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Monday, April 25, 2016

Peter Burkholder

My widowed immigrant ancestor, Barbara Schenk Burkholder, brought her six children to Pennsylvania in 1754. She had three daughters, Barbara, Anna and Elizabeth, and three sons, Ulrich, Peter, and Christian. Barbara and Anna have been lost in the pages of history. We can only hope that something will be found someday to tell us what happened to them. Elizabeth married Jacob Sensenig. Ulrich was a Mennonite minister in Brecknock Township. Peter moved to Rockingham County, Virginia. Christian was a Mennonite bishop in Lancaster County and is well-known for his leadership during the Revolutionary War and his writing.
Both of my parents were Burkholders and descended from Christian. In the last few years I traced the first three generations of the descendants of Ulrich and Christian. It seemed to me that someone in Virginia would have done the same for Peter, but no one has. Some of his descendants are included in the Kauffman and Brenneman books, but there is no Peter Burkholder genealogy in one place.
Peter and his wife, Margaret (Huber), moved their family from Lancaster County to Virginia in the late 1700s. He first appears on the Rockingham County tax records in 1789. They settled on a farm along Cedar Run on the north side of the hill where Trissels Mennonite Church is now located.
Peter's son, Peter Jr. (1783-1846), was a well-known and influential Mennonite bishop in Virginia and also known for his writing. Peter Sr.'s grandson, Martin Burkholder (1817-1860), was another influential Mennonite bishop whose house is now preserved at the Mennonite-Brethren Heritage Center at Harrisonburg.

Samuel Coffman (1822-1894), who followed Martin Burkholder as bishop was also a descendant of Peter Burkholder. Coffman is known as the "Civil War bishop" as he guided the church through those turbulent years when the Shenandoah Valley was devastated by war and burning. Samuel's son, John S. Coffman (1848-1899) was an evangelist and leader who also greatly impacted the Mennonite church.
With this strong line of Burkholder leadership, it seems unfair to Peter not to develop the same type of genealogy that we have for his brothers, Ulrich and Christian. It would be a great advantage for researchers to have it all in one place rather than having to pick parts and pieces from other genealogy books.
And so, since no one else has done it, I decided to pick up the challenge. In the process, I found that quite a bit of it was not published anywhere and huge gaps had to be filled in. I'm getting close to finishing it and then we must decide how to publish it. I had a lot of fun putting it together and hope it will be useful to the Virginia descendants of Peter.

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