Saturday, November 23, 2013

Surname Saturday - WERST

Dear Grandparents,
While researching the origins of grandparents, one always hopes to come across notes from cousins who are researching the same lines.  I was lucky enough to come across the query below written by cousin Martha (Werst) Jackson. Her great grandfather George Washington WERST is my 2nd great grandfather so we are are first cousins once removed. Martha was an excellent genealogist and well known for her books on Allen and Simpson Counties, Kentucky. How fortunate to have a summary of her detailed research on the WERST family. Her query was found in:

Bound Book
Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists Newsletter
Spring 1996 Vol. 28, Number 1

The WERST Story

This story of the WERST family is being told because there are so many ties to Brethren families, that someone, somewhere, will have to see an item which I have not noticed. To date I have collected over 50 spellings of this surname.

The earliest record I have of Tobias is his War of 1812 service with Capt. Robert McGUIGAN, 123rd ; 81st Regts, Pennsylvania Militia, Commanded by Lt. Col James MONTGOMERY. He served from 12 to 24 Nov 1814 (PA Archives Series VI; Pension papers of wife, Nancy (CARR) WERST dated 23 Mar 1857, Wabash Co. IN) serving under the name WERSHT. He enlisted from Heidelberg Twp., Northampton Co, PA and was discharged at Danville, Northumberland Co, PA in 1814 when Nancy states he was "disabled". He was a Private.

Nancy sated, in her request for Bounty Land, that they were married by Rev. John BRYSON, Minister of the Gospel, in Dec 1819. However, their oldest son, Joseph Carr WERST, was b. 22 Sep 1816, per the Bible record belonging to Frances McKILLIP of Kokomo, IN (deceased in 1988).

In the 1820 census Tobias & Nancy were living in Turbet Twp, Northumberland Co., PA. Next door was "John CARR, whose wife was Jane." By 1830 they were living in Darke Co, OH where their daughter, Catherine Frank WERST (1830) and son, Francis Marion WERST (1836) were born.

Tobias WERST was born, by his Bible record 9 May 1793 Northampton Co., PA. He died in Wabash Co, IN 20 Apr 1855 and is buried in the Ogan section of the Mississinewa Memorial Cemetery on Hwy 13. Nancy (CARR) WERST was born 5 Feb 1791, the d/o Joseph CARR, whose whereabouts I have been unable to learn.

Children of Tobias & Nancy WERST:

1. Joseph Carr, born 22 Sep 1816 Northampton Co, PA, married Louisa Catherin MERCER in Wabash CO, IN about 1860. Daughter, Mary Ann, 16 Nov 1861 - 10 May 1866 is buried in the Ogan section. Louisa's marker was below ground.

2. George Washington, b. 3 Nov 1818 "near Keystone Run" Northampton Co, PA, md/1 Elizabeth PUDERBAUGH, d/a Jacob, Jr., on 7 Dec 1841, Greenville, Darke Co, OH. He md/2 Mary McFARLAND, his first wife's niece, d/o Susannah &?; James. "Betsy" died on 20 Oct 1861 and is buried in the above cemetery. She was the d/o Jacob Puderbaugh; Magdelena (SCHLECHTY) of Neave Twp. Mary McFARLAND was born 27 Oct 1833 and died 23 Jan 1912 Jefferson Co. KS. George died 27 Mar 1900 and they are buried in the Ozawkie Cemetery. He was the executor for his father-in-law, Jacob PUDERBAUGH, Jr.

3. Andrew Jackson, b. 5 Apr 1821 Northampton Co., PA, md. 31 Dec 1843, Butler Twp, Darke Co, Mary HARTER. He died 19 Feb 1905 Wabash Co and is buried in the Friends Cemetery.

4. Decatur, b. 18 Feb 1823 Northampton or Northumberland Co, PA Died 23 May 1824.

5. Stephen Decatur, b. 22 May 1826 Northampton or Northumberland Co, PA, md. 8 Nov 1848 by John Rosier, JP, Darke Co., OH Lydia PUDERBAUGH. She was the sister of Betsy and d/o Jacob and Magdelena. He died 8 Jul 1914 and both are buried in the Bowman Cemetery, South Bend, IN. Stephen worked at the STUDEBAKER factory where he was a Master Wagon maker who spoke only German.

6. Sidney Ann, b. 15 Mar 1828 Northampton or Northumberland Co, PA, md. 23 Aug 1849 John ANDERSON. She d. 14 Sep 1890 Dayton, OH.

7. Catherine Frank, b 8 Dec 1830 was a school teacher, unmarried. She died 20 Sep 1901 at Andrew's house, Wabash, IN. She is also buried in the Friends Cemetery.

8. Francis Marion, b. 3 Aug 1836 Darke Co,  OH, md. Permelia Andres FISHER b. 3 Sep 1835 d. May 1913. Frank died 11 Dec 1919 at the Marion Soldiers Home, Grant Co and is also buried at Mississinewa, Ogan section. They had 2 children, Albert Carr and Ida Ellen. They were the grandparents of Frances McKILLIP.

Decatur WERST is listed in the 1850 Wabash Co, IN census along with his wife Lydia PUDERBAUGH and a son, Francis M. 2/12. A stone in the WERST row at Mississinewa, reads, "Melissa, d. 8 Mar 1859 d/o D. ?; L. WERST." Tobias, his father, probably came later to Wabash Co.

In the 1830 census of Darke Co, OH, on George WERST is listed next to Jacob PUDERBAUGH, Jr. Was he the one who had the patent from the state dated 1820? And, being so close to Jacob PUDERBAUGH, had they known each other at an earlier date? Was George WERST related to Tobias WERST.

In 1838 Peter WERST, from Cumberland Co, PA, migrated to Crawford Co, OH and was the minister who married Nicholas FAILOR to his wife, Mariah MILLER, daughter of John Michael MILLER.  Was he a relative? Who were Joseph & David WORT of Crawford Co? They too, were living close to Nicholas FAILOR, who was the younger brother of Elizabeth who had married Patrick FITZSIMMONS in Cumberland or Franklin Co, PA.

In 1840, German Twp, Darke Co, was Samuel WERST, John  PUTERBAUGH, George MILLER and Michael KUNKLE. Peter WART was listed in Twin Twp. Listed next to Tobias WERST in Neave Twp was one Matthew CARR, probably a brother of Nancy's, along with Nicholas and John HITTLE. Mellisa Belle HITTLE had married Benjamin Franklin WERST, s/o Joseph CHRISTOPHER & Nancy Jane (CARR), d/o of William from IA.

Jacob LANDES is listed next door to Tobias WERST in Darke Co, in 1840. Considering I also have GARYBILL &?; LANDES ancestry, I wonder if these families are all related?

One of the deeds I have located is between John WERTZ and George SUMPTION of Darke Co. It was witnessed by James BRYSON and Abiah SUMPTION on 1 Apr 1830 (DB C1, pg 482.) A Peter FARST (one of the spellings I have found) is listed in Darke Co on 16 Mar 1892 (DB F, pg 198.) Was hew the one who married a SCHLECHTY relative? Then also in Wabash Co, Mary Ann JOHNSON sold land to Frank M. WERST in 1867 (DB 13 Pg 70).

Listed in Northampton Co, PA is a deed between Jacob WERTS & John JOHNSON, dated 10 Jan 1753; rec 14 Feb 1753, DB A-1, pg 3-4. This land was on a Saucon Creek Branch "in or near Saucon Twp formerly in the Co of Buck but now in the Co of Northampton.... line of Adam SCOOLER's Land..... Johannes HELFRIG ?) ... Land of the said John JOHNSON ... to George SHOEMAKER's land... (tear) by a line dividing this from the said JOHNSON's other land... The same which by Patent dated the ninth Day of December last past On Record at Philadelphia in Patent A: Vol.. 7 page 19A7 was granted the said Jacob WERTS..." It was signed Jacob WERTH (Seal ) and Elizabeth WERT (her mar,). Witnessed by HU WILSON and Jost MEYER.

My great-grandfather , George Washington WERST, had children by the following names which seem to tell me Tobias' parents' names.
1. Nancy b. 27 Oct 1842 (named for grandmother)
2. Mary Magdelena b. 1843 (Twin) (Named for Magdalena SCHELCHTY?)
3. Catherine b. 1843 (Twin) (Named for Tobias' mother?)
4. Tobias b. 10 Sept 1844 (Named for Grandfather)
5. Matthew b. 28 Oct 1845 (Named for Nancy's brother?:)
6. Jacob b. 18 Mar 1846 (Named for grandfather)
7. Joseph Christopher b. 23 Jul 1850 (Named for Great Grandfather CARR).
8. Charles Ellis b. 30 Dec 1851 (unknown)
9. Barbara b. 28 Sept 1853 (Named for Barbara SCHLECHTY?)
10. Reuben Samuel b. 4 Jan 1855 (Possibly named for the LOWERY's)
11. Lewis (Joseph) b. 20 Sep 1856 (unknown)
12 Susannah b. 1 Jul 1858 (Named for sister of Susannah ULRICH)
13. George Washington b. 4 Apr 1860 d. 9 Sept 1861 (for father)
14. Sarah Lydia b. 8 Sept 1861 (Named for sisters? of Nancy & Betsy ?)

Was there a George WERST & wife Catherine Frank, living close when Tobias WERST entered the army for the War of 1812? Did it cause a big commotion upon his going into the military? I presume these were the names of Tobias's parents. However, the only WERST men whom I have located with sons name Tobias, were Andrew WERST of Northampton Co, PA and Peter WERST of Lancaster who died in 1822 and stated in their wills.

Page 12
A correspondent sent a picture of Robert WERST, who has family features. I wrote him, and he stated he was descended from John and Maurice WERT of Luzerne Co. PA. I am familiar with those names, since I had found John and Morris WERT listed in the Otsego Co, NY Census but there are no land records. Morris WERT is listed in the 1790 census there. My 3 great-great =grandfathers on my mother's side came from there however my parents' lines cross with the ELLSWORTH family of Franklin Co. PA and Mechanicsville, NY. I welcome any and all correspondence on this family.

Martha (Werst) Jackson (Martha died in 2008 but the search for the WERST immigrant continues.)
Tobias Werst Headstone from Mississinewa Memorial Cemetery in Wabash County, Indiana
Cemetery was relocated from original spot.
We do not know the origin of the surname WERST though it is most probably German.  By distribution through the population it is a fairly rare name in both Germany and the United States. Twenty years ago when we lived in Germany we visited the hamlet of Borrstadt, near Kaiserslautern because research had shown more that 10 families with the WERST surname resided there. Knocking on doors and talking with those families revealed that none of them considered themselves related to the other Werst families in the community of about 300. The genealogist in me doubts that but those were the days long before DNA testing was available.

Hopefully someday a WERST surname DNA study will be initiated and the place of origin in Germany will be revealed.



  1. Thank you for this post. Martha was my Grandmother and it was great reading this text that she had written.

  2. Andreas Werst is Tobias' father born 1763 PA USA died dec 1846 PA USA