52 Ancestors 52 Weeks – Week 4

Who Would I Like to Meet

In truth I would like to meet ALL of those hundreds of ancestors. I would love to hear each of their stories so this is a difficult choice; do I choose my second great grandfather, a Confederate veteran and Baptist minister or my husband’s fourth great grandfather, a veteran of the Revolutionary War from the Pennsylvania militia and early pioneer into Kentucky. I have chosen the later, Paul Arnspiger. The beautiful panoramic photo above is the land Paul owned in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. The photo was taken in 2005 on our first trip to Bedford County.

It is believed Paul was born sometime between 1750 and 1752 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. By 1775 he had married Maria Dorothea Bruner and immigrated to the newly opened territory of Bedford County, Pennsylvania along with the rest of the Ulrich Bruner family. Paul and Maria owned land, paid taxes and raised their children in the wilds of Bedford County. During the Revolutionary War, this area was the western frontier and faced continual danger from the marauding Indians and Loyalists. Most of the men remained in Bedford serving in the militia trying to protect their families, land and in reality acted as a buffer for the rest of Pennsylvania, keeping the enemy at bay.

Pennsylvania Back Country Militia

Oh the stories Paul could tell me, like why was he wanted for “rioting” in 1775 along with several other individuals? Why did he not appear to defend against this charge? I have so many questions. Did he know his father? Was Christian Fuch a good stepfather? What was the journey from Lancaster to Bedford county like? Did he and Maria have to walk that arduous trail through the mountains? Did he have any encounters with the Indians?  What was his occupation, was he a cooper as I suspect? Where did he and his family go in 1778 when the tax list says “fled the area”? Why did he move to Fayette County, then Jessamine County, Kentucky? Did he go just to follow the Bruner clan? Who were his siblings? Was Henry Arnsberger of York County, Pennsylvania his brother? What about Christopher Arnsberger of Frederick County, Maryland? DNA matches suggest Christopher was indeed a sibling.

The answers to these questions and the telling of his stories would give me a better idea of what kind of man Paul was. Was he a good father? A good provider? In old age he and Maria lived with their eldest daughter Anna Maria Arnspiger Houser. Several years before his death, Paul, his wife Mary and son-in-law John Houser sell 50 acres of land to Abram Corman. At the time of Paul’s death in 1822 he owned no property according to the tax list, only one horse. No probate record has been found. His wife Maria or Mary lived another twenty-five years, living with her daughter Polly Houser. The Houser family relocated to Logan County, Illinois sometime around 1838. Maria at the age of eighty-seven accompanied the family on this journey. Mary lived another nine years, passing away in 1847. Oh the stories she could tell me.

Finding the gravestone for Paul is a story unto itself, one of those other world experiences that genealogists sometimes have. His stone is the only record of his death and will likely be lost again to the wilds of Kentucky since there is no one interested or willing to restore and preserve the cemetery.

Arnspiger Cemetery in Jessamine County, Kentucky – Paul Arnspiger gravestone

So Paul, I would love to talk to you, hear your stories, ask my questions. Maybe some day I will have that opportunity. Until then I will think about you, I will write about you and I will try to keep your memory alive in your descendants of which you have hundreds.

4 thoughts on “52 Ancestors 52 Weeks – Week 4”

  1. Beautiful post! Your third paragraph is just amazing; it’s an incredible picture you’ve drawn of an ancestor by virtue of the questions you ask alone. Wow.

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