The Old Homestead

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God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

- Romans 5:8


   Georg Jacob Gerwig was born in about 1797, probably in Oberbetchdorf in the Alsace region of France. His father was probably Georg Paul Gerwig. (1)
    Married Magdalena Milleman.  She was born about 1803, probably in Oberbetchdorf. (2)
    Children: (3)
    Jacob Gerwig, born Sept. 3, 1827.
    Magdalena Gerwig, born May 31, 1829.
    Salome Gerwig, born June 3, 1831.  Married Christopher Groetzinger.
    Caroline Gerwig, born Oct. 18, 1834.  Married Michael Shiever.
    Heinrich Gerwig, born Oct. 19, 1836.
    Dorthea Gerwig, born Aug. 26, 1840.  Married Adam Dambacker Jr.
    Before immigrating to the United States, the Gerwigs lived in Oberbetchdorf, which is in Alsace, on the border of France and Germany.  The region has been claimed and captured by both countries over the centuries and has a blend of cultures.  An example of this mixture appears in Salome’s birth record, which lists her parents as George Jacques and Madeleine Gerwig.  However, the signature at the bottom is in a strong, clear German script that says “Georg Jacob Gerwig.”
    Jacob’s occupation is listed as tiler.
    The Gerwigs immigrated to the United States in 1833 or 1834. (4)
    The settled in North Sewickley Township, Beaver County, Pa.  Jacob appears to have settled among a group of relatives.  In the 1840 Census of North Sewickley, Jacob Garwick, Paul Garwick, Geo Millaman and Geo Dowler are listed next to each other.  Paul appears to have been Jacob’s brother.  He was born Jan. 24, 1800, in Obertetschdorf, according to the records of St. Paul’s German Lutheran Church in Zelienople.  It is also very likely that George Milleman was his brother-in-law and George Dauler was the brother of Paul Gerwig’s wife, Dorothea Dauler.  Local records also point toward a family link.  Paul appears as a baptismal sponsor of Jacob’s children.  And Jacob’s son, Jacob, appears in Paul’s household in the 1850 Census.  Other possible relatives in St. Paul’s records are a Dorothea Gerwig, who married George Friedrich Pflug in 1844, and an Eva Gerwig who was married to Jakob Ketterer.
    The families all attended St. Paul’s German Lutheran Church in Zelienople.
    Jacob died in 1841.
    On Dec. 16, 1844, the marriage of Magdalena Gerwig and Michael Hache is listed in St. Paul’s records.  This is almost certainly a reference to our Magdalena and a misspelling for Hahn. (5)
    Orphan’s Court records indicate the family lived in North Sewickley Township after Jacob’s death.  The records, which are from proceedings in 1846, show that Michael Hawn was appointed the guardian of Sarah (probably the girl listed as Salome above), Caroline, Henry, Dorothy and Jacob.
    In the 1850 Census, Magdalena and most of her children are listed in Michael Hahn’s household in Franklin Township, Beaver County, which had recently been established from part of North Sewickley.  Michael is listed as a 60-year-old farmer who owned real estate valued at $500.  The property appears to be the land that had been owned by Jacob before his death because the household is listed beside those of Paul Gerwig and George Dauler.  Michael’s household contained Magdalena, age 47 Sara Garvick, 19; Caroline Garvick, 16; Henry Garvick, 14; and Dorothea Garvick, 3 (which is obviously an error).
    Michael is again listed in Franklin Township in the 1860 Census, this time beside the farm of the younger Jacob Gerwig.  It seems likely that Magdalena was also in the household, but the page that she should appear on seems to be missing.
    Magdalena died in 1863. (6) 
    In the 1870 Census, Michael is listed as a 75-year-old farm laborer in the household of Magdalena’s daughter, Caroline.
    Michael died on Feb. 23, 1874.  They are buried at the graveyard for St. Peter’s Reformed Church in Zelienople, Butler County, Pa.
    (1) Jacob’s approximate birth year comes from French civil records for Oberbetchdorf, Bas-Rhin.  Jacob’s father was probably Georg Paul Gerwig of Oberbetschdorf, who was the father of the George Paul Gerwig who lived beside Jacob in Beaver County, Pa.  A photocopy of the French birth record that proves this link was provided by another researcher.  Thanks are due to Oscar E. Moyer of Manheim, Pa., for pointing me in the right direction for this family in 1990.  (2) Name and birth year come from French civil records for Oberbetchdorf, Bas-Rhin.  One of the witnesses at the baptism of Salome was Heinrich Millemann, age 30, who may have been Magdalena’s brother.  (3) All except Salome appear in baptismal or confirmation records in “St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church, Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania,” transcribed by Gertrude M. Ziegler: Jacob on page 13; Magdalena, page 14; Caroline, page 38; Heinrich, page 42; and Dorothea, page 48.  Salome’s birth is recorded in the French records cited above.  Salome (Sarah), Caroline, Heinrich (Henry), Dorthea (Dorothy) and Jacob also appear in Beaver County Orphan’s Court records, Reel 14, March Term 1846, pages 68 and 69. Caroline’s birth date and husband’s name are in “Connoquenessing Valley News Abstracts Zelienople, Butler Co., PA,” compiled by Marilyn H. Humes, page 262.  Salome’s marriage is recorded on page 127 of the St. Paul’s book.  Jacob’s children are also listed in Beaver County Deed Book 45, page 191, which also provides the names of the women’s spouses (the ones in parentheses are from this source).  Oscar Moyer also indicated that the Gerwigs may have had a son named Nicholas and that Caroline may have married a man named Wilhelm Erb at one point.  (4) Jacob Jr.’s obituary, cited in “Connoquenessing Valley News Abstracts,” page 251, states that he was born in Alsace and his parents immigrated when he was 6.  Mr. Moyer said that the Gerwigs arrived in 1834, landing in Baltimore on Sept. 30.  They are listed under the name Gohrig.  (5) St. Paul’s records, page 119.  (6) Magdalena and Michael’s graves are listed at

    Jacob Gerwig was born Sept. 3, 1827, in the Alsace region of France, to Jacob and Magdalena (Milleman) Gerwig. (1)
    Married Sarah Erb on Aug. 25, 1850, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Zelienople, Butler County, Pa. (2)  Sarah was born July 2, 1831 near Zelienople, Pa., to Georg and Hanna (Schwenk) Erb. (3)
    Children: (4)
    Caroline Gerwig, born July 7, 1851.  Married Samuel Rice.
    Mary Ann Gerwig, born July 22, 1852.  Married George Adam Graff.
    George Gerwig, born in 1854.
    Sarah Gerwig, born in 1856.
    Magdalena Gerwig, born July 18, 1857.  Married William Scheidemantle.
    Hannah Louise Gerwig, born in 1860.  Married Albert Keller.
    Wilhelm Heinrich Gerwig, born July 31, 1863.
    Elizabeth Gerwig, born July 7, 1865.
    Jacob Eduard Gerwig, born May 30, 1867.
    David Gerwig, born Jan. 3, 1869, and died May 2, 1869.
    Matilda Catherine Gerwig, born March 20, 1871.  Married Thomas Magee.
    Albert Gerwig, born Aug. 19, 1873.
    Franz Gerwig, born Dec. 30, 1874 and died Feb. 5, 1875.
    Clara Eveline Gerwig, born May 3, 1877.
    Jacob immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1834 and settled in North Sewickley Township, Beaver County, Pa.
    After his father’s death in 1841, the county orphan’s court appointed Michael Hahn – Magdalena’s second husband – as the guardian of the Gerwig children.  At the time the 1850 Census was taken, Jacob was listed as a 23-year-old farmer living in Franklin Township, Beaver County, with Paul Gerwig, who was probably his uncle. (5)
    In 1860, Jacob Garwig is listed as a 32-year-old farmer who owned real estate valued at $840 and personal property valued at $500.  The farm in Franklin Township was beside that of Michael Hahn.  Jacob’s household also contained Sarah, age 28; Caroline, 8; Mary, 7; George, 6; Sarah, 4; Lena, 3; and Louisa, 1.  Jacob and Sarah lived on their homestead in Franklin Township their entire lives together. (6)
    In the 1870 Census, Jacob Garwick is listed as a 44-year-old farmer.  He owned real estate valued at $2,300 and personal property valued at $400.  His household included Sarah, age 39; Caroline, 18; Mary, 17; George, 16; Sarah, 14; Lenah, 12; Louisa, 10; William, 6; Elizabeth, 4; and Eddie, 3.
     The Gerwigs were part of a group of 30 families who separated from St. Paul’s German Lutheran Church to form St. Peter’s German Reformed Church in Zelienople.  In 1873, Jacob was among the signers of the new church’s constitution. (7)
    It seems that Jacob couldn’t actually write.  When he served as the administrator of his father-in-law’s estate in 1879, he used a mark rather than a signature.  In addition, the 1870 Census indicates that Jacob and Sarah could read but not write. (7a)
      In the 1880 Census, Jacob Garvig is listed as a 52-year-old farmer.  His household contained Sarah, age 48; Sarah J., 28; Louisa, 20; William, 17; Lizzie, 18; Edwin, 13; and Sillia (probably Matila Catherine), 9.  A 3-year-old Clarah is listed as a granddaughter but it seems likely she was actually Jacob and Sarah’s youngest daughter. The household also contained Sarah’s mother, Hannah Erb, age 69.
    In 1890 tax records for Franklin Township, Jacob Garwick is listed as a farmer, and he was taxed for 62 acres, one horse and two cows. (8)
    In 1891, a Jacob Gerwig – probably our ancestor – discovered a huge tree on his farm and proudly challenged his neighbors to find one that was bigger.  The Connoquenessing Valley News reported on Feb. 26, 1891: “Jacob Gerwig, a farmer who live a short distance below Zelienople, has discovered a maple tree on his farm which measures 17 feet in circumference.  He would like to have a quiet conversation with the man who can beat it in this neck of the woods.”
    The census taker appears to have missed the Gerwigs in 1900.
    Jacob died Dec. 21, 1904, and Sarah died Dec. 16, 1905.  They are buried in St. Peter’s cemetery in Zelienople. (9)
    (1) Confirmation record in “St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church, Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania,” transcribed by Gertrude M. Zieger, page 13.  (2) St. Paul’s marriage records, page 124.  (3) St. Paul’s baptismal records, page 31.  This Sarah Erb’s birth date matches that of the Sarah Erb who married Jacob Gerwig, according to her death record.  (4) From St. Paul’s records: Caroline, page 63; Anna Maria, page 64; and Magdalena, page 71.  From “St. Peter’s German Evangelical Protestant United Church, Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania,” transcribed by Getrude M. Ziegler:  William H., page 38; Elizabeth, page 41; Jacob Eduard, page 43; Mathilda Catherine, page 48; Albert, page 51; Clara Evaline, page 54; David, page 115; and Franz, page 119.  George, Sarah and Louise appear in the 1870 and 1880 Census records for Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa. Oscar Moyer of Mannheim, Pa., stated in a 1990 letter than David had a twin brother named Daniel who died March 2, 1879.  However, he does not appear in the 1870 Census and I did not locate him in the St. Peter’s records.  Caroline’s husband is mentioned in her obituary, which has been posted on  Mary, Hannah Louise and Matilda Catherine’s husbands are mentioned on his death certificate, which is available at “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963,” which is available at  Magdalena’s husband is identified through her Pennsylvania death certificate and the 1880 Census of Jackson Township, Butler County, Pa.   (5) Michael Hahn was appointed his guardian, according to Beaver County Orphan’s Court Records, Reel 4, pages 68 and 69.  Paul is listed in the 1850 Census of Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa.  (6) The site of the Gerwig home is marked in “Caldwell’s Illustrated Combination Centennial Atlas of Butler County,” page 169.  Published in 1876.  In addition, “Beaver County Centennial Directory,” by J. Weyand and W.I. Reed, page 141, lists Jacob Garwick as a farmer in Franklin Township.  (7) “History of Butler County, Pa.,” page 407.  (8) Butler County Estate File E62.(9) “Eastside Beaver County Tax Records 1890,” by Helen G. Clear and Mae H. Winne, Publishers of Beaver County Records, 1998, page 2.  (10) Jacob’s death is listed in St. Peter’s records on page 134 and in Beaver County Register’s Docket 9, page 46.  His will is in Will Book O, page 7.   Sarah’s death is in St. Peter’s records, page 135.  Burial sites listed in “Butler County Cemetery Inventory, Vol. 4,” by the Butler County Historical Society, page 14.