Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Somerset Co cemeteries added to township websites

The following cemetery have been updated

Ogle Twp
Mount Carmel Evangelical Lutheran

Paint Twp
Rummel Lutheran
Seese Farm

Conemaugh Twp
Wertz-Miltenberger Farm

Photos have been completed for Ogletown Brethren and Stahl Mennonite in Conemaugh Twp, they will be posted in the next week or so, time permitting

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Appointed Webmaster for 3 Somerset Co Townships

I have volunteered and been accepted to develop and maintain the township webpages for Conemaugh, Paint and Ogle Twps, all in Somerset Co. These will be part of the main Somerset Co website at Rootsweb, run by Carol Hepburn and April Phillips. I will post here notice of major developments on my pages.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Melchior Seese's (1759-1835) Corrected Ancestry

Melchoir Seese was born in 1759 in Lancaster Co, the son of immigrants from Baden, Germany. He grew up in Franklin Co, served in the Cumberland Co Militia, and came to Somerset (then Bedford) County in the late 1780's, first in the Brothersvalley settlement, where he and his wife Sophia (Lint) were members of the Reformed Congregation, and then a short time later locating in Quemahoning Twp in the far northwest part of Somerset Co, just south of what would later be the city of Johnstown. Between the 1810 and 1820 census, he moved one last time a few miles east to the other side of the Stoney Creek into Shade (now Paint) Township, where he and Sophia are buried in a small family plot on a hilltop on the Jonas Weaver farm.

Most of what has been written about Melchoir Seese's early life has been a combination of two histories, one true, the other not. In my opinion it was the belief that Melchoir must be a brother of George Seese, a Mennonite who also lived in Brothersvalley, that introduced stories of Bucks Co, alongside the correct references to Lancaster and Cumberland counties.

It has been widely accepted that "Melchoir arrived in America with his father Jacob Seese on a ship named "Betsy" which arrived in Philadelphia on 19 Sep 1765."

I do not believe this to be true. The Strassberger & Hinke passenger list for this arrival lists only a Jacob Gauss for a name which might be taken as Jacob Seese. There's been no evidence that Jacob Seese arrived on this ship.

It has been widely accepted that "He came to America as a small child with his father settling in Upper Salford Township, Bucks County, Pa."

I do not believe this to be true. There is a Seese family which originated in Bucks Co. They were Mennonites, and George Seese of Somerset was likely from this family. Many descendants married into other Mennonite families and located to Ohio and Indiana in the early 1800's. A Jacob Seese died and left a will in Bucks Co in 1821, but makes no mention of a Melchoir. Although included in the "Amish and Amish-Mennonite Genealogies" by Hugh Gingerich and Rachel Kreider, they admit that Melchoir's descendants were Lutheran and Brethren. There is no evidence that Melchoir or Sophia themselves were ever Mennonite. In 1788, Melchoir Seese was listed as a deacon of the Reformed Church of Brothersvally, and in 1790 their third child John was baptized there.

At the same time, it has been widely accepted that "Melchoir grew up first in Lancaster co., ...before becoming a soldier from 1779-1782."; "Melchoir was a Private in the Cumberland Co., Penn Militia in 1782."; "Melchoir Seese enlisted in the Revolutionary War. The Pa. Archives, have him listed as a Private under Captain Sam Roder 1779-1782."

These statements can be documented to be true. The Seese records in Lancaster Co will be missed unless one realizes that the anglicized name Seese is found as Süss (or Suess) in the German language, which is how many church records were kept in Pennsylvania the 1700's. There was a Johann Melchoir Süss baptized 28 Mar 1759 at the Emanuel Lutheran Church in Brickerville, Lancaster Co, as well as Johann Caspar Süss on 6 Sep 1747 and Johann Balthasar Süss on 10 Jan 1754 at the Hill Lutheran Church, all sons of Christopher Süss.

There was a Melker Seese who was on the muster rolls of the Cumberland Co Militia during the Revolution (1779 - 8th Batt., Capt. Rogers Co; 1780 - 1st Batt. 5th Co; 1782 - 4th Batt., 8th Co), as well as a Caspar Seese and a Baltzer Seese. These are the only Seeses listed in the Pennsylvania Archives.

In each instance, Melchoir is with Caspar and Baltzer - whose given names are the same as the the three kings of the Orient (The Magi) as told in the Bible.

In his book, "Stover Brethren" (2001), Richard Weber documents that Melchoir was born in Lancaster Co on 27 Feb 1759, son of the immigrant Johann Christopher Süss and his wife Catherine Elizabeth Hager, both from Karlsruhe District of Baden, Germany; that two of Christopher's sister, Margaret and Elizabeth, had in turn been wives of William Stober, also born in Karlsruhe; and that both Christopher Süss and William Stober moved to Antrim Twp, Franklin Co, where a survey of Stober's land shows Süss adjacent to the north. Please consult Weber's book for a more detailed discussion of the Stober and Süss families in Karlsruhe and Pennsylvania than can be told here.

Also, the birthdate on Melchior Seese's matches the birthdate given in the baptismal record of Christopher Süss' son (in a way). Melchior's tombstone on the Weaver farm reads "MELCHIOR SEESE / DIED / June 27, 1835 / Aged / 76 yrs 4 mos / & 11 days " The baptismal record of Johann Melchoir Süss in the Emanuel Lutheran Church in Brickerville gives his birthdate as 27 Feb 1859 - 11 days later than Melchoir Seese's tombstone. First, remember that birth dates from tombstones, obituaries and death certificates are only as good as the sources used by the survivors. Second, the 11 day error is exactly what the date correction would be if he would have been born under the old calendar, which was last used in the British colonies on 2 Sep 1752, seven years before Mechoir's birth. It is plausible that the survivor who had the tombstone inscribed knew Melchoir's birthdate to be 27 Feb 1759, calculated the age as 76y 4m (0d), and then added 11d for the calendar correction, thinking Melchoir had been born under the old calendar.

It is my conclusion that Melchoir Seese was not Mennonite, and had no connections to Jacob or George Seese, or Bucks Co. Melchoir was born in Lancaster Co, moved as a young child to Franklin Co, and served in the Cumberland Co Militia during the Revolution. When he came to Somerset Co in the late 1780's, he was a neighbor of George Seese, who was a Mennonite and likely had his roots in Bucks Co. The two have not been proven to be brothers.

Census Data Added to Database

The vast majority of the households found in the censuses of Paint Twp (1840-1870), Richland Twp (1850-1870) and Adams Twp (1870) have been added to my database. Future plans are to enter Jackson, Croyle, Summerhill, Taylor, Yoder, and both Conemaughs, as well as additional years. These will be announced as they are added.

My database can be viewed at's GenConnect