Saturday, May 20, 2017

20 May 2017

Dear Grandfather Tobias,

Today we celebrate the 224th anniversary of your birth. While celebrating today, we really wish we had the opportunity to talk with you. There are so many unresolved questions about your life.

We believe we have identified your parents, Andreas Werst born about 1763 in Northampton, Pennsylvania. No surname has been discovered for his presumed wife and your mother Catherine. We have no birth certificate for you but we would not expect to find one for the time and place where you were born. The date comes from family records. We have found a record of your baptism at the Friendensville Lutheran Church in 1794.

Andreas Werst's family enumerated in the 1800 Federal Census.
There are two males listed as under age 10 in 1800 which would include Tobias.
"United States Census, 1800," database with images, FamilySearch
(https://family"XHR4-FS3: accessed 20 May 2017),
Andreas Werst, Salisbury, Northampton, Pennsylvania, United States; citing p. 624;
NARA microfilm publication M32, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records
Administration, n.d.), roll 37; FHL microfilm 360,340.
Note: Though listed as Salisbury, the image clearly lists the residents of Upper Saucon Township.
Since your father's will was written in German, we imagine that German was the language spoken in his home. It must have been your first language. We believe you must have also spoken English as your wife Nancy Carr seems to have been of Northern Irish heritage and would not have spoken German. Your family was either Lutheran or Reformed. Both congregations shared the same building and their records have been combined.

We know you served your country as a private during the War of 1812. You served with Capt. Robert McGuigan in the 123rd and 81st Regiments of the Pennsylvania Militia, Commanded by Lt. Col. James Montgomery. Your wife, then widow, Nancy (Carr) Werst applied for a widow's pension 23 March 1857.  Nancy said that you were disabled in 1814 and discharged at Danville, in Northumberland County. Were you wounded or injured in an accident? We just do not know.

The Pennsylvania Archives contains the following letter from Capt. McGuigan to the governor.

        Milton, July 2, 1812. 
To his Excellency, Simon Snyder, Governor of Pennsylvania:- 

 Sir: I have the honor to inform you that on the 1st day of July, 
instant, the several classes of the One Hundred and Twenty-third 
regiment of Pennsylvania militia; James Moodie, lieutenant colonel 
commandant, Second brigade, Ninth division, met in pursuance of brigade 
orders in Milton, Northumberland county; that upwards of the number 
seventy-nine have volunteered their services as their quota of militia 
to your 
Honor, to be ready to march at any time required. We beg leave to state 
to your Excellency that it is the wish of the company to march at the 
first call. 
                          Sir, your most obedient humble servant, 
                                    ROBERT McGUIGAN, 

We know that your company was ready to go early in the war. At the outbreak of the war Northumberland county sent Captain Robert McGuigan's company and the Warrior Run Rifle company, Captain William McGuire, to join the troops at Erie and they served in the Black Rock Campaign. (Major William P. Clarke, Official History of the Militia and the National Guard of the State of Pennsylvania, 1909, P. 94).

Nancy also added that you were married by the Rev. John Bryson, Minister of the Gospel in December 1819. John Bryson was a Presbyterian minister who's ancestors immigrated to Pennsylvania from the north of Ireland but who were of Scottish descent. Perhaps Nancy's family were also Scots-Irish. We believe her father's name may have been Joseph Christopher Carr because of the name given your eldest son.

We do not know why you moved to Neave Township in Darke County, Ohio. We do know that you lived there in 1840.

Tobias Werst family with 5 sons and 2 daughters in 1840 census.
"United States Census, 1840," database with images, FamilySearch
( : accessed 20 May 2017),
Tobias Worst, Neave Township, Darke, Ohio, United States; citing p. 71 NARA microfilm publication
M704, (Washington D. C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.),
roll 390; FHL microfilm 20,163.
The family is still living in Ohio in the 1850 census, but must have moved shortly after to Wabash County, Indiana where two grandsons were born in 1852. Your story ends in Wabash County, where you died 20 April 1855 and were buried four days later.

Tobias Werst tombstone at Mississinewa Memorial Cemetery
Tombstones were moved to this location when an earlier cemetery was flooded.
Photograph from author's personal collection.
There is so much we still need to learn about your life. Rest assured, we are still looking for answers to our questions. Any hints you could send would be greatly appreciated!

Happy Birthday,

Our descent from Tobias is as follows:
Cecily daughter of Betty Werst Cone, daughter of Cecil Oscar Werst, son of Lewis Werst, son of
George Washington Werst, son of Tobias Werst.

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