Henrich Wiseheart: Untangling the Wiseheart Line (52 Ancestors #52)

Previously, I wrote about John Wiseheart and not being able to figure out which John he is.  As a result, one of my goals for 2016 is to resolve this issue.  A few years ago, my grandpa told me about Henrich Wiseheart, who came over here on the Winter Galley in 1738.  He said he believed that Henrich was our immigrant Wiseheart ancestor and John’s grandfather.  He let me borrow the “Wiseheart” box, full of papers, to look through.  There were several documents on Henrich and his children, which have left me scratching my head.  These are, to the best of my ability to decipher since none of them are cited, passenger lists for the Winter Galley, two orphans court records, three probate records, and a letter from a relative.  I started with the letter.

The letter was addressed to my grandpa and written by Velda Clark.  In it, Velda tells of her sister-in-law finding some information about Hans Nicholas Wiseheart online.  According to this information, Hans Nicholas is the son of Henrich Wiseheart and an unknown mother.  Hans Nicholas married Barbara Lehr and had a son, Johann, with her.  He then married Rachel.  They had Nancy, Polly, Catherine, and John.  The rest of the letter goes on about Polly.1

With this information in mind, I moved on to the orphans court records.  The first one I looked at, dated May of 1763, is about Henry Wisehart, son of Henry Wisehart, whose guardian is Gotlieb Ziegler.  Henry, the son, was born in June of 1744.2  As I had no way of knowing from this whether this was my Henry or not, I filed it away for later.

The next record, dated August of 1750, was for Casper Wiliert and Michael Koontz, guardians of the orphans of Henry Wiseheart.  These children were Christopher (born circa 1741), Hans Nicholas (born circa 1744), and Gartrude (born March 1, 1748).  Christopher was bound out to Godlib Liegler to be an apprentice carpenter.  Hans Nicholas was bound out to Johannes Shultz to be an apprentice blacksmith.  Gartrude was bound out to Casper Wiliert.  No trade was mentioned.3  It seems to be that he is officially taking her in as his ward.

The interesting thing about these records is that Hans Nicholas and the aforementioned Henry, son of Henry, were born about the same time.  I wondered if they might be twins.  However, Henry is not mentioned at all in the orphans court records of August 1750, which names all the children of Henrich.  Then, I noticed that Christpher was bound out to Godlib Liegler and Henry’s guardian is Gotlieb Ziegler.  I believe Liegler was supposed to have been Ziegler.  This made me wonder if Christopher and Henry were the same person, one of the names being his middle name, but there’s quite an age difference between the two records.  The 1763 record says that Henry is eighteen years old.  Christopher was bound until the age of twenty-one, which is how old he would have been in 1763.  I decided to leave it alone for now since Hans Nicholas is my primary concern.

I moved on to the probate records.  The first one, dated May of 1750, identifies Matthias and Elizabeth Culb, Daniel Dreighler, and Casper Wilyard as the administrators of Henry Wisehart’s estate.  It goes on to say that Elizabeth Culb is the late widow of Henry Wisehart.4  I’ve seen this a lot while working on projects at work.  One parent dies and the other remarries and the children are bound out, usually by their step-parent.

The second probate record, dated May of 1751, doesn’t provide any new information on Henrich or his children.4  The third probate record, dated December of 1752, states that Casper Wiliar is one of the bond men for Matthias and Elizabeth Culb.4

I looked at the passenger lists.  There were three lists for the Winter Galley in 1738.  Henrich was thirty years old.  He was listed as Henrich Weyshart on the first list, which was made in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  On the second list, from Deal, Kent, England, he was Henrich Weishart.  On the third list, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he was Henry Weishart.  On September 5, 1738, Henrich took the Oath of Allegiance.5

This information is all fairly useful, but I really needed something to help me piece it together.  I decided to look at some user-submitted family trees online, to see if anyone had done this research.  I’m afraid all it did was confuse me more.  One tree suggested that Hans Nicholas went by John, which is a thought I had also had.  After all, Hans is traditionally a short form of Johann or Johannes.  It also mentioned records for Hans Nicholas in Adams County, Pennsylvania and Rockingham County, Virginia.6  I’ll have to look into that.

Another tree suggested that Henrich’s name was actually John Heinrich Wiseheart.7  That made me stop to think that perhaps John, son of John, son of John and John, son of Hans Nicholas, son of Henrich might be the same person.  I compared what I knew about the dates and spouses of both lines and this isn’t possible.  Herein lies the problem with unsourced family trees.  They can be helpful in providing clues to the next puzzle piece, but they can also have you doubting yourself.  I haven’t found anything to suggest that Henrich’s name was John other than this one family tree, and that person doesn’t have a source for that information.

With this post, I have exhausted all of the ancestors about whom I know much of anything.  Because of this, I’ve decided not to do the 52 Ancestors Challenge in 2016.  Instead, my New Year’s Resolution is to research more on the handful of ancestors who have proved to be difficult:  John WiseheartHeinrich Ludwig Wilhelm Schröder, Charlotte Poppa, Leason Gilliland (the entire Gilliland family, really), Ossian Salisbury, and Frank Springer.  I also intend to go through all of the fruit boxes full of papers next year, to see what my grandparents have already found on these people.  I will post updates on my progress.


  1. Clark, Velda. “RE: Hans Nicholas Wiseheart.” Letter to Sanford Wiseheart. 31 May 2006. MS. In My Possession, New Albany, Indiana.
  2. “Henry Wisehart.” Orphans Court Records. York County, Pennsylvania: n.p., 31 May 1763. N. pag. Microfilm.
  3. “Casper Wilert and Michael Koontz.” Orphans Court Records. York County, Pennsylvania: n.p., 4 Aug 1750. N. pag. Microfilm.
  4. “Estate of Henry Wisehart.” Probate Records. York County, Pennsylvania: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Microfilm.
  5. Strassburger, Ralph Beaver, and William John Hinke. “Winter Galley 1738.”Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808. Vol. 1. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub., 1966. 198-203. Print.
  6. Yates-Potter, Dellamarie. “Information about Hans Nicholas Wiseheart.”Yates Family Tree. Genealogy.com, 24 Sept. 2004. Web. 26 Dec. 2015.
  7. “John Heinrich Wiseheart.” Ryner Family Tree. Ancestry.com, n.d. Web. 26 Dec. 2015.

Lydia Slaymaker: Will the Real Lydia Please Stand Up? (52 Ancestors #49)

The name Slaymaker always makes me think of winter.  It conjures images in my head of a person building a sleigh, even though the spelling is different.  Of course, Schleiermacher, the original spelling, means “veil maker.”  Nevertheless, this auditory association has prompted me to write about Lydia Slaymaker.

In truth, I know almost nothing about her.  However, I hope that what little I do know is enough to straighten out some confusion that seems to be spreading across the internet.  There were two Lydia Slaymakers born in the same century and both lived in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Both also died young.  I have been trying to find Lydia Slaymaker who married Nicholas Springer, but often the wrong Lydia is attached to the family trees that I come across.

Lydia Slaymaker was born in 1782, the seventh child of John and Mary (Peck) Slaymaker.1,2,4  She married Nicholas Springer, the son of Nicholas and Elizabeth (McIlvaine) Springer.2,3  They had two children:  John Slaymaker Springer (born circa 1810) and Elizabeth Springer.2,5  Lydia died on December 22, 1818 and was buried in Old Leacock Presbyterian Church cemetery.1,4

There was another Lydia Slaymaker who was born in 1769 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.2,6  She died on September 20, 1794 and was also buried in Old Leacock Presbyterian Church cemetery.6  She is often listed as the wife of Nicholas Springer and the mother of John and Elizabeth on family trees.  This is not possible.

First, Lydia was the seventh child of John and Mary Slaymaker.  The third child, Mathias, was born in 1774, so there is no way Lydia could have been born before him.2

Second, Lydia married Nicholas Springer.  Why would she be buried under the name Lydia Slaymaker?  This a good indication that Lydia Slaymaker (1769-1794) is not the correct one, and Lydia Slaymaker Springer (1782-1818) is the correct one.

Third, and last, Lydia’s son, John, was born sometime between 1800 and 1810.  It just isn’t possible for Lydia to have died in 1794 and then given birth to two children.

We all make mistakes.  This research has been a reminder to me that I need to be very careful when I’m fitting pieces together.  I need to check and re-check my dates.  With winter upon us, I’m sure there will be a number of snow days.  I can’t think of a better use for them than verifying my data.


  1. Egle, William Henry. “Leacock Presbyterian Church.” Notes and Queries: Historical, Biographical and Genealogical, Relating Chiefly to Interior Pennsylvania. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Harrisburg, 1898. 79. Google Books. Pennsylvania State Library, 15 July 2006. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.
  2. Slaymaker, Henry Cochran. “Part III. Descendants of Mathias Slaymaker, Second.” History of the Descendants of Mathias Slaymaker Who Emigrated from Germany and Settled in the Eastern Part of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, about 1710. Lancaster, Pennsylvania: n.p., 1909. 115-21. Google Books. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 29 Nov. 2007. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.
  3. Daughters of the American Revolution. “Springer, Nicholas.” A Roster of Revolutionary Ancestors of the Indiana Daughters of the American Revolution: Commemoration of the United States of America Bicentennial, July 4, 1976. Vol. 1. Evansville, IN: Unigraphic, 1976. 601.HeritageQuest Online [ProQuest]. Web. 27 Mar. 2011.
  4. C&P LaPlante Files. “Lydia Springer (1782 – 1818).” Find A Grave. N.p., 26 July 2007. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. Find A Grave Memorial# 20647591.
  5. 1840 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com, 2009. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. Orange, Indiana. p.95. Line 18.
  6. C&P LaPlante Files. “Lydia Slaymaker (1769 – 1794).” Find A Grave. N.p., 14 Mar. 2006. Web. 08 Dec. 2015. Find A Grave Memorial# 13617389.


Paul Razor: An Unexpected Revolutionary Ancestor (52 Ancestors #45)

Paul Razor was my fifth great grandfather.  He married Mary Catherine Cook.  This was really all I knew about him until last week.  I was researching him to see if I could turn anything up and I came across a reference to service in the Revolutionary War.  Since I have access to the select and non-select Revolutionary War pension records, I looked for him in the index.  There he was.  I pulled the corresponding roll of microfilm and found the documents pertaining to Paul Razor.  It is often difficult to read the writing, but I’ve learned quite a bit about him.

Paul Razor began his service in Pittsylvania County, Virginia in April of 1777.  He volunteered under Captain William Witcher for six months.  They began at Pittsylvania Old Courthouse and marched to Long Island, where they were stationed under the command of Colonel Shelby.  Here, they were charged with driving the Indians out of the settlements.  In June of 1781, no longer a volunteer, he was instructed to take a load from the mill to Pittslyvania County and to William Penn’s house in Amherst County, Virginia in his wagon with his team of horses.  He was then ordered to join the army near Williamsburg.  He did meet the army, which was under the command of General Lafayette and General Wayne.  Paul was then attached to this unit and was employed in hauling goods and whatever else they needed a wagon to do.  They then marched to Petersburg and continued on toward Richmond.  They camped 18 miles below Richmond.  Here he was discharged by General Wayne in September of 1781.

He requested pension in January of 1834.  In his pension request he included other information about himself.  Paul Razor was born in Easttown, Pennsylvania in 1750.  He lived in Pittsylvania County, Virginia until 1790.  He then moved to Fayette County, Kentucky, where he lived for five years.  He then moved to Shelby County, Kentucky, where he lived at the time of his pension request.  His testimony of service was confirmed by two witnesses and pension was granted.


  1. National Archives and Records Administration. “Paul Razor (R8626).”  Microfilm. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files (Select and Non-select) (1800-1900): roll m804-2008. Accessed 4 November 2015. Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

Joseph Rakestraw: A Colorful Claim (52 Ancestors #41)

Long have I heard stories about George Washington having commissioned a weathervane from Joseph Rakestraw, my seventh great-grandfather.  If true, this would be a pretty cool addition to the family history.  But how do I prove or disprove it?

I began by looking for information on George Washington’s weathervane and any mention of a Joseph Rakestraw.  As it happens, Washington wrote a letter to a Joseph Rakestraw of Philadelphia on July 20, 1787, requesting that a weathervane be crafted.  This weathervane was to have the shape of a bird with an olive branch in its mouth.1  A weathervane of that description can be found on the cupola at Mount Vernon today.

Cupola and weathervane at Mount Vernon. Courtesy of MountVernon.org.

Cupola and weathervane at Mount Vernon. Courtesy of MountVernon.org.

Now, I have been researching Rakestraws for a long time.  In 1787, there were about five or six Joseph Rakestraws in and around Philadelphia.  Most likely all related somehow, but still, how do I know which one fashioned the weathervane?

As I continued my research, I found that the Joseph Rakestraw to whom Washington had written was not a metalworker, he was a carpenter.2,3  This narrowed it down some.  I know at least two Josephs were carpenters and one was a printer.  I am unsure about the others.  Of the two I know to be carpenters, one had moved out of Philadelphia in 1786, leaving only one that I know for sure was a carpenter.4,5  This one is the one I believe was my seventh great-grandfather.

The Joseph Rakestraw who produced the weathervane was a member of the Carpenters’ Company.  Indeed, he was president of the Company, which is probably why Washington wrote to him.  Joseph was born circa 1735 and Carpenter’s Hall records state that he died of yellow fever in 1794.6,7  The man I believe to be my seventh great-grandfather was born circa 1735 and died in 1794 at the age of 62.  He was buried on the 10th day of the 5th month in 1794.8  He was a Quaker.  Quaker records show that he was married to Rachel Ogilby (or Ogilbey) and had children:  Justinian, Elizabeth, Hannah, and Joseph.9,10

Joseph Rakestraw, who was married to Rachel Ogilby and died in 1794, was the man whom Washington commissioned to create a weathervane for Mount Vernon.  I believe this to be the same Joseph Rakestraw who is my seventh great-grandfather, but I am still trying to prove that his son Joseph and my sixth great-grandfather Joseph, who married Rebecca Gilbert, are the same person.


  1. The Papers of George Washington Digital Edition, ed. Theodore J. Crackel. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, Rotunda, 2008.  Accessed 07 October 2015.
  2. Manca, Joseph. George Washington’s Eye: Landscape, Architecture, and Design at Mount Vernon. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins UP, 2012. Print.
  3. Greenberg, Allan C. George Washington, Architect. London: Andreas Papadakis, 1999. Print.
  4. Walton, William. A Narrative of the Captivity and Sufferings of Benjamin Gilbert and His Family, Who Were Taken by the Indians in the Spring of 1780. Third Edition. Philadelphia: Printed by John Richards, 1848. pp. 222-223.
  5. Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.  Haverford College; Haverford, Pennsylvania; Minutes, 1768-1789; Collection: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Minutes.
  6. Moss, Roger W. “Rakestraw, Joseph (c. 1735 – D. 1794).” Philadelphia Architects and Buildings. The Athenaeum of Philadelphia, 2015. Web. 16 Oct. 2015.
  7. Karsch, Carl G. “The Yellow Fever Connection.” Ushistory.org. Independence Hall Association, 4 July 1995. Web. 7 Oct. 2015.
  8. Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.  Haverford College; Haverford, Pennsylvania; Births and Deaths, 1754-1806; Collection: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Minutes.
  9. Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.  Swarthmore College; Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Women’s Minutes, 1744-1765; Collection: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Minutes; Call Number: MR-Ph 561.
  10. Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.  Haverford College; Haverford, Pennsylvania; Minutes, 1768-1789; Collection: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Minutes.

John Wiseheart: Which John Are You? (52 Ancestors #40)

I’ve been trying to source the Wiseheart line on the pedigree chart that my grandma gave me.  It’s been very difficult.  I can get it back to my third great grandfather, but proving his connection to the man that I believe is his father is, so far, impossible.  The pedigree chart says that my fourth great grandfather is John Wiseheart (1775-1837), who was married to Catharine Razor (1787-1850).  John was born in Pennsylvania.1

Here’s where my biggest problem comes in.  There were two John Wisehearts (or Wisehart) born in Pennsylvania in 1775, at least.  But of the the two I’ve come across, is he John, son of John, son of John, or John, son of Hans Nicholas, son of Henrich?  The only thing I’ve been able to find for John Wiseheart and Catherine Razor is a marriage record, which does not give his father’s name.

The only thing I have been able to find about John is that he married Catharine Razor in Jefferson County, Kentucky on October 9, 1798.1,2,3  According to the transcription on Ancestry.com, Catharine was born in 1787, which would have made her eleven years old.1  Now, this isn’t totally unheard of, but it seems highly unlikely to me, as the print index done by The Filson Historical Society does not list consent given.  That would have been a requirement for an eleven-year-old.  Having read some old handwriting myself, I think it’s far more likely that a 6 looked like an 8 or a 1 looked like a 7, or some combination thereof.  John Razor was the bondsman.3  Perhaps trying to find John Razor and Catharine Razor on a record together will yield some information.

In the end, all I really know about John Wiseheart is that his wedding anniversary is in two days.


  1. Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.  Source number: 4178.015; Source type: Family group sheet, FGSE, listed as parents; Number of Pages: 1.
  2. Dodd, Jordan. Kentucky Marriages, 1802-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1997.
  3. Dawson, Nelson L., ed. Jefferson County, Virginia-Kentucky, Early Marriages, Book I, 1781-July, 1826. Owensboro, KY: Cook-McDowell Publications, 1980. Print. p. 32.