William Wigle – A Change in Direction

It’s funny how genealogy research progresses.  In the case of Mary’s likely father, Jacob, I had little to go on with readily accessible records.  However, due to the lack of other Wigle candidates living in South Huntingdon who were socially near John and his father, Henry, we can make a reasonable leap to Jacob.  The connection was cinched up with DNA matches.

Getting to Jacob’s father was a little less of a leap.  But it was not as easy of a conclusion to come to as I had initially thought.  I had an entire post already written on who I thought was Jacob’s father…and I was wrong.  This also means, I misspoke in Jacob’s post when I stated there was only one Wigle family in Westmoreland County. There now seems to be two. But only one had a boy named Jacob. The older Wigle men who I thought were brothers, may not be related afterall!

I made a rookie mistake and failed to do my 100% due diligence of reviewing an entire recordset.  Most of the problem was in my own shortcomings, though, part of the problem was my confusion in how Westmoreland County Orphan’s Court indexed their records.  They indexed them:

1st Alphabetically by the first initial of the surname 
2nd Alphabetically by the given name 
3rd Alphabetically by the full surname
4th By record year (the late 1700s until 1960s)  

I know, right?

So, the Wigle’s recorded for the same year are peppered throughout 619 images (or pages).  And when I used Ancestry.com’s search by field, not all of the Wigle’s of interest came back in the results.  I did a screen-by-screen search of the W’s, but I apparently missed the first names of J’s because I initially thought Jacob was not named in the recordset, leading me to an incorrect conclusion.

So who was Jacob’s father?  Definitively – William Wigle.

William Wigle of South Huntingdon Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, died intestate in 1796 when Jacob was about 7 years old (if we accept Jacob’s birth year of 1789). William’s estate included about 150 acres and other items of significant value, so his widow had to file for administration and initiate probate.  She did so jointly with Nicholas Swope.  Part of this probate included the assignment of “Guardian in Socage” for William’s minor children in the Orphan’s Court (which actually handled all probate elements in Pennsylvania, not just orphan’s as the name erroneously implies).  That is to say, a third party to act in the best interest of his minor children in regards to the property.  The children remained in the custody of their mother, Margaret, who was still living.

The 1796 Orphan’s Court records six Wigle children who were all assigned the same guardian except his eldest son, Abraham, whose guardian was Jacob Hough. The Hough family were known associates of the Rhodes family, and Abraham’s sister, Catherine, married Paul Hough.  Jacob Wigle is in this index and has the same successive guardians assigned in the same years as his siblings.

William WigleHenry Rhodes Jr
Nicholas Swope was a close associate of William.  William asked Nicholas to witness property sales, they were immediate neighbors, and Nicholas helped Margaret with William’s estate as co-administratorNames “…my friend Henry Shupe…” (Swope?) as backup Executor in Will dated 1859, and Moses Shupe (Swope?) is Guardian for daughter, Dililah
Son Christopher, petitions for Bela Smith of Rostraver Twp to be his guardian in 1802Names “…my friend, Bela B. Smith of Rostraver Twp…” as the primary Executor in Will dated 1859
Daughter, Catherine, married Paul HoughCatherine and Paul’s son, William, married Elizabeth Warner, Henry Rhodes’ niece
Table: Other coincidences connecting the Wigle’s and Rhodes’

The Orphan’s Court index does not directly identify these children as orphans of William Wigle.  However, because they appear in Orphan’s Court the same year that William’s probate is initiated suggests they are his minor children.  Especially given that no other man or woman named Wigle died that year in South Huntington.

I was going to write for copies of these records, but a known “cousin” of the Rhodes line, Glen Swartz, has already acquired and reviewed these records and published them on his Rootsweb research tree here.  I have corresponded directly with him before regarding the Rhodes’ and find his research to be quite thorough.  But I did my due diligence this time by reviewing his copious notes and source citations, and I could find no gaps in his conclusions.

An additional source recorded by Glen tie up the relationships.  A petition filed by his oldest son, Abraham, directly identifies William’s connection to all of the children from the Orphan’s Court index.

“…petitioners father died intestate leaving a widow, to wit Margaret, since intermarried with Peter Hush, had issue of 6 [7] children, to wit: 1. Catharine md Paul Hough. 2. Abraham, the petitioner, who is now above 21 years. 3. Elizabeth md William Gardner Jr. 4. Christopher. 5. Jacob. 6. Rosanna. 7. Mary. The last 4 are under 21 years.”

Abstract transcribed by Glen Swartz on Rootsweb

Among Glen’s notes and sources is a reference to property records in Westmoreland County that records William’s association with Francis Wigle of Frederick County, Virginia.  This association led him to another Frederick County, Virginia source that records fines against William Wigle and Francis Wigle concerning military service.  I am still in the process of looking up these Virginia sources to put my own eyes on them for digestion.

Genealogical Summary:

William Wigle was born about 1756, possibly in Frederick County, Virginia.  He married Margaret ____ about 1779 (based on his first known child’s birth) in either Virginia or Pennsylvania. (Swartz) 

William initiated the process to purchased 150 acres in South Huntingdon, Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, on 1 March 1780. He had to clear it, apply for a warrant, and lastly a grant before he could call it his very own. His final application for the land grant was filed on 7 February 1786. In 1787, he signed a bond to Francis Wigle of Frederick County, Virginia, for his South Huntingdon property. (Swartz)

William appeared in the 1790 U.S. Census in South Huntingdon with 3 males under the age of 16 (Abraham, Christopher, and Jacob?), 3 males over the age of 16 (William and two others), and 3 females (Margaret, Catherine, and Elizabeth).

He continued to grow his family and improve his farm until he acquired or built a gristmill.  He went into agreement to sell this gristmill on 21 September 1796, but he died unexpectedly before the sale could be finalized.  His estate followed through on the deal, and the deed was executed on 13 March 1797. (Swartz)

William died in September or October 1796 in South Huntingdon Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania at the age of 40. All but one child was a minor at his death. There is a large gap between his 3rd and 4th child, indicating other children who may not have survived birth or infancy.

William and Margaret had seven children:

  1. Catherine b. 14 January 1779 in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.  She died on 16 December 1862 in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.  She married Paul Hough.
  2. Abraham b. 1782 and d. 1821 in Rose Point, Shenango Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania.
  3. Elizabeth b. 1783
  4. Christopher/Christian b. abt. 1788.
  5. Jacob b. either 30 November or 8 August in 1789 in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania and d. 12 February 1847 in Wayne County, Ohio.  He married Elizabeth ____.
  6. Rosanna b. abt. 1792
  7. Mary b. 1794.  She died in 1854 in Pennsylvania.

One thought on “William Wigle – A Change in Direction

  1. That’s brilliant! Well done on persevering and piecing it all together!! What a wonderful record set. I’ve never come across reference to an Orphan’s Court before!

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