Category Archives: Johannes Whitmer

Update: Family of Michael Whitmer & Catherine Steckel, Frederick Co., MD, 1700s

In my early blogging years, I shared an article I wrote on the Whitmer family, tracing their origins in Barbelroth, Germany to Frederick County, Maryland, Virginia and Kentucky.

Johannes Michael Whitmer was the brother of my husband’s Johannes, or John, Whitmer. Michael, as he was known, was baptized on 2 April 1760 in Frederick County, Maryland. He was the son of Johannes Whitmer and Maria Elisabetha Holtz.

I was aware that Michael had died on a trip between Virginia and Maryland sometime before 20 October 1805, when his estate administration was mentioned in Frederick County, Maryland court records.

I had also been able to identify his wife as a probable Steckel and found the names and baptismal dates of his children in church records.

However, no further information was found at the time to expand details concerning his children.

A Steckel researcher contacted me and alerted me to a lawsuit filed c1823 in Loudoun County, Virginia by the heirs of Michael  Whitmore (sic).

Given that widow Catherine is a plaintiff along with her by then grown children – and the children all match the church records in Maryland, there is no doubt whatsoever that they are the family from Frederick County, Maryland.

First, no marriage record has been found for Michael Whitmer and his wife, Catherine, but the lawsuit includes a deposition from Simon Steckel, who served as administrator of Michael’s estate. He is further identified as the brother of Michael’s widow, Catherine.

Administration of Michael’s estate was begun in October 1805.41 It included payment to Nicholas Holtz for travel to Virginia to summon Michael’s children. Michael is not in the 1800 Maryland census, and having sold off the last of his land in Frederick County in July 1797, the family moved to Virginia. Michael must have returned to Maryland to complete some business and died there.

With no Virginia census records for 1790, 1800 and 1810 and the Whitmer/Whitmore surname being quite common, no further research was done.

The Virginia chancery court lawsuit, along with the 1820 census had shed more light on the family.

Children of Michael and Catherine (Steckel) Whitmer:

  1. Anna Maria, born 18 August 1784; baptized 15 May 1785, Frederick, Maryland. Sponsor: Anna Maria Steckel, single. Mary, as she was later called,  was still single in 1823. No marriage record has been found for her and she probably has no descendants.
  2. Elisabetha, born 10 April 1786; baptized 14 June 1786, Frederick, Maryland. Sponsor: Margaretha Steckel, single. Elizabeth was still single in 1823 and like her sister, Mary, probably has no descendants.
  3. Michael, born 20 June 1788; baptized 13 December 1788, Frederick, Maryland. Sponsors: Parents. Michael was living next door to sister Catherine’s family. Michael died after 1860, where he was enumerated in the Loudoun County, Virginia census. Also in the home was Michael Beveridge, most likely his sister Margaret’s son.
  4. Catharina, born 9 April 1789; baptized 20 November 1791, Frederick, Maryland. Sponsor: Jacob Kitweiler. She married William Lightfoot before 16 January 1823. In 1820, they lived in Loudon County, Virginia, where William was an overseer. Her brother, Michael, lived next door to them. No further record after the 1820 census.
  5. George, born 20 August 1792; baptized 19 July 1795, Frederick, Maryland. Sponsors: Parents. George married Rachel Wright, 17 March 1820, Frederick County, Maryland. Rachel was reportedly born in Loudoun County, so they might have married so she could meet George’s mother, Catherine. George died between 1840, when he was in the Loudoun County census and 1850, when Rachel was living with son William B. Whitmore’s family in Fairfax County, Virginia, which borders Loudoun County.
  6. Nicholas, born 15 March 1795; baptized 19 July 1795, Frederick, Maryland. Sponsors: Nicholas and Susanna Holtz. Nicholas remained in Maryland. He died in Frederick County on 31 December 1870. He married (1) Philipena “Phebe” Stull, 27 October 1818, Frederick County, Maryland. Phebe was born 16 January 1799; died 18 August 1845, Frederick County, Maryland. She is buried with Nicholas at Rocky Springs Cemetery. (2) Rebecca (MNU). She was born c1805, Maryland; died September 1884; buried at Indian Springs Cemetery, Frederick County, Maryland.
  7. Barbara Susanna, born 9 November 1797; baptized 19 March 1798, Frederick, Maryland. Sponsors: Johannes and Barbara Kopenhewer.  She married Henry Zimmerman, 17 April 1821, Frederick County, Maryland. Henry died between 1840-1850 in Frederick County, Maryland. Susanna died 12 August 1867, Frederick County, Maryland.
  8. Margaret was born c1800, as she had “lately come of age by 16 January when the family filed its lawsuit. She died 10 June 1889, Loudoun County, Virginia. She was unmarried as late as 1827, when the lawsuit was dismissed. She married (1) William R. Beveridge, 23 December 1830, Loudoun County, Virginia. He was born 1770-1780 and died by 1843. (2) Alfred Dulin, 19 September 1843, Loudon County, Virginia.

In 1820, Michael Whitmore’s (sic) household in Loudoun County, Virginia consisted of 2 males, aged 26-45. He was one of them and the other is probably one of his brothers. If the age range is correct, that brother would be George.

There are also three females aged 26-45. One would be Michael’s wife, who as yet is unidentified. The other two females were most likely Mary and Elizabeth, who were unmarried.

There were also two males under 10 and two females under 10. That would indicate that Michael probably married by 1810, but no record has yet been found.

William Lightfoot lived next door to the Whitmers in 1820. The census noted that he was an overseer. There is no female in Catherine’s age range at home in 1820, but they are noted as married by 1823. No marriage record has been found.

Unfortunately, William Lightfoot is not in Loudoun County in 1830. Whether they died or moved on is still unknown.

Margaret Whitmer Beveridge’s second marriage is quite ironic. The land purchased by her father and lost to the Whitmers because it wasn’t paid off was purchased by William Dulin. When he died, it passed down to his son, Alfred Dulin. The land came back into the family through her marriage.

The Dulins are still in Loudoun County, Virginia in 1850. Alfred was clearly married before, as there are nine children at home. The three youngest – Michael and Sally, born c1846, and Mary, born c1849, are of an age to be Margaret’s children.

Quite a bit has been learned about the family of Michael and Catherine (Steckel) Whitmer because of that chancery court lawsuit.

I LOVE the Virginia Memory website.


Anthony Donohoo & Elizabeth Whitmer of Muhlenberg & McLean Counties, Kentucky

Elizabeth Whitmer is one of my husband’s collateral lines. She was the daughter of John and Catherine Whitmer, Dave’s 5X great grandparents and the sister of his ancestor, Catherine, who married Martin Miller and removed to Texas.

Elizabeth Whitmer was born 24 January 1793, likely in Botetourt County, Virginia, where her parents were living at the time. She married Anthony Donohoo on 31 May 1820 in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.

Anthony Donohoo was born in November 1796, based on his gravestone,  in Sumner County, Tennessee and married his first wife, Anna Coleman, there on 1 July 1816. Anna may have died giving birth to their only child, daughter Isabella, in 1818.

Sometime between 1818 and 1820, Anthony moved on to a new life in Muhlenberg County.

I’m not sure why, actually it’s probably because people are too lazy to look at records for themselves, but the family of Anthony and Elizabeth Donohoo exists in all kinds of iterations online, many of them incorrect.

Anthony Donohoo is found in both the 1840 and 1850 censuses of Muhlenberg County. The two adults in 1840 match Anthony and wife Elizabeth. The children are an almost perfect match between 1840 and 1850, with the exception that eldest son Michael married in 1841 and lived next door to his parents in 1850 and the youngest daughter, aged 5-9 years old in 1840, appears to have died young as she is not at home in 1850.

Anthony’s oldest daughter, Isabella, born c1818 to his first wife, was still at home in 1850.


  1. Michael, born c1822, Kentucky; died before 1860; married Angeline Donohoo, 10 March 1841, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. She apparently was a cousin.
  2. John, born c1827, Kentucky; died after 1850. No further information
  3. Isaac, born 3 January 1828, Kentucky; died 15 September 1894, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; married Mary Phillips, 9 June 1862. She was born 1847; died 1940.
  4. Elizabeth, born 1832; married  Zachariah (Darrell on the marriage record) Stringer, 23 December 1852, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky
  5. Benjamin, born c1834; married Susan McLaughlin, 19 July 1857, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. No further information as neither is found in 1860.
  6. Jacob, born 24 October 1835, Kentucky; died 3 June 1894, McLean County, Kentucky; married (1) Eliza Ann Stringer (1830-1869) (2) Mary J. Goodwin (1836-1921)

Note on Elizabeth who married Zachariah Stringer – there is a famiy of Igleheart children living with them in 1860. The 1850 census shows Elizabeth Donohoo at home with her parents. William Igleheart had a wife, Elizabeth, about the same age as Elizabeth Donohoo. He married Elizabeth N. Donohoo on 14 February 1839 in Muhlenberg County. However, the 1840 census includes James Donohoo, aged 40-49. I think Elizabeth N. was the daughter of James.

Zachariah and Elizabeth had a son, also named Darrell, who appears to have died young. They may have taken in the Igleheart children in 1860 because they wanted a home with children.

To complicate things, an Elizabeth Stringer, 24, is living with Anthony Donohoo and Sarah, thought to be Anthony’s wife as Elizabeth Whitmer Donohoo died in 1855, along with a child, John e. Stringer, aged 3. These Stringers appear to be John, son of Gray Stringer and Elizabeth Pitt.

By this time, the family was living in McLean County, Kentucky, next door to Muhlenberg County.

Anthony Donohoo died on 27 January 1879 in McLean County, Kentucky. Elizabeth (Whitmer) Donohoo died on 11 May 1855. Both are buried in the Donohoo Cemetery in McLean County.



German Origins of John Whitmer, 3 Years Later

Three years ago, I decided to try an experiment.

My husband’s 5X great grandfather, John Whitmer, was born in Barbelroth, Germany and emigrated to Frederick County, Maryland when he was a young boy in the 1750s.

As an adult, he moved westward, first to Botetourt County, Virginia and then, finally, to Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, where he died in 1828.

I wrote a long article published by the Kentucky Genealogical Society, which won second prize that year for best work, proving John’s parentage and  supported records found by encompassing his FAN (family, associates, neighbors) club. He was the son of Johannes Wittmer/Whitmer and Maria Elisabetha Holtz, who settled in Fredericktown, Maryland.

John Whitmer and his wife, Catherine, MAIDEN NAME UNKNOWN, (in spite of many online trees calling her Catherine Valde Tarwater) have hundreds, if not thousands of descendants today.

Understandably, there are many (almost 400) public member trees on Ancestry that include John Whitmer. However, I noticed back in 2015 that most of them either had no known parents for John Whitmer or they attributed him to Michael Whitmer and Barbara Oster of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with absolutely no source citations.

My experiment consisted of emailing all of the tree owners who had current contact information and sharing a link to my KGS article, which I posted on my blog, and politely encouraged each to read my article for documentation concerning his origins.

First, here is my republished article from 2015:

German Origins of John Whitmer, Muhlenberg Co., KY, Part 1

German Origins of John Whitmer, Muhlenberg Co., KY, Part 2

German Origins of John Whitmer, Muhlenberg Co., KY, Part 3

I posted a couple of updates about results, which were dismal, during 2015 and in January 2016, but didn’t address the experiment at all in 2017.

I should have known better, but out of curiosity, I decided to take a look today to see how things were looking. While there were 292 trees in 2015 and 382 trees in 2016, today there are but 183 trees (AND MINE IS NOT ONE OF THEM) coming up in the Ancestry search engine. That must be because there are no documents in their databases that prove his origins and I refuse to cite another Ancestry member tree as my source. I guess the other 109 tree owners won’t do that either, so many trees don’t turn up as hits.

The statistics remain just as dismal today.

2015 – 292 public member trees with 6 having John’s correct origins
2016 – 382 public member trees with 12 having his correct origins

2018 – 183 public member trees with 6 having his correct origins

So, in 2015, about 2% of the trees were accurate. That jumped up to a whopping 3% correct in 2016.  The accuracy level remains at 3% today. I do wonder, though, how many trees are hidden away that are correct, but not showing up as hits in the list?

As for those who have Michael Whitmer and wife Barbara of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania as John’s parents, I counted 96, yes, 96!!!! trees with that totally incorrect information. Not a one of them has a single document cited as a source. Most have a census record or two from 1810 and 1820 and/or Ancestry trees listed as the only sourced.

It is very sad that so many people don’t do their own research, they just copy, paste and merge. Incorrect information proliferates and multiplies. 50% of John Whitmer’s member trees have the wrong parents listed for him with no sources. A beginning researcher might think that there is safety in numbers – over half the trees have the same information, so it must be correct, right??? Nope, wrong. Very wrong.

It is even sadder that people who are handed a documented, fully sourced study still don’t bother to correct their online trees.

Researcher beware when digging for information in online family trees!