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.