Updated April 2019
The Nye family came from western Germany. Andreas Neu immigrated to America in 1733.
The name was originally Neu and was anglicized to Nigh. After about 1790, it became Nye.
Points of interest: Andrew Nye was a Baptist preacher, was among the first settlers in Beaver County, Pa., and served in the militias of Yohogania County, Va., and then Washington County, Pa., during the Revolutionary War; Michael Nye served as a sergeant in the War of 1812; Michael P. Nye was a school teacher and a justice of the peace.
Johann Andreas Neu was the son of Andreas Neu of Leistadt Germany. (1)
Married Maria Elisabeth Saur in Germany and Selli Roos in America. (See below.)
Children of Andreas and Maria Elisabeth: (2)
Heinrich Lorentz Neu, born Oct. 7, 1723. Died Feb. 26, 1725.
Anna Barbara Neu, born Feb. 9, 1726.
Johann Michael Neigh, born Sept. 12, 1728.
Anna Eva, born April 21, 1731. Probably died before 1733.
(* For details and questions, see footnote 2.)
Children of Andreas and Selli Roos: (3)
Sara Neu, born June 14, 1748.
Andrew Nye, born June 6, 1750.
Andreas first appears in the records of Kallstadt and Leistadt, neighboring villages near Bad Duerkheim. They are along the German Wine Road in the modern state of Rheinland-Pfalz, often called the Palatinate in English.
Andreas was the youngest son of Andreas Neu, an innkeeper in Leistadt, an innkeeper.
At the time of his wedding, Andreas was identified as a locksmith, or Schlosser.
On July 15, 1722, Andreas married Maria Elisabetha Saur in Kallstadt, which is within easy walking distance of Leistadt. Maria Elisabetha was born July 11, 1702, in Kallstadt, to Heinrich Lorentz Saur and Maria Eleonora Huebener. Her father was a brick maker and court juror of Kallstadt. (4)
A little more than a year after the wedding, the couple had their first child. However, it appears that Heinrich Lorentz – named for his mother’s father – was sickly. The Kallstadt church book records that the pastor went to the Neu home at 3 o’clock on Oct. 7 for an “emergency baptism” because the child was sick. The little boy survived another year and four months but died on Feb. 26, 1725, of a “heated sickness” – probably a fever. (5)
The family remained in Kallstadt at least until Anna Barbara’s birth in February 1726. They moved to Leistadt before the birth of Johann Michael in November 1728. It’s possible the move followed the death of Andreas’ father in July 1726. (6)
A daughter named Anna Eva was born in 1731, but seems to have died before the family immigrated to America. (7)
The travel diary of a Moravian missionary, Sven Roseen, tells of several encounters with our Andreas after his move to America. In these accounts, Roseen mentions that Andreas “had known the father of our dear brother Heinrich Antes, Frederick Antes, while he had his home in Fraensheim, and this Neu in Leustadt, (three English miles away) and the two had one forest right.” Heinrich Antes was a prominent member of the early Moravian community in southeastern Pennsylvania. “Fraensheim” is actually Freinsheim and “Leustadt” is Leistadt. (8)
The Neu family was probably like many others who fled the Palatinate in the early 18th century. The area was devastated during the Palatine war of succession and Leistadt itself was destroyed by the French in 1689. In the following decades, thousands of Palatines left the destruction and poverty to start anew in America.
Andreas and his family immigrated to America in 1733, arriving in Philadelphia aboard the Pink Mary, which sailed from Rotterdam, Netherlands.
The Provincial Council of Pennsylvania recorded their arrival: “At the Courthouse aforesaid, September 29th, 1733. Thirty four Palatines, who with their families, making in all One hundred & Seventy Persons, were imported here in the Pink Mary of Dublin, James Benn, Master, from Rotterdam, but last from Plymouth, as by Clearance thence, were qualified as before.” The passenger list includes: Andreas Nay; his wife, Maria Elisabeth; and children, Anna Barbara, age 7, and Hans Michel, age 3 1/2. Although our Johann Michael was actually 5 at the time, this is without a doubt the correct family. (9)
Also on Sept. 29, Andtreas Ney “did this day take & subscribe the Oaths to ye Govermt.”
The discrepancy in the spelling of Andreas’ name is caused by his signature. Although he was one of the few people to actually sign his own name, the signature is in old German script and difficult to read. Transcribers could easily mistake a “u” for a “y” and an “e” for an “a.” In addition to penmanship, pronunciation led to programs with spelling the family’s name. In German, “Neu” was pronounced “Noy.” Apparently, this sounded like Nigh, Neigh or Nye to English ears. The only records that actually spell the name “Neu” are from a German-speaking Lutheran church in Somerset County, N.J., and Roseen’s diary.
Andreas settled in what is now Bernards Township in Somerset County, N.J. The only surviving evidence of the Neus’ presence there are church records and a store account book. Few records from this period in New Jersey history exist – especially in Somerset County, where the British burned the courthouse in 1779, at the height of the Revolutionary War.
Andreas and Maria Elisabeth Neu were the sponsors at the baptism of Maria Castner on April 21, 1734, at the Lutheran church “at the Raretons” – Somerset County. (10)
Andris Nigh appears in the Janeway Account Books from August 1736 to November 1740. Jacob Janeway ran a store in what is now Bound Brook. Andreas obtained rum and calico among other items. The books also record that Andreas lived near Peter Cassaner (Castner), who lived near Pluckemin. (11)
Sometime between November 1740 and December 1748, the family moved about 50 miles northwest to what is now Monroe County, Pa. According to Roseen’s diary, the Neu homestead was just south of the Delaware Water Gap, where the Delaware River cuts through the mountains. The area was then part of Bucks County and sparsely populated.
At some point before the move northwest, Andreas married Selli Roos. No records have turned up indicating when Maria Elisabeth died or when Andreas married his second wife. Judging from the birth date of Sara, the couple’s first child, it appears likely that Andreas and Selli were married about 1747. Although Roseen doesn’t provide the first name of Andreas’ wife, he says that her maiden name was Rose and that her father was “High German” and her mother was Scottish. Roseen mentions that “for both husband and wife this was the second marriage.” Selli’s first husband is not named. (12)
Selli Roos might be the Caecilia Roos who was born Feb. 1, 1720, in Somerset County, N.J. (13) The name “Selli” was an abbreviation used by other Cecilias. Selli’s name is spelled Sealley in her third husband’s will. The Caecilia who was born in New Jersey was baptized at the Lutheran church at the Raretons and her family attended services there for many years. Her father was Andreas Roos, who emigrated from Germany around 1710. No further record of this Caecilia Roos has been found.
If Caecilia Roos is Selli, it seems possible that she and Andreas married in Somerset County before moving to the northwest.
It was in 1748 and 1749 that Sven Roseen made his missionary journeys in the area that is now Monroe County, Pa. During his travels, he frequently stopped at the home of Andreas and Selli Neu. The diary entries show Roseen was fond of Andreas’ daughter, Sara, and that Andreas was a supporter of his missionary efforts.
From the entry for Dec. 20, 1748: “And so I arrived at the house of Andreas Neu, a German, who told me that if he had been at home when the Brethern Johannes [de Watteville] and Cammerhof passed by, he would have begged them to baptize his little Sara. The child awakened as I sat there, and looked at me so heartily that I should have liked to baptize her at once, if only I had had answer from Bethlehem.”
From Dec. 29, 1748: “I felt the Savior near, and when I came across the flooded creeks and through the difficult Gap without any trouble, to the home of the candidate for baptism, the father was not home. We remained here during the afternoon. In the evening, the father, Joh. Andreas Neu, reached home, and I had an opportunity to talk with him. He had been a neighbor of Frederick Antes, between Worms, Speier, and Mannheim.
“December 31 . This Joh. Andreas Neu fetched his neighbor Thomas Quick, and his wife Rachel, as witness of the baptism. And when they, with the father of the child and its mother (nee Rose, her father having been a High German, and her mother Scotch) and their children Catherina and Elizabeth Neu, and Christina and Catharina Werner, and my dear Francis Jones, had been seated in nice order, I began the singing of hymns, and spoke on Rom. 6:3, 1 John 5:8, and Matt. 28:18-20, in both German and English. Then I baptized this first child of this couple. For both husband and wife this was the second marriage, (the child having been born June 14, 1748). In all of this transaction, I was in a happy frame of mind, and I sang several hymns in closing. This little Sarah is a very attractive child, and now belongs to the Savior, into whose death she has been baptized.”
From March 31, 1749: “Andreas Neu, at the Gap, particularly, whose little Sara was the first child I had baptized, with his wife and children, is always happy when I come. His fetching of leather in Bethlehem and the conduct of our dear Brownfield and Lighton have a good influence on him.
“April 1. I sang German hymn stanzas cheerfully in his house, and then went on down the Delaware in the Forks, toward Nazareth.”
From June 28, 1749: “I stopped in at James Grayforth’s and Andrew Neu’s. These men were not ashamed to own me, when I met them recently at a great ‘raise of a barren’ [probably a barn raising] while some others, because of the fear of men, acted in a very distant manner.”
Roseen’s missionary travels ended in 1749 and he died in 1750. (14)
On June 6, 1750, Selli gave birth to Andries – Andrew in subsequent records. Andrew was baptized Nov. 26, 1752 at the Dutch Reformed Church in Smithfield, Pa. (15)
Andreas died sometime before 1752. On Feb. 2, 1752, the Reformed church records list the marriage of “Luer Kuykendal, widower of Lena Consales, to Sara Roos, widow of Andries Ny, both dwelling here.” (16)
The Kuykendal family apparently lived well within a day’s walk of the Neu family. On April 1, 1749, the missionary Roseen wrote in his journal that he started the day in Andreas Neu’s home, singing German hymn stanzas, and then “went on down the Delaware.” That same day, “At the house of Luar Keychendahl, opposite Manunchus Junc [Manunca Chunk] I received dangerous advice or direction.” The missionary was advised to change the path of his journey because of hazardous weather conditions. (17)
On May 20, 1753, Abram, son of Luer Kuykendal and Selli Roos, was baptized at the Smithfield church. (18)
At some point, the Kuykendal/Neu family moved just across the Delaware River to Knowlton Township, New Jersey. Tax records list Lewer Kikendol there in 1773 (he appears as Leward Cuikendal in 1774). (19) It is possible that the move was made in the wake of attacks by Native Americans on settlements in the Forks of the Delaware during the French and Indian War in the 1750s.
Numerous Kuykendals lived at the Forks of the Delaware and the nearby Minisink region at this time. Several of these families moved to the frontier in what is now western Pennsylvania in the mid-1770s. Some became very active in the area’s politics, usually supporting Virginia’s claim to the Pittsburgh area. For example, Luer’s son Benjamin served as an official in Yohogania County, Va., which covered the area just south of Pittsburgh. At least two of Andreas Neu’s children followed. Andrew Nye first appears in Virginia records from the Pittsburgh-area records in 1774. Samuel Nye followed. However, Hans Michel Neu – usually listed as John Neigh – stayed in the Easton area, where his son Andrew Neigh served in the militia during the Revolution.
Eventually, Luer and Selli Kuykendal joined their children in western Pennsylvania. Lewis Kuykendal appears in the tax list for Peters Township, Washington County, Pa., in 1783. He owned one horse and one cow, but no land. (20)
“Lewis” Kuykendall died before June 13, 1789, when his will was proved. The will bequeaths to “Sealley dearly beloved wife the chest and her clothes and the bed and bed clothes and three sheep and the cow and the little pot.” His sons are listed as Cornelius (the oldest), Benjamin, Samuel, Jeam, Abraham, John and Henry. No daughters are mentioned. The court selected his stepson Andrew Nye as the administrator of his estate. (21) If Luer’s will lists his children according to age, as was frequently the case in early-American wills, it would indicate that John and Henry, as well as Abraham, were half-brothers of Andrew Nye. Also, it seems likely that “Jeam” refers to the James Kuykendall who appears in records of that time and place.
No record of Selli’s death or burial has turned up.
(1) Andreas’ presence in Leistadt is mentioned in Lutheran church records of the towns of Kallstadt and Leistadt, near Bad Duerkheim in the present German state of Rheinland-Pfalz. The Kallstadt records are available at the website “Thesaurus Personarum,” www.thesaurus-ersonarum.de, compiled by Hans-Helmut Görtz. His presence is also mentioned in “The Dansbury Diaries, Moravian Travel Diaries 1748-1755, of the Reverend Sven Roseen and others in the area of Dansbury, now Stroudsburg, Pa.,” page 79. It seems possible that Andreas was born in the mid-1780s because he served as a baptismal sponsor in 1707. On Aug. 14, 1707, Andreas Neu, the son of Andreas Neu, an innkeeper and Hoffman of Leistadt, served as a sponsor of Andreas Hannewald. This record was provided by John Prugh in 2019. (2) Heinrich Laurentius’ birth and death and Anna Barbara’s birth are listed in the Kallstadt church records. Anna Eva and Johann Michael’s births are listed in the Leistadt church books. It should be noted that another Andreas Neu – possibly a cousin – had children baptized in Leistadt during the same time. He wife was named Catharina so it’s usually easy to distinguish who is involved. Anna Barbara and “Hans Michel” are listed as passengers aboard the Pink Mary in “Pennsylvania German Pioneers,” pages 132 to 134. Samuel, Catharine and Elizabeth are a bit more problematic. Samuel is linked to Andreas in “A Genealogy of American Nyes of German Origin, Vol. II,” page 1. This appears to be very likely but be aware that no direct evidence of his link to Andreas has been found. Roseen doesn’t mention Samuel, but perhaps the boy was living with his brother Hans Michel or someone else at the time of the missionary’s visits. It appears highly unlikely that he was born in the three months between the end of Roseen’s visits and September 1749, when Sara would have become pregnant with Andrew. “American Nyes” cites family tradition, which holds that Andrew Nye had a half-brother named Samuel who also moved to western Pennsylvania. It also cites common naming patterns in his family and Andrew Nye’s. I have not researched Samuel but have noticed that a Samuel Nye does appear near Andrew in some records from western Pennsylvania. Catharina and Elizabeth are listed in “Dansbury Diaries,” pages 48 and 49. Roseen’s diary mentions Andreas had two daughters named Catherina and Elizabeth Neu, who were present at the baptism of Sara Neu. Since the girls are both identified by the last name Neu and Sara is identified as the first child of Andreas and Sara Rose, these daughters were probably Maria Elisabeth’s. However, it is possible that they were the elder Sara’s daughters and Roseen mistakenly called them Neu. In either case, they are the half-sisters of Andrew Nye, who moved to western Pennsylvania. It is possible that the baptism of one of these children is mentioned in “Lutheran Records in the Ministerial Archives of the Staatsarchiv in Hamburg, Germany,” page 130. I am very hesitant to accept this as a reference to our Andreas but I can’t dismiss it, either. The baptism of a 2-week-old child of “Andreas Nauen” at “the Raretons” was recorded as part of a dispute involving an exceedingly unpopular minister. In a letter dated Nov. 16, 1736, the Rev. Johann A. Wolf wrote about an “unscrupulous Spahler” who showed up and “played some quite interesting satanic farces.” This Spahler, who had Calvinistic beliefs, “went to Andreas Nauen and baptized his child, which was already two weeks old and in good health and so could very well have been brought to church.” The members of this Lutheran church were very upset with Wolf and were looking for alternatives. Knowing that Andreas Neu later welcomed a wandering Moravian preacher, it appears very possible that this “Andreas Nauen” may be our man. Also, the name Nauen doesn’t appear in other records from this area while our Andreas does. If this is our Andreas, it would mean that one of Andreas and Maria Elisabeth’s children was born in November 1736. As a side note, the Rev. Wolf who wrote the letter was later run out of his parish because he was “a corrupt knave, an adulterer, a perjurer, a wolf and a disturber of the community,” according to “Somerset County Historical Quarterly, Vol. 2,” published in 1913. (3) Sara appears in “Dansbury Diaries,” pages 48 and 49. Andreas/Andrew appears in “Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society,” page 95. (4) The marriage and Elisabetha’s birth appear in the Kallstadt church records. It should be noted that an entry for the wedding also appears in the records of Leistadt. However, her name is incorrectly listed as Catharina Elisabetha. (5) The boy’s names is spelled Heinrich Laurentius in his baptismal record and Henirch Laurenz in his death records. I go with Heinrich Lorentz since that is the more common form of his namesake, his grandfather. (6) The elder Andreas’ death is listed in Leistadt church records. (7) Anna Eva’s death does not appear to be listed in the Leistadt church book, but the page that would probably contain the information is badly marked up. (8) “Dansbury Diaries,” pages 48 and 79. (9) “Pennsylvania German Pioneers.” (10) “The Palatine Families of New York, 1710,” page 122. (11) Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey, Vol. 33 and 34. (12) “Dansbury Diaries,” page 48 and 49. It seems possible that her first husband was named Werner because Roseen lists the people who came to Sara’s baptism. In addition to the sponsors, there were “Catherine and Elizabeth Neu, and Christina and Catharine Werner, and my dear Francis Jones.” It’s possible – though by no means certain – that the Werners were Selli’s daughters from her first marriage. The fact that Roseen mentions no other Werners in Andreas’ neighborhood, makes this possibility very appearling. (13) “Palatine Families,” pages 798 and 799. (14) The Neu family is mentioned in the “Dansbury Diaries” on pages 44, 48, 55, 67, 76, 79, 82, 94 and 96. A sketch of Roseen’s life appears on pages 3-5. In the text, the parentheses are by Roseen and the square brackets are comments by the book’s translators. (15) “Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society,” page 101. (16) “Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society,” page 95. (17) “Dansbury Diaries,” page 76. (18) “Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society,” page 101. (19) The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey, Vol. 40, page 131. (20) “Washington County, Pennsylvania, Tax Lists,” compiled by Raymond Martin Bell and Katherine K. Zinsser, page 74. (21) Washington County Will Book 1, page 99. An abstract is cited in “Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania Publications, Vol. 6,” page 144.
ANDREW and RACHEL NYE
Andrew Nye was born June 6, 1750, northeastern Pennsylvania to Andreas and Selli (Roos) Neu. (1)
Married Catherine about 1774 and Rachel McDonald about 1779. (See below.)
Children of Catherine: (2)
Sarah Nye, born Aug. 31, 1775. Married Adam Deemer.
Richard Nye, born Nov. 1, 1776.
Eleanor Nye, born Dec. 25, 1777. Married John Deemer.
Children of Rache McDonald:
Catherine Nye, born March, 5, 1780. Married a man named Jones.
Nancy Nye, born Nov. 9, 1781. Married Nicholas Main.
John Nye, born Oct. 2, 1783.
Michael Nye, born Aug. 2, 1785.
Hannah Nye, born July 21, 1787. Married Moses Matheny.
Jordan McDonald Nye, born March 10, 1789.
Mary Nye, born Feb. 12, 1791.
Margaret Nye, born July 13, 1792.
Susanah Nye, born Feb. 27, 1795. Married Solomon Main.
Andrew Rose Nye, born Dec. 22, 1797.
Daniel Nye, born March 19, 1800, died about 1812.
Thomas Nye, born Aug. 3, 1802.
The family name appears in a variety of forms, including Neu, Ney, Nigh, Neigh and Ny. Nye doesn’t appear with regularity until the 1790s.
Andrew (listed as Andries) was baptized Nov. 26, 1752, at the Dutch Reformed Church in Smithfield in what is now Monroe County, Pa. His parents were listed as Andries Ney and Selli Roos and his sponsors were Cornelis Kuyckendal and his wife, Maritje Westfael. (3)
Before Andrew’s baptism, his father died and his mother remarried. Andreas Neu’s date of death is unknown but, on Feb. 2, 1752, the Smithfield church records list the marriage of “Luer Kuykendal, widower of Lena Consales, to Sara Roos, widow of Andries Ny, both dwelling here.” (4)
In 1749, the Moravian missionary Sven Roseen indicated that Luar Keychendahl lived less than a day’s walk from the home of Andreas Neu and “opposite Manunchus Junc.” This is a reference to Manunka Chunk in Warren County, N.J., on the eastern bank of the Delaware River. Since Luer lived “opposite” the settlement, he probably lived in Pennsylvania in 1749. At some point during the next two decades, the Kuykendal/Nye family moved just across the Delaware to Knowlton Township, N.J. An abstract of New Jersey tax records lists Lewer Kikendol there in 1773 (he appears as Leward Cuikendal in 1774). An Andrew “High” appears as a single male in Knowlton Township in 1773. (5) It is very possible that an “N” was intended and this is our Andrew. The likelihood that this entry refers to Andrew Nye is increased by the fact that “Andrew High” drops from the New Jersey tax records in 1774. That’s the same year in which Andrew Nigh appears in military records from Pittsburgh.
In the mid-1770s, several members of the Kuykendall family moved from New Jersey to the Pittsburgh area. At the time, the area was claimed by both Pennsylvania and Virginia. Each encouraged settlement and established local governments. Virginia divided the area into West Augusta, Ohio and Yohogania counties and Pennsylvania established Westmoreland County. Many settlers favored Virginia because of it allowed more land to be claimed. The Kuykendals obviously favored Virginia since Benjamin Kuykendal, Andrew’s stepbrother, became active in Yohogania County’s government, serving as a justice from 1776 until 1781. Andrew was probably following his stepbrothers to a promising new land when he headed west. Later, Luer and Selli followed the rest of the family.
In 1774, Andrew appears in Pittsburgh records for the first time. Andrew Nigh is listed among the soldiers on the Virginia pay rolls in Pittsburgh during Lord Dunmore’s War. This brief war against the Native Americans is often blamed on Lord Dunmore, who was England’s last governor of Virginia. The war lasted only a few months and saw only one major campaign, which resulted in the defeat of an Indian force composed primarily of Shawnee and Mingo warriors. The campaign’s only major engagement was the Battle of Point Pleasant in October in what is now West Virginia.
During this time, Andrew is listed among the privates in Capt. George Rogers Clark’s company at Pittsburgh. (6) Clark was a correspondent of George Washington’s and became a prominent general in the western theater during the Revolutionary War. In the early 1770s, he was a surveyor and a major proponent of settlement in the Ohio River valley. This occupation brought Clark into conflict with Native Americans who opposed further settlement in the region. As a result, he had a hand in several lethal incidents in early 1774 that helped to spur the sides to war. (7) These incidents preceded the actual conflict and were not related to official militia service, so it seems unlikely – but not impossible – that Andrew was involved in them.
When Lord Dunmore led his troops against the Native Americans, he split his force into two wings. Only the left wing engaged the enemy in the Battle of Point Pleasant. Clark’s “company belonged to the right wing of the army commanded by Lord Dunmore, Governor of Virginia, in person. He was engaged in little if any actual fighting,” according to a Clark biography. (8)
However, Clark – and presumably his company – saw action in a raid that soon followed the main battle. Dunmore ordered Maj. William Crawford to take 240 troops to attack a Mingo town about 40 miles away. The Mingoes had refused to comply with terms of the treaty established after the battle and were said to be planning to gather at the town. “Documentary History of Dunmore’s War, 1774,” says this was “the only offensive action of Dunmore’s division of the army. George Rogers Clark and Joseph Bowman … were members of this party.” (9)
Crawford described the attack in a letter to George Washington, dated Nov. 14, 1774. “We arrived at a town called the Salt-Lick Town the ensuing night, and at daybreak we got around it with one-half our force, and the remainder were sent to a small village half a mile distant. Unfortunately one of our men was discovered by an Indian who lay out from the town some distance by a log which the man was creeping up to. This obliged the man to kill the Indian. This happened before daylight, which did us much damage, as the chief part of the Indians made their escape in the dark; but we got fourteen prisoners, and killed six of the enemy, wounding several more. We got all their baggage and horses, ten of their guns, and 200 [two] white prisoners. The plunder sold for four hundred pounds sterling, besides what was returned to a Mohawk Indian that was there.”
This was a dangerous time for the Virginia settlers south of Pittsburgh. It is described briefly in a history of Peters Creek Baptist Church, where Andrew was a member and later a deacon. “The year 1774 brought trouble by the Indians with murderous raids upon the settlers. Those who lived east of the Monongahela River were not disturbed because the Indians looked upon them as Pennsylvanians against whom they had no hostile feelings. Those west of the river were regarded by the Indians as Virginians against whom they held a number of grievances and they were attacked savagely. Hundreds of these settlers fled eastward over the mountains to safety. A few remained around scattered frontier forts. One writer asserts that more than two hundred people crossed the Monongahela River in one day between Redstone Creek and Cheat River in their flight from the Indians. … The winter of 1774-75 was very severe with heavy falls of snow and very low temperatures.” (10)
About this time, Andrew married a woman named Catherine. According to family tradition, her full name was Catherine Eleanor Burns. Andrew and Catherine are said to have had three children: Sarah, Richard and Eleanor. Sarah and Eleanor appear in Andrew’s will but Richard appears only in sources derived from family tradition and nothing is mentioned other than his birth date. It’s very likely that his birth was recorded in a family Bible and that he died young. (11)
In 1775, Andrew received a certificate from the commonwealth of Virginia for 400 acres of land on Peters Creek, south of Pittsburgh. The Nye family lived in the Peters Creek area for almost 20 years before moving northward to a property that now falls within Ellwood City. However, the Nye homestead probably wasn’t actually on this tract but on another nearby property. In 1777, Andrew received another Virginia certificate for 400 acres, which was identified as being near the Monongahela River. Later records seem to link Andrew more closely with this property – which, interestingly, was actually on Peters Creek rather than the Monongahela. (12)
On May 5, 1776, Andrew Nye signed the covenant of Peters Creek Baptist Church – a congregation that survives today in the town of Library, Pa. This small church was established in 1773 and first met in the homes of its members. Catrina Nye joined her husband in signing the church covenant on May 2, 1777. Andrew became a very active member of the church. He was chosen to be a deacon of the congregation on July 2, 1779. On Jan. 6, 1780, he was one of five men chosen to agree upon a plan to build a house of worship. Histories of the congregation mention that worshippers met in a log building on the property of Frederick Estep, which might have been the structure that resulted from the meeting in January 1780. (13)
It is possible that Andrew obtained a license to preach during this period because the church’s records have the word “license” after his name in a list of members. An Allegheny County history from 1876 appears to bear this out when it states: “Among other early residents appears the names of … Benjamin Kirkendall and Andrew Nye, some of the leading men in after-years. Nye was of German descent and was for many years a Baptist preacher.” (14)
Catherine died within two years of Eleanor’s birth in December 1777. Life on the frontier was very hard and many pioneers – especially women – died of disease, exhaustion and exposure. (15)
In late 1779 or early 1780, Andrew married a woman named Rachel McDonald. According to family tradition, Rachel was born Nov. 10, 1760, and she gave birth to 12 children. Rachel was the daughter of John and Johanna McDonald, who also lived in Peters Township, Washington County, at that time. John’s 1787 will lists Rachel Noy as his oldest daughter and Katrina Noie as an heir who was younger than 18. (16)
The timing of Andrew’s wedding to Rachel caused a stir in the Peters Creek Baptist congregation because Rachel appears to have become pregnant before the couple was married. The date traditionally given for the birth of their daughter Catherine is March 5, 1780. On March 13, the Baptist church record states that the congregation met and “concluded Our Brother Andrew Ny, being brot before the Church Charged with Sleeping with his Wife before he was Maried to her Acnoledges himself to be gilty is sot aside.” This penalty was short-lived because the congregation met again on March 25 and “after prarer Brother Andrew Ny having given full Satisfaction to the Church is restored to his place.” (17)
During this time, Andrew continued to appear in the records of Virginia. The Yohogania County court acknowledged a deed from Isaac Cox to Andrew Nigh on Aug. 23, 1779. Andrew was a member of a grand inquest of an unspecified nature on May 22, 1780. And the court ordered that Andrew serve a lieutenant in the militia on May 23, 1780. (18)
In 1780, Virginia and Pennsylvania resolved their boundary dispute. The area surrounding Pittsburgh – including Andrew’s homestead – was allotted to the Keystone State and the rest of the territory went to Virginia and is now part of West Virginia.
Andrew does not appear to have moved much during the two decades he spent on Peters Creek but the territory changed names around him twice. This must be remembered when examining the records related to the family’s time in the Pittsburgh area. First, Andrew was listed in Yohogania County, Va. After the resolution of the boundary dispute, Andrew’s property fell within Peters Township of Washington County, Pa., which was created in 1781. When Allegheny County was formed from part of Washington County in 1788, the property fell within Mifflin Township. In the two centuries since then, the name of the township has changed twice. From the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, it was called Snowden Township. In 1966, it was renamed South Park Township.
In 1781, tax lists indicate that Andrew owned 300 acres in Peters Township, Washington County. He also owned three horses and two cows. (19)
The record of Andrew’s military service during the Revolutionary War also is divided between Virginia and Pennsylvania. He served in the militia in both Yohogania County and in Washington County.
On the frontier, the militia’s primary duty was protecting settlements against raids by Native Americans. While the Indians were angered by the settlers’ encroachment on their lands, they also were stirred to action by the British and their sympathizers, such as the infamous Simon Girty. Indian raids on settlements and individual homes meant scalping, kidnapping and torture. Militia units patrolled the frontier in search of raiding parties, responded to raids and sometimes went on expeditions against Native American villages. During these expeditions, the settlers often resorted to the sort of savagery that they blamed on the Indians.
As noted above, the Yohogania County court “Ordered that Thos. Rigdon, Lieut, Andw. Nigh, proper person, [be named] as Lieuts. of Militia” on May 23, 1780. (20)
Generally, a militia officer was elected by the unit’s soldiers, which means he had to be popular and – presumably – able to lead men in battle against Indians. A lieutenant was the second in command of a company, which usually consisted of about 30 men. Since Andrew’s name was preceded by the title “Lieut.” in the Yohogania County record, he probably had served in that capacity in the past.
After being appointed lieutenant, Andrew doesn’t appear in further military records until 1782, when he starts appearing on Pennsylvania’s militia rolls. Andrew probably continued to serve in the Virginia militia until the Peters Creek area was fully integrated into Pennsylvania. However, we cannot be certain about this because detailed Virginia militia rolls do not exist for the Pittsburgh area.
At any rate, Andrew appears as a private in Capt. William Bruce’s company in the second battalion of the militia of Washington County, Pa., in 1782. (21) This appears to have been a simple transfer of a Virginia unit to Pennsylvania’s control because four of his unit’s members had been appointed officers in the Yohogania County militia on the same day as Andrew. In the transition, Bruce maintained his rank as captain but the other three are listed as privates, perhaps losing their officer status because of an influx of “Pennsylvanians” into the unit. (22)
Although it was almost a year after the surrender of the English force at Yorktown, no peace treaty existed in the summer of 1782 and hostilities were still under way on the frontier. Andrew was called to serve in the Washington County militia at least twice – June 14 and Sept. 15, 1782. The first date follows the stunning defeat of Col. William Crawford’s expedition against the Native American villages on the Sandusky River in what is now Ohio. The settlers feared the Indians would follow their victory over the American forces with attacks on Pennsylvania. The second date corresponds with Indian raids on settlements in Washington County. (23) Even after the Revolution, the Indians continued to be seen as a threat to settlers in western Pennsylvania until 1794, when they were vanquished by troops under Gen. Anthony Wayne.
During the spring of the previous year, controversy erupted in the settlements around Pittsburgh concerning the military situation. Andrew Nye – as well as two of his half-brothers, James and Abram Kuykendall, and his father-in-law, John McDonald – appears among the signers of a petition to the Pennsylvania executive council complaining about “the uncommon Stretches of power uniformly pursued and now adopted, by Colonel Brodhead Commanding in this Department.” The petition asks that Col. Daniel Brodhead and his quartermaster be replaced, citing rights violations, corruption by the quartermaster and neglect of the area’s defenses. The petition sprang from a dispute between Brodhead and a large number of his officers, led by Col. John Gibson. Brodhead ordered Gibson arrested on Aug. 30. On Sept. 17, Gen. George Washington ordered Brodhead to resign and placed Gibson in command of Fort Pitt until Brodhead’s replacement could arrive. (24)
Following the Revolution, Andrew appears in a string of property and tax records in Peters Township, Washington County. As noted above, Andrew was taxed for 300 acres, 3 horses and 2 cows in 1781. Over the next few years, it appears that Andrew bought and sold land and gained and lost livestock. In 1783, he was taxed for 400 acres, 2 horses, 4 cows and 2 sheep. In 1785, he was taxed for 400 acres, 3 horses and 2 cows. And in 1788, he was taxed for 350 acres, 3 horses and a cow. (25)
It appears the main portion of Andrew’s property was the tract of land along Peters Creek, which he had named “Ticonderoga.” The reason for selecting this name has not come down to us. Later deeds tell us that “Ticonderoga” covered 319 acres, 26 perches. It appears that this was part of the 400-acre tract identified as being near the Monongahela River for which Andrew received a certificate from Virginia in 1777 and a patent from Pennsylvania in 1803. Later deeds specifically state that this tract was “situate on the waters of Peters Creek” and it is not particularly close to the Monongahela River, but date mentioned in later deeds – April 1803 – corresponds with the date on the Pennsylvania warrant for the “Monongahela” tract. As an indication of how slowly the wheels of government turned for those who sought to convert their Virginia certificates to Pennsylvania patents, Andrew’s “Ticonderoga” was surveyed in pursuance of the matter on Oct. 4, 1788, and it took another 15 years for the patent to be approved. (26) The land lies in what is now eastern South Park Township, Allegheny County.
When Allegheny County was formed in 1788, the Nye homestead fell within the boundaries of the newly created Mifflin Township. However, it appears to have taken a little time for the new county’s government to get up and running.
In early 1789, Andrew’s step-father Luer Kuykendall died and the Washington County court selected Andrew as the administrator of the estate. “Lewis” didn’t name an executor in his will even though he had several sons living in the area. It’s possible that the court selected Andrew since his mother was to receive much of the estate. (27)
Luer’s will was proved and letters of administration were granted to Andrew on June 13, 1789. Interestingly, only a few days earlier, Andrew purchased property from Luer’s son James. On June 4, Andrew paid 11 pounds in Pennsylvania money to James Kuykendall and his wife Christian for 43 acres, part of a tract named “Quibblehood.” The transaction is recorded in the new Allegheny County’s deed books but the land and both parties are listed as being in Peters Township, Washington County. A map showing the early property boundaries indicates that Andrew’s “Ticonderoga” and James’ “Quibblehood” abutted. (28)
When the 1790 U.S. Census was taken, Andw Nye is listed in the “Portion of Allegheny County, Pa., taken from Washington County.” His household contained one male of 16 years and upward, one male under 16 years and 7 females. The number of females seems to indicate that Andrews mother was living with his family. The number of males is hard to explain unless some were living elsewhere or a mistake was made.
In 1791, Andrew Nye paid 10 shillings, 10 pence in taxes for property owned in Mifflin Township, Allegheny County. He also appears among Mifflin Township taxables in 1794 (29)
In April 1792, Pennsylvania passed an act that opened land north of Pittsburgh for settlement. Andrew was among the first to take advantage of this opportunity. In August 1792, he began establishing a homestead on a tract of land about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, according to an affidavit filed with Pennsylvania’s land office. Because of this affidavit Andrew is regarded as the first white settler on the banks of the Connoquenessing – the site of what is now Ellwood City, which straddles the boundary between Beaver and Lawrence counties. (30)
Much of what we know about Andrew’s settlement here comes from his effort to ensure he had clear title to the land. Apparently, a man named John Hoge – referred to as an “an old land jobber” in a later record – filed a claim for the same land and had the land surveyed on Dec. 4, 1792, in pursuance of a warrant. However, he never settled on the property nor had anyone make improvements. Andrew argued that this made Hoge ineligible under the provisions of the 1792 land act.
The supporting paperwork in the case describes the applicant and property as follows: “Andrew Nye of Beaver county, farmer, applies for a tract of four hundred acres of land in the fork of Connoquenessing and Slippery Rock creeks adjoining to land settled by Isaac Hazen and land of the Washington academy in the township of North Sewickley and county aforesaid.”
Two Beaver County justices of the peace reported that Andrew Nigh appeared before then on March 27, 1805, and swore to the following account of his settlement. Andrew started improving the land in August 1792, when he deadened trees to mark his claim. In the autumn of 1793, he built a cabin on the property. Over the next two and a half years, he “continued to improve thereon at different times,” probably an indication that he visited the new tract only when work wasn’t pressing at his farm in Mifflin Township. In the spring of 1796, Andrew finally “commenced his actual settlement thereon.” After that, he “cleared, fenced and cultivated at least twenty acres of land.” The account says that he built a dwelling 24 feet by 14 feet – possibly the cabin mentioned earlier – and other buildings. Henry and Daniel Kuykendall appeared as witnesses to support Andrew’s account. Henry is listed as a son in Luer’s will but Daniel is not mentioned.
Despite this effort, it appears that Andrew failed to win his argument. A pair of deeds seem to indicate that he still had to purchase all or some of this property a few years later. In October 1808, Hoge sold 439 acres that was on Connoquenessing Creek “by land now said to be the property of Andrew Nye” to Enoch Wright. In 1814, Wright sold part of the tract – 343 acres – to Andrew Nye. The property is described as “on the waters of the Connoquenessing creek, whereof whereon Andrew Nye now lives, it being part of the same tract of land that the said Enoch Wright bought of John Hoge, the old land jobber.” (31)
Even after the Nyes moved north, they continued to hold on to “Ticonderoga” while they waited for the patent to be approved. In 1798, federal tax records list Andrew Nigh as the owner of a property in Mifflin Township, though Courtland King is listed as the occupant. The property covered 360 acres and contained one dwelling house. It seems most likely that Andrew rented the property to King. (32)
The first record that lists Andrew in Sewickley Township is the Pennsylvania state census of 1800, when the area was still part of Allegheny County. Interestingly, the census lists Andrew Nigh’s occupation as stonecutter. (33)
By the time the federal census was taken later that year, Beaver County had been established so Andrew’s household is listed in that county. The household of Andrew Nigh in Sewickley Township contained 10 people: 2 males under age 10, 2 males ages 10-15, 1 male 16-25, 1 male over 45, 1 female under 10, 1 females 10-15, 1 female 16-25 and 1 female 26-44.
In 1802, Andrew appears in the list of taxable residents of Sewickley Township. He was taxed for 400 acres, three cows and one yoke of oxen. The 1803 tax list shows Andrew had acquired another 100 acres and a horse in the intervening year. The 1815 tax lists show Andrew owned 300 acres, a horse, two cows and yoke of oxen. (34)
In 1803, the Nyes finally received the patent for “Ticonderoga” and they began selling it off in pieces. In 1804, they sold 53 acres to Benjamin Bogard for $287.66. In 1805, they sold 100 acres to Courtland King – the man who lived on the property in 1798 – for $600. And in 1810, they sold 18 to David Morrow for $188.81. (35)
In these transactions, Andrew signed his name and Rachel made her mark, usually an indication that someone could not write.
The Nyes also continued to buy and sell property in Beaver County. This is evident from their changing tax bill. One of their purchases was 97 acres in North Sewickley Township. They bought the tract from Mary Hazen on Oct. 1, 1807. (36)
The 1810 Census lists Andrew Nye in North Sewickley Township, Beaver County, with a household containing one male under age 10, one male age 10-16, one male age 16-26, one male age 45 or older, one female 10-16 and one female age 45 or older.
In the 1820 Census, Andw Nigh is listed under North Sewickley Township. His household contained 2 males under age 10, 1 male 10-15, 1 male 16-18, 2 males 16-25, 1 male 26-44, 1 male 45 or older, 1 female under 10, 1 female 45 or older. Given the ages of the residents, it seems likely that one of Andrew’s adult sons was living in the household and raising a family.
An unusually large number of stories about Andrew and Rachel Nye have come down to us. Most were probably passed along orally for generation before being written down. Most should be approached with a degree of skepticism, but many seem to have a nugget of truth.
The earliest source that appears to be based on family tradition “Book of Biographies; Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens of Lawrence County, Pennsylvania,” which was compiled in 1897. It includes sketches on Nathaniel and Dan Nye that offer a few tidbits about Andrew’s life. (37)
The items, which mirror each other, state: “Our subject’s grandparents, Andrew Rose and Rachel (McDonald) Nye, came to this section of the State from Philadelphia, and after living for some little time at Peter’s Creek removed to Lawrence County, where they received a patent for four hundred acres of new land. They built thereon in 1793 a log-house near the site of the Presbyterian Church and lived many years to prosper and to delight in their splendid family of children. …
“Our subject’s grandfather, Andrew, lived in a log-house, where the residence of brick and frame now stands, and when he made his settlement there were only two families in the vicinity for miles and miles, and they were the Renyons and Hazens. Mrs. Nye was often left in the log-house with the children when her husband went to work, and quite frequently was she forced to fire a rifle off, to frighten off the wolves, who were prowling about, and prevent them from molesting the place.”
In 1922, the funeral notice of Andrew’s great-granddaughter, Margaret Main, contained a brief account of Andrew’s life in Western Pennsylvania. (38) It says that Margaret “was the daughter of the late Dan and Mary A. Nye and the great granddaughter of Rev. Andrew Nye the first settler on the site of Ellwood City. The latter’s nearest neighbor was in Beaver at that time.
“It was in 1778 that Rev. Nye settled in the land east of Fourth street this city. He came here in an ox cart by way of the Indian trail from Fort Montour which was located on the present site of Coraopolis. He and his family crossed the Ohio river at Logtown, came up Crow’s Run crossing at Bruch Creek. Arriving at the present site of the waterworks he went up Duck Run to Boiling Springs, now Spring stop on the Harmony line then to Moravia and finally to Elwood City. At Moravia he visited his old friend Rev. Hingenwelder who had a mission for the Delaware Indians at that place which was then known as Beavertown.”
Overall the basic account is sound, though the family settled on the site of Ellwood City far later than 1778 and their path to that destination seems a bit meandering as it’s described here. However, this is one of the few family sources that mentions Andrew’s role as a preacher. In addition, the reference to “Rev. Hingenwelder” is of interest. This is was undoubtedly a reference to the Moravian preacher John Heckenwelder, who traveled around the region north of Pittsburgh and did have a mission with the Delaware Indians at Beaver Town. The fact that he was an “old friend” of this Moravian missionary is interesting since his father Andreas Neu was close with a Moravian missionary before Andrew’s birth.
Other tales concern Rachel. One interesting account was provided to the New Castle News by William McChesney of New Galiliee and printed in the newspaper in 1994. (39)
“Many stories have come down through the years to give us a picture of the lives of these early settlers and Granny Nye (nee Rachel McDonald) is the subject of several.
“It is difficult to imagine wolves howling about the area that is now Pittsburgh Circle, Ellwood City, but it was on that spot that Granny Nye shot many of them after luring them within shooting distance by placing bits of food or bacon rind near the cabin.
“In those days people had many superstitious ideas about the nature and cure for various diseases. Granny Nye had a black cat which was believed to have mystic powers, and the blood from its tail was a sure cure for shingles. The cure was to cut off a small piece of the appendage and rub it on the affected part. It is said that people came from long distances for this magic cure, and though the cat lived to a ripe old age before it died, its tail had almost entirely disappeared.”
Many descendants of Andrew Nye continue to live in northern Beaver County. In the 1930s, members of the family compiled a genealogy, which unfortunately speculated that the family was linked to the Nyes of Cape Cod, Mass., instead of Andreas Neu. This genealogy is mentioned in a story in the New Castle News about the 1938 family reunion. The story, which is datelined from Ellwood City, says: “Of the nine children of Andrew Nye, descendants of eight attended the reunion. Of interest to the members was a bible dated 1698 belonging to Andrew Nye and displayed by Mrs. Helen Nye Cook. A genealogy of the family has been completed and will be distributed to members of the family and a copy has been placed in the local library.” (40)
The mention of the ancient Bible is very intriguing. Presumably, it is the source for many of the dates and names that appear in family source but not in official records from the 18th century. It seems likely the Bible was printed in English. If it were printed in German, it seems likely that would have been mentioned in the newspaper article – and it would have quashed any idea a link to the English Nyes of Massachusetts. If the Bible was in English, it probably didn’t come into the family’s possession until several decades after it was printed. Perhaps Andrew acquired it when he was being licensed as a Baptist preacher. I am not aware of the Bible’s current whereabouts or owners.
While they lived in Beaver County, the Nye family might have worshipped at Providence Baptist Church in North Sewickley Township. The congregation was established in 1801 and was one of the earliest Baptist churches in Western Pennsylvania. Andrew and Rachel are buried in the cemetery beside the church.
Andrew died March 1, 1821. (41)
When Andrew wrote his will on Feb. 3 – less than a month before he died – he said he was very weak in body but sounds of mind. Andrew bequeathed one-third of his real and personal estate to Rachel and gave the bulk of his real estate to Jordan, Andrew and Thomas. Most of the other children received $200 each. (42)
Rachel died Dec. 16, 1847. (43)
(1) Andrew’s birth date comes from his tombstone at Providence Baptist Church in North Sewickley Township in Beaver County, Pa. Parents and date listed in “Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society,” page 101. Andrew is profiled in “A Genealogy of American Nyes of German Origin, Vol. II,” by L. Bert Nye Jr., page 4. This is a very good expansion of research done by Charles W. Nye of Ellwood City in the 1930s. (2) Children’s names – except those of Richard, Mary, Margaret and Daniel – and married names of females are listed in Andrew’s will in Beaver County Will Book A, page 157. The birth dates of all and the names of Richard, Mary, Margaret and Daniel come from “American Nyes.” It seems likely that the original source for this information was a family Bible of Andrew’s that is mentioned in newspaper articles about Nye family reunions in the 1930s. The names and birth dates of all of the children, except Sarah, are also listed in “Book of Biographies, Lawrence County,” pages 159-160, which was published in 1897. However, the birth date of Thomas is listed as Aug. 30 and it must be noted that the source in question is inaccurate in at least one other detail. The surnames of the daughters’ husbands are listed in Andrew’s will. Their first names are in “American Nyes,” and are confirmed in census records and cemetery information available at Findagrave.com. (3) The baptism appears in “Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society,” page 101. (4) The marriage appears in “Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society,” page 95. (5) Roseen’s account appears in “The Dansbury Diaries: Moravian Travel Diaries, 1748-1755, of the Reverend Sven Roseen and Others in the Area of Dansbury, Now Stoudsburg, Pa.,” by Ralf R. Hillman, Picton Press, Camden, Maine, 1994, page 76. The tax records appear in “New Jersey Rateables, 1773-1774,” The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey, Vol. 40, page 131. (6) “Virginia’s Colonial Soldiers,” by Lloyd Bockstruck, page 146. (7) “The Indian Wars of Pennsylvania,” by C. Hale Sipe, pages 489-492. The “lethal incidents” included a skirmish during an April surveying mission led by Clark. As a result of this incident, Clark’s group “declared war” on the Indians and killed several in the area. After Clark and others left the group, its remaining members attacked and murdered relatives of the peaceful Chief Logan, prompting the Indian leader to fight against the settlers during Lord Dunmore’s War. A few years later, during the Revolutionary War, Clark was promoted to general and led a number of notable campaigns against the Native Americans and their British allies. (8) “History of George Rogers Clark’s Conquest of the Illinois and the Wabash Towns 1778 and 1779,” by Consul W. Butterfield, Ohio Historical Society, 1904, page 4. (9) Information on the attack comes from two letters written soon afterward. “Documentary History of Dunmore’s War, 1774,” by Reuben G. Thwaites and Louise P. Kellogg, Wisconsin Historical Society, 1905, page 303. “The Washington-Crawford Letters,” edited by Consul W. Butterfield, 1877, page 55-56. (10) The account of the strife appears in a booklet titled “175th Anniversary Peters Creek Baptist Church,” which was compiled in 1948. The history of the congregation appears on the church’s website – www.peterscreekbaptist.com. (11) Catherine’s name is virtually absent in sources outside family tradition. She appears in records of Peters Creek Baptist Church as Catrina Nye, who signed the church covenant in 1777, and as Catharine, who is listed beneath Andrew Nye in a list of early members. “Early Records and Cemetery Records of Peters Creek Baptist Church; Library, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania; Organized 1773,” compiled by the Bethel Fife and Drum Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, page 4. Family tradition is in “American Nyes,” among other secondary sources. (12) The certificates are mentioned in “Records of Washington County (PA) Yohogania County (VA) and Ohio County (VA),” by Raymond M. Bell and Jean S. Morris, page 65. Both transactions are mentioned, without dates, in “Pennsylvania Archives Series 3, Vol. III,” page 528. They are listed under “Nugh,” which is certainly a transcriber’s confusion of “Neigh” written in cursive style. The name Nugh doesn’t appear in any other records from western Pennsylvania or Virginia. (13) The church activities are listed in “Peters Creek Baptist Church,” pages 4, 6, 8 and 132. (14) The mention of Andrew being a Baptist preacher appears in a profile of Snowden Township account appears in “History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania,” by Samuel W. Durant, Philadelphia, 1876, page 154. It seems that family tradition practically forgot Andrew’s role as a preacher. I’ve seen two references to the matter in family sources: the 1922 funeral notice of Margaret Mains, which is discussed below; and a passage in “The Hazen Family in America,” by Tracy E. Hazen, Thomaston, Conn., 1947, page 458. The Hazen history mentions that Smith M. Hazen married “Mary Ann Nye, born in North Sewickly, daughter of Andrew Rose and Sarah (Seth) Nye, and granddaughter of Rev. Andrew and Rachel (McDonald) Nye.” (15) “Pioneer Life in Western Pennsylvania,” by J.E. Wright and Doris S. Corbett. (16) Rachel’s traditional birth date is in “American Nyes.” John McDonald’s will is in Allegheny County Will Book 1, page 63-64. (17) “Peters Creek Baptist Church,” page 6. (18) “Records of the District of West Augusta, Ohio County and Yohogania County, Va.,” pages 356, 411 and 418. (19) “Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Vol. XXII,” page 760. This source actually says Andrew was taxed for 30 acres. However, images of the original tax records available at “Pennsylvania, Tax and Exoneration, 1768-1801,” at Ancestry.com, clearly state that Andrew was taxed for 300 acres. Since the name, place, date and other numbers match exactly, it appears that the “30” is a mistake. (20) “Records of the District of West Augusta, Ohio County and Yohogania County, Va.,” page 418. (21) “Pennsylvania Archives, Series 6, Vol. II,” page 48. (22) “Records of the District of West Augusta, Ohio County and Yohogania County, Va.,” page 418. The other two “demoted” officers were Joshuah Carman, ensign, and James McMahon, lieutenant. (23) “The Indian Wars of Pennsylvania,” page 729. (24) The petition is recorded in “Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio, 1779-1781,” by Louise Phelps Kellogg, pages 363-370. The general outline of the dispute and its impact comes from “The Indian Wars of Pennsylvania,” pages 860-861, and “Fort McIntosh: Its Times and Men,” by Daniel Agnew, page 25. This book was written in 1893. (25) The tax records appear in “Pennsylvania, Tax and Exoneration, 1768-1801,” at Ancestry.com. (26) The property appears in several deeds as Andrew sold off portions of the tract during the early 1800s. It is most fully described in Allegheny County Deed Book 17, page 2. The survey date appears in “Allegheny County 1763 to 1914 Land Surveys,” by Pennsylvania General Assembly, 1914. The patent was recorded in Book 51, page 18. (27) Luer Kuykendall’s estate is mentioned in “Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania Publications, Vol. 6,” page 144. (28) Allegheny County Deed Book 3, page 5, provided by James Nye of St. Francis, Minn. The map is of the defunct Snowden Township in “Allegheny County 1763 to 1914 Land Surveys,” by Pennsylvania General Assembly, 1914. (29) The 1791 tax list is in “Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Vol. XXII,” page 649. The 1794 tax list is in “A General List of the Taxables in Allegheny County Sept. 22, 1794,” compiled by Elizabeth J. Wall, page 8. (30) The affidavit and related paperwork is transcribed in a newspaper article headlined “Old Land Titles in Lawrence County,” in the New Castle News’ edition of May 15, 1914. (31) The deeds are transcribed in a booklet that records the histories of the properties that made up the core of Ellwood City. It is titled “Brief of Title to Nine Contiguous Tracts of Land, Situate in Lawrence and Beaver Counties, containing about 435 acres, more or less, Belonging to The Pittsburgh Company and On which properties is located the Recorded Plot of Ellwood City.” The transactions involving Andrew’s property appear on pages 44-49. This work refers to Beaver County Deed Book B, page 488, and Deed Book 3, page 30. (32) The tax records appear at “Pennsylvania, U.S. Direct Tax Lists, 1798,” Ancestry.com. (33) The census appears in “Pennsylvania, Septennial Census, 1779-1863,” at Ancestry.com. (34) 1802 comes from “Complete Index of Remaining Tax Records, Beaver County, Pa., 1802-1840,” page 6. 1803 comes from “Gleanings, Beaver County Genealogical Society, PA Vol. XIV No. 2/3.” 1815 comes from that year’s list as posted on the Beaver County Genealogical Society’s Internet site. (35) The deeds selling portions of “Ticonderoga” appear in Allegheny County Deed Book 12, page 276; Deed Book 13, page 91; and Deed Book 17, page 2. The Allegheny County deeds mention that Ticonderoga was originally surveyed Sept. 15, 1784 and March 7, 1785, as recorded in Patent Book 51, page 18. Copies of these deeds were provided by James Nye of St. Francis, Minn. (36) Beaver County, Pa., Deed Book B2, pages 172-173, as recorded in “Abstracts of Beaver County, Pennsylvania Deed Book B2, 1806-1810,” compiled by Brencha M. Wallace, 2002, pages 24-25. (37) “Book of Biographies; Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County, Pennsylvania,” by the Biographical Publishing Co., pages 159-160 for Nathaniel and page 293 for Dan. These biographies also are available on the Lawrence County, Pa., Roots Web Internet site at: ww.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/pa/lawrence/1897/ (38) The funeral notice is “Mrs. Main’s Funeral To Be Held Thursday,” New Castle News, edition of Feb. 28, 1922, which is available at Ancestry.com. (39) “Area family: Some tales and a cat’s tail,” New Castle News, edition of Feb. 15, 1994. (40) “Nye Families At Con-E-Que,” New Castle News, edition of Aug. 29, 1938. (41) Andrew’s death date comes from tombstone. (42) Andrew’s will is in Beaver County Will Book A, page 157, was made up on Feb. 5, 1821 and proved on Aug. 27, 1821. (43) Rachel’s death date comes from “American Nyes.”
MICHAEL and ANN NYE
Michael Nye was born Aug. 2, 1785 in western Pennsylvania to Andrew and Rachel (McDonald) Nye. (1)
Married Ann Peirsol on Dec. 15, 1807 by Stephen Runyan, a justice of the peace in Beaver County, Pa. (2) Ann was born in 1787 to Sampson and Susannah (Custard) Peirsol. (3)
Andrew Avory Nye, born June 10, 1809.
Samson Stilly Nye, born Nov. 4, 1810.
Benjamin Caster Nye, born Sept. 3, 1812.
Susannah Nye, born Aug. 11, 1814. Married Michael Grimm.
Rachel Nye, born Aug. 26, 1816. Married Hiram Wallace.
Ann Nye, born Oct. 3, 1818. Married James Stewart.
Michael Mordicai Nye, born June 6, 1821.
Jordon Camelford Nye, born July 15, 1823.
Maximelia Nye, born Jan. 3, 1826. Married William Mace.
Elenora Nye, born Jan. 19, 1828. Married James VanEtten.
Ruth Nye, born Oct. 6, 1832 and died Aug. 20, 1849.
Jacob Cyrus Nye, born Jan. 21, 1836.
Michael was a farmer and one source says he was a Baptist minister. (5) Although I have been unable to confirm any relationship with the church, he probably at least attended Providence Baptist Church, where he, his wife and his parents are buried. The church in North Sewickley Township was the first Baptist church in Beaver County. It was founded in 1801 in a log cabin by a group of 21 pioneers.
He also served as a teacher in one of the small frontier schools that were scattered across Beaver County at that time. (6)
Michael also served as constable of North Sewickley Township in Beaver County, beginning in 1807. (7)
It is possible that Michael owned a mill on his property because in 1809, Beaver County received a request for the construction of a “road past Nye’s Mill on Connoquenessing Creek.” The first order to view was to Michael Nye. One of those appointed to view the proposed site was Michael’s father-in-law Sampson Peirsol, Esq. However, new viewers were appointed and the new order to view was to Jordan Nye, Michael’s brother. Perhaps the officials saw a conflict of interest. The road was not approved. (8)
In the 1810 Census, Michael Nye’s household is listed as containing two males under age 10, one male age 16-26 and one female 16-26.
During the War of 1812, Michael served as a sergeant in the militia. The Beaver County militia was called into service only once during the war, when the British threatened Lake Erie in 1814. Michael was a sergeant in Capt. Armstrong Drennan’s company, First Battalion, 26th Regiment. The expedition lasted from Feb. 16 to March 22. (9)
Following the war, Michael farmed in what later became Marion Township, Beaver County. The North Sewickley tax list for 1815 shows Michael owned 100 acres, a horse and a cow. (10)
In the 1840 Census of North Sewickley Township, Beaver County, Michael’s household is listed as containing one male under age 5, two males 15-19, one male 50-59, one female 5-9, two females 10-14, two females 20-29 and one female 50-59.
The 1850 Census of Marion Township, Beaver County, records that Ann Nye, Michael’s widow, owned $4,000 worth of land, which were farmed by her son Jordan, 27. Her household also contained her son Jacob 14; Susan Grim, 35, her daughter; and Ann M. Mace, 5, probably her granddaughter, the daughter of Maximelia.
The Marion Township tax records for 1846 to 1850 list Michael Nye’s widow as paying taxes and the records for 1848 to 1850 list Jordan as a single male. (11)
Michael died April 3, 1844 and Ann died Nov. 9, 1876. They are buried at Providence Baptist Church in North Sewickley Township in Beaver County. (12)
(1) Michael is listed as a son and heir in Andrew Nye’s will in Beaver County Providence Baptist Church in North Sewickley Township in Beaver County Will Book A, page 157. His tombstone, which was replaced by a local veterans group in the 1970s, says he was born in 1785 and died in 1844. The tombstone is at. Michael is listed in “A Genealogy of American Nyes of German Origin, Vol. II,” page 18. (2) Wedding date is recorded in Ann’s application for land due to Michael because of his service in the War of 1812. This is in the National Archives. (3) Ann is listed as a daughter and heir in Sampson Peirsol’s will in Beaver County Will Book B, page 303. Birth year is based on her age as listed on her tombstone. “American Nyes” says she was born May 1, 1759, which is an error. (4) Except for Sampson Stilly Nye, the names, dates and spouses comes from “American Nyes.” I have been unable to locate a primary source listing any of Michael’s children except Sampson, who is specifically mentioned as a son of Michael in the will of Sampson Peirsol in Beaver County Will Book B, page 303. Peirsol was Sampson S. Nye’s other grandfather. A Ruth Nye is buried in the same cemetery as Michael and Ann. She died Aug. 20, 1849 at age 17, which would correspond with the information from “American Nyes.” A Jacob C. Nye, who was born in 1836, also is buried there. This cemetery information is from the Beaver County Genealogical Society’s Internet site, which is based on information originally published in the society’s “Gleanings,” Vol. XVI, No. 1, September 1991. While I have not found any primary documents that specifically link Michael to most of his children, many of the basic facts are confirmed by census records and cemetery listings at Findagrave.com. (5) Minister information comes from a story about the Nye family in the Ellwood City Ledger, July 5, 1984.. (6) Transcript of speech by Prof. Scudder H. Peirsol on the early teacher of Beaver County. The speech is recorded in “History of Beaver County Pennsylvania and the Centennial Celebration,” by the Rev. Joseph H. Bausman, page 1157. (7) “History of Beaver County, Pa.,” page 127. (8) “Road Docket 1, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, February 1804 – Oct 1821,” compiled by Helen G. Clear, et al., page 17. (9) Land bounty application filed by Ann Nye in National Archives, “History of Beaver County, Pa.,” pages 285 to 288, and “Pennsylvania Archives, Series 6, Vol. X,” page 132. However, the “Pennsylvania Archives” listing says he was a corporal. (10) From North Sewickley Tax Lists 1815, as posted on the Beaver County Genealogical Society’s Internet site. (11) “Tax Records 1841-1850 Beaver County, Pennsylvania,” by Helen G. Clear and Mae H. Winne, page 3. (12) Michael’s date of death comes from land application. Ann’s comes from her tombstone at Providence Baptist Church.
SAMPSON and RUTH NYE
Sampson Stilly Nye was born Nov. 4, 1810 in Beaver County, Pa., to Michael and M. Ann (Peirsol) Nye. (1)
Married his cousin Ruth Peirsol on April 16, 1835. Ruth was born Nov. 4, 1816 in western Pennsylvania, to Jacob and Rachel Peirsol. (2) Ann Nye and Jacob Peirsol were sister and brother.
Michael Peirsol Nye, born Jan. 18, 1836.
Jacob G. Nye, born May 24, 1837.
Sampson Peirsol Nye, born Aug. 16, 1838 and died Aug. 22, 1839.
Tobias Stilly Nye, born Nov. 8, 1839.
Andrew Nye, born Dec. 1, 1841.
Samson Nye, born April 7, 1842.
Hiram Nye, born May 26, 1843.
Benjamin Nye, born Aug. 9, 1844.
Jordon Nye, born Jan. 4, 1846.
Jeremiah Nye, born April 9, 1847 and died Oct. 10, 1853.
Rachel Nye, born Oct. 20, 1848 and died Dec. 4, 1848.
Annie Nye, born Nov. 1, 1849 and died Sept. 15, 1877. (3)
Four of the sons served in the Civil War. Tobias served in Company H of the 9th Pennsylvania Reserve, 38th Regiment from July 19, 1861 to Dec.10, 1862, when he received a discharge under a surgeon’s certificate. He had been wounded at Glendale, June 30, 1862. Jacob served 16 months in Company A of the 29th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Hiram served three months in Company E of the 146th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. And Benjamin served 100 days in Company I of the 193rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. (4)
In 1838, Sampson purchased a tract of land in Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa., and, in 1842, acquired another small parcel from his grandfather, Sampson Peirsol, “for the affection that I have to my Grand Son and the consideration of one Dollar to me in hand paid by Samson S. Nye.” (5)
In the 1840 Census of North Sewickley Township, Beaver County, the household of Sampson S. Nye is listed as containing three males under age 5, one male 20-29 and one females 20-29.
Sampson was a farmer and served as Beaver County surveyor from 1845 to 1850. (6) He is listed as county surveyor in the Marion Township tax records for 1846 to 1849. (7)
Sampson died March 4, 1850. The cause of death is listed as diarrhea. (8)
The 1850 Census of Franklin Township, Beaver county, lists Ruth Nye as the owner of real estate valued at $4,000. Her household contained Michael, 14; Jacob, 13; Tobias S., 11; Samson, 9; Hiram, 8; Benjamin, 6; Jordan, 4; Jeremiah, 3; and Anna 8 months.
In the 1870 Census, Rush is listed as living in the household of her son Jacob in Franklin Township. Jacob is listed as a farm laborer with personal property valued at $200. Ruth is listed as owning $5,000 worth of real estate and $50 in personal property. The household also contained Ruth daughter Anna and a 14-year-old girl named Margaret Ravel.
In 1890 tax records for Franklin Township, Mrs. Sampson Nye was for one acre, a house and lot. (9)
Ruth died May 30, 1897. (10) The Nyes are buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Beaver County, near Ellwood City.
(1) Date comes from Sampson’s tombstone at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Beaver County, near Ellwood City. Parents identified in grandfather Sampson Peirsol’s will, Beaver County Will Book B, page 303. Parents also listed in “A Genealogy of American Nyes of German Origin, Vol. II,” page 31. In addition, Sampson is called the “Grand Son” of Sampson Peirsol when Peirsol sold Sampson 12 acres in North Sewickley Township, Beaver County, for $1 on March 17, 1842, as recorded in Beaver County Deed Book U, page 472. (2) Ruth is listed as the daughter of Jacob Peirsol and wife of Sampson S. Nye in Beaver County Deed Book 27, page 137, which records the sale of land by Jacob’s heirs to Ruth for $1 on April 13, 1853. Birth date comes from tombstone at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, which was primarily a Peirsol family cemetery. (3) Birth dates come from a New Testament in which the family recorded events. This is in my possession. (4) Tobias’ service is listed in “History of Beaver County, Pa.,” by A. Warner & Co., page 312. The wounding is mentioned in “History of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, and It’s Centennial Celebration,” by Joeseph H. Bausman, page 533. The service of Hiram and Benjamin is mentioned in the 1890 U.S. veterans census. Hiram lived in Enon Valley, Lawrence County, Pa., and Benjamin lived in Franklin Township, Beaver County. Jacob’s service is mentioned in “American Nyes.” (5) Beaver County Deed Books 84, page 289, and U, page 472. (6) “History of Beaver County, Pa.,” page 136. (7) “Tax Records 1841-1850, Beaver County, Pennsylvania” by Helen G. Clear and Mae H. Winne, page 3. (8) Date comes from tombstone and from the New Testament that served as the family Bible. The cause of death comes from “Pennsylvania 1850 Mortality.” His will is dated May 10, 1850 in Beaver County Will Book C, page 201. Ruth’s will is in Will Book K, page 475. (9) “Eastside Beaver County Tax Records 1890,” by Helen G. Clear and Mae H. Winne, Publishers of Beaver County Records, 1998, page 3. (10) Tombstone at Mount Pleasant Cemetery and Beaver County Register’s Docket No. 7, page 332.
MICHAEL and HARRIET NYE
Michael Peirsol Nye was born Jan. 8, 1836 in Beaver County, Pa., to Sampson Stilly and Ruth (Peirsol) Nye. (1)
Married Harriet Hartzel on Aug. 19, 1862. Harriet was born Feb. 24, 1844 in Pennsylvania to George and Charlotte (Stamm) Hartzel. (2)
Ruth Peirsol Nye, born Nov. 30, 1863. Married Frederic Twentier.
Charlotte Henrietta Nye, born Oct. 20, 1865. Married Charles E. Bingle.
Oliver King Nye, born Dec. 12, 1867.
George Hartzel Nye, born Dec. 8, 1869.
Benjamin Burr Nye, born Aug. 15, 1871.
Frederic Stamm Nye, born Nov. 22, 1873.
Scudder Hart Nye, born Dec. 20, 1875, died June 23, 1878.
Joseph Byran Nye, born Dec. 28, 1878.
Effie Ellen Nye, born March 31, 1881, died Nov. 16, 1884.
Richard Henry Nye, born June 16, 1883.
Victor P. Nye, born Aug. 3, 1886.
Flossie Coral Nye, born July 22, 1888. Howard Bradford Wright.
The 1900 Census indicates that Harriet had given birth to 12 children, but only 10 survived at the time.
Michael was a farmer, teacher, surveyor and justice of the peace. He lived in Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa. (4)
While four of his brothers served in the Civil War, Michael does not appear to have served. However, his name was called in the draft in October 1862. The reason he did not serve is unknown but numerous exemptions were granted, ranging from the payment of $300 to having two brothers already in service. (5)
“History of Beaver County, Pa.,” published in 1888, has a biographical note on Michael: “Michael Piersol Nye, civil engineer, P.O. Fombell, was born in January, 1836, at Unionville, Pa., a son of Samson S. and Ruth (Piersol) Nye, natives of Ohio and Marion township, this county. He began teaching in 1853, and has taught every winter but two since, having received his education at North Sewickley Academy and at a branch of Pennsylvania University at Zelienople, and was a classmate of the president of Thiel College at Greenville, Pa. From 1857 to 1860 he was principal of Webster High School at Portsmouth, Ohio. In 1862, he married Hattie Hartzel, daughter of George and Chariotte (Stamm) Hartzel, who were natives of Bucks County, Pa.” (6)
His obituary in the Ellwood Citizen read: “Michael P. Nye, a short notice of whose death appeared in our last issue, was one of the highly respected residents of Fombell, having resided there for at least 35 years. Mr. Nye was born in that vicinity and his father, one of the oldest settlers, died just 60 years ago. In those days the opportunities for acquiring an education were very limited and only those possessing more than ordinary pluck and intelligence could aspire to becoming educated. Mr. Nye was one of those and became a self-educated man and for 44 years taught school in different districts in that vicinity. He was also a surveyor and when not busy in the school room was kept busy with his surveying instruments. A number of years ago he was elected justice of the peace and served in all 25 terms and as such was the advisor and counselor to many for mile s around.” (7)
A1876 directory of Beaver County lists Michael as a surveyor living in Franklin Township. (8)
The 1880 Census lists Mykel Nye as a farmer in Franklin Township. In addition to his wife Haryet, his household contained Ruth, 15; Sharlot, 13; King, 11; George, 10; Begaman, 8; Fredrick, 6; and Joseph, 1.
In 1887, Michael’s barn burned. The Daily New City News of New Castle, Pa., on Nov. 16, 1887, reported: “M.P. Nye, a prominent farmer near Lilly postoffice, lost his barn and contents by fire on Thursday, the 3d. The fire caught from a lantern that was accidentally upset. A thrashing marching that had been set ready for use next morning was also burned. There was no insurance.”
In 1890 tax records for Franklin Township, Michael P. Nye is listed as a farmer, and he was taxed for 103 acres and three cows. (9)
In the 1900 Census, Michael Nye is listed as a farmer who owned a farm in Franklin Township. In addition to Harriet, his household contained Richard, 16, farm laborer; V.P., 13, farm laborer; and Flossie, 10.
Michael was a member of North Sewickley Presbyterian Church at some point in his life. However, when he died, his funeral was held at the Church of God in Fombell and he is buried at St. Mark’s Lutheran church in Franklin Township.
Michael’s health began to fail by 1908. The New Castle News reported on Oct. 23, 1908: “Michael Nye, one of the oldest residents of Celia, is very ill at his home at that place. He was seized with hemorrhages yesterday and his lying at the point of death. All his children and relatives have been notified of the seriousness of his condition.”
Michael died in March 1910. The New Castle Herald if March 3 reported: “Michael Nye, of Lillyville, one of the most prominent citizens of that part of the county, is dead following a long illness. He was seized with a paralytic stroke several months ago and since has been in a most serious condition. His death has been expected for some time. He has lived for a great many years in the vicinity of Lilllyville, and is well known in this city. He is survived by the following sons: B.N. and Richard Nye of this city and Joseph and Perry of Linesvile.”
On March 5, the same newspaper described Michael’s career in public office. “The late ‘Squire M.P. Nye of Franklin township, who died last week, lived long enough to accomplish an ambition that he long desired. He wanted to be a justice of the peace for 25 years and he succeeded, for when he passed away he had served 25 years in this official position. He missed two terms, but he always managed to be elected after being defeated and thus satisfied the ambition that he cherished for many years. The ‘squire was 75 years of age and was one fo the best known men in this section of the country. He was a school teacher for many years and was also a surveyer and an engineer. The funeral was held yesterday afternoon from the Church of God in Fombell, and was attended by a large number, many being from Ellwood City.”
Immediately after Michael’s death, Harriet moved in with her son Perry, who lived in Franklin Township. (10)
Harriet smoked a corncob pipe. However, she didn’t want other to see her doing it, so she always went up to her room, according to her granddaughters. The Aug. 23 edition of the New Castle News mentioned the celebration of Harriet’s 60th wedding anniversary. It noted: “Mrs. Nye is the widow of the late M.P. Nye, life-long residents of Beaver County and although well advanced in years takes an active part in the affairs of the community.”
However, the following year, things took a downward turn. The April 10, 1923, edition of the New Castle News reported that she was “very ill” at the home of her son “P.H. Nye of Wurtemburg.” And the April 30 edition reported she was “seriously ill” at the home of her son Perry Nye in Wurtemberg. It seems likely that “P.H.” was actually Perry.
Harriet died in 1923. (11)
Michael and Harriet are buried at the cemetery at the former St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Franklin Township.
(1) Date comes from a New Testament in which Michael’s parents recorded important dates and events. Parents listed in census records and “History of Beaver County, Pa.,” page 802. Some information in this item comes from interviews with Mary Bowers in 1990. (2) “A Genealogy of American Nyes of German Origin, Vol. II,” page 48. Parents also listed in “History of Beaver County, Pa.” (3) Names appear in the 1880 and 1900 Censuses of Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa. Children’s birth dates and spouses are listed in “American Nyes.” Most are confirmed in World War I drafter registrations and Pennsylvania death records available at Ancstry.com. However, the 1900 Census list’s Flossie’s birth month as July 1889, instead of 1888. “American Nyes” also lists an Effie Ellen and Scudder Hart. Neither appear in censuses but the 1900 Census indicates that Harriet gave birth to 12 children, 10 of whom were still alive in 1900. Richard Henry is sometimes listed as “Henry Richard” is some sources. However, he signed his name “Richard Henry Nye” on his World War I draft registration card. The birth dates of Richard, Joseph and Victor are confirmed on their World War I draft registration cards. (4) Caldwell’s illustrated “Combination Centennial Atlas of Beaver County,” page 169. Published in 1876. Beaver County Deed Book, 180, page 220, mentions that a tract of land was surveyed by “M.P. Nye” on Oct. 2, 1902. (5) From list of draftees as published in Beaver Argus on Oct. 22, 1862 as printed in “Gleanings,” Vol. XI No, 3 March 1987, Beaver County Genealogical Society. (6) “History of Beaver County, Pa.,” page 802. (7) March 6, 1985 Ellwood City Ledger – original appeared in Ellwood Citizen on March 10,1910. (8) “Beaver County Centennial Directory,” by J. Weyand and W.I. Reed, reprinted for the Tri-State Genealogical Society, page 142. (9) “Eastside Beaver County Tax Records 1890,” by Helen G. Clear and Mae H. Winne, Publishers of Beaver County Records, 1998, page 3. (10) Beaver County, Pa., 1910 Census. Michael’s will is in Beaver County Will Book Q, page 353. (11) Harriet’s date of death comes from her tombstone. Information on the “Find A Grave Index” on Ancestry.com indicates she died May 20.
VICTOR P. and MARY NYE
Victor P. Nye was born Aug. 3, 1886 in Fombell, Beaver County, Pa., to Michael Peirsol and Harriet (Hartzel) Nye. (1)
Married Mary Louella Graff on Mays 6, 1908. Mary was born March 23,1890 in Beaver County, Pa., to George Adam and Mary Ann (Gerwig) Graff. (2)
Dorothy Flossie Nye, born Jan. 16, 1909. Married Jacob Daufen.
Holliday Waters Nye, Feb. 1, 1910.
Thelma Neva Nye, Jan. Nye 6, 1912. Married Russel Moreland.
King Robert Nye, April 1, 1914.
George Adam Nye, Sept. 19, 1915, killed in car accident June 23, 1935.
Alma Mildred Nye, April 29, 1917. Married Bert White.
Mary Louella Nye, May 10, 1919. Married Edward Charles Bowers.
Harriet Elizabeth Nye, July 19, 1922. Married Edgar Waterfield.
Grace Esther Nye, Dec. 1, 1923. Married Donald Raymond Jessop.
William Howard Nye, June 26, 1925.
Ilene Virginia Nye, Oct. 26, 1930. Married Donald Young, who died. Married Zip Senerth, who died. Married James White.
Although his father was a teacher, Perry didn’t finish school. The 1900 Census of Franklin Township, Beaver County, states that V.P. Nye was a 13-year-old farm laborer who didn’t attend school at all in the previous months. Meanwhile, his brother Richard, 16, had attended school for five months.
In the 1910 Census, Victor P. Nye is listed as a farmer who rented property in Franklin Township. In addition to his wife Mary, his household contained Dorotha F., 1 year, 3 months old, as of April 23; Holiday W., 3 months; and Harriet Nye, his mother.
At some point, Perry took a job as an “engineer” in the local water company. He held the job in 1917, when he was called upon to recover the body of a disabled man who drowned in the Connoquenessing Creek. The Sept. 1 edition of the New Castle Herald described the drowning of John Gartley. When his family noticed he was missing, “They then sent out the alarm and neighbors turned in to help look for the body. Perry Nye, who is employed at the Ellwood Water Company’s pumping station went out in a boats and found the body, about three o’clock in the afternoon.”
On June 5, 1917, registered for the draft for World War I and listed his job as engineer at the Ellwood City Water Company. The form includes other personal information, including the fact that he lived in Wurtembug was of medium size and had brown eyes and black hair. In addition, he signed his name “Victor Perrie Nye” – probably a good indication of how he got the nickname “Perry.”
In the 1920 Census of Perry Township, Lawrence County, Perry Nye is listed as an engineer at a waterworks who rented property. In addition to Mary, his household contained Dorthy, 10; Holiday, 9; Thelma, 7; King, 5; George, 4 years, 9 months; Elma, 2, years 8 months; Mary, 8 months; an a boarder, Charles Morgan, 53, a pumper at the waterworks.
During the Depression, Perry lost his job with the water company and took up farming. This didn’t provide much extra money, so he also dug coal.
Perry had acquired a 110-acre farm in Franklin Township, Beaver County, on Aug. 31, 1922, through Oliver K. Nye, his uncle and the executor of his father’s will. However, times appear to have been tough as early as 1928. On June 4 of that year, Perry took out a two-year mortgaged on the farm for $1,800. The loan was taken over by Oliver K. Nye on Dec. 30, 1930. The mortgage wasn’t marked as paid in full until several years later; the date is difficult to decipher and it may be Feb. 21, 1934. (4)
In the 1930 Census of Franklin Township Beaver County, Victor P. Nye is listed as a farmer who owned a “truck farm” valued at $800. In addition to his wife Mary L., his household contained Dorothy F, 21; Holiday W., 20; Thelma N., 18; King R., 16; George A., 14; Elma M, 12; Mary L., 10; Harriet E., 7; Grace E., 6; and William H., 4 years, 10 months, when the Census was take on April 23.
Despite the family’s poverty, Perry was too proud to accept welfare. However, all the exertion probably led to his early death.
The family grew its own food. It grew apples, milked cows, made butter and butchered pigs and chickens. Although they often got by on little but mush and turnips, they always had something too eat. They also maintained good spirits. Mary Nye would say, “I wonder what the poor people eat.”
Few rural families had plumbing or electricity in their homes and the Nyes’ were no exception. The family had an outhouse and they washed themselves in basins, using homemade lye soap. Clothing was washed in a large copper kettle in water drawn from a spring.
The rural life also encouraged use of folk remedies. For example, if a child had an ear ache, Mary told him or her to urinate into a pan. Then, she’d take a dropper and place the urine in the child’s ear.
Perry enjoyed hunting despite the fact that he accidentally shot off one of his little fingers when he was 16. When he and the other men went hunting, the women would stay behind and prepare a feast. When the men returned, there would be a celebration with hard cider and plenty of food. Perry also enjoyed square dancing with his wife.
Perry chewed tobacco but wouldn’t let his children smoke. He said he’d make them eat the tobacco if he ever caught them smoking it. He also made moonshine during the Prohibition days, but only for his own use.
A brief article in the New Castle News offers a glimpse of how families celebrated big events at that time. The July 20, 1932, edition tells of the wedding of Perry’s daughter Dorothy to Jacob Dauphen and goes on to describe the party that occurred three days later. “Monday evening approximately one hundred of their friends equipped with horns, bells and any other noise making device gathered at the home of the bride’s parents and tendered the happy couple a serenade, to which they responded in a pleasing way treating the guests in a generous manner. Upon their arrival home after having taken the newlyweds for a ride over rough roads in an old truck bed, the guests were invited into the home and until a very late house square dancing was enjoyed.”
Mary was active in St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Lillyville. Mrs. Perry Nye appears among those helping in events sponsored by the church and announced in local newspapers.
On Feb. 27, 1935, Perry Nye died while working in a coal mine. His death notice in the Beaver Falls Review reads:
“PERRY NYE: Found by Coroner H.C. McCarter to have suffered a heart attack. Perry Nye, 48, well known North Sewickley township farmer, died Wednesday after he slumped to the ground unconscious upon emerging from a small coal mine which he had been working on property adjoining his home.
“Mr. Nye, with a son, had spent the morning in the main, digging coal for his own use. He fell unconscious as he walked out of the min to go to his home for lunch.
“His widow and several children survive.” (5)
Just a few months later, tragedy struck the family again when Perry’s son George was killed in a car accident. The 19-year-old was driving when he “failed to make a sharp turn on a rural road … and crashed into the side of a steep bank, upsetting.” (6)
For a short time after Perry’s death, the family went on a form of welfare known as mother’s assistance, which was a payment determined by the number of children in family. Mary then worked at a restaurant and as a cleaning woman to make some money.
On March 20, 1946, Mary married John Rugh. (7) However, the marriage was strained and within a few years, John left Mary and soon died of a stroke.
Mary married Forrest A. Glenn on Nov. 25, 1952. She was very much in love this time and they remained together until Forrest died in 1973.
Mary died May 14, 1979. Mary and Perry are buried at the cemetery at the former St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Franklin Township.
(1) Parents identified in 1900 Census of Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa. Birth date and place are recorded on his World War I draft registration card. Other information comes from interviews with Mary Bowers and Alma White in 1989 and 1990. His family appears in “A Genealogy of American Nyes of German Origin, Vol. II,” page 75. Although Victor’s children said his middle name was “Pierre,” his signature on his World War I draft registration spells his name “Perrie.” He was generally known as “Perry,” which is also the name listed in his death notice in the Beaver Valley Review on March 7, 1935. (2) Mary’s obituary in New Castle News, May 15, 1979. (3) Mary Bowers’ family Bible. (4) Beaver County Mortgage Book 277, page 330. (5) Beaver Falls Review, March 7, 1935, from Beaver County Genealogical Society at the Carnegie Library in Beaver Falls, Pa. (6) Beaver Falls Review, June 27, 1935. (7) Date comes from Mary and John’s marriage certificate.