Family lore

The Weltys

 Is this the picture of some deserted Western film set? No. This is the Main Street of Shenandoah, Iowa, the town the webmaster's wife, Harriet Welty Rochefort grew up in. The picture was taken in 1878 only 8 years after her great-great grandfather Andrew Jackson Welty settled there.

Early settlers in Pennsylvania, the Weltys moved West and our ancestors stopped in Iowa. This was an adventurous life as you can read below from the story of John Hunsaker, killed in 1792.

   HARRIET'S ROOTS - Shenandoah, Iowa, 1878
Weltys farmed the land around Shenandoah for more than one hundred and fifty years.The first members of Harriet's family to leave the farm were her father, Paul Bright Welty, who started a real estate and insurance agency in Shenandoah, and his brother,Wayne Welty, who settled in Medford, Oregon. Her Aunt Eleanor Welty Arneson settled in Idaho. Her uncles - George and Don, and Don's son, Dick-all remained on their respective farms in Iowa. Dick Welty, who died in 1992, was the last Welty to farm in southwest Iowa. According to Harriet's great-aunt Shirley Moran Welty who wrote the story of our branch of the Weltys, the Welty name can be traced to the two cantons of Bern and Zurich in Switzerland. Mennonites, the Weltys were persecuted in the mid-17th and fled to America. Encouraged by William Penn, a group of Mennonites from the Palatinate in Germany settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania as early as 1600. Our ancestor Peter Velte (Peter Welty) arrived in Philadelphia, Oct. 16, 1727 on the Friendship of Bristol from Rotterdam. The Weltys moved westward from Pennsylvania to Ohio, Illinois, then Iowa, where her family settled, and later California and Oregon.
  •  David Lynx has created and maintains a very interesting Welty site (see our favorite links).
  • Webmaster's research has yielded more than 10,000 names of ancestors and collaterals for the whole family ; many of them are in our surname list. In upcoming pages, we'll be happy to share what we have about some of these branches, which includes Anderson, Schenk, Biddle, Montfoort, Mayet, etc... See our Welty and Anderson/Schenk lines on genealogy.
  • To know more about Shenandoah, Iowa, click here !

A story of Mennonite settlers in Pennsylvania...

Here is the story of John Jr. HUNSAKER (Stradonitz # 386) and his wife Elizabeth Huber (# 387) whose daughter Catherine married Joseph WELTY (# 192, the great-grandfather of Harriet's great-grandfather!) :

 "The men and boys were working in a cornfield and the women and children off beyond the cabin when an Indian war party came along and attacked them. John Jr. was wounded and captured. Clegg, Isaac and Jacob ran for the cabin. Clegg tried to defend the cabin but it was set afire so he surrendered rather than be burned. Isaac and Jacob ran on to where their mother and baby were but upon reaching the spot found other Indians had captured them and were lying in wait for the boys. Margaret Clegg had hidden in the bushes but was eventually discovered by the Indians and tried to run away.One Indian pursued her, took a shot and wounded her in the shoulder. She eventually made her way to the Blockhouse, now Blacksville ,W.Virginia...

The Hunsakers and apparently Clegg and his daughters were marched west toward Dunkard Creek and Fish Creek. John's wound and Elizabeth carrying the baby slowed the march and they were told the baby would be killed and if they did not cry out at the death of their infant their lives would be spared. But when the baby was killed, the parents did cry out and were killed, first the mother and then the father. Isaac and Jacob were marched with the Indians to Niagara Falls or Quebec, Canada. During the trip, Isaac was made to carry a heavy pot on his head.

 The Indians killed a possum and stuffed the carcass with pumpkin pulp. Then they hung the animal to a tree and when the boys wanted to eat they squeezed pumpkin out of the possum carcass. This unpleasant food made Isaac sick. Upon arriving in Canada the boys were turned over to Chief Walker who raised them as his sons... Isaac and Jacob lived with the Indians for seven or eight years. As they grew up, they were allowed to go hunting on their own. Over the years they gradually extended the distances they roamed from camp until they roamed quite far away and for a considerable length of time.  

 Eventually they took advantage of this stratagem and escaped but somehow enroute back to their home, the boys became separated and never saw each other again. Isaac reached a trading post ahead of his captor and hid among bales of furs while the Indians searched unsuccessfully for him. He was then able to ride a boat with fur traders heading south......... Catherine Hunsaker, the daughter who escaped the massacre, eventually married."

The massacre took place in 1792 and is reported by Shirley Moran WELTY in her book. Please write to us if you are linked with the Weltys in America ! See John Hunsaker in the family tree.

James Anderson's arrival in America

 In the year 1707 a sailing vessel might have been seen plowing its way through the waves of the Atlantic, towards the shores of America. Among its pasengers who were going to seek their fortunes in the New World was a Scotch youth, by the name of James Anderson. Tradition, says that he was poor. It was the custom for many of the poorer class who came to America at that time to enter into the service of someone who advanced the "passage money" and bind himself to work for such person until the amount of indebtness was discharged. This was termed "selling passage" and seems to have been much in vogue. There lived in Chester Valley, in Chester County, Pennsylvania, at the time of which we are speaking, a Welsh farmer by the name of Thomas Jerman. It is said also that he was a noted Quaker preacher. Be that as it may, he was doubtless farmer as well as preacher, and needed help on his farm, for when the ship which bore youg Anderson to America arrived, we find Mr.Jerman searching among new-comers for farm hand. It happened that he and Anderson struck a bargain, according to the custom mentioned above, and James Anderson became a member of Mr.Jerman's family.  

Jerman is said to have been in comfortable circumstances, and had, what seems to have been of more importance to the youg Scotchman, a daughter. She was doubtless interesting and attractive, for Anderson surrendered his heart to her, and succeeding in winning hers in return. A difficulty, however, arose ; he had gained the daughter's consent to become his wife, but the father would no means sanction the marriage. The young couple overcame this obstacle by eloping, and Miss Elizabeth Jerman became the wife of James Anderson. Little is known of subsequent events. There was a reconciliation however for, in 1713, six years after Anderson's arrival in America, Jerman advanced a part of the money with which Anderson bought a farm ... Anderson was the first to introduce garlic into Schuylkill Township. Following the Swedish custom of sowing it for early pasture for cows, he sowed it on his farm in 1730. From his place, it scattered over the adjoining farms. He was Supervisor of Highways in 1728.....

(as reported by Julius Lloyd in 1880). See James Anderson in the family tree.

An Irish immigrant on the "Try Again" !

 The Whitings ancestors came from Holland with William of Orange (afterwards Wm 3rd of England) in 1688. Our grandfather John Whiting was born at "Brotherfort", the old Whiting estate, 4 or 5 miles from Bandon, County Cork, Ireland. The Whitings are buried at Brimmy. The Emersons were born in Bandon. Grandmas's mother Margaret (Burschel) Emerson is buried at St.Peter's churchyard, Bandon. Her father George Emerson married a second wife and he is buried in Cork, Ireland. Our grandparents John and Jane (Emerson) Whiting took a sailing ship from Blandon (?) to ............ . He died Sept. 17, 1870. She died Sept. 10, 1896.

Excerpts from two almost illegible letters about John WHITING.

  Our people were three weeks crossing the Atlantic. They were the only cabin passengers aboard. The sailing ship had once been wrecked and after it was rebuilt it was renamed "Try Again". They were nearly lost on the way off the Banks of Newfoundland where they were within a ...... of colliding with the "Triton". Uncle John told me that he was standing up on deck beside the railing at the time and that he could easily have leaped upon the deck of the other ship. The captain of "Try Again" was a cousin of grandma's step ..... There were two deaths during the voyage a man and a ..... But .....Whiting supplied the rag ... in which the man's body was wrapped and buried into the Atlantic. The Captain ... burial service .... The .... was loaded with lumber sailing from Canada.

I'm glad I didn't break the law in Fennimore Co. in the 1860s....
 I was born Aug. 21, 1808 in the town of Franklin, Ross Co., Ohio ; was brought up in a Methodist family, and taught to believe that it is wrong to break the Sabbath, or to attend church festivals ; I embraced religion in Indiana in 1834 and joined the Methodist Church. Was married June 3, 1832, to Mary Switzer ; removed with my family to the Territory of Wisconsin in October 1846 and bought land and settled in the town of Fennimore, Grant Co. ; for personal abuse for those who should have been my friends and for corruptions in the church, I called for and obtained a letter of recommendation from said church in 1871 ; in 1875, myself and wife presented our letters to the United Brethren in Christ, which church holds the same doctrines as regards the conditions of salvation, and have some church rules that I esteem more highly and vital importance in a religious view of the matter. This church is also more strict in the observance of their church discipline. These are some of the causes which led me to leave the M.E.Church and join the United Brethren. The love for and the tenacity with which the former church clings to Freemasonry and other minor secret organizations, its organs, its church festivals and its church music all tend to deprive it of the power for usefulness which it formerly possessed.  

 There is no man or woman that can be a true follower of the Savior and at the same time deny Him. With regard to politics, I always voted with the old Whig party while that party existed, and since its desorganization have voted with the Republican party. I was elected a Justice of the Peace in the town of Fennimore in 1847 and re-elected each succeeding two years for sixteen years. I taught the second term of school taught in the town in the winter 1847-48. Mr. R.Dixon taught the first term the previous winter. I was elected Town Superintendent of Schools in 1849 and again in 1852 and 1853 ; was elected Town Clerk in 1865 and re-elected for sixteen years in succession. I have tried different occupations for a livehood, but have never made much money at anything, but have always endeavored to deal honestly with all with whom I have done business. We have four children, all born in Indiana, three of whom are living--Mary Ann (now Mrs.Mumms), Charles W. and Wm. H.

Aubiographical note by Charles Warren Loney (1808-1903) in the Fennimore Country Annals. See his picture.

In the Civil War and in the Independence War....

On his 70th birthday in 1916 James H.Bright wrote the following autobiography for the local newspaper. "I was born February 28, 1846 in Green Co. Penn.. When nine years of age came with my parents to Iowa. We came by boat down the Ohio to Cairo, up the Mississipi River to Fort Madison ..... then moved to Henry Co. and settled on a farm near Mt.Pleasant. We were living there when the Civil War broke out. At the age of eighteen my brother Lee and I ran away from school at noon one day and enlisted the 18th of March 1864." Assigned to the Fourth Iowa cavalry, James and his brother fought under General Sturger and "were engaged in mortal combat for four long hours" at Brice's cross roads six miles from Gunn Town. A retreat was ordered and the troops hit the road, pursued by the victorious rebel army. James writes that he made his record as a pedestrian, "having covered a distance of 50 or 60 miles on foot in one night (I lost my horse in the fight) rather than go to Andersonville."

At Selma, recalled James, "the Fourth Iowa cavalry, my brother and myself, "put down the rebellion" by taking rebel prisoners". They were discharged at Atlanta, Georgia on August 8, 1865. After the War, James returned to the family home in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, first farming his father's land, then gradually acquiring more and more land until he attained 2000 acres of Iowa's most fertile land in Walnut township. He married Mary Beshears in 1873 and they had seven children. James was one of the best known citizens of the state and in an interview on his seventieth birthday said that he had never used whiskey nor tobacco in any form in his life. James' wife, Nellie, died in 1891 and in 1912 he married Pearl Priestman of Red Oak and, having suffered a paralytic stroke, moved to town.

See his picture


Five identified ancestors of Harriet Welty fought in the Independence War : two on the Welty side (#220-John Scott and #214-Lt. James Williamson) and three on the Anderson side (#224-Capt. Patrick Anderson, #226-Lt. Hezekiah Davis and #228-Lt. Andrew Biddle). Harriet is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Chapter Rochambeau, in Paris.

Shadrack Scott, the son of John, settled in Iowa between 1834 and 1839 and was one of the very first settlers of this state when it was formed in 1846. His daughter Helen married Joseph Beshears, a grandfather of Effie Bright.

A Welsh immigrant, Hezekiah Davis was working for a rich Dutch farmer, Nicholas Schenk. He seduced his daughter #227-Anna Schenk and they eloped. The Schenk ancestry is very brilliant and this marriage connected the Anderson line with the Schenk line which includes the very first Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam and, in Europe, links with most of the European nobility. This is why it is easy, as a game, to identify the connections of our children with most of the European royal dynasties !

A family of farmers...
 Hezekiah D. Anderson learned the trade of a millwright in his youth, and later in life turned his attention to farming in Bedford County, where he settled after marriage. He lived there until 1855, when he brought his family to Illinois to establish a home in Lee County, which was rich in resources, and possessed many superior advantages for a farmer. He first settled in Marion Township, and later located in South Dixon Township, where he and his household lived until 1865, when he bought the farm, which was then but slightly unproved, and is now the property of our subject.   The land increased in value under his management, and here he built up a comfortable home, in which, at the age of fifty-six, he laid down the burden of life for the unbroken rest of death, in 1870. His wife died some years later, in1886, at the age of sixty-seven, her death occurring in the city of Dixon. They were people of blameless lives and Christian spirit, in wholly the Methodist Episcopal Church has found two of its most consistent members. During the latter part of his life Mr. Anderson was a Republican. (Lee County History1892 Portrait & Biographical Volume Page 818) 

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Harriet Welty Rochefort is the author of books on France and the French. Read about her books (excerpts, upcoming events, booksignings, press releases, lectures, etc..)

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