Newfarmer Notes

Last updated - November, 2009

We are very fortunate to have had John Reeb, a researcher involved in the Keskastel region of France, discover our website. Keskastel, Bas-Rhin, France is located between what was Alsace and Lorraine in the eastern part of France near the German border and was part of Germany until the French acquired it during the Napoleonic era. John has been doing genealogy for about 25 years, and in 1988 visited the Keskastel area to look for records of his Reeb ancestors and other families that might be related. In July of this year, John recognized a Neubauer family from Keskastel who seemed an exact match for our Newfarmer family and made contact. Essentially, John was working down from the Keskastel Neubauers, we were working upward from our Newfarmers, and we met at the Henry Newfarmer family in Ohio. John has added two more generations to our knowledge of Newfarmer ancestors, and has identified the Newfarmer homeland in France. He has also added some cultural knowledge to some of the issues around the Newfarmer genealogy which will show up in the narrative below.

A colleague of John's, Pam Maurer Pruiett, also engaged in our discussion and added more information to the trove.

Unfortunately, we still haven't found a documented link with the "other Newfarmer family", but we seem closer than before. More on that later.

Newfarmer Family History - The First Newfarmers

There are two families of original Newfarmers in America, one found in Ohio, and one in Indiana. We previously were almost certain that the original immigrants were Henry and John Newbauer, listed in the Erie County, Pennsylvania naturalization records as arriving in 1850 in Philadelphia. Henry's listed year of birth is 1825, which matches closely with later census data, and John Jr.'s is 1817. Both are listed as coming from Darmstadt, Germany. After corresponding with the Erie Genealogical Society, it appears that these two Newbauers stayed in Erie, Pennsylvania and retained their name Neubauer. Henry (groceries and produce) and John (bookkeeper) Neubauer are found in the 1877 Erie City Directory living at the same address. Although there are minor discrepancies, Henry and John can be found in Erie, Pennsylvania in the 1880 census, still engaged in the grocery and allied business. They were city folks, while our Henry was a farmer, and we now believe that these Neubauers were not connected with our Newfarmers.

If these are not the original Newfarmers, it resolves certain inconsistencies in the data. The naturalization records say that the two emigrated from Darmstadt in 1850. Henry Sr., his probable mother Catherine, and Henry Jr. all say they were born in France, and Darmstadt is some distance from the French border. Also, Henry Sr. reports in the 1900 census that he arrived in the U.S. in 1848 and had lived in the U.S. for 52 years. It is clear from census pages that Henry was living in Ohio from 1860 to 1900, not in Erie, Pennsylvania.

We recently came across an on-line database, the Ohio Death Index, 1907-1944, which, along with William, Frederic, and Oakley Newfarmer, holds records for Henry Newfarmer (d. 1914), John Neibauer (d. 1914), and William Neibuhr (d. 1921). We sent for copies of these death certificates, and unfortunately, none hold any new information. Henry Sr.'s death certificate was filled out by his son William, and William did not know his grandfather or grandmother's names.

At this point, where we have been stuck for the past six years, it is appropriate to introduce John Reeb's research. The records he obtained from Keskastel, France, show that George Friedrich Neubauer (1781 - 1848) and his wife Maria had ten children, the first two of which were the sisters Christina Margaretha and Catherine. Christina married Michael Maurer, which will become important later in the narrative. Catherine was the mother of our Henry Newfarmer (Heinrich Neubauer) and three other children, all born out of wedlock according to the church baptismal records. The children were given the surname of their mother and the father's name is unknown. The cultural wisdom John Reeb gained during his trip to France helps here. During the time Catherine was having children, there was a significant marriage tax in France, and often young couples couldn't afford to pay it, therefore they could not be legally married. The church overlooked this technicality and baptized the children, but recorded the children as born out of wedlock and bearing the mother's surname. So, we don't really have an illegitimate family. Our Henry was probably caught up in the same issue, so when Henry, his semi-wife and child emigrated to the U.S., they immediately married in Ohio.

When time permits (soon) we will upload the entire descendancy of George Friedrich Neubauer, with the new data obtained from John Reeb and Pamela Pruiett, so we won't go into the rest of the family detail here.

We have accumulated a lot of information on the Newfarmers, and will summarize our findings, first with Henry and then with John. All of the source documents used in this history, as well as the traditional genealogy charts and lists, are in the Newfarmer Family Research Papers in the possession of Shirley Pace Newfarmer. We appreciate the addition of copies of source documents on the Keskastel Neubauer and Maurer families from John Reeb and Pamela Pruiett, and these will be provided to the Newfarmer family as soon as we have them all collected.

John Reeb's records show that Henry Newfarmer (Heinrich Neubauer) was born on August 11, 1828, in Keskastel, France. He came to America in 1848 from Le Havre, France aboard the ship ADMIRAL along with his wife Christina and presumably his son Henry Jr., who was not listed on the ship's manifest, probably because he was a baby. This was before the use of steam engines on transatlanic ships so the ship would have been entirely sail. Voyages took from 20 to 60 days and the ships were small by today's standards, 160 ft. long by 35 ft. wide, and it must have been a difficult voyage.

Henry arrived in Ohio in 1848 and was officially married to his wife Christina Schwab in Franklin County, Ohio on 19 Feb 1849.

We first find Henry in the census records in the 1860 census for Logan County, Ohio, near the town of DeGraff. He is 32 years old, living with his wife Christina Swolp Newfarmer and their seven children. Also living with Henry is Catherine Newfarmer, 58, proven by John Reeb's records to be his mother. He is listed as a farmer, born in France. Also listed as being born in France are his wife, first son Henry Jr., and mother Catherine. In later census documents, both Henry and his children waver between whether he was born in France or Germany, but we now know that he was born in France.

Between 1860 and 1870, Henry's wife Christina had at least three more children, and died in childbirth in 1867 at age 40. As was common practice in those days, all the children were distributed among friends or church members. Farmers weren't equipped to deal with children and still maintain their livelihood, and there were no elder daughters to take over. Henry remarried in about a year to Henrietta Hines, a widow born in Pennsylvania, and they relocated to Champaign County (a short distance from DeGraff, over the Logan County border) and had three more children. There is no evidence that Henry's eight living children from his first marriage ever visited their father, and in fact the evidence shows that there was probably great animosity over the death of the mother and the breaking up of the family. Henry's mother Catherine took daughter Magdalena, and possibly Mary and Jacob, and moved to Randolph County, Indiana, to live with the Maurer family. From John Reeb and Pamela Maurer Pruiett (descendent of the Maurer family), we now know that Christena Maurer was Catherine's sister. The rest of the family scattered. Tracing the children of Henry and Christina, in order of birth, after Christina's death:

That accounts for all of Henry's children by his first wife, and with the exception of Samuel, it appears that none of Henry's male children had male offspring who lived to have other Newfarmers. Henry's second marriage resulted in two female children and two sons. Edward had one daughter, and Walter had one daughter, so no new Newfarmers there either. Thus, any existing Newfarmers from Henry's line are through Roy Newfarmer, and we can account for all of them (the other Newfarmer son Ray died in WWI at age 30 in France and is buried there). Which leads us to the more speculative issue of "the other Newfarmers."

Newfarmer is not a common name in the U.S. It appears that most of the immigrant Neubauers and the like kept their German name. There are hundreds of Neubauers, Newbauers, Neibuhrs, and Neibauers in the U.S. A search of all of the phone directories in the U.S. shows only 20 Newfarmer names, and most can be accounted for by Roy's descendants. In 1984-85, Ross Newfarmer discovered the "other Newfarmers" when he answered an ad for a "Newfarmer Family Heritage Book." The resulting list of Newfarmers included an unknown James D. Newfarmer of Bourbonnais, Illinois. Ross' nephew Don began a correspondence with (James) David Newfarmer which resulted in some conflicting information from David, but a complete listing of his siblings and their children, and enough facts to establish the family ancestry.

The inconsistencies in the information provided by David can be accounted for by the fact that like Henry's children, David's ancestral twins, Henry and William, were orphaned at age 5, and hardly knew their true parents. However, we can piece together the probable ancestry of these Newfarmers.

It is undisputed that there were twin boys, Henry Otto Newfarmer and William Watt Newfarmer, born in 1875 to William Newfarmer and Jane Kepner. William Newfarmer was born in Indiana or Ohio, most likely the son of John Newfarmer and Barbara Kepner. It was very common for pioneer families to stick together and intermarry for generations, and the Newfarmer, Pettigrew, Kepner, and Whelchel families can be found together from 1850 forward. David Newfarmer sent for his father's death certificate, which attests to his parentage. Henry Otto Newfarmer is not accounted for after age 24, but William Watt Newfarmer is easily found. Both twins can be found in their early years. There is a solvable mystery which surrounds their parentage, and takes a few facts to get started:

So those are the facts. We know that William Watt Newfarmer married Ella Margaret Campbell and had four children, including two boys. The "other Newfarmers" can all be traced to this family. So, it appears that the elder Henry Otto Newfarmer had no children.

As a recent aside, Elizabeth may have had an additional relationship besides George Pettigrew, William Newfarmer, and Levi Whelchel. The census page I sent to a Newfarmer showing the twins in 1880, both age 5, also showed a Dora Guynn, age 3, listed just below the twins. Randy Newfarmer wrote back:

"I wanted to draw your attention to one of the census sheets you sent us. It is page #30, or your page #6. Listed under Henry Newfarmer is Dora Guynn. This is one of Grandpa's half-sisters that I was telling you about. I don't know if she was married to the Guynn, or had a child out of wedlock. And I don't know if Dora was her only child by the Guynn. I talked to Dora's granddaughter last week and again Monday night, and they are trying to piece together what information they can gather. Will share it with you as soon as we have it. She is buried at the Crain Cemetery, where our great grandmother Elizabeth is apparently buried. "

Our speculation that William Newfarmer, father of the twins, was the son of John Newfarmer and Barbara Kepner, comes from the vascillations of David Newfarmer as to who were the parents of the twins. His information comes from his aunt Beulah, and goes back and forth over time between William-Jane and John-Barbara. Chances are the confusion results from William-Jane being the parents and John-Barbara being the grandparents. This needs further study.

The interesting part of this family's history is the close relationship with the same locations and surnames as Henry's first family. When Henry's first wife died, his mother and some of his children relocated to Randolph County, Indiana, the same location where George Pettigrew married Elizabeth Jane Kepner and probably where William Newfarmer settled. Henry's daughter Mary's third marriage was to Abraham Whelchel in Madison County, Indiana, and her first and second marriages were in Randolph County. Samuel's marriage was in Randolph County, Indiana. Elizabeth Pettigrew married Jacob Newfarmer in Indiana. I think that the strong link between the two Newfarmer families is through Catherine, Henry's mother.

It should be noted that in John Reeb's records there is not any individual that would compute to be William Watt Newfarmer's father or grandfather, and there is always the possibility that there is another Neubauer that is his ancestor. Of the surnames that associate with the William Newfarmer family, none have been associated with Henry's line. And, the likely candidate, Catherine's brother Johann Nicolas Neubauer, spent his life in Franklin County, Ohio, and was never seen in Randolph County, Indiana. So, much work is left to do here.

A most intriguing individual is Libbie Newfarmer, shown in the census for Madison County, Indiana, taken in June, 1880. Originally we speculated that Libbie, based on the information in the census, was probably married to Henry's son Jacob Newfarmer. From a recent posting to the Internet, we have confirmed that Jacob Newfarmer was the husband of Libbie. In "The History of Madison County, Indiana, published in 1914, a biography of George Washington Pettigrew (not our George - there were three of them in the family) there is a listing of the living children of George's father Samuel Pettigrew. Among these are a "Mary E., widow of Jacob Newfarmer." Mary E. would be Mary Elizabeth "Libbie" Pettigrew Newfarmer, and she would be the niece of the George Washington Pettigrew Jr. who was the first husband of Elizabeth Jane Kepner, the mother of the Indiana Newfarmer twins. So we have established both the Indiana and Ohio Newfarmers marrying into the same Pettigrew family. While not conclusive evidence, with the other circumstances stated earlier, it would seem almost certain that the family of Catherine Neubaure (Newfarmer) and her sister Christina Neubauer Mourer is related to the William Newfarmer clan.

That's about where we stand. We have a number of inquiries out that may solve some of the issues and add to the genealogy file, and it often happens that posting the ancestors to the Internet will smoke out some relatives with information. We'll keep the file updated.

Jim Pearce