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The Froelichs

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

Millersburg, Upper Paxton Township, Dauphin County, PA in 1858

I had been putting of this line for a while. Even though it is a relatively recent one, relatively speaking, some of the connections were difficult to verify. However, it was not until this past week that identified split matches between paternal and maternal (I had to note which was which since they were initially just labeled as Parent 1 and Parent 2). This update allowed me to focus strictly on my paternal matches and search their trees for Froelich family members. Once again, the surname appeared in multiple variations: Fralich, Fralick, Frolich, Frelich, Frailey and even Frayleigh. It is not surprising since even my great-great grandmother's maiden name was frequently mis-spelled. I was able to identify relatives along this line based upon the DNA match and names in their trees.

What I already knew about my great-great grandmother Mary Catherine Froelich was that she was born on 6 December 1835 in Millersburg, Upper Paxton Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. I had previously visited the town and did research at the Dauphin County Historical Society in Harrisburg, but found little additional information. Unfortunately, names of person in a household did not appear on census records until 1850. I had an idea of who her father was, but there were a few questions I had to answer since in 1850, Mary Catherine was not living with her suspected parents in that year.

Dauphin County (pronounced Daffin Kaundi in Pennsylvania Dutch) was created ("erected") on 4 March 1785, from part of Lancaster County and was named after Louis-Joseph, the Dauphin of France and the first son of King Louis XVI, who had come to the aid of the American colonies during the American Revolution. It is home to an Amish community that resides in the Lykens Valley in the northern part of the county, consisting of eight church districts. The community was settled by Amish from Lancaster County seeking cheaper land.

What I have now found and feel relatively confident about is that Johan Antonius "Anthony" Froelich was my immigrant ancestor. He was born about 1748 and arrived in Philadelphia in 1768 aboard the ship Crawford from Rotterdam, last from Cowes. He took the oath of allegiance on 26 October 1768.

I am not exactly sure where he lived before he came to America, but he could have lived in the Rhein-Pfalz Palatinate and/or Switzerland. He could have been Amish as well since he lived in Philadelphia for a couple of years before moving to Lancaster County. He may then have relocated to Dauphin County as part of an Amish community, but at this point, that is pure speculation. In 1779, Anthony resided in Upper Paxton, Wiconisco District of Lancaster County, located on the east bank of the Susquehanna River.

In 1785, Anthony was residing in the upper district of Upper Paxton Township, Dauphin County. At the time of the 1790 census, Anthony was listed in Dauphin County with 3 males ages 16 and over (father Anthony, son John/Johannes born about 1770, and son Paul born about 1772), 1 male under 16 years old (Abraham born about 1774) and 1 female (mother Maria Catherina). In 1797, Anthony acquired 25 acres.

Anthony died in 1801 and his son Abraham in 1815. By 1820, John had married a woman named Elizabeth (surname currently unknown) and they had about 8 children (6 sons and 2 daughters). The oldest son, William had established his own household by then.

When John died around 1820, there is only his son John living in Millersburg (the town was founded in 1807) at the time of the 1830 census. At the time of the 1840 census, I could not find a definitive record for John, although I suspect I found one that may be him, based upon the location. However, the spelling of the last name and handwriting make it difficult to say for certain if that is him. If it is, then he would have been married with 2 children (a son and a daughter) between 20 and 30 years old and 2 daughters between 5 and 10, 1 daughter and 1 son both under 5 years old. Again, I am not 100% certain that the record belongs to John and his family.

Regardless, based upon what I know about Mary Catherine, she could be the youngest daughter. What is a mystery is who the other children are. I do not completely trust the ages on census records, just as I do not trust the spelling of last names. I do believe that Mary Catherine had one older brother, Uriah, born on 16 March 1830.

In 1850, John pops up again, with a wife named Susanna and 4 children, ranging in age from 7 to 2 years old. So, what happened during the 20 year period between 1830 and 1850? I suspect that John's first wife, whose name is still unknown, died. At least by 1843 he had remarried to Susanna Dietrich. I presume that she was his second wife given the age difference (in 1850 he was 45 and she was 26). So, with a new wife, John set about having a new family. By the time he died in 1868, he had 8 more children (5 sons and 3 daughters).

So, where was Mary Catherine? I found a record for a "Mary Froelich" on the 1850 census. Her age was listed as 13 years old, but again, it is the census so it could be wrong. She was living nearby her father's home, but with George Bowman and his family. George was a merchant, so maybe he took her on as an employee? Maybe her step-mother did not want her around or maybe they just did not get along? Whatever the reason, that is where she resided in 1850.

On 3 October 1855, Mary Catherine Froelich married John Franklin Schoener in Tremont, PA. How they met is still a mystery and I have more unanswered questions, but the rest is history.


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