Melchior Flinchbaugh (1716-1772)

History and Biography of Melchior Flinchbaugh – Patriarch of the Flinchbaugh’s of York County, PA

Melchior Flinchbaugh is the patriarch of the Flinchbaugh family in York County, PA.  He was born February 23, 1716 in Grossgartach, Germany and died in 1772 at sea as he was traveling back to Pennsylvania from Germany.  Melchior was married to Sophia Rembold, daughter of George Rembold and Elisabeth Pfister.  Sophia was born January 11, 1718 in Germany and died about 1785 in York County, PA.  It is unclear when they married, but the baptismal record for their oldest son Adam (showing Adam was born January 15, 1741 and baptized January 16, 1741) confirms that Sophia was his wife.

Several of Melchior’s children were born in Germany before he decided to move his family to Pennsylvania.  Melchior arrived in Philadelphia on the ship “Brothers” on September 26, 1753.  The earliest records for Melchior and his family that I have been able to locate place him and his family somewhere in the vicinity of Derry Township, Dauphin County in 1758.  I say this because in the church records for Hill Lutheran Church, there is a baptism for John Christopher Flenspach, son of Melchior Flenspach born May 27, 1758 and baptized June 18, 1758.  The church records have been translated/transcribed by more than one person and have come out slightly different (one had the last name as Flerspach, the other Flennspach), but both records list the father as Melchior.  This church record helps explain how Melchior’s daughter Rosina met and married Christopher Shoop/Schupp.  The Shoop family attended Hill Lutheran Church and Rosina’s future in-laws were the sponsors of John Christopher’s birth in 1758.

The next records we can locate for Melchior and his family come from the church records of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lancaster, PA in late 1763 and early 1764.  This church is located about 22 miles away from Hill Lutheran Church and with a lack of property or tax records that indicate where Melchior lived, it is unclear whether he lived somewhere close to Hill Lutheran Church and then moved closer to Lancaster or if the family lived somewhere in between the two churches and changed which church they attend.  The first record at Trinity Lutheran Church was on November 8, 1763, and it recorded the marriage of his son Adam to Magdalena Sieg.  Then on March 12, 1764, their youngest son Frederick Flinchbaugh was baptized at this same church.

It must not have been long after Frederick was born that Melchior moved his family to York County, PA and purchased 150 acres of land.  The land is located along Barshinger Creek and is situated partly in what is now York Township and partly in what is now North Hopewell Township.  We can ascertain that he moved to York County in 1764 by the survey that Melchior had done on his property.  The survey was completed on November 9, 1769 and says the land has been improved upon for 5 years.  While it could have been improved upon by someone else, the survey does mention that the warrant application for the property was done in November, 1766.

To tell the rest of Melchior’s story, I believe the below excerpt from “Early History of the Flinchbaugh Family in York County, Penna”, written by Jacob M Flinchbaugh in 1928 is better than anything I would be able to assemble:

The Upper Rhine Valley was often spoken of as the Palatinate or “Pfaltz” and if one would have been over there in the summer of 1753 we might have seen many of the Germans with their families and such household effects as they could easily take with them, move down this valley possibly in boats or other conveyances until they came to the great port of Rotterdam in Holland from which port most of the early German immigrants sailed.   Among this group was Melchior Flinchbaugh  (the name is spelled in many ways in the early records, sometimes Flinzbach, Flinszbach, Flintxpach and still in other ways)  with his wife Sophia Catharine and at least one son, possibly a half dozen children.  They embarked on the ship Brothers, Wm Muir commander.  The anchor is lifted, with the prow of the ship is turned toward the Golden West, to the land of promise.  With tear-dimmed eyes they look for the last time upon the fatherland, at least it is the last look for all except possibly the father, who may have returned later.  The ship touches land at Cowes, England, again sets it’s sails to the breeze and starts on it’s long voyage across the Atlantic.

Strange emotions must have filled the breasts as the land faded from site, leaving behind home, friends, kindered, loved ones, the graves of their fathers, to make their homes in a new and untamed country.  Strange forebodings must have filled their minds as they set sail for a country only partly civilized, with virgin forests, wild beasts and still wilder Indians, but eventually they reached the City of Brotherly Love, September, 1753.

The German refugees who came to America prior to the Revolutionary War, not being British subjects, were compiled to swear allegiance to the British Crown as Pennsylvania at that time was a British Colony.

Among the lists of foreingers who that day, September 26, 1753, before Joshua Maddox, Esq. took the usual qualification,  or oath of allengence, was Melchior Flinchbaugh (spelled by him Flinspach).  The subject of our sketch wrote his name to the oath in a legible hand and became a British subject.  Remember that was 1753, before the Declaration of Independance, before bunker Hill, in fact before the French and Indian War.  Many of the names that appear in the same list are familiar and doubtless some others of the same little band eventually settled in York County.  In the same lists of names appears the name Hans Philip Flinspach and among the taxables of York Township for the year 1769 are the names of both Melchior and Hans Philip F—–.   The writer has made a dilligent search for an account of his estate in the Office of Orphans Court, in the early church records and elsewhere but can find no futher trace of said Hans Philip, or his descendants and has come to the conclusion that he left no male survivors and feels convinced that all of the Flinchbaugh people are descendants of Melchior Flinchbaugh.

The human race has thus far travelled mainly westward and westward Father Melchior travled and  settled on a hillside of York Township to a place where he established a home to the west of  the village of Arbor and south of Dallastown. The farm later occupied by John Flinchbaugh, who died at the advanced age of ninety-seven, dying some fifteen years ago.

Here he established a home for wife and children, felling the forest and tilling a stuborn soil.  We presume the early home was very crude, the comforts few, the soil ardous, and the privations many, but a large and respectfull family of seven children was raised to maturity in piety and simple faith and trust in God, for the early records of Blymires Church show that the early children were consecrated  to God by the sacrament of Baptism and the children and grandchildren observe the Lord’s Supper consistently.

As previously stated Melchior and his wife reared seven children, four sons, Adam, Ludwig, Martin and Frederick;  three daughters, Catharine, intermarried with Jacob Blymire; Regina married Jacob Tome; Rosina, married Christopher Shoop.

Of these children Adam was probably the oldest and Frederick the youngest.  Ludwig died before his father’s estate was closed, leaving a daughter Elizabeth, bearing the christian name of her mother and whom John Kohler was appointed guardian.   Regina Flinchbaugh Tome also died before the closing of the estate leaving two sons, Jacob Tome and John Tome.

There has long been a tradition in the family that Melchior Flinchbaugh returned to Germany in order to get a legacy that was due him, but never returned to America and was burried at sea.  Whether he died a natural death or met with foul play can only be conjectured.  It was also stated that while abroad he purchased for his children and grandchildren twelve Bibles which arrived at port and were latter secured.  The writer never placed much credence to this report until he discovered in the records of the courts of York County a list of the appraisement of personal property of Melchior Flinchbaugh the item,  “twelve small Bibles, valued at six pounds English money,”  about $30.00 or $2.50 apiece.

This price would indicate that they were in good condition and to the writer’s mind substantiate the truth of the story of Father Melchior’s unhappy voyage.

The Lebanon Lutheran  and Reformed Congregation was organized in 1809 and the  Flinchbaugh family were active members of this church with Frederick Flinchbaugh, son of Melchior and Jacob Stabler deeding the land of the church property.   In the early records it was some times spoken of as the Flinchbaugh church.  In 1828, the followers of Rev William Otterbein, founder of the United Brethern Church, organized a congregation in Windsor Township latter to become Zion U B Church.  In this movement Rev. Frederick Flinchbaugh, son of Martin and Grandson of Melchior, was the leading spirit.  Some persons today (1928) living recall Fred Flinchbaugh  who was highly esteemed for his piety and zealous Christian spirit.  Rev Flinchbaugh is buried at the Lebanon Church, his grave being marked with a marble slab in good state of preservation.

To return to the children of Melchior and his wife Sophia Catherine.  No marker has been found for the parents or for the grave of the son Martin.  The records of the orphans Court, York Co., Book l page 313, list the following heirs of Martin Flinchbaugh died 1807 wife Barbra; children Martin, Henry, Adam, Frederick minor, Catherine, Elizabeth, and Barbra married Peter Caslow.  The court appointed Frederick F. Sr, guardian for Frederick (afterward Rev Fred Flinchbaugh).  The writer  found the grave of Adam Flinchbaugh  (1739-1820)  and his wife Magdalena  (1743-1819)  in Bleimeirs Church Yard.

Frederick Flinchbaugh  (1764-1837)  son of Melchior and great grandfather of the writer is at Lebanon, very close to the church.  No marker is found for his wife, but in the last will and testament to Catherine Fester she designates her trusted son-in-laws, Frederick Flinchbaugh and Jacob Stabler as her executors.  One of her daughters was named Christina, and in deeds of conveyance from Frederick Flinchbaugh we find his wife Christina to join in the deed.  The Fester family lived on the farm with a large stone house west of Felton now owned by Henry Flinchbaugh.  On this farm was a burial ground, some of the crude markers are still there but the inscriptions not legible.  It is more than likley that the bodies of some of the family may be buried there.  The grave of Ludwig Flinchbaugh is also unknown.

The Flinchbaugh family may well be proud of the military record of it’s sons.  Ludwig was dead at the outbreak of the War of Indenpendence but three sons remained.  Adam enlisted as a private under Capt. Geo. Long, 1778,  Martin served under Capt Lang (Long), and Frederick at eighteen years of age joined the colors under Capt Lowery in 1782.  Thus all the male members of the family fought for the freedom of the land of their adoption and the charge that the Pennsylvania Germans were reluctant to fight for independence cannot be laid to our ancestors.  Members of the family also fought in the Civil War and many of them heard their country’s call in the World War.

To perpetuate the memory of these heroes and to spur the youth of the Flinchbaugh family to noble purposes, to high aims, lofty ideals and Christian principals the organization of The Flinchbaugh Family was organized with the following officials:  J N Flinchbaugh, Pres;  Fred Flinchbaugh, York Pa, Vice Pres;  B V Flinchbaugh, Red Lion Sec, and Jerome Flinchbaugh, Dallastown, Treasurer

J.M. Flinchbaugh Historian

Melchior Flinchbaugh born February 23, 1716 in Grossgartach, Germany and died in 1772 at sea.  He married Sophia Catharina Rembold, daughter of Johan George Rembold and Elizabeth Pfister.  She was born January 11, 1718 in Germany and died in 1785 in York County, PA.

Children of Melchior Flinchbaugh and Sophia Catharina Rembold:

  1. Adam Flinchbaugh (January 15, 1741 – January 7, 1820) married Magdalena Seig (December 14, 1743 – January 11, 1819)
  2. Martin Flinchbaugh (October 20, 1742 – 1802) married Barbara Pfister (born about 1746 – unknown)
  3. Ludwig Flinchbaugh (January 30, 1745- about 1776) married Elizabeth Bleymeyer)
  4. Sophia Catharina Flinchbaugh (June 22, 1747 – about 1788) married Jacob Bleymeyer (December 23, 1737 – 1818)
  5. Rosina Margaretha Flinchbaugh (about 1748 – July 24, 1814) married Christopher Shoop (November 10, 1743 – January 15, 1820)
  6. Regina Flinchbaugh (January 16, 1753 – about 1781) married Jacob Tome/Tomb/Dohm (about 1750 – June 9, 1813)
  7. John Christopher Flinchbaugh (May 27, 1758 – unknown)
  8. Frederick Flinchbaugh (February 24, 1764 – December 8, 1837) married Christina Pfister (about 1767 – between 1850 and 1860)

Survey for 150 acres to Melchior Flinchbaugh. For directional purposes, the upper left hand corner of the page is north and the lower right hand corner of the page is south

Map shows location of Melchior’s 150 acres. The red-dotted line is the boundary between York Township on the north and North Hopewell Township on the south. According to records at the York County History Center, the land in yellow became part of the property owned by Martin Flinchbaugh along with the land to the south highlighted in red that he owned. The remainder of Melchior’s land went to his other son Adam, along with tracts 1794 and 1803.

Current map of area where Melchior’s land was located. His land starts in the northwest near the intersection of Stine Hill Rd and Arbor Drive and then heads southeast along Arbor Drive and Barshinger Creek. Then a small portion of the property was to the southwest along Innerst Rd, however the rest of the property followed Arbor Dr and Barshinger Creek back to the northeast, up to approximately where it says “creek” on the map for Barshinger Creek. There was also a portion of the property that headed southeast along Stine Hill Rd and the small tributary creek that feeds into Barshinger Creek

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