The origin of the Moyer family is uncertain. The family probably came from Germany but many Mennonite families originated in Switzerland. A book on the Ziegler family traces the Moyers back to Benjamin Meyer, who lived in southeastern Pennsylvania in the 1700s.
Notes on the Knepps and Zieglers follow the information on the Moyers.
See Charles L. Bowers.
BENJAMIN and CATHERINE MEYER
Benjamin Meyer lived in Montgomery County, Pa., in the late 1700s.
Benjamin married Catherine Ziegler, who was born in 1736 to Christopher and Deborah Ziegler. (1)
John, born 1754.
Maria, born 1764. Married Henry Eshbach.
Eva. Married Ludwig Zerly.
Hannah, born 1760. Married Johannes Latshaw.
(Possibly) Deborah, born 1767.
Samuel, born February 1773.
Barbara, listed as youngest daughter in Benjamin’s will.
Benjamin’s parents and place of birth are unknown. He may have been born in 1735. (3) His name is usually spelled “Meyer” or “Meier” in records.
Benjamin was almost certainly a Mennonite. Catherine’s grandfather, Michael Ziegler, was a preacher at the congregation in Skippack Township. The second wife of Benjamin’s son Samuel, was the daughter of a bishop who served the congregation in Bally. Because that church does not believe in infant baptism, no records of the children’s births are likely to be found.
A Benjamin appears in records as a trustee of a Mennonite congregation in Upper Milford Township in what is now Lehigh County, Pa., in the late 1700s. “February 10, 1772, John Schantz and Benjamin Meyer, trustees of the Mennonite congregation, bought from Henry Schleifer for twenty-five shillings one-half acres of ground (the same on which many years previous a church had been erected, and which also had been used as a burying-ground).” (4) However, our Benjamin appears in records of a different area before and after this time so this reference may not be to him. He may have been affiliated with congregations closer to home.
Mennonites usually immigrated in groups during times of persecution instead of individually. Mennonites were harassed by both the Lutheran and Catholic churches and many congregations fled to Pennsylvania in the late 1600s and early 1700s because of the freedom of religion guaranteed there.
On April 14, 1768, a Benj. Meyer and Jacob Hahn had land surveyed by David Shultze, who was a surveyor and legal adviser to many Germans who lived in Upper Hanover Township in Philadelphia County, Pa. (5) The northern portion of Philadelphia County, which includes the area that Benjamin lived in, became Montgomery County in 1784.
Benjamin appears in Douglass Township, Philadelphia County, in 1779. During the Revolutionary War the Continental government required residents to swear oaths of allegiance. However, Mennonites usually refused to takes oaths citing religious reasons. Benjamin Meyer is listed among such “non-associators” is Douglass Township, which is now part of Montgomery County. (6) He is also listed among those fined for not performing militia duty in Philadelphia County. Benjamin was fined 40 pounds. (7)
Benjamin also starts appear in Douglass Township tax records in 1779; however, he does not appear in records for 1769 or 1774. Benjamin appears in tax records for 1782 and 1783. Tax records for 1782, he Philadelphia County tax records list Benjamin Meyer in Douglass Township. The 1783 records list Benjamin as a farmer owning 125 acres, two horses, four cows and eight sheep. (8)
The tax records may provide clues about Benjamin’s family. As stated above, Benjamin appears in Douglass Township in 1779. The 1779 records show several other Meyers in Douglass Township, and most appear to have lived very near Benjamin. These are John Meyer, who owned 70 acres and appears in records from 1769 to 1783; Elizabeth, who appears in records for 1769 through 1783 and is listed as “Widow Meyer” in 1783; Nicholas Meyer, who is listed in a way that makes him appear to be paying on behalf of the estate of John Stoffelet; Philip Meyer, Jacob Meyer, who also appears in the 1782 and 1783 lists; and Charles Meyer. In 1782, a Matthias Meyer also appears. Some of these are likely to brothers and Elizabeth is likely to be his mother, grandmother or aunt.
The 1790 Census of Montgomery County lists Benjamin’s household as containing three males 16 or older and three females. The 1800 Census of Douglass Township, Montgomery County, indicates that Benjamin Moyer’s household contained one male age 45 or older, two females 26-45 and one female 45 or older. The township’s 1800 census indicates that Benjamin Moyer’s household contained one male age 45 or older, one female 26-45 and one female 45 or older. The township’s 1820 Census lists Benjamin Moyer’s household as containing one male and one female, both other 45.
In January 1819, Benjamin was “very weak in Bodily strength” and decided to make out his will. Benjamin put his mark on his will, which indicates that he couldn’t write. In addition, a note on in the county will book indicates that the original will was written in German.
Benjamin died before June 3, 1822. Catherine is said to have died in 1786. However, if that is the case, Benjamin probably married a second wife because a woman roughly his age continues appearing in the census records until 1820. (9)
(1) Catherine’s father is identified in his will in Montgomery County, Pa., Will Book 2, page 379. Catherine’s birth date and mother’s name comes from “The Ziegler Family and Related Families in Pennsylvania,” by Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler, pages 297 and 298, and are repeated by the card file at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. (2) Children, except Deborah, are identified in the English translation of Benjamin’s will. Deborah is listed in the Ziegler book and the card file at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. “Abstracts of Wills and Administrations of Montgomery County, Pa., Vol. 1, 1784-1822,” page 379, indicates that information also is in Register of Wills 4177 and Orphans Court 12146 but I have been unable to check these so far. Perhaps Deborah appears there. Samuel’s birth date comes from his tombstone, as cited in “Butler County Cemetery Inventory Vol. 4,” by the Butler County Historical Society, page 5. Other birth dates and the husbands’ names come from the card file. Some of the cards give differing birth dates and at least one of the cards in the file uses the Ziegler book as a source. (3) Mennonite card file. A possible candidate for Benjamin’s father is the Samuel Mayer who is mentioned in connection with the Mennonite congregation in Upper Milford in 1745 in the book “History of the Mennonites of the Franconia Conference,” page 221. A second candidate is Christian Mayer, whose son Samuel was born in 1734 and married the first cousin of Benjamin’s wife, both granddaughters of Michael Ziegler. Another early Moyer/Meyers in the general area were Hans and Vincent. The Mennonite community probably wasn’t very large and it was common to have such double links between families in other German communities. Christian also is listed as having a son named Samuel who was born in 1734, so his wife was bearing children at the time of Benjamin’s birth. The information on Christian Mayer comes from a card file at the Zelienople Historical Society in Butler County, Pa. (4) “History of the Mennonites of the Franconia Conference,” page 221. (5) “The Perkiomen Region Past and Present,” by Henry S. Dotterer, page 419. (6) “Oath of Allegiance, Associates and Nonassociates, Montgomery County, Pa., (Part of Philadelphia County) 1778-1779,” compiled by Janet Brittingham and Mildred C. Williams, page 33. (7) “Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790, Pennsylvania,” Government Printing Office, reprinted in 1978 by Accelerated Indexing Systems Inc., page 160. (7) “Pennsylvania Archives,” Series 3, Vol. 5, page 755. (8) “Pennsylvania Archive,” Series 3, Vol. 14, page 582, and Vol. 16, pages and 543, respectively. (9) Benjamin will was proved on this date. Catherine’s death date is listed in Ziegler book.
SAMUEL and PHYRON MOYER
Samuel Moyer was born in February 1773 in eastern Pennsylvania to Benjamin and Catherine (Ziegler) Meyer. (1)
Married Sophrony Sechler and Susanna Boyer. (See below.)
Deborah, born January 1795. Married Daniel Shanor.
Benjamin, born May 20, 1796.
Sarah. Married George Boyer.
Samuel, born April 3, 1803.
Catherine, possibly May 30, 1809. Possibly Abraham Tinstman, probably Samuel Ziegler.
Abraham, born April 4, 1808.
Maria, born May 25, 1810. Married Samuel Boyer.
Elizabeth, born Feb. 25, 1814. Married William Lutz.
Susanna. Married Henry Bixler.
Nancy. Married David Buchwalter.
Samuel was married to Phyron (possibly short for Sophronia) Sechler, who may have been born in 1773. She died sometime after the birth of Elizabeth in 1814, possibly in 1816. (3)
After his first wife’s death, Samuel married Susanna Boyer, who was the daughter of John Boyer, a Mennonite bishop. Susanna was born in May 1791. (4)
The Moyer family moved to Lancaster Township, Butler County, Pa. shortly after Sophrony’s death. “The History of Butler County, Pa.,” published in 1895, says: “In 1817 Henry Rice and George Kneiss moved up from Harmony, and Samuel Moyer from Northumberland County.” It was after the move that the name came to be spelled “Moyer” rather than “Meyer.” (5)
The Moyers appear to have moved west with other Mennonite families to establish a community there. Susanna’s father John Boyer was a minister for the group. John was born Jan. 10, 1762, and ordained at Hereford in Berkes County in 1795. John succeeded Bishop John Bechtel at the congregation at Hereford. John married Susanna Z. Bauer and they had 10 children. In 1814 or 1816, they moved to Harmony, Butler County. (6)
In the 1820 Census, Samuel appears in Connoquenessing Township, Butler County. His household contained two males under 10, two males 10-16, one male 16-18, one male 16-26, one male 45 or older, two females under 10, one female 10-16 and one female 26-45. Because of the way the ages are listed, some overlap is certain.
The township’s 1830 census indicates that Samuel Moyer’s household contained two males age 5-9, one male 15-19, one male 20-29, one male 50-59, one female under 5, one female 10-14 and one female 40-49.
The children of those who moved west don’t appear to have shared their forefathers’ strong Mennonite convictions. On April 1, 1836, about 20 years after the move, a number of Samuel Moyer and John Boyer’s children were baptized into the Lutheran church. Elizabeth, Maria and Maria’s husband Samuel – who was the son of John Boyer – were baptized. And in 1846, at least two of the children of Samuel’s son Samuel were baptized at Grace Reformed Church in Harmony, Butter County. Since the sponsors are listed as “Eltern” – or “parents” in German – it appears the younger Samuel had converted, too. (7)
The 1850 Census lists Samuel as living alone near his son Joseph in West Connoquenessing Township.
Susanna died in April 1850 of a fever. Samuel died Dec. 25, 1857. They are buried at the Mennonite Meeting House near Harmony. (8)
(1) Samuel is named in his father’s estate papers. Samuel’s tombstone at the Mennonite Meeting House near Harmony, Butler County, Pa., says he died Dec. 25, 1857, at 84 years, 10 months of age. Information on the family also is available in “The Ziegler Family and Related Families in Pennsylvania,” by Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler, pages 297, 300 and 301 and the genealogical card file at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. (2) Children are listed in Samuel’s estate records in Butler County Estate File M132. Samuel’s birth date comes from this listing for the Mennonite and Grace Reformed cemetery in “Butler County Cemetery Inventory Vol. 4,” by the Butler County Historical Society, page 18; Deborah’s approximate date and husband are on page 10; Benjamin, page 4; and Abraham, page 15. A Catherine Ziegler also is listed on Page 6 but I have not confirmed that she is the correct one. A Joseph, who was born in 1822, is listed on page 9 but that reference is likely to be to the younger Samuel’s son, who was born in that year. Maria and Elizabeth’s birth dates and husbands’ names are listed in their confirmation records in “St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church, Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania,” transcribed by Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler, Page 8. Although the married names of Samuel’s daughters are listed in his estate papers, the husband’s first names are not. The first names of the husbands of Sarah, Catherine, Susan and Nancy come from the Ziegler book and additional research in Butler County will probably confirm them. In addition to the children cited above, a Rebecca – wife of Jacob Shaffer – is mentioned as a child in the Ziegler book. However, this appears to be a misidentification of Rebecca Reiss, who married Jacob Schaffer, according to the records of St. Paul’s. Or it may be a mistaken reference to the younger Samuel’s daughter Rebecca, who married a Shaffer. (3) Phyron is listed as the mother of two of Samuel’s children who were baptized as adults at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Zelienople as recorded in the St. Paul’s records cited above. The Ziegler book and the Mennonite card file list her year of birth and death. (4) Susanna’s father is identified in Butler County Deed Book V, page 643, which lists John Boyer’s children. Her approximate date of birth comes from “Butler County Cemetery Inventory, Vol. 4,” by the Butler County Historical Society, page 5 (which says she died “04-02?1850,” making the exact birth date difficult to calculate.) (5) “The History of Butler County, Pa.,” page 596. “20th Century History of Butler and Butler County, Pa., and Representative Citizens,” by James A. McKee, page 503, only mentions that the family settled there before the 1830s and it came from Northumberland County, which is incorrect. (6) “History of the Mennonites of the Franconia Conference,” pages 118 and 254. The book appears to disagree with itself on when Boyer left for Butler County. (7) Historical Society of Pennsylvania; “Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records”; Reel: 416, via Ancestry.com. (8) Susanna’s death recorded in “Pennsylvania 1850 Mortality,” page 225. This lists her as 50 years old, not 59, at the time of her death and says died of fever in April 1850. Both graves are recorded in “Butler County Cemetery Inventory, Vol. 4,” by the Butler County Historical Society, page 5. Samuel’s death is also noted in the Jan. 13, 1858, edition of The Democratic Herald of Butler County, Pa.
SAMUEL and JULIANA MOYER
Samuel Moyer was born April 3, 1803 in Pennsylvania to Samuel Moyer and Sophrony Sechler. (1)
Married Julian – also Julia or Juliana – who was born Feb. 4, 1808, to Heinrich and Elizabeth (Seip) Reiss. (2)
Joseph, born 1822.
Elizabeth, born 1825.
Deborah, born 1827. Married Andrew Ziegler.
Abraham, born December 1829.
Sarah , born 1831. Possibly married Daniel Weisz.
Eliza, born 1832. Married a Neely.
Henry, born 1833.
Rebecca, born 1835. Married a Shaffer.
Susan, born 1837. Married a Powell, possibly Joseph.
Nancy, born 1838. Possibly married a Root.
Samuel, born 1840.
Mary, or Polly, born 1841.
Julia A., or Julianna, born 1842.
Catharine, born 1845. Married a Keefer.
Fanny (possibly Pharonica) , born Oct. 5, 1846. Married Johan Reiss (John Rice).
Matilda, born Dec. 3, 1848. Possibly married Aaron Beighley.
Samuel Moyer is listed in the 1830 Census of Connoquenessing Township, Butler County, Pa. His household contained two males under age 5, one male 20-29, one female under 5 and one female 20-29. In the township’s 1840 census, the Samuel appears to be listed under the name “Samuel Myers.” The “Myers” household contained one male under age 5, two males 5-9, one male 30-39, three females under 5, two females 5-9, two females 10-14 and one females 30-39. The ages of the children in that household seem to correspond pretty closely with the dates listed above.
Samuel is listed as a farmer in Marion Township, Beaver County, Pa., in the 1850 Census. The census also states that Samuel and Julia and their four oldest children were born in Germany. Since they were actually born in Pennsylvania, this probably indicates that they primarily spoke German. The 1850 Census also indicates that Samuel was unable to read or write. However, real estate records indicate that Samuel was able to sign his name so this may indicate that he couldn’t read English. The Moyer household contained all of the children listed above, except Joseph.
During the 1850s, Samuel moved to nearby Lancaster Township, Butler County. (4)
The Moyers appear in Lancaster Township in the 1860 Census. Samuel listed as a farmer who owned real estate valued at $2,000 and personal property valued at $945. In addition Samuel, Julianna and their six youngest children, the household contained David Shafer, 4 (possibly the son of Rebecca); Calvin Zeigler, 11; Andrew Boyer, 17; Susanna Moyer, 20; and Franklin Moyer, 6 months.
The 1870 Census indicates that Samuel was a farmer in Lancaster Township and owned real estate valued at $2,500 and personal property valued at $1,200. His household also included David Shafer, age 13; Elisa Thomas, 30; Alen Thomas, 7; and a 16-year-old farmhand whose surname was Ruby.
The 1880 Census lists Samuel as a farmer in Lancaster County. It indicates that he could not read or write, which contradicts previous censuses. In addition to Julianna, his household contained David Shafer, age 24, grandson; and Mary Thomas 17, granddaughter.
An 1883 history of Butler County provides the following information on the family, starting with Samuel’s father: “In 1817, Samuel Moyer moved from Northumberland County and purchased of John Boyer a farm. His son, Samuel, lives upon a part of the tract and has an excellent farm. He has been farming for himself about 50 years. His brother, Abraham, resided here, and was a Justice of the Peace many years. Samuel is the only surviving son of Samuel Moyer, Sr. He has three sisters living – Sarah (Boyer), Ohio; Catharine (Sigler), Ohio; and Mary (Boyer), Venango County. Samuel Moyer is the father of seventeen children, fifteen of whom reached years of maturity. Fourteen are still living.” (5)
Although their parents were Mennonite’s it appears that he and Julianna switched to the Germany Reformed denomination around 1849. On Oct. 21 of that year, Fanny and Matilda were baptized at Grace Reformed Church in Harmony, Butler County, and their sponsors were listed as “Eltern,” which is German for “parents.” (5a)
Juliana died April 13, 1889. Samuel died at his home in Lancaster Townshi on Jan. 8, 1893. They are buried at the cemetery of Grace Reformed Church in Jackson Township, Butler County. (6)
(1) Birth date comes from “Butler County Cemetery Inventory, Vol. 4,” by the Butler County Historical Society, page 18. Father is indicated in Samuel Sr.’s estate records in Butler County Estate File M132 as well as Butler County Deed Book Z, page 198, which records that land being sold by Samuel Moyer and July Anne, his wife, of Lancaster Township, had originally been conveyed from Samuel Moyer Sr. to Samuel Moyer Jr. The probable identification of Phyron as his mother comes from the confirmation records of Samuel’s younger sister, Maria and Elizabeth, which are in “St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church, Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania,” transcribed by Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler, Page 8. If Phyron was Samuel’s first wife, this identification is accurate. This view is accepted by other researchers, including Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler in “The Ziegler Family and Related Families in Pennsylvania,” page 300. (2) Julia’s parents are listed in her father’s will, which is recorded in Butler County Estate File R74, under Henry Rise. Her year of birth is indicated on her tombstone as listed in “Butler County Cemetery Inventory, Vol. 4,” by the Butler County Historical Society, page 18. Her exact birth date is listed in Records of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Zelienople, page 3. (3) Matilda and Fanny’s birth date and parents were listed when she was baptized at Grace Reformed Church in Harmony. Historical Society of Pennsylvania; “Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records”; Reel: 416, via Ancestry.com. Other children’s years of birth are listed in 1850 Census of Marion Township, Beaver County, Pa. Abraham’s month and year of birth comes from 1900 Census of Zelienople, Butler County, Pa. Fanny’s husband is listed in the baptismal records of her children at St. Paul’s, page 78. Mary/Polly and Julia/Julianna appear to be a year older in the 1860 Census than in the 1850 Census, probably because first 1850 Census was taken in October and the 1860 Census was taken in June. The last names of some of the daughter’s husbands come from Samuel’s estate papers in Butler County Estate File M420. Records of Grace Reformed Church in Harmony, Butler County, Pa., list the marriage of Deborah. Images of the original records are available through Ancestry.com, under “Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985.”
The names of some of the other husbands also are listed in the Ziegler book, page 313; however, there are some problems in this list. For example, it says that Rebecca married Killian Funk Wise, which may be true but it doesn’t mention the marriage to the Schaffer that is indicated in the estate papers. (4) Butler Count Deed Book, Z, page 198. (5) “History of Butler County Pennsylvania,” by Watkins & Co., page 201. (5a) Historical Society of Pennsylvania; “Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records”; Reel: 416, via Ancestry.com. (6) Juliana’s death date appears in “Butler County Cemetery Inventory.” Samuel’s information is listed in the Jan. 20, 1893, edition of The Butler Citizen of Butler, Pa. The cemetery inventory indicates that Samuel died Feb. 8 but the index to the Butler County estate papers also indicates that he died Jan. 8. On Jan. 25 , 1893, his children filed a petition asking that Samuel’s son Abraham and Frederick Wiegel be named administrators of the estate. The document also mentions that Abraham is “our eldest Brother” – Joseph died in 1860, according to an index of those buried at the Harmony Mennonite Cemetery, which is available at the Zelienople Historical Society.
ABRAHAM and ELIZABETH MOYER
Abraham Moyer was born in December 1829 in western Pennsylvania to Samuel and Julia (Rice) Moyer. (1)
Married Elizabeth Knepp on Dec. 24, 1850 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Zelienople, Pa. (2) Elizabeth was born Aug. 9, 1833 to Friedrich and Catherine (Oeffnehert) Knoepp. (3) Family tradition holds that she was born on the ship coming from Germany. This appears to be born out by 1910 Census records, which list “Sea” as her place of birth.
Friedrich Adoph, born May 22, 1853 and died the same day.
Samuel, born Oct. 4, 1855. Died June 18, 1861.
Katherine Louisa, born April 27, 1859. Died June 17, 1861.
Maria Emilia or Juliana, born Aug. 8, 1862, and died later that month. (5)
Friedrich Albert, born Nov. 13, 1863.
Louis Edward, born Jan. 23, 1867.
Elisa Ellen, born March 19, 1871, and probably died Jan. 5, 1883. (6)
Anna Josephina, born Sept. 3, 1873. Married Friedrich W. Schneider.
Elizabeth actually gave birth to 10 children, but only two were alive when the 1900 Census was taken.
At the time the 1860 Census was taken, Abra. and Elizab. Moyer appear to have been living on property owned by Elizabeth’s parents in Franklin Township, Beaver County. The Moyers appear next to the Knoepps but are not listed as owning any property. The Moyers’ household also contained Saml, age 5, and Louisa, 1.
The 1870 Census seems to include some inaccurate information about Abraham. Abraham is listed as a 40-year-old farmer in Franklin Township. The only other member of his household listed is Kate, 40. Presumably she was actually Elizabeth since this is the only record that refers to anyone named Kate. Once again, he appears to live on property owned by the Knoepps, since the household are appear next to each other and there is no indication that Abraham owned real estate.
In the 1880 Census, Abraham is listed as a farmer in Franklin Township. In addition to his wife Lizzie, his household contained Frederick, 17; Edward, 13; Ellen, 9; and Anne, 7.
In 1890 tax records for Franklin Township, Abraham Moyer is listed as a farmer, and he was taxed for 74 acres, one horse and one cow. (7)
Sometime before 1900, when Abraham was 70 years old, he and his wife moved to the nearby town of Zelienople, where the 1900 and 1910 censuses list him as a “day laborer.”
Abraham’s great-granddaughter Ether May Graff, who in 1991 wrote a letter concerning the Moyer family, said: “He owned a farm in Franklin Township, Beaver County. He went to Zelienople after he retired from farming. His two sons were to pay him a certain amount each year and give him meat when they butchered. He also worked in Zelienople as long as he was able. He also did work at the children’s and old people’s Lutheran home in Zelienople.”
He lived on Clay Street and was a municipal employee, caring for flowerbeds, parks and streets. That meant cleaning up horse manure at a time before automobiles. He also was responsible for lighting the gas lamps that lit the small town at night.
The 1910 Census lists Abraham Moyer as laborer who did odd jobs and lived in Zelienople, Butler County. The only other member of his household was Elizabeth.
Abraham died Aug. 3, 1917 from a stroke. His obituary in The Butler Citizen said: “Abraham N. Moyer, 87 years of age, a well known and respected resident of Zelienople, died rather suddenly yesterday morning at his residence, following a stroke of apoplexy. Mr. Moyer has been employed for years by the borough as caretaker of the parks and streets. He was getting ready to go to work yesterday morning about 7 o’clock when he was stricken. His death occurred about four hours later..
“The deceased was a native of Lancaster Township, Butler county, and had resided for many years on a farm in Beaver county. He was a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran church of Zelienople.” (8)
Elizabeth died in Dec. 28, 1920. They are buried at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church’s cemetery in Jackson Township, Butler County. (9)
(1) Abraham’s month and year of birth comes from 1900 Census of Zelienople, Butler County, Pa. Parents’ names come from 1850 Census of Marion Township, Beaver County, Pa. Also, he is listed as a son in Samuel’s estate papers in Butler County Estate File M420. Some anecdotes in this item comes from interviews with Mary Bowers and Velma Holfelder in 1990 and a letter from Ethel May Graff in 1991. (2) “St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church, Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania,” transcribed by Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler, Page 124. (3) St. Paul’s records, page 35. The link also appears in Beaver County Deed Book 82, page 489, which mentions that Henry Knepp and Elizabeth Moyer received land in Franklin Township, Beaver County, after the death of Frederick Knoepp. Elizabeth sold the 65 acres to her brother for $1. (4) Dates of births and deaths are in the St. Paul’s records. Ann’s marriage is recorded on page 141. While the church records list Eliza Ellen as “Eliza Allen,” I have chosen to use the spelling as recorded in “Butler County Cemetery Inventory, Vol. 4,” by the Butler County Historical Society, page 9, which appears more likely. Several of the children are mentioned on the same page of the cemetery inventory and many of the listings appear to have transcription problems. (5) The baptismal record indicates that her name was Maria Emilia and she was baptized on Aug. 27. Her death record lists her name as Juliana and her date of death as Aug. 12. It is likely that she is the Mary E. listed in the cemetery inventory, which says she died “09-11-18??” and records that she was the daughter of “R. & E.” Since all of the other Moyers in this grave grouping were children of Abraham, it appears almost certain that the “R” should be and “A.” (6) “Butler County Cemetery Inventory,” which says she was 17 when she died. This appears to be a transcription error and will have to be checked against the tombstone. (7) “Eastside Beaver County Tax Records 1890,” by Helen G. Clear and Mae H. Winne, Publishers of Beaver County Records, 1998, page 3. (8) The Butler Citizen, Butler, Pa., Aug. 4, 1917. (9) “Butler County Cemetery Inventory.” Elizabeth’s date of death comes from Beaver County Register’s Docket 14, page 30.
EDWARD and MARIAH MOYER
Louis Edward Moyer was born Jan. 23, 1867 in Beaver County, Pa., to Abraham and Elizabeth (Knoepp) Moyer. (1)
Married Mariah Bellas in 1888. Mariah was born in May 12, 1861 in western Pennsylvania to Isaac and Sarah Bellas. Mariah’s first name is sometimes spelled Maria. (2)
Laura Estella, born May 8, 1889. Married Charles L. Bowers.
Elmer E., born July 17, 1892.
Sarah E., born in April 1894. Married Robert Graff.
Esther E., born in April 29, 1900.
The Moyers lived in Franklin Township, Beaver County, where Edward was a farmer.
In 1890 tax records for Franklin Township, Edward Moyer is listed as a farmer, and he was taxed for one horse and four cows. (4)
They spoke German at home even though both the Moyer and Bellas families had lived in America for many generations. However, the family of Edward’s mother, the Knoepps, were immigrants and his mother was born on the ship coming from Germany.
The Moyers were strong in their Christian faith, according to their granddaughter, Ethel May Graff, who wrote in a letter about them in 1991.
“When Ed and Mariah were first married, they drove up to Harmony to the Reformed Church (that’s where the Bellas family went to church). But that was a long drive with horse and buggy – cows to milk, animals to feed in the morning and four little children to get ready for Sunday school and church. The preacher suggested they go to a nearer church. So they went to Camp Run United Presbyterian Church. At that time, they only sang Psalms in the United Presbyterian Church. All the time they went to Camp Run church, Mariah taught a class of young boys in Sunday school. She also belonged to their Women’s Missionary Society.”
The 1900 Census lists Edward Moyer as a farmer who owned a farm in Franklin Township. His household contained his wife Maria, Lorah, Elmer E. Sarah E. and Esther E. The 1910 Census also lists Edward Moyer as a farmer who owned a farm in Franklin Township. In addition to Mariah, Elmer, Sara and Esther, Edward’s household contained Laura and her husband Charles Bower, who was working as a teamster.
A directory of Beaver County farmers records that in 1917, Ed. L. Moyer had one minor child and one adult child living at home. He owned 98 acres and his primary crop was corn but he also sold milk. It also mentions that he was connected to Bell Telephone service. The family lived in Franklin Township off Highway 23. (5)
Mariah was very easy-going. She enjoyed sewing and was an excellent seamstress who often make clothing for others.
Mariah died of diphtheria April 27, 1918.
“When Mariah died of diphtheria, they were quarantined,” Ethel May Graff wrote. “No one was allowed to go in. ... Ed Moyer and his daughter, Esther, were there alone when she died. Mariah had been in a coma for 24 hours. Ed Moyer and his daughter, Esther, were by her side. Mariah suddenly opened her eyes and said, ‘Please raise me up.’ They put pillows under her head. Mariah began to sing the 103 Psalm. Then she prayed the child’s prayer all her children had learned at her knee: ‘Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.’ Then she said (seemingly not conscious of Grandfather’s and Esther’s presence), ‘They have come to get me now.’ Esther said, ‘Who, Mother?’ She said, ‘The angels. Don’t you see them all dressed in white?’ Then one deep breath, and she was gone. This was April 27. Esther was 18 years old April 29, so this was hard for an 18-year-old girl.”
The 1920 Census lists Edward as a farmer who owned a farm in Franklin Township, Beaver County. His 19-year-old daughter Esther lived with him. His son Elmer, and his wife Esther, are listed as renting, apparently on the same property.
Esther later became a missionary, working in the Punjab in India for the United Presbyterian Mission Board. The Sept. 3, 1924 edition of the New Castle News reported that Esther leaving for India on Sept. 12. Esther returned to America on May 9, 1930, aboard the S.S. Berengaria, sailing from Southampton, England. (6) After returning to America, she settled in California.
Edward was a farmer most of his life. But sometime around World War I, he gave his farm to his son Elmer and moved to a smaller tract of land. (Some family members say it was so Elmer wouldn’t be drafted, but this story is discounted by others.) Elmer turned the farm into one of the largest dairy operations in the area – Moyer’s Farm Dairy.
In early 1922, Edward married Louella Belle Kelley, the widow of John H. Kelley. The wedding was held in Ellwood City, according to the March 2 edition of the New Castle News. Belle outlived Edward. Her children by ber previous marriage were Ethel (Craig), Arthur, Everett and Mildred Kelly.
The 1930 Census list Lewis E. Moyer as a farmer who ran a “Truck Farm” in Franklin Township. His property was valued at $1,800. His household contained his wife Loubelle, age 56, and Mildred A. Kelly, 26, stepdaughter.
“The years after he left the large farm were hard for him,” Ethel May Graff wrote of Edward. “The Depression hit and most people had very little. His barn burned and he lost his horse, which he used to cultivate the land. He lost his cows and everything in the barn. But one never heard him complain. He never mechanized his little farm.”
The barn fire is mentioned in an article in the New Castle News on Sept. 22, 1932. It reads:
“Fire of undetermined origin destroyed the large from barn owned by Edward Moyer at Lilyville last night. The flames were discovered at 9 o’clock. Mr. Moyer had just been in the barn, having thought he detected the odor of cigarette smoke, but could not find any evidence and returned to the house, which is about 75 feed from the barn, when the entire structure burst into flames.
“Mr. Moyer and his neighbors were able to get the automobile out but one cow and a horse were incinerated. A small calf was rescued. The season’s crops, which had been recently gathered into the barn, and the farming implements were destroyed. There being absolutely no facilities for combating fires, nothing could be done. Fortunately the wind was not flowing in the direction of the house or other nearby buildings or they too probably would have burned. A spark which was blown a quarter of a mile ignited a corn shock but the blaze was put out before any damage could be done.
“The loss has been estimated at $3,000 and is partially covered by insurance.”
In 1942, he quit farming and took a job with Ellwood Stone Co. near Ellwood City.
Edward was a kind and generous man, and was “sprightly” in old age. Ethel May Graff write: “He would have given anyone the last thing he had. That’s one reason he died such a poor man. ... Ed Moyer wouldn’t turn anyone out.”
In 2004, Ethel May recalled, “He was a good-natured fellow. He couldn’t have put up with as much as he had to put up with if he weren’t.”
He and Mariah on several occasions cared for the children of relatives who had fallen on hard times. For example, when Ed’s sister Anna Josephina died around 1900, no one else could take in Freddy, who was a baby, and Elsie, who was 2 or 3, so Ed and Mariah cared for them until their father remarried.
Edward also chewed tobacco.
Edward was killed on the job at the stone company on Dec. 28, 1944. The Ellwood City Ledger reported that he climbed onto a 25-foot bin to loosen sand that was tightly packed. He lost his footing and fell into the bin. The only other employee in the plant at the time – 2:15 a.m. – discovered Edward neck-deep in sand but was unable to free him. The employee telephoned for help, which arrived too late to save Edward from being buried completely. (7)
His obituary appeared in the Dec. 30, 1944, edition of Butler Eagle of Butler, Pa. It reads: “Edward Moyer, aged 70s years, of Fombell R.D. 1, Beaver county, was instantly killed yesterday morning when at work in a war industries plant in Ellwood City. His widow is Mrs. Belle White Kelley Moyer, who is known to many as a former resident of Butler.
“Mr. Moyer is also survived by a son, two daughters, two step-sons and two step-daughters. He was a member and official of the Fombell Presbyterian church.”
Mariah was buried at the Camp Run United Presbyterian Church, according to her obituary.
(1) Date and parents listed in “St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church, Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania,” transcribed by Gertrude Mohlin Ziegler, page 76. Most other information comes from interviews with Mary Bowers, Edward Bowers and Velma Holfelder in 1989 and 1990 and a letter from Ethel May Graff in 1991 and an interview with her in August 1996. (2) Birth date comes from subtracting age from date of death as listed in obituary in an undated, unnamed newspaper clipping. Census records provide conflicting data on her birth year and I have chosen to rely on the obit. Parents’ names come from the obituary and the 1880 Census, Butler County, Pa. The marriage year comes from a notation in the communion records of Grace Reformed Church in Harmony, Butler County, which are available through Ancestry.com. (3) Birth dates come from 1900 Census, Beaver County, Pa. Most other information in this paragraph comes from obituaries in the Ellwood City Ledger. (4) “Eastside Beaver County Tax Records 1890,” by Helen G. Clear and Mae H. Winne, Publishers of Beaver County Records, 1998, page 3. (5) “1917 Beaver County Farm Directory,” reprinted for the Tri-State Genealogical Society, page 78. (6) Ancestry.com’s New York Passenger Lists – Year: 1930; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715; Microfilm Roll: 4731; Line: 8; Page Number: 121. (7) Undated clipping from Ellwood City Ledger. Date provided by Ethel May Graff.