The Nye family came from western Germany. Andreas Neu immigrated to America in 1733.
The name was originally Neu and was anglicized to Nigh. After about 1790, it became Nye.
Points of interest: Andrew Nye was among the first settlers in Beaver County, Pa., and served in the Washington County militia during the Revolutionary War; Michael Nye served as a sergeant in the War of 1812; Michael P. Nye was a school teacher and a justice of the peace.
See Edward C. Bowers.
Johann Andreas Neu lived in or near Leistadt, Germany, before immigrating to America in the 1730s. (1)
Married Maria Elisabeth in Germany and Sara Roos in America. (See below.)
Children of Andreas and Maria Elisabeth: (2)
Anna Barbara, born about 1726.
Johann Michael, born Sept. 12, 1728.
(* For details and questions, see footnote 2.)
Children of Andreas and Selli Roos (Sara Rose): (3)
Sara, born June 14, 1748.
Andrew, born June 6, 1750.
Before immigrating to America, Andreas appears in baptismal records for the small German village of Leistadt west of the Rhein River. The town is now a part of the city of Bad Duerkheim, which is on the German Wine Road in the modern state of Rheinland-Pfalz.
The travel diary of a Moravian missionary, Sven Roseen, tells of several encounters with our Andreas. In these accounts, Roseen mentions that Andreas “had known the father of our dear brother Heinrich Antes, Frederick Antes, while he had his home in Fraensheim, and this Neu in Leustadt, (three English miles away) and the two had one forest right.” “Fraensheim” is actually Freinsheim and “Leustadt” is Leistadt. (4)
Andreas and his family immigrated to America in 1733, arriving in Philadelphia aboard the Pink Mary, which sailed from Rotterdam, Holland. Most of the Germans who came to America from the Palatinate in the early 1700s were escaping economic and religious troubles.
The Provincial Council of Pennsylvania recorded their arrival: “At the Courthouse aforesaid, September 29th, 1733. Thirty four Palatines, who with their families, making in all One hundred & Seventy Persons, were imported here in the Pink Mary of Dublin, James Benn, Master, from Rotterdam, but last from Plymouth, as by Clearance thence, were qualified as before.” The passenger list includes: Andreas Nay; his wife, Maria
Elisabeth; and children, Anna Barbara, age 7, and Hans Michel, age 3 1/2. Although our Johann Michael was actually 5 at the time, this is without a doubt the right family. (5)
Also on Sept. 29, Andtreas Ney “did this day take & subscribe the Oaths to ye Govermt.”
The discrepancy in the spelling of Andreas’ name is cause by his signature. Although he was one of the few people to actually sign his own name, the signature is in old German script and difficult to read. Transcribers could easily mistake a “u” for a “y” and an “e” for an “a.” Other problems crop up with the family name, which appears as Neu, Nay, Ney, Nigh, Neigh and Ny. In German, “Neu” was pronounced “Noy.” Many German names were anglicized and “Noy” usually became “Nigh.” The only records that actually spell the name “Neu” are from a German-speaking Lutheran church in Somerset County, N.J., and Roseen’s diary.
Andreas settled in what is now Bernards Township in Somerset County, N.J. The only surviving evidence of the Neus’ presence there are church records and a store account book. Few records from this period in New Jersey history exist – especially in Somerset County, where the British burned the courthouse during the Revolution.
Andreas and Maria Elisabeth Neu were the sponsors at the baptism of Maria Castner on April 21, 1734 at the Lutheran church “at the Raretons” – Somerset County. (6)
Andris Nigh appears in the Janeway Account Books from August 1736 to November 1740. Jacob Janeway ran a store in what is now Bound Brook. Andreas obtained rum and calico among other items. The books also record that Andreas lived near Peter Cassaner (Castner), who lived near Pluckemin. (7)
Sometime between November 1740 and December 1748, the family moved about 50 miles northwest to what is now Monroe County, Pa. According to Roseen’s diary, the Neu homestead was just south of the Delaware Water Gap, where the Delaware River cuts through the mountains. The area was then part of Bucks County and sparsely populated.
Between the 1740 and 1748, Maria Elisabeth, drops from the record, presumably because she died.
No marriage record has been found for Andreas and his second wife, Sara Rose. Judging from the birth date of Sara, the couple’s first child, it appears likely that they were married about 1747. Roseen’s diaries mention that “for both husband and wife this was the second marriage.” Sara’s first husband is unknown. Roseen also mentions that her father was “High German” and her mother was Scottish. (8)
In later records of the Dutch Reformed Church in Smithfield, Pa., Sara Rose is listed as Selli Roos. She possibly may be the Caecilia Roos who was born Feb. 1, 1720 in Somerset County, N.J. (9) Then name “Selli” was an abbreviation used by other Cecilias. Selli’s name is spelled Sealley in her third husband’s will. The Caecilia who was born in New Jersey was baptized at the Lutheran church at the Raretons and her family attended services there for many years. Her father was Andreas Roos, who emigrated from Germany around 1710. No further record of Caecilia Roos has been found.
It was in 1748 and 1749 that Sven Roseen made his missionary journeys in the area that is now Monroe County, Pa. During his travels, he frequently stopped at the home of Andreas and Sara Neu. The diary entries show Roseen was fond of Andreas’ daughter, Sara, and that Andreas was a supporter of his missionary efforts.
From the entry for Dec. 20, 1748: “And so I arrived at the house of Andreas Neu, a German, who told me that if he had been at home when the Brethern Johannes [de Watteville] and Cammerhof passed by, he would have begged them to baptize his little Sara. The child awakened as I sat there, and looked at me so heartily that I should have liked to baptize her at once, if only I had had answer from Bethlehem.”
From Dec. 29, 1748: “I felt the Savior near, and when I came across the flooded creeks and through the difficult Gap without and trouble, to the home of the candidate for baptism, the father was not home. We remained here during the afternoon. In the evening, the father, Joh. Andreas Neu, reached home, and I had an opportunity to talk with him. He had been a neighbor of Frederick Antes, between Worms, Speier, and Mannheim.
“December 31 . This Joh. Andreas Neu fetched his neighbor Thomas Quick, and his wife Rachel, as witness of the baptism. And when they, with the father of the child and its mother (nee Rose, her father having been a High German, and her mother Scotch) and their children Catherina and Elizabeth Neu, and Christina and Catharina Werner, and my dear Francis Jones, had been seated in nice order, I began the singing of hymns, and spoke on Rom. 6:3, 1 John 5:8, and Matt. 28:18-20, in both German and English. Then I baptized this first child of this couple. For both husband and wife this was the second marriage, (the child having been born June 14, 1748). In all of this transaction, I was in a happy frame of mind, and I sang several hymns in closing. This little Sarah is a very attractive child, and now belongs to the Savior, into whose death she has been baptized.”
From March 31, 1749: “Andreas Neu, at the Gap, particularly, whose little Sara was the first child I had baptized, with his wife and children, is always happy when I come. His fetching of leather in Bethlehem and the conduct of our dear Brownfield and Lighton have a good influence on him.
“April 1. I sang German hymn stanzas cheerfully in his house, and then went on down the Delaware in the Forks, toward Nazareth.”
From June 28, 1749: “I stopped in at James Grayforth’s and Anrew Neu’s. These men were not ashamed to own me, when I met them recently at a great ‘raise of a barren’ [probably a barn raising] while some others, because of the fear of men, acted in a very distant manner.”
Roseen’s missionary travel ended in 1749 and he died in 1750. (10)
On June 6, 1750, Selli gave birth to Andries – Andrew in subsequent records. Andrew was baptized Nov. 26, 1752 at the Dutch Reformed Church in Smithfield. (11)
Andreas died sometime before 1752. On Feb. 2, 1752, the Reformed church records list the marriage of “Luer Kuykendal, widower of Lena Consales, to Sara Roos, widow of Andries Ny, both dwelling here.” (12)
The Kuykendal family apparently lived well within a day’s walk of the Neu family. On April 1, 1749, the missionary Roseen wrote in his journal that he started the day in Andreas Neu’s home, singing German hymn stanzas, and then “went on down the Delaware.” That same day, “At the house of Luar Keychendahl, opposite Manunchus Junc [Manunca Chunk] I received dangerous advice or direction.” The missionary was advised to take a path that was safe during the summer but turned out to be hazardous during the spring and was obliged to change his route. (13)
On May 20, 1753, Abram, son of Luer Kuykendal and Selli Roos, was baptized at the Smithfield church. (14)
At some point, the Kuykendal/Neu family moved just across the Delaware River to Knowlton Township, New Jersey. Tax records list Lewer Kikendol there in 1773 (he appears as Leward Cuikendal in 1774). (15) It is possible that the move was made in the wake of attacks by Native Americans on settlements in the Forks of the Delaware during the French and Indian War.
Numerous Kuykendals lived at the Forks of the Delaware and the nearby Minisink region at this time. Several of these families moved to the frontier in what is now western Pennsylvania in the mid-1770s. Some became very active in the area’s politics, usually supporting Virginia’s claim to the Pittsburgh area. Andrew Nye first appears in Virginia records from the Pittsburgh-area records in 1774. Samuel Nye followed. However, Hans Michel Neu – usually listed as John Neigh – stayed in the Easton area, where his son Andrew Neigh served with the Pennsylvania militia in the Revolution.
Eventually, Luar and Selli Kuykendal followed their children westward. Lewis Kuykendal appears in the tax list for Peters Township, Washington County in 1783. He owned no land, one horse and one cow. (16)
“Lewis” Kuykendall died before June 13, 1789, when his will was proved. The will bequeaths to “Sealley dearly beloved wife the chest and her clothes and the bed and bed clothes and three sheep and the cow and the little pot.” His sons are listed as Cornelius (the oldest), Benjamin, Samuel, Jeam, Abraham, John and Henry. No daughters are listed. The administrator of his estate was his stepson, Andrew Nye. (17) If Luar’s will lists his children according to age, as was frequently the case in early-American wills, it would indicate that John and Henry, as well as Abraham, were half-brothers of Andrew Nye. Also, it seems likely that “Jeam” refers to the James Kuykendall who appears in records of that time and place.
(1) Protestant church records of the towns of Herzheim and Leistadt, near Bad Duerkheim in the present German state of Rheinland-Pfalz. Also “The Dansbury Diaries, Moravian Travel Diaries 1748-1755, of the Reverend Sven Roseen and others in the area of Dansbury, now Stroudsburg, Pa.,” page 79. (2) Johann Michael’s birth is listed in the Herzheim-Leistadt church book. Anna Barbara and “Hans Michel” are listed as passengers aboard the Pink Mary in “Pennsylvania German Pioneers,” pages 132 to 134. Samuel, Catharine and Elizabeth are a bit more problematic. Samuel is linked to Andreas in “A Genealogy of American Nyes of German Origin, Vol. II,” page 1. This appears to be very likely but be aware that no direct evidence of his link to Andreas has been found. Roseen doesn’t mention Samuel, but perhaps the boy was living with his brother Hans Michel or someone else at the time of the missionary’s visits. It appears highly unlikely that he was born in the three months between the end of Roseen’s visits and September 1749, when Sara would have become pregnant with Andrew. “American Nyes” cites family tradition, which holds that Andrew Nye had a half-brother named Samuel who also moved to western Pennsylvania. It also cites common naming patterns in his family and Andrew Nye’s. I have not researched Samuel but have noticed that a Samuel Nye does appear near Andrew in some records from western Pennsylvania. Catharina and Elizabeth are listed in “Dansbury Diaries,” pages 48 and 49. Roseen’s diary mentions Andreas had two daughters named Catherina and Elizabeth Neu, who were present at the baptism of Sara Neu. Since the girls are both identified by the last name Neu and Sara is identified as the first child of Andreas and Sara Rose, these daughters were probably Maria Elisabeth’s. However, it is possible that they were the elder Sara’s daughters and Roseen mistakenly called them Neu. In either case, they are the half-sisters of Andrew Nye, who moved to western Pennsylvania. It is possible that the baptism of one of these children is mentioned in “Lutheran Records in the Ministerial Archives of the Staatsarchiv in Hamburg, Germany,” page 130. I am very hesitant to accept this as a reference to our Andreas but I can’t dismiss it, either. The baptism of a 2-week-old child of “Andreas Nauen” at “the Raretons” was recorded as part of a dispute involving an exceedingly unpopular minister. In a letter dated Nov. 16, 1736, the Rev. Johann A. Wolf wrote about an “unscrupulous Spahler” who showed up and “played some quite interesting satanic farces.” This Spahler, who had Calvinistic beliefs, “went to Andreas Nauen and baptized his child, which was already two weeks old and in good health and so could very well have been brought to church.” The members of this Lutheran church were very upset with Wolf and were looking for alternatives. Knowing that Andreas Neu later welcomed a wandering Moravian preacher, it appears very possible that this “Andreas Nauen” may be our man. Also, the name Nauen doesn’t appear in other records from this area while our Andreas does. If this is our Andreas, it would mean that one of Andreas and Maria Elisabeth’s children was born in November 1736. As a sidelight, the Rev. Wolf who wrote the letter was later run out of his parish because he was “a corrupt knave, an adulterer, a perjurer, a wolf and a disturber of the community,” according to “Somerset County Historical Quarterly, Vol. 2,” published in 1913. (3) Sara appears in “Dansbury Diaries,” pages 48 and 49. Andreas/Andrew appears in “Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society,” page 95. (4) “Dansbury Diaries,” pages 48 and 79. (5) “Pennsylvania German Pioneers.” (6) “The Palatine Families of New York, 1710,” page 122. (7) Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey, Vol. 33 and 34. (8) “Dansbury Diaries,” page 48 and 49. (9) “Palatine Families,” pages 798 and 799. (10) The Neu family is mentioned in the “Dansbury Diaries” on pages 44, 48, 55, 67, 76, 79, 82, 94 and 96. A sketch of Roseen’s life appears on pages 3-5. In the text, the parentheses are by Roseen and the square brackets are comments by the book’s translators. (11) “Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society,” page 101. (12) “Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society,” page 95. (13) “Dansbury Diaries,” page 76. (14) “Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society,” page 101. (15) The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey, Vol. 40, page 131. (16) “Washington County, Pennsylvania, Tax Lists,” compiled by Raymond Martin Bell and Katherine K. Zinsser, page 74. (17) Washington County Will Book 1, page 99. An abstract is cited in “Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania Publications, Vol. 6,” page 144.
ANDREW and RACHEL NYE
Andrew Nye was born June 6, 1750, probably in the northern portion of what was then Bucks County, Pa. (now Monroe County). His parents were Andreas and Selli (Roos) Neu. (1)
Married Catherine about 1774 and Rachel McDonald about 1779. (See below.)
Sarah (Deemer), born Aug. 31, 1775.
Richard, born Nov. 1, 1776.
Eleanor (Deemer), born Dec. 25, 1777.
Catherine (Jones), born March, 5, 1780.
Nancy (Main), born Nov. 9, 1781.
John, born Oct. 2, 1783.
Michael, born Aug. 2, 1785.
Hannah (Matheny), born July 21, 1787.
Jordan McDonald, born March 10, 1789.
Mary, born Feb. 12, 1791.
Margaret, born July 13, 1792.
Susanah (Main), born Feb. 27, 1795.
Andrew Rose, born Dec. 22, 1797.
Daniel, born March 19, 1800, died about 1812.
Thomas, born Aug. 3, 1802.
The family name appears in a variety of forms, including Neu, Ney, Nigh, Neigh and Ny. Nye doesn’t appear with regularity until the 1790s.
Andrew (listed as Andries) was baptized Nov. 26, 1752 at the Dutch Reformed Church in Smithfield in what is now Monroe County, Pa. His parents were listed as Andries Ney and Selli Roos and his sponsors were Cornelis Kuyckendal and his wife, Maritje Westfael. (3) Andrew’s father died before the baptism. On Feb. 2, 1752, the church records list the marriage of “Luer Kuykendal, widower of Lena Consales, to Sara Roos, widow of Andries Ny, both dwelling here.”
At some point, the Kuykendal/Nye family moved just across the Delaware River to Knowlton Township, New Jersey. An abstract of New Jersey tax records lists Lewer Kikendol there in 1773 (he appears as Leward Cuikendal in 1774). An Andrew “High” appears as a single male in Knowlton Township in 1773, but not in 1774. It is possible that an “N” was intended and he is our Andrew. (4)
Numerous members of the Dutch Kuykendal family lived at “the Forks of the Delaware,” as the area around Easton, Pa., was known. Several of these moved to what is now western Pennsylvania in the mid-1770s. For example, Benjamin Kuykendal, Andrew’s stepbrother, settled in the Pittsburgh area – which was then claimed by both Pennsylvania and Virginia – and was active in Virginia’s local government, serving as a justice for Yohogania County from 1776 until 1781. Andrew was probably just following his stepbrothers to a promising new land when he headed west. Later, Luer and Selli followed the rest of the family west.
In 1774, Andrew makes his first appearance in records from the Pittsburgh area. Andrew Nigh is listed among the soldiers on the Virginia pay rolls in Pittsburgh during Lord Dunmore’s War. This brief war against the Indians is often blamed on Lord Dunmore, who was England’s last governor of Virginia. Many scholars believe that he saw the American Revolution as inevitable and acted to increase tensions between the colonists and their Native American neighbors. The war lasted a only few months and saw one major campaign that resulted in the defeat of the Indians that October in the Battle of Point Pleasant in what is now West Virginia. During this time, Andrew is listed among the privates in Capt. George Rogers Clark’s company at Pittsburgh. (5) Clark, a correspondent of George Washington’s, was a surveyor and a major proponent of settlement in the Ohio River valley. This occupation brought him into conflict with the Native Americans, who rejected further settlement in the region, and he had a hand in several lethal incidents that helped to spur the sides to war. These incidents were not related to official militia service and it appears unlikely – but not impossible – that Andrew was involved. Since Clark does not appear to have participated in the Point Pleasant campaign, the militia unit probably served in the area near Pittsburgh, prepared to fend off possible raids by Indians. (5a)
In 1775, Andrew received a certificate from the commonwealth of Virginia for land on Peters Creek, south of Pittsburgh. In 1777, he received a certificate for land on the Monongahela River. Both certificates were for land within Yohogania County. (5b)
About this time, Andrew married a woman named Catherine, whose name is sometimes “Germanized” to Catrina. According to family tradition, her full name was Catherine Eleanor Burns and she gave birth to three children: Sarah, Richard and Eleanor. (6)
On May 5, 1776, Andrew Nye signed the covenant for the Peters Creek Baptist Church south of Pittsburgh, near what is now the small town of Library. Catrina Nye signed it May 2, 1777. Andrew was chosen to be a deacon of the congregation July 2, 1779. On Jan. 6, 1780, Andrew was one of five men chosen to agree upon a plan to build a new house of worship. It is possible that Andrew obtained a license to preach at some point because the church’s records have the word “license” after his name in a list of members. (7) An Allegheny County history from 1876 appears to bear this out when it states: “Among other early residents [of what later became Snowden Township] appears the names of … Benjamin Kirkendall and Andrew Nye, some of the leading men in after-years. Nye was of German descent and was for many years a Baptist preacher.” (8)
Life on the frontier was very hard and many pioneers – especially women – died of disease, exhaustion and exposure. (9) Catherine died sometime between 1777 and 1779.
In late 1779 or early 1780, Andrew married a woman named Rachel. According to family tradition, her name was Rachel McDonald, she was born Nov. 10, 1760, and she gave birth to 12 children. Rachel appears to have been the daughter of John and Johanna McDonald, who also lived in Peters Township at that time. John’s 1787 will lists Rachel Noy as his oldest daughter and Katrina Noie as an heir who was younger than 18. (10)
The timing of Andrew’s wedding to Rachel caused a stir in the Baptist congregation because Rachel appears to have become pregnant before the couple was married. The date traditionally given for the birth of their daughter Catherine is March 5, 1780. On March 13, the Baptist church record states that the congregation met and “concluded Our Brother Andrew Ny, being brot before the Church Charged with Sleeping with his Wife before he was Maried to her Acnoledges himself to be gilty is sot aside.” This penalty was short-lived because the congregation met again on March 25 and “after prarer Brother Andrew Ny having given full Satisfaction to the Church is restored to his place.” (11)
Some members of the Nye family believe that Andrew married a Native American woman. Although Indians usually took European names when they were baptized, it seems unlikely that either Catherine or Rachel was a Native American. The tale probably grew out of a hazy memory that Andrew was one of the first white men to settle on the banks of the Connoquenessing and that he married a second time.
Upon arriving on the frontier, Andrew appears to have staked or purchased two claims of 400 acres apiece – one on the Monongahela River and the other on Peter Creek. His claims are listed among those originally honored by Virginia. (12) The record of these claims was made on April 3, 1780, as Virginia and Pennsylvania were involved in a boundary dispute over the area around Pittsburgh. In the 1770s, both colonies claimed the area and each encouraged settlement there. Each colony even established local governments – Virginia called the area West Augusta, Ohio and Yohogania counties and Pennsylvania called it Westmoreland County, part of which later became Washington County. Most of the settlers favored Virginia because of it allowed more land to be claimed. However, in the early 1780s, the present border was drawn and Pennsylvania gained most of the land around Pittsburgh. The rest is now part of West Virginia. Andrew appears in both states’ records during the time of this dispute, but he appears to have favored Virginia in light of the two claims cited above. And, as mentioned before, his stepfather’s family was very active in the Yohogania County government and Andrew maintained close ties with the Kuykendals. For example, he was executor of his stepfather Lewis Kuykendall’s will, dated June 13, 1789 and filed in Washington County, Pa. (14)
In Virginia records, Yohogania County court acknowledged a deed from Isaac Cox to Andrew Nigh on Aug. 23, 1779, probably for one of the tracts mentioned above. Andrew also was a member of a grand inquest of an unspecified nature on May 22, 1780. (15) In Pennsylvania records, Andrew is listed as owning 30 acres in 1781 tax records for Peters Township, Washington County. He also owned three horses and two cows. (16) In light of the tax records, a question arises concerning the 800 acres mentioned in the survey that was cited above. Further digging may show that Andrew sold the rights to some of the land. At any rate, Pennsylvania required that a land patent be granted and that didn’t happen until April 15, 1803. By that time, the Peter’s Creek property – known as “Ticonderoga” – contained just over 319 acres. (17)
The record of Andrew’s military service during the Revolution also is divided between Virginia and Pennsylvania.
On May 23, 1780, the Yohogania County court “Ordered that Thos. Rigdon, Lieut, Andw. Nigh, proper person, [be named] as Lieuts. of Militia.” (17a) Generally, a militia officer was elected by the unit’s soldiers, which means he had to be popular and – presumably – able to lead men in battle against Indians. A lieutenant was the second in command of a company, which usually consisted of about 30 men. Since Andrew’s name was preceded by the title “Lieut.” in the Yohogania County record, he probably had served in that capacity in the past. On the frontier, the militia’s primary duty was protecting the settlements against raids by Native Americans. While the Indians were angered by the settlers’ encroachment on their lands, they were stirred to action by the British and their sympathizers, such as the infamous Simon Girty. Indian raids on settlements and individual homes meant scalping, kidnapping and torture. Militia units patrolled the frontier in search of raiding parties, responded to raids and sometimes went on expeditions against Native American villages. During these expeditions, the settlers often resorted to the same savagery that they blamed on the Indians.
After being appointed lieutenant, Andrew doesn’t appear in further military records until 1782, when he starts appearing on Pennsylvania’s militia rolls. Andrew probably continued to serve in the Virginia militia until the Peters Creek area was fully integrated into Pennsylvania. However, we cannot be certain about this because detailed Virginia militia rolls do not exist for the Pittsburgh area.
At any rate, Andrew appears as a private in Capt. William Bruce’s company in the second battalion of the militia of Washington County, Pa., in 1782. (18) This appears to have been a simple transfer of a Virginia unit to Pennsylvania’s control because four of his unit’s members had been appointed officers in the Yohogania County militia on the same day as Andrew. In the transition, Bruce maintained his rank as captain but the other three are listed as privates, perhaps losing their officer status because of an influx of “Pennsylvanians” into the unit. (19)
Although it was almost a year after the surrender of the English force at Yorktown, no peace treaty existed in the summer of 1782 and hostilities were still under way on the frontier. Andrew was called to serve in the Washington County militia at least twice – June 14 and Sept. 15, 1782. The first date follows the stunning defeat of Col. William Crawford’s expedition against the Native American villages on the Sandusky River in what is now Ohio. The settlers feared the Indians would follow their victory over the American forces with attacks on Pennsylvania. The second date corresponds with Indian raids on settlements in Washington County. (20) Even after the Revolution, the Indians continued to be seen as a threat to settlers in western Pennsylvania until 1794, when they were vanquished by troops under Gen. Anthony Wayne.
During the spring of 1781, controversy erupted in the settlements around Pittsburgh concerning the military situation. Andrew Nye – as well as two of his half brothers, James and Abram Kuykendall, and his father-in-law, John McDonald – appears among the signers of a petition to the Pennsylvania executive council complaining about “the uncommon Stretches of power uniformly pursued and now adopted, by Colonel Brodhead Commanding in this Department.” The petition asks that Col. Daniel Brodhead and his quartermaster be replaced, citing rights violations, corruption by the quartermaster and neglect of the area’s defenses. The petition sprang from a dispute between Brodhead and a large number of his officers, led by Col. John Gibson. Brodhead ordered Gibson arrested on Aug. 30. On Sept. 17, Gen. George Washington ordered Brodhead to resign and placed Gibson in command of Fort Pitt until Brodhead’s replacement could arrive. (21)
Following the Revolution, land north of Pittsburgh was opened for settlement and Andrew staked a claim on land that is now in and near Ellwood City, which straddles Beaver and Lawrence counties. “The History of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania” records the histories of the tracts of land that made up the core of the city.
“‘Great Falls’ originally contained 429 acres and on May 30, 1813, Enoch Wright deeded 343 acres to Andrew Nye. It is stated in this deed that Andrew Nye was, at that time, living on that tract of land and according to the best available records it is probable that he had settle on this tract about 1788 or 1789.
“Mr. Andrew Nye, now living near Portersville, and who for many years has been engaged in collecting the records pertaining to the Nye family, believes that the Andrew Nye to whom this land was deeded by Enoch Wright was probably the first white settler within the bounds of the present Lawrence County.” (22)
A date as early as 1789 for Andrew’s move to this property appears very unlikely. In fact, on June 24, 1789, Andrew purchased 43 acres in Peter’s Township from James Kuykendall. The record of that transaction indicates that Andrew and Rachel were still living in Peter’s Township. (23)
It is difficult to say exactly when the Nye family moved north. Andrew is recorded in the 1791 and 1794 Allegheny County tax lists under Mifflin Township, which was created out of Washington County’s old Peters Township. When Andrew did move, he kept at least some of his land south of Pittsburgh. Allegheny records show him selling pieces of his “Ticonderoga” property between 1804 and 1810. These transactions state that he and Rachel lived in Sewickley Township, Beaver County. (24)
The first record that lists Andrew in Sewickley Township is the Pennsylvania state census of 1800, when the area was still part of Allegheny County. Interestingly, the census lists Andrew Nigh’s occupation as stonecutter.
In 1802, Andrew appears in the list of taxable residents of Sewickley Township in the newly formed Beaver County. At that time, he owned 400 acres, three cows and one yoke of oxen. The 1803 tax list shows Andrew had acquired another 100 acres and a horse in the intervening year. The 1815 tax lists show Andrew owned 300 acres, a horse, two cows and yoke of oxen. (25)
Andrew purchased 97 acres in North Sewickley Township, Beaver County, from Isaac and Mary Hazen on Oct. 1, 1807. (26)
The 1810 Census lists Andrew Nye in Beaver County with a household containing one male under age 10, one male age 10-16, one male age 16-26, one male age 45 or older, one female 10-16 and one female age 45 or older.
A book of biographies compiled in 1897 includes items on Nathaniel and Dan Nye that offer a few tidbits about Andrew’s life. Although such items should be approached with caution, they sometimes include solid information on the past that is unavailable elsewhere. (27)
The items, which mirror each other, state: “Our subject’s grandparents, Andrew Rose and Rachel (McDonald) Nye, came to this section of the State from Philadelphia, and after living for some little time at Peter’s Creek removed to Lawrence County, where they received a patent for four hundred acres of new land. They built thereon in 1793 a log-house near the site of the Presbyterian Church and lived many years to prosper and to delight in their splendid family of children. …
“Our subject’s grandfather, Andrew, lived in a log-house, where the residence of brick and frame now stands, and when he made his settlement there were only two families in the vicinity for miles and miles, and they were the Renyons and Hazens. Mrs. Nye was often left in the log-house with the children when her husband went to work, and quite frequently was she forced to fire a rifle off, to frighten off the wolves, who were prowling about, and prevent them from molesting the place.”
Other tales have arisen concerning Rachel. One interesting account was provided to the New Castle News by William McChesney of New Galiliee and printed in the newspaper on Feb. 15, 1994.
“Many stories have come down through the years to give us a picture of the lives of these early settlers and Granny Nye (nee Rachel McDonald) is the subject of several.
“It is difficult to imagine wolves howling about the area that is now Pittsburgh Circle, Ellwood City, but it was on that spot that Granny Nye shot many of them after luring them within shooting distance by placing bits of food or bacon rind near the cabin.
“In those days people had many superstitious ideas about the nature and cure for various diseases. Granny Nye had a black cat which was believed to have mystic powers, and the blood from its tail was a sure cure for shingles. The cure was to cut off a small piece of the appendage and rub it on the affected part. It is said that people came from long distances for this magic cure, and though the cat lived to a ripe old age before it died, its tail had almost entirely disappeared.”
The Nye family may have worshipped at Providence Baptist Church in North Sewickley Township in Beaver County. Andrew and Rachel are buried in the cemetery beside the church.
Andrew died March 1, 1821. Rachel died Dec. 16, 1847. (28)
Many descendants of Andrew Nye continue to live in northern Beaver County. In the 1930s, members of the family compiled a genealogy, which unfortunately speculated that the family was linked to the Nyes of Cape Cod, Mass., instead of Andreas Neu. This genealogy is mentioned in a story in the New Castle News about the 1934 family reunion. The story, which is datelined from Ellwood City, says: “Of the nine children of Andrew Nye, descendants of eight attended the reunion. Of interest to the members was a bible dated 1698 belonging to Andrew Nye and displayed by Mrs. Helen Nye Cook. A genealogy of the family has been completed and will be distributed to members of the family and a copy has been placed in the local library.”
The existence of the Bible raises some questions. It seems unlikely that it was in German since that was not mentioned in the story. In addition, a German-language Bible would probably have raised questions about the idea of an English heritage, which would have been the case if the link to the Massachusetts Nyes. If the Bible wasn’t in German, it seems unlikely that it was originally associated with the Nye family.
(1) Birth date comes from tombstone at Providence Baptist Church in North Sewickley Township in Beaver County, Pa. Parents and date listed in “Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society,” page 101. Andrew is also listed in “A Genealogy of American Nyes of German Origin, Vol. II,” by L. Bert Nye Jr., page 4. This is an very good expansion of research done by Charles W. Nye of Ellwood City in the 1930s. (2) Children’s names – except those of Richard, Mary, Margaret and Daniel – and married names of females are listed in Andrew’s will in Beaver County Will Book A, page 157. The birth dates of all and the names of Richard, Mary, Margaret and Daniel come from “American Nyes” The names and birth dates of all of the children, except Sarah, are also listed in “Book of Biographies, Lawrence County,” pages 159-160, which was published in 1897. However, the birth date of Thomas is listed as Aug. 30 and it must be noted that the source in question is inaccurate in at least one other detail. (3) “Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society,” page 101. (4) The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey, Vol. 40, page 131. (5) “Virginia’s Colonial Soldiers,” by Lloyd Bockstruck, page 146. (5a) “The Indian Wars of Pennsylvania,” by C. Hale Sipe, pages 489-492. The “lethal incidents” included a skirmish during an April surveying mission led by Clark. As a result of this incident, Clark’s group “declared war” on the Indians and killed several in the area. After Clark and others left the group, its remaining members attacked and murdered relatives of the peaceful Chief Logan, prompting the Indian leader to fight against the settlers during Lord Dunmore’s War. A few years later, during the Revolutionary War, Clark was promoted to general and led a number of notable campaigns against the Native Americans and their British allies. (5b) “Records of Washington County (PA) Yohogania County (VA) and Ohio County (VA),” by Raymond M. Bell and Jean S. Morris, page 65. (6) Catrina/Catherine Nye signed covenant of the Baptist church at Peter’s Creek in 1777. “Early Records and Cemetery Records of Peters Creek Baptist Church; Library, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania; Organized 1773,” compiled by the Bethel Fife and Drum Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, page 4. Family tradition is in “American Nyes.” (7) “Peters Creek Baptist Church,” pages 4, 6, 8 and 132. (8) “History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania,” by Samuel W. Durant, page 154. (9) “Pioneer Life in Western Pennsylvania,” by J.E. Wright and Doris S. Corbett. (10) Tradition is in “American Nyes.” John McDonald’s will is in Allegheny County Will Book 1, page 63-64. The case for identifying Andrew’s wife with Rachel McDonald is relatively good. Aside from Andrew Nye, no name with any similarity to Noy or Noie appears in records from the area around Pittsburgh at that time. In fact, Noi would be a very good English transliteration of the way the name Neu (Nye) sounds when spoken in German and it appears in at least three other records that refer to Andrew. Add the similarity of the name Katrina to that of the deceased Catrina and Andrew’s known daughter Catherine and the case looks more solid. (11) “Peters Creek Baptist Church,” page 6. (12) “Pennsylvania Archives Series 3, Vol. III,” page 528. Listed under “Nugh,” which is almost certainly a transcriber’s confusion of “Neigh” written in cursive style. The name Nugh doesn’t appear in any other records from western Pennsylvania or Virginia. (13) “History of Allegheny County, Pa.,” pages 61 to 74. (14) “Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania Publications, Vol. 6,” page 144. (15) “Records of the District of West Augusta, Ohio County and Yohogania County, Va.,” pages 356 and 411. (16) “Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Vol. XXII,” page 760. (17) Allegheny County Deed Book 17, page 2. (17a) “Records of the District of West Augusta, Ohio County and Yohogania County, Va.,” page 418. (18) “Pennsylvania Archives, Series 6, Vol. II,” page 48. (19) “Records of the District of West Augusta, Ohio County and Yohogania County, Va.,” page 418. The other two “demoted” officers were Joshuah Carman, ensign, and James McMahon, lieutenant. (20) “The Indian Wars of Pennsylvania,” page 729. (21) The petition is recorded in “Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio, 1779-1781,” by Louise Phelps Kellogg, pages 363-370. The general outline of the dispute and its impact comes from “The Indian Wars of Pennsylvania,” pages 860-861, and “Fort McIntosh: Its Times and Men,” by Daniel Agnew, page 25. This book was written in 1893. (22) “History of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania,” page 53. (23) Allegheny County Deed Book 3, page 5. This transaction was recorded in 1792, which may explain why a Washington County deal appears in Allegheny County records. Allegheny County was established in the intervening years. (24) The 1791 tax list is in “Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Vol. XXII,” page 649. The 1794 tax list is in “A General List of the Taxables in Allegheny County Sept. 22, 1794,” compiled by Elizabeth J. Wall, page 8. The sales records are in Allegheny County Deed Books, 12, page 276; 13, page 91; and 17, page 2. The Allegheny County deeds mention that Ticonderoga was originally surveyed Sept. 15, 1784 and March 7, 1785, as recorded in Patent Book 51, page 18. (25) 1802 comes from “Complete Index of Remaining Tax Records, Beaver County, Pa., 1802-1840,” page 6. 1803 comes from “Gleanings, Beaver County Genealogical Society, PA Vol. XIV No. 2/3.” 1815 comes from that year’s list as posted on the Beaver County Genealogical Society’s Internet site. (26) Beaver County, Pa., Deed Book B2, pages 172-173, as recorded in “Abstracts of Beaver County, Pennsylvania Deed Book B2, 1806-1810,” compiled by Brencha M. Wallace, 2002, pages 24-25. (27) “Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County, Pennsylvania,” by the Biographical Publishing Co., pages 159-160 for Nathaniel and page 293 for Dan. These biographies also are available on the Lawrence County, Pa., Roots Web Internet site at: ww.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/pa/lawrence/1897/ (28) Andrew’s date comes from tombstone. Rachel’s comes from “American Nyes.” Andrew’s will is in Beaver County Will Book A, page 157, was made up on Feb. 5, 1821 and proved on Aug. 27, 1821.
MICHAEL and ANN NYE
Michael Nye was born Aug. 2, 1785 in western Pennsylvania to Andrew and Rachel (McDonald) Nye. (1)
Married Ann Piersol on Dec. 15, 1807 by Stephen Runyan, a justice of the peace in Beaver County, Pa. (2) Ann was born in 1787 to Sampson and Susannah (Kaster) Piersol. (3)
Andrew Avory, born June 10, 1809.
Samson Stilly, born Nov. 4, 1810.
Benjamin Caster, born Sept. 3, 1812.
Susannah (Grimm), born Aug. 11, 1814.
Rachel (Wallace), born Aug. 26, 1816.
Ann (Stewart), born Oct. 3, 1818.
Michael Mordicai, born June 6, 1821.
Jordon Camelford, born July 15, 1823.
Maximelia (Mace), born Jan. 3, 1826.
Elenora (Van Etten), born Jan. 19, 1828.
Ruth, born Oct. 6, 1832 and died Aug. 20, 1849.
Jacob Cyrus, born Jan. 21, 1836.
Michael was a farmer and one source says he was a Baptist minister. (5) Although I have been unable to confirm any relationship with the church, he probably at least attended Providence Baptist Church, where he, his wife and his parents are buried. The church in North Sewickley Township was the first Baptist church in Beaver County. It was founded in 1801 in a log cabin by a group of 21 pioneers.
He also served as a teacher in one of the small frontier schools that were scattered across Beaver County at that time. (6)
Michael also served as constable of North Sewickley Township in Beaver County, beginning in 1807. (7)
It is possible that Michael owned a mill on his property because in 1809, Beaver County received a request for the construction of a “road past Nye’s Mill on Connoquenessing Creek.” The first order to view was to Michael Nye. One of those appointed to view to proposed site was Michael’s father-in-law Sampson Peirsol, Esq. However, new viewers were appointed and the new order to view was to Jordan Nye, Michael’s brother. Perhaps the officials saw a conflict of interest. The road was not approved. (8)
In the 1810 Census, Michael Nye’s household is listed as containing two males under age 10, one male age 16-26 and one female 16-26.
During the War of 1812, Michael served as a sergeant in the militia. The Beaver County militia was called into service only once during the war, when the British threatened Lake Erie in 1814. Michael was a sergeant in Capt. Armstrong Drennan’s company, First Battalion, 26th Regiment. The expedition lasted from Feb. 16 to March 22. (9)
Following the war, Michael farmed in what later became Marion Township, Beaver County. The North Sewickley tax list for 1815 shows Michael owned 100 acres, a horse and a cow. (10)
In the 1840 Census of North Sewickley Township, Beaver County, Michael’s household is listed as containing one male under age 5, two males 15-19, one male 50-59, one female 5-9, two females 10-14, two females 20-29 and one female 50-59.
The 1850 Census of Marion Township, Beaver County, records that Ann Nye, Michael’s widow, owned $4,000 worth of land, which were farmed by her son Jordan, 27. Her household also contained her son Jacob 14; Susan Grim, 35, her daughter; and Ann M. Mace, 5, probably her granddaughter, the daughter of Maximelia.
The Marion Township tax records for 1846 to 1850 list Michael Nye’s widow as paying taxes and the records for 1848 to 1850 list Jordan as a single male. (11)
Michael died April 3, 1844 and Ann died Nov. 9, 1876. (12)
(1) Michael is listed as a son and heir in Andrew Nye’s will in Beaver County Will Book A, page 157. His tombstone, which was replaced by a local veterans group in the 1970s, says he was born in 1785 and died in 1844. The tombstone is at Providence Baptist Church in North Sewickley Township in Beaver County. Michael is listed in “A Genealogy of American Nyes of German Origin, Vol. II,” page 18. (2) Wedding date is recorded in Ann’s application for land due to Michael because of his service in the War of 1812. This is in the National Archives. (3) Ann is listed as a daughter and heir in Sampson Piersol’s will in Beaver County Will Book B, page 303. Birth year is based on her age as listed on her tombstone. “American Nyes” says she was born May 1, 1759, which is an error. (4) “American Nyes.” I have been unable to locate a primary source listing any of Michael’s children except Sampson, who is specifically mentioned as a son of Michael in the will of Sampson Piersol in Beaver County Will Book B, page 303. Piersol was Sampson S. Nye’s other grandfather. A Ruth Nye is buried in the same cemetery as Michael and Ann. She died Aug. 20, 1849 at age 17, which would correspond with the information from “American Nyes.” A Jacob C. Nye, who was born in 1836, also is buried there. This cemetery information is from the Beaver County Genealogical Society’s Internet site, which is based on information originally published in the society’s “Gleanings,” Vol. XVI, No. 1, September 1991. (5) Minister information comes from a story about the Nye family in the Ellwood City Ledger, July 5, 1984.. (6) Transcript of speech by Prof. Scudder H. Peirsol on the early teacher of Beaver County. The speech is recorded in “History of Beaver County Pennsylvania and the Centennial Celebration,” by the Rev. Joseph H. Bausman, page 1157. (7) “History of Beaver County, Pa.,” page 127. (8) “Road Docket 1, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, February 1804 – Oct 1821,” compiled by Helen G. Clear, et al., page 17. (9) Land bounty application filed by Ann Nye in National Archives, “History of Beaver County, Pa.,” pages 285 to 288, and “Pennsylvania Archives, Series 6, Vol. X,” page 132. However, the “Pennsylvania Archives” listing says he was a corporal. (10) From North Sewickley Tax Lists 1815, as posted on the Beaver County Genealogical Society’s Internet site. (11) “Tax Records 1841-1850 Beaver County, Pennsylvania,” by Helen G. Clear and Mae H. Winne, page 3. (12) Michael’s date of death comes from land application. Ann’s comes from her tombstone at Providence Baptist Church.
SAMPSON and RUTH NYE
Sampson Stilly Nye was born Nov. 4, 1810 in Beaver County, Pa., to Michael and M. Ann (Piersol) Nye. (1)
Married his cousin Ruth Piersol on April 16, 1835. Ruth was born Nov. 4, 1816 in western Pennsylvania, probably to Jacob Piersol and Rachel Piersol. (2) Ann Nye and Jacob Piersol were sister and brother.
Michael Piersol, born Jan. 18, 1836.
Jacob G., born May 24, 1837.
Sampson Piersol, born Aug. 16, 1838 and died Aug. 22, 1839.
Tobias Stilly, born Nov. 8, 1839.
Andrew, born Dec. 1, 1841.
Samson, born April 7, 1842.
Hiram, born May 26, 1843.
Benjamin, born Aug. 9, 1844.
Jordon, born Jan. 4, 1846.
Jeremiah, born April 9, 1847 and died Oct. 10, 1853.
Rachel, born Oct. 20, 1848 and died Dec. 4, 1848.
Annie, born Nov. 1, 1849 and died Sept. 15, 1877. (3)
Four of the sons served in the Civil War. Tobias served in Company H of the 9th Pennsylvania Reserve, 38th Regiment from July 19, 1861 to Dec.10, 1862, when he received a discharge under a surgeon’s certificate. He had been wounded at Glendale, June 30, 1862. Jacob served 16 months in Company A of the 29th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Benjamin served in Company I of the 193rd Pennsylvania Infantry from July until November in 1864. Hiram also served in the Union army in the Civil War. (4)
In 1838, Sampson purchased a tract of land in Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa., and, in 1842, acquired another small parcel from his grandfather, Sampson Piersol, “for the affection that I have to my Grand Son and the consideration of one Dollar to me in hand paid by Samson S. Nye.” (5)
In the 1840 Census of North Sewickley Township, Beaver County, the household of Sampson S. Nye is listed as containing three males under age 5, one male 20-29 and one females 20-29.
Sampson was a farmer and served as Beaver County surveyor from 1845 to 1850. (6) He is listed as county surveyor in the Marion Township tax records for 1846 to 1849. (7)
Sampson died March 4, 1850. The cause of death is listed as diarrhea. (8)
The 1850 Census of Franklin Township, Beaver county, lists Ruth Nye as the owner of real estate valued at $4,000. Her household contained Michael, 14; Jacob, 13; Tobias S., 11; Samson, 9; Hiram, 8; Benjamin, 6; Jordan, 4; Jeremiah, 3; and Anna 8 months.
In 1890 tax records for Franklin Township, Mrs. Sampson Nye was for one acre, a house and lot. (9)
Ruth died May 30, 1897. (10) The Nyes are buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Beaver County, near Ellwood City.
(1) Date comes from Sampson’s tombstone at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Beaver County, near Ellwood City. Parents identified in grandfather Sampson Piersol’s will, Beaver County Will Book B, page 303. Parents also listed in “A Genealogy of American Nyes of German Origin, Vol. II,” page 31. In addition, Sampson is called the “Grand Son” of Sampson Piersol when Piersol sold Sampson 12 acres in North Sewickley Township, Beaver County, for $1 on March 17, 1842, as recorded in Beaver County Deed Book U, page 472. (2) Ruth is listed as the daughter of Jacob Piersol and wife of Sampson S. Nye in Beaver County Deed Book 27, page 137, which records the sale of land by Jacob’s heirs to Ruth for $1 on April 13, 1853. Birth date comes from tombstone at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, which was primarily a Piersol family cemetery. (3) Birth dates come from a New Testament in which the family recorded events. This is in my possession. (4) Tobias’ service is listed in “History of Beaver County, Pa.,” by A. Warner & Co., page 312. The wounding is mentioned in “History of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, and It’s Centennial Celebration,” by Joeseph H. Bausman, page 533. Benjamin's service is mentioned in the 1890 Census of veterans, under Franklin Township Beaver County, Pa. The service of the Jacob and Hiram is mentioned in “American Nyes.” (5) Beaver County Deed Books 84, page 289, and U, page 472. (6) “History of Beaver County, Pa.,” page 136. (7) “Tax Records 1841-1850, Beaver County, Pennsylvania” by Helen G. Clear and Mae H. Winne, page 3. (8) Date comes from tombstone and from the New Testament that served as the family Bible. The cause of death comes from “Pennsylvania 1850 Mortality.” His will is dated May 10, 1850 in Beaver County Will Book C, page 201. Ruth’s will is in Will Book K, page 475. (9) “Eastside Beaver County Tax Records 1890,” by Helen G. Clear and Mae H. Winne, Publishers of Beaver County Records, 1998, page 3. (10) Tombstone at Mount Pleasant Cemetery and Beaver County Register’s Docket No. 7, page 332.
MICHAEL and HARRIET NYE
Michael Piersol Nye was born Jan. 8, 1836 in Beaver County, Pa., to Sampson Stilly and Ruth (Piersol) Nye. (1)
Married Harriet Hartzel on Aug. 19, 1862. Harriet was born Feb. 24, 1844 in Pennsylvania to George and Charlotte (Stamm) Hartzel. (2)
Ruth Piersol (Twentier), born Nov. 30, 1863.
Charlotte Henrietta (Bingle), born Oct. 20, 1865.
Oliver King, born Dec. 12, 1867.
George Hartzel, born Dec. 8, 1869.
Benjamin Burr, born Aug. 15, 1871.
Frederic Stamm, born Nov. 22, 1873.
Scudder Hart, born Dec. 20, 1875, died June 23, 1878.
Joseph Byran, born Dec. 28, 1878.
Effie Ellen, born March 31, 1881, died Nov. 16, 1884.
Richard Henry, born June 16, 1883.
Victor P., born Aug. 3, 1886.
Flossie Coral (Wright), born July 22, 1888.
The 1900 Census indicates that Harriet had given birth to 12 children, but only 10 survived at the time.
Michael was a farmer, teacher, surveyor and justice of the peace. He lived in Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa. (4)
While four of his brothers served in the Civil War, Michael does not appear to have served. However, his name was called in the draft in October 1862. The reason he did not serve is unknown but numerous exemptions were granted, ranging from the payment of $300 to having two brothers already in service. (5)
“History of Beaver County, Pa.,” published in 1888, has a biographical note on Michael: “Michael Piersol Nye, civil engineer, P.O. Fombell, was born in January, 1836, at Unionville, Pa., a son of Samson S. and Ruth (Piersol) Nye, natives of Ohio and Marion township, this county. He began teaching in 1853, and has taught every winter but two since, having received his education at North Sewickley Academy and at a branch of Pennsylvania University at Zelienople, and was a classmate of the president of Thiel College at Greenville, Pa. From 1857 to 1860 he was principal of Webster High School at Portsmouth, Ohio. In 1862, he married Hattie Hartzel, daughter of George and Chariotte (Stamm) Hartzel, who were natives of Bucks County, Pa.” (6)
His obituary in the Ellwood Citizen read: “Michael P. Nye, a short notice of whose death appeared in our last issue, was one of the highly respected residents of Fombell, having resided there for at least 35 years. Mr. Nye was born in that vicinity and his father, one of the oldest settlers, died just 60 years ago. In those days the opportunities for acquiring an education were very limited and only those possessing more than ordinary pluck and intelligence could aspire to becoming educated. Mr. Nye was one of those and became a self-educated man and for 44 years taught school in different districts in that vicinity. He was also a surveyor and when not busy in the school room was kept busy with his surveying instruments. A number of years ago he was elected justice of the peace and served in all 25 terms and as such was the advisor and counselor to many for mile s around.” (7)
A1876 directory of Beaver County lists Michael as a surveyor living in Franklin Township. (8)
The 1880 Census lists Mykel Nye as a farmer in Franklin Township. In addition to his wife Haryet, his household contained Ruth, 15; Sharlot, 13; King, 11; George, 10; Begaman, 8; Fredrick, 6; and Joseph, 1.
In 1890 tax records for Franklin Township, Michael P. Nye is listed as a farmer, and he was taxed for 103 acres and three cows. (9)
In the 1900 Census, Michael Nye is listed as a farmer who owned a farm in Franklin Township. In addition to Harriet, his household contained Richard, 16, farm laborer; V.P., 13, farm laborer; and Flossie, 10.
Michael was a member of North Sewickley Presbyterian Church.
Michael died in March 1910.
Immediately after Michael’s death, Harriet moved in with her son Perry, who lived in Franklin Township. (10)
Harriet smoked a corncob pipe. However, she didn’t want other to see her doing it, so she always went up to her room. The Aug. 23 edition of the New Castle News mentioned the celebration of Harriet’s 60th wedding anniversary. It noted: “Mrs. Nye is the widow of the late M.P. Nye, life-long residents of Beaver County and although well advanced in years takes an active part in the affairs of the community.”
However, the following year, things took a downward turn. The April 10, 1923, edition of the New Castle News reported that she was “very ill” at the home of her son “P.H. Nye of Wurtemburg.” And the April 30 edition reported she was “seriously ill” at the home of her son Perry Nye in Wurtemberg. It seems likely that “P.H.” was actually Perry.
Harriet died in 1923. (11)
Michael and Harriet are buried at the cemetery at the former St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Franklin Township.
(1) Date comes from a New Testament in which Michael’s parents recorded important dates and events. Parents listed in census records and “History of Beaver County, Pa.,” page 802. Some information in this item comes from interviews with Mary Bowers in 1990. (2) “A Genealogy of American Nyes of German Origin, Vol. II,” page 48. Parents also listed in “History of Beaver County, Pa.” (3) Names appear in the 1880 and 1900 Censuses of Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa. Children’s birth dates and spouses are listed in “American Nyes.” However, the 1900 Census list’s Flossie’s birth month as July 1889, instead of 1888. “American Nyes” also lists and Effie Ellen and Scudder Hart. Neither appear in censuses but the 1900 Census indicates that Harriet gave birth to 12 children, 10 of whom were still alive in 1900. Richard Henry is sometimes listed as “Henry Richard” is some sources. However, he signed his name “Richard Henry Nye” on his World War I draft registration card. The birth dates of Richard, Joseph and Victor are confirmed on their World War I draft registration cards. (4) Caldwell’s illustrated “Combination Centennial Atlas of Beaver County,” page 169. Published in 1876. Beaver County Deed Book, 180, page 220, mentions that a tract of land was surveyed by “M.P. Nye” on Oct. 2, 1902. (5) From list of draftees as published in Beaver Argus on Oct. 22, 1862 as printed in “Gleanings,” Vol. XI No, 3 March 1987, Beaver County Genealogical Society. (6) “History of Beaver County, Pa.,” page 802. (7) March 6, 1985 Ellwood City Ledger – original appeared in Ellwood Citizen on March 10,1910. (8) “Beaver County Centennial Directory,” by J. Weyand and W.I. Reed, reprinted for the Tri-State Genealogical Society, page 142. (9) “Eastside Beaver County Tax Records 1890,” by Helen G. Clear and Mae H. Winne, Publishers of Beaver County Records, 1998, page 3. (10) Beaver County, Pa., 1910 Census. Michael’s will is in Beaver County Will Book Q, page 353. (11) Harriet’s date of death comes from her tombstone. Information on the “Find A Grave Index” on Ancestry.com indicates she died May 20.
VICTOR P. and MARY NYE
Victor P. Nye was born Aug. 3, 1886 in Fombell, Beaver County, Pa., to Michael Piersol and Harriet (Hartzel) Nye. (1)
Married Mary Louella Graff on Mays 6, 1908. Mary was born March 23,1890 in Beaver County, Pa., to George Adam and Mary Ann (Garwig) Graff. (2)
Dorothy Flossie, born Jan. 16, 1909. Married Jacob Daufen.
Holliday Waters, Feb. 1, 1910.
Thelma Neva, Jan. 6, 1912. Married Russel Moreland.
King Robert, April 1, 1914.
George Adam, Sept. 19, 1915, killed in car accident June 23, 1935.
Alma Mildred, April 29, 1917. Married Bert White.
Mary Louella, May 10, 1919. Married Edward C. Bowers.
Harriet Elizabeth, July 19, 1922. Married Edgar Waterfield.
Grace Esther, Dec. 1, 1923. Married Donald Raymond Jessop.
William Howard, June 26, 1925.
Ilene Virginia, Oct. 26, 1930. Married Donald Young, who died. Married Zip Senerth, who died. Married James White.
Although his father was a teacher, Perry didn’t finish school. The 1900 Census of Franklin Township, Beaver County, states that V.P. Nye was a 13-year-old farm laborer who didn’t attend school at all in the previous months. Meanwhile, his brother Richard, 16, had attended school for five months.
In the 1910 Census, Victor P. Nye is listed as a farmer who rented property in Franklin Township. In addition to his wife Mary, his household contained Dorotha F., 1 year, 3 months old, as of April 23; Holiday W., 3 months; and Harriet Nye, his mother.
At some point, Perry took a job as an “engineer” in the local water company.
On June 5, 1917, registered for the draft for World War I and listed his job as engineer at the Ellwood City Water Company. The form includes other personal information, including the fact that he lived in Wurtembug was of medium size and had brown eyes and black hair. In addition, he signed his name “Victor Perrie Nye” – probably a good indication of how he got the nickname “Perry.”
In the 1920 Census of Perry Township, Lawrence County, Perry Nye is listed as an engineer at a waterworks who rented property. In addition to Mary, his household contained Dorthy, 10; Holiday, 9; Thelma, 7; King, 5; George, 4 years, 9 months; Elma, 2, years 8 months; Mary, 8 months; an a boarder, Charles Morgan, 53, a pumper at the waterworks.
During the Depression, Perry lost his job with the water company and took up farming. This didn’t provide much extra money, so he also dug coal.
Perry had acquired a 110-acre farm in Franklin Township, Beaver County, on Aug. 31, 1922, through Oliver K. Nye, his uncle and the executor of his father’s will. However, times appear to have been tough as early as 1928. On June 4 of that year, Perry took out a two-year mortgaged on the farm for $1,800. The loan was taken over by Oliver K. Nye on Dec. 30, 1930. The mortgage wasn’t marked as paid in full until several years later; the date is difficult to decipher and it may be Feb. 21, 1934. (4)
In the 1930 Census of Franklin Township Beaver County, Victor P. Nye is listed as a farmer who owned a “truck farm” valued at $800. In addition to his wife Mary L., his household contained Dorothy F, 21; Holiday W., 20; Thelma N., 18; King R., 16; George A., 14; Elma M, 12; Mary L., 10; Harriet E., 7; Grace E., 6; and William H., 4 years, 10 months, when the Census was take on April 23.
Despite the family’s poverty, Perry was too proud to accept welfare. However, all the exertion probably led to his early death.
The family grew its own food. It grew apples, milked cows, made butter and butchered pigs and chickens. Although they often got by on little but mush and turnips, they always had something too eat. They also maintained good spirits. Mary Nye would say, “I wonder what the poor people eat.”
Few rural families had plumbing or electricity in their homes and the Nyes’ were no exception. The family had an outhouse and they washed themselves in basins, using homemade lye soap. Clothing was washed in a large copper kettle in water drawn from a spring.
The rural life also encouraged use of folk remedies. For example, if a child had an ear ache, Mary told him or her to urinate into a pan. Then, she’d take a dropper and place the urine in the child’s ear.
Perry enjoyed hunting despite the fact that he accidentally shot off one of his little fingers when he was 16. When he and the other men went hunting, the women would stay behind and prepare a feast. When the men returned, there would be a celebration with hard cider and plenty of food. Perry also enjoyed square dancing with his wife.
Perry chewed tobacco but wouldn’t let his children smoke. He said he’d make them eat the tobacco if he ever caught them smoking it. He also made moonshine during the Prohibition days, but only for his own use.
On Feb. 27, 1935, Perry Nye died while working in a coal mine. His death notice in the Beaver Falls Review reads:
“PERRY NYE: Found by Coroner H.C. McCarter to have suffered a heart attack. Perry Nye, 48, well known North Sewickley township farmer, died Wednesday after he slumped to the ground unconscious upon emerging from a small coal mine which he had been working on property adjoining his home.
“Mr. Nye, with a son, had spent the morning in the main, digging coal for his own use. He fell unconscious as he walked out of the min to go to his home for lunch.
“His widow and several children survive.” (5)
Just a few months later, tragedy struck the family again when Perry’s son George was killed in a car accident. The 19-year-old was driving when he “failed to make a sharp turn on a rural road … and crashed into the side of a steep bank, upsetting.” (6)
For a short time after Perry’s death, the family went on a form of welfare known as mother’s assistance, which was a payment determined by the number of children in family. Mary then worked at a restaurant and as a cleaning woman to make some money.
On March 20, 1946, Mary married John Rugh. (7) However, the marriage was strained and within a few years, John left Mary and soon died of a stroke.
Mary married Forrest A. Glenn on Nov. 25, 1952. She was very much in love this time and they remained together until Forrest died in 1973.
Mary died May 14, 1979. Mary and Perry are buried at the cemetery at the former St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Franklin Township.
(1) Parents identified in 1900 Census of Franklin Township, Beaver County, Pa. Birth date and place are recorded on his World War I draft registration card. Other information comes from interviews with Mary Bowers and Alma White in 1989 and 1990. His family appears in “A Genealogy of American Nyes of German Origin, Vol. II,” page 75. Although Victor’s children said his middle name was “Pierre,” his signature on his World War I draft registration spells his name “Perrie.” He was generally known as “Perry,” which is also the name listed in his death notice in the Beaver Valley Review on March 7, 1935. (2) Mary’s obituary in New Castle News, May 15, 1979. (3) Mary Bowers’ family Bible. (4) Beaver County Mortgage Book 277, page 330. (5) Beaver Falls Review, March 7, 1935, from Beaver County Genealogical Society at the Carnegie Library in Beaver Falls, Pa. (6) Beaver Falls Review, June 27, 1935. (7) Date comes from Mary and John’s marriage certificate.