Category Archives: Pennsylvania

Fasnachts! Kinda like donuts & from Pennsylvania Dutch country!

Hot cooking grease bubbles as fasnachts float to the top of the skillet during “Fasnacht Making Day” in 2006 at the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.courtesy of Denise Bachman of the Observer-Reporter

Another food of choice on Shrove Tuesday are fasnachts, a yeast-raised, fatty doughnut-like treat traditionally eaten in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Fasnachts are made from potato dough and are fried. They became popular in the southeastern part of the state when Pennsylvania Germans started to make them as a convenient and easy way to use up the fat and sugar in their pantries before Lent. Fasnacht is German for ‘fast night.’”


Blessed Are The Dead

Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord

Hear what the voice from Heaven proclaims
For all the pious dead.
Great is the savour of their names
And soft their sleeping-Bed
They die in Jesus and are Blessed
How kind their slumbers are
From suffring’s and from sins released
And freed from every share.
For from this world of toil and strife
They’re present with the Lord
The labours of their pious life
End in a large reward.

— from the gravestone of my great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents

Finally, After All These Years, A Breakthrough

The last will & testament of Samuel Hill, dated 1772 and found in the probate records of Jones County, North Carolina.
The last will & testament of Samuel Hill, dated 1772 and found in the probate records of Jones County, North Carolina, mentions his mother Sarah and Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Samuel Hill
of Jones County, North Carolina
& His Mother Sarah in

It looks like we finally have a breakthrough on the Hill family. Combining the power of DNA and a bit of genealogical detective work, I have found a connection between two of the genetic lines in the Hill DNA Project that are clearly related. But how was unknown until some of the puzzle was unraveled today by the last will and testament of one Samuel Hill, a resident of North Carolina. I’m guessing that Samuel Hill is the grandfather or uncle of Joseph Hill, husband of Mary Warren, as detailed in the lineage of Kit 74401.

Samuel Hill of Jones County, North Carolina mentions his mother, Sarah of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in his will, dated 1772. Bucks County is where I happened to find a group of people named Hill and another named Crooks living in close proximity to one another. It was a hunch that has apparently paid off. One of my ancestor James Hill’s sons is named John Crooks Hill. Now there is another piece of evidence pointing to Bucks County, PA as the likely birthplace of James Hill, husband of Sarah ‘Sallie’ Tidd, who lived to the age of 99 and died in Ohio.

First, there’s the DNA. The genetics of the Y chromosome show a close relationship between Joseph Hill, whose obituary provides a lot of details, including connections to Jones County, North Carolina, and my ancestor James Hill. Second, there’s the Crooks family living close to the Hills in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Third, there’s the will mentioning Sarah Hill and Bucks County.


Bucks County, Pennsylvania?


This may be a new lead in the hunt for the elusive Hill clan in early Pennsylvania. On the 1790 census for Bucks County, there are some familiar names: James Hill and a few folks with the name Crooks. There’s Thomas Hill, James Hill, Nathan Crooks, Mary Crooks, and William Crooks.

Was James Hill, future husband of Sarah Tidd, living in Bucks County in 1790 rather than what I had assumed, Northumberland County? With a son named John Crooks Hill, I know there is a meaning to the name. But what are the specifics?


June 23rd, 1757 — The Death of John Tidd

John Tidd

Sometimes my ancestors weren’t so lucky.

On June 23rd, 1757, during the French & Indian War — what some have described as the first world war and known outside of North America as the Seven Years’ War — John Tidd, my great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, was murdered and scalped by “a large body of Indians” near Fort Hamilton, Pennsylvania, in what is now the borough of Stroudsburg in Monroe County.¹


1. Fort Hamilton was a “palisaded house, with four half-bastions, 80 feet square, and garrisoned by 60 to 100 men and horses.” It was “built by the Pennsylvania colonial militia from plans by Benjamin Franklin.”

250 Years Ago Today — March 17, 1764

Londonderry, Ulster/Northern Ireland
On St. Patrick’s Day in 1764, somewhere in Ireland, a little baby boy was born. He was christened James. Born to a man named Boal and a mother whose name is lost.

It was a Saturday. An ocean away, in British North America, New York City had just begun the tradition of celebrating the day, the first five years without a parade.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, life went on for James. He became a linen and carpet weaver, trades probably learned from his father. James wed in 1787.

James left for America in 1790 with his wife Elizabeth and two children, Margaret and George. They left from Londonderry in the North.

ireland_mapBeing poor, “the trip was made by the cheapest passage.”

It was not a pleasant journey.

“The voyage of three months was a stormy one, during which the ship sprang a leak, and much of the cargo, including some of the goods belonging to the Boal family, was thrown overboard.”

They were devout Presbyterians.

At least one grandson of James, John Shannon Boal, fought in the Civil War.

I doubt James could fathom the chain of events he had instigated with his decision to leave Ireland. How could he foresee that a descendant would write about him on the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of his birth and that the day, a truly Irish one, would be so widely celebrated?


James Hill and His 400 Acres


Last night I found another record. It was nestled among the Pennsylvania Land Warrants, 1733-1987. The database I used was on Ancestry, but the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a site with even more details, and it’s free.

A James Hill is documented on Ancestry as having 400 acres of land. It was actually 426 acres, according to the notation in the books. That is quite a swath of land.

The warrant is dated July 19, 1792 and the land is located in Luzerne County. It may have been Northumberland County at the time. There are some named Jordan who also acquired land in Luzerne County, brothers-in-law and other relatives of James Hill through his wife Mary. The Jordans, except one, claimed land in November of 1789. That exception was John Jordan, who claimed land in August of 1792.

So what the heck is a land warrant? I was wondering the same thing myself.

“An application was a request to purchase a certain amount of land in a particular locality from the State government. The successful applicant received a land warrant from the State Land Office, and both the applications and warrants are filed in Record Group 17, Records of the Land Office, at the Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg.”

James returned the land on May 6, 1794, though why he did isn’t known. Nor do I understand how this ‘return’ process works.

I will be browsing through the records in other counties as well.


James Hill, Shoe-maker


Here is more evidence supporting my theory that James Hill of White Deer Township — then in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania and what is now Union County — is my ancestor, the same James Hill who married Sarah Tidd and died in Hardin County, Ohio in 1862.

In White Deer Township in 1796, James Hill is living in a small cabin and working as a shoemaker. A John Hill is nearby, residing in a cabin, presumably a larger one. He, too, is a shoemaker.

My ancestor, James Hill of Hardin County, Ohio—born in June of 1763 in Pennsylvania, was also a shoemaker.

James Hill was a shoemaker by trade.”


Is It Elizabeth? Or Jacob?

After all these years, I think I have finally found ’em.

This past Tuesday I was searching on Ancestry and came upon a woman named — which is not common — on a “Tax & Exoneration” list, whatever that means. Usually a woman mentioned by name during this period means she is widowed. Sometimes, rarely, she may be single and unmarried. Otherwise, it would be the name of her husband in her place. She would go unnamed.

Elizabeth Hill is her name. From 1778 to 1780, she is listed, living in White Deer Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. White Deer is now, apparently, in Union County.

Is Elizabeth Hill the mother of my ancestor James? Or is she an aunt and Jacob his father? Who knows. At least, now however, I have names and a location to focus on. This should be the breakthrough I have been hoping for.

What sealed the deal for me is a name scribbled out below Elizabeth and Jacob, William Jordan. You see, William Jordan is the father of a woman named Mary Jordan. Mary married a man named James Hill.

Jacob Hill is recorded right after Elizabeth. James Hill had a grandson named Jacob A. Hill. This has been confirmed by DNA testing.

After 1780, Elizabeth Hill disappears from White Deer Township, at least in the records she does. Did she die? That would be my guess. Of course, she may have simply moved, to another town or into another household. She may have remarried.

In 1781 a woman named Elizabeth Hill was living in a place called Northern Liberties near Philadelphia. She was still there in 1790, living with three boys less than 16 years old and one female, her age unknown.

In 1790 James Hill is living in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. He is the only male in a household of six, meaning he and Mary likely had at least four daughters.

William Jordan and his brother Samuel are living nearby. William died on  January 8, 1795 in White Deer Township, Northumberland County.

If this James Hill is my ancestor, then he would go on to marry a woman named Sarah Tidd, who went by the name Sallie, and they would settle in Ohio.

I don’t know what happened to Mary Jordan or their four daughters. One may be Rebecca Hill, who was born in 1785 and married Samuel Tidd, a brother of Sarah.


September 19, 1837

Someone has apparently found a newspaper clipping mentioning the death date of my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather Martin Tidd. According to the collection of obituaries gleaned from two newspapers in Ashtabula County, Ohiothe Ashtabula Sentinel and the Conneaut Reporter — he died on September 19, 1837. Ashtabula County is north of where he lived, in Kinsman, which is to the south, in Trumbull County. The clippings are apparently bound together in a book, currently located somewhere among the holdings of the Western Reserve Historical Society, which also has a large portrait of him. He was a veteran of the Revolution and what is known as the Yankee-Pennamite wars.