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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Henry and Peter Burkholder

Three Burkholder brothers immigrated from Switzerland with their widowed mother in 1754. One of them is my ancestor, Christian Burkholder. Several years ago I traced the first three generations of his descendants. 
Christian's oldest brother, Ulrich, is often confused with another Ulrich Burkholder who immigrated from Germany in 1732. I decided to trace the first three generations of "our" Ulrich in an attempt to resolve some of the confusion.
This leaves one more brother, Peter. He moved to Virginia and no one down there ever published a Burkholder book. Some of Peter's descendants are found in other family histories such as the Brennaman Book, but there is no book to find all of them in one place. It didn't seem fair to leave Peter in obscurity, so I took on the challenge of tracing three generations of his descendants. 
I had pretty well completed it but lacked information on Henry, one of Peter's sons, and Peter who was a grandson. Genealogy research is much easier since a lot of documents can be found online, but there are still some things found only in county courthouses. I had exhausted all resources and would not be satisfied until I had a few more documents to confirm what I had written. I don't want to publish anything on a presumption because serious mistakes have been made that way. So the only thing left to do was make a trip to Virginia.
My sister went with me on Tuesday and visited a friend of hers while I dug out the documents in the Rockingham County courthouse. Found 'em!
Two entries in the 1834 Minute Books confirm that grandson Peter Burkholder died in 1834 and left two minor children, Enos and Leah.

Leah has disappeared from the pages of history. She either died young or married and changed her name. Enos never married and died in Elkhart County, Indiana. The story of Enos' life was written by his cousin and was included in John C. Wenger's book The Mennonites in Indiana and Michigan. Peter and his wife both died young and Enos lived with his aunts and uncles in Ohio and Indiana. 
Peter is buried with his parents, David and Barbara. His wife, Anna, is buried behind him in the next row. She died at the age of 27. My sister and I went to the cemetery and found their stones.
The things I needed on Henry Burkholder were in Augusta County. I thought I wouldn't have time to go down there. When I finished in Harrisonburg by 1p.m. and discovered the Augusta county courthouse was only a half an hour south, I decided to make a run for it. 
We arrived with an hour and a half until closing time at 5. I found a will that identified Henry's wife as Margaret Hildebrand, daughter of Henry Hildebrand. We also found two documents related to the settlement of Henry's estate. The first one appointed an administrator for his estate in 1838 and the other named his minor children in 1839. 
The 1830 census lists two males and six females ages 19 and under in  Henry and Margaret's home. By following census, I found Margaret living with her son, Ulrich, and moving with him to Illinois. In tracking the family through census and other documents, I have identified six of Henry and Margaret's children: Magdalena (ca. 1815-aft. 1880; never married), Elizabeth (ca. 1817-aft. 1883; never married), Margaret (b. ca. 1819), Susanna, and Barbara (minors in 1839, b. 1825), and Ulrich (ca. 1828-Oct. 6, 1877 in McPhearson County, Kansas).
Ulrich had a son William Henry Burkholder who remained in McPhearson County, Kansas, and had 11 children. Some stayed in Kansas and others moved as far west as California.
This is one of my favorite hobbies---finding a family no one else has traced. But there are still a lot of unanswered questions. I don't know where Henry, Margaret, or any of their children are buried. They seem to have fallen through the cracks of the paper work. Maybe someone will be able to take what I've found and develop it further someday. But I've had the satisfaction of digging out a family that had been lost in history.

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