|VOL III no.3||THE ELLER FAMILY ASSOCIATION||August 1989|
JAMES WILLIAM HOOK (1884-1957) was the first to publish genealogical information on Eller families in the U.S. While he did genealogy and family history as a hobby, he did them very well despite a busy and productive life filled with civic, family and extensive business demands. He authored and published five books on genealogy and family history:
The contributions of James William Hook to the genealogy and family history of Eller families in the U.S. laid a foundation that makes the task of present-day researchers infinitely easier. His writing style and the format of his books rivals in clarity and interest most genealogical publications. His work has inspired contemporary researchers and sets for all who do family research a very high standard of excellence.
To honor Mr. Hook, and to recognize his unique contributions to Eller family heritage, the Eller Family Association is pleased to award the James William Hook Memorial Award for the first time at the First International Eller Family Conference, July 20-21@, 1989. The award will go to an EFA member who has rendered distinguished service to the EFA and contributed through research to the preservation of Eller family heritage.
Mr. Hook's 1925 and 1957 books trace his connections to the Eller family of Wilkes Co., N.C. His Eller ancestry came through his grandmother, Virginia Eller Hook, daughter of Harvey Eller and Mary Caroline Vannoy Eller (See "James W. Hook: His Eller Ancestry and Descendants", herein)
In establishing this award, the editors of THE ELLER CHRONICLES had the prior approval and assistance of Mr. Hook's two children, Mrs. Rose Virginia Hook Smith and James W. Hook, Jr; their help is gratefully acknowledged. Future awards will be in accordance with guidelines approved by the Board of Directors.......... (Eds.)
The first members of the ELLER family to reach Rowan County, North Carolina from Germany came by way of Pennsylvania. They were: JACOB, CHRISTIAN and MELCHIOR ELLER who tradition says were brothers. James W. Hook thought it likely that other brothers of the three were GEORGE MICHAEL and HENRY ELLER/I/.
Documentation supporting a brother relationship exists only for Jacob/2/ and Melchior./3/ However, the evidence is strong that all five, if not brothers, were close relatives. George and Henry lived first in Pennsylvania, probably in Lancaster County, and later in Frederick Co. MD. Some evidence suggests that George Michael may have lived in Rowan Co./4/ in the area that later became part of Brunswick Co., N.C./5/, but Henry Eller, after leaving Pennsylvania, apparently lived only in Frederick Co., Maryland.
" Of the eleven Eller families shown in the Federal Census of Rowan County, North Carolina in 1790, eight of them can be identified as sons either of Jacob, Christian or Melcher. The other three were Leonard, John and George. That Leonard was a son of George Michael Eller who died and left a will in Frederick Co., Maryland that was probated 25 Aug. 1778 is substantially proved. That John and George were Leonard Eller's brothers appears reasonably certain to this writer. Another brother of Leonard was Peter Eller, who lived first in that part of Rowan Co. that, in 1777, became Wilkes and in 1799 Ashe Co., N.C. . . . Peter Eller is listed in the 1790 census (original list) of Wilkes Co., N.C. and is the only person of the Eller name outside of Rowan Co., N.C. who is shown in the 1790 census of North Carolina."/6/
Records show that Peter/7/ and Leonard Eller/8/ were in Rowan County by 1778. Peter, the eldest child of George Michael Eller, is the ancestor of many of the Ellers of Ashe and Wilkes Counties, North Carolina, where today the name of Eller is still prevalent; others moved to Indiana, Iowa, and Nebraska and are now scattered throughout the U.S. Leonard Eller was a large land holder in Rowan County in the areas that later became portions of Randolph and Davidson Counties. Several children were born to the Leonard Eller family in North Carolina before the family moved to Miami Co., Ohio about 1801 and later to Indiana./9/ Many descendants of Leonard Eller still live in the mid-west and elsewhere. A puzzling record suggests that Leonard may have been born in North Carolina./10/
Peter, Leonard, George and John Eller, sons of George Michael Eller, are among the subjects of the only published genealogy of Eller families: James W. Hook, GEORGE MICHAEL ELLER AND DESCENDANTS OF HIS IN AMERICA, New Haven, Conn., 1957. The book is no longer in print. Hook thought a fifth son of George Michael was Jacob Eller of Botetourt County, Va. and included him in his 1957 book but this suggested relationship has been refuted by the descendants of this Jacob Eller /10a/.
James W. Hook gave only limited attention to Jacob and Melchior Eller in his writings, however, he provided considerable information on the Christian Eller family /11/. Both Jacob and Melchior are represented today by many descendants. Jacob, for example, through his son, Jacob Eller, Jr. was the ancestor of the Eller families of Buncombe/12/ and Graham/13/ Counties, N.C.; also those of North Georgia and Alabama./14/ and Macon Co., TN (14a) and Missouri (14b).
The names of Jacob and Melchior Eller have not been found among ship passenger or immigration records; hence, the dates of their arrival in Pennsylvania remain unknown, but Pennsylvania records show Jacob was there b 1753 and Melchior by 1756./15/
Jacob Eller married Maria Eva Goettge, daughter of Johannes Goettge and Anna Christina Hamm in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania in 1753./16/ The Goettge family, with six children, left Rusberg, Germany in 1751 /17/ A Church confirmation record places Melchior Eller in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania in April, 1756 at age 20./18/ The marriage record for Jacob Eller lists a CASPER ELLER of the German Palatinate as the father of Jacob and the confirmation record lists Melchoir Eller as the son of "the late Casper Eller." Casper Eller, the father of Jacob and Melchior, apparently died, probably in the German Palatinate, between 1753 and 1756, but despite vigorous efforts, no trace of this Casper Eller has yet come to light in German records. "Casper" was not an uncommon name among some German Eller families/19/. Inexplicably the name "Casper" has yet to be found among the U.S. Eller families.
When and where Melchior Eller married Anna Elisabetha Goettge is not known. The Johannes Goettge family was still in Montgomery Co., Penn. in 1756 when Johannes, a son aged 16, was confirmed in the New Hanover Lutheran Church in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania./20/ The Goettge family, like many other German families in Pennsylvania, migrated south along the Great Wagon Road to Rowan County, NC, and may have been accompanied from Pennsylvania by their sons-in-law, Jacob and Melchior Eller. (What is the earliest record of the Goettge family in Rowan Co. NC/21/?) The earliest Rowan County record of Jacob Eller is a land deed, dated -31 December 1761./22/ And the earliest record for Melchior Eller, also a land deed, is dated 1764./23/ A lapse of several years between the initial filing and the final acquisition of a deed was the general rule in that area of North Carolina at that time; thus, Jacob and Melchoir Eller's arrival in Rowan County may have preceded by several years the dates on their land deeds. (note: the name, Melchior, appears in Rowan County records spelled many different ways; "Melker" being the most common spelling.)
The earliest Rowan County record so far found for CHRISTIAN ELLER is dated 1759/24/, but he, too, may have arrived much earlier. "Tradition states that he came with his wife and sons, John and George. His wife died soon after arrival in Rowan County, North Carolina, and he married secondly, Mary, daughter of Paul and Catherine Beefle." /25/ "Mary" was Maria Elisabetha Buffel, daughter of John Paul Buffel and Catharina Appolonia nee Han (Haan)./26/
The John Paul Buffel family left Contwig, Germany for Pennsylvania in 1738./27/ Church records indicate they were in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania as late as 1749/28/ and a North Carolina record places them in Rowan County before 1751./29/ The earliest land record for Christian Eller in Rowan County is dated 1762./30/, but, as noted above, the date of land records correlate poorly with dates of arrival. If Christian Eller and Maria Buffel were married in Rowan County, the date could have been early in the 1750's, making Christian the first Eller to reach North Carolina.
The names of "Goettge" and "Buffel", like most German names, gave the English-speaking public officials of Rowan County great difficulty. Each name underwent a series of misspellings. Goettge appears as Gitchy, Getchey, Getcha, Getchy and finally Ketchey or Ketchie. Buffle was spelled in a variety of ways: Beifel, Beifle, Bieffle, Bieffel, Beffel, Beffle, Biffel and finally Biffle. The name of Eller, easy to spell and pronounce, was less often misspelled; sometimes, however, it appears in records as Ellar or Ellor.
A practice common to all German families was the use of the same given names. The early Ellers followed this custom for among the early generations of Ellers one finds the names of Jacob, Christian, Melchior, Henry, George, John, Peter used over and over. This repetition of names in public records and the absence of family records among these early Eller families created the difficult problem that still frustrates Eller family researchers in Rowan County who try to document individual family lines. This puzzle, further compounded by intermarriage, led J. W. Hook to abandon his research among Rowan County Ellers some thirty years ago. A contemporary group of researchers including Patricia Beck, Doris Eller Jordan, Buddy Lovette, Vance Eller, Peggy Agner Troutman and J. Gerald Eller, have taken up the challenge. Peggy Agner Troutman and Louise File have already made much progress. (See their report herein.) Peggy will lead a discussion on the children of the early Ellers of Rowan County at the First International Eller Family Conference, Salisbury, N.C., July 20-23, 1989.
The early Biffle, Ketchie, and Eller families of Rowan County are represented today by hundreds of descendants in the U.S. Many Ketchie and Eller descendants still live today in Rowan County and adjacent areas of North Carolina. Patricia Beck of Salisbury, N.C. is currently researching the Ketchie family. The Biffle name disappeared from Rowan County records many years ago as the family members moved westward, first to Tennessee.
A Biffle Family reunion was held many years in Tennessee. At least one book on the genealogy of the family has been published: Jo Ann Biffle Sterling, 808 N.W. 48th St., Lawton, OK 73501, BIFFLE AND RELATED FAMILIES, 1975. Two interesting Biffles of recent years were Leslie Biffle, President Truman's chief white house liaison officer to the U.S. Senate and I.O. Biffle who taught Charles Lindberg how to fly. A contact person for the Biffle Family Association is Betty Baker, 246 Hillcrest Drive, Nacona, TX 76255..... (eds.)
Paul Büffel of Contig moves to America" "Burgert" P. 71-72.
Note: #5 above, Maria Elizabeth was the 2nd wife of Christian Eller.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE EARLY ELLER FAMILIES OF ROWAN COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA ... Compiled by: Peggy Agner (Mrs. Joseph Howard) Troutman and Louise Barringer (Mrs. Oscar Jenkins) File, Salisbury, N.C.
(Note; The above are land deeds. The three may have arrived much earlier and lived on the land while awaiting approval of the final deed.)
Reference: "GME" = J.W. Hook, GEORGE MICHAEL ELLER and DESCENDANTS OF HIS IN AMERICA, 1957.
"St. PAUL'S LUTHERAN (RED HILL) KB, MONTGOMERY CO., PA.:
Jacob Eller, son of Casper Eller, born in the Palatinate, m. 11 Dec. 1753 Maria Eva Goettge, daughter of Hannes Goettge, born in Zweybrucken." P. 142, "Burgert"
"EUROPEAN RECORDS, BAUMHOLDER LUTHERAN KB:
Johannes Gottge, son of the late Johannes Gottgen, former miller at Lockers Muhl, m. 12 Oct. Anna Christian, daughter of Michael Hamm of Rushberg," P. 141, "Burgert"
"ZMP: Lichtenberg, 1751:
Johannes Gottgen of Rusperg leaves with his wife and 6 children for America." P. 141, "Burgert"
"Burgert" = Annette Kunselman Burgert: EIGHTEENTH CENTURY EMIGRANTS VOL II The Western Palatinate, The Pennsylvania German Society, 1985.
Book 5 page 35, 1761: "Dec. 31 in 2nd year of King George III. Esq. Henry McCulloh let George Laemgen & JACOB ELLER-both of Rowan Co., N.C.- have -320 acres in tract #9 on the Yadkin River next Earl Granville's line at the Paw Paw, for 20 pounds, witnessed by Conrod Michal & Daniel Little & proved in Oct. 1762." McCubbin Collection
Estate Record: (1782) Rowan County, N.C. Will Bk. B p. 145. [Eds JACOB ELLER's will, made 12 April 1782, was probated 7 May 1782. The place of his burial in Rowan Co. is unknown; possibly at Union Church, but no marker exists today.]
|"IN THE NAME OF GOD AMEN. I Jacob Eller of the County of Rowan and State of North Carolina being very sick and weak of body, though of perfect mind and memory, thanks be given unto God for the same, calling to mind the mortality of my Body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, I do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following: FIRST of all I recommend my soul unto the hands of the Almighty God that gave it and my body to be buried in a decent manner at the discretion of my Executors hereafter named. Firstly my will is that all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid out of my personal Estate, further it is my will that my eldest son, Jacob Eller shall have six pounds in silver or Gold paid unto him out of my Estate over and above his equal share with my other children and also a Chest and the wearing apparrel that apertained to my last Wife Barbary. It is my Will that the same shall be kept and reserved for my two Youngest Chldren that the said Barbary bore unto me over and above their equal share of my Estate further it is my will that my Daughter Elizabeth Eller shall have one Cow and one pewter dish, also one pewter Bason and one pewter porringer and three pewter plates and one spinning wheel over and above an equal share I will the other of my Children-- further it is my will that all my Estate both real and personal shall be exposed to sale by way of Public Vendue, and an equal Division made between all my children except my son Jacob Eller who hath received fourteen pounds that worth that he has already Received of me and also Twenty and Two pounds hard money in silver and gold to be paid to the other of my children if the said Jacob Eller my Son agreeth to give the said sum for a certain Improvement that was formerly his property and sold it to his father Jacob Eller Senr. and if he will not agree to give the said price the said place must be sold as the other part of my Estate- my will is further that the Widow Eury shall have the care of my daughter Eve as she hath had the care of it ever since the death of its Mother and further I do constitute make and ordain my well beloved friends, Christian Eller and John Gitchey sole Executors of this my last Will and Testament satisfying and confirming this and no other to be my last Will and Testament in Witness Whereunto I do set my hand and seal this twelft day of April in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty Two. Signed, sealed published and declared by the said Jacob Eller as his last Will and Testament in the presence of us Who in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto Subscribed our names.|
Melcher x Eller
|JACOB ELLER (SEAL)|
|STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA|
(Eds. mentioned in the will- Wife Barbary (a second wife); Widow Eury (Eary) ( now spelled "Arey"; possibly mother of Barbary; My son Jacob (this was Jacob Eller, Jr.who removed to Tennessee in ca. 1779 and thence to Buncombe Co.,N.C. by 1800. The original will was written in a beautiful style and Jacob Eller's name is signed in an elegant flourish. Could this be the basis for Hook's statement that Jacob Eller was a well- educated man? [he said the same for Christian Eller])
Book 12 page 330, "June 5 1782 CHRISTIAN ELLER (as the executor of deceased JACOB ELLER) lets planter, Adam Trees--both of Rowan Co., N.C.)-- have 160 acres on the south bank of the Yadkin River next George Lambley, for 145 pounds, witnessed by two Germans & acknowledged in Feb. court of 1791. (This is part of the 320 acres which Esq. Henry McCullock let the deceased JACOB ELLER have, who later let Michael Morr have, who let George Lambley have, & the said Murr, in two separate deeds let the deceased JACOB ELLER have on June 2 1767.)" McCubbin Collection.
Children: James W. Hook left two lists of probable children of Jacob Eller: in GME p. 2 and in Unpublished Notes, filed with the N.C. State Archives, Raleigh, N.C.
|Jacob Eller and Maria Eva Goettge: J.W. Hook, GME, p. 2:|
|Children of Jacob Eller, J. W. Hook, Unpublished Notes, N.C. Archives:|
|1. Jacob, Jr.
2. John Melcher, b. 1756
3. Joseph Eller, probably a son
4. John Eller
|5. Christian |
|Children of Jacob Eller: Peggy Troutman and Louise File|
|lst Marriage to|
Maria Eva Goettge
|2nd marriage to|
2. John Melcher (Melchior, Michael)*
|McCubbin Collection, Rowan Public Library|
Book 6, p. 448 June 2, 1767
Book 6, p. 483 July 18, 1767, June 2 1767
Book 5, p. 36, Dec. 31 (year?)
Book 6, p. 447, June 2 1767
Book 12, p. 280, June 5 1766
John Melcher (Melchior, Michael) Eller I: m. 9 Oct. 1782, Susannah Eller, (dau. of Christian Eller). Rowan County Marriage Records, Rowan County, N.C.
"Susanna Eller. Called 'daughter Susanna' in her father's will. According to the will of her brother John she married John Eller. This is confirmed by the Rowan Co., N.C. marriage records which show that Susanna Eller married John Eller on 9 Oct. 1782." J.W. Hook, GME, P. 427
Deed Book 18 p. 308, Rowan County Courthouse April 2, 1802 signs "3"
Deed Book 18 pp. 343-344, Rowan County Courthouse May 14 (?) 1802
Deed Book 18 P. 294 4-3-1802
Revolutionary War Pension Record: April 1833 signs "3";
March 4, 1831 Age 78 years pension. (His date of birth was 1755 or 1753 depending sn which date, 1833 or 1831, is used in computing his birthdate. Since his parents were married in 1753 and the eldest child was Jacob, Jr., the correct birthdate for John Melchior probably was ca. 1755.)
|John Melcher (Melchior, Michael) II|
|John Eller's Will: Book H pp. 45, 46, 47, probated May 1820, Rowan County, N.C.- This was Susannah's brother since it mentions John Eller- son of my sister Susannah and John Eller, I and John Eller- son of John Melcher's son.|
|[Note Peggy Troutman: I now believe this John Eller to be the son of John Melcher (Melchior, Michael), II ]|
"Anno 1756 on April 17 the following young persons were confirmed by the Evangelical doctrine of the New Hanover Congregation & on the 18th of April were admitted to the Holy Communion." Listed: "Melchior Eller, the late Casper Eller's son in his 20th year." GERMAN CHURCH RECORDS FROM PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN SOCIETY, PROCEEDINGS AND ADDRESSES, VOL. II, Geneal. Publ. Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1983, p. 299
The above record shows that:
Other Rowan Co., N.C. References:
Rowan County 1764- Abstract of Land Deed
Book 5 page 463, "April 11 1764, Jacob Brown & wife Elizabeth let MELKAR ELLER- all of Rowan Co., N.C.- have 157 acres next ______ ? Smith, for 5 shillings (The release price being 15 pounds witnessed by Alexander Martin & Daniel Little & Acknowledged April 11 1764. (Earl Granville let Jacob Brown have this on April 4 1761)." McCubbin Collection
|Marriage: (Ist)||Tradition: Melchior Eller married Elizabeth Goettge (Gitchey), sister to the Maria Eva Goettge, who married his brother, Jacob Eller.|
|(2nd)||? Elizabeth Brown|
Court Record: Minute Book 1773-1886, Rowan County, N.C., p. 330. John Melker and John Melker II found not guilty on charges of being Tories.
(Eds. Hook thought that some of the North Carolina Ellers were Dunkards (German Baptist Brethern). This idea, not documented, may be based solely on the above record which suggests an unwillingness to bear arms (a tenet of the Dunkards faith). Actually Melker Eller, Sr. was confirmed a Lutheran and his unwillingness to bear arms may have derived from his unwillingness to break a previous oath of allegiance to King George made either at the time of his arrival in America or following the Regulator movement in N.C.)
|1790 Census Rowan County, N.C.|
|Melker Eller |
4 males under 16
1 male over 16
|Children of John Melker Eller and Elizabeth Goettge:|
2. Caleb the 4 males in the 1790 Census)
4. John Melker, II*
5. Elizabeth (?)
|(Note - Peggy Troutman: The above 4 boys in time owned 1100 acres of land in Rowan County, N.C)|
JOHN MELKER, II
(Son of John Melchior Eller, the Immigrant)
John Melker Eller, II: Will made 27 July 1825, probated Feb. 1841. (Will Book I, pp. 90-92)
(If not a brother, at least a close relative to Jacob and Melchior Eller.)
Children: See James W. Hook, GME, pp. 426-432.
(Eds. The Christian Eller family received much more attention than the Jacob and Melchior Eller families from James W. Hook because, for many years', Hook thought Christian Eller to be his immigrant ancestor. This was his belief when he wrote his 1925 book: VIRGINIA ELLER AND JAMES HOOK.)
Carl Hammer, Jr., RHINELANDERS OF THE YADKIN,
The Story of the Pennsylvania Germans in Rowan & Cabarrus Counties in N.C., 2nd ed., Rowan Printing Co., Salisbury, 1965.
(The following excerpts from Hammer gives some insight into the early German movement from Germany to Pennsylvania and thence to Rowan County, North Carolina. For greater detail this excellent book is highly recommended)
"It was a long, toilsome way from the Rhine provinces to Piedmont Carolina, and the story of that migration has its beginnings- at an earlier period- in some of the most tragic events in European History.
"The Thirty Year's War in Germany brought such desolation that some sections hardly recovered before the lapse of two centuries. It was a long series of bloody conflicts and endless depredations that brought inconceivable ruin and abject human misery in their train. . .
"Hardly any part of Germany suffered worse from the repeated devastations than that beautiful province on the left bank of the Rhine known as the Palatinate.
"It is estimated that l2,000 Germans reached Philadelphia in the year 1749 and by 1775 there were 110,000 people of German birth or descent, or one-third of the total population of the province (of Pennsylvania) . . .
"Chief among the causes motivating this mass migration (from the Palatinate) were: the destructive wars, religious persecutions, and oppression by tyrannical rulers at home; the extravagant accounts of the "promised land" finally the hope of religious freedom that had been denied them in Europe.
"The three principal religious denominations among the Pennsylvania Germans were: the Lutherans. . . the German Reformed. . . the United Brethren or Moravians, . . Quite numerous were adherents to such sects as the Mennonites, Dunkards and Schwenkfelder.
"From the first settlements in Philadelphia and in the counties of Berks, Lancaster, and Montgomery, the Germans pushed northward and westward to Lehigh, Northampton, and Monroe, then to Lebanon and Dauphin. . . across the Susquehanna River to York, Cumberland, and Adams. Southward from there, they could follow the mountain slopes through Maryland and into Virginia by way of the Shenandoah Valley, where many found permanent homes. Other large bodies continued their journey as far as central North Carolina . .
"The principal cause of the removal to the South was the scarcity of land, which, even on the Pennsylvania frontier, was available only in small amounts sold by the Indians. In the favored easterly sections the cost of farms was almost prohibitive. . . their way led southward to the stretches of fertile soil in piedmong Carolina, where large tracts could be bought cheaply from the agents of the Earl of Granville.
"The inflow of Pennsylvania Germans (into central North Carolina) came into full swing between 1750 and 1775; it continued, however, even after the Revolutionary War. . .
"As a rule, the Germans left Pennsylvania in the fall as soon as their crops were gathered. Therefore they arrived in the South just before cold weather, well supplied with the means of passing through the winter without undue hardship. By reason of their foresight, these colonists apparently experienced a minimum of frontier troubles. In a milder climate than they had ever known, it was relatively easy to build log houses that would afford them reasonable protection against the cold. At the coming of spring they were able to begin farming with favorable prospects for a good crop from the virgin soil . . .
" 'These German settlers, wrote Dr. Bernheim, were all industrious, economical, and thrifty farmers, not afraid nor ashamed of hard labor, and they were soon blessed with an abundance of everything which the fertile soil and temperate climate could furnish them. As they were....... agricultrists, they generally avoided settling.... in town.'
"One must not suppose, however, that all the Germans held themselves entirely aloof from public life. Even in the earliest days a few began to assume their places as prominent and energetic citizens.
"If the local German population mostly remained quietly on the farm, there was one outside interest that lay close to the hearts of the Palatines: their church, which they loved with all the fervor of those who have been willing to endure persecution for the sake of their religion. Almost without exception they were either Lutheran or Reformed. They brought their Bibles and books of worship with them, and they were not long in building a log church, also used as a schoolhouse."
[ Eds: Unfortunately, we have little insight into the roles played by the early Ellers in the development of their community and county. Records do show that Jacob, Christian and Melchior Eller served on juries in the 1760-1770's and were members of the Lutheran faith. These along with Peter, John, George, and Leonard (sons of George Michael who were in Rowan by the late 1770's) were large land holders. John, Joseph, and John Melkerd Eller, all apparently sons of Jacob Eller, served in the Revolutionary War. Hook (his 1925 book) says that Christian Eller also fought in the Revolutionary War but no record of this has been found. Twenty eight Ellers from Rowan County, N.C. fought in the Civil War (see Vol.II No. 4 THE ELLER CHRONICLES, pp. 164-165) ]