The Work of Others

Bunn will extract

Extract from will of Jacob Bunn, Northampton County, NC, 1790

Most American genealogies justifiably celebrate the accomplishments and deeds of ancestors, recalling how they experienced or participated in the historical events of their times. However, genealogies of white southerners often omit reference to a group of household members that contributed significantly to their family enterprises: that is, those household members held in slavery prior to the Civil War. Yet much as slavery was impossible to ignore in antebellum southern society, it is impossible to ignore within the primary documents of the era. Particularly disturbing is reading wills, where “Negroes” are parceled out to heirs along with livestock and household furnishings. One common formulation reads like that in the 1790 will of Nelson ancestor Jacob Bunn, of Northampton County, NC: “I give unto my grandson Elias Lewter one Negro woman by the name of Edy and all her issue to him and his heirs forever.” Thus does one man expect to condemn a woman and all her descendants to slavery in perpetuity.

No one in the family handed down stories of slavery, but a few, usually tragic glimpses remain in the historical record. Continue reading

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Indiana Mysteries

Mollie & John R. Fohl

Mollie Caldwell and John R. Fohl

Nowhere does the family tree encounter more uncertainty than in the branches of the Indiana family of Mollie Caldwell, Lizzie Fohl’s mother.

Mollie married John R. Fohl in Henry County, Indiana, in 1867, just after the conclusion of the Civil War. Her parents were Hannah Canutt and Franklin Caldwell; Hannah’s parents in turn were John Canutt and Mary Magdalina Landis while Franklin’s were Mary Loder and someone completely unknown and – at this distant date – perhaps unknowable.

What happened to Franklin’s father? Continue reading

From Whence They Came

Ship Image Nova BritanniaRecent posts have highlighted this family’s ancestors who were Scotch-Irish, French Huguenot, German, and Irish. And of course, there are the earliest posts that described the origin of the family’s surname amidst the European Jews of France and Hungary. While the family’s European antecedents include a diversity of influences, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that overall our origins were mostly British and more particularly English.

Using the the framework of the eight families representing the author’s great-grandparents, here are the estimated origins for each.

Origin Chart 3-22-17

Estimated percentage of family origin by distinct ethnic/linguistic group. “British” refers to an origin on the island of Great Britain, including England, Scotland, and Wales.

Continue reading

Kraichgau

Lizzie Fohl‘s father was German.

John R. Fohl (son of Reverend John Fohl) was not from Germany; in fact, no one from his family had immigrated from Germany in 4 generations. But every last one of his ancestors were German, migrants from the Rhine River valley to the colony of Pennsylvania who settled in an arc of counties to the north and west of Philadelphia – Northampton, Berks, Adams, York, and Franklin.

1791-pa-map

Eastern Pennsylvania counties in the 1791 Reading Howell map. Adams County, where much of the family settled before moving to Franklin County, was formed out of the western portion of York County adjacent to Franklin in 1800.

There were a surprising number of pre-Revolution German immigrants to the American colonies, about 84,500 in the first 75 years of the 18th century, compared to 66,000 Scotch-Irish, 35,300 Scots, 44,100 English, and 29,000 Welsh during the same time period (all were individually dwarfed by involuntary African immigration of 278,400). Most arrived in Philadelphia before spreading out to western Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and elsewhere. Continue reading

The Revolution

yorktown

American infantry storm Redoubt #10 during the Siege of Yorktown

How many members of this family participated in the American Revolutionary War?

By the time the family history reaches the Revolutionary War generations, there are hundreds of potential ancestors to account for. While identifying these family members is not yet complete, there is already plenty to share. So without further delay, you may click here to obtain a PDF spreadsheet detailing the 39 direct ancestors who are known to have contributed to American independence. The spreadsheet includes summary information about military service, pension application numbers, and identifying numbers for both Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution records.

Seven of the eight families are represented, the only exception being the Loebs whose immigrant ancestors did not arrive in the country until the middle of the next century. The list is a mix of those credited with helping the cause, including those who served in either the Continental Army or state militias, those who contributed to civil government, and those who are identified by the Daughters of the American Revolution as having provided “Patriotic” service. These patriotic contributions included providing supplies, money, or other material aid, as well as a few whose only known participation was taking an oath of allegiance to the new country. Continue reading

Fohl and Flight

j-r-fohl-sr

Reverend John Fohl

In Indiana on Thanksgiving Day 1859, the Reverend John Fohl (grandfather of Lizzie Fohl) was delighted to perform the wedding ceremony of his good friend and colleague Reverend Milton Wright and bride Susan Koerner. Reverends Fohl and Wright were both ministers in the United Brethren Church, and Wright would go on to become a Bishop in the church and the leader of a breakaway faction seeking to stay true to the denomination’s founding ideals. Milton and Susan Wright were the parents of 7 children, two of whom were named Orville and Wilbur. Continue reading

The Fair

How does a store clerk in Nashville meet a girl in Indianapolis?

The store clerk was Abraham Loeb, the son of Emmanuel and Marie Loeb, who had moved away from his family in Louisville, Kentucky to Nashville, Tennessee by 1889.

Fohl Sisters

Lizzie Fohl (center) with sisters Edna (left) and Lora (right)

Abraham’s future bride was Lizzie Fohl. It was an unlikely match, both because of the geographic distance that separated them and because Abraham was Jewish while Lizzie was a Protestant Christian whose grandfather John Fohl was a major figure in the United Brethren Church. Continue reading