Three Showalter Immigrants
Wilmer L. Kerns PhD
4715 North 38th Place
Arlington, VA 22207-2914
It is believed that three Showalter brothers came to America during the 1744-1750 period, and that most of the Showalters in the United States may be traced back to two of them. In 1744, John Showalter, allegedly came as a missionary, landing at Philadelphia on the ship Mascliff Galley. His subsequent history in Pennsylvania is not clear, but scholars have found no evidence that John left descendants.
Christian Showalter came to PA in 1749 and settled along Conestoga Creek in Lancaster County, where he died in 1799. Some of his descendants intermarried with Jacob’s descendants. [Note: See Lloyd G. Terrell, Ancestors and Descendants of Reuben Showalter, (Bellingham, Washington), 1980, 556 pages. This book is concerned primarily with Christian Showalter and some of his descendants.]
Jacob Showalter, the third immigrant, was born circa 1703, and emigrated from the Palatine region of Germany to America, passing through Rotterdam. His boat, Ship Brotherhood, landed at Philadelphia on Nov. 3, 1750 [Note: Ralph B. Straussburger, and William John Hinke, Pennsylvania German Pioneers, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co.), 1975, V. 1, p. 448]. Named on the passenger list were five Showalter male children who were over 16 years of age. Some of Jacob’s descendants intermarried with Christian’s descendants.
Showalter was a very common name in Switzerland, and well-known in Germany. In fact, “Schowalter” was the third-most frequent name in Germany, following Krehbiel and Stauffer. (Note: Don Yoder, editor, Rhineland Emigrants: Lists of German Settlers in Colonial America, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co.), 1981, pp. 102, 139). It can be safely assumed that immigrant Jacob Showalter was an Anabaptist who followed the tradition of Menno Simons, a people called the Mennonites. By-and-large, the early generations in America adhered to the Mennonite Church, but descendants have been steadily dropping out. In the 20th century, Mennonites who left the Church in Rockingham County (VA) often selected the Church of the Brethren for their new home. Only one branch of the family in America converted to Roman Catholicism. Immigrant Jacob’s son Ulrick Showalter (1743-1815) had a son named Joseph Showalter (1774-1859), and Joseph had a son named John Showalter (born in Rockingham County in 1796 and died in Fayette County, PA in 1880). This John and his wife, Mary Ann Donnelly are buried in the St. Vincent’s Cemetery at Latrobe, PA. At least two members of this family entered service in a Roman Catholic Convent. (Note: Letter to Grace Showalter, librarian at EMU dated May 7, 1976, from Albert K. Showalter, RR2, Box 248-D, Georgetown, DE 19947. Copy of letter in hands of the compiler.)
Dr. William J. Showalter (1878-1935) believed that the Showalters lived during the late 17th century in the Canton of St. Gall, located in the foothills of the Alps Mountains. In 1712, some of these families moved into the Rhineland-country in the region of Pfaltz. Here they spent several decades recouping their fortunes before setting sail for America. (Note: Daily News-Record, Harrisonburg, VA, Monday August 7, 1933. Comments were printed after Dr. William J. Showalter addressed a Showalter family reunion).
This compiler has not conducted research in Switzerland or Germany, but found a letter by Jochen Schowalter, who recently visited EMU in Harrisonburg, VA. The letter said, “Jakob Schowalter, the ancestor of the American Showalters, came to America in 1750 with the ‘Brotherhood,’ to Lancaster County. His brother Hans, born about 1700 in Schafbusch near Weibenburg in Alsace, lived at Geibberg since 1730 and certainly also Jakob.” Writer of the letter stated that these findings were among the papers of his late father. Letter dated “11. 12. 1995” to Harold Huber, librarian at the Menno Simons Historical Library, EMU in Harrisonburg, VA, from Jochen Schowalter, Am Stahlberg 7, 67808 Bennhausen, Germany. Letter is in a file-box called Showalter correspondence in the open stacks
After arriving in this country, Jacob took his family to Old Northampton (now Lehigh) County, near Allentown, where he owned 450 acres of land. In 1759, Jacob Showalter the elder and Maria deeded to William Allen an undivided half-interest in a tract of land in Whitehall Township, Northampton County. (Note: Northampton County (PA) Deed Book B1, page 190). His will, dated March 17, 1767, was written in Lancaster County. Jacob allegedly died in 1775 at the home of his daughter, Margaret (Showalter) Bassler. Four members of the Basler family came on the emigrant ship with the Showalters.
More than likely immigrant Jacob was a weaver, based on the fact that
several of his children chose that occupation.
“The old cemetery in Cementon where Jacob Showalter Sr. the progenitor lies buried was conveyed March 10, 1770 by David Chambers to Joseph Showalter, Henry Funk, Peter Fried, and Jacob Baer in trust and for the Mennonite congregation of Whitehall and Allen Twnshps.” [Note: John B. Stoudt, The Life and Times of Col. John Siegfried, (Northampton, Pennsylvania), 1914, pp. 29-31]
In 1771, Joseph Showalter sold his farm to Conrad Leisenring; John Showalter
to Christopher Kern; and Jacob Showalter Jr. to George Koehler, and the
three brothers resettled in Lancaster County. Several years later their
brother-in-law, Peter Bassler, probably after the death of immigrant Jacob
Showalter, Sr., sold out in Whitehall Township and joined his kinsmen in
The name of Jacob’s spouse is not proven, although she is speculated by several researchers to have been nee Marie Saunders.
Children of Jacob and Marie Showalter Sr. were:
(Note: The ordinal listing of the children is developed from circumstantial evidence. The chronological order of the ship’s passenger list of signatures may be more realistic, viz, Jacob Jr., John, Joseph, Christian, and Peter Showalter, respectively):
1. Peter Showalter Sr. was born circa 1726 and died intestate about 1756 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His estate was settled on Dec. 8, 1756. The name of Peter’s wife was probably either Mary or Catherine, whose names are mentioned in the estate settlement. Three unnamed children are cited in the estate papers. Peter’s brother, Joseph Showalter, was the sole administrator for the estate. Researchers have suggested that Peter Sr. had a son named Peter Showalter Jr., who married Barbara and migrated to Tuscarawas County, Ohio. Another son was Jacob Showalter who lived in Bedminister Township, Bucks County, PA. According to a deed, Jacob’s wife was named Mary. (Note: See Bucks County, Pennsylvania Deed Book 20, pp. 337-339, and Deed Book 25, pp. 274-275, and Book G, Vol 3d, p. 33). Here is a problem that most researchers have not detected: Peter was listed as the eldest son in his father’s will that was written on March 7, 1767 and probated on April 28, 1773. If Peter died in 1756, why didn’t Jacob Sr. state that his eldest son was deceased? The will says, “Further, I do ordain that my eldest son Peter Showalter, or his heirs…” It appears to this writer that the terminology “…or his heirs…” explains the situation, considering the fact that both children of Peter Sr. were named in the will. No other grandchildren were mentioned in Jacob’s will. Jopson allegedly solved the problem, but I was not able to locate his comments from papers deposited in the archives of the Menno Simons Historical Library, EMU, at Park View (Harrisonburg, VA).
2. Jacob Showalter Jr. was born about 1728 and died in 1778 in New Brittain Township, Bucks County. Tax records show that he was a blacksmith. Name of spouse is not known at this time. Jobson stated that the only record of Jacob Jr. is in his father’s will (Note: Letter from Francis Jobson of Wayne, PA to J.R. Swank of Singers Glen, VA, dated January 18, 1966. Copy of letter in my hands, xeroxed from original in the Menno Simons Library). He believed that Jacob Jr. is confused with Jacob of Peter. Both lived in Bucks County, but in different townships, Bedminister and New Brittain. Either there were two Jacobs in the Bucks County townships or one Jacob who lived in both. Further research may answer the question.
3. Christian Showalter was born circa 1730 and died in March of 1805 in Franklin County, Pennsylvania where his will was filed on Dec. 20, 1800. About 1755, he married Barbara Shirk, daughter of John and Barbara (Yoder) Shirk. They inherited land that was patented to her father in 1735 in Lancaster County. In 1784, this land was sold to their son Jacob, and the parents moved to Franklin County, Pennsylvania where his will was filed on Dec. 20, 1800. About 1755, he married Barbara Shirk, daughter of John and Barbara (Yoder) Shirk. They inherited land that was patented to her father in 1735 in Lancaster County. In 1784, this land was sold to their son Jacob, and the parents moved to Franklin County (See Franklin County, (PA) Will Book B, pp. 141, 252. The Will lists 14 children. See also Lancaster County, PA Deed Book BB, p. 585).
4. John Showalter was born about 1732 and died in 1806 in Chester County, PA (Note: Chester County (PA) Will Book L-II, p. 130). John first married Anna (1734-1774). After her death he married Esther Funk circa 1777. One child was born to the second union. John’s occupation was gun maker.
Children of John and Anna Showalter Sr. were:
a. Mary Showalter was born circa 1756 and died in 1842. She married Abraham Halderman.
b. John Showalter Jr. was born in 1758 and died after 1813. John was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He married Barbara Falley, sometimes spelled Varley. John Jr. migrated to Franklin County, VA, where he left many descendants.
c. (female) Showalter married David Grundy.
d. Daniel Showalter was born Oct. 13, 1764 and died Feb. 21, 1840 in Chester County. Daniel married Elizabeth Pennypacker on April 20, 1789.
e. Henry Showalter was born circa 1766. He married Magdalene Halderman. This family migrated to the Botetourt County, VA area.
f. Showalter daughter married Isaac Williams.
g. Barbara Showalter was born circa 1769 and died unmarried in July 1850, in Chester County.
Child of John and Esther (Funk) Showalter:
h. David Showalter was born in 1778 in Chester County and died after 1842. He married Nancy Benner (1781-1853).
5. Joseph Showalter was born in 1734 and died in 1802 in Chester County, PA (Note: Chester County Will Book 10, dated March 22, 1802). The name of his wife was Magdalene, proven by her signature on a land transaction. Joseph and Magdalene’s children were named: Joseph Jr., John, Barbara, Magdalene, Susannah, Abraham, Anna, and Maria Showalter. There is not common agreement among researchers as to the names of the children’s spouses.
6. Valentine “Felty” Showalter was born about 1736 and died in 1803 in Rockingham County, Virginia. His wife was named Anna, and they settled about 1789- 1790 in the Brock’s Gap section of the County.
7. Daniel Showalter was born June 20, 1738 and died on May 10, 1822 at Broadway, Rockingham County. Daniel married Margaret Saunders, who was born circa 1736 and died Feb. 1, 1816 at Broadway. Both were buried in the Trissel’s Mennonite Church graveyard. Daniel came to the Broadway area in 1788, and is ancestor for a majority of the Showalters who live in Rockingham County [Note: For more genealogy on Daniel’s branch, see Preston M. Showalter, Family Record of the Showalters, Maugansville, Maryland, 1977, Privately printed].
8. Ulrick Showalter was born circa 1740 and died in 1815 at Smithfield, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. His name was spelled several ways in court records, including Olerick and Woolery. Ulrick served in the Revolutionary War in Pennsylvania Line, Col. Siegfried’s Regiment. In 1790, he bought and sold 63 acres in Chester County, Pennsylvania (Note: Chester County, PA Deed Book K2, p. 171 and page 250). Ulrick had gone to Rockingham County by 1791, when he bought land from Magdalene Shaffer, widow of Nicholas Shaffer [Note: Constance A. Levinson and Louise C. Levinson, Rockingham County, Virginia Minute Book No. 2, Part I, (Harrisonburg, Virginia: Greystone Publishers), p 33]. On January 27, 1794, he was appointed by the court to appraise the estate of Henry Brunk. [Note: Constance A. Levinson and Louise C. Levinson, Rockingham County, Virginia Minute Book No. 2, Part II, (Harrisonburg, Virginia: Greystone Publishers), p.40]. Ulrick married Susannah Watterson, who was born in 1752 and died July 31, 1815. Allegedly, her parents were killed by Indians.
Children of Ulrick and Susanna (Watterson) Showalter were:
a. Joseph Showalter was born in 1774 and died in 1859. He married Anna Burkholder (1776-1865), daughter of Jacob Burkholder. They lived in Rockingham County, but later migrated back to Pennsylvania where they were buried at Smithfield.
b. Mary Showalter, born circa 1775, married Christian Rhodes in 1793. They settled in Perry County, Ohio.
c. John Showalter was born in 1779 and died in 1839. He married Sarah Bowers (1781-1864).
d. Jacob Showalter died in 1833. He married Catherine Coffman,
daughter of George Coffman. Some of their descendants allegedly returned
to live in Rockingham County.
e. Daniel Showalter married Rachel Jackson, and they migrated.
f. Henry Showalter married Mary Billheimer on Aug. 10, 1812, in Rockingham County. Allegedly they moved to Fairmont (WV).
g. Elizabeth Showalter (1789-1872) married John Jackson. Both are buried at Smithfield, PA.
9. Barbara Showalter was born circa 1743 and died in 1824 in Rockingham County, Va. She married Henry Funk Jr. son of Henry and Anne (Meyer) Funk. Henry Jr. was born on May 30, 1727-1730, and died on July 22, 1817, in Rockingham County.
10. Margaret Showalter was born circa 1745 (a wild guess) and died in Lancaster County, Penn. Her father allegedly died in her home in 1775. Margaret married Peter Bassler and they had one known son, John Bassler.
11. Martha Ann Showalter was born about 1746, and died near Broadway, Rockingham County, Va. She was twice-married: (1) John Tressler and (2) Joseph Trissel. Four children were born to the second union: Joseph Trissel (1786-1867), Peter Trissel, Abraham Trissel and Jacob Trissel.
Wilmer L. Kerns PhD
4715 North 38th Place
Arlington, VA 22207-2914