A brief history of our Wall family from the original German immigrant John Michael Wahl of Northampton County, Pennsylvania and his son Christian Wahl and their Wall descendants in Medina County, Ohio

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The Wall Family Origins in America

The 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 official documents.

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.

Brunswick 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, difficult trip.

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 day."

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 experience."

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 friendly.

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]
6 chairs
3 pounds of wool
1 lot of clothing
1 chest
12 spoons
1 cow
6 plates
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.

 
Ronald N. Wall
Modified: 01 July 2017