects how fluid the surname spelling could be, even within a single document.

Early arrivals include Johannes WEIDMAN (Whitman) and Maria Felicity arriving with Brethren leader Alexander Mack in 1729 on the Allen. Their children are Johann Jacob, 4, and Catharine Elizabeth, 2.

George, Jacob, and Abraham Weidman/Weitman/Witman arrive in 1735 on the Mercury and apprently go to Berks County.

Johann WIDMAN, 25, and Johann Georg WITTMAN, also 25, arrive on the St. Andrew in 1743.

A Philip Weidman (born circa 1757 in Northampton County, Pennsylvania), who married Sarah Long, born circa 1758, Northampton County, daughter of John Long Sr., born 1718 Northampton County, and Maria Labar, ca 1720, France) looks intriguing.

Also, a Christopher Weidman Jr., born in Hagerstown, Maryland, who dies in Kentucky, has sons, John Henry Waitman, Jacob Waitman (1765), and daughter Barbara (1764) all die in Montgomery County, Ohio. (So where do we find Christopher SENIOR?) For Southern Brethren, a route from North Carolina into Tennessee and then Kentucky is not uncommon.

The Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists Newsletter, Fall 1997, also names a David WEIDNER (with children Elizabeth, Hannah, Sarah, and Abraham) as 1809 Brethren pioneers to Montgomery County. For now, that seems a bit of a stretch to Whitman, but until we have fuller clarity on the Whitman origins, I’ll leave it as another possible link.


7 thoughts on “Some lines related to my Ehrstines”

  1. Your research has provided much appreciated information about the families Rasor, Forney, Harshbarger and Swank as I am a descendant of John Daniel Rasor and Barbara Harshbarger through Jacob Swank and Sarah Rasor. I am also trying to sort out the religious history of our families and would appreciate your thoughts about the Swankites. I have enjoyed all of Orphan George’s history.

    1. Glad to help. And thanks to WordPress for its part in getting these research notes out of my filing cabinets.
      I don’t yet know enough about the Swankites to say more about their distinctives, but the clues were have are tantalizing. Strains of Old Order River Brethren, an insistence on foot-washing. What I see suggests deep faith and practice.

  2. Thanks for all your work. So you think that the Mary Myers born 1775 who is descended from Nicholas Myers and Anna Albert is wrong? I guess there was a John Myers born 1747 but whether Mary Myers is his daughter is the problem.
    So I shall get rid of Mary’s tree.

    Mary Rasor Piretti born 1944
    descendant of Louise Rasor, Louis Rasor, Nahan Rasor, John Rasor, John Rasor, and John Daniel Rasor born 1756.

    1. Trying to untangle our Myers in all of their variant spellings through this period is, as you know, quite difficult. We need more on the Myers and Michael families in Colonial Pennsylvania and Maryland, for sure. Given the possibilities of error in the available source material (and translation of German script as well), I’m interested in hearing alternative models for Mary’s roots.
      Thanks for connecting. I look forward to hearing more.

  3. Just wondering if you have any new information/links that would help identify the parents of Barbara Harshbarger b 1757 Germany or PA. She was the second wife of John Daniel Rasor 1755-1816; his first wife was Elizabeth Forney, widow of Joseph/John Forney – from Lancaster/Dauphin County, PA before Barbara and John Daniel Rasor moved to Montgomery County, Ohio in the early 1800s. This article has provided valuable information but Barbara’s ancestors remain a mystery. Katherine (Showers?) Forney and John Daniel Rasor’s ancestors also remain elusive. Thank you for contributing so much to my family research.

    1. Unfortunately, at this point, the answer is no. This stretch of the genealogy gets pretty fuzzy. My assumption is that they were among the first wave of Amish immigration, the one that essentially failed to maintain the faith. There are hints of a few Amish who joined with the United Brethren in Christ at its formation, and I remain curious about the Rasors’ role in this, if any.
      Keep me posted on what you turn up — the whole reason for the blog is to share our findings.
      And thanks for stopping by.

      1. Thank you. I hesitated to ask but your contributions have been very helpful to many of us following the Rasor, Harshbarger, Forney, Swank, Michaels, Myers, Niswonger families. BTW, the Ehrstines and Hodsons are in my family tree. I appreciate your comment about sharing our findings. My 2nd great grandfather was Jacob Swank 1795-1875 son of Peter Swank and co-leader of the Swankites along with his nephew Minister John Swank. Jacob Swank’s wife was Sarah Rasor, linking these two families as did your David Rasor and Delilah Swank. A current Swank researcher believes that Peter’s father was Conrod/Conrad Swank and not Hans Michael Swenck. Your research has greatly helped sort out the Amish/Mennonite/Brethren story. Still more to learn …
        Thank you again

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