My 6th great-grandfather, Johann Leonhardt May was born 17 January 1719 in Niederhausen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany to Johann Nickel Mey and Maria Catharina Graeff. Before arriving at Philadelphia in September of 1748 on the ship Edinburgh, Johann Leonhardt May had lost to death his father, his wife, and two children. Leonard’s father, Johan Nickel Mey, had died in Niederhausen on 21 February 1743. Leonard’s first-born son, Johann Conradt, died in 1747, followed by the deaths of his wife, Maria Barbara Lorentz, and his recently born daughter, Anna Otilia.
Soon after they had arrived in Philadelphia, the extended May family made their way to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. There is little doubt that they traveled by way of the King’s Road, better known as the King’s Highway; otherwise known as the Old Philadelphia Pike, and now, known as State Route 340. The King’s Highway began approximately in 1733 as part of an old Allegheny Indian path and was more like a dirt wagon trail than anything else, but by 1748 when the May family arrived, this was very rapidly becoming the most widely traveled wagon road in the colonies. I happen to be a firm believer that simply by being in the right place, at the right time, can make all of the difference…timing is everything.
This was about 60 miles of road that took travelers from Philadelphia to Lancaster County, ending at Wright’s Ferry on the Susquehanna River, which was, at that time, the westernmost edge of the frontier and required a couple of days (at best) of travel. Whether Leonard and his brother, Daniel, had a plan before they arrived in Pennsylvania, or if it was just a matter of sizing up the opportunities available to them, they quickly set about buying land and establishing businesses. What did the growing population of Pennsylvania need? Ways to get places and to transport goods. What else did they need? Places to stay and to eat while travelling. It is little wonder then that Leonard became a waggoner and that both he and Daniel invested in real estate and the buying and selling of land. Youngest brother, Francis, was also a landowner and had apparently continued on in the occupation of his father as a shoemaker. Tax records show that Daniel was a tavern keeper and an innkeeper and that Leonard was also a tavern keeper at some point.
Although I have not yet found the marriage record of Leonard May and Anna Christina Schuch, it would appear that they were married sometime in 1749 and probably in Lancaster County, although perhaps in Philadelphia. I have been searching in both places. Their first child, Anna Maria, was born 21 January 1750 in Donegal Township, Lancaster County. Followed by Margaretta, Frantz Peter, Johannes, Johann Daniel (my line, born 27 September 1756), Elizabeth, Johann George, and Michael, born about 1766.
While living in Lancaster County, Leonard moved about a bit living first in Donegal Township, and also in Conestoga Township, and in the Borough of Lancaster. During the French and Indian War, which started in 1754 (and lasted until 1763), Lancaster served as a distribution center and as a storage depot for war materials. In Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography he notes that he was surprised that the British were having trouble moving their supplies and suggested to Braddock that they use Conestoga wagons from Lancaster. Following is an advertisement that Franklin published:
LANCASTER, April 26, 1755
“Whereas, one hundred and fifty waggons, with four horses to each waggon, and fifteen hundred saddle or pack horses, are wanted for the service of his majesty’s forces now about to rendezvous at Will’s Creek, and his excellency General Braddock having been pleased to empower me to contract for the hire of the same, I hereby give notice that I shall attend for that purpose at Lancaster from this day to next Wednesday evening, and at York from next Thursday morning till Friday evening, where I shall be ready to agree for waggons and teams, or single horses, on the following terms, viz.: I. That there shall be paid for each waggon, with four good horses and a driver, fifteen shillings per diem; and for each able horse with a pack-saddle, or other saddle and furniture, two shillings per diem; and for each able horse without a saddle, eighteen pence per diem. 2. That the pay commence from the time of their joining the forces at Will’s Creek, which must be on or before the 20th of May ensuing, and that a reasonable allowance be paid over and above for the time necessary for their travelling to Will’s Creek and home again after their discharge. 3. Each waggon and team, and every saddle or pack horse, is to be valued by indifferent persons chosen between me and the owner; and in case of the loss of any waggon, team, or other horse in the service, the price according to such valuation is to be allowed and paid. 4. Seven days’ pay is to be advanced and paid in hand by me to the owner of each waggon and team, or horse, at the time of contracting, if required, and the remainder to be paid by General Braddock, or by the paymaster of the army, at the time of their discharge, or from time to time, as it shall be demanded. 5. No drivers of waggons, or persons taking care of the hired horses, are on any account to be called upon to do the duty of soldiers, or be otherwise employed than in conducting or taking care of their carriages or horses. 6. All oats, Indian corn, or other forage that waggons or horses bring to the camp, more than is necessary for the subsistence of the horses, is to be taken for the use of the army, and a reasonable price paid for the same.”
Note. My son, William Franklin, is empowered to enter into like contracts with any person in Cumberland county.
It is not known for sure whether Leonard was a waggoner before this call for wagons went out or if he seized upon this opportunity to make money.
Although many wagons were probably in use by farmers and waggoners during this period of time, none were as utilitarian as the Conestoga wagon which was developed by German wagon makers in the Conestoga Valley of Lancaster County before the French and Indian War started. The box part of the wagon was made with upward sloping floors and an unusual shape in order to prevent shifting of the cargo over hills and rutted roads. The wagons were pulled by a team of six horses – huge, powerful, and usually, black – that were also bred in Lancaster County. The driver usually walked beside his team, but occasionally, would ride on the “lazy-board” which could be pulled out on the left side of the wagon.
Somewhere around 1768, Leonard May’s family and those families of his two brothers packed up and moved to Loudoun County, Virginia. Leonard and family appear to have owned land and lived around Waterford, Virginia. Leonard and his sons were involved with the road-building in that area. Their names appearing in Loudoun County road order reports.
Then sometime between May of 1775 and May of 1777, Leonard passed away. His brother, Daniel, died in 1777 and it appears that he and his wife were childless. In his will, he left his estate to his namesake and god-son, Leonard’s son, Johann Daniel, who was born in 1756 in Lancaster. (Again, this is my line of descent.) It appears as if Leonard May had purchased land in Bedford County, Pennsylvania before his death and that he was perhaps planning on making the move there from Virginia as his name (and other family member’s names) appears on a list of land warrants issued.
Daniel married Elizabeth Dorcheimer and had moved to Bedford County, Pennsylvania where they had at least six children, including their son, Daniel, born in January of 1794. Daniel, grandson of Leonard, appears to have kept up the family propensity for being innkeepers.
Daniel had three wives – Rachel Miller (who bore all eight of his children), a Charlotte – whose maiden name is unknown, and Eve Diebert Wertz. The following clip describes the boarding house in some detail:
This was a good family story to learn about. Once again, I am forever in debt to those who did such well-documented research in the past.
This is my Week #17 post for Amy Johnson Crow’s
52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Challenge.
The optional theme for this week was “And Prosper”.
The Planting of Civilization in Western Pennsylvania By Solon J. Buck, Elizabeth Buck
Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, (Chicago: The Lakeside Press, 1915)
http://www.ancestry.com Pennsylvania church records – Adams, Berks, and Lancaster 1729-1821
The Shoemaker’s Children, Fred T. May, Baltimore, Maryland : Gateway Press, c1998
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?”.