Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Moyer Clan

One of my main genealogical focuses has been the family branch to which I owe my name -- the Moyers.  According to Charles Roberts' History of Lehigh County Pennsylvania and a Genealogical and Biographical Record of its Families (Vol. 3, p. 930), the progenitor of this clan was Wilhelm Meyer, who owned land in the towns of Lowhill, Lynn, and Weisenberg in Pennsylvania.

NOTICE.  IN the matter of the Inquisition upon the Real Estate of Peter Moyer, late of Lynn township, Lehigh county, Pennsylvania. In the Orphans' Court of Lehigh county, Penna.  To Nathan Moyer, Leah Oswald, Joshua Oswald, Abigail Lynn, Jesse Lynn, Rachail Leiby, Lovina Sponsaler, Frederick Sponsaler, Elizabeth Moyer, Simon Moyer, Hester Salem, Catherine Hartz, Peter Hartz, William Moyer, Catharine Smith, Mary Gilbert, Lovina Baily, David Baily, Annie Wilson, Hamilton Wilson, Catharine Gilbert, Jonathan Gilbert, William A. Gilbert, Eli J. Gilbert the last two being minors having for their Guardians Jonathan Gilbert, _____ Gilbert, William Moyer, a minor having for his Guardian _____ Roosevelt, Peter Moyer, Nathan Moyer, Mary Moyer, minors having for their Guardians, Jesse Lynn, Jacob Moyer, Mary Witherstine, Jacob Witherstine, Polly Baker, Emanuel Baker, Rebecca Hunt, William Hunt, William Moyer, Daniel Moyer, Priscilla Moyer, Esther Moyer, Susan Moyer, Gideon Moyer, Matilda Moyer, Mary Moyer, Catharine Moyer, Catharine Snyder, Jonas Snyder, Mary Rau, Nathan Rau, Lydia Baily, Peter Baily, John Platt, Guardian of the minor children of Sarah Platt, deceased, Lovina Platt, George Platt, Elizabeth Durst, Lewis Durst, Elizabeth Sechler Benjamin Sechler, Daniel Moyer, Morton Goldner, Guardians of the issue of Nathan Moyer, deceased, Gideon Moyer, J. P. Moyer, Benneville Moyer, Owen Moyer, Nathan Moyer, Noah Moyer, the last two being minors and having Jonas Rabenold for their Guardian, Caroline Rabenold, Jonas Rabenold, Esther Fritzinger, Amelia Zellner, Solomon Zellner, Jonas Fry, Nathan Fry, Mary Knerr, Amos Knerr, Caroline Muhlhaus, David Muhlhaus, Catharine Heil, Benjamin Heil, Amelia Fenstermaker, Daniel Fenstermaker, Sarah Fry, Sarah Moyer, Sylvania Moyer, Susan Moyer, children, heirs and legal representatives of Peter Moyer, late of Lynn township, Lehigh county, Pennsylvania, deceased.  Take notice that in pursuance of a rule granted by the Orphans' Court of Lehigh county, you are required to appear at the said Court, on the third day of November, 1865, at 10 o'clock, A. M., of said day, accept or refuse to accept the several purparts of said real estate at the valuation thereof or show cause why the same should not be sold, otherwise an order for the sale of the same will be granted by the said Court  [Seal.] By order of the Court. GEORGE W. HARTZELL, Clerk. October 11, 1865-4w
Wilhelm had at least one son -- Johann Peter Meyer -- and Johann Peter's large family left a great many descendants.  According to Roberts, most of the children moved to Ohio.  My own ancestor, Peter (Johann Peter's son), stayed behind in the Lehigh Valley.  My goal has been to track as many family lines as I can, but with at least 16 children, it's not easy.  Miraculously, I found much of the family carefully enumerated in a newspaper article.

The Library of Congress' Chronicling America website is a fantastic resource.  That's where I located an article from Ohio's Western Reserve Chronicle originally printed on 11 October 1865 (annotated at right).  The article is an announcement to heirs of Johann Peter, concerning his land.  Johann Peter's living children are listed first, followed by his grandchildren by his deceased children, grouped by family.  Below the fold is my attempt to make sense of each of the ninety-two names mentioned in the article.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Determining accurate ages

John Trittenbach -- my 4th great grandfather -- was born about 1783 somewhere near Easton.  In 1810, he married Catharine Barnett, and spent the next few decades producing children who would vex future genealogists like me.  Based on the censuses from 1820 to 1840, it looks like John and Catharine had nine or ten children, of which I've identified six...all girls.  More than any other family in my tree, the Trittenbachs have stymied efforts to pin down their birth dates.

Take, for example, daughter Amanda (married William Mock).  I have identified her in the 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses, which respectively imply birth years of 1824, 1820, 1811, and 1808.  This has the somewhat dubious effect of making her 18 months older every birthday.  Her church burial record indicates that she was born in 1812.  What's a researcher to do?  Until a solution appears, I've simply been averaging these numbers to 1815.

A bigger question is why we have this vast range of dates for Amanda's birth.  As I understand it, birthdays generally weren't carefully tracked until the latter half of the 19th century.  But it's a completely different matter to believe that you are aging 50% faster than everyone else around you.  One conceivable theory is that vanity led Amanda to fudge her age a bit, but that she cared less the older she got.  Or maybe she just liked lying to census takers.  I may never know.