Moyer Family

1675 - 1787

Moyer is an Anglicized form of Meyer which derived from the High Middle German "meier", a status name for steward, bailiff or overseer. It later came to be used to denote a tenant farmer. The names Moyer and Meyer were used interchangeably until the third generation when it became more consistently Moyer, after the spelling standardization of the English language during the mid to late 1700's. A third spelling, Mayer, was also used, although less frequently.

Christian Meyer (I) was born on New Years Day, 1675 in Lazengall, Palatinate, Germany and was married to Barbara (possibly Bergey, b. abt. 1676). They have six known children:

  1. Christian II
  2. Jacob
  3. Samuel
  4. Elizabeth
  5. Anna
  6. Barbara

Christian II was born in Germany and in 1719 they immigrated to Pennsylvania and settled in Lower Salford Township, Montgomery County on Indian Creek. By Christmas Eve of their arrival year, Christian owned 150 acres of farmland and the family became some of the founding members of the Franconia Mennonite Meetinghouse. Christian was naturalized in April of 1743 and his son on the 11th of April, 1761.

After their arrival in their new land, Christian and Barbara had their five other children. Jacob may have been mentally or physically disabled as he was never married and his family made provisions for him his entire life to ensure he would have food, clothes and a place to live.

Anna married bishop Henry Funck and their son, Rev. Christian Funk was excommunicated from the Mennonite church for his support of the Revolutionary cause. The Mennonites, as pacifists, did not support the war and took a nonresistant stance, which basically meant they did not support either side, but Funk preached that Mennonites should be donating to the cause because he felt independence from British rule would allow them more religious freedom. When states began mandating “militia duty”, many nonresistant Christians, including Mennonites, Quakers, Moravians and German Baptists, refused involvement and so Pennsylvania applied a war tax on them. Many still refused to pay, stating that they “find no freedom in giving, or doing, or assisting in anything by which men's lives are destroyed or hurt.”[1] In some cases, their property was confiscated to pay the tax. The Revolutionary war was known for tearing families apart, pitting father against son, brother against brother and the Mennonites were no exception, with some supporting the cause while the organization as a whole remained nonresistant.

Presiding over his excommunication case included his uncle and our ancestor Christian Moyer (II). After the war, a reconciliation was attempted but Funk refused to be admitted as a transgressor. He and several others started a separate Mennonite organization known as the “Funkite” group which lasted until 1855, the first schism in the American Mennonite religion. It was a highly controversial time for the religious organization as a whole and it must have also put great strain on the Moyer and Funk families, who had formerly been very close. Henry Funck was described by Christian Meyer (I) as his “loving son-in-law” and along with Christian Moyer (II) was made executor of his will. So Christian (I) obviously loved and trusted his daughter Anna and her husband Henry very much and Christian (II) was probably on good terms with Henry as well. To be involved in the excommunication of his nephew from the religion they both were so greatly active in must have been very difficult for Christian on a personal level, as well as hard on the two families as a whole.

Christian I died on June 6, 1751 at the age of 76. Barbara had died 20 years earlier in 1731 when she was only 55.

Their first born son, Christian (II), was born in about 1705 in the Palatinate and after immigrating, married a Pennsylvania born woman named Magdalena (possibly Bechtel, also born in 1705). He and Magdalena had eight children:

  1. Christian III (b. January 29, 1728)
  2. Jacob (b. January 28, 1730)
  3. Samuel (b. June 10, 1734)
  4. Anna (b. July 4, 1736)
  5. Maria (b. November 30, 1738)
  6. Fronica
  7. Ester
  8. Barbara (b. 1744)

Jacob and Samuel became Reverends, Fronica and Ester died young, and our line continues with Barbara Moyer, who married a man named Abraham Kratz (see the Kratz Family Chapter for more information).

Christian (II) was one of the founders of the Salford Mennonite Meetinghouse, becoming a deacon and later a minister in Franconia. He owned 170 acres of land which he purchased from a James Steel on November 14, 1729. He willed all of this land to his son, Samuel, five years before he died in 1787 at the age of 82. He also instructed his wife receive one hundred and twenty five pounds in gold or silver as well as all their furniture and her choice of one cow. He gave ten pounds to his congregation to be given to the poor and needy. His wife Magdalena also died the same year and they are buried in Delps Graveyard in Franconia, though their gravestones have either not survived or are illegible.

© Robin Bauer 2010-2013

Citations:

  1. Gaustad, Edwin S., and Mark A. Noll. "Religion and Revolution, Pacifism - Mennonites." A Documentary History of Religion in America: To 1877. Third ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993. 203-04. Print.

Sources:

Moyer Photos and Documents

Christian Moyer II Homestead