Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Kentucky Migration

The Kentucky Migration
"Two Centuries of Brother Valley" by Rev. H. Austin Cooper.

It concerns the migration to Muhlenberg County from Pennsylvania of members of the Church of the Brethren, commonly called the Dunkers. The migration was headed by Captain Henry Roth, Jr., who changed his name to Rhoads. He became Muhlenbergs, first representative in the Kentucky General Assembly and named this county for General John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, his commanding general in the Revolutionary War.

The terrible winter of 1784-85 all but depleted the hopes of the frontiersmen who had faith in the crops of the spring and summer. The snow began early in October and continued almost without letup until after Easter. This is not uncommon to the area as the storms both in summer and winter come quickly and violently and often last for long periods without diminishing in force and fury. The altitude and the formation of the mountains to the west and east cause the storms to funnel into this area. As related to the former section of Brothers Valley, the area is like an inverted saucer or dish lifted up above the surrounding countryside. Thus the storms beat heavily upon the land and temperature drops quickly and holds on for many weeks sometimes without varying much either way. On Easter Monday when the sun shined warmly, the snow measured 85 inches on the level. This was one of the contributing factors for so many people leaving the area. However, this was only one.

Perhaps the other factors that induced the settlers to seek more pleasant settlement in the southern wilderness were the stories of some of their relatives such as Captain Henry Roth Jr., and Phillip Aswald who had traveled extensively in the Kentucky country. They came back with glowing tales about the rich and fertile grasslands of the "blue grass region". At that early time most of the land was unsettled and there seemed to be room for all to settle in a more temperate climate. No doubt, the determining factor for their departure from Bruedersthal in the summer of 1785 was the dual fact that the State of Virginia offered free land to her soldiers who fought in the Revolution.

Many of the young men who had joined the Brothers Valley Militia and followed General George Washington throughout his campaigns against the British, received large land grants in then what was called "Western Virginia", which was the Kentucky County.

Captain Henry Roth, Jr. led more than 100 to Kentucky from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and what is now West Virginia. Several from New Jersey joined the band at New Market, Virginia, in the early part of the summer of 1785 and proceeded to the new "promised land."

For the most part, the people in the party were listed as heads of families. To be sure, there were many children in the group. It seems that they went by way of Winchester, Virginia and there met a group from Maryland, especially from Washington and Fredrick counties. It is known that at least a dozen from the Pipe Creek country, in what is know Carroll County, met them at Winchester and accompanied them to New Market, Virginia. Here they rested for several weeks before going on to the Roanoke Settlement where many others met the band and proceeded on their way.

The other reason for so many going along with the small band of leaders who received "military grants" were those who were termed later in Kentucky as "squatters" on the land. These people had the approval of these who received the grants. They were the workers and the tillers of the soil for these large landholders. Many of them later bought tracts for their homes and settled permanently in Kentucky. About 1800 there was another movement from Kentucky across the Ohio River into Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and into the Black Hawk country of Iowa. Now for the heads of families in Captain Henry's band:

1. Captain Henry Roth, Jr. and wife Elizabeth Stoner, of Pipe Creek Maryland, daughter of Elder John Stoner.
2. Solomon Rhoth (Rhoads), brother of Henry, later to become a famous Elder of the Church.
3. Elder George Boone, brother of Daniel, elected to the eldership of Stony Creek Church in Pennsylvania, 1770; also became active elder in Kentucky and Ohio.
14. Henry Moore (Mohr) settled in Logan County, Kentucky., thence to Logan, Ohio.
49. Daniel Roth (brother of Captain Henry), first wife, Eva Faust, died in Nelson County, Kentucky. Second wife was Elizabeth Newman, married March 10, 1794, daughter of Thomas and Mary Newman.
54. Solomon Roth (Rhoads) and wife, Rachael, daughter of Elder "Squire" Boone.
59. John Hunt and family, also near Rocky Mount, Virginia.
67. David Rhoads, brother of the famous "Captain Henry"; David married Elizabeth Vaught Dec. 2, 1798.
72. Hartman Hunsaker, from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and wife, Anna. Children: John Hunsaker, wife, Magdalena Berg (Birg). She was the daughter of Nicholas and Barbara Berg of North Carolina. Children: John Jr., Barbara, Nicholas, Hartman, Jacob, Joseph, Abraham, George, Catherine, Magdalena, Andrew, Samuel (all of these joined the company from North Carolina). Andrew married Mary Rhoads, whose full name was Mary Catherine Rhoads. Samuel married Hanna Rhoads, children of Joseph Rhoads, will recorded, 1799, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. Other daughters of John Hunziker married Huber (Hoover), of Virginia, Snyder of Stony Creek, Ohio, Mozier Huffman of Muhlenberg County, Virginia.

The following moved from Brothers Valley, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania to Shenandoa County, Virginia, 1783, and to Kentucky, 1785, with the Company; Abraham Simon, Christina Vaught.
76. Thomas Newman and Mary, and daughter Elizabeth who married Daniel Rhoads (second wife).

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