Last week I told you about Casper Haulzhaufen, my husband’s 5th great grandfather coming to America aboard ship, and landing in Philadelphia in 1731. Casper married Margaretha Bingham, and had five children, three sons and two daughters: Johannes Jacob Holtzhauser, b.1732; Anna Margaretha Holtzhauser, b. 1737; Andreas (Andrew) Holtzhauser, b. 1741; Michael Holtzhauser, 1743; and Catharina Holtzhauser, b.1745.
Andrew was the first of this immediate family to move to North Carolina. He married Anna Maria Wiand while in Pennsylvania and had twelve children in all. Andrew and three of his siblings and their families joined other German settlers in leaving Pennsylvania. They traveled arduously down the main highway back then. It was honed from an Indian trail, called the Wagon Road, or Staunton Road. In fact, Andreas, or Andrew as he became known, was a wagoner who became well-known for his craftsmanship in making Conestoga Wagons. From the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, we learn that “in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries-long before the era of tractor trailers, and before the development of a railroad system-Conestoga wagons were the primary vehicles for hauling freight. These wagons carried flour and other farm products from the hinterland to the cities, and they brought back commodities needed by the farmers and their families. This was especially true during the period from about 1750 to 1855, particularly in Pennsylvania and the neighboring states of Maryland, Virginia, and Ohio.
Skilled workers were needed to build these wagons. And around 1770, Lancaster included among its craftsmen five wheelwright, thirteen blacksmiths, seven turners, and twenty woodworkers.” Among those skilled craftsmen, one stood out– Andreas Holshouser! In fact, we are truly blessed to have one of his Conestoga Wagons still here in North Carolina today! It is displayed in the N.C. Museum of Transportation in Spencer, NC. We can hardly wait to take our grandchildren to see this wonderfully designed invention! In fact, the design of the wagon is so intricate and interesting, I am going to include the link for this article from the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission about the building of the Conestoga for my woodworking family and friends so that they might enjoy reading the specifics of how this hard-working but artistically designed vehicle was made.
In those wagons the settlers hauled their household and farm equipment down the trail, herding their animals before them. The trail passed through the wilderness from Pennsylvania to Georgia, through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, along the Blue Ridge, following the Staunton River southward across the Dan River to the Yadkin River and Rowan County, North Carolina which at that time stretched from mid state to the Mississippi river.
From land records and censuses, it looks like Casper stayed in Pennsylvania along with his son Jacob. In his will in 1785, Casper stated his intention to move to North Carolina with his other children, but he never had the opportunity to do that.
We don’t know exactly when Andrew arrived in North Carolina, but we see his name on a property deed in 1774 when he bought 200 acres of land from Christopher Rendleman on “the north fork of Dutch Second Creek”. At least six of his twelve children would have been born by then, can you imagine traveling with six little children in a covered wagon from Pennsylvania to North Carolina?- with no air conditioning? -No bed? Hostile Indians in the area? Over the next twenty years, Andrew added over 400 acres to his farm. The area Andrew settled was part of a larger community of settlers of German descent, with names that included Miller, Meisenheimer, Clutts (Klutz), Lintzs, Yost and others who became good friends and intermarried over the years. These families were descended from Palatinate Germans also and lived up to their reputations of intelligence and industriousness. The Holshousers are credited with helping establish up to four churches in the area.
Of Andrew’s twelve children, John moved to Texas and others moved to Illinois. Many of the Holshouser families stayed in North Carolina however. Andrew’s son Casper became the most well-known when he married Sarah Sally Barger and had ten children of his own. Casper’s son Charles is my husband’s second great-grandfather, and his son James moved to Blowing Rock, NC with his family—pushing and pulling those wagons up the narrow mountain roads! While Blowing Rock is one of the premiere tourist attractions in North Carolina today, the Holshouser family was responsible for paving the streets and establishing two stores and a lovely home which helped create the beautiful little mountain town. James’s great grandson, James Eubert Holshouser, Jr., became the Governor of North Carolina in 1972.
Every year in the Spring in North Carolina we have a Holshouser reunion of the families of Max’s grandfather, John Calvin Holshouser, his wife Ila Victoria Sides, and his ten children and their families. We lost the last of the ten children in 2011, and it was very hard to see that whole generation go. We “children” are now the old folks who have to keep the reunion going until our own “children”, the middle agers, take over. Each year we meet at Grace Lower Stone Church in Rockwell, NC, a church where the land was given by the Holshousers and the Lingles, cousins who moved to Illinois. We were there just last week and I had the opportunity to tour the graveyard with my grandchildren. What a wonderful experience that was, seeing it through the eyes of a child. My six-year-old grandson Liam tried to count all the Holshouser stones, but gave out long before he reached the almost 100 Holshouser stones there out of the almost 700 total. It did not feel dark and spooky, just the opposite, it felt peaceful and as if it were a safe place– embracing the children and me in family history. I noticed the other stones were full of family names like Klutz, Meisenheimer, and the other families of German ancestry who moved to the area along with our Holshousers over 200 years ago! It is such an incredible feeling to walk where your ancestors have trod.
I am especially indebted for some of this information to our original family researchers and authors: Dr. Grace Duff in her A Casper “Holtzhauser” Holshouser Genealogy, and Patricia Beck who shared much of the family history she had painstakingly collected with me. How blessed I feel to have been part of this family for almost 43 years now and to have helped raise two Holshouser daughters and grandchildren. Thanks for sharing this journey with me, I look forward to hearing from you. Helen