m. 18 NOV 1711
Facts and Events
Early Land Acquisition in Orange County, VA
Acquisition of Land from Orange County, Virginia Records:
From "Germanna History", Notes: http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~george/johnsgermnotes/germhs58.html
One Germanna person who moved to Fort Redstone was Michael Thomas. His two wives and twenty-five children are a mystery, if these numbers are to be believed. Many of the children are known; no complete inventory exists though. But before we go into the children, let us start with some facts about Michael Thomas himself. He was born in Virginia as no record exists in the German church where an older brother and sister are noted. Also, he was never naturalized in America.
When did his parents come to America? We like to say 1717, with the other members of the Second Colony, but we have no proof of this. Michael’s father was John Thomas and his mother was Anna Maria Blankenbaker. She was born in 1687 and married in 1711. Her first child was born when she was almost 25 years of age (lacking about three weeks). By two husbands, she gave birth to ten children, of whom nine lived. One reason that she might not have come to Virginia when here husband did is that she could have been pregnant at the time of the trip and she decided to wait another year. We assume that Michael Thomas and a sister Margaret were born in America. But these must have been born almost before 1720, since, by her second husband, Michael Käfer, she had five more children. In 1730, she would have been 43 years old.
John Thomas, the father, left no records in America. He does not appear on the Spotswood importation list, nor was he or any member of his immediate family sued by Spotswood. Apparently Michael Thomas married at an early age for one of his sons is said to have been born in 1740. Michael had some land with his brother, John. He could have launched into marriage at an early age. His wife might have been 18 or 19 at the time of marriage, perhaps a year or two younger. We do not know her name. Her given name appears to have been Catherine. Speculation that she was Catherine Wayland, born in 1715, and an immigrant with her family to Virginia does not seem well founded, as she would have been a few years older than Michael.
Nr. 1438: Michael Thomas left few records in Virginia. He witnessed a few wills but never took up any more land beyond the patent made in his name when he was a small lad. His most ambitious plan was to join a group of men, including Pastor Klug, in a land speculation scheme in the Shenandoah Valley. Michael may have done the preliminary field work, as the description of the property includes some boundary markers with an MT on them.
Michael witnessed the will of John Harnsberger in 1750 (with George Samuel Klug and George Moyer); in 1761 he witnessed the will of Anne Mary Gabbard (with Christopher Dicken and John Clore); in 1763 he received a payment from the estate of Christopher Yowell for a debt; and he was named in 1762 as a child of Michael Käfer’s deceased wife [Anna Maria Blankenbühler]. At the church, the Thomas family is, to put it mildly, under-represented.
One son of Michael was Samuel Thomas who, according to a tombstone, was born 16 June 1740. Because Michael could hardly have been more than 20 at this time, Samuel Thomas may have one of the older children, if not the oldest. By the time of the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, the Michael Thomas family was living at Redstone Fort on Ten Mile Creek. Samuel was a friend and neighbor of William Harrod and James Harrod of Kentucky fame. Samuel was in Kentucky on several early occasions that were documented, but he did not move to Kentucky with the very first pioneers. Samuel married Rachel Perry (an aunt of Commodore Perry), with known children, Catherine; Samuel, Jr.; Rachel; Margaret; and George. About the year 1784, perhaps slightly later, he moved to Bracken Co., Kentucky, with several of his children. His daughter Catherine married Jeremiah Teagarden [I wonder how that is spelled in German], but they did not move to Kentucky with her family, even though they owned property there. One child of Jeremiah and Catherine was born on the flatboat they were using to float down the Ohio River. Rachel Thomas, the daughter of Michael, married Rev. Dr. Joseph Smith Tomlinson, a Methodist minister and president of Augusta College. A nephew of his had the name of Stephen Collins Foster.
In Kentucky, in Bracken County, William Harrod, Samuel Thomas, and Jeremiah Teagarden all had land close together.
Back in Pennsylvania, a major industry was the distillation of whiskey. Being isolated, it was difficult to ship grain to the markets. Instead, the grain was condensed to a smaller size in the form of whiskey which could be shipped more easily. At one time there were up 70 distilleries in the Ten Mile Creek area, and they developed an expertise in the making of whiskey. The whiskey rebellion, against the taxes which were placed on whiskey, centered in this area. President Washington had to send in the troops to put down the rebellion. (27 Jul 02)
Nr. 1439: Continuing with the family of Michael Thomas, Margaret was a daughter who married Everhard Hupp. Some say the marriage took place about 1768, probably in Culpeper County, Virginia. The will of Philip Hoop (Hupp) is recorded on pages 264-5 of Will Book A of Culpeper County. It was dated in April of 1761 and proved in the fall of that year. The executors of the will were the wife, Elizabeth, and Henry Aylor. Henry married a daughter of John Thomas, Sr., and Anna Maria Blankenbaker. Michael Thomas was a son of Anna Maria Blankenbaker Thomas. About 1770 several members of the Hupp family moved to southwest Pennsylvania in the general vicinity of Redstone Fort. One fix on the time they moved is that Everhart and John Hupp deeded away land in Culpeper County in 1769.
The moves of the (Michael) Thomas family and the Hupp family to northern Augusta County in Virginia, later to be a part of Pennsylvania, were probably connected. The Hupps were among the earliest recorded settlers in the Ten Mile Creek area. Another family from Culpeper that moved about this same time was George Bumgarner. Some say that the Bumgarners were in the area about 1766. Early road petitions mention Everhard Hupp’s mill.
It is said that Margaret Thomas, the wife of Everhard Hupp, was the first white woman west of the Monongahela River. Even under the difficult circumstances of life there, Everhard and Margaret had eleven children. Everhard and Margaret did not move to Kentucky, but lived their lives at Ten Mile Creek. The region at first was shared by both the white man and the Indian. In five generations, from Matthias Plankenbühler of Gresten, Austria, members of the family had moved to western Pennsylvania along the route, Neuenbürg, Germany, to Virginia, and on to Pennsylvania.
It was with some surprise, when I was looking through the church records for Neuenbürg, Germany, that I encountered the name Hepp. In a village not too far away from that, in Eppingen, I met the names Hepp, Hopp, and Hupe. One starts to wonder if it was an accident that there was a Thomas and Hupp marriage in Virginia. Perhaps the experience of the Thomases had something to do with the Hupps being in Virginia.
In the last note, I gave some information about Samuel Thomas who was said to be born in 1740. The Thomas family tradition is that another son, Henry, was the oldest child. If so, then Michael Thomas must have been married at an early age, perhaps 18 or 19. (29 Jul 02)
Nr. 1440: Continuing with the family of Michael Thomas, there was a daughter Anna Maria, no doubt named for her grandmother, Anna Maria Blankenbaker, who married, first, John Thomas in Germany. Anna Maria, the daughter, married, first, Michael Debolt.
The bells started ringing when I read in the index of names for Neuenbürg the names Debelt/Debold/Debolt, or, in nearby Eppingen, the names Dewald, Dibold, and Diebolt (t,dt). Was this a case that where a family came from the same area of Germany that the Thomas family did? Were they influenced to come to America by the Thomas family?
Michael Debolt did not live long, and Anna Maria Thomas Debolt then married Michael Crisler. So often when a women is widowed, the family seems to rally around and tell some man from the family that he must do his duty and marry the widow. If this is true, what is the Crisler and Debolt connection? Do you remember a few notes ago when we were discussing Warrants & Surveys that a Christian Tivall assigned his rights to Theobald Crisler? Have we got another variation on the connection of a Dewald/Dibold/Debolt with a Crisler?
Michael Crisler was the son of Theobald Crisler and Rosina Gaar. Where were Michael Debolt and Anna Maria Thomas living? Anna Maria died in Pennsylvania. Where did she live with Michael Debolt? It is so frustrating to have a little information and to be left with large gaps in one’s knowledge.
I have some information about Michael Debolt for which I do not vouch. On 10 Aug 1779, Mary Ann Thomas Debolt (probably the widow of Michael Debolt) married Michael Crisler. In January 1785, the Fayette County Orphan’s Court (in Pennsylvania) appointed Michael Chrisler to be a guardian over the persons and estates of Catherine Debolt, Michael Debolt, Mechlin (?) Debold, and Mary Debold, minor children of Michael Debold, during their minority. This family later settled in Beaver County, with the exception of Michael Debolt, who married Abalona (Apollonia?) Yeager, and settled in Fayette County. Catherine married George Mason, Mechlin (Mary Magdalene?) married William Eckles, and Mary Ann married Ruel Reed. These surnames may all be German, for Mason seems to have originated from Maurer, meaning mason, and the name Reed might be Rieth or a similar name.
The story is told that a brother of the father of Michael Debolt was captured as a lad by the Indians and forced to live with them for nine years. Apparently he was not mistreated, but he felt that he should return to his own people and he made his escape.
If anyone can add anything to the events that I am describing, please speak up. (30 Jul 02)
Nr. 1441: Perhaps the best known of the twenty-five offspring of Michael Thomas was Abraham Thomas. He seems to have been a true frontiersman who probably never set foot inside a schoolroom; however, he was at home in situations where we would fear to tread. He seems more real than many of the children of Michael Thomas because he told several incidents of his life to an Ohio newspaper which published them. These comments found their way into the Draper manuscripts and are available to read today. Excerpts have been published in these notes.
Abraham was born, in 1756, to Michael Thomas and his first wife Catherine, in Culpeper Co., VA (now Madison Co.). When he was, in his own words, "...a chunk of a lad...", he and a brother drove a flock of sheep from Culpeper County to the vicinity of Red Stone Fort (about 150 miles). His father had purchased some land and was probably transferring his goods and livestock to the new farm. Abraham wrote that he and his brother lived the winter there on what they could provide for themselves. Probably they shot a lot of game. He admits, though, that he had relatives in the area, probably his sister Margaret, who had married Everhart Hupp.
Before he was nineteen years old, Abraham married Susanna Smith, the daughter of Adam Smith and an unknown wife. Probably Abraham did not have a shilling in his pocket when he married, but his life shows that he lacked nothing in the way of confidence. Susanna was actually a cousin of Abraham. Her grandfather was John Michael Smith, Jr., and her grandmother was Anna Magdalena Thomas, who was a sister of Michael Thomas. So, Abraham and Susannah were first cousins, once removed. Though the marriage probably took place in Culpeper County, they seemed to have lived the first several years in the vicinity of Ten Mile Creek.
Not only was Abraham busy getting set up in a new life with his wife, he was active in the military campaigns which took place about this same time. He served with Michael Cressup in the Lord Dunmore War, and in the Revolution, though both of these services seem to have short engagements. He was a scout with Daniel Boone against the Indians in the 1780 Ohio campaign, and with George Rogers Clark against the Indians in Ohio in 1782. On one of these campaigns he claimed that he was the first white man on the future site of Cincinnati.
Abraham continued to live in Fayette County for several years, as did his father. For a while he was at Fisher's Station in Kentucky, which his Fisher cousins had established. In 1808 he migrated to Miami County, Ohio, where he spent the rest of his life. He outlived Susanna Smith and married a widow, Mary Swailes. He lived for 87 years, having missed the disease and bullets and scalping knives that took the toll of so many people. Abraham and Susanna were the parents of William, Michael, Adam, Ezekiel, Catherine, Abraham, Samuel, Mary, and Peter. (31 Jul 02)
Nr. 1442: Recently, I have examined some coincidences where names are "paired" in different localities. The Thomas family certainly seems to have it share of pairings, which may extend from Germany to what is now western Pennsylvania.
Members of several families moved from Culpeper County, Virginia, to what was thought then to be northern Augusta County, VA, but is now southwestern Pennsylvania. Some of the people who moved include the Hupps, who may have been about the first from Culpeper County. The Thomas family was not far behind them. George Bumgarner was early. A member of the Crisler family went, but he was not so early. A member of the Smith family, Susanna, moved up. Were the Debolts ever in Culpeper County?
This whole migration to southwest Pennsylvania has been under-emphasized in the Germanna histories.
Before leaving the Thomas family, I want to emphasize a connection to another family which I feel needs more explanation. That is the Thomas and Holtzclaw interactions. The eldest son of the immigrant, Hans Jacob Holzklau, was John. He married a widow, Catherine (Russell) Thomas, who had a Thomas son. The two youngest sons of Jacob, namely another Jacob and Joseph, married two Thomas girls from the Robinson River Valley. Now the Robinson River was not the home ground of the two Holtzclaw men. This was not a case of marrying the girls on the next farm. This is like marrying someone who was living twenty-five miles away, or whatever the distance is from Germantown to the Robinson River Valley. How did they become acquainted?
The mother of the two youngest Holtzclaw sons (perhaps Harmon also) was a second wife. Her given name was Catherine and her maiden name is unknown. Perhaps she had come from the Robinson River community and provided the link between the Holtzclaw and Thomas family.
Or was the Catherine Russell Thomas the link? Was her Thomas son a relative of the Thomas families in the Robinson valley? If this had been the case, perhaps the Thomas family members from the Robinson area paid periodic visits to Germantown to visit their relative(s). This scenario seems to require that the John Thomas who came (probably in 1717) had a relative who came with him.
There is another connection in that it is believed that Henry Holtzclaw, second son in the family, married Nancy Harden. Now some members of the Harden family went to southwest Pennsylvania. Were the Thomases and the Hardens acquainted, and did the actions of one influence the other?