Let me start out by apologizing for the length of this message and let you know upfront that I am not personally related to any Leffler families. I started researching the Leffler surname because it was my husband's maternal great great grandmother's maiden name. She was Rebecca Leffler, born 1806 near Perry Co., OH to Peter (Sr.) and Catherine Leffler , and like most all of her siblings, married a German immigrant, Frederick Ruff. Her parents, Peter and Catherine Leffler having migrated from Washington Co., MD between 1805 and 1806. To my knowledge so far, there is no connection to Blackburn Leffler.
I started out about 7 years ago seriously researching my husband's earliest maternal Leffler line and probably spent 30 hours a WEEK for a year and got basically nowhere. Then I decided to try a different approach, which although was much more time consuming, produced some interesting information on just about all of the early Lefler/Leffler families in America from the latter 1700's to modern day.
I went to all the major genealogy message boards (ancestry.com, genforum, roots web) and went to the forums of all the various spellings of LEFFLER, which would be LEFFLER,LEFLER,and LOEFFLER and printed off EVERY single message since the forum was first started. It took about 6 reams of paper and about 6 months to get through them all. I know, is that crazy or what?! Regardless, that's what I did.
Then I categorized all these pages into separate files into what appeared to be the same Leffler families lines. I had a few extra folders of messages that didn't seem to fit anywhere. In studying these folders of the various Leffler family lines, I created a Personal Ancestry File database for each one and entered all the accumulated information. For those that had conflicting information, I added it all as a sidenote. As I found time, I studied EACH Leffler family EACH census year for EACH county in PA,MD, KY, NJ, IN, and OH starting at 1830 and going forwards and then backwards in time. I've also contacted many serious modern day reseachers of the various lines and exchanged information with them and studied the Bromwell Genealogy, the Raymond Bell Papers and several dozen Leffler Biographies. I've studied Leffler/Lefler land grants and patents in the same states as well. I guess you could say that I have become a hoarder of Leffler information. :)
I suppose the reason Blackburn Leffler intrigues me is because there is so little information available about his ancestry. With that said, I can see why it has been so frustrating for those researching the Blackburn Leffler ancestry as I myself have found very little 'documentation' on him prior to his ministry and marriage, which only made me all the more determined to find some. As I have had to do with my husband's Leffler family line, I decided to try the 'process of elimination' in order to come up with some logical theories.
Rather than share my theories privately with those of you I have been in contact with over the years about Blackburn Leffler, I prefer to discuss this publicly where future researchers might benefit from our collective discussion. Please feel free to chim in here and add your opinions!
We know from various Census records and his death record that Rev. Blackburn Leffler was born in Shelby Co. KY. His tombstone in Evergreen Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA says he died on Dec 30/1891 at 85 years of age, which puts his birth year at about 1806.
So, what Leffler or Lefler families were in Shelby Co, KY from 1800 to at least 1810 that were old enough or young enough to have been his parents?
The census records for 1790 and 1800 for the area that was later to become Shelby Co, KY were destroyed. The 1810 census for Shelby Co., KY shows only two 'Lefler' families listed (I studied every page looking for variations in the spelling) and they are living in Shelbyville, namely a Peter and a Jacob 'Lefler' and their families. Both of them would have been young enough and old enough to have fathered Blackburn. Another possibility is George Leffler (born abt 1751 in PA) and his second wife, Harriet Cole Smith, whom were married in Shelby Co., KY on 2/27/1800 according to marriage records there. George Leffler would have been about 59 years old, certainly young enough to have fathered him, although I have no information about Harriet's birth year, I'm assuming she was younger than George. If George and Harriet WERE living in Shelby Co. after their marriage in 1800, they were both gone by the 1810 census.
In my opinion, these are the top 3 possible parents of Blackburn Leffler, simply because there is proven evidence from census and marriage records that these three men were the only Leffler or Lefler families in the area around Blackburn Leffler's year of birth.
I have no other clues that might point to he possibility of George Leffler being his father, so let's look for a moment at the Peter and Jacob 'Lefler' families listed on the 1810 census as well as their neighbors, which I believe lend strong evidence to what line of Lefflers we should be looking at.
Looking solely at the dates and places of birth for various Leffler/Lefler ancestry charts I have, this Peter and Jacob Leffler are the sons of George Leffler and his first wife Christina Phillabaum/Fellebaum. Apparently if George and his 2nd wife Harriet were married in 1800, than George and Christina must have divorced because she is on the 1800 census (Christian 'Phalebum') still living in Donegal Twp., Washington Co. PA with a couple of male children and one daughter and has taken back her maiden name.
According to the descendency of George Leffler , his son Peter Leffler was born about 1780 in Donegal Twp., Washington Co. PA, and married Catherina Fifer on 7/20/1804 in Shelby Co., KY. There is an older male and an older female in the household of Peter 'Lefler' on that 1810 census that I believe is his father, George Leffler and step-mother Harriet. There is also one male child under the age of 10, whom I believe is Peter's son, Daniel Leffler, born 1/23/1805 Shelby Co., KY, and two females under the age of 10, whom I believe are George and Harriet's children because Peter and Catherine's daughters weren't born until years later.
The ages for the Jacob 'Lefler' listed fit with the ancestry information I have for George's son Jacob Leffler and his young wife, Elizabeth Demarcus and one son under 10 yrs of age and one daughter under 10. There is also another male living in Jacob's household about the same age as Jacob, that I suspect is another brother of Jacob's. I believe that the son under 10 years of age is Blackburn Leffler.
According to marriage records in Shelby Co., KY, this Jacob Leffler and Elizabeth Demarcus were not married until 8/21/1821, after already having had at least one child, Louisa Eliza Leffler, who according to her obit, was born on 3/18/1805 in Shelby Co., KY. She married William Samuel WALKER in Shelby Co.,, KY on 3/25/1824, just 3 years after her parents got married.
According to their descendancy chart, Jacob Leffler and Elizabeth Demarcus also had at least two sons, George and Jacob (probably named after their father and grandfather)
According to land records in and around the area of Shlbly Co., KY, neither George Leffler or his two sons, Peter and Jacob ever owned land or paid taxes in Kentucky prior to 1810, (I didn't check any further).
In summary, I believe that Jacob Leffler and Elizabeth Demarcus are the birth parents of Blackburn Leffler and that its quite possible if his parents had fallen on hard times, that he was given up for adoption or placed in an orphanage. I would love to hear other possible theories!
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