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Troyer family update
Posted by: John F Murray Date: March 11, 2001 at 16:19:56
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Here is my Troyer research update. I'd be glad for any proof that may contradict the following. I present this simply as a help for research.

By John F. Murray

Some facts concerning the life of Michael Troyer can be fairly well established. They are as follows.
1. He had 14 children. The eldest, John, was born March 4, 1753 (tombstone says Feb. 4, 1753) and the youngest, Elizabeth, was born September 21, 1781.
2. Michael was born about 1732. I figured this by subtracting 21 years from the birth year of his oldest son. This would make him 49 years old in 1781 when his youngest child was born and 75 when he died in 1807. We might move the year of birth a year one way or the other, but 1732 must be close to correct.
3. Also figuring from the birth year of his eldest son, 1753, Michael must have married Magdalena Mast in 1752.
4. I figure Magdalena's birth year as 1735-36, Seeing that her youngest daughter was born in 1781 and noting that normally a woman did not give birth beyond the age 45, I subtracted 45 from 1781 to get 1736 or 35, as her birth year. She was then about 17 when her eldest son, John, -was born in 1753. This birth year also agrees with the tradition that she was over 90 years old at death in August 1827 (tombstone date).
5. Magdalena Mast, wife of Michael Troyer, was the daughter of Johannes Mast or a niece under his guardianship as some stories say. The 1752 tax lists for Berks County show Johannes Mast living in Pine Grove Twp., Berks Co. (now Schuylkill Co.). So Michael and Magdalena's marriage in 1752 most likely took place there. This means, of course, that Michael Troyer must have been living nearby, as in those days, neighbors married neighbors.
Interestingly enough, the newly discovered tax lists for Bethel Twp. Lancaster Co. show a David and Michael Triar living in Bethel Twp. in 1756 near Andreas Holly. Bethel Twp. borders Pine Grove Twp. on the west. The Amish names in the tax list indicate that the Amish community straddled the county line.
A note in the 1756 Bethel Twp. tax list says David and Michael fled the area. The list shows many people fled the area due to Indian raids on the white settlers. Andreas Holly was reported to have fled in 1757.
From these facts, it seems reasonable to conclude that the Michael Triar of this Amish community was our Michael Troyer. Therefore it is also reasonable to assume that Michael and Magdalena's first 3 children were born in Bethel Twp. in what is now Lebanon Co., Pa., then Lancaster Co. From 1785 to 1810 this area was part of Dauphin Co.
6 .The next established fact in Michael Troyer, Sr.'s life is his purchase of 130 acres of land in Salisbury Twp., Lancaster Co. in 1771. To make this purchase, Jacob Kurtz of Manheim Twp., Lancaster, accepted a mortgage on the property from Michael Troyer (Dreier) (Treier). Both of the spellings in the parenthesis are used in the deed. John Holly (son of Andreas) signed as a witness to the mortgage along with a Michael Gerber.
7. On May 31, 1775 Jacob Kurtz went to Lancaster and signed a statement added at the bottom of the mortgage. The statement reads: "Michael Tryer has satisfied the mortgage in full."
8. The tax lists for Salisbury Twp. show Michael Troyer (Tryar) living near John Holly (son of Andreas), Michael Gerber and Dr. Johannes Blank, the father-in-law of John Holly.
9. Michael Troyer must have sold his farm in Salisbury Twp. in 1775 (no deed of sale has been found) and moved yet that summer or fall to Somerset Co., Pa., then Bedford Co. where the tax list of 1776 shows Michael Troyer (Tryar) and his son, John Troyer (Tryar). The 1779 tax list for Bedford Co. shows Michael Sr., Michael Jr., John and Christian Troyer (Tryer). Later tax lists and land purchases also confirm that Michael and his family lived in Somerset Co. (then Bedford). Michael Jr.'s deed to his land is signed "Michael Dreyer Jr."
10. Michael Troyer (Treyer) Sr. of Brothers Valley Twp., Somerset Co. made a will on Sept. 18, 1803. This will was probated in Somerset on April 4, 1807. In his will he mentioned money he was to receive from his "sister." This verifies that Michael had siblings in America and the will seems to indicate that this sister died childless., so Michael was an heir to her money.
Other names in the will make it plain that this Michael was the father of the list of children copied from the Troyer family Bible by Moses K. Troyer.
This will also makes it plain that Michael's daughter, Barbara, was still a widow Rhoads, and not yet married to Peter Sipe. Since Barbara was already 45 years old in 1803, she probably had no children with Peter Sipe whom she married sometime after 1803.
11. The Troyer Family Bible was found among Troyer descendants in Holmes Co., Ohio. Moses K. Troyer (born June 29, 1838) removed the family information from the Bible, copied off the list of children complete with birth dates, added what he believed to be marriage partners, and gave his list to Harvey Hostetler, who in turn printed it in his book, Descendants of Jacob Hochstetler in family DJH 9179.

Somehow in the printing of this book, the eldest son, John, and the youngest daughter, Elizabeth, were left out. But after publication the error was discovered and corrected before the family Bible pages were burned. So today we have a complete list of the children with birth dates, as they appeared in the Troyer family Bible. We should note in passing, this list gives John's birth date as March 2, 1753. His tombstone says February 4, 1753.
We'll return to this Bible later in discussing the "Moses K. Troyer Story."

II. At this point it would be helpful to review "four stories" about the life of Michael Troyer and his family. These stories were printed between 1889 and 1929.

1. The first story chronologically was the story recorded in The Commemorative Biographical Record of the Counties of Wayne and Holmes, Ohio (1889) (J. H. Beers and Go.) page 660. This story was written by Seth Troyer who wrote that Michael Troyer Sr. came to this country about 1745-1750 at about age 8 with his stepfather Holly (no first name given). Further, he said his grandfather, Michael Troyer, Jr. was born in Somerset Co., Pa.
Checking the records, something is wrong. The Hollys came on Nov. 3, 1750. And if Michael came with the Hollys at age 8, he would have been only 10 years old when his eldest son was born in 1753. However if we assume for a moment that Michael was about age 8 when coming to America and that he was born about 1732-33, as discussed above, then Michael Troyer came to this country about 1740-1741.
Interestingly enough when checking the ship lists, a David Dreyer age 29, came to Philadelphia, Pa. on the Ship Friendship arriving on Oct. 12, 1741. This David Dreyer at age 29 was the right age to have had a son age 8 on the ship with him; and a son age 8 in 1741 would be old enough to have an eldest child born in 1753.
It is also of interest to note that a David Triar appears in the tax lists of the 1750's of Bethel Twp., next to Michael Triar who, as discussed earlier, is very likely our Michael Troyer.
It appears that Seth Troyer made two false assumptions. First, because Michael had a stepfather Holly, Seth falsely assumed he came with the Hollys. Second, because Michael Troyer Jr. came to Holmes Co. from Somerset Co., that he was born in Somerset Co. Michael Jr. was born in 1754 and the Troyers didn't move to Somerset until 1775-76. The tax lists show Michael Triar (Troyer) living in Bethel Twp., Lancaster Go., Pa.

2 A second "story" was published in 1912 by Harvey Hostetler in DJH 9179, mentioned before. The information came from Moses K. Troyer (b. 1838) who had in his possession the family record cut from the Troyer family Bible. Moses K. Troyer, working from the Bible record, insisted that the father of the children listed in the Bible was David Troyer. Harvey Hostetler, in his footnote to DJH 9179, showed that this did not agree with the Mast Family History, p. 690, and the tax records of Somerset Go. But in the end, Harvey Hostetler printed the Moses K. Troyer version with David as the father, because of the Bible record.
Therefore it would appear that David Troyer was the original owner of the Bible and when he died, sometime after 1756, the Bible passed to his eldest son, Michael Troyer Sr., who then wrote the names of his own children in the Bible. The Bible record evidently did not show the generation between David and the list of children.
Further, Moses K. Troyer made no mention of a stepfather Holly, or of Michael coming to America with the Hollys.

3. A third story was told by C. Z. Mast that he published in the Mast Family History in 1911, a year before Harvey Hostetler published the Jacob Hochstedler book. This was the history of Bishop Jacob Mast, the brother of Magdalena Mast, the wife of Michael Troyer Sr.
Jacob Mast was married to Magdalena Holly, the eldest child of Johannes Holly, the brother of Andreas Holly. Jacob Mast's marriage took place in Bern Twp. after the Amish moved out of the Bethel-Pine Grove community due to Indian raids. Jacob Mast and his father-in-law, Johannes Holly, purchased land together on the Berks Co.-Chester Co. line. This Johannes Holly was often confused with John Holly, son of Andreas, until the Johannes Holly Bible was found in Holmes Co., Ohio.
Back to our Troyer story. In the Mast history, pages 689- 690, Family 2072, Mast wrote that Michael Troyer Sr. came to this country on the same ship with his brother, Andreas. He married Magdalena Mast, lived in Somerset Co., Pa. or Holmes Co., Ohio. Among their children were: Michael, Andreas, Abraham, Joseph and David.
Mast made a footnote on Abraham that clearly indicates that the Abraham he had in mind was a grandson of Michael Sr. as it turns out. Then Mast added a last paragraph to his footnote that reads, "The descendants of Magdalena Mast and David Troyer have spread to nearly every state in the union…” So, all of a sudden Mast had a David Troyer as the progenitor of the Troyer family in America and that he was married to Magdalena Mast. Thus, it is obvious that Mast jumbled his Troyer notes or something was left out of the footnote in the typesetting of his book.
When Mast said that Michael Troyer came on the same ship with his brother, Andreas, he was with little doubt referring to the ship list for the Ship Hamilton, which arrived October 6, 1767. But the Michael Dreher of this ship could not have been our Michael Troyer Sr. because his oldest children were born in Pennsylvania in the 1750's.
Mast says nothing about Michael having a stepfather Holly or that he came with the Hollys to America. If it is true that Michael Troyer came with the Hollys, Mast surely should have known that because Bishop Jacob Mast came on the same ship with the Hollys and married Johannes Holly's daughter.

4. The fourth story was written by C. Henry Smith in his book, The Mennonite Immigration to Pennsylvania in the Eighteenth Century, published in 1929 in Norristown, Pa. (page 237).
It is clear that Smith relied heavily upon C. Z. Mast's understanding of the early Amish families, and then tried to reconcile the "C. Z. Mast story" with the "Seth Troyer Story" and the ship list of 1750 on which the Hollys came. So Smith wrote Michael Troyer and his brother, Andrew, came with the Hollys in 1750, but they were too young to sign the list in 1750.
Can this be true? Figuring from the birth date of Michael's oldest child, John, born on March 4, 1753, Michael must have been at least 16 by Nov. 3, 1750 and therefore was old enough to sign the ship list, if he came with the Hollys.
There are 3 passenger lists for the Ship Brotherhood of November 3, 1750, none of which has the name Michael Troyer. All 3 lists do have the names of Johannes Mast, and Johannes, Andreas and Michael Holly.
Recently a couple of persons have devised a theory in which they say that the Andreas and Michael Holly of the ship list were really Andreas and Michael Troyer, and that their stepfather, Johannes Holly, signed for them writing the name "Holly" instead of "Troyer."
There are four arguments against this theory, as follows:
a. First, the Andreas Holly of the ship list was the Andreas Holly, father of John Holly, who married Catherine Blank. This John Holly was the close associate of Michael Troyer Sr. in Salisbury Twp., Lancaster, as proven by tax records and the mortgage between Jacob Kurtz and Michael Troyer Sr. which John Holly signed as a witness.
This John Holly, in 1805, started to write a letter to friends in Europe but never finished it. This letter was preserved by the Holly family. In it John wrote, "My father was Andreas Holly" and "my stepsister died no children. " Andreas Holly lived in Bethel Twp., Lancaster Co. near David and Michael Troyer just across the county line from Johannes Mast.
b. Second, there is also a Michael Holly who died in 1782 in Philadelphia Co., Pa of the right age to have been the Michael Holly of the 1750 ship list.
c. Third, it is very unlikely that a man, loyal to the Amish faith as Johannes Holly was, would have written a false name when signing an oath of allegiance. I believe if their names were Troyer, he would have written Troyer, not Holly.
d. Fourth, there are 3 lists for the ship Brotherhood. On lists A and B, Michael Holly's name comes many names before the names of Johannes and Andreas Holly. On list C it is next to Andreas’s name. Reason would say that if Michael Holly was really a young stepson who could not sign his name and needed his stepfather to sign for him, he surely would have waited for his stepfather to sign for him, and therefore his name should appear next to the name of his stepfather.
But on none of the 3 lists does Michael Holly's name come next to Johannes' name. Neither does Andreas' name come next to Johannes. Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that the Michael and Andreas Holly of the Ship Brotherhood were not Troyers and that Michael Troyer Sr. did not come with the Hollys on the Ship Brotherhood.
The name that appears right after Johannes Holly’s name on all three ship lists is Nicholas Miller. Nicholas was surely the Nicholas Miller given as ML4 in the Amish and Amish Mennonite Genealogies by Hugh F. Gingerich and Rachel W. Kreider. Nicholas appears in the 1752 tax list for Berne Twp., Berks Co. He died there in 1784. By 1784 his son Christian had moved to Bedford Co., now Somerset Co. PA. There he died in 1795 and named David Holly, the son of Johannes Holly, as one of his executors, which also helps connect Nicholas with the Johannes Holly family. I suspect the Nicholas was a young brother or nephew of Franey, the wife of Johannes Holly. But I can’t prove that. All we know is that there was a close connection between Nicholas and the Hollys as indicated by the ship lists and his estate.

III. In summary, let's ask several questions and then attempt to answer them based on the known facts and the four stories.

1. Was the ancestor of the Troyer family in American named David? Was he the father of Michael Troyer Sr.? My answer to both questions is "Yes" for 4 reasons.
a. One, Moses K. Troyer, who had the family Bible, convinced Harvey Hostetler to record the father as David, and the simple explanation of how Michael Troyer Sr.'s family as listed in the David Troyer Bible seems reasonable.
b. A David Triar appears with Michael Triar in the Bethel Twp. tax list near Johannes Mast, and if Michael Troyer had a younger brother, David, his brother David would not have been old enough to be the David Triar of the tax lists of the 1750's.
c .The Seth Troyer story says that Michael Troyer Sr. came to America at about age 8. Figuring from the birth date of his eldest son in 1753, Michael came about 1741; and a David Dreyer did come to America on Oct. 12, 1741 at age 29, the right age to have had a son age 8 on the ship with him in 1741.
d. C. Z. Mast in the footnote to his "story" says David Troyer was the progenitor of the Troyers spread in nearly every state in the Union. The problem with the “Mast Story" is that Mast has Magdalena Mast married to both Michael Sr. and David. But it is fairly well established that she was the wife of Michael Sr. as Mast stated in the main body of his book.
e. Further, since neither Mast nor Moses K. Troyer said anything about Michael coming with the Hollys, and since the idea of Michael coming with the Hollys came to be traced directly to Seth Troyer who knew neither the exact date of the Holly's arrival nor the given name of the stepfather Holly, the following appears to be true. Seth falsely assumed that, just as he had assumed because Michael Jr. came to Holmes County from Somerset Co., Pa., he was born in Somerset. Seth's statement that Michael Sr. came to America at about 8 years old was, no doubt, a tradition passed down through the family and is probably correct.

2. Did Michael Troyer have a stepfather named Holly? I believe that the primary records support the fact that Michael Troyer was a stepbrother to John Holly, the son of Andreas.
a. Both the tax records of Bethel Twp. and Salisbury Twp., Lancaster Co. and the mortgage between Jacob Kurtz and Michael Troyer, witnessed by John Holly, show a close association between this John Holly and Michael Troyer.
b. John Holly, in his unfinished letter stated, "my father was Andreas Holly" and "my stepsister died, no children." Michael Troyer Sr., in his will, mentioned his sister from whom he was expecting money, which would indicate his sister had died without descendants.
c. The Seth Troyer story says Michael had a stepfather Holly. But Seth might have simply jumped to that conclusion knowing only that Michael had a stepbrother, John Holly. Did John's father, Andreas Holly, marry Michael Troyer's mother after 1756, or did John Holly's mother marry Michael Troyer's father? Either way John and Michael would have been stepbrothers. A good researcher will be open to this possibility until it is established one way or the other. My inclination is that Andreas was his stepfather and the he married David Troyer’s widow sometime after 1757. I doubt that Andreas had children with his second marriage, as John Holly in his unfinished letter did not list any half brothers and sisters.

3. Did Michael Troyer come to America in 1750 with the Holly families? My answer is "No" for 3 reasons.
a. Figuring from the birth of Michael's oldest son, he would have had to be old enough to sign the ship list in 1750, and the name of Michael Troyer is not there.
b. For the four reasons stated before, Michael Holly of the ship list was not Michael Troyer.
c. Seth Troyer's statement that Michael Troyer came to America at age 8 fits very well with the known facts about the David Dreyer of the 1741 ship list and the David Triar who appears in the tax lists of Bethel Twp. The mortgage between Jacob Kurtz and Michael Troyer, Sr. show that the names "Dreyer" and "Triar" to be one and the same name.

4. Did Michael Troyer have a brother, Andrew, living in America as stated by C. Z. Mast? There is a strong possibility that Michael Sr. had a brother, Andrew. I say this for two reasons.
a. Michael Troyer in his will mentions "my sister." It would be logical to assume that he had other siblings living in America.
b. There is an Andreas Tryer who settled in the city of Lancaster, Pa. He was born Sept. 30, 1747, married a woman named Elizabeth and had 9 children, all baptized in the First Reformed Church of Lancaster. A Jacob Tryer of Donegal Twp., Lancaster Co. with wife, Mary, also had 3 daughters baptized in the First Reformed Church. But as yet, no connection has been established between these Tryers and Michael Sr.

5. Was the David Troyer family Amish? My answer is perhaps not, at first, for 3 reasons.
a. Only the Michael Troyer Sr. family was Amish, probably due to his marriage to Magdalena Mast who was Amish. Andrew and Jacob of Lancaster were Reformed.
b. The ship list of 1741 has no names recognizable as Amish besides Dreyer.
c. A note on the tax list of Bethel Twp., Lancaster Co. says David Triar was "poor.” No doubt being "poor" he was helped by his Amish neighbors and thus associated with the Amish faith. This story would be very similar to the story of the Henry Reichenbach family baptized in the Reformed faith in Switzerland. They came to America in 1740, settled in Berks Co. where they were helped by the Amish and several children and grandchildren married into the Amish faith. In fact, four of the granddaughters married into the Michael Troyer Sr. family.

6. Did Michael Troyer have only one wife, Magdalena Mast? My answer is "Yes" for 3 reasons.
a. Magdalena's tombstone in Holmes County has the date "8-27" meaning she died in August of 1827, and tradition says she was past 90 years of age at death. So she must have been born about 1735 or 1736. Therefore it is possible for a woman of her age to have married by 1752 and had children from 1753 to 1781. There is no natural break in the ages of the children that might indicate a second mother for the younger children.
b. Michael Troyer Sr. was married in 1752 and the tax lists of the 1750's show Michael Troyer and Johannes Mast living in the same vicinity but across the county line from each other.
c. C. Z. Mast gives her birth year as 1741. If one accepts 1741 as her birth year, she could not have been the mother of Michael's oldest children and she would not have been over 90 at her death in 1827. I discount the date 1741 because of the confused information in the Mast story and 1741 doesn't fit the other known facts.
To close, these are the facts and stories about Michael Troyer, as I understand them today, August 9, 1986. I am open to discussion and changes, as more facts become known.
For a complete listing of Michael Troyer's family, see the Amish and Amish Mennonite Genealogies by Hugh F. Gingerich and Rachel W. Kreider.


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