Friday, December 3, 2010

A Plausible Hunch

I have pretty much been able to establish that Jacob Hummel bought his farm from John Wilcoxon in 1798, he married his wife, Elizabeth, Sept. 29, 1801, and started his family. He lived there until his death in 1866.

However, he still just appears, it seems, out of nowhere.

I have a new hunch, and it seems to fit nicely: Jacob Hummel may have come to America as a young man, by himself, probably in the mid- to late-1790s, and settled with members of his mother's family, the Zieglers, around Alleghenyville, PA, until he was able to get a place of his own, nearby.

Here are some of the reasons why I think this hunch fits:

  • Coming to America was an expensive proposition, usually attempted by indentured servants (whose fares ware paid for them), well off families, or young single men.
  • Robeson Lutheran (Plow) Cemetery lists his parent's names as Michael and Mary (Ziegler) Hummel. Neither of the Michael Hummels I found match what I know of Jacob.
  • According to a map I have, Jacob purchased his farm in 1798, when he was a young man of 20, seemingly out of nowhere.
  • He married a local Robeson Township girl, (Maria) Elizabeth Hertz, the daughter of David Hertz, who had a farm just over in what is now Brecknock Township, Berks County, PA. These last two facts point to Jacob Hummel knowing both the area and the people at a young age.
  • According to his childrens' birth records, Jacob attended Allegheny Church, 5 miles away from his farm, until sometime around 1815 or so, when he changed to Robeson Church, less than 1/2 mile from his home. Possibly, Allegheny Church was the Ziegler (and maybe his) family church those first years. Many Zieglers are buried in the old cemetery there.

Just a hunch, I haven't researched this yet, however, to me it sounds plausible, and no one else has ever been able to come up with anything else that fits.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Signatures of My Ancestors

A few months ago, I received Jacob Hummel's will from the Berks County Register of Wills Office. I will post details of his will later, but I did copy from the will Jacob Hummel's Signature, along with that of my 3rd great grandfather, his son Daniel Hummel:

It's Been A While

Due to other commitments, it has been some time since I have been able to do any further research.

On a recent visit, however, to the Berks County Genealogical Society, I was able to dig up a few more nuggets of information:

1. Jacob Hummel's wife was not named Maria Elizabeth Herbine, as recorded in the Robeson Lutheran Church Records. Her name was Maria Elizabeth Hertz. I was able to ascertain her correct maiden name through 2 coroborating records:

a. The marriage record from Rev. William Boos, a German Reformed itinerant preacher at the time, showing Maria Elizabeth Hertz marrying Jacob Hummel of Robeson Township.

b. Abstract of the Will of David Hertz, directing a portion of inheritance to his daughter, Eliabeth, wife of Jacob Hummel.

2. I was also able to ascertain, through another old Robeson Township map, that I am correct on Jacob's homestead location. Though his name is missing, based on the fact that it was re-urveyed in 1798, when Jacob Hummel was 20, and not surveyed until 1867, while his estate was being settled, I believe he bough the land at 20. I still don't know where he came from, tough. I am communicating with a member of the Tri County Heritage Center to see if there is are any pictures of the home, I believe that became known as the "old Printz residence."

I still need to, one of these days, head to the Berks County Courthouse to see if the sale record is actually there. I'm running out of leads at the moment, as to his origins.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Price of Unforgiveness

This post may touch some sensitive nerves in my family, but it is a story that must be told.

When one researches his family tree, there is always the possibility of uncovering unpleasant information. This is one of those times:

I had previously written negatively about my great grandfather Wayne Hummel. It had long been told that he left my great grandmother for another woman, and that he had another family. After he left, my grandfather, at age 14, left school to earn money to support the family. It had recently been relayed to me that my great aunt was heartbroken because, since her dad lived nearby, she would watch him walk by the house on the way to work, and thought that somehow she was responsible for his leaving.

As I focused research on my great grandfather, I could not escape the fact that the evidence was not supporting what we had come to accept as the truth:

1. On his World War II selective service registration gave he listed his mother, Bertha Moser, as his contact (Bertha divorced my 2nd great grandfather F. Pierce Hummel and remarried to A. Monroe Moser). There was no other wife.

2. When I found the Hummel plot in the Charles Evans Cemetery, Wayne was buried with his father, grandfather, uncle, and two grandmothers. He did not have a wife buried there. In my research, I have found no trace of any other woman, son, or daughter.

Then, in scanning through the Reading Eagle archives, I found the following report from the Desertion Court, in the Reading Eagle, December 18, 1914:

Under oath it was revealed that:

  • Court testimony indicates that Wayne hadn't left his family; his wife left him, several times
  • The marriage was obviously in crisis on both sides
  • Regardless of the marital difficulties, the court's opinion was that they should stay together
  • Wayne, under oath, was the one who was willing to get back together

Eventually, they did get back together. According to Wayne's WWI draft registration they lived together in Philadelphia, where he found work as a grinder in a roller berring mill. They split for the final time sometime around 1924.

My great grandfather never had a relationship with his children after that. He never got to know his grandchildren, nor they him. He wasn't able to pass along his knowledge of his father, grandfather, and great grandfather (Jacob Hummel) to his children and grandchildren. He was unsuccessful in reconciling with his ex-wife and children right before he died. When he died, he died alone.

And our heritage was almost lost.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Homestead Found!

About a month ago my dad and I drove around the Plowville area looking for Jacob Hummel's farm. I had found an old map of Robeson Township circa 1860, where houses belonging to Jacob Hummel were listed. Though we saw many old stone homes, none quite seemed to fit.

On Friday evening, I returned home from visiting the Hummel Family plot in the Charles Evans Cemetery, to find a copy of Jacob Hummel's Last Will and Testament waiting for me! As I pored over the documents, I found Jacob Hummel had listed his neighbor, Samuel Seifrit. I knew that name! Sure enough, there he was, next to Jacob's farm.

I hope to visit there on Friday.

Discovering the Graves of My Fathers

Two of the mysteries I was having a hard time figuring out were: 1) when did my great-great grandfather F. Pierce Hummel die and where was he buried, and 2) when did my great grandfather Wayne Hummel die and where was he buried?

As I search for those answers with every cemetery I could think of, one cemetery –one very big cemetery –the Charles Evans Cemetery, in Reading, PA, was not listed anywhere. On a hunch, I sent an email to their office to see if they had anything, and yes, they did.

Mysteries solved. There is a Hummel plot in the center of the Charles Evans Cemetery. My ancestors who buried there are:

  • Daniel Hummel, my 3rd great grandfather
  • Hanna (nee Lorah) Hummel, my 3rd great grandmother
  • Elias L. Hummel, their son
  • F. Pierce Hummel, their son, my great-great grandfather
  • Wayne Hummel, Pierce's son, my great grandfather
  • As well as "Our Eva," Pierce's stillborn daughter; Daniel's 2nd wife, Amelia C. (nee Krick); and his 3rd wife's parents (Daniel was twice-widowed)

Of course, I never knew any of these people, long-passed by the time I was born. Two have dubious histories. Nevertheless, while I stood before them and walked among them, I couldn't help but be thankful for them. After all, their DNA is my DNA, their blood runs through my veins. They are my forefathers. Their history is my history.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Possible Evidence of Jacob’s Father!

Any reference to a Michael Hummel who was old enough to be Jacob Hummel's father has been very hard to find. However, in searching basic military records of Revolutionary War veterans today, I found the following military record in Pennsylvania's Digital State Archives:

This record gives evidence to the following facts:

  • There was a Berks County resident named Michael Hummel

  • In 1778, he was old enough to be Jacob Hummel's father

  • Even if he served in the militia (he's listed as inactive), he still may have been home long enough for his wife to conceive Jacob (born Feb. 4, 1778)

Though I have found very few records, anywhere, of a Michael Hummel who would be of a suitable age to be Jacob's father, this still may not be him. But at least it's a strong lead.

Earlier in the week, cousin Ann found that Jacob Hummel's will is on file with the Berks County Register of Wills Office. It is a very long will, 29 pages in length. I ordered a copy, and hope to receive it later in the week. Hopefully it will, as many wills did in that day, contain a narrative of important periods of his life givs us some important details of his life and his family.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Eyes Have It!

It was surreal. There I was, looking into her eyes…my eyes!

Growing up, the desire to know who my Hummel family was and is was always important to me. And as I research I have been blessed now to have not only discovered the treasure of discovering my ancestors, but now also the treasure of discovering living relatives.

After numerous conversations over the message board and email, Ann and I finally arranged to meet at the local McDonalds, from where I was going to take her to Jacob Hummel's grave, followed by a joint researching session at the Berks County Historical Society Library.

We hit it off right away, like we had known each other all our lives. Like me, Ann is very extroverted, animated, and loves to laugh. Too see the two of us together one could tell that we were related, even though our latest common ancestor was born in 1778!

Genes run strong in the Hummel family. But the eyes…

It was Ann who said something first. As we were talking, she suddenly stopped and asked, "Have you noticed how similar our eyes are?" While she was asking, I was thinking the same thing. Yes, brown eyes are common, but this was exact: Same color, same shade, same contrast between the iris and the whites, even the same little vein in the right eye! It felt like I was looking back at myself! She felt the same way!

The day was over before it began. We spent some time with my dad, discovered birth and baptismal records for a number of Jacob's older children in the Allegheny Lutheran Church records, and visited the churches Jacob attended.

From Berks County, Pennsylvania, to Missouri, two branches of the Hummel family separated. Now children of those brothers, 5th cousins, have reunited.

Monday, August 9, 2010

From Brecknock to Robeson

There are times when research is fairly easy: an index easily finds the targeted record, enabling the researcher to go right to the proper page in the proper journal; and there waits the piece to the puzzle the researher needed.

Then there are the times where there is no index to point the researcher to the targed information. Then it's time start skimming and scanning page after page.

During a discussion about Jacob Hummel's origins, my distant cousin / fellow researcher informed me that Jacob's son Isaac was said to have been born in Brecknock Township, which borders Robeson Towhship in Berks County. My goal today at the Genealogical Society library was to see if I could find his birth record and establish the Hummel family presence there.

There was no index this time. Birth records were only indexed until 1800.

Time to skim and scan…

Then I struck a few little nuggets of gold.

In a hard-to-read photocopy of a handwritten-in-German record of the Allegheny Lutheran Church, in Brecknock Township I found the birth and baptismal records of Jacob's children Johan (in 1804), Sarah (in 1805), and Jacob Jr (in 1807). This record rules out my earlier hunch that Jacob Hummel may have come to America abord the Fair American in 1805.

There is a gap in the Allegheny Church record from 1809 to 1860, so somewhere between 1809 and 1819 Jacob Hummel either moved a little further east into Robeson Township or, since there is a rather close proximity between the two churches, merely moved his church membership from Allegheny to Plow Church.

My next step may need to be at the Berks County Recorder of Deeds Office to see if I can find the land records to more concretely establish his resicendy in Robeson Township.

Jacob Hummel’s Children

Much of my research of Jacob Hummel has involved and will continue to involve Jacob's children. Here is the list of Jacob Hummel's children:






23 Jan 1802

24 Feb 1883

Philip's family tree is known


16 Mar 1804




24 Nov 1805

20 May 1888



19 Sept 1807




26 Feb 1810

9 Apr 1885



25 Jan 1812

27 Jun 1855



8 Oct 1814

21 Mar 1904

Isaac's family tree is known


14 Oct 1816




1 Feb 1819




18 Mar 1821




8 Jul 1823

9 Dec 1899

Daniel's family tree is known


22 Oct 1825




8 Apr 1828

6 Aug 1891


Monday, July 26, 2010

Life Gets in the Way

It has been a while since I have been able to do any research, and may be a little while longer. Sports seasons for my sons are upon us, so research periods may become fewer and further between.

In the last week I have verified the date of birth of Jacob Hummel's daughter Sarah and have found some other Jacob Hummel's who may fit what I know about my ancestor: notably, a departure record for a Jacob Hummel with wife and children, from 1817. My ancestor Jacob's first appearance in Plow Church records is in 1819. I need to find the book, The Swiss Emigration Book, Volumn 1, by Cornelia Schrader-Muggenthaler. The Berks Genealogical Society does not have a copy.

Although, this particular record may be a wild goose chase. I have been told that Isaac Hummel, another of Jacob's sons, was born in Brecknock Township, March 21, 1814. If that's true, there may be Hummel records from Brecknock Township churches. I will search there next, as soon as I can get back to the Genealogical Society.

I also need to pay a visit to the Berks County Historical Society, one of these days.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Next To-Do: More Jacob Hummel Research

It is becoming more likely, as I research, that my ancestor Jacob Hummel is the one who brought his small family to America on the Fair American, and that his father and mother, as I have them listed, never left Germany or Switzerland.

According to Census records, there was a Michael Hummel in Manheim Township, in formerly Berks but now Schuylkill County, in the 1800 Census, but he was the only person in his household. He was the only Michael Hummel in Pennsylvania. It is possible they came east from Ohio, but in that era, I would think it unlikely.

There are several Jacob Hummel families, one of which was in Manheim Township in 1810, but at first glance I don't think the age groups match the ages of his family members. So next I need to make a spreadsheet, listing all his family members, and their ages at 1800, 1810, and 1820, and match them to the census records.

After that, I'd like to head back to the Berks Genealogical Society and search for the birth records of the children. Hopefully, I will find them.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rethinking Jacob Hummel

Well, after 4 hours at the Berks County Genealogical Society Library today, I opened many new questions, and answered none, and Jacob Hummel is even more of a mystery.

Through family records, Daniel Hummel's invaluable autobiographical obituary, and Plow Church Records, I am sure of my ancestry from the Jacob Hummel buried in the Plow Church Cemetery.

Question 1: Where is Jacob Hummel From?

According Plow Cemetery Records, Jacob Hummel was born Feb. 4, 1778; he was married to Maria Elizabeth Herbine (buried next to him); and his parents were Michael and Mary Hummel.

Today I went through the books of births from Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Dauphin, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, and York Counties; the only birth record for Jacob Hummel is a Johan Jacob Hummel, also born in April 1778 to Jacob Hummel, in the Moselem Church Records.

I also noted that the earliest mention of Jacob Hummel in the Robeson Lutheran (Plow) Church records is in 1819. Plow Church was founded in the 1750s. The only children of his recorded as being born and baptized there were the three youngest: Daniel, Catherine, and Tobias.

I have a map of the land records of Robeson Township from 1750: there are no Hummels. But I also have a map of Robeson Township from 1860 that shows 2 Jacob Hummels, and 1 Widow Hummel, so I believe he settled in Robeson Township from somewhere else. I just don't know where yet.

I found a list of passengers from the Fair American, Jesse Fraley, master, which arrived at the Port of Philadelphia Oct. 26, 1805, from Amsterdam, listing as a passenger Jacob Hummel with a family of 4. However, Sara Hummel, his 3rd child, I had originally listed as being born October 24, 1805, which whould have been 2 days before docking in Philadelphia. However, according to the 1850 Census, where her age was listed as 30, leads to the conclusion that she more likely was born about 1820. Maybe my Jacob Hummel did come over on the Fair American in 1805, but I need to research more before I embrace that conclusion.

Next: I think I will try to go through New York records, if I can. I believe there were some Hummel families that originated there; and I will look at other churches local to Plowville and see if I can find a burial record for the husband of Widow Hummel. It's not my Jacob, he died in 1866.

Question 2: Do I list the correct marriage for Jacob Hummel?

I have his marriage to Maria Elizabeth Herbine listed as Sept. 29, 1801, in the Schwartzwald Reformed Church in Exeter Township, PA. According to the Schwartzwald Church Record, Marriages by the Rev. John William Boos, 1781-1811, on Sept. 20, 1801, Jacob Hummel married Elisabetha Hertz, of Robeson, Berks. Despite listing Robeson Twp., I am not sure this is my Jacob Hummel. If it is, and if Philip Hummel's record and DOB are correct, than the wedding was a last-minute shotgun wedding, and he certainly didn't come over on the Fair American.

Question 3: Do I really have his children correct?

I know I have Daniel, Catherina, and Tobias correct from Plow Church records. I have Isaac Hummel correct from Daniel's obituary. I have Sarah correct from the 1850 census. I need to research and verify the rest.

Today's To-Do List

Today I am spending the early afternoon at the Berks County Genealogical Society.
My primary goals are as follows:

  • Find Jacob Hummel's family and where he came from.
  • Find F. Pierce Hummel's obituary and death information.
  • Find Daniel Hummel's final resting place.
  • Find Wayne Hummel's obituary and anything I can on this other family of his.


We will stipulate: Wayne Hummel, my great-grandfather, was a bit of a jerk.

The primary reason we children, grand-, and great-grandchildren do not know much about our Hummel family is because of Wayne Hummel.

It seems that Wayne Hummel, my great-grandfather, left my great-grandmother alone with 5 children to pursue the affections of another woman. My dad's cousin relayed to me that her mother, who was 2 when he left, used to watch him walk by the house on the way to work every morning, feeling hurt because she thought she may have been the reason for the break-up.

My grandfather had to quit school at age 14 to become the family breadwinner.

Here's where oral tradition gets a little sketchy:

My dad believes that he had a daughter from this relationship.
My dad's cousin believes that he had a son from this relationship.
I have found no records, yet, of either. Based on the information I have from his WWII Selective Service registration, he was alone by 1942, and his mother was his primary contact.

Either way, the damage he caused has visited his children to the 4th generation, so far.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Strong Genes

My mom has always told me that I have "the Hummel nose." Yes, it's a bit like my Pop-Pop's, but I though it could have also been the Snyder nose, or the Jackson nose...

Then the 5th cousin I recently met on emailed me a picture of her father, my 4th cousin-once-removed. Our DNA meets at Jacob Hummel. I guess it really is the Hummel nose, and maybe Hummel smile and Hummel forehead:

Do You Know Your Relationships?

Do you know what is meant by "first-cousin-once-removed," or "third-cousin-twice-removed?" These relationships become very important when study of geneology starts to identify extended family. Here's an explanation from

Relationship Terms
Sometimes, especially when working on your family history, it's handy to know how to describe your family relationships more exactly. The definitions below should help you out.

Cousin (a.k.a "first cousin")
Your first cousins are the people in your family who have two of the same grandparents as you. In other words, they are the children of your aunts and uncles.

Second Cousin
Your second cousins are the people in your family who have the same great-grandparents as you., but not the same grandparents.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Cousins
Your third cousins have the same great-great-grandparents, fourth cousins have the same great-great-great-grandparents, and so on.

When the word "removed" is used to describe a relationship, it indicates that the two people are from different generations. You and your first cousins are in the same generation (two generations younger than your grandparents), so the word "removed" is not used to describe your relationship.

The words "once removed" mean that there is a difference of one generation. For example, your mother's first cousin is your first cousin, once removed. This is because your mother's first cousin is one generation younger than your grandparents and you are two generations younger than your grandparents. This one-generation difference equals "once removed."

Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference. You are two generations younger than a first cousin of your grandmother, so you and your grandmother's first cousin are first cousins, twice removed.

This will become more important in the next post...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Grave Searching

A few weeks ago, shortly after I discovered our descendency from Jacob Hummel, my dad and I went to the Robeson Lutheran Cemetery (Plow Cemetery). After about an hour's search, we found the graves of Jacob Hummel, and his wife, Maria Elizabeth Hummel, side-by-side. It was a neat moment.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

One Hummel Family Ruled Out

There is one prominent Hummel Family in Berks County that I have pretty much ruled out: the family of Ludwig Hummel who settled in Snyder County, PA. One of his descendents, Johan Jacob Hummel, was a Captain in the Continental Army, serving with George Washington. Johan (or John) Jacob Hummel settled in Windsor Township, Berks County, near Hamburg. I am 99% sure that this is another Hummel family.

Who Were They?

There are, of course, many more people in my family tree. In my previous post I named my Hummel ancestors. But who were they? Here is a brief biography on each forefather:

Michael Hummel
The earliest-known Hummel ancestor. I only know his name, so far, from his son Jacob's burial record. Nothing more is yet known.

Jacob Hummel
Jacob Hummel was born February 5, 1778. I don't know where, yet. Jacob was a farmer who settled near Plowville in Robeson Township, Pennsylvania. He married Maria Elizabeth Herbine and fathered 13 children. He died October 23, 1866, and is buried next to his wife in the Robeson Lutheran Cemetery.

Daniel Hummel
Daniel Hummel, the third-youngest child of Jacob Hummel, was born July 8, 1823. According to his obituary in the Reading Eagle, Daniel's first decade from school was spent teaching school and working on the family farm. After a year of keeping store in Plow Tavern, he kept store for 16 years at a main crossroads on Allegenyvillr Road in Brecknock Township (near Maple Grove). He became a postmaster there, and the crossroads became known as Hummel's Store.

In 1869 he was elected as the Berks County Recorder of Deeds, and moved his family to the City of Reading. After his term he became a businessman in the city. He was married three times, having been widowed twice. He had 2 sons, Elias and (Franklin) Pierce with his first wife, Hannah Lorah. He died in Reading December 9, 1899.

Franklin Pierce Hummel
F. Pierce Hummel, as he was known, was the younger of Daniel's 2 sons. He was born April 6, 1854. It seems that he tried to follow in his father's footsteps as an important man in the City of Reading, and while he may have had some initial success, much of his adult life was spent in a downward spiral. He spent many years as a pension agent in the city, but was apparently prone to disappear, sometimes for days or weeks on end. In 1902 he pled guilty for selling a fraudulent mortgage and was sentenced to 2 years in Berks County Prison. His wife, Berhta (Kepner) divorced him for abandonment somewhere around 1905 and married family friend and onetime boarder in the Hummel household, A. Monroe Moser. It seems that he spent his later years penniless and abandoned by his family. His death is currently unknown. Pierce had 2 sons with Berhta: George S. Hummel and Wayne Hummel.

Wayne Hummel
Wayne, in what has become a Hummel tradition, was born on his father's birthday, April 6, 1879. As he was little spoken of, little is yet known of him. He worked for his father in his notary and pension agent's office, until his father's business went under. For an as-yet unknown reason, he spent some time in the Berks County Prison in 1900. He married my great-grandmother, Anna Amanda Snyder, in 1899, and had 6 children: George P. (died as an infant), Wayne E., Monroe George (my Pop-Pop), Bertha, Anna, and Ella. Sometime around 1924 he left my great-grandmother for another woman. He may have had a daughter with her, but so far I haven't found anything else about him. His death is currently unknown.

Monroe George Hummel
My Pop-Pop. He was born November 25, 1910. Due to his father's leaving, at age 14 he had to become the man of the house, left school after 8th grade, and got a job to support the family. As a result of being picked-on for his size (5'4") he started lifting weights as a young age and became quite an athlete. He was a competitive weight-lifter, boxer, gymnast (one of the best around), wrestler, and football player. He spent most of his working life as a pipe-fitter on the Reading Railroad, and spent later years at the Firestone Tire factory in Pottstown, PA. A life-long outdoorsman, he became very successful bass fisherman. Me married Evelyn Stunk (my Grammy) and had 3 sons, one of which, of course, is my dad. He died on Grammy's birthday, August 20, 1987.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

For Starters: In the Last Six Weeks...

In the last six weeks I have discovered more than I can put in one post. I have learned much about many of my ancestors. Surnames are Hummel, Strunk, Ganter, O'Brian, Snyder (Schneider), Jackson, Chelius, Herbert, and Beltz. Oddly, to begin, the family I knew least about, and wished to know the most about, was Hummel.

There have been a few brick walls to tear down, and more are coming, but I have learned so much about my Hummel ancestry:

- Michael Hummel (? - ?)
- Jacob Hummel (1778-1866)
- Daniel Hummel (1823-1899)
- F. Pierce Hummel (1854- ?)
- Wayne Hummel (1879- ?)
- PopPop, Monroe George Hummel (1910-1987)
- My dad
- Me

I have found branches of the Jacob Hummel family tree of his sons Philip and Isaac, and have actually met, online, a 5th cousin, also researching the family tree!

More to follow...