June 30, 2014

Jacob Bittinger of Adams County, Pennsylvania (1781-1864)

I am clearly not done with researching this Bittinger family, but I had to put the brakes on somewhere for now, so I could start writing about what I do know!  This has been a challenging family to follow in that first names are repeated generation after generation and as in all very early records...well, sometimes they are not there or I just haven't found them.

Elizabeth Bittinger (daughter of Jacob Bittinger) was my husband's great-great grandmother and wife to George Hollabaugh, all of Adams County, Pennsylvania.  Their son, William Levi Hollabaugh, moved to Indiana and settled there as a young man, beginning our branch of the family.  William Levi's story is here. 
George and Elizabeth Bittinger Hollabaugh's story is here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).

My research actually began with Jacob Bittinger's will, which kindly named at least the children who were living at the time of the writing.  Jacob Bittinger died on August 28, 1864, but he wrote his will on December 8, 1863.  By that time he was 83 years old, a good, old age for that time, and it seemed probable that he knew his end was near as he declared himself "weak and sick" in the will itself.
His signature on the will also indicated his feebleness at the time, to the point where his last name was unreadable.

I've put in bold some significant information found in the will and added a few commas for readability. 
The Will, as obtained at the Adams County, Pennsylvania Historical Society in Gettysburg:
"In the name of God, Amen.  I, Jacob Bittinger, being weak and sick in body, but of sound and disposing mind & memory, do make & pronounce this my last will & testament as following, to wit ~
 First, I give and bequeath to my son, Andrew Bittinger, a lot of mountain land containing about ten acres, it being the same lot which I bought off the Boyd property,
 I give and bequeath to my son George all my interest to claim to the undivided half part of a tract of mountain land adjoining lands of Frances Cole, Heirs of William Bell & others & being the same tract which James Russell & I held in partnership.
I give & bequeath to my son, John, a tract of mountain land adjoining the heirs of Wm. Bell, James Russell & other land of my said son, John Bittinger containing about 30 acres,
I give and bequeath to my Daughter, Elizabeth, (now intermarried with Geo. Hollebaugh), a lot of land adjoining land of John Bittinger, George Bear & other containing about ten acres more or less & it is further my will & I order that
my son, John shall have one hundred Dollars out of the first money that comes to hand as a compensation for vituals, Horse feed, Labor, and attendance at my funeral.
Also I give & bequeath to my Granddaughter, Louisa C. Bittinger, twenty five dollars for her trouble & attendance to me in my last sickness.
It is my will & I order and direct that the residue of my estate real, personal & mixed shall be divided between my children, John, Andrew, George & Elizabeth, share & share alike & lastly,
I nominate and appoint my sons, Andrew Bittinger & John Bittinger, my Executors of this my last will & testament hereby revoking and making void all wills by me heretofore made, giving to said Executors full power & authority to sell and convey my real estate to the purchasers for the best price they can get for the same.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand to seal this Eigth day December A. D. 1863."

Jacob's wife, Elizabeth, had died on April 12, 1847 at the age of 66.  So, in the 1850 census, Jacob was 68 years old and still living as head of household and farming on a farm in Franklin Township, Adams County, PA.  With him were Charlotte Keffer, 60, and Sam'l Bittinger, 40, and Sarah Bittinger, 25.  Samuel was noted to be "idiotic" - meaning, I believe, developmentally disabled, according to the census enumerators' instructions for that year.  I'm not sure who the women were who were staying in the house, but I'm sure they were needed to take care of the adult Samuel, as well as Jacob. Apparently, Samuel died sometime between 1850 and when the will was written in 1863, as he was not noted.

By 1860, Jacob had moved in with his son, John, and wife, Anna.  Hence, the behest of $100 to John in the will, for taking care of his father.  Louisa Bittinger was John's youngest daughter who would have been about 16 or 17 at the time of her grandfather's death.  Apparently, she had given Jacob good care and companionship while in her father's home for Jacob to single her out of all his grandchildren for a gift of $25.00.

So, why was Jacob's son, George Bittinger, left out as one of the executors?  A little research into the newspapers of the time told me the reason.  In The Adams Sentinel, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on April 24, 1866, I found this notice:

The newspapers right after Jacob died had notices showing that John was the guardian of his brother, George, along with Henry Gilt and Samuel Fahnestock, perhaps attorneys or friends of Jacob. George Bittinger may have been in an asylum or home of some kind, as he does not appear with his father or brothers or sister in the censuses.  The State Lunatic Asylum was in Harrisburg, not far from the Bittinger home, and it had been open since the mid-1840s, so it seems possible that George could have been there. Information on patients is restricted and I don't think they were enumerated in the census, so I've not been able to confirm that. Apparently, George Bittinger died in 1866, as the notice above refers to his estate.

Back to the will...I would say that Jacob Bittinger held quite a bit of land in the area, as the executors sold lots here and there.  That and the collection of notes owed gave a total of over $8,000 in their first accounting to the court.  Of course, there were expenses to the estate as well.  Geo Thomas was paid $24.00 for a coffin, Rev. J. H. Miller $3.00 for conducting funeral services, James L. Taylor $1.50 for digging a grave, and William Meale $28.00 for Jacob's tombstone. Taxes, stamps, appraisal fees and other costs had to be included, as well.


A sale was held of Jacob's "goods and effects" on October 1, 1864.  John Bittinger, bought his father's razor and strap (.05), a book (.01), the family Bible (.37 1/2), a lot of hats (.04), a clock and case ($3.25), a weave loom (.15) and a threshing masher ? ($16.75).
His brother, Andrew, purchased a tan? boot ($2.15), a shumaker bench (.85), and a woolen cot/coat ($2.25).  Elizabeth's husband, George Hollbaugh bought only a lot of books for .02.  A powder horn sold for .02!  
Oh, and where did that family Bible land after 150 years?




No comments:

Post a Comment