Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Is it Pitsenbarger or Pitsenberger?

When you have German ancestry coupled with a strange name – you come across some interesting spellings.  My great great grandmother’s name was Rebecca Jane “Frankie” Pitsenbarger.  She was the youngest child of William Pitsenbarger and his wife Mary Amick.  During my research into her family – I have seen the name Pitsenbarger spelled numerous ways.
Rebecca Jane "Frankie" Pitsenbarger - my great great grandmother

The earliest known ancestor of my great great grandmother was Abraham Pitzenberger who arrived sometime before 1766 probably from either Germany or Switzerland.  He married Elizabeth Teysinger whose family came from the Alsace Lorraine region for France which is an area that contains a lot of German people.  Abraham and Elizabeth married in Lancaster Co., PA and moved soon after to Virginia.  They named their children typical German names like Johann Jacob, Abraham, Johann Peter, Elizabeth Ann, John and Philip.  Abraham fought in the Revolutionary War and dies aft 15 Apr 1781.  I am descended through his son Abraham, Jr.  By this time, the name has morphed from Pitzenberger to Pitsenbarger.  Abraham married Mary Magdaline Cowger in 1795 in the Shenandoah Co., VA and their son, Peter is my 4th great grandfather.  The family has moved by this time to what is now Nicholas Co., WV and Peter and his wife, Elizabeth Amick have a large family of 11 children.  We are now down to William Pitsenbarger and his wife Mary Amick.  You might have noticed that William’s wife and mother have the same last name.  I noticed it too…it took me 6 months to track down how they were connected.  Mary’s father, Jacob and William’s mother Elizabeth were the children of Henry Amick, Jr. and Elizabeth Barbara Niemand…so therefore William and Mary were first cousins. 

The Pitsenbarger family is still fairly prevalent in the West Virginia and in Darke Co., OH.  While researching this family you have to look for a number of spellings – there is Pitsenbarger, Pittsenbarger, Pittsonberger, Pitsonbarger, Pitzenberger, Pitsenberger and I’m sure many more that have escaped my memory.  It must have been a very challenging name for the census takers, because you are never quite sure which spelling that you will find.  They will even have brothers who have their families on the same census page with different spellings for each one.  I finally came to the conclusion that I would standardize the spelling for my line as much as I could. 

I am not alone in my struggles to find common spellings of names.  In some ways, I probably have it easier than most.  At least you can figure out the name by sounding it out… there is a reason that my favorite college basketball coach is known as Coach K…can you imagine trying to spell Krzyzewski at all…it doesn’t really sound at all like it is spelled.  

Here is my line from Abrahm Pitzenberger...

Abraham Pitzenberger b. bef 1750 d. aft 15 Apr 1781 m. 22 Apr 1766 Lancaster Co, PA, Elizabeth Teysinger b. Apr 1750 d. bef Apr 1794

Abraham Pitsenberger, Jr. b. 14 Feb 1771 d. bef 1840 m. abt 1795 Mary Magdaline Cowger b. abt 1770 d. abt 1812

Peter Pitsenbarger b. 1798 d. abt 14 June 1864 m.7 Mar 1820 Elizabeth Amick b. 1801 d. 28 Sep 1857

William Pitsenbarger b. Nov 1827 d. Oct 1901 m 2 Nov 1854 Mary Amick b. 11 Apr 1832 d. 5 Jan 1926

Rebecca Jane Pitsenbarger b 28 Jan 1870 d 10 May 1904 m. abt 1891 George Christian Shawver b 6 Aug 1867 d. 13 Apr 1931

Florence Christine Shawver m. Ora Silas Gage - my great grandparents