Genealogies of PENNSYLVANIA FAMILIES
From the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine
The Three Joseph (Van) Gundys
Mark K. Meyer
For many years the early history of the Gundy and Van Gundy family in Pennsylvania has been accepted as published by Dr. William Henry Egle. Dr. Egle tells us that Peter Van Gundy died in Bethel Township, Lancaster (now Lebanon) County, Pennsylvania, prior to 1763 leaving a widow and children: John, Peter, Magdalena, Joseph, Benjamin, Christian, and David. He then continues with the family of Joseph, saying he was the father of Joseph, Jacob, Samuel, Catharine, Margaret, Mary, Elizabeth, and Susanna. He further states, that Joseph, son of Peter, was a Lieutenant in the company of associates during the Revolutionary War and was granted a tract of donation land in the New Purchase for his services.
Dr. Egle's account of the family was accepted without question by various descendants as well as patriotic organizations as a basis of membership for more than 75 years. It was also assumed that there was but one man named Joseph Van Gundy in that area at that period.
In recent years an exhaustive research effort on this family has been undertaken under the auspices of the Gundy-Van Gundy Family Association. It soon became apparent that an overabundance of records existed concerning Joseph Van Gundy. It was more than apparent that one man could not have lived in as many different locations at the same time, could not have been married to as many different women at the same time and served in the Militia in as many different Pennsylvania counties at the same time as did this Joseph (Van) Gundy.
By careful sifting of the records of Pennsylvania and Ohio, enough evidence was accumulated to identify three different Joseph (Van) Gundys, all living at one time in the same general area. Our search was complicated by a complete lack of birth, baptism, and marriage records of the families of the children of the first (Van) Gundy in Lancaster County as well as the infrequency of deeds and later census records for the family. It has been said that the early family in Pennsylvania were Mennonites. Some Credence for this statement is found in the fact that one of the Joseph Gundy's was a minister of that faith.
JOSEPH VAN GUNDY of LEBANON and NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTIES
This Joseph Van Gundy is said to have been born in 1740 and 1742 and died in 1795 and 1803 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: to have married Margaretta Haldeman (1748-1790) as well as Martha Alderman. In the course of exhaustive research no record of the existence of either of these women has ever been found. As a matter of interest, it is doubtful that these were two different women but rather the garbled version of the actual name of his wife. However, there is a remote possibility that Joseph was married twice.
We do know that Joseph was married to Magdalena Haldeman, the widow of Jacob Shonower. Magdalena's first marriage took place in Lancaster City, Pennsylvania. "Maudlin Holdiman married Jacob Shinaver 10 December 1763 , [s/b 10 December 1759, Source: Pennsylvania Church Records - Adams, Berks, and Lancaster Counties, 1729-1881], leaving his widow with two children, John and Barbara, and pregnant with a third. On 30 December 1763, Magdalena signed a statement to the effect that she understood the terms of her late husband's will.
Just exactly when or where Joseph Van Gundy and the widow Shonower were married is not known. But they were man and wife by May 1, 1769 when they were "of Bethel Township, Lancaster (now Lebanon) County" and they appointed Jacob Miley their attorney to recover from the executor of Jacob Shonower, deceased, all incomes due Magdalena, "Leat" wife of Jacob Shonower.
This same deed recites that the last will and testament of Jacob Shonower was dated 27 January 1765 and that Joseph "VonGundy," Jacob Erb (Erp) and Jacob Sencenick (Sansinich?) were named executors. In turning again to the original will we find only Erp and Sencenick were named executors and that 13 December 1763 was the date it was written. It is very possible that the date 27 January 1765 recited in the body of the above deed was the date Joseph became an interested party in the proceedings - possibly the date of his marriage to the widow, Magdalena - or at least an indication that they were married by that date.
Joseph's son, Jacob, was born 13 October 1765 in Stumpstown (now Fredericksburg), (now) Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. His daughter Catharine, was also born at Stumpstown on 13 December 1767. We do not, however, have proof of the name of their mother but in view of the above she was, in all likelihood, Magdalena (Haldeman) Shonower Van Gundy.
An alleged daughter of Joseph, Margaret, married Frederick Agler and died in Franklin County, Ohio, 10 December 1843, ae. 80 years. Margaret was therefore born sometime in the 12 month period prior to 10 December 1764. If this Margaret was actually the daughter of Joseph (and there is grave doubt she is), she could not have been the daughter of Magdalena as the latter was still married to her first husband at the time Margaret was born. She would therefore have to have been born to a previous wife.
We have said that Margaret was an alleged daughter of Joseph. We have no proof that such is a fact, only information that seems to have come down through the family through the years. There is good reason to doubt the accuracy of the age/date on Margaret's gravestone. If the inscription is accurate, she would have been about 26 or 27 years at the time of her marriage and about six years older than her husband; she would have been age 52 at the birth of her youngest daughter and even older at the birth of her youngest son.
None of these things is impossible; but it was not commonplace in those time - nor indeed in our own time - for a man of age 21 to marry a woman six or seven years his senior. As a matter of fact, at that time a woman 26 years of age was considered a confirmed spinster and had very little chance of marrying unless to a much older man with a large family that needed care.
As for a woman giving birth after the age of 50, it is not impossible, but it is rare. Dr. Lawrence R. Wharton, an obstetrician at the famed Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, made a study of the subject. In reviewing all medical literature and records available over the past 100 years and checking out every reported case of birth of a child to a woman over fifty years of age, he found only 26 actual cases.
We do find a record of a Maria Margaret, daughter of Joseph and Magdalena County, born 2 September 1770, baptized at the Tabor First Reformed Church, Lebanon, Pennsylvania, 4 January 1771. In view of this, we must conclude that Margaret (Van Gundy) Agler who died in Franklin County, Ohio, was not the daughter of Joseph Van Gundy. Along the same line of reasoning we may also conclude that Joseph's first and only wife was Magdalena (Haldeman) Shonower.
In 1773 Joseph appears on the tax list of Stumpstown, (now) Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. On 22 December 1774 another deed, a settlement of the estate of Jacob Shonower - his son, John having attained the age of 14 years - shows Joseph still in Bethel Township.
On warrants dated 19 October to Joseph Van Gundy and 22 December 1774 to Joseph Gundy, he had two parcels of land surveyed called Parma and Palatine, containing in all 150 acres in Penns Township, Northumberland (now Snyder) County, Pennsylvania. These lands were patented to him 20 April 1776.
Joseph evidently moved his family to Penns Township, for we find a record of the baptism of his daughter Elizabeth in Rau's (Salem) Lutheran Church there. Elizabeth was born 16 October 1775. Her sponsors were Paul Gemberling and his wife.
On 9 March 1775, Joseph bought from Jacob Armbrister (Armbruster) two more tracts of land next to those he already owned, called Verona (42 acres) and Veroli (42 acres). These two tracts were patented to him in the survey of lands in what is now Chapman Township, Snyder County. This land was never patented to him but by "sundry conveyances and long possession" was finally patented to Abraham Zeigler in 1842.
Bartol in her list of Revolutionary Soldiers, makes the following statement: "Joseph Van Gundy, 1742-1795; Third Lieutenant in Capt. Benjamin Weiser's Company of Northumberland County (Pennsylvania) Militia, 1776. He commanded a company in Sullivan's expedition to guard supplies. He married Margaretta Haldeman (1748-1790)."
Mrs. Bartol gives no reference for any part of her statement. But on closer examination we find the birth dates of both Joseph and his wife impossible to accept as will be shown later in this work. In the course of all our research we have been unable to substantiate Joseph's date of death.
Without a doubt, this Joseph Van Gundy is the one who is listed on a muster roll of Banjamin Weiser's Company of Northumberland county Militia at Philadelphia 30 January 1777, as a Third Lieutenant. Of the other two Josephs with whom we are concerned, the second never seems to have lived in the Northumberland County area, and the third Joseph, who did live in the Northumberland county area at a later date, was too young to have been in the militia as he was only about ten years old at the time.
As for Joseph commanding a company in General John Sullivan's expedition against the Indians in Pennsylvania and New York state, it is possible but again we have been unable to establish it as a fact.
We know that in the spring of 1779 many of the able bodied men in the Susquehanna Valley were preparing to enter "boat service," that is, the convoying of Sullivan's commissary up the north branch of the Susquehanna River.
One Adam Schaefer, a resident of Northumberland county, was drafted into Benjamin Weiser's Northumberland county Militia and was on a tour of duty between 1 January and 10 March 1777; marched to Philadelphia and thence to Princetown, New Jersey. Schaefer was also in a company of drafted militia on 1 May 1778, and marched against the Indians on the West branch of the Susquehanna to Wallis Station. From the last of August until the end of October 1779, he boated supplies (flour, etc.) by canoe from Coxtown to Sunbury for the use of General Sullivan.
Inasmuch as Joseph Van Gundy was on the same tour of duty with Captain Weiser's Company in January 1777, it would seem reasonable he too continued on to Princeton. It is also possible he joined the other men in the area in convoying supplies for Sullivan's army, although there is some evidence that he was living back in the Lebanon county area at the time.
In the late 1770's there were numerous Indian forays into the Susquehanna and Juanita valleys and a great many settlers in the outlying areas fled back to the settlements and their former homes for protection. This was probably the case with Joseph's family. There is evidence that Joseph himself returned to the present Lebanon county area following his tour of service with Benjamin Weiser's Company. On 11 November 1777, Joseph Van Gundy took the Oath of Allegiance as a resident of the area. There is also evidence that Joseph again served with the Militia, this time in Lancaster County.
There is concrete evidence that Joseph's family had returned to the Stumpstown area by 1780, for on 5 October 1779 a son Joseph was born to Joseph and Magdalena, and was baptized at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Stumpstown (now Fredericksburg) in April 1780. His sponsors were Frederick and Elizabeth Kamper (Gamper).
Another child was born to Joseph and Magdalena on 26 June 1782. She was named Catharine Susanna and Baptized at the Swatara Reformed Church in Jonestown, (now) Lebanon County. This does not necessarily indicate a move on the part of the family, as Jonestown and Fredericksburg are only a few miles apart. Susanna was confirmed 30 April 1797, age 14 years, at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Fredericksburg.
Joseph continued to be staked on his land in Penns Township, (now) Snyder County until 1787, the last three years noted as a nonresident.
In the August 1787 session of Northumberland County Court, Amos Loney and Arabella Young, late Loney, executors of the estate of Hannah Lethgo, deceased, entered a suit against Joseph Van Gundy for a debt of $200.00. Joseph had given a mortgage in that amount to Hannah Lethgo but had failed to meet payment. The case was continued; Joseph confessed judgement in February 1790; he filed a no contest in May 1790 in court; in August 1790 court a note on the docket states, "witness not to be found." The case was finally decided against Van Gundy and the sheriff was ordered to sell the four parcels of land in the Penns Township, previously mentioned, at public venue. Accordingly, the land was sold 3 August 1791 to Thomas Duncan.
This is the last record we find of this particular Joseph Van Gundy. there has been much conjecture as to where and when he died. It has been said by Egle that he received acreage in the New Purchase for his service in the American Revolution and that he died in Lincoln County, Kentucky in 1805. Although a diligent search has been made in the records of the Pennsylvania Land Office no record has come to light to support the former statement. A John VanCounty does appear in a Lincoln County, Kentucky, tax record dated 3 April 1790; however, there is no indication whatsoever that he was kin to Joseph.
According to various DAR applications, Joseph died in 1795 or in 1803 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The claim for the 1803 date is understandable, although erroneous. A Joseph Gundy did die in Harrisburg in 1803, and Letters of Administration on his estate were granted to Mary Gundy, Sr. and Mary Gundy, 16 May 1803. This particular Joseph died 10 March 1803, aged 24 years, and was actually Joseph Van Gundy, Jr., son of our subject. He was originally buried in the cemetery of the Salem Reformed Church in Harrisburg. When the Pennsylvania Railroad Station was built on the site of the old church and cemetery, his body was reinterred in the Harrisburg Cemetery in a plot purchased by Mary Gundy in 1853.
Mary Gundy was a sister of Joseph, Jr., and a daughter of Joseph Van Gundy, Sr. We have no record of her birth, but other evidence proves her relationship. She was confirmed at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania, 3 May 1795, aged 20 years.
The DAR in more recent years have accepted the 1795 date of death and place of death for Joseph Van Gundy Sr., as Harrisburg; on what authority, I do not know. There is some indication that Joseph died prior to or early in 1797, and it is my opinion that he died in Bethel Township, (now) Lebanon County.
This opinion is based on the fact that on 5 April 1797, Elizabeth Gundy and Mary Gundy, spinsters, of Bethel Township, (now) Lebanon County bought a lot of land with a log dwelling on it at 129 Walnut Street, Harrisburg. If Joseph, their father, had been living, it would seem unlikely that these two single daughters (Elizabeth was only 21 years of age at the time and Mary perhaps a year older) would have purchased property in their own name. Because the deed states they were "of Bethel Township" it would seem reasonable to believe they had been living there with their parents, and after the father's death, decided to move to Harrisburg where their sister, Catharine (now Mrs. Casper Shrom) was living. As a point of interest, Joseph's daughter, Susanna, was confirmed in Fredericksburg 30 April 1797, about three weeks after the older sisters purchased the Harrisburg property. This might indicate that the family had not as yet moved to Harrisburg.
The family appears in the 1800 census of Harrisburg as a household consisting of one female over 45 years of age (Magdalena), two females 16-26 (Mary and Elizabeth or Susanna), and one male under 10 years of age.
Magdalena Gundy, the widow of Joseph, Sr. died 20 November 1810, ae. "about 72 years," having taken communion from the Pastor of the Salem Reformed church a few days prior. She was probably buried in the cemetery of the same church, but the records of the Harrisburg Cemetery Association do not show that her body was reinterred there as was that of her son Joseph. Possibly her body could not be found at the time.
This work would not be complete without at least some conjecture as to the parentage of Joseph Van Gundy, Sr. Actually we have no indication as to the identity of his parents, or when he may have arrived in this country. There was a David Gunde whose daughter Magdalena married 21 April 1755, evidently in the Lancaster County area. this is the only mention in all the records we have searched of this David Gunde. However, if he was old enough to have had a daughter married in 1755, he would have been old enough to have been the father of Joseph. The only other possibility that has come to our attention is one Hans Gunde, a member of the German Baptist Brethren from Creyfelt (Germany), who arrived in Philadelphia in 1729, and was living in Germantown in 1733.
We can, however, say who Joseph was not: he was not the son of Peter Gundy who died 1756-57 in Earl Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, as published by Dr. Egle.
After a close look at the readily available records of Lancaster County and by the process of some very simple arithmetic, it is obvious that the Joseph under discussion here could not possibly have been the son of this Peter. Peter's son, Joseph, was under the age of 14 in 1763, by 8 May 1772, he was above the age of 21 years. He was therefore born prior to 8 May 1751, but after March 1749. If this Joseph were born say in 1750, and he was the one who married the widow Shonower about 1763, he would have been only about 13 years of age at the time. It is not reasonable to assume that a 25 year old widow with three children would marry a 13 year old boy.
It is difficult to understand how Dr. Egle happened to make this error in identification, particularly in view of the fact that his wife, Eliza White Beatty, was a great-granddaughter of this particular Joseph Van Gundy. Mrs. Egle was born in 1833, and was 22 years of age when her grandmother Catharine (Gundy) Shrom died. Mrs. Egle's mother, Catharine (Shrom) Beatty lived until 1891, and presumably had conversations on the subject with Dr. Egle.
Children of Joseph Van Gundy
i. Jacob Van Gundy, b. 13 October 1765.
ii. Catharine Van Gundy, 13 December 1767
iii. Mar. Margaret Van Gundy, b. 2 September 1770
iv. Mary Van Gundy, confirmed 3 May 1795 ae. 20 years
v. Elizabeth Van Gundy, b. 16 October 1775
vi. Joseph Van Gundy (Jr.), b. 5 October 1779
vii. Catharine Susanna Van Gundy, b. June 1782