• Kristin Wenger

The Pig in the Churchyard (#52Ancestors week 46: Random Fact)

Updated: Nov 11, 2018

Given this week’s topic, “Random Fact,” I just had to start with this random photograph.


“The Pig in the Churchyard” taken 20 October 2018


It was a beautiful fall Saturday and my husband and son were looking for a location to take some video for 717 Drone Guys. I suggested stopping at Old Zion Church in Brickerville. Perched on top of a hill, it would offer some beautiful shots of the Brubaker Valley below. My ulterior motive was sneaking in a little research and photography of my own.


My efforts were temporarily impeded by this random pig who decided to follow me around, trailing literally on my heels. It was slightly disconcerting. Finally, a boy from a neighboring property realized their pig had gotten out and came to fetch it.



To continue with the “random” theme, I’m sharing several random, yet fascinating facts about a few of my ancestors who were buried at this historic Lancaster County church.





The line of gravestones in the photograph above includes several random relatives:


1. John and Elenora (Buchter) Eitnier – my 5th great grandparents



Random fact: the minister made a record of John's 1885 burial on the exact day I am writing this (the 6th of November) 133 years ago. [1]

The church record book


A closer view of the entry for John Eitnier


What fabulous details!

  • The funeral text was Genesis 25:8. ("Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.")

  • “He was one of our pillars at Brickerville.”

  • John and Elenora were married for 59 years, 4 months, and 29 days.

  • They had 12 children (9 were still living), 67 grandchildren, and 60 great grandchildren!

One of their children was Reuben B. Eitnier, who I featured in this four generation picture.[2]


2. Josiah (also called Jesse) and Elizabeth (Eitnier) Buchter – my 6th great uncle and 6th great aunt




This couple is buried right beside John and Elenora. After doing a bit of research, I realized that John and Elizabeth were siblings, as were Jesse and Elenora. [3] Because these two pairs of Eitnier and Buchter siblings married each other, their children would have been double cousins! Ahh… endogamy.


Another random fact I discovered is that Jesse lost his hearing at age two because of “brain fever.” [4] What is brain fever, you ask? Read more here.


3. Reuben K. Habecker – my 4th great uncle


Randomly enough, I am related to this last relative in the row of gravestones through my paternal grandfather, NOT through my paternal grandmother.




Both Reuben and my 3rd great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth (Habecker) Nagle, were children of Moses Habecker. [5]


Contrast the minister’s record of Moses Habecker's 1884 death with that of John Eitnier’s glowing review shared earlier in this post.



“Was a member of the Reformed Church, but did not attend as he should have done.”[6] For Moses, the minister chose Psalm 90:10 ("Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.")


I located this picture of Mary Elizabeth Habecker (daughter of Moses and sister to Reuben) and her husband David Nagle at the Historical Society of the Cocalico Valley. They are my great-great-great grandparents.


David and Mary Elizabeth (Habecker) Nagle


A final random facts on the Habecker family:

Born in 1853, Mary Elizabeth experienced having not just one, but FIVE of her older brothers (John, Augustus, David, Reuben, and Levi) fighting in the Civil War when she was a girl. [7]


The moral of the story:

You never know what you might find on a random visit to a church graveyard.

Endogamy, brain fever, Civil War veterans...and maybe even a pig on the loose.


P.S. (added 11 November 2018):

Neil White, a fellow Habecker descendant, read this post and sent me a newspaper clipping about the burial of Reuben K. Habecker's wife in this cemetery. It was such a random and unusual occurrence, that I just had to include it.

clipping from The Ephrata Review (Ephrata, Pennsylvania), 25 March 1927

shared by Neil White



Sources:

[1] “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013,” database with images, Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2451 : accessed 6 November 2018), path: PA-Lancaster > Ephrata > United Church of Christ > Bethany United Church of Christ > image 696 of 769; 6 November 1885, Brickerville, #279, John Eitnier.


[2] For one record of several records naming Reuben’s parents, see Pennsylvania Department of Health, Certificate of Death no. 59598, Reuben Eitnier, 17 June 1927, Lancaster County; viewed at "Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966," digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 November 2018); citing Series 11.90: Death Certificates 1906 -1966, Record Group 11: Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg.


[3] Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, genealogical card file, Eitneier, Jacob, “Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Mennonite Vital Records, 1750-2014,” database with digital images, Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60592 : accessed 6 November 2018), Eicher, Frank E. – Esch, Wilbur C. > image 455 of 3945.


[4]1880 U.S. Census, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, “Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes,” Deaf-Mutes, Warwick Township, enumeration district (ED) 119, p. B2, Jesse Buchter; citing NARA microfilm publication M597; digital image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 November 2018).


[5] For shared parentage, see Pennsylvania Department of Health, Certificate of Death no. 78001, Reuben K. Habecker, 30 August 1907, Lancaster County; viewed at "Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966," digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 November 2018); citing Series 11.90: Death Certificates 1906 -1966, Record Group 11: Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg. Also, Pennsylvania Department of Health, Certificate of Death no. 93677, Mary Elizabeth Nagle, 11 September 1919, Lancaster County; viewed at "Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966," digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 November 2018); citing Series 11.90: Death Certificates 1906 -1966, Record Group 11: Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg.


[6] “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013,” database with images, Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2451 : accessed 6 November 2018), path: PA-Lancaster > Ephrata > United Church of Christ > Bethany United Church of Christ > image 691 of 769; 6 November 1885, Brickerville, #279, John Eitnier.


[7] For 1853 birth, see Pennsylvania Department of Health, Certificate of Death no. 93677, Mary Elizabeth Nagle, 11 September 1919, Lancaster County. For one record of Civil War service, see National Park Service, Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, accessed as “U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865,” database, Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1138 : accessed 6 November 2018), entries for John K. Habecker, Augustus K. Habecker, David K. Habecker, Reuben K. Habecker, and Levi K. Habecker, all of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania;citing NARA microfilm M554 roll 47.

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