Monthly Archives: January 2018

Week 4 (Invite to Dinner) – Rachel Boughter Dilliplane

I was hoping to have this posted on Friday, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I’m running a little late. I hope to be back on track for week 5.

The prompt for week 4 is Invite to Dinner. I decided to view this as an ancestor whom I would like to invite to dinner – for food and conversation. It was really hard to choose. I would love for this opportunity with each and every one of them. In the end I decided to write about my father’s paternal grandmother (my great-grandmother) Rachel Boughter Dilliplane.

Rachel Boughter Dilliplane

Rachel Boughter Dilliplane (1862-1926)

Rachel was born December 3, 1862 in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Her parents were Henry Boughter and Rachel Levengood.1 In both the 1900 and 1910 census, my 2x great-grandmother Rachel Levengood Boughter states that she was the mother of nine children. but I have only been able to identify eight.2,3 The eldest, Elizabeth, died young, as did a son George.4,5 The remaining children were Catherine, Amanda, Sarah Ann, Mary Ann, Rachel and Henry. Thus my great-grandmother Rachel was the second youngest of the known children. It was a family of girls except for her younger brother Henry. I should also note that the family originally spelled their last name Buchter, but switched to the more anglicized spelling of Boughter in the 1880s.

My great -grandmother Rachel grew up in rural (and somewhat insular) eastern Berks County, Pennsylvania. In both 1860 (a couple of years before her birth) and 1870 her family was enumerated in Douglass Township with her father’s occupation listed as carpenter and inn keeper, respectively.6,7 By 1880 the family was in neighboring Earl Township and her father was listed as a farmer.8  It was on his farm in the fall of 1880, when a incident happened that I am sure was a memorable and much talked about experience. It was the day the hot air balloon landed in a field on their farm!


During our dinner I would ask Rachel to tell me about that day. Through newspaper accounts I learned that in the fall of 1880 the gas-powered hot air balloon of Professor John Shearer broke from it’s tethers at the Reading Fair Grounds. Dangling from a bar (no basket) the good Professor had a thrilling, but at the same time terrifying, 14 mile ride across the mostly rural eastern Berks County countryside before tangling in a tree and touching down on the farm of Henry Boughter (Rachel’s father). About a dozen men, women and children saw the balloon coming down and ran across the fields to help pull the balloon out of the trees. Apparently both the professor and the balloon survived the ordeal relatively unscathed. Professor Shearer walked back to Reading that night. He hired Rachel’s father Henry to bring the balloon back in his wagon the next day.9

I know first hand how exciting it is to see a hot air balloon coming in for a landing since over the years more than one balloon has buzzed over our house to land in a nearby field. But whereas my kids ran excitedly to meet the downed balloon knowing exactly what it was, the Boughters and their neighbors had likely never seen such a site.  Of the people who gathered when the balloon touched down, the newspaper article quotes the professor as saying that they looked at him with amazement. One of the women thought he rode inside of the balloon. A boy asked (in German) how many more people were inside. I wonder if Rachel was there. Was the young boy her brother Henry or perhaps one of her nephews? Rachel would have been about 17 when this occurred. If she wasn’t there she surely would have heard all about it from her family.

About a year and a half after the balloon incident, in January of 1882, Rachel married Charles Dilliplane.10 She had just turned 19 and he was 25. I would love to ask Rachel how they met. I would also like to hear about their courtship and wedding.

Within a few years of their marriage, Rachel and Charles moved from rural Berks county to the bustling town of Pottstown where Charles found work in the steel mills. By 1900, Rachel and Charles were the parents of seven children ranging in age from 18 to 2. Their children were William, Laura Estelle, Herbert, Pearl Eva, Charles, W. Leonard and Alvin. (An eighth child died in infancy.)11 I would like to ask Rachel about the child that died. I can only imagine the heartbreak. I would also like to ask her how she felt about the move. Was it difficult for her to transition from living on a farm to living in town? Was it hard for her as a young mother to move away from her family? Granted, it was a relatively close move, but it was well beyond walking distance and she likely didn’t get to see her parents very often.

I would think that one of the most difficult times in Rachel’s life was when she had to send her two youngest sons, Leonard and Alvin, off to fight in WWI. She wouldn’t have known at the time if she would ever see them again. (I previously blogged about their WWI experience here.) As it turns out, Leonard (my grandfather) survived the war, but his brother Alvin was killed in action.

The last Rachel heard from her son Alvin was a letter he wrote to her on August 18, 1918. It was reprinted in the local newspaper when a descendant found it while cleaning out a house several years ago. In the letter Alvin says that he has written home several times. He hopes his letters have gotten through as he has not yet received any letters in response.12 Alvin died in battle on September 7th, just a couple of weeks after he wrote the last letter.13 I hope that he was able to hear from his mother before he died. I feel certain that she must have written him. His death must have been absolutely devastating for her and the entire family.

Rachel’s husband Charles (my great-grandfather) died on May 10, 1922,14 and Rachel died just four years later on June 19, 1926.1 They both died relatively young – he at age 66 and she at age 63. My father was not yet born when Rachel died. [In fact, all four of my father’s grandparents died before he was born.] And so the last thing I would like to talk to Rachel about at our dinner would be to tell her about my family. I would start with telling her about my father — the grandson she never met.

Sources / Footnotes

  1. Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Death cert for Rachel L. Dilliplane
  2. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004. Census Place: West Pottsgrove, Montgomery, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1443; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0221; FHL  microfilm: 1241443. Household of Henry Boughter.
  3. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006.Census Place: Pottstown West Ward, Montgomery, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1378; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0132; FHL microfilm: 1375391 . Household of Henry Boughter.
  4. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 28 January 2018), memorial page for Elizabeth Buchter (22 Jun 1849–14 Jun 1852), Find A Grave Memorial no. 134653091, citing Saint Pauls Church Cemetery, Amityville, Berks County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Randy VanFleet (contributor 47930261) .
  5. U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Archive Collection: M1838; Archive Roll Number: 1; Census Year: 1859; Census Place: Douglas, Berks, Pennsylvania; Page: 2. Entry for George Buchter
  6. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Census Place: Douglass, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1075; Page: 229; Family History Library Film: 805075. Household of Henry Buchter
  7. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Census Place: Douglas, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1305; Page: 235A; Family History Library Film: 552804. Household of Henry Buchter
  8. and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census[database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. Census Place: Earl, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1099; Page: 230C; Enumeration District: 014. Household of Henry Buchter
  9. “Ballooning in a Wind Storm,” Reading Eagle, Reading, Pennsylvania, 30 September 1880.
  10. “Marriage Notices,” Montgomery Ledger, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, 31 January 1882, Marriage of Charles W. Dilliplane and Miss Rachel Boughtle [sic].
  11. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004. Census Place: Pottstown, Montgomery, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1445; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0275; FHL microfilm: 1241445. Household of Charles W. Dilliplane
  12. “Alvin Dilliplane Letter,” undated clipping, from The Mercury, Pottstown, Pennsylvania; Newspaper Clipping Collection; privately held by Janis Tomko, [address for private use].
  13. “Alvin Dilliplane Obituary”, undated clipping, from unknown newpaper; Newspaper Clipping Collection; privately held by Janis Tomko, [address for private use].
  14. Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Death cert for Charles W. Dilliplane


Week 3 (Longevity) – Catherine Schuster Levengood

The prompt for this week is Longevity, so it only seems appropriate to write about my longest living ancestor. That would be one of my fourth great-grandmothers, Catherine Schuster Levengood. There is some discrepancy as to her exact age at death, but all sources seems to agree that she was over 100 years when she died! What an amazing feat for someone born in the mid-1700s.

Before I write about Catherine, I thought I would take a look at the longevity of my direct ancestors. (By the way, I hate that term because by definition an ancestor is direct. A collateral relative like an aunt, uncle, cousin, etc is not one’s ancestor.) In any case, using myself as the root person, I created a gedcom consisting only of my “direct ancestors” and loaded it into LegacyFamilyTree as a new database. I did this because Legacy has a wonderful statistics report that calculates and provides information on lifespans. I created a new database because I wanted only my progenitors (i.e. “direct ancestors”) to be taken into account for the calculations. The table below shows the average lifespans as calculated by Legacy.


For some perspective, my “direct ancestor” database consisted of 463 individuals with 2 living (my mother and me). Sixty-six individuals had insufficient date information. I am taking this to mean that the birth and/or death date was blank. Individuals with approximated dates appeared to be included in the calculations. There were 90 individuals born 1600-1699, 252 born 1700-1799, 51 born 1800-1899 and 4 born 1900-1999. (This last group included my mother and myself.) The earliest birth date was 1609. As you can see from the chart above, the average lifespan of my ancestors was about 66 years. I may have to do a little research to see if I can find out how this compares to the general population.

The only centenarian in my pedigree is my fourth great-grandmother, Catherine Schuster Levengood. The rest of this post will focus on her.

death notice of Catherine Schuster Levengood

Pottstown Montgomery Legder, April 17, 1860

On April 17, 1860, the above death notice appeared in the Montgomery Ledger (Pottstown, Pennsylvania). (Note that Liebengood is a variant spelling for Levengood.) The German-language Reading Adler ran a sightly longer obituary. Roughly translated, it said that Catherine died at the extraordinary age of the 102nd year of her life, and that she left behind children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren and great-great-great-grandchildren. [Note, I know she had living great-great-grandchildren when she died, but I have not been able to identify any great-great-great-grandchildren born by this time.] It also stated that her husband served in the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Brandywine, and that she survived him by many years. It described her as “very much alive for her age” until the last several weeks of her life.1

So who was Catherine and how old was she really when she died? She was apparently the daughter of Ludwig Schuster and his wife Catherine Margaret, although more evidence is needed before we can be certain. We do know that she married Mathias Levengood on January 28, 1783. The family lived in Douglass Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, where Matthias was enumerated as head of household from 1790 until 1830.3,4,5,6,7 Catherine and Mathias were the parents of five known children: Adam, Elizabeth, Anna Maria, Catherine and Mathias Jr. 8 After her husband’s death in 1835, Catherine lived with her son Matthias Jr. and his family.9, 10  She died in April of 1860, just prior to the census enumeration, thus she appears in the 1860 mortality schedule. It lists her age as 101 and attributes her death to old age. It further states that she was ill for 13 weeks.11


In the biography of her great-grandson Mathias Levengood March, it states that Catherine lived to the age of 101 years and 7 months. 12 This is consistent with her being in the 102nd year of her life as stated in the obituary, death notice and mortality schedule. Her tombstone, however, has that she was born in September of 1759 and died in April of 1860 at the age of 101 years, 6 months and 12 days. I suspect the engraver or his informant made a math error in calculating the birth date, because with the birth year being 1759 she would have been 100 years, 6 months and 12 days.13

At this point I have not found a birth or baptism record for Catherine. Was she really over 101 years old when she died? Maybe. I can say that there is a discrepancy with her husband Mathias’ birth date. Baptism records show him being born December 22, 1753,14 yet his tombstone has a birth date of January 20, 1749.15 The fact that his dates are off makes me wonder more about hers. I think she and her family believed she died at over 101 years of age, but it is possible that they may have made an honest mistake. In any case, I think it is fair to say that Catherine lead a very long life and enjoyed good health until very near the end.


  1. GenealogyBank, “Historical Newspaper Archive, 1690-2010,” database, Genealogy Bank ( accessed ), Obituary of Catharine Levengood, 24 April 1860, citing records of Reading Adler, Reading, Berks, PA.
  2. Pennsylvania, Compiled Marriage Records, 1700-1821 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2011. Marriage of Matheis Leibegut and Cathrina Schuster, Falkner Swamp Ref., Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
  3. 1790 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.  Census Place: Douglas, Berks, Pennsylvania; Series: M637; Roll: 8; Page: 57; Image: 71; Family History Library Film: 0568148. Household of Mathias Levengood
  4. 1800 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.  Census Place: Douglas, Berks, Pennsylvania; Series: M32; Roll: 35; Page: 592; Image: 178; Family History Library Film: 363338. Household of Mathias Livergood
  5. 1810 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Census Place: Douglass, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: 45; Page: 148; Image: 00189; Family History Library Film: 0193671.  Household of Mathias Levinguth
  6. 1820 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Census Place: Douglass, Berks, Pennsylvania; Page: 126; NARA Roll: M33_99; Image: 139. Household of Matt Levigood
  7. 1830 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.  Census Place: Douglass, Berks, Pennsylvania; Series: M19; Roll: 143; Page: 474; Family History Library Film: 0020617. Household of Mathias Levengood
  8. Estate Files, 1752-1915; Author: Berks County (Pennsylvania). Register of Wills; Probate Place: Berks, Pennsylvania. Probate file of Matthias Levengood
  9. 1840 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Census Place: Douglass, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: 438; Page: 328; Family History Library Film: 0020535.  Household of Mathias Levengood.
  10. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Census Place: Douglass, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_754; Page: 309B; Image: 268. Household of Matthias Levengood
  11. U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Archive Collection: M1838; Archive Roll Number: 1; Census Year: 1860; Census Place: Douglas, Berks, Pennsylvania; Page: 2. Entry for Catharine Levengood.
  12. Roberts, Ellwood,. Biographical annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania : containing genealogical records of representative families, including many of early settlers and biographical sketches of prominent citizens. New York Chicago: T.S. Benham ; Lewis Pub. Co., 1904. Biography of Mathias Levengood March Vol II, pg. 318
  13. Tombstone Photographs – digital images (privately held by Janis Tomko), St. Paul’s Cemetery, Amity, Berks, Pennsylvania, photographed May 31, 2005. Her tombstone inscription states that she was the wife of Mathias Leavengood, born Sep 29, 1759, departed this life April 11, 1860, aged 101 years, 6 months, and 12 days
  14. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. Birth/baptism of Mathias Liebegut, records of New Hanover Lutheran Church, Gilbertsville, Montgomery, PA
  15. Tombstone Photographs – digital images (privately held by Janis Tomko), St. Paul’s Cemetery, Amity, Berks, Pennsylvania, photographed May 31, 2005. His tombstone inscription states that he was the son of Adam & Christina Leavengood, born January 20, 1749, entered into matrimony with Catharina Schuster the January 28, 1783, begat 5 children, 2 sons and 3 daughters, died the 10th of November 1835, aged 86 years, 9 months and 20 days.


Week 2 (Favorite Photo) – Mary Pennypacker Garner

For the second week of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge the prompt is “Favorite Photo.” I was not sure I could really pick a favorite photo because each ancestor photo that I have been lucky enough to get is very important to me. But after thinking about it for a little while, I decided to blog about a tombstone photo that I took myself on a visit to Vincent Baptist Cemetery in Chester Springs (Chester County) PA back in 2005. It is a picture of the gravestone of my third great-grandmother Mary Pennypacker Garner, who was born in 1802 and died in 1852.


Grave of Mary Pennypacker Garner, 1802-1852, Vincent Baptist Churchyard, Chester County, PA

Before I talk about the tombstone photo, I first wanted to blog a bit about Mary. She was born 4 Jul 1802, to Henry Pennypacker and his wife Susanna Zublin.1 She had an older sister Elizabeth and younger siblings James, Aaron, Owen, Sarah and Susan.2 Her father Henry was a farmer in Chester Springs. The Pennypackers were an established family that trace their roots back to the immigrant Heinrich Pennebacker, who immigrated from Holland prior to 1700 and eventually settled in what is now Skippack, Montgomery, Pennsylvania.

Mary married John Garner circa 1822.3 Their known children were Samuel, Susan, Sarah, David, James, Mary and John Jr. Census data suggests there may also have been a daughter born prior to Samuel. The young family seems to have moved around quite a bit. In 1830 they are in East Nantmeal, Chester Co., PA, in 1840 they are in Upper Union Township, Berks Co., PA and in 1850 they are in North Coventry, Chester Co., PA.4,5,6 Mary died in 18521 and by 1860, John is a widower living in Phoenixville, Chester Co., PA.7 Mary is buried next to her mother, Susanna Zublin Pennypacker, and step-father, Valentine Pennypacker (a cousin to her father), in the cemetery at Vincent Baptist Church. While I suspect her father’s family was Mennonite, her mother was a member of this church.

There are several reasons why her tombstone photo is so important to me. First, when I visited the Vincent Baptist Cemetery it was for general research. I knew that several of my ancestors and relatives lived in the area and was hoping to find some family members buried there. However, from what I knew of where the Garners lived based on census and land records, I was not expecting that Mary’s grave would be there. Finding it was wonderfully serendipitous!

Second, though her tombstone was in very rough shape, it was very informative. It gives the name of her husband (John Garner) and her parents (Henry and Susan Pennypacker) in addition to her date of death and age at death. It is, in fact, the only record I have been able to find of her vital information. I have not found her birth, death or marriage dates in church records, newspapers, any sort of family records or any other publications.

And the third reason I am so glad to have this photo is that when I returned to the cemetery about a year or so ago, her tombstone was no longer there! She is buried next to her mother and step-father. That area is now just grass. In the intervening years, her tombstone must have been damaged and/or destroyed and removed. Unfortunately, there was no one on-site at the church to ask. Since this is the only record of her birth and death dates, I am so very glad to have gotten a photo of it before it was gone.


  1. Tombstone Photographs – digital images (privately held by Janis Tomko), Vincent Baptist Cemetery, photographed 9/9/2005. Her tombstone inscription states that she was the wife of John Garner and daughter of Henry and Susan Pennypacker, died Sept 10, 1852, aged 50 years, 2 months and 6 days. (Admittedly, the tombstone is difficult to read, but this is my best interpretation.)
  2. “Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994,” images, FamilySearch ( : 3 July 2014), Chester > Orphans’ Court records 1822-1831 vol 14-15 > image 259 of 575; county courthouses, Pennsylvania. Petition of Harmon and Matthias Pennypacker, sons of Harmon Pennypacker Sr. names the children of their deceased brother Henry.
  3. Marriage date is based on birth of eldest daughter possibly being circa 1823.
  4. 1830; Census Place: West Nantmeal, Chester, Pennsylvania; Series: M19; Roll: 148; Page: 203; Family History Library Film: 0020622. Household of John Garner
  5. 1840; Census Place: Union, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: 438; Page: 395; Family History Library Film: 0020535 Household of John Garner.
  6. 1850 U.S. census,, Digital images (National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), Census Place: North Coventry, Chester, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_765; Page: 171A; Image: 347. Household of John Garner.
  7. 1860; Census Place: Phoenixville, Chester, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1092; Page: 697; Family History Library Film: 805092 Household of John Garner

Week 1 (Start) – Anna Maria Shimer Keeley


Cemetery at Brownbacks – Burial site of Anna Maria (nee Shimer) Keeley and her husband Jacob

The prompt for this week is “Start.” I chose my 4th great-grandmother Anna Maria (nee Shimer) Keeley to write about because she is the earliest documented ancestor in my matrilineal line. She represents a starting point of sorts since she is the ancestor that I can reliably point to as the one from whom I inherited my mtDNA (mitochrondial DNA).  [Here’s the link to my mtDNA post.]

Anna Maria Shimer was born about 1760, probably in Pennsylvania. Her father was Michael Shimer. 1 It’s possible that her mother was Catherine Ash (or Esch), daughter of Adam Esch, and that she had a brother and two sisters, but more research is needed to verify her mother and siblings.  2,3

The Shimer family lived in Vincent Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. 4 Their property was supposed to have been along the Schuylkill River and thus was likely near present-day Spring City.2

On March 7, 1782 the Lutheran minister Rev. Henry Melchior Muhlenberg performed a ceremony uniting in marriage Anna Maria and Jacob Keeley. 5 Jacob also grew up in Vincent Township and was the son of Sebastian Keeley and Elizabeth Fry. His father was a prominent citizen who, at the time of his death in 1777, owned a plantation, mill and tavern in Vincent Township as well as a plantation in across the river in Limerick township (then Philadelphia, now Montgomery County, PA).

Both the Shimers and Keeleys were of German descent. Many German Protestants immigrated to Pennsylvania in the early to mid 1700s in large part to escape religious persecution. The Shimers and Keeleys were likely part of this group.

Jacob and Anna Maria Keeley spent the early part of their married life in Limerick Township, Montgomery County, PA – quite possibly living on the Limerick plantation originally owned by his father. They were enumerated there in 1790 and 1800. Upon the death of his mother in 1807, Jacob purchased his parents’ property in Vincent township from his brothers and sisters and presumably relocated his family to that land.

Jacob and Anna Maria had a family of nine children – 3 sons and 6 daughters. Their children were Hannah, Sebastian, Elizabeth, Jacob, George, Mary, Esther, Sarah and Catherine. 6 My ancestor was Catherine, the baby of the family, who was born in 1802.

Tragically, Anna Maria died on April 14, 1814, just one day before her husband Jacob. The church records say that Jacob died of typhoid fever. It is quite possible that Anna Maria died of the same disease. They are buried side by side at Brownback’s United Church of Christ Cemetery in East Coventry, Chester, Pennsylvania. 1 Note that Brownbacks was founded in 1743 and was formerly known as the First Reformed Church of Coventry, it being one of the earliest German Reformed Churches in Pennsylvania.7


  1. Tombstone Photographs – digital images (privately held by Janis Tomko), Brownback’s UCC Cemetery, photographed 6/25/2005. Her tombstone inscription states that she was 54 years of age when she died in 1814 and that she was the daughter of Michael Shimer and wife of Jacob Keeley.
  2. Shimer Allen R., History and Genealogy of the Shimer Family in America,(Allentown, PA: Press of Berkemeyer, Keck & Co., 1908), Vol 1, pg 52 and Vol 2, pg 221-222; digital images, The Internet Archive, Information on immigrant Michael Shimer and family.
  3. Pennsylvania, City of Philadelphia, administration files; Author: Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). Register of Wills; Probate Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania, Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015. Probate file of Michael Shimer of Vincent Township, Chester, PA (widow was Catherine)
  4. Pennsylvania Archives, 3rd Series, Proprietary Tax Lists, Chester County Rates – 1771; Volume Number: Vol 11; Page Number: 772; Family Number: 1
  5. Tappert, Theodore G. and John W. Doberstein, “The Journals of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg,” Volume 3, The Evangelical Lutheran Nimisterium of Pennsylvania & Adjacent States, page 474; Marriage of Jacob Keely and Anna Maria Scheumer
  6. “Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994,” images, FamilySearch ( : 3 July 2014), Chester > Orphans’ Court records 1809-1822 vol 12-13 > image 233 of 570; county courthouses, Pennsylvania. Petition of the heirs of Jacob Keeley, late of Vincent Township.
  7. Brownback UCC Church History. (

My mtDNA Results Are In!!

dna-1020670_1280This is one of those blog posts that I have been meaning to write for the past few months but never got around to doing. Last summer I decided to take the mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) test available from FamilyTreeDNA. Just to recap – this is the type of DNA that is passed unchanged (except for occasional mutations) from a mother to her children. In other words, you get this type of DNA from your mother’s mother’s mother…. etc. While this is much the same way the Y-DNA is passed through the paternal line, please note that mtDNA is NOT to be confused with the X-DNA — they are 2 completely different things.

I took a full sequence mt-DNA test. It examines all regions of mt-DNA and is the most comprehensive one available. Basically, this test compares your mt-DNA to a reference sequence. The results reported are the differences between your DNA and the reference sequence. You also find out your maternal haplogroup — which traces your maternal ancestry to a major branch point on what is known as the mitochrondrial phloygenetic tree. This is basically the earliest ancestor with your particular set of mutations. If you are interested in more details, I recommend this article on mt-DNA on the ISOOG wiki.

To be honest, I thought long and hard about taking this test because I really wasn’t sure the information I would get from this test would justify the cost. I have a solid paper trail for my matrilineal line back 7 generations to Anna Maria (aka Mary) Shimer, wife of Jacob Keeley and daughter of Michael Shimer. She was born about 1760. Her mother may have been Catherine Ash, but I need further research to confirm that. In any case, all evidence points to Anna Maria’s parents being of German descendant. She seems to have been born in Pennsylvania, but both her parents were likely immigrants from a Germanic state. I therefore expected a European haplogroup. I also expected many matches, most of which would be so far back in time that I would not be able to determine a common ancestor. After all, the common ancestor for an exact match can be 22 generations back (or more)!

As it turns out, there were a few surprises! The actual results were that my maternal haplogroup is H13b1b. This is a subclave (or subgroup) of H13, which I found out is supposed to be found mostly around the Caucasus, Iran, Anantolia and Sardinia, but also along the Mediterranean coasts of Europe. So my deep maternal ancestry points to this region of the world. (Interestingly, my AncestryDNA ethnicity results show the Caucasus as a trace region.)

Also, apparently this haplogroup (H13b1b) is relatively rare. Rather than many matches, I only had 2 exact matches on FTDNA. One of them had a tree, and incredibly, he was also a descendant of Mary Shimer Keeley. His line was through the daughter Mary who married Abraham Hause, whereas my line was through the daughter Catherine who married Amos Evans. Given that we are exact mt-DNA match, I feel that this offers additional support (maybe even proof) for my entire matrilineal line back to Mary Shimer. [The other exact match did not post a tree and did not respond to my email as of yet.]