Updated December 2020
The origin of the Moyer family is uncertain. The family probably came from Germany but many Mennonite families originated in Switzerland.
See Charles L. Bowers.
JOHN and MARY MOYER
John Moyer lived in what is now Lehigh County, Pa., in the mid-1700s. (1)
Married a woman named Mary. (2)
Samuel Moyer, probably born in the 1730s.
Benjamin Meyer, born about 1730.
Abraham Moyer, probably born in the 1730s.
John’s surname is most often spelled Moyer, but frequently appears as Meyer and sometimes as Mayer or Myer.
John’s origins are unknown at this point. He was a Mennonite so it’s possible that he immigrated from German or Switzerland with others of that denomination in the early 1700s. Mennonites often immigrated in groups during times of persecution. Members of the denomination were harassed by both the Lutheran and Catholic churches and many congregations fled to Pennsylvania in the late 1600s and early 1700s because of the freedom of religion guaranteed there.
The earliest known record of John’s presence in southeastern Pennsylvania is a land warrant from the colony’s authorities. The warrant dated June 24, 1734, mentions that he was already living in Bucks County when he asked for a grant of 125 acres “on a Branch of the Perkioming near Derrick Johnson’s Lands in the said County of Bucks.” (4)
The area where John settled later became part of Upper Milford Township. When Northampton County was created in 1752, Upper Milford became part of that county. When Lehigh County was established in 1812, the township fell to that county. It was later split into Upper and Lower Milford. John’s property is now in Lower Milford Township.
The Moyer family appears to have lived in a Mennonites community. “History of the Counties of Lehigh and Carbon in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” of 1884 describes the settlement of Upper Milford. (5)
“Nearly all of the early settlers in Milford were German. No doubt many of those early settlers, so-called ‘squatters,’ came in prior to 1733. … After 1733 there was an increased immigration to the lower part of the present Lehigh County. During the years immediately following, the Schwenkfelders, the Mennonites, the Lutherans, and people of the Reformed denomination came to this country, and many of them settled in the Hosensack Valley and other parts of Upper Milford. … Among the Mennonites we find Duerk Jansen (Derrick Johnson), Conradt Stamm, John Meyer (Moyer), Michael Meyer, Jacob Hiestandt, and others.”
The 1884 county history also describes the early days of Upper Milford’s Mennonite church.
“The church of this congregation is situated near the village of Zionsville, in Upper Milford, on the public road leading from Macungie to Sumneytown, and on the King’s high-road. ... It has been traditionally reported that this congregation was founded and organized previous to the year 1740, or as early as 1735. It is true that the Mennonites settled very early in several parts of Upper Milford previous to the year 1735, and without any doubt they organized their congregation previous to the year 1740. … The first meeting-house, a log structure, was built by the congregation between the years 1735 and 1740. … The names of the earliest members of this congregation were, as near as can be ascertained, as follows, viz.: Conrad Stamm, Johannes Stahl, Derrick Jansen, Henry Schleifer, George Weisz, John Meyer, Henry Funk, Michael Meyer, Peter Meyer, Johannes Gehman, Johannes Stauffer, Daniel Stauffer, Abraham Meyer, Ulrich Baszler, Jacob Hiestand, Philip Geisinger, Christian Musselman, Rudolph Weisz, John Schantz, and others.” (6)
The Michael Meyer mentioned in these accounts may have been a close relative of John, who served as an executor of Michael’s will in 1756.
In 1736, Pennsylvania’s proprietors laid out “The King’s high Road,” which ran from Macungie to Goshenhoppen, where it connected with another road that led to Philadelphia. The road crossed the land of John Meyer and his neighbor Derrick Johnsen.
In 1737, many of the area’s residents petitioned for the formation of a township, which became Upper Milford. Johannes Meyer was among those who signed.
On Dec. 4, 1754, John Myer received another warrant, this time for 25 acres adjoining his other property in what had become part of Northampton County two years earlier.
By this time, John appears to have gained some status in the community. In that year, John Moyer served as tax collector for Upper Milford, gathering 27 pounds, 6 shillings and 9 pence from township residents. Another record mentions that Northampton County paid John Moyer 1 shilling for a Fox Puppy on June 18. (7)
At some point, John built a mill on this property. “History of the Counties of Lehigh and Carbon” provides a few details about the mill, which was owned by Samuel Stauffer when the book was published in 1884. “Stauffer’s grist- and saw-mill is situated on Walter’s Creek, in Lower Milford, and on the public road leading from the old ‘king’s high-road’ to Powder Valley, about one-half mile southeast from Zionsville Station, on the Perkiomen Railroad. The land on which this mill is situated was first settled by one man, called John Moyer, who built, prior to 1760, a saw-mill, which he sold, besides over fifty-five acres of land, to his son, Samuel Moyer, who continued the mill for twenty-two years, until 1783, when he died.” (8)
On March 14, 1761, John Moyer received a patent for 180 acres in Northampton County. The record cites his warrants from 1734 and 1754. The area covered by these two warrants was 150 acres, so it’s possible the patent included additional land. (9)
The 1884 history of Lehigh and Carbon counties indicates that John sold this land to his children soon after the patent was granted in 1761. However, these sales are shrouded in mystery. The only Northampton County deed involving John records a 1764 transaction in which he sold 125 acres to his son Abraham – which wasn’t actually entered into the deed books until 1805. The 1764 deed also provides an indication of an earlier sale to Samuel of land that included the mill. Samuel’s property is mentioned only because it adjoined Abraham’s land. Unfortunately, no deed involving Samuel or Benjamin appears in the county index or in a page-by-page search of the records. Neither do their names appear among Pennsylvania’s land warrants. (9a)
It seems certain that John did indeed sell property to Samuel and Benjamin in or before 1761. In that year, John, Samuel and Benjamin were each assessed by the taxman for property owned in Upper Milford Township. Each held property valued in the average range for the township – 16 pounds for John,12 pounds for Benjamin and 11 pounds for Samuel. Since they each were assessed a relatively substantial amount, it’s certain that each owned land. And since Samuel and Benjamin’s names don’t appear among Pennsylvania’s land warrants or Northampton County deeds, it seems most likely that John sold them land around 1761 – as indicated in the 1884 history. It’s also likely that they failed to record the deeds with Northampton County officials. As noted before Abraham’s deed wasn’t filed until 1805 – 41 years after the transaction occurred. (10)
The 1761 assessment list doesn’t mention Abraham at all, possibly an indication that he had not yet reached 21 years of age. That could explain why his deed was not written until 1764.
The only other Meyer/Moyer in the township in 1761 was Michael Meyer’s widow, who was assessed at 8 pounds.
When John and Mary sold the bulk of their real estate to Abraham in 1764, it was “for an in consideration of the natural Love and Paternal affection which they have and do bear toward their said son Abraham Moyer and for his better subsistence in this world and in consideration of the sum of five shillings lawful money of Pennsylvania.” The deed mentions the property was adjacent to “a corner of Land lately given and granted unto Samuel Moyer (Brother to the said Abraham Moyer).” It also mentions that Samuel’s tract contained a mill on “Mill Creek (or branch of Perkiomyn).” John signed the deed “Johannes Moyer” in German script while “Maria Moyer” left her mark. (11)
It seems likely that John died before 1772. He fails to appear on Upper Milford’s proprietary tax rolls in that year. Instead, Benjamin Myer and Abraham Myer are listed, along with the sons of Michael Moyer and two men named Jacob Myer, who don’t appear in earlier records. Oddly, Samuel and his mill aren’t included in this list. (12)
(1) In 1734, John Moyer received a land warrant in Upper Milford Township, in what was then part of Bucks County, but is now in Lehigh County, Pa. The warrant is recorded in “Pennsylvania, Land Warrants and Applications, 1733-1952,” available at Ancestry.com. (2) Mary is listed as John’s wife in a deed recording the sale of property to their son Abraham in 1764. The deed is in Northampton County Deed Book A-3 page 471. (The deed was written in 1764 but not recorded until 1805.) (3) Abraham and Samuel are mentioned in the 1764 deed. No document has turned up that specifically states Benjamin was John’s son, but the link cannot be seriously doubted. For a detailed analysis of the documents, please see footnotes for Benjamin. (4) This warrant and another from 1754 appear at “Pennsylvania, Land Warrants and Applications, 1773-1952,” at Ancestry.com. The warrants are also mentioned in “Warrant Registers, 1733-1957,” available from Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission website, www.phmc.state.pa.us. This index says they appear in Parents Book AA, page 218. (5) The settlement and history of Upper Milford Township is described in “History of the Counties of Lehigh and Carbon in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” by Alfred Andrews and Austin Hungerford, Everts & Richards, 1884, starting on page 346. (6) “History of the Counties of Lehigh and Carbon in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” pages 374-375. This account is quoted directly in “History of the Franconia Mennonites,” by John Wenger, Scottdale, Pa., Mennonite Publishing House, 1938, pages 20-21. (7) The tax collection duties and fox puppy appear in “Miscellaneous Manuscript Records of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, 1727-1851,” at FamilySearch.org. (8) This account of the mill appears on “History of the Counties of Lehigh and Carbon,” page 393. (9) The patent index listing appears at “Warrant Registers, 1733-1957,” available from Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission website, www.phmc.state.pa.us. This source says the original is in Parents Book AA, page 218. (9a) The account on John’s property appears on page 350 of “History of the Counties of Lehigh and Carbon in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” This passage on 350 offers some incorrect statistics on the 1734 warrant and wrong date on the patent. It’s likely that the Oct. 1761 transaction was a mistaken reference to Northampton County Deed Book A-1, page 237, which contains an October 1761 deed from a John Moyer, miller, of Upper Saucon Township to Wickert Miller involving a mill. This John Moyer is a different man in a different township. (10) The tax record is in “Miscellaneous Manuscript Records of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, 1727-1851,” at FamilySearch.org. (11) The deed is in Northampton County Deed Book A-3 page 471. (12) Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, vol. 19, page 10.
BENJAMIN and CATHERINE MEYER
Benjamin Meyer was born about 1730 to John and Mary Moyer, probably in what is now Lehigh County, Pa. (1)
Benjamin married Catherine Ziegler, probably in the early 1750s. She was born in 1736 to Christopher and Deborah Ziegler. (2)
John Meyer, born 1754.
Maria Meyer, born 1764. Married Henry Eshbach.
Eva Meyer. Married Ludwig Zerly.
Hannah Meyer, born 1760. Married Johannes Latshaw.
(Possibly) Deborah Meyer, born 1767.
Samuel Moyer, born February 1773.
Barbara Meyer, listed as youngest daughter in Benjamin’s will.
Benjamin’s surname is usually spelled Meyer or Meier in records, though later generations spelled the name Moyer.
Although no documents specifically identify Benjamin’s father, it seems very certain that he was the son of John Moyer/Meyer, a Mennonite miller who received a warrant for land in Bucks County in 1734. In 1752, the property became part of Upper Milford Township in Northampton County and it now falls within Lower Milford Township in Lehigh County.
At some point before 1761, Benjamin acquired land in Upper Milford Township. Benjamin Meyer’s property was accessed at 12 pounds, which was an average amount for the township that year. It seems likely that he acquired this land just before that assessment when John Moyer sold land “to his children.” The 1761 list also includes John Meyer and Samuel Meyer, Benjamin’s father and brother. (4)
On April 14, 1768, Benj. Meyer and Jacob Hahn had land surveyed by David Shultze, who was a surveyor and legal adviser to many Germans who lived in what is now southern Lehigh and northern Montgomery counties. This survey was probably connected with land patents that he received from Pennsylvania’s colonial authorities later that year. On Sept. 29, 1768, Benjamin Meyer received patents for three properties in Northampton County. One was a tract known as Ulm, which covered 24 acres, 127 perches and had originally been given to Jacob Hubler in 1745. The second was a tract Mantz, which covered 157 acres, 106 perches and was originally given to Benjamin Hoobler in 1743. The final tract was Manheim, which covered 12 acres, 26 perches and had originally been warranted to David Berringer in 1752. These tracts appear to have been named for the German cities of Ulm, Mainz and Mannheim, though two of the spellings are corrupted. (5)
Although it’s unknown how much property Benjamin owned at the time of the 1761 tax assessment, it can be determine that he owned at least almost 200 acres by the end of 1768.
Like his father, Benjamin was a member of the Mennonite church in Upper Milford Township, and appears to have been a leader at one point. Benjamin Meyer was listed as a trustee in a land transaction. “February 10, 1772, John Schantz and Benjamin Meyer, trustees of the Mennonite congregation, bought from Henry Schleifer for twenty-five shillings one-half acres of ground (the same on which many years previous a church had been erected, and which also had been used as a burying-ground).” (6)
In 1772, Benjamin Myer is listed as a farmer in Upper Milford Township’s tax list. The extent of his property is not stated, but he was taxed 4 pounds, 8 shillings for the colony’s propriety tax. The amount was about average for the township. (7)
At some point during the mid-1770s, Benjamin and his family moved south to what was then Douglass Township in what was then part of Philadelphia County. At this point, the timing of the move cannot be precisely determined, but it seems certain that it occurred between 1774 and 1777. Benjamin does not appear in the Philadelphia County tax lists for 1774. Although the published volumes of the Pennsylvania Archives don’t contain lists for 1774 for Northampton County, it seems most likely that the family remained in Upper Milford in that year.
The first reference to Benjamin in records related to Philadelphia County is in 1777, when he and other Mennonites were listed as “non-associators.”
When the Revolutionary War erupted, Pennsylvania required as able-bodied men to enlist in militia units and to swear oaths of allegiance. Mennonites were pacifists and rejected oaths, which led to friction with Continental authorities. In most cases, they were labeled “non-associators” and fined.
Benjamin held to his beliefs and was fined heavily, according to records kept by Philadelphia County sub-lieutenant William Antes. Benjamin Meyer appears on the “List of the Fines received from the Delinquents of the Six Battalion, for non-attendance on Muster Days, in 1777, and 1778.” He was fined 2 pounds, 7 shillings, 6 pence. Two other lists compiled by the same county official – who served from 1777 to 1779 – indicate Benjamin Moyer’s fines were much more substantial. One undated list says that he was fined 25 pounds and another undated list says he was fined 40 pounds. In 1779, Benjamin Meyer is listed on “Returns of non-associators for Douglass Township.” (8)
In 1779, Benjamin Meyer appears on the tax rolls of Douglass Township, Philadelphia County. He was among the landowners who were tax double. The reason is not stated. In 1780, he is listed as Benjamin Meyer, Farmer. Neither list contains detailed information on property or livestock. (9)
In 1782, the tax lists includes a breakdown on each taxpayer’s property. Benjamin Meyer is listed as a farmer who owned 125 acres and a dwelling, valued at 375 pounds. He also owned two horses, five cows and 14 sheep. This was roughly average for residents of Douglass Township in that year. The following year, Benjamin Meyer, fa’r, was taxed for 125 acres and dwelling, valued at 300 pounds, and two horses, four cattle and eight sheep. (10)
In 1784, Montgomery County was formed from the northern potions of Philadelphia County. For that point onward, Benjamin appears in the records of the new county.
Catherine is said to have died in 1786. (11) However, the 1800 Census lists a woman who was age 45 or older in Benjamin’s household, which is older than any of his daughters would have been. Although several possibilities exist, it seems likely that the census take simply made a mistake – a woefully common problem.
In 1787, Benjamin Meyer appears in the tax records of Douglass Township, Montgomery County, where he was still listed as a farmer who owned 125 acres and a dwelling. His livestock holdings consisted of three horses and four cows – but no sheep. His holdings remained the same in 1788. (12)
The 1790 U.S. Census of Montgomery County lists Benjamin’s household as containing three males 16 or older and three females. (13)
At some point during the 1790s, it appears in the Benjamin disposed of some of his property, probably giving it so his children. A table compiled for the 1798 U.S. direct shows that Benj’n Moyer owned only 29 acres, worth $300, in Douglass Township. Another table indicates that he owned a house on 2 acres, which was valued at $180. (14)
The 1800 Census of Douglass Township, Montgomery County, indicates that Benjamin Moyer’s household contained one male age 45 or older, two females 26-45 and one female 45 or older.
In 1810, the household of Benjamin Moyer in Douglass Township consisted of one male 45 or older, one female age 26-44 and one female 45 or older.
In January 1819, Benjamin was “very weak in Bodily strength” and decided to make out his will. Benjamin put his mark on his will, which indicates that he couldn’t write. In addition, a note on in the county will book indicates that the original will was written in German and had been translated to English.
The 1820 Census of Douglass Township lists Benjamin Moyer’s household as containing one male and one female, both other 45. Judging from the provisions in Benjamin’s will, it seems likely that the woman was probably his youngest daughter Barbara. Benjamin bequeathed her 100 pounds in Pennsylvania money, two cows, a woman’s saddle, a bed and bedstead, her choice of his kitchen furniture, half of all of his meat, 12 bushels of rye, 3 bushels of wheat and the “liberty to reside and live a half year on my plantation after my decease if it be her pleasure.” Such provisions are generally made for a surviving wife or unmarried daughter who remained at home. Aside from these items, Benjamin stipulated that his property be sold and divided equally among his children.
Benjamin died before June 3, 1822, when his will was proved.
On March 28, 1823, Benjamin’s heirs sold his remaining property to his son Abraham. The holdings considered of two tracts, one covering about 30 acres and the other cover more than 1 acres, certainly the tracts mentioned in the 1798 tax list. Abraham paid $1,309.35 for the land. (15)
(1) No primary source lists Benjamin’s birth date or his parents. His approximate birth year appears as 1735 in some secondary sources, including “Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Mennonite Vital Records, 1750-2014,” which is available at Ancestry.com. However, a date closer to 1730 seems more likely since his son John was born in 1754, according to his tombstone, which can be seen at Findagrave.com. One of the entries in the Mennonite vital records indicates that his son Abraham was born even earlier than John, making an earlier birth year for Benjamin even more likely. Although no document specifically links Benjamin to his presumed father, John Moyer, the case for a connection is very strong. First, we need to identify the approximate location of Benjamin’s home at the time of his marriage to Catherine Ziegler, which was in the early 1750s. Most couples in colonial Pennsylvania lived within a few miles of each other before their marriage. So, if we know where Catherine’s father Christopher lived, we can be pretty certain of the approximate location of Benjamin’s family. Christopher Ziegler lived in Upper Hanover Township in what is now Montgomery County, Pa. The Zieglers were Mennonites, so the logical place to look for Benjamin would be in a Mennonite community in or close to Upper Hanover Township. Since Benjamin doesn’t appear in Upper Hanover Township tax records, we have to look a little father. Fortunately, a 1772 transaction links Benjamin Moyer to the Mennonite congregation in Upper Milford Township, which bordered Upper Hanover. (John Moyer’s property was actually in a portion of Upper Milford that later became Lower Milford Township – putting it only a few miles from the Ziegler home.) The transaction is mentioned in several sources, but the earliest is “History of the Counties of Lehigh and Carbon in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” by Alfred Andrews and Austin Hungerford, 1884, page 374. Benjamin also appears in tax records from Upper Milford in the 1760s and early 1770s. He first appears in the 1761 tax assessment for Upper Milford Township, which is available in “Miscellaneous Manuscript Records of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, 1727-1851,” at FamilySearch.org. With Benjamin’s earliest known appearance in records occurring in Upper Milford, we need to look there for his family. In the mid-1700s, young Germans living in southeastern Pennsylvania usually remained close to home, often living on a portion of their parents’ land. Also, rural townships were sparsely populated at this time and most people who had similar surnames were related in some way. Only four Meyers appear on the 1761 assessment list: Benjamin, John, Samuel and a woman identified as Michael Meyer’s widow. First, we can remove Michael Meyers and his widow from consideration. Michael Moyer died in 1756 and his will – which appears in Philadelphia County Will Book K, page 478 – lists his only sons as Michael and Conrad. We can also remove Samuel from consideration because he was too young to be Benjamin’s father, as is indicated by the fact that he had minor children when he died in 1783, according to Northampton County Orphans Court Records E, page 35. That leaves only John as a serious possibility among the names on the 1761 tax list. Now we need to determine how John, Samuel and Benjamin are related. We know that John was the father of Samuel – and also of a man named Abraham – because their relationships are specifically stated in a 1764 deed. This deed appears Northampton County Deed Book A-3, page 471. Additional data reveals a web of relationships among these four men that leaves little doubt that John was the father of all three men. Most significantly, Benjamin named his sons John, Abraham and Samuel, which is important because early Mennonites usually named their children after parents and siblings. And we know that both John and Benjamin were Mennonites because both are listed as early members of that denomination’s Upper Milford congregation. Another possible indication of a link is the 1763 will of John-Philip Danny of Upper Milford Township, which lists both Benjamin Myer and Abr. Myer as witnesses. At the very least, they were neighbors of Danny and of each other. And if Benjamin and Abraham shared a surname and lived very near each other in a rural township in the mid-1700s, it’s virtually certain they were closely related. Danny’s will is abstracted in item 76 in “A Genealogical Index of The Wills of Northampton County, 1752-1802,” compiled by John Everman, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1898. The proximity and association of Abraham and Benjamin are very important because they help address some questions raised by the next piece of evidence. As noted above, two of John’s sons – Abraham and Samuel – are known beyond a shadow of a doubt because their relationship is specifically stated in the 1764 deed. Unfortunately, Benjamin is not mentioned in this deed – or any others in Northampton County. One has to ask why the other sons are mentioned but not Benjamin. However, that really isn’t as big a concern as it first appears. None of the sons actually recorded the transactions involving their father. We only know of the 1764 deed because it was recorded in 1805 – 41 years after the event and at least 22 years after Abraham’s death. Samuel’s corresponding transaction wasn’t recorded at all. In fact, it’s known only because Samuel’s land adjoined Abraham’s and a shared waterway needed to be addressed in the 1764 deed. Since neither of his brothers recorded their acquisitions, it’s not surprising that Benjamin didn’t either. Despite the lack of a surviving deed, the 1761 tax assessment proves that Benjamin had acquired property by that time even though no deed or land warrant containing his name can be found. The assessment list indicates that Benjamin owned property valued at 12 pounds, John at 16 pounds and Samuel at 11 pounds – amounts that were in the middle range for residents of Upper Milford. If Benjamin didn’t own real estate, his tax assessment would have been much, much lower. Despite the lack of documentation, the fact that John sold property “to his children” in 1761 is mentioned in “History of the Counties of Lehigh and Carbon in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” by Alfred Andrews and Austin Hungerford, Everts & Richards, 1884, page 350. It seems likely that Benjamin was one of the children. In considering all of this information, the most likely scenario seems to be the following. John sold portions of his land to Samuel and Benjamin in or before 1761, which explains the 1761 tax list and the reference to selling land “to his children” in that year. In 1763, Benjamin and Abraham lived close enough to Danny to serve as witnesses when he wrote his will. In 1764, John sold Abraham his share of the property, possibly because he was younger than the other two. The 1764 deed mentions Samuel’s transaction because of the need to address the waterway, but didn’t mention Benjamin because his land adjoined Samuel’s not Abraham’s. As a final note, it should be mentioned that one addition “Meyer” appears in connection with Upper Milford’s Mennonite Church. “In 1745 a piece of land was bought for church purposes by Heinrich Schlifer, Samuel Mayer and John Gehman,” according to “The Mennonite Immigration to Pennsylvania in the Eighteenth Century,” C. Henry Smith, The Pennsylvania German Society, Proceedings and Addresses, Vol. 35, 1929, pages 143-144. However, the passage by Smith was greeted with some skepticism by those who compiled, “History of the Mennonites of the Franconia Conference” – see page 221. They noted that Smith’s account came later and he didn’t cite his sources. In addition, this Samuel Mayer doesn’t seem to appear in other records from the area, so the skepticism is deserved. (2) Catherine is identified as Christopher Ziegler’s daughter in his will in Montgomery County, Pa., Will Book 2, page 37. Catherine’s birth date and mother’s name comes from “The Ziegler Family and Related Families in Pennsylvania,” by Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler, pages 297 and 298, and are repeated by the card file at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. The connection is mentioned without the birthdate “Henry Pawling and Some of His Descendants,” by Katherine W. Kitts, Delaware County, Pa., 1902, page 10, and in “Genealogies of Pennsylvania Families; From The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine,” Vol. II, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1982, page 537. Unfortunately, John Pawling died when Deborah was young so his will does not list her husband’s name. The will appears in Philadelphia County Will Book E, page 243. (3) Children – except for Deborah – are identified in Benjamin’s will, which appears in Montgomery County Will Book 6, page 37. Deborah is listed in the Ziegler book and the card file at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. The will that appears in the country records is actually a translation from the original German. It’s possible her name was accidentally dropped from the translation. “Abstracts of Wills and Administrations of Montgomery County, Pa., Vol. 1, 1784-1822,” page 379, indicates that information also is in Register of Wills 4177 and Orphans Court 12146 but I have been unable to check these so far. Perhaps Deborah appears there. Samuel’s birth date comes from his tombstone, as cited in “Butler County Cemetery Inventory Vol. 4,” by the Butler County Historical Society, page 5. Other birth dates and the husbands’ names come from the card file, which isn’t totally reliable. Some of the cards give differing birth dates and at least one of the cards in the file uses the Ziegler book as a source. (4) John Moyer’s sale to his children is mention in “History of the Counties of Lehigh and Carbon in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” by Alfred Andrews and Austin Hungerford, Everts & Richards, 1884, page 350. However, no deed recording this sale has been found in the Northampton County deed books. (5) The survey is mentioned in “The Perkiomen Region, Past and Present,” Vol. 3, by Henry S. Dotterer, Perkiomen Publishing Co., 1901, page 157. Jacob Hahn appears in the 1761 tax assessment list for Upper Milford. (6) The 1772 transaction is mentioned in a number of secondary sources, but these all refer to “History of the Counties of Lehigh and Carbon in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” by Alfred Andrews and Austin Hungerford, Everts & Richards, 1884, page 374. (7) The tax list appears in Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, vol. 19, page 10. (8) The fine lists appear in Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, vol. 5, pages 750, 755 and 762. The 1779 list of non-associators appears in Pennsylvania Archives, Series 2, vol. 14, page 26. It also appears in “Oath of Allegiance, Associates and Nonassociates, Montgomery County, Pa., (Part of Philadelphia County) 1778-1779,” compiled by Janet Brittingham and Mildred C. Williams, page 33. (9) The 1779 tax information is in Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Vol. 14, page 581. Images of the 1779 and 1780 lists are available at “Pennsylvania, Tax and Exoneration, 1768-1801,” at Ancestry.com. (10) Both the 1782 and 1783 lists are available at “Pennsylvania, Tax and Exoneration, 1768-1801,” at Ancestry.com. The 1783 list is also in Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, vol. 16, page 543. (11) Catherine’s death date is listed in “The Ziegler Family.” The source of this information is not stated. (12) The 1787 and 1788 lists are available at “Pennsylvania, Tax and Exoneration, 1768-1801,” at Ancestry.com. (13) “Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790, Pennsylvania,” Government Printing Office, reprinted in 1978 by Accelerated Indexing Systems Inc., page 160. (14) The 1798 tax information appear in “Pennsylvania, U.S. Direct Tax Lists,” available at Ancestry.com. (15) The sale of Benjamin’s property appear in Montgomery County Deed Book 39, page 435.
SAMUEL and FRONEY MOYER
Samuel Moyer was born in February 1773 in eastern Pennsylvania to Benjamin and Catherine (Ziegler) Meyer. (1)
Married Froney Sechler and later Susanna Boyer. (See below.)
Children of Samuel and Froney: (2)
Deborah Moyer, born January 1795. Married Daniel Shaner.
Benjamin Moyer, born May 20, 1796.
Sarah Moyer, born 1800. Married George Boyer.
Samuel Moyer, born April 3, 1803.
Abraham Moyer, born April 4, 1808.
Catherine Moyer, May 30, 1809. Married Abraham Tintsman and later Samuel Ziegler.
Maria Moyer, born May 25, 1810. Married Samuel Boyer.
Elizabeth Moyer, born Feb. 25, 1814. Married William Lutz.
Children of Samuel and Susannah:
Joseph Moyer, born 1822.
Susanna Moyer, born about 1828. Married Henry Bixler.
Nancy Moyer, born Jan. 13, 1829. Married David Buchwalter.
Samuel was probably born in what is now Lehigh County, Pa. However, his family moved a few miles south in the mid-1770s to Douglass Township, in what was then part of Philadelphia County, but is now in Montgomery County. His father was a farmer and a member of the Mennonite church. (3)
About 1794, Samuel married Froney Sechler. She was born May 13, 1773, to Abraham and Barbara (Moll) Sechler of Douglass Township. Her family worshipped at the Goshenhoppen Reformed Church, where he was baptized and later confirmed. (4) In contemporary records, her name is spelled a variety of ways, including Ferenna, Fronica, Froney and Phyron.
Froney was orphaned at age 10. Her father died in December 1783 and orphans court records mention that he left “no Relict or widow.” The orphans court oversaw the settlement of Abraham’s property but its records don’t mention guardians for his minor children. It’s possible they were raised by Barbara’s brothers or sisters. (5)
Although Froney was confirmed by a Reformed church in 1790, it seems likely that she became a Mennonite by the time of her marriage to Samuel since their wedding is not recorded in the Goshenhoppen church records.
The couple settled in Douglass Township, where they appear to have lived on a lot owned by someone else. The 1798 U.S. Direct Tax List indicates that Samuel Moyer occupied land owned by Michael Frederick in Douglass Township. One of the tax tables indicates that they were on a 1-acre lot containing a dwelling worth $80. Another table says the lot was 4 acres. (6)
Samuel does not appear in Douglass Township in the censuses taken in 1800 or 1810. In 1800, it’s possible that he was missed or that his family was included in the household of Michael Frederick, which included a man and woman about the age of Samuel and Froney and several young children. In the 1790 Census, Michael’s household had included only one male under 16, one male over 16 and five females. In 1800, his household had grown to 10 members and the ages indicate another couple was probably living on the same property. The household included two males under age 10, one male 10-15, one male 16-25, one male 45 and over, one female under 10, two females 10-15, one female 16-25 and one female 45 and older. The same can’t be said for the 1810 Census because Michael Frederick’s household is too small to accommodate the eight or nine Moyers who would have been in the family at that time.
Samuel and Froney had 10 children during their two-decade marriage. At some point after the birth of Elizabeth in 1814, Froney died. Her year of death traditionally has been given as 1816. (7)
Shortly after Froney’s death, the family joined a migration of Mennonite families to Butler County, Pa.
In 1815, Benjamin’s cousin, Abraham Ziegler, purchased a large tract of land in Butler County from Frederick Rapp, leader of a religious group known as the Harmonists, who had decided to move farther west. This property became the nucleus of a Mennonite community.
The 1883 “History of Butler County, Pennsylvania,” says: “In 1817, Samuel Moyer moved from Northumberland County and purchased of John Boyer a farm.” It’s uncertain whether the family actually moved to Northumberland County for a brief time, or the reference was a mistake. (8)
The John Boyer mentioned in the history was a pastor of the Mennonite group. He also was soon to become Samuel’s father-in-law. Samuel married Susanna Boyer at some point after the move west. It appears that their children were born in the 1820s so it’s likely the wedding occurred a few years after the move. Samuel and Susanna – who was born in May 1791 – were cousins. Samuel was a grandson of Christopher Ziegler and Susannah was his great-granddaughter. (9)
In the 1820 Census, Samuel appears in Connoquenessing Township, Butler County. His household contained two males under 10, two males 10-16, one male 16-18, one male 16-26, one male 45 or older, two females under 10, one female 10-16 and one female 26-45. If the ages in this entry are correct, Samuel and Susannah married before this census was taken. Susannah is the only woman in the family who would have been 26 or older at this point. (Also, it should be noted that the categories are haphazard in this census – with two categories covering ages 16-18 and three covering age 16.)
The Mennonite community build a meeting house in 1825. Today, the building appears much as it did when it was used by those who moved from eastern Pennsylvania. However, the children of early settlers don’t appear to have shared their parents’ strong Mennonite convictions. About 1826, the younger Samuel was among the first to join what would become Grace Reformed church in Harmony. He was followed within a year or two by Abraham. On April 1, 1836, Elizabeth and Maria and Maria’s husband Samuel Boyer – the son of the Mennonite pastor John Boyer – were baptized at St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church in Zelienople. And an early list of members of Grace Reformed Church adds the names Deborah Shaner and Joseph Moyer. (10)
The Connoquenessing Township’s 1830 census indicates that Samuel Moyer’s household contained two males age 5-9, one male 15-19, one male 20-29, one male 50-59, one female under 5, one female 10-14 and one female 40-49.
In 1840, the census of Connoquenessing Township says Samuel Myers’ household contained one male age 15-19, one male 60-69, two females 10-14 and one female 40-49. One person was employed in agriculture. This would represent Samuel, Susannah and their three children.
Susanna died in April 1850 of a fever. (11)
The 1850 Census, which was taken in September, lists Samuel as living alone near his son Joseph in West Connoquenessing Township. The census lists his occupation as “none” and indicates that he owned no real estate. It seems likely that he was living in a separate house on the property then owned by his son, which was valued at $2,500. The census also says he was only 67 years old, which is off by a decade.
Samuel died Dec. 25, 1857. He and Susannah are buried at the Mennonite Meeting House near Harmony. (12)
Samuel didn’t leave a will, but Butler County still appointed administrators to take an inventory of his estate and organize a sale of his goods for his heirs’ benefit. His son Abraham and son-in-law Daniel Shaner. The value was determined to be $1,729.62½, with $1,600 of the total consisting of “Notes and Bonds.” Each of his 13 children received $120 when the estate was settled. The list of items sold at the estate sale include serval books in German as well as a Bible and “Praier Book,” indicating that Samuel was probably well educated for that time and place.
(1) Samuel is named in his father’s will, which appears in Montgomery County, Pa., Will Book 2, page 37. Samuel’s tombstone at the Mennonite Meeting House near Harmony, Butler County, Pa., says he died Dec. 25, 1857, at 84 years, 10 months of age. Information on the family also is available in “The Ziegler Family and Related Families in Pennsylvania,” by Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler, pages 297, 300 and 301 and the genealogical card file at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. However, neither of these cite many of their sources. (2) Samuel’s children and the names of the daughters’ husbands are listed in Samuel’s estate records in Butler County Estate File M132. The birth dates come from a variety of sources. The birth dates for several children are mentioned in list of burials at the Mennonite and Grace Reformed cemetery in “Butler County Cemetery Inventory Vol. 4,” by the Butler County Historical Society. Benjamin is on page 4; Catharine, page 6; Joseph, page 9; Deborah, page 10; Abraham, page 15; and Samuel, page 18. Maria and Elizabeth’s birth dates are listed in their confirmation records in “St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church, Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania,” transcribed by Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler, Page 8. Sarah’s birth date appears in the Ziegler genealogy, page 300, and in manuscript titled “A Short Sketch & History of our Ancient Forefathers,” which traces the Stauffer family, page 25. This is available at “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013,” at Ancestry.com. Susannah’s approximate birth year comes from the 1850 Census for West Connoquenessing Township, Butler County, Pa. Nancy’s birthdate appears in an undated and unidentified newspaper clipping (presumably from around Gardner, Ill., in 1922) posted n Ancestry.com. Jacob and Daniel have not yet been tracked down. The name of Catherine’s first husband is mentioned in the Ziegler genealogy, but support for the identification is found in Tinstman’s estate papers – Butler County Estate Papers T-25. In addition to the children cited above, a Rebecca – wife of Jacob Shaffer – is mentioned as a child in the Ziegler genealogy. However, it seems likely this a mistaken reference to the younger Samuel’s daughter Rebecca, who married a Shaffer. (3) Benjamin Meyer/Moyer appears in the 1772 tax list of Upper Milford Township, Northampton County. He doesn’t appear in the Philadelphia County list for 1774, which probably indicates that he was still in Upper Milford at the time. He appears in Douglass Township in 1779. Upper Milford – which was split into Upper and Lower Milford in the 1800s – is now part of Lehigh County. For sources, see the profile of Benjamin. (4) Froney’s birth and baptism are listed under Ferenna Segler in “A History of the Goshenhoppen Reformed Charge, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania (1727-1819),” by William J. Hinke, Pennsylvania German Society, 1920, page 321. In her 1790 confirmation record, she is identified as Fronica Segler, age 17, the daughter of Abraham Segler. It is on page 377. (5) The Sechler’s case is mentioned in Montgomery County Orphans Court Docket Vol. 1, pages 6, 13, 16 and 29. (6) Samuel is mention in the Douglass Township listings in “Pennsylvania, U.S. Direct Tax Lists, 1798,” at Ancestry.com. (7) The Ziegler book and the Mennonite card file say she died in 1816. (8) “History of Butler County, Pennsylvania,” Waterman, Watkins & Co., Chicago, 1883, page 201. “20th Century History of Butler and Butler County, Pa., and Representative Citizens,” by James A. McKee, page 503, only mentions that the family settled there before the 1830s and it came from Northumberland County, which is probably incorrect unless the family made a brief sojourn in that county. (9) Susanna’s father is identified in Butler County Deed Book V, page 643, which lists John Boyer’s children. Her approximate date of birth comes from “Butler County Cemetery Inventory, Vol. 4,” by the Butler County Historical Society, page 5, which says she died “04-02?1850,” making the exact birth date difficult to calculate. Samuel’s mother was Catherine Ziegler, the daughter of Christopher. And Susannah’s mother was Susanna Bauer, the daughter of Samuel Bauer and Christopher Ziegler’s daughter Elizabeth. Benjamin’s mother, Catherine “Mayer,” is identified as Christopher Ziegler’s daughter in his will in Montgomery County Will Book 2, page 37. Susannah’s mother is identified as Susannah, wife of John Boyer, in Samuel Bauer’s will in Montgomery County Will Book 6, page 99. And the elder Susannah’s mother is identified as Elizabeth, wife of Samuel Bauer, in Christopher Ziegler’s will. Susanna’s father John Boyer was a minister for the group. John was born Jan. 10, 1762, and ordained at Hereford in Berks County in 1795. John succeeded Bishop John Bechtel at the congregation at Hereford. John married Susanna Bauer and they had 10 children, according to “History of the Mennonites of the Franconia Conference,” pages 118 and 254. The book appears to disagree with itself on when Boyer left for Butler County. (10) The Grace Reformed Church records appear in “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town records, 1669-2013,” at Ancestry.com. the 1836 baptisms are listed in“St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church, Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania,” transcribed by Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler, Page 8. (11) Susanna’s death recorded in “Pennsylvania 1850 Mortality,” page 225. This lists her as 50 years old, not 59, at the time of her death and says died of fever in April 1850. (12) Samuel and Susannah’s graves are recorded in “Butler County Cemetery Inventory, Vol. 4,” by the Butler County Historical Society, page 5. Samuel’s death is also noted in the Jan. 13, 1858, edition of The Democratic Herald of Butler County, Pa.
SAMUEL and JULIANA MOYER
Samuel Moyer was born April 3, 1803, in Montgomery County, Pa., to Samuel and Froney (Sechler) Moyer. (1)
Married Julia – also Juliana – Rice about 1824. She was born Feb. 4, 1808, to Henry and Elizabeth (Seip) Rice. (2)
Elizabeth Moyer, born Sept. 23, 1825. Married David Root.
Deborah Moyer, born 1827. Married Andrew Ziegler.
Abraham Moyer, born Dec. 3, 1829.
Sarah Moyer, born April 12, 1831. Married Daniel Weisz.
Eliza Moyer, born Sept. 12, 1833. Married David Thomas, and later Thomas Neely. (4)
Rebecca Moyer, born 1834. Married Jacob Shaffer. (5)
Henry Moyer, born March 29, 1835.
Susan Moyer, born April 13, 1837. Married a Joseph Powell.
Nancy Moyer, baptized June 22, 1839. Married Jacob Dindinger. (6)
Samuel Moyer, born April 30, 1840.
Mary Moyer (sometimes Polly), born Aug. 16, 1841. Married John Wise Schontz, and later Philo D. Garret.
Julia Anna Moyer (sometimes Julianna), born March 29, 1843. Married Frederick Weigel.
Catharine Moyer, born Dec. 5, 1844. Married Lewis Keefer.
Fanny Moyer (sometimes Franey and Pheronica) , born Oct. 5, 1846. Married Johan Reiss (John Rice).
Matilda Moyer, born Dec. 3, 1848. Married Aaron Beighley.
Denias Moyer, born Dec. 15, 1850. Probably died before 1860. (7)
Joseph Moyer (possibly), said to have been born in 1822. (8)
An 1883 history of Butler County provides the following information on the family, starting with Samuel’s father: “In 1817, Samuel Moyer moved from Northumberland County and purchased of John Boyer a farm. His son, Samuel, lives upon a part of the tract and has an excellent farm. He has been farming for himself about 50 years. … Samuel Moyer is the father of seventeen children, fifteen of whom reached years of maturity. Fourteen are still living.” The child who reached maturity but died before 1883 was Nancy, who died in the mid-1870s. All of the other children who reached maturity were still alive in 1883. Denias was one of the children who died young. The other was probably the child identified as Joseph in the list above. (9)
Samuel’s family moved from Montgomery County – not Northumberland County – to Butler County about 1817. The Moyers were among a group of Mennonites who bought property and settled around the town of Harmony.
Julia’s family originated in Northampton County and moved to Butler County about 1815. The Reiss family worshipped at St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church in Zelienople. (10)
By the mid-1820s, both the Moyer and Reiss families lived in Connoquenessing Township. The couple probably met at this time and got married in the early 1820s.
Perhaps because of Julia’s influence, Samuel left the Mennonite community and joined Grace Reformed Church in Harmony within the next few years. The record of the church’s early years mentions Samuel among its earliest members. “About the year 1826 the Revd Koch visited them instructed & confirmed the following persons Samuel Mayer, Charles Rodenbach, Abraham Rodenbach, Sarah Bayer, Catharine Fried, Catherine Yaeger, Sevilla Vanstavreon, Jacob & Sarah Albrecht.” In 1829, Samuel’s brother Abraham Mayer was among those confirmed. Samuel’s name appears on the list of members compiled a few years later and the Moyers had several of their children baptized there. (11)
Samuel Moyer is listed in the 1830 Census in Connoquenessing Township. His household contained two males under age 5, one male 20-29, one female under 5 and one female 20-29.
In the 1840 Census, Samuel Myers appears in the same township. The “Myers” household contained one male under age 5, two males 5-9, one male 30-39, three females under 5, two females 5-9, two females 10-14 and one females 30-39.
At some point during the 1840s, the Moyer family moved a few miles west to Beaver County. In the 1850 Census, Samuel is listed as a farmer in Marion Township, Beaver County. The census also states that Samuel and Julia and their four oldest children were born in Germany. Since they were actually born in Pennsylvania, this probably indicates that they primarily spoke German. The 1850 Census also indicates that Samuel was unable to read or write. However, real estate records indicate that Samuel was able to sign his name so this may indicate that he couldn’t read English. The Moyer household contained all of the children listed above, except Denias, who was born in December of that year, and the children identified as Joseph.
The Moyer farm in listed in the 1850 Beaver County tax records for Marion Township, but the available image is indistinct and partially cut off. In the following year, the image is clear and it can be seen that Samuel was taxed for 120 acres of land, two horses and three cows. A notation says, “Far Tenant,” probably an indication that he was a farmer who rented land. In 1852, Samuel owned an addition cow and a yoke of oxen. In 1853, Samuel makes his last appearance in the Beaver County tax records. This time, he was taxed for 120 acres, two horses, two cows and a yoke of oxen. (12)
Samuel doesn’t appear in the 1854 tax list, probably because he had moved back to Butler County about that time. In 1857, Samuel acquired some of his father’s property in Lancaster Township. In 1859, he sold 36 acres of that property. (13)
In the 1860 Census, Samuel Moyer appears in Lancaster Township as a 57-year-old farmer who owned real estate valued at $2,000 and personal property valued at $945. The Moyer household contained a mix of people from different families. There were Samuel’s wife and children: Julianne, age 50; Polly, 19; Juliana, 18; Catharine, 16; Fanny, 14 and Matilda, 12. It also contained the family of the younger Samuel, which included is wife Susanna, age 20, and his son Franklin, who was 6 months old. In addition, it included David Shafer, 4, the son of Rebecca; Calvin Zeigler, 11, the son of Deborah; and Andrew Boyer, 17, probably a farm hand.
In the 1870 Census, Samuel Moyer is listed as a 67-year-old farmer in Lancaster Township, who owned real estate valued at $2,500 and personal property valued at $1,200. Julian, age 64, was keeping house. Again, the Moyer household contained a variety of family members. Samuel’s daughter Elisa had returned to her parents’ home because her husband, David Thomas, had died in 1864. She is listed as Elisa Thomas, age 30. At least one of her children also lived in the household but it’s uncertain who’s supposed to be indicated by the listing for Alen Thomas, a 7-year-old-boy. The Thomases had a son named William Elmer, who was born in 1858 and would have been 12, and a daughter named Mary Ann Matilda, who was born in 1863 and would have been 7. In addition, the Moyers’ grandson David Shafer, age 13, remained in the household. Finally, there was 16-year-old farmhand whose surname was Ruby.
In the 1880 Census, Samuel is listed as a 77-year-old farmer in Lancaster County. In addition to Juliann, age 74, the household contained David Shafer, age 24, this time specifically listed as a grandson; and Mary Thomas 17, specifically listed as a granddaughter.
Juliana died April 13, 1889. (14)
Samuel died at his home in Lancaster Township on Jan. 8, 1893. At the time of his death, he had had 17 children, 148 grandchildren and 150 great-grandchildren. (15)
The Moyers are buried at the cemetery of Grace Reformed Church in Jackson Township, Butler County.
(1) Birth date comes from “Butler County Cemetery Inventory, Vol. 4,” by the Butler County Historical Society, page 18. Father is indicated in Samuel Sr.’s estate records in Butler County Estate File M132 as well as Butler County Deed Book Z, page 198, which records that land being sold by Samuel Moyer and July Anne, his wife, of Lancaster Township, had originally been conveyed from Samuel Moyer Sr. to Samuel Moyer Jr. The elder Samuel lived in Douglass Township, Montgomery County, at the time of Samuel’s birth. Samuel and his family are mentioned in “The Ziegler Family and Related Families in Pennsylvania,” by Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler, Zelienople, 1978, page 313. Ziegler was a terrific genealogist and researcher but it seems some bad sources crept into her work at times. Ziegler’s list of children presents multiple problems, which should be addressed because it is the source of much family information that appears online, including some of my earlier work. Please see the footnotes for individual children for further information. (2) Julia is listed as a daughter in Henry Rice’s will, which is recorded in Butler County Estate File R74, under Henry Rise. Her year of birth is indicated on her tombstone as listed in “Butler County Cemetery Inventory, Vol. 4,” by the Butler County Historical Society, page 18. Her birth date is listed in “St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church, Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania,” transcribed by Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler, page 3. (3) Samuel and Julia’s children and their ages – except for Joseph and Denias – are listed in the 1850 Census, Marion Township, Beaver County, Pa. Birth dates that were not found elsewhere come from this census. Pennsylvania death certificates listing exact birth dates and sometimes spouses are available for the children who died after 1905. The certificates for Abraham, Sarah, Eliza, Henry, Susan, Samuel, Julia Anna, Catharine, Fanny and Matilda are available at “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1964,” at Ancestry.com. Elizabeth’s birth date appears on her Ohio deather certificate, available at OhioDeaths, 1908-1953, at FamilySearch.org. Her husband can be identified through the 1870 Census of Lancaster Township, Butler County, and the Ohio death certificates of their children. The baptisms of Anna, Samuel, Fanny, Matilda and Denias are recorded in the records of Grace Reformed Church in Harmony, which are available at “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985,” at Ancestry.com. In Samuel’s estate papers – Butler County estate file M-132, available at “Pennsylvania, Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1992,” at Ancestry.com – several of his children ask the court to appoint administrators: “Abraham Moyer our eldest Brother and Frederick Wiegel,” who was the younger Julia’s husband. The children who signed – or put their mark to – the request are Rebeckah Shaffer, Elisa Neely, S.R. Moyer Jnr, Susannah Powell, Fanny Rice and Deborah Zeigler. The records of Grace Reformed Church also contain the marriages of Deborah, on Oct. 24, 1847, and Mary, in January 1861. The husbands of Elizabeth, Susan, Fanny, Julia, Catharine and Matilda are mentioned in Mary’s obituary in the March 20, 1915, edition of the Butler Citizen, page 3, which is available at newspapers.com. Children who present special problems are discussed in separate notes below. (4) Eliza’s first husband can be identified through the Pennsylvania death certificate of their son William Elmer Thomas, who died in 1935. In addition, Mary Ann Matilda Thomas the daughter of David and Eliza Thomas was baptized at Grace Reformed Church in 1863 – and lived in the household of Samuel Moyer for many years afterward. David died in 1864 – see Beaver County, Pa., Register’s Docket 1, page 114. Eliza then married Thomas Neely and the couple appear beside Samuel and Julia in Lancaster Township in the 1880 Census. Eliza is identified as Elisa Neely in Samuel’s estate papers. Their relationship is confirmed in the Pennsylvania death certificate of their daughter Elsie Almina Neely, who died in 1942. (5) Rebecca’s husband can be identified through her obituary in the Jan. 29, 1905, edition of The Pittsburgh Press, page 4, which is available at Newspapers.com. In addition, Samuel’s estate papers contain a reference to a daughter named Rebeckah Shaffer and mention Daniel Shaffer among the buyers of goods at the estate sale. Ziegler’s book says that Rebecca married a man named Killian Funk Wise and moved to Quincy, Ill. However, this is extremely unlikely. The 1900 Census for Jackson Township, Butler County, indicates that Rebecca and Jacob Shaffer had been married for 45 years. An 1855 marriage to Shaffer would leave virtually no time for a teenage marriage to Killian Wise and then a move to Illinois and back. (6) Nancy’s husband is identified in the 1870 Census of Perry Township, Lawrence County, Pa. In addition, the Pennsylvania death certificates of several children listed in that census identify their parents as Jacob Dindinger and Nancy Moyer. Nancy died during the mid 1870s. Jacob married a second wife about 1878, as indicated by the birth dates of their first children Norman C. Dindinger, who was born in 1879, according to the 1880 Census and his Pennsylvania death certificate. This means that she is the child who reached maturity but wasn’t alive when Samuel’s profile was published in 1883. Ziegler’s book says she married a man named Root, which appears to be confusing her with Elizabeth. (7) Denias’ birth and baptism are mentioned in the records of Grace Reformed Church in Harmony. It’s likely that he died before 1860 since he doesn’t’ appear in that year’s census or any other records. Ziegler’s book does not mention Denias. (8) No son named Joseph appears in any of the available records related to Samuel and Julia. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean he didn’t exist. It is known that the couple had at least two children who died young. A brief profile of Samuel appears in in “History of Butler County, Pennsylvania,” Waterman, Watkins & Co., Chicago, 1883, page 201. It says that Samuel had 17 children, 14 of whom were alive in 1883 and 15 of whom reached “maturity.” Since this profile was written during Samuel’s lifetime, it should be considered very reliable. The child who reached maturity but died before 1883 was Nancy, who died in the mid-1870s, as described above. All other children who survived to maturity can be found in records after 1883. One of the children who died young was Derias, who was born in December 1850 and baptized at Grace Reformed Church in 1851 but fails to appear in the 1860 Census. That leaves one more child who died young. It’s possible that the name of that child was Joseph and his name was recorded in a family source that is not readily available today. Ziegler’s book lists a son named Joseph at the top of the list of the Moyer children. However, she says this Joseph lived 1825-1860 and married a woman named Rebecca Rice, who lived 1829-1893. However, the dates and spouse’s name bear a striking resemblance to those of Samuel’s younger brother. The elder Samuel had a son named Joseph who lived 1822-1860 and married a woman named Rebecca Rice, who lived 1827-1893 – and is also mentioned in Ziegler’s book on page 301. The dates and spouse for the elder Samuel’s son are confirmed in contemporary records. However, proof that the younger Samuel had a son of that name is lacking. It would be a remarkable coincidence for an uncle and nephew to be born so close together and die in the same year and also married women of precisely the same name who were born so close together and died in the same year. The logical conclusion is that the younger Samuel might have had a son named Joseph and that he died before the 1850 Census. This would fit the information contained in the 1883 Butler County history and the available records. If this is not the case, Samuel and Julia had another child who was born and died between census years. Finally, this means that some family trees on Ancestry.com and some information found on Findagrave.com are incorrect when they refer to the Joseph Moyer who died in 1860 as the son of the younger Samuel instead of the elder Samuel. (9) The brief biographical note appears in “History of Butler County, Pennsylvania,” Waterman, Watkins & Co., Chicago, 1883, page 201. As noted in the following paragraph, Samuel’s family moved from Montgomery County, not Northumberland County. (10) The Reiss family’s move also is mentioned on page 201 of the 1883 Butler County history. Members of the family appear in “St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church, Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania,” transcribed by Gertrude M. Ziegler. (11) The records of Grace Reformed Church in Harmony are available at “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985,” at Ancestry.com. (12) The tax lists are available at “Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Tax Records, 1832-1925,” at Ancestry.com. (13) The 1859 sale is recorded in Butler Count Deed Book, Z, page 198. (14) Juliana’s death date appears in “Butler County Cemetery Inventory.” (15) Samuel’s information is listed in the Jan. 20, 1893, edition of The Butler Citizen of Butler, Pa. The cemetery inventory indicates that Samuel died Feb. 8 but the index to the Butler County estate papers indicates that he died Jan. 8. An earlier date is supposed by the fact that his death notice appeared in the Butler Citizen from Jan. 27, 1893, page 3. This notice also mentioned the tally of his descendants.
ABRAHAM and ELIZABETH MOYER
Abraham Moyer was born Dec. 3, 1829, in Butler County, Pa., to Samuel and Julia (Rice) Moyer. (1)
Married Elizabeth Knepp on Dec. 24, 1850, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Zelienople, Pa. (2) Elizabeth was born Aug. 9, 1833, to Friedrich and Catherine (Oeffnehert) Knoepp. (3)
Friedrich Adoph Moyer, born May 22, 1853 and died the same day.
Samuel Moyer, born Oct. 4, 1855. Died June 18, 1861.
Katherine Louisa Moyer, born April 27, 1859. Died June 17, 1861.
Maria Emilia or Juliana Moyer, born Aug. 8, 1862, and died later that month. (5)
Friedrich Albert Moyer, born Nov. 13, 1863.
Louis Edward Moyer, born Jan. 23, 1867.
Elisa Ellen Moyer, born March 19, 1871, and probably died Jan. 5, 1883. (6)
Anna Josephina Moyer, born Sept. 3, 1873. Married Friedrich W. Schneider.
Elizabeth actually gave birth to 10 children, but only two – Frederick and Louis Edward – were alive when the 1900 and 1910 censuses was taken. When Elizabeth died in 1920, her obituary noted the sad situation. “Nearly all of her large family of children died in infancy or youth, and only one sone survives her, Edward Moyer of Franklin township.” (7)
Abraham and Elizabeth grew up in western Pennsylvania but, while Abraham’s family had been in America since the early 1700s, Elizabeth’s family had immigrated from Germany in 1833. Elizabeth was actually born during the Atlantic crossing. Her death certificate says she was born on the “Atlantic Ocean between France and U.S.” and her obituary says, “It is recorded in Mrs. Moyer’s family record that she was born on the high seas while her parents were enroute from the Old World to the New.” Baltimore passenger lists indicate that Frederick, Catharine and their son Henry arrived in Baltimore during the quarter that ended Sept. 30, 1833. Although Elizabeth isn’t mentioned on the list of arrivals, it seems pretty certain that she was born at sea since it took several weeks to cross the ocean before the arrival of steamships. One group of immigrants from Hesse-Darmstadt spent 65 days on their voyage only two years earlier. (8)
Although the Moyer family had originally settled near Harmony, Butler County, as part of a Mennonite community, Abraham’s father joined the Reformed church a few years before Abraham was born. Abraham was confirmed at Grace Reformed Church in Harmony on April 10, 1847. (9) The Knepp family worshipped at St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church in Zelienople.
Abraham’s parents moved a few miles from Harmony to Marion Township, Beaver County, during the late 1840s and lived there for several years. It seems likely that Abraham and Elizabeth met at this time.
After their marriage in 1850, the Moyers settled in Franklin Township, Beaver County, probably on a portion of the farm owned by Elizabeth’s parents. The township’s tax list for 1857 says Abraham Moyer was a “Tent. of Knepp” – a tenant – and the Knepp and Moyer households are listed next to each other in the 1860 and 1870 censuses. (10)
Beaver County tax records list the Moyer’s holdings over the years. Franklin Township records for 1852 show that Abraham Moyer paid taxes on a horse, but no land. In 1853, he is listed as a farmer who was taxed for two cows and one yoke of oxen. In 1855, he was taxed for two horses and two cows. Abraham is taxed for real estate for the first time in 1856. In that year, he was taxed for 74 acres, two horses and three cows. However, the following year, Abraham is listed as a tenant of the Knepps and he was taxed for only two horses and a cow. The picture remains pretty much the same in following years, with small fluctuations in the number of livestock and sometimes a notation that he’s a tenant.
In the 1860 Census, Abra. and Elizab. Moyer appear next to Elizabeth’s parents. Abraham is listed as a 31-year-old farmer who didn’t own any real estate but owned personal property valued at $400. Elizabeth is listed as 27 years old. The Moyers’ household also contained Saml, age 5, and Louisa, 1.
During the Civil War, it appears that Beaver County residents were taxed for a wider array of property and assets. In 1862, Abraham was taxed for a horse, two cows and money loaned at interest. The following year, he was taxed for two horses, two cows and money at interest. The list for 1864 is the same, except for the addition of a cow.
Abraham did not serve in the military during the Civil War, but there’s a notation in the 1863 tax list that says “Militia.” This might indicate that he was eligible to serve in the county militia in case of emergency. It also might indicate that he was eligible for the draft. Several residents have “Militia in Service” under their names and at least two of them – including Elizabeth’s brother Henry – had been drafted to serve in the 168th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment in 1862 and served until mid-1863. In the summer of 1863, Abraham Moyer – age 36 of Franklin Township – was registered among those “persons of Class II, subject to do military duty.” (11)
In 1864, Abraham became a landowner when he purchased 35 acres in Franklin Township for $725. (12) The following year’s tax list says Abram Moyer was a farmer who owned 35 acres of land, one horse, three cows and a buggy. For the next five years, Abraham’s taxable property remains pretty much the same, with only the number of livestock changing slightly.
The 1870 Census lists Abraham Moyer as a 40-year-old farmer in Franklin Township. The only other member of the household is listed as “Kate,” age 40. Presumably, this was Elizabeth. In addition, Louis Edward and Frederick are missing from the listing. These aren’t the only mistakes that pops up in this record. It says Abraham didn’t own any real estate, though it mentions he owned personal property valued at $1,000. In addition, it says his parents were foreign born and that the parents of “Kate” were not foreign born. In the neighboring household, it lists Elizabeth’s mother as “Sophia” and says the Knepps were born in Bavaria, when they were born in Hesse-Darmstadt. (13)
Frederick Knepp died in 1874 and the Moyers received a portion of his property a few years later. On Aug. 18, 1877, Henry Knepp sold 64 acres to his sister Elizabeth Moyer for $1. The deed mentioned that their father had died without leaving a will and that the land fell to them. (14)
In 1876, a publisher marked the American centennial by publishing a book of maps showing the landowners in Beaver County. The map of Frankling Township shows A. Moyer living on 60 acres on the south side of the road that is now Route 288. The farm was between Fombell Road and Camp Run Road. (15)
In the 1880 Census, Abraham is listed as a 50-year-old farmer in Franklin Township. In addition to his wife Lizzie, age 45, his household contained Frederick, 17; Edward, 13; Ellen, 9; and Anne, 7.
In 1890 tax records for Franklin Township, Abraham Moyer is listed as a farmer, and he was taxed for 74 acres, one horse and one cow. Aside from gaining cattle, his property didn’t change much in 1892 and 1893. From 1894 to 1896, the tax list indicates that Abraham Moyer owned 74 acres but no livestock. It appears that Abraham was winding down his farming operation.
In 1897, Aberham Moyer is listed as owning 74 acres but his name was later crossed out and a notation was added: “Transferred to Moyer F.A.” This marked Abraham’s retirement from farming.
Abraham’s great-granddaughter Ether May Graff wrote a letter in 1991 concerning the Moyer family. She said: “He owned a farm in Franklin Township, Beaver County. He went to Zelienople after he retired from farming. His two sons were to pay him a certain amount each year and give him meat when they butchered. He also worked in Zelienople as long as he was able. He also did work at the children’s and old people’s Lutheran home in Zelienople.”
In Zelienople, Abraham became a municipal employee, caring for flowerbeds, parks and streets. That meant cleaning up horse manure at a time before automobiles. He also was responsible for lighting the gas lamps that lit the small town at night.
The 1900 Census says Abraham Moyer was a 70-year-old day laborer who had been unemployed for eight months. He owned his house on Clay Street free of mortgage. Elizabeth was 66 years old.
The 1910 Census indicates that Abraham Moyer was an 80-year-old laborer who did odd jobs. He had never been without work in the previous year and he owned his house on Clay Street free of mortgage. The only other member of his household was Elizabeth, age 76.
Abraham died Aug. 3, 1917 from a stroke. His obituary in The Butler Citizen said: “Abraham N. Moyer, 87 years of age, a well known and respected resident of Zelienople, died rather suddenly yesterday morning at his residence, following a stroke of apoplexy. Mr. Moyer has been employed for years by the borough as caretaker of the parks and streets. He was getting ready to go to work yesterday morning about 7 o’clock when he was stricken. His death occurred about four hours later.
“The deceased was a native of Lancaster Township, Butler county, and had resided for many years on a farm in Beaver county. He was a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran church of Zelienople.” (16)
After Abraham’s death, Elizabeth moved in with her grandson, John Moyer of Franklin Township. In the 1920 Census, she appears in his household, where she is listed as is 86-year-old grandmother.
Elizabeth died in Dec. 28, 1920, at the home of her daughter-in-law, Maggie, the widow of Albert. Oddly, her death certificate lists cause of death as “not known.” Her obituary describes her living arrangements during her last few years. “Mrs. Moyer formerly resided where she died but later lived quite a number of years in Zelienople, returning to the country a few years ago after the decease of her husband.”
The Moyers are buried at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church’s cemetery in Jackson Township, Butler County. (17)
(1) Abraham’s birth date and parents are listed in his death certificate, which is available at “Pennsylvania, Death Certificate, 1906-1964,” at Ancestry.com. Some anecdotes in this item come from interviews with Mary Bowers and Velma Holfelder in 1990 and a letter from Ethel May Graff in 1991. (2) The marriage is listed in “St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church, Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania,” transcribed by Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler, Page 124. (3) Elizabeth’s birth date and parents are listed in her Pennsylvania death certificate at Ancestry.com. Her birth date also appears in appears in the St. Paul’s records, page 35. (4) Dates of births and deaths of the Moyer children are in the St. Paul’s records. Ann’s marriage is recorded on page 141. While the church records list Eliza Ellen as “Eliza Allen,” I have chosen to use the spelling as recorded in “Butler County Cemetery Inventory, Vol. 4,” by the Butler County Historical Society, page 9, which appears more likely. Several of the children are mentioned on the same page of the cemetery inventory and many of the listings appear to have transcription problems. (5) The baptismal record indicates that her name was Maria Emilia and she was baptized on Aug. 27. Her death record lists her name as Juliana and her date of death as Aug. 12. It is likely that she is the Mary E. listed in the cemetery inventory, which says she died “09-11-18??” and records that she was the daughter of “R. & E.” Since all of the other Moyers in this grave grouping were children of Abraham, it appears almost certain that the “R” should be and “A.” (6) “Butler County Cemetery Inventory” says she was 17 when she died. This appears to be a transcription error and will have to be checked against the tombstone. (7) Elizabeth’s obituary was clipped from an unidentified and undated newspaper and kept among family mementoes. (8) Elizabeth’s death certificate can be found at “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966,” at Ancestry.com. The passenger lists are at “Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Baltimore, 1820-1834,” available at Ancestry.com. It should be noted that census records are split on the matter of her birthplace, but they are also notoriously inaccurate because information was often provided by people with second-hand knowledge. Many census listings say she was born in Pennsylvania but the census records for 1900 and 1920 list her birthplace as “Sea” and “On Sea,” respectively. Other group of Hesse-Darmstadt immigrants were a party of several dozen people from the Odenwald who settled around Jenera, Hancock County, Ohio. An account of their voyage can be found in the history of the Price branch of our family. (9) The confirmation appears in the records of Grace Reformed Church, which are available at “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013,” at Ancestry.com. (10) The tax records are available at “Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Tax Records, 1832-1925,” at Ancestry.com. (11) “U.S., Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863-1865,” at Ancestry.com. (12) The transaction is recorded in Beaver County Deed Book 47, page 59. (13) The Knepps’ birth information in listed in their death records in “St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church, Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania,” page 180 for Frederick and 190 for Catherine. (14) Beaver County Deed Book 83, pages 37 and 38. (15) The farm’s location is shown in “Caldwell’s Illustrated Historical Centennial Atlas of Beaver County, Pennsylvania,” by J.A. Caldwell, Condit, Ohio, 1876. (16) The Butler Citizen, Butler, Pa., Aug. 4, 1917. (17) “Butler County Cemetery Inventory.” Elizabeth’s date of death comes from Beaver County Register’s Docket 14, page 30.
EDWARD and MARIA MOYER
Louis Edward Moyer was born Jan. 23, 1867, in Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa., to Abraham and Elizabeth (Knoepp) Moyer. (1)
Married Maria Bellas on Feb. 23, 1888, in Butler County, Pa. Maria was born in May 12, 1861, in Butler County to Isaac and Sarah (Stauffer) Bellas. (2)
Laura Estella Moyer, born May 8, 1889. Married Charles L. Bowers.
Elmer Emmet Moyer, born July 17, 1892.
Sarah E. Moyer, born in April 1894. Married Robert Graff.
Esther E. Moyer, born in April 29, 1900.
Ed Moyer grew up in Franklin Township, where his father was a farmer. His family attended St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church in nearby Zelienople, Butler County, where Ed was baptized.
Maria grew up a few miles to the southeast in Lancaster Township, Butler County. The Belles family attended Grace Reformed Church in Harmony. Maria was baptized and confirmed there, taking her first communion on May 21, 1876. (4) It’s possible Ed and Maria met at this church because Ed’s grandfather Samuel was one of the early members and attended there until his death in 1893
In 1888, Ed and Maria were married in the Belles residence by the Rev. Peter Riffer.
Ed joined Grace Reformed Church on Oct. 21, 1888. A note beside his name says he was approved by an “act of consistory fr Ger. Luth. Ch.” – indicating a move from the Lutheran church. At that point, L. Edw. Moyer starts appearing on the Grace Reformed communion list. As the years passed, all of the Moyer children were baptized there.
The Moyers were strong in their Christian faith, according to their granddaughter, Ethel May Graff, who wrote in a letter about them in 1991.
“When Ed and Maria were first married, they drove up to Harmony to the Reformed Church (that’s where the Bellas family went to church). But that was a long drive with horse and buggy – cows to milk, animals to feed in the morning and four little children to get ready for Sunday school and church. The preacher suggested they go to a nearer church. So they went to Camp Run United Presbyterian Church. At that time, they only sang Psalms in the United Presbyterian Church. All the time they went to Camp Run church, Maria taught a class of young boys in Sunday school. She also belonged to their Women’s Missionary Society.”
Edward’s grandchildren recalled him as a kind and generous man, and “sprightly” in old age. Ethel May Graff wrote: “He would have given anyone the last thing he had. That’s one reason he died such a poor man. ... Ed Moyer wouldn’t turn anyone out.”
In 2004, Ethel May recalled, “He was a good-natured fellow. He couldn’t have put up with as much as he had to put up with if he weren’t.”
Ed and Maria on several occasions cared for the children of relatives who had fallen on hard times. For example, when Ed’s sister Anna Josephina died around 1897, no one else could take in Freddy, who was a baby, and Elsie, who was only about 3, so Ed and Maria cared for them until their father remarried.
Edward also chewed tobacco.
Maria was very easy-going, according to other grandchildren who were very young when she died in 1918. She enjoyed sewing and was an excellent seamstress who often make clothing for others.
After their marriage, the Moyers settled in Franklin Township, roughly five or six miles from the church in Harmony.
In 1889, Edward Moyer makes his first appearance on the tax list of Franklin Township. He owned three cows but no land – probably because he lived on his father’s farm. (4) In 1890, he owned seven cows and a horse. And in 1891 and 1892, he owned two horses and nine cows. This was the nucleus of what would become Moyer’s Daily Farm, which was further developed by Ed’s son Elmer.
In 1894, Lewis Edward Moyer bought two tracts of land in Franklin Township from Henry B. Moyer for $3,750. On parcel covered 42 acres and the other 55. (5)
The 1895 tax list is the first to mention real estate. It says L.E. Moyer had 92 acres of land “of H.B. Moyer,” two horses six cows and one male dog. His holdings remained pretty much the same for the next few years, with slight changes in the number of cattle. The 1899 list offers the best description of the property, saying that L.E. Moyer held 92 acres, with a house, barn and outbuildings, three horses and four cows.
The Moyers spoke German at home even though most branches of both families had arrived in American during colonial times. The only branch that immigrated later was that of Ed’s mother, the Knoepps, who arrived in 1833. Since only German was spoken, the Moyers’ eldest daughter, Laura, couldn’t speak English when she started attending public school. The other children laughed at her and she became determined to learn English.
The 1900 Census lists Edward Moyer as a 33-year-old farmer who owned a farm free of mortgage in Franklin Township. His household contained his wife Maria, age 38; Lorah, 11; Elmer E., 7; Sarah E., 6; and Esther E., 1 month.
The 1910 Census lists Edward Moyer as a 43-year-old farmer who owned a farm on New Castle Road in Franklin Township. The household contained Maria, age 28; Elmer, a 17-year-old laborer; Sahra, 16; and Esther, 10. In addition, Laura, age 20, and her new husband Charles Bower, a 24-year-old teamster, lived there.
A 1917 directory of Beaver County farmers mentions that Ed. L. Moyer had one minor child and one adult child living at home. He owned 98 acres and his primary crop was corn but he also sold milk. It also says that he was connected to Bell Telephone service. The family lived in Franklin Township off Highway 23. (6) Although various records list the family on different roads, this is a reflection of the changing designations of their road rather than a move to a new home.
Maria died of diphtheria April 27, 1918. She had been sick for eight days, according to her death certificate.
“When Maria died of diphtheria, they were quarantined,” Ethel May Graff wrote in 1991. “No one was allowed to go in. ... Ed Moyer and his daughter, Esther, were there alone when she died. Maria had been in a coma for 24 hours. Ed Moyer and his daughter, Esther, were by her side. Maria suddenly opened her eyes and said, ‘Please raise me up.’ They put pillows under her head. Maria began to sing the 103 Psalm. Then she prayed the child’s prayer all her children had learned at her knee: ‘Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.’ Then she said (seemingly not conscious of Grandfather’s and Esther’s presence), ‘They have come to get me now.’ Esther said, ‘Who, Mother?’ She said, ‘The angels. Don’t you see them all dressed in white?’ Then one deep breath, and she was gone. This was April 27. Esther was 18 years old April 29, so this was hard for an 18-year-old girl.”
A few years later, Esther became a missionary in in southern Asia. The Aug. 15, 1924, edition of the New Castle News announced a meeting at the city’s mission where Esther was to speak before leaving America. The newspaper reports: “This will be Miss Moyer’s last service at the Mission for some little time as she expects to sail from New York on September 12 on the steamer Venice for Sialkot, Punjab India, where she will spend six years in missionary work in the foreign field under the United Presbyterian Women’s Missionary board.” The city of Sialkot is now part of Pakistan, very near the Indian border. After serving her six years as a missionary, Esther returned to America on May 9, 1930, aboard the S.S. Berengaria, sailing from Southampton, England. On June 18, 1931, the New Castle News described an event where “Miss Esther Moyer from Indian displayed some articles from that land that took the fancy of those present. She also gave an interesting talk on her work in that land. During this talk the attendance had swelled. The speaker showed pictures of village life there, of schools and home life.” A few years after returning to America, Esther settled in California, where she lived the rest of her life. (7)
The 1920 Census lists Edward Moyer as a farmer who owned a “general farm” on New Castle and Wurtemburg Road in Franklin Township, Beaver County. It indicates that he was 53 years old and widowed. His 19-year-old daughter Esther lived with him. The household also contained Elmer Moyer, age 27, and his wife Esther, 22. The census indicates that Elmer was renting and was a farmer who worked on a general farm that he didn’t own.
Edward was a farmer most of his life but, at some point during the 1920s, he gave his farm to his son Elmer and moved to a smaller tract of land. Some family members claimed the move was made during World War I so Elmer wouldn’t be drafted in the military. However, that story was discounted by others – and apparently is disproved by the 1920 Census, which indicates that Elmer rented from his father in that year. Interestingly, it is certain that Elmer expressed anti-war sentiments. He wrote the following on his World War I draft registration card in the spot that asked for possible exemptions: “My conscience forbids going to war on account of it being murder.” Unfortunately, the timing of the land transfer can’t be established because there’s no deed between Ed and Elmer in the Beaver County index. In any case, Elmer eventually turned the farm into one of the largest dairy operations in the area – Moyer’s Farm Dairy. (8)
In early 1922, Edward married Louella Belle Kelley, the widow of John H. Kelley. (9) The wedding was held in Ellwood City, according to the March 2 edition of the New Castle News. Her children by her previous marriage were Ethel, Arthur, Everett and Mildred Kelly.
The 1930 Census lists Lewis E. Moyer as a farmer who ran a “Truck Farm” in Franklin Township. His home was valued at $1,800. The family did not own a radio. Others in the household were his wife Loubelle, age 56, and stepdaughter Mildred A. Kelly, 26.
“The years after he left the large farm were hard for him,” Ethel May Graff wrote of Edward. “The Depression hit and most people had very little. His barn burned and he lost his horse, which he used to cultivate the land. He lost his cows and everything in the barn. But one never heard him complain. He never mechanized his little farm.”
The barn fire is mentioned in an article in the New Castle News on Sept. 22, 1932. It reads: “Fire of undetermined origin destroyed the large from barn owned by Edward Moyer at Lilyville last night. The flames were discovered at 9 o’clock. Mr. Moyer had just been in the barn, having thought he detected the odor of cigarette smoke, but could not find any evidence and returned to the house, which is about 75 feed from the barn, when the entire structure burst into flames.
“Mr. Moyer and his neighbors were able to get the automobile out but one cow and a horse were incinerated. A small calf was rescued. The season’s crops, which had been recently gathered into the barn, and the farming implements were destroyed. There being absolutely no facilities for combating fires, nothing could be done. Fortunately the wind was not blowing in the direction of the house or other nearby buildings or they too probably would have burned. A spark which was blown a quarter of a mile ignited a corn shock but the blaze was put out before any damage could be done.
“The loss has been estimated at $3,000 and is partially covered by insurance.”
The 1940 Census lists Edward Moyer as a 72-year-old farmer on his own farm. His home on Route 288 in Lillyville was valued at $1,200. He had an eighth-grade education, which was typical in rural areas at that time. Ed’s household also contained his wife Luella, age 66, and stepdaughter Mildred Kelly, page 36.
In 1942, he quit farming and took a job with Ellwood Stone Co. near Ellwood City.
Edward was killed on the job at the stone company on Dec. 28, 1944. The Ellwood City Ledger reported that he climbed onto a 25-foot bin to loosen sand that was tightly packed. He lost his footing and fell into the bin. The only other employee in the plant at the time – 2:15 a.m. – discovered Edward neck-deep in sand but was unable to free him. The employee telephoned for help, which arrived too late to save Edward from being buried completely. (10)
His obituary appeared in the Dec. 30, 1944, edition of Butler Eagle of Butler, Pa. It reads: “Edward Moyer, aged 70s years, of Fombell R.D. 1, Beaver county, was instantly killed yesterday morning when at work in a war industries plant in Ellwood City. His widow is Mrs. Belle White Kelley Moyer, who is known to many as a former resident of Butler.
“Mr. Moyer is also survived by a son, two daughters, two step-sons and two step-daughters. He was a member and official of the Fombell Presbyterian church.”
L. Edward and Maria Moyer are buried at Camp Run Cemetery in Franklin Township. (11)
Belle died June 25, 1946 of Parkinson’s Disease, according to her death certificate.
(1) Date and parents are listed in “St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church, Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania,” transcribed by Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler, page 76. Much other information comes from interviews with Mary Bowers, Edward Bowers and Velma Holfelder in 1989 and 1990 and also letter from Ethel May Graff in 1991 and an interview with her in August 1996. It should be noted that Edward’s death certificate says he was born Jan. 22, 1867. However, the certificate has several mistakes. The information was provided by Edward’s second wife, Bell, who told the clerk that Edward’s father was named Abraham Nepp. In addition, “Abraham Moyer” is written into the space for his mother’s maiden name, but then crossed out. The certificate is available at “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates,” at Ancestry.com. (2) Mariah’s birth date and parents’ names come from her Pennsylvania death certificate as well as the records of Grace Reformed Church in Harmony, Butler County, Pa., which are available at “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records,” at Ancestry.com. The date of the couple’s marriage is listed in the Butler County marriage records in “Pennsylvania, Marriages,” at Ancestry.com. (3) Names and most of the birth dates come from the baptismal records of Grace Reformed Church in Harmony. Sarah’s baptism is listed in 1894 but the birth date is missing. Her birth date appears in “U.S., Social Security Death Index,” at Ancestry.com. The spouse of Laura and Sarah appear in “Pennsylvania, Marriage,” at Ancestry.com. (4) The tax records appear in “Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Tax Records,” at Ancestry.com. (5) The transaction appears in Beaver County Deed Book 145, page 270. (6) “1917 Beaver County Farm Directory,” reprinted for the Tri-State Genealogical Society, page 78. (7) The newspapers articles appear at “New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania),” at Ancestry.com. The passenger list appears in “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” at Ancestry.com. It should be noted that a story in the New Castle News edition of Oct. 18, 1930, says that Esther had been in Sudan, but that seems to be an error. (8) “U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” at Ancestry.com. More than 20 years later, His World War II draft registration card doesn’t contain any similar notation. The WWII registration is available at “U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” at Ancestry.com. (9) Belle’s information appears in her Pennsylvania death certificate. (10) Undated clipping from Ellwood City Ledger. Date provided by Ethel May Graff. (11) Their gravestone can be seen at Findagrave.com.