Saturday, January 31, 2015

Edward Moore, Civil War veteran

Pension records are a great resource and can provide family information not easily found in other records. Edward Moore, my maternal 2nd great grandfather, volunteered for service during the U.S. Civil War and his pension file is one of my favorite records. Edward was born to Henry Moore and Nora Sullivan on 29 March 1836 near Tuosist, County Kerry, Ireland.[1] This file provided Edward's location in Ireland which was previously unknown!

A private in 16th Regiment, Company I Pennsylvania Infantry, Edward volunteered at Pottsville, Pennsylvania on 20 April 1861 and was honorably discharged on 30 July 1861 at Harrisburg, PA.[2] The 16th Regiment Infantry organized at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg on 3 May 1861. During his service, the unit moved to York then to Chambersburg and onto Williamsport, Maryland where on 16 June, they attached to Miles’ 4th Brigade, Cadwalader’s 1st Division of Major General Robert Patterson’s Army.

On 2 July 1861, Patterson’s division crossed the Potomac River near Williamsport and marched to Martinsburg, Virginia. Under Patterson’s command were 3,500 men, comprised of some regular troops, but mostly 90-day volunteers, whose enlistments were about to end. Patterson was under orders to pin down a small Confederate division. On 3 July, Patterson occupied Martinsburg but made no further aggressive moves until 15 July, when he marched to Bunker Hill. They held off the Confederate unit but instead of moving on Winchester, Patterson turned east to Charles Town on 17 July and withdrew to Harpers Ferry.[3]

The Battle of Hoke’s Run (also known as The Battle of Falling Waters or The Battle of Hainesville) was part of the Manassas Campaign of the American Civil War. While this battle was considered a Union victory, it contributed to the Confederate victory at the Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) less than three weeks later.[4]

On 7 April 1911, Edward Moore, age 75, filed a Declaration of Pension and was eligible to receive twenty dollars per month. The marriage certificate in this pension file states that Edward Moore and Mary Curtin were married on 22 October 1866 at St. Patrick’s Church in Pottsville. They had twelve children, four of whom predeceased them. Research continues for a possible connection between Camp Curtin and Mary Curtin.

Following their marriage, Edward worked as a ‘pudler’ in the iron mills.[5] A puddler made wrought iron using a process in which pig iron is converted to wrought iron. This was a highly skilled and dangerous occupation which required physical strength, stamina and sustained concentration.[6]

Based on this information, much of which was gleaned from the pension file, it is clear that Edward and Mary Curtin Moore were very strong and courageous people!

[1] Edward Moore (Pvt., Co. I, 16th Reg’t PA Infantry, Civil War), pension no. SC 569,600, Case Files of Approved Pension Applications…, 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington D.C.
[2] Edward Moore Civil War pension no. SC 569,600, RG 15, NA-Washington.
[3] Falling Waters Battlefield Association, Inc. ( : 28 September 2010).
[4] Falling Waters Battlefield Association, Inc. ( : 28 September 2010).
[5] 1870 U.S. census, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Pottsville, p. 352, dwelling 30, family 38, Edward Moore; digital image online, ( : 16 May 2009) citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1447.
[6] Old Occupation Names, Article. Rodney MH Hall. Hall Genealogy Website. : 20 April 2010.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Who was the Rev. Philip Jacob Michael?

Rev. Philip Jacob Michael, born in Switzerland, was a theological student at Heidelberg, Germany and came to America as a young man. He was a minister in the German Reformed Church in Pennsylvania and served many of the congregations in the counties surrounding Philadelphia.[1] A typed genealogy by Alice Michael, my great grandmother, traces five generations descending from Philip Jacob Michael. There is, however, more to her story especially with regard to his acceptance as a minister by his congregations.

            “In June, 1759 several Webb families lived in Amity twp. Berks Co. Philip Jacob [Michael]
            married Sallie Webb, an English Quakeress. While attending his church, their horses
            were tied side by side, the foot of one became entangled in the other’s bridal, they
            become acquainted in untangling them, that led to their marriage. He could hardly
            speak English, nor she German. Her parents opposed her marrying ‘out of meeting’ –
            gave her a load of furniture and a horse and some land and told her ‘Sallie this is all
            thee gets’ – disowned her.”[2]

What a description! This couple faced many challenges. Genealogically, this story provides clues and raises questions for discussion in future posts but for now, my focus is the ministry of Philip Jacob Michael.

Philip Jacob Michael founded many Reformed churches in Berks and Lehigh counties prior to the Revolutionary War.[3] A profile in The Colonial Clergy of the Middle Colonies: New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania 1628-1776 lists at least fifteen churches in three counties at which Philip Jacob Michael served, two of which he founded. In 1777, he was appointed Chaplain of the First Battalion of Berks County Militia during the American Revolution. This profile also states that he was not ordained.[4]

“In 1764, Domine[5] Michael appeared before the Coetus of the Reformed Ministers of Pennsylvania and asked for ordination and admission as a member. This request was presented to the Holland Church Fathers and denied. Philip Jacob Michael could not be ordained in Pennsylvania but had to travel to Holland. With travel being a hardship, ‘he being aged does not press his case, and his congregations are satisfied with him without ordination.’ He was 48 years old and continued to serve his welcoming congregations, without ordination, throughout Berks, Lehigh and Montgomery counties until his death in 1786.”[6]

[1] “Rev. Philip Jacob Michael,” notes compiled by Alice Michael, undated, photocopy held by her great granddaughter, Katherine Kearney Lowrie, Alice Michael is the great-great-granddaughter of Philip Jacob Michael.
[2] “Rev. Philip Jacob Michael,” notes compiled by Alice Michael.
[3] “Berks Plaque to Honor Revolutionary Pastor,” Reading Eagle, Reading, Pennsylvania, 13 April 1977, page 15; digital image online, ( : 14 November 2014), search for Philip Jacob Michael.
[4] The Colonial Clergy of the Middle Colonies: New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania 1628-1776, Frederick Lewis Weis, American Antiquarian Society, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1978, p. 105-106.
[5] : 16 January 2015. Obsolete title of respect.
[6] Pennsylvania Folklife Magazine, “Philip Jacob Michael: Ecclesiastical Vagabond or ‘Echt Reformirte’ Pastor” by David H. Rapp, Spring 1979, vol. 28, no. 3 (Pennsylvania Folklife Society).

Thursday, January 15, 2015


It is said that our ancestors want to be found. What better way to honor those who came before us than to remember them and their place in history. Through this blog, I plan to do just that – honor my ancestors – by sharing my family history.

As some of you know, I recently explored Berks County, Pennsylvania looking for the areas in which my ancestors lived and worked. Philip Jacob Michael (1716-1786), is my immigrant ancestor on this line. It is not clear whether he immigrated on his own as a young boy or whether he came with his parents and/or siblings. So far, neither parents nor siblings have been identified though there are several Michael families in this area.

According to notes compiled, probably in the 1920s, by my great grandmother, Alice Michael, Philip Jacob Michael was a minister in the 1700s in Berks County and credited with founding many of the Reform churches throughout the county and neighboring counties. He was an early pastor at Longswamp Church, in what is now Mertztown, and was buried there in 1786. His grave was not marked. In my quest to connect with my 5x great grandfather, I located this church and was able to see the landscape he would have seen so many years ago. As I circled the church, the church bells began to ring! It was as if a royal event was taking place. I had found Philip Jacob Michael! Yes, the bells probably chime every Saturday night at 6 p.m. but what are the chances that I would be there, at that moment, viewing the church and surrounding landscape on such beautiful fall evening. Our ancestors want to be found!

My goal is to share what I have learned about my family and I hope by sharing this information, you, too, will feel connected to those who came before us and their place in history. There is so much to learn about their lives and what was happening in the world around them. What I do know is that they faced tremendous struggles and heartbreak, yet continued on with their dreams. If not for their courage and strength, we would not have the gifts we have today.