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A few years ago I developed a high curiosity about our German ancestors in the American Colonial period. Bits and snippets of information began to fill boxes and binders until this year when it seemed prudent to put all details in a relatively cohesive format.  This research is not complete but it does fuse many details not known or shared from one member of the family tree with another. 


This research was possible with an extraordinary amount of input from near and distance Heizer relatives. I am indebted to Effie Clemmer of Amarillo, Texas, Thelma Mills of Burnett, Texas, Mary Taylor of Temple, Texas and Kathleen Heizer of Lexington, Virginia who generously shared information, and to Bobbie Sue Henry of Buena Vista and Virginia Lee Dawson of  Salem, Virginia. I am also obliged to Daniel Davis, a relative of my great grandfather’s wife, Lydia Davis, and to J. Kyle Shewey of Roanoke, Virginia, my great grandmother’s nephew, and his sons John and Emmett Shewey.  Rev. Beverly Southern and her successor Rev. Janette Beggs of the Fairfield, Virginia Presbyterian Church, and parishioner Beulah Chittum were extremely helpful. Mike Dickey of the Skippack Historical Society provided many new insights on the colonial Heizers. I must also acknowledge numerous other correspondents including William Heizer, Carol Harlow, Ann Marie Piland, Helen Riley, Carolyn Heizer Deacon, and members of the Hallman Family Association who generously shared their records. Most importantly, I gratefully acknowledge my father, my Uncle Alfred and Aunt Mary Heizer, and my Aunt Angelitta Perez Gillespie for editorial comments, and sharing their recollections and memories. Lastly and most importantly, I thank my wife, Cheryl, for her support and encouragement to bring order to countless bits and pieces of disjointed information.




1.         Heizer Family Genealogy                           2

2.         Heizer Family in North America                 4

3.         Johannes  1679-1749                             11

4.         Valentin 1722-1753                               20

5.         Samuel 1749-1812                                29

6.         John 1775-1821                                     32

7.         Hezekiah          1806-1879                     33

8.         John Joseph      1829-1884                     39

9.         Stephenville, Texas                                 45

..          A Final Word                                         52





January 2006





There have been at least three publications recording the history of the Heizer family in North America.  The first books that came to my attention were the “THE HEIZER FAMILY” by Black Hawk Press of Chicago and “HEIZER FAMILY” by Brown Company, and both were printed in the early 20th Century.  I have not been able to locate copies of either book and can only presume they might be found in private or heritage collections, if at all.  The most recent and comprehensive research is “THE HEIZER FAMILY - AMERICAN PIONEERS”, privately published in the early 1970s by James Marion Heizer of Louisville, Kentucky. This work has proven to be a valuable resource for many family investigators.


James Marion Heizer used an effective yet simple coding system suggested by his genealogical colleague, Joseph J. Heizer of San Francisco, California.  The system identified each branch and generation with a series of alternating numbers and letters.  Here is how he explained it:


Members of the various branches of the family are listed in order and in sufficient detail to enable those interested in doing so to trace their ancestry back to the first Heizer immigrant. Our coding system, developed by Joseph John Heizer (2d5a3d), is so simple that all you need is a name of the Heizer to whom you are related.  Successive generations are alternately identified by letters, then numbers and back to letters, etc.


The first American born Heizer generation, John, Samuel and Maria, are numbered 1, 2 and 3, respectively. John's thirteen children are lettered "a" through "m”, and Samuel's nine are lettered "a" through “i ".  John and Samuel's grandchildren are numbered in order of their birth from 1 through the number of children in the family.



The Family Name

Most family researchers of the colonial period encounter regular variations of their ancestor’s name.  In the early days and through the early 1800s, settlers came from different countries, cultural backgrounds and levels of education, typically little to none, and, of course, there were no dictionaries for reference. Many settlers were illiterate and simply “made a mark” to indicate their signature. Thus, it was very important to communicate verbally but not important or deemed necessary, to be literate or spell names and words consistently.  It is not unusual to see the parent’s names phonetically spelled one way and their children spelling the same name differently.


Johannes was the first of our family, it is believed, to have arrived in the American Colonies from Germany about 1722.  His pastor spelled his name Hayser and this spelling also appears in Johannes’s Will, written in German, and refers to his wife as Doretty Hayser (Dorothea, nee Heilman).  However, civil records also identify Johannes as Hyser, Hiser, etc.  The surname confusion continues in Dorothea’s Will where she refers to herself, children and deceased husband as Heiser.  Unless otherwise noted, the “Heizer” surname will be used in this research.


 Johannes’s eldest son, Valentin, died when he was quite young and also managed several surname variations. Valentin’s sons, John and Samuel, and their descendants use the Heiser and Heizer surnames, respectively. Johannes’s second son, Andreas, appears to have preferred Hyser and in his later years, his community referred to him as “Old Andreas Hyser”. 


 Most if not all family researchers have referred to Johannes’ eldest son as ‘Valentine’. It appears that his name was corrupted into an Anglicized form, with the letter ‘e’ added at the end.  A literate German speaker of the period would pronounce ‘Valentine’ as ‘Valentina’, sounding the last ‘e’ in the name as an ‘a’, which is the feminine version of ‘Valentin’. In this work, ‘Valentin’ is used as the preferred spelling of the name.


While delving in the origins of our family and surname, I received undated information from Dennis, Arthur B., and Ethel L. of the American Hiser family. Although no direct link has been made to this family, much of the following correlates with information I have gathered:



Hiser Family

The east side of Lake Zurich in Switzerland is the most probable European origin of the Hiser family.  The earliest records I found was in the family history book,  Swiss Family Heuser  published by Charles U. Heuser at the Los Angeles Public Library.   It listed his earliest ancestor being born in 1398 and a serf to the Earl of Rapperswyl. Records that are more definite start about 1541 when churches were required to keep civil records.


No direct connection to this family has been found. However, from conversations with the genealogist at the Zurich Library, I am virtually certain that our Hiser originated in this part of Switzerland.  In all probability, several generations of our ancestors migrated into what is now southern Germany.


The conclusion about our origins comes from studying church backgrounds of the period. Ulrich Zwingli founded the German Reform Church about 1516, and in the same period as Martin Luther began his movement. These two leaders met to discuss merging their congregations, but could not agree on the form of communion. Consequently, the Reform and Lutheran Churches became two separate streams of Protestant thought.  Switzerland remained Reform and, most German Dukedoms were Lutheran.  Our immigrant ancestor was definitely Reform as were his descendents for several generations.


The second line of study involves migration pattern.  The economy the time was based on what could be produced on the land. Families tended to be large and land can only be divided a limited number of times.  Early church reform movements such as those advocated by Zwingli were resisted by the state. 


Different cantons took different specific actions to persecute or harass.  By contrast, the patterns of warfare in the German duchy tended to create a shortage of males. Enticements in the form of land or employment were offered to attract immigrants to North America. I have two records that show some of the passengers on the ship BROTHER, on which (our ancestor) Johannes Adam Heuser arrived in Philadelphia in 1751.  Excerpts from the diary of John George Obermayer and a copy of his passport give us details of his journey down the Rhine from Rhinehausen and departure from Rotterdam.  I am confident Johan Adam Heuser also started from this area.


While looking through immigration records for the Baden-Alsace area, I often came across Heuser look-alikes, i.e., Haeusser, etc.  It is my hope that this text will inspire enough interest that someone with the ability to translate German will research the Swiss and German archives sufficiently to better establish the linkage.


*  *  *  *  *


It is reasonable to presume that our Heizer family may be extended to include a large number of other branches and surname spellings.   Our direct ancestor, Johannes, most certainly had siblings, uncles, aunts and cousins, and surely a number of them came to America, albeit at different times, settling in different locations, and adopting different phonetic renderings of the family name.  Unfortunately, none have been identified to date. 






The following lists direct Heizer ancestors of our family branch from 18th Century Colonial American to the dawn of the 21st Century in Canada. The family numbering system starts with Valentin’s issue.    


The dates and locations in this chapter are believed to be reasonably accurate.  The names of our direct Heizer branch ancestors are underlined.



JOHANNES   Born    1695-1700?                 Pfiffligheim (?), Germany

Died     February 6, 1749         Skippack Township, PA

M1.     Married (unk) in Germany about 1720/1721. She died about        1721/1722.

M2.  Married Maria Dorothea Heilman about 1725?

Born     Klein Niedersheim, Germany (?) about 1700

            Died     December 20, 1770 Skippack Township, PA


Johannes’ Children :



Born     1722?                                      Pfiffligheim (?), Germany

Died     August 7, 1753             Skippack Township, PA


*The four years between Valentin’s assumed birth year in Germany (1722) and that of Johannes’ next child, Andreas, birth year (1726) in the American Colonies strongly suggests that Maria Dorothea Heilman (b.abt 1700) was Valentin’s stepmother. Further, the Heilman family emigrated from Germany to Pennsylvania about 1718, which, if correct, makes a stronger case that Valentin’s mother was Johannes first wife and Dorothea would have been his stepmother and Johannes second wife.



Born     1726                            Skippack Township, PA

Died     Feb. 14, 1810              Skippack Township, PA

Confirmed June 16, 1745 (other sources show 1756)

Married July 19, 1764 to Sara (h) Zeiber (b. July 25, 1744   d. March 21, 1822).  She was the daughter of Johannes and Margaret (nee DuBois) Zeiber


Anna Maria     

Born     1728?                          Skippack Township, PA

Died     ?                     

Married (1) ________Ketchy (Goetschius)?

                        Married (2) Ludwig Weisel (widower) on February 12, 1761



Born     1730?                          Skippack Township, PA

Died     ?                                  ?

Married on December 29, 1747 to Christian Gmelin, son of Matthias and Maria Barbara Gmelin (Gehman?)


Maria Sallinas (Salome)

                              Born     1731                Skippack Township, PA

                   Confirmed May 7, 1747

                        Died     after 1771                    ?

                        Married ________ Perkymer (Berkheimer)



Born     1735?                          Skippack Township, PA

Died     ?                                  ?

                        Married on May 12, 1755 to ______Vollmer



Born     1739                            Skippack Township, PA

Died      October 2, 1745        



Born     1739                            Skippack Township, PA

                        Died     after 1771                    ?

Married William Graff (Opdengraf?) on May 8, 1759


NB:   Only the birth years of Andreas, Maria, Rebecca, and Barbara are recorded in or calculated from church documents.  The birth dates and order of the other siblings are assumed.



VALENTIN    Born     1722?                                      Pfiffligheim (?), Germany

                        Died     August 7, 1753                         Skippack Township, PA


           M1- ___? ___      

The name of Valentin’s first wife, the location and date of their marriage are not known (possibly 1745-46 in Skippack, Pennsylvania).  It is believed she died as a result of complications when their son, John, was born on March 17, 1747. 


Valentin’s Children:

1.      John  (Valentin’s 1st Marriage)

Born    March 17, 1747                  Skippack Township, PA

Died    June 26, 1837                     Brown County, OH


                        M2 - Married Anna Howe - Old Trappe Church on May 4, 1747.

                               Born    1721?

                               Died     ?                           Augusta County, VA?


                                    2.   Samuel (Valentin’s 2nd Marriage)

                                    Born     October 25, 1749        Skippack Township, PA

                                    Died     June 14, 1812              Augusta County, VA

Samuel was baptized on March 23, 1750.  He married Mary Elizabeth Chapman on August 11, 1774 in Augusta County, VA


                        3.   Maria (Valentin’s 2nd Marriage)

  Born   October 14, 1752        Skippack Township, PA

Baptized December 26, 1752. Sponsors were Rev. Henrich Muhlenberg and his wife, Anna Maria (Nani Haurin). Married Thomas Shearer. Maria died in 1785(?).       



2.  SAMUEL                         

            Samuel's Children:


2a.       John

            Born     May 11, 1775  Augusta County, VA

            Died     October 28, 1821        Augusta County, VA

                                    Married Agnes Wright on April 22, 1800 Augusta County, VA

            b. 1777                                    Augusta Country, VA

            d. 1846                                    Augusta County, VA

2b.       William

                                    Born     February 24, 1777       Augusta County, VA

                                    Died     1828                            ?

                                    Married Martha Farley Hatton November 22, 1804

            2c.       Nathaniel         

                                    Born     March 1, 1779             Augusta County, VA

                                    Died     1828                            Green City, KY

                                    Married Martha Hatton


            2d.       Samuel            

                                    Born     February 28, 1781       Augusta County, VA

                                    Died     January 13, 1832                      Ross City, OH

                                    Married Mary Elizabeth Ware


            2e.       Rebekah / Rebecca

                                    Born     March 13, 1783                       Augusta County, VA

                                    Died     ?                                              Fayette County, IN      

            Married Peter Smith


2g.       Mary               

            Born     January 1, 1785                        Augusta County, VA

Died     December 10, 1858                 Marion County, IN

            Married John Van Deman


                        2h.       Joshua             

                                                Born     December 23, 1787     Augusta County, VA

            Died     January 30, 1885                      Fayette County, IN

                       Married Jemima Corey


2i.        Elizabeth

                                    Born     February 19, 1789                   Augusta County, VA

            Died     August 15, 1877                       Kossuth, IA

            Married John Ware November 19, 1812 Augusta County, VA

2j         Edward                       

            Born     February 19, 1791                   Augusta County, VA

            Died     February 19, 1863                   Marion County, IN

Married Elizabeth Buchanan November 4, 1819 Fayette County, IN


2a. JOHN      

John’s Children:


                        2a1.     Joseph             

                                    Born     February 6, 1801                     Augusta County, VA

                                    Died     May 3, 1887                            Sante Fe, MO

                                    Married Nancy Hanna


                        2a2.     Samuel            

                                    Born     October 14, 1802                    Augusta County, VA

                                    Died     September 16, 1875                 Indianapolis, IN

                                    1- Married Elizabeth Straine

                                    2- Married Mary Roll


2a3.     Hezekiah

                                    Born     July 6, 1804                             Augusta County, VA

                                    Died     May 20, 1879                          Rockbridge County, VA

                                    M1-Married Eliza Cartwell Larew (11 children)

                                    Born     1806              

Died      July 26, 1862                          Rockbridge County, VA


            M2-Married Lucy Goolsby (Goldsby)   March 12, 1867

                                    Born     April 30, 1830                          Rockbridge County, VA

                                    Died     July 12, 1893                           Rockbridge County, VA

                                                No children


            2a4.     William            

                                    Born     May 9, 1806                            Augusta County, VA

                                    Died     April 10, 1880                          Augusta County, VA

                                    Married Susan Brownlee


2a5.     James              

                                    Born     February 10, 1808                   Augusta County, VA

                                    Died     June 10, 1880                          Augusta County, VA

                                    Married Sarah Brown


                        2a6.     Robert             

                                    Born     January 30, 1810                      Augusta County, VA

                                    Died     1898?                                      Tulare, CA

                                    Married ?


             2a7.    John Chapman   

            Born     October 15, 1813                    Augusta County, VA

            Died     July 28, 1889                           Tulare, CA

            Married Mary Kerr Smiley


2a8.     Ruth    

            Born     October 3, 1815                      Augusta County, VA

            Died     1882?                                      Rockbridge County, VA

            Married James Brownlee


2a9.     Edward                       

Born     December 10, 1819                 Augusta County, VA

            Died     March 2, 1902                         Putman County, VA


            2-Married Rebecca Almone




2a3.     HEZEKIAH

Hezekiah’s Children:


2a3 a.  John Joseph

                        Born     March 29, 1829                       Augusta County, VA

                        Died     March 7, 1884   Stephenville, TX

M1-Married Lydia Davis (no children)  Feb 19, 1861 Augusta County, VA

                                    Born.    1830?  Philadelphia, PA

                                    Died     February 1880 Augusta County, VA?


M2- Married Anna Sidney Shewey April 5, 1881 (2 sons) Augusta   County, VA

                        Born     March 1862                 Augusta County, VA

                                    Died     August 15, 1935           Houston, TX


2a3b.   Elizabeth Agnes  

                        Born     June 30, 1830                          Augusta County, VA

                        Died     ?                                  ?

                        Married Samuel McClung         on September 14, 1854 Rockbridge Cty, VA


2a3c.   William James  

                        Born     October 23, 1832                    Augusta County, VA

                        Died     1903?                          ? Ohio

Married Sidenia Elizabeth Shanks on October 22, 1858


            2a3d.   Clinton Hall

                        Born     October 5, 1834                      Augusta County, VA

                        Died     January 11, 1835                      Augusta County, VA


            2a3e.    Robert Scott

                        Born     March 26, 1836                       Augusta County, VA

                        Died     May 22, 1837                          Augusta County, VA


            2a3f.    Benjamin Franklin  

                        Born     January 14, 1838                      Augusta County, VA

                        Died     November 9, 1862                   Augusta County, VA

                        Married Harriet Boone            


            2a3g.    Nancy Jane Hall          

                        Born     May 27, 1840                          Augusta County, VA

                        Died     March 6, 1912                         Erath County, TX

                        Married George Snapp on May 6, 1858 in Rockbridge Cnty. VA.


2a3h.    Margaret Ann    

                        Born     September 7, 1843                    Augusta County, VA

                        Died     January 20, 1913                      Erath County, TX

                        Married Silas Baber on January 24, 1883 in Rockbridge Cnty, VA


            2a3i      Edward Newton

                        Born     January 1, 1846                        Augusta County, VA

                        Died     June 18, 1865                          Augusta County, VA


2a3j     Mary Rebecca 

                        Born     March 24, 1848                       Augusta County, VA

                        Died     June 14, 1850                          Augusta County, VA


            2a3k.   Robert Samuel   

                        Born     November 11, 1851                 Augusta City, VA

                        Died     August 21, 1936                       Sweetwater, TX

M1- Married Rebecca Valentine

M2-Married Laura Elder   

M3-Married   Emma Scoggins


2a3a.    JOHN JOSEPH

John  Joseph's  Children:


2a3 a1.            John Franklin

Born     March 12, 1882                       Rockbridge County, VA

Died     May 30, 1948    Houston, TX

Married Ida Celeste Olson 1905 in Galveston, Texas

Born November 19, 1885                    Galveston, TX

Died December 3, 1933                       Houston, TX


2a3a2.  Glenwood Griffin 

Born     September 11, 1884                 Stephenville, TX

Died     December 16, 1917                 Houston, TX

            Married Della Dowdy   One son (Roy)




                        John  Franklin's  Children:


            2a3a1a Glenwood Franklin    

                        Born     January 25, 1907                      Galveston, TX

                        Died     August 19, 2001                       Houston, TX

                        M1.  Married Eva Perez in Houston, TX April 1, 1934

                                    Born     June 5, 1910                Monterrey, Mexico

                                    Died     August 19, 1949           Houston, Texas

                                    Four children of this marriage


M2.            Married Louise Rawls (nee Wier)

There were no children of this marriage.

Two daughters from her previous marriage.


2a3a1b Alfred Sidney              

                        Born     October 21, 1908                    Galveston, TX

                        Died     February 7, 2001                     Corpus Christi, TX

                        Married Mary Frances Landrigan Feb 23, 1935

                        Children:           Alfred Sidney   b. Sept 27, 1940                                                                                              Mary Ida          b. April 3, 1942

                                    John Franklin    b. Dec. 13, 1948



            Glenwood Franklin’s Children:


            2a3a1a.              Glenwood Franklin, Jr.

                        Born        June 28, 1935                       Houston, TX

                        2002: Resides in Southampton, Ontario                        

M1.  Married Nancy Diane Nott  July 30, 1960  Pt.  Arthur,  TX

                                    Born    February 21, 1941        Pt. Arthur, TX

                                            2003 resides in Florida

                                    Two sons born of this marriage


                          M2.  Married Cheryl Anne MacDonald October 21,  1978 

London, ON

Born April 6, 1951                   Sydney, Nova Scotia

                                    One son born of this marriage              


            2a3a1b.              Olga Celeste       

                                      Born      March 14, 1942        El Paso, TX

                                      December 2005:  Resides in Houston, TX

  Married Edward Thompson

                                      Three children of this marriage


            2a3a1c.            Naomi Yvonne

                                    Born        July 16, 1944                        El Paso, TX

                                    December 2005:  Resides in Houston, TX

                          M1-Married Carl Olsen

                                    M2-Married Robert Tarant

                                                No children


2a3a1d.            Mary Louise

                                    Born        March 18, 1946                    El Paso, TX

                                    Died       October 21, 1989                  San Francisco, CA

No children


2a3 a 1 a.     GLENWOOD FRANKLIN, Jr


            Glenwood Franklin Jr.'s   Children:


            2a3a1a1      Craig Franklin 

                               Born      December 8, 1963             Houston, TX

                               2005:  Resides in Bellville, ON.     

                               Married Laurie Lynn Mooney in London, ON                                                                                       on October 21, 1988

                               Laurie born            1965 Owen Sound, ON


             Craig Franklin's Children:

            2a3a1a1a   Adam Malloy         Born December 23, 1993

            2a3a1a1b   Isaac Glenwood      Born October 22, 1997


            2a3a1a2    David William                                                

                        Born    December 22, 1967        Toronto, ON

                            2005:  Resides in Calgary, Alberta

                        Married Jennifer Lynn Hough in London, ON

      on June 13, 1992

                         Jennifer born February 7, 1970 Sarnia, ON


            David William’s Children:

                        2a3a1a2a  Emma Waverley   Born May 10, 1997

                        2a3a1a2b Seth Alexander      Born July 11, 1999



2a3a1a3    Eric James

                             Born                October 17, 1982

                             2005 Attends the University of Western Ontario





3. JOHANNES - 1697?  - 1749


The origins of the Heizer family name are enigmatic. No one knows how our ancestor, Johannes, spelled his surname, when and where he married,  any details of his early life and family, or what motivated him to leave Germany and settle in America. Colonial records reveal a number of other individuals and families with similar surnames migrated to North America before and after Johannes and his son Valentin.  To say they are relatives would be, at best, tentative (N.B:  Heizer” will be used as the default spelling of the family name except when relating to specific documents, events  or records).


To understand the flood of immigrants who came to North America during the Colonial Period, one must first appreciate Europe in the twilight of the 17th Century.  At that time, France, the most powerful country in Europe, was in the middle of the long reign of Louis XIV.  Louis built impressive palaces, ruled over a glittering court in Versailles and encouraged art and literature with notable success.  All across the continent, rulers powerful and petty imitated him by assuming the pose of refined gentlemen and benefactors of culture.


However, Louis was a menace as well as a model. He strengthened the powers of central government and brutally silenced domestic criticism.  He revoked the 16th Century Edit of Nantes, which had granted tolerance to the Protestant Huguenots.  They were driven out of France by the thousands to settle in England, Prussia, the Netherlands, and North America.


France and its Sun King were technically at peace but were diligently preparing for war.  Louis built a powerful army and, with a series of ruthless actions, expanded his presence to the north and east, with focused intent toward Spain and the Rhineland.   The Holy Roman Empire, which was not Roman and far from holy, floundered in a political stupor; a crazy quilt of more than 300 separate states governed more or less by vest pocket dukes, autocratic ecclesiastics and narrow-minded burghers.


A perceptive observer at the time would have probably predicted that if there were to be social and political enlightenment, it would begin the ready soil of France, move to the fertile ambience of England, flourish throughout Europe, and ultimately take root in the American Colonies.  The American Colonies were experiencing a great measure of relative peace, growth and offered broad opportunity of self-determination to the masses of continental Europe.  This caught the imagination of many of those who were weary of constant war, religious conflict and political intrigue.


As Louis XIV waged war on the German principalities along the Rhine with the intent to enforce Catholicism, the English Crown spread the word that Protestants who made their way to the channel ports could gain ready passage to America.  The response was overwhelming. They came down the Rhine by the thousands.  A large tent city grew outside of London until areas of relocation were established and ships were scheduled for their voyage.  Johannes was one of the many Germans who decided to immigrate to America at this time.


Settlers experienced in the extraction of resins from trees landed in what is now upstate New York; sheep farmers went to Rhode Island and the Palatine Cemeteries give evidence of their presence.  Tradesmen and landholders with financial resources bought land and settled, at least initially, at or near Fort Dunsmore, which would become Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.   In this mass of relocation, many of the immigrants found that William Penn's agents were not abiding by the original terms of settlement and continued their journey to Virginia.  


Those who have make a passing investigation of the family in Colonial America will usually relate a tradition that Valentin Heizer, born about 1722,  was  left with relatives in Germany when his parents, or at least his father, Johannes, immigrated to the American Colonies and settled in Bebber’s Township, Pennsylvania  (later - Skippack Township). The tale follows that Valentin arrived America in 1738, joined his father in Skippack, was a cabinetmaker, farmer and later an innkeeper, and, at a relatively young age, was killed by a runaway horse. Additionally, some family records also tell us that Valentin was a stow-away on the ship that brought him to America and in later years suffered from deafness.  The consistent thread of this story through dozens of his descendents tends to confirm the common ancestry of many of the present North American Heizer branches. 


Many Heizer family historians believe Johannes arrived in Philadelphia and settled in nearby Skippack   Township about 1722 but no later than 1727.   After 1727, by edict of the English Crown, all immigrants aged 16 and over had to book passage to America on a British ship, and be recorded and declared on arrival.  After arriving in Philadelphia, Johannes made his way to Skippack Township, possibly to reconnect with German friends and families, and to purchase farmland and continue his trade as a weaver.  A review of a period “map table” list of original owner deeds in Skippack between 1704 to 1727 does not include the name variations of Johannes or his colonial father-in-law, Antonius Heilman (later Anthony Hallman).  That said, it was common for land speculators to purchase blocks of property to divide and resell, but the original deeds would not necessarily reflect the actual name of settlers who set up their homes, farms and businesses in their new country.  Source: Skippack Historical Society.


A map indicating the year 1717 refers to 183 acres owned by John Umstead at the present intersection of Township Road and Evansburg Road. This property appears to be all or part of the 183 acres that would be purchased by Johannes Heizer in 1727. The property is about a mile south of the old Skippack Mennonite Meetinghouse (Lower Skippack Mennonite Church), which is also along the Evansburg Road.


The earliest known civil records of Johannes in the Philadelphia Country Records note that he purchased land in 1727, and in 1734, he was accessed for taxes on 100 acres of land in Skippack.  Other civil records show that on March 9, 1773, John Hyser, a weaver, bought 200 acres of land in Perkiomen from Jacob Dubentine.


We also know that Johannes married Maria Dorothea Heilman, the daughter of Antonius and Maria Salome Heilman/Hallman. The original 100a Hallman farmstead location was listed to “Christian Zimmerman, Philadelphia Deed Book E4 7:136, June 10, 1708”.  However, other unconfirmed sources indicate a purchase of the same property by Anthony Hallman in 1705, and that he was taxed (rated) for 100 acres in 1734.


In his book “History of Skippack”, 1896, James Heckler wrote-

“Anthony Hallman was a great speculator in land and was rated (taxed) for 100 acres in 1734.  The Hallman farm first contained 175 acres and was in the family from 1705 to 1833, when Jacob Hallman and George Shoemaker, administrators of the estate of Henry Hallman, sold it to Henry Bean. The farm contained 163 acres in 1833.”


Heckler also notes that the acreage rated for census was not always accurate, either being an estimate or exaggeration, most times in the owner’s favour.


Skippack Census/Documents – 1734

Author Heckler also states:

“A list  of the names of the inhabitants of the County of Philadelphia (later Montgomery County), with the quantity of land they respectively hold therein, according to the Uncirtaain Returns of the Constables – Anno Dom 1734.”


Under “Parkioman and Skippacke” are listed:  Anthony Hallman – 100a, Nicholas Hicks – 100a, Hance (Johannes) Hyzer – 100a, Herman Umstead – 100a, Henry Umstead – 150a.  Source: Publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, December 1898, Miscellany No. 2, Landholders of Philadelphia County.


The original Johannes Heizer farmstead appears to have been situated along the northwest corner of Evansburg Road and Township Town Line.  It is about a mile south of the old Skippack Mennonite Meetinghouse (Lower Skippack Mennonite Church), which also borders Evanburg Road.


Civil documents record that Johannes was naturalized an English subject at the September 25-27, 1740 Session of the Supreme Court held in Philadelphia. Hallman family researchers tell us that his wife, Dorothea, was naturalized about the same time.  Interestingly, the immigration records make note that many of the citizenship candidates came from the Ludwigsburg District, Wittenberg, Germany.


The ‘Van Bebber’s Township 1682-1793’, an unbound manuscript retained by the Historical Society of Montgomery County, Norristown, Pennsylvania, tracks the deed of a 6000 acre grant from King Charles II of England to William Penn. Philadelphia Deed Book 5  - page 219 and dated October 10, 1744 notes that  John Kinsey, Thomas Leech, Thomas Chandler, John Watson and John Wright were Trustees for the Pennsylvania General Loan Office that auctioned 160 acres of land in Skippack to Johannes and Dorothea.


Census of Skippack – 1756

According to James Heckler’s “History of Skippack, 1896, Walter Johnson (aka Jansen) was a resident constable and tax collector who farmed in Skippack Village (along the east side of Route 113 at Skippack Pike – Route 73).  In 1756 he was ordered by the provisional government to take a census of the township, which was done in June of that year. The first census did not list occupants or their occupation.


William Burke appears with one child and 260 acres. This was most probably the property originally given to Valentin by his father that passed to his widow and children.  The records also show that William and Ann owned this property until 1774 when they sold it to Yellis Kolb (Philadelphia County Deed Book 5, page 219, dated April 2, 1774) and relocated to August County, VA.  The one child listed in the census may well have been Maria (b. December 26, 1752). It does seem odd that ‘one child’ is listed but not John and Samuel Heizer, now aged 9 and 7, and not William Burke’s sons who would be about the same age.  We do not know if William and Anna had children of their own.


The last we hear of William Burke is where he is listed in an Augusta County - Administration and Guardian Bond, which states-

Bond of Wm Burke, 27 March 1785, to keep in repair the bridge on the creek near Daniel

Kidd’s in Staunton.



Map Data       Source: Michael Dickey -  Skippack Historical Society - 2005

Maps were regularly produced by people who went around in the area, not visiting every house, and making their product available to the property owners, tax offices, etc. Further, they did not always confirm the type and number of structures on the property or  the owner’s name spelling and often entered their  phonetic interpretation of names and places in their records.  As the maps did take a certain amount of time to prepare and print, many were outdated before being issued.  The following 19th Century maps were located :



Two Heizer houses show up that are probably on the lands of the same original farmstead of Johannes Heizer.  One is shown as “J.Heizer” along the west side of Evansburg Road, just south of Wayland Road. This was likely John Heizer (1771-1845), son of Andreas and grandson of Johannes.   Another is what appears to be shown as an “F. Heiser” or “E. Heiser” at the old Johannes Heizer farmstead along the north side of Township Line Road, close to the Evansburg Road.



“S. Heizer” is shown owning the old farmsteads along Township Line Road.



There is an “A. Heizer” owning the old farmstead,



The owner of the old farmstead is “John Heyser” with 61 acres.


Heizer Properties

The following are listed on a historical resource survey of Skippack Township (Michael Dickey):


797 Bridge Road (Route 113), Jacob Kolb farmhouse. House width – 3 bays, depth-3 rooms deep. Two stories. Barn.  Tax Parcel 510000340005.


3831 Township Line Road.  Heiser Homestead, c 1741. Georgian style, slate/stucco. House width 4, depth 2 room deep. Two stories. Barn, smokehouse, sheds. Tax Parcel 5100003895005.


NB:  .  The 797 Bridge Road property was sold to Yellis Kolb in 1774. He occupied it until 1825 when it was passed to his son, Joseph. In 1874, Joseph Kolb sold the property to Daniel Wismer whose family owned it into the 20th Century. Other Heizer 1700s properties, not listed above, are known to have been situated at 837 Bridge Road and at the corner of Township Line Road and Evansburg Road.  Source Skippack Historical Society.



Johannes and Dorothea Heizer

Dorothea Hallman and her family were probably living in Skippack by 1718, as their tradition tells us that her father, Antonius Heilman/Hallman, helped build the Mennonite Meetinghouse about that year.  Dorothea’s birth date is not known but believed she was born in Germany between 1700 and 1705.  If her


Evangelical Augusts Lutheran Church also known as the Old Trappe

Church, and earlier as New Providence, was founded by Reverend

Heinrich Melchoir Muhlenberg in 1743 in Trappe, Pennsylvania.


father arrived in Skippack about 1708, as James Heckler wrote, Dorothea would have been a toddler at the time and  she was followed by her several brothers and sisters who were born in Skippack. Unfortunately, diligent research has not been able to confirm the 1708 date, or any other date for the arrival of the Hallman family.


Genealogists tracing the Heizer history during the Colonial Period have relied heavily on the Pennsylvania Archives, Montgomery County Civil Records, and the notes of Pastor Heinrich Melchoir Muhlenberg.  Pastor Muhlenberg came to America in 1742. The following year he founded and built the Evangelical Augustus Lutheran Church, better known as The Old Trappe Church. Prior to this date, the Heizer and Hallman families worshipped at the Mennonite Meetinghouse.


The Old Trappe Church sometimes referred to as Providence or New Providence by Pastor Muhlenberg and, is the oldest unaltered Lutheran Church building in continuous use in North America. The structure reflects 18th Century German rural architecture; all timbers were hewn and framed with tendons secured with sturdy wooden dowels. The nails, hinges and latches were hand forged by local blacksmiths.  We can reasonably assume that Johannes contributed his labour with other members of the congregation on this project, including his father-in-law, Anthony Hallman.


The first Lutheran service was officiated in the unfinished church interior on September 12, 1743.  The formal dedication was postponed until the church building would be completed and paid. This occurred on October 6, 1745, when the church was concentrated with solemn ceremony in the presence of a large gathering. It is easy to visualize the Heizer and Hallman families attending services that special day.


Marie Taylor, a Heizer family researcher, shared her notes from the journals written by Pastor Muhlenberg, and reported to have found an entry stating that the Hallman family immigrated to Pennsylvania from Klein Niedersheim, District Ludwigshafen, and Rheinland-Pflaz. Geographically, Klein Niedersheim is southwest of the city of Worms, and near Mannheim and Pfiffligheim. Our direct ancestors, Johannes and Valentin seem to have hailed from this area as well.


Most Hallman family records agree that Anthony was born in Germany in 1671 and that his wife, Maria Salome,  was born in 1673 and died on September 26, 1745  (Source: “Maintaining the Right Fellowship by John Ruth –, Herald Press: Scottsdale, PA. 1984 and Maria Salome’s gravestone at the Lower Skippack Mennonite Cemetery). As the Heizers and Hallmans were neighbors in Skippack, they may have known one another in the German Palatinate before coming to the colonies. We do know that Johannes’ Skippack farmstead was about two miles distant from the Hallman farm, and both were near the Mennonite Meetinghouse.


Elaine Jeter, a Hallman Family researcher, reported that Dorothea’s younger sister, Anna Maria Heilman, was baptized on October 14, 1718 in Klein Niedersheim and that the child was named for her Godmother, Anna Marie Haeuser von Pfiffligheim.  Pfiffligheim was a farming community about 5 kilometers from Klein Niedersheim, and both less than 10 kilometers from Worms. Thus, Anna Marie Haeuser from Pfiffligheim, an interesting name similar in pronunciation to Hayser, Heyser, Heiser, Heizer, Hiser, Hisor, etc., and a challenging project for a future researcher. The documentary source for this information is not cited but if valid  does puts Anthony Hallman’s presumed 1705-1708 date of arrival in the colonies at risk (per James Heckler) or, perhaps, the 1705-1708 date was a mistype and should have been 1715-1718.


We know that Johannes eldest son, Valentin, was born in Germany and left with relatives when his father, then a widower (?), moved to the colonies (1722?). Further, we do not know when Johannes and Dorothea married in Pennsylvania but it would have likely been between 1724 and 1725. This would make Johannes’ eldest son, Valentin, Dorothea’s stepson and indicate that Johannes was previously married in Germany.  Johannes and Dorothea marry in Pennsylvania, and their first son, Andreas, is born in 1726.   Andreas’ birth is followed by six sisters:  Anna Maria (b.1728?), Christiana (b.1730?), Maria Salinas (b. 1732?), Elizabeth (b. 1735?), Rebecca (b.1737?) and Barbara (B.1739).  Only the birth years of Andreas and Barbara are listed in Pastor Muhlenberg’s records. In April 1738, Valentin leaves Germany and joins Johannes, his step-mother and half siblings in America.


Pastor Muhlenberg recorded the following in his journal:



Confirmed June 16, 1745 – Christina Hoppin, age 18 years. Johannes Heiser’s servant girl. Can read a little and comprehends the order of salvation. God grant her true faith.


NB:  This journal entry is the only one known for Christina Hoppin. However, Johannes dies four years later and he leaves “his servant” to Andreas. If this were Christina, she would have been 22 years old at the time. Some Heizer researchers believe the ‘servant’ may have been a slave but this has not been verified.


Confirmed May 7, 1747 - Salome Heiserin, age 16, daughter of Johannis. Reads fairly well, knows Catechism, and has the intention to seek the truth of salvation diligently, but at the same time is fickle.


Confirmed June 6, 1756 – Andreas, son of Johannis Heiser, has only limited knowledge, intends to continue at school.


            (Undated)  Heiserini, Barbara, daughter of Widow Heiser


NB:  Pastor Muhlenberg recorded the  confirmation of Andreas (b. 1726)  occurred when he was 30 years old and still in school, which raises questions that cannot be answered.




            October 2, 1745 - Heiser, Rebecca, daughter of Johannis, aged 6 years.


            February 6, 1749 - Heiser, Johannis, buried in Mennonite ground.  


August 7, 1753 – Heiser, Valentin, buried in Mennonite ground at Schippach.        


There are other Heizer sound-alike names listed by the caretakers of the Lower Skippack Mennonite Cemetery. However, no relationship between these people and relatives of Johannes has been made.


Johannes’ health began to fail in 1747. The Philadelphia Deed Book states that 160 acres with a house were conveyed by Indenture or Lease and Release to Valentin on May 28, 1747. When Johannes died two years later, his Will named Dorothea and Valentin as his executors.  It appears that Johannes owned another, perhaps his very first, house, which would be conveyed in 1749 to Andreas compete with homestead chattels and an indentured (?) servant.


Pastor Muhlenberg's journal records the death and burial of Johannes.  In Journal Volume 1, page 215, the Pastor wrote (Translated from German)-


February 1749:

In the month of February, a man of the Providence congregation died. He was not the master of his own house, but under the direction of his wife.  He had suffered from asthma for many years and was in wretched health.  When I enquired about the state of his soul, he said that he was a poor, worthless, condemnable, sinful worm in the sight of God and that he comforted himself in his Lord Jesus Christ.  He attended church regularly whenever his sickly condition permitted, and at home he was a diligent reader of Arndt’s ‘True Christianity’.  He told one of our deacons that he could never thank God enough for having awakened our Reverend Fathers to send teachers to this country to care for the poor wretched souls.  Shortly before his death, he asked that I come to him.  He made his confession to me and received Holy Supper.  In saying farewell he requested me to bury him, but not to make mention of his person as he was nothing but a corrupt and miserable creature anyhow. But it is not our custom to go into great particulars concerning personalities and preach about the dead. Ordinarily we simply say very briefly that if they had seen anything good in the deceased, they should deem it a gracious gift from God and let it serve as an example of repentance and faith.  But whenever they saw anything wicked, they ought to see mirrored here their own corrupt hearts and let it serve them for a warning and for improvement. He was buried in the Mennonite Church-yard because he had lived nearby.  Since there was large number of people of all sorts of persuasions in attendance, I preached on repentance to God, and they were all very attentive.  After the sermon one of the Mennonite preachers came to me and repeated with a deep sigh the passage, Deuteronomy 5:29, “O that there were such a heart in them, that they should fear me, and keep my commandments always that it might be well with them, and with their children forever.”  This gave me the opportunity to have an edifying conversation with him.    At the funeral we had deep snow underfoot and a drizzle overhead and I had to wade through it for several miles on foot.


The first lines of the Reverend’s journal tell us that Johannes was not the master of his own house and that Dorothea was handling affairs of the household and farm. Most certainly, Johannes struggled with poor health, his farms, a large family, and a personal religion of narrow paths and frequent prayer. 


The book by Johan Arndt (1555-1621), referred to by Pastor Mulenberg, was the foundation of countless spiritual works.  Arndt was a follower of Melanchthon and his several works aroused deep Calvinistic hostility.  German pietism was, in part, a reaction to the overbearing religious and political climate of the day.


Pastor Muhlenberg buried Johannes at the Lower Skippack Mennonite Meeting House Cemetery on February 6, 1749. Johannes’ will, written in German and dated January 12, 1748, was filed for probate on February 23, 1749 with an "inventory of appraisement for the estate of Johannes Hayser, deceased". Doretty and Valentin were named Executors to Johannes estate. Johannes bequeathed to his wife “Doretty” (Dorothea), sons Valentin and Andreas, and daughters Anna Mary, Christina, Mary Sallinas, Elizabeth, and Barbara.


The transcriptions of Johannes and Dorothea’s Wills were copied from a microfilm of the Pennsylvania Will Book I, 1748-1753 by Mary Kimberly Rau, a Hallman descendent:


Last Will and Testament

Johannes Hayser


            IN THE NAME OF GOD AMEN this twelfth day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and forty-eight, I John Hayser of the Township of Skippack and Perkiomen in the Country of Philadelphia herefor being old and weak in body but perfect in mind and memory thanks be to God therefore calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men one to die to make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament.  That is to say principally and first of all I give and recommend my soul into the hands of God that gave it and for my body, I recommend it be the earth be buried in a Christian like and decent manner at the discretion of my Executor nothing doubting but at the General Resurrection I shall receive the same again by the almighty power of God and as touching such worldly estate wherewith it hath pleased God to place me in this life, I give, devise and dispose of he same in the following manner and form. Imprimis.     It is my will that and I do order that in the first place all my just debts and funeral charges be paid and satisfied.    Item:  I give and bequeath unto Dorrety my well beloved wife the one-third part of my personal estate and further my wife it to have the third part of the real estate during her natural life.     Item:  I give and bequeath to Dorrety Hayser my well beloved wife the sum (of) one hundred and fifty pounds to be raised and levied out of my estate and more further my wife it to have all the household goods excepting for one bed and my son Andreas Hayser is to let her have one horse for to ride when she has cause to ride and my son Andreas Hayser is to save one half an acre of flax for his mother yearly and  every year during her natural life, but if my wife Dorrety Hayser should marry again and not remain my widow then she shall not be entitled to the  one hundred and fifty pounds.  Item: I give and bequeath to Valentin Hayser my well beloved son the sum of one-shilling sterling money to be raised and levied out of my estate.    Item:  I give and bequeath to Andreas Hayser my well beloved son the Plantation which I now live together with all and singular houses, barns, stables, horses, cows, sheep, wagons (……?….) and the gears belonging thereto and my servant and one bed.   Item: It is my will that my son Andreas Hayser is to pay out of these the sum of two  hundred pounds in one year after my decease but if my wife should come to die then Andreas shall have five years time for to pay that to his sisters.    Item: I give and bequeath unto Anna Marie, my oldest daughter,  the sum of fourteen pounds to be raised and levied out of my estate and to be paid unto here in manner and form following that is to say one year after my decease.   Item:  I give and bequeath unto Christina my well beloved daughter, the sum of fourteen pounds to be paid to her after my decease.   Item: I give and bequeath to Mary Salome my well beloved daughter the sum of fifty pounds to be paid to her three years after my decease.   Item: I give and bequeath unto Elizabeth my well beloved daughter the sum of fifty pounds to be paid to her five years after my decease.    Item:  I give and bequeath unto Barbara my youngest daughter fifty pounds to be paid unto her seven years after my decease.   Item:  It is my will that if any of my  children should die under eighteen then that share shall be divided among the rest of the children.   Item:  I likewise and empower my Executors that they shall make and give my son Andreas a deed for my plantation as good and lawful as if I were in being.  Item:  I likewise take Doretty Hayser my well beloved wife and Valentine Hayser to be my Executors whom I likewise constitute, make and ordain my only and sole Executors of this my Last Will and Testament of all and singular lands (…?…) and tenements to them and their heirs and assigns forever and I do hereby utterly disallow, revoke and disannul all and every other former testaments, will, legacies and Executors by me in any way before this time, named willed and bequeathed.  Ratifying these to be my Last Will and Testament.   Item:   It is my will that my wife shall live in the house along with my son Andreas Hayser but if they cannot agree then Andreas must build another house for is mother.


John Hayser (seal)   Signed (and) sealed in the presence of us:


     Lodwig Morning, Richard Jacob, Leonard Vanfasser.   

               Philadelphia 8th March 1748.



Then personally appeared Lodwig Morning and Leon Vanfasser two of the witnesses of the foregoing Will and on their solemn affirmation according to law did declare and affirm they saw and heard John Hayser the Testator herein named sign, seal, publish and declare the same Will for and as his Last Will and Testament and that at the doing thereto, he was of sound mind, memory and understanding to the best of their knowledge, and that Richard Jacob, the other witness thereto did also inscribe his name as a witness in the presence of and at the request of the Testator.


Be it remembered that on the 8th day of January 1748, this Last Will and Testament of John Hayser, Deceased, was proved in due form of law and probate and (…?…) testament were granted to Valentin Hayser, Dorothy Hayser being absent. Exec.  In the said decedents estate and to bring an inventory there of into the Reg. Gen. Office at Philadelphia at on before the 8th day of April next and render a true account when thereunto lawfully required.


Given under Seal of the said office by Wm Plumstead, Reg. Gen.



General Comments to Johannes Hayser’s  Will:


The most striking issue is that Johannes made Valentin Co-Executor with Dorothea, bequeathed one shilling to him, and Andreas received the estate.  On the surface, it appears that Johannes slighted Valentin.  However, when Johannes wrote his Will (January 1748), Valentin had acquired the original (?) family farm and home the previous year. At the time, he was a life of independent means.


It is worth noting that the Will shows Johannes’ surname to be Hayser, and the body of the document refers to his wife and two sons as Hayser.   In Dorothea’s Will, her surname appears as Heiser and she is identified as the widow of Johannes Heiser, which is the spelling of the family surname adopted by Valentin’s eldest son, John.



Anthony Hallman’s Will

Anthony Hallman died July 16, 1759 and left his Will dated January 25, 1759 (Will Book 1, page 310, Philadelphia and also found in Montgomery County Archives, RW 11281, Probated August 3, 1759).  Anthony disinherits his son, John, and leaves his estate to his children: Dorothea Heiser, Christina Seffebber, Catherine Kressman, Anna Marie Ketchy, son Henry, and the children of daughter Mary Salome Perkymer. Rev. Muhlenberg buried Antonius at the Lower Skippack Mennonite Cemetery.



A painting (date unknown) of the homestead owned by Antonius Heilman in Skippack Township, Pennsylvania. 


The three-story house and barn are standing today and are currently under restoration (2005). The property is located at the intersection of Evansburg and Kratz Roads, and about two miles from the land owned by Johannes and Dorothea Heizer. 






In 2001, Faith Hutchins, a Hallman historian, located Antonius Heilman’s gravestone, which had been replaced many years ago by his descendents. Embedded into the back is his wife’s original shale gravestone, which reads:    

Hier Ruhet Maria Salome Heilman


Ren 1673  ENT

            SCHLAFEB 1745



Other Burials at Lower Skippack Mennonite Cemetery

Germantown is the location of the first Mennonite Meetinghouse in America; the second is in Skippack (now referrer to as Lower Skippack Church).  In 1717, Mathias Van Bebber, a buyer and seller of lands, set aside 100 acres for the settlers with the intent that they use it for the schooling of their children and burying of the dead. This property was to be shared by all settlers for these purposes, not solely for the use of a Mennonite Church and cemetery, where people of various faiths are buried.


Gravestones of the 18th century were often of slate or soft marble and simply did not withstand the passing of time. Many those that do exist are unreadable or display only the initials and/or the death date of the departed.  In many instances, a headstone was refused as a means to show the highest respect to God. This possibility is reflected as Parson Muhlenberg stated (in German), “in saying farewell he requested me to bury him, but not to make mention of his person as was nothing but a corrupt and miserable creature.”


The following was compiled by Wilmer Reinford of Skippack in 1961:


Row 7

Anthony Hallman, 1671-1759 and Maria Salome Heilman, 1673-1745.

NB: There are at least thirty other Hallmans buried in the old cemetery.  In 2005, Michael Dickey carefully studied the cemetery directory and concluded that Johannes, Dorothea and Valentin Heizer are buried in close proximity to the graves of Anthony and Maria Hallman, being in the northern corner of the site, and unmarked. 


Row 12

“C.H., October 26, 1793 


Row 16

“A.H., 1821”, “I.H., 1816’.  These two burials are next to each other.


Row 17

Andrew Hyser died February 14, 1810. 81 years old.


Sarah Hiser died April 21, 1822. 77 years, 9 months, 27 days


Hannah (Tyson) Hyser, wife of Andrew Hyser died April 24, 1817.  22 years, 9 months, 11 days


Jacob Hiser died July 28, 1822. 48 years, 17 days

Susanna (Smith), wife of Jacob Hiser died January 11, 1854


Row 21

Catherine, wife of John Heyser, died November 15, 1802 – 25 years, 7 months, 3 days


Susanna, wife of John Heyser, died January 6, 1805 – 36 years, 6 months, 12 days.


John Heyser died January 30, 1845, 73 years, 6 months, 12 days.




4.  Valentin  -   1722?  - 1753


The book Immigrants in Pennsylvania by Daniel Rupp and published by The Genealogical Publishing Company - Baltimore, records that Valentin and other passengers came to Philadelphia on September 19, 1738 aboard the British ship The Thistle - John Wilson, Commander.  The journey was by way of Portsmouth, England and Rotterdam, Holland. 


Valentin’s surname name was entered in the landing records as Valentin L. His or Heis. He did not affix his signature to the ship's register but marked his entry with an “X”, as did about a third of the eighty or so other immigrants.  There is no data to confirm the middle initial “L” and, if true, the name it represents.


The first thought is that Valentin was no more literate than he was fluent in English when he arrived in America.  An equally valid conclusion may be found in other documents noting that Valentin and many immigrants of the time had their name followed with the notation "Quaker".  Quakers of the 18th Century were averse to taking oaths and signing a register of the English Crown was close enough. Literate or not, the ubiquitous “X” provided civil authorities with the legal mark they required and gave the signer the required spiritual relief.


Valentin was at least sixteen years old when he came to America as British law required formal records of immigrants of this age and older.  Some 20th Century Heizer families relate a tradition that Valentin stowed away on the ship by hiding in a barrel and not making his presence known until they were well out to sea.  If Valentin was indeed a stowaway, the authorities may have required a landing record regardless of his age. 


Many family historians believe that Johannes and his first wife and mother (name unknown) of Valentine married in Germany, probably somewhere near Worms about 1720/21. Valentin was born about 1722. Shortly thereafter, the mother dies and, for reasons not known, Johannes leaves his infant son with relatives or guardians and relocates to Skippack Township, Pennsylvania. It would be reasonable to assume that Johannes stayed in contact with those who cared for Valentin in Germany.


Valentin’s guardians in Germany apparently saw that he received a reasonable education and apprenticed as a cabinetmaker.  It is not known if Johannes asked that Valentin join him in America or if Valentin decided to make an exciting move to the colonies to meet the father he never knew. Regardless of the circumstances that caused him to leave Germany, Valentin made his way to Portsmouth, England, boarded the British ship Thistle and arrived in Philadelphia on September 19, 1738 by way of Rotterdam. He lived at his father’s Skippack farm, practiced his trade as a cabinetmaker, joined his family in worship and received religious instruction from Pastor Muhlenberg.


It is then recorded that Valentin applied for and received British citizenship in his new country.  Philadelphia Archives, Volume 2, page 316, Second Series, lists persons being "Quakers", who were conscientiously scruple to take an oath, being foreigners and having complied with the terms required by the Act of Parliament.  On September 24, 1746, at the Supreme Court in Philadelphia recorded:


            Valentin Heyser, a cabinetmaker, a foreigner, and a Quaker became a citizen.


 Sometime about 1745-1746, Valentin meets a young lady who would become his wife.  Sadly, her name has been lost but she and her family were probably living in or near Skippack. In the summer of 1746, the couple learns that they will become parents in the spring of the coming year.  It seems that the pregnancy was difficult and she died soon after their son, John, was born on March 17, 1747. The records are silent as to where she was buried, although one could reasonably assume interment was at the Mennonite Cemetery in Skippack.


Valentin then married Anna Howe at the old Trappe Church on May 4, 1747 and she became step-mother to seven week old John Source: Pastor Muhlenberg's Journal, Volume 7, page 480. Three weeks later, Johannes and Dorothea conveyed a large house and 160 acres of farmland to Valentin. Clearly a handsome present for the newly weds.  Valentin was about twenty-five years old at the time.



A circa 1930 photograph of the house conveyed to Valentin Heizer by his father in 1747. It was situated on 160 acres of land that fronted on Perkiomen Creek Road, and now located on the west side of  Route 113 (Bridge Road), across the Landis Road intersection, and adjacent to 797 Bridge Road. The house, subs-equently owned by several other owners,  fell into disrepair and was demolished in 2003.  The verandas, dormer and additions on the left and right of the main structure were added in later years. Source: Skippack Historical Society.


Photo of house taken in the 1930's



There were two children of Valentin’s marriage to Anna Howe:   Samuel born October 25, 1749 and baptized by Pastor Muhlenberg on March 23, 1750.   Maria was born on December 26, 1752 and baptized on October 14, 1753.  Pastor Muhlenberg and his wife, Anna Maria, Nani Haurin, stood as Maria’s sponsors ( A Heizer researcher has unconfirmed information that indicated Valentin’s first wife was named  Maria, the same name given to  Valentin’s only daughter when he was married to Anna Howe).


Sometime after Maria’s birth Valentin rented a nearby tavern and inn.  Pastor Muhlenberg noted in his journal that the establishment was well known to the Skippack community. Most certainly Valentin left farming and cabinetmaking to focus on the success of his enterprise, the camaraderie of friends, and a life of personal and economic rewards.


18th Century inns, taverns and coffeehouses in America were as varied as modern hotels, clubs and restaurants.  These establishments were the principle settings for community news, gossip, debates and confrontation, a place to deliver and receive mail, to hold court, and to convene district and town meetings.  The proprietor would often strike an agreement with a stagecoach owner for reciprocal services that usually proved to be a mutually lucrative.  The more successful taverns and inns had private meeting rooms for confidential business and personal liaisons. Seedier establishments were known as grog or slop shops that reflected the quality of owner’s character, fare and patrons. 


Coffeehouses and taverns were required to mark themselves with a large sign hanging outside of the premises.  Most taverns had simple names, usually nouns, with a corresponding illustration for those who could not read.  Philadelphia and the immediate area had as many as sixty taverns and coffeehouses with names such as Blue Anchor, Bunch of Grapes, Tun Tavern, Conestoga Wagon, Rising Sun, Half Moon, and each had it own clientele. The Free Masons convened at the staid old Indian King on Market Street.  The London Coffee House, at the southwest corner of Front and Market Streets, was the favourite of leading merchants and sea captains, and the new City Tavern, on the west side of Second Street, between Walnut and Chestnut Streets, would become the gathering place for members of government.    


Valentin was familiar with the nearby community of Trappe, where there were three taverns operating there prior to the Revolutionary War. The oldest and most well known tavern was started in 1717 by John Jacob Shrack and was called “The Trap”. This tavern was advertised in 1760 as being operated by the son of John Jacob Shrack. It is possible that Valentin rented “The Trap” in the intervening years but this no more than clear   speculation.


There are two more promising possibilities in Skippack that show some evidence for Valentin’s tavern:


Dietrich Welker – Innkeeper:           In 1756 Dietrich Welker owned a licensed hotel that was located at the northeast corner near the present intersection of Skippack Pike/Route 73 and Church Road.  One of the two original buildings still stands at that corner.  In 1745 it was a 49-acre tract of land that William Johnson received from his father, Peter, after the latter’s death.


            Upper Hotel - This site is across the street from the Welker Inn.   In 1747 the property began as a 49-acre tract of land that Peter Johnson left to his daughter, Mary, who was married to Phillip Markley.  James Heckler opined that Phillip Markley built a house on this site and on May 23, 1748 sold the property to Henry Zink of Chester County, mentioning a “messauge (sic), tenement and plantation”.  The property changed hands again and then purchased by John Keiter on May 8, 1753.  John Keiter owned the property for twenty years and sold it on December 15, 1773 to John Reed, a Skippack Innkeeper (Valentin died on August 7, 1753) . On May 13, 1774, John Reed and his wife Dorothy confirmed (transferred title to) the property to Gabriel Kline of Lower Salford, who kept a licensed hotel there.


            Source:  James Y. Heckler – The History of Skippack – 1896.


Initial research indicates the Upper Hotel may be the most probable location of Valentin’s inn. The site is along the north side of Skippack Pike, about 200-feet west to the Church Road and it is situated long to the road.  The original house façade is on the east side of this building.


In 1743, John Keiter’s father-in-law, Gerhard Indenhofen, had a licensed inn at the eastern end of Skippack village, in the house at the southwest corner of Skippack Pike/Route 73 and the Old Evansburg Road. It is not known how long the inn operated after Gerhard died in 1746.


A further piece of information giving more weight to Valentin’s inn being in Skippack rather than Trappe are purchase records found by Michael Dickey showing Valentin’s purchased a “hog’s head” (70 gallons) of hard cider from Jacob Clemens, a farmer near Lederach,  in June 1753.  Lederach is a community just north of Skippack and relatively close to the two Skippack inns. Clemen’s ledger shows that Valentin paid ₤1, 11 shillings for the cider. 


In August 1753, Pastor Muhlenberg Journal Volume I, page 369, records the events leading to Valentin’s death  (Translated from German):



In the same month of August a young man, whom I instructed and confirmed several years ago and who was a member of the congregations in New Providence, died.  He had not received instruction during his tender youth (nor did he make the best use of the instruction he received later on). Instead of taking advantage of the precious season of grace which was granted to him, he sought after worldly wealth and a comfortable life.  He left his proper calling, gave up his farm, and rented a well known tavern.  Although he was well provided there with food for his body, his soul was placed in jeopardy.  Many young people are not very receptive to advice.  They are more concerned about visible, temporal goods than they are about invisible eternal riches.  They do not consider how slippery and seductive the world and its sham wealth are, or how easily these take possession of the poor soul and entice it to the broad path which leads to damnation.  He was modest and respectable in his conduct, but he was not at all equal to the many temptations which confronted him in the life he chose for himself, despite the fact that he occasionally heard the Word of God and did not willfully despise the Holy Sacraments. Indeed, there is more to true Christianity than merely saying’ “Lord, Lord”, and continuing in the old groove. To be a Christian costs a good deal; yet, it is not difficult to be a Christian in the right atmosphere.   Job said that God scared him with dreams and terrified him through visions.  Something like this happened to the above mentioned young man.  About two weeks before his end, he had a most terrifying dream.  A messenger of death came to him (in the dream) and summoned him to appear at once for eternal judgment. He was so frightened by this that his whole body was quaking when he woke up (he began to pray to God in fear and trembling), and he called his wife to pray with him.  About ten days later, he went to a public auction several miles from his home for buying household good for his inn.  On such occasions, alas, it often happens here that willful sinners of every religious party and nationality, both young and old, indulge too freely in strong drinks and by their revelries betray from what spirit they are sprung.  At this time too, after the auction was ended, a number of wicked English and German men decided to have a horse race on the public street and thus, by their wantonness, to abuse those poor horses.   Together with other spectators, the above- mentioned young man stood along the street, where he thought he would be safe. But when the racers approached, goading their frenzied steeds, an Englishman’s horse got out of the rider’s control and headed for the spectators. The young man was trampled under foot and his head was so severely battered that he remained speechless for three days and nights and was completely out of his mind, and finally died, widowing his wife and orphaning his children.  The body of the deceased was examined by the authorities and they declared that the death was accidental.  The mother of the deceased asked me what the state of her son’s soul would be in eternity.  We know from God’s word, I said, that two paths lead to eternity,

a broad way and a narrow way.  Many wander down the broad way, but only a few on the narrow way.  We also know that itis impossible to please God without faith and that no one who is not sanctified will see the Lord.  The mother suggested that, as a result of the dream, he might possibly have repented and turned to God.  The merciful Lord, she said, does not desire the death of a sinner, but what is best for the children of men; through this accident God, in His wisdom, may possibly delivered her son from a greater danger and further temptations, etc. I replied: This is a possible supposition. It flows from her motherly love, and that her motive must be reckoned as good. But let no one sin in reliance upon grace.


We must strive earnestly to enter the strait gate, not forgetting what today may bring forth. The body of the deceased was buried in the Mennonite Cemetery (Skippack) because he lived nearby.  Since it was an extraordinary death, which became known far and wide, a large crowd of people, made up of every nationality and religious party, assembled.  Among other things, they were curious to hear what the preacher might say under the circumstances.  In so far as the Lord granted me grace in my weakness, I preached about repentance to God and faith in the Lord Jesus, in German and English, on the basis of Genesis 4:9,10, “And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not; am I my brother’s keeper?  And he said, What hast thou done?   The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.”  I also used Psalm 1, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, etc.”  I trust God was not left without witnesses in the case of those who did not willfully resist His word.


Rev.  Muhlenberg describes Valentin as a ". young man whom I instructed in his tender youth “   and infers that he was not as strong a Christian as the Pastor would have liked.  The Pastor's use of "young man" and “tender youth" reinforces earlier assumptions of Valentine’s age when he arrived in America in 1738.  If Valentin were indeed born about 1722, he would have been approximately 31 years old when he died. 


The fact that Rev. Muhlenberg’s Journal tells us that Valentin “had not received (religious) instruction during his tender youth” could indicate that Valentin may not have been in a nuclear family during his early years in Germany. This may have prompted him to seek his parents when he was of an age to care for himself and after finishing his apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker. 


The name of the tavern Valentin rented and managed has not been discovered, but the large number of people Rev. Muhlenberg recorded at the funeral gives testament to its popularity.  More importantly, Pastor. Muhlenberg’s comment that Valentin was ‘modest and respectable’ might concede that a person need not be a good Christian to be a good person.


As John Keiter was an investor, it is probable that he rented the Upper Hotel after his May 8, 1753 purchase of the property.  It is possible that John had Valentin open his inn here and that is why Valentin was at a public sale outside of Skippack to purchase goods for his inn.


Valentin’s lack of intense religious instruction, at a time when German Lutheranism flourished, hints of youthful rebellion or neglect by his home country family or guardian.  The type of personality such circumstances can create gives no cause for surprise if Valentin was independent minded, resourceful and indeed stowed away on a ship bound for Philadelphia in 1738.  


There is an interesting contrast between Pastor Muhlenberg’s descriptions of Johannes and Valentin. Johannes is the consummate suffering Christian who denigrates himself with guilt and unworthiness, and longs for a better life in the hereafter.  Valentin, who was left in Germany as an infant, may have had to care for himself and live by his wits until he was old enough to join his family in America,  and moved on to enjoy life and all of its material assets.


Valentin died intestate leaving Andreas as the eldest male survivor of the family. On August 7, 1753, he was buried near, perhaps next, to his father at the Mennonite Meeting House Cemetery.  His widow, Anna, was left with two small sons, aged six and three, and a two-month-old daughter.   Skippack records show Valentin’s heirs were:


                        Anna                Widow Relict               Age      26

                        John                 Bachelor                       Age        6

                        Samuel             Bachelor                       Age        4

                        Mary                Spintress                      Age        1


On December 20, 1753, Pastor Muhlenberg recorded the marriage of Anna Howe Heiser to William Burke, a widower with two small sons, Edward and William.  The combined families continued to live in Valentin’s home for the next twenty-one years.  It is also possible that William continued to operate the inn started by Valentin until 1774 when the combined family left Skippack.


Coincidental with the time, relations between the German Protestants and the court of King George of England were tense. Pastor Muhlenberg and several Philadelphia community leaders found it necessary to write a special message to assure the Crown that the German colonists were loyal subjects.  To put events into an 18th Century perspective, hostilities between the British and French were sharp and a race for the control of the source of the Ohio River was keenly underway. The situation became aggravated when Virginians began to secure grants for the vacant lands along the Ohio River.   


The French were determined to erect a fort on the site of the present city of Pittsburgh.  Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia promptly dispatched a young surveyor named George Washington to formally warn the French that they were trespassing on British soil. Washington left with plans and instructions to establish Fort Duquesne at the forks of the Ohio River. The French effortlessly repelled him.  Later, Washington returned with a small force of Virginia militia to drive out the French, but was out numbered, out gunned, and compelled to surrender to the superior force.


The hostilities between England and France from 1757 to 1757 were a series of unbroken disasters for the British cause in North America. By 1758, the tide of battle began to turn and the crisis in British North America brought William Pitt to power in England.  Exercising uncommon statesmanship, Pitt began to plan a series of campaigns designed to strike the vulnerable spots of the French Empire in every part of the world.  He prudently left fighting in Europe to England’s brilliant ally, Frederick the Great of Prussia.


Under the circumstances, it is not surprising that William Burke and Anna decided to leave Skippack taking their adult children to relocate in Augusta County, Virginia.  Philadelphia County Deed Book 5, page 219, dated April 2, 1774 records that William Burke, Ann and her children, John, Samuel and Mary, by Deed of Release, conveyed their Skippack home and 160 acres to Yellis Kolb. 



Dorothea died in Skippack on December 20, 1770.  Her will, written in German and dated December 20, 1750, was probated on February 19, 1771. It is recorded in the Philadelphia Will Book #7, page 88. 



Last Will and Testament

 Dorothea Heiser


This is to certify to whom it may concern that I, Dorothea Heiser of Perkiomen and Skippack Township, in the County of Philadelphia, a widow of John Heiser, deceased, and sickly and weak in body but, thanks be to God, of good understanding and memory do make this my Last Will and Testament in manner following (viz):   First I recommend my soul in the hands of the Almighty by God my Creator and my body to the earth to be decently buried at the discretion of my Executor.   And as for my worldly effects and affairs, I dispose and order the same as followeth:    It is my will that all my just debts and funeral expenses be fully and duly paid by my Executor.   Item:  It is my total will and I give to my son, Andrew Heiser and to his heirs forever all the whole third part which was left to me by my beloved husband John Heiser in his Last Will and Testament, which my son Andrew was to give to me for which case I have lived with him in peace.  Therefore that nobody whosoever it may be shall ever make any demand on him for the same.   Item: It is my will and I give further to my son Andrew Heiser and his heirs forever all my household goods (viz) what in the kitchen and house is used as pewter, copper, iron, earthen ware or wooden ware as also my black walnut cloth press and bedstead to his use and profit only without giving and body and amount thereof.  Then it is my will and I do give to my beloved grand daughter Rebecca Rigg to her and to her heirs forever the sum of one hundred pounds.  I say one hundred pounds lawful money of Pennsylvania as soon as she will be one and twenty years old, but if she should happen to die before she will be one and twenty years old and should have no issue then such her heirship shall be equally divided between her youngest brothers and sisters.  Item:  It is my will and I do give to my youngest daughter, Barbara Graff, now wife of William Graff, to her two daughters, Dorothea and Margaret, the sum of fifty pounds moneyof Pennsylvania to be paid within six months after my decease to my daughter Barbara.  But my will is that my daughter shall give security that the said fifty pounds shall be paid to her said children when they come to be of age, but if one of them should happen to die before it come of age, then shall such share be equally divided unto her brothers and sisters.   Item:  It is my will and I do give unto my hereafter named daughters, Christina, now wife of Christian Gmelin (?) and Elizabeth Vollmer and Mary Salome to each of them the sum  of five and twenty pounds money of Pennsylvania to be paid within twelve months after my decease to my aforenamed three daughters.   Item:  It is my will that the interest of the one hundred pounds given to my grand daughter Rebecca Rigg shall begin for her use when she is eighteen years old.   Item:   It is my will and ordain my son Andrew Heiser to be my Executor of this my Last Will and Testament and I revoke all other Wills by me heretofore made and acknowledge this to be my Last Will and Testament.   In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal the twentieth day of December in the year of out Lord one thousand, seven hundred and seventy.


Signed, sealed and declared by the said testatrix as her Last Will and Testament in the presence of us as witnesses-


Dorothea   Heiser        X   (her mark)             (seal)

            Henry  Heylman          X   (his mark)

            Andrew Ziegler


Philadelphia.  February 19th 1771 personally appeared Henry Heylman and Andrew Ziegler the witnesses to the foregoing will and on their solemn affirmation according to law did declare that they saw and heard Dorothea Heiser the testatrix therein named, sign, seal, publish and declare the same will for and as her Last Will and Testament and that at the execution thereof she was of sound memory and understanding to the best of their knowledge and belief.


Comm.  Benjamin Chew, Reg. Gen.



Be it remembered that on the nineteenth day of February, 1771 the Last Will and Testament of Dorothea Heiser, deceased, in due form of law was proved and probated and letter testamentary thereof were granted to Andrew  Heiser, Executor, in the said Will being first and duly sworn will and truly to administer the said deceased’s estate and bring an inventory thereof into the Register General’s Office in Philadelphia on or before the Nineteenth day of March next and render a true and just account of the said administration on or before the nineteenth day of February 1772, or when thereto legally required under the seal of the said office.


NB: Andrew Ziegler, witness to Dorothea’s Will, is believed to be the well respected Mennonite Bishop in Skippack Township.


 It is also worth mentioning at this point that Andreas Heyser (sic) married Sara Zeiber. They were the parents of five daughters and two sons:


Rachael                        Born November 1, 1765

                                    Married John Bernard (or Barned)


            Elizabeth           Born July 8, 1767           Died August 2, 1825

                                    Married John Markley on November 28, 1784


Mary                Born January 24, 1770   Died September 16, 1859

                                    Married Isaac Markley on March 7, 1795


Jacob               Born July 11, 1774       Died?

                                    Married Susanna Smith on March 2, 17??        


            Sarah               Born 1776                    Died (?)           

                                    Married John Drukenmiller


            Susanna            Born June 26, 1779     

Died February 18, 1846

                                    Married Peter Wanner


Samuel             Born October 22, 1782 Died February 6, 1871

                                    Married Sarah Odbegrove on March 7, 1805




This history of the Heizer family does not include details on the life and time of Andreas and his children. Unfortunately, several attempts to trace Andreas have been unsuccessful. It does appear, however, that Andreas, Sarah and most if not all of their children lived their full lives in Skippack.


At the threshold of the 21st Century, the Heizer descendants of Johannes and Valentin are well established across North America.  The 1990 Census indicated there were over five hundred Heizer households in the United States, plus about a dozen across Canada.





Lower Skippack Mennonite Cemetery near Collegeville, Pennsylvania. The graves of Johannes, Dorothea, and Valentin were never marked or the stones have eroded away.


 Andreas and his wife Sara are also buried here. Records refer to him as “Old Andreas Heyser” and note he was interred in Plot #69.  Photo courtesy of Faith Hutchins - 2001.




Lower Skippack Cemetery.  Michael Dickey researched church records and associated files. He determined that the north corner of the cemetery has the highest concentration of 1700s graves. He determined that Johannes, Dorothea and Valentin are buried in what would be viewed as an open area.  The (*) location is also near the marked burial sites for several Hallman family members including Anthony, Maria, and Mary Hallman (gravesites 32, 36, 37 and 38).  The west corner of the cemetery is the site of the original Mennonite Meetinghouse. The present meetinghouse is across the Evansburg Road [at bottom}.










The American Revolutionary War and the Heizer Farmstead

At the time of the American Revolution, Andreas Heizer owned the original farmstead of his father, Johannes, located at the north corner of Evansbugh and Township Line Roads.  There is some evidence that a Court of Enquiry may have been held at this site during the Revolutionary War.


As the British converged on Philadelphia, General Anthony Wayne's 1,500 troops attempted to harass the enemy. Assuming that the American presence was undetected, Wayne camped close to the British lines. What became famous as the "Paoli Massacre" ensued. On September 20-21, in a skillful night attack led by Major General Sir Charles Grey, the British troops removed the flints from their rifles, quietly entered the American encampment, and quickly bayoneted patriot soldiers. With 300 casualties, Wayne was inevitably subject to criticism. An official inquiry by five ranking officers held that Wayne was not guilty of misconduct but that he had erred in tactics. Enraged, the tempestuous Wayne demanded a full court-martial. On November 1, a board of 13 ranking officers declared that Wayne had acted with honor. Yet Paoli remained a stigma on his record for the rest of his career.


Archives also cite:

October 4, 1777: the Battle of Germantown. General Anthony Wayne wrote a letter to his wife in which he gave the following comment about the battle: "Upon the whole it was a Glorious day — Our men are in the Spirits — and I am confident we shall give them a total defeat the next Action; which is at no great distance." The battle actually was a loss for the Americans, who were actually on the verge of victory. The army retreated to the west, camping at White Marsh, Gulph Mills and eventually Valley Forge on December 19th. Wayne sent numerous appeals during the encampment to the Pennsylvania authorities, without results. It wasn't until April that Wayne received a favourable reply.


Thomas J. McGuire wrote the following in his book, “The Battle of Paoli “ , published in 2000, regarding troops in the Skippack area following the defeat in Germantown:


The smoke from the battle of Germantown had barely dissipated when preparations began for the inquiry into [General} Wayne’s conduct at Paoli.  The Army rested at Pennibacker’s Mill until October 9, 1777 when they moved down the Skippack Road and established camp along Skippack Creek in Towamencin and Skippack Townships.”


The writings of George Washington, from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799, edited by John C. Fitzpatrick (1931-1944) Volume 9, cites George Washington’s General Orders sent from Head Quarters in Towamencin on October 11, 1777:


The Court of Enquiry of which Lord Stirling is President, now sitting at the President’s orders, is to inquire into the charge against Brigadier General Wayne – viz ‘ That he had timely notice of the enemy’s intention to attack troops under his command on the night of the 20th ult. and notwithstanding that intelligence, he neglected making a disposition until it was too late either to annoy the enemy, or make a retreat with the utmost danger and confusion. The President will give notice of the time when the court can   enter on the enquiry; when the parties and witnesses are to attend.


Apparently Lord Stirling’s quarters were at a house whose owner’s name was “Houfer”.  This information and name is in the Court of Enquiry Document, List of Evidences, which was dated, “At a Court of Enquiry held at the House of Houfer in Camp the 13th of October 1777 [Wayne Papers, Volume 4, Historical Society of Pennsylvania].


McGuire surmises the following in his note on the “House of Houfer”:


The Camp Towamencin (and Skippack) region was largely inhabited by people of Dutch, Swiss and German extraction in 1777. At first glance, the script word ‘Houfer’ appears as ‘Houser’, the “f” resembling a long “s”.  Close examination of the handwriting, however, reveals it as an “f”; the name may be a variation of the Dutch-German name “Huve” or “Hoover”.  Spelled with an “s”, the name would be “Houser”, a variation of “Heiser”.  Investigation of the Skippack area residents in the period reveals a “Hiser” family farm near Skippack Creek, west of Skippack Road. Definite identification of where this court was held remains elusive.


In addition to this, there was a prior encampment in the Trappe area, in mid-1777, that extended eastward about two miles just east of the village of Evansburg, which is where General Washington made his headquarters in a farmhouse of the Casselberry family. This farm was the neighbour of the original Heizer farmstead at Evansburg Road and Township Line Road.  General Washington had a staff of some fifteen offices including other Generals and Brigadiers. These officers were certainly hosted near the headquarters. The Heizer farm is about five hundred feet due north of the Casselberry house. The Heizer family most likely hosted an officer(s), which could have included Lord Stirling. The Heizer family was certainly visited by soldiers for the use of their well for drinking water, and for any available grain, livestock, food items, and any clothing or blankets. The Army of some 11,000 troops were hungry and a majority were barefoot and without warm clothes. Soldiers foraged the area, visiting farms repeatedly, during their activity in the Skippack area, which was primarily from mid-September to mid-October 1777, and possibly through the winter at Valley Forge.



Valentin’s sons, John and Samuel served in the Revolutionary Army.




5.    SAMUEL   1749 - 1812


As social and political unrest continued to escalate in Pennsylvania, William Burke and his new family took their possessions and headed south to Virginia. William, Anna and their adult children settled down and farmed in Augusta County. There are no records of the children’s but it is not be difficult to perceive that their days to adulthood would have revolved around chores, work, attending church and receiving at least a rudimentary education based on the bible. 


Samuel Heizer's name first appears in Augusta County civil records on August 11, 1774 and followed by his marriage to Mary Elizabeth Chapman on September 11, 1774.   Mary Elizabeth was the daughter of John and Mary Chapman. She was born in Augusta County on January 22, 1750.  John Chapman, possibly with his son-in-law, Samuel, is said to have been with George Washington at the Battle of Great Meadows.  The Chapman family attended the Tinkling Springs Presbyterian Church in Beverly Manor, Virginia. Mary’s religion may be the reason that Presbyterianism is so common in our branch of the family. 


In the decades that followed, Samuel purchased several parcels of land in Augusta and Albemarle Counties.  The Augusta Country Records of Deeds, Book 22, page 460, and Book 30, page 267, notes that Samuel Heizer bought from John and Mary Chapman, his in-laws, 220 acres of land for 130 Pounds Sterling. The land was located on Christian Creek, about five miles south of the present town of Staunton, and part of the old Beverly Manor Tract.


Samuel and Elizabeth had nine children, all born at Christian Creek. Only their first-born and our direct ancestor, John, would remain in Virginia. All the other children eventually moved away to make their lives elsewhere.  According to notes dated 1907 by David N. Heizer (2d10a), Samuel’s and Mary’s children were-


2a        John Heizer was born on May 11, 1775. On April 22, 1800, he married Agnes Wright. The couple lived in Augusta Country. Early census records list John as a distiller and a farmer.  John and Agnes had eight sons and one daughter.  John died in on October 28, 1821 and Agnes died on October 4, 1846


2b        William Heizer was born on February 24, 1777 and is believed to have died in 1828. He married Martha Farley on November 22, 1804.


2c        Nathaniel Heizer was born on March 1, 1779. On November 22, 1804, he married Farley Hatton, daughter of Marchen and Eleanor Hatton.   In 1807, Nathaniel and Farley moved to Kentucky with his Uncle John Heizer. They encountered hostile Indians while crossing the Ohio River and were separated until they met in Green County.


2d        Samuel Heizer (Jr.) was born on February 28, 1781. On November 28, 1797 he married Mary Ware (born February 25, 1787). She was the daughter of Revolutionary War Lieutenant Frederick Ware of York, Pennsylvania. Samuel and his family appear in the 1810 census for Augusta County.  Samuel served in the War of 1812 for which he received two Bounty Warrants: N°12,495 for 40 acres and N°19,728 for 120 acres. In the fall of 1816 the family moved to Ross Country, Ohio with their six children.  Samuel died on January 31, 1832 and is buried in the Concord Cemetery, Concord Township.  Sometime after Samuel’s death, his widow moved to Des Moines, Iowa to live with her son, Edward.  She died on September 9, 1852.


2e        Rebecca / Rebekah Heizer was born on March 13, 1783. Scant records show that she married Peter Smith in Augusta County.  By 1819, they lived in Fayette County, Indiana.  Four sons and three daughters were born of this union.


2f         Mary Heizer was born on January 1, 1785.  She married John Van Deman on May 20, 1817.  They lived in Ross County, Ohio until 1819 when the family moved to Fayette County, Indiana. Her mother’s will refers to her as “Polly.”


2g        Joshua Heizer was born on December 23, 1787.  He served in the War of 1812.  Between October 1813 and November 1814 he served in the

Virginia Militia under a Captain Sowers and received Bounty Land Warrant N°16,024 for 80 acres of land.  Joshua later moved to Warren Country, Ohio where he married Jemima Cory (born August 8, 1799).  It is believed the couple moved to Fayette County, Indiana about the same time, as did Joshua’s sisters Rebekah and Mary.  Joshua died in Connersville, Indiana on January 30, 1855.  Jemima died on May 2, 1883.


2h        Elizabeth Heizer was born on February 19, 1789. On November 19, 1812, she married John Ware, likely Samuel’s (2d) brother-in-law, in Albemarle County. The couple moved to Ohio and raised nine children. John Ware died on February 29, 1868.  Elizabeth died on August 15, 1877 at Kossuth, Iowa.


2i         Edward Heizer was born February 19, 1791. Edward served as a private in Captain Jesse Dold’s Troop Calvary, Virginia Militia 3rd Regiment at Camp Mitchell from September 1, 1814 to November 19, 1814.  For these services, Edward qualified for two land warrants:  N° 64,128 for 120 acres and N°103,035 for 40 acres of land in what now Story County, Iowa.  On November 4, 1819, Edward married Elizabeth Buchanan in Fayette County, Indiana.  Elizabeth was born October 17, 1800, and was a first cousin of American President James Buchanan. Edward and Elizabeth were parents to five boys and six girls. Edward purchased numerous parcels of land in and around Warren Township where he served as Township Assessor between 1828 and 1829. On June 13, 1828 a cavalry company was organized with brother-in-law David Buchanan as captain and Edward as lieutenant.


Edward died in Marion County on February 19, 1863.   Elizabeth died on July 19, 1895, a few months before her 95th birthday.


NB:  The Town of Buchanan is located between Lexington and Roanoke, Virginia.


The Augusta County Deeds and Records Book 30, Page 114, records that in 1798 Samuel Heizer purchased from Edward Burke approximately £1200 of personal property, which appeared to be all of the assets of his stepbrother. The inventory included household goods, farming equipment and implements. It would seem that Edward Burke was raising funds to leave farming or move to some other part of the country.


Samuel’s record of acquisitions does not end here. In March 1794, William and Letty Johnson deeded to Samuel Heizer 130 acres of land on the Rockfish River,

Albemarle County, Virginia for £60 Sterling; Samuel is described as being from Augusta County.  On May 27, 1805, Samuel sold the same property to James Napier for £150.


Samuel and his older brother John served as foot soldiers in the American Revolutionary War.  Some family historians tell us that Samuel served under George Washington at Valley Forge.  Records of the U.S. War Department do not verify this and simply state that ‘Samuel Hyzer served in Captain Buchanan’s Company”. Based on Samuel and John’s war service records, many of their descendents are members of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution.


While Samuel’s records are sparse, John’s records are more specific and document his several efforts to gain a military pension for his service as a soldier during the American Colonial period.  He first enlisted as a private for three months on September 1777 under Captain Thomas Smith and Colonel Dickason of Virginia.   When his enlistment term was completed, he enlisted again under Captain Thomas Smith and Colonel William Boyer, also of Virginia.  His third enlistment was in June 1781 for a period of twenty days under Captain Jachariah Jackson and Colonel William Boyer.  Source: MBH Department of the Interior, R4848 Bureau of Pensions, Washington, D.C.   There is a family tradition that he was shot in the thigh. 


On May 20, 1835, when he was 87 years old, John filed a formal declaration through Justice of the Peace James Allen in Brown County, Ohio. In this declaration, John states that he-


“..went out as a volunteer for three months under the following named officers, viz, Colonel Dickason, as near as he can recollect, Captain Thomas Smith and Lieutenant Charles Baskins and (sic) that they went down to Point Pleasant and their boys killed old Cornstalk and three other Indians at the guard house and started home again.


The application was rejected “.because of lack of proof of the military service which he alleged.  A more cynical view would suggest that John’s pension was rejected because of his presence at the death of Cornstalk (circa 1720-1777),  a prominent Shawnee Chief, Cornstalk’s son, Ilinipsico,  Red Hawk,  and a fourth  Shawnee whose name has been lost.   


chiefcornstalk.gif (53896 bytes)

Cornstalk and his warriors were loyal to the Americans following the Treaty of Camp Charlotte and vigorously fought English settlers on the Ohio-Virginia frontier during the French-Indian War, Pontiac’s War and Lord Dunmore’s War.  However, aggravations started between Cornstalk and the Americans. In 1774 Irish born Brigadier General Andrew Lewis (then of Staunton, Virginia) directed a successful engagement against Cornstalk. This led to Cornstalk’s capture and confinement at the fort located at the mouth of the Kanasha River.






Cornstalk’s death was ordered by Colonel Lewis and carried out by Captain (later colonel) Dickason and his men.  Cornstalk’s death brought down the enmity of the Shawnee on all settlers for many years that followed.


Samuel Heizer died on September 21, 1815 in Augusta County.  Family records tell us that he died of injuries after being kicked by a horse. Mary Elizabeth died on October 4, 1846.




6.   JOHN    1775 - 1821


Samuel’s eldest son, John (2a), was born May 11, 1775 and lived his entire life in Rockbridge, VA.  After his father died in 1815, he took care of his mother and continued to operate the family farm. Practically nothing survives about John and community life. Civil records do reveal that he occasionally worked as a blacksmith and in the late 1700s expanded the family farm to include a distillery.  On April 22, 1800, he married Agnes Wright, born December 4, 1777, the daughter of Joseph and Ruth Wright.  John died on October 28, 1821 and Agnes died on October 4, 1846.  The nine children of this marriage were:


2a1      Joseph was born on February 6, 1801. On September 2, 1828 he married Nancy Hanna (born January 24, 1802) in Augusta County.  In 1836 they moved to Monroe County, Missouri and joined the Mount Prairie Presbyterian Church. Joseph served as an Elder of his church for many years. According to a church bulletin, Nancy lived for more than 70 years, although she was in delicate health for most of her life.  Joseph and Nancy had three children: Margaret, Nancy and John (birth dates were not recorded). Joseph died on May 3, 1887 and is buried at South Fork Cemetery near Sante Fe, Missouri. Nancy died on October 26, 1872. 


2a2      Samuel was born on October 14, 1802 in Augusta County, VA. In 1830, he married Elizabeth Straine (born September 20, 1803) and moved to Indianapolis, Indiana.  They had four children: David F., William J., Robert Chapman and Maria.   Elizabeth died on February 17, 1863.  Sometime later, Samuel married Mary A. Roll, a widow, and from this union were born Casander and Eliza (Beth) Heizer.  Samuel died in 1875.


2a3      Hezekiah was born on July 6, 1804 in Augusta County. He married Eliza Cartwell Larew, daughter of Colonel Joseph Larew on November 1, 1827.   The couple moved to the South River Township,   Rockbridge County settled into farming and raised nine children.    Eliza died on July 26, 1862.   Hezekiah later married Lucy J. Goolsby on April 12, 1867.


2a4      William was born on May 9, 1806. He married Susan Brownlee on March 5, 1832. Their eight children were Mary, William, Hugh, Edward, Sarah, John Brownlee, Margaret and Elizabeth.  William died in Augusta County on April 10, 1880.


2a5      James was born on February 10, 1808. On June 19, 1834, he married Sarah Jane Brown (born April 16, 1812 and died January 4, 1860).  Four children were born of this union, being William Edward, John Howard, James Francis and Sarah. James farmed in Augusta County and although more than 50 year old, he served in the Confederate Army with his sons, John Howard and James Francis.  James died on June 10, 1888 and is buried at the Cross family plot, Greenhill Cemetery, near Churchville, Virginia.


2a6      Robert was born on January 30, 1810 and died in Tulare, California in 1898. Scant information tells us that his wife’s surname was Caruthers and one daughter was born of this union.


2a7      John Chapman was born on October 15, 1813 and died on July 28, 1889. He married Mary Kerr, the daughter of John and Hanna (Polly) Kerr. John and Polly moved to California about the same time as brother Robert (2a6).  The children of this marriage were Elizabeth Agnes, Rebecca, John Joseph, Robert Leondius, James W., and Madison Harvey.


2a8      Ruth Evans was born on October 13, 1815. She married James C. Brownlee (brother of Susan Brownlee. See 2a4) on October 21, 1835.  They lived in Rockbridge County and their children were John, Lee, Joseph, James, Robert, Sallie and Susan. Ruth died in 1882.


2a9      Edward was born on December 19, 1819.  He was twice married. Edward and his first wife, whose name is not recorded, were parents to John W.  The family moved to Hinton, West Virginia after the Civil War. They may have named the Putnam County village of Heizer (population 54 in 1960) and nearby Heizer Creek.  Edward’s second marriage was to Rebecca Almode.

No children are known of this marriage. Edward died on March 2, 1902 in Decatur, IL.






7.   HEZEKIAH 1804 –1879   


According to information recorded by his youngest son, Robert Samuel, Hezekiah farmed in Augusta and Rockbridge Counties.  On October 29, 1827, he entered into a marriage contract with Elizabeth Cartwright Larew, the daughter of Colonel Joseph Larew, a prominent Augusta County landowner. Hezekiah and Eliza (Elizabeth) married on November 1, 1827.


A Larew descendant, Daniel Davis of Staunton, Virginia, tells us that his ancestors were Huguenots who had fled France by way of Switzerland. They landed in New York about 1780 and moved to Philadelphia a few years later. Their tradition is that the original spelling of the family name was Leroux.


Hezekiah and Eliza worshipped at the Mount Carmel Presbyterian Church in Steels Tavern, Virginia and raised their children in a strict Blue Stocking Presbyterian home.  Hezekiah became an Elder at this church in the mid-1850s.  Sometime later, he moved his family a few miles south to the village of Fairfield, joined the Fairfield Presbyterian Church, and proudly saw his eldest son become a Ruling Elder of the congregation.


Their children were-


2a3 a   John Joseph was born on March 29, 1829. John was well known and active in his church and community and became an Elder at the Fairfield Presbyterian Church in Fairfield, VA when he was in his 20s.  On February 19, 1861, John married Lydia Davis (born 1836), the daughter of Jesse and Alice Davis. The Davis family had moved to Rockbridge County from Philadelphia several years earlier. Lydia died childless in February 1880. John Joseph then married Anna Sydney Shewey of Rockbridge, VA on April 5, 1881.  There were two sons of this marriage: John Franklin (born March 12, 1882) and Glenwood Griffen (born September 11, 1884).  John Joseph died in Stephenville, Texas on March 7, 1884.


2a3b    Elizabeth Agnes was born on June 30, 1830 and baptized at Bethel Presbyterian Church on April 1, 1831. She married Samuel H. McClung in Rockbridge County on September 14, 1854. They settled in Fairfield where they farmed and raised five children. The only two names that survive in family records are of their sons, William and Harry.


2a3c     William James was born on October 23, 1832 and baptized at Bethel Presbyterian Church on April 5, 1833. Rev. Daniel Brown married William and Sidenia Elizabeth Shanks on October 22, 1858. Sidenia was the daughter of John and Julia Shanks of Rockbridge. The Rockbridge marriage files list him as a carpenter and the 1860 census records him as a farmer and married with three children. William enlisted in the 52nd Virginia Infantry, Company K at Shenandoah Mountain on April 9, 1862.  Tradition tells us that after the Civil War he and an uncle moved their families to Des Moines County, Ohio William died in an explosion at a lumber or planning mill on July 18, 1878. There is no extant information on his descendants.


2a3d    Clinton Hall was born on October 5, 1834 and died on January 11, 1835


2a3e     Robert Scott was born on March 26, 1836. He was baptized at Bethel Presbyterian Church in August 1836 and died on May 22, 1837.


2a3f     Benjamin Franklin was born on January 14, 1838. The 1860 census lists him as a farmhand. He married Harriet Boone on September 13, 1860. Family history tells us that Benjamin served in the Confederacy and died on November 9, 1862 from injuries that became septic.  Their only child, Laura, was born in 1863. Harriet Boone Heizer died on June 25, 1868.  After the death her parents, Laura lived with John Joseph and Lydia Heizer.









Samuel W. and Elizabeth Agnes (nee Heizer) McClung and their children.   Elizabeth was the 2nd child of Hezekiah and Eliza Heizer.  The family lived in Fairfield, Rockbridge County, Virginia. Photo circa 1875.





2a3g     Nancy Jane Hall was born on May 27, 1840 and died on March 6, 1912. She married George Washington Snapp on May 6, 1858. W.W. Trimble officiated.  George was the son of Lawrence and Frances Piper Snapp. Nancy Jane was the grandmother of Effie Clemmer, who was so helpful in sharing family information.  Nancy Jane died in Erath County, TX on March 6, 1922.


2a3h     Margaret Ann was born on September 7, 1843. She married Silas Barber on February 18, 1865.  W.R. Stringer officiated. Margaret Ann died in Erath County, TX on January 20, 1913.



2a3i      Edward Newton was born on January 1, 1846. The 1860 census lists him as a farmer in Fairfield, VA. He enlisted in the 2nd Rockbridge Light Artillery - Coham’s Station on March 10, 1865 and was sent to Point Lookout, MD. He was then assigned to Captain Donald’s Company - Virginia Light Artillery.  Edward was admitted to hospital on June 18, 1865 and died of typhoid pneumonia ten days later. He is buried at the UVL Cemetery.


2a3j     Mary Rebecca was born on March 24, 1848 and died on June 28, 1856.


2a3k    Robert Samuel was born on November 11, 1851. He first married Rebecca Valentine of Greenville, Virginia, the daughter of Elizabeth (nee Greiner) and Richmond C. Valentine, a goldsmith. The couple had five children: Richmond Hezekiah (b.1877), Luther Marvin (b.1880), Charles Robert (b.1882), Mamie Jane and her unnamed twin brother (b.1888) who was stillborn.  Rebecca died in 1904 after a lengthy illness.  Robert Samuel married twice again but there were no children of the later marriages. Robert died in Sweetwater, TX on August 21, 1936.


NB:  Robert Samuel told his daughter that he was the youngest of twelve children.  It is assumed that a sibling preceded him did not come to term or died at birth.


Hezekiah and Eliza appear to have been reasonably well known in the social fabric of Augusta and Rockbridge communities. The Augusta County Courthouse, Index to Deeds, Part 2 E-M, show that Eliza and Hezekiah granted property to Eliza’s brother, Robert Larew, in May 1838.  In another instance, Hezekiah purchased 120 acres of farmland that bordered his farm and a nearby creek.




Photograph of Benjamin Franklin Heizer. Married Harriet Boone. Benjamin was inducted by the Confederacy and died

 in 1862 from injuries and infection.





Family Record maintained by Hezekiah Heizer




The first shots of the American Civil War were fired in 1861 and a terrible tide began to turn against the family. Eliza died on July 26, 1862 in the midst of the events that severed a nation.  Because of the location of the farm and its proximity to Lexington, one army or the other camped, fought, and marched in a seemingly unending procession and each took a toll with every passing. In later years Nancy Jane (nee Heizer - 2a3g) Snapp, would quietly recall those terrible times to her family.


While the Confederacy did not lack in spirit, it fell far short of supplies and the infrastructure needed to successfully resist the Union Army. Hezekiah, because of his age, and John Joseph, rejected for health reasons, were not combatants but joined the cause for the South. They farmed and hauled goods and equipment in the Shenandoah. According to Robert Samuel’s biography, three brothers fought for the Confederacy and served under Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Presumably, this refers to William James who later moved to Ohio, and Benjamin Franklin and Edward Newton who were casualties of the war.


At the twilight of the civil war, Northern troops peeled the Shenandoah Valley like an  orange, leaving  waste and destruction in their wake;  pillars of  glowing smoke during the day followed the spread of fire at night. The Union orders were simple: Destroy anything that would benefit the Confederacy whether it was a crop, corncrib, gristmill, bridge, a railroad or an animal.    The order was faithfully obeyed and some 2,000 barns, more than 70 mills and countless other properties were reduced to ash and dust.


In late 1864, U.S. General Sheridan and his men wintered in Winchester, north of Fort Royal. In February 1865, he began his march toward Staunton with two divisions of mounted veterans; 9400 well armed officers and men.  At Staunton, Sheridan learned that Confederate General Jubal Early and a pitiful remnant of his army were entrenched on a knoll near Waynesboro, close to the western entrance of Rockfish Gap.


Sheridan sent Custer’s seasoned division to obliterate this last Confederate force. When the bugles sounded, the Union Army drove straight into the defender’s lines, charging in galloping columns of four. They broke the line and the carnage was blinding.  Early and some of his men barely escaped and hid in friendly houses with a firm resolve to regroup and fight again.  When the skies cleared, Sheridan counted 1600 prisoners, 11 heavy guns, 200 loaded wagons, and nearly a score of battle flags.  The bloody war was ending, and the Confederate promissory notes and currency issued to Hezekiah and John Joseph for their services made poor tender.



Photograph believed to of Lucy Goolsby taken about the time of her marriage to Hezekiah Heizer on March 7, 1867.




Hezekiah’s widowhood and emotional emptiness in the aftermath of the Civil War must have been enormous.  He called on Lucy Jane Goolsby and asked, in spite of the difference in their ages, if she would be his wife.  Rev. Harvey Gilmor married Hezekiah and Lucy on March 12, 1867.  Lucy and the Goolsby family were members of the Timber Ridge “Old Stone” Presbyterian Church. The marriage license, issued

March 7, 1867, has her name entered as Lucy Jane McClung Goolsby, with the McClung name struck out. The marriage certificate shows Hezekiah to be 60 years old.


In the waning years of the 19th Century, the Shenandoah Virginians were tired. Their land was torn, homes and farms were destroyed; death had visited all but a very few families.  Reconstruction was painful and the life these Virginians knew was gone forever. There was a widespread urge to leave and start anew. 



Fairfield Presbyterian Church:

The Presbyterians at Fairfield, Virginia worshiped at Timber Ridge, four miles away.  In 1818 they decided to erect a brick building at Fairfield and the following year a call was issued to a pastor by “the United Congregation of Timber Ridge and Fairfield.”  It was listed as being “a congregation, under the same Eldership, having two places of worship.” When Fairfield became the stronger of the two and had a majority of Elders, a sentiment for division developed. After an unsuccessful attempt to form the South River church, a group the congregation petitioned the Presbytery to organize a separate church at Timber Ridge.  The request was granted and a new congregation was reported to Presbytery on November 20, 1840, as “The Church of Timber Ridge”.  Fairfield continued as the Timber Ridge and Fairfield Church until May 1850, when the name was changed to Fairfield Presbyterian.


The present structure at Fairfield was built about 1852 and remodeled in 1900. The education building adjacent to the church was erected in 1956. 



19th Century Fairfield Presbyterian Church Ministers:                                                      

James Paine                  1840-1856                   James H. Smith             1879-1881

John Miller                   1857-1858                   Alfred Jones                 1882-1889

Wm. Pinkerton             1858-1869                   Henry White                 1892

J. Harvey Gilmore         1870-1874                   John H. Davis               1893-1895

David C. Irwin              1874-1877                   J. Layton Mauze           1899-1902

J. Harvey Gilmore         1877-1889


Source:  The Lexington Presbytery Heritage.  Churches in Rockbridge County (pp 351-353).





Robert Samuel Heizer:   Mamie Heizer wrote and undated narrative about her father, a portion f which follows:


He was converted when a lad of eleven or twelve years old, and joined the Presbyterian Church (sometimes called the “Old School” or “Blue Stocking” Presbyterians).  Even at that young age he did not accept some of their teaching, but since his father was a Ruling Elder in the church and the other Elders said, “With his father teaching him, he will come to believe these doctrines,” and they took him into the church.  But the older he grew, the more he couldn’t accept them, so he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church South in 1876 and was a member of that church for 60 years, but was a church member for 73 years. He was licensed to Exhort when he joined the Methodist Church and was an Exhorter until he became a preacher.  While living in Virginia he was a Sunday School Superintendent for fifteen years, and at one time had charge of two Sunday Schools. One met in the morning, and then he walked three miles to superintend the other Sunday School in the afternoon.  He settled in Stephenville where he found employment in a large blacksmith shop.


There is a problem with the statement that Robert was a Sunday School Superintendent in Virginia for fifteen years.  If one considers that he was 31 years old when he moved to Texas, it indicates that he was a superintendent from at least the time he was sixteen years old, and served both the Presbyterian and the Methodist Episcopal Churches.  While not impossible, it seems rather improbable.  It would be more plausible that Robert Samuel was a Sunday School Superintendent for five years before relocating to Texas.





8.   JOHN  JOSEPH    1829 - 1884


A faded photograph of John Joseph (2a3a) shows a handsome man with a high forehead, possibly dark blonde hair, and eyes more blue or hazel in color than dark.  Not at all dissimilar to the physical appearance of my father, his brother, and their father, as well as a number of the Heizer family who attended the 1982 Family Reunion in Dublin, Texas.  However, the question persists:  Who was John Joseph Heizer? What was his temperament and personality?






Photographs of Lydia (nee Davis) and John Joseph Heizer. Possibly taken        about the time of their marriage on February 19, 1861




In the early 1960’s, I contacted a Charles Robert Heizer who was listed in the Houston, Texas telephone directory.  I introduced myself, told him I was researching my family history and wondered if we might have a common ancestor.  He quickly asked if I was related to John Franklin Heizer.  I replied that he was my grandfather.  He laughed, said we were cousins and suggested we should meet.  At the time, Charles was retired and occasionally worked at the Houston City Court House.  A date and time was set for coffee and conversation.


Charles Heizer (2a3k2) was Robert Samuel’s youngest son. He was born in Virginia in 1882, the same year as my Grandfather John Franklin (2a3a1). Charles said that his father, Robert Samuel and Uncle John moved their families to Stephenville, Texas in the early 1880s.  He recalled that John Joseph died from injuries received while working on the railroad but did not recall specifics of the tragedy. 


Charles said that he and my grandfather, John Franklin, were as close as brothers when they were boys in Stephenville.  Sometime later, his father forbade him to associate with his cousins “because of some troubles”. When I asked Charles to elaborate, he said that all of the events happened long ago and he did not remember any details.   Charles did say that in spite of his father’s direction, he and John Franklin maintained regular contact until the latter’s death in 1948.


My visit with Charles was friendly, brief, not very informative and singular. It also left me wondering what caused the rift between Robert Samuel and my family.  Later attempts to visit with Charles or discuss family history were politely declined.


In time, bits of information did fall into place and it became increasing obvious that Robert Samuel was the source of much misinformation about John Joseph. This is typically evidenced in an undated biographical sketch by Robert Samuel’s daughter, Mamie, with the only known reference to his eldest brother:


John Joseph Heizer                 B. March 29, 1829

            Stephenville, Texas                 D. March 7, 1883 

            He first married Lydia Davis who died in Virginia. 

No Children.  


In keeping with late 19th century family dialogue, numerous photographs were made, kept and exchanged between the several relatives who came to Texas and those who remained in Virginia.  Many of these photos were displayed during the 1982 Baber and Heizer Family Reunion.  However, only one print of the likeness of John Joseph is known to exist today. 


Tracking John Joseph has not been easy or very unsuccessful. Virginia civil records of the period are sparse. There is no known family bible that belonged to John Joseph or his father, Hezekiah.  Similarly, church, civil, cemetery and public records are brief, incomplete, silent or lost.  Any information, letters, photos or keepsakes relative to John Joseph that may have been in the possession of the Heizer, Davis or Shewey families have not survived to this date.


John Joseph was the first child born to Hezekiah and Eliza Cartwell (nee Larew) Heizer, and was named for his two grandfathers- John Heizer and Joseph Larew.  He likely had had a disproportionate responsibility as the eldest of eleven children living in an age of high infant mortality, strong patriarchy, and strict 19th Century Presbyterianism. The fact that he alone followed his father as a Church Ruling Elder and did not marry until his thirties may be significant.


Hezekiah’s religion was stern, and the Sabbath was a singularly for church and bible.  Robert Samuel recalled that if any of the children failed to focus their undivided attention to the pulpit during church services, their father had them memorize long bible passages, psalms or hymns.  Hezekiah’s ‘Blue Stocking’ Presbyterianism was so rigid that he even forbade a casual Sunday stroll through the farm.  No casual walking, no idle conversation, no singing, you dare not whistle, and there was no reading of any book other then the bible.  Sunday was a day for God and rest.


Hezekiah and his family first worshiped at the Mount Carmel Presbyterian Church at Steels Tavern and later at the Fairfield Presbyterian Church in Fairfield, Virginia.  The first Fairfield church building was erected in 1818 and was replaced about 1852.  John Joseph became an Elder at this church during William Pinkerman’s ministry (1858-1869).


John Joseph appears in the 1860 census for Augusta County, Virginia (page 150, 925/934). He is listed as a farmer and distiller, unmarried, and aged 30.  The reader may now contemplate the congruity of a strict Presbyterian Elder who is a distiller.


On February 19, 1861, the Reverend S. P. Huff wed John Joseph and Lydia T. Davis at the Davis home in Rockbridge. The marriage certificate lists John as a farmer and Lydia, born in Pennsylvania, the daughter of Jessie and Alice (nee Thomas) Davis.


In 1981 I corresponded with Daniel R. Davis of Staunton, Virginia who provided the following information (sic):

The Davis family moved to Timber Ridge from Philadelphia. While Jesse and Alice clung to their Quaker heritage, Lydia and her sister Rachael would regularly receive large steamer trunks of clothes from their Thomas relatives in Montgomery and Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  The girls never failed to cause a stir by dressing in the latest fashions.  Although the girls did not follow the somber dress of their parents, their brother, Morris Burgess Davis, maintained his Quaker background and was called “The Philadelphia Quaker” by the Timber Ridge Community.





The Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church as it appears today.  The Davis family worshipped here in the  mid-1860s














Davis family history records that Lydia became pregnant three times but none came to full term. Fairfield Church records have a brief notation that Lydia died in February 1880. Her burial site has not been located but may be at the nearby Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church Cemetery. 


At the break of the American Civil War a number of Heizer men fought for the Confederacy, including three of John’s brothers.  John Joseph was conscripted in Brownsburg on February 8, 1864 but listed as exempt ‘for heart disease ’.   He was described as being 5’-11” tall, dark complexion, blue eyes and dark hair. His occupation was entered as ‘farmer’.  We do not know where John Joseph was during the Civil War as family references are silent.  Lacking any other evidence, John Joseph may have joined his father as a teamster and continued to work the farm.


The 1870 Census for South River Township, Rockbridge County lists:


#41-41 Heizer,             John J.              44        M         W        Farmer Laborer

                                    Lydia                40        F          W        Keeping House

                                    Laura                 7        F          W        At Home

            Walker,            John                 17        M         B          Laborer on farm

            Gibbs,              Ann                  23        F          B          Cook

                                    Frank               5         M         B          At Home

                                    Warren            2          M         B          At Home

Charles            10/12    M         B          At Home

#41-42 Heizer              Hezekiah          66        M         W        Farmer

                                    Lucy J.             40        F          W        Keeping House

                                    Robert S.         18        M         W        At Home


N.B:  Subject to further research, John Walker, Ann Gibbs and their parents may have been slaves in pre-Civil War days.  Robert S. Heizer’s ‘At Home’ census entry in interesting as most males of this age would be working or engaged in learning a trade.


Laura’s name posed a problem until it was found that she became John and Lydia’s ward after the death of her parents, Benjamin Franklin (d. July 26, 1862) and Harriet Boone Heizer (d.  June 25, 1868). 



Photograph believed to be of Laura Heizer, daughter of Benjamin and Harriet Heizer.  Laura was orphaned when she was five years old, and was cared for by John Joseph and Lydia Heizer.  Laura died in May 1879.




Effie Clemmer, the Texas Heizer family historian, gave me a photograph of an attractive and fashionably dressed young girl that had been given to her by Grandmother, Nancy Jane Hall (nee Heizer) Snapp.  The photo came from a collection of old Heizer family photographs.  The young girl has not been identified with any known family member, but was in the same packet that contained the photos of John Joseph and Lydia Heizer.


In 1987, Pastor Betty Sutherland of the Fairfield Presbyterian Church searched old records and found two enigmatic entries.  The first appears in  the Session Minutes Book for April 1, 1873 stating:  J. J. Heizer dismissed to Texas.”   According to Rev.  Sutherland, John’s departure to Texas was recorded again in 1876.


Where in Texas did John Joseph go when he was ‘dismissed’’ in 1873 and again in 1876?   Based on events that would unfurl in 1882, it appears that he traveled to an area somewhat bounded within the communities of Fort Worth, Alexander and Stephenville, Texas.   According to Rockbridge and Augusta County 1870-1880 records, a number of Virginians of the time were moving to exactly that part of Texas and John Joseph may have been investigating the area for relocation.


May 1879 Rockbridge Records note that John J. Heizer reported the death of his niece, Laura Heizer (age 16).  According to letters in the possession of Effie Clemmer, Rockbridge County experienced an unusually cold weather in May 1879 and that Laura fell ill with pneumonia.   These events may be linked to a fire that took Laura’s life. 


Nancy Jane (Heizer) Snapp would recall that a Heizer child died in a fire but her grand daughter, Effie Clemmer, who was quite young at the time, did not remember a name, time, or place of this tragedy.  Effie did say that her grandmother had a bisque doll that ‘belonged to the young Heizer girl who died in the fire’.


Laura’s death was a certainly profound shock to John and Lydia. It is clear that Laura had been a focus for their love and attention, and surely filled an emotional vacuum that would have otherwise existed for the childless couple.  Letters between Davis family members tell us that Lydia lapsed into a state of inconsolable melancholy.


A Fairfield Church Session entry reports: “Mrs. Lydia Heizer died February 1880.”   This appears to be more an information notation than a specific reference of a member of the congregation. All other known records are silent except the 1880 census:


Line 186-194   Heizer, John J.            50        Widower


A detailed search by Pastor Sutherland failed to reveal details, dates of Lydia and Laura’s deaths, or the location(s) of their burials.  However, the Pastor did discover that John J. Heizer was diligent in church affairs and regularly attended Session Meetings in his capacity of a Ruling Elder.


In 1880 John Shewey, a wagon maker, was the deacon of the Fairfield Presbyterian Church.  John Shewey’s wife was Nancy Jane, the daughter of Archibald Griffin. The Shewey children were Griffin, John, James A., Emmet, Anna Sydney (born March 25, 1862), and Alice Lee (b.1863?). 


Rockbridge records show that 52-year-old John Joseph Heizer and 19 year old Anna Sydney Shewey eloped to Lexington, Virginia and were married on April 5, 1881 by James H. Smith.   From all accounts, Annie Shewey was an unusually attractive young lady, with a fair complexion, blue eyes and honey blonde hair.  A contemporary view of her marriage to John seems lodged somewhere between convenience, attraction and escape.


It is impossible to imagine how Annie’s family and John rationalized the age differences.  We have no idea how John viewed himself as a childless widower of a fourteen year marriage, one brother, William James, with whom most if not all contact was lost; brothers William Newton and Benjamin Franklin casualties of the Civil War; a dear niece who lived with he and his wife dead at 16 years of age; and his youngest brother, Robert Samuel, the father of three children. 


John hastened his plans to return to Texas with Annie and this must have caught the imagination of other family members.  They quickly shared John’s dream of a new life in the rapidly expanding Texas frontier. 


Arrangements were made to move to Alexander, Texas, an industrious and rapidly growing village of approximately 250. The Texas Central Railroad reached Alexander in 1881, and soon established links to Dublin and Stanford via the communities of Gorman, Cisco and Lueden.  Then John learned that the larger community of Stephenville would be selected as the seat for Erath County and plans quickly changed to settle in there.  Hezekiah’s widow, Lucy, decided not to leave the Shenandoah and lived the rest of her days in Rockbridge. She died on July 12, 1893 and was buried next to Hezekiah in the Fairfield Community Cemetery.


On March 12, 1882, Annie presented John Joseph with a son, John Franklin (2a3a1), named after his father and deceased uncle, Benjamin Franklin. 


Surely, John was a happy man.






The following lists Heizer men of Rockbridge and Augusta Counties who are known to have served in the Confederacy during the American Civil War:



Benjamin Franklin Heizer

Age 22.  6th District, Rockbridge County 1860 census.    Was called to muster but there is no further information. Family records and oral history tells us that Benjamin Franklin Heizer died November 9, 1862 from infection of wounds. May have enlisted with his brother, Edward Newton Heizer.   Source: Effie Clemmer, family historian, Abilene, Texas and Robert Drive. Civil War Historian. Brownsville, Virginia.


Edward Newton Heizer

Rank - Private.   6th District, Rockbridge County. Farmer, Fairfield.  Age 18.   Enlisted 2nd Rockbridge Artillery at Cobham’s Station on 10 March 1864.   Later assigned to Captain Donald’s Company - Virginia Light Artillery. Captured at Hatcher’s Run (south of Petersburg) on 2 April 1865.  Sent to Point Lookout, Maryland. Released 13 June 1865.  Admitted to hospital 18 June 1865. Died of typhoid pneumonia in Charlottesville 28 June 1865.  Described as 5-71/2” tall, light complexion, light hair, dark blue eyes. Buried at UVL Cemetery. Source:  Robert Driver   Civil War Historian. Brownsville, Virginia.


George H. Heizer

Captain Gaber’s  Company. Virginia Light Artillery (Staunton). Unconfirmed. See John Howard Heizer.


James Heizer

Although more than 50 years of age, he served in the Confederacy with his sons, James Francis and John Howard Heizer.  Believed to have enlisted with the 2nd Rockbridge Artillery.  Source: Effie Clemmer, family historian -Abilene, Texas


James Francis Heizer  

Private.  Born Churchville, Augusta County November 23, 1841. Laborer, Northern District, Augusta County.  1880 census. Enlisted Churchville Cavalry Co. 1, 14th Virginia Cavalry at Churchville March 4, 1861.  Enlisted McClanahans Battery, date unknown.  WIA White Post September 3, 1864. Paroled Staunton May 15, 1865, 5’-11”, dark complexion, auburn hair, and brown eyes. 1870 Census: Farmer Churchville, Augusta County.  Moved to Buena Vista, Rockbridge Country 1875.  Commissioner of Revenue, Buena Vista 8 years. Member, Blue Ridge Camp, CV, Buena Vista. Moved to Buckhannon County.  Died Buena Vista November 14, 1930.  Buried Green Hill Cemetery, Buena Vista.  Source:  A Guide To Virginia Military Organizations 1861-1865, Revised 2nd Edition by Lee A. Wallace


James J. Heizer

Sergeant, Company E, 5th Virginia Infantry, Stonewall Brigade. Died in 1886.  James J. was the son of William A. and Susan (Brownlee) Heizer.

            Source:  Brownlee family. Buena Vista, Virginia


John B. Heizer

            F&S.  14th Virginia Calvary. Unconfirmed.


John Howard Heizer

14th Virginia Cavalry. .The Staunton Artillery.  McClanahan’s Battery.  Other sources indicate Captain Garber’s Virginia Light Artillery.    Unconfirmed.


William A. Heizer

52nd Virginia Infantry - Stonewall Brigade. Died before 1881 (?) - see James J. Heizer.  William A. was the son of William and Susan (Brownlee) Heizer and brother of James J. (see above).  Source:  Brownlee Family.  Buena Vista, Virginia


William James Heizer

Born Augusta County.  Farmer.  Age 27. Cleek’s Mill PO- Bath County (?). 1860 census - Married with three children.  Enlisted Company K, 52nd Virginia Infantry at Shenandoah Mt. on 9 April 1862.  He was wounded (leg) in action at Port Republic 9 June 1862.  His unit surrendered to the Union Army after a bitter engagement on April 5, 1865 in Clarksburg, Virginia.  He turned himself over to Federal authorities at Clarksburg 8 April 1865.  He took the non-combatant oath at Wheeling, West Virginia and was released.  He died in 1903. Source: Robert Driver. Civil War Historian. Brownsville, Virginia.







The John Joseph and Robert Samuel Heizer families, their in-laws and relatives moved to Stephenville, Texas in the fall of 1882.  No person who had a first hand experience or twice told tales of the events that occurred before, during and after that journey is alive today.  We take what we know from third or fourth hand information that is largely reduced to hearsay.  The few written records and conflicting oral versions that survive clearly expose the tellers or biographers personal versions and prejudices of the deeds or misdeeds of the various characters.  Many of the recollections are blatantly one-sided or reduced to self-serving fiction, a deficiency typical of many family historians. 


As the original experiences recede into the past, as we move farther and farther away from 1882, we tend to cobble those memories and events with brilliant simplicity and unrequited tunnel vision. The feelings and causes, loves and hates, desires and anxieties are much clearer to us than they were to the individuals who lived through them more than a century ago. 


On March 12, 1882, John Franklin (2a3a1) was born at the family farm in Rockbridge County, Virginia to John Joseph and Annie Sydney Heizer.  This happy event gave new emphasis to start over, away from the family farm, away from Virginia and away to a new life.  John Joseph’s earlier sojourns to Texas in 1873 and 1876 were the seeds to the new frontier. This time he would go to Texas with his youngest sibling, Robert Samuel.  They would represent family and relations in a mutual expectation that Texas did offer a brighter future.



  Pre-Civil War Virginia was gone and only bittersweet memories remained.  Rebuilding a life on the rubble of what had been was overwhelming.  Dozens of land companies were formed in the midst of this. They urged Americans to move west and move they did.  Hundreds of families poured into Texas in the late 1800’s, doubled the population of the state and doubled it again and again, well into the threshold of the 20th Century.


Land promoters and railroads pictured Texas as a place with rich soil, agreeable weather and well-organized communities.  In a pamphlet titled “Home Seekers”, the Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe Railroad described the lush land of Texas as “waiting to be tickled into a laughing harvest.”  Other Texas based railroads painted the state as a paradise of benign weather, when in fact hurricanes scoured its coast, plumes of hot wind baked apples in trees, eggs could be fired on a tin shingle and blue northers would drop the temperature from sultry hot to freezing within an hour. As far as communities were concerned, most were small, disorganized, often corrupt, regularly threatened by desperados, brigands, marauding Indians, cattle rustlers and well-liquored cowboys filling the air with lead.


On September 10, 1882, John and Robert traveled to Wheeling, Virginia and boarded a train to Texas. They took a few possessions and sufficient money to purchase land for their homes and a farm. According to Robert’s daughter and biographer, the journey took them through Indianapolis and St. Louis before crossing the border into Texas.  Robert recalled that the journey was charged with a few anxious moments as the James Brothers had reportedly robbed a train on the same line a few days earlier.  About midway during the trip, a stranger attached himself to them so closely they feared he might rob them. To be on guard, one brother slept while the other kept watch. The incident passed.


Robert’s first sight of Texas mesquite caused him a bit of confusion as he thought they were apple trees.  Longhorn cattle, wide-open spaces and the big Texas sky were new sights for Robert (but not for brother John).


The train terminated at Fort Worth, Texas.  After finding lodging for the night, the brothers went to the top of the courthouse to look over the town and westerly toward their destination. A day or two later, they traveled to the town of Cisco via the Texas Central Railroad. Travelers on this new line were so concerned of crossing the high trestle near the present site of Ranger that a trainman would walk ahead of the engine as it moved at a crawl until it reached the opposite side. At Cisco, they hired a wagon, backtracked to Stephenville, and arrived there on September 17, 1882.


1882 Stephenville had a population of about 2000. Dirt streets surrounded the Courthouse Square, there were a several small stores, a national bank, two relatively decent hotels, a number of boarding houses, three weekly newspapers (The Empire, The Tribune and The Journal), and several saloons were doing a fine business judging from the number of drunks and fights in the streets.  Passing buffalo hunters and frequent Indian raids capped the fabric of the town.  Six churches did their best to offer salvation from the Wild West scene that was watched over by the eye of Sheriff J.C. Gilbreath.   As far as Robert was concerned, Texas did not look at all attractive and felt that he should have stayed in Virginia.   


In early October, J. Frank Wilson sold Robert 2.3 acres of land on the south side of Long Street between Baxter and Ross Streets.  The rear of the lot bordered the Bosque River. 


On December 29, 1882, John purchased 120 acres of farmland from James Beech, the owner of a local flourmill and cotton gin. The farm was located approximately two and a half miles north of the courthouse and was recorded in Volume L, Page 421 - Special Warranty Deed (originally granted to Albert Day). John also purchased a house lot on the south side of Washington Street, bounded by Paddock and Erath Streets, and two blocks away from Robert’s home site  ( Seller:  Borders & Smith –

Parcel of land on Block 113). This area, known as College Hill, and home for John, Annie, young John Franklin and Annie’s sister, Alice Lee.


The brothers built a large two-room box house on Robert’s lot.  Work then began on John’s house, and they sent for their wives, children and other family members.


Charles Baber, son of Silas and Margaret (nee Heizer - 2a3h) Baber, would recall in later years that families boarded the train in Lexington, Virginia on November 7th.  The following twenty-five family members arrived in Stephenville about November 11, 1882:


  • Anna Sydney Shewey  Heizer with her infant son, John Franklin,

and sister  Alice Lee Shewey.  


  • Rebecca Heizer, Robert’s wife, with sons Richmond Hezekiah,

Luther Marvin and Charles Robert.


  • George Washington Snapp and his wife Nancy Jane (nee Heizer )


  • William Green and his wife Frances (daughter of George and Nancy

 Snapp).  William and Frances married just before they left Virginia


·     Mary Alice Snapp, who would later marry George McPherson

of Erath County.


·     William Joseph Snapp


  • James Robert Snapp and his wife Annie Bell


  • Silas and Margaret Ann (nee Heizer 2a3h) Baber and their

       children, Alice and Hezekiah William   


  • Margaret Ann Baber, later to marry Barry Scott of Erath County


  • Charles and Nettie Baber


·        Hezekiah L. Snapp (son of George and Nancy Snapp) with his infant  son, Charles

  • Wilford.  The child’s mother, Rebecca Benson Snapp died September 4, 1882, just days before the families left for Texas.  The tiny child was frail and died in 1886.


They all considered Virginia a much colder state and were totally unprepared for the howling storm that welcomed them to Texas.  Their first night was spent in Robert’s two roomed house huddled around a pot-bellied stove  kept red hot as while a ‘blue norther’ drove the temperature past the freezing mark.  The sun warmed the air at daybreak and the load of firewood that was to have lasted several weeks was nearly exhausted.


The brutal winter of 1882 was followed by a severe drought.  Watering holes and ponds evaporated, the Bosque River became a trickle, crops failed, farm animals died, and most of Stephenville relied on grain from other areas to sustain them. The land and the weather remained unyielding for five long years.  


Robert worked as a blacksmith, carriage maker and part-time preacher. He contacted The Empire to announce that a local blacksmith had hired him. Hezekiah Snapp would soon build a small hardware store and smithery adjacent to his house, and Robert became his partner. 



A late 20th Century reconstruction of a typical pioneer log cabin. This would be typical of the one built by Robert Samuel and John Joseph Heizer in the fall of 1882.

Stephenville Texas Historical Society




John farmed as much as the ruthless weather would allow. He worked as a carpenter and hauled goods into the community from the railroad lines that spurred into nearby Cisco, Alexander and Waco.  A return to Virginia was discussed but most of the family savings had been depleted and their lot was now cast in Texas.


Stephenville days were punctuated with frontier lawlessness and twisted justice. Masked “Night Raiders” regularly brought their version of order to Erath County. Typically, the perpetrator of a questionable deed was tied up, lectured on the error of his ways and then beaten senseless.  As a remedy for more serious infractions, it was not an uncommon daybreak sight to see one or more men hanging from trees.  Moral fruit, indeed.


To complete the Stephenville scene, sundry disagreements were regularly resolved with the pull of a trigger or an arc of a knife. The law or what there was of it, rarely interfered and was more disposed to let dissidents take matters in their own hands.  The rationale was quite simple-- the quicker the riff-raff killed each other; the sooner peace would come to the community. 


Left:   Margaret Ann (nee Heizer) Baber. Daughter of Hezekiah and Eliza Heizer.  Married Silas Baber on February 18, 1865 and came to Texas in 1882. They  purchased a farm NE of Dublin, Texas.  


Right:  George Washington and Nancy Jane Hall (nee Heizer, daughter of Hezekiah and

Eliza) Snapp.  Married on May 6, 1858 and came to Texas in 1882.   George Washington and Nancy Jane  purchased a farm south of Lingleville, Texas.

                Photos circa 1882




An idea of Stephenville life may be sampled from town records:


1854:   John M. Stephen moved a Negro family to the Post Oak Grove, now Stephenville, to open a store and trade with the Indians for honey, hides and buffalo hams. The following year Stephens returned with the first thirty white settlers.


1865:   On Dove Creek, Erath County, Rangers caught up with a band of Indians whose trail they discovered on December 11th.   A Kickapoo woman approached them and explained that they were friendly and simply on their way to Mexico. Major Totten shot her and ordered:  “Shot them all, boys, big, little, old and young, and don’t leave one to tell the tale.” The Kickapoo band defeated the militia and continued on their way to Mexico.


1871:  Stephenville has three saloons, one blacksmith shop, a   gunsmith, four physicians, and a shade tree meat market selling beef at two to three cents a pound.


1872:  Stephenville was under martial law enforced by former Negro slaves empowered as reconstruction state police. They were   promptly dispatched by a group of Stephenville men. In October, unidentified Erath vigilantes lynched several people for unknown reasons. One of the victims, Jim Lathan, survived and reported the incident to civil authorities in Austin.  Stephenville lawyer, Thomas Nugent, gained dubious popularity by successfully defending the vigilantes.


1877:    John Wesley Hardin, the ruthless Texas outlaw, his wife and young daughter visited his parents in the nearby village of Comanche. Hardin’s father, James G. Hardin, was a Methodist preacher in that community. In July, Hardin was arrested in Pensacola, Florida and charged with twenty-seven murders. He was remanded to Comanche to stand trial but there were no witnesses.  Hardin’s boys had killed several of them and ran the others out of the county.


Bonaparte “Bone” Wilson shot and killed Erath County Sheriff Masten when Masten tried to arrest him for stealing horses.


1878:     The Fort Worth Democrat described Erath County:  It is mostly uncultivated and farms are far and few between. We did see a very extensive orchard.  Stephenville is a town of about 2000.  The United Friends of Temperance is an organization of note with a membership of 200. Much good has been done and more whiskey put down by its members than all the churches in town.


1879:   Wheat sowing in Erath County has been suspended because of dry weather in November. The last rain fell the evening of July 29th.


1880:   Friends of the notorious gunman Bob Hollis attempted to rescue him from the Stephen-ville jail. His stocks were broken, his irons cut, and a hole was burned through the jailhouse floor when the attempt was discovered.


J.J. Rushing, an intelligent and rather prepossessing young man “who was wanted all over Texas for horse stealing was captured in Erath County.”


1882:   (October) Sickness is all over Erath County. Chills and fever seems to be the complaint. The quinine trade is brisk.


On November 25, The Empire reported, “Quite a number of white topped wagons passing through Stephenville, loaded with immigrants.”


A flock of 3000 sheep was driven through Stephenville. They were from New Mexico, driven overland and being taken to the hill country.


1883:   (December) The Empire reported that fence cutters had destroyed several miles of barbed wire.


1884:   Fence cutters destroyed five miles of barbed wire belonging to the Erath Cattle Company.


1884:  Women of Stephenville complained that men….”ugly enough and old enough to know better stand on the boardwalks like wooden Indians, forcing women to walk around them in the muddy streets.”


1885:   The Wallace & Company Circus came to Stephenville in October. By the end of the performance, nineteen men had been arrested for fighting.


            Sheriff John Gilbreath (1882-1885) “…discovered evidence that prisoners confined in the jail have a set of saws and files in their possession.”   The prisoners were refused coffee and fed only bread and water until they voted to give up their tools.


            1887:   Vigilantes in nearby Comanche, Texas ordered every Negro to leave the area within ten days.  In 1925 The Tribune recalled the incident and commented: “It may have been a little hard on the Negroes but it was certainly best for the community.”


1891:   Ceremonies were held on December 3rd with the laying of the new courthouse corner stone. Also in Stephenville today, a pit fight between a bear and a wolf drew a crowd of 700.


            The outlaw John Hardin was released from prison after a long sentence. While in prison Hardin read the required law books and passed the bar.


A man was killed six miles south of Stephenville in August after arguing with another for spilling Johnson seed in his pasture.


1922:   The Ku Klux Klan published the following on March 1st:  “Remember, the all seeing eye of the Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is upon you.”


 John Joseph died on March 7, 1884, just three weeks before his fifty-fifth birthday anniversary.  He was buried in the newly opened West Cemetery, now known as the Pioneer Cemetery.  The specific circumstance of his death did not pass to this generation.  One account tells us he died in a train accident




Gravestone of John Joseph Heizer located near the southwest corner of the Stephenville West Cemetery. 



 Gone from our

 home but  not

 from  our  hearts.


Stephenville, Texas




(Texas Central Railroad?) and another says he was kicked in the face while shoeing a horse. Interestingly, both versions state he bled profusely from his nose and suffered from chronic hiccups before he died.


The March 15, 1884 issue of the Stephenville Empire  reported:


                        John Hyzer of Stephenville but formerly

of Virginia died Friday evening March 7


Based on interviews with Charles Heizer and Effie Clemmer, the more likely scenario is that he was fatally injured when he worked for the railroad.


Annie was in great anguish not only from the death of John and the tedious relationship with Robert, but also because she was three months pregnant.


On September 11, 1884, six months after John Joseph died; twenty-two year old Annie gave birth to her second son, Glenwood Griffin (2a3a2). The origin of the name Glenwood is believed to refer to ‘Glenwood Valley’ situated about two miles outside of present day Buena Vista, Virginia, and a place where the Shewey family would spend their leisure time. Griffin was the maiden surname of Annie’s mother (Nancy J. Griffin) and the name of her brother who died when he was eleven years old.






Hezekiah and Alice Lee (nee Shewey) Snapp and their children,  Haskell and Elmer Earl.


Alice Lee accompanied her sister, Anna, to Texas in 1882.




John Joseph’s will conveyed one half of the family farm and other real estate to Annie, and the balance to his issue, John Franklin and Glenwood Griffin.


John Joseph’s farm, savings and possible assistance from the family provided a reasonable life for Annie and her children.  A move back to Virginia may have been  considered when Annie’s sister, Alice Lee, announced to the family that she and Hezekiah Snapp would marry. They became husband and wife on December 18, 1884.


By the spring of 1886, Robert’s blacksmith partnership with Hezekiah Snap was busy and growing.  However, Robert was determined return to Virginia and decided to sell his share of the partnership to Hezekiah.   Hezekiah did not have the funds to buy him out and Robert would not agree to anything other than cash. Robert subsequently entered into a contract to sell his share of the business to another Stephenville blacksmith, Jess Parnell.  After striking an agreement, Parnell could not raise the cash and wanted to nullify the agreement.  Robert enforced the sale and took land as payment, which he was unable to sell.  His return to Virginia was scuttled.


Robert reflected on his situation. He concluded that preaching would offer greater satisfaction, better personal opportunities and a more stable financial situation. Soon he was sermonizing full time at the Moccasin Rock Methodist Church on what was then known as the Green Creek Circuit, which ran between Dublin and Stephenville.


At the turn of the 20th Century, Rebecca fell ill while Robert was assigned to the Methodist Church in Albany, Texas (about seventy miles west of Stephenville).  She soon became a patient at St. Paul’s Sanitarium in Fort Worth and died there on May 19, 1904.  Rebecca’s remains were taken to Merkel, Texas where she and Robert intended to retire.


While he was a pastor in Sweetwater, Texas Robert married Laura Elder (nee Jenkins), the widow of J.B. Elder, a Methodist Minister he had known for a number of years.  Laura died within the year. Robert sold the property and contents of their home and moved in with his daughter, Mamie.  He then married another widow, Emma Scoggins of Fort Worth, Texas on February 1, 1911.  They lived on her farm until she died in October 1932. He again moved in with Mamie and lived with her until his own death on August 20, 1936.


* * * * *



Comments regarding the weather conditions of 1883:


 It was a clear and sunny day on the Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java, and less than a year after John Joseph and Robert Samuel left Virginia for Texas.   Then, on August 27, 1883, Mount Krakatoa, a volcanic island dominating this scene, blew itself to smithereens, belching flame and molten rock, spewing smoke, steam and ash to a height of more than 38 kilometers.  It suffocated and incinerated nearly 1000 people with blasts of high pressure, super-heated gas and steam. Then with a series of huge tidal waves it crushed and drowned more than 35,000 inhabitants.


Tsunamis swept away whole communities and recontoured coastlines, leaving swamps and mud flats where thriving ports and market towns had been. The convulsions ravaged the seabed, sinking reefs and islands deep under the rolling waters and throwing up new shoals and ledges that made mariners charts useless overnight.  The monster waves were more than four meters high when they arrived in Ceylon some 3500 kilometers away.


The sound, meanwhile, was deafening and heard as far as the Indian Ocean island of Rodriguez, 4,750 kilometers away, where police reported hearing distant firing of heavy guns. The blasts were also heard in Saigon, Bangkok and Manila. Rescue ships set out from scores of places convinced that vessels were firing distress signals just over the horizon.


Barometers went haywire in Brussels, Birmingham, Boston and Berlin as the shock waves spread around the globe, converged and bounced back again - seven times!


The pulverized particles of Krakatoa’s 790-meter peak rocketed into the stratosphere and took well over a year to dissipate.  In the interim, spectacular sunsets were seen around the world, bedeviling firefighters who frequently took the red glare in the night sky to be a nearby conflagration.  The airborne ash filtered the sun’s rays and lowered world temperatures in the range of 1.5 Degrees Celsius. The disruption caused global floods, droughts and vicious windstorms that lasted for several more years. 


The brutal Texas winter of 1883, followed by years of severe drought, can be directly linked to Krakatoa that made unwilling victims of our ancestors. 





10.   A Final Word

While this research is far from finished, it has accomplished the original intent to bring light to the events and circumstances when our German ancestors came to Pennsylvania and ultimately spread across North America.  Time, opportunity and perhaps even patience limited this research to our branch of the Heizer family.  The author has also attempted to inject historical and casual information to overcome the tendency to give little more than hard facts of births, marriages, children and death. 


The reader is encouraged to add information, correct errors and expand on the data accumulated here. Please contact-


                                    G. F. Heizer

                                    P.O. Box 1412

                                    Saugeen Shores

                                    Southampton, Ontario     N0H 2L0




January 2006