Sunday, 27 December 2015

Christian Hoover (1776-1850) (52 Ancestors Week 52) Theme: "Resolution"

When asked about her ancestry, my maternal grandmother Idella Edwards always mentioned the "Pennsylvania Dutch". This Pennsylvania Dutch line was through her father Charles Edwards' maternal Hoover line.

When Iowa genealogist Alice Hoyt Veen discovered Charles's mother to be Barbara Hoover, early online searches led me to believe that perhaps we could follow these ancestors back through George Hoover to immigrant Andreas Hoover (or Huber) who emigrated to America in about 1758 from Ellerstad, Bad Durkheim in what is now Germany.

Further research, however, has led me to doubt this connection. The repetitious use of the names Andreas/Andrew, George,  Christian, Philip and Samuel have created much confusion around who is part of which family. Resolution of this matter remains elusive as 2015 draws to a close. For this reason, I will focus on Barbara's grandfather (my 4th great grandfather) Christian Hoover, a connection of which I am more confident.

Christian Hoover was born in Pennsylvania 10 February 1776. At around the age of 20 he married Maria Barbara Harmon, daughter of Christian Harmon and Christina (or Anna) Magdalena Lenhard. The couple had at least 5 children: Samuel born 1796, George born 1799, Catherine born 1800, Philip born 1802, and Christian (my 3rd great grandfather) born 1809. The family were members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church at Crooked Creek in 1810.

The 1820 census for Plum Creek, Armstrong County, PA lists Christian Hoover with the total number of family members being 7. Ten years later, he is still in Plum Creek; he and his wife's ages are both given as between 50 and 60; there is one male under 5, one male 10-15 and one 20-30 as well as one female between 10-15.

Location of Plum Creek, PA
Google Earth Image
We don't know much about the particular details of their lives in Plum Creek, Armstrong County, PA, but Christian would eventually die there on 20 February 1850 just after his 74th birthday; his wife outlived him by a couple of decades. He is buried at Saint John Lutheran Cemetery, Sagamore, Armstrong County, PA.

Photo Courtesy Burke Stoughton
Find A Grave website

Christian and Maria Barbara were part of the group called the "Pennsylvania Dutch". Contrary to how it sounds, this does NOT mean they were from Holland. Rather, it refers to early German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania and their descendants. To say that they were "from Germany" is also not correct, since Germany did not exist as a country at the time. The majority of them came from what is today southwestern Germany, the Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Wurttenberg region, while others were Swiss, Alsatians and French Protestant Huguenots. They traditionally spoke the language known as Pennsylvania German or "Deutsch". This group of settlers arrived in America in waves in the late 17th century through the 18th century.

Area for Origins of Pennsylvania Dutch Emigrants
Google Earth Image
They were not all of one religious affiliation. As we know, Christian's family were Lutheran, the most common group. Others might have been Reformed or Anabaptist and some were Mennonite and Amish. Many were persecuted in Germany for their Protestant religious beliefs.

In addition to religious persecution, the area from which they came was ground zero for numerous wars over the years. During the Thirty Years War and again during the War of the Grand Alliance, troops ravaged the area, burning homes and crops, pillaging and plundering. The result was similar to what is happening today in war-ravaged regions - thousands, if not millions, of refugees.

To add to the misery, the winter of 1708-9 was the harshest for 100 years. Many of the vineyards and farms suffered severe losses. At the invitation of Queen Anne of England, the first wave of refugees sailed down the Rhine to Rotterdam. The intention was to head to Pennsylvania, but some found themselves in England or Ireland. Eventually, some 32,000 of the refugees took advantage of the offer, but the English couldn't handle any more and issued a Royal proclamation in German that any immigrants arriving after October 1709 would be sent back where they came from. (Once again one is reminded of today's Syrian refugee situation with borders being closed to those trying to escape.) There is no indication that our Hoovers were included in this first group.

Pennsylvania under Quaker William Penn was a much more welcoming place than most. As a result, as further waves of German-speaking immigrants made their way down the Rhine and across the Atlantic, that was most often the destination of choice. We don't know if our Hoovers arrived directly in Pennsylvania where we first find Christian and his family. We don't know if it was Christian's parents, or, more likely, his grandparents, who made the journey across the ocean.

Whichever family members were the immigrants, they would have made their way down the Rhine to Rotterdam. The passage down the Rhine itself took 4 to 6 weeks, with tolls and fees being demanded at every turn. (Again, one is reminded of today's refugees enduring extortionate rates to sail to freedom.)

The Pennsylvania Dutch settled primarily in the southeastern and south central part of the State. By the time of the American Revolution, nearly half the population of Pennsylvania consisted of the Pennsylvania Dutch. They tended to side with the Patriots, but many (including some Hoovers) refused on religious grounds to take part in the fighting.

This posting closes my "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" for 2015 with the Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry being unresolved. My New Year's Resolutions must include finding parents and grandparents for Christian Hoover and finding where they came from in the area that is now Germany.


  • Find a Grave website for Christian Hoover
  • Wikipedia Article on "Pennsylvania Dutch" accessed 4 December 2015
  • "Palatine Germans to America - their History of Immigration" accessed online 4 December 2015 at
  • Jim Sutcliffe pedigree chart first provided 8 August 2010
  • Kris Hocker website on the Hoovers at
  • US and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 on
  •, Pennsylvania, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1772-1890


  1. I like the way you compared the experiences of the "Pennsylvania Dutch" immigrants to that of today's refugees. I hope you are able to find out more about Christian Hoover's ancestry.

    1. Thanks, Beth. Yes, it really must be one of my New Year's Resolutions to learn more, if possible.

  2. My own KUHN ancestors arrived just after this wave of immigrants to Pennsylvania... about 1730-1732, settling first in Goshenhoppen, Berks, PA, and in Macungie, Lehigh, PA. So far I haven't been able to find their home village/city in the Baden-W├╝rtemberg region. Two tiny clues have shown up, but so far no clearly stated home base.
    I can't imagine how bad it must have been to have wars constantly over one's countryside. You're so right about the connection with current refugee issues, a clear corollary.
    Thanks for posting such interesting details of your (German) Hoover family and their associates. Cheers for the coming year of blogging.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Celia. These Pennsylvania ancestors are definitely proving more difficult for me to trace than my Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts and Rhode Island ancestors. It's comforting to know that I'm not alone in that. Good luck with finding your Kuhn's too.