New Clues: Sarah (MNU), Wife of Rev. War Soldier Jacob Miller of Franklin Co., TN

Revolutionary War soldier Jacob Miller has hundreds, if not thousands of descendants today. As far as I know, though, no one has any idea of the maiden name of his first wife, Sarah, who was the mother of some of his many children born to his two wives.

Very little is known about Sarah. She was born in the late 1750s or early 1760s, as her first child, son Martin, was born on 6 July 1785.

No marriage record has been found for Jacob and Sarah. However, Jacob served in the Revolutionary War and with a child born in mid-1785, the couple probably married 1783/84. Whether they married in Northampton County and then moved to Philadelphia or married in Philadelphia is not known.

Her place of birth is also not known. It was probably in Pennsylvania, but it’s also possible she emigrated from Europe with her parents when she was a child.

We do know that Sarah was alive on 11 April 1797 when ‘Jacob Miller and Sarah his wife’ sold land in Botetourt County, Virginia to John St. Moyer (Botetourt Deed Book 6:195) and that she had died before 11 June 1805 when Jacob married (2) Elizabeth Ritter in Botetourt County, Virginia.

That deed was the only primary document that gave the name of Jacob’s wife.

As I already mentioned, Jacob’s and Sarah’s oldest child, Martin, was born on 6 July 1785. That date is on his gravestone and the 1850 census gives his birth place as Pennsylvania.

More recently, church records from St. Michael’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania have appeared online. I was quite elated to find this entry:

3rd Entry on Right Page
Source: Ancestry

On 7 August 1785, Johann Martin Muller, son of Jacob Muller and Sara, his wife. Born 6 July 1785. Godparents: Johann Martin Danberger and Maria Hetzel

How can I be sure that this entry pertains to my Martin Miller? First, what are the odds that another Jacob and Sarah Miller had a son named Martin born in Pennsylvania on the exact same day? While their names are all common, the odds of this combination on the same date that Martin gave for his birth date being some entirely different family are slim.

Second, while my Jacob Miller entered military service in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, his pension file reveals that after his first tour of duty, he re-enlisted in – – – –  Philadelphia! In the 1780s!

Therefore, I can place Jacob in Philadelphia in the right time period.

Here is a quick timeline of Jacob’s whereabouts:

1759 – Birth; aged 73 in 1832, place unknown
1775 – Enlisted in Allentown, Northampton, PA for 3 years; PA Continental Line
1777, 16 July – Battle of Stony Point, Rockland County, NY
1777, 17 September – Battle of Brandywine, Delaware County, PA
1778-1781 – Served with Light Dragoons, attached to General Washington’s headquarters; often rode express with messages from the Army location to Philadelphia
1794 – Received a land grant in Botetourt County, VA
1813, 11 November – Purchased land in Franklin County, TN
1832, 17 July – Applied for a pension in Franklin County, TN
1832, 10 November – Died in Franklin County, Tennessee

I am quite confident that this young family is the correct Muller/Miller family.

This church record provides two new clues to uncover the maiden name of Sarah – the two godparents named in Martin’s baptismal record.

I excitedly began searching the church register for more entries pertaining to Johann Martin Danberger and Maria Hetzel.

Sigh. . . . . . Ugh. . . . . .!!!

Not only is there no other entry for Johann Martin Danberger, there isn’t even anyone else in the index with his surname.

A check of the 1790 census with a wildcard search (D*nberger) only brought up one hit, a Frederick Dunberger in upstate New York. I repeated the search substituting a T for the D, as the spelling of German names can be confused when written phonetically. No hits at all!

Nor did I find anything on Mr. Johann Martin Donberger on FamilySearch or MyHeritage. Nothing, nada, zilch!

Next, I tried looking for Maria Hetzel. There is no way to know whether she was married or not from the baptismal entry. Well, just like Johann Martin Danberger, Maria has no other mentions in the church book.

There are several other Hetzel entries, though, and the 1790 census of Germantown includes “Barnit Hetsel.” At home were one male over 16, three males under 16 and two females.

It’s estimated that this Barnet (Bernhard) Hetzel was born c1750. If correct, then I think the only option for Maria, if she was part of this family, is as the wife. A daughter would have been too young in 1785 to be a godparent if Barnet was actually born c1750.

Unfortunately, Barnet aka Bernhard Hetzel married Catherine Schlotterer on 23 November 1784 at St. Michael’s Church in Germantown.

He and Catherine had a daughter, Anna Maria, born 18 November 1795 and baptized on 1 January 1796 at St. Michael’s. Catherine was the sponsor for her own daughter!

Whether he had a sister Maria I don’t know and I’ve been unable to learn anything else about her.

There is one more tantalizing entry in the church marriages – Johannes Muller who married Sara Schworerin on 12 February 1784.

Could this be Jacob and Sara? Many German boys were named Johan(nes) + middle name, but went by their middle names. Johann Martin only went by Martin as an adult. Could this entry be a Johannes Jacob and the minister only wrote down Johannes?

I wish I could answer that question, but there are no baptismal entries for children of this couple, so I guess it is possible. Of course, no one has a family tree for this couple, nor can I find any other records pertaining to them.

Three dead ends, for the moment. And I had such high hopes for a new discovery – the maiden name of Sarah, who remains (MNU) Miller.






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