The Story: Families Migrating West


The word "genealogy" is derived from the Greek words "γενεά" (genea, or generation) and "λόγος" (logos, or knowledge). Genealogy is therefore is the "knowledge of generations." Through historical records and verbal stories, information about past generations is conveyed to present and future generations. Families Migrating West is a repository of generational knowledge for ten families intertwined by location, history, and marriage.

This project is dedicated to the stories and memories of the ancestors that made the current generations possible.

Surnames prominent throughout this site are Brumbaugh, Ebie, Fall, Fouse, Heimbaugh, Kern, Miller, Royer, Sprankle, and Wise.

Part 1 - European Origins

Our German family migration from Germany began in the 18th century colonial period in America. Germany at this time was a patchwork of hundreds of duchies, counties, and other jurisdictions, each ruled over by different sovereigns. Sometimes a few villages were under the control of a count and in other cases hundreds of towns might be under the control of a neighboring duke.

Brumbaugh Family

Origin of Name

The name is of German origin, spelled Brumbach, and is found in both German and Swiss records with "u" and "o." "Brum" is apparently a contraction of "Brummen," meaning noisy or roaring, something humming. "Bach," a brook. The name in the first instance described an ancestor by locality, a common old method of designation. Thus, the German spelling of Brumbach suggests they came from an area with a roaring brook.

Owing to the unfamiliaritywith German pronunciation in this country, names ending in "bach" usually became "baugh."Whether written with the more prevalent "u" or "o" it was pronounced with the long German "oo" as in moon, or more rarely with the short "u" sound in good.

Whenever the German speaking ancestor executed deeds, and other legal papers, the English scribe in America usually wrote the name "Broombaugh," or "Brombaugh." An error once made in an important deed or in other important papers, the ancestor sometimes simply made the small change in his name so as to conform to the erroneous writing of the name.

Besides the spellings used above, a few additional variations of the name are Brumback, Brownbaugh, Brownback, Brombach, Broombaugh, Brombaugh, Brombagh, Brumbough, Brombuch, Brumboch. Some of the earliest records in Europe mention the name Brambach or Prampach.

Ancestral Homeland

It has not been accurately determined the ancestry of the immigrant Brumbach ancestors, though extensive investigations have been made in Europe. The 1913 comprehensive book, Genealogy of the Brumbach Families written by Dr. Gaius Marxus Brumbaugh, presents European records researched which identify Brumbach families in Switzerland, Germany, and France. The Thirty Years' War waged in the German states from 1618-1648 destroyed many records,as well as causing a general dispersion of the various branches of the families.

The Brumbach families seemed to locate in two separate areas - in the Wiesental River valley, which flows into the Rhine near Basel, Switzerland, and in Westphalia, about fifty miles east of Cologne, Germany. It seems to be definitely established that an extensive family settled in an ancient settlement in the Wiesental valley called "Brombach," from which they took their name. Brombach families can be found in Basel, Rheinfelden, Beuggen, Brombach, Minseln, Nordschwaben, Karsan and the surrounding area on both side of the Rhine River.

Those families remaining at Minseln, Nodschwaben and Karsan remained Catholic in the Reformation period, while those at Rheinfelden became Protestants - under different governments. The inhabitants of Rheinfelden early left the Catholic religion, became Protestants, and later Altkatholiken (old Catholic, or reformers), which they remain. These inhabitants suffered greatly and were bitterly persecuted, causing most of the inhabitants to emigrate during the eighteenth century - the Brombachs-Brumbachs then emigrated.

The second area where the Brumbach families seemed to originate was in Westphalia, near the town of Muesen, a few mile north of Siegen and about fifty miles east of Cologne, Germany. The Germanna Record #5 by B. C. Holtzclaw records the original ancestor of the Brumbach name "Der Sohn" (the son?) born about 1495-1500. This lineage down to the present is documented from civil records and church records of Muewen and Ferndorf in Westphalia.

This area, which had rich iron deposits, often near the surface, had been a mining and metal-working center for centuries. In the thirteenth century it was found that water power could be used to run the smelters and drive the hammers that worked the iron. By the fifteenth century iron works run by waterpower were located on numerous streams where iron ore was available. Although the nobility who possessed the area founded the mills at first, the iron works soon passed into the hands of the worker-owners. This Guild of Smelters and Hammer-smiths lived in the country near their plants, and thus began to break down the distinction between the peasants and the citizens of the city promoting an independent, democratic spirit.

Due to a lack of waterpower in the dry season and scarcity of charcoal to heat the ore, the iron works did not run all year. This permitted the owners to farm also. Each village had a Hauberg, or "hewing mine," of which most of the people had a share. This is how it was managed. The land was divided into 20 strips. At the end of 20 years the trees in one strip were cut, the wood to fuel and charcoal, and the bark for tanneries. The next year young trees were planted. After several years it was sown in grain, and later was used to pasture cattle until the trees wee mature and read to be cut again.

The counts of the House of Nassau had large possessions in Germany before the thirteenth century, of which Siegen and Muesen belonged. Over time the ruling counts would change and their religion, whether Catholic or Protestant, would become the state religion. During the Thirty Years' War both Protestant and Catholic princes claimed this area. Since each wanted permanent control and wanted it intact, it escaped the ravishment and depopulation of many parts of Germany.

At the early date of 1582 universal compulsory education was established in Nassau-Siegen. Because of the varied economy, relatively little war damage, and education the inhabitants enjoyed a moderate amount of prosperity. By the time of the first migration to America this area was one of the most progressive and prosperous in Germany.

Dr. Gaius Brumbaugh wrote, "A careful study of the reproduced immigrants lists, or ship papers, will show that the Brumbaugh-Brombach immigrants, whose signatures have been preserved, wrote good German scrip, even paying attention to the umlaut, or distinction for u."

From the immigrant Johannes Henrich Brumbaugh down through the generations a large number of descendants were members of the German Baptist Brethren Church.

Kern Family

The American elder of the Kern family, John Yost Kern was born in Freischbach, Germany, in 1746. He was married in Germany to Eva Marie Weiss. They emigrated to America in 1771, and settled in the MIddlecreek valley, now the township of Franklin, Snyder Co., Pa.

Fouse Family

Theobald Fauss (Fouse) was born in 1725 and died in 1765 at the age of 40. He lived in Rheinville, Rheinfelz, Bavaria. About 1746, Theobald married Margaret (last name not known) and moved to Deux Ponts or Zweibrucken. They had four boys and one girl. The family arriving in this country kept the name Fauss. The German community continued to follow the German language in their community. The revised spelling of the name originated through Mr. Henry Beaver (Blair County, PA) who was the first to teach English in the schools. He seems to have followed the sounds rather than the letters. Once the English form was introduced, it was readily accepted. The children of Theobald Fauss were Nicholas, born in 1748, Jacob, Valentine, Theobald and Margaret. These were rough time for the provinces along the Rhine. The Seven Years' Warwas going on between 1756 and 1763. The many conflicts for territorial aggression and the religious prosecution of the war-ridden provinces, left the citizens in destitute circumstances. At the time of Theobald's death, 1765, he left a widow and five children to eke out an existence as best they could. Nicholas, the oldest, was confirmed 1762 in one of theReformed churches in Zweibrucken. All the children stood by their mother until her death in the early part of 1784.

When the Revolutionary War ended, a number of the German mercenaries (Hessians) employed by King George, returned to their native land with glowing accounts of the new world. These accounts inspired Nicholas with the idea of coming to America. Nicholas was a lock and edge toolsmith by trade. The youngest son, Theobald, was a shoemaker, and resolved to accompany his brother. It was not an easy matter for subjects in those petty kingdoms, who were able to bear arms, to leave their country. The rulers were in constant fear of outbreaks on the frontiers, and these being well guarded, it taxed the ingenuity of the young men to get away.

In May, 1784, the brothers started out as journeymen and left their home in the quiet of the night. Of the three left behind, Jacob and Valentine were married, the former kept a hostelry and the latter was a baker. The last those in the states heard from those left behind was sometime prior to 1811. At this time the immediate locality was then all in confusion on the account of the encroachments of the French army, which led to the overthrow of Napoleon in 1815. Nicholas with a kit of tools for smithing and Theolbald with tools and materials for shoemaking found it an easy matter to make the ordinary guard believe that they were journeymen prosecuting their trades. The critical time came when they reached the border and documents were required to cross the border. No one subject to military duty should leave the country. Carrying their tools and having no luggage they were able to succeed. On their way to Frankfort they were challenged by the officer in command of the forces on the boundary of their own kingdom. After relating the story, he directed a clerk to fill out a passport. The clerk hesitated suggesting that the men might be on their way to leave the country. The officer overruled and the two were on their way.

Miller Family

Abe Miller was born in Germany in 1749. Their Kinsman John Miller was in Maryland and was buying many tracts of land and had come to the new country with money to so. Records show that Abe and his father Christian were in Dorchester Co. before 1760 which would make Abe 11 years old and not a grown man when he arrived in an American port. Christian was involved in the Seven Years War in Germany.

Royer Family

I. Sebastian Royer, with four sons, emigrated from the Palatinate, Germany, to America in the year 1718. He was born near the city of Metz, but retired to the Palatinate about the Revocation Period (1685). He likely accompanied his father, for at this time Sebastian was likely only a youth, otherwise he was a very old man when he died in 1758. A number of Royers are said to fled to the Palatinate at this time. It is said that his sons persuaded him to come to America. The two oldest were young grown men.

Eby Family