Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Henry Conrad's wives and children

     Henry Conrad died in May 1808 in Washington County, Pennsylvania. In my last post I wrote about his background and the first year or so he lived in Washington County. In that post I mentioned he had a family, but I did not give any details about his wives and children. I will do so now.
     Henry had at least two wives, Catharine and Sarah. Catharine, also called Catrine, was his first known wife and most likely the mother of his children. Catherine was still alive in 1797, when she and Henry sold some land to their son-in-law Christopher Stump. Henry, probably with Catharine, had six known children between 1761 and 1784: John, Elizabeth, Mary, Lydia, William and Christena.
     Catharine died within a few years after 1797, as Henry was married to Sarah when he wrote his will in April 1808 before dying in May. Before she was married to Henry, Sarah was married to a Mr. Armstrong and had at least two children with him, Alexander and Ruth.
     Below is more information about Henry's biological children.

John Conrad--Born between 1761 and 1765. John married Hannah Hackett in the later part of 1789 or very early 1790. He was listed as a single man on the Washington County, Pennsylvania 1789 tax, but his and Hannah's oldest child, Henry, was born on November 12, 1790. John and Hannah had eight other children: William, John, Catherine, David, Daniel, Hannah, Jacob and Phebe. John died on September 17, 1844 in Washington County, Pennsylvania. I have written blogs posts about his son David Hackett Conrad and his granddaughter Mary Ann Conrad Morehart Shilling.

Elizabeth Conrad--Probably born in the early 1760s. She was married first to a Mr. Weaver, with whom she had two children: George and Mary. Her second husband was William Stump, to whom she was married by 1797. I believe she and William moved away from Washington County along with her sister Lydia and Lydia's husband Christopher Stump, as both couples sold their Washington County land and then disappear from the Washington County records. Where they moved, I do not know.

Mary Conrad--She was probably born around 1770, based on the fact that her first known child was born in 1790. She was married to John Riggle. She and John had seven known children: Jesse, John, Henry, Daniel, Christiana, George, and Mary. Mary Conrad Riggle was dead at the time her father wrote his will in 1808. Some internet sources say that she died in 1802.

Lydia "Lydy" Conrad--She was born between 1775 and 1784, but almost certainly closer to 1775. She was married to Christopher Stump by 1797, and most likely had been for several years. The 1800 US census shows three children under the age of 10 in their household. As I stated under her sister Elizabeth's listing, I believe Lydia and Christopher moved away from Washington County, Pennsylvania.

Christena Conrad--She was born in 1781. She married John Ross, a farmer and drover, in about 1797. They moved to Butler County, Ohio in about 1801, based on the birthdates and locations given for her children on They had nine children: Abraham, Catherine, Mary, Henry, John, Jacob, Johnston, William and Elizabeth. Christena died in1849 in Clinton County, Indiana. You can read more about Christena (Christiana) and John's family in the entry about their son William Ross on pages 903-907 of Portrait and Biographical Album of Vermilion and Edgar Counties, Illinois: Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens of the Counties, Together with Portraits and Biographies of All the Governors of the State, and of the Presidents of the United States, Volume 2

William Conrad--He was born between 1774 and 1784. His wife's name was Mary. William had three children under the age of 10 living in his household in 1810. He died sometime after 1816 when he and Mary verified a deed for the land they had sold his brother John.
     Regarding Henry's step-children Alexander and Ruth Armstrong, I know nothing about Ruth other than her name and a likely date range for her birth--between 1785 and 1794. This date range is based on the assumption that she is one of the females age 16-25 living in her mother's household in Pike Run Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania, at the time of the 1810 U.S. Census. Alexander was born between 1786 and 1790 based on cumulative U.S. census data. He did much work for Henry from at least 1804 until Henry's death in 1808 according to documents in Henry's probate file. Henry must have thought well of Alexander and trusted him, since he named him as one of the executor's of his will. Alexander moved to Steubenville, Ohio sometime before 1827. An Alexander Armstrong was listed as living in Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio in the 1830 and 1840 U.S. Censuses, and in the 1850 U.S. Census for Jefferson County, Ohio-as a 60 year old inmate of the Jefferson County Poorhouse.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Henry Conrad (d. 1808) of Washington County, Pennsylvania: part 1

     Land. Precisely three hundred eighty-five and one-half acres of it. The chance to call it his own is almost certainly what induced Henry Conrad in 1773 to move his young family to what was then the sparsely settled wilderness on the western edge of the American colonies. Within a year he was probably questioning the wisdom of his decision.
     Henry Conrad is said to have been born in about 1740. It is not known if he was the first generation of this line to immigrate to the American colonies, but it seems likely. He spoke and read German and signed his name in the old German style of script. Many of his neighbors were members of the German Lutheran, Dunkard, Brethren or Quaker churches--all of which had suffered from prosecution in the Old World. Religious freedom was a major reason why they or their ancestors had come to the New World. Religious freedom probably figured largely in Henry's or his parents' decision to immigrate, too. That and economic opportunity. Life was hard and the economic future was poor for most in the old German States.
     The land on which Henry settled in 1773 is located in what is now Washington County in southwestern Pennsylvania. His tract of land lay over the headwaters of Pike Run Creek just west of the Monogahela River into which it ran. When Henry moved there, the rolling hills would have been covered in forests and full of wild animals. He named his tract of land "Sugar tree Bottom", probably because it contained a large number of sugar maples. It must have been beautiful in the autumn there. Once cleared, the land would be particularly suitable for the cultivation of grains, fruit orchards, and grasses for grazing animals.
Plat found at Pennsylvania Historical and Museum CommissionBureau of Archives and HistoryPennsylvania State Archives, RG-17, Records of the Land Office, Copied Surveys, 1681-1912. [series #17.114] Book A-68 pg 78.
     Henry's land was located in territory that the Iroquois ceded to the British in 1768. Both Pennsylvania and Virginia claimed the territory, and both opened it up to settlers. Henry Conrad's original land claim was through Virginia, which indicates he had likely been living in Virginia or Maryland before moving west. Virginia and Pennsylvania each established their own court systems and militia in the area, each serving and comprised of the settlers from their own colony, and each trying to invalidate the other. As a result of the territorial squabbling over who had jurisdiction and responsibility for what, the area's settlers suffered from a lack of services and support.
Arrow points to location of Henry Conrad's land just west of the Monongahela River in present day Washington County, Pennsylvania. The red line running to the west and north of his land marks the western boundary of the settlers' territory.
Map found at Wikimedia Commons.
     Various Indian tribes also laid claim to the area. The Iroquois may have officially ceded their rights to the territory, but the Delawares, Shawnees, Wyandots and Mingos had not and still claimed the rights to hunt there. On paper the Ohio River acted as a border between the the colonists' land on the east and the Native Americans' on the west. In reality, of course, both groups made incursions into the others' territory and confrontations between the two sides were not uncommon.
     In the spring of 1774 the clashes between the colonists and the Native Americans escalated until a group of Indians were killed in the Yellow Creek Massacre. After that, the Indians declared all out war on the colonists, and Indian war parties began to raid the area in which Henry Conrad lived. The vast majority of the terrified settlers quickly fled the area. One report stated that "more than one thousand people crossed the Monongahela in one day at three ferries that are not one mile apart".(1)         
     The Indians plundered and burned homes and settlements across the area and killed or captured any colonists they found. The settlers that retreated to the handful of forts or blockhouses in the area were generally safe as long as they stayed within their walls. However, if they ventured outside the walls it was a different story. One man who had left the safety of Redstone Old Fort was killed and scalped within sight of it. Redstone Old Fort was quite close to Henry Conrad's place, as you can see on the map below. The location of Henry Conrad's land is marked in orange, and the location of Redstone Old Fort is marked in pink just below and to the right.
Original map found in Boyd Crumrine's History of Washington County, Pennsylvania with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men at the University of Pittsburgs's Digital Library Historic Pittsburgh Text Collection. 
        I do not know if Henry Conrad and family fled the area or went to stay at Redstone Old Fort.  Whether the family stayed in the area or fled, it must have been a terrifying time for them.
Illustration from REPORT OF THE COMMISSION TO LOCATE THE SITE OF THE FRONTIER FORTS OF PENNSYLVANIA, Vol. II found at US GenWeb Archives Pennsylvania. The history of the fort is also given at that website.
      The war with the Indians, called Lord Dunmore's War after the then governor of the colony of Virginia, ended on October 10, 1774 when the Virginia militia defeated the Indians in the Battle of Point Pleasant. As a result of this defeat, the Indians relinquished their claim to land south of the Ohio River. Henry and his family returned home and resumed carving a life for themselves on Sugar tree Bottom. Life was peaceful. But only for a while.

    Note: In the documents from Henry's time, he was generally referred to as Henry Coonrod or Henry Conrod. His descendants, those descended from his grandson David Hackett Conrad, anyway,  now go by Conrad, which is why I am using that spelling for Henry's last name.

(1) History of Washington County, Pennsylvania with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men by Boyd Crumrine, p. 69. (see below)

General Resources
Crumrine, Boyd. The County Court for the District of West Augusta, Virginia held at Augusta Town, near Washington, Pa., 1776-1777 (Washington, PA: Observer Job Rooms for the Washington County Historical Society, 1905). Digital images online, PennState University Libraries, Digital Collections ( accessed 3 Aug 2017.

Crumrine, Boyd. History of Washington County, Pennsylvania with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Philadelphia: H. L. Everts & Co., 1882). Digital images online, University of Pittsburgh's Digital Research Library's Historic Pittsburgh (;view=toc;c=pitttext) accessed 3 Aug 2017.

Harper, R. Eugene. The transformation of Western Pennsylvania, 1770-1800 (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, c1991) digital images online, University of Pittsburgh Press Digital Editions (;view=toc;c=pittpress) accessed 3 Aug 2017.