Sunday, October 25, 2015

Connecting William Trautman of Berks County to his son Peter Trautman of Somerset County PA, DAR style!

Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

I've written a lot about Peter Trautman, also spelled Troutman, who is one of my DAR ancestors, meaning that he served in the Revolutionary War. Now I want to connect him to his father William Trautman.

When I started doing genealogy back about 10 years ago, my personal proof standard was haphazard at best. If I saw it in a tree of someone I knew and trusted, or if Mom had found her proof, then it was good enough for me! Access to records back when Mom started doing genealogy in the early 1970s, was difficult to come by. Luckily, she lived in the geographic center of the locations of most all of our ancestors so if she took a day trip, she could find a lot of documents. When I look at her notes now, much of what I find on Ancestry using the general search function was already found by her. She collected binders full of census records form the early 1790 census to about 1880 for the counties circling our primary locations of interest. She was a non-stop collector of records! She even had at home rolls of microfilm and a reader!!

I've mentioned before about her correspondences with fellow genealogists across the country. She'd evaluate their skills and then share what she could and received whatever they had. It was a slow painstaking process helped along by the message boards. And once she had vetted the correspondent, she used what they sent.

Now, we work off of original records and I'm busy updating the Big Tree she built out over the decades with the best records I can find. It's a slow process but it will be worth it.

I mention all of this because I see this history of The Way We Worked in the DAR Ancestor records. Applications from the earliest time - about 1900 - contain little data and you're lucky to get names and dates. The applications, which are all available on the DAR website at under Genealogy along with much else, from the middle of the 20th Century have names, dates, and places and sources. If you are applying today one of the tasks will be to make sure that your application brings with it the most updated information possible. And we're all held to rigorous standards.

So, now on to the Trautman father and son. At some point "proving" my lineal connection to Peter Trautman I realized that his father Wilhelm or William Trautman was also listed as a DAR patriot! But... they were not connected, and in other words, no one who descended from Peter had also made a supplemental or additional application proving their lineal descent from William! Whoopie! I could do that!

So off I went, knowing that I'd already proven my descent from Peter, and set out to prove Peter's connection to William as his son. Sounded easy enough.

So what sort of documents might prove that connection? What would you look for? How about a birth record, or a church baptismal record? That would work, wouldn't it? Hmmm. Peter was born in Berks County, PA, and that was already in the DAR records for him, so I checked FamilySearch Wiki to see what they said about birth or baptism records there. Nothing panned out there or anywhere else I looked, and believe me, I looked. Next stop: what other records would prove a father-son connection?

How about will and probate records? Yup! I have William's will and it names Peter as his oldest son. Got that from FamilySearch. It was written in English and German and probated in February 1790. I even have a transcription from a Trautman cousin years ago, so I wouldn't have to transcribe the whole thing for the DAR application, but would have to check that transcription for accuracy. Easy enough.

But I wasn't going to submit that will alone! I also needed to prove that my Peter Trautman was indeed the one and only Peter Trautman who was born in Berks County and moved to Bedford County that later became Somerset County. How was I going to do that?

I checked all the census and tax rolls for both counties for a William Trautman and a Peter Trautman. The point of this is to prove that there was only one William Trautman and only one Peter Trautman in that location at that time. There is also a William Trautman Jr., son of William Sr. and he's mentioned in the will too as one of the administrators, so that's confusing. Here's what I found, below, and as you can see, while it provided some useful bits that could fill out a timeline, it's not conclusive when it comes to proving a father-son relationship. William Sr. died in berks Co. in 1790.

Census: Year/ County

Peter Trautman

William Trautman

1768 Proprietary Return for the County of Berks for the year 1768


Listed as carpenter. This is William Sr. because Jr was born in 1763. No other William Trautman listed.

1783 PA Supply Tax, Bedford Co PA



1788 tax and exoneration for Londonderry, Bedford Co



US 1790, Bedford, Berks.



US 1790, any PA



1793 Tax Assessment, Bedford Co



Pennsylvania, U.S. Direct Tax Lists, 1798

Londonderry, Bedford Co


Londonderry, Bedford Co

US 1800


Londonderry, Somerset, Pennsylvania


PA Septennial Census 1800

Londonderry, Somerset, Pennsylvania

Londonderry, Somerset, Pennsylvania

US 1810

Southampton, Somerset, Pennsylvania

Southampton, Somerset, Pennsylvania

Next, I double-checked Peter's military file on Fold3 and his pension application. There was a nice note from his brother William Jr. vouching for him. William lived in Somerset County. So there was a useful location there. And Peter's pension file stated numerously that he served from Berks County, and that would substantiate the Berks / Somerset connection. But where was the father, William Sr.? Not there. Keep looking.
I've found that land records can be a girl genealogists best friend, and they were here too, but I wasn't too optimistic at first. You see Peter received land in Somerset County through the process of Bounty Land for service in the Revolutionary War from the state of Pennsylvania, so he probably didn't get any land from his father as the first son. And in looking at the chart above, you can see that Peter was in Bedford Co. in 1788. But I thought of land records anyway.
I retraced my steps through the DAR records and applications for William Sr. and Peter. I asked for help in a Facebook group devoted to helping other members work up their lineage. An angel came forward and said that there was reference to a deed in Deed Book 11, Berks County, that named Peter Trautman and also mentioned William Sr. as his father!! Oh joy!
Yes, and there it was. Just as promised. I had already searched the Berks County Recorder's Office online and not found any results for Trautman or Troutman, but it was there just the same. Probably operator error.
It's a beautiful thing, that deed! In it Peter sells his interest in his father's estate. It names as his father as William Trautman of Greenwich Township, Berks County. And it also stated that the grantor is Peter Trautman of Bedford County, later Somerset County. To my eyes, it's a beautiful document!
So there is was. I had the will and I had the deed. I also had the DAR listing for both William Trautman and Peter Trautman, and the dates and places line up perfectly! A triangulation: three documents that prove the same conclusion.
Next step, filling out the paperwork to prove my lineage from myself to William Trautman born in Germany and died in Berks County, PA, who is a DAR patriot because he took the Oath of Allegiance in 1788. Good man.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Troutman Land in Southampton Twp., Bedford, then Somerset Co., PA

After we came back from our drive to see Comps Church, I took a browse through the Troutman files on the computer. Found this, below. It shows that Benjamin Franklin Troutman, son of Peter Troutman who fought in the Revolutionary War and is buried there in the cemetery, donated the land that the church is built on, and the very land in which he's buried. Take a look. I've underlined the relevant parts, but you might have to click on the pages images in order to read them.

Now, I do love a good timeline and I've been working on one for Benjamin Franklin Troutman (1780- 1856) and his father Peter Troutman (1754-1846). Then to give it a whole other layer of frosting, added Peter's own father, William, born in 1730 in Germany and landed in Berks County  where he died in 1790. There an amazing number of documents that filled out that timeline pretty well. When put together it tells the saga of a family's pull west powered by a desire for good and then better farming land.

Peter had already moved from Berks County PA to his Bounty Land Grant in Somerset County which is more westerly in Pennsylvania, by the time his father William passed in 1790. Both Peter and his brother William were mentioned in old William's will. William was appointed as Administrator with his brother John. Peter had already moved to the Southampton area when his father made the will. As the oldest son, Peter might have been named as Administrator and I'd wondered why he wasn't. Did they have a falling out, was Peter deemed untrustworthy by his father? But then I put together the timeline and could see the answer right before my eyes. Peter couldn't have been named Administrator because he had already moved away to Bedford County.

The will of William Troutman Sr. is interesting and was worthwhile looking for. It names his sons, Peter and William Jr., so that's valuable right there. But the probate file had two copies of his will, one in English and one in German. Look there above and see a page from each version. What this told me is that they were still very German and probably spoke it at home and in their close circle of friends.

Just after William died, his son William Jr. moved to Somerset County and lived near his brother Peter. Because he was named as one of the administrators, he needed to renounce so that he could move. I have no documentation that this is the official reason why he renounced but it seems logical. Look.

William Jr., Peter his brother, and Peter's son Benjamin are all buried in Comps Cemetery on land that Benjamin donated to the church. At least I think that's William next to Peter there. Some say it's Peter's son who died early but the stone for William is in pieces now.

That's Peter's stone on the right foreground with the flag. His wife is marked by the brown stone, below, and in the above picture, to Peter's left and above.

That's Benjamin's stone standing tall above and his wife's stone, fallen, to the right.
You can see Peter's grave on the upper right of the image, with the flag.
The land is beautiful here and I just hope that I'll have the time to devote to finding some of those Troutman land records. Just discovered one in Berks that is a deed between William, mentioned as Peter's father, and Peter, separately mentioned as the son of William, and living in Bedford County.

Was talking to Mom when I was back to see her recently and we agreed that there's something about standing on the very soil of the ancestors that is extremely moving. I stood there at the edge of the Comps Church parking lot and I looked at a lovely farm off a ways. Yup, that was sure to have been Benjamin's land.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

A visit to Comps Church and Cemetery and the Troutmans

One of the reasons that I've ignored this blog is that I post stuff to Facebook instead. Of course, they are two different vehicles. And I've really got to break the habit of just posting to Facebook because some of my cousins aren't on Facebook! So here we go on the Great Troutman Adventure of 2015!

It was a nice warm day there in Western Maryland near the old Mason Dixon Line. Sunny, after a night of rain and the trees turning to fall colors. Mom and I were off for an adventure after breakfast at the Princess Restaurant on Main Street in Frostburg. We sat in the Truman booth where President Truman had lunch years ago. We do love that booth! Then we were off for a genealogy adventure, the kind that we are both lucky to get, Mom being 97 and both of us DAR members. We were going to see the graves of one of my DAR Patriots!!

Our goal was to find Comps Church, about 12 miles from Mom's house, as the crow flies. But us not being crows, it took some driving and chatting with the locals to figure out. Fifty miles later, we arrived. 

Maybe you've done this? Maybe you've set out on your genea-adventure with maps and plans and things written down? Along the way at some point you come to the shocking realization that you're missing some of the pieces. Ever done that? We just did!

What was missing? I thought Mom remembered how to get to Comps Church! After about 45 minutes of driving all around and up and down and stopping at some really picturesque country churches with no one home on a Friday afternoon, I slowly realized that Mom didn't remember, and was a bit shy about saying so. At 97, she is sharp as ever but the memory has it's moments, which is probably true of me too;)

Here's an example. We kept on driving past this road called Terra Alta. We're in Southampton Township, in Somerset County, PA in case you want to know, or maybe you have ancestors there...? So we drove past Terra Alta Road a couple of times. On the first pass Mom says, oh that's a pretty name. And on the second pass I chime in with, doesn't that sound familiar? On the third pass she said, why yes it does. So that time we stopped where a local man in overalls was selling cord wood for winter fires in wood burners. Did he by chance know where Comps Church was? Why yes he did. Turn right on Terra Alta Road. Oh. We had to laugh at ourselves!!!

I could have printed out a map, a couple of maps, a bushel of maps. Would have been the reasonable and safe thing to do. But noooo!! Silly me.

It was some miles more and about half-way to the turn on to Comps Church Road when we stopped to ask directions from a group of five men standing around a yard filled with cars in various states of repair. At first I hoped I hadn't made a mistake and stopped at the wrong sort of establishment. 

"Good morning gentlemen. We're trying to find Comps Church. We have people buried up there." They couldn't come over to help fast enough! They were awfully helpful. One even insisted that we follow him to the turn off. The grandfather was ready for a good long conversation with us, so I took an extra moment to talk with him. Have a very soft spot for the elders, even if their conversation rambles. Especially if their conversation rambles. We're looking for Troutman I told him. Oh, yes, they are still living all over these hills, he said. Well please tell them their cousin came to visit the old graves.

Comps Church and it's cemetery sit on a hill high above the rolling Allegany Mountains. That land over there, it was a bounty land grant given to my DAR ancestor, Peter Troutman. He's resting here in the Comps Church Cemetery, next to his brother, William Troutman, also a DAR patriot. They fought in the same company. Side by side. 

Peter had a rather long military history for a farmer and militia man. He ended up serving four tours of duty and one was as a substitute. His letter requesting a pension for his service outlines what he did and where and I'll have to write about that another time because it deserves a post of it's own.

Maybe you've been fortunate enough to read the pension file for one of your ancestors? If so, it's a thing to behold because it gives you a window into what it meant to serve in the Revolutionary War. Then with a little more effort you can find out what the battles were about, and who the commanding offices were. It helps to fill out the picture in a personal way.

I left stones atop their grave markers as is the custom. But this time I left a quarter too because I recently read about the military custom of leaving coins on stones and the meaning of each denomination. Wasn't there when he died, which is the true significance of the quarter, but because it is the highest honor so I dug for quarters. William, Peter's brother, got one too. 

Peter's son and my ancestor, Benjamin Franklin Troutman, is there too. I left a stone on his grave marker as well. And their wives are there, some listed with no maiden name, just X, and they received stones to honor their history.

I talked to them all a while. Some might think it silly but no one was around to cast a critical look.
Mom had been here years ago and taken pictures, long before I got interested in the ancestors and their stories. She sat in the car watching as I walked the rows and claimed the graves one more time.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A trip to see Mom and a reminder about why I bolg

Just recently took a trip back east to see Mom, now 97, who lives in the tiny Western Maryland mountain  town of Frostburg. Mom's great, by the way and thanks for asking. We did a bunch of things "genealogy" and I'll get to all of that in later posts. But first, this.

Was sitting at breakfast with cousins Linda and JoAnn and we got to talking about the ancestors. I was playing around on Ancestry the night before because I realized that I didn't know much about their father, Uncle Harry. So I worked on his line for a while and discovered that he and his lovely wife and my own darling aunt Louise, Dad's sister, are 5th or 6th cousins! Had to do a proper Lol!

We were at the Princess Restaurant on Main Street, which is just as charming as you'd suspect and where they keeps the very booth President Truman and his wife Bess sat in on their way to the inauguration, and it's in perfect order and unchanged. After we ordered, I brought out two sheets of paper, one with Uncle Harry's lineage and the other with Aunt Louise's. And walked the cousins back to see how they connect at George Adam Eckhart, founder of the tiny town of Eckhart (now called Eckhart Mines, but that's another story).

They were amazed! Imagine being told out of the blue that your parents were cousins, if distant cousins. "Well, that explains a lot," one of them guffawed! I think all kids will at least half-believe that their parents are cousins!

One thing lead to another, we talked about a family mystery involving twins (we have a lot of them in the family, on both sides), and then, predictably, the graves. You see, we're a family that looks after graves and is pretty serious about it. I hadn't yet made it around to see Grandma and Grandpop Kelly's grave yet but had planned on it today. It's at St Michaels' Cemetery.

We knew Grandpop's own father was buried just down a couple of spots. Yes, we all knew that and that he's right there beside his wife Christiana Eckhart Kelly, and that's where the Kelly and Eckhart lines come together. What wasn't so well-known is that Grandpop Kelly's grandparents, John Kelly and Bridget Corcoran, who both came from Ireland, are buried in St. Mike's Cemetery as well.

I thought the table would explode! This was the second genea-hand grenade to hit the table! Where, they both questioned at once. I gave some general directions. Irish cross, to the left of the main entry lane that goes to the big cross in the middle, down a couple of rows.

We said our sad and heart-felt good-byes, and off we went. I swung down to the house to pick up Mom and some aluminum foil for a stone rubbing. Then we were off to visit that very memorial for John Kelly and Bridget.

Mom recalled how shocked with disbelief that Grandpop Kelly was when she told him that his own grandfather was buried in St Mike's. He too was a big tender of the graves and it was very important that his parents and all of them were looked after. So he practically couldn't come to terms with it to know that his own dear grandparents were buried there in the same cemetery with his parents... and he didn't know.

We went to see the nice Irish cross for old John Kelly who made his way from Shannonbridge Ireland to the mountains of Western Maryland, most likely to work on the railroad, as so many Irishmen of his day did. He found Bridget Corcoran and married in Cumberland and they raised eight fine children, the boys all strong and the girls beautiful, or so I imagine:)

Cousin Linda had left the Princess and beat a trail over to the cemetery to find Old John's gravestone. She even beat Mom and I there! By the time I'd texted her to say I was a couple of rows off, she texted back to say she'd already found it!!

At the end of our breakfast together one of the girls asked if I still keep up with this blog. No, I sheepishly said, been busy. Now I felt bad that I hadn't. What fabulous cousin bait this blog has been!! Ugh. Neglectful me.

So here I am back again. And I've got some wonderful new stories to tell, if I do say so my own self.

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