Michael Trarbach (c1700 – 1771)


Thanks to the research of others we know that Johann Michael Trarbach was christened on 31 March 1700 in the small municipality of Kleinich, just east of the Moselle River in the Bernkastel district of the Rhineland-Paletinate of modern-day Germany.   His parents were Wilhelm Trarbach and Eva Margretha Veipers.  On 20 April 1723 he married Maria Elizabetha Hermann, daughter of Hans Adam and Eva Catherina Herman, in the neighboring community of Sohren.   Ten of their children were born in the village of Wahlenau and christened in the Sohren parish between 1725 and 1749.  In 1751 the family emigrated, first traveling to Rotterdam where they boarded a ship bound for Philadephia.

Strassburger & Hinke list only three immigrants with this surname, and all arrived on the same ship. Michael Drarbach,  Adam Trarbach, and Jacob Trarbach were passengers on the ship Patience from Rotterdam via Cowes, England in 1751, all signing the declaration of abjuration1 at Philadelphia on 9 September 1751.2  Eight of the signers were Roman Catholic and the rest Palentine Protestants.

These three passengers were Michael Trarback and two sons over the age of 16 (both were over 21).  A third son, Michael was 18 but does not appear among the passengers, a circumstance I cannot explain. The other members of his family were either women or boys under 16 who were not required to sign the declaration.  The total number of “freights” (paying passengers) was 255, of which 109 were males 16 and over who signed the declaration. Thus at least 146 women and children were on the ship but not otherwise identified.  In fact, there may have been even more passengers, as a full freight was typically not charged for small children.  The declaration list shows the three names consecutively, Michael signing his name and the two sons signing with their marks. The clerk who transcribed the list was evidently familiar with German names, as few names on the list seem to have been anglicized.

Settlement in York County, Pennsylvania

The family soon settled in York County, Pennsylvania. Elizabeth Trarback appears in York County as a baptismal sponsor in 1754, and Michael Trarback appears as a baptismal sponsor for one of his own grandchildren on 8 February 1756.3  Although I found no record of his purchasing land there in the secondary sources I checked, there are deeds in 1760 and 1761 that mention the land of Michael Tronbaugh in York Township and Michael Trouebaugh in Codorus Township, respectively.4 The 1768 tax list for York County shows both Michael and Adam as landowners.

Death in 1771

He died sometime in in the fall of 1771.  On 18 October 1771, William “Droarbach” and Jacob Reif (his son and son-in-law) made bond in York County as administrators of Michael Droarbach.5 On 21 October 1771 they filed an inventory of the estate of “Michael Traurbogh, late of York Township.” The estate was valued at £95, half of which was in notes receivable and cash. Much of the tangible estate consisted of a large quantity of carpenter’s tools.  Livestock consisted of 10 sheep, two cows and two horses. The inventory also included “a Large Bible & Sundry Books” valued at one pound, 10 shillings. (I wonder what happened to this Bible.) The estate actually sold for more than its valuation, according an accounting filed 1 December 1772.

The inventory of his estate suggests that Michael Trarbach may have been a carpenter.  A quantity of books among his possessions argues that he was literate, as does evidence that he could sign his name.

Disposition of His Land

Michael Trarback owned three tracts of land when he died: 180 acres in York Township, 252 acres in Codorus Township, and a 125-acre parcel in Codorus Township.   In December 1772 the other heirs deeded the 125-acre parcel (whereon he evidently was living) to Mathias “Throarbach” in exchange for Mathias’s renunciation of all claims to his father’s estate.6   The other two parcels were valued by a jury at £358 and on 2 June 1773 were sold to Jacob “Trorebach” on the condition that he pay the $358 in ten shares – one share each to his seven siblings, two shares to the children of Adam, and one retained himself.

The Ten Children

The records of the Evangelical Reformed parish of Sohren record the christenings of ten children born to Michael Trarbach and his wife Maria Elizabeth of Wahlenau.  Birth dates were recorded for the last few children.

  1. Anna Elizabetha Trarbach (c1725 – aft1771)  She was christened on 21 February 1725.  Elizabeth married Jacob Reiff on 28 August 1751 in York County.
  2. Adam Trarbach (c1728-1770)  Christened as Johann Adam on 15 April 1728, he married Katrina Sprinkle, who was “now the wife of the aforesaid Adam Trorebach” of Shrewsbury Township, yeoman, when the children of Michael Sprinkle (Springle) sold his land in two transactions on 15 November 1762.7  The same deeds give her name as both “Katrina” and “Katherina”.  She may have died soon after, as the christening record for his son Jacob on 15 June 1766 calls his wife Catharina Scheebler.  (To add to the confusion, Adam Trorbach and “Anna Maria” Trorbach were sponsors for christenings on 3 September 1765 and on 12 October 1766.)  Adam died in York County in early 1770. His brief will was dated 5 March 1770, recorded in German and signed by his mark.8 On 5 March 1770, three witnesses testified that he made his will “on his sick bed” requesting that his plantation be sold and the proceeds of his estate be divided “equally among his children, share and share alike”. It directed that Wilhelm and Nicklaus Drorback be appointed executors “for his children”.9  Oddly, it made no specific reference to the orphans of his deceased son Adam.  The will was proved 12 March 1770 on the oaths of the witnesses, Jacob Beck, Phillip Grim, and William Sprankel. The inventory was taken on 17 March 1771 and recorded four days later on 21 March 1771. The estate was valued at just over £64 and consisted mainly of farm implements, tools, and household items. The only crops included were wheat and rye. Livestock consisted of 9 cows, 7 pigs, 2 sheep, and 2 horses. An accounting by the executors valued the estate at £247, including the proceeds of the sale of the plantation and other items.10

    I’m not familiar with 18th century German customs, but I note with some amusement an 8-shilling debit to the estate by Jacob Pfliger “for distilling Rye for the funeral”. Both William and Nicholas “Drarbach” signed these documents by their marks.

    Although his will does not name his children, several York County Orphans Court records, together with papers included in the file of an 1808 chancery case in Rockingham County, Virginia, name the following seven children – apparently in birth order.   On 27 August 1771 William and Nicholas Drorebach petitioned the court to appoint them as guardians for “Michael, Henry, Adam, Abraham, Jacob, William, and Elizabeth Drorebach, the minor orphan children of Adam Drorebach late of Shrewsbury Township deceased, all under the age of fourteen years.” A petition by Jacob Trorebaugh a year later on 1 September 1772 states that Adam “left lawful issue to survive him (and who are all still living) to wit Michael, Henry, Adam, Abraham, Jacob, William, and Elizabeth Catharine.”11  Other records name the same seven children in the same order, and all call the daughter “Elizabeth Catherine” — testimony by her brother Jacob was that she “intermarried with one John Noel & resides as he is told in Berkely County.”

    The two older sons, Michael and Henry (born in 1757 and 1758 respectively), were apparently deceased by 2 November 1793 when Jacob Drorbach styled himself as “second son and heir to Adam Drorbach” when he acknowledged receipt of his share of the estate from his former guardian George Sprenkel.12  His older brother Adam, who had lived in Lincoln County, North Carolina was said in Jacob’s bill of complaint to have “removed as he is told to North Carolina & from there perhaps to Tennessee.”  According to a correspondent Adam Trobough (1762-1839) ended up in Tipton County, where he died testate in 1839 leaving children named Daniel Trobough, Henry Trobough, John Trobough, Betsy, and Mary (wife of Elijah Brown).13

    Abraham and William, who was also in Lincoln County, were apparently both deceased by 1808 when Jacob Trorebaugh’s bill of complaint stated that his father “left your orator (now of Rockbridge County), Adam Troarbaugh, & Katy Troarbaugh his only children”.14

    Jacob Trorebaugh, the plaintiff in the suit, is believed to be the same person as the Jacob Traughber who later appeared in Robertson County, Tennessee on 25 February 1818 buying 304 acres from Jacob Mefford and John Hudlow.15   The land was quite near the other Traughbers, and the price paid, $1,368, is so high that he must have been a reasonably mature man at the time. He bought another 140 acres in 1826 on the state line16 and sold it a year later as a resident of Logan County.17 On 7 March 1833 he sold 100 acres to William Traughber, though which of the Williams that was is unclear to me.18   He is in the 1820 census of Robertson County, he and his wife both over 45, with four boys (all over 16) and two girls. William Traughber was surety for the marriage of Jacob Traughber and Catherine Younger in 1789, and this may be the same person. The 1830 Robertson census shows him and his wife both aged 50-60 with what appear to be two sets of children in the household. He moved to Shelby County, Illinois where he died a year or two later in 1833 .

  3. Jacob Trarbach (1730 – 1801) He was christened as Johann Jacob on 3 October 1730.  He was called the “second son of Michael Trorebaugh” in the court records of York County.  As Jacob Drohrbach he was taxed on 100 acres in Newberry Township from 1779 through 1782.  In the state census of 1783 he headed a household of eight persons.  He married a woman named Maria Barbara (Weldner) and remained in York County.  At least two sons were christened there:  Johann Ludwig on 28 September 1760 and Jacob on 10 May 1763.  Jacob died intestate in Fairview Township according to a deed in which his sons Jacob, William, Adam, and Michael “Drawbach” sold their interest in his home place to son John and Peter Drawbach.19
  4. Michael Trarbach (1733 – aft1790) Christened as Johann Michael on 21 June 1733, he was evidently not among the passengers on the Patience in 1751.  He bought 100 acres in Huntington Township on 29 May 1759 but he and his wife Elizabeth sold it on 19 January 1764.20  He was living in Baltimore, Maryland in 1770 according to testimony in Jacob Cook’s chancery suit (q.v.)   John Rine testified in 1820 that when his sister Elizabeth was pregnant “he in company with William Troarbach took her to Baltimore to a brother of said Troarbach named Michael.”  Michael Earman in the same case deposed that Elizabeth Rine “was taken to Baltimore in Maryland by her brother John Rine and William Troarbach to Nicholas Troarbach’s brother Michael who lived in Baltimore.”   Although I did not pursue this, Michael Troarbach is in the 1790 census of Baltimore town.
  5. Maria Elizabetha Trarbach (c1736 – ) Christened on 10 June 1736.  Her father’s estate records identify her as the wife of Jacob Lingenfelter.
  6. Mattheus Trarbach (5 January 1739 – ?)  His birth and christening (as Johannes Mathaeus) on 11 January were recorded in the Sohren church records.  On 5 December 1772 the other heirs deeded to him his father’s 123-acre tract in Codorus Township (whereupon he was living) to “Mathias Throarbach” in exchange for his renunciation of all other claims to the estate. 21  I did not further trace him.
  7. Nicholas Trarbach (23 August 1744 – 1818) His birth and christening (as Johannes Nickel) were recorded in the Sohren church records.  Baptisms of two children in York County record his wife’s name as as “Elizabeth” and “Anna Elisabeth”.  As mentioned elsewhere, he was replaced as guardian of his brother Adam’s children on 1 December 1772 “he having removed out of this province.”22 Where he went is uncertain, but eight years later he resurfaced in Rockingham County, Virginia, about 175 miles southwest of York County.  The only deed in Rockingham County (that I found) was his original purchase jointly with his brother William in 1780. He appeared once in the Minute Book in 1785.  He was taxed in Rockingham County from 1782 through 1786 on a single poll.

    On 9 September 1786 he bought land in Augusta County.23  He appears on Augusta County tax lists beginning in 1787, when he was taxed on an unnamed son aged over 21.  The son was probably Frederick Troubough, who had earlier been taxed to Mathias Willbarger back in Rockingham County and who witnessed a deed in Augusta in 179024 and received a bounty for a wolf scalp in 1791.  Nicholas Troughbaugh appears on the 1788 through 1795 Augusta tax lists with a total of three taxable males over 16 (four in 1794).   By the 1800 tax list, Nicholas (again with three males over 16), William, and Frederick “Trorobough” were listed consecutively.

    Nicholas Traughber seems to have remained in Augusta County a few more years. He sold his Augusta land on 24 October 1804, and sometime that winter or the following spring he and most of his family moved to Greene County, Tennessee where “Nicholas Trobough” and his sons Frederick and Henry appeared on the 1805 tax list. Nicholas, William, George, Henry and Frederick are all on the 1809 tax list and all but Henry are on the 1812 tax list as well, a general substitute for the missing 1810 census for Tennessee. He made his will in Greene County on 9 October 1815, and it was proved 26 October 1826.25 It names his wife Elizabeth and sons George and William executors, but does not otherwise name his children.

    One interesting footnote: On 29 December 1819 in Augusta County, Jacob Cook Jr. filed suit seeking a child’s share of the estate of his father Jacob Cook. The administrators of the estate and the other children had excluded him on the grounds that he was an illegitimate child born to their mother before her marriage to Cook.   John Rine, a brother of Cook’s wife, testified that his sister refused to name the father of the child but that she lived with William Troarbach at the time she became pregnant [about 1770] and that William Trorebach took her to Baltimore to have the child and she married Jacob Cook upon her return to York County. Michael Earman, a York County neighbor, made a similar testimony but stated that Mrs. Cook had later confessed to him that Nicholas Troarbach was the father.26

    Apparent children of Nicholas Trobough (other than the illegitimate one above) are the following, most of whom seemed to use the “Trobough” name:  Fredrick Trobough, William Trobough, Elizabeth Trobough (wife of Henry Myers), Catherine Trobough (wife of John Daggy), Mary Trobough (wife of Andrew Hafner), Montelany Trobough (wife of John Roller), George Trobough, Henry Trobough, Margaret Trobough, Nancy Trobough, Jacob Trobough, Elizabeth Trobough, and Daniel Trobough.

  8. William Trarbach (20 March 1744 – 1826) His birth and christening (as Johannes Wilhelm) were recorded in the Sohren church records.  See the separate page for more detail on him as his family.
  9. Maria Catherine Trarbach (15 December 1746 – ?) Her birth and christening dates were recorded in the Sohren church records.  She was an unmarried legatee of her father’s estate in 1772 and 1773.   The 1808 Chancery case (q.v.) contains a deposition by John Rine in which he stated that Michael Trarbach was “a widower [who] had but one daughter that lived with him, she was crippled.”27

    There is a later record of a marriage bond for a Catherine “Trorabough” daughter of Michael Trorabough, deceased, to Jacob Smelzer dated 16 March 1797 in Augusta County, Virginia.   Conrad Plum, a former York County resident, made oath that “Katy” was previously married.28   This was surely not Maria Catherine, who would have been over 50, for Smelzer’s wife bore a number of children over the next fifteen years.  Rather, this statement appears to have been a fiction designed to obtain a marriage bond for the separated wife of Michael Traughber of Logan County, Kentucky.   In 1826 Catherine Smelzer, who was by then widowed, sold her rights to the estate of Michael Traughber of Logan County to his widow and children in a deed that makes it clear that she was not Maria Catherine Trarbach. (See the page on Michael Traughber for a more detailed explanation.)

  10. Eva Catherina Trarbach (15 August 1749 – before 1771)  Her birth was recorded in the Sohren church records.  She probably died in childhood, as she was deceased without heirs by the time her father died.  His estate records make it clear that his heirs included only eight living children and the issue of his son Adam.


  1. There were originally three lists per ship, but only one exists for the Patience. Called a “C” list by Strassburger, it is the declaration of abjuration against the Pope and the Stuarts and fidelity to the proprietor, which all males over 16 were required to sign. The “A” list would have been the captain’s passenger manifest. The “B” list would have been the names of those taking the oath of allegiance to the British crown. []
  2. Pennsylvania German Pioneers, Ralph Beaver Strassburger and William John Hinke, (1934), page 456: List No. 164C. []
  3. York County, Pennsylvania Church Records Of The 18th Century, Marlene Strawser Bates and F. Edward Wright (1991), Vol. III, page 236. []
  4. York County, Pennsylvania Deeds 1749-1763, J. L. Alguire (1982) Vol. II, pages 33, 83. []
  5. All of these Michael Trarbach estate documents are photocopies of unbound sheets, obtained in the courthouse. I do not know into what book these documents were copied. []
  6. Item included as an exhibit in Rockingham County Chancery Case No. 117. []
  7. Two deeds dated 15 November but Adam and Katrina signed on 17 November. York County Deed Book A, pages 618-620.   And see Alguire, page 618. []
  8. All of these Adam Drorbach estate documents are photocopies of unbound sheets, obtained in the courthouse. I do not know into what book these documents were copied. []
  9. This from the translated version. []
  10. Filed 23 August 1771. I have a photocopy of the record, but do not recall from which book it came. It appears to be two loose, unbound sheets. []
  11. York County Orphans Court Docket Book C, page 72. []
  12. Filed among the papers of Rockingham County, Virginia, Chancery Court Case #117. []
  13. Tipton County Will Book A, p167. []
  14. Filed among the papers of Rockingham County, Virginia, Chancery Court Case #117. []
  15. Robertson County Deed Book N, p418. []
  16. Robertson County Deed Book V, p10. []
  17. Robertson County Deed Book V, p54. []
  18. Robertson County Deed Book W, p433. []
  19. York County Deed Book 2R, page 489. []
  20. York County Deed Book B, page 233. []
  21. Deed included in Rockingham County chancery case. []
  22. York County Orphans Court Docket Book C, page 88. []
  23. Augusta County Deed Book 25, p443. []
  24. Augusta County Deed Book 26, p410. []
  25. Greene County Will Book 1, p24? []
  26. Augusta County Chancery Court Case (q.v.) Cook v. Cook. []
  27. Deposition of John Rine taken 14 October 1820 in Rockingham County Chancery Court Case #117. []
  28. The Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia: 1745 to 1800, Lyman Chalkley, Vol. II, p328. []