I know little of his background before his arrival in Frederick County, Virginia. According to Vanessa Stern, who researched his ancestors, he was christened in the Catholic church in Kirchheimbolanden, Germany on 20 April 1730, the son of Johannis and Anna Martha Stockschlager. Alexander would have been about eleven years old when his parents came to Pennsylvania.
His family first settled somewhere in the vicinity of Skippack Township in the part of Philadelphia County that became Berks County. The will of Johan Freid (John Freed) of that township, written on 17 January 1744/5 and proved less than a month later, mentions young Alexander Stockslager: “…I give a mare to my son John Freed but if he leik (sic) it rather to have the servant boy Alexander Stockslager it is in his free liberty…” 1
It appears that about 1758 he married Ann, daughter of Andreas Kaufman, who as “Ann wife of Alexander Stockslegle” sold property she had inherited in 1762. She was the widow of Jacob Crist, by whom she had a son named Andrew. 2 The couple had one child, John, born about 1759 or so. His first wife died a few years later and Alexander then married Esther Keller, daughter of Charles Keller, sometime between 1762 and 1765.
My first record of him in Lancaster County is his purchase from Michael Kaufman of 100 acres in Manor Township, on the public road from Lancaster to Blue Rock, on 29 October 1765.3 He and his wife Esther sold 6 acres of this plot the same day to Ulrich Stoufer.4 Alexander and Esther sold the remaining 94 acres on 3 January 1767 to Casper Lutz.5
Within a few years he moved south into what was becoming a large German Lutheran community in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. On 20 October 1769, Mathias Funk sold 85 acres on Tumbling Run, a branch of the North River of the Shenandoah, in Frederick County, Virginia to Alexander Stockslager of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania for 200 pounds.6 The land was located a mile or so southwest of Strasburg in the part of Frederick County which became Dunmore County in 1772 (renamed Shenandoah in 1778), and it bordered the land that Zacharias Bard (or Beard) patented two years later.
According to his wife’s testimony in a 1789 suit, Alexander Stockslager (spelled “Stoatzliger” in her statement) and his family “at the time of this purchase lived in Pensilvania” and that he returned there after buying the land, and moved his family to Virginia six months later in April 1770.7
The land was part of a larger tract originally granted to Jacob Funk. The later Crown license to Lord Fairfax created a lengthy dispute over title, and Alexander Stockslager’s son John obtained a grant from Fairfax for the same land in 1780, apparently to perfect the title.8 John Stockslager’s grant was for his father’s original 85 acres plus an estimated 49 acres of adjoining land. John Stockslager died intestate shortly thereafter and the the 137 acres was inherited by his half-brother Daniel Stockslager. Esther Stockslager apparently managed it thereafter. Oddly though, in 1814 Esther surveyed the adjoining land, this time estimated at 37 acres, and was granted it in 1815.
His land was located on the west bank of the north river below Tumbling Run (which was called Funks Mill Run until about 1770.) A road order in 1772 describes a road, which still exists today as Funk Road, which appears to have run roughly along the boundary line between the Beard and Stockslager farms.9 The later surveys of the land mention this road and place it in roughly the same location as the modern road.
His only other appearance in the records is as a member of Alexander Machir’s militia company in 1775.10 None of his children appear on this militia list, indicating that none of the sons were yet 16.
Alexander Stockslager died in Shenandoah County in August 1778, according to a family Bible record.11 One of his neighbors, John Roller, was arrested for his murder. On 28 August 1778 he pleaded not guilty and, after hearing testimony from witnesses, the court acquitted him. A few months later, on 30 October 1778, his brother Martin Roller was tried for the murder and also acquitted.12
On 24 September 1778 Esther Stockslager and Alexander Hite were appointed administrators of the estate.13 Two days later, they took an inventory which was recorded later that year.14 The inventory lists 30 to 40 bushels each of rye, wheat, oats, and barley, 180 bushels of Indian corn, and “7 acres of hemp” – an indication of the crops he was growing on the farm. They valued the estate at £708. On 7 October a sale was held yielding £592, nearly half of which was purchased by Esther Stockslager. 15 The sale includes the note that “the books [were] divided among the children”. The final settlement was recorded on 1 December 1780.16
A 1782 indenture clarifies the intestacy: “whereas Alexander Stockslager dec’d died intestate in 1778…among his other heirs left his son John Stockslager who since died intestate without leaving a will…Esther, wife of Alex. Stockslager…”17
The widow Esther Stockslager appears in the 1783 state census of Shenandoah County heading a household of 8 whites – evidently herself and her seven children. She appears in the personal property tax list the same year with no tithables (which were then limited to males over 21 and slaves), one horse, and 8 cows. She remarried on 3 July 1783 to Joel Reese, the marriage performed by Simon Harr.18 Joel Reese had been in the 1783 census with a household of two whites, but after the marriage they appeared in the 1785 state census with 12 whites. Later records show that Esther and Joel Reese had two additional children. (The twelfth person in the 1785 household is a mystery.) She was widowed again by Reese in 1787 and did not remarry.19
Esther evidently kept the Stockslager estate separate from her husband, as she is listed separately in the personal property tax lists from 1784 onward. She is “Esther Reese” in 1784 and thereafter in these tax lists. She also appears (as “Stockslager”) in the first land tax lists for Shenandoah County. In 1787, the “Stockslager estate” was charged with a tax on 137 acres. In 1788 through 1799, when she was again a widow, the land is taxed to “Hester” Stockslager. In 1801 and thereafter, she appears on the land tax records as “Hester” Reese.
Neither Alexander nor Esther Stockslager appear in the sparse records of the Lutheran church in Strasburg, although it was only a mile or two from their farm. Three of their daughters, however, were baptized into that church as adults. On 14 July 1790, Anna, Esther and Barbara Stockslager were all baptized, with their parents identified in each record.20
Although the 1790 and 1800 censuses for Shenandoah and most of the rest of Virginia are forever lost, the 1810 census survives. Esther Reese is listed, apparently still living on the old Stockslager farm, with two males and two females all aged 10-16. It’s not clear who these young people were, since all of her own children were considerably older.
Esther died in late 1818, after amassing a considerable estate. Her will, dated 19 September 1818 and recorded on 12 October 1818 in Shenandoah County , directed that all her property except a 120 acre tract be equally divided among her children or their heirs.21 The 120 acre tract was to be divided among all the children except “my sons Joseph Reese and Isaac Reese they having already received full satisfaction from me for their share…” Daniel Stockslager’s share was to be contingent upon his execution of an agreement dated in 1790, apparently to divide her dower land from Alexander Stockslager’s estate. The will also provided that the shares due to Mary, wife of Jacob Beard, and Esther, the wife of Henry Baker, would be paid to Martin Zea in trust and then paid out to their children by Zea after their deaths. The will named nine children: Daniel, Jacob, Anna Zea, Esther Baker, Mary Beard, Magdaline Miller, Barbara Miller, and Isaac and Joseph Reese. Martin Zea and “good friend” Philip Spengler were named executors. Isaac and Joseph Reese appear to be her only children by Joel Reese; both had or would shortly move to Warren County, Kentucky. When Isaac and Joseph Reese sold their shares in May 1832, Isaac was of Warren County and Joseph was “late of Warren County, Kentucky and now of Texas”.22
When Esther died, she owned two tracts in Shenandoah County: the Zachariah Beard grant, which she had purchased from Jacob Beard in 1799, and Alexander Stockslager’s land. She also owned one tract in Hampshire County, Virginia which was described later as lying on the Potomac River near Frankford. How this third tract was acquired is not clear. Joseph Stover, who had married a daughter of Ann Stockslager and Martin Zea, bought the interests of the other heirs in these lands, creating a number of deeds which clarify the children. There were also four settlement accounts totaling nearly $12,000, a very considerable estate for that time.
His only child by his first wife was:
- John Stockslager (c1759 – c1781) He was apparently the only child of Alexander Stockslager’s first marriage. His grant of 1780 names him as “the eldest son & heir at law of the said Alexander Stocksleger.”23 A deed dated 30 July 1782 states tells us that he died intestate after his father.24 He died childless, as there were no claims on Esther’s estate and his younger brother inherited his father’s land. That he was a child of a different mother seems to be confirmed by the fact that his siblings did not inherit his land.25
His children by Esther were:
- Anna Stockslager (3 February 1766 – aft1836). Her baptismal record at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church gives her birth date, and shows her parents as “Alexander and Esther “Stockschlager.” She married Martin Zea (or Zeh) on 21 January 1787 in Shenandoah County, declaring herself to be of marriageable age.26 Martin and Anna sold her share of her mother’s estate on 31 Dec 1836.27 Martin Zea served as a Revolutionary soldier from Shenandoah County in the 5th Regiment of Virginia state troops, and is listed among the pensioners of 1835. He is enumerated in Strasburg in the 1810 census, three names from Jacob Beard, with two males under 10 and one female aged 10-18. Later censuses suggest that, in addition to a daughter or two, the couple had two sons: Joseph Zea (born about 1797) and Phillip Zea (born about 1802)
- Esther Ann Stockslager (12 April 1767 – 1 November 1861) Her baptismal record at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (see above) gives her birth date. She married Henry Baker by bond dated 9 November 1789.28 The couple moved to the Indiana side of the Ohio River in time to appear in the 1820 census of Harrison County, but had apparently been there several years by then. As Esther Baker of Floyd County, Indiana she sold her share of her mother’s estate on 2 September 1825.29 In a related deed, dated 13 December 1833 she stated her husband, Henry Baker, was deceased.30 (Her husband had died about 1822.) She appears in the 1850 census of Floyd County, Indiana as “Hester Ann” Baker, age 83. Her birth place is listed as Pennsylvania although, given her baptismal record, it may have been Virginia. Esther and her husband are both buried in the Wolfe cemetery in Floyd County. According to several descendants, they had nine children: Elizabeth Baker, Magdalen “Polly Ann” Baker, Benjamin Baker, Mary Baker, Christina Barbara Baker, Charlotte Baker, Susannah Baker, Levi Henry Baker, and Isaac Baker.
- Mary Stockslager (c1772 – 1819/20) She married Jacob Beard 4 April 1792 (the marriage performed by Simon Harr).31 The bond includes a permission signed by Esther Reese, implying that Mary was not yet of age. Mary died sometime between August 1819 and September 1820. Her children by Jacob Beard are mentioned in the estate records of Esther Reese. See Jacob Beard pages for the details.
- Magdalena Stockslager (14 January 1773 – aft 1826) She and Daniel may have been twins. She married Isaac Miller on 24 Dec 1793, in a double wedding with her brother Daniel, both marriages being performed by Simon Harr.32 The bond, dated the same day, identifies her as the minor daughter of Alexander and Esther Stockslager.33 The couple followed her sister Esther to Floyd County, Indiana. In 1826 Isaac and Magdalene Miller of Floyd County, Indiana sold her share of Esther’s estate.34 Another entry in the settlement records of Esther Reese mentions a letter from Isaac Miller of Indiana. He appears in the 1830 census in New Albany, Floyd County, both he and his wife aged 50-60. Both were alive in 1850, when they were enumerated in Greenville, Floyd County. (Both were age 76 and both birthplaces were listed as Virginia.)
- Daniel Stockslager (c1774 – 1824) His mother was appointed his guardian on 25 October 178735 and he appears as a tithable for the first time in his mother’s household in 1791. He married Ann(a) Feltner on 24 December 1793 in a double wedding (with his sister Magdalena) performed by Simon Harr.36 The bond, dated 20 December, identifies her as the daughter of Jacob Feltner. Daniel died in Shenandoah in 1824 leaving children who were identified in an 1833 court case as Jacob Stockslager, Abraham Stockslager (“residing without this commonwealth”), William Stockslager, Phillip Stockslager, Margaret Stockslager (wife of David Horn), Anna Stockslager (wife of James Russell), Esther Stockslager (wife of William McCord), Catherine Stockslager, and Sarah Stockslager. 37 His family was not further traced.
- Barbara Stockslager (7 January 1765 – by 1818) Her baptismal record at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church gives her birth date, and shows her parents as “Alexander and Esther “Stockschlager.” She married Lewis Miller on 17 Mar 1792.38 Esther Reese’s 1818 will refers to “the children of my daughter Barbara, wife of Lewis Miller, dec’d.” Some of her children are mentioned in the settlement records as legatees: Lewis Miller Jr., Daniel MIller, William Miller, Isaac Miller, Elisa Miller, Polly Miller, and Ann Miller, and the unnamed wives of Benjamin Thompson and John Williams.
- Jacob Stockslager (7 May 1777 – aft1831) The Shenandoah County Orphans Court record contains a 1792 entry binding “Jacob Stockslager, orphan of Alexander Stockslager to Peter Newman, to learn the trade of a hatter.” (He was later listed as a hatter among residents of Frankfort.) The same entry says he was 15 years old on 7 May 1792.39 He does not appear as a tithable in his mother’s household in 1793 or 1794, probably since the normal terms of apprenticeship required the master to assume the tax. He married Polly Cunningham by bond dated 25 February 1801.40 Jacob Stockslager was enumerated in adjoining Hampshire County in 1810 and 1820, and was perhaps the same Jacob Stocklager who married there to Mary Bull by bond dated 3 November 1826. He married again (for either the second or third time) about 1830 to Lydia Adams, as his wife was named “Lydia” when he and his wife sold their share of Esther Reese’s estate on 4 November 1831. Lydia Stocklager, age 46, is enumerated in the 1850 Hampshire census with children Rachel, Eliza, Daniel W. Stockslager, and Absolem D. Stockslager. (Next door were Jacob and Rachel Adams, apparently her parents.)
The two children of Joel Reese and Esther Keller Stockslager were:
- Joseph Reese (12 January 1784 – 2 December 1845) Joseph Reese is of particular interest because an 1854 letter (see Baird letters pages) says that he taught Isaac Beard his trade as a hatter. Joseph Reese was “17 years old 12th day of Feb. last” when he bound himself as “Joseph Reese, orphan of Joel, to Peter Hoffman to learn the trade of a hatter” in late 1801. [His Bible gives the date as one month earlier.] From the birthplaces of his children, he was apparently in Kentucky by 1810, and he may be the Joseph Reese in Jefferson County’s 1810 census. He was in the 1820 census of Warren County along with his brother Isaac. When he sold his share of his mother’s estate on 3 May 1832, he was “late of Kentucky but now of Texas.”41 He had been one of Austin’s original settlers in early 1830, receiving a grant for 4,428 acres on the Colorado River in what would become Brazoria County on 14 April 1830.42 Later records in Texas show that he had married Margaret Bowman on 18 August 1806, and had children named Charles Keller Reese, Washington Perry Reese, Eliza Jones Reese, Ellen Jane Reese, Andre Jackson Reese, William Erwin Reese, and Harriett Hite Reese – and four others who died in infancy or early childhood.43 A biographical statement published in 1936 indicates that he acquired over 7,000 acres upon arrival.44
- Isaac Reese (1 April 1785 – ?) He was “15 years old 1st day of April last” when he bound himself as “Isaac Reese, orphan of Joel, to George Smith to learn the trade of a millwright” the same day as his brother. He was still in Shenandoah County in 1818 when he was a purchaser at his mother’s estate sale, and in 1819 when he married Harriet Gardner, but was apparently in Warren County, Kentucky with his brother by 1820. He was also living in Warren County when he sold his interest in his mother’s estate in the same deed as his brother in 1832.45
- Philadelphia County Will Book G, pages 160-161. Probated 5 February 1744/5. [↩]
- The Crist Family from the Oaks, Beverly Crist Rich (1981). [↩]
- Lancaster County Deed Book BB, p1. [↩]
- Lancaster County Deed Book X, p204. [↩]
- Lancaster County Deed Book BB, p3. [↩]
- Frederick County Deed Book 13, page 226. The deed was actually a lease and release dated one day apart. [↩]
- Statement by Esther Reese dated 28 August 1789, among the loose papers in Shenandoah County Chancery Court case no. 1793-001. George Keller sued Alexander’s estate over a dispute concerning an unpaid mortgage on the land between Funk and Keller. [↩]
- Northern Neck Grant Book S, page 134. [↩]
- Order Book 1772-1774 Shenandoah County, Virginia, Amelia C. Gilreath (1986), page 32. [↩]
- Revolutionary War Records, Virginia, Volume I, Gaius Marcus Brumbaugh, 1936. List of Alexander Machir’s company. [↩]
- From Vanessa Stern. The Bible is in the Adams County Historical Society, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Accession Number 4422. [↩]
- Shenandoah County Minute Book 1774-1780, pages 67, 79, and 84 respectively. [↩]
- Shenandoah County Will Book A, page 194. [↩]
- Shenandoah County Will Book A, page 286. [↩]
- Shenandoah County Will Book A, page 288. [↩]
- Shenandoah County Will Book A, page 318. [↩]
- Shenandoah County Deed Book D, page 231 [↩]
- A History of Shenandoah County, Virginia, John W. Wayland, (2nd edition, Regional Publishing Company, 1998), page 745. [↩]
- Joel Reese’s estate is mentioned in Will Book L, pages 65, 101, and 119. [↩]
- Strasburg Lutheran Church Records 1768-1829, George M. Smith and Klaus Wust (1997), page 28. [↩]
- Shenandoah County Will Book L, page 3. [↩]
- Shenandoah County Deed Book MM, page 147. [↩]
- Northern Neck Grant Book S, page 134. [↩]
- Shenandoah County Deed Book D, p231. [↩]
- Under the common law of succession, in force prior to 1784 in Virginia, half-brothers and sisters could not inherit from one another. In the absence of both siblings and children, John Stockslager’s real estate would descend to his father, thence to his father’s heirs. [↩]
- Original marriage bond dated 26 January 1787. An attached note dated 27 January from Ann (x) “Stockshlager” says “I am above the age of eighteen years.” [↩]
- Shenandoah County Deed Book PP, p384. [↩]
- Shenandoah County Marriage Bonds, 1772-1850, John Vogt & T. William Kethley, Jr. (Iberian Press, 1984), p45. [↩]
- Shenandoah County Deed Book EE, p31. [↩]
- Shenandoah County Deed Book PP, p24. [↩]
- Original marriage bond dated 5 April 1792, with Esther (x) Reese giving permission. [↩]
- Wayland, p756. [↩]
- Vogt, p154 [↩]
- Shenandoah County Deed Book FF, p228. [↩]
- Shenandoah County Minute Book 1781-1785, p2. The guardian bond is filed in Will Book B, p130 and p398, neither of which I have read. [↩]
- Wayland, p756. [↩]
- Shenandoah County Chancery Case 1833-008. The children were identified in a complaint dated in 1828. [↩]
- Original marriage bond dated 15 March 1789. A permission by Esther (x) Reese dated the preceding day called the bride “my daughter Barbara Stockslager (spinster)”, meaning she was of age. [↩]
- Shenandoah County Minute Book 1791-1796, p1. [↩]
- Vogt, p207. [↩]
- Shenandoah County Deed Book MM, p147. Isaac Reese sold his own share and acted as attorney for his brother Joseph Reese. [↩]
- Grant Vol. 7, grant #44. [↩]
- An 1926 deposition by a descendant refers to a Joseph Reese family Bible, and gives the children as above. It also states that the Bible says that “Joseph Reese was born in Shenandoah County, Virginia, on January 12, 1784, and married said Margaret Bowman on August 18, 1806, and died at New Orleans, Louisiana on December 2, 1845.” See webpage at http://www.sanjacinto-museum.org/kemp/v682.html. [↩]
- Daughters of Republic of Texas Patriot Ancestor Album, Dorothy Burns Peterson (Turner Publishing Company, 1936), p230. [↩]
- Shenandoah County Deed Book MM, p147. [↩]