Tag Archives: Levengood Schuster

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.

ancestor-life-spans

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

levengood-catharine-tombstone

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.

Sources/Footnotes

  1. GenealogyBank, “Historical Newspaper Archive, 1690-2010,” database, Genealogy Bank (genealogybank.com: accessed ), Obituary of Catharine Levengood, 24 April 1860, citing records of Reading Adler, Reading, Berks, PA.
  2. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Compiled Marriage Records, 1700-1821 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2011. Marriage of Matheis Leibegut and Cathrina Schuster, Falkner Swamp Ref., Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
  3. Ancestry.com. 1790 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 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. Ancestry.com. 1800 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 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. Ancestry.com. 1810 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 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. Ancestry.com. 1820 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 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. Ancestry.com. 1830 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 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. Ancestry.com. 1840 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Census Place: Douglass, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: 438; Page: 328; Family History Library Film: 0020535.  Household of Mathias Levengood.
  10. Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Census Place: Douglass, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_754; Page: 309B; Image: 268. Household of Matthias Levengood
  11. Ancestry.com. U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 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. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 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.