© 2020 by Roots & Wings Research, LLC

  • Kristin Wenger

What He Left Behind (#52Ancestors week 40: Ten)

Ten.


That’s how many children were left fatherless when 44-year-old Joseph Frey died. (An eleventh child, Amos, had died of scarlet fever several years earlier at the age of 10 months). [1]


Only the oldest child (my 4x great grandmother, Mary) had moved away from home. She had recently married Amos Eshleman the previous November at age twenty-one.[2]


Marriage registration for Mary (right column), oldest daughter of Joseph Frey.


The other nine children ranged in age from 20-year-old Benjamin to infant Martin, who had just been born in February.[3]


Joseph’s wife, Annie, was left a grieving widow with a large family. But unfortunately, her troubles had only just begun. The Frey family was about to lose five members in less than two months:


25 July 1854 – Joseph Frey (Annie’s husband) [4]

7 August 1854 – Veronica (Fanny) Hess Mannart (Annie’s mother) [5]

2 September 1854 – Martin Frey (Annie’s youngest child, less than seven months old) [6]

6 September 1854 – Jacob Frey (Annie’s almost 15-year-old son) [7]

20 September 1854 – Annie herself [8]


What caused so many deaths in such a short time?

Although Pennsylvania kept some death records for 1852-1854, none of the Frey family members were included. [9]


My next thought was an epidemic of some sort. I thought I’d found the answer when I learned that there was a cholera outbreak in the nearby town of Columbia in 1854. However, the first deaths occurred on the 7th of September, making all of the Frey deaths except for Annie too late to be part of the cholera epidemic. [10]


A search of Columbia and Lancaster newspapers also failed to turn up causes of death for the Frey family members. [11] However, the Lancaster paper did yield one relevant item. [12]




I made a trip to the research library at LancasterHistory to locate any documents related to the estate of my 5x great grandfather, Joseph Frey. I found the most interesting and detailed original items I have ever encountered in an archive within my own personal family history research. They contained original signatures, a vast network of associates, and insight into the earthly possessions that Joseph Frey left behind.


In the image below, Joseph’s wife Annie (perhaps already ill), renounced her right to administer Joseph’s estate. She appointed her oldest son Benjamin Frey and either her father or brother (both named Jacob Mannart, with all its variant spellings) as administrators. [13]



After reading through all the documents pictured below, I came away feeling a great deal of sympathy for oldest son Benjamin Frey. He not only lost both of his parents within a month of his 21st birthday, but was burdened with handling all of the details of settling the estate.[14]


The following images are from the estate vouchers of Joseph Frey. [15]



Note Joseph's original signature and location of Safe Harbor. Jacob Manard (his father-in-law or perhaps brother-in-law) loaned him one hundred dollars at five percent interest.


Jacob Mannart kept track of payments by Joseph on the reverse side of the note.


In this note, Benjamin Frey, two weeks shy of his 21st birthday, paid five dollars to receive legal advice on how to handle his father' estate. Joseph had died nine days earlier.


The very next day, in Highville, Benjamin paid 75 cents to have his father's pigs castrated.


The next spring (April 1855), the administrators were still dealing with the estate. In this note, Jacob Mannart paid eighty-two cents for sawing lumber.


An inventory of Joseph Frey’s possessions was taken on 25 August 1854, one month after his death. [16]


Note the signatures of Benjamin Frey and Jacob Mannart at the bottom of the page. Values for Joseph's animals, crops, and farm tools were provided in 1854 dollars.


This book, in fragile condition, was probably carried by Benjamin Frey in his pocket in 1854-1855 as he dealt with his father's estate. [17]


The book contains many original signatures, including that of the deputy registrar (at bottom) when Benjamin filed his mother's renunciation, the inventory, and the letters of administration at the Lancaster County Courthouse on 28 August 1854.


Here, Christian Sourbeer acknowledged receipt of $16.50 for coffins. Can you imagine young Benjamin having to purchase coffins for both his parents and two younger brothers?


In January 1855, Benjamin was still paying for funeral expenses.


I was surprised at how many other people were named in the documents below. Joseph had financial dealings with so many of his neighbors in Manor Township!


The administrator’s account lists the names of associates to whom money was paid. [18]


Just one of the pages of the Administrator's Account


Another interesting item was a “Vendue Book” which recorded the results of a sale or auction held. It most likely lists the names of the majority of men in Manor Township in 1854. Every single item that was sold, along with the name of the buyer and the price paid, was recorded in this little book. [19] It was fascinating to read what types of items were part of a household in 1854. How different would a list of your current possessions in 2018 look?



Just one sample page from the vendue book.


There were two separate sales recorded in the book. The second one yielded $129.38 and a fraction of a cent.


So what did I learn from the estate of my 5x great grandfather?

No matter what causes your death, you can't take a single penny or possession with you. Your only real legacy is passed on through what you have taught your children. That's what I'm pondering today. Are my priorities focused on sharing things of eternal value with the next generation?


The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—
Psalm 103:15-17

Return to all blog posts


Sources:

[1] 1850 U.S. census, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, mortality schedule, unnumbered, Manor Township, line 10, Amos Fry; database with images, “U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=8756 : accessed 1 October 2018), 1850 > Pennsylvania > Lancaster > image 4 of 71.


[2] "Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9PX4-43L?cc=1589502&wc=Q6V1-SPT%3A1590263133%2C1590262521 : 16 December 2016), Lancaster > Marriage license registration, 1852-1855 > image 134 of 212, Amos Eshleman and Mary Fry, 3 November 1853; Lancaster County Register of Wills, Pennsylvania.


[3] 1850 U.S. census, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Manor Township, p. 169 (stamped), dwelling 366, family 351, Joseph Fry household; digital image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 October 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication 432, roll 787. For Martin’s birthdate, see Gerberich Collection, Frey Cemetery, Manor Township, p. 202; database with images, “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013,” Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 October 2018) > PA-Statewide > Miscellaneous Locations > Family History > Gerberich Collection > image 154 of 566.


[4] Gerberich Collection, Frey Cemetery, Manor Township, p. 202; database with images, “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013,” Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 October 2018) > PA-Statewide > Miscellaneous Locations > Family History > Gerberich Collection > image 154 of 566.


[5] Ibid.


[6] Ibid.


[7] Ibid.


[8] Ibid.


[9] Search of “Pennsylvania Deaths, 1852-1854,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2349 : accessed 28 September 2018).


[10] John B. Osborne, “The Lancaster County Cholera Epidemic of 1854 and the Challenge to the Miasma Theory of Disease,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (January 2009), page 12; accessed online (https://journals.psu.edu/pmhb/article/viewFile/59320/59047 : 1 October 2018).


[11] Search for “Joseph Frey” and “Ann* Frey” in 1854 in The Columbia Spy, The Intelligencer Journal, and The Lancaster Examiner and Herald; accessed through LancasterHistory (https://www.lancasterhistory.org/research/digital-resources/#DigitalNews : accessed 1 October 2018).


[12] “Register’s Notice,” Lancaster Intelligencer (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), 12 June 1855, page 1; digital image, “Civil War Newspaper Collection,” Penn State University Libraries (http://digitalnewspapers.libraries.psu.edu/Olive/APA/CivilWar/?skin=civilwar#panel=home : accessed 2 October 2018).


[13] Renunciations collection, container 6, Anna Frey of Manor Township, 1854, Object ID: Ren 1854 F001 F; Lancaster Historical Society, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.


[14] For Benjamin’s birthdate of 17 August 1833, see Gerberich Collection, Frey Cemetery, Manor Township, p. 202; database with images, “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013,” Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 October 2018) > PA-Statewide > Miscellaneous Locations > Family History > Gerberich Collection > image 154 of 566.


[15] Estate voucher collection, container 2, Joseph Frey of Manor Township, 1854, Object ID: Voucher 1854 F029 F; Lancaster Historical Society, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.


[16] Estate inventory collection, container 36, Joseph Frey of Manor Township, 1854, Object ID: Inv 1854 F014 F; Lancaster Historical Society, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.


[17] Estate voucher collection, container 2, Joseph Frey of Manor Township, 1854, Object ID: Voucher 1854 F001 F; Lancaster Historical Society, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.


[18] Administrator’s accounts collection, container 97, Joseph Frey of Manor Township, 1855, Object ID: AdAcct 1855 F014 F; Lancaster Historical Society, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.


[19] Vendue lists collection, container 1, Joseph Frey of Manor Township, 1854, Object ID: Vendue 1854 F001 F; Lancaster Historical Society, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.