Barr Family History
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Our grandmother, Ruth Etta Barr, married Calvin Stoey Graham on Jun 29th 1927 in Harrisburg Dauphin County Pennsylvania.

Grandpa's Graham family origins can be traced to early Cumberland County Pennsylvania. Grandma Graham's Barr family is one of our earliest Colonial Pennsylvania families. She is a direct descendant of Jochim Bär

The Barr name in German was spelled Bär, and is presently written in various forms: Baer, Baehr, Bahr, Bair, Bäre, Bear and Barr. America colonial records show that over forty immigrants of this name came to America prior to 1750. This short narrative represents interpretations of events and relationships that have been developed through the research of those interested in the Barr family. All the information in the source references we studied leads us to believe they are an accurate accounting of the Ruth Etta Barr family lineage. [1] We will continue to corroborate the documents and references in an attempt to be more accurate.

The Bär name appears in Swiss history as early as 1245 AD. The family coat of arms is in the possession of American Barr descendants. Swiss settlers began arriving in the Palatinate area of Germany as early as 1671. In 1674, Prince Karl Ludwig, ruler of the Palatinate, offered limited religious liberty to the Swiss in exchange for settling his wasted farmlands and to help restore them to productivity.

The Bär family is said to be from a Palatinate family whose family seat was at Baeren Huette Germany. The Palatinate area of Germany includes the present day cities of Mainz, Kaiserslautern, Coblenz and Trier. Records also suggest that a Peter Von Bär was married to a daughter of the count of the Palatinate. The parish of Bär, the church in which is said to have been built by Emperor Charles in the fifth century, derives its name from the family of Bär.

Most of the information from this family comes from the History of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, and a Genealogical and Biographical Record of Its Families, Volume 2. In this reference, and other references, our Melchoir Bär III is refered to as Melchoir Bär Jr. So, we decided to suffix the Melchoir Bär name with I, II, III, and so on. This will help represent the number of generations using the name of Melchoir.

The Bär Passengers On Board the Phoenix

Many of the Bär (Barr and Baer) families of Eastern Pennsylvania are descendant of Melchoir Bär II, Johannes, Melchoir III, and Christophel Bär. These men, along with other immigrants, crossed the ocean in the ship "Phoenix", which landed in Philadelphia on September 30th 1743. [2]

The exact relationship between these men is difficult to determine, but the fact is established that they came to America on one ship, settled in the same section of Pennsylvania, spoke the same language, and adhered to the same religious faith. Some researchers think they were brothers, others believe them to be sons of Melchoir Bär II, but at the very least they were probably close relatives. It is certain that these men all settled in Eastern Pennsylvania and their descendants' number in the thousands.

i.    Melchoir Bär II is the grandson of Hans Ulrich Bär from the Canton Zurich Switzerland region. Melchoir Bär II was born about 1688/89 near, Ottenbach, Canton Zurich, Switzerland, and he immigrated to Colonial Philadelphia from the Palatinate area of Zweibrucken Germany. Melchoir Bär II died on October 2nd 1771 in North Whitehall Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. He was buried October 4th 1771 at the Schlosser Reform Church, Lehigh County. Many of the Bär - Baer families of Lehigh County are descendant of Melchoir Bär II.

ii.   Johannes Bär is credited in being the fore-bearer to most of the Baers of Berks and surrounding counties claim Johannes (John or Hans) Baer as their ancestor. Before 1750 he settled in what is known today as Weisenburg Township Lehigh County PA. He had four children: John, Adam, Jacob, and Barbara (who married Henry Fetter). John moved to Windsor Township, Berks County, and his descendants live in Hamburg, and Windsor, and Perry and Bern Townships.

iii.  Christophel Bär, prior to his coming to America, patented 560 acres of land in what is now Whitehall Lehigh County Pennsylvania. The records at Easton show that he was a systematic businessman and possessed of great force of character. He was the great-grandfather of George F. Baer, the distinguished lawyer and railroad president. His family consisted of six children: Heinrich, Melchoir, John, Salome, Apollonia, and Jacob.

iv.   Melchoir Bär III, the son of Melchoir Bär II, was born October 2nd 1726 in Ottenbach Canton Zurich, Switzerland. He died February 28th 1773 in Macungie Township Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. He was buried about March 2nd 1773 in Upper Milford Reform Church, Zionsville, Macungie Township Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.

All the records I researched indicate that Johannes, Christophel, and Melchoir III are sons of Melchoir II and his 3rd marriage to Anna Elisabeth Abecky, while another researcher shows Melchoir III as being the son of Melchoir II and his 1st wife Elisabeth Gneser.  [3]

Our grandmother, Ruth Etta Barr, can trace her heritage directly to Melchoir Bär III, and his wife Eva Elizabeth Christman. Given all this information, I believe that the following line of descendants to be the most plausible. Someday I'll validate all this.

Jochim Bär (1558-1634)Families

Jochim Bär and his family is our 1st known German ancestor. Jochim was born about 1558 around Canton Zurich, Switzerland, and died sometime before 1634. Jochim had married twice;

1st marriage was to Justina Schoch who was born about 1558 and died sometime after 1637. Jochim and Justina lived near: Ottenbach, Canton Zurich, Switzerland.

2nd marriage was to Elisabeth Joss who was born about 1565 and died sometime after 1637. Jochim and Elisabeth had no children

From Jochim’s 1st marriage to Justina, they had two children.

i.    Adelheit Bär was born about 1597 and died sometime after 1661. Adelheit married Andreas Beeben Jorg who was born about 1600, and his departure is unknown. Adelheit was twice married; 1st to Barbel Buchman, and 2nd to Elisabeth Boch.

ii.   Hans Ulrich Bär was born about 1584, and died about 1628. Hans Ulrich Bär was 1st married to Barbel Wyss who was born about 1584 and died about 1617. Hans I then married Barbel Wydler.

Hans Ulrich Bär (1584-1628)

Hans Ulrich Bär was born about 1584, and died about 1628. Hans Ulrich Bär was 1st married to Barbel Wyss who was born about 1584 and died about 1617. Hans I then married Barbel Wydler.

Hans Ulrich Bär children with Barbel Wyss:

i.    Hans Bär who was born in 1609 and died 1686. He married Anna Hufschmid.

Hans Ulrich Bär children with Barbel Wydler:

ii.   Hans Jagli Bär who was born about 1617/18 and died 1676.

iii.  Ludwig Bär who born about 1627/28 and died 1699.

Hans Bär (1609-1686)

Hans Bär is the grandson of Jochim Bär (1558-1634), and his son Hans Ulrich Bär (1584-1628). This Hans Bär was born 1609 and died in 1686. Hans married Anna Hufschmid who was born about 1610 and died about 1681. Of the children of Hans and Anna, one was named Melchoir Bär. This is the first known use of the name Melchoir Bär, which we suffixed as Melchoir Bär I.

Melchoir Bär I (1643-1719)

Melchoir Bär I was born about 1643 and died before 1719. He married Anna Gross/Grob who was born about 1647/48 and died after 1708. Of the children Melchoir Bär I and Anna had, there was one named Melchoir Bär, who we dubbed Melchoir Bär II.

Melchoir Bär II (1688-1771)

This is the first time we see the last name spelled “Bahr” and “Baer”, which are from English influences in documents relating to the Bär family's Colonial life. In the mid 19th century the name would change to the present day “Barr”.

We believe that Melchoir Bär II is our first known Colonial Pennsylvania ancestor. Melchoir Bär II was born about 1688/89 near Ottenbach Canton Zurich Switzerland. Melchoir II and his 3rd wife Anna Elisabeth Abecky are my son’s 1st Colonial Pennsylvania Barr, and 7th generation Bär German ancestor. Melchoir II emigrated with three of his sons in 1743 from the Palatinate area of Zwiebräcken Germany aboard the Ship Phoenix, arriving from Germany to Colonial Philadelphia.

Melchoir Baer II made his home with his son, Melchoir Baer III, until 1762 when Melchoir III sold the homestead to his father. Melchoir II and Melchoir III then moved to what is now Macungie, Macungie Township Lehigh County Pennsylvania. Then in 1769 Melchoir II sold his homestead to his son John Peter, whom he designates in his will as his chief heir at law. Melchoir II and John Peter were living in 1769 when they signed, Elizabeth making her mark, the deed to their homestead to their son John Peter.

Melchoir Baer II died on October 2nd 1771 in North Whitehall Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. He was laid to rest on October 4th 1771 at the Schlosser Reform Church, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. His estate will Melchoir II mentions, besides his wife Elisabeth and son John Peter, a daughter Elisabeth, and a granddaughter, Maria Turney.

Melchoir Bär II had a will, and in it he writes about eight children, but mentions only two, Jacob and Melchoir III, to whom he makes special bequests, and he gives the special instruction that his children are to be instructed in the Reformed faith. The executors of the estate, Eve Elisabeth, his wife, Anthony Stabler and Leonard Steininger, encountered considerable difficulty in adjustment of the estate. It is said that some of the money received by the executors was in continental currency, which depreciated in their hands. In 1790, Jacob Lindeman, in right of his wife, Eve Elisabeth, petitioned the court to appoint John Rornig, of Macungie, and George Kriebel and James Gill, of Upper Milford, to audit the accounts of the executors. It further appears that from a petition dated December 7th 1821, almost forty years after his death, that Melchoir Baer died intestate as to a tract of land in Macungie Township, containing 174 acres, and appraised at $5,610.00; this petition happily contains the names of his children, which were omitted in the will.

What we know is Melchoir Baer II [4]

•    He arrived September 30th 1743 at Philadelphia on the Ship Phoenix.

•    His family was from Ottenbach, Canton Zurich, Switzerland.

•    He was a schoolmaster in Zwiebräcken Germany.

•    He was married three times.

•    He settled in what is now North Whitehall Township Lehigh County.

•    He had a son Melchoir Baer III who settled in Macungie Township, Lehigh County Pennsylvania.

It is believed that Melchoir Baer II married three times:

1st Melchoir Baer II married Elisabeth Gneser on January 13th 1711 in Ottenbach, Canton Zurich, Switzerland. Elisabeth was born in 1689 Ottenbach near Canton Zurich, Switzerland, and died February 18th 1716 at Ottenbach, Canton Zurich, Switzerland.
Children of Melchoir Bahr and Elisabeth Gneser:

i.    Melchoir Bär was born October 2nd 1712 in Ottenbach Canton Zurich, Switzerland.

ii.   Anna Maria Bär was born 1714 and died 1716/17.

iii.  Anna Bär was born 1715 and her departure is unknown.

2nd Melchoir Bär II married Catharine Widmer who was born on 1688 and died 1725. MelchoirBär II and Catharine had no children that we could find.

3rd Melchoir Bär II married Anna Elisabeth Abecky who was born about 1698 and died about 1775. Melchoir Bär II and Anna Elisabeth eight children:

iv.   Johannes Bär.

v.    Christophel Bär.

vi.   Phillip Jacob Bär was also known as Jacob Baer.

vii.  Maria Elisabeth Bär was born about 1726, and died about 1801. She had a daughter named Maria Turney.

viii. Anna Barbara Bär was born about 1728.

ix.   Maria Christina Bär was born about 1730/31 and died about 1731/32.

x.    Johann Peter Bär was born about 1735/36 and died in 1777.

xii.  Melchoir Bär III was born 1725/26 in the Palatinate region of Zwiebräcken Germany. He died on February 28th 1773 in Macungie Township Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. [5]

End Notes

[1.] Pages 33 – 44, History of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, and a Genealogical and Biographical Record of Its Families, Volume 2, Lehigh County Historical Society, Lehigh Valley publishing Company, Limited, 1914.

[2.]  Collection of upwards of Thirty Thousand Names of German, Swiss, Dutch, French and other Immigrants in Pennsylvania From 1727 to 1776; Prof. I. Daniel Rupp, Second Revised Edition, 1876, Philadelphia; pp.177. See the passenger list in the reference section of this paper.

[3.] Anniversary History Of Lehigh County, Vol. II, Copyright 1914

[4.] Charles F. Kerchner, Jr., P.E., Emmaus PA - a descendant

[5.] The Children and the Children's Children of Jacob Christman and Eva Margaret, arranged by Rev. John Baer Stoudt, Sr. and Mrs. Irvin Christman and distributed at a Christman Family Reunion, 1957.

Bibliography

1. Pages 33 – 44, History of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, and a Genealogical and Biographical Record of Its Families, Volume 2, Lehigh County Historical Society, Lehigh Valley publishing Company, Limited, 1914.