Ehrstines in Montgomery County, Ohio

Arriving between 1812 and 1816, John and Peter Ehrstine rank among the pioneer families in Montgomery County, Ohio. Over the next century, their households and related lines would thrive in the four northwest townships – Madison, Randolph, Clay, and Perry. Sometimes the lines spill over into neighboring Miami and Darke counties as well. Here, the Dunker or Brethren activity is strong, with many of their neighbors having migrated, by various routes, from Lancaster and York counties in Pennsylvania.

On first blush, John and Peter Ehrstine should provide a model genealogical framework. For several Census decades, they are the only Ehrstine households in the nation. (I am wondering about John’s father in 1820, when he should have been recorded in Fairfield County, Ohio, which would leave us three households instead; however, this still leaves the 1830 report open.) This is, obviously, a much simpler situation than we’d face with a family where eight sons repeat the same eight first names in their sons. While Census reports before 1850 list only the heads of households, and then tally the rest of the household within age range cells and by sex, one would expect this could be fleshed out easily by inserting the names from other records – marriages, later Census reports, gravestones (facilitated here by the fact that the Ehrstine family cemetery has been recorded and been posted on the Web).

In reality, the task has proved frustrating. Too many pieces simply didn’t fit. In a perverse way, the Ehrstine tables became a genealogical model of how difficult such research can become and how misleading official data can be, even when dealing with just two households. Only a recent online posting of a court ruling on guardianships for the children of John Ehrstine’s second wife, and another drawn on family notes from another Ehrstine descendant, have clarified my calculations, and even then I may have switched the two Sarah Ehrstines in my tables.

Of course, much of this would have been made easier had we had access to the family Bible Peter Ehrstine willed to his son, John.

Still, we draw on the avaible material. From Montgomery County Marriages, 1803-1851, for instance, we glean these entries:

EHRSTEIN, Nancy and Abraham Graybill, 6 May 1830.

Susannah and Samuel Landis, 27 October 1841.

EHRSTINE, Elizabeth and William Mills, 25 August 1847

John W. and Mary Ann Lovell, 5 January 1843.

Mary and Moses Ullery (application), 7 April 1848.

Peter and Mary Whitman, 9 January 1817.

Rebecca and Samuel Leasure (application), 29 Sept. 1842.

Susannah and Michael Haynes, 5 December 1848.

ERNSTINE, Catherine and Peter Heim, 8 November 1849.

Elizabeth and George Fockler, 13 April 1826

George and Anna Fochler, 8 October 1847. (Is she the one listed as Pauper, 1860.)

John and Barbara Hier [Hyre], 22 February 1824.

Mary Ann and Daniel Leasure, 27 October 1842.

Adjusting as best as I can for the 1830 and 1840 Census tables for the two Ehrstine households suggests this arrangement:

John EHRSTINE household

males /                                             year/birth /     age/1830 /                   would fit

  • E1. Himself     (1768-1855)     1760-1770        60-69                           OK
  • E1C. John Jr.   (1802)              1800-1810       20-29                           Someone, 30-39
  • E1D. Samuel   (1803)               1800-1810       20-29                           OK (also, 1850)
  • E1F. David     (1812-1822)       –                        –                                     –
  • E1G. Daniel    (1814)                 1810-1815       15-19                           Not reported
  • Absolum Hyer (1815)               1815-1820       10-14                           Not reported
  • Moses Hyer    (1822)                1815-1820       10-14                           Not reported
  • Abraham Hyer (1822)              1820-1825       5-9                               Not reported
  • ( ? )                                                                                                              One “under 5”

females /                                           year/birth /    age/1830 /                  would fit

  • Wife, Barbara (1782-1853)      1780-1790       40-49                          OK
  • E1A. Daughter who apparently does not arrive in Ohio: married in Pennsylvania?
  • E1E. Elizabeth (marries George Fockler/Fackler, April 13, 1826)   OK
  • Nancy Hyer   (1813)                1810-1815       15-20                            Fits; marriage, gone
  • Belinda Hyer  (1816)               1815-1820       10-15                            Married?
  • E1I. Rebecca (Leasure) (1817)          ?          ?          ?                                  ?
  • E1K. Susannah (Landes) (     1825-1830        under 5                         OK, 15-19
  • E1L. Mary (Ullery)                 1825-1830        under 5                        OK, 10-14

Peter EHRSTINE household

1830 Census  /           1840 Census

males  /                                           year/birth /     age/1830 /                  would fit

  • E1B. Himself (1794-1869)      1790-1800       30-49                           OK
  • E1B1. Son dies in childhood, between 1820 and 1830?
  • E1B5. John W. (1817)              1820-1825       5-9                               OK
  • E1B6. George (1823- )             1820-1825       5-9                              OK
  • E1B10. Jacob (1826)-              1825-1830       under 5                       OK

females                                             year/birth       age/1830                   would fit

  • Wife, Nancy (1795-1872)      1790-1800       30-39                           OK
  • E1B2. Nancy (marries Abraham Graybill on May 6, 1830)             OK
  • E1B3. Catherine (Heim/Herr) 1815-1820    10-14                           Married?.
  • E1B4. Mary. A (Leasure)       1815-1820       10-14                           {This cluster of four  E1B8. Susannah (Haines)       1820-1825       5-9                               four would fit,
  • E1B9. Elizabeth (Mills)           1825-1830       under 5                        with minor slippage
  • E1B11 Sarah (Landis)             1825-1830       under 5                        in Census taking}

*   *   *

With the two households sorted out, we can begin to look at the details. First, John Ehrstine.

*   *   *

E1. JOHN EHRSTINE born August 24, 1768; died March 10, 1855 – buried at Ehrstine Cemetery (EC), in Madison Township, just south of Taylorsburg (in Randolph Township) and southeast of Clayton (known at the time as Salem, also in Randolph Township). He married first, Anna (unknown), born June 22, 1772, died August 18, 1822 – buried at EC. (Two days after her death, their nine-year-old son, David, died.) To John and Anna, these children:

E1A. A DAUGHTER born 1786/1795. Apparently did not come with the household to Ohio, 1816. (Posited from 1810 Census.)

E1B. PETER (born June 19, 1794, Pennsylvania; died February 27, 1869 – buried at EC; he married, January 9, 1817, Nancy WHITMAN, Montgomery County.)

E1C. JOHN (born April 23, 1802, Pennsylvania; died February 21, 1861 – buried at EC, beside Samuel (E1C). Apparently married, perhaps briefly.) This would account for daughter Sarah (ca 1830) who married Jacob LANDIS, recorded in the 1850 Census in same household as Daniel Ehrstine (E1G). Compare this with Susannah Ehrstine (E1J) who married Samuel Landis/Landes, October  27, 1841. Alva Landes writes: “The dates would lead me to believe this might be Jacob Landes 1828 (brother to my Samuel) who married on 24 November 1849 Sarah Aarington [well, let’s consider a befuddled note-taker somewhere back there] 1830-1918 and are buried in the Stillwater [O.G.B.] Cemetery. They are on the 1850 census in Miami County, Indiana, with his parents Felix and Elizabeth Landes. But in 1860 were back in Madison Twp., Montgomery Co., Ohio, with all three children born in Indiana.”

Sarah Erstine, born at Taylorsburg, was not the wife of Joseph P. Lutz, as one source reports, but rather his mother. He was born April 30, 1855, at Taylorsburg, died in 1948, and is buried at EC.

The 1840 Census shows, same page as Peter (E1B), a John Ehrstine born 1800/10 (thus 30-40 years old) having a wife born 1810/20 (20-30 years old); there were no children; the 1850 Census reports a John Ehrstine, but no wife. In the 1860 Census we find a John Ehrstine living in the William Lutz household – the property value is all in John’s name; at this point, John is reported to be 50 years old, that is, being born around 1810. William Lutz’s wife is Sarah (Ehrstine) Lutz (born ca 1833), the daughter of Peter Ehrstine (E1B). Because no children are recorded in the 1840 Census for John Ehrstine, I had ruled out the likelihood of his having children, but am no longer so sure; perhaps his wife was already seriously ill and the child/children placed in another home at that point.

E1D. SAMUEL (born November 12, 1803, Pennsylvania; died October 14, 1857 – buried at EC). Apparently unmarried.

E1E. ELIZABETH (born October 27, 1805, Pennsylvania; died November 16, 1855; she married George FOCKLER, April 13, 1826.) George FACKLER Jr. (November 24, 1800, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania; died September 1, 1865). The 1850 Census of Newberry Township., Miami County, Ohio, shows value of $2,500; therein, children: Susan, 20; Samuel, 16; John, 13; Barbary, 8; George, 1 – all born in Ohio  They are buried Harris Creek German Baptist Brethren, a mile or so north of Bradford in Miami County.

E1F. DAVID (born November 18?, 1812; died Aug. 20, 1822 – buried at EC, with inscription, “son of John and Annia.”) He died two days after his mother.

E1G. DANIEL (born November 23, 1814; died February 22, 1902 – buried at EC.

E1H. REBECCA (ca 1817), married Samuel LEASURE, September 29, 1842.

E1I. MOSES HYER, stepson (born 1815-1820, suggested by 1830 Census)

E1J. ABRAHAM HYER, stepson (born 1820-1825, suggested by 1830 Census)

After Anna’s death, John married on February 22, 1824, in Montgomery County, Ohio, Barbary BURKETT/BYRKETT/BURKHARD, widow of Isaac HYER; she was born circa 1782 in North Carolina to frontier Dunker minister Jehu Burket and his wife, Motlene Crull. John and Barbara married February 22, 1824, Montgomery County, Ohio. (Other records have her born December 5, 1780, N.C.; died Sept. 5, 1853, Montgomery Co. Ohio. In the death certificate for Bonnie Layman Lair’s great-grandmother or great-great-grandmother, the surname is spelled EHRISTINE.) To John and Barbara these children:

E1K. SUSANNAH (born December 8, 1824; died March 20, 1890; buried at Stillwater Cemetery, Montgomery County, Ohio; married Samuel LANDIS/LANDES, October 27, 1841.) He was born March 3, 1820, Montgomery County Ohio; died April 25, 1885; and is buried at Stillwater Cemetery. He is the son of Felix and Elizabeth Landis, indicating that first-cousins Sarah and Susannah married brothers; Felix arrived in Montgomery County sometime between 1818 and 1820.

E1L. MARY (1828-1874; married Moses ULLERY on April 7, 1848; she is buried at Fort McKinley Cemetery). Their son, William Albert Ullery, was born December 22, 1862, in Madison Township and died at Trotwood, January 11, 1955; his son is Harley Ullery of Trotwood.

John and Barbara prosper in this setting; their value, in the 1850 Census, was $12,600 in real estate. Perhaps this includes the values of the farms of sons Peter and John, for no value is given under those listings.

Alva D. Landes reports that John Ehrstine came to Montgomery County, Ohio, in 1812; the Jehu Burkett family (Barbara’s parents) came from North Carolina in 1814.

The Hyer connection, meanwhile, means the Ehrstines would be related through their step-siblings to a host of other households. Bonnie Layman Lair of Troy, Ohio, writes that Isaac and Barbara (Byrkett) HYER had nine children, including seven sons born from 1802 to 1821:

  • Wesley (1802- )
  • Solomon (1804- )
  • David (1806-1889)
  • Isaac (1808-1878)
  • Nancy (1812-1884; she married Samuel Miller)
  • Absolum (1814-1878; he married Mary Elizabeth Hess)
  • Belinda (1816-1897; she married Benjamin Bowman)
  • Moses (1819-1892)
  • Abraham (1821-1900), born after his father’s death, was about three years old at the time of Barbara’s marriage to John Ehrstine

A March 1, 1824, court ruling allowed Solomon, 19, David, 17, and Isaac to choose Nathaniel Burket as their guardian, while John Ehrstine was appointed guardian to Nancy, 11, Absolom, 9, Belinda, 7, Moses, 4, and Abraham, 2. This bit of information cleared up many of the tangles in trying to match Census data with names. Nathaniel, I presume, was the boys’ uncle, the brother of their mother.

*   *   *

While I have presumed that the Ehrstines came to Ohio straight from the Codorus congregation in York County, Pennsylvania, I will note an online entry posted from the International Genealogical Index that has a John Ehrstine born about 1802 in Reedy Creek Township in Davidson County, North Carolina; the date would fit E1C and, if the birthplace is correct, would force revisions in the movement and place of birth for other individuals in this family. As we will see, many of the Brethren who settle in Montgomery County, Ohio, follow similar Southern routes. In this case, however, the 1810 Census listing John Ehrstine as a resident of Shrewsbury Township in York County casts doubt on the validity of the North Carolina birth claim.

In Ohio, one indication of John Ehrstine’s standing in the community is the fact that in 1826 he is one of the founding trustees of the new county infirmary, or poor house, in Jefferson Township; some transcriptions of the records spell his name as Ehrstim. The other directors were Abraham Darst, John Folkerth, John C. Negley, Abraham Trosell, Henry Oldfather, and Edmund Munger. This poorhouse connection is remarkable for several reasons. First is Carl F. Bowman’s contention that Brethren “were generally cautioned to steer clear of involvement in any outside organization” – including political bodies and even peace or temperance organizations. Second, though, is the appearance of an Ann Ehrstine, pauper, and three children at the infirmary in the 1860 Census. Brethren custom would care of their own, rather than expect the larger society to assume their care.

The infirmary board is clearly appointed to represent as many townships as possible, rather than appearing in response to a particular group within the county. Folkerth, for instance, was not only a justice of the peace but also an early county commissioner and the first mayor of Dayton; he also owned the land where the infirmary would be built, and a Folkerth family cemetery exists in Randolph Township, a few miles northeast of the Ehrstines’. Munger was a blacksmith who became a general in the War of 1812. Negley, of New England roots, also served in the War of 1812. Oldfather’s Pennsylvania Dutch roots were apparently Presbyterian and German Reformed. Abraham Troxell is also of Pennsylvania Dutch culture, but I am unclear about his religious affiliation.

I have also wondered why, our Ehrstines maintained their own burial ground when the Brethren had their own at the meetinghouse, essentially within sight of each other. Landes replies: “I am supposing that Anna’s death in 1822 was the start of the Ehrstine Cemetery. … It is my understanding that the Ehrstine family donated the land for the [Lower Stillwater] church and cemetery.” The conclusion is that the Ehrstines simply continued to use their family plot, a practice we see in other Brethren lines through the area, rather than switch over to the newer church ground.

The Donnells Creek Old German Baptist Brethren meetinghouse in Clark County, Ohio, photographed in 1960, is similar in style to the Lower Stillwater church   near the Ehrstine burial ground. Samuel and Grace Binkley Hodson were members of the Connells Creek congregation. Note the separate doors for men and women.
The Donnells Creek Old German Baptist Brethren meetinghouse in Clark County, Ohio, photographed in 1960, is similar in style to the Lower Stillwater church near the Ehrstine burial ground. Samuel and Grace Binkley Hodson were members of the Connells Creek congregation. Note the separate doors for men and women.

Other records connect John to his neighbors. In a Montgomery County deed dated 1814, John Ehrstine and Anna, his wife, convey to William Wilson sec 2, T4, R5E. Signed by John Ehrstine, Anna (x) Ehrstine. Witnessed by John Folkerth and George Sink.

In the county’s Common Pleas (Probate) docket book, John Ehrstine appears twice: first, 1821, as an appraiser for the will of Jacob Stephens. (Others as witness, executor, or appraiser include John Stouder, Jacob Friberger, Margaret Stephens, Samuel Williamson.) In 1822, he is appraiser on the will of Jacob Ullery. (Others named are David Miller, Daniel Miller, Samuel Stutz, John Stouder, and Henry Hatfield.)

The sequence of Census entries suggests that as a landowner, John Ehrstine was prosperous enough to help his daughters and their husbands to settle on neighboring farms, and possibly the Hyer stepchildren as well.

In The Old Brethren (Elgin, Illinois; 1976), James H. Lehman focuses on the 1840s, which he sees as a transitional decade in which the old identity and practices remain fairly intact before subsequent schisms complicate the picture. He cites H.R. Holsinger (History of the Tunkers and the Brethren Church) to report simply, “Holsinger notes that the Brethren were prosperous.”

Lehman then presents a detailed account by Julius Hermann Mortiz Busch, a German journalist who visited America as a young man in 1851 and 1852. At the Lower Stillwater church he attended both a morning service and an evening love feast – the latter, the annual communion service – taking place October 7, 1851; this is, essentially a harvest or thanksgiving feast as well. The narrative of his experience begins, in translation: “About six miles from Dayton, a few hundred steps off the road to Salem in a clearing in the endless woods stands a long, low brick house covered with shingles, which is enclosed by a typical worm fence [split rail?] with a circumference of about one American acre. It front of it is found a spring under some trees, next to which has been built a rough fence. It is a meetinghouse of the Dunkers, who settled in great numbers in this area, as is true for the entire valley through which the Mad River and both Miamis run.”

The description of the land as “endless woods” contrasts sharply with the flat expanses of farm fields I remember from a hundred years later, or the suburban – and mostly retail parking lots – encroaching on the site now. This was not just any Brethren love feast he was writing about, but the one being celebrated by the Ehrstines and their kin and neighbors. There are suggestions the meetinghouse adjoined the Ehrstine farm; in any case, it was close by. Among the Dunkers of the time, the love feast would have had a prominence closer to what most Christians give to Christmas or Easter. He is including these Ehrstine men and women when he mentions, “Inside the fence … there teemed the long-bearded figures and beaver-tailed coats of the ‘Brethren,’ whose numbers increased by the minute. They walked about hand in hand, and all newcomers gave and received the ‘brotherly right hand’ and the ‘holy kiss.’ It must be said that the latter ceremony was practiced only between brother and brother, or sister and sister.” Still, the anticipation mounts: “From one door of the meetinghouse, which opened onto a small veranda, flamed an open fire around huge pots and kettles, attended by women in white caps and aprons, and a blue pillar of smoke spiraled from the chimney. On a stone near the spring was placed a metal cup with which those who had no interest in refreshing themselves from the peddler’s barrel of whiskey could slake their thirst.” The pattern of worship, with its a capella singing of hymns, some in English and some in German, and the mention that some of the nine or ten speakers prayed or preached in German, while others used English, reflects growing interaction of the Brethren with the broader society, differences between older and younger generations, and possibly even the styles of ministers visiting from east of the Appalachian mountains and those of the more progessive “West,” meaning Ohio and beyond. To me, the fact that German was being spoken at all, more than a century after most of these families had arrived in America, is remarkable, a reflection of the cohesion and extensiveness of the Brethren settlements.

Busch’s details of the service inside the packed room are telling. He writes of “a colossal deacon with a long brown beard, the largest and most handsome male figure which I encountered in America” as well as another, a preacher who had a long lean figure with noble, prophet-like feathers. His pale face as encircled by black hair, and his eyes glittered with that special fire and his otherwise strong voice was that hollow tone which we associated with consumption.” Busch observes, “The room was a rectangle, with nine windows and three doors. Its low board ceiling was supported by four rough-hewn timbers as pillars, and it probably contained at this time between three and four hundred persons. Neither choir nor chancel, organ nor altar, nor burning candles were to be seen in it, and therefore the room was more to be compared with a large farmhouse (Bauernstube) than to a German church.”

He continues: “In the middle of the room was a whitedraped table made of two trestles with rough boards laid on them, at which sat about twenty, mostly elderly men in sectarian garb and adorned with long Noah-beards. These were the preachers and bishops. Around them on both sides of the passage which divided the room the long way into two equal parts, were lined up the closely-packed-together sisters on the right side … where the kitchen was located, on the left with their hats on their knees, the bearded and long-haired brethren.”

Busch is unsparing in his observations of the service: “Following this anything but pleasant-sounding singing was a prayer in German by a preacher with a whining voice. During this the profane fire crackled in an unmannerly fashion through the open kitchen door and was also accompanied … by the unashamed and frightful crying of one of the infants that had been brought along.” He discusses a sermon lasting three-quarters of an hour, and prayer in which the congregation drops to its knees while the minister remains seated at the table, “his head supported by his right arm and his eyes closed,” to close the six-hour service.

Even without the details of the foot-washing and the love feast, we observe a worship that also conveys the down-to-earth, everyday lives of these people. To imagine the elderly John and Barbara Ehrstine among them, as well as many of their children and grandchildren, is natural. The May 1855 issue of The Gospel Visitor, an early Brethren newspaper, carries this obituary: Erstine, John, 86 yrs 6 mos 17 days, nr Dayton, Ohio, 9 March 1855.

*   *   *

For several decades, John and Anna’s son Peter remains the only other Ehrstine household reported in the U.S. Census. Here’s how I piece together his family:

*   *   *

E1B. PETER EHRSTINE, born June 19, 1794, Pennsylvania; died February 27, 1869 – buried at EC; married, January 9, 1817, Nancy (one reference, “Mary”) WHITMAN, Montgomery County. Officiated by Andrew Waymire, justice of the peace. She was born December 5, 1795, in Tennessee (1850 Census), Pennsylvania (Howell), or Germany (1870 Census, when she is living in the household of William and Sarah (Sally) Lutz in Madison Township); died November 27, 1872 – buried at EC.

Who was the male over age of 45 who appears in the 1820 Montgomery County Census under the Peter Ehrstine household and then disappears – Peter’s father-in-law?

To Peter and Nancy these children:

E1B1. A SON (David?) born 1810/20, is gone by 1830 Census. But a male born 1811/1820 appears in the household by 1840.

On October 8, 1830, John and David Ehrstine are fined for noncompliance with militia muster, consistent with Brethren pacifist witness. I am assuming the John Ehrstine is E1C, but must rule out David E1F, who died in 1822. That opens the possibility I suggest here, or that the muster record is in error, meaning Daniel Ehrstine instead. This son could have been a farmhand for another family in the 1830 Census, explaining his absence.

E1B2. NANCY (posited, born ca 1815) who married Abraham Graybill on May 6, 1830. (I’m not comfortable with her having such a young marriage age, but it’s not entirely out of the question.)

E1B3. CATHERINE (posited, born 1815/20) who married Peter HEIM, November 8, 1849; possibly married second Robert HERR. (In the marriage application, it was ERNSTINE; in the E.C. headstone, it’s HERN.) The daughter of Catherine and Robert Herr – Sarah J. Heeter (Sept. 29, 1859 – Feb. 3, 1953), is buried at Pleasant Hill Cemetery; her daughter is Mrs. Etta Weaver of Dayton.

E1B4. MARY ANN (posited, born 1820/25) who married Daniel LEASURE, October 27, 1842. (In the marriage application is was ERNSTINE.) (Also consider also the 1812 marriage of George Swank (1790) and Catherine Lasure (1790-1815), daughter of Andrew and Christina Lasure, as an indication of the interlinking of families here.)

E1B5. JOHN W. (Whitman?) (1817-December 13, 1887). Married first (January 5, 1843) Mary Ann LOVELL; a Mary A. Ehrstine (1825-1850), wife of J.W., is buried at EC. A newspaper notice reports that Jacob Ehrstine went to Mulberry Grove, Illinois, December 13, 1887, to attend the funeral of his brother, John.

Mulberry Grove, in Bond County near Vandalia on the National Road, was the site of heavy Brethren settlement and had both Church of the Brethren and Old Order congregations at the time of the funeral.

John W. and Mary had at least five known children, based on material from Marcia Z. Behrens and Joan Ettinger:

LEWIS C. (September 6, 1843-1931); stone at EC. He married first Mary C. (unknown) (1848-1913), who is buried at EC , as are some of their children. (Note the coincidence of her death year and that of Absolom’s wife, below – the same year as Great Flood that devasted the Miami Valley). Behrens has her as Katherine “Kate” GROVE, (1845-), perhaps the two blur. Lewis married second Sarah A. MARSH (born May 14, 1841, and died September 28, 1928, the daughter of William Marsh); they married on June 18, 1918. Her death is recorded in the Vindicator, the publication of the Old German Baptist Brethren, as being survived by her husband and buried at Stillwater O.G.B. Cemetery. (His name was also spelled Louis; I am left wondering if he was named in honor of Louis/Lewis Mast, son-in-law of the original Peter Ehrstine in America.)

With Lewis, we observe a dilemma that was not uncommon for Brethren: he was a Civil War veteran whose wife remains a respected member of the church. At age 19, he enlisted on October 7, 1862, in the Ohio Infantry and mustered out, July 8, 1865, as a sergeant. He applied in 1874 for a Civil War pension, as an invalid. Such service would have put him outside Brethren discipline, yet his second wife was Old Order.

Unlike his siblings, he remained in Ohio when the rest of the household relocated to Illinois.

PETER (December 28, 1844-1920). Married Eliza. (unknown) (1852-1893). A Peter Ehrstine of Vandalia, Illinois, enlisted on August 4, 1861, as a private in the 7th Illinois Infantry. Later, a Peter Ehrstine of Mulberry Grove, Illinois, enlisted on February 27, 1862, as a private in the 65th Illinois. I assume this was a reenlistment. Although he is reported deserting on December 31, 1864, he later applies for a Civil War pension.

ELIZA ANN (December 8, 1846-December 29, 1849).

SARAH ANN (June 6, 1848-). Married a Dr. LUTZ.

CHARLES I. or L. (April 3, 1850-). Married Nancy (unknown) (1849-).

Behrens also includes a George (1845-), although I find no other reference for this son.

To this, Behrens and Ettinger report:

John married second, on January 2, 1852, in Taylorsburg, Hetty (Henrietta) Ann MUMPHER (August 2, 1824, in Adams County, Pennsylvania-1904). She was the widow of a JACOBS. To John and Hettie, children Marian W. (1854-1855), Nancy E. (1858-1862), Mary Ann or Anna “Annie” (March 3, 1862-December 6, 1933; married J.J. JACKSON), Levi Mumpher (March 27, 1866-December 3, 1955; married Jessie ELLIS). Through this marriage, John also had stepson, Henry Jacobs, born 1851 in Indiana.

The 1860 Census of Mulberry Grove shows John Erstine, 40, pump maker born in Ohio with an estate value of $700; wife Henrietta, 32, born in Ohio; Peter, 14, born in Ohio; and Nancy E., 3, born in Ohio.

From Soundex, in St. Clair County, Illinois, 1880, we also find a Michael Erstine, 28; Mary, 21; and Michael 9/12, all born in Illinois – but not from this line.

So far, I have nothing on the Mumpher family.

E1B6. GEORGE (born 1823). When a George Ehrstine enlists in the U.S. Cavalry on January 28, 1864, his age is given as 40, which would place his birth in 1823. George fits into this household because John Ehrstine’s first wife had already died and he had not yet remarried. In addition, the given name “George” seems to appear in Peter’s mother’s line. He married, October 8, 1847, Anna FOCHLER in Montgomery County, Ohio. (In the marriage application it was ERNSTINE.)

George’s wife may be identical to this listing at the Montgomery County Infirmary as a pauper, 1860 Census:

  • Ann ERSTINE, 32, American. (born ca 1828)
  • Mary A., 7
  • Nancy A., 4
  • George, 1

The 1859 birth of baby George might indicate that Ann was recently widowed (assuming she was married) or even abandoned. The subsequent enlistment of the senior George in the U.S. Cavalry, however, indicates the latter.

I suspect this child Mary is the same as is listed (also in Jefferson Township) as age 7, in the John (born 1830) and Elizabeth (born 1842) MOYER household. Possibly Elizabeth is a sister to Ann. However, in 1892 widow Anna Redinger and minor Emma Hufford apply from Ohio for a Civil War pension on behalf of George Ehrstine, who served in the Ohio Cavalry.

E1B8. SUSANNAH (1830-1893), married Michael Myers HAINES (1829-1906) on December 5, 1848. (The wedding was also recorded as HAYNES.) My grandmother’s notes have Susannah Ehrstine, born in Taylorsburg, married (1848) Michael HAINES (born in Montgomery County circa 1827). They are the grandparents of Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Jesse Haines. Their daughter, Alda D. (wife of George Bolander) was born October 4, 1867, at Taylorsburg and died February 7, 1944, east of Five Points. In the 1850 Census, Michael and Susanna Haines are living next to Peter Ehrstine, born circa 1794.

E1B9. ELIZABETH (1820-1892), married William MILLS (1820-1895) on August 25, 1847. (Marcia Z. Behrens descends from this line, and draws on materials collected by her mother and grandmother.)

E1B10. JACOB (born 1826, Taylorsburg, Ohio; died April 18, 1894), married Caroline HESS. I detail their lives below.

E1B11. SARAH (ca 1832- or 1833), who married William LUTZ (born ca 1826, Pennsylvania). In the 1870 Census, Nancy Ehrstine (Peter’s widow) is reported living in the Lutz household, “with daughter.”

E1B12. ABSOLOM (April 1834-1923 – buried EC) married in 1855 Catharine Lutz (March 1838-1913), also buried at EC, as are some of their children. 1870 Census lists his occupation as pump maker. To them these children:

E1B12a. Mary Ellen (1857 – )

E1B12b. William A. (December 30?, 1860 – May 21, 1942, at Taylorsburg) – single

E1B12c. Hattie A. (May 6, 1865 – )

In the 1850 Census, the household of Peter and Nancy Ehrstine includes Jacob (age 24), Sarah (20), Absolum (17), Sophia Dammer (12), Lewis (7). The mother of Jacob’s future wife a Sarah Danner: is there a relationship to the Sophia recorded here? (Just who is she?)

*   *   *

Turning to Peter and Nancy’s son, Jacob, brings us to the first of my Ehrstine ancestors born in Ohio.

*   *   *

E1B10. JACOB EHRSTINE, (born 1826, Taylorsburg, Ohio; died April 18, 1894.) He is buried in Bethel Cemetery in Randolph Township, just north of Salem Church of the Brethren. He married Caroline “Callie” (Danner) HESS, born October 9, 1833 (death certificate and tombstone); died July 8, 1921, and she was buried in Bethel Cemetery, age 87.

*   *   *

To Jacob and Caroline, these children:

E1B10a. Laura Jane, (ca 1854 – ) married March 7, 1872, Dr. William Franklin Lees [Reese in Caroline’s death certificate], a veterinarian who died March 15, 1920. (She was living at Phillipsburg in 1921.) They had one daughter, Lillian (Wilson). Notes by my grandmother, Erma (Erstine) Hodson, have a Martha Lees died July 4, 1937; Adam Lees died 1917; however, these may be relevant by way of the Daniel Rasor lines, instead.

E1B10b. Andrew, (April 8, 1856, near Taylorsburg – September 1, 1936); married Eliza. (Mahaffy?) (born February 1858 in Ireland, married at 23 years; no children by 1900 Census). He was living at Verona (New Baltimore), Ohio, in 1921.

Andrew J. Ehrstine married Elizabeth Jane Mahaffy, April 29, 1877, in Darke County. (Question: Who is the Mrs. Louisa Stoop, died 9-26-1929, aged 76 years, at the County Home, whose funeral expenses were paid by A. (Andrew?) J. Ehrstine and H.H. Murray; is this his sister-in-law? She is buried at Arlington. The County Home should be identical to the County Infirmary, where ancestor John Ehrstine was a founding trustee. Newspaper reports , such as a December 3, 1886, Dayton Journal entry note that he enjoyed hunting, his success reported among “some of our Nimrods.”

E1B10c. * Henry Clayton EHRSTINE, (born July 31, 1859, Taylorsburg, Ohio; died February 4, 1945, Brookville, Ohio; buried at Parish Cemetery (Arlington); married, November 6, 1881, Susannah [Christine?] RASOR (April 14, 1862-November 8, 1948); she is buried at Parish Cemetery. She is the daughter of David and Delilah (Swank) Rasor. More on them, below.

E1B10d Eli (died April 29, 1883, aged 17 years 8 months and 1 day; buried at Bethel).

E1B10e. Jesse (died Sept. 15, 1876, aged 1 year, 1 month and 24 days; buried at Bethel).

*   *   *

In the 1860 Census, Jacob is recorded as a pump maker living in or near Salem (now Clayton), Randolph Township, Montgomery County, Ohio. That Census, in fact, lists Jacob and his wife twice, in the process varying several names and their ages. The dual entries caused me much confusion until I came across later Census data that listed both names of some of the children, leading me to conclude that only one household existed. In the 1880 Census Jacob and Caroline are recorded with children Henry and Eli in Clay Township, Montgomery County, Ohio, with his occupation now being farmer; his widow and children remain in the area, with the 1900 Census recording Andrew (born 4-1856), Henry (born 7-1859), and Caroline (born 10-1832), three of five children living, all residing in Clay Township.

When I questioned Wayne Watkins at the Brookville Historical Society about how he would define a pump maker, he replied, “Wooden box pumps.” When I mentioned I’d assumed windmills, he said, “Well, that, too, is likely.” In either case, the occupation reflects agricultural and household changes – the bucket in the well giving way to more efficient ways of moving water or even other substances, such as grain, from one place to another. Whatever skill and insight were required in this enterprise, it seems to have been part of the family: Jacob’s brother, John, pursues the same occupation when he relocates to Illinois.

Their son Henry’s obituary mentions that “at the age of nine years his family moved to a farm near Phillipsburg.” That would have been in 1868 or 1869 to Clay Township. An 1869 township map shows them owning 79 acres on the southwest corner of Arlington and Baltimore & Phillipsburg roads – land John Bower had bought from the government in 1828. Pointing this out at the Brookville Historical Society library, Wayne Watkins scowled a bit, “It’s a late purchase. Must have been swampy. But then again, once it was drained, it would have been good soil.”

What I see later is how central this site becomes as I piece together family lore within my own range of experience. One mile to the east is the village of Phillipsburg. Three miles to the west is the village of New Baltimore, or Verona, where my father was born. Three miles in the other direction is the Binkley farm we visited often in my childhood; it was the home of Henry and Susie (Rasor) Ehrstine’s daughter Edna and her family. Also three miles to the east is Bethel Cemetery, where Henry’s parents are buried. Less than two miles to the south are the twin cemeteries in Arlington – the older Parish Cemetery on the north side of the old National Road (U.S. 40), and the newer Arlington Cemetery on the south side of the highway. Brookville is another two miles south.

Jacob apparently engaged in some horticultural tinkering as well. The October 12, 1886, Dayton Journal reports, “Our enterprising farmer, Jacob Ehrstine, has a stalk of corn on exhibition which measures 15 feet, and has four large ears upon it” – presumably at that year’s Montgomery County Fair.

Another newspaper entry answers the question of Jacob’s religious affiliation. In May 21, 1888, “Jacob Ehrstine and wife have gone to North Manchester [Indiana] to attend the German Baptist annual meeting.” On May 29 comes the report, “A great many who attended the Dunkard meeting in North Manchester, Ind., are returning home.”

An obituary reports that he died April 18, 1894, of cancer, and the funeral was held April 25 near Taylorsburg. My sister, who attempted to read a microfilmed obituary at the Dayton Public Library, thought the cause was throat cancer, which would be consistent with the widespread custom among Dunker men of chewing tobacco – something that Jacob’s son, Henry, was fond of doing as well.

Jacob’s will was proved in September 1894.

When Caroline died, three children were residing in and around Phillipsburg: Laura, Andrew, and Henry.

Caroline was the daughter of John D. and Sarah (Danner) HESS. According to funeral home records, she was born in Darke County, Ohio, and died July 8, 1921. She is buried at Bethel Cemetery. The Danners and Hesses were both long-established Brethren families.

*   *   *

With Henry and Susie (Rasor) Ehrstine, the pattern changes. While he is born near Taylorsburg, the Ehrstine center, he moves with his family at age nine to Clay Township. Susie, meanwhile, has a Pennsylvania Dutch pedigree that has been adapting more rapidly to the ways of the world – one that would move my line from its Dunker practices.

In many of the references I encountered for the later generations, the spelling of the surname seems to shift toward the shorter ERSTINE, making me wonder if this was an indicator of a tipping point in accepting more “English” ways. I had similar questions in finding marriages performed by a justice of the peace rather than a Brethren minister. Even the occupation of pump maker could be seen as moving toward a trade in a new technology, rather than straight farming. But the polished granite gravestone for Henry and Susie, next to an identical one for son and daughter-in-law Harley and Ruth, as well as the one for Jacob and Caroline at Bethel Cemetery, all proclaim the name as EHRSTINE. For that reason, that becomes the spelling used through most of this paper. I find it telling, too, that the name is Susie and not Susannah, or that Jacob and Caroline’s overshadows the old-fashioned, small white stones for their two sons who died before reaching adulthood.

Now, for Henry and Susie:

Henry Ehrstine and his wife, Susie Rasor,
Henry Ehrstine and his wife, Susie Rasor,
Here they hold their first grandchildren, Wilma Binkley, five weeks, and Marion Hodson, six months.
Here they hold their first grandchildren, Wilma Binkley, five weeks, and Marion Hodson, six months.

*   *   *

E1B10c. HENRY CLAYTON EHRSTINE, (born July 31, 1859, Taylorsburg, Ohio; died February 4, 1945, Brookville, Ohio; buried at Parish Cemetery; married, November 6, 1881, Susannah [Christine?] “Susie” RASOR (April 14, 1862-November 8, 1948); she is buried at Parish Cemetery, as are many of her Rasor and Swank ancestors and family. She is the daughter of David and Delilah (Swank) Rasor.

Henry and Susie are reported (in my grandmother’s notes) living near Phillipsburg, 1921, having bought the “home place” in Clay Township April 7, 1907. Later, they moved to Brookville, where my mother remembers a porch swing that would go out over the roses, where Henry would spit his chewing tobacco juice – much to his wife’s annoyance! (Chewing tobacco, incidentally, had somehow become a Dunker tradition.)

A question that bothers me: his obituary has him being baptized February 2, 1945, into the Phillipsburg United Brethren Church. Why did he wait until a few days before his death to make this decision? Did he maintain a Brethren identity more than merging with his wife’s United Brethren traditions?

To them, three children by 1900, two living at the time of the Census:

E1B10c1. Harley (1887-1937), married Ruth STINE ( – 1979). She remarried ( ) WEAVER. He was out alone when he collapsed in a creek, where he was later found dead. They are buried at Parish Cemetery, next to his parents.

E1B10c2. Edna Naomi (1895-1978), born in Darke County, according to her obituary; married Arlie Taylor BINKLEY (1891-1957).

E1B10c3.  Erma Olive (1900-1972), married February 12, 1921, James Franklin HODSON (1900-1982). I detail their lives, and my HODGSON ancestors, in separate research papers.

*   *   *

Henry’s obituary notes, “For the first thirteen years of his married life was spent in Darke County and the remainder in and near Brookville.” Henry’s mother’s family had relocated to Darke County; what influence that may have had in his movement is unknown. My grandmother’s notes have them buying the “home place” in 1907.

The obituary also reports, “Friday evening February 2, 1945, he confessed Christ as his saviour, was baptized and joined the Phillipsburg United Brethren church.” (Why Phillipsburg, where daughter Edna was active, and not Brookville, where he lived?) The Rev. C. Nantz and Dr. D.T. Gregory, as well as the Hay & Powell funeral home, are mentioned.


7 thoughts on “Ehrstines in Montgomery County, Ohio”

  1. Thank you for your work here! – from a descendant of George & Elizabeth (via their son John Ehrstine Fackler)

    1. Hope you find it both informative and entertaining. And any additional insights or details are always welcome. After all, so much mystery remains, no matter how hard we try to get a clearer understanding.

  2. I realize this is an old post but I am a Hatfield, my great-grandfather Henry Hatfield lived on Pansing Road and farmed tobacco with your families. He hung himself in 1913 because of the flood.

    1. These Chronicles, unlike most blogs, are pretty timeless, so I’m really happy when others drop by. One of my reasons for posting them, in fact, is the hope that others like you might eventually add to the conversation.
      Your great-grandfather’s story hints at the deep impact of the 1913 flood. Do you know what drove his grief? Loss of loved ones, loss of property, something else?

  3. So glad to find this document. I am researching my 4th great grandfather, John Ehristine and 4th great grandmother, Barbara Burkett/Hyer Ehristine. This research is a gem and I thank you for it.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! The whole point is to share our findings, so feel free to add whatever you have. Besides, as I learned long ago, as soon as you get one answer, you have a dozen new questions. There’s plenty to add from the Burkett/Hyer side.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.