John Yost Kern

Post date: Aug 31, 2011 6:23:22 PM

b. 1746 in Freischbach, Germany

d. 1815 in Franklin, Snyder, PA

m. Eva Marie Weiss about 1775 in Snyder, PA

c. Henry, Peter, George, Philip, Jacob, John, Adam, Anna Mary, Loswana and Christina.

Tradition had it that both he and his wife are buried int he old graveyard at Christ's church, known as Hassinger's church.

In 1790 John Yost Kern bought a farm containing 150 acres from John Swift, near where Beavertown now stands. This town was laid out in 1810. In 1806 he conveyed tthis farm to his son, Henry Sr.

He and his wife were buried in the graveyard at Christ's church, two miles west of Middleburg. This is one of the oldest burial grounds in this section of the state. Here many of the pioneers are buried and at rest in unmarked graves.

Several historical accounts of the early settlers in Snyder County, Pennsylvania include biographies of Yost Kern and his descendants. However, there is some disagreement between different versions of the Kern history. Few original records have survived, and much of this information may have been obtained from the descendants of Yost Kern. Most of the information is very similar and has been repeated in several books. However, information passed down through multiple generations is often not reliable and in this case has lead to discrepancies.

The earliest account that we have located is History of the Susquehanna and Juniata Valleys in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which was published in Philadelphia in 1886. This page comments that nearly all of the descendants of Adam Kern moved to western states. Of course at that time western included Ohio and Indiana. This book also states that Yost immigrated in 1771.

Snyder County Pioneers by Charles A Fisher (1938) includes biographies of both John Adam Kern and his father John Yost Kern. According to this publication, Yost Kern immigrated in 1766 on the ship Betsy from Rotterdam to Philadelphia. However, the same pages list his son Henry as born in Germany in 1769, coming to America with his parents two years later. Also according to the Fisher book, Yost was buried in an unmarked grave in the Old Hassinger Cemetery just west of Middleburg in what is now Snyder County, Pennsylvania after owning 460 acres of land in the Middle Creek Valley. However, the book New World Immigrants, edited by Michael Tepper in 1980, states that the tombstone for John Jost Kern in the old graveyard of Hassinger’s Church between Middleburg and Paxtonville in Snyder County gives his birthplace as “Freischbach, Germany”. In addition, this book notes that the church records for Freisbach list only a Johann Justus Kern, born in 1741 to Philipp Jacob and Sophie Margarethe.

There is also a book History of the Gift, Kern and Royer Families by Aaron Kern Gift (1909) that devotes chapter five to John Yost Kern and his posterity. This book states that Yost emigrated in 1771, but credits no reference for the claim. The book also attributes the burials of Yost and his wife Eve Marie at Hassinger/Christ Church in Franklin Township west of Middleburg to family tradition and implies that the graves are unmarked. We did not locate any evidence of their graves in Old Hassinger’s Cemetery on our trip to Snyder County in September 2005.

Multiple sources list the passengers on the ship Betsy in October 1766. Names of Foreigners who took the Oath of Allegiance to the Province and State of Pennsylvania 1727-1775, edited by William Henry Egle (1967), lists only Jacob Kern, not John Yost Kern on the Betsy in 1766. However, Pennsylvania German Pioneers by Ralph Beaver Strassburger (1980) lists Jost Kern on the Betsy in 1766, and this publication is considered the more accurate compilation. Moreover, Volume II includes the signatures of the immigrants aboard the Betsy, and the Kern signature is closer to Jost, though the handwriting in old German script is not strictly Jost.

Snyder County Pioneers suggests that Yost settled in the eastern part of Pennsylvania for a few years. There was a Jost Kern who was a witness to a will for Andreas Bayer in Berks County in 1768, but we have no evidence to connect him to our ancestry. Yost Kern may have spent a few years in Berks County, Pennsylvania before settling in Northumberland County in 1772 because many of the early German settlers in Northumberland County relocated from Berks County.

(wwaltman - 27 Mar 2008)