Friday, September 3, 2010

Pennsylvania Research for the MARK family

Abraham Mark
I recently visited the Cumberland County Historical Society & the Hamilton Library in Carlisle, PA. My goal was to discover more about Abraham Mark, b. 12 November 1812 in PA. My maternal grandmother was Ivy Regina Mark Brown.

In PA, the librarian was a very helpful and patient man. He suggested I begin with the family files that usually include trees, letters on inquiry from other researchers, references to documents such as tax lists and census records, etc. In Ohio I have found these to be full of relevant information. I was not as lucky on this occasion. In fact, the one piece of paper in the file was a letter I had written myself, ten years ago, requesting information on Abraham Mark and his wife, Mary Isabella Heffelfinger. I used the Card Catalog and did a surname search.The difficulty with searching for Mark quickly surfaces. Anyone with the first name Mark will pop up. In this case anything in the Historical Society collection described as having a mark also popped up.In sorting through all of that, I found nothing that showed a connection to Abraham Mark. The librarian suggested the use of the Church and Cemetery Records Index and Tax Lists on microfilm. Despite the wealth of materials and the patience of the librarian, I found no links to our family.

Not wanting the drive from Virginia to Pennsylvania to be a waste of time (and the still to come drive back to New York State) I decided to search their county histories. I began with Cumberland County, the county I was in. Rev. Conway P. Wing's History of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania written in 1879 & Dr. George P. Donehoo's History of the Cumberland Valley in Pennsylvania written in 1930 were both interesting and I asked for copies of some pages.

My luck changed when I decided to look at the History of York County, Pennsylvania by George R. Prowell, Volume I. My Wolf ancestors lived in York County from at least the mid 1700s. The chapter on Pioneers & Pioneer Life is very interesting. I could picture my ancestors

"Hard and patiently did the settlers go to work, with coats off, arms bare, and sweated brows, to fell the trees and hew the logs for their future homes. Logs were split, notched and appropriately arranged, and then each settler assisted his nearest neighbor to do the heaviest work. The women who endured this new life were not idle. In homespun clothing and plain white caps, with the open air for a kitchen, and a few collected stones for a hearth … they swung with chain and hooks, the pots and kettles brought from their native land, and prepared the heartily relished food."

Then I continued on to the Revolutionary War chapters. Mr. Prowell listed the Battalions of the York County Militia and the officers in those battalions. This is where I found Johann Jonas Wolf, b. 27 December 1739 - d. 21 September 1787. In 1778 he was in the 6th Battalion, 5th Company under command of Capt. Peter Ekes. Jonas was the 2nd Lieutenant. The rank and file consisted of 84 men. In 1779 he served in the 7th Battalion, 8th Company, also under command of Capt. Peter Ekes. Now Jonas was the 1st Lieutenant. Rank and file, 70 men.

I can never be sure where genealogy research will lead me. In this case I began searching for one branch and found another.

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