Well it was off to the Family History Center in Mission Valley for me this morning! Met with their resident England expert to get a feel for the area called Derbyshire. In the little book, "Ancestral History of Thomas F. Myers" it says that my Revolutionary war ancestor Nehemiah Newans came from Derbyshire and I wanted to know more about it.
The expert was there once again as she usually is on Thursday mornings. I refreshed her memory about my situation and asked her in the most general way to tell me anything she knew about the Derbyshire of the 1750s or Derbyshire in general. In genealogy we are usually after specific questions with pretty specific answers, it felt kinda strange to ask such an open-ended question, but it was well worth it:)
My expert was great and we chatted on for almost 45 minutes or so. I learned that Derbyshire is quite beautiful and scenic, the kind of place you'd go to on holiday as she had been a couple of years ago. It's hilly and you'd be in the moors. Jane Austen wrote of this place. All over those hills are large limestone rocks and boulders... the type used in masonry to build dry masonry field walls to keep your sheep in place, churches and grand houses.
Stone masons were of the working class. Nehemiah Newans' father was a military surgeon, and his brother were a "lawyer and a doctor", or whatever that meant in that time and place. Young Nehemiah wanted to follow his uncle's footsteps and be a stone mason: a working class man in a family of professional men. There's gonna be a problem there!
My expert also noted that in the mid 1700s the Lutheran community was building churches in the Derbyshire area. Interesting both because of the stone mason connection as well as it being noted in "Ancestral History of Thomas F, Myers." that Nehemiah Newans' wife from York PA, Miss Kepplinger, was from a Lutheran family.
My expert also told me that a military surgeon would be moving around, much like the military of today. So that confuses the issue of Nehemiah Newans coming from Derbyshire. Is that where their ancestral line comes from or is that simply where they were living at the time his father bought his military commission?
She also inferred that if he was a city boy he'd say he came from that city, like Derby. Derbyshire is the name of the county. It might indicate that it would be good to look at smaller towns ... where they were building a Lutheran church of limestone about 1730 or so...?