The Wall Family Origins in America
name Wall is found among many early German and English immigrants to America. The name in both languages is derived from persons who lived near a prominent wall, or near a creekbank or riverbank. The German spelling of the name was usually Wahl, but Wohl, Waal, Vaal and other variations can be found in eighteenth century records. Often the German name was
altered when these families settled in areas with English speaking civil authorities who entered the anglicized version, Wall, in official records.
One of the earliest Wall families to come to the American colonies was Walter Wall and his children who were located in Gravesend, Long Island before 1700. Later descendants were located in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This family was originally from England. Before 1790 several with Wall names arrived in Philadelphia from Germany and they are found on ships' manifests and passenger lists. When the first U.S. census of Pennsylvaina was taken in 1790 there were Walls living in Philadelphia and the counties of Allegheny, Bedford, Chester, Dauphin, Montgomery and Northampton. By that time there
were Wall families in almost every existing state from New York to South Carolina who were descended from German and English ancestors.
The immigrant father of our Wall family in the United States was John Michael Wahl who settled in Penn Township of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, and died there in September 1801. It appears that he commonly used his middle name, Michael. This was the usual practice among German and Dutch Lutheran and Reform churches. The first name was a "church" name from a Bible character and the middle considered a secular name used in every conversations and
We do not know exactly when Michael Wahl and his family came to Pennsylvania. His son, Christian, was born in Germany in 1779 and it is unlikely that they immigrated during the American Revolution, which did not end until 1783. There is a record of a John Michael Wahl, a Hessian mercenary soldier from the German State of Brunswick. The Hessian soldiers were mercanaries in the employ of the British during the American Revolution. This John Michael Wahl was discharged in Nova Scotia in 1783 at
the age of 24 and his name appears on the list of deserters from Brunswick. Often when these German soldiers found a large German settlements in Pennsylvania or other areas many would desert the British and take up residence in the colonies among fellow Germans. However, the notion that Hessian mercenary John Michael Wahl was our ancestor has serious problems. The first is his age, and the years of birth of his sons - Phillip in 1775 and Christian in 1779 is the second. The soldier would have been eight years old at the time of Phillip's birth. The name John (Johann) Michael is common in 18th century Germany. Regardless, the history of the Hessian mercanaires in the American Revolution is interesting.
Early on, when the flames of revolution were starting sizzle in the colonies, King George went to his German cousin to recruit young Germans as mercenaries. The bulk of these came from the German States of Hesse and Brunswick, although there were many from other states as well. These mercanaries were known as the Hessians.
Hiring mercenaries was a common practice in eighteenth century Europe, but Americans saw it as an act of aggression against the colonies and it added more stress to the already tense relationship with England. The British king saw it as
an economical way to reinforce the size and reduce the expense of a standing army when faced with the possibility of war. Many of the Germans recruits or their families were in trouble with German courts for bad debts or other misdemeanors. The incentive to enlist was a promise clemency, a powerful motive in a time when the prospect of a prison sentence for a bad debt was a frightening fate. The British recruiting effort was a success. The first contingent of Hessian soldiers landed in New York in June 1776. More than 8,000 would land in the colonies in the summer of 1776.
The John Michael Wahl of Nova Scotia was a member of the Hesse-Hanau Rangers or the Hesse-Hanau Artillery Company that fought mostly in up-state New York. In August 1777 in the battle of Bennington the American army captured 400 Germans from
these units, most of them from Brunswick. The American victory at Saratoga raised the number of captured Germans to over 2,400. In the confusion of the battle many German soldiers deserted and fled to American communities with substantial
German populations. The captured prisoners that did not escape were marched south from New York to prison camps in Virginia. More German soldiers deserted the prisoner columns when they passed near American German settlements.
troops were sent to America as reinforcements
until the end of the war. Between April 1778
and April 1782
when the last group arrived on American soil 1200 German soldiers joined the ranks of their countrymen.
Of the more than ten thousand Germans soldiers that fought for the British, 5,723 were
from Brunswick. Only 2,708 of the Brunswick soldiers returned to Germany in the autumn of
1783. The remaining 3,015 were listed as dead, missing, or discharged soldiers who
did not return home to Germany. Some of them settled in Canada and many others in New York,
Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The Americans also made use of German
military expertise. Baron Frederick William
Von Steuben, an ex-military officer in the army
of Frederick the Great, came to America at the
invitation of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.
He spoke no English yet he wrote the first field
manual for the American army and was the man most
responsible for turning a rag-tag frontier militia
into well trained soldiers at Valley Forge.
He was given a field command and participated
in the siege of Yorktown in 1781. After
the war New York granted him land and he spent
the remainder of his life in America.
All searches I have done on German records available through American online services have turned up nothing on our family in Germany. The earliest Pennsylvania record of our ancestor that
I have found is a petition dated October 28, 1784.
The names of Philip Wahl and Michael Wall appear
on it, requesting that Peter Caler be appointed
sheriff of Northampton County, Pennsylvania. This
is the first clear reference to our ancestors in
America. Phillip Wahl at least passed as an adult
when he signed the petition. Soon after the Wahl family
arrived in America, they settled in Penn
Township of Northampton County, Pennsylvaian among a mostly German population.
I have learned since I first wrote this article
that the old Lutheran and Dutch Reformed Churches
had the tradition of giving their children
a "church" name and a secular name
at the time of their baptism. Thus John
Michael was a combination of the church name
"John" and the regular given name
"Michael." In day to day life
John Michael would be known as and referred
to as Michael.
The first U.S. census of 1790 lists a Wall family
consisting of two adults and three male children
under sixteen living in Penn Township. The
given name of the head of the household is not
listed, but it is probably John Michael and his
family. On March 1, 1793 Michael Wahl is
a warrantee of 50 acres of land in Northampton
County. In 1800 Michael Wall and his wife are
enumerated on the U.S. Census in Northampton County.
Living near by is his son Philip Wall and wife.
John Michael's son and our ancestor, Christian,
does not appear on the 1800 census. Christian
would have been twenty-one years of age and unmarried
when this census was taken. It is likely
that he was not living at home at the time.
There are other John and Michael Wahl's in the records of eighteenth century
Pennsylvania. A John Wall arrived in Pennsylvania aboard the
ship “Harmony” from Hamburg, Germany on July 25, 1796. No indication
is given of an accompanying family. There is a Michael Wall on the
militia roll dated May 13, 1783 for Capt. Pitter Gower’s Company,
1st Berks County Militia Battalion. The tax rolls of
1784 and 1785 of Alsace Township, Berks County lists Mich’l Wahl
a “single freeman” [a land owner]. A Christina Wahl is also listed on these rolls.
I believe that Christina and Michael were related to Martin Greg
Wahl who arrived in Pennsylvania aboard the ship Ann Galley
and took an oath of allegiance in Philadelphia on September 23,
1752. On January 14, 1779 an Elizabeth Wahl was born and soon after
baptized by the Rev. John Waldschmidt. The minister's record
lists her as the daughter of Martin and Christina Wahl.
In Northampton County there were at least two other
Wall families. William Wall is listed on
the June 18, 1777 muster roll of the 3rd
Battalion, 2nd Company of Northampton
county militia. The July 9, 1781 muster roll of
Captain Adam Deal’s Company of Northampton militia
also lists William Wahl. The tax roll of
Northampton County, Pennsylvania dated December
27, 1781 includes William Wall. On October 5,
1798 William Wall is included on the tax list
for the town of Northampton in Northampton County.
Yost (or Jost) Wall is listed on the December
1781 tax assessment list of Northampton in Heidelberg
Township. The 1810 U.S. Census of Northampton
County also lists Jost Wahl living in Lehigh Township.
I have found no evidence that William and Jost
Wahl were related to our family; however, people
of the same surname who lived near each other
in small communities were usually connected by
blood to some degree.
In 1801 John Michael Wahl, apparently near death,
made his will. It was filed in Northampton County
on September 18, 1801. Written in
German, it provides the concrete link between
him and our Ohio Wall family. This will
has a sad surprise in it. It seems that
by the time of his death Michael has had a serious
falling out with his older son Philip. That is
a tragic thing for any family of any era.
The translation of his will is as follows.
“I, John Michael Wahl, a resident of Penn Township,
Northampton County, Pennsylvania, am in a
weak and feeble condition of the body. I herewith
make my last Will and Testament. First,
I decree that my beloved wife, Catharina Barbara,
shall have her rightful possession and sustenance
from my present farm. Second, [my] personal
goods shall be sold and that she shall get
one half of the money received. The
other half of the money I give and bequeath
to my youngest son, Christian. After
the decease of my wife, I decree [that] the
farm shall be sold at public sale, and that
from this growing amount of cash I decree
to my son, Philip, 5 pounds of Pennsylvania
currency and no more, because he deceived
me instead of being a support to me in my
old age, he grieved and caused me to suffer
by means of unkind and cruel treatments.
The balance thereof shall be divided in equal
shares among my natural children.”
There is another statement, besides the disinherited
son, that stands out in this document. It
is the remark; "The balance thereof shall
be divided in equal shares among my natural children."
Except for this will I have found almost no evidence
of children other than Christian and Philip.
Was this statement just a legal technicality or
were there children we know nothing about?
The 1790 census lists three children under the
age of 16 in the household, two of which would
have been Philip, age 15, and Christian, age 11.
Who was the third? Ten years later the census
shows only an adult male and female over the age
of 45. The only Walls in Northampton County
on the 1800 census are Michael and Philip.
In 1810 Christian Wahl is the only Wahl or Wall
listed in Northampton County.
The Wahl’s were part of the congregation of the Ben
Salem Lutheran Church in East Penn Township.
I have attempted unsuccessfully to locate cemetery
records of that church or its sister church in
Lowhill Township. If those cemeteries still
exist I suspect John Michael is buried in one
of them. Both churches have survived in
one form or another into modern times.
By the time of John Michael's death his two sons
were grown and soon to start their own families.
Our Wall family had taken root in a new country.
The spelling of our surname became consistently
"Wall" rather than "Wahl"
in public records during Christian's lifetime.
It's likely that family members spelled it both
ways for many years after Christian's death.
His son and our ancestor Charles signed his will
as "Carl Wahl" as late as the 1890's.
There is probably no one point in time when the
"Wall" spelling became universal.
Looking at Christian's signature it is
easy to understand way English writers may have misinterpreted the
spelling of his name as Wall. At first
his signature appears illegible, but he simply
signed his name in German.
As you can see in the example the
upper case C and lower case h in the
German "Ch" are very different
from an English writer. The "t"
is a bit distorted in Christian's
signature. It is usually written in German
like an English capital "A"
and he did not make the middle
cross stroke. He wrote his "a"
more like an "o" with the
down stroke separated from the body
of the "a". When you
look at the last name you can see
it would be very easy to mistake the
"hl" for a double "l".
Christian Wall was born
in Germany on November 27, 1779 and lived nearly half his life in
Pennsylvania. He married there and all of his children were
born there. Shortly after his father’s death in 1801 Christian
married Anna Catherine Bachman, daughter of Nicholas Bachman and
Catherina Kindt. The Bachman's were from that part of Northampton
County that later became Lehigh County and were members of a large
clan of Bachman's in Lowhill Township. There is no record
of the marriage of Christian and Catherine, but we can deduce the
year to be about 1804 from the birth date of the oldest son, John.
The Bachman's were founding members of the Lowhill German Reform
Church in Lowhill Township of Northampton (now Lehigh) County and
it is likely that the couple met and married in this church. The
earliest records of Christian and his family, other than his father's
will, are the baptismal records of his eldest son John (February
1805) and his daughter Mary (December 1806) in the Lowhill church.
The first official record of him is the 1808 tax assessment list
of East Penn township. This assessment was made shortly after Penn
was split into East and West Penn townships. That area is
now part of Carbon County, Pennsylvania. Also about this time
Christian is listed on the membership roll of the Ben Salem Lutheran
and German Reformed Church mentioned earlier. This church was still
in existence as the Ben Salem United Church of Christ in Andreas,
Pennsylvania when I did my original research in 1979.
When the Third Census of U.S. was taken in 1810, Christian
Wall and his family were still living in East
Penn Township. By that time there were four
children in the household: John, Mary, Charles
and Rebecca. Sometime during the next ten
years the family moved west of the Alleghenies,
following the pattern migration of the time.
The next census shows they were living near the
banks of the Susquehanna River in Union County.
That area is now Snyder County, Pennsylvania.
By the time the 1820 census was taken five more
youngsters had been added to the family, Catherine,
Isaac, Judith, Abigail and Peter. The two
youngest Wall children, Sarah and Daniel came
along before Christian and Catherine once again
packed up their family and belongings and departed
Pennsylvania for the western frontier of Ohio.
The short trek from the settled counties of eastern Ohio to the
frontier counties was arduous. Peter Waltz,
one of the first pioneers from Pennsylvania to
come to Chippewa Township in Wayne County, Ohio
described his trip years later. His family,
along with the Rasor and Everhard families was
among the very first to settle in that part of
Ohio. The three families started from Mahoning
County in eastern Ohio after purchasing their
land from General Wadsworth in Canfield.
Mahoning County was an established area with a
large population (by the standards of the time).
It is likely, though, that their journey actually
began in Pennsylvania and Mahoning County was
the jumping off place for the western frontier.
The route they took was along what is today Route
224. The first day of the trip they traveled
only six miles to Turkey Creek where they broke
an axle on a wagon. In those days a traveler
was in real trouble if he could not hew a new
axle or wagon tongue from a tree with an ax.
The next day they made it another five or six
miles to west of Deerfield and camped along Yellow
Creek. They were able to travel approximately
thirteen miles to Suffield before breaking another
axle the following day. A day later they
came to Wolf Creek in Norton Township in Medina
County and on west a short ways where they camped.
On the fifth day they cut a trail through the
forest to where John Everhard soon built his cabin.
During the next week they continued the trail
through the forest to Jacob Everhard's land.
Finally, they cut their way through to the site
of the Waltz homestead. The trip encompassed
no more than fifty miles and took three weeks
or more before they set foot on the land where
they made their new home. Along the way
they had to cut new roads, repair broken wagons
and fight off the bears that attacked their hogs.
The Waltz land eventually was the location of
the "Waltz" church on the Medina and
Wayne county lines just south of Wadsworth.
The Waltz family donated the land for the church,
giving it the name it had for several years.
This church later became known as the High Church
and in modern times the Emanuel Church of Christ.
In 1875 Edward Brown, a minister in Wadsworth,
published the "Wadsworth Memorial" a
history of early Wadsworth and the four surrounding
townships. He wrote at a time when some
of Wadsworth's earliest settlers were still living,
and it contains their memories of the people and
conditions in Wadsworth and Chippewa during the
early years. Peter Waltz's account is among them.
The Wall family made this trek a decade later so they
may have made better time with fewer broken axles.
But, it was still no Sunday drive for them and
others who came after the original pioneers had
blazed the trail. Also, Christian and Catherine
probably started their journey from Pennsylvania in Jefferson County
by way of Pittsburgh. The Fords from whom
Christian bought his land in Chippewa in 1824
lived in Jefferson County. In 1824 Christian
and Catherine had one young adult son and ten
younger children ranging in ages from 16 to a
few months. Anyone who has made long trips
with children can sympathize with them.
Wild animals and broken axles were pleasant diversions
compared to entertaining ten children on a long,
Christian purchased from Stephen Ford and his wife Ruth
approximately 110 acres in the Northwest Quarter,
Section 15, Chippewa Township, Wayne County, Ohio
on June 25, 1824. The Fords had obtained
it from the federal land office in Wooster probably
as an investment when James Monroe was President.
When Christian purchased it from the Fords in
1824 he paid $250 for what was then essentially
wilderness in the northwest quarter of section
fifteen in Chippewa Township. He sold it
sixteen years later to James Metlin for $2300
dollars, a hefty sum in 1840 and not a bad return
on his investment. The site where Christian's
farm lay is just south of Doylestown. The
1897 atlas of Wayne County shows that the land
had been broken up into two parcels. N.
Bittinger owned the northern most 30 acres and
G. Whitman owned the southern 80 acres.
The "Wadsworth Memorial" states that
Christian came to Chippewa in 1823. He may
have come to Wayne County ahead of his family
to find suitable land for a farm. I believe
that the rest of the family, except maybe for
the oldest sons, didn't move to Chippewa until
after Christian purchased his land.
Christian and his older sons must have labored long and
hard after arriving in Ohio to clear the land,
build a suitable house and get in the first crop.
It is unlikely that the previous owners had done
any of this. The Fords, like many original
owners of lands in the Congress District of Ohio,
purchased the land in 1818 from the government
as an investment with no intention of moving there.
In 1824 the Walls were faced with the monumental
task of taming a primeval forest broken only by
Indian trails and animal tracks. I grew
up in this area when it was all farmland with
a bit of woods here and there. It is hard
to imagine a time when it was trackless forest,
but that was the condition for the first few decades
of settlement in the townships around Wadsworth.
In Wayne County, especially Chippewa Township, most
of the settlers were ethnic Germans while Medina
County was being settled largely by New Englanders
from the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts
and Vermont. The Pennsylvania Germans that
did move to Medina County located for the most
part south of Wadsworth. They preferred
this area of the county close to other ethnic
Germans in Chippewa. These Pennsylvania
Germans of Chippewa and Wadsworth formed one community.
They established their own schools and churches
and spoke mainly German for decades to come.
During the early years in Wadsworth the New England Yankees
far outnumbered the Pennsylvania Germans whom
the Yankees referred to as "Pennamites."
That label refers back the "Pennamite Wars"
in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania during the
early years of settlement there. Connecticut
and Pennsylvania both claimed the area of the
Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania on the basis of
old royal grants. Many citizens of Connecticut
had the opinion that eastern Connecticut was becoming
too crowded. Many moved to the western lands
after they obtained grants in the Wyoming Valley
from the colonial Connecticut government.
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania did the same thing
for its citizens, most of them ethnic Germans
or Dutch. The result was many overlapping
claims that ensured a bloody feud between the
two groups. After the American Revolution,
Connecticut relinquished its claim to parts of
Pennsylvania in return for a large territory stretching
from the western boundary of Pennsylvania to the
western boundary of present day Lorain County
in Ohio known as the Western Reserve of Connecticut.
The southern boundary lay along the same latitude
as the southern boundary of Median County.
Unfortunately, the animosity between Pennamite
and Yankee was not extinguished for many years
to come. Fortunately, in Ohio no blood was
shed between the two groups.
Elinore Schapiro, in her work "Wadsworth Heritage,"
published in 1964 says, "For a few years
at the beginning, considerable antagonism existed
between these two groups in Wadsworth, inspired
by the differences in their eastern backgrounds
and by the smoldering memories of the Pennamite
Wars. At first so-called mixed marriages
between members of these differing groups were
violently condemned by both; but as the years
passed, a gradual and peaceful assimilation took
place. This phenomenon marks the outstanding
difference between Wadsworth and many other townships
of the Western Reserve, whose populations, almost
completely Yankee from the beginning, maintained
the predominance of New England culture until
a much later date, some even until the present
Many Catherine's Baughman relatives preceded her and her
husband to Ohio and they may have been the motivation
for Christian and Catherine to follow. In
Wayne and Medina counties the Bachman name seems
to have changed uniformly to Baughman, probably
for similar reasons that Wahl changed to Wall.
However, in Pennsylvania today, the descendants
of Catherine's grandfather still spell the name
as Bachman. There is another interesting
tradition about names that the Wall and Bachman
family seemed to have followed. It is my
observation that sometimes more than one child
in the family had the same first name but unique
middle names. The first name was used on
formal occasions or in legal documents, and always
with the middle name. Often these individuals
went by their middle names in their day to day
lives. Thus, in the Wall family John Michael
Wahl was known as Michael Wahl. Anna Catherine
was Catherine; Maria Magdalena was Magdalena,
and so forth.
The task of clearing the new land for farms in Wadsworth
and surrounding townships was enormous.
Because the trees were large old growth forests
the labor to cut them down and chop them up was
immense. Most of the big trees were girdled
rather than cut down. The bark of a tree
was removed with an ax in a section (girdle) completely
around it causing the tree to die. There
it stood until it rotted or fell down in a storm.
Peter Cherry, a boy when his family arrived in
Wadsworth Township, wrote, "The usual way
of clearing was to cut down the smaller fry, then
girdle the larger trees, leaving them to rot down.
The moon shining on the bleached trunks of these
trees has scared many a boy. I know from
For twenty or thirty years this was the condition
in Wadsworth and Chippewa. First a few openings
were made in the forest and cabins built.
In a few years these gave way to larger fields
and the beginnings of a village here and there.
There was a long period of hardship until the
pioneer farmer produced a cash crop, before then
living on subsistence farming from small gardens
and wild game in the forest. In that era
the musket was as valuable as the plow.
Reverend Brown wrote, "The early settlers of Wadsworth
were from the East, and had been accustomed to
farm labor. They were a hardy industrious
class of people, and were very economical.
Their moral character was good and they were mostly
religious. But very few of them had money
to pay for their land, and had to buy on credit.
Some of them had hard work to support their families
till they could raise a crop on their own lands.
A very few had money to pay for improvements,
after paying for their land, and this helped the
poorer class, as it enabled them to get employment
in helping to clear land."
The Wall family may have been accustomed to this condition.
They probably experienced it before when they
first moved west of the Alleghenies from eastern
Pennsylvania. Surviving that experience
possibly provided the courage needed to do it
anew. People from the more civilized East
probably did it because they were ignorant of
the hardships they would face. We don't
know for certain if Christian bought his land
on credit or with cash. The text of the
deed from the Fords lead me to believe it was
the latter perhaps with money left from his father's
estate and from the sale of his Pennsylvania land.
Even so, the Walls faced many of the same hardships
other settlers encountered. Goods were rare
and those that could be bought were extremely
expensive. Salt, a necessity of frontier
life, had to be brought down from Cleveland over
the most primitive roads. Cloth and hard
goods had to be trucked in from more settled areas
of Ohio and even as far east as Philadelphia.
Most of the goods from the east were carried in large
Conestoga wagons, the same kind settlers used
when traveling across the western plains in later
generations. These wagons were almost always
painted blue. The wagon box was about three
feet deep and the wheels were double-tired to
keep the wagon from sinking in mud. They
were covered with canvas stretched across arched
poles. A tar bucket, used to lubricate the
wheels, hung from the rear axle. The team
pulling the wagon consisted of six or eight large
draft horses. The driver rode the animal
nearest a wheel and controlled the team with a
single rein and a large "blacksnake"
whip. The number of animals necessary for
the team was calculated as one span (a pair) of
horses for the wagon and the rest for the load,
depending on the weight of the cargo.
Unlike a few other frontier areas in the early nineteenth century, Indian
attacks in Medina and Wayne counties were never a reality for the
Walls and the other pioneers, possibly because there were no permanent
Indian villages there. But, also because treaties were negotiated
and signed between the government and the Ohio tribes in 1805 and
1806. Early on the Indian hunters had little competition from
the few white hunters in the vast forest. By the time large
game became scarce in northern Ohio the Indians had moved on to
richer areas to the west in the United States and north in Canada.
The Indians probably considered the hunting area around Medina County
to be next to worthless. The Indians that the settlers did
encounter were the Wyandotte and Ottawas. A few Wyandotte
camped around Chippewa Lake on occasion as late as the 1830's.
The white settlers who met them reported that they were polite and
There is evidence in Medina County of the pre-historic
Indians commonly called the Mound Builders.
One of their mounds is located on lot 47 east
of Sharon Center near the intersection of State
Road 162 and County Road 44. Not far from
there was my grandfather's farm. Close by it along
Spruce Run, and County Road 126 is an ancient
construction atop a small cave in the side of
the steep slope running down to the creek (or
"crick" as I was brought up to say it).
I always knew it as Indian Cave and it is my guess
that it also belongs to the pre-historic Mound
Builders, perhaps used for ceremonial purposes.
It has a small wall of stone about 24 inches tall
enclosing an area of a few square feet of level
plane atop the cave entrance. It is far
too short to be a fortress of any use and the
stones are laid too precise to be a natural formation.
The cave has a "keyhole" opening with
a wider area at the top and a narrow jagged slit
that goes to the floor. As kids we could
crawl through the larger opening and inside was
a room big enough to stand in. I was told
that at one time the cave ran underneath the road
along the edge of the hill. This part collapsed
when workers were blasting for the road in the
early twentieth century, and today only the room
at the entrance remains. If there were ever
any Indian relics in or around the cave they were
long ago, before my time, collected or destroyed
by the white folks who lived in the area.
Other evidence of Indians in Medina County was still
plentiful when I was growing up in Sharon Township.
My grandfather and other farmers found many arrowheads
and spear points in their plowed fields.
My Uncle Bud Shanafelt had a large collection
of these that he displayed in his home near Fixlers
Corner and River Styx.
While Indians were not a threat to the Walls and other
early settlers, disease was. The west part
of Wadsworth was very swampy. Surveyors
named the area the "Infernal Regions"
and the sluggish stream that ran through it the
River Styx, the name it retains today. The
swamps and the River Styx were a great dread to
travelers for many years. Causeways, one
more than 1300 feet long, made of logs crossed
the swamps. The settlers of the time, although
they suspected the swamps as the cause, did not
know they were the breeding grounds of the mosquitoes
that spread malaria and yellow fever through the
population. In some cases entire families
were swept away by the diseases. The years
of 1824 through 1826 were particularly bad along
Wolf Creek and the marshes of the Tuscarawas.
As the land was cleared and the larger swamps
drained when the Erie Canal was built these diseases
all but disappeared. Even so, I remember
those infernal mosquitoes in the swamp along Wolf
Creek near Sharon even when I was growing up.
They were a big deterrent to fishing that stream
or exploring the surrounding woods.
The Walls were religious people, as were their neighbors. The Pennsylvania German community built the first church, the Waltz Church, in Wadsworth Township in 1828. Their log structure was erected on the site of the present day Emanuel United Church of Christ on the Wayne and Medina County Line near where Wayne, Medina and Summit counties meet. For many years this church was also known as the High Church. It predated the New Englanders' log Congregational Church located in the center of Wadsworth by two years. Burials were made in the High Church cemetery even before the log building was constructed, some as early as 1817. The cemetery is preserved today by the congregation of the Church of Christ. Christian and both his wives, Catherine and Magdalena, are buried there as well as other Wall relatives.
In 1830 Christian bought land on Lot 38 in Sharon Township, only two years after the township was brought to market by the minor heirs of original Connecticut Land Company owners. There is no evidence that he and his wives ever lived on the land.
Catherine died some time in 1837 and Christian remarried to Catherine's sister, Maria Magdalena (Baughman) Feller. My Uncle Ira and Aunt Florence Wall located the headstones of Christian and Magdalena in the High Church cemetery and were disappointed that they could not find Catherine's. Ironically, they did locate it and didn't realize it. They photographed some of the headstones that they found. One snap shot was of a badly eroded stone lying flat on the ground next to Christian's headstone. I examined this photo and used some computer software to enhance it. I can make out the word Baughman (Catherine's maiden name) and her date of death, Dec. 15 or 16, the year 1837 and the number 57 (her age at death). There is more inscribed on the stone, probably in German that is unreadable. The letters and numbers on this stone are distinctly German.
Emanuel United Church of Christ - The site of the original "High Church"
Christian and Magdalena were married in Wadsworth at the
High Church on October 15, 1837. Catherine
must have passed away only a few months earlier.
In April 1838 Christian and Magdalena signed and
recorded a nuptial agreement. It states
that both had children from previous marriages
and possessed personal and real property of their
own at the time of their marriage. At the
death of one the other would not have claim to
that property. Both Christian's ont>and Magdalena's
signatures appear on this document.
In 1838 Christian purchased 101 acres in Lot 39 of Sharon
Township. The following year he sold his
land in Chippewa to James Metlin. He moved to Wadsworth and he and Magdalena were
living there when the 1850 census was taken. I have found
no record that he and Magdalena ever lived on the land in
Sharon and Christian was one of several absentee
landlords of Sharon farm land. Christian died on
October 24, 1853 in Wadsworth before reaching
his 74th birthday and was buried in
the High Church cemetery next to Catherine.
His son Charles bought the Sharon Township property
from the other heirs of Christian shortly after
the estate was settled.
Christian died without a will. Jonathan Everhard and
Christian's oldest son John were appointed administrators
of his estate. The inventory of Christian's
personal property is interesting in that it gives
us a glimpse into his life. Among the items
sold at auction were one bay horse, a vinegar
barrel, one bushel of potatoes, one iron pot,
a bottle of bitters (no German would be caught
dead without his bottle of bitters), a razor and
"fixings," a powder horn (but no musket),
and a snuff box. The sale of these and a
few other items brought in $242 for the estate. Set aside for the
widow Magdalena were:
1 spinning wheel
1 parlor stove
1 family Bible and family pictures [I'd give my eye teeth for those]
3 pounds of wool
1 lot of clothing
6 cups and saucers
1 sugar dish
1 milk pot
1 tea pot
These items may have been Magdalena's at the time of her marriage to Christian. They are listed as set aside for Magdalena without appraisal as part of the estate. Items excluded from the estate specifically for her support were wheat, oats, corn, an ax, one wood saw, eleven crocks of milk, potatoes, coffee mill and two hogs. The total value of these items was appraised at eighty dollars.
On December 6, 1853 Magdalena received $500 cash from the heirs of her husband's estate and signed a quit claim deed relinquishing any legal claim to the land in Sharon Township. The prenuptial agreement they signed in 1838 may have precluded her from claiming the land, but the money and the quit claim deed were probably meant to remove any doubt about legal ownership. The deed is recorded in the Medina County Court House in Medina. This is an important document because it lists all of Christian's living heirs. Magdalena spent the rest of her days in Wadsworth probably in the home she and Christian shared before his death. Magdalena died on March 28, 1865 in Wadsworth at the age of 77. She is buried in the High Church cemetery next to Christian.
Five years before her death, when the 1860 census was taken, Magdalena, age 72, was living in Wadsworth with her daughter Typhrena Feller, whose age is listed as 38. The younger woman would have been born about 1821 or 1822. This was an important fact that I overlooked for years. It is the piece of the puzzle that identifies Magdalena and her connection to the Wall family before she and Christian were married. I've always had a peculiar hunch that the Magdalena Feller who married Christian Wall in 1837 was the (widowed) wife of Jacob Feller of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. The evidence is convincing that the wife of Jacob Feller was the sister of Catherine Bachman.
In 1821 Jacob and Magdalena Feller baptized a daughter, Typhrena, in the Lowhill church in Pennsylvania. Typhrena Feller was born on August 29, 1821. This is such an unusual name that I should have made the connection years ago; however, it wasn't until 2010 when I was reviewing the Pennsylvania church records that the light upstairs came on. One of the problems was that when I copied the name from the 1860 census I thought that I had not deciphered it correctly. Since I was so unsure of the name I tried to mimic the handwriting of the census taker. Without knowing it I copied the name exactly as it is spelled on the original baptismal record. The modern compiler of the old church records copied the name incorrectly, but a German linguist later the original handwritten records and corrected misspellings of the names in the translation. Typhrena's name was one of those he corrected, first from Prusena to Brefena and then to Typhrena. As I was reexamining the manuscript, her name leaped off the page at me. I have no doubt that Magdalena and Typhrena were mother and daughter as listed on the old baptismal record.