The Knepper/Meyers Family

On the day after Christmas in 1867, my 2x great grandfather, Alfred Brunson KEPHART, married Mary Brown Meyers, the daughter of Henry M. and Sarah (Knepper) Meyers. There is currently not much information about Henry's family, but from the pedigree chart below, one can see several more generations on the Knepper side.

Pedigree chart. Mary Brown Meyers (1849-1936). Image courtesy of Williams Family Pages.

There has already been a fair amount of research done on the Kneppers and much of it is available online. The following information is based primarily on "The Knepper Family," Antietam Ancestors 2:4 (Fall 1982) transcribed by Cheryl Reed in Apr 2003. Though these records go further back, we will start with the ancestor who migrated to America, Wilhelmus Knepper.
WILHELM KNEPPER was born at Unnersberg, and was christened October 27, 1691, in the Reformed church of Solingen. In 1714, he and five other young men left the Reformed Church and, being immersed in the running waters of the river Wupper, joined the German Baptists. Only the Lutheran, Reformed, and Catholic churches were recognised by the German govemments at that time, so on February 1, 1717, the six men were marched to a prison at Dusseldorf to await trial for espousing adult baptism. After refusing to renounce this "new" doctrine, Wilhelm Knepper and his friends were condemned to hard labour for life. Consequently, they spent nearly four years in prison at Julich, and Wilhelm's health was broken. During this period, Wilhelm, a weaver by trade, is supposed to have composed nearly four hundred hymns.

Left image, Wilhelmus Knepper, "Binde meine Seele wohl," (1720?) from Handbook for Spiritual Hymns (Sauder, 2003). Courtesy of The Knepper Line. Right image, Geistreiches Gesang-Buch (Berlenberg, 1720) contains 100 of the 400 hymns that Wilhelmus Knepper allegedly wrote while imprisoned at Jülich, Nordrhein-Westfalen. Courtesy of Stan Kaslusky (2010).

On 20 Nov 1720, a Dutch theologian was able to secure their release from prison and the group was forced to leave the country. They migrated with thirty other families to a Mennonite settlement in Surhuisterven, Friesland, Netherlands. There Wilhelmus met Veronica Bloom (alt. Bloem, b. abt. 1700), daughter of Ludwig Bloom. They married on 22 Feb 1723 and had five children:
1. Peter (b. abt. 1732).
2. Abraham (b. 10 Mar 1734).
3. Mary (b. abt. 1736).
4. Catharine (b. abt. 1738).
5. Elizabeth (b. abt. 1740).
The Knepper Line mentions another son, Josua, but this seems unlikely.

A group of 59 families led by Alexander Mack left Rotterdam on the Allen and migrated to Philadelphia, PA arriving on 11 Sep 1729 ("U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s," They settled in Germantown but soon moved west. It is possible they settled in Coventry Township, Chester County in 1737. There does exist a land warrant for 150 acres obtained by a "William Neper."

In 1765 a William, Veronica, and Abraham Knepper received three warrants of 100 acres each in Antrim Township, Cumberland County (now Quincy Township, Franklin County). Again whether this "William" is the same person as Wilhelm is not known for certain.

Land Warrant. Abraham Knepper (7 Aug 1765). Image courtesy of PA Archives.

There is also some disagreement among the sources as to the date and place of Wilhelm's death. Most likely it was around 1755. (See "The Knepper Family.") Veronica (Bloom) Knepper died 27 Apr 1769. According to "The Knepper Family," her death was registered at Ephrata Cloister, Lancaster, PA, but it is also thought she may have died in Quincy where she owned 341 acres of land. (See comment below.)

Wilhelmus and Veronica's son, Abraham Knepper, was born 10 Mar 1734 in Germantown, Philadelphia, PA. During the Revolutionary War he served as a private under Capt. Samuel Royers in the 5th Company, 1st Battalion of the Cumberland County militia (PA. Archives, Fifth Series, Volume VI, pp. 88-90). Many of his descendants have joined the D.A.R. and S.A.R. by virtue of his service.

Abraham married Maria Catherina "Catherine" Wertz (b. 26 Aug 1738), the daughter of Jacob and Anna Barbara (Huff) Wertz in 1758 in Franklin County, PA. They had five children born in Antrim Township, Cumberland County:
1. Catherine (b. abt. 1758).
2. David (b. 5 Jun 1759).
3. Abraham Jr. (b. 23 Apr 1766).
4. Joshua (b. 23 Mar 1777).
5. Samuel (b. abt. 1780).
All are referenced in Abraham's Family Bible and also his Will, dated 21 May 1811 on file at the Chambersburg Courthouse, Franklin County, PA.

Abraham owned a fair amount of property and was assessed in 1782 for four hundred forty acres of land. The 1798 Federal Tax lists Abraham Knepper, Sr., as owning "a stone dwelling house thirty-four by twenty-five feet, two storeys (the upper not finished), with ten windows and one hundred thirty-five window lights; also a stone kitchen, fourteen by eleven feet." This house still stands along the west side of the State highway leading from Waynesboro to Mont Alto and sold recently in 2012.

Abraham Knepper homestead in earlier and present times. Images courtesy of Google Images. Cropped and digitally enhanced by Mark D. Williams.

Catherine passed away on 17 March 1823 and Abraham followed a few months later on 8 Dec. 1823. Both are buried at the Mt. Zion Cemetery in Franklin County.

Gravestones. Catharine (1738-1823) and Abraham (1734-1823) Knepper. Images courtesy of Find A

David Knepper was born on 5 Jun 1759. He also served in the Revolutionary War. On 23 Jul 1781 he enlisted as a Private 5th Class in 5th Company, 1st Battalion, Cumberland County militia under Lieutenant John Stitt.

On 20 Dec 1796 he married Esther Foreman (b. 27 Mar 1775), the daughter of Frederick and Thecla (Mentzer) Foreman. He later inherited the mansion farm from his father. David and Esther had ten children:
1. Frederick, (b. 10 Aug 1797).
2. Jonathan (b. 14 Apr 1799).
3. David Jr. (9 Feb 1800).
4. Andrew (b. 12 Mar 1803).
5. Leah (b. 19 Mar 1806).
6. George (b. 13 Feb 1809) succeeded to the mansion farm. In 1830 he established the first general store at what is now Mont Alto, in which he was succeeded by the firm Knepper & Elden. The children of George Knepper fell heir to the mansion farm and were the last of the family to own it. His son, David Knepper, and Melchor Elden were influential in having the Standard Oil Company in 1890 locate a pumping station along the Mont Alto Railroad on the farm. The railroad station at this point was called "Knepper." The pumping station was in operation for upwards of half a century, and, with its huge brass works and its manicured lawn with a pond for boating, was one of the showplaces of this region in its day.
7. Dekel (b. 1 Jan 1811).
8. Esther.
9. Catharine.
10. Sarah (b. 10 Sep 1818).
David died on 18 Nov 1824 and was buried in the Mt. Zion Cemetery in Quincy, Franklin, PA. His wife, Esther passed away on 31 Dec 1826 and was buried beside her husband. Unfortunately Find A does not have any photos of their gravestones.

Their daughter, Sarah Knepper, married a Henry M. Meyers (b. 16 Jun 1815, Harrisburg, PA) on 11 May 1837. This connection, for now, is still speculative. Together they had 14 children:
1. Lorayne, b. 16 Mar 1839, PA.
2. William Henry, b. 27 Feb 1842, PA.
3. Ann C., b. 3 Jan 1844, PA, d. 12 Sep 1861.
4. Sarah, b. 3 Dec 1845, PA.
5. John, b. 9 Mar 1847, PA, d. 5 Apr 1932, Masonic Home, Bettendorf, IA.
6. Mary Brown, b. 3 Jun 1849, Dubuque, IA, d. 28 Aug 1936, Lakefield, Jackson, MN.
7. Millie, b. 1 Jun 1851, Dubuque, IA.
8. Hannah Louise, b. 1 Jun 1853, Dubuque, IA, d. 1 May 1930, Dubuque, Dubuque, IA.
9. Isabella, b. 29 May 1855, Dubuque, IA.
10. Joseph, b. 11 Feb 1857, Dubuque, IA, d. 12 Dec 1939.
11. Amanda, b. 10 Dec 1858, Dubuque, IA.
12. George, b. 22 Nov 1860, Dubuque, IA, d. 11 Jan 1943, Jackson, MN.
13. Robert, b. 27 Feb 1863, Dubuque, IA, d. 17 May 1937, CAN.
14. Jeremiah, b. 26 Dec 1865, Dubuque, IA, d. 29 Dec 1865.
The Meyers had a homestead in the NW corner of Section 22, Concord Township, Dubuque County, IA. One can see the location of Henry's 52 acres (highlighted in yellow) below Naugle KEPHART's 120 acre plot on the 1874 plat map for Concord.

Detail of Concord Township, Dubuque County, Iowa (1874). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Sarah died in 1881 and was buried in the Cottage Hill Cemetery in Dubuque County. The inscription is on the east side of the gravestone and reads as follows: "Sarah, Wife of Henry Meyers, Died May 10, 1881, Aged 62 Years & 8 Mo's." From this one can assume her birthdate was about 10 Sep 1818.

The poem at the bottom of the stone reads:
Farewell my dear Brother, the Lord bids me come,
Farewell my dear Sister I'm now going home;
Bright angels are whispering so sweet in my ear,
Away to my Saviour the spirit shall steer.

Gravestone. Sarah (Knepper) Meyers (1818-1881). Image courtesy of Find A Digitally straightened and enhanced by Mark D. Williams.

By the 1900 US Census, Henry had been living with his daughter, Hannah (#8 above), and her second husband, Michael Sause. Unfortunately the only image we have of Henry is a family portrait of him with Hannah and her six children by her first husband Charles A. Straub. The children were not labeled on the photograph, so their identification is not certain.

Henry M. Meyers and Hannah (Meyers) Straub family (bef. 1901). Possible identification. Front: John Straub, Middle: Sarah, Hannah, Henry, Tina. Back: Henry, Otilia, Charles Jr. Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Henry died 11 Jul 1901 and was buried beside his wife Sarah at Cottage Hill. His inscription is on the south side of the gravestone.

Gravestone. Henry Meyers (1815-1901). Image courtesy of Find A


Larry said...

Ephrata Cloister does not register Veronica as place of her death. I have communicated with the curator there, no Kneppers are buried there.

Mark D. Williams said...

Thanks for that information. I will update the article.

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