Ancestor Vignettes

Early in the dawn of America, in 1750, still a quarter century had to pass before this land would become a country.1 Yet people were living in the New World—living a life very different from what most people today imagine. Over two hundred years ago, there were three people in America whose children’s children, down through many generations, would bring me into this world. At that same time, far away in southwestern Germany, another of my ancestors farmed the land.

I chose these four family lines—three from pre-colonial America and one from Germany emigrating to America much later—to lend some understanding of what life was like for my ancestors. Though the stories of their lives are part of my personal history, their stories also can be looked on more generally as glimpses of what life was like for many such early Americans. I am not as interested in exact dates and lineage as I am in trying to portray what it was like for these families, my grandparents in antiquity, to be a part of the emerging land.

The three families who were here in 1750 whose stories I attempt to tell are those of John Snider, Morgan Morgan, and Hans Nicholas Eisenhauer. A fourth family line starting from Philip Frank, emigrating over a century later, is also depicted. The America he found was very different from that found by the others.

What I have written is as accurate as I have been able to determine. Some mysteries will always remain; some inconsistencies will remain unresolved. I have researched this material for several years and feel I have a good understanding of these particular people, based on stacks of research, notes, and copies of manuscripts and documents. Perhaps that is why I feel it is important to write what I’ve learned because time is the fleetest of entities. Someday, somewhere, someone may ask the same questions I did. Who were the people that went before? What was it like for them? What were their fears and triumphs? Were they important to America?

I can answer some of these questions, and I will as best I can. But I cannot tell all I know. So much knowledge gathered over years of research cannot be woven into any narrative. So much of it can only be discovered, personally and spontaneously, through such activities as digging through the dusty stacks of papers and old manuscripts in the rural libraries in West Virginia or by talking to the people who still can remember some of the more recent generations. The story they told in their eyes and in the sound of their voices as they related the stories they were told as children are treasures I can hold, but cannot adequately convey in words.

For the first thirty years of my life, nearly all that I will relate was unknown to me. I had little interest in people or places of the past. I was focused on the future. As a student in school, I did well in math and science but struggled classes on history or political science. The future was the great unknown to be conquered. The past seemed unimportant.

In 1978, my wife and I were playing cards with some friends, John and Lesley Wilson. I mentioned that my son, Tyler, was collecting stamps as many youngsters do at one time or another. John mentioned that he had a box of old papers that contained some envelopes with stamps on them. The next time we played cards, he brought some stamps from that box for Tyler. After taking one look at the stamps that I recognized to be from the 1850’s, I suggested that John allow me to determine if those stamps or anything else in his box of old papers might be valuable.

I researched and appraised the contents of the old box over a period of about a year. John decided that he had no need for the old papers he had been carrying around ever since he saved them from the trash when he was helping clean out an old house many years earlier. Because I had done the research and seemed to treasure the old letters and documents, he gave them to me. I felt that an effort should be made to locate a modern-day descendant of the family whose documents the box contained. The papers would be appreciated by a descendant, if one could be found. I started with the most recent clue, an address on an envelope postmarked in Ohio in 1944. Then, I traced the family forward and backward from there. Going back in time to 1757, to John and Lydia Palmer Pearce living in Little Compton, Rhode Island, was easier than going forward.

After another year of research, I located descendants of John and Lydia living in Ohio and Florida, who gratefully received the documents I sent them from the old box. Having completed that task, I considered using my newly-acquired skills to investigate my own family history. The Pearce family was well-to-do and relatively easy to trace from England to the New England and westward to Ohio. Would my family lines be possible to trace? Since my father was an Air Force career officer, our family was transferred around the country often. My relatives hardly knew me. How would they react to my sudden interest in the family? Would my questions be answered? Were there skeletons, as I suspected, in some of the closets I wanted to open?

The original research took over four years and library visits everywhere from San Diego, California to the excellent State Library at Syracuse, New York. I visited relatives that I hadn’t seen in decades and started new friendships that I hope will persist. I visited rural historical libraries in West Virginia and the impressive State Archive building in Frankfurt, West Germany. I sat on the banks of the Ohio river with Howard Icenhower, hearing him tell tales of long ago. I worked through the Federal Records Center in Washington D.C. for Civil War and Revolutionary War records of my ancestors. Since the first publication in 1984, six additional years of research have provided corrections and significant additions to the original manuscript.

The experience has been wide and varied. Sometimes hour after hour would be spent pursuing a false lead. Other times, at the turn of one more page in an old journal a major discovery would practically leap from the page. In retrospect, the time I spent doing this work has been some of the best time in my life. Suddenly history and the politics of the past were no longer uninteresting to me. I gained a new perspective about what it was like to have lived years ago. This radically changed my impression of the past and increased my appreciation of the present. Finally, feeling this continuity and having cognizance of what went before has changed the way I look at the future.

As I explained, this document will tell the stories of four ancestors and their families. John Snider, who was part of the emerging country in the middle 1700’s is first.

John Snider

Most people have a mental image of pre-Revolutionary America. Some think of the first permanent English settlement in America at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607.2 Others picture the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts in 1620. Every student knows about the Boston Tea Party. The activities of Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia are well chronicled. However, this manuscript concentrates on ordinary people, most of whom have slipped into antiquity.

There was much busy activity in the many larger cities and coastal towns in the late 1600’s and early 1700’s. Most of the families that I will write about found that life farther west, away from the cities, appealed to them. The “frontier” moved steadily westward from the first colonies. Mile by mile, each wave of immigrants pushed further into the virgin land. Though some stayed in the cities, many who were more comfortable with farming the land or who found city life unappealing went out to the frontier. In those years, the “frontier” was only a few hundred miles inland from the Atlantic coast. John Snider was one such frontiersman. He eventually chose a life at the very edge of the frontier, but not until after he spent several years beyond that frontier as an Indian captive.

Little is known about John Snider’s parents. According to a great-grandson, they were German and farmed lands in eastern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland.3 The most significant event in John Snider’s young life was being captured by Indians and held captive for several years. Accounts vary on the details. One popular account records that John was hunting when he was captured. The Indians took their captive to their lands in Ohio, retreating through the part of Virginia where John would eventually return, years later, to stay. Another record was written in 1851 by his grandson, Joshua Martin Snyder, reporting that John was captured by Indians when he was ten or eleven and held prisoner for about nine years. Other stories that have been handed down through family tradition tell that John escaped from his captors. With considerable research and a few specific facts, I have attempted to piece together the story of John Snider’s life. I’ve also written a separate essay, Life of John Snider, containing my best conjecture regarding his experiences as an Indian captive.

We know John was captured by Indians, but whether he escaped or was exchanged nobody knows for sure. Whatever happened, he was back in the Eastern settlements before 1769. At that time, he chose to return to land in the Cass District where he had camped many years before with his Indian captors. The particular place he chose became known as John Snider’s Indian Camp Farm. Several others joined him. He “piloted out a company to Crooked Run” in 1769 that included John Evans, Sr. and his wife Sarah.4 These were the parents of John Snider’s future wife, Dorcas. She was only fourteen when her family relocated with John Snider to land situated along the border between West Virginia and Pennsylvania, west of the Monongahela River and about ten miles from Morgantown on the border of Greene County, Pennsylvania.

When John was captured by the Indians, there was no established border between the colonies of Virginia and Pennsylvania. Virginia claimed land as far north as the fort at Pittsburgh. William Penn’s southern boundary for Pennsylvania was down to the 39th parallel. To settle this dispute, two British astronomers, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, were tasked with surveying a boundary line between the colonies. The daily field notes of Mason and Dixon commence on November 15th, 1763. Journal entries were extremely terse. The first entry reads: “Arrived at Philadelphia.” The second entry on the next day is simply “Attended meeting of the commissioners appointed to settle the bounds of Pennsylvania.” A more complete journal would have been interesting reading.

Mason and Dixon had to cross lands where two surveyors, alone, would have little safety. The tribes of the confederacy of the Six Nations were friendly to the British at the time. However, renegade war parties could have meant trouble, so fourteen Indians were chosen by the chiefs of the Six Nations to accompany Mason and Dixon on their journey. Concerning these Indians, the field journal notes that in observing the work of the surveyors, the Indians had “preserved an attitude of awe and suspicious dread. They couldn’t understand what all this peering into the heavens, and always in the dead of night portended. (All astronomical observations must be made at that time of night when the particular star desired was visible.) The Indians looked with special distrust on those curious little tubes covered with glass through which the surveyors stood patiently watching somebody in the far off heavens.” The Indians “entertained a suspicion that the surveyors were holding communication with spirits in the skies, who were pointing out the track of their line.”

As the surveyors pressed farther west, they left behind the land of the Six Nations. The Indian escorts would not pass into the tribal lands of the Delaware and Shawnee Indians. As it was written a century ago, “There would be no safety to the surveyors without the Indian escort, as they would be at the mercy of wandering bands of savages, who knew not the meaning of compassion or mercy; but who could dash the brains out of a helpless infant, and tear the scalp from the head of a trembling and defenseless female with as keen a relish as they ever sat down to a breakfast of hot turtle soup.”5

Without their escorts, they had to stop short within just 36 miles of their goal. After many interruptions over four years of surveying, the task was finished at the margin of Dunkard Creek in 1767, some 233 miles, 13 chains, and 68 links from their starting point. They “set up a Post marked W on the west side and heaped round it earth….” This was the westernmost frontier at the time, less than 250 miles west of Philadelphia and very near Snider’s Indian Camp Farm. It is interesting to me that many people associate this famous Mason Dixon Line with the division between the Union and the Confederacy in the Civil War. They don’t realize it was not the war between the states but the commotion between the colonies that made the survey necessary some 100 years earlier.

Other families also appeared in the area of Crooked Run at about this time. John Heard settled across the Monongahela River from John Snider’s settlements. John Heard’s wife was Mary Snider, who may have been a sister to John Snider. John Heard may have been part of “the company” John Snider “piloted out” in 1769.

Within a few years following the settlement at Indian Camp Farm, John Snider, then thirty, married Dorcas, who was then seventeen. The small settlement grew as over the years at least ten children were raised from this marriage. Dorcas had four brothers and seven sisters of her own. Large families were typical then. Eventually there were others at John Snider’s farm, including slaves.6 A 1793 tax return from archives in Richmond, Virginia records John Snider as having two white males over twenty-one (one being himself), one black over sixteen and one black between the ages of twelve and sixteen. It also records that he had seven horses.

The first years were probably the worst. John’s initial duty that first summer of 1770 was to find suitable building sites. The small band of pioneers needed a location with both natural defenses and a water supply. Then rough log cabins had to be hastily constructed with unhewn logs. Chimneys of rough stones were bound together with clay mortar. The same clay mortar, along with sticks, was used to fill the cracks between the logs in the cabin. For defense, the only openings in the structure were the door and the chimney. In the rare case where a window was included, greased paper served as “glass,” since there were no glass factories on the western side of the Allegheny Mountains.

The inside of the cabins showed the same spartan functionality as the exterior. Blocks of wood sufficed for chairs until hickory poles and splits for bottoms and backs could be made. Beds were always in a corner, with two sides supported by the logs of the walls. Made of poles and covered with leaves, these beds could feel comfortable only to the most aching of pioneer bodies.

Food for these adventurers was very unimaginative. For at least the first year, hunting provided most of the food. It was not uncommon for families to go months at a time without bread. Hunting also provided the furs and pelts that were used in exchange for rifles, salt, and tools, none of which could be acquired locally. The need for other foodstuffs, especially corn, was apparent. As soon as basic shelter was provided, the early farmers cleared land by grubbing the small bushes and chopping down the small trees in the virgin forest. Then the bark of the larger trees was removed, and fires were used to kill the tree. With the leaves gone from the dead tree, sunlight could reach the ground, and the land between the trees could be farmed. First it had to be plowed. For this, a forked sapling with an iron plow fastened to the trunk was pulled either by a horse or by members of the family, including women and children.

Corn was the first crop to go in, and the favorite time was when the dogwoods were in full bloom, or when the oak leaves were the size of squirrels’ ears. That first crop often didn’t take in the first year, usually because of raccoons and other pests. The frontier settlers had all the meat they could want, since game was plentiful. They undoubtedly grew very tired of having such a limited menu while they waited for their first crops to grow. How they thrilled at the first simple “Johnny cakes,” resembling corn bread, when the first corn was harvested!

Eventually hogs were kept, but only after the threat of Indians had diminished significantly from the level the settlers at Snider’s Indian Camp Farm would have faced in 1770. Only scrub hog stock was found west of the mountains before 1800, and “linebacks and razorbacks” were common. For many years, they were not penned but ran at large. Their tough skin made them safe even from snake bites. Their long tusks were effective protection from bears and other predators.

Identified by markings and slits on the ears, John Snider’s hogs ranged free through the area. By the mid-1770’s, John had a sizable farm. He “rendered non-military assistance to the American cause in the American Revolution.”7 Public Service records for 1782 in Monongalia County list John Snider as providing 160 pounds of pork. Though there are records of a John Snider having served in the Revolutionary War, research shows that this is almost certainly a different man than the John Snider of Indian Camp Farm.

Why he didn’t serve in the American Revolution is open to speculation, as he was certainly an able-bodied frontiersman, and others from the area were called to duty. I believe he didn’t serve because military campaigns fought on the western edge of the American frontier were against not only the British, but the Indians who were in alliance with the British. Since John had been captured by Indians as a boy and had spent time among them, it is unlikely that he would participate in warfare against the Indians. Another ancestor of mine did participate in a military campaign against the Indians. In a separate essay, I write about the Revolutionary War service of Zackquill Morgan. There, I describe what western frontier “warfare” was like.

For the needs of his family or farm that could not be traded locally for hogs, John could sell his livestock and purchase goods at towns to the east of his Indian Camp Farm. Here is a list of 1750 prices in a nearby county:8

Handkerchief 27¢
Axe 79¢
Musket $2.00
Shoes, fairly made 3.00
Cow 4.00
Saddle 4.17
Horse 10.00
Wagon 28.00
Indentured slave, white, to serve for five years9 101.00
Two slaves, black, girls about two years of age 40.00
…with mother, past 25 years of age 200.00

As an aside, I have to smile when I read some of the stories about John Snider, or about any earlier pioneers. Earliest records seem most accurate. It seems that “the story gets better and better” when recalled by later generations. There was a natural tendency to “fill in the blanks,” extrapolating the unknown to what might have happened to what is reported to have certainly happened. Over two hundred years, tradition turns into legend and then is assumed to be fact. A classic example of this was a ceremony in the summer of 1940 when the Daughters of the American Revolution unveiled a “suitable marker” at the Fort Martin Church, not far from the Garlow farm where John is allegedly buried. At the time, much was said about John’s life as a “pioneer, a settler, an Indian fighter, soldier in Revolutionary War, (and a) highly praised engineer.” The facts bear out only the first two attributes. One of Snider’s more contemporary descendants, Frank Snider, wrote that “John Snider owned a farm that he cultivated, mostly with the labor of others. He had acquired the Indian mode of living, and was more of a hunter and woodsman than a farmer.”

I tried to discover what seed of truth might be behind the claim of John Snider being “a highly praised engineer.” Usually claims such as this have at least some basis in remote fact. I found what probably is the answer in an obscure reference I had never seen until I was in the final stages of this work. In a series of short historical sketches, Andrew J. Waychoff writes his observations of the construction of John Snider’s unusual pond and spillway:10

“…The mill stood on the bank and on the edge of the dam. What is peculiar here is the place they made for the spillway or overflow of the waters not used by the mill. Instead of being over the dam or near it, the spillway channel is several hundred feet up the run, away from the run at the Pennsylvania side of the bottom. That the water could not escape by a broad overflow of bottom land, a dike levee was thrown up extending from the dam at the mill to the place of overflow. When these peculiar conditions are studied on the ground, it appears that no overflow was allowed at the dam or anywhere along the dike or levee until the spillway was reached. Leading from the spillway and diagonally across it, is seen the remains of an old trailrace or channel for water.

“Where this joins the creek there is no evidence of there ever having been any building for further use of the water of the spillway. What is so strange to me about this is, that here is almost the exact counterpart upon a small scale of the plan adopted one hundred years later by the engineers of the Panama Canal in the spillway to get free from superfluous waters of the Chagres River.”

John constructed his farm, pond, and spillway on the edge of the frontier. He almost certainly contributed to the construction of forts in the area as well. Two important forts were built near Snider’s land. Richard Harrison built a hewed log structure, 22 by 30 feet, with a stockade around it. Sometime after 1773, Charles Martin built a fort on his farm.11 This was about a mile from Harrison’s fort, both being on Crooked Run and near Snider’s land.12 Try to imagine a log structure less than ten yards on a side to get an idea of how uncomfortable this would have been for the early settlers. I’ll write more about life in these forts later.

In 1778, Fort Martin Methodist Church was organized by this same Charles Martin. In 1784 the first church structure, a log building, was erected on land donated by John Snider. This church was the first Methodist structure in Monongalia County. Bishop Asbury preached there in 1786 and 1788. Formal religion, however, held a strange relationship with the settlers. Very much attuned to nature, in many ways the pioneers were little removed from the native red man. As learned from the Indians, the blood of a black cat was believed to be able to cure erysipelas, or St. Anthony’s Fire. As a result, there were few black cats in any frontier community—a fact that may be the basis for the black cat traditions of more modern times.

The settlers were not immune to other superstitions, including witchcraft. Dr. Joseph Dodderidge wrote:13

“To the witch was ascribed the tremendous power of inflicting strange and incurable diseases, particularly on children, of destroying cattle by shooting them with hair balls, and a great variety of other means of destruction, of inflicting spells and curses on guns and other things, and, lastly, of changing men into horses, and after bridling and saddling them, riding them in full speed over hill and dale to their frolics and other places of rendezvous. More ample powers of mischief than these cannot well be imagined.”

It is very doubtful that John Snider had any education. Several deeds on file in Monongalia County Courthouse show just his mark on them. The Monongalia Chronicle suggests: “He couldn’t even sign his name. His illiteracy could explain why other settlers became well known while Snider didn’t. Additionally there is no record of him ever holding any public office.”14 I believe that old John Snider was content to be simply a hunter and woodsman.

Today, John Snider is recognized as an important pioneer in West Virginia history. His mark was made because he was able to survive where others had failed. He kept the settlers he had piloted out safe and established a permanent place on the Indian frontier and in the history books. I believe that the years he spent with the Indians allowed him to learn their ways and to think like them. Perhaps this gave him the edge over the earlier pioneers to the area. A 1961 article in the West Virginia Hillbilly reported: “John wasn’t the first settler in Monongalia County. There were the Echarlys and the Deckers, but the Indians erased them, giving Snider the distinction of being the man who came to stay.”

In the Monongalia Chronicle, Gordon Baker writes at the end of one section:

“It is fitting to close this history of John Snider and his family by quoting part of a speech made by ex-Governor Ephraim F. Morgan in 1926 on the Sesqui- Centennial of Monongalia County: ‘They founded their homes along the banks of the Monongahela and its tributaries. Unconsciously and unknowingly they founded the great county of a great commonwealth. These sturdy pioneers—Echarlys, Deckers, Sniders, Pricketts, Worleys, Morgans and other settlers-produced a race of giants, if not physical giants, giants in thrift, industry, morals and intelligence.’ You will note that a descendant of the Morgans places the Snider family in its proper place.”

The Morgans, highly esteemed by Mr. Baker in the preceding quotation along with the Sniders, are one of the most famous families of West Virginia. They are my ancestors behind the second story which I will tell next.

Morgan Morgan

Morgan Morgan was a native of Wales. He was educated in London and emigrated to America in Queen Anne’s reign, around 1713.15 There is much written about Morgan Morgan, or Morgan ap Morgan as he signed his name, meaning Morgan son of Morgan. He was relatively easy to research, having held several public offices in Delaware and Pennsylvania.16 He also was the forefather of a clan of Morgans that to this day are still well known in northern West Virginia.

Morgan Morgan was one of the first to push westward into Monongalia County in what is now northern West Virginia. This area was to the east of what would become John Snider’s land, which at that time was unsettled and known only to the Indians and traders who dared to go there. But where Morgan Morgan settled others followed, and a small town emerged. He was, by frontier standards, a highly educated man. He held many high offices in the new town that would become known as “Morgan’s Town.”

As a justice, Morgan Morgan was responsible for determining punishment for crimes. Small town justice was often very harsh. At times, it was also very archaic. For example, Monongalia County (Virginia) records show that Marquis Calmes, gentleman, was paid to build a “ducking stool according to the model of that of Fredericksburg” in 1746. William McMachen was paid for “digging a pit seven feet deep and six feet square in the clear, and walling the same with stone, for a ducking pool.”

This unusual instrument of punishment was made necessary by a Virginia law that had been on the books for eighty years:17

“At a Grand Assembly held at James City the 23d of December, 1662, and in the 14th year of our Soverign Lord King Charles II

An Act for the Punishment of Scandalous Persons

“Whereas, Many Babbling Women Slander and Scandalize their Neighbors, for which their poor Husbands are often involved in chargeable and vexatious Suits, and cast great Damages; Be it, therefore Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That in Actions of slander, occasioned by the Wife, after judgement passed for the damages, the Woman shall be punished by Ducking; and if the Slander be so enormous as to be adjudged at greater Damages than Five Hundred pounds of Tobacco, then the Woman to suffer a Ducking for each Five Hundred pounds of Tobacco adjudged against the Husband, if he refuse to pay the Tobacco.”

When Morgan Morgan first came to the northwestern part of Virginia, he had several of his children with him. Among them were David, then about fifteen, and Zackquill, just born. Both David and Zackquill led noteworthy lives and are a part of the early legends of the land. Both men are my grandfathers, though they are brothers. This is because David’s granddaughter married Zackquill’s great grandson. I am proud that both men are my forefathers. I will write of David and then of his younger brother, Zackquill.

In his early years, David Morgan was a surveyor. He worked with George Washington in surveying the border between Virginia and Maryland.18 George, as a young man, was a surveyor in this area and continued this profession until he was drawn into the French and Indian War.19 George Washington was to become Commander in Chief of the Continental Army and our first president. Later, in 1784, when David had moved farther west, Washington visited David and his brother Zackquill.20 How I would have liked to hear that conversation, just eight years after America’s year of independence. Friends both before and after America became a country! In 1773, David Morgan moved to Monongalia County, near where the town of Morgantown stands today. With him was his brother, Zackquill Morgan, who settled in and laid out the land of “Morgan’s Town.”21

David Morgan settled on a large tract of excellent farmland about a half mile west of the river, and the same distance from the present village of Rivesville. The Indians were troublesome during this period, and for mutual protection the settlers erected a fort in 1774 at the mouth of Prickett’s Creek.22 Prickett’s Fort was on the opposite side of the river from David’s farm and about half a mile distant.

I visited the site of this fort in 1982. According to a description of the fort published in the Northwestern Journal (in 1822), the fort was staked out in 1773, completed in 1774, and dismantled in 1799. Today a carefully reconstructed fort stands on the same place. When I visited the reconstructed fort, recalling the description of the fort that was written 150 years ago, I remember how impressed I was at the accuracy of the reconstruction. Prickett’s Fort was very large by frontier standards. There were sixteen cabins, four on each wall. Each corner had a bastion eight feet higher than the twelve foot stockade walls; each bastion was twelve feet square and made of large hickory logs. Within the stockade were two large buildings, each forty by twenty feet. One was the shelter or community house; the other was a storehouse. There were two gates, one leading to the river and another to a nearby spring. Stables and stock pens were at the southern end of the stockade. Pioneer families would often spend months in forts such as these waiting for the colder weather, which signaled the return of the Indians to western lands. How the settlers must have suffered, with eighty families living at the Prickett settlement as recorded in 1773. Remember this was within a square stockade with walls only 110 feet on a side.

The arrival of cooler weather was welcomed with great joy. Often, however, after the families had left the fort and were back in their cabins, the weather turned suddenly and unseasonably warm again. The savages would return during this time, visiting the settlements with their destructive warfare. Thus the sudden warm days almost into winter that struck terror into the hearts of the frontier settlers are to this day known as “Indian Summer,” though to people today it carries a gentler connotation. Only when winter truly had set in could the pioneers feel safe. As a writer expressed it in 1824:23

“To our forefathers, the gloomy months of winter were more pleasant than the zephyrs of spring and the flowers of May. (When the winter was over, the) melting of the snow saddened every countenance and the general warmth of the sun chilled every heart with horror. The apprehension of another visit by the Indians, and of being driven back to the detested fort, was painful in the highest degree and the distressing apprehension was frequently realized.”

Now back to the story of David Morgan. David Morgan is sometimes called “The Indian Fighter.” This is based on exactly one encounter with two Indians, but it happened at a time and in a way that locked it forever into the history of the land.24 When I visited Morgantown, West Virginia in 1982 as part of my research, the desk clerk at the motel where I stayed asked me what business brought me to town. I told him I was researching the Morgan family. He had plenty of stories to tell. The legend lives on in northern West Virginia even today.

In an archway inside the courthouse in Fairmont, West Virginia is another commemoration of the Morgan legend. A painting depicts a famous fight that occured near Prickett’s Fort in the spring of 1779 between David Morgan and two Indians. I saw this painting when, doing this research, I visited the area almost exactly 200 years after the incident. It was a special moment for me.

There have been many versions told of David Morgan’s famous encounter with the Indians. The earliest description was printed in the May, 1779 issue of the United States Magazine. This was in the form of a letter that recounted the incident that had taken place only a month earlier. A more complete and substantially accurate account was written over 150 years ago in Alexander Withers’ Chronicles of Border Warfare.25 When this book was written, the “border” was between Virginia and Ohio. Here is the the story of the incident from Withers’ book:

“In the neighborhood of Prickett’s Fort, the inhabitants were early alarmed, by circumstances which induced a belief that Indians were near, and they accordingly entered that garrison. It was soon evident that their fears were groundless, but as the season was fast approaching when the savages might be expected to commence depredations, they determined on remaining in the fort, of a night, and yet prosecute the business of their farms as usual during the day. Among those who were at this time in the fort was David Morgan, then upwards of sixty years of age. Early in April, being himself unwell, he sent his two children—Stephen, a youth of sixteen, and Sarah, a girl of fourteen—to feed the cattle at his farm, about a mile off. The children, thinking to remain all day and spend the time in preparing ground for watermelons, unknown to their father took with them some bread and meat. Having fed the stock, Stephen set himself to work, and while he was engaged in grubbing, his sister would remove the brush, and otherwise aid him in the labor of clearing the ground; occasionally going to the house to wet some linen which she had spread out to bleach. Morgan, after the children had been gone some time, betook himself to bed, and soon falling asleep, dreamed that he saw Stephen and Sarah walking about the fort yard, scalped. Aroused from slumber by the harrowing spectacle presented to his sleeping view, he inquired if the children had returned, and upon learning they had not, he set out to see what detained them, taking with him his gun. As he approached the house, still impressed with the horrible fear that he should find his dream realized, he ascended an eminence, from which he could distinctly see over his plantation, and descrying from thence the objects of his anxious solitude, he proceeded directly to them, and seated himself on an old log, near at hand. He had been here but a few minutes, before he saw two Indians come out from the house and make toward the children. Fearing to alarm them too much, and thus deprive them of the power of exerting themselves ably to make an escape, he apprised them in a careless manner of their danger, and told them to run towards the fort – himself still maintaining his seat on the log. The Indians then raised a hideous yell and ran in pursuit; but the old gentleman shewing himself at that instant, caused them to forbear the chase, and shelter themselves behind trees. He then endeavored to effect an escape, by flight, and the Indians followed after him. Age and consequent infirmity rendered him unable long to continue out of their reach; and aware that they were gaining considerably on him, he wheeled to shoot. Both instantly sprang behind trees, and Morgan seeking shelter in the same manner, got behind a sugar, which was so small as to leave part of his body exposed. Looking around, he saw a large oak about twenty yards farther, and he made to it. Just as he reached it, the foremost Indian sought security behind the sugar sapling, which he had found insufficient for his protection. The Indian, sensible that it would not shelter him, threw himself down by the side of a log which lay at the root of the sapling. But this did not afford him sufficient cover, and Morgan, seeing him exposed to a shot, fired at him. The ball took effect, and the savage, rolling himself over on his back, stabbed himself twice in the breast.

“Having thus succeeded in killing one of his pursuers, Morgan again took to flight, and the remaining Indian after him. It was now that trees could afford him no security. His gun was unloaded, and his pursuer could approach him safely. The unequal race was continued about sixty yards, when looking over his shoulder, he saw the savage within a few paces of him, and with his gun raised. Morgan sprang to one side, and the ball whizzed harmlessly by him. The odds were not now great, and both advanced to closer combat, sensible of the prize for which they had to contend, and each determined to deal death to his adversary. Morgan aimed a blow with his gun; but the Indian hurled a tomahawk at him, which cutting the little finger of his left hand entirely off, and injuring the one next to it very much, knocked the gun out of his grasp, and they closed. Being a good wrestler, Morgan succeeded in throwing the Indian; but soon found himself overturned, and the savage upon him, feeling for his knife and sending forth a most horrifick yell, as is their custom when they consider victory as secure. A woman’s apron, which he had taken from the house and fastened around him above his knife, so hindered him in getting at it quickly, that Morgan, getting one of his fingers in his mouth, deprived him of the use of that hand, and disconcerted him very much by continuing to grind it between his teeth. At length the Indian got hold of his knife, but so far towards the blade, that Morgan too got a small hold on the extremity of the handle; and as the Indian drew it from the scabbard, Morgan, biting his finger with all his might, and thus causing him somewhat to relax his grasp, drew it through his hand, gashing it most severely.

“By this time both had gained their feet, and the Indian, sensible of the great advantage gained over him, endeavored to disengage himself; but Morgan held fast to the finger until he succeeded in giving him a fatal stab, and felt the almost lifeless body sinking in his arms. He then loosened his hold and departed for the fort.

“On his way he met with his daughter, who not being able to keep pace with her brother, had followed his footsteps to the river bank where he had plunged in, and was then making her way to the canoe. Assured thus far of the safety of his children, he accompanied his daughter to the fort and then, in company with a party of the men, returned to his farm, to see if there were any appearance of other Indians being about there. On arriving at the spot where the desperate struggle had been, the wounded Indian was not to be seen; but trailing him by the blood which flowed profusely from his side, they found him concealed in the branches of a fallen tree. He had taken the knife from his body, bound up the wound with the apron, and on their approaching him, accosted them familiarly, with the salutation `How do broder, how do broder.’ Alas! Poor fellow! Their brotherhood extended no farther than to the gratification of a vengeful feeling. He was tomahawked and scalped; and, as if this would not fill the measure of their vindictive passions, both he and his companion were flayed, their skins tanned and converted into saddle seats, shot pouches, and belts – A striking instance of the barbarities, which a revengeful spirit will lead its possessors to perpetuate.”

David Morgan died in 1813. On the day David was buried, “… old Charley Nourse, that everybody called Slow River Charley, said that David was dead now, but if times ever got so bad that nothing could be done about them, he (David Morgan) would `put his bones and meat together and come back again, and straighten things out.’ Slow River Charley, who was a little bit touched in the head, always said it was a fact that David would do this, for he knew about it from a vision, and it could be expected to happen just like he said.”26

Let’s turn now to another Morgan of that era: Zackquill. I am descended from both, since their descendants intermarried. (Remember, in the sparsely settled frontier there wasn’t much opportunity to meet or free time to court a wide variety of suitors.) Zackquill Morgan was David’s younger brother by about fourteen years. The younger Morgan is best known for his activities as Colonel Morgan and for founding the town of Morgantown, now home of the University of West Virginia.

By 1768, Zackquill and his brother David had taken up land along the Monongahela River. The land was well situated and the stage was set for a very rapid increase in pioneer settlements in this territory. The colony of Virginia offered to every bona-fide settler who built a log cabin and raised a crop of corn before 1778 a title to 400 acres of land and preemption right to 1000 acres more adjoining. This illustrates the value of that first successful crop of corn.

As more settlers came, small communities grew. Zackquill was a prominent civic and military leader in the area. In 1783, the seat of government was moved to the house of Zackquill Morgan along the Monongahela River near the mouth of Deckers Creek. Quickly “a town, by the name of Morgan’s Town” was established from fifty acres of land, the property of Zackquill Morgan. The acres were laid off into lots and streets, and for two months in the Virginia Gazette, advertisements were placed announcing the upcoming land auction.27 It was specified that whomever should be successful in a bid must “build on each a dwelling house, eighteen feet square at least, with a brick, or stone chimney, to be finished fit for habitation within four years from the date of sale.”

Daniel Boone knew Zackquill. I know this, but I have been unable to rediscover the reference. Once, very late at night and very early in my research in a deep sub-basement at the University of South Carolina library, I was researching a later ancestor also named Zackquill Morgan, who was a sergeant in the Revolutionary Army. I knew I was a descendant of this Zackquill Morgan, the sergeant. At that time, I came across a letter written by Daniel Boone, mentioning that he had met with another Zackquill Morgan, a colonel, “up in Kaintuck,” who was having problems with the Indians in the area. At the time, I didn’t know I was related to both Morgans and did not record the reference to Colonel Morgan, who was the founder of Morgantown. I leave it to some future researcher to find that letter, and to thrill in the rediscovery of Daniel Boone’s letter.

Colonel Morgan was projected into the public spotlight by an incident in October, 1777 for which he was accused of willful murder. It was in a time when America was just emerging as a nation. At that time not everyone in the one-year-old America supported the break with England. At the outbreak of the American Revolution, about one-third of the people supported independence for the colonies, about one-third remained loyal to the British (these people were known as Tories), and about one-third were totally indifferent to the outcome.28 In the summer of 1777, Colonel Morgan took an active part in uncovering a Tory plot, as he wrote to his commander General Hand on August 29: “It is with the utmost anxiety that I now inform you that our march is retarded for some time against the natural enemies of our country. A few days ago a most horrible conspiracy appeared. Numbers of the inhabitants of this country have joined in a plot . . . to join the English and Indians.” Morgan was in command of five hundred men at the time and faced both the Indians, allied with the English across the western border, and the Tories in his midst.

The plot thickened when in October, as Morgan and four associates were crossing a river by flatboat with a Tory prisoner, the prisoner was drowned. In a letter to General Hand at Fort Pitt shortly after the incident, Colonel Gibson, a friend of Zackquill, wrote:29

“I am sorry to inform you that the militia of Monongalia County are in the utmost confusion, occasioned by the drowning of Higgison, the noted Tory. The report is that he in company with Col. Zackquill Morgan and four others were crossing a flat at the mouth of Cheat River. Higgison was handcuffed and had bolts on his legs and whether he tumbled out, or was thrown out, is uncertain.

“Some say he was thrown by Col. Morgan: However, the coroner’s inquest has found it willful murder, and a called court has been held, and Col. Morgan is ordered to Williamsburg for further trial. Capt. Pigman and most of the Captains have resigned, and have publicly declared they will not go on an expedition without Col. Morgan.”

That same Captain Pigman engaged in “riotous behavior … in endeavoring to rescue Col. Zack. Morgan out of the hands of the officer who had him in custody for murder, and to free him from censure in a violent and tumultuous manner.”30 For this, Captain Pigman was court-martialed; however the incident emphasized the respect Zackquill’s men had for him.

Another letter to General Hand a few days later declared “that without some method can timely be thought of, that will set aside the ill-timed judgement of the court, the militia from the county are not to be expected. I know the people there well, and am sensible that it is not in the power of any other man but Col. Morgan to march them.”31 Colonel Morgan was conducted to Williamsburg for trial, and tradition says, a very large contingent of his friends went along. No record of the trial proceedings has been found, but he was acquitted and returned to a position of leadership in Monongalia County affairs. Perhaps the colonial magistrates decided that the cause of freedom was more important than a questionable conviction of one of their most esteemed and respected patriotic colonels.

Hans Nicholas Eisenhauer

The Morgans and John Snider lived on the westernmost edge of the advancing frontier. Their life was full of danger and hardship. Far to the east were towns such as Boston and Philadelphia and Williamsburg, where life was completely different. Between the two extremes were many people who were the backbone of the country, the farmers and laborers working the land. Many of these recent immigrants were Germans, and among them was Hans Nicholas Eisenhauer.

Hans Nicholas Eisenhauer came with his family in 1741 and settled in Pennsylvania.32 They came to America in the ship Europa with other “Palatinates.” The Palatinate was a region a little smaller than the state of Massachusetts, bounded roughly by the Rhine River, France, and the Netherlands, with a population of approximately 500,000 at the time.33 Many Palatinates chose to leave the region because of religious and personal oppression during the early 1700’s.

Though America was a hard land for the immigrant, a German from the Palatinate might well have found it mild by comparison. The Palatinate region was ravaged in many ways. By war it was ravaged repeatedly. Southwest Germany was hit particularly hard by nearly continuous wars in the 1600’s and early 1700’s. Losses were high: in one brief period, 75% of the inhabitants were killed, 66% of the houses, 85% of the horses, and 82% of the cows were destroyed. Besides destructive wars, the people of the Palatinate suffered religious persecution and relentless oppression by petty tyrants. Favorable reports apparently coming from across the Atlantic appealed strongly to the Palatinates, causing a major surge of emigration in the early 1700’s.

The winter of 1708/9 in the Palatinate was severe. “Birds perished on the wing, beasts in their lairs, and mortals fell dead in the way.” Good reports from German colonists under English rule were coming back from America. What appeared to the Palatinates as a direct invitation from Queen Anne of England for them to settle in her transatlantic colonies prompted a major exodus. Beginning in May, 1709, Palatinates started arriving in England in large numbers. By the end of June, five thousand, and by October, thirteen thousand Palatinates were in London. Most were reduced to paupers. England provided food, sheltered the immigrants temporarily in barns, warehouses, and a thousand tents taken from Army stores. All Catholics were sent back (about 10%), or they could become Protestants and stay.

Some of these first Palatinates were eventually transported to America. Approximately 3000 were sent in thirteen ships bound for New York. Some 600 others went to Newbern, North Carolina. Of the 3600 Palatinates bound for America, 470 died of ship fever on the voyage and some 250 more perished shortly after arrival. Of those in New York, most would leave for Pennsylvania in the years 1723-1726 due to treachery by government officials in New York causing the loss of clear title to their original land holdings. These Palatinates found Pennsylvania much to their liking, and stories of their success there prompted additional immigrant migrations into Pennsylvania from Germany. By 1743, there were fifty thousand Germans in Pennsylvania. Hans Nicholas Eisenhauer and his family were among that number.

Think of how they must have felt. Imagine a family packing all their possessions that could be hauled and leaving for a new country never seen, almost certainly never to return. Today, with fast transoceanic flights and the convenience of a world-wide telephone network, it’s difficult to imagine the impact of such a move. In those days leaving their homeland meant selling or leaving behind everything that they could not take with them and saying goodbye to relatives, friends and neighbors forever. At least as they made their journey, they would have been with others who had chosen the same gamble on a new life in an unknown land.

Hans Nicholas Eisenhauer and his family made their way to Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, and left on the Europa34 in August of 1741. During the three months at sea in the small vessel, the passengers were undoubtedly alarmed by the untimely death of the ship’s captain. There were thirty-four registered passengers on the ship, but all women and children under sixteen were not registered. The total, including crew, would have been approximately 120 people on the small sailing ship.

Conditions on these ships were incredibly bad, and the passengers were often subject to inhumane conditions, leading frequently to death. Appendix A, Early German Immigration to America, relates a more typical account of the horrors of such an undertaking. The Europa, fortunately, arrived safely in America, where the passengers were discharged at the mouth of the Delaware River near Cape May. They were transported in three shallops35 from Cape May to Philadelphia. On November 17, 1741 Thomas Greene wrote “to his Honour the Governor: Sir, in compliance with your orders we have carefully examined the State of Health of the Passengers on board three Shallops, brought from the Cape from Europe, Captain Lunsdaine from Rotterdam and found no disease on board that is infectious.” According to the lists given, it is known that the immigrant family consisted of Hans Nicholas, age 50, John, age 28, Peter, age 25, and Johannes, who was not yet 16 but merely 14. It is easy to understand why young Johannes wanted to “be sixteen” and have his name listed with the “men.” Hans Nicholas Eisenhauer did bring his wife, though no women were listed on the ship’s records.

The family settled northwest of Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania. The first major influx of settlers in this area had begun only 18 years earlier, in 1723. He is listed in the land records36 as “Nicholas Eisenhauer” below which the clerk has written “say Iron Cutter.” As with many old country names, the spelling variations were often creative. Often their “official” names were the best guesses of the clerks who recorded them on deeds or other documents. In this document, I use the spelling of the name as it was used in that particular generation. Eisenhauer, Eisenhower, Icyhower, Icenhower are all the same family.

The first Eisenhauers worked the land as farmers in the same years that all the events I have written about so far occurred. Hans Nicholas Eisenhauer could not have known that among his grandchildren would be Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, and me, who would write this Genealogy and Personal History over two hundred years later.

In studying the descendants in this line, I have detected a common characteristic. It seems to exist especially in the later generations, who used the spelling “Icenhower” instead of any of the earlier variations. This characteristic appears as a continuous struggle to keep achieving, to find a challenge and to meet it. Invariably, no success is ever enough. In her exhaustive research into this line, Rhonda Gayle Icenhower indicated this incessant drive was known for as long as anyone could remember as the “Icenhower curse,” especially by the women married to Icenhower descendants.

This is exemplified in an affidavit made in 1859 about Joseph Icenhower that reported “Icenhower said that if anyone would lend him enough money to go to Pike’s Peak that when he returned he would pay double that amount.” Joseph was one of several Icenhower descendants who lived for many years near the great Natural Bridge in Virginia. He played on the bridge as a child, then when grown helped break away the ice beneath it for people to be baptized. In the middle 1800’s, Joseph fathered eighteen children, twelve sons and six daughters (with three different wives). During this time, Joseph worked for fifteen years at a salt and mining company in Mason City.37

Joseph’s son, Josephus, faced the challenge of the Civil War as a boy only fifteen years old. Josephus “mustered in” at Point Pleasant, Va. to Capt. McGowan’s Co. of the 13th Regiment of Virginia Volunteers in 1862. As I write this, I have sons who are about the age of young Josephus.38 It is hard for me to imagine my sons at that age going off to fight a war, especially a war as harsh and exhausting as the Civil War.

The Icenhower ancestor I know most about is John Frederick Icenhower. I knew “Fred” myself; he was my great grandfather. Fred lived to be eighty-six, passing on when I was nineteen. I remember Fred and his wife, Georgia, very well. Fred spent his life working in the coal mine that his father, Josephus, had purchased. It was undoubtedly a back-breaking way to make a living.

Little did Fred know it, but he was to have a profound effect on me and on the course my future was to take. Fred had a home and some farmland along the Ohio River just at the West Virginia end of the Pomeroy Bend Bridge. His coal mine, the Beech Grove Coal Company, was in the hills behind his home. As a young boy, occasionally I used to visit Fred and his wife, Georgia, in the summertime. I have been accused by many of being restless and unable to relax. It sounds, in retrospect, like a touch of the “Icenhower curse.” Summers when I was there in West Virginia were no exceptions. I was bored.

One summer day my boredom changed briefly to adventure. As I explored Fred’s farm, I discovered a horse in the barn out back. What are horses for if not to ride? I was about ten years old at the time. I managed to get the horse out of the stall and pointed toward the open door leading to the pasture. He seemed a little nervous. I climbed up on the railing next to the stall and jumped on the horse’s back, just as all my cowboy heroes did. Now there had been no saddle anywhere to be found, and I wouldn’t have known how to put it on anyway. But not having a saddle around should have been a clue to the ten year old cowboy. The moment I landed on the horse that summer afternoon, he took off as if possessed. I lunged forward and grabbed onto what I could of his neck and mane, which must have made him even less happy. Terrified, I held on until finally, he stopped. Then I dropped to the ground and ran for the nearest fence. Later I was to find out that the horse had spent every day in the coal mines hauling heavy coal cars up from the depths of the mine. He had never been ridden before. No wonder he was so upset when I landed on his back and grabbed his neck that first time.

I had to find something to do. Fred was an educated man and had plenty of books. But they were all complicated, technical books and all the print was too small for a boy my age. There were only four books that I could read. I remember them to this day: they were a set of four Navy Manuals on Basic Electricity. Their paper covers were blue and white. The print was large and there were plenty of diagrams. Since they were training manuals, they were written in simple terms. Call it boredom, or call it fate, but I started reading the four books. By the end of the summer, I had become fascinated by the world of electronics. From that summer on, I pursued the field of electronics, devouring every book I could find. Eventually I was to become an electronic technician, then an engineer, and finally a designer of computers. At one point in my career, I worked with the world’s most powerful computer, whose computational power to me was almost frightening.

That summer in West Virginia had days that seemed to last forever. But as a result of that summer and the computer design career it eventually led to, I now deal in computer circuit operations whose timing is measured in billionths of a second. Ironically, more than once in my work I have heard an engineer equivocate an electronic circuit needing to process a signal in a millionth of a second as having “all day.”

That quiet summer home along the banks of the Ohio and those four, blue, paperback Basic Electricity manuals seem so distant now. It is almost like the opening line of a popular science fiction movie, Star Wars, which begins “A long time ago in a galaxy far away…”

Philip Frank

While the Sniders, Morgans, and Eisenhauers were planting roots in the new country, across the Atlantic Ocean another family was working the land in Germany. In the small rural town of Deisslinger, near Rottweil in southwestern Germany, a boy was born in 1843.39 This was farming country; a combination of beautiful hills and fields. Philip Frank grew up in this rural village, most certainly learning the farmers’ trade through hard work and long hours. His early days in his native Germany as a farmer were numbered, however. The First Prussian War saw Philip leave the fields and enter the Army. He was listed as a farmer on his military papers, but he would not return for long to an agrarian life after his discharge.

In that war, Philip fought bravely against the Prussians. He was awarded a medal for his service.40 Once discharged, he returned to the area around Rottweil. Philip, at that time twenty-seven years old and unmarried, decided to leave his homeland forever and journey to America. He brought very little with him. Today the only thing that we are sure he had was a travel passport that allowed him to move through Germany and to find transportation to his new home. This passport is especially interesting because there were no photographs then. A complete description of Philip Frank is recorded there, including not only the color of his eyes, but the shape of his nose, face, and other physical features. He took out his passport on the 23rd of March, 1870 for travel on April 4th.

He arrived in America in 1870. As thousands of other immigrants, he had to go where there was work. He was young, not yet thirty, and Pittsburgh was emerging as an important industrial center, with the production of steel as that city’s lifeblood.41 Philip worked as a “day laborer.” His farming skills did him little good in a country where he lacked land. At least he was in familiar surroundings; his neighbors on Pittsburgh’s North Side spoke his native German. After ten years in America, Philip was ready to become a citizen, and took his Oath of Allegiance in 1880.42

Philip spent his entire life as a laborer. In Pittsburgh city indexes he can be followed, from living at a room at 3117 William Street, Rear43 alone, to when he was married to Catherine Fath, to when he died in 1912. He is always listed as a laborer. His wife, Catherine, had come to America later than Philip. In the 1900 census she is still listed as “NR” for non-resident while Philip is listed as “NA” for naturalized citizen.44 Catherine never attempted to speak English, though she could understand it. Philip and Catherine’s grandchildren, my father’s generation, remember them and have told stories about them to me.

Through these stories and what I have learned through other research, I can vividly picture the crowded, busy, mixed pool of immigrants, mostly with low paying, back breaking jobs. Imagine a crowded North Side Pittsburgh in December of 1895. Philip and Catherine’s next door neighbors were Anna O’Brien, a 44 year old Irish immigrant, who lived with her 18 year old daughter, Mary; her 16 year old son, Patrick, a machine hand; and her young son, John, who even at fourteen could be listed as a “rivet heater.” Anna also had three boarders: a German and a Scotchman, both riveters, and another laborer, who was the only American-born person in the group. Philip and Catherine’s neighbors on the other side were Bernhardt and Eva Mutter, both German born. Bernhardt, 48, was a “paper carrier.”

There seemed to be two strong forces in their lives. One was the work ethic. Like many German immigrants of the time, the only contribution needed was a strong back in exchange for a steady job. The other was a strong Catholic religion. This is not surprising since the church in the small villages in Germany was a very powerful force. All the early documents of the Frank family are from the local church’s records.

Philip’s son and my grandfather, Raphael Frank, became interested in banking and opened a Savings and Loan office down on Woods Run Avenue soon after his father died. I have a photograph from about fifty years ago of some children standing in front of the Savings and Loan with a lamb the family had won at a church picnic. At that time, all the Frank children were staying in the rooms just over their father’s office. I imagine it was a crowded but smiling family at the table that evening.


So there it is, written for any and all who care to know, the story of four families—Snider, Morgan, Icenhower, and Frank—as if they were ingredients in a recipe that was to become America.

This is just a thin slice of a cross section that was America. Only a glimpse of the lives of four not-so-unusual families has been given. But there were thousands of such families, all contributing their part to make America what it is today. I am proud to be descended from these four, and the others whose stories I have not told. I hope that my children will be proud of me for something that I may do in my life.

I’m glad to be here, and I hope that my children and their children and their children through the coming times will be happy to be here. Perhaps, just perhaps, this manuscript will be passed on through each generation so they can have a glimpse, as best as I have been able to write it down, of at least part of what has gone before.


  1. A German cosmographer first suggested in an early printed book that the name “America” be used to designate the New World. In 1507, Martin Waldseemuller published his Cosmographic Introductio, in which the voyages of Vespucius were chronicled. His charts and globes were disseminated widely. His suggestion of the name “America” appears as follows: “But now that these parts have been more widely explored and another fourth part has been discovered by Americus Vesputius…I do not see why any one may justly forbid it to be named after Americus, its discoverer, a man of sagacious mind, Amerige, that is, the land of Americus, or America, since both Europe and Asia derived their names from women.”

  2. Much of my ancestry is German, including many immigrants. The early Germans in America, also known as “Dutchmen,” were often the workers who were pivotal to the English settlements’ survival. England knew that the key to success in America was colonization, which meant sending people as well as a form of government, tied back to England, to the New World. The Germans, however, with their homeland in political and economic turmoil, arrived with few ties to their native land. They came to work, with the well-known German work ethic. The Germans were skilled laborers, committed to making a new life in America. This was appreciated as early as in the first English settlement at Jamestown. Captain John Smith wrote to the authorities in England: “When you send againe, I entreat you rather send but thirty carpenters, husbandmen, gardeners, fishermen, blacksmiths, masons, and diggers up of trees’ roots, well provided, than a thousand of such as we have; for except wee be able both to lodge them and feed them, and most will consume (die) with want of necessities before they can be made good for anything.” Captain Smith more specifically recognizes the benefits of the immigrants from Germany and nearby Poland, characterizing his colonists, primarily Englishmen, as: “Adventurers that never did know what a day’s work was, except the Dutchmen (Germans) and the Poles and some dozen others. For all the rest were poore Gentlemen, Trademen, Serving-men, libertines, and such like, ten times more fit to spoyle a commonwealth, than either to be in one or but help to maintain one.”

  3. This is consistent with known immigration patterns into eastern Pennsylvania. If this is true, it is reasonable to expect that John Snider’s parents immigrated to Pennsylvania after 1710. If they immigrated after 1728, fifteen years or less before John Snider was born, they may well have been redemptioners, as the majority of immigrants were at that time.

  4. Samuel T. Wiley, The History of Monongalia County, West Virginia, 1883.

  5. Samuel P. Bates, History of Greene County, Pennsylvania, Nelson, Rishforth & Co., Chicago, 1888, pp. 97, 101.

  6. Will Snyder’s excellent manuscript, John Snider of Crooked Run, uses court testimony to piece together the story of Sarah, one of John Snider’s two slaves. Other court documents show John Snider’s feisty personality.

  7. Compendium of American Genealogy, Vol. 7, p. 451.

  8. Glen D. Lough, Now and Long Ago: A History of the Marion County Area, 1969, College of William and Mary.

  9. For more information about white indentured slaves, see my other essay Early German Immigration to America.

  10. Andrew J. Waychoff, Local History of Greene County and Southwestern Pennsylvania, No. 38, reprinted 1975 by the Greene County Historical Society.

  11. The fort’s worst year was 1779. See DeHass, Indian Wars, p. 251 and Withers, Chronicles of Border Warfare, p. 282, and L. K. Evans’ History of Greene County, pp. 65-67.

  12. Harrison Fort was on Crooked Run and was probably a small, private stockade for family protection in case of emergency. In the spring of 1782, Thomas Pindall and three other men, believing there was no real danger (and “finding the fort crowded”), left Harrison Fort to spend the night at Mr. Pindalls’s residence. An Indian attack the next morning claimed the lives of several of the men. Thus the name “Pindall” was stamped into the history of the region.

  13. Joseph Dodderidge, Notes on the Settlement and Indian Wars, Wellsburg, Va. 1824, p. 125.

  14. Gordon C. Baker, Monongalia Chronicle, 1 (4): 1-9, 1972.

  15. Bishop William Meade, Old Churches, Ministers, and Families of Virginia, Vol. 2, p. 302.

  16. Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, 1773.

  17. Norris, History of the Lower Shenandoah Valley, p. 88.

  18. French Morgan, A History and Genealogy of the Family of Colonel Morgan Morgan, the First White Settler of the State, (1950), p. 422.

  19. Bernard Lee Butcher, Genealogy and Personal History of the Upper Monongahela Valley, pp. 513-514.

  20. The Thirty-Fifth State, A Documentary History of West Virginia, “37: Washington’s Journey, 1784,” p. 139 for specific account of the visit.

  21. I have a map of Virginia dated 1799, and far to the west near where only rivers had names is a small circle and the name “Morgan’s Town.” Today this is Morgantown, West Virginia..

  22. W. L. Balderson, Fort Prickett Frontier and Marion County, (Cross Roads Community Club [West Virginia] Bicentennial Committee, 1976), pp. 28-38.

  23. Joseph Dodderidge, Notes on the Settlement and Indian Wars, (Wellsburg, VA, 1824. Reprinted 1960), pp. 204-205.

  24. Colonel Morgan Morgan Monument Commission, Report (Charleston, WV, 1924), pp. 70-83; Withers, Border Warfare, pp. 276-279; Myers, History of West Virginia, Vol. 1, pp. 209-214.

  25. Alexander S. Withers, Chronicles of Border Warfare, or A History of the Settlement by the Whites of North-Western Virginia and of the Indian Wars and Massacres in the Section of the State, with Reflections, Anecdotes, &c., 1831.

  26. Glen D. Lough, Now and Long Ago, College of William and Mary, p. 119.

  27. Virginia Gazette, by an act passed in October, 1785.

  28. Phil Conley and William Thomas Doherty, West Virginia History, Vol. 2, p. 175.

  29. Waychoff, in his Local History of Greene County, wrote that he had “found in Col. Crawford’s narrative, page 91, the following account of the drowning of the Tory as they crossed the Cheat River.” He quotes from Col. Crawford: “This Tory was named H[iggison]. He was in irons, and they were bringing him over Cheat River, near the forks, in a canoe. He fell out near the shore and sunk several times, and it is said he called for help. Unfortunately the Whig party had a bottle of whiskey at the time, and were handing it around among themselves, drinking healths to the states and success to General Washington and the army of the United States, till poor H[iggison] sunk to rise no more. Colonel M[organ], who had command of the party, was arrested and tried, but was acquitted. The grave of poor H[iggison] is placed exactly at the junction of the Cheat and Monongahela rivers, as a monument to the folly of men on public business making too free with the bottle.”

  30. Journal of the Council of the State of Virginia, Vol. 2, p. 175.

  31. Draper MSS, Series NN. Lyman Copeland Draper (1815-1891), said to have been inspired through reading Withers’ Chronicles of Border Warfare, set out to collect documents and traditions amplifying and correcting that work. His great collection of manuscripts and notes was given to the Western Historical Society. Microfilm copies of these important documents relating to the American frontier from 1740 to 1816 exist in many libraries.

  32. The 1741 immigration is almost 60 years after the first Germans immigrated to America. The “Mayflower” of the Germans was the good ship Concord, which sailed on July 24, 1683. Fare for the passage was five pounds, one half fare for children. The Concord arrived on October 6, 1683, which is to this day the date celebrated by all Germans as the beginning of their history in the United States.

  33. The boundaries of the Palatinate extended from the Neckar Valley, downstream on both sides of the Rhine as far as Oppenheim, Alzei, and Bacharach, and from the Bergstrasse (the old Roman road running along the Odenwald from Darmstadt to Heidelberg) on the east, to the Hardt Mountains on the west.

  34. The Europa was stilll carrying passengers to the New World in 1869. From Maddows’ A Sunday Between Two Wars, p. 164: “We sailed … on the 27th day of August, 1869, in the good ship Europa, commanded by Captain M’Donald, in company with 416 other passengers…. The weather is pretty stormy, the sea is running high, and sickness is beginning to get pretty general among the passengers…. My companion William … in the very height of the storm … was hard making love to a fine young girl. All at once she got frightened, and all William could do she would not be consoled.”

  35. A shallop is a small, light boat with oars or sails or both.

  36. Book A55-224, Land Patent Office, Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.

  37. I have often wondered about the phrase “back to the salt mines,” which is used to denote particularly tedious tasks. There is always more research to do, and in some future readings I hope to learn more of what Joseph Icenhower’s work would have been like, and why this particular phrase is still with us today.

  38. I wrote this passage originally in 1984.

  39. Certificate of Baptism (in German), Kingdom of Würtemberg, Rottweil, Village of Deisslinger (Germany).

  40. A very ornate Certificate is held by Edward Frank (Pittsburgh, PA), Philip’s grandson, which reads, from the Old German “In the Name of His Majesty the King of Würtemberg, in honor of true and loyal service for the King and Fatherland…”

  41. For an excellent story of early life in Pittsburgh, see Stefan Lorant’s book Pittsburgh, The Story of an American City.

  42. Citizenship Papers, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, for Philip Frank, Sep 10, 1880 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

  43. 1908 Pittsburgh City Index.

  44. 1900 Census of the United States of America, Pittsburgh, PA, Vol 5, ED 89, Sheet 4 line 34.