The last time I wrote about our Rhoades line, I covered John “Henry” Rhodes who came to Westmoreland County from Bucks County with his entire family (adult and minor children). I have also teased a little about how I connected him to Bucks county in miscellaneous posts discussing the use of DNA in Genealogy research.
I must admit that from here on out the story get’s dry(er). I’ll try to make this interesting.
As I mentioned before. I believe Henry Rhodes of Westmoreland County was baptized John Henry Roth in the Reformed congregation of the Tohickon Union Church in Bedminster Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania on 22 September 1754. He was born to parents Johanne Jacob Roth and Charlotte. Johanne Jacob and his parents are believed to be the immigrant ancestors of our Rhoades family. So his story is about trying to confirm where in Germany he came from. Because Jacob names a son, Henry, in his 1789 will, we know that he was still living. Jacob died in 1791 and Henry arrives in Westmoreland County within the decade. He was a younger son, and his elder brother inherited the family homestead. His estimated birth year, along with several of his children, match baptismal records and parental names in the Tohickon Church. The case is very strong that Henry of Westmoreland County is a son of Jacob and Charlotte of Rockhill Township, Bucks County.
Local historians of the 19th century wrote confusing and often times contradictory pieces attempting to describe the settlement of regions by various immigrants. Here is what they say that may give us clues to Johann Jacob Roth’s origins.
In 1753, the trustees of the Reformed and Lutheran congregations bought a lot on the east side of the Bethlehem road, in Bedminster for five shillings, on which Tohickon church was shortly erected. This was at a point where the townships of Rockhill, Bedminster and Haycock meet; the Tohickon creek separating Bedminster and Rockhill from Haycock, and the Bethlehem road dividing Rockhill from Bedminster. This was an objective point for that section of country, and the location had much to do with building up the congregations. The church property has been owned, jointly, from the beginning…The History of Bucks County, Ch. XIX Historical Churches (1876, 1905 ed.)
Between 1733 and 1743 a loose congregation of German Reformed consisted of several families of French Huguenots, and some German and Swiss immigrants in Bucks County, concentrating along the banks of the Tohickon creek. The Bedminster chapter (Ch. XVIII) of the same book says these early settlers first met at each other’s homes for Sunday worship, and eventually built a log school house on the north bank of the Tohickon creek by 1738. The church eventually settled on a spot across the creek from this first location described as the south bank of the Tohickon creek in the northwest corner of Bedminster township.
Three buildings have stood at this location. The first built shortly after the lot was purchased in 1753, a second in 1766 was described as a stone structure without floor or stove, hip roof, chancel laid with brick, and galleries on three sides. A floor and stove were eventually added. The third and current structure was built in 1838 after our ancestors had left the area. A man named Jacob Rohr, was named among the 1753 trustees of the church (1905, Ch. XIX). These histories were written based on church records, which were all written in German by the ministers. Rohr is a common transcription error of Roht (Roth) when transcribed from German handwriting to English.
The Pennsylvania German Society published A History of the Tohickon Union Church in 1925. The church records begin in 1745 for the Reformed congregation and 1749 for the Lutheran congregation. The baptisms for the children of Jacob and Charlotte are recorded in the Reformed records, however conflicting reports has a “Joseph” Jacob Roth listed among irregular ministers to the “poor” Lutheran congregation, serving a tenure between 1756 and 1759 (1905, Bedminster). Jacob is also identified as Joseph in Charlottes burial entry. I suspect another transcription error. UPDATE: Yes, another transcription error. Minister John Joseph Roth 1756-1759, I recall looking into him some years ago. No relation to us.
By 1812, Johanne Jacob’s grandson, Henry (2nd) was baptizing his children in the Lutheran Church in Westmoreland County. Another grandson, through his son Peter, remained in Bucks County and converted to Mennonite. Ok, this is dry – but it’s important to some genealogical historians.
Johanne Jacob Roth, like all German immigrants, used his middle name, Jacob, except in church records. And because the church records were written in German, the minister used the German spelling of surnames. Their first child, John Roth, was born before 1748, but the family does not appear in the Tohickon Reformed Church records until 1750 when their fourth child, John Peter Roth (aka Peter) was baptized on 15 July. The records for the baptisms of their first three children are probably lost or unrecorded due to the irregular meetings either in a school house or in fellow congregants homes.
Roth Families in Bucks County
Just in Bucks County in the 18th century, two distinctly different Roth families arrived as found in the county histories. Our ancestors arrived some time before 1748 in Rockhill Township, while a later Roth family arrived some time before 1806 and settled in Milford Township.
Tax records and early census are consistent with our single Roth family (as Roads or Roadt) in the mid to late 18th century in Rockhill township. However these records contradict the history books. In 1778 a Michael Wroat was in Durham Township and is replaced by an Andrew and a Henry by 1782 (Henry may be the same that shows up in Nockamixon later on). More Roads of various spellings begin to appear in other townships by 1787. But none of these later Roads appear to be tied to our line.
German, Swiss, and Dutch immigrants had begun to arrive in Pennsylvania in the 17th century. But not all came with William Penn as Quakers. Germans and Swiss continued to immigrate to Pennsylvania years after William Penn died. The Thirty-Year war had devastated their economy and borders were constantly shifting. Lutheran’s fled persecution by the Catholic Church and fewer German Catholics were fleeing persecution in Protestant regions. Their migration patterns into the wilds of Pennsylvania followed the waterways. True to that history, Jacob owned a 188 acre “plantation” in Rockhill Township, on the North East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek. No, this is not a description, the name of the creek really is North East Branch of the Perkiomen. Though on modern maps it is now the East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek. He left this land to his second son, (John) Jacob Roth (the oldest son seems to have died before his will was made). CORRECTION: I don’t know why I thought John Roth died before 1789. He didn’t. It is odd that Jacob chose his second son for Executor. Perhaps it’s because John moved away. He may be the same man who is in Lower Saucon township, Northampton County. OR, I have them in the wrong order.
The Perkiomen creek terminates south of the Tohickon Union Church and ran near parallel and south of the Tohickon Creek, which was dammed in 1958 to form Lake Nockamixon.
A fellow genealogist is also actively researching this generation of Roth’s and has found the deeds for Jacob’s plantation which he inherited from his father in 1760.
Jacob and Charlotte were neighbors, friends, or relations to Peter Görg and his wife, Anna Margaret, Eiderich Erhard and his wife Anna Maria, and John Riffert and his wife Elizabeth. They were witnesses for the baptism of these three couple’s children. Likewise, Peter Görg and wife were witnesses for John Peter in 1850. UPDATE: Peter Görg aka Peter Jörg was Peter George, Jacob’s brother-in-law, having married Anna Margaret Roth.
Jacob also named his neighbors in his will. The family farm was bounded by the lands of Abraham Stout, Christian Deterer, “college lands”, and the Perkiomen Creek. Abraham Stout also signed as Jacob’s witness along with Johannes Groff and Jacob Hartzel.
Professional genealogist encourage us to look at our ancestors associates for clues to relations. It was common practice for men of this time period to use cousins or in-laws as witnesses. And since we don’t know Charlotte’s maiden name, I have begun to do just this. Additionally, immigrants tended to immigrate together as groups and settled near each other. The origins of his associates may hold the key to Jacob’s origins. I am only just beginning to do this, so I will save this for a later post.