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