Elizabeth Ulrich, the wife of Stephen Ulrich (Jr.), has been rumored as long as I’ve been researching this family to be a Cripe, supposedly the daughter of Jacob Cripe, but she isn’t.
Unfortunately, we don’t know much about Elizabeth, and most of what we do know, including her name, is because she signed deeds selling land with Stephen, her husband. Thank goodness for that!
Assuming she was Stephen’s only wife, and he was her only husband, they were likely married about 1740 or so, very probably in York County, Pennsylvania where Stephen lived at the time. Stephen’s father, Stephen Ulrich Sr. had purchased land there and Ulrich was a surname listed as a founder of the Brethren congregation there in 1738. At that time, and for some time thereafter, the Brethren met in homes and barns and didn’t build church buildings.
There weren’t a lot of Brethren families in this area early. Many German families were Lutheran and some were Mennonite. Elizabeth was almost assuredly Brethren, or Stephen would have been unwelcome in the Brethren Church. Her family could have been a sister religion, like Mennonite, but when she married Stephen she would have to have converted. Two Mennonite families related to the Brethren Miller family, who also lived in the area, were Berchtol/Bechtol/Bechtel and Garver/Garber.
If Elizabeth’s family was Brethren, the Brethren families that we are aware of in York County that early, based on the “History of the Church of the Brethren in Southern District Pennsylvania,” are as follows:
- Miller (may not have been there in 1738, but arrived shortly thereafter and was related to the Stutzman family)
Unfortunately, Morgan Edwards, writing in 1770 also added the phrase, “and others.” Perhaps other Brethren family researchers will know some of those “other” surnames that were in York County before about 1745.
The Brethren men tended to stay out of the record books, out of court, and out of the deed offices. They didn’t believe in obtaining marriage licenses, and often didn’t have wills. The Brethren churches didn’t keep membership rosters or other types of minutes. Brethren didn’t serve in the militias either, but thank Heavens they had to pay taxes because often, that’s our only record that they were living in a particular place and time – if the tax records survived.
Brethren did sometimes register deeds, and they had to have surveys for land grants, warrants and patents. There was no choice in that matter. However, Stephen’s surveys for his 1742 land warrants weren’t returned until 1800 and 1802, many years and several owners after his death.
We can presume, and that’s a dangerous word, that Stephen Ulrich was married or marrying in 1742 when he was granted land. Single men typically didn’t set up housekeeping by themselves.
Our best resource would be a family Bible, but we don’t have one of those either. If you’re thinking to yourself, Brethren research sure is difficult….yes it is!!!
Based on the fact that Stephen Ulrich, Jr., would sign his name in German script in 1773 when his close friend, Jacob Stutzman wrote his will in German, it’s unlikely that Stephen or Jacob spoke English, or if they did, it was minimal. This also tells us unquestionably that Stephen’s wife was German as well, and the logic tells us that she was also Brethren, although there was an entire German settlement in York County.
According to the “History of the Church of the Brethren of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania,” in 1770, the Little Conewago Church had 52 families, and Edwards reports the entire Brethren population in all churches to be about 419 families. By 1770, these should be second or third generation, so if you divide 419 by 5 (children per family) you would have 83 families 30 years earlier in 1735. Of course, their children all married each other’s children. If there were a total of 83 families in 1735 or so, or roughly 10 families per congregation, assuming no conversions between 1735 and 1770 and that all congregations were the same size. Of course, the older churches were certainly larger, so perhaps the only Brethren families in Little Conewago were actually the families mentioned by Edwards. Maybe there weren’t “others” or, at least, not many “others.”
Prior to 1742, according to Edwards on page 79 of the same book, there were only about 8 congregations, including the following:
That means Elizabeth was likely the daughter of one of those early Brethren families, or maybe the daughter of one of the unnamed “others.” Perhaps other Brethren researchers can add to the list of Brethren families in York County prior to 1745. York County was Lancaster County prior to 1749.
The Elizabeth Cripe Confusion?
I do know where some of the confusion arises relative to Elizabeth being a Cripe.
Jacob Greib/Cripe was Elizabeth’s purported father and the only known Greib/Cripe in York County. Jacob wrote his will in 1779 in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, but it wasn’t probated until 1801. His wife’s name was Elizabeth and in his will, he thankfully tells us that she was “born Ulrich.” Given Jacob’s age, his wife, Elizabeth would have had to have been the daughter of Stephen Ulrich Sr., and therefore the sister of Stephen Ulrich Jr. whose wife’s name was also Elizabeth.
So we do have Elizabeth Ulrich Cripe. This family liaison also explains why Jacob Cripe moved to Frederick County, Maryland with or near Stephen Ulrich Jr. in the 1750s.
Jacob Cripe, several of Stephen Ulrich Jr’s children along with Stephen’s two brothers, John and Daniel Ulrich, moved on to Bedford County, Pennsylvania in the 1770s.
What Do We Know About Elizabeth’s Life?
If our Elizabeth was born about 1720, she was probably born overseas, most likely in Germany. Elizabeth was assuredly German, based on the fact that the German’s didn’t speak English, so to communicate with Stephen, she would have been a German-speaker.
Stephen and Elizabeth probably married about 1742, the year Stephen Jr. bought land in York County.
Stephen’s land was probably located along Narrow Drive, along Indian Run where it intersects with the South Branch of Conewago Creek, according to Stephen’s deeds.
While some of this land is beautifully groomed farmland today, other parts are still wooded and probably look much like they did when Stephen and Elizabeth lived here. The photo above shows the land along Indian Creek, patented by Stephen Ulrich. The tree line runs along the creek.
We do know that Elizabeth and Stephen’s land included part of the “Old Conestoga Road,” which is now Hanover Pike, shown below.
Then, it would have been nothing more than a wagon trail, and probably only wide enough for one wagon. There would have been ruts and they would have been mudholes when it rained. Wouldn’t Elizabeth be surprised to see this land today. And paved roads. There weren’t such things in the 1740s. Only paths and dirt.
We know that Elizabeth had son, David Ulrich, about 1746 while they lived in York County, but we don’t know if he was the first child born to Elizabeth and Stephen Ulrich. They could have had a child or children that died earlier, or David could have been born earlier than 1746. It would have been very unusual for a couple to marry in 1742 and not have a child until 1746.
Elizabeth’s son, Stephen the third, was born about 1750. A 4-year gap between children strongly suggests that at least one child died.
In 1751, Elizabeth and Stephen moved from York County to Frederick County, Maryland, a move of about 50 or 60 miles nearly straight west.
This move would have been made with the hope of escaping the conflict in York County surrounding land and the incessant bickering brought about by the “border war” between Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Daughter Christina was born about 1752 and eventually married Jacob, a son of their neighbor, Jacob Stutzman.
Samuel was born about 1754.
Elizabeth was born about 1755/1757 and she married Daniel Miller, son of Philip Jacob Miller who was about the same age as Stephen Ulrich and wife, Elizabeth. Philip Jacob’s father, Johann Michael Mueller/Miller was also one of the early Brethren settlers in York County.
There could have been another child born between Samuel and Elizabeth.
Mary was born about 1760.
There could have been a child between Elizabeth and Mary.
Hannah was born about 1762 and Lydia about 1764.
Given those birth dates, it’s possible that in about 20 years of child bearing, Elizabeth buried 3 or more children.
It’s actually surprising that they didn’t lose more children, considering the upheaval that surrounded them as they lived in the borderland between whites and Indians.
Not only were they living in a war zone in Pennsylvania – with the border being disputed by both Pennsylvania and Maryland for 30 years, but the ownership of their land was in question as well.
In York County, a murder occurred at their neighbor’s mill. Stephen had a land grant from Pennsylvania, but a man named Digges had a Maryland land grant for that same area – and he tried to force the Germans who obtained Pennsylvania grants to surrender them to him, or at least repurchase their land. Needless to say, that didn’t go well. Digges tried to force the miller to surrender his deed, and the miller’s son shot Digges son, Dudley, in the ensuing scuffle. Danger and violence was ever present – a frightening prospect for a Brethren woman whose religion forbade even self-defense.
Finally, in 1751, the Ulrich family sold their land, packed up and headed for Frederick County with a few other Brethren families as well – namely Leatherman, Martin, Miller and Cripe. The Brethren were converting other settlers as they went too – and Maryland was becoming a popular location for other German-speaking families because there were other Germans there. When you don’t speak English, you need a German community.
It’s difficult for us to remember today that these people were at a distinct disadvantage, given that they did not speak English, nor would they have understood American customs well. Letters written to the governor of Pennsylvania explained that these people, who spoke only German, didn’t understand the circumstances surrounding the land sales at Digges Choice and were being taken advantage of by Digges aggressions. It didn’t help any, of course, that Digges was a slippery sheister and was very likely targeting the Germans who he felt were opportunistic targets.
The land Stephen and Elizabeth bought in Frederick County may or may not have had “improvements.” Waggoner, the man they bought the land from sold two halves, and one of the two halves included the following:
One dwelling house 20 by 16 feet made of hewd logs and covered with lap shingles, a stone chimney, one dwelling house 27 by 22 feet of hewd logs and covered with lap shingles, plankd above and below, a stone chimney, a new barn of hewd logs covered with lap shingles, 49 feet by 27, 69 apple trees, 72 peach trees and 6 acres of cultivated land well fenced.
While a house 20 by 16 doesn’t sound very large by today’s standards, it was typical for the time. Most cabins, even when referenced as the “mansion house,” were not very large. But the barn, that’s another story indeed. The husband would have been one very happy man with a barn more than twice the size of the house. Dare I say he would have been in “hog heaven?”
In 1767, when Stephen and Elizabeth had their property resurveyed to include two new parcels into a homestead they would call Germania, there was only “a quarter acre cleared and 230 old fence posts.” That certainly doesn’t sound like there were many improvements, nor does it reflect “6 acres of cultivated land,” so apparently, Stephen Ulrich didn’t purchase the half with the two houses, peach and apple trees and cleared land.
If their land in 1767 had only one quarter acre cleared, how did they live and how had they lived since 1751? Clearly, they weren’t farming the way we think of farming today. If Stephen wasn’t clearing his land, what was he doing with it? Did they only farm enough to provide food for the table? How did they earn money for the rest of their needs?
More Issues and Warfare
I’m sure these families believed they had moved far enough south and west to avoid border issues, but ironically, when the Mason-Dixon line was completed in 1767, Stephen’s neighbor Jacob Stutzman’s land would straddle the Pennsylvania/Maryland border, and it’s probable that Stephen’s land did as well, given that a later deed for part of his land that was able to be accurately placed is located just north of the state line.
This picture, below, is take on Fort Loudon Road, which would have been the main and probably the only road at the time Stephen lived there. This land is just north of the Maryland/Pennsylvania border, looking east. The land on the west side of the road is elevated and truly does begin the mountain range – so this land was literally at the foot of the mountains. The land to the east is flat. Perhaps this is what Elizabeth saw, if she could get high enough to see over the trees. Of course, not much was cleared at that time, so maybe all she saw was trees. And behind the trees….Indians.
In 1755, Elizabeth’s life would have been turned upside-down. When General Braddock was killed after marching his red-coasted soldiers through Frederick County on his way west, those same soldiers were soundly defeated. The French and Indians saw that defeat as an opportunity to remove the settlers – and by remove, I don’t mean in a friendly way. The Indians descended upon the settlers with tomahawks and torches, killing settlers and burning homesteads, and the people who would not defend themselves were easy pickings. Elizabeth must have been terrified.
In 1755, Elizabeth had a 9 year old child, a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a baby. She and Stephen packed the children, and probably as much as they could take with them, if anything at all, into a wagon and they evacuated – abandoning everything left behind to flames.
They were gone for at least three years. The only clue we have as to where they went during that time is that in 1758, Stephen and Elizabeth sold land in York County, Pennsylvania from Baltimore County, Maryland.
The war officially ended in 1758, but the attacks didn’t stop at once, but slowly subsided over the next few years. Taxes weren’t collected in Frederick County until 1762. We know that at least some of the Brethren returned in 1761 – the Michael Miller family being one.
In 1761, Elizabeth and Stephen were back in Frederick County, rebuilding their home, and they also had at least one baby while they were gone – Elizabeth. Depending on when they returned, Mary, born in about 1760, was probably born elsewhere as well.
Now Elizabeth is raising 6 children and living in conditions much like camping, minus the fun, while they rebuild their home and farm. Elizabeth must have cooked over an open fire. Perhaps they lived in their wagon during this process. Or they may have lived with others as they rebuilt their homestead. The Brethren, Mennonite and Amish were well known to have barn and house raisings, even yet when I was growing up 200+ years later.
By early 1761, Elizabeth and Stephen were selling land in York County, again, and they list their residence as Frederick County. Furthermore, Jacob Stutzman who had bought land in York County from Stephen sells his land there and purchases the land next to Stephen in Frederick County. I wonder if Stephen and Elizabeth returned to York County and stayed with Jacob Stutzman for at least part of the time they were in exile. Surely those two men welcomed each other’s presence back on the frontier in Frederick County when Jacob moved next door to Stephen in 1761. Stephen named his land “Good Neighbor” and Jacob named his “Good Luck.”
Hannah, Jacob’s wife would have been good company to Elizabeth as well. We do know that there were other Brethren in the area, but the Miller family was located further east by at least 5 miles and possibly more – near present day Mauganstown. The Leatherman and Martin families lived in the area too, but I don’t know where. Jacob Cripe lived near Stephen Ulrich, as did Daniel and John Ulrich, brothers of Stephen Jr.
As the rhythmic cycle of planting and harvesting resumed after their return in 1761, and some semblance of normalcy returned, it would be short lived.
Just two years later, in 1763, the families had to evacuate again when Pontiac’s Rebellion reached Frederick County. Reports were that the attacks were even worse than they had been in 1755. Elizabeth must have been heartsick. After all, they had just rebuilt and they had to leave the farm to flames once again.
By this time, Elizabeth had born another child, about 1762, and was probably pregnant again for Lydia who was born about 1764, most likely while the family was once again in refuge elsewhere.
Elizabeth was most assuredly tired. Tired from taking care of 8 children, tired of burying children, tired of evacuating and living someplace not her home. Tired of fearing for her life, and the lives of her children, and tired of fleeing in terror. She would have been tired of her home burning – and it assuredly burned twice from warfare – and that’s assuming it never burned any other time. Many cabins did.
We know that Elizabeth and Stephen were back in Frederick County by 1766, because Stephen sells land then. However, Elizabeth does not sign or release her dower, nor does she sign in 1768 when Stephen sells additional land.
It’s tempting to think that perhaps Elizabeth just didn’t sign for some reason, but given the history of Elizabeth signing deeds, that’s unlikely.
The following deed history is extracted from the Stephen Ulrich Jr. article as well as from Dan Olds work. Unfortunately, sometimes our knowledge of early deeds comes from later deeds that reference unrecorded earlier deeds. From their reports, Elizabeth signed every deed until 1761, although I am uncertain about 1755. I feel that all of these deeds actually need to be verified against the original records.
- 1753 – To Lodowich Miller, son of Johann Michael Miller
- 1754 – To Lodewick Miller
- 1754 – To Daniel Ulrich
- 1758 – Sold land in York County
- 1761 – Sold to George Wine, probably related to Michael Wine who would marry Lodowich Miller’s daughter. This transcribed record does not show Elizabeth signing. The original record should be checked. If Elizabeth had children in approximately 1762 and 1764, she was clearly alive in 1761. Since we don’t know the exact birth years of Elizabeth’s last two children, it’s possible that both were born in or before 1761, and Elizabeth had died by the time the deed was signed.
- 1766 – multiple deeds, none of which include Elizabeth.
We don’t know that Elizabeth didn’t die while they were in exile, and we don’t know that she wasn’t killed. The commentary from contemporaneous writers was that nearly all families lost someone in the depredations.
In 1766, Stephen Ulrich and Nicholas Martin sold their tract of land that they had patented in 1761, in several pieces, giving Elizabeth several opportunities to sign…but Elizabeth did not seem to be present. Ironically, they deeded part of the land to another Elizabeth Ulrich, thought to be the sister of Stephen Ulrich Jr. Is it any wonder that Elizabeth Ulrich, Stephen’s wife, is so confusing and so often confused with other people?
By the way, Nicholas Martin is also rumored to be married to Elizabeth Ulrich, the daughter of Stephen Ulrich Sr., but since the Elizabeth Ulrich who received the 1766 deed married Jacob Snively, who sells that same land two years later, Nicholas Martin certainly can’t be married to her at this time.
If Stephen Ulrich’s wife, Elizabeth, died sometime between about 1764 and 1766, she may well have died in exile, leaving Stephen with children ages 19, 15, 14, 11, 9, 7, 5, 3 and a newborn.
Stephen did not remarry until 1782, to Hannah Stutzman. How did he raise those children from roughly 1765 to 1782? By 1782, the children would all have been on their own, except for perhaps the very youngest who would have been about 18. Did he marry between Elizabeth and Hannah? Or did Elizabeth not die in 1765 or so, and simply fail to sign all of those deeds?
Elizabeth would have been about 45 when she died, assuming she died about 1765 – not old by any measure. I cannot help but wonder if she died giving birth to a final child, who also died.
If in fact Elizabeth did not die in 1765, but simply stopped signing deeds, for some reason, she was assuredly gone by 1782 when Stephen Ulrich remarried to Hannah Stutzman, Jacob Stutzman’s widow. In 1782, Elizabeth would have been about 62 – still not elderly. So we can say with certainty she died between 1758 when she positively signed a deed and 1782 when Stephen remarried.
I wonder if Elizabeth is buried in Frederick County or if she died and was buried while the family was gone? Did she die in the wagon along the road? Did she die in childbirth? Did she succumb to Indian raids? It’s unusual that there are absolutely no stories about an early death and what happened to the children. But by the same token, there were absolutely no stories about the Indian raids forcing the residents to remove, twice, and their homesteads burning either.
Did Stephen and the children ride home in that wagon alone – ending their exile. It would have been a long, joyless, silent ride, punctuated only by the clip-clop of horse hooves as they propelled the family ever closer to home – or what had once been home.
How did the family feel to finally arrive where their home had been to only find charred rubble? Did they pull up in front of where they had once lived and sit in silence looking at the shadow of what had once been, and now lay before their eyes in ruins? If Elizabeth was gone, how were they going to survive without a mother? Their home was gone and their mother was gone. How could life get any worse? They must have sat in that wagon feeling utterly dejected, staring at their former home, gone up in smoke and taking with it their hopes and dreams. Now there were only charred remains, perhaps with weeds and vines growing in the cracks, returning to nature. Not only did they have to rebuild their homestead, they had to rebuild their lives. How did they do that?
Fortunately, they had other Brethren families to help them and provide moral support too. Assuredly, someone helped Stephen with the younger children. As the older children married, perhaps they took the younger ones under their wing. Stephen physically could not watch young children and work in the barn and fields.
Elizabeth Was Not Jacob Cripe’s Daughter
The final nail in the coffin that proves that Elizabeth was not the daughter of Jacob Cripe is found in Jacob Cripe’s will, written in 1779 in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Marian Corya was kind enough to provide me with this transcribed copy:
Will of Jacob Gripe (1801), Huntingdon County Will Book 1: 195, Huntingdon County Historical Society, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.
Last Will & Testament of Jacob Gripe Deceased
June 4th 1779
As I live and not know how long and must Die and not know how soon so is this my Will after my decease. My Son Jacob shall have Three hundred Pounds in all in Money of the Piece of Land which I bought in Frankstown he shall have One hundred and fifty Acres where he used to live and it shall be paid out of the Three hundred Pounds and the Remainder of that mentioned Money he shall have from that Money arising of that sold place.
The two Daughters of my Daughter Elizabeth shall have One hundred Acres in Frankstown where their Mother used to live and they shall pay for the Land Thirty Pounds, their Mother & Stepfather shall live unmolested on the Land during their Natural Life and after their Decease the two Daughters of the Elizabeth shall have it free if the thirty Pounds are paid.
Christian Shively shall have Two hundred Acres where he used to live, whereof he shall pay One hundred and fifty Acres.
John Wise shall have One hundred and fifty Acres whereof he shall pay One hundred Acres.
My Daughter Catharine shall have my hundred Acres where John used to live but she must live herself on the Land and shall give to Easter Thirty Pounds.
My Son Daniel shall have One hundred Acres where he used to live and shall give to Easter Thirty Pounds.
My Daughter Hanna shall have One hundred Acres adjoining Daniel and shall pay to Easter Thirty Pounds.
The remainder of the Land shall have my Son Samuel and shall pay to Easter Thirty Pounds.
And my Wife Elizabeth a born Ulrich shall have the right to one half of Samuels Land during her Natural Life for her own Use and Benefit with the House, Garden, Meadows and Improved Land to have it at her own Discretion, further she shall have, One Mare and all the House furniture and the Horn’d Cattle Samuel shall have the Horses, Cooper Tools, Plough, Hoes and Axes and that such shall be kept and done shall my Wife a born Ulrich with her Son Samuel have the Right as Guardian in my Name to give the others Titles according to the Rule of the Country, And herewith all under the Commands of God.
As you can see from this will, Jacob did indeed have a daughter Elizabeth who was clearly living in 1779, and living in Frankstown which is either in Bedford County or the adjacent county. Furthermore, Elizabeth, the wife of Stephen Ulrich Jr. had 5 daughters, not three, and Elizabeth and Stephen Ulrich never lived in Bedford County.
Elizabeth and Stephen’s first two children were males, as was the fourth. The third and fifth children were daughters. The fifth child was Elizabeth who married Daniel Miller. All of Stephen and Elizabeth’s children mentioned above were accounted for when they sold Stephen’s land in 1785, after his death. In fact, that’s how we know who his children were and who they married.
Lastly, there is nothing to indicate that Stephen’s wife, Elizabeth, was married twice, but Jacob Cripe in his 1779 will clearly refers to the step-father of the two daughters. If Stephen’s wife, Elizabeth, was still alive in 1779, she was living in Washington County (formerly Frederick County,) Maryland, not Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Stephen and Elizabeth never moved to Bedford County.
We can’t say unequivocally that Elizabeth was dead by 1779, but given that she stopped signing deeds, it’s likely. We know positively, however, that she is gone by 1782 when Stephen remarries and we know that Elizabeth, Stephen’s wife, never lived in Frankstown.
And so ends the myth that Stephen’s wife, Elizabeth Ulrich, was Jacob Cripe’s daughter.
The challenge here, of course, is that we know who Elizabeth Ulrich isn’t, but we don’t know who she is!
Given that most of Stephen Ulrich’s land sales of Germania (later resurveyed as Good Neighbor) were to either Ulrich family members or people in or related to the Miller family, I have always wondered if Elizabeth was a daughter of Johann Michael Miller. Jacob Stutzman was either Michael Miller’s step-brother of half-brother. Regardless of the exact relationship, Michael was very close to Jacob, and the two men immigrated together. Lodowich Miller was Michael’s son. There is no way to know if Elizabeth was Michael Miller’s daughter, unless Stephen Ulrich’s Bible, or Michael Miller’s Bible shows up on e-bay one day. Keep in mind that the Bibles of both of these men, unless they managed to be put inside the wagons when evacuating, probably burned when their homes burned in 1755 and 1763.
Again, this is simply thinking out loud and trying to put puzzle pieces together. Please do NOT list Elizabeth as Michael’s daughter in any trees due to this speculation. I’m simply hoping that perhaps this line of thought could lead to additional research or a discovery by another researcher down the road as other records become available.
Can Mitochondrial DNA Help?
Mitochondrial DNA is passed intact from a mother to all of her children, but only daughters pass it on. Fortunately, it’s not admixed with any DNA from the father, so many generations later, it stays the same, except for an occasional mutation. That means that if Elizabeth is the daughter of Suzanna Berchtol and Michael Miller, her mitochondrial DNA would match exactly to other women who share the same common ancestor.
Michael Miller and his wife, Suzanna Agnes Berchtol, had no proven daughters, so to be able to utilize mitochondrial DNA, which Elizabeth would have inherited from her mother, we need to reach back to Suzanna Berchtol’s sisters in Germany.
To see if Elizabeth’s descendants match Suzanne Berchtol’s mitochondrial DNA, we would have to find a descendant of the sisters of Suzanna Agnes Berchtol, descended through all females to the current generation, where the descendant could be male or female. Suzanna Berchtol did have two sisters, according to baptismal records in Germany, Barbel (Barbara) born in 1693 and Ursula born about 1696. We don’t know for sure if these women lived or married, so there may be no descendants today, but hopefully there are.
To prove that Elizabeth is Michael Miller and Suzanna Berchtol’s daughter, or not, we would also need an individual descended from Elizabeth through all females, to the current generation, which can be male or female.
If Elizabeth is the daughter of Suzanna, the mitochondrial DNA of anyone descended from her through all daughters will match the mitochondrial DNA of anyone descended through all daughters from either Barbel (Barbara) born in 1693 or Ursula born in 1696.
If a descendant of each line tests, and they don’t match (except for perhaps a mutation), then we know that Elizabeth was not the daughter of Suzanna Berchtol Miller, and we can look at the oldest ancestors of other people Elizabeth’s descendant matches to see if any of those matches come from Brethren families.
Fortunately, Elizabeth had 5 daughters who could have had daughters, highlighted below…on down the line to living descendants today.
Elizabeth Ulrich’s children were:
- David Ulrich born about 1746 and died in 1823, married Barbara and had 7 children. They lived in Montgomery County, Ohio.
- Stephen Ullery born about 1750 and died in 1835. He married Susan Rench and they lived in Morrison’s Cove in Bedford County, PA and then in Montgomery County, Ohio.
- Christina Ulrich born about 1752 and died about 1810. She married Jacob Stutzman (Jr.) who later became her step-brother when their widowed parents married. They eventually moved to Montgomery County, Ohio.
- Samuel Ulrich born about 1754 and died in 1822. He married Mary Brumbaugh and they lived in Bedford County, PA.
- Elizabeth Ulrich born about 1757 and died in 1832. She married Daniel Miller and they moved first to Bedford County, PA, then to Clermont County Ohio, then to Montgomery County, Ohio.
- Mary Ulrich born about 1760 and died about 1842. She married George Butterbaugh and they lived in Bedford County, PA.
- Hannah Ulrich born about 1762 and died in 1798. She married Henry Butterbaugh and they lived in Washington County, Maryland.
- Lydia Ulrich born about 1764 and died about 1810. She married Jacob Lear, Jr and they lived in Cambria County, PA.
I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone who descends from either Barbara or Ursula Berchtol, the sisters of Suzanna Agnes BerchtolI in the manner described above, through all females to the current generation which can be male or female.
I also have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Elizabeth, wife of Stephen Ulrich, through all females to the current generation, which can also be male or female.
Why Can’t Autosomal DNA Solve this Riddle – At Least Not Today?
Many times autosomal DNA can help identify families and parents, but in this case, it’s unlikely. Why?
To begin with, Elizabeth Ulrich is 7 generations back in time from me. That’s a long time, genetically speaking. Autosomal DNA is divided approximately in half in each generation, so I could only expect to carry less than 1% of Elizabeth’s autosomal DNA.
This doesn’t mean that I can’t match people who also descend from this couple, because I can and do, but it means that I’m unlikely to be able to tell with a combination of both DNA and genealogy who Elizabeth’s parents are. Obviously, in this case, the genealogy is entirely missing, so we have to rely entirely on DNA.
Also making this even more difficult is that I have one other wife with an unknown surname in this same family grouping, from about the same time and place.
Philip Jacob Miller’s wife’s name was Magdalena. Philip Jacob married Magdalena about 1751, also probably in York County, or possibly in Frederick County, Maryland. She too would have been Brethren. Clearly, both Elizabeth and Magdalena could have been from any of the other Brethren families, and they could also have been related to each other, or any number of other Brethren families. In other words, it’s not impossible or even unlikely that they shared some DNA, then. The Brethren lines continued to intermarry, and many Brethren carry the DNA of these early founders. The only family lines we can eliminate, positively, as Elizabeth’s (or Magdalena’s) parents would be Jacob Cripe, Stephen Ulrich Jr. and Sr. and Jacob Stutzman whose will was probated in 1776 and lists his children. Aside from that, all Brethren families are candidates.
Therefore, if I did receive a “Brethren” match from a line whose genealogy was complete, with no unknown ancestors, and who did not descend from either the Miller, Stutzman or Ulrich lines, I would not be able to tell if the match was from Magdalena’s line or Elizabeth’s line – because I carry DNA from both of those women. Furthermore, I don’t know if there are any lines out of this area that have not intermarried by this time. The Brethren moved together, intermarried and founded churches together, for generations, and can still be found living adjacent today.
Still it’s fun to see who I match that is descended from Stephen and Elizabeth Ulrich. If you descend from these families and have taken an autosomal DNA test, please do let me know. We might share a segment of Stephen and Elizabeth’s DNA. I share segments of DNA with other descendants of Stephen and Elizabeth through four of their daughters and one son.
My mother, who is one generation closer than me is at Family Tree DNA under the name of Barbara Jean Ferverda and her kit number at GedMatch is T167724. She isn’t at Ancestry, because she passed away before Ancestry began autosomal testing, but I’ve tested at Ancestry.
I hope that one day we can resolve the question of who Elizabeth’s parents were. That resolution could happen because of DNA testing, or it could happen as more records become available and indexed at genealogy sites, or some combination of both. Even today, if other Brethren researchers can eliminate a few more York County families as candidates by providing the names of their children, or add some additional Brethren families known to be in York County before 1745, that would be most helpful.
Regardless, of who Elizabeth’s parents were, she was clearly one very brave lady, facing the trepidations of warfare from the time she married in the early 1740s until the mid-1760s. That could have been her entire adult life, depending on when she died. I hope that she lived longer than we think. I so want her to be able to see her children grown to adulthood – to cry at their weddings – and to be able to hold her grandchildren.
I want her to be able to sit in a rocking chair on her porch, overlooking the vistas in the distance, without fear, telling stories from “long ago” to wide-eyed grandchildren about living in the wagon when the Indians came, cooking in a pot over a fire under the starlight when they returned and building houses in the woods where no settlers had lived before. I want her to be able to pluck peaches and pears and apples from the trees she and Stephen would have planted when they returned in 1766 and bake pies when her grandchildren come to visit. I so want Elizabeth to have had some good years.
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