Genealogy is a popular pastime for many. There are several programs on TV like Who do you think you are?on the TLC cable channel that are fun to watch. We are traveling down the eastern states on our way to Florida and Jeff has ancestors that emigrated to the US in the early 1700’s. Here’s how we did our genealogy on the road.
Map showing westward migration of the early Engles 1740-1861
Preparing for a Family History Road Trip
Jeff has worked on our family history since the mid 1990’s. Fortunately an uncle on his dad’s side had done some genealogy research and we already had a book on his mom’s side to get us started. We purchased other family history books, published our research on Rootsweb.com and used Family Tree Maker software and Ancestry.com to share and exchange genealogy research information. By 1999 we had several roots of our tree going back 7 generations.
Since then we have filled in lots of blanks – researching other family lines and more importantly learning what professions they had, where they lived and anything else we could find to learn who they were. The most interesting facts were found by looking at:
We are focusing on the east coast. After landing in Philadelphia in 1740, Jeff’s 5th great-grandfather Melchor Engle and his mother traveled to Lancaster Pennsylvania. After marrying Mary Magdalena Beyerle and having 6 sons in Lancaster they moved to Shenandoah Junction, West Virginia. His son George (Jeff’s 4th Great Grandfather) married in Shenandoah Junction, then moved to eastern Tennessee where Jacob (Jeff’s 3rd Great Grandfather) was born. They moved to eastern Kentucky where Jacob farmed and lived his days. Jacob’s son Levi was born in Kentucky and moved to Missouri which takes us beyond our trip to Florida. This gives us the path for our trip. In addition we mapped out other ancestors that lived in the colonies & states between 1730 and 1850 along the route.
Genealogy On The Road
On the road, we reviewed existing documentation and used the internet to get more specific locations for the farms and cemeteries to visit. One of the gems we used were documents for districts, homes and buildings in the national historic registry. These documents contain a lot of information on the chain of purchases, use of the land/buildings and historical context. We found some of these documents at county history websites, others at the national registry database.
The most time-consuming task is to match the land record information with maps. A typical description includes waterways for boundaries. That is where we started in Google Maps. Of course you can not search by the names of rivers, brooks, branches and especially locations such as: ‘beginning at a beech tree by Conestoga creek’ etc. See the example below that shows the challenge of interpreting old land purchase records where Melchor purchased land from his father-in-low.
Example Deed from 1746
FOLLOWING IS THE FIRST DEED OF LAND GRANTED
Michael Beyerle to Melchor Engle
This indenture made the 10th day of April in the year of our Lord 1746 between Michael Beyerle of the Borough of Lancaster in the Province of Pennsylvania, Yeoman, and Catherine his wife of the one part and Melchor Engle of the County of Lancaster and Province aforesaid, Saddler, son of the said Catherine by a former husband, of the other part, witnesseth that the said Michael Beyerle and Catherine his wife for and in consideration of the natural love and affection they bear unto the said Melchor Engle and for his advancement in the world, as of the sum of 100 pounds lawful money of the said Province to them in hand paid by the said Melchor Engle the receipt thereof they do hereby acknowledge have given granted and aliened enfeoffed and confirmed and by these presents to give grant, and aliened, enfeoffed, and confirmed unto the said Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns all of that certain tract or parcel of land situate, lying and being on the east side of Conestoga creek in Larnpeter Twp. in the county of Lancaster afores, beginning at a beech tree by Conestoga creek at a corner of land formerly of Edmund Carthedge and extending thence by the same south, south east 264 perches to a black oak, thence by lands late of Jacob Harress and Christian Jonce, west by south 155 perches to a post, thence by vacant land west by north 400 perches to a Hickory tree by the aforesaid creek, thence down the same by the several courses thereof, 220 perches to the place of beginning, containing 225 and an allowance of six acres on a hundred for roads and highways, which said tract or parcel of land was granted to the said Michael Beyerle, his heirs and assigns by patent from the Hon. John Penn, Thomas Penn, and Richard Penn, Esquires, true and absolute proprietors and Governors in chief of the said Province, under the land of the said Thomas Penn and the great seal of the said Province bearing date of the 2nd day of May in the year of our Lord’ 1740, as by the said patent recorded in the office for recording of deeds for the city and county of Philadelphia in Patent book A. Vol. 10 page 229 the 10th day of March in the year of our Lord 1740, (relation being there unto had may more fully and at large appear) together with all and singular the improvements, rights, and members and appurtenances thereunto belonging or in any wise appertaining and the reversions and remainders, rents, issues & profits thereof and all the estate, right title, interest, property claim and demand of them the said Michael Beyerle and Catherine his wife, of in and to the premises hereby granted and true copies of all deeds, evidences & witnesses concerning the same to be had and made at the proper costs and charges of the said Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns, to have and to hold the said tract of 225 acres of land hereditiments and promises hereby granted with their and every of their appurtenances unto the said Melchor Engle and his heirs, to the only proper use in behoof of the said Melchor Engle his heirs and assigns forever, under the yearly quit rent henceforth accruing and growing due and payable to the chief lord or lords of the fee thereof, and the said Michael Beyerle and his heirs, the said tract of land hereditaments and promises hereby granted with the appurtenances unto the said Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns, against them the said Michael Beyerle and Catherine his wife, and their heirs and against all persons claiming or to claim by, from, or under them, shall and will warrant and forever defend by these presents, and the said Michael Beyerle, for himself, his heirs, executors and administrators and for the said Catherine his wife, doth covenant, promise and grant to and with the said Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns by these presents, that he, the said Michael Beyerle and Catherine his wife, and their heirs and all and every other person and persons, whatsoever having or lawfully claiming or to claim any estate right title or interest of, in or the said premises r any part thereof, by, from or any of them, shall or will at any time or times hereafter at the reasonable request cost and charges in the law of the said Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns, make, execute and acknowledge or cause so to be all and every such further and other lawfull and reasonable act and acts, deed and deeds, devices and devices in the law, whatsoever for the further and better assurance and confirmation of the said tract of 225 acres of land, hereditaments and promises hereby granted or mentioned so to be with the appurtances under the same Melchor Engle, his heirs and assigns, as by him the said Melchor Engle or by his or their council learned in the law shall be reasonably devised, advised and required, in witness whereof the said parties to these presents their hands and seals interchangeably have set here unto.
Dated the year and day first above written, sealed and delivered in the presents of us.
German name (in script) Michael Beyerle (in German) German name (in script) her
Tho. Cookson Catherine X Beyerle
Received of the above named Melchor Engle on the day of the date of these presents the full sum of 100 pounds lawful money of Penn., being the consideration money above mentioned.
100 0 0 Lb Sh P Test. Tho. Cookson,
By me Michael Beyerle, (written in German)
Hope you enjoyed our hints about doing Genealogy On The Road!
Our trip following Jeff’s ancestors has taken us from Lancaster Pennsylvania to Shenandoah Junction in the northern Shenandoah Valley, West Virginia.
Map of Shenandoah Junction
Fits and Starts
Jeff’s 5th Great Grandfather Melchor Engle purchased two tracts of land from Lord Fairfax, along Elk Branch. We initially thought Elk Branch that flows into Back Creek in the western section of the West Virginia panhandle west of Martinsburg WV was it. However it is a long distance away from Shenandoah Junction where we knew Melchor ended up. It was a nice drive through a pretty remote section of West Virginia. We stopped by a bread and breakfast to ask about old property ownership and the owner brought out a booklet tracing several of the nearby properties transfers. No Engle’s on this list.
Doing additional scanning using Google Maps Jeff found an Elk Branch just outside of Shenandoah Junction very close to the GPS coordinates we had for Melchor’s gravesite (findagrave.com). Now this Elk Branch made sense.
We even found an old lime kiln once operated by Frank Engle on the corner of Engle Switch and Engle-Mohers road. Jeff thought this is the place of the original Engle farm… too many Engles to ignore!
Ends up Engle Switch was named for the B&O branch railroad line that went to the The Washington Building and Lime Companythat used a lime quarry once owned by William Engle (Son of Melchor). William, his son-in-law and grandson continued to manage the quarry, and the unincorporated community of Engle, West Virginia is named after Frank Engle. But this is not the original Melchor Engle farmland.
The Wildwood Farm house is significant for multiple reasons. Wildwood embodies distinctive characteristics of a mid- nineteenth century farmhouse from the Mid-Atlantic, Shenandoah region. Wildwood is also an excellent example of a structure constructed using typical building methods found in this area during this time period and constructed using local materials found within the region with a high level of craftsmanship. Furthermore, Wildwood is significant due to the fact that it contains a graveyard that holds the remains of General William Darke of the American Revolutionary War who married into the family who once occupied the land around the lots containing Wildwood. Also, the graveyard formally contained the oldest tombstone in West Virginia, now located in the West Virginia State museum, belonging to Caterina Bierlin.
The document also gives an Historical Context:
Wildwood Farm House, also known as “The Ronemous Place,” was built C. 1850 and documented as existing before the onset of the American Civil War in 1860. Henry Ronemous began construction of the house after his marriage to Sarah Engle in 1848. Sarah Engle would inherit the land prior to her marriage to Henry Ronemous from her family member Mary Melvin. The family members of the Engle family and the Melvin family were early settlers of this area. Also, Sarah Engle’s ancestor Melchor Engle was the original owner of the land that was granted by Thomas Lord Fairfax and would later contain the structure of Wildwood.The structure is distinctive as it is more elaborate in its construction then other less modest structures found in the same area. Wildwood is an example of Greek Revival architecture produced at the end of the styles’ movement. This type of architecture is very common to the Mid-Atlantic region especially in the area of what is now Jefferson County, W.V. Evidence to support Wildwood as a Greek Revival structure are the low pitched roof with a slight eave overhang containing a band of trim below it.
Now, that’s a YAHOO!
Christine called and left a message with the current owner of the property that afternoon. The next day we went ahead and drove to the property to see if we could see the gravesite.
The owner of the property was very gracious, and told us that earlier this last spring the Daughters of the American Revolution had a memorial for the Revolutionary War Heros. General William Darke and Philip Engle (Melchor’s oldest son) were recognized war veterans. The DAR party dressed up in period dress for the ceremony. She pointed towards a field with a herd of cows, and told us to go through the field to find the cemetery. The cow’s were friendly (thank goodness).
So, my 4th Great Grandfather’s brother, Philip was a Revolutionary War Hero (at least 2 other brothers were documented as serving in the war as well). Phillip’s Sons of the American Revolution plaque reads:
Revolutionary War Soldier and Patriot Philip Engle Born October 8, 1742, Died November 21
Forefather of Engle Family in this area. His wives, Mary Darke and Isabel Pollock bore 18 children
Served under General Gates in the battle of Camdon during the South Carolina campaign
Furnished Material Aid to Virginia
Marker placed by General Adam Stephen Chapter, April 30, 2016
And Melchor’s gravestone reads First Engle Settler 1750 (Melchor arrived in Virginia between 1750 and 1753).
We are on the road, turning family history into a story we can share with our kids and grandchildren. Jeff’s ancestors on his father’s side came to America in the early 1700’s. Travelling from northern New York to Florida is the perfect opportunity to explore a few of the places they lived.
Our first stop is Lancaster Pennsylvania. Several ancestors arrived in America through Philadelphia. Lancaster County was a popular place for the new settlers to travel to or through. We counted at least 12 5th and 6th great grandparents that lived in this area before 1776, and more would have traveled through heading towards Virginia.
Jeff’s 5th Great Grandfather Melchor Engle arrived in America in 1740 with his mother. They traveled to Lancaster County soon after arriving. His mother married John Beyerle who was a widower from Germany. John was a yeoman (farmer who owned his own land) who arrived in America in 1730 and Melchor was a saddler, working in leather. Melchor married John’s daughter Mary making it a very tight family! In 1746 Melchor purchased 225 acres of land in Lampeter Township along the Conestoga River from John.
Jeff also had ancestors who settled in New Holland, Bern, Berks County, York County, and Montgomery county Pennsylvania. With only 2 full days to explore Lancaster we left exploring those areas for another trip.
Lancaster County Central Park
One of the jewels of Lancaster is their County Central Park. Covering 554 acres near downtown Lancaster, it has a golf course, swimming facility, tennis courts, equestrian and hiking trails just to name a few.
Of interest to us is an area that has native vegetation and tilled fields that would have been very similar to John and Melchor’s property being just across the Conestoga River. Christine, Jeff and the dogs walked along Mill Creek through the woods and fields enjoying the late fall colors of Pennsylvania. Mill Creek flows into the Conestoga.
Lancaster Central Market
We also visited downtown Lancaster, stopping at the Central Market. It is the oldest municipal market in the United States on property deeded for that purpose in 1730. The indoor market is full of stalls from local farms including vegetables, fruits, meats and crafts from local Amish and Mennonite farms.
Also in downtown Lancaster is Trinity Lutheran Church where all of Melchor Engle’s 6 sons were baptized. George is the youngest born in 1750. George is Jeff’s 4th Great Grandfather. The congregation was formed in 1730 and the current church finished in 1766. We stopped by and took pictures then spoke with the administrator about getting copies of old records.
We stayed at Mill Bridge Camp resort, just a few miles outside of Lancaster surrounded by Amish and Mennonite farms. Often the clip-clap of horse-drawn carriages filtered through the trees at the campground. It was an excellent campground – good facilities, friendly staff and great location.
On site, is an old grist mill dating from 1738. The area was originally settled by Mennonites in 1710. Lancaster County has one of the largest Amish – Mennonite (Plain People) populations in the United States.