Tag Archives: Catherine Whitmer

Martin Miller & Catherine Whitmer, Muhlenberg County, KY

Last week, I posted a transcription of the will of Martin Miller, who lived in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. I just realized that I have never shared the family information for this couple, who have hundreds if not thousands of descendants.

Martin Miller was the son of Jacob Miller and probably his wife Sarah (MNU), who lived first in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, where Martin was born on 6 July 1785, and then soon after migrated to Botetourt County, Virginia, where Sarah died sometimes after 1800.

In Virginia, the family of John and Catherine (MNU) Whitmer, who had migrated from Frederick County, Maryland, lived near by. Both families were of German background.

On 13 June 1807, Martin apparently married a young lady named Polly Cressoe, daughter of Mathias Cressoe, so she was underage when she married. However, either a betrothal happened but no marriage or else Polly died very soon because on 8 January 1808, Martin Miller married Catherine Whitmer, daughter of John and Catherine from Maryland.

Martin’s father, Jacob, and his father-in-law, John, and he himself were all farmers. Land was getting expensive in Botetourt County and about 1812, the Millers and the Whitmers decided to migrate west. However, Martin’s father, step-mother and most of his siblings and half siblings all settled in Franklin County, Tennessee. Martin, for whatever reason, decided to travel with his extended family of in-laws to Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.

Martin must have like Kentucky, as he spent the rest of his life there, living in the German community with many friends and relatives. He died on 5 May 1863 and is buried at Old Shiloh Cemetery. His wife, Catherine, was born in Frederick County, Maryland on 10 September 1783 and predeceased her husband by 15 months, passing away on 21 February 1862. She is buried next to her husband at Old Shiloh Cemetery.

Martin and Catherine had a large family of eight children:

  1. John, born 18 May 1810, probably Botetourt County, Virginia; died after 1880, probably Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; married Celia Stewart, c1838. She was born c1821, Kentucky; died after 1880, probably Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.
  2. Jacob, born 2 November 1811, probably Botetourt County, Virginia; died after 1870, probably Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; married Lucinda Kittinger, 25 November 1833, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. She was born c1812, Virginia; died after 1870, probably Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.
  3. Sarah, born 27 February 1813, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; died June 1881, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; unmarried.
  4. Michael, born 20 February 1815, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; died 24 October 1880, Hopkins County, Texas; married Elizabeth Hendricks, c1837, probably Simpson County, Kentucky. She was born 3 March 1818, probably Warren County, Kentucky; died 21 October 1875, Hopkins County, Texas.
  5. Rebecca, born 23 March 1816, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; died 25 January 1896, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; married John Phillips, 21 September 1859, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. He was born 19 February 1808, Virginia; died 30 January 1870, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.
  6. David, born 10 November 1820, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; died 8 April 1864, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; married Martha Jane Hendricks, c1841, probably Simpson County, Kentucky. She was born 9 December 1821, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; died 21 August 1886, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky
  7. Catherine, born 26 September 1822, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; died c1848, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; married Lewis Stewart, c1847. He was born c1825, Kentucky; died 25 August 1894, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.
  8. Martin, born 24 April 1827, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; died 23 January 1866, Hopkins County, Texas; married Bethany Kittinger, 24 October 1843, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. She was born c1824, Virginia; died 25 February 1915, probably Bell County or Milam County, Texas.

My husband’s line of descent is:

  1. Martin Miller
  2. Michael Miller
  3. Louisa Miller
  4. Minnie Mae Williams
  5. Pearl Lillian Brasher
  6. Edward Earl Stufflebean
  7. David Lee Stufflebean

Many of Martin’s and Catherine’s descendants still live in western Kentucky.  Please leave a comment if you are a cousin. 🙂

Catherine (MNU) Whitmer

The family of Johannes Whitmer, aka John Whitmer, emigrated from Barbelroth, Pfalz, Germany about 1753 and settled in Frederick County, Maryland. It took a while to find the family in Germany and then trace John’s migration from Maryland through Rockingham and then Botetourt Counties, VA before he settled in Muhlenberg County, KY.

His wife’s family has not been so easy to identify. No clues whatsoever have been found in Kentucky or Virginia about her maiden name, parents or siblings. No marriage record has been located for John and Catherine, either, although they married about 1778.

If John and Catherine followed traditional German naming patterns for their children (first son named for father’s father, first daughter named for mother’s mother, second son named for mother’s father and second daughter named for father’s mother) and they may have since their first child was John and second daughter was Maria Elizabeth, then Catherine’s parents could have been Valentine and Mary Eva. Of course, it is possible that their names were also John and Maria Elizabeth, since they are not uncommon names, but let’s hope that her parents were Valentine and Maria/Mary Eva.

Here is a timeline for the Whitmer information gleaned from Frederick County, MD records:

1753 Johannes Witmer (Widmer) emigrated from Barbelroth, Pfalz, Germany.
1757 20 February. Elias, son of Johannes and Maria Elisabetha Wittmer was baptized. Sponsors: Elias and Albertina Bruner.
1758, 28 March. Maria Catharina, daughter of Conrad and Ann Catherine (Holtz) Dick was baptized. Sponsors: Johannes and Maria Elisabetha Widmer.
1760, Easter Monday. Johannes Michel, son of Johannes and Maria Elisabetha Wittmer was baptized. He was born Wednesday before Easter, which was 2 April 1760. Sponsors: Jacob and Susanna Margaretha Zinnet. Recorded 23 Feb 1767.
1766 Elisabetha Witmer received communion.
1768, 1 April. Johannes Witmer confirmed. (on list of “young people.”
3 April. Johannes Wittmer received communion.
10 April. Henrich Mayer received communion at Woodstock, VA.
1773, 25 January. Eva Margaretha Wittmer received catechetical instruction.
1 April. Maria Elisabetha Witmer received communion.
9 April. Eva Wittmer confirmed.
17 October. Eva Margaretha Wittmer received communion.
1775, 10 May. Members of congregation who signed named to membership list include Margaretha, Maria Elisabetha and Johannes Wittmer.
1777, 16 March. Henrich, son of Henrich and Eva Meyer, born 15 August 1887, was baptized. Sponsor: Johannes Witmer.
1778, 30 January. Michael Wittmer received catechetical instruction.
Maria Elisabetha Wittmer received communion.
27 September. Valentin Stockel received communion.
1779, 3 February. Margaretha, daughter of Henrich and Eva Margaretha Meyer, born 20 December 1778, was baptized. Sponsors: Parents.
21 March. Jacob, son of Johannes and Catherina Wittmer, born 15 January 1779, was baptized. Sponsors: Jacob and Anna Barbara Holtz.
23 April. Christian Juzler (Eutsler) and Elsabeth Dickkaut married. Witnesses: Balthasar Dickkaut, Jacob Schnoutiget, Elisabeth Etschbergern and Johannes and Catharine Widmer.
8 May. John Witmer, weaver, sold Lot 231 to Jacob Holtz, both of Frederick.
19 July. Will of Henry Meyer, shoemaker, proved. Will written 16 February 1779. Named wife Eva Margaretha, son Henry, daughter Anna Margaret. Witness: Michael Whitmore.
1780, 9 February. Nicholas Klein and Margreth Schmid married. Witnesses: Johannes and Catharina Widmer, Johannes and Catherine Kaufmann, Abraham and Magdalena Ditlo and Prt. Schober.
1781, 5 August. Johannes, son of Johannes and Catharina Wittmer, born 8 June 1781, was baptized. Sponsors: Johannes and wife.
1782, 21 April. Catharina, daughter of Simon and Sara Rapp, born 23 November 1781, was baptized. Sponsors: Johannes and Catharina Wittmer.
1783, 28 September. David Schultz and Eva Meyern married. Witnesses: Johannes Widmer, Conrad and Anna Maria Doll, Rudolph and Anna Margreth Rohr and Maria Schustlern. (Evangelical Lutheran Church)
26 October. Catherina, daughter of Johannes and Catherine Wittmer, born 10 September 1783, was baptized. Sponsors: David and Eva Schultz.
1784, 29 May. John Wittmer, weaver, sold half of Lot 230 to Michael Wittmer, both of Frederick. Wife Catherine relinquished dower.
1785, April. John Whitmer sold Lot 230 to Jacob Koehler/Kochler, both of Frederick. Wife Catherine relinquished dower.
15 May. Anna Maria, daughter of Michael and Catherine Witmer, born 18 August 1784, was baptized. Sponsor: Anna Maria Steckel, single woman.
2 October. Maria Elisabeth, daughter of David and Eva Schultz, born 19 August 1785, was baptized. Sponsors: Valentine and Maria Elisabetha Brunner.
8 December. Will of Jacob Kochler witnessed by Michael Whitmore.
1786, 21 February. Michael Schmit and Susanna Steckel married. Witnesses: Michael Witmer, Phillip Lipps.
14 June. Elisabetha, daughter of Michael and Catherine Wittmer, born 10 April 1786, was baptized. Sponsors: Parents.
20 June. Abraham Bayer and Eva Beringer married. Witness: ______ Witmer.
26 October. Thomas Maxwell and Margaret Steckel married. Witnesses: Michael Witmer and Simon Steckel.
1787, 17 April. Henrich Conradt and Maria Lath married. Witnesses: Jacob Kitweiler and Michael Witmer.
1788, 28 September. Susanna, daughter of Peter and Catharine, born 23 April 1788, was baptized. Sponsors: Nicholas and Susanna Holtz.
13 December. Michael, son of Michael and Catherina, born 20 June 1788, was baptized. Sponsors: Parents.

In this timeline, there are only four events which I believe don’t directly tie to John Whitmer’s family and may either relate to Catherine’s family or possibly just to their friends:

1. On 23 April 1779, Christian Juzler (Eutsler) married Elsabeth Dickkaut (Dickhaut). Witnesses were Balthasar Dickkaut, who has been identified as living in Loudoun County, VA, which borders Frederick County, MD, Jacob Schnoutiget, Elisabeth Etschbergern and Johannes and Catharine Widmer.

There is little documented information on most of the people at this wedding. Etchberger/Etschberger is an uncommon name. In 1790, there were only two men by that name in the census and both lived in Berks County, PA.  Neither Schnoutiget nor anything like it comes up in any kind of search in Ancestry.com or familysearch.org or in Google.  Little has been documented on Christian Juzler/Eutsler/Utzler or Balthasar Dickhaut.

These people are big question marks so it is possible that Catherine shared a family relationship with one of them.

2. On 9 February 1780, Nicholas Klein and Margreth Schmid married. Witnesses: Johannes and Catharina Widmer, Johannes and Catherine Kaufmann, Abraham and Magdalena Ditlo and Prt. Schober. Nicholas Klein likely was marrying his third wife here. He married Maria Margaretha Kauffman in December 1768. Maria Margaretha was born about 1726 and she, in turn, married (1) Daniel Ditlo about 1750, allegedly in Minfeld, Bavaria, Germany. Therefore, Johannes Kauffman was witnessing his former brother-in-law’s wedding here. Abraham Ditlo has been placed as a son of Daniel Ditlo and Maria Margaretha Kauffman. Assuming that the marriage dates are correct, Nicholas Klein was probably born about 1725-1730.

Prt. Schober is likely Peter Schober, who lived in Frederick County in this time period. His relationship, if any, to the bride and/or groom is unknown and there is no known relationship between the bride and groom and John and Catherine Whitmer either.

Nothing more has been found on Margreth Schmid.

Nothing more has been found on Nicholas Klein’s earlier life or children he may have had.

It is possible that someone at this wedding was related to Catherine Whitmer and more research is needed on these people.

3. On 21 April 1782, Catharina, daughter of Simon and Sara Rapp, born 23 November 1781, was baptized. Sponsors: Johannes and Catharina Wittmer. (Simon married Sarah Griffith on 8 Mar 1778 in Frederick County, MD.) Simon Rapp was born in Barbelroth, Germany, the same town as John Whitmer, in 1753, so the families knew each other before emigrating to Maryland. Names of the Rapp children born in Germany are very unlike those given to the Whitmer children so naming patterns would seem to eliminate the Rapps as relatives of Catherine.

4. On 20 June 1786, Abraham Bayer and Eva Beringer married. Witness: ______ Witmer. However, this witness could also be John’s brother, Michael, and I tend to believe that it was because John and Catherine Whitmer were living in Rockingham County, VA in 1786 so I am going to eliminate this event from the list. Abraham and his wife, according to Ancestry family trees, died in Pennsylvania, but they were of an age where either could have been a sibling of Catherine. I think this is not a likely scenario.

So here stands my brick wall. I am leaning towards the idea that Catherine was related in some way to the Kauffmans or the Ditlos or Kleins, but there is no proof whatsoever at this point.


John and Catherine Whitmer, Muhlenberg Co., KY

John Whitmer, born 24 June 1751 in Barbelroth, Germany; died 10 Dec 1828 in Muhlenberg County, KY and Catherine, his wife, born  1 Dec 1760; died 4 September 1838, also in Muhlenberg County, are my husband’s 5x great grandparents. (Dates taken from their gravestones at Grundy Cemetery. )

Unlike some family lines, they have hundreds, if not thousands of descendants.  In April 1976, Dallis and (Sarah) Ann Whitmer published their work on the descendants of this couple and they did an amazing job, particularly since this happened in the pre-computer era. Their one major error was in attaching this John as a son of Michael Whitmer of Lancaster County, PA.

In the 1990’s, I spent many hours, days, weeks and months trying to prove the parentage of Johannes, known as John in Kentucky, and his wife, Catherine, whose maiden name was allegedly something like “Valde,” which could have been a corrupt spelling of a surname like “Welty.” I had also seen a reference to Catherine’s maiden name being “Tarwater,” but it was only heresay passed along orally. I have never found any primary document with that information on it.

In the Summer 1993 issue of Bluegrass Roots, the Kentucky Genealogy Society’s publication, my work on the Whitmer family was published as a lesson in how to research. I was very proud of that accomplishment and even prouder when I was told that I came in second place statewide for the best article submitted that year.

I will focus on John Whitmer at another time. Today, I want to tell you about his wife, Catherine, who is STILL a brick wall. I have an inkling of her maiden name, but that is only an educated guess based on records I have accumulated through the years on this couple.

Here is the introduction from my Whitmer article so you have some background on the family and the research I had done:

When I first began researching my husband’s family history, and rather quickly came upon the line of John and Catherine Whitmer, it appeared to me that it would be relatively easy to trace this family back for at least a couple more generation. The name did not seem terribly common and a maiden name of sorts (Valde) was given for Catherine. It could have been a corruption of “Welty.” What followed became a classic lesson in documenting all information firsthand, rather than accepting the word of others.

I began my search with the information about John Whitmer in Muhlenberg County, KY. Census records, land deeds, tax rolls, and John’s will provided more than enough primary documentation. However, I wanted to take him out of Kentucky back to his parents. A friend of mine saw an ad for a genealogical book titled The Family History of Eula Mae Miller Fisher. This Miller family was from Muhlenberg County and included some information on other local German families, such as the Shavers, who had ties by marriage to the Whitmers in Kentucky. I was very interested in this book because the Whitmers and other German families in the area appeared to be very clannish, intermarrying for at least 200 years. The Shavers had been traced from Botetourt County, VA. A while later, I also found a book called The Whitmer Family Genealogy about John and his Muhlenberg County descendants, put together for the Bicentennial by Dallis and Ann Whitmer. The Whitmers opened with an introduction that records had been compiled from cemeteries, court records, censuses, obituaries, marriage records, Bible records and archival information in Philadelphia. It also made the statement that there was an old Whitmer family Bible, written in German, that was given to John Whitmer by Frena Whitmer Nesbitt in 1809. This book also placed John Whitmer in the family of Michael and Barbara Whitmer of Manor Township, Lancaster County, PA.

Lastly, a quick check of the LDS Church IGI showed a listing for Jacob, John and Catherine Whitmer, children of John and Catherine, baptized in the German Reformed Church of Frederick, Maryland. The baptismal dates corresponded closely to birth dates on their gravestones in Kentucky, leading me to believe it was the same John Whitmer family.

There appeared to be quite a wealth of information about John Whitmer and his origins and enough information was provided in the various publications to being to prove this information to my own satisfaction, using primary sources.

However, as I wrote to confirm these facts, I quickly ran into stone walls. My only initial success was taking a guess that since the families were closely tied together in Kentucky and the Shavers came from Botetourt County, VA, perhaps John Whitmer followed the same route. The Botetourt County clerk found a marriage record for Martin Miller and Catherine Whitmer, identified as the daughter of John, married on 7 Jan 1808,  although this marriage was omitted from the published volume of Botetourt marriages. My next venture proved that Frena Witmer Nesbitt could not have possibly given the Bible to John in 1809, as she had died by the time her father wrote his will in the 1790’s. Frena Witmer, wife of Nathaniel Nesbitt, was the daughter of Peter and Anna Catharine Baughman Witmer of Lebanon Township, Lancaster, PA, now Lebanon County, PA. Peter left a will dated 31 Oct 1794 which was probated in Jan 1795 in Dauphin County, now Lebanon County, PA.4 In it, he left equal shares of his “movables” to four living children and to children of deceased daughters Veronica (Frena) and Catharine.

Finally, I traced the old German Whitmer family Bible (published in 1736 in Basel, Switzerland) to Christus Gardens in Gatlinburg, TN, where the clerk made a photocopy of the handwritten material in the Bible, I sent a copy of the writing to a translator for the German Genealogical Society of America, telling her only that I wanted to know if a typed translation done in the 1940’s did, indeed, match the original Bible inscription stating that John’s wife’s name was Catherine Valde. (Click on the PDF below to see the Christus Garden letter, the letter from translator Ann Sherwin and the two hand written pages of family information from the Whitmer family Bible.)

Her reply was that the original writing was a list of names which, unknown to her, were the names of the children of John and Catherine Whitmer, apparently in birth order. The third child named was Catherine, my husband’s ancestress. For this fourth child, a son, Valentine, John wrote “Valde”, probably meaning the nickname “Velty” or “Felty”, frequently used for Valentine. No mention of John’s wife was made in the writing of the Bible, and apparently from the 1940 translation came the misinformation that his wife was “Catherine Valde”, which was actually a combination of the names of two of the children linked without a comma.

I had now disproven John’s parentage and Catherine’s maiden name. On the positive side, I could place him in Frederick, Maryland in the late 1770’s, in Botetourt County, VA in 1808 and in Muhlenberg County by the 1810 census.

If any of Catherine’s family migrated with the Whitmers through Virginia and Kentucky, it wasn’t evident from the records they left. No marriage record has been found for Johannes/John and Catherine, but they married circa 1778, probably in Maryland, so I focused my search on Frederick County.