July 6, 2014

Michael Bittinger of Adams County, Pennsylvania

Our line - Elizabeth Bittinger Hollabaugh, Jacob Bittinger, and now George Michael Bittinger, great-great-great-great grandfather.

In most records, this fellow was just named as Michael, but sometimes he appeared as George Michael.  Again the best document I began with in my research was the will, and quite an interesting one it was.  Dated in March, 1811, it preceeded his death by about fourteen months, as Michael died on May 29, 1812 in Franklin Township, Adams County, Pennsylvania. He was 80 years old when the will was written, quite an advanced age for the era.

Here is the will as it was written (with commas added for clarity) -
"In the name of God, Amen, I, Micaell Bittinger of franklin township, County of Adams and State of Pennsylvania....being sickly in body, but of Sound Mind and Memory and understanding, blessed be God for the same and Considering the uncertainty of this transitory life, do make and publish this my last will and testament in maner and form following to wit -
Princebelly and first of all, my commit my immortal soul into the hands of God who gave it and my Body to the earth to be buryed in a cristian like maner at the dscretion of my Executors here after named, and as to such worldly Estate wherewith it both peased God to bless me in this life, I give and dispose of in the same in the following maner to wit -

I Give and Devise until my Dear wife Elisabeth, one Milk Cow and Sheep, one feather Bead, Bedstead, and Beding and Spining Wheel, one chest, one iron pot, one Stove and full posesion of the home we now ocupy and the one half of the Bond of Mentinance Given unto us by Jacob my Son During her Natural Life, and immediately after my Decease, the remainder of my personal Estate to be maid Sale of and Divided Equally Share and Share alike to them and their Heirs or the Survivors of them to wit- Frederick, Elisabeth, Micaell, Susannah, Pegy, Andrew, Catharine, Poley, Christian, Mary and unto my sone, Jacob, I Give and Devis all my Real Estate to wit, the plantation in which (I) now live, franklin township With Paying one Hundred and fifty pounds to the rest of my children in maner folowing,

to my Son Frederick in the third year after my Deceas forty Dolars,in the forth year after my Decease to Betsy forty Dolars, the fifth year after my Decese to Michael Bittinger forty Dollars, The sixth year after my Decease to Susanah G Minder (?) forty Dollars, The seventh year after my Decease to Peggy Foal forty Dollars, The eighty year after my Deceas to Andrew Bitinger forty Dollars, the Ninth year after my deceas to Catherine Coser forty Dollars, The Tenth year after my Decease to Polley Cross forty Dollars, The Eleventh year after my Deceas to Christina Humel forty Dollars, and The Twelfth year to Mary Bittinger forty Dollars or the survivor or survivors of them and the heirs of such survivor or survivors equally to be divided between them.

And lastly, I nominate constitute and appoint my said two sons, Jacob and Andrew Bittinger, to be the Executors of this my will, hereby revoking all other wills, legacies, and bequests by me heretofore made and declaring this and no other to be my last will and testament. This __ March Eighteen hundred and eleven signed, sealed, published, pronounced, and declared by the said testator as his last will and testament in the presence of us who in his presence of us and at his request have subscribed as witness.
Jacob Bushey  
Jacob Sauble                               Michael Bittinger"

(Commas do make a difference, don't they?)

Most researchers place the date of Michael's birth at December 21, 1731, making him 81 at the time of his death.  His wife is named as Elizabeth and, as was the custom of the time, she is given the the bed and a few other items important to her well-being and what amounts to a life lease on their home.  The "Bond of Maintenance" would suggest that an agreement was made with Jacob to take care of his parents and allow them to live in their home until her death, while he inherited the farm, commonly called the plantation in those days. Elizabeth received one-half that Bond of Maintenance at Michael's death.
In the final accounting of the will was an inventory of "good(s) will'd to the widow" which showed her inheritance to be worth $31.50

We also know, without a doubt, the names of the children of Michael and Elizabeth Bittinger who were alive at this time: Jacob, Frederick, Betsey (Elizabeth), Michael, Susannah, Peggy (Margareta), Andrew, Catherine, Polly, Christina and Mary - a total of eleven.  We also learned that four of the daughters were married by 1811 - Susannah, Peggy, Polly and Christina and we have their married names.  

Although an appraisal was done, no auction was noted nor were there any bills of sale for any of the items, so it would seem that they stayed with the farm.  Many tools were listed for wood cutting and wagon making and farming, and items for the kitchen, and then again, there was a Bible and books, a fur hat, and other items of Michael's clothing.  The most expensive items appraised were a windmill at $12.00, a watch for $8.00 and a sidesaddle and bridle for $10.00.  

It would seem certain that Michael and Elizabeth Bittinger were buried in Adams County, but I have yet to locate their tombstones, if they still exist.


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