I recently traveled to PA to do some research on the Keefer family. Most specifically I wanted to document the relationship of Benjamin Keefer (Kieffer) b. 1792, d. 1861 to the family of Johannes Jacob Kieffer b.1764, d between 1825-1829. Others have connected Benjamin to this family with a land record showing that he purchased land along Sewickley Creek in Westmoreland County with his brother-in-law John Highberger. I spent a fair amount of time at the courthouse, but didn’t get to the land records on this trip. However, I did visit the Baltzer Meyer Historical Society where the issue of Benjamin’s relationship to Johannes became much less clear. Here is what I learned.
In the book Biographical and Historical Cyclopedia of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania reprinted for the Southwest Pennsylvania Genealogical Services from Biographies of Westmoreland County an entry on Samuel Keefer, Benjamin’s son says that Benjamin was reared in Armstrong County and moved to Sewickley as a young man.
Baptismal records transcribed by Rev. Paul Ruff from the old German Script used in the German churches of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, show the baptisms of the several of the children of Johannes (John) Jacob Kieffer and Anna Catherine Schoener in the Seanor Church near Madison in Sewickley Township. It does not list Sarah b. 1788 or Jacob b. 1791. Nor does it list Benjamin. It does list other children: George b. 1793, Anna Elizabeth, b. 1794, Peter, b 1799 and Eva, b.1801. If Benjamin is the son of Johannes and Anna Catherine, it seems unlikely he would have been reared in Armstrong County, which is some distance from Madison.
However, the land purchase remains. One other book in the Baltzer Meyer Library, Descendants of Andreas Hueberger compiled by Charles Adam Heiberger, Helen Foster Highberger and John Kistler Highberger in 1987 lists Sarah Keefer b 20 April 1788 married to John Highberger, JR. This is the relationship that leads to the “Brother-in-law” land purchase. However, the Highberger book says that Sarah is the daughter of Casper and Christina Keefer from Venango County. Casper and Christina reportedly had a daughter Sarah, but she wasn’t born until 1799. John Highberger is also said to have married Sarah’s sister Eva. There isn’t any information that Casper had a daughter Eva. So the Highberger book appears to be in error. So we are back to John Highberger’s brother-in-law being Benjamin. But just to further complicate matters, Casper and Christina are listed in the Ruff books as the baptism sponsors of the Highberger children.
There are two other bits of information that contribute to the confusion. Armstrong County is between Westmoreland and Clarion, which was at one time part of Venango County. And in the 1850 census Benjamin and John Highberger are immediately adjacent neighbors.
If anyone has any light to shed on this, I would greatly appreciate it.
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