Ole Larson's Folks

A few months ago, I wrote an extensive series on my 4th great-grandfather, Philip Myers, who is quite well-documented as a Revolutionary War soldier, and a pioneer in Pennsylvania’s Wyoming valley, along with his even more prominent brother Lawrence. Information on the Wyoming experience continues to come in, and I will be revisiting that era soon.

Unfortunately, I have encountered a setback of sorts in trying to trace Philip’s ancestry back into Germany. The biggest frustration in the US documents on Lawrence and Philip is that while numerous sources state that they came from Germany in approx. 1760-1766 with their parents, and settled in Frederick, Maryland, there is nowhere any mention of the parents’ names.

In my first post on Philip, I displayed what I believed to be his christening record from Mainz, Germany. I considered this quite a breakthrough, and I found church records of his parents and several generations before them. It is a very good match. US sources give Philip’s birth date variously as 3 Nov. and 3 Dec., 1759, in “Mentz, on the Rhine river.” That is just another way to spell Mainz. The record I found was the christening of “Phillipus” Meyer, son of Valentinus Meyer and Theresia, at St. Stephen’s Catholic church, Mainz, on 28 November 1759. No other Philip Myers or any other spelling was recorded in 1759, or early 1760, anywhere in the Rhine valley, according to FamilySearch indexes.

You may note in that post that I had only sketchy information on Lawrence at the time. But once Lawrence was solidly established (putative birth year, 1754), and the names of two other possible brothers came up (Henry and Michael), I went back to the microfilms and the FamilySearch indexes to look for their church records. I regret to report that I came up empty-handed. Lawrence (usually spelled Laurentius) Myers, son of Valentini, was not to be found; ditto Henry or Michael. Indeed, in the FamilySearch indexes, there were no Lawrence, Henry, or Michael Myers, with father Valentin, including all spelling variants, in all of Germany with birth dates during that period.

Notwithstanding their absence in the index, I cold-searched the films from Mainz and nearby Bingen from 1745 to 1766. At Mainz, in the same church where Philip was christened, I found three siblings: Anna Margaretha, christened 8 May 1755, Bernardus Vincentius, 22 Jan. 1757, and Jacobus, 14 Jan. 1765. In Bingen, where father Valentin was christened, I found several interesting Myers’, including Charitate Mayer, a full sister of Valentin (same father and mother), 19 years his junior (1748).

There was also a Henry Mayer in Bingen, but he was too old to be a brother to Philip.  He was a Senator(!) when two of his children were christened, in 1749 and 1752. The latter was named Jacob, same as Philip’s brother born 13 years later. However, this Henry appears to be no relation of Valentin, at least not his brother.

With the high incidence of infant and child mortality in those days, it is easy to imagine that those siblings I found may have died before the family came to America. And with the prevalence of wars, not to mention fires and natural disasters, no doubt a great many church records do not survive. However, since the records seem quite intact for this particular family, it becomes questionable whether this Philipus Meyer is in fact our ancestor who died in Pennsylvania, regardless his promising birth date and place.

Next: Searching Delaware for Valentin Myers.

The Meme Tapes, Part VI: First Visit Home
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