We like to camp in the fall. A few years ago, we were unhappy to learn that the state was shutting down our favorite camping spot, Jefferson Lake State Park, because of low attendance. (Which is exactly why we liked it.) It was October and camp sites across Ohio were filling up fast because the end of camping season was approaching, and especially for the weekend that we were planning – Halloween weekend. Finding a campsite was proving to be even more difficult because we needed to make sure that we reserved a spot that was pet friendly so that we could bring along our two dogs. Out of frustration, I started calling state parks in West Virginia and finally reserved a campsite at Tomlinson Run State Park. As I hung up the phone, something was nagging at me about the name of this park. It seemed vaguely familiar…
The night before we left for our camping weekend, it occurred to me that maybe the place we were heading off to for camping had something to do with the family history, so I jumped on the computer and searched for a connection to Tomlinson Run. In the thirty-plus years that I have been researching, I tend to take breaks where I don’t do much except maybe update information from obituaries or, perhaps, I veer off into a different direction on some other family line. I don’t find it an easy task to hold specific information in my head at all times about the family. (It’s possible that this is age related.) When I found the connection, I was a little shocked that it hadn’t come to me sooner. My 5th great-grandfather, Joachim Wycoff, had settled in this very area and, from checking out the map, it looked as if he was buried not far from where we would be camping. In fact, Flats Cemetery appeared to be right down the road. And it was! The first cemetery that we found on the left side of Flats Cemetery Road was, I think, a Presbyterian cemetery and there were Wycoffs buried there, but none that I could connect to Joachim. After searching for a while, I spied someone at a house nearby washing their car in the driveway. I ran across the cemetery and asked about Flats Cemetery, and received the answer that we needed to travel up the road a bit and that it would be on the right.
And there it was, a big triangle of a cemetery cut into the woods butting up against state park land. We walked right up to the stone for Joachim.
Joachim Wycoff was born 18 November 1749 at Somerset County, New Jersey, to Jacobus Wyckoff and Catelyntje Gulick, perhaps named after his maternal grandfather, Joachim Peter Gulick. One of 14 children, he was the fourth child and, also, the fourth son born to Jacobus and Catelyntje. Joachim is the great-great-grandson of immigrant ancestor Pieter Claessen Wyckoff and is my 5th great-grandfather.
This short excerpt from the Somerset County Historical Quarterly touches on the many, many different spelling associated with the Wyckoff surname. The sentence in the middle of this clipping made me chuckle, especially because we now know that the “of the town court” meaning is the fanciful one and that Wyckoff is most certainly Friesian in origin with a likelier meaning related to the place name in East Friesland from which Pieter originated. I highly recommend that those who are interested in surname studies and the etymology of Wyckoff, read M. William Wyckoff’s, “What’s in a Name? History and Meaning of Wyckoff”. Others wanting to learn more general knowledge about the Wyckoff family should go to this website of The Wyckoff House Museum in Brooklyn or visit their Facebook page to meet other Wyckoffs.
Within my own family tree, I have the Wyckoff, Wycoff, Wicoff, and Wycuff spellings and, at times, siblings who have adopted a different spelling from each other. Whenever I’m in doubt, I use the spelling Wyckoff. An altogether different problem arose for me with Joachim, though, I didn’t know how to say his first name. When I asked my grandmother about it, she thought that it was probably “Jo-Kim”, but admitted that she’d only seen it written and had never heard anyone pronounce it. I’ve asked others who thought it should be “Wa-Keem”. I found this on YouTube and am going to use this one in my head while I read more about Joachim, because this post will have to serve as an introduction to Joachim until I finish transcribing the many documents that I have found and do more researching on the history of both New Jersey and the northern panhandle of West Virginia. It appears that from 1681 to 1689 there was a big migration of families from Long Island, New York into the Raritan region of New Jersey and that several lines of the Wyckoffs followed suit. While pouring over old history texts, it occurred to me that it might take me some years to sort out which Wyckoffs were which and who belonged to whom as the Wyckoffs were prolific and tended to use the same names within each family line. Sigh…
On 26 February 1772, twenty-three-year-old Joachim married sixteen-year-old, Hannah Yerkes, daughter of Silas Yerkes and Hannah Dungan, at Six Mile Run, New Jersey. Hannah gave birth to 14 children, 13 of which are listed in this pension application.
In 1776, when New York City was captured by the British, Joachim and Hannah were living in White House, New Jersey and Joachim was drafted into the militia, serving in Captain Stillwell’s company. (I have Stillwells in my paternal line in New Jersey at this time and this just begs for more research!) I am looking at Richard Stillwell, Captain of the 4th Regiment, Hunterdon Militia as the probable Captain and company Joachim served with. Joachim served a total of eighteen months and as payment for that time served, he was given a land warrant and on 01 July 1802 was granted 294 acres of land in Brooke County, Virginia near Pughtown and Tomlinson Run (now New Manchester). This portion of Brooke County is now Hancock County, West Virginia. From reading pension applications, it appears that those eighteen months were not served concurrently, but as terms such as one month on duty, one month at home, etc. In the spring of 1780, Joachim and family moved to Somerset County where Joachim finished up his enlistment in the militia.
Family bible records, such as the page below, were used to help establish who the family members of the pensioner were. This also helped to establish the fact that Hannah was, indeed, Joachim’s wife so that she would also be permitted to petition for pension monies.
Joachim would be granted a $60.00 per year pension that would transfer to Hannah after his death and then, because of a provision for Hannah’s living children after her death, would be divided between Joachim and Hannah’s surviving children after her death. Those children were Hannah, Cornelius, and Agnes “Nancy”.
Of these three surviving children, Hannah married a Richard Durham who hailed from Fayette County, Pennsylvania. They removed to Ohio and had nine children.
Cornelius, my line, and my 4th great-grandfather, married Leah Critzer on 20 February 1810. They lived in Ross Township, Jefferson County, Ohio and had 12 children, including Levi, my line, born 22 November 1825. Cornelius died, 28 November 1867, and is buried in Shane Cemetery in Jefferson County, Ohio. Leah died, 17 October 1869. I haven’t found a record of where she might be buried.
Also, of particular interest, is Agnes “Nancy”. In 1811, Nancy married Robert Moore, who was the son of Captain Thomas Moore (another Revolutionary War veteran) and Rachel Phillis, who is suspected to be the sister of my 4th great-grandfather, Charles Phillis. It appears as if Joachim and Hannah were living in the Robert Moore household at the time of the 1840 census. This also helps point to the idea that Nancy was the holder of the family Bible that helped to prove the family relationships. Joachim died, 18 May 1841, and Hannah on, 21 October 1844. Although Hannah is also supposed to be buried in Flats Cemetery, I did not find her stone while we were there.
This tri-state area of western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia (Virginia) is so very rich in history, not only of my own family, but in the history of the United States. I read just about everything that I can get my hands on that has historical information of this area. So many books, so little time. While we were in Flats Cemetery, I turned my back to the road and stood looking at the woods surrounding the cemetery on three sides and tried to absorb the essence of the area. It felt like it was a good place for my ancestor to stop and build his home. As we were leaving, I noted that the entrance to the cemetery has this sign:
This is my Week #15 post for Amy Johnson Crow’s
52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Challenge.
The optional theme for this week was “How Do You Spell That?”.
Being more than a little under the weather this past week, both literally and figuratively, I thought that I’d share with you the story that I have been working on. Considering the optional theme for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Challenge, “Good Deeds”, it seems that this story could have used several good deeds. Once upon a time there were three brothers who came to America and all fought in the Revolutionary War. I know! Cringe worthy words, at best, along with “we came over on the Mayflower” and “my grandpa’s grandmother was a Cherokee princess”. I know that I have more than a couple three brothers stories in my own lineage. This one, however, just might be at least partially true.
The three brothers in this story were Joseph, Charles, and Jacob Phillis. There is so much bad information out there about the Phillis family and some of that was passed to me more than 25 years ago. I spent a couple of days pruning my family tree of information that was most certainly wrong and am having a look at this family again with fresh eyes. Joseph Phillis has been proven to be the son of one Joseph Phillis born by some accounts in Leeds, England. By other accounts in Ireland. Joseph, the junior, was born on February 9th, in either 1744 or 1751. Joseph Phillis, the elder, lived for a time in Loudoun County, Virginia. Also associated with Joseph Phillis is a daughter, Rachel, born near Leesburg, Virginia on 05 March 1756 who married Thomas Moore. The father, Joseph, lived the last years of his life with daughter Rachel and her husband in Pennsylvania near Hookstown.
The other two brothers, Charles, born about 1760, and Jacob, born a little later, are sometimes associated with Joseph, and sometimes not. What I am doing is looking for some proof to that effect. My main concern is with Charles, my 4th great grandfather. All four of these men, and Rachel and Thomas Moore are found in census records on the very edge of the western frontier, Washington and Beaver counties, Pennsylvania starting with the 1790 census. Thomas Moore, Joseph, Charles, and Jacob all have records for service in the Revolutionary War and all held various land warrants. Thomas Moore owned 300 acres that laid southeast of Hookstown, the warrant for that land was dated 01 March 1774. Both Josephs were living in Washington County beside each other and Charles and Jacob lived beside each other during the 1800 and 1810 censuses in Beaver County. By the time of the 1820 census, all three – Joseph, Charles, and Jacob – were found living in Smith Township in Washing ton County. During this early history of southwestern Pennsylvania there were border disputes with Virginia and, also, this area held the Depreciation Lands. It is probable that some kind of confusion over land due to Charles for his Revolutionary War service was how Charles lost part of his land. Charles’ name appeared on a list of soldiers who had received depreciation pay.
Charles served in the Pennsylvania Militia and as a line troop for the Pennsylvania Line. He was also a Ranger with John Hogland’s Company serving a long enlistment on the frontier fighting against the Indians.
But probably the coolest thing about Charles Phillis, is that around 1792 he chose to settle on an island of more than 100 acres on a bend in the Ohio River. There he built a blockhouse and carried on his business as a boat maker.
The bad thing is that he ended up losing the island in a lawsuit. At least for a time. It appears that the island was in dispute for at least thirty years and Charles’ claim to that land ended with his death in 1824.
Last summer, a cousin let me read a letter that was written in 1963 by a member of the family (that I made a copy of) which made reference to Charles’ death. I had also heard my grandmother speak of it and decided to try to find some solid information.
I did find reference made to it, but no solid facts. Nothing in the newspapers that alluded to the fact that a prominent citizen was robbed, knocked in the head, and thrown overboard.
Some of the solid facts that we do have for Charles are the names of his daughters – Rebecca, Polly, Nancy, and Catherine – who are all named as his daughters in a deed recorded 14 August 1824 in Beaver County, Pennsylvania (and that I am somewhat patiently waiting for in the mail). We also know who those daughters married, Catherine marrying Christian Hackathorn, and from those two I descend. Once the weather breaks, I’ll be planning a daytrip or two across the river into Beaver County, Pennsylvania to spend some time searching in depth. There are a lot of deeds and wills that I need research in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania.
It might be interesting to note that Phillis Island is now in the hands of the National Wildlife Refuge. Apparently the island has lost a lot of acreage due to dredging and that makes me wonder if the cemetery known to be on the island is still there. Besides not being able to find a grave or burying place of Charles, Jonas Potts and his wife, Mary Heckathorn, were known to have been buried there. Also, Catherine Phillis Heckathorn’s grave site has not yet been found by me. After Christian’s death in Carroll County, Catherine moved back to Beaver County. She is found in the 1870 census in Industry, Beaver County along with her daughter Nancy, 51, who is listed as idiotic, and daughter Johanna and her husband Tom Proudlock. Industry is right across the river from Phillis Island. Also, on the other side of the river from Phillis Island is the site of The Shippingport Atomic Power Plant, the first civilian nuclear facility in the United States.
After doing some investigating of DNA matches, it turns out that I have some matches that have the Phillis surname in their ancestry, so I’ve sent out some preliminary emails to see if those individuals want to pursue a look at our lines. Were Rachel, Joseph, Charles, and Jacob truly siblings? Are there 4 daughters of Joseph unaccounted for as has been suggested by some researchers? How and where did Charles die? Once again, the migratory path of my ancestors travelled through Loudoun County, Virginia to southwestern Pennsylvania, and then hopped across the river to Carroll County, Ohio. At some point, I believe that all of these loose ends are going to come together all at once and the missing pieces of my family puzzle will be found so that I can see the entire picture. And when that proof does happen, these families will receive updates here.
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