In Search of the Origins of Zacharias Barth

“Barth” was a German surname derived from the old German word “bardo” meaning “bearded one”.  The English equivalent is “Beard”, which is how subsequent generations of this family were known in America — except for my own small branch that adopted the “Baird” spelling.   Zacharias and his immediate family members were often recorded as Bard or Bart by German-speaking clerks while English-speaking clerks typically recorded the name as Beard.

We have few clues as to Zacharias Barth’s origins other than the obvious — that he was German.  He and his children attended Lutheran churches and spoke German.  One of his sons is said to have preferred to converse in German rather than English, and at least one of his grandsons is recorded as speaking the German language.

Appears in Frederick County, Maryland in 1746

It is very likely that he was the same Zacharias Barth who appears in the minutes of the Monocacy Lutheran Church of Frederick County, Maryland.  (At the time, Frederick County bordered York County, Pennsylvania on the north and Frederick County, Virginia on the south.)  The church minutes record the baptisms of three children born to a Zacharias Barth, two of whom appear to be the same persons who later appear in Shenandoah County:

  • Eva Rosina – Baptized 31 October 1746 (the birth date not recorded); sponsors: Peter and Eva Rosina Schmidt. [This child would typically have been known as “Rosina”, rather than “Eve”, but she is about the right age to be our Eve Beard.]
  • Maria Catherina – born 24 December 1749, baptized 7 January 1750; sponsors: Martin Wetzel and wife. [If this is our Zacharias Bard, this child must have died. We have no record of a Catherine or Maria other than the daughter Catherine who was born nearly ten years later.]
  • Johann Martin – born 7 January 1751, baptized 3 March 1751; sponsors: Martin Wetzel and wife. [This child would have been known as “Martin”. He is exactly the right age to be our Martin. Note that he would have been 20 in late 1771 when our Martin Beard was recorded as age 20.]

His wife’s given name does not appear in these records.  Unfortunately, Frederick County records for this period are scarce, and if Zacharias Barth appears in other records, I have not found them.

Possible arrival in Philadelphia 1730

If our Zacharias Barth was the same person as the man in Frederick County, Maryland he immigrated prior to 1750.  The arrival of many German immigrants of the period were captured in ship passenger lists for ships arriving at Philadelphia.   Only one of these passenger lists includes a Zacharias Barth.  He arrived in Philadelphia from the Palatine on the ship Joyce on 30 November 1730. He is listed on the embarkation manifest as a 15-year old, but had evidently reached the age of 16 by the time the ship arrived, as he signed both the oath of allegiance and the oath of abjuration which were required of males 16 and older.1 Among the 24 male passengers were also a John Bear, age 40, and a Hans Jacob Bear, age 17, but no other Barths.  Zacharias may have been traveling with relatives of a different surname.  Whoever this was, he was not the same person as the Zacharias Barth of Lancaster County (below), who was both younger and surely already in the country by 1730.  It is  possible, perhaps likely, that this is our Zacharias Barth, but there’s no way to prove it.

DNA Results

A Bard-and-related surnames Y-DNA project at with nearly 300 participants has produced no one even remotely related to the two of us who are descended from Zacharias Barth’s son Jacob Beard.   Paul Beard, a descendant of Jacob Beard’s son Joseph, and I, a descendant of Jacob Beard’s son Isaac, are the only participants from this lineage.  The two of us are a perfect match at the 37-marker level.  As of this writing there are 292 other participants in this surname project.

Nor are any participants in the multi-national database related in any certain way.



A Different Zacharias Barth of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Only one other person of the same generation carried the same name.  This Zacharias Barth, son of Johann George Barth, was born in Germany in 1721.  His father arrived at Philadelphia in 1727, probably accompanied by his son Zacharias (who, being under 16, would not have been mentioned in the ship’s records).  By 1730 they were in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The records of the Trinity Lutheran Church there contain baptismal records spanning the years 1755 to 1766 for seven children of Zacharias Barth and his wife Susanna Catherine: Zacharias (1755), Johan Philipp (1757), Susanna Catharina (1759), Johann Christoph (1760), Johann Michael (1762), Johann Adam (1764), and Catharina (1766).  Johann George Barth deeded his land and house to his son Zacharias Barth in 1762.  Zacharias was taxed on that land in the tax lists of 1769, 1771, 1773, and 1779.  His own son, Zacharias Jr. also appears on these tax lists in 1779 (the first year he would have been over 21). Both he and his son took the oath of allegiance in Lancaster County in 1778, and one or the other was on the 1782 tax list. I could not find him in the 1790 Pennsylvania census, nor could I find a record of his death. He was probably dead by 1782, for Zacharias Barth Jr. is thought to have moved into Washington County, Maryland about that time, where he is probably the Zacharias “Beard” who died there in 1820.

This was not the same person as our Zacharias.  The records of the births of his children clarify that this was a different family altogether.  And some of those children were still alive when the heirs of our Zacharias Barth were being identified to the court in 1797.  Further, this Zacharias Barth was continually residing in Lancaster County through at least 1779, when we know our Zacharias was established in Virginia.

There were other Barth families in Lancaster as well, but whether they were related to Johann George Barth or not I don’t know.  A Johannes Martin Barth arrived on the ship Snow Betsy (no age given) on 27 August 1739 and was likely the same Hans Martin Barth who married Eva Juliana Frantz in 1746 in Lancaster, and who died in 1758 at age 40 leaving children named Daniel, Ludwig, Martin, John, Eva, Maria, and Catherine. There don’t seem to be any other candidates for Zacharias or his father in Lancaster County.

An Interesting Coincidence — John Lewis Beard

A mildly intriguing coincidence surrounds Zacharias Bard’s neighbors, the Snapps. Lawrence Snapp, who owned the mill next door, was the son of John Snapp, who had been in Frederick County as early as 1749 when he patented land “where he now lives”.  John Snapp’s will mentioned a daughter named Christiana Beard, who was the wife of a John Lewis Beard. John Lewis Beard, who was earlier known as Johann Ludwig Barth, was probably the same person who appears on the passenger list for the ship Patience in September 1749.  He must have married Christiana Snapp in Frederick County, for that is where her father lived at the time. By 1756 John Lewis and Christiana “Baird” were among a group of German Lutherans who were living in Rowan County, North Carolina. He was quite active in the Lutheran Church and appears frequently in Rowan County records. He was deceased by 1794, and had a son (JLB Jr.) born in 1754, so he was of roughly the same generation as our Zacharias Barth. Although it’s tempting to speculate, I don’t know of any evidence connecting him to our Zacharias other than the fact that he married the sister of Lawrence Snapp, who was later Zacharias’s next door neighbor.

Other Barth/Beard Immigrants

There were numerous Barth/Beard families in Pennsylvania and Maryland who might conceivably be related to Zacharias, but I’ve not found any evidence of a relationship. There were also a number of people in Frederick and Shenandoah Counties with similar names.  For instance, an Andrew Beard who appear often in Frederick County left a will there in 1765.2   A “Jacob Bard Sr.” bought 200 acres on both sides of Stony Brook in Shenandoah County on 29 September 1790.3 In nearby Rockingham and Augusta Counties were several other Beard families.


  1. These passenger lists actually are three separate documents: a passenger manifest, the oath of abjuration, and the oath of allegiance. These are called the A, B, and C lists in the archives and all three lists exist for only a small fraction of ships. The records of the oaths are limited to males aged 16 and over. This record for Zacharias Barth is quite unusual in that a passenger manifest exists and it has the passenger’s ages (presumably at the time of embarkation). []
  2. Frederick County Will Book 3, p263. []
  3. Shenandoah County Deed Book H, p1. []